Her slack face frightened him—had she lost her mind? Jamie remembered the Vampire, touching her hair. He pushed at her, hobbling.
A dark form took shape from the shadows. Katie collapsed to the ground.
"So it was you after all, you little bastard." Mitch Morgan had his rifle to his shoulder. Holy shit!
Suddenly the dark seemed to be teeming with life, like a kicked anthill.
"Mitch! Don't!" another voice called.
A policeman was bending over Katie.
She's safe. Katie's safe. Jamie turned to run.
The first bullet hit six inches left of his neck, jamming into his collarbone. He staggered but kept on going. Bullet number two cracked a rib, damaged his left lung.
Three shattered his right shoulder blade.
In all, it was twenty seconds between the time the first shot echoed and when Jamie plowed facedown into the mud.
But his mind had long since left. Other than the blows of impact of bullets one and three, he felt no pain at all.
Instead, a sensation akin to the bliss of release.
It's over. It's finally. Over.
Main Street, Hawkes Harbor, Delaware April 1968
"There's that Jamie Sommers. You know, when I see him staring at you like that I just want to go bust his chops."
"Oh Mitch, don't... I really do think he's harmless. Maybe he just found me in the woods, the way he said."
"Harmless, hell, what was he doing that night? And the way he's stalked you since Grenville Hawkes got him out of the nuthouse ..."
"He hasn't stalked me, he's just tried to be friendly. I'm sure he doesn't mean to frighten me."
"Well, he had something to do with your kidnapping. I'm convinced of it."
"I don't think so...."
"Why? Because you're sorry for him?"
"No, though I am—when I see Jamie, I'm just not frightened ... I just feel... sad."
"Well, I guess every town needs a village lunatic—Hey, let's celebrate getting the loan. How about a picnic Saturday? You can fry up some chicken...."
"Or you can fry up some fish!"
Katie never did remember what had happened while she was missing.
And over the course of years, the course of her rich, full life, it grew of less and less importance. A mystery, but one that didn't seem to matter much anymore.
(Though once, while ice-skating in downtown New York, with her husband and her troop of little boys, there was something in the solemn smile of the smallest as he trudged by her, that made a memory, light as a floating snowflake, brush her mind before melting away forever. Tears jumped to her eyes, though she could not say why—she was so happy.)
Gradually, touched by his quiet devotion, she came to regard Jamie Sommers as one of her dearest friends. Even Mitch finally knew he meant Katie no harm. And made no objection when Katie named their youngest James.
Katie lived life with a fierce enthusiasm, joyed in love, embraced her sorrows, felt every sensation, even tragedy, to the utmost—she might have anyway, it was her nature.
Katie was very lucky. But it was debatable whether she was luckier than Jamie, who treasured his shattered shards of memory.
Who always loved the dream.
Leaving Terrace View
Terrace View Asylum, Delaware January 1968
Dr. McDevitt sighed as he shut his door behind the prospective patient and her mother.
He had become a doctor largely because of his desire to help people—it was hard to admit there were some he would rather refer to others.
Why did they do it? This young lady thought lysergic acid diethylamide would let her see God—whatever she saw, it wasn't God, and she might see it for the rest of her life.
The human mind was as fragile as the human body. Dr. McDevitt felt toward those who deliberately risked it as he would toward someone who jumped off a building to learn what the sensation of falling was like.
The sensation of falling might not last nearly as long as the sensation of hitting the ground.
They want to see God, let them get up and watch the sunrise, he thought.
He would accept her here as a patient but refer her to another doctor—perhaps Dr. Stanley. He was young, building a career, maybe he could understand better why the young people today thought their minds expendable. Dr. McDevitt had to deal with too many of the walking wounded, crippled by the blows of life. Why ingest poison...?
Dr. McDevitt sat for a moment. He had weaned himself from cigarettes two years ago—the medical evidence against smoking was so overwhelming he found it hard to believe it wasn't public yet—but at times like these, the urge was so strong....
Drug addict, he chided himself.
"Dr. McDevitt!" Nurse Whiting came rushing in without her usual knock.
"Did you know Dr. Kahne is here?"
"Louisa? Here? Now?"
Once the shock passed, Dr. McDevitt was glad—he wished she'd given him notice, he could have had an organized agenda for her, but there was so much to discuss. It had been a long time since she'd been there—thanks to her grandfather, she was supposed to be head of the board, yet Dr. McDevitt had to make the decisions.
"Did you know she's releasing Jamie Sommers?"
Dr. McDevitt was jarred out of his listmaking.
"She and Mr. Sommers's employer arrived about an hour ago—they visited Jamie for a few minutes and now she's in the office filling out the release forms."
"You must be mistaken." Dr. McDevitt leaped to his feet. He knew she wasn't. He had long suspected the young nurse of having more than a professional interest in Mr. Sommers.
"I'm not!" she asserted, almost tearfully. "Jamie's in his room, packing, he's so excited ... it's the first time I've seen him happy."
Dr. McDevitt rushed past her. If this were true—it was pure madness....
He went first to Jamie's room.
Jamie had his battered duffel on his bed and was stuffing it with anything at hand.
He looked up at Dr. McDevitt.
"Grenville came to get me," he said. "He didn't forget. He was just waitin' till I got well—I get to live in the Hall again."
Dr. McDevitt bit his lip. Louisa Kahne had caused this—let her handle it.
There was no way on God's green earth Jamie Sommers was leaving Terrace View. Not in his condition.
"Jamie," he said kindly. "Don't pack all your clothes. If you get to leave, you don't want to be wearing your pajamas."
Jamie didn't catch the word "if."
He looked down at what he was wearing.
"Hey, Doc." He laughed. "Thanks. Don't want to leave in this fuckin' robe. Hell, I gotta start watchin' my mouth. Grenville don't like bad language. Man, I was so surprised to see him...."
"I'm going to go speak to Dr. Kahne. Jamie, do you really want to leave? You never wanted to before." Jamie stopped, confused. "Where was I gonna go?"
Louisa Kahne was in the billing office, where the clerk was filling out forms.
"Dr. Kahne," he said. "May I see you a moment?"
He knew now—she'd come to get Jamie Sommers, nothing more. She'd hoped to avoid Dr. McDevitt altogether.
She gave a few quick instructions to the clerk, then went to Dr. McDevitt's office with him.
"What is the meaning of this?" he said abruptly.
Louisa tilted her chin defensively.
"I had an interview with Jamie this afternoon, and—"
"If you so much as said hello to him you know he is in no condition to leave this hospital."
continue to oversee his treatment, on an outpatient basis—"
"You? You didn't so much as oversee his transfer from Eastern State—they sent him in a police car, in a straitjacket! You've never even visited the man. How on earth can you oversee treatment for him?"
"You yourself have said in his progress reports that he is making rapid improvement."
"Rapid improvement from a state of near catatonia is not the same as saying he can function outside this hospital! Louisa, what are you thinking? The man is prone to hysteria, paranoia, even occasional hallucinations. He's emotionally a child, as well as mentally unstable. He is not capable of making a trustworthy decision. His short-term memory impaired, his long-term memory very questionable—some days he doesn't even know where he is."
"From what I saw this afternoon, he will be fine in a supervised environment."
"Hawkes Hall?" Dr. McDevitt asked.
He had his suspicions about the benevolent Mr. Hawkes and the stories of the strange Hall gave him the creeps.
"Mr. Hawkes will gladly take responsibility for Jamie. He lives very quietly—Jamie will be subject to no undue stress."
She fiddled with her bone-colored gloves, unable to meet his eyes.
"Mr. Hawkes is anxious to have Jamie back, Jamie obviously wants to go ..."
"Louisa, if I released every patient who wanted to go home, to every family anxious to have them, there would be no one here tomorrow. You know better than to weigh in that factor."
Louisa said nothing. She still looked down.
"What caused Jamie's breakdown? He was living in this supposedly quiet, nonstressful environment where you must have seen him occasionally—what could have caused a mental collapse that severe? Surely you have an opinion."
"You saw the report—he was shot three times by the police. He came out of the coma into extreme pain—his mind was gone at that point."
"I've talked a great deal with Jamie Sommers—the fact that he'd end up shot by the police doesn't seem to surprise him in the least. He has made remarkable progress, physically, I'll grant you, this is a tough kid. But he'll never be what he once was, physically or otherwise."