Imagine waking up in a hospital and not knowing why you’re there or anything about your life before that moment. You’re told you were in a car crash, the woman stood by your bed is your wife, and the police have discovered a gun in the wreckage of your car.
Guy Maxwell has lost his memory, and doesn’t remember he twice tried to kill his wife. He becomes a fugitive, hunted by the police, his wife, and her gangster lover, who both want to kill him.
Some years ago I attempted to kill my wife – twice. I was deranged, and much has happened to me since. My crime, and all that followed after was so shocking and life-changing that I thought I should write it all down, from beginning to end. You see, I lost my mind: well for a bit, and couldn’t remember my wife or my failed attempts to murder her, or anything about my life before my car crash until I …
No. I shouldn’t tell you anymore. It’ll spoil the story.
I can remember I lay on my back on a metal bed with clean, white sheets in a grey room. Wires and plastic tubes appeared everywhere. Close by, monitors with nothing but strange, wiggly lines running across them bleeped loudly at me. The room smelt strongly antiseptic. I guessed I was in a hospital.
Through the hazy blur of my vision I could make out the silhouette of a woman closing in on me. As she drew near, I could see her more clearly. She was beautiful with long hair down to just below her shoulders and piercing blue eyes. She took hold of my hand and said something I couldn’t understand. She repeated it. I think it sounded like Guy. Another woman, who wore a white coat, came closer and took hold of my wrist. The small breast pocket of her jacket was stuffed untidily with an array of objects. A couple of pens, a flat, wooden, spatula-like object, a pair of shiny, metal scissors and a rolled-up stethoscope all competed for space. Her glasses hung on the outside of the pocket, precariously attached by one of the foldaway arms. ‘Can you hear me, Guy?’ she said, as she leant over and peered into my face.
Someone squeezed my left hand. I turned my head a little and felt a sharp piercing pain run from the top of my head through my body. I yelled out. For a moment both the doctor and the other woman seemed to peer down at me and hover above my head. All looked hazy again. My eyes felt heavy.
‘Relax. Take it easy,’ one of them must have added.
A hand pressed gently on my chest and I thought I was going crazy.
‘Guy? What you’re on about?’ I can remember saying before I must have fallen back to sleep.
I stayed in hospital for three months. For the first few weeks I drifted in and out of consciousness, each time staying awake longer and learning a bit more about the crash and my life before. In those weeks and months they carried out several brain scans, set my broken wrist and ankle, treated my lacerated back and did all they could for my broken ribs. The bandages around my head were taken off after the second week. I recall gasping at the sight of several ugly-looking wounds with long stitches, black and crusty and prominent gainst my shaven scalp. The doctor and nurse who removed the bandages assured me they would all heal in good time.
Looking back, I remember how scared and panicky I became when told about the accident. It remained just a blank in my mind. I couldn’t remember the type of car I’d driven, who was with me, where we’d been, anything about the crash – and worst – I recalled nothing of my life before it. It appeared I’d lost my memory.
Once my physical injuries were well on the mend and I was able to stay awake for most of the day, the psychiatric team told me about Kathryn. She was the beautiful, blue-eyed woman who’d held my hand when I regained consciousness the first time, and my wife. Apparently she’d been in the car with me. Miraculously, apart from being briefly unconscious, she’d come through the accident unscathed. Over several sessions, each lasting about an hour, they told me how long we’d been married, where we lived, how happy we’d been, what Kathryn did, the clothes she wore, and her likes and dislikes. Eventually they showed me pictures of her. She was striking, a real beauty; but I could not remember ever seeing her before in my life: an experience I found deeply disturbing. When they could tell me no more about Kathryn, they said she was going to come in and see me. She did, but she didn’t stay long.