“Insane men deny they’re insane,” Teddy said.
Another step. “Excuse me?”
“Bob denies he’s insane.”
Cawley crossed his arms over his chest.
“Ergo,” Teddy said, “Bob is insane.”
Cawley leaned back on his heels, and now the smile found his face.
Teddy met it with one of his own.
They stood there like that for some time, the night breeze moving through the trees above the wall with a soft flutter.
“You know,” Cawley said, toeing the grass at his feet, head down, “I’ve built something valuable here. But valuable things also have a way of being misunderstood in their own time. Everyone wants a quick fix. We’re tired of being afraid, tired of being sad, tired of feeling overwhelmed, tired of feeling tired. We want the old days back, and we don’t even remember them, and we want to push into the future, paradoxically, at top speed. Patience and forbearance become the first casualties of progressl This is not news. Not news at all. It’s always been so.” Cawley raised his head. “So as many powerful friends as I have, I have just as many powerful enemies. People who would wrest what I’ve built from my control. I can’t allow that without a fight. You understand?”
Teddy said, “Oh, I understand, Doctor.”
“Good.” Cawley unfolded his arms. “And this partner of yours?”
Teddy said, “What partner?”
TREY WASHINGTON WAS in the room when Teddy got back, lying on the bed reading an old issue of Life.
Teddy looked at Chuck’s bunk. The bed had been remade and the sheet and blanket were tucked tight and you’d never know someone had slept there two nights before.
Teddy’s suit jacket, shirt, tie, and pants had been returned from the laundry and hung in the closet under plastic wrap and he changed out of his orderly clothes and put them on as Trey flipped the glossy pages of the magazine.
“How you doing tonight, Marshal?”
“That’s good, that’s good.”
He noticed that Trey wouldn’t look at him, kept his eyes on that magazine, turning the same pages over and over.
Teddy transferred the contents of his pockets, placing Laeddis’s intake form in his inside coat pocket along with his notebook. He sat on Chuck’s bunk across from Trey and tied his tie, tied his shoes, and then sat there quietly.
Trey turned another page of the magazine. “Going to be hot tomorrow.”
“Hot as a motherfucker. Patients don’t like the heat.”
He shook his head, turned another page. “No, sir. Make ‘em all itchy and whatnot. Got us a full moon too coming tomorrow night. Just make things a whole lot worse. All we need.”
“Why is that?”
“What’s that, Marshal?”
“The full moon. You think it makes people crazy?”
“I know it does.” Found a wrinkle in one of the pages and used his index finger to smooth it out.
“Well, you think about it—the moon affects the tide, right?”
“Has some sort of magnet effect or something on water.”
“I’ll buy that.”
“Human brain,,’ Trey said, “is over fifty percent water.”
“No kidding. You figure o1’ Mr. Moon can jerk the ocean around, think what it can do to the head.”
“How long you been here, Mr. Washington?”
He finished smoothing out the wrinkle, turned the page. “Oh, long time now. Since I got out of the army in ‘forty-six.”
“You were in the army?”
“Yes, I was. Came there for a gun, they gave me a pot. Fought the Germans with bad cooking, sir.”
“That was bullshit,” Teddy said.
“That was some bullshit, yes, Marshal. They let us into the war, it would have been over by ‘forty-four.”
“You’ll get no argument from me.”
“You was in all sorts of places, huh?”
“Yeah, I was. Saw the world.”
“What’d you think of it?”
“Different languages, same shit.”
“Yeah, that’s the truth, huh?”
“You know what the warden called me tonight, Mr. Washington?”
“What’s that, Marshal?”
Trey looked up from the magazine. “He what?”
Teddy nodded. “Said there were too many people in this world who were of low fiber. Mud races. Niggers. Retards. Said I was just a nigger to him.”
“You didn’t like that, did you?” Trey chuckled, and the sound died as soon as it left his mouth. “You don’t know what it is to be a nigger, though.”
“I’m aware of that, Trey. This man is your boss, though.” “Ain’t my boss. I work for the hospital end of things. The White Devil? He on the prison side.”
“Still your boss.”
“No, he ain’t.” Trey rose up on his elbow. “You hear? I mean, are we definitely clear on that one, Marshal?”
Trey swung his legs over the bed and sat up. “You trying to make me mad, sir?”
Teddy shook his head.
“So then why don’t you agree with me when I tell you I don’t work for that white son of a bitch?”
Teddy gave him another shrug. “In a pinch, if it came down to it and he started giving orders? You’d hop to.”
“Hop to. Like a bunny.”
Trey ran a hand along his jaw, considered Teddy with a hard gria of disbelief.
“I don’t mean any offense,” Teddy said.
“Oh, no, no.”
“It’s just I’ve noticed that people on this island have a way of creating their own truth. Figure they say it’s so enough times, then it must be so.”
“I don’t work for that man.”
Teddy pointed at him. “Yeah, that’s the island truth I know and love.”
Trey looked ready to hit him.
“See,.” Teddy said, “they held a meeting tonight. And afterward, Dr. Cawley comes up and tells me I never had a partner. And if I ask you, you’ll say the same thing. You’ll deny that you sat with the man and played poker with the man and laughed with the man. You’ll deny he ever said the way you should have dealt with your mean old aunt was to run faster. You’ll deny he ever slept right here in this bed. Won’t you, Mr. Washington?”