Bronx, New York August 1950
The boy sat in the open window and watched the baseball game in the vacant lot across the street.
He should be down there, playing, he thought. Not stuck in here.
He'd earned the right to play. He was small for eight years old, but he'd shown them he was fast, with fighting. He'd shown them he was tough, agile, and no patsy, fighting.
They called him a bastard and he'd shown them he didn't care, by not crying. After all, truth was truth.
Now he was going to have to go somewhere else and show a whole new group of kids.
Well, if that was what it took...
He tried to ignore the conversation going on behind him in the now-empty apartment. Father Nolan and the strange nun were looking over Jamie's few possessions.
"This is all?"
"The girl was a stenographer. They hardly accumulate wealth." Father Nolan's voice was dry.
"The boy—conceived in adultery, born in sin—he'll need special supervision. The sins of the father..."
"Sister, I knew the boy's father. Both he and the mother were in my parish. He was a good, decent boy, killed in the Pacific in defense of his country. He meant to marry the girl, I know it. Wartimes aren't like other times."
Father Nolan knew he had been too lenient with his parish during the war, but life had been harsh enough then ... surely any expression of love...
"Sin is sin. Well, is this everything?" Her voice was brisk, businesslike.
"Yes." Father Nolan's heart sank. He had dreaded this moment for a week now, since the visit that confirmed his worst fears—the girl wasn't sick but dying. And she was frantic at leaving Jamie.
"Jamie. Come here, lad."
Sighing, Jamie left the window. Time to go with Father Nolan. Jamie had known the tall, white-haired priest all his life, and he was tired of staying with the Carters next door. They were tired of him, too, Mrs. Carter had informed him.
"It was just the Christian thing to do," she said, "while Colleen was in the hospital. And it certainly isn't permanent ..."
Father Nolan knelt, put his hands on Jamie's shoulders. "It's time to go with Sister Mary Joseph now. You'll be with other hoys who have no parents, well-looked after, you'll go to school."
Jamie looked from the sad dark eyes to the impatiently waiting nun. What was happening? Father Nolan was supposed look after him now.
"But you promised Colleen you'd take care of me," Jamie wanted to say—he'd been there, he had heard. His mother had whispered, "Take care of Jamie," and Father Nolan whispered, "Yes."
And now the priest was handing him over to this stranger.
But Jamie's throat tightened. He would not cry again. He was through with that. He wouldn't cry again, ever.
She had gone and died on him. After all the fights he'd had because of her—because he had no dad—and she too, had promised him, "I won't leave you, Jamie."
Jamie stood stunned, trying to adjust to his second great betrayal that week. The two people he trusted most had lied to him.
Father Nolan straightened. The nuns had a reputation for strictness, but surely they'd be kind to him. Jamie was an unusually appealing little boy, with his bright wheat-colored hair, his large golden-hazel eyes; very solemn for his age, quiet, but when he smiled it broke your heart, Father Nolan thought... he got that from his mother.
Perhaps it would do him good, Father Nolan tried to reason. The boy could use a little discipline—his mother had spoiled him ... trying to make it up to him....
"What's this?" the nun said sharply.
She pulled at the chain around Jamie's neck, lifted it and the crucifix over his head.
"Sister!" Father Nolan said sharply. "There's no need for such roughness!"
"T-t-that's m-mine," Jamie choked out, his first stammer. He'd rather do that than cry.
His mother had hung it around his neck the last time he saw her.
"Wear it always and remember to say your prayers, Jamie. Ask our dear Lord to protect you. It's our hope of heaven, Jamie."
He didn't want to wear it—necklaces were for girls—but he'd hid it in his shirt to please her.
"You give it b-b-back!"
The nun turned the crucifix in the sun.
Small but heavy. Solid gold. Set with a diamond and three rubies.
"Hardly a toy for a child," she said, "and when you think about how much the orphanage needs ..."
"Sister, it was the father's grandmother's—surely it belongs to the boy."
"It is not only traditional but necessary that all valuables be donated to the orphanage. Charities must always be accepting of any gift the Lord provides."
She put the chain and crucifix in her small bag. Jamie watched it disappear forever.
Father Nolan put his hand on Jamie's head. "You must be a good boy now. And mind your temper."
Father Nolan knew the boy's reputation for fighting—if Jamie hadn't been bullied, he often thought, he would not have behaved so—
The sailor lad, the father, had been one of the kindest boys he'd known.
"He'll be good, all right. We'll see to that," th
e nun said firmly.
Jamie looked straight ahead, ignoring both, staggering only a little when the nun thrust his bags at him.
He followed her without a word. Never once looked back. He'd lost his hope of heaven.
Terrace View Asylum, Delaware January 1967
"So, Jamie, you've had a few weeks to adjust to Terrace View. How do you like it so far?"
Dr. McDevitt looked at the young man seated in front of his desk. A small, well-built young man who might have been handsome had it not been for his gauntness, the listlessness of his posture, the shadows around his shifting eyes.
He kept wringing his hands together.
"It's okay," Jamie answered, not looking up.
Dr. McDevitt wasn't insulted at Jamie's shrug, implying a well-run sanitarium wasn't any better than that state institutional hellhole, Eastern State, where he'd been for the last few months. Right now the young man probably couldn't tell one place from another. After all, he only recently could remember his name. And the brutal way he had been transferred here ... Dr. McDevitt was sure it had set his progress back for weeks.
"Grenville Hawkes asked that you be placed here. Do you remember Grenville Hawkes?"
Jamie shook his head.
"You used to work for him—he wanted to make sure you received the best treatment. Do you remember working for Grenville Hawkes, back in Hawkes Harbor?"
Dr. McDevitt thought he discerned a small flinch in Jamie's posture, but there was no change in tone, as he said, "No."
Dr. McDevitt glanced across the scanty medical report. Some doctor from Eastern State, who forgot to sign his name, had made a note that this was one of the worst cases of depression he'd ever tried to treat—it was no doubt a major cause of the amnesia. In the beginning, the patient would wake having no memory of the day before, would literally forget his own name by afternoon. Some memory of his early life was now returning, the report stated.
Not much to go on, but Eastern State was a place of housing, not treatment.
Dr. McDevitt wished he had more background. Jamie had been transferred here abruptly, at the insistence of Louisa Kahne. Her grandfather Johnas Kahne had founded and still technically ruled Terrace View. (The commonly held view, and joke, was that the esteemed Dr. Kahne wanted to make sure his progeny had a place to live; and out of all his swarm of eccentric descendants, this granddaughter was perhaps the most likely candidate.)
"Money is no problem," Louisa had insisted when she called demanding a room. "A favor for a friend of mine, Grenville Hawkes. Jamie'll be arriving some day this week. Yes, yes, I know, you're not accustomed to patients from the criminally insane ward at Eastern State, but crazy is crazy, after all."
No other instructions. Only a short note, and the deposit from Grenville Hawkes, followed in the mail.
Dr. McDevitt had decided to treat him on his own. There were no other instructions, recommendations. Apparently his benefactors were content if he'd just sit here, abandoned like some stray dropped off at a shelter. Jamie had seemed to respond to Dr. McDevitt well and from the first....
Dr. McDevitt still remembered the horrible beginning of Jamie Sommers's stay at Terrace View. It had gone to his heart when the young man turned to him.
"Dr. McDevitt, the new patient's here. James Sommers."
"Is Miss Kahne showing him to his room?"
"No, Miss Kahne's not with him. He's in a police car. He won't get out. And the officer is getting threatening."
Dr. McDevitt ran outside with Nurse Whiting. Yes, it was a police car. And an officer trying to talk sports with Lee. The attendant looked grim. No one without compassion was allowed to work at Terrace View.
"Hey, you want to get this nutcase outta my patrol car?" was the officer's greeting to the doctor. "I can't get Nurse Nancy here to help haul him."
Dr. McDevitt went to the car. The back doors were open, no one visible. He leaned in. Jamie Sommers was seated on the floor, head down. Dear God, they'd put him in a straitjacket. There were shackles on his ankles. There was no mention of violence on his hospital record.
"Mr. Sommers," he said.
Jamie slowly raised his head. Young, thin, unshaven, dirty. And madness in his eyes.
"If you'll let me help you out, I'll remove your restraints. I'm sure they must be painful."
The man was still recovering from some very serious physical injuries. Louisa had attempted to gloss over that fact, but Jamie's medical records had preceded his arrival.
"Captain Harvard?" Jamie said uncertainly. He looked puzzled, hopeful.
"May I help you?"
"Sure," Jamie said. It was the last time he spoke for several days.
He was improving, now. He slept on his bed, not under it. He startled far too easily, but jumped, no longer screamed. Still suffered from night terrors. He was terrified of most of the attendants (Eastern State could take credit for a lot of that, the doctor suspected) but let Nurse Whiting trim his hair. He was settled enough in his new surroundings for a first session.
Dr. McDevitt looked over the report once more.
Interesting case, a kind they rarely got at Terrace View. A criminal, apparently (Dr. McDevitt had a copy of Jamie's police record as well as his medical reports), shot during a suspected kidnapping.
Dr. McDevitt winced as he read about the three bullets being surgically removed—God knew what kind of treatment Jamie'd received after leaving Hawkes Harbor Hospital for Eastern State. The doctor had heard stories about the infirmary there.
"Well, Jamie, my records show you are twenty-five years of age?"
"Raised in St. Catherine's Orphanage, Bronx, attended Billingsworth High, Bronx, three years in the navy ..."
Dr. McDevitt paused—but Jamie didn't confirm any of it. Eastern State had suggested Jamie's memory of his early life was returning, but Jamie had given no indication of this other than knowing his name.
He watched with interest as Jamie's eyes went to the window. Dr. McDevitt had chosen this time of day for the interview with reason.
Jamie shifted in his chair, looked around for a clock, gripped his hands together, wiped them on his pants.
Twenty-five. Dr. McDevitt would have guessed him slightly older—sun had burned lines into his face, pain had stamped dark circles under his eyes.
"Did you like the navy?"
"Liked getting my third mate's papers. They're real handy."
"It gives no reason for your early discharge."
"I got sick of taking orders."
"There's no report of any discipline problem on your previous hospital record."
"Don't want no trouble." Jamie slumped down again. His eyes went back to the window. He swallowed.
"You know what time it is?" he asked.
"Sixish. Your former employer, Mr. Hawkes, gave us a glowing report, and assured us he still believed you innocent of any wrongdoing."
Jamie looked confused.
"I'm referring to your ... mishap with the Hawkes Harbor police."
"I didn't hurt anybody." Jamie's voice rose. "I know he shot me, but he didn't need to, I wasn't hurting anybody."
"It's all right, Jamie," Dr. McDevitt said. "All criminal charges have been dropped."
There had been no evidence with which to charge him.
In fact, when the doctor looked at the report, his first thought was to wonder why the lawman had thought it worthwhile to gun down an unarmed man on a mere suspicion.
Must have been a slow day in Hawkes Harbor.
"You don't remember the shooting? Or what led up to it?"
"I remember waking up after." Jamie rubbed his eyes with the heel of his hand.
That was on the report—prone to severe mood swings, cried easily, bouts of hysteria...
"It really hurt," he explained. He looked at the windows. "It's getting dark. Usually, I get a pill about now ..."
"Of course. In just a moment."
The medical report emphas
ized the patient's extreme distress at twilight—unless heavily sedated he would not sleep at all at night. And even then, was subject to violent nightmares. And all that had certainly been borne out during these first few weeks at Terrace View.
"That's an interesting scar you have there."
"W-w-what?" Jamie went white. He clamped his left hand over his throat. "There ain't nothin' there."
"I mean the one that looks like a burn? From your shoulder down to your elbow."
Jamie pushed up the short sleeve of his white T-shirt to look, exposing a tattoo of a well-endowed mermaid on his bicep. And to Dr. McDevitt's total surprise, Jamie laughed.
"Hey, that? Shark got me. Got another scar at the same time. From my ass to the back of my knee."
"A shark bit you?"
"Hell no, my arm would be gone if it'd bit me. It was a twelve-foot tiger. No, it just rubbed me good. Maybe it was a lady shark, like Kell said ... they got hide worse than sandpaper. Took all the skin right off."
"And you find this shark attack humorous?"
"Well, the pirates thought it was funny, that's the important thing. And I thought ol' Kell was going to bust a gut laughing. Said he'd never seen anyone swim so fast."
Dr. McDevitt sighed. There had been no mention in his records of these fantasies....
"The pirates?" he inquired.
"Yeah, we were in the Andamans, smuggling rubies out of Burma...." Seeing the doctor's puzzled look, Jamie added politely, "The Andaman Sea, south of the Bay of Bengal—west of Bangkok? East of Sri Lanka?"
He appeared to be slightly shocked at the doctor's lack of geography. Then he looked at the window. The sunlight had disappeared.
"I think maybe I better get a pill—"
He jumped up and paced.
"Sharks got real dead eyes," he said rapidly. "You ever see one up close? Got dead eyes, you're kinda surprised they're breathin'.... I seen dead eyes, though, burnin' like fires of hell.... Oh God, it's getting dark ... don't let it be dark...."