Seven years. That's how long Joseph had been confined within the off-white walls of Greybrook Psychiatric Hospital. Seven years, two weeks and three days, to be exact. It was the only span of time he cared to keep track of anything else seemed trivial in a place where they kept you subdued with drugs and life followed a set schedule of waking up, 'recreation' and lights out. Not to forget the regular meetings with his psychiatrist. Oh yes, the highlight of Joseph's week it was, talking to Dr. Halpern and trying to figure out why he'd killed all those people over a decade ago. In those seven years, two weeks and three days, Dr. Halpern had come to a lot of conclusions that in Joseph's eyes were superfluous do you really need a reason to kill? (Yes, the esteemed doctor had jumped on that question like a dog on a bone.)
One-hundred and seventy-seven victims. He'd kept good track. There were people out there who thought it was an impressive number, an amazing feat. They were definitely outweighed by the raging masses, but they were there. Personally, Joseph had always resented getting himself caught. Those two years in jail could have been utilized much more efficiently. Then again, the ego boost he'd gotten from breaking out had almost been worth the hassle it was being locked up. Further on the positive side, far from all of the murders had been legally tied to Joseph a mere fifty-two had been proven via DNA and confessions as advised by his lawyer, whereas an additional thirty-six had been assigned to his name with no valid proof. The remaining eighty-nine victims were unknown to the law or indeed anyone but Joseph himself a combination of skills, luck and a damn good lawyer.
He enjoyed reading the books people had written on him. He'd even written letters to a few of the authors, but he doubted any of them had ever made it outside the ward he spent his days in. Some people had an okay idea of what he was up to, while others we're simply making laughable assumptions based on hearsay or wishful thinking. None of them were as good as Dr. Halpern, though. Then again, the doctor had constant access to Joseph and saw him once a week, so he had something of an advantage to all the journalists and aspiring crime profilers.
"When's your book going to be ready, Doctor?"
Dr. Halpern looked up from his notes, eyebrows raised in question. "Excuse me?"
"Your book about me." Joseph was slightly leaned back in the desk chair, looking at his psychiatrist behind the desk situated between them. "You've had seven years to get inside my mind, you must have more than enough to write a bestseller."
Putting his pen down, Dr. Halpern looked over at him with a look on his face that told Joseph that the doctor's mind was processing every letter of the words he'd just uttered, trying to figure out the 'psychological subtext'. "I have no intention of writing a book about you, Joseph. Why, would you want me to?"
"You'd probably do a better job than any of the poor souls who's tried so far." Joseph gave a quick, pitying smile.
Later that day, he was sat in the recreation room in the same spot he usually could be found a small table by the large windows, where the light was good. He was drawing, working on a picture he'd spent the last three days with. It was a young boy, about twenty, nameless to Joseph but familiar nonetheless. Whenever he dreamed about past victims, he'd usually spend the next few days drawing their portrait. It was a way to get them out of his mind, not to mention it gave Dr. Halpern something to analyze. Joseph had never admitted what the portraits were, even if the doctor had made his own assumptions.
A small paper cup was put next to him, along with a cup of water. Joseph barely glanced at the nurse who had provided these things, instead just downing the pills and chasing them down with the water. The cups were removed and he put the pencil down. He'd learnt that drawing as the meds kicked in wasn't beneficial to the picture. Taking a second pencil from the storage jar, he aligned the two drawing tools to form a cross on top of his nearly finished sketch. It had been a small, silly gesture at first, intended as a treat for the doctors, but nowadays it was a habit. Standing up, he left the drawing like that, knowing a nurse would take care of it and return it to him next time he wanted to work on it. This was a routine that had been established quite early on in his residence at the ward, at the expense of a night in Solitary.
There wasn't a free armchair in front of the TV, but it didn't take long for Joseph to change that fact. You made your own reputation. Once he'd gotten a seat, he sunk into the chair until he could rest his head on the back of it and fixed a hazy gaze at the TV screen. Some nature program. He didn't mind what was on, since he wasn't watching so much as resting his eyes. His visual impulses were mismatched in his head and he'd long since stopped trying to make sense of them. He'd grown familiar with his reactions to his medication even when they changed it, it didn't take long to get used to the side effects and only gave a fleeting thought of regret at the fact that he'd be a docile sheep for a few hours. After seven years, two weeks and three days, he'd grown languid.