Chapter 3: The First Patient

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Following my graduation, I spent the next six months working as an intern at Arkham Asylum, Gotham's prison for the mentally insane. I shadowed one of their best psychiatrists, Brent Carlisle, who was a very serious man. Rumor has it that he hand picked me to work under him, and I was proud that my hard work in medical school had payed off. I worked alongside two other interns, Sarah and Zack. We were all pretty competitive, a skill we learned from school, and we were always looking for ways to top one another. However, I was already miles ahead of my competitors as I had the best teacher. My first day was a disaster, of course, as was my tradition. I accidentally pushed a patient too far with my questions, causing the inmate to have an episode of rage. Brent intervened and helped to calm them down, and I was harshly scolded as soon as we left the room. Dr. Carlisle was intense and he pushed me hard, but I needed that. It helped me stay focused on the job, and not on the scars of my past. That was the nice thing about work, it was a release, a break from the harsh realities waiting for me at home. I quickly improved, rising above my peers and sometimes Dr. Carlisle would even allow me to work with patients without his supervision. After the completion of the shadowing program, the interns would be offered a job at Arkham. However, only one intern would get to have an actual criminal patient, as we had only been dealing with mentally ill patients to work up to the criminally insane. I was ecstatic to be chosen by the board for this task, and I knew it was a token of my ambition. It was the one thing that kept me moving, my drive to improve always propelled me forward. I had my first appointment with Aaron Helzinger, a man who killed his entire family with his bare hands, that evening. To say I was excited was an understatement... I stayed up the night before researching his case to formulate my course of treatment. I went to pick up his medical file from the front desk and I was greeted by my fellow interns turned colleagues. "Congratulations Harleen." Sarah said shortly, and I could tell it pained her to say it. "Break a leg in there." Zack then chimed in, and while the saying was kind, somehow I knew he meant the phrase literally. I smiled anyways. "Thank you guys!" I responded, soaking up every second of my victory before I grabbed the file and went back to work. The file was labeled "9E" which was on the floor with all of the criminally insane. I took a elevator to take me up to level "E" and as I walked past each prison door I heard screams, whistles, and boots thrown in my direction. I approached the guard standing outside of Aaron's cell. "I am here to speak with Aaron. Please bring him to the counseling room." I told them and they nodded as they talked over their radios to unlock Aaron's cell door. I made my way to the counseling room found on the first floor "A". The room was isolated and friendly looking in order to give our patients a safe place to recover. I sat in my chair, getting out a notebook and a pen. I fidgeted in my nervous excitement, crossing and uncrossing my legs until I finally decided that crossing them was best. The door then clicked open. "Alright Aaron, now be a good boy and talk to the pretty lady." One of the guards told him as he guided Aaron to the chair opposite mine. I ignored the fact that the guard had just hit on me and I gave the oversized criminal in front of me a warm smile. He responded with a glare. Oh boy. "Hello Aaron, my name is Harleen Quinzel... I'm going to be your friend while you're in here. Would you like that?" I asked him. He continued to stare me down until my words registered in his head and he nodded eagerly. "Very responsive. Perhaps lonely." I scribbled down on the notepad as I continued. "As your friend, it's my job to listen to whatever you want to tell me and to help you work through your problems. So Aaron, could you please tell me why you are here in Arkham?..." I said gently, knowing exactly how to pace our conversation as I had seen it done so many times expertly by Dr. Carlisle. The large man across from me took a deep breath before his eyes found the ground, a solemn look on his face. "I killed my family..." He revealed, although I already knew. Acknowledging the reality of what he did is the first step to sanity. By his expression and the deflation of his body following his words, I could tell he felt bad about it. "But you didn't mean to, did you?" I prompted and he shook his head. Tears formed in his eyes and I watched as the man crumbled in front of me. "I just wanted them to love me... That's all... But then I got so mad when they judged me." Aaron sobbed. "Why did they judge you?..." I asked softly. "I signed up for ballet classes... But they said that it wasn't manly so I shouldn't do it... They laughed at me." He sniffed before burying his face in his hands. "Needs approval and reassurance." I wrote down before I gently reached out and gently placed my hand on his shoulder. The guard gave me a warning look but I ignored him as Aaron seemed to appreciate the gesture. "They should have never treated you that way... Family's support one another. Aaron, It's okay to like ballet. And I understand why you got upset..." I comforted him and he seemed to calm down.  He looked at me in amazement, as if those were the exact words he needed to hear. "Thank you Doctor..." Aaron whimpered. "But remember Aaron, murder is not the way to deal with your anger... During our next appointment I will give you some tools to help you cope when you get upset... Okay?" I finished and he smiled. "Yes Doc, I understand..." He said before he wrapped his giant arms around me and pulled me into a hug. I gave him a few seconds before the guards pried him off of me and took him back to his cell. As I wrapped up my notes and post-appointment paperwork, I got up and left the counseling room. Outside the door there was a group of psychiatrists staring at me. "Did I do something wrong?" I asked to the crowd. Dr. Carlisle moved to the front of the group and began to clap, which prompted the rest of them to clap. "No one has been able to crack Aaron, until now. The board wanted to test and see if our training program was successful by giving you a tough first criminal patient... Well done Harley." He informed me and then I understood the source of their applause. I felt that perhaps my experience with a psychopath had given me the expertise on how to handle them. Oddly, it was like talking with a friend. Maybe it was because I understood what went on their heads, as I had a war going on within my own.

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