My Grandfather Was A Psychologist And I Found The Transcripts From A Session With His Most Twisted Patient

When I was younger, I didn’t see my grandfather as anything but a hero. The way that he portrayed stories about his life spoke magnificent wonders about who he really was and how much he loved his job and the line of work he had chosen to get into. That’s why it’s a shame to announce, then, that he died but a year ago and I never had a chance to show him what I could become and how much I could love my life if I followed his advice and did something I loved.

My grandfather was a psychologist. When he passed, my grandmother came to me with a box of folders in her hands, trembling with sadness, and telling me that he would have wanted me to have them. They were old reports from when he was still in the field and, though the significance of it was sweet, I really had no interest. I wanted to remember my grandfather as he was and take those to my grave (or, rather, give them to my children to enjoy in days to come.) That’s not to say I didn’t get curious, because I did. I read snippets here and there but they all made it back inside the box at the end of the day, nothing learned, nothing new.

On the anniversary of my grandfather’s death, I was cleaning my closet and the box fell from the top shelf, spilling all over my bedroom floor. One clean notebook fell open, splayed upon my floor, to a page I had never read before. The journal was empty aside from that one document about a patient of his that he had seen and a story to be told. He had transcribed the entire meeting onto those pages and I will share it here. I take it as a sign, something he wanted me to see. Something he never understood that followed him to his grave.

When they found Arthur Tremhold, he was sobbing wildly beside his delivery van, covered in blood. He was questioned profusely and kept in captivity for some time, where he was then transferred out of his holding cell and put directly in my care for a time period of one day. In one day’s time, I feel like Arthur and I made many revelations. I am unsure of what Arthur’s status will be in the future, but he was a highly likable guy once we got through our opening statements and he opened up to me further. Here I have transcribed the best part of our conversation and what we arrived on from the session.

M: So, what you’re telling me is that you had a very close family relationship before the event took place?

A: Oh, yes, yes, of course. [sobbing] My family meant the world to me, and still means the world to me. We, uh… we decided that we were going to pack up and make my retirement trip a good one. It was a delivery from Atlanta to Augusta for a client, which is a far weekend trip. You know, even for me. And they pride me on being one of their best.

M: Tell me a little bit about your son and daughter.

A: Oh, they’re my pride! Th-they meant everything to me. Stuart was a little over a year old and Maisy was almost six. My wife and I planned Maisy but Stuart was a surprise. [laughs] Yeah, he was a surprise all right. Little devil, he was. Had you run after him constantly just because he wanted Daddy’s attention.

M: So, you wanted to take a family vacation, and you just so happened to choose a road trip with your family, doing… erm, what along the way? How were you planning on keeping the little ones entertained with a road trip?

A: Well, we were stopping to see sights along the way, you see. We packed enough food for the little ones and made it a weekend adventure. Along the way, we stopped at a fair… to see their great aunt Gertrude… stopped at one of the biggest bookstores. Maisy loved to read books. She got a kick out of that. Anyway, I guess I’m saying that my kids and I always had a good time. We made our own fun.

M: And what about your wife? [flips through papers] Umm.. Vera?

A: Oh, Vera was always wonderful. From the moment I met her in high school, I knew we would be together forever. Body and mind. Heart and soul. Hah, she had quite the sense of humor. And I knew for how low-stress she was, the road trip would be fun even if we had the kids with and they woke up in a bad mood or something. Vera never got upset. She handled it.

M: Well, I kind of need to know more about what happened on the road trip. Was Vera having fun? Everything going smoothly?

A: Of course! We headed out on a Friday morning, because Vera has off work on Fridays. Figured Maisy would enjoy a day off from school. Vera was singing along to 70s music on the radio and I was laughing away at her awful impressions. Stuart slept nearly the entire morning and Maisy was playing games on her tablet. You know, those… technological things. I could never figure them out. Lo and behold, the sky was dark, looking like it was about to rain. I mentioned my concerns to Vera but she just brushed it off and said we would be fine. Claimed she had watched the news the night before and that it wasn’t supposed to give anything. I was skeptical, to say the least.

M: And what happened? Did the weather stay fine?

A: Oh no, that’s where the descent happens.

M: The descent?

A: That’s when things went… bad.

M: Explain?

Arthur, my client, reached across the table and grabbed his glass of water at this time. His caretakers had mentioned that it was not uncommon for Arthur to go days without eating and many hours before drinking because of the event that transpired on the road trip. Take it as a trigger, as you may. Their explanation is that he claims, “Water and food just don’t go down like they used to.”

A: [gulping] So, we were about five hours into the trip and most of the cars had faltered off the highway. They were becoming far and few in between and, what do you know it, a half an hour after this and it starts snowing. I mean fucking snowing! It’s blowing all over the road, the kids are screaming that they want to build a snowman, it’s that inevitable. And it just keeps picking up and picking up and soon, walla. You can’t even see outside anymore.

M: And then what?

A: And then I tell Maisy that we have to pull over somewhere. As soon I say this, her woman kicks in. [laughs] You know, how they always think they’re right. That’s when she turns to me, and she says, I know exactly where we are! See that tree over there? [looks in disbelief] I gave her this look like, what the hell are you talking about? A tree?

M: What did she mean by ‘the tree’? She knew where you were because of a tree?

A: I know it sounds crazy, but that’s exactly what she meant. She pointed to this giant tree, red-tipped leaves, and she said, My father and I used to take walks here when we came on vacation. Remember I told you they had a cabin in this area? I know my way in and out of those woods surrounding that tree like the back of my hand. We can pull off and take that way as a shortcut when the snow stops falling. So here we were, in the middle of nowhere, and we pulled off of the highway and my woman tells me she’s familiar with this area. So, of course, I take her word for it. I pull over to this tree next to these long, spooky woods. Well, everything looks spooky when it’s dark. We wait there a good hour, just relaxing and talking while Stuart sleeps again. And then the snow stops, and we talk about our next move. Vera told me to drive and she would lead the way. She swore this way would save us an hour when we got the entire way through. Who am I to not trust my wife? She’s been right countless times before. Of course I trusted her.

M: How long did you drive before anything happened?

A: That’s the kicker. We drove two hours before the delivery van sputtered and took a shit, right there in the middle of these woods, with nothing but black, stormy sky around us. We sat there astonished. For once Vera had this look on her face like she made the biggest mistake of her life, and yet she remained so calm about the whole thing. She turned all calm and calculated toward the kids, and she told them that everything was going to be fine. Even I didn’t know if everything would be fine. That was just one of those situations where I had to take her word.

M: What were some of the steps you took to try to get out of that situation?

A: My survival instincts kicked in, of course. These were my kids. There was just something so eerie about those fucking woods. You have to understand, I’m not much of an outdoorsy type. My wife may know her way in and out of these things but that’s just not my forte in the least. And we were in these woods that were just familiar to her an hour prior, and now she turns to me and she goes, I- I don’t really know where we are anymore. And her voice was all shaky and… you’ve got to understand, that isn’t like my Vera. I decided to suck it up and play her little game of pretending everything was all right. I told her that we would be okay and that I was going to leave the vehicle to look for somebody to help us.

M: Couldn’t you just call somebody to help you?

A: My cell phone was completely dead and Vera didn’t have one. No charger… no nothing. I had no choice.

M: Where did you go?

At this point, Arthur’s expression turned dark and he shook his head. He lowered his eyes to the table and chewed steadily on the skin around his thumb finger, calculating the words he wanted to say. There was something written on his face that I just couldn’t quite read, or understand for that matter.

A: I left the vehicle and was instantly overcome with this melancholy, terrible lingering feeling that I couldn’t push away. I didn’t want to leave my wife and kids. It was like a 50-50 odds. 50% of me wanted to find help as soon as possible and the other 50% of me wanted to hightail it back to the delivery van and stay with my kids. Wait until somebody came along, you know? There was no way that nobody was in these woods. If cabins were in these woods, people were in these woods.

M: In the winter season, do a lot of people camp there?

A: I don’t know anything about the camp. Vera claimed she did, but I’m not too sure.

M: What was the bad feeling you had about the place?

A: It was just so damn dark. And aside from being dark, it put these bad thoughts in my head. Thoughts that my family and I were going to be stuck out there. That nobody would find us in the winter months to come and that we wouldn’t survive. Those are terrible thoughts to have when you have a young family with you. I don’t wish that on anybody. And how do you explain to the kids that the vehicle broke down and that we weren’t sure when we were going to get out of there?!
M: I’m sure it was very stressful. How long did you walk, trying to find somebody?

A: It felt like a century, but really only for three hours. That was as long as I could walk before I felt like I was going to get lost, and without dying from the freezing cold. The way it beat across my face felt unnatural. It was so cold that it seemed like it wanted me to stay in the car with my family, to die in there. And not once, not one damn time did I see a cabin along the way! All those cabins out there, Vera had claimed… and not once! Hell, for how long I walked, I should have ended up outside the forest and it never happened. We were so damn lost. There were so many trails. I knew we were lost.

M: Did you head back to the delivery van?

A: I did, but that’s when I had this feeling…

M: A feeling? A feeling like something was wrong, or that you and your family were not going to be okay?

A: I guess you could say that… but it was a bit more sinister than that. I had a feeling like they were in danger.

M: Your family? Including you?

A: Not necessarily… just them, in fact.

Arthur grabbed the pen and paper I had left on the table. I had prompted him, at any point, to draw out what he was feeling. Art is the best way to funnel all the emotions felt in the heart, onto paper. He picked up the black pen and scribbled, loosely and without talking, a van sitting in the middle of a dark, dark forest. A lingering storm hung heavy overhead and faces of his wife and children were pressed up against the windows of the van.

A: I knew my family was in danger because of the hunger.

M: The… uh, hunger?

A: Yes, we were all so hungry. I got back to the van against my own judgment and Vera was complaining that she and the kids were absolutely starving. It had only been five hours since we ate and they were drooling at the mouth. So we reached into the backseat where the kids were and grabbed the rest of the food we had to last us the entire vacation. We sat there and ate every last bit. It was like… it was uncontrollable or something. We were just so damn hungry we couldn’t stop and control ourselves. And once the food was gone, we knew we were in trouble.

M: How did a small family of four sit there and devour that much food? Are you sure you packed enough in the first place?

A: We ate seven cans of soup, three boxes of crackers, five sandwiches out of a cooler, a box of pepperonis, a crate of chocolate chip cookies, two bags of chips, three bottles of pickles, drank a bottle of ketchup, two bottles of soda, and three bottles of orange juice.

M: All in one meal?

A: All in one meal. Absolutely.

M: Are you sure about that?

A: I’m sure. I know this because they found the van that night… they rescued me, and every last bit of food was gone.

M: What happened before the rescue?

A: After we ate all the food, the children fell asleep, but Vera and I were sitting there for the longest time with nothing to say to one another. I don’t know if it was anger because I knew she had gotten us lost, or just because she was so scared. For all I know, it could have been the hunger. We were both hungry. It was like something unspoken between us, just lingering there in the air. We knew we were starving but refused to say anything. I don’t think either of us wanted to sound crazy. We didn’t want to reflect on the fact that we had eaten enough food to feed a small banquet of people, all in one sitting, children included. So we just stared at each other until one of us spoke. It was Vera, of course. She always gives in.

M: And what did she say?

A: She told me that she couldn’t control the hunger anymore, and as soon as she said it, she licked her lips and wouldn’t take her eyes off of me. I… couldn’t understand what she was feeling. At first, that is.

M: What do you mean, ‘at first’?

A: It was just the way she looked at me, it was evil. It was like she wanted to kill me. And all I could do was sit there and think to myself, what madness would it take to cause that? Because I promised myself I would never feel that way toward my wife. I loved her.

M: Did that change?

A: I can’t say I ever stopped loving her. Somehow, we fell asleep through the hunger and unspoken words. But in the middle of the night, I woke up. It was 1:30 in the morning and I woke up to see my wife fast asleep, kids snoring in the backseat of the van. And all I could think was, now is my chance. The rational side of me was thinking, what the hell? What are you talking about? And the one that had descended into madness was thinking about how easy it would be to just…. Feast.

M: Feast? What do you mean by… feast?

A: I swear I didn’t want to do it. [Begins sobbing harder]

M: What didn’t you want to do?
A: [sobbing to the point of tears fountaining down face] I didn’t want to kill them!

M: You killed who? Your kids?

A: I killed all of them! Every single one of them in alphabetical order by how delicious they looked. Maisy, Stuart, Vera. Smallest to biggest. Every. Single. One.

Arthur clapped his hands over his face and sobbed so wildly that I didn’t think we would be able to continue on with the interview. His caretaker knocked softly on the door, probably wondering if we were soon finished. She said that Arthur didn’t speak much. I didn’t want to lose this chance. I wanted to hear the story for all it was worth. It was my mistake.

M: What did you do to them? What made you kill them?

A: It was just so easy. They were all sleeping and I was… just so damn hungry!

M: Arthur, what did you do to your family?

A: I was so hungry!

At this point, Arthur was screaming and his caretaker entered the room to pull him away, ultimately ending the session. He had this crazed, scared look on his face that he could never make up for what was done. She called another man into the room, who approached Arthur and attempted to calm him down. When that didn’t work, they worked together to restrain him. He was flailing his arms all over the place, his mouth flying in every direction. He just kept screaming. “I’m so hungry! I’m so damn hungry but I don’t want to hurt anyone!” I realized we had been so close to each other from across the table, that it could have been me. It could have been me at any time.

They had found Arthur outside his van, bawling his eyes out and mumbling things to himself that they couldn’t discern. He was covered in so much blood that they thought he was hurt and on the verge of death. When they opened the van, they found bones and muscle tissue strewn throughout, the last remnants of his family. But that wasn’t the worst part.

Once they had pulled Arthur away from the scene, authorities had taken a closer look at his delivery van. It turns out Arthur had worked in the food industry as a van delivery driver, delivering catering food to hotels and other elites in the business. The moment they got to the back of the van, they flung the doors opened and were astonished by what they saw. There was enough food in the back of that van to keep his family sustained for a little under a month. And yet, for some unknown reason, Arthur had chosen to devour his entire family.

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