“When we spoke this morning about Rachel Solando’s code—“ “Everyone’s familiar with what the marshal’s talking about?” “The Law of Four,” Brotigan said with a smile Teddy wanted to take a pair of pliers to. “I just love that.”
Teddy said, “When we talked this morning you said you had no theories about the final clue.”
“ ‘Who is sixty-seven?’ “ Naehring said. “Yes?”
Teddy nodded and then leaned back in his chair, waiting.
He found everyone looking back down the table at him, baffled.
“You honestly don’t see it,” Teddy said.
“See what, Marshal?” This from Cawley’s friend, and Teddy took a look at his lab coat, saw that his name was Miller.
“You have sixty-six patients here.”
They stared back at him like birthday-party children waiting for the clown’s next bouquet.
“Forty-two patients, combined, in Wards A and B. Twenty-four in Ward C. That’s sixty-six.”
Teddy could see the realization dawn on a few faces, but the majority still looked dumbfounded.
“Sixty-six patients,” Teddy said. “That suggests that the answer to ‘Who is sixty-seven?’ is that there’s a sixty-seventh patient here.” Silence. Several of the doctors looked across the table at one another.
“I don’t follow,” Naehring said eventually.
“What’s not to follow? Rachel Solando was suggesting that there’s a sixty-seventh patient.”
“But there isn’t,” Cawley said, his hands held out in front of him on the table. “It’s a great idea, Marshal, and it would certainly crack the code if it were true. But two plus two never equals five even if you want it to. If there are only sixty-six patients on the island, then the question referring to a sixty-seventh is moot. You see what I mean?” “No,” Teddy said, keeping his voice calm. “I’m not quite with you on this one.”
Cawley seemed to choose his words carefully before he spoke, as if picking the simplest ones. “If, say, this hurricane weren’t going on, we would have received two new patients this morning. That would put our total at sixty-eight. If a patient, God forbid, died in his sleep last night, that would put our total at sixty-five. The total can change day by day, week by week, depending on a number of variables.” “But,”. Teddy said, “as of the night Miss Solando wrote her code...”
“There were sixty-six, including her. I’ll grant you that, Marshal. But that’s still one short of sixty-seven, isn’t it? You’re trying to put a round peg into a square hole.”
“But that was her point.”
“I realize that, yes. But her point was fallacious. There is no sixty seventh patient here.”
“Would you permit my partner and me to go through the patient files?”
That brought a round of frowns and offended looks from the table.
“Absolutely not,” Naehring said.
“We can’t do that, Marshal. I’m sorry.”
Teddy lowered his head for a minute, looked at his silly white shirt and matching pants. He looked like a soda jerk. Probably appeared as authoritative. Maybe he should serve scoops of ice cream to the room, see if he could get to them that way.
“We can’t access your staff files. We can’t access your patient files.
How are we supposed to find your missing patient, gentlemen?”
Naehring leaned back in lis chair, cocked his head.
Cawley’s arm froze, a cigarette half lifted to his lips.
Several of the doctors whispered to one another.
Teddy looked at Chuck.
Chuck whispered, “Don’t look at me. I’m baffled.”
Cawley said, “The warden didn’t tell you?”
“We’ve never spoken to the warden. We were picked up by McPherson.”
“Oh,” Cawley said, “my goodness.”
Cawley looked around at the other doctors, his eyes wide.
“What?” Teddy repeated.
Cawley let a rush of air out of his mouth and looked back down the table at them.
“We found her.”
Cawley nodded and took a drag off his cigarette. “Rachel Solando. We found her this afternoon. She’s here, gentlemen. Right out that door and down the hall.”
Teddy and Chuck both looked over their shoulders at the door.
“You can rest now, Marshals. Your quest is over.”
CAWLEY AND NAEHRING’led them down a black-andwhite-tiled
corridor and through a set of double doors into the main hospital ward. They passed a nurses’ station on their left and turned right into a large room with long fluorescent bulbs and 0-shaped curtain rods hanging from hooks in the ceiling, and there she was, sitting up on a bed in a pale green smock that ended just above her knees, her dark hair freshly washed and combed back off her forehead. “Rachel,” Cawley said, “we’ve dropped by with some friends. I hope you don’t mind.”
She smoothed the hem of the smock under her thighs and looked at Teddy and Chuck with a child’s air of expectation.
There wasn’t a mark on her.
Her skin was the color of sandstone. Her face and arms and legs were unblemished. Her feet were bare, and the skin was free of scratches, untouched by branches or thorns or rocks.
“How can I help you?” she asked Teddy.
“Miss Solando, we came here to—“
“You’re not here to sell something, I hope. I don’t want to be rude, but my husband makes all those decisions.”
“No, ma’am. We’re not here to sell anything.”
“Well, that’s fine, then. What can I do for you?”
“Could you tell me where you were yesterday?”
“I was here. I was home.” She looked at Cawley. “Who are these men ?”
Cawley said, “They’re police officers, Rachel.”
“Did something happen to Jim?”
“No,” Cawley said. “No, no. Jim’s fine.”
“Not the children.” She looked around. “They’re right out in the yard. They didn’t get into any mischief, did they?” , Teddy said, “Miss Solando, no. Your children aren’t in any trouble. Your husband’s fine.” He caught Cawley’s eye and Cawley nodded in approval. “We just, um, we heard there was a known subversive in the area yesterday. He was seen on your street passing out Communist literature.”