“That room was checked?”
“It was, Marshal,” McPherson said, sounding tired now. “Nurse Marino,” Teddy said, “you were part of the group therapy session last night.”
“Anything unusual occur?”
“Define ‘unusual.’ “
“This is a mental institution, Marshal. For the criminally insane.
‘Usual’ isn’t a big part of our day.”
Teddy gave her a nod and a sheepish smile. “Let me rephrase. Anything occur in group last night that was more memorable than, um . . . ?”
“Normal?” she said.
That drew a smile from Cawley, a few stray laughs.
She thought about it for a minute, her cigarette ash growing white and hooked. She noticed it, flicked it off into the ashtray, raised her head. “No. Sorry.”
“And did Miss Solando speak last night?”
“A couple of times, I think, yes.”
Marino looked over at Cawley.
He said, “We’re waiving patient confidentiality with the marshals for now.”
She nodded, though Teddy could tell she wasn’t too fond of the concept.
“We were discussing anger management. We’ve had a few instances of inappropriate volatility recently.”
“Patients screaming at other patients, fighting, that sort of thing. Nothing out of the norm, just a small upsurge in recent weeks that probably had to do with the heat wave more than anything. So last night we discussed appropriate and inappropriate ways to display anxiety or displeasure.”
“Has Miss Solando had any anger issues of late?”
“Rachel? No. Rachel only became agitated when it rained. That was her contribution to group last night. ‘I hear rain. I hear rain. It’s not here, but it’s coming. What can we do about the food?’ “ “The food?”
Marino stubbed out her cigarette and nodded. “Rachel hated the food here. She complained constantly.”
“For good reason?” Teddy said.
Marino caught herself before a half smile went full. She dropped her eyes. “One could argue the reason was understandable possibly. We don’t color reasons or motives in terms of good or bad moral suppositions.” Teddy nodded. “And there was a Dr. Sheehan here last night. He ran group. Is he here?”
No one spoke. Several men stubbed out their cigarettes in the standing ashtrays between chairs. ‘
Eventually, Cawley said, “Dr. Sheehan left on the morning ferry.
The one you took on the return trip.”
“He’d been scheduled for a vacation for some time.”
“But we need to talk to him.”
Cawley said, “I have his summation documents in regard to the group session. I have all his notes. He departed the main facility at ten last night, retired to his quarters. In the morning, he left. His vacation had been long overdue and long planned as well. We saw no reason to keep him here.”
Teddy looked to McPherson.
“You approved this?”
“It’s a state of lockdown,” Teddy said. “A patient has escaped.
How do you allow anyone to leave during lockdown?”
McPherson said, “We ascertained his whereabouts during the rJight.
We thought it through, couldn’t think of any reason to keep him.”
“He’s a doctor,” Cawley said.
“Jesus,” Teddy said softly. Biggest breach in standard operating procedure he’d ever encountered at any penal institution and everyone was acting like it was no big deal.
“Where’d he go?”
“On vacation,” Teddy said. “Where did he go?”
Cawley looked up at the ceiling, trying to recall. “New York, I believe. The city. It’s where his family is from. Park Avenue.” “I’ll need a phone number,” Teddy said.
“I don’t see why—“
“Doctor,” Teddy said. “I’ll need a phone number.”
“We’ll get that to you, Marshal.” Cawley kept his eyes on the ceiling.
“Anything else?” °
“You bet,” Teddy said.
Cawley’s chin came down and he looked across at Teddy.
“I need a phone,” Teddy said.
THE PHONE IN the nurses’ station gave off nothing but a white hiss of air. There were four more in the ward, locked behind glass, and once the glass was opened, the phones produced the same result. Teddy and Dr. Cawley walked over to the central switchboard on the first floor of the main hospital building. The operator looked up as they came through the door, a set of black headphones looped around his neck.
“Sir,” he said, “we’re down. Even radio communication.”
Cawley said, “It’s not all that bad out.”
The operator shrugged. “I’ll keep trying. It’s not so much what it’s doing here, though. It’s what kinda weather they’re having back on the other side.”
“Keep trying,” Cawley said. “You get it up and running, you get word to me. This man needs to make a pretty important call.” The operator nodded and turned his back to them, put the headphones back on.
Outside, the air felt like trapped breath.
“What do they do if you don’t check in?” Cawley asked. “The field office?” Teddy said. “They mark it in their nightly reports. Usually twenty-four hours before they start to worry.” Cawley nodded. “Maybe this’ll blow over by then.”
“Over?” Teddy said. “It hasn’t even started yet.”
Cawley shrugged and began walking toward the gate. “I’ll be having drinks and maybe a cigar or two at my house. Nine o’clock, if you and your partner feel like dropping by.”
“Oh,” Teddy said. “Can we talk then?” :
Cawley stopped, looked back at him. The dark trees on the other side of the wall had begun to sway and whisper.
“We’ve been talking, Marshal.”
CHUCK AND TEDDY walked the dark grounds, feeling the storm in the air swelling hot around them, as if the world were pregnant, distended.
“This is bullshit,” Teddy said.
“Rotten to the fucking core.”
“I was Baptist, I’d give you an ‘Amen, brother.’ “