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5.0 2
by Hill Anderson

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Marriage counselor Eli Fox has always been led by his commander-a persona inside his mind who speaks to him through his waking thoughts. Eli trusts his commander implicitly, for he is, and always has been, his protector and master strategist.

At the historic Stoneport Institute of Psychiatry, Eli supervises psychiatric resident, Meagan Rush, as she leads


Marriage counselor Eli Fox has always been led by his commander-a persona inside his mind who speaks to him through his waking thoughts. Eli trusts his commander implicitly, for he is, and always has been, his protector and master strategist.

At the historic Stoneport Institute of Psychiatry, Eli supervises psychiatric resident, Meagan Rush, as she leads sessions with troubled couples. As a cotherapy team, Eli and Meagan study intimacy between the sexes and debate the interplay of Eastern and Western psychology. But when they decide to become their own interpersonal experiment, honesty gives rise to passion and reopens childhood wounds in both of them, triggering a devastating chain of events. Worse yet, the Institute is in the midst of a takeover led by the greasy Clayton Beauregard, whose main interest is in maximizing company profits. In an effort to reduce claims, his company engages in unethical practices with innocent patients as its victims. As chaos swirls around him, Eli is forced to rely on the wisdom of his commander more than ever before.

Stoneport is a contemporary psychological drama that shares a story of love between two psychotherapists as well as an intriguing glimpse inside the behavioral health industry.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
An eye-opening look at the world of psychology told through a complicated romance. Eli Fox, a family therapist, is proud of his chosen career path: "an earthy profession [that] traveled less pretentious terrain than either the skybound gods of medicine or the…abstract land of testing and personality schemes." He follows his internal commander, a definitive internal voice that guides him through the complicated maze of administering therapy. Eli's days are spent working with his fellow staff and guiding not only his patients, but a married doctor named Meagan Rush, a young woman Eli supervises as she learns the ropes. Eli and Meagan, two committed professionals, are eager to learn from one other and help each other succeed, but soon, their chemistry overtakes them. As Eli and Meagan's sexual relationship escalates, the two struggle to preserve their working relationship. Determined to keep certain boundaries, the two maintain a painful, teasing dance, until Eli withdraws from the liaison. She decides to take dramatic action within her own marriage and ends up in trouble with the law, eventually dragging Eli down with her. As the drama heightens and a man with ambiguous morals takes over the institute, the corruption lurking behind the idealistic therapists begins to surface. Hidden resentments and unseemly intentions threaten to derail the therapy industry. Fraught with tension, this psychological novel delves into the study of human behavior while emphasizing its intricacies through a broken romance. Anderson highlights weaknesses and buried sensitivities as he uncovers the darkness within the patients as well as their therapists. While the story's pace quickens toward its conclusion, psychology, ethics and the law get tangled up in a gripping tale of self-destructive behavior. A substantive, multilayered story of sexual tension and betrayal.

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iUniverse, Incorporated
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6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.85(d)

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By Hill Anderson

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2012 Hill Anderson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4759-0624-0

Chapter One

October 1995

When researchers finally broke the code that linked mood, cognition, and behavior, psychiatric hospitalization became rare.

—The Fundamentals of Mind, V.23, p.87, Institute Press, 2075.

The coincidence of movement and stillness is a law of nature. No matter how ferocious the sea is in hurling tons of water at Stoneport's rocky shoreline, the granite breakwater sits unresponsive, protecting the harbor as the waves explode around it. The tide has a more seductive approach, but the steep glacial sides of every inlet remain unmoved. To fishermen, the stars seem riveted in place compared to the perpetual rise and fall of their boats on the swells. Farmers know the earth remains constant underneath extraordinary seasonal transformations. While the past can never be altered, the present is never fixed.

Stoneport had been a fishing and a farming town at the beginning of the 1700s. The meadows came down alongside the Thunder River to close contact with the ocean, a transition unmoderated by the marshy lowlands that characterized coastlines farther south. The busy harbor hosted vessels from many countries that fished the banks offshore, brought their catches to the drying racks on the edge of town, and then transported delicacies all over the world. The fertile land provided crops for food as well as feed for some of the largest dairy herds in the region. Modern economies had shrunk those original industries, but many new enterprises had grown up near the river and the harbor, including the Gods Anchor Quarry, the Portside Men's Shop, and the Stoneport Institute of Psychiatry. The historical society took seriously its responsibility to preserve the old textile mill next to Arrowhead Falls, maintaining strict regulations as it leased space to the computer giant Thunderbolt Electronics.

From above, the harbor looked like a C with a lighthouse at the upper end and the Institute on a promontory at the bottom. If you were to try to carve that "C" with a smooth sweep of your eyes, the blade of your attention would catch at once on the jagged rocks below the lighthouse, then the uneven contours of Pirates Cove, then the finger of jetty made up of slabs of granite piled like fallen dominoes protecting the clubhouse and docks of the Stoneport Yacht Club—the center of gravity for two dozen sloops, ketches, and catboats bobbing on their moorings. Next was the town beach well downslope from the Misty Hill mansions, where the wealthy lived, and Foggy Knoll, where the spire and cemetery of Our Lady of the Seas Chapel held the highest ground.

On the other side of the brackish mouth of the Thunder River were the Crabmeat Café and the fuel dock at the entrance to the village, where a high school student lounged waiting to tie up the next boat. He got up and walked down to the end of the landing to coil a loose line. Then turned the fuel pump on and off to test its readiness. Soon a line of fishing boats would be filling up for the day's work. The young man looked toward the sea, where neither the tightly fitted jumble of the harbor nor the clutter of his mind were able to crowd him as his awareness spread out over the vast expanse of salt water. The flat line of the horizon was where the earth curved away from the sky, yielding to the endless space that hosted the dance of his uncontained imaginings and at the same time was its own simple emptiness. There were no choices necessary, no need to prioritize or configure. Out there was room for everything, no matter how cramped he might have felt at the elbows.

Five commercial fishing piers crammed with gently swaying and bumping trawlers were next along the harbor shore, and then the cargo wharf where, at four in the afternoon six days a week, fishermen emptied their holds and gave the best bargains. The adjacent shipyard had dozens of watercraft perched on wooden stands near the end of the metal tracks coming up out of the water to the hauling winch. Boats were in dry-dock to have their bottoms painted and for winter storage. A chain-link fence protected those expensive marine assets from the disorderly poor who lived in the neighboring Harborside tenements. Beyond those were, at last, the natural rocky lines of the headland that held the Institute. By the time it traced the harbor's curve, this blade of aerial scrutiny would be chipped and dull. From an even higher altitude, the harbor looked like a chalice holding a small sip of the great ocean wilderness.

The Institute on Long Point was a landmark for yachtsmen. Formerly a convent, the huge Victorian mansion could be seen from a mile away out on the ocean. Wealthy men in their sailboats admired the groomed waterside grounds and the finesse of the architecture. Many shook their heads at the irony that such a sensual place had been wasted first on nuns and now on the mentally ill. Sailing by on a quiet reach, mariners told tales of what might have happened within the walls of that cloister.

The inpatient ward was on the third and top floor of the main building—right next to heaven, it was said. The windows were subtly reinforced so that, while no one could open them to jump out, it was concealed that the inmates were behind bars. Below that on the second floor were Founders Library, the Nathan Broadbent Auditorium ("Broadway"), and the ministry of medical records. On the ground floor were the outpatient department headquarters with a waiting room and eight private offices.

Faculty, residents in psychiatry, and medical students came from Stone University Medical School. The Department of Psychiatry administered the Institute as a training site and a source of revenue, though for the last few years it had been losing money.

Eli Fox returned to the Stoneport area with his wife, Ashley, after graduate school to take a position as a family therapist. He once said that he was proud of his earthy profession of social work because he traveled through less pretentious terrain than either the skybound gods of medicine or the inhabitants of the abstract land of testing and personality schemes. The most institutionalized of the staff looked askance at his reputation for encouraging honest interpersonal feedback. He was good enough at age thirty-nine that some of the doctors in residency training came to him for supervision and respected enough that he was asked to give seminars.

On a Monday nine days before Halloween, Eli and ten others were waiting in the inpatient conference room for the daily morning meeting to begin. Up front was a huge green blackboard with recent admissions, current announcements, and policy messages for the staff. The chairman was supposed to be coming that day. It was after eight o'clock, so the charge nurse had begun her review. Then the door popped open.

Any gathering became more civilized upon the arrival of Dr. Nigel Charles. He was a proper Brit: articulate, charming, and brilliant. He always dressed formally, and an endless collection of bow ties was his hallmark. Horizontal creases across his high forehead added to the air of intelligence that emanated from his steady hazel eyes behind gold wire- rimmed glasses. On the other hand, there was a suggestion of madness in his longish snow-white hair with its unruly cowlick. The door clicked shut behind him. He was late, and everyone noticed. Doctors typically came ten minutes late to every meeting, supposedly due to compelling clinical pressures. Actually, it was more a statement of rank. Nurses were busier, and they were always on time.

Dr. Charles had recently been appointed acting chairman of the Department of Psychiatry. After the last chairman married a former patient, the Institute's Board of Trustees decided they would pull the plug on the accelerating ethics debate and accept his resignation. Nigel Charles was the next most senior faculty member. He was also a well-published theorist and editor of The Fundamentals of Mind—a grand integration of psychological theory and practice. Thinkers at least as far back as ancient Greece and Egypt had composed theories of how the mind worked, and oral lessons had been passed down in the Buddhist tradition for more than 2,600 years. It wasn't until the nineteenth century, though, that so-called modern principles of psychology were adopted. Nigel had confessed that it was an ambitious undertaking to try to compile all recorded theory, but he said he wanted to attempt a comprehensive survey of written teachings, for students' reference and as a contribution to the field. The Fundamentals of Mind was to be an encyclopedic distillation of historical ideas that, as he often argued, happened to be the central tenets of all the supposedly new systems as well.

As Dr. Charles sat down, Alice, the well-muscled nurse in charge, resumed her report. First thing in the morning, six days a week, the entire inpatient psychiatry unit staff gathered to listen to the report of the night shift, to discuss how the patients were doing, to assess the presentation of overnight admissions by the sleepy doctor on call, and to hear the tidings of the day.

"Mr. Clifford says he's no longer suicidal, though he remains isolative, except at the pool table." Alice continued down the list of noteworthy patients. "And finally, Mrs. Cabral seems to be responding to the higher dose of lithium. She was able to sleep last night for the first time in four days."

"Any questions?" asked senior resident Dr. Meagan Rush, who was running the meeting. She was thirty-one years old, a tall, lean, and popular psychiatrist with a black belt in tae kwon do and friendly brown eyes. Her shoulder-length smoky-brown hair was pulled back in a purple scrunchie. A lacy sleeveless blouse did not hide the soft underarm tufts she never shaved. Nor did she shave her legs, though few people at work knew that because of her preference for long skirts. The small scar on the left side of her lower lip formed a swelling that could suggest a pout. Gold faeries dangled from her pierced ears. A story had circulated that as a medical student she went to Turkey after a string of earthquakes, to help those who were suffering. By day she was a medic saving lives, and at night she had to fit into a culture that required that she cover her face and act submissive, though at six feet she was taller than most Turkish men. Nurses appreciated her common grit, doctors her intellectual curiosity, and men her long legs.

Eli barely knew Meagan, though she'd been a resident for three years. She had recently signed up to be supervised by him in couples work. Their first meeting to discuss the details would be in nine days.

Eli's clinical role was to conduct meetings when patients and their families needed assistance. After suicide attempts, for example, the family often fled from the topic, seeing it as taboo or as potentially upsetting to their unstable relative. Eli would host an open discussion for the patient to hear how devastated his family members would have been had the suicide been successful. Their lives would never have been the same, ever. Harsh as the message was, the anguish and tears of loved ones broke down the cocoon of self-absorption that was a prerequisite for suicide. Honesty at those times was considered crucial.

The other staff sitting around the long table were Starcia York, who had been the doctor on call the night before, psychologist Dr. Olga Franz-Waldheim, Mr. Ramon Garcia, two other nurses, a nursing assistant, and Chad the medical student.

"I have a question," said Dr. Franz-Waldheim, "about Jennifer Costello. Is she still having flashbacks?"

"One terrible dream last night," said Alice. "Oh, and her father called. He wants to visit her."

"That cannot be permitted," said Dr. Franz-Waldheim. "Obviously." Her tone was high and tight.

"I'd be willing to referee a meeting," said Eli.

"Not yet," said Dr. Franz-Waldheim. "She must make more progress in treatment first. She has to find the voice of her inner child, and of her true self."

Ramon rolled his eyes. "I'm sure she already has plenty of voice."

Dr. Franz-Waldheim glared and then dismissed him with a flip of her hand. "Can we move on?"

Dr. Olga Franz-Waldheim was a specialist in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder with victims of sexual abuse. She was also in the forefront of research on innovative treatments for offenders. Castration was a new and controversial idea that she said warranted more research. She appeared to relish describing her studies in which the subject's penis was wired to a plethysmograph, a machine that detected erection. The patient was shown various slides of women, men, and children in various moods and poses, dressed and undressed. Whatever inspired tumescence was duly noted in the construction of the subject's "arousal profile"—a crucial document in the formulation of a treatment plan and a benchmark against which to assess progress.

Dr. Franz-Waldheim always wore an expensive dress with nylons, heels, nail polish, perfume, and makeup. For years she had what Ramon referred to as big hair, but more recently she had adopted a closer cut. Allergies made her frequently teary and sniffling. She usually carried a water bottle, and her mind worked with the subtlety of a stapler.

Ramon saw PTSD from another angle. He was a Vietnam veteran with a master's in counseling who led groups and treated war-shocked men at the vet center. He once blurted out that the trauma he worked with, dismemberment and death, was worse than sexual abuse. He blamed the feminists for overdramatizing their case and usurping the diagnosis of PTSD. One of them even sold books defining all sex with men as rape.

He had dark tousled hair, a beard, and a gravelly voice. He wore work shirts from Wal-Mart and jeans in which he pocketed his hands. Occasionally, Ramon discussed his past with Eli. Before going back to graduate school to learn counseling, he had put on a suit every day as an aggressive New York City public defender representing some of the worst perpetrators in the city: child abusers, sadists, rapists, and murderers. He told Eli how he gradually burned out on that job and began to drink too much. Then one day he yielded to a pass one of his more innocent clients made at him, a hooker who had asked him to help her pro bono publico. When he lost her case, she said that he had not lived up to his end of the deal, and she reported him to the ethics committee of the New York Bar.

As part of the settlement agreement, he spent two months in rehabilitation, where for the first time he talked about his war memories. When he came out, he quit the law, went to school to become a counselor, and never had another drink. He explained to Eli that although he appreciated the view that he had abused his power as a client's attorney, he could not forgive the woman for using sex to maneuver and then betray him. He said that his trust in women had been ruined.

"Sure, we can move on," Ramon replied to Dr. Franz-Waldheim. "Let's talk about Mr. Winston. How was his night?"

"No evidence of DTs yet," replied Alice, "but he continues to feel depressed, helpless, hopeless, and worthless."

"We went to his house and removed all the weapons," said Ramon.

"Good idea. Thanks, Ramon. That makes me feel a little more comfortable." With her long fingers, Dr. Rush turned over a page of notes.

"I have some other ideas to make you comfortable," Ramon whispered to Eli.

"Think with your big head," Eli whispered back.

Ramon and Eli supported each other in the joys and tribulations of being male. It was only with another man that they could un-self- consciously discuss sports or politics or lust. Their feelings weren't hurt when one of them was socially unavailable or forgetful. They didn't have to talk about every nuance of their interaction. Eli had spent many years being ashamed of the maleness that had caused so much violence. Ramon reminded him that women could be just as vicious, if not more. He helped Eli come back to his gender. In return, Eli softened Ramon.


Excerpted from Stoneport by Hill Anderson Copyright © 2012 by Hill Anderson. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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