“What?” she said, laughing with him.

“Maybe you shouldn’t get out,” he said.

“You say that because you’re a man.”

“You’re damn right.”

“Well then, I don’t blame you.”

It was a relief to laugh after Peter Breene, and Teddy wondered if

he was actually flirting a bit too. With a mental patient. An ax murderer. This is what it’s come to, Dolores. But he didn’t feel altogether

bad about it, as if after these two long dark years of mourning he was maybe entitled to a little harmless repartee.

“What would I do if I did get out?” Bridget said. “I don’t know what’s out in that world anymore. Bombs, I hear. Bombs that can turn whole cities to ash. And televisions. That’s what they call them, isn’t it?  There’s a rumor each ward will get one, and we’ll be able to see plays on this box. I don’t know that I’d like that. Voices coming from a box.  Faces from a box. I hear enough voices and see enough faces every day. I don’t need more noise.”

“Can you tell us about Rachel Solando?” Chuck asked.  She paused. It was more like a hitch, actually, and Teddy watched her eyes turn up slightly, as if she were searching her brain for the right file, and Teddy scribbled “lies” in his notepad, curling his wrist over the word as soon as he was done.

Her words came more carefully and smelled of rote.

“Rachel is nice enough. She keeps to herself. She talks about rain a lot, but mostly she doesn’t talk at all. She believed her kids were alie.  She believed she was still living in the Berkshires and that we were all neighbors and postmen, deliverymen, milkmen. She was hard to get to know.”

She spoke with her head down, and when she finished, she couldn’t meet Teddy’s eyes. Her glance bounced off his face, and she studied the tabletop and lit another cigarette.

Teddy thought about what she’d just said, realized the description of Rachel’s delusions was almost word for word what Cawley had said to them yesterday.

“How long was she here?”


“Rachel. How long was she in Ward B with you?”

“Three years? About that, I think. I lose track of time. It’s easy to do that in this place.”

“And where was she before that?” Teddy asked.

“Ward C, I heard. She transferred over, I believe.”

“But you’re not sure.”

“No. I... Again, you lose track.”

“Sure. Anything unusual happen the last time you saw her?”

“That was in group.”


“The last time you saw her,” Teddy said. “It was in group therapy the night before last.”

“Yeah, yeah.” She nodded several times and shaved some ash off against the rim of the ashtray. “In group.”

“And you all went up to your rooms together?”

“With Mr. Ganton, yes.”

“What was Dr. Sheehan like that night?”

She looked up, and Tedd saw confusion and maybe some terror in her face. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Was Dr. Sheehan there that night?”

She looked at Chuck, then over at Teddy, sucked her upper lip against her teeth. “Yeah. He was there.”

“What’s he like?”

“Dr. Sheehan?”

Teddy nodded.

“He’s okay. He’s nice. Handsome.”


“Yeah. He’s... not hard on the eyes, as my mother used to say.”

“Did he ever flirt with you?”

“Come on to you?”

“No, no, no. Dr. Sheehan’s a good doctor.”

“And that night?”

“That night?” She gave it some thought. “Nothing unusual happened that night. We spoke about, urn, anger management? And Rachel complained about the rain. And Dr. Sheehan left just before the group broke up, and Mr. Ganton led us up to our rooms, and we went to bed, and that was it.”

In his notebook, Teddy wrote “coached” underneath “lies” and closed the cover.

“That was it?”

“Yes. And the next morning Rachel was gone.”

“The next morning?”

“Yeah. I woke up and heard that she’d escaped.”

“But that night? Around midnight—you heard it, right?” “Heard what?” Stubbing out her cigarette, waving at the smoke that wafted up in its wake.

“The commotion. When she was discovered missing.”


“No. I—“


“There was shouting, yelling, guards running in from everywhere, alarms sounding.”

“I thought it was a dream.”

“A dream?”

She nodded fast. “Sure. A nightmare.” She looked at Chuck.

“Could I get a glass of water?”

“You bet.” Chuck stood and looked around, saw a stack of glasses in the rear of the cafeteria beside a steel dispenser.

One of the orderlies half rose from his seat. “Marshal?”

“Just getting some water. It’s okay.”

Chuck crossed to the machine, selected a glass, and took a few seconds to decide which nozzle produced milk and which produced water.

As he lifted the nozzle, a thick knob that looked like a metal hoof,

Bridget Kearns grabbed Teddy’s notebook and pen. She looked at

him, holding him with her eyes, and flipped to a clean page, scribbled something on it, then flipped the cover closed and slid the notebook and pen back to him.

Teddy gave her a quizzical look, but she dropped her eyes and idly caressed her cigarette pack.

Chuck brought the water back and sat down. They watched Bridget drain half the glass and then say, “Thank you. Do you have any more questions? I’m kind of tired.”

“You ever meet a patient named Andrew Laeddis?” Teddy asked.  Her face showed no expression. None whatsoever. It was as if it had turned to alabaster. Her hands stayed flat on the tabletop, as if removing them would cause the table to float to the ceiling.  Teddy had no clue as to why, but he’d swear she was on the verge of weeping.

“No,” she said. “Never heard of him.”

“YOU THINK SHE was coached?” Chuck said.

“Don’t you?”

“Okay, it sounded a little forced.”

They were in the breezeway that connected Ashecliffe to Ward B, impervious to the rain now, the drip of it on their skin.  “A little? She used the exact same words Cawley used in some cases. When we asked what the topic was about in group, she paused and then she said ‘anger management?’ Like she wasn’t sure. Like she was taking a quiz and she’d spent last night cramming.” “So what’s that mean?”

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