Cawley’s eyebrows rose, and he gave a small sigh. “No. Invite&him to sit and have breakfast with them. He declined, naturally, and called the police. Rachel still believes the children are alive, waiting for her. It might explain why she’s tried to escape.”

“To return home,” Teddy said.

Cawley nodded.

“And where’s that?” Chuck asked.

“A small town in the Berkshires. Roughly a hundred fifty miles from here.” With a tilt of his head, Cawley indicated the window behind him. “To swim that way, you don’t reach land for eleven miles. To swim north, you don’t reach land until Newfoundland.”

Teddy said, “And you’ve searched the grounds.”


“Pretty thoroughly?”

Cawley took a few seconds to answer, played with a silver bust of a horse on the corner of his desk. “The warden and his men and a detail of orderlies spent the night and a good part of the morning scouring the island and every building in the institution. Not a trace. What’s even more disturbing is that we can’t tell how she got out of her room.  It was locked from the outside and its sole window was barred. We’ve found no indication that the locks were tampered with.” He took his eyes off the horse and glanced at Teddy and Chuck. “It’s as if she evaporated straight through the walls.”

Teddy jotted “evaporated” in his notebook. “And you are sure that she was in that room at lights-out.”


“How so?”

Cawley moved his hand back from the horse and pressed the call button on his intercom. “Nurse Marino?”

“Yes, Doctor.”

“Please tell Mr. Ganton to come in.”

“Right away, Doctor.”

There was a small table nar the window with a pitcher of water and four glasses on top. Cawley went to it and filled three of the glasses. He placed one in front of Teddy and one in front of Chuck, took his own back behind the desk with him.

Teddy said, “You wouldn’t have some aspirin around here, would you ?”

Cawley gave him a small smile. “I think we could scare some up.”

He rummaged in his desk drawer, came out with a bottle of Bayer.

“Two or three?”

“Three would be nice.” Teddy could feel the ache behind his eye begin to pulse.

Cawley handed them across the desk and Teddy tossed them in his mouth, chased them with the water.

“Prone to headaches, Marshal?”

Teddy said, “Prone to seasickness, unfortunately.”

Cawley nodded. “Ah. Dehydrated.”

Teddy nodded and Cawley opened a walnut cigarette box, held it open to Teddy and Chuck. Teddy took one. Chuck shook his head and produced his own pack, and all three of them lit up as Cawley lifted the window open behind him.

He sat back down and handed a photograph across the desk—a young woman, beautiful, her face blemished by dark rings under the eyes, rings as dark as her black hair. The eyes themselves were too wide, as if something hot were prodding them from inside her head.  Whatever she saw beyond that camera lens, beyond the photographer, beyond anything in the known world probably—wasn’t fit to be seen.  There was something uncomfortably familiar about her, and then Teddy made the connection—a young boy he’d seen in the camps who wouldn’t eat the food they gave him. He sat against a wall in the April sun with that same look in his eyes until his eyelids closed and eventu ally they added him to the pile at the train station.

Chuck unleashed a low whistle. “My God.”


Cawley took a drag on his cigarette. “Are you reacting to her apparent beauty or her apparent madness?”

“Both,” Chuck said.

Those eyes, Teddy thought. Even frozen in time, they howled. You wanted to climb inside the picture and say, “No, no, no. It’s okay, it’s okay. Sssh.” You wanted to hold her until the shakes stopped, tell her that everything would be all right.

The office door opened and a tall Negro with thick flecks of gray in his hair entered wearing the white-on-white uniform of an orderly.  “Mr. Ganton,” Cawley said, “these are the gentlemen I told you about—Marshals Aule and Daniels.”

Teddy and Chuck stood and shook Ganton’s hand, Teddy getting a strong whiff of fear from the man, as if he wasn’t quite comfortable shaking hands with the law, maybe had a pending warrant or two against him back in the world.

“Mr. Ganton has been with us for seventeen years. He’s the head orderly here. It was Mr. Ganton who escorted Rachel to her room last night. Mr. Ganton?”

Ganton crossed his ankles, placed his hands on his knees, and hunched forward a bit, his eyes on his shoes. “There was group at nine o’clock. Then—“ Cawley said, “That’s a group therapy session led by Dr. Sheehan and Nurse Marino.”

Ganton waited until he was sure Cawley had finished before he

began again. “So, yeah. They was in group, and it ended round ten. I escorted Miss Rachel up to her room. She went inside. I locked up from

the outside. We do checks every two hours during lights-out. I go back at midnight. I look in, and her bed’s empty. I figure maybe she’s on the floor. They do that a lot, the patients, sleep on the floor. I open up—“ Cawley again: “Using your keys, correct, Mr. Ganton?” Ganton nodded at Cawly, looked back at his knees. “I use my keys, yeah, ‘cause the door’s locked. I go in. Miss Rachel ain’t nowhere to be found. I shut the door and check the window and the bars. They locked tight too.” He shrugged. “I call the warden.” He looked up at Cawley, and Cawley gave him a soft, paternal nod.

“Any questions, gentlemen?”

Chuck shook his head.

Teddy looked up from his notebook. “Mr. Ganton, you said you entered the room and ascertained that the patient wasn’t there. What did this entail?”


Teddy said, “Is there a closet? Space beneath the bed where she could hide?”


“And you checked those places.”

“Yes, sir.”

“With the door still open.”


“You said that you entered the room and looked around and couldn’t find the patient. Then you shut the door behind you.” “No, I... Well...”

Teddy waited, took another hit off the cigarette Cawley had given him. It was smooth, richer than his Chesterfields, and the smell of the smoke was different too, almost sweet. Copyright 2016 - 2024