George laughed. He pressed his face between the bars and jerked his eyebrows up and down. “You want to hear a secret?” Teddy took a step closer.
George said, “This is good...”
“Tell me,” Teddy said.
And George spit in his face.
Teddy stepped back and’ dropped the matches and wiped the phlegm off his forehead with his sleeve.
In the dark, George said, “You know what dear Dr. Cawley’s specialty is?”
Teddy ran a palm over his forehead and the bridge of his nose, found it dry. “Survivor guilt, grief trauma.”
“Noooo.” The word left George’s mouth in a dry chuckle.
“Violence. In the male of the species, specifically. He’s doing a study.”
“No. That’s Naehring.”
“Cawley,” George said. “All Cawley. He gets the most violent patients and felons shipped in from all over the country. Why do you think the patient base here is so small? And do you think, do you honestly think that anyone is going tO look closdy at the transfer paperwork of someone with a history of violence and a history of psychological issues? Do you honestly fucking think that?”
Teddy fired up another two matches.
”I’m never getting out now,” Noyce said. “I got away once. Not
twice. Never twice.”
Teddy said, “Calm down, calm down. How did they get to you?” “They knew. Don’t you get it? Everything you were up to. Your whole plan. This is a game. A handsomely mounted stage play. All this”—his arm swept the air above him—“is for you.”
Teddy smiled. “They threw in a hurricane just for me, huh? Neat trick.”
Noyce was silent.
“Explain that,” Teddy said.
“Didn’t think so. Let’s relax with the paranoia. Okay?”
“Been alone much?” Noyce said, staring through the bars at him.
“Alone. Have you ever been alone since this whole thing start,ed?”
Teddy said, “All the time.”
George cocked one eyebrow. “Completely alone?”
“Well, with my partner.”
“And who’s your partner?”
Teddy jerked a thumb back up the cell block. “His name’s Chuck.
“Let me guess,” Noyce said. “You’ve never worked with him before, have you?”
Teddy felt the cell block around him. The bones in his upper arms were cold. For a moment he was unable to speak, as if his brain had forgotten how to connect with his tongue.
Then he said, “He’s a U.S. marshal from the Seattle—“ “You’ve never worked with him before, have you?”
Teddy said, “That’s irrelevant. I know men. I know this guy. I trust him.”
“Based on what?”
There was no simple answer for that. How did anyone know where
faith developed? One moment, it wasn’t there, the next it was. Teddy had known men in war whom he’d trust with his life on a battlefield and yet never with his wallet once they were off it. He’d known men he’d trust with his wallet and his wife but never to watch his back in a fight or go through a door with him.
Chuck could have refused to accompany him, could have chosen to stay back in the men’s dormitory, sleeping off the storm cleanup, waiting for word of the ferry. Their job was done—Rachel Solando had been found. Chuck had no cause, no vested interest, in following Teddy on his search for Laeddis, his quest to prove Ashecliffe was a mockery of the Hippocratic oath. And yet he was here. “I trust him,” Teddy repeated. “That’s the only way I know how to put it.”
Noyce looked at him sadly through the steel tubing. “Then they’ve already won.”
Teddy shook the matches out and dropped them. He pushed open the cardboard box and found the last match. He heard Noyce, still at the bars, sniffing the air.
“Please,” he whispered, and Teddy knew he was weeping.
“Please don’t let me die here.”
“You won’t die here.”
“They’re going to take me to the lighthouse. You know that.”
“They’re going to cut out my brain.”
Teddy lit the match, saw in the sudden flare that Noyce gripped the bars and shook, the tears falling from his swollen eyes and down his swollen face.
”They’re not going to—“
“You go there. You see that place. And if you come back alive, you tell me what they do there. See it for yourself.”
“I’ll go, George. I’ll do it. I’m going to get you out of here.” Noyce lowered his head and pressed his bare scalp to the bars and wept silently, and Teddy remembered that last time they’d met in the visitors’ room and George had said, “If I ever had to go back to that place, I’d kill myself,” and Teddy had said, “That’s not going to happen.”
A lie apparently.
Because here Noyce was. Beaten, broken, shaking with fear.
“George, look at me.”
Noyce raised his head.
“I’m going to get you out of here. You hold on. Don’t do anything you can’t come back from. You hear me? You hold on. I will Come back for you.” .
George Noyce smiled through the stream of tears and shookhis head very slowly. “You can’t kill Laeddis and expose the truth at the same time. You have to make a choice. You understand that, don’t you?”
“Where is he?”
“Tell me you understand.”
“I understand. Where is he?”
“You have to choose.”
“I won’t kill anyone. George? I won’t.”
And looking through the bars at Noyce, he felt this to be true. If that’s what it took to get this poor wreck, this terrible victim, home, then Teddy would bury his vendetta. Not extinguish it. Save it for another time. And hope Dolores understood.
“I won’t kill anyone,” he repeated.
“She’s dead. Let her go.”
He pressed his smiling, weeping face between the bars and held Teddy with his soft swollen eyes.
Teddy felt her in him, pressed at the base of his throat. He could see her sitting in the early July haze, in that dark orange light a city gets on summer nights just after sundown, looking up as he pulled to the curb and the kids returned to their stickball game in the middle of the street, and the laundry flapped overhead, and she watched him approach with her chin propped on the heel of her hand and the cigarette held up by her ear, and he’d brought flowers for once, and she was so simply his love, his girl, watching him approach as if she were memorizing him and his walk and those flowers anal this moment, and he wanted to ask her what sound a heart made when it broke from pleasure, when just the sight of someone filled you the way food, blood, and air never could, when you felt as if you’d been born for only one moment, and this, for whatever reason, was it. Let her go, Noyce had said.