hospital with radical approaches—“

“Yes, we are.”

“You take only the most violent patients.”

“Correct again. With a caveat—the most violent and the most delusional.”

“and you...”

“We what?”

“You experiment.”

“Yes!” Cawley clapped his hands and took a quick bow. “Guilty as charged.”


Cawley held up a finger. “Ah, no. Sorry. We do not experiment with surgery. It is used as a last resort, and that last resort is employed always over my most vocal protests. I’m one man, however, and even I can’t change decades of accepted practices overnight.” “You’re lying.”

Cawley sighed. “Show me one piece of evidence that your theory can hold water. Just one.”

Teddy said nothing.

“And to all the evidence that I’ve presented, you have refused to respond.”

“That’s because it’s not evidence at all. It’s fabricated.” ‘ Cawley pressed his hands together and raised them to his lips as if in prayer.

“Let me off this island,” Teddy said. “As a federally appointed officer of the law, I demand that you let me leave.”

Cawley closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them, they were clearer and harder. “Okay, okay. You got me, Marshal. Here, I’ll make it easy on you.”

He pulled a soft leather briefcase off the floor and undid the buckles and opened it and tossed Teddy’s gun onto the table.

“That’s your gun, right?”

Teddy stared at it.

“Those are your initials engraved on the handle, correct?”

Teddy peered at it, sweat in his eyes.

“Yes or no, Marshal? Is that your gun?”

He could see the dent in the barrel from the day when Phillip Stacks took a shot at him and hit the gun instead and Stacks ended up shot from the ricochet of his own bullet. He could see the initials E.D. engraved on the handle, a gift from the field office after he ended up shooting it out with Breck in Maine. And there, on the underside of the trigger guard, the metal was scraped and worn away a bit from when he’d dropped the gun during a foot chase in St. Louis in the winter of ‘49.  “Is that your gun?”


“Pick it up, Marshal. Make sure it’s loaded.”

Teddy looked at the gun, looked back at Cawley.

“Go ahead, Marshal. Pick it up.”

Teddy lifted the gun off the table and it shook in his hand.

“Is it loaded?” Cawley asked.

“You’re sure?”

“I can feel the weight.”

Cawley nodded. “Then blast away. Because that’s the only way you’re ever getting off this island.”

Teddy tried to steady his arm with his other hand, but that was shaking too. He took several breaths, exhaling them slowly, sighting down the barrel through the sweat in his eyes and the tremors in his body, and he could see Cawley at the other end of the gun sights, two feet away at most, but he was listing up and down and side to side as if they both stood on a boat in the high seas.

“You have five seconds, Marshal.”

Cawley lifted the phone out of the radio pack and cranked the handle, and Teddy watched him place the phone to his mouth.  “Three seconds now. Pull that trigger or you spend your dying days on this island.”

Teddy could feel the weight of the gun. Even with the shakes, he had a chance if he took it now. Killed Cawley, killed whoever was waiting outside.

Cawlcy said, “Warden, you can send him up.”

And Teddy’s vision cleared and his shakes reduced themselves to small vibrations and he looked down the barrel as Cawley put the phone back in the pack.

Cawley got a curious look on his face, as if only now did it occur to him that Teddy might have the faculties left to pull this off.  And Cawley held up a hand.

He said, “Okay, okay.”

And Teddy shot him dead center in the chest.

Then he raised his hands a half an inch and shot Cawley in the face.

With water.

Cawley frowned. Then he blinked several times. He took a handkerchief from his pocket.

Shudder Island

The door opened behind Teddy, and he spun in his chair and took aim as a man entered the room.

“Don’t shoot,” Chuck said. “I forgot to wear my raincoat.”


CAWLEY WIPED HIS fac with the handkerchief and took his seat again and Chuck came around the table to Cawley’s side and Teddy turned the gun in his palm and stared down at it.

He looked across the table as Chuck took his seat, and Teddy noticed he was wearing a lab coat.

“I thought you were dead,” Teddy said.

“Nope,” Chuck said.

It was suddenly hard to get words out. He felt the inclination to stutter, just as the woman doctor had predicted. “I... I... was... I was willing to die to bring you out of here. I...” He dropped the gun to the table, and he felt all strength drain from his body. He fell into his chair, unable to go on.

“I’m genuinely sorry about that,’ Chuck said. “Dr. Cawley and I agonized over that for weeks before we put this into play. I never wanted to leave you feeling betrayed or cause you undue anguish. You have to believe me. But we were certain we had no alternative.”

“There’s a bit of a clock ticking on this one,” Cawley said. “This was our last-ditch effort to bring you back, Andrew. A radical idea, even for this place, but I’d hoped it would work.”

Teddy wiped at the sweat in his eyes, ended up smearing it there.

He looked through the blur at Chuck.

“Who are you?” he said.

Chuck stretched a hand across the table. “Dr. Lester Sheehan,” he said.

Teddy left the hand hanging in the air and Sheehan eventually withdrew it.

“So,” Teddy said and sucked wet air through his nostrils, “you let me go on about how we needed to find Sheehan when you ... you were Sheehan.”

Sheehan nodded.

“Called me ‘boss.’ Told me jokes. Kept me entertained. KelX a watch on me at all times, is that right, Lester?” .

He looked across the table at him, and Sheehan tried to hold his eyes, but he failed and dropped his gaze to his tie and flapped it against his chest. “I had to keep an eye on you, make sure you were safe.”

“Safe,” Teddy said. “So that made everything okay. Moral.” Sheehan dropped his tie. “We’ve known each other for two years, Andrew.” Copyright 2016 - 2023