Underletters #8 – September 2013 – Correspondence between the Oakleaf Retreat and Bella Jade Black

From Bella Jade Black to James Bonaforte

Attention: Dr James Bonaforte

Thank you for your thorough notation of Jasper’s current physical and mental health. I have always enjoyed catching up with Dr Bonaforte Senior and am very pleased to see his son following in his footsteps doing such excellent work. It was such a shame to see him embroiled in that terrible matter with that medical trial, and I’m only pleased my family could be of such assistance in smoothing things over to ensure that the Oakleaf facility prevails as a beacon of hope within Australian mental health treatment.

Now, to the matter at hand. This diagnosis does put us in a terrible position. For the benefit of my family it’s essential that Jasper is allowed to leave with me on Thursday morning. I assume that he will be provided with the correct medication over the following few days to ensure that he is stable enough to function without risk to himself or others.

I may be able to bring him back the following day for a further week of treatment but under no circumstances is he to be incarcerated, committed or subjected to any other form of forced treatment. As you are aware from your own diagnosis, much of Jaspers pain and confusion stems from previous negative experience with this kind of treatment. It would be a shame for the Black family to have to remove their support from the Oakleaf facility should such an incident occur.

In regards to the matter of ‘Betsy’. I’m well versed in the subject and if you feel it would be of benefit to Jaspers health I will provide you whatever information you need, in strictest confidence of course.

Most importantly however is that beyond committing him, which as you know is completely out of the question, I hope you will provide me with some guidance as to what I can do to support him at this difficult time in his clearly difficult life.

Kind Regards,

Bella Jade Black

Response from James Bonaforte to Bella Jade Black

Ms. Black.

Thank you for your response.

Of course the Bonaforte Family is sympathetic to your plight and we understand the need not only for discretion but careful consideration of the right course of action moving forward.

Legally I am bound to recommend incarceration since Mr Black is in no state to make an informed decision on what is best for his well-being.


Should you be able to convince Mr Black to appoint you his legal guardian then all matters of treatment and the decisions thereafter fall to yourself. If you then decide to go against my recommendations and take him home you are entitled to such privilege unless challenged by next of kin as to the validity of your actions. I would suggest filing for power of attorney – I believe our lawyers at Oakleaf might be able to assist you in this matter.

Allow me to stress in all seriousness the gravity of this matter. You would be solely responsible not only for the patient’s wellbeing and health (both physical and mental) but also for any damage or harm done to third parties as a result of removing him from the grounds.

I have already spoken to Braidleigh Manor – our neighbors as you know – and the sanitarium has prepared a room for him and is ready to take him in at a moment’s notice should you decide to heed my professional opinion.

I shall leave the matter to you.


J. Bonaforte.

Postscript written by hand and attached to letter:

Bella, you and I have known each other for a while now – I understand your concerns about the family’s need for Jasper but I urge you to reconsider, for his sake if nothing else. I am happy to administer whatever medication is required to keep him stable while he is away but putting a bandaid over this will not fix the problem. If anything it will only serve to make it worse for him later down the track.

I have filed a recommendation for Jasper to return to Oakleaf at least three days a week for the next month to continue his therapy. I imagine you will need to accompany him, as his legal guardian. Why do this to yourself? Put him back into the asylum and be done with it…


Handwritten note returned by housemaid:

I will not ‘be done with it’. Ever. We’ll leave at midday on Thursday and will return the following day to continue treatment. Being responsible for Jasper has never been unusual for me and I will do what is necessary legally to protect him. Thank you for understanding James.

Handwritten note returned by maid with scrawl on the back:

I hope he makes it worth your while Bella.


All characters and story lines remain the property of N.Ristovski and the Underground. All character writings within the Underground are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2013. Natalie Ristovski.

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