CAPTION: . . . I thought I was dying.
In the small white bathroom, Stacy gets a sharp cramp and doubles over in pain, collapses to the floor, curled up like a fetus, cradled in a small pool of blood. This is a pretty severe first period — and admittedly uncommon — but this is Stacy, Grendel’s daughter, after all.
CAPTION: I was twelve years old, and blood was . . . everywhere.
CAPTION: And, worse, it came from my — my most private place.
CAPTION: I felt nauseous, panicked.
The next day. Still in the bathroom, but Stacy is up, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. She’s washing out her nightshift in the sink, watching the water and blood swirl round and round before it disappears down the drain. (This is an image that will recur, with variations, several times through the issue.) If we see any of her bedroom, note that the bed has been stripped down. Her walls are covered with newspaper clippings about Grendel, but we can’t see that now — only that her walls are covered with stuff, just like any 12-year-old’s walls. Stacy’s obviously been taken care of by now. On some shelving, or maybe the porcelain toilet tank, we see a box of Kotex sanitary napkins (now there’s a euphemism). They would have given her pads at first, not tampons.
CAPTION: Later, I felt . . . ashamed.
CAPTION: No one had ever told me about women and menstrual cycles.
CAPTION: No one had told me about coming of age, about hormones, about sex.
CAPTION: And no one had told me about men.
Intro Erik Olliver. The central image on this page is Erik, tall, red hair, a mustache, just as Matt depicted him in Devil by the Deed. Erik is a psychiatrist, in his early to middle 30s, but not professorial or bookish-looking. In fact, he’s sort of a rogue. Erik would have been studying in the early-to-mid ’70s, when psychology was beginning to take seriously the notions of late ’60s gurus, Marshall McLuhan, Tim Leary, Stanislav Grof, John Lilly — the academic fringes, at least, had been looking into psychedelic experimentation as a potential treatment for schizophrenia and alcoholism. He should be dressed casually, cream-colored pants and a light denim shirt, no tie, maybe his leather jacket is hanging on a coat rack nearby. He wears glasses very occasionally, only for reading, wire rims.
Stacy is with Erik, in his office. She is now 18. Her hair is somewhat longer, and she’s grown into a pretty young woman, though still a bit thin. She’s wearing jeans and maybe an oversize shirt. No makeup. She hasn’t taken great pains with her appearance, but she doesn?t look slovenly either.
The office itself is fairly large, larger than Stacy’s bedroom, but not particularly lavish. Again, the space should suggest an institution. There’s a big desk somewhere near a window, and Erik’s degrees and various awards will be framed, hanging on the walls. There should also be a couple of posters on the walls, taken from the Tarot, specifically the Priestess and the Hermit (in clothing that will resemble Erik and Stacy’s wedding outfits on page 19), maybe a book on the Tarot on a bookshelf, and a deck of Tarot cards on Erik’s desk. (The Tarot will play a part in the final scene, though we’ll only hint at it in earlier pages.) There should be two or three armchairs, comfy ones, albeit worn. Erik and Stacy are sitting, facing each other. Erik might be at his desk, with his chair turned to face Stacy, or they both might be in armchairs. There is no lying down in therapy sessions, and the therapist is always positioned in such a way as to create a sense of equal footing — Erik wouldn’t, for example, be facing her across the desk. Stacy has doffed her shoes, curled her legs up underneath her. It’s daytime. The room is bright.
CAPTION: All men leave.
CAPTION: Sooner or later, all my men have left me.
ERIK: And how did that feel, waking up covered in blood?
CAPTION: I’ve known blood all my life.
STACY: Can we talk about something else?
ERIK: All right, Stacy, what would you like to talk about?
STACY: Grendel. The night I killed Grendel.
Flashback. The Dakota apartments, home of Hunter Rose. Nighttime. Begin perhaps with an establishing shot of the building. The interior, of course, is very lush. Hunter had a lot of money. (Since there are several flashbacks, recurring throughout the therapy sessions, Matt suggests some different visual style — borders, color change — to give us an easy, visual transition into the scenes from Stacy’s past.)
CAPTION: I don’t remember much about my childhood.
CAPTION: And most of what I do remember, I’d like to forget.
Back to Stacy, in Erik’s office.
STACY: I made myself a cup of hot chocolate that night.
Flashback again. In the dimly lit kitchen of Hunter’s mansion-like apartment, we find Stacy, now nine years old, making herself some hot chocolate, from scratch. The kitchen cupboards are very high. On the stove there’s a double boiler, in the top of which she is cooking 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1/4 cup cold water. The counter should have these ingredients and various measuring devices scattered all over, kind of messy, despite the care she takes in the actual preparation of the drink. Stacy is measuring out a cup or so of homogenized milk, into another, smaller pot, which she will place on the stove. As the milk heats, she begins to stir it with a wooden spoon. We see the white creaminess of it as it begins to thicken, swirling round and round. As it starts bubbling, she pours it into the cocoa mixture in the top of the double boiler, and stirs that — again, a swirling liquid, this time warm chocolatey-brown. She takes the top of the double boiler and, very carefully, using both hands, tips it over into a large mug. She sits down at the table and begins to sip her hot chocolate, holding the mug to her lips with both hands, her eyes cast down.
CAPTION: With whole milk, just the way I like it.
CAPTION: I measured everything very carefully. I was always a careful child.
CAPTION: I remember how the milk began to thicken in the pot, and I stirred it then, to keep the bottom from scalding. Just as it started to bubble beneath the surface, in that slow, lazy way milk does, as if it were reluctant to surrender to the boil, I poured it into the cocoa mixture, stirring all the while.
CAPTION: It was a complicated process.
/> CAPTION: I was a complicated child.
CAPTION: I remember the hot chocolate tasted especially good that night.
Back in Erik’s office. Talking heads. Go crazy!
ERIK: And were you alone in the house?
CAPTION: I have always been alone.
CAPTION: For as long as I can remember, I have felt a dark, empty place deep inside me. It is a place only I know. Through the years, it has kept me . . . serious. No one has ever touched it.
CAPTION: No. That’s not quite true.
CAPTION: You’ve touched it, haven’t you, Erik?
Erik looks very concerned, compassionate, as he says:
ERIK: Did you never have any friends, Stacy?
CAPTION: The compassion in his eyes is more than I can bear.
Stacy is looking at Erik. She’s looking at his eyes. They’re very round and very blue.
CAPTION: What is it about his eyes? They change color from moment to moment. Right now they are a deep and abiding blue. I’m drowning in them.
Focus on Stacy’s eyes. A single tear begins to form and slide down her cheek. She speaks with no emotion showing on her face, except that one tear.
ERIK: You must have felt . . . lonely.
STACY: No. I’ve told you before, I don’t feel anything.
Erik leans over, very tenderly, brushes away the tear from her cheek.
ERIK: Don’t you?