“So, tell me,” Teddy whispered.
“You just want to hear it.”
“I just want to hear it.” ;
She ran her palm down his cheekbone and along his chin, and her voice was thicker when she spoke:
“I came back still wet from the lake and you licked me dry.” Teddy placed his hands on her face before she could close the distance between them. His fingers slid back along her temples, and he could feel the dampness from her hair against his thumbs and he looked into her eyes.
“Tell me what else you did yesterday,” he whispered, and he saw something fighting against the water-clarity in her eyes. Fear, he was pretty sure. And then it sprouted onto her upper lip and the skin between her eyebrows. He could feel tremors in her flesh. She searched his face and her eyes widened and widened and flicked from side to side in their sockets.
“I buried you,” she said.
“No, I’m right here.”
“I buried you. In an empty casket because your body was blown all over the North Atlantic. I buried your dog tags because that’s all they Could find. Your body, your beautiful body, that was burned up and eaten by sharks.”
“Rachel,” Cawley said.
“Like meat,” she said.
“No,” Teddy said.
“Like black meat, burned beyond tenderness.”
“No, that wasn’t me.”
“They killed Jim. My Jim’s dead. So who the fuck are you?” She wrenched from his grip and crawled up the bed to the wall and then turned to look back at him.
“Who the fuck is that?” She pointed at Teddy and spit at him. Teddy couldn’t move. He stared at her, at the rage filling her eyes like a wave.
“You were going to fuck me, sailor? Is that it? Put your dick inside me while my children played in the yard? Was that your plan? You get the hell out of here! You hear me? You get the hell out of” She lunged for him, one hand raised over her head, and Teddy jumped from the bed and two orderlies swooped past him with thick leather belts draped over their shoulders and caught Rachel under the arms and flipped her back onto the bed.
Teddy could feel the shakes in his body, the sweat springing from his pores, and Rachel’s voice blew up through the ward:
“You rapist! You cruel fucking rapist! My husband will come and cut your throat open! You hear me? He will cut your fucking head off and we’ll drink the blood! We’ll bathe ourselves in it, you sick fucking bastard!”
One orderly lay across her chest and the other one grasped her
ankles in a massive hand and they slid the belts through metal slots in
the bedrails and crossed them over Rachel’s chest and ankles and
pulled them through slots on the other side, pulled them taut and then slid the flaps through buckles, and the buckles made a snap as they locked, and the orderlies stepped back.
“Rachel,” Cawley said, his voice gentle, paternal.
“You’re all fucking rapists. Where are my babies? Where are my babies? You give me back my babies, you sick sons-a-bitches! You give me my babies!”
She let loose a scream that rode up Teddy’s spine like a bullet, and she surged against her restraints so hard the gurney rails clattered, and Cawley said, “We’ll come check on you later, Rachel.” She spit at him and Teddy heard it hit the floor and then she screamed again and there was blood on her lip from where she must have bitten it, and Cawley nodded at them and started walking and they fell into step behind him, Teddy looking back over his shoulder to see Rachel watching him, looking him right in the eye as she arched her shoulders off the mattress and the cords in her neck bulged and her lips were slick with blood and spittle as she shrieked at him, shrieked like she’d seen all the century’s dead climb through her window and walk toward her bed.
CAWLEY HAD A bar in his office, and he went to it as soon as they entered, crossing to the right, and that’s where Teddy lost him for a moment. He vanished behind a film of white gauze, and Teddy thought:
No, not now. Not now, for Christ’s sake.
“Where’d you find her?” Teddy said.
“On .the beach near the lighthouse. Skipping stones into the ocean.”
Cawley reappeared, but only because Teddy shifted his head to the left as Cawley continued on to the right. As Teddy turned his head, the gauze covered a built-in bookcase and then the window. He rubbed his right eye, hoping against all evidence, but it did no good, and then he felt it along the left side of his head—a canyon filled with lava cut through the skull just below the part in his hair. He’d thought it was Rachel’s screams in there, the furious noise, but it was more than that, and the pain erupted like a dozen dagger points pushed slowly into his cranium, and he winced and raised his fingers to his temple. “Marshal?” He looked up to see Cawley on the other side of his desk, a ghostly blur to his left.
“Yeah?” Teddy managed.
“You’re deathly pale.”
“You okay, boss?” Chuck was beside him suddenly.
“Fine,” Teddy managed, and Cawley placed his scotch glass down on the desk, and the sound of it was like a shotgun report. “Sit down,” Cawley said.
“I’m okay,” Teddy said, but the words made their way down from his brain to his tongue on a sliked ladder.
Cawley’s bones cracked like burning wood as he leaned against the desk in front of Teddy. “Migraine?”
Teddy looked up at the blur of him. He would have nodded, but past experience had taught him never to nod during one of these. “Yeah,” he managed.
“I could tell by the way you’re rubbing your temple.”
“You get them often?”
“Half-dozen...” Teddy’s mouth dried up and he took a few seconds to work some moisture back into his tongue. “... times a year.” “You’re lucky,” Cawley said. “In one respect anyway.”
“A lot of migraine sufferers get cluster migraines once a week or so.” His body made that burning-wood sound again as he came off the desk and Teddy heard him unlock a cabinet.
“What do you get?” he asked Teddy. “Partial vision loss, dry mouth, fire in the head?”
“All the centuries we’ve studied the brain, and no one has a clue where they come from. Can you believe that? We know they attack the parietal lobe usually. We know they cause a clotting of the blood. It’s infinitesimal as these things go, but have it occur in something as delicate and small as the brain, and you will get explosions. All this time, though, all this study, and we know no more about the cause or much of the long-term effects than we do about how to stop the common cold.”