“When the first clinicians came here,” McPherson said, “this was all sea grass and scrub. You should see the pictures. But now...” To the right and left of the hospital stood two identical redbrick colonials with the trim painted bright white, their windows barred, and the panes yellowed by salt and sea wash. The hospital itself was charcoal-colored, its brick rubbed smooth by the sea, and it rose six stories until the dormer windows up top stared down at them.  McPherson said, “Built as the battalion HQ just before the Civil War. They’d had some designs, apparently, to make this a training facility. Then when war seemed imminent, they concentrated on the fort, and then later on transforming this into a POW camp.” Teddy noticed the tower he’d seen from the ferry. The tip of it peeked just above the tree line on the far side of the island.  “What’s the tower?”

“An old lighthouse,” McPherson said. “Hasn’t been used as such since the early 1800s. The Union army posted lookout sentries there, or so I’ve heard, but now it’s a treatment facility.”

“For patients?”

He shook his head. “Sewage. You wouldn’t believe what ends up in these waters. Looks pretty from the ferry, but every piece of trash in just about every river in this state floats down into the inner harbor, out through the midharbor, and eventually reaches us.” “Fascinating,” Chuck said and lit a cigarette, took it from his mouth to suppress a soft yawn as he blinked in the sun.  “Beyond the wall, that way”—he pointed past Ward B—“is the original commander’s quarters. You probably saw it on the walk up.  Cost a fortune to build at the time, and the commander was relieved of his duties when Uncle Sam got the bill. You should see the place.” “Who lives there now?” Tdddy said.

“Dr. Cawley,” McPherson said. “None of this would exist if it weren’t for Dr. Cawley. And the warden. They created something really unique here.”

They’d looped around the back of the compound, met more manacled gardeners and orderlies, many hoeing a dark loam against the rear wall. One of the gardeners, a middle-aged woman with wispy wheat hair gone almost bald on top, stared at Teddy as he passed, and then raised a single finger to her lips. Teddy noticed a dark red scar, thick as licorice, that ran across her throat. She smiled, finger still held to her lips, and then shook her head very slowly at him.

“Cawley’s a legend in his field,” McPherson was saying as they passed back around toward the front oi: the hospital. “Top of his class at both Johns Hopkins and Harvard, published his first paper on delusional pathologies at the age of twenty. Has been consulted numerous times by Scotland Yard, MI5, and the OSS.”


Teddy nodded. It seemed a reasonable question.

“Well...” McPherson seemed at a loss.

“The OSS,” Teddy said. “Try them for starters. Why would they consult a psychiatrist?”

“War work,” McPherson said.

“Pdght,” Teddy said slowly. “What kind, though?”

“The classified kind,” McPherson said. “Or so I’d assume.” “How classified can it be,” Chuck said, one bemused eye catching Teddy’s, “if we’re talking about it?”

McPherson paused in front of the hospital, one foot on the first step. He seemed baffled. He looked off for a moment at the curve of orange wall and then said, “Well, I guess you can ask him. He should be out of his meeting by now.”

They went up the stairs and in through a marble foyer, the ceil’.mg arching into a coffered dome above them. A gate buzzed open as they approached it, and they passed on into a large anteroom where an orderly sat at a desk to their right and another across from him to their left and beyond lay a long corridor behind the confines of another gate. They produced their badges again to the orderly by the upper staircase and McPherson signed their three names to a clipboard as the orderly checked their badges and IDs and handed them back.  Behind the orderly was a cage, and Teddy could see a man in there wearing a uniform similar to the warden’s, keys hanging from their rings on a wall behind him.

They climbed to the second floor and turned into a corridor that smelled of wood soap, the oak floor gleaming underfoot and bathed in a white light from the large window at the far end.

“Lot of security,” Teddy said.

McPherson said, “We take every precaution.”

Chuck said, “To the thanks of a grateful public, Mr. McPherson, I’m sure.”

“You have to understand,” McPherson said, turning back to Teddy as they walked past several offices, doors all closed and bearing the names of doctors on small silver plates. “There is no facility like this in the United States. We take only the most damaged patients. We take the ones no other facility can manage.”

“Gryce is here, right?” Teddy said.

McPherson nodded. “Vincent Gryce, yes. In Ward C.”

Chuck said to Teddy, “Gryce was the one... ?”

Teddy nodded. “Killed all his relatives, scalped them, made himself hats.”

Chuck was nodding fast. “And wore them into town, right?”

“According to the papers.”

They had stopped outside a set of double doors. A brass plate affixed in the center of the ight door read CHIEF OF STAFF, DR. J.


McPherson turned to them, one hand on the knob, and looked at them with an unreadable intensity.

McPherson said, “In a less enlightened age, a patient like Gryce would have been put to death. But here they can study him, define a pathology, maybe isolate the abnormality in his brain that caused him to disengage so completely from acceptable patterns of behavior. If they can do that, maybe we can reach a day where that kind of disengagement can be rooted out of society entirely.”

He seemed to be waiting for a response, his hand stiff against the doorknob.

“It’s good to have dreams,” Chuck said. “Don’t you think?” DR. CAWLEY WAS thin to the point of emaciation. Not quite te swimming bones and cartilage Teddy had seen at Dachau, but definitely in need of several good meals. His small dark eyes sat far back in their sockets, and the shadows that leaked from them bled across the rest of his face. His cheeks were so sunken they appeared collapsed, and the flesh around them was pitted with aged acne. His lips and nose were as thin as the rest of him, and his chin appeared squared off to the point of nonexistence. What remained of his hair was as dark as his eyes and the shadows underneath.

readonlinefreebook.com Copyright 2016 - 2024