Forum Overview :: Tansin A. Darcos's Alter Ego
"It Can't Be That Bad." by Commander Tansin A. Darcos 03/03/2020, 12:56pm PST
"It can't be that bad."
by Paul Robinson

Revised edition.

Something I saw reminded me of a short story I wrote probably 35 years ago. The story goes something like tbis:

"It Can't Be That Bad."

Clark Rosecrans had a problem. Something he had discovered bothered him. Not sure what to do, he decided to talk to a shrink. He checked his employer's plan participants listing and found one his insurance would cover. He called and made an appointment.

He arrived at the building where the psychiatrist was located, and took the elevator to the 14th floor. (It would have been the 13th floor but like many building the elevator skips from 12 to 14.} He walks up to 1437, opens the door, and walks in. The receptionist hands him a clipboard with forms, He fills it out, retuns it to her, then sits down and waits with the other patients. A short while later, the receptionist tells him to go in.

Entering the psychiatrist's office, he invites Clark to sit down. "I'm glad you're willing to come see a professional for help. So, tell me about your problem."
"Well, I've been doing a lot of reading and I've discovered something that bothers me that I almost don't know what to do with myself, but every time I've called Suicide Prevention, after I finish explaining, the person hangs up and when I call back I discover they've killed themselves."
"Well, you can tell me. I've heard a lot of really bad things. Whatever it is, I'm sure it can't be that bad."

This would be the doctor's last words. Well, almost.

After Clark had patiently explained what was bothering him, the psychiatrist looked at him funny. Angrily, he started shouting at Clark, "How could you tell me this? This is horrible! I can't believe it! I don't want to believe it! I can't stand it! I want to ..." The psychiatrist picks up the other office chair, and begins smashing it into the floor-to-ceiling glass window that looked over the city. After a few strikes, the window shatters. The psychiatrist drops the chair, then, calmly jumps out the now open window.

The receptionist, hearing the noise, opens the door. Discovering the sight of a shattered window and her boss not present, she presumes the worst. She steps out, closed the door, and throws a hidden bolt used in case of violent patients. She picks up the phone and dials 9-1-1.

"Nadir county 9-1-1, what is the nature of the emergency?"

"This is the office of Dr. Cowley, he has a new patient in his office. The window has been smashed and the doctor is gone! I didn't check but I have to figure the patient threw him out the window! I've got him locked in the office, there's only the one door. Please hurry, I have a bad feeling about this."

"Give us the address and your phone number."

She does so, then listens as the dispatcher tells her to wait, police would be there shortly, and to call back if anything else happens.

A few minutes later, four police officers enter the room. The senior officer approaches the receptionist. "You called the police, ma'am?"
"Yes, I don't know what happened but I think he killed my boss! I heard him screaming before the window was broken. He's gone and the window is smashed. I've locked the patient in there until you guys showed up."
"What's the patient's name?"
"Clark Rosecrans."
"Okay, unlock the door, then stand back." She does so. The police officer walks up to the door, and shouted at it. "Mr. Rosecrans? This is the police. Can you hear me?"
"I want you to lie down on the floor, put your hands around your head and interlace your fingers. Do you understand me?"
"Yes, I can do that. Okay."
"We're coming in right now, do not make any moves until instructed. Do you understand?"
"Yes, I do."
The officers enter the suite, where Clark is lying on the floor in a position that looks like he is about to be arrested for something. "Sir, I'm going to frisk you for our safety. Do you have anything sharp on you or any weapons?"
"No, ma'am."
The officer searches him and finds no suspicious bulges. "Okay, you can stand up. Put your hands behind your back." She handcuffs him. "Sir, when there is a death under suspicious circumstances we have to have a detective interview you. This is regardless of how he died. This does not mean we suspect you have committed a crime but we don't know, so we have to presume the worst. I hope you understand, Sir."
"Yes, ma'am."

A detective is talking to his commander. "We've got a guy coming in. Was in a shrink's office, there's an argument, the window gets broken, and the shrink leaves the building in a big hurry, the fast way, as in falling 12 floors. We'll see what the patient says. Forensics are at the scene, they'll have more information in a while." He notices a police officer escorting Clark in. "Oh, here's Officer Van Ruiten escorting him in now."
"You and your partner can use Interview Room 3. There is a recorder running in case we need it for evidence."

"Mr. Rosecrans, I'm Detective Blaine Pritchard, this is Lieutenant Potter Ardis. Let me take those handcuffs off. Did the officer explain why you were brought in?"
"Yes, I guess I can understand. I didn't do anything, it was weird."
"I'm required to inform you that you have the right to remain silent and do not have to talk to us at all. If you do talk to us, anything you say can be taken down as evidence and used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to a lawyer before questioning and to have one present during questioning. Are you willing to talk to us without an attorney?"
"Yeah, sure, I didn't do anything."
"How about you tell us what happened."
"I don't know. I was telling the psychiatrist I'd discovered something that bothered me. So I told him, he started screaming, then he smashed the window with a chair, then jumped out. I don't know if I should tell anyone what I discovered."
"Listen, Mr' Rosecrans, or, do you mind if I call you Clark?"
"No, not at all."
"You can call me Blaine. Anyway, Clark, I've been a detective for five years, and I was a patrollman for three before that. I think I've heard almost everything, it can't be that bad."
"That's funny."
"Usually they say this about a woman, but 'that's what he said.' Are you sure you want to hear it?"
"Yes." "Yeah'"
"Okay, it's like this..."

Shortly thereafter, Lieutenant Potter, who had basically sat listening, looked at Clark. "This is terrible! How could you say that? It's.. it's... it's..." He draws his service revolver, turns it on himself, puts the barrel in his mouth, and pulls the trigger. Completely ignoring this, Detective Pritchard opens the door, and.calmly walks out of the police precinct.

Hearing a shot, the Precinct Commander comes out of the office, gun drawn. Clark comes out of the room, sees him., and points in the direction Pritchard had walked off. "Sir, please, stop him, I think he's going to kill himself!"
The Commander spoke to one of the officers in the room, pointing at Clark. "Watch him," he said, before going after Pritchard.

Clark looks at the officer. "I think I need a lawyer. No, I definitely need one."
"I'll call for a public defender."

Meanwhile, the Commander catches up with Pritchard. "Blaine, what's wrong?" he says to the man, who hasn't stopped moving.

"I can't live with this!.It's too much to bear." He gets to an overpass above the freeway. Before the Commander can stop him, he steps over the guardrail and wall, and jumps into oncoming traffic. He is hit immediately by a truck which slams on his brakes. He is also run over by a minivan following the truck, which rear-ends it, who is subsequently rear-ended by a station wagon. By then, the cars on the freeway had been able to stop, causing a backup. The Commander, being witness to a suicide and multi-car accident, followed department protocol and called it in.

Back st the station, Clark waits for the lawyer to show up. About a half-hour later, he arrives. "I'm Ryon Leahy with the Public Defender's Office. I'm looking for Clark Rosecrans, could I see him, please?" The police officer points at Clark. "Thank you." He walks over to him, and extends his hand. "Mr. Rosecrans, I'm Ryon Leahy from the public defender's office. I'll see if I can find a place we can talk." He turns back around. "Is there a place where my client and I can talk privately?"
"Room 4 is available, however, a recorder is running and only the station commander knows how to turn it off, and he left a while ago."
"I can just announce until he comes back'" Turning to Clark, he says, "Let's go in."
They enter the room and he closes the door. Clark sits down. Leahy holds up his hand, and announces to the room, "Attention. Attention. Attention. I am Ryon Leahy with the public defender's office. To any person listening to this recording. You are informed that this conversatuon is private and attorney-client privilege is attached. You may not listen to, nor use, anything heard in this conversation." He turns back to Clark, then sits down. "They do honor such instructions. Anyway, can you tell me what happened?"

"I discovered something that bothered me. So I decided to talk to a psychiatrist. I found one covered by my company's insurance, so I went to see him. I explained what I discovered. He started screaming, picked up a chair, smashed the window, then jumped out. I guess his secretary called the police. They came and brought me in. A couple of detectives interviewed me. "One of them read me what I think was a Miranda warning and I agreed to talk to them. I asked them if they wanted to know what I discovered. They agreed. When I finished, one of them blew his brains out, the other had the same look on his face as the psychiatrist did, then he got up and left. I ran out, I was worried. I saw a man, I think he Was the station manager, I told him I thought the other guy was going to kill himself. He ran after him."
"Thar's why there's one thing I tell my clients that they should always remember,"
"What's that?"
"Don't ever talk to the police. Nothing good can come of it. Maybe you'd better tell me what you told them."
"I'm not sure I should."
"Oh come on, it can't be that bad."
"Oh no! Not that! Everybody has been saying, 'it can't be that bad,' then they end up killing themselves. You want to know, I was in Room 3, apparently all these rooms have recorders, you can just listen to the tape."

District Attorney Cornuta Mondale was meeting with Ryon. "We've determined that there is nothing we can charge your client with, and frankly, I don't think he'd be able to go to trial even if there was something he'd done. The prints on the chair that broke the window were those of the psychiatrist, the only prints on Lieutenant Potter's gun were his, as were the gunshot residue. Your client had none on his hands , so he couldn't have shot him. Commander Greenhurst was an eyewitness that Detective Pritchard jumped off a bridge over Interstate 75, your client was nowhere near him. Even if he used some sort if mind control, I don't think we even have a law on the books that covers it.
"Since you're sitting here I can safely assume you did not listen to the tape of his interview?"
"I'll not argue semantics with you. Fact is, your client is about as dangerous as a tanker truck of nitroglycerine. Someone took the tape down to transcription. The clerk who transcribed it, printed.out a copy, left it on her desk, walked into a ladies' room and drowned herself in a toilet. I wouldn't have believed anyone could commit suicide like that. Her supervisor went to her desk, picked up the transcript, read it, then walked out of the office, took an elevator down to the garage, went over to one of the gas pumps, poured gasoline all over himself, and lit a match. I have the tape and transcription in my safe. They're evidence, so legally I can't destroy either, and I'm just afraid this may spread further."
"You don't have to worry about it. My client has a new job."
"Really? Doing what?"
"The Central Intelligence Agency found out about him. They've hired him as an assasin. He doesn't even use a gun. He just has the victim tied up, then tells them his story, using a computer-generated translation if necessary. After he finishes,they untie the victim, who promptly kills themselves. They're so pleased with his work he's being paid top dollar, about 4 or 5 times as much as me made as a programmer. And he doesn't even have to get his hands dirty or actually do any killing."
"The thing is, he always warns them he's going to tell them something horrible. Care to guess what they all say?"
"I heard the warning from your client, and I said the same thing. I'm guessing they all said, 'it can't be that bad."
"Yeah. And it's usually their last words."

Background to the story.

The intersection of Clark Ave. and Rosecrans Ave. in Bellflower. California, was where I had to transfer from one bus to another and one bus company to another on my way to work. The names of everyone in the story, first and last, are all based on street names near Clark and Rosecrans.
"It Can't Be That Bad." by Commander Tansin A. Darcos 03/03/2020, 12:56pm PST
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