At Cawley.

Sitting behind a table, his back to a small window square, the ocean spread blue and silver behind him, the smell of it filling the room, the breeze fingering the hair on the sides of his head.  Cawley didn’t look Startled. He didn’t look scared. He tapped his cigarette against the side of the ashtray in front of him and said to Teddy:

“Why you all wet, baby?”


THE WALLS BEHIND Cawey were covered in pink bedsheets, their corners fastened by wrinkled strips of tape. On the table in front of him were several folders, a military-issue field radio, Teddy’s notebook, Laeddis’s intake form, and Teddy’s suit jacket. Propped on the seat of a chair in the corner was a reel-to-reel tape recorder, the reels moving, a small microphone sitting on top and pointing out at the room. Directly in front of Cawley was a black, leather-bound note book. He scribbled something in it and said, “Take a seat.” “What did you say?” “I said take a seat.”

“Before that?”

“You know exactly what I said.”

Teddy brought the rifle down from his shoulder but kept it pointed at Cawley and entered the room.

Cawley went back to scribbling. “It’s empty.”


“The rifle. It doesn’t have any bullets in it. Given all your experience with firearms, how could you fail to notice that?”

Teddy pulled back the breech and checked the chamber. It was empty. Just to be sure, he pointed at the wall to his left and fired, but got nothing for his effort but the dry click of the hammer.  “Just put it in the corner,” Cawley said.

Teddy lay the rifle on the floor and pulled the chair out from the table but didn’t sit in it.

“What’s under the sheets?”

“We’ll get to that. Sit down. Take a load off. Here.” Cawley reached down to the floor, came back up with a heavy towel and tossed it across the table to Teddy. “Dry yourself off a bit. You’ll catch cold.”

Teddy dried his hair and then stripped off his shirt. He balled it up

and tossed it in the corner and dried his upper body. When he finished,

he took his jacket from the table, r

“You mind?”

Cawley looked up. “No, no. Help yourself.”

Teddy put the jacket on and sat in the chair.

Cawley wrote a bit more, the pen scratching the paper. “How badly did you hurt the guards?”

“Not too,” Teddy said.

Cawley nodded and dropped his pen to the notebook and took the field radio and worked the crank to give it juice. He lifted the phone receiver out of its pouch and flicked the transmit switch and spoke into the phone. “Yeah, he’s here. Have Dr. Sheehan take a look at your men before you send him up.”

He hung up the phone.

“The elusive Dr. Sheehan,” Teddy said.

Cawley moved his eyebrows up and down.

“Let me guess—he arrived on the morning ferry.”


Cawley shook his head. “He’s been on the island the whole time.”

“Hiding in plain sight,” Teddy said.

Cawley held out his hands and gave a small shrug. “He’s a brilliant psychiatrist. Young, but full of promise. This was our plan, his and mine.” Teddy felt a throb in his neck just below his left ear. “How’s it working out for you so far?”

Cawley lifted a page of his notebook, glanced at the one underneath, then let it drop from his fingers. “Not so well. I’d had higher hopes.”

He looked across at Teddy and Teddy could see in his face what he’d seen in the stairwell the second morning and in the staff meeting just before the storm, and it didn’t fit with the rest of the man’s profile, didn’t fit with this island, this lighthouse, this terrible game they were playing.


If Teddy didn’t know any letter, he’d swear that’s what it was.  Teddy looked away from Cawley’s face, looked around at the small room, those sheets on the walls. “So this is it?”

“This is it,” Cawley agreed. “This is the lighthouse. The Holy Grail. The great truth you’ve been seeking. Is it everything you hoped for and more?”

“I haven’t seen the basement.”

“There is no basement. It’s a lighthouse.”

Teddy looked at his notebook lying on the table between them.  Cawley said, “Your case notes, yes. We found them with your jacket in the woods near my house. You blew up my car.” Teddy shrugged. “Sorry.”

“I loved that car.”

“I did get that feeling, yeah.”

“I stood in that showroom in the spring of ‘forty-seven and I remember thinking as I picked it out, Well, John, that box is checked iSi off. You won’t have to shop for another car for fifteen years at least.” He sighed. “I so enjoyed checking off that box.”

Teddy held up his hands. “Again, my apologies.”

Cawley shook his head. “Did you think for one second that we’d let you get to that ferry? Even if you’d blown up the whole island as a diversion, what did you think would happen?”

Teddy shrugged.

“You’re one man,” Cawley said, “and the only job anyone had this morning was to keep you off that ferry. I just don’t understand your logic there.”

Teddy said, “It was the only way off. I had to try.”

Cawley stared at him in confusion and then muttered, “Christ, I loved that car,” and looked down at his own lap.

Teddy said, “You got any water?”

Cawley considered the request for a while and then turnedhis chair to reveal a pitcher and two glasses on the windowsill behind him.  He poured each of them a glass and handed Teddy’s across the table.

Teddy drained the entire glass in one long swallow.

“Dry mouth, huh?” Cawley said. “Settled in your tongue like an itch you can’t scratch no matter how much you drink?” He slid the pitcher across the table and watched as Teddy refilled his glass. “Tremors in your hands. Those are getting pretty bad. How’s your headache?” And as he said it, Teddy felt a hot wire of pain behind his left eye that extended out to his temple and then went north over his scalp and south down his jaw.

“Not bad,” he said.

“It’ll get worse.”

Teddy drank some more water. “I’m sure. That woman doctor told me as much.”

Cawley sat back with a smile and tapped his pen on his notebook. Copyright 2016 - 2023