Grenville had given him a long dark look, then said, "Let me know if it works."
"I will be mad at you if you continue this pathetic excusing of yourself," Grenville said now. "If you can't think, perhaps that is a sign you need a pill. Now take your time, compose yourself. Garvey's will be open at least another hour."
"We going to Garvey's?"
"Do I have to get the shovel?"
"But Grenville, you can't fight bad stuff with wrong stuff! It ain't right!"
"I will assume this insane babble is a temporary result of your recent head blow. Not a sign that you need to reside permanently at Terrace View."
Jamie was silent. Another tremor sent his Coke splashing onto his clothes.
Grenville reached over and took the can. Jamie wrapped his arms around himself, curled his toes in an effort to control his shaking. Surely the pill would kick in soon.
Sometimes Jamie wanted desperately to go back to Terrace View. Sometimes he had an awful feeling Grenville had been wrong, he hadn't been well enough to leave. He still thought such crazy things. But if he went back now, when he was needed, no one would ever come for him again. He'd be there the rest of his life. He knew it.
But nothing was like the way he had remembered it at Terrace View. All of Hawkes Harbor, Hawkes Hall—it was like a fun house distortion of the way he remembered it. Even Grenville was different. He could go out in the day now, didn't have to prowl around at night. Mostly he was the same, still stern, commanding, demanding, but maybe a little better since he never hit Jamie anymore, or even threatened him much.
"You don't do that bat stuff anymore, huh?" Jamie said.
"No. As I told you before, my progress toward humanity has lessened other abilities, no matter how temporary it may prove. I am now no more capable of turning into a bat than you are."
"That's good. I used to worry about that, that you'd get stuck that way."
"There was no danger. Maintaining that form is very difficult."
"You know, once a bat flew into Terrace View. I thought it was you come to visit."
"I hope you didn't rush about shouting, 'Hey, look, it's Grenville.'"
"I don't think so, but it wouldn't matter there. One guy thought it was Jesus Christ." Jamie shrugged. "Who knows?"
"Who knows, indeed," Grenville said, but Jamie knew he was no longer paying attention. Grenville had a lot to worry about these days. He wasn't sure he'd accomplished his goal, that the blood thirst might again take over...
It seemed to Jamie now it was Grenville's turn to try to reform, and sometimes he seemed as lost as to how to go about it as Jamie had been. But Jamie was scared all the time, and Grenville often lost patience with him.
Occasionally he still said, "I'll kill you, Jamie," but Jamie didn't think he would. Or at least as often as he used to. But sometimes he did say, "Perhaps you need to return to Terrace View, Jamie."
Sometimes he was angry when he said it, but sometimes he just seemed sad. Once, Jamie overheard Grenville say to Dr. Kahne, "You think I had you release Jamie just to make use of him. That is not entirely the case. Jamie is very much on my conscience. But Louisa, he does sometimes tax my patience to the utmost. If I ever revert, please get him safely out of here."
Jamie knew that meant going back to Terrace View. Funny, neither Grenville nor Dr. Kahne seemed to realize Jamie wouldn't mind going back. For a while.
They were really nice at Terrace View, especially Dr. Mac and Nurse Whiting. Even the orderlies who never got rough unless they had to.
Dr. Mac, well, he'd never talked as much to anyone in his life as he had to that guy. Jamie still had that weird feeling, like he'd known the doc before, somewhere ... no, it was just another crazy thought. A lot of times he couldn't shut up, even when he knew his time was up, knew the doctor was sneaking glances at his watch—he'd tell the doctor anything, never worry about him telling the cops, and somehow things seemed a lot clearer to Jamie, just by talking ... but it made him sad, too, the way he'd miss Kellen, after.
And Nurse Whiting; sometimes after one of the really bad days, the ones he spent sobbing in his room, she'd come in at night, lock the door, slip into his bed just to hold him, while he cried himself to sleep.
If it stirred his body to memories, if he became aroused, she'd give him a gentle hand job, with no more to-do than she'd give a back rub. She knew what he needed, as he clutched her, was some respite from the terrible loneliness, the sadness engulfing his soul....
He mustn't tell the doctor, she said, and Jamie never did. He didn't think Dr. Mac would mind, if he knew how much it helped ... but still he never told him.
But the days were so long there. They felt like years sometimes. What would years feel like? He'd wake up and think: I'm at Terrace View. And the day seemed to roll out like forever to the horizon.
That third-floor landing... where you could see the ocean ... how much time had he spent there, remembering other breakers, different shorelines, warmer seas?
And wondering if Grenville would ever come to get him.
You only left if someone came for you. Jamie had noticed that. That one guy, his wife, his parents, his goddamn dog had come up to get him.
The only person Jamie could think of was Grenville. It was the only thing he had to hope for. He'd never realized before how important that was, to have something to hope for. He started praying every morning, "Grenville, please come and get me," and one day Grenville came....
Jamie looked out the car window. A bearded man was trudging along, carrying a trash sack full of clothes. He was talking to himself, the way Jamie often did, trying to glue a thought onto his mind. But often it didn't work, it'd slip right off, he'd end up staring at a pile of pieces with no idea how they went together, while mouthing empty sounds.
"Can I have some money?"
"Just this one time?"
Grenville gave him a five-dollar bill and Jamie got out of the car. He stopped the man, handed him the bill and looked him in the eyes.
"I see you, man," he said. The guy looked down, mumbled something, and shuffled on.
"That did little, if any, good," Grenville said when Jamie got back in. He gave Jamie back his Coke.
"I don't care. I know that guy."
"Jamie, it's very unlikely that you know him. He's some sort of vagabond."
"Yeah, I do. He was at Eastern State the same time I was. He was in the army, went to 'Nam. Kept trying to fight the battles. One time it took four orderlies to bring him down."
"I see. Louisa has mentioned they've been trying to close Eastern State. That there were abuses."
Jamie was silent.
"We had you transferred as soon as we could. We had to wait until the charges were dropped. Louisa was quite frantic."
"So what are they doing with the patients? Just dumping them on the road?"
"Very likely most of the ones in your ward were sent on to prison."
"Well, that oughtta make them sane for sure."
Jamie watched the man turn the corner. Probably going to the park. That's where you usually saw those guys.
"Wonder where he's gonna sleep tonight."
"No doubt the sheriff will soon move him on. There are shelters in larger cities, they're better equipped to deal. You know, it's been quite inconvenient, setting up accounts all over town simply because I can no longer trust you with cash money."
"Didn't steal any money," Jamie said. The sheriff move him on? Probably take him out and shoot him. Jamie never saw the sheriff without thinking the man would like to finish what they'd started, that he was sorry Jamie'd lived.... One day Jamie'd become convinced the sheriff had wired a bomb into the car. If Jamie turned the key he'd be blown sky-high. He'd walked home, watching over his shoulder.... The next day, though, that seemed absurd, just like Grenville said. And he got a parking ticket for leaving the car there overnight.... Grenville had been so pissed....
ing away what does not belong to you is the same as stealing."
"Didn't feel like stealing. Anyway, people act like they're invisible, these guys. Like they aren't even there."
"Beggars are an unpleasant sight. Many people prefer not to see them."
Jamie thought that over. When he'd first been in the navy, there had been beggars in every port. Americans were known to be generous. At first, it was a kick, handing out loose change. Then it got old. Then annoying. And Jamie didn't remember any beggars at the last ports he'd hit, although there must have been plenty. He no longer saw them.
Jamie got out his pill bottle. "As needed." He uncapped it and took another, finished off his Coke. He was always dry-mouthed these days.
"What'd they do with crazy people in your time?"
"Imprison them, or drive them from town to town. Families locked them in cellars, attics, sent them away."
"Guess things haven't changed much."
"You know what I think of your century's so-called progress."
Jamie could use another Coke but didn't want to ask after just giving away some money. He couldn't afford to get Grenville too mad at him now.
After all, Grenville didn't have to send him back to Terrace View. Jamie knew by now it was expensive; Grenville hated to part with dough. Maybe he'd just fire him. What would happen then? He couldn't hold a land job, he sure couldn't go back to sea.
There wasn't much to salvage from the wreck of Jamie Sommers.
Mental breakdown. That was a good word, breakdown. So many things seemed broken now.
His memory—Grenville often had to tell him five times to do something, lost patience by the third.
Courage, that was cracked, it had all leaked out... Jamie thought he could remember being brave, or at least being able to pretend ... not now.
Whatever it was that had held his tears back all those years, it was shattered. If he felt like crying he just did, he couldn't help it.
And his mind—sometimes he couldn't tell what was real, what he imagined, what he dreamed, it was all mixed up...
"I don't hear your voice in my head anymore," Jamie said.
"I was rather hoping you heard no one's voice in your head these days."