He had an explosive smile, however, bright and bulging with a confidence that lightened his irises, and he used it now as he came around the desk to greet them, his hand outstretched.
“Marshal Daniels and Marshal Aule,” he said, “glad you could come so quickly.”
His hand was dry and statue smooth in Teddy’s, and his grip was a shocker, squeezing the bones in Teddy’s hand until Teddy could feel the press of it straight up his forearm. Cawley’s eyes glittered for a moment, as if to say, Didn’t expect that, did you? and then he moved on to Chuck. He shook Chuck’s hand with a “Pleased to meet you, sir,” and then the smile shot off his face and he said to McPherson, “That’ll be all for now, Deputy Warden. Thank you.”
McPherson said, “Yes, sir. A pleasure, gentlemen,” and backed out of the room.
Cawley’s smile returned, but it was a more viscous version, and it reminded Teddy of the film that formed over soup.
“He’s a good man, McPherson. Eager.”
“For?” Teddy said, taking a seat in front of the desk.
Cawley’s smile morphed again, curling up one side of his face and freezing there for a moment. “I’m sorry?”
“He’s eager,” Teddy said. “But for what?”
Cawley sat behind the teak desk, spread his arms. “For the work. A moral fusion between law an’d order and clinical care. Just half a century ago, even less in some cases, the thinking on the kind of patients we deal with here was that they should, at best, be shackled and left in their own filth and waste. They were systematically beaten, as if that could drive the psychosis out. We demonized them. We tortured them. Spread them on racks, yes. Drove screws into their brains. Even drowned them on occasion.”
“And now?” Chuck said.
“Now we treat them. Morally. We try to heal, to cure. And if that fails, we at least provide them with a measure of calm in their lives.” “And their victims?” Teddy said.
Cawley raised his eyebrows, waiting.
“These are all violent offenders,” Teddy said. “Right?”
Cawley nodded. “Quite violent, actually.”
“So they’ve hurt people,” Teddy said. “Murdered them in many cases.”
“Oh, m most.”
“So why does their sense of calm matter in relation to their victims’?” Cawley said, “Because my job is to treat them, not their victims. I can’t help their victims. It’s the nature of any life’s work that it have limits. That’s mine. I can only concern myself with my patients.” He smiled. “Did the senator explain the situation?”
Teddy and Chuck shot each other glances as they sat.
Teddy said, “We don’t know anything about a senator, Doctor. We were assigned by the state field office.”
Cawley propped his elbows on a green desk blotter and clasped his hands together, placed his chin on top of them, and stared at them over the rim of his glasses.
“My mistake, then. So what have you been told?”
“We know a female prisoner is missing.” Teddy placed his notebook on his knee, flipped the pages. “A Rachel Solando.”
“Patient.” Cawley gave them a dead smile.
“Patient,” Teddy said. “I apologize. We understand she escaped within the last twenty-four hours.”
Cawley’s nod was a small tilt of his chin and hands. “Last night.
Sometime between ten and midnight.”
“And she still hasn’t been found,” Chuck said.
“Correct, Marshal...” He held up an apologetic hand.
“Aule,” Chuck said.
Cawley’s face narrowed over his hands and Teddy noticed drops of water spit against the window behind him. He couldn’t tell whether they were from the sky or the sea.
“And your first name is Charles?” Cawley said.
“Yeah,” Chuck said.
“I’d take you for a Charles,” Cawley said, “but not necessarily an Aule.”
“That’s fortunate, I guess.”
“We don’t choose our names,” Chuck said. “So it’s nice when someone thinks that one of them, at least, fits.”
“Who chose yours?” Cawley said.
Chuck shrugged. “Who’s to tell? We’d have to go back twenty generations.”
Chuck leaned forward in his chair. “Excuse me?”
“You’re Greek,” Cawley said. “Or Armenian. Which?”
“So Aule was...”
Cawley turned his slim gaze on Teddy. “And yourself?” “Daniels?” Teddy said. “’Ienth-generation Irish.” He gave Cawley a small grin. “And, yeah, I can trace it back, Doctor.”
“But your given first name? Theodore?”
Cawley leaned his chair back, his hands falling free of his chin. He tapped a letter opener against the desk edge, the sound as soft and persistent as snow falling on a roof.
“My wife,” he said, “is named Margaret. Yet no one ever calls her that except me. Some of her oldest friends call her Margo, which makes a certain amount of sense, but everyone else calls her Peggy. I’ve never understood that.”
“How you get Peggy from Margaret. And yet it’s quite common. Or how you get Teddy from Edward. There’s no p in Margaret and no t in Edward.”
Teddy shrugged. “Your first name?”
“Anyone ever call you Jack?”
He shook his head. “Most people just call me Doctor.” The water spit lightly against the window, and Cawley seemed to review their conversation in his head, his eyes gone shiny and distant, and then Chuck said, “Is Miss Solando considered dangerous?” “All our patients have shown a proclivity for violence,” Cawley said. “It’s why they’re here. Men and women. Rachel Solando was a war widow. She drowned her three children in the lake behind her house. Took them out there one by one and held their heads under until they died. Then she brought them back into the house and arranged them around the kitchen table and ate a meal there before a neighbor dropped by.”
“She kill the neighbor?” Chuck asked.