It was in the fall of 1953, the wars of the past were long gone but the scars remained in some now living in an Asylum. Some needing complete assistance and looking after. Several pills taken daily and for the worst days a shot during an apoplectic hysteria while being held down like an animal. The site of restraining those patients wasn’t easy to watch.
They had arrived late at night as the car drove passed the security gates of the Asylum. There, they were greeted with a smile from Dr. Jack Stratton and his chirpy wife Marjorie.
They entered the new house and it was quite comfortable as it was spacious. The new occupants were Dr. Alex Bateman who was now the new Deputy Superintendent of the facility and his very beautiful wife Stella Bateman and their eight year old son; Charlie.
The boxes with all their belongings had arrived first. Stella took off her coat, gloves and hat and layed them on the plush dark green sofa looking around. It was more than elegant and had a very familiar feeling for Stella. Very comfortable. More comfortable than the house they left behind. This was added plus in Stella’s mind.
She was glad when Mrs. Stratton said to her.
“Stella, Jack and I will let you and Dr. Bateman explore the house and get comfortable.”
“Thank you Mrs. Stratton, I really do appreciate all your help.” said Stella. Smiling at Marjorie. The Strattons left.
Going into the spacious kitchen and opening the refrigerator door and finding a bottle of champagne the Stratton’s had left as a housewarming gift.
While her husband Alex and son Charlie went straight to bed after the long drive. Stella poured herself a glass of champagne and wondered outside on the veranda with one arm around her waist line. It was always the most comforting part of the day for Stella.
Finally, looking up at the midnight blue sky with all the stars she had tried to count once as a little girl she breathed the fresh clean air. As a little girl she remembers trying to tune out one of those arguments her parents were having. When adults fight in front of their children, it is the irreverence and then a foreboding feeling the children have no choice but to endure. The loud voices, the doors slamming and the car driving off. Stella felt that adults really didn’t understand the significance of damaging their children’s psyche by arguing in front of them.
I guess sometimes it can’t be helped in the heat of the moment, exchanging words and hateful looks. Stella made a promise to herself that she would never expose Charlie to this. She didn’t complain for Charlie’s sake. She wasn’t a nagging wife and she would usually handle all the work around the house. She remembers fixing the loose pipe under the sink instead of calling a plumber. Alex, of course admired all her virtues.
And so the night became the solace and serene peace she treated herself to as often as she could. She had absolutely no idea what to expect from a place that was totally closed off from the real world. In a way it was frightening, at best stifling.
It’s as if they were trapped behind the gates. That was a problem for Stella. Stella remained completely independent of Alex. Unlike the wives she observed in their friends marriages. At times she found marriage to be quite suffocating and limited. She hadn’t changed in the eight years of their marriage but somehow Alex had convinced himself that a new job and a new environment would satisfy her aloofness, distance and sometimes sadness.
Luckily, the house and it’s location was a ways from the main building. And most of the windows faced in the other direction and there were a few other houses on the opposite site.
In the first week, there was a small gathering for the families to be introduced to the Batemans. Stella was polite and quiet. Listening more than talking.
Charlie had wondered off to the backyard on the grounds. It was a very large space. Stella called out,
“Charlie, Charlie where are you?”
Charlie came running to his mother and was excited.
“Mom, I made a new friend and his name is Devin.”
Charlie grabs his mother by the hand and leads her to the glass greenhouse that was being refurbished by one of the facility’s patients named Devin.
Of course seeing a grown man named Devin wasn’t quite what Stella was expecting. Devin was very handsome noticing Stella’s beauty. He was quiet. “It’s in the eyes that says it all.” A quote she remembered from her grandmother.
There was only one hello exchanged between them and then Stella grabbed Charlie by the hand and said, “Excuse us, we have to get back to the party.”
Her heart was beating faster and she was surprised that such a handsome man could be a patient working on the grounds. He looked perfectly normal and obviously useful.
Everyone was settling into their new routine and Stella kept herself busy with the garden and taking care of Charlie. Doing some reading at nights.
There was a special annual ball to take place for the patients, family and the administrative staff. Stella wore a black silk dress off the shoulders with a plunging neck line. On their way to the ball Alex couldn’t help himself and made a disparaging remark about her dress.
“Isn’t that dress a little to formal for this event?” asked Alex.
Stella didn’t say a thing. But held her head up high. As they entered the very large banquet room, the smell in the air was filled with the ladies perfume. Alex said to Stella.
“I have to go speak with Stratton. Will you be alright?”
“Of course, “I’ll mingle with the ladies. Take your time.” replied Stella.
The music had just changed to one of her favorites “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole. She smiled at some of the ladies who were waving to her to come over. It was Stratton’s wife Marjorie who introduced her to two other ladies. One of the ladies was quite friendly and she said to Stella.
“You look beautiful in that black dress my dear.” Stella looked at her and smiled said Thank you”. Remembering Alex’s remark about her black dress. Her back was turned to the crowd of dancers. Then she heard his voice and she turned.
“Mrs. Bateman would you like to dance?” It was Devin.
Stella was surprised and awkwardly replied with a faint yes. She walked in front of Devin into the crowd and then lifted her porcelain arms. Devin taking her right hand in his left hand and his other arm around her tiny waist. He’s hands were large and while they danced, each took the time to look at the other when the other wasn’t looking. In Devin’s arms they looked like the perfect couple. Alex stretched his neck and got a glimpse of them. Alex was so sure of himself; thinking nothing of Stella dancing with another man. But that was his mistake. The man that Alex was talking to was Dr. Cleaveland who had already started developing a strange crush on Stella. Cleaveland carefully watched Stella dancing in Devin’s arms and felt more of a twinge of jealousy than Alex;
her own husband.
From that night on Stella was happier. She enjoyed working in the garden and once again met Devin restoring the glass greenhouse. Each knew what the other was thinking.
Stella and Charlie and his friend went to the glass greenhouse. Charlie had run off with his friend. Stella remained to watch Devin working.
“You enjoy doing your work, it shows.”
“Thank you, I do enjoy working with my hands. Sitting behind a desk never appealed to me.”
Even his voice made Stella feel alive.
Devin asked, “What do you like to do Mrs. Bateman?”
“Please, call me Stella.”
“First, I enjoy being a mother to Charlie and keeping busy with gardening and sewing.”
“And your husband?” asked Devin.
“He enjoys working late hours.”
“Well, his a lucky man to have you as his wife.”
Stella looked at him and smiled.
“What else do you enjoy doing?” asked Stella
“I love to paint and I haven’t been able to pickup a paint brush since I’ve been here.”
“Oh I’m sorry to hear that Devin.”
“I like the way you pronounce my name; it sounds natural and wonderful.” said Devin.
Stella wanted to ask why was he in a place like this but she didn’t ask.
“I suppose you’re wondering why I am here.” said Devin.
“No, I don’t want to know. That’s your business Devin.”
Devin looked at her so intensely and was completely surprised that it didn’t bother her. Now, he knew that Stella was not only beautiful but kind, graceful and compassionate.
“Well, it’s getting late and I have to look for Charlie and head back to the house.” said Stella.
“Thank you Stella for sharing some of your precious time with me.” said Devin.
In that moment, as a grown woman she wondered what it would feel to be in Devin’s arms.
Then on one hot afternoon she wore her bareback cream colored dress. Applied her lipstick carefully. Everyone was busy and Charlie was in school. She walked quietly and calmly to the greenhouse and there he was, the man that became part of her daily thoughts.
Devin stepped off the ladder. Stella was shaking. He walked towards her and immediately started kissing her. Stella’s arms around his shoulders. Their kiss was filled with an animalistic passion. It had been to long for both of them; an unbridled passion. Devin kissed her bare shoulders and her long neck. She felt as light as a feather in his arms. He responded to her touch. He lifted her gently and placed her on the ground. She lifted her dress up while he removed his straps attached to his pants, unzipped and pulled his trousers down while shaking and then entering her. Stella sighed loudly and Devin kept pushing and pushing harder and harder inside her. “Oh yes, yes, she cried out until finally Devin climaxed inside her.
They held each other looking into each other’s eyes. At that point, the reality of being caught hit her. She stood up and pulled her dress down and fixed her hair. Devin very gently wiped away the lipstick that was smeared around her lips. But just as she was leaving, Devin grabbed her hand and this time he kissed her softly and passionately. No words exchanged between the two, for both knew exactly what they wanted when they met. They managed to keep their affairt a secret.
One day, Dr. Cleaveland managed to catch Stella walking outside on the grounds of the facility. He made Stella feel very uncomfortable. He grabbed her hand and said to her.
“Stella, I can help you, you know?”
She yanked her hand from his grasp and said to him.
“Help me! What are you talking about. Leave me alone or I will tell Alex that you are bothering me.”
As she walked away. Dr Cleaveland asked her.
“Will you tell Alex about Devin. He is my patient you know.”
Stella stopped, turned around and walked towards Cleaveland and said to him.
“You don’t own Devin! He is well, kind and gentle.”
“Oh, Stella how little you know of this man. Didn’t he tell you. He’s an artist and one day he got so jealous and enraged he killed his wife. He beat her brutally and left her to die.”
Stella couldn’t help but look incredulous and stunned.
“I don’t believe you. You’re lying.”
“Then if you don’t believe me ask Dr. Stratton and his wife. They’ll tell you the truth.”