In a previous moo-fic, Benny had a session with a shrink and revealed some troubling things about his past. Julia asked for those things to be explored some more. So Benny went back to the shrink.
"Why He Became A Mountie"
A Play In One Act
Sequel to: Benny and Meggy Get Their Heads Shrunk.
Warning: They talk about rape. Very non-graphic.
Dramatis Personnae (in order of appearance)
Dr. Tung (the psychiatrist from 'Strange Bedfellows')
Julia a secretary
Constable Benton Fraser
Sergeant Bob Fraser (as a ghost.)
(Doctor Tung's office. Same office as in previous ficlet. Standard office stuff, to include at minimum: a door leading into the room, a chair for the doctor, a chair facing for the patient, a coat/hat stand, a coffee pot, cups and other coffee stuff. Curtain opens to Dr. Tung in his chair holding a bunch of papers and Julia standing beside, receiving instructions.)
Tung: So, this is the list of this morning's patients. You send them in when I buzz you. All of them are regulars, so they know the routine. Except this first one at nine. Fraser. Send him in as soon as he gets here. Oh, and try to get all these billings into the computer today.
Julia: Yes, Doctor.
Tung: I think Jean left you instructions?
Julia: Yes, I'll be fine.
Tung: Good, good. Well, you'd better get out there. My guess is Constable Fraser will be right on time.
Julia: Constable? British?
Tung: Canadian. A Mountie.
Julia: (Very interested) Really?
Tung: (Good natured teasing) Very good looking too. And a patient, so hand's off – at least when I can see you.
Julia: Oh, Doctor . . . (exits)
(Dr. Tung sits reading one of the files for a moment. Fraser enters. He is dressed in civvies: jeans, flannel shirt, boots and, of course, his Stetson is under his arm. He pauses just inside the door .)
Tung: Come right in, Constable.
(Fraser nods to the Doctor and remembers from the last time what he should do. He puts his hat on the hat/coat rack, goes to the "patient's chair", stands beside it for a beat or two, sits down with great deliberation.Then there should be a non-verbal exchange between them. Fraser looks to him for approval that he has done this right. Tung smiles at him. Fraser smiles back slightly and relaxes. Not exactly nervous, but a little uncertain.)
Tung: So, what can I do for you today, Constable?
Fraser: (Tenses up. Puzzled.) You suggested yourself that I should continue therapy, Doctor. I guess you don't remember. Um, surely my file . . . (He points to it. It is in Tung's lap still.)
Tung: It's just a standard opening. I most certainly remember you. Both parents murdered. Victim of sexual assault. Bright red tunic. You'd be hard to forget.
Fraser: Oh, was I supposed to come in uniform? I'm sorry. I'm off duty now so I didn't think it was appropriate to come in uniform. The red serge is actually more formal than is necessary for everyday use. I could come in . . .
Tung: You can come dressed however you feel comfortable. I assure you it doesn't matter.
Fraser: Oh, well, that's . . . Yes, fine. Um . . .
Tung: I was telling you last time about the 'second wave of assault' that sometimes affects victims of abuse. You told me you thought that might apply to you.
Fraser: I don't think there's too much doubt about that at this point. It all seemed so clear after you told me about it. I can't imagine why I didn't think of it myself. Well, the talking cure. I should talk to you about the . . . incidents.
Tung: That might be a way to start, if you like.
Fraser: (Smiles) If you patronize me, I'll probably clam up.
Tung: Sorry. Standard procedure. I assure you I wasn’t trying to patronize you. (Pause) Yes, telling about the incidents would be an excellent way to start. Let me guess – you haven't told these stories often.
Fraser: One of them I've never told a living soul. Or a dead one, come to that.
(Bob Fraser becomes visible. He and Fraser lock eyes. Tung notices it and follows Fraser's gaze and we understand Tung doesn't see Bob.)
Tung: What are you looking at?
Fraser: My father. Do you know Hamlet? I'm seeing my dead father in my mind's eye.
Tung: (Still looking in the direction Fraser is looking) More than that, I think. He's standing right there, isn't he? Your father.
Fraser: (Looking at Bob not Tung.) Yes. You don't see him do you?
Tung: No, but I'm willing to accept that you do.
Bob: Something you haven't told me, son?
Fraser: Yes, Dad. Something I haven't told you.
Bob: Something important?
Fraser: No, not really. You don't have to stay and listen. You go ahead and go, um, fishing or something. This isn't really important.
Bob: I just sort of had the feeling I should be here. Can't explain why.
Fraser: It's fine, Dad. I'll talk to you later.
Bob: Well, as long as you're sure. (He's relieved. Ceases to be visible.)
Fraser: He does know, um, did know, about one of the times. I told him. He's a policeman. My dad, the Mountie. I went right to him and told him – that time. I was nineteen. There was a gang. Too many for me to fight them off. Some were drunk. The ones that were too drunk to – well – they held me down for the others. I knew who they were, at least some of them. Small community. Everybody knows everybody mostly. By then I understood you're supposed to go to the police. My dad and the police – one and the same.
Tung: Go on.
Fraser: I told him everything. All of it. Oh, he was professional all right. Arrested them all. As politely as can be. For raping his own son. Calm, cool, professional. God! He never laid a hand on them. No, not Dad. It came to trial. I actually stood up and told it. All of it. I named the names. I pointed to them in open court. Oh, and my descriptions were quite accurate, quite precise. Scientific detail. Amazing for nineteen, but I'd been raised in a library. I knew all the terminology. And of course, I was going to be a policeman soon myself. Just the facts. Right there in front of my neighbours. At nineteen.
Tung: That was very brave.
Fraser: They walked. The rapists, not the neighbours.
Tung: I'm sorry.
Fraser: My word against theirs' . They had alibis. Friends who took the stand and swore they were somewhere else.
Tung: I'm so sorry.
Fraser: Thank you kindly, Doctor.
Tung: For what? Being sorry?
Fraser: For not saying 'How did that make you feel?'.
Tung: Of course, if you did want to tell me that . . .
Fraser: Not now, if that's all right. I think I'd have to work up to that slowly.
Fraser: I remember he tried to talk to me about it as we walked out of the courthouse in Yellowknife that day. (Fraser gets up and starts pacing.) You said last time I could walk around, right?
(Bob Fraser re-appears. Fraser sees him. Tung is aware of something going on. He watches and listens intently but he cannot see Bob. Bob comes around close to where Fraser is. Puts one hand on Fraser's shoulder. Fraser flinches away. Looks in the other direction. Bob approaches again. This time Fraser shows distress but doesn't move away. )
Bob: Son, I don't know what to say.
Fraser: I did the best I could, Dad. I tried.
Bob: Son, they're the criminals, not you.
Fraser: We didn't get justice.
Bob: We did what was right, son. That's the most important thing.
Fraser: Yeah. I'll never be able to show my face in Yellowknife again. But I did what was right.
Bob: I'm sure your friends will understand. They'll admire your courage. You'll see.
Fraser: (shouts) I don't have any friends, Dad! Haven't you noticed? I'm a freak! I always was a freak and now I'm a worse freak! I want to go back to Inuvik! I want to go back to the library!
Bob: You're going into the academy, Benton. Next month.
Fraser: I don't think so.
Fraser: Dad, the law doesn't work! There's no point in joining the RCMP now! I know where those sons-of-bitches live. I know how to move without being seen. I'll start tonight. I'll get my own justice.
Bob: Son, you're just upset.
Fraser: Come with me, Dad. Us two. The Fraser men. Let's show them. I know where they live. We'll get one tonight, and one tomorrow, and one every night! They'll be shaking in their fucking boots and we'll kill them slowly . . .
Bob: (takes Fraser by the shoulders and shakes him hard.) Never let me hear you talk like that! You're a Fraser. We're men of the law.
Fraser: To hell with the law! And to hell with you! (Bob disappears. Fraser is shaking with outrage. Then he collects himself.) I'm sorry. I lost control for a moment. (Laughs) You're supposed to lose control in a psychiatrist's office aren't you?
Tung: And that's important. To do what you're supposed to do.
Fraser: Important? It's everything. Even then I think I realized that it wasn't logical. But there you go. It's what I learned from him. To do what's right. I grew up into a fucking Dudley Do-right. (Pause) You know, I never curse. Never. I don't even like to hear it.
Tung: It felt good, didn’t it.
Fraser: Yes. Yes it did. Maybe I should do it more often.
Tung: Nah. If you do it too often it loses the impact. That's the trouble with swearing. You do it too much, it's not fun anymore. It's just words.(Pause) You want to take a break? Maybe some coffee?
Fraser: No, that's okay. I can continue. Thing is, I didn't really mean it when I said I didn't want to become a Mountie. I WAS just upset that day. Can't really blame me, can you? But I knew deep down I would join the Force, no matter what. I never really wanted to do anything else. So, that's a story told. What shall we do next?
Tung: You've done more already than most men can accomplish in one session.
Fraser: That's me. Doing it right. Let's go on.
Tung: Are you sure?
Fraser: We're here to emote. Okay, the time I didn't tell my father about. Let's do it. Get your coffee first.
Tung: I’ll skip it, thanks.
Fraser: Right. Okay. (Takes a deep breath). I was ten. I'd been living with my grandparents since my mother died.
Tung: How old were you when she died?
Fraser: Six. Dad was out on the trail most of the time so I lived with my grandparents. His parents. Sometimes he came back for a little while. The summer I was ten, Grandmother and Grandfather took sick. Influenza. Both of them at the same time. Resourceful little boy, I took care of them. Pretty well, I thought. But somebody got word to Dad what was going on and he came back to Inuvik. He got somebody in to take care of my grandparents he took me out on the trail with him. I usually liked it when Dad came home but this time I was actually angry. He was criticizing me, by coming home. Like I couldn’t take care of the family myself. The only time he ever took care of the family and that was the time . . . I don't think I can tell this.
Tung That was the time – what?
Fraser: He took me with him to the outpost he was working out of that summer. Not many men there, pretty isolated. Maybe a dozen or so Mounties. They came and went. Everyone was kind to me. Bob Fraser's son. He was famous in that little world, in his own way.
Tung: And. . .
Fraser: And Dad had to go off after some criminal or other. Go get his man. He figured it would be too dangerous for me, so he left me behind at the outpost. Perfectly safe. He knew his fellow officers would take good care of me, you see. (Pause.) Coffee is actually starting to sound good.
Tung: Too late. That would be displacement. You've read about it, I suppose. You're doing too well, I won't allow it.
Fraser: Hm. Very well. The first few days were pretty much the same as when Dad was there. They gave me enough chores to keep me busy and make me feel important. Come night-time we'd all sit around a big table in the mess hall. They'd let me stay up late with them, listening to the talk. Oh, that was exciting. Grandmother always made me go to bed by eight. Only thing was, they seemed to be looking at me strangely. More and more strangely each night. They looked, well, to me, being a child and not really able to place the look, to me they looked hungry.
Fraser: Have you ever been hungry, Doctor? I don't mean dinner's late or you've skipped lunch. I mean real famine. Wanting food and not having any. Have you ever felt that?
Tung: You have
Fraser: Occasionally. A few winters when we were in the bush. Not when we were in town, of course.
Tung: The men looked hungry.
Fraser: (smiles but ruefully) You're not going to let me digress, either. Well, that's a compliment in a way. At least you're not patronizing me. That's something. Okay. The third night I was there. The table was covered with food. Predictable stuff. Roast beef. Boiled potatoes. White bread. Yams. Beer. They all sat there stuffing their faces and looking at me. And looking hungry. I remember puzzling over it. It didn't make any sense. I remember I lost my own appetite just from being worried over it.
Tung: And . . .
Fraser: Well, I was in my room later that night. Trying to sleep. Couldn't get those hungry looks out of my mind. I heard voices outside the door of my room. I had my own room. They were saying things like "It has to be all of us. That way nobody can snitch." I should have gone out the window. Why didn’t I go out the window? No, a good child stays in bed once he's put to bed. And I was a good child. I could have been out the window and into the forest, but I stayed. I stayed. (Starts to cry very softly.) It was my own fault. I could have run away.
Tung: All of them?
(Fraser nods. Cries for a while then regains enough composure to continue.)
Fraser: The thing is – afterwards. They told me I could never tell my dad because it would just kill him if he knew. It made sense. I knew they were right. Dad couldn’t live knowing, so I had to keep it to myself. If he ever knew his fellow officers . . . his own son . . . it would kill him. He'd never be able to live with it. So, I had to protect him. (Slowly losing it again.) I had to protect him.
Tung: And after that, you still became a Mountie.
Fraser: Because of it. Don't you see? I had to prove . . . I had to prove that Mountie's weren't like that. I had to be a good Mountie. Not like that. They're not like that, the good ones. My dad. My dad. Sergeant Frobisher. Sergeant Gerrard. They couldn’t be like that. Not my dad! He's not like that. (Jumps up from his chair. Shouting. ) Dad's not like that! He's not like them! He's not! (Picks up the chair he's been sitting in and hurls it against the wall. Then buries his head in his hands.) I'm sorry. I'll . . . pay for the damage. I'm sorry.
Tung: Who was that. Who did you throw the chair at?
Fraser: (Sobbing) I don't know, I don't know.
Tung: Of course you know.
Fraser: I'll pay for the damage.
Tung: You have been, ever since you were ten. Tell me who it was.
(Bob Fraser re-appears.)
Bob: Me, right. For not guessing. For not taking care of you.
Fraser: Why didn't you figure it out?!?! When you came back, why didn't you figure it out yourself? I wasn't eating. I wasn't sleeping. I wasn't talking. You didn't figure something was wrong? Your own son. You couldn't tell something had happened to me? What kind of policeman are you? Damn it, what kind of man are you?
Tung: (still not seeing Bob) Tell him what kind of man he was.
Tung: Tell him!
Fraser: (To Bob) Were you like that? You son-of-a-bitch! Were you like that, too? Well I'm not! I'm better than you! Do you hear me? I'm better than you!
Tung: So, you're a better policeman than your father was.
Fraser: No! Dad was a legend. He always got his man. Always.
Tung: He got them, but he didn't keep them. The rapists went free.
Fraser: That wasn't his fault!
Tung: You know that now. Intellectually. But at the time . . .
Fraser: He failed me. And he failed me back before, when I was a child. He didn't see it. Or maybe he didn't want to see it. I would never, ever ignore the signs like he did. I'd never let any child . . . I never HAVE let any child . . .
Tung: You've dealt with lots of cases of sexual abuse.
Fraser: Oh yes. Too many, too many. I could always tell. Always.
Tung: So, you're a better policeman than he was.
Tung: Constable, you've been doing remarkably well, don't spoil it now.
Fraser: I'm a better policeman than he was. Go off on the trail! Get your man! Never notice how your own son . . . I'm a better cop. Damn it, I'm a better man!
Bob: Yes, you are. And now that you realize it, I don't need to come around anymore. (Disappears. Fraser looks at where he has been, thinking.)
Tung: How are you a better man? You haven't actually said why.
Fraser: Yes, I have.
Tung: No, there's more. How are you better? Tell me.
Fraser: No, don't make me say it. Please.
Tung: Say it. You know what it is.
Fraser: I . . . I . . . never fucked a child! Oh God, oh God, oh God! I know he didn’t. I'm sure he didn’t. But what if I was wrong? There was only way to prove he wasn't like that. To be a good Mountie. Because Fraser men can't be like that. It had to be proven. I had to prove it.
(Fraser is now totally exhausted, but no longer crying.)
Tung: And, realising it at last, how does that make you feel?
Fraser: Don't mock. Not now. Please.
Tung: How does that make you feel?
Fraser: No, please.
Tung: Guilty. A son's not supposed to be better than his father.
Fraser: But I am, God forgive me!
Tung: He will. You feel something else.
Fraser: Relieved. A little.
Tung: Good. We've got a few minutes left. Just sit for a while. Breathe deeply. I think you've earned coffee.
Fraser: Coffee AND a doughnut, I think.
Tung: You mean what they say about policemen and doughnuts, that's really true?
Fraser:. Dad never ate doughnuts. I like the ones with sprinkles