Trey Washington stuck his head in the bathroom. He seemed to be biting back on a smile as he appraised their new clothes and then he said, “I’m to bring you to Dr. Cawley.”
“How much trouble we in?”
“Oh, a bit, I’d expect.”
“GENTLEMEN,” CAWLEY SAID as they entered the room, “good to see you.”
He seemed in a magnanimous mood, his eyes bright, and Teddy and Chuck left Trey at the door as they entered a boardroom on the top floor of the hospital.
The room was filled with doctors, some in white lab coats, some in suits, all sitting around a long teak table with green-shaded banker’s lamps in front of their chairs and dark ashtrays that smoldered with cigarettes or cigars, the sole pipe belonging to Naehring, who sat at the head of the table.
“Doctors, these are the federal marshals we discussed. Marshals Daniels and Aule.” , “Where are your clothes?” one man asked.
“Good question,” Cawley said, enjoying the hell out of this, in Teddy’s opinion.
“We were out in the storm,” Teddy said.
“Out in that?” The doctor pointed at the tall windows. They’d been crisscrossed with heavy tape and they seemed to breathe slightly, exhaling into the room. The panes drummed with fingertips of rain, and the entire building creaked under the press of wind. “Afraid so,” Chuck said.
“If you could take a seat, gentlemen,” Naehring said. “We’re just finishing up.”
They found two seats at the end of the table.
“John,” Naehring said to Cawley, “we need a consensus on this.”
“You know where I stand.”
“And I think we all respect that, but if neuroleptics can provide the necessary decrease in five-HT imbalances of serotonin, then I don’t feel we have much choice. We have to continue the research. This first test patient, this, uh, Doris Walsh, fits all the criteria. I don’t see a problem there.”
“I’m just worried about the cost.”
“Far less than surgery and you know that.”
“I’m talking about the damage risks to the basal ganglia and the cerebral cortex. I’m talking about early studies in Europe that have shown risks of neurological disruption similar to those caused by encephalitis and strokes.”
Naehring dismissed the objection with a raised hand. “M1 those in favor of Dr. Brotigan’s request, please raise your hands.” Teddy watched every hand at the table except Cawley’s and one other man’s hit the air.
“I’d say that’s a consensus,” Naehring said. “We’ll petition the board, then, for funding on Dr. Brotigan’s research.”
A young guy, must have been Brotigan, gave a nod of thanks to each end of the table. Lantern-jawed, all-American, smooth-cheeked. He struck Teddy as the kind of guy who needed watching, too secure in his own fulfillment of his parents’ wildest dreams.
“Well, then,” Naehring said and closed the binder in front of him as he looked down the table at Teddy and Chuck, “how are things, Marshals?”
Cawley rose from his seat and fixed a cup of coffee for himself at the sideboard. “Rumor has it you were both found in a mausoleum.” There were several soft chuckles from the table, doctors raising fists to mouths.
“You know a better place to sit out a hurricane?” Chuck said.
Cawley said, “Here. Preferably in the basement.”
“We hear it may hit land at a hundred fifty miles an hour.”
Cawley nodded, his back to the room. “This morning, Newport, Rhode Island, lost thirty percent of its homes.”
Chuck said, “Not the Vanderbilts, I pray.”
Cawley took his seat. “Provincetown and Truro got hit this afternoon. No one knows how bad because the roads are out and so is radio communication. But it looks to be heading right at us.” “Worst storm to hit the eastern seaboard in thirty years,” one of the doctors said.
“Turns the air to pure static electricity,” Cawley said. “That’s why the switchboard went to hell last night. That’s why the radios have been so-so at best. If it gives us a direct hit, I don’t know what’s going to be left standing.”
“Which is why,” Naehring said, “I repeat my insistence that all Blue Zone patients be placed in manual restraints.”
“Blue Zone?” Teddy said.
“Ward C,” Cawley said. “Patients who have been deemed a danger to themselves, this institution, and the general public at large.” He turned to Naehring. “We can’t do that. If that facility floods, they’ll drown. You know that.”
“It would take a lot of flooding.”
“We’re in the ocean. About to get hit with hurricane winds of a hundred and fifty miles per hour. A ‘lot of flooding’ seems distinctly possible. We double up the guards. We account for every Blue Zone patient at all times. No exceptions. But we cannot lock them to their beds. They’re already locked down in ceils, for Christ’s sake. It’s overkill.”
“It’s a.gamble, John.” This was said quietly by a brown-haired man in the middle of the table. Along with Cawley, he’d been the only abstaining vote on whatever they’d been discussing when Teddy and Chuck first entered. He clicked a ballpoint pen repeatedly and his gaze was given to the tabletop, but Teddy could tell from his tone that 14a he was friends with Cawley. “It’s a real gamble. Let’s say the power fails.”
“There’s a backup generator.”
“And if that goes? Those cells will open.”
“It’s an island,” Cawley said. “Where’s anyone going to go? It’s not like they can catch a ferry, scoot over to Boston, and wreak havoc. If they’re in manual restraints and that facility floods, gentlemen, they’ll all die. That’s twenty-four human beings. If, god forbid, anything happens in the compound? To the other forty-two? I mean, good Christ. Can you live with that? I can’t.”
Cawley looked up and down the table, and Teddy suddenly felt a capacity for compassion coming from him that he’d barely sensed before. He had no idea why Cawley had allowed them into this meeting, but he was starting to think the man didn’t have many friends in the room.
“Doctor,” Teddy said, “I don’t mean to interrupt.”
“Not at all, Marshal. We brought you here.”
Teddy almost said: no kidding?