Never Look Back

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 79

“Good afternoon detectives,” Dr. Brinkman greeted.

“I’m Detective Patrick O’Reilly. This is Detective John Sands. You weren’t planning to ask us to lie down, were you?”

“Do you feel you need to lay down detective?”

“Very funny doc.” Turning to Sands, he expressed in a whimsical voice, “Maybe I could bring my Ex by?”

“Cruel and unusual punishment,” replied Sands, also smiling amicably.

“Please, gentlemen, have a seat.” Brinkman noted they both avoided the sofa. “Now, how may I help you? Am I to understand your visit has something to do with Odera Mansbridge and Bruce Garland?”

“What can you tell us about their relationship?” Sands probed. “Garland’s sister reported they attended three sessions together. Mr. and Mrs. Mansbridge supplied your name and phone number.”

“Yes. My office received a telephone call from Mr. Mansbridge requesting I rescind confidentiality. Detectives, I’m strictly bound by client/patient confidentiality. There isn’t a lot I’m permitted to divulge regarding what transpired during therapy, even with the Mansbridge’s request. The request must originate from Odera Mansbridge or Bruce Garland.”

“Garland and Ms. Mansbridge were your patients?”

“They are my patients. Yes. I’ve been treating Ms. Mansbridge for twenty-two months ― shortly after her return to Canada. Mr. Garland attended three sessions. The most recent being Friday, last week.”

“What other days?”

“Monday and Wednesday. Detectives, nothing would please me more than to see Ms. Mansbridge found and returned unharmed and whole, but how much I’m permitted to impart in response to conversations in this room is severely restricted.”

“What about Garland?”

“I’m afraid not. He signed a doctor/patient contract. I’m sorry detectives, but I don’t see what I can tell you that might be useful.”

“Can you tell us, without breaking confidentiality, how they got along? Were there indications of domestic violence? Any reason to suspect Garland might have harmed her in the past, and would do so again in the future?”

“I assure you, had I valid reason to believe Bruce had jeopardised, or was likely to jeopardise Odera’s safety I would have notified authorities at once. Patients’ well-being supersedes confidentiality restrictions. Law and moral conscience require me to report thus. Neither one of them displayed behaviour leading me to suspect physical or emotional abuse. Furthermore, Mr. Garland presented as being unlikely he would commit violence against Ms. Mansbridge.”

“Hey doc, he’s a murderer, not a fucking boy scout.”

“I’m privy to Mr. Garland’s index offence, Detective O’Reilly. Both were honest and forthright. Neither person presented as deceptive or manipulative.”

“Doesn’t that contradict what you said? He killed once, what’s to stop him from assaulting Ms. Mansbridge, and worse?”

“Detectives, I’m aware of the contradiction between his previous act of violence, and with my statement regarding domestic violence. At the risk of disclosing too much, let me say Bruce and Odera share a strong relationship ― one that involves a level of trust more couples could benefit from achieving.

“In order to have earned that trust, which I assure you is mutual and hard-won, there would have to have been a preceding foundation of friendship.” He laced his hands together over a knee. “No gentleman. Odera isn’t a likely recipient for violence at Bruce’s hands. Quite the opposite. He presented as protective and genuinely concerned for her well-being. Now, if that’s all.”

“Did Ms. Mansbridge indicate she was planning to end their relationship? Perhaps she felt dissatisfied, maybe fearful?”

“No. She indicated satisfaction. I’m sorry detectives,” Brinkman said and stood.

“Just a few more questions, doctor,” notified Sands authoritatively.

“I’m afraid I can’t tell you anything more.”

“Without breaking confidentiality. I know, and we appreciate that, but I was wondering if you’d give us your opinion.”

“What’s on your mind, detective?” said Brinkman sitting back down.

“We brought Garland’s military- and prison psyche files, and two recent psyche assessments since his release. Would you mind looking them over? Maybe give us an idea what and whom we’re dealing with? It might help us to locate Ms. Mansbridge by giving us a clearer picture into his mind. You do, after all, have insight we lack.”

“Do you not staff in-house profilers?”

“Yes. We also consulted the Correctional Service psychiatrists Garland was required to see upon release. They added very little that wasn’t already in those reports. Garland failed to report his relationship with the victim to either of them. Doctor, I’m going to level with you. I think Garland is searching for Odera Mansbridge. Can we go off the record?” At Brinkman’s nod, Sands went on, “When police attempted to place Garland under arrest, he fled the scene. Shortly after, he emptied his bank accounts and returned to work. We’ve found circumstantial evidence he may have provided first aid to an injured officer. There was a short gun battle; Garland escaped unharmed.

“Next evening, he showed up at Odera Mansbridge’s home where another confrontation ensued.” At this news, Brinkman removed his glasses and sat straighter. “That’s pretty close to direct evidence that he’s looking for Mansbridge. Two days later, five armed intruders invaded a retail building that included residential space. All five died. An eyewitness report states the armed intruders would have executed all occupants, and Garland acted in defence of himself, of the home and its owners. We think he returned to a technology convention where three individuals accosted him. He wounded two and fled the scene. The repeated attempts on his life might indicate he found what he was searching for, or perhaps someone is trying to stop him from locating Mansbridge. We’re uncertain what his connection might be to those who kidnapped Odera.”

Ignoring Patrick’s headshake, he continued, “Garland was visiting family when Odera was taken. They strongly denied his involvement. Although I share this scenario alone, it’s possible he’s discovered the reason for her abduction. It’s very important we find him before he endangers Odera’s safety. It’s only by sheer luck he hasn’t caused innocents to be harmed, which includes Odera.”

Sands summed up Brinkman’s interest, discerned the obvious care he held for Odera Mansbridge and made his pitch, “Will you help us? Will you peek at the files and tell us what you think? It could be what aids our recovery of Garland before anyone else is hurt, and Odera’s life is placed in further jeopardy. We’re up against a time clock that’s quickly running down. I can’t be more forthright than that.”

“Am I to understand Bruce did not fire a weapon at the police?”

“Affirmative. News reports weren’t entirely forthcoming,” Sands answered raising his hands from his lap, palms up as if to say (hey, you know you can’t always trust what you see and hear on TV). “Media hype alerts citizens who then call us with tips and sightings. Sometimes our media liaison is a little foggy with the facts to help us get quicker leads in time-sensitive situations.”

“Is there evidence linking Bruce to Odera’s kidnapping?”

“Look Doc, the frigging guy fled,” O’Reilly interrupted. “After he assaulted the officer who tried to arrest him, we think he committed a break and enter. Okay. He ain’t no saint and we ain’t the enemy. We want to find the woman before she’s harmed, or worse. We’re sorry ’bout the crappy media stuff, alright, but shit happens. Increased media exposure helps Mansbridge, yuh know? Me, I don’t make no apology if I save a life while making life harder for a hardcase like Garland. Tough titties, I say. We preserve life. That’s our bottom line, Doc. Wasn’t fair to the guy Garland killed either, but it happened, know what I mean?”

Dr. Brinkman sat quietly for several minutes and then said, “You’ve put me in a difficult position. Like both of you, I’m concerned with Ms. Mansbridge’s welfare. May I see those files? I will try to separate therapeutic sessions from file information.”

Setting the thick folders in front of him, Brinkman leafed through the pages, skipping the neurological performance, cognitive association and IQ tests sections. Upon entering the meaty sections of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory graphs and personality analysis, an odd assortment of hmm’s and ha’s escaped his lips. A full hour ticked by as Sands and O’Reilly waited for Brinkman to finish reading and to close the file jacket. Rubbing the bridge of his nose, Brinkman sat back with a raised hand while he assimilated the information.

Minutes passed.

“Well Doc, what’s the word?” O’Reilly asked impatiently.

“Not very encouraging, I’m afraid, if what you said is true.” Brinkman looked at his watch and then leaned forward, capturing and holding each set of eyes as he decided where to start. “To begin with, and this is after only a superficial review, Bruce is capable of committing deeds of extreme violence. His mindset is such that he’s able to affect a suspension of moral considerations allowing him to disconnect from the beliefs and ideologies of our social milieu.”

“English, Doc. Can you dumb it down?”

In a clear and unhesitating voice, Dr. Brinkman said, “Given something that holds great emotional weight for him, Bruce is capable of violence. But then, that information is not exactly new news. More importantly, he’s willing to carry out violence. He’ll act without a conscience to guide him. Goal attainment, I believe, is everything to Bruce.”

Sands clarified, “You’re saying we have a full-blown section eight on the loose?”

“No, I didn’t say that,” countered Brinkman, waving away Sand’s description. “Bruce doesn’t suffer from a mental disorder. Soldiers may hold life precious, yet they will kill upon command. To do so, they must override moral inhibitors and perform the tasks necessary to achieve the desired outcome. Would you call that crazy?”

“Then what are you telling us?”

“You have a potentially, very dangerous man…Wait. Hear me out,” he exclaimed as O’Reilly started to speak. Brinkman shifted to a more comfortable position while reformulating his response. “Given his profile, I believe once he learned of Odera’s abduction, other considerations became secondary to finding her. You’re dealing with a man incensed at the thought of harm coming to someone he cares for deeply. Are you aware of the particulars of her past assault?”

“We’ve read the jacket, Doc. It was a vicious fucking attack.”

“Then you may understand the powerful impetus motivating every action Bruce undertakes. Sometime during his incarceration, he learned to suppress his emotions and to dull his conscience. This ability to numb and to desensitize himself against the savagery around him, to appraise and to react analytically to every situation renders him potentially dangerous. Deep feelings for Odera will have magnified those traits.”

“Do you still believe it unlikely he partook in Mansbridge’s abduction?”

“Now, more than ever. I also believe it unlikely he’ll instigate violence, however, threaten his life and he won’t hesitate to answer violence with violence in whatever proportion necessary to achieve a desirable outcome. During the course of their friendship and later, their burgeoning relationship, Odera’s emotional strength and fortitude became linked to his. And Bruce became the source of Odera’s physical courage. This connection will strongly motivate Bruce. These two individuals have woven a tight bond.”

He adopted a thoughtful look.

“Not surprisingly, file information suggests Bruce abhors violence. This would indicate, and I agree after treating him, he’s not a violent man at heart unless provoked by life-threatening stimuli.”

“Hey Doc, the guy’s certifiable,” O’Reilly exclaimed.

“Do you have children, detective?”

“Two. A boy and a girl.”

“What would you do if someone harmed them to the same degree of Odera’s assault?”

“I’d want to see them punished, sent to jail forever, even executed.”

“An understandable response. Now imagine if the same child was abducted and potentially faced a similar situation.” Brinkman punctuated his oration with a short pause. “How would you feel? To what length would you go to save that child from further harm if you believed you alone had the ability?”

“I’d want to kill them. If I caught them in the act, maybe even I would. But that don’t make it right.”

“That’s exactly how Bruce feels, except he’s willing to perform whatever action necessary, no matter the personal cost, to win Odera back.” When O’Reilly scowled, Brinkman said, “That he may have administered medical care to another human doesn’t surprise me. I’d have been surprised if he hadn’t, for he’s neither a cruel nor unfeeling person. His sole motivation is Odera. Nothing else. It’s very likely he’ll execute his intentions without harming anyone further unless they restrict access to Odera. Should that be the case, should Odera’s abductors confront him and prevent such access, I believe he’ll perform whatever action necessary to fulfill his goal.”

“So, we have a violent vigilante who is willing to commit…what did you say? Deeds of extreme violence…to see justice served,” Sands paraphrased.

“Bruce doesn’t care about justice or about seeing anyone punished. His lone consideration is to see Odera returned unharmed. Understand I only have the benefit of Odera’s descriptions of him and three therapeutic sessions. Much of the file information before me contradicts itself. Those employed by Correctional Services, which must serve its own needs, wrote it, and his military file is more than a decade out of date. Don’t place complete faith in my analysis.”

“We’ll keep that in mind doctor. How do we catch him? What types of mistakes is he likely to make?”

“Find Ms. Mansbridge first.”

“That’s it?”

“I’m afraid so. I don’t foresee Bruce committing serious errors to detract him from completing his task. Every move he makes will be well thought out and strategically grounded. What more, he has almost no trust in others.”

“Meaning he won’t seek help from his criminal friends?”

“Meaning he’ll avoid anyone whom he doesn’t have complete faith in.”

“You sound as though you admire the guy?”

“Detective,” began Brinkman discerning O’Reilly’s prejudice, “if he thought turning whatever you think he has over to the police would ensure Odera’s safe return, he’d have dropped it in a mailbox or by some other anonymous means by now. That he hasn’t may indicate police involvement will cause Odera harm, at least by his reckoning. I admire his conviction to place himself in harm’s way for another individual, not the man, nor his actions. But I believe his intentions are just, at least from his point of view.”

“It’s our job to save lives. That’s what we’re trained to do.”

“Tell me, Detective, have you received ransom demands? The Mansbridges are quite affluent.”

“We’re still waiting. It’s not uncommon for a few days to pass before the first contact is made.”

“Have you considered Odera was not kidnapped for money?”

“As Detective Sands has repeatedly pointed out, the circumstances regarding her unusual abduction remain openly suspicious. We are charged with looking at all possibilities until all facts are in.”

“The reason I ask, if Bruce thought money would return Odera, and he didn’t have any, he’d probably rob a bank. Since money is a non-issue, that leaves other motivations, such as the ones you believe he may have discovered. How many people fail to return safely when money isn’t the motivating impetus? How many families are contacted when a cash prize isn’t the goal?”

“I get your point Doc.”

“Then you understand why I admire his willingness to risk his life for another individual. Perhaps he feels saving Odera will atone for the life he took. That would make his intent noble, even though a judge may deem it unlawful. Detectives, if I were in your shoes, I’d be asking myself what prompted her abduction, not who kidnapped her. If you’re correct, Bruce answered that question and it scares him. Scares him out of turning evidence over to you and thereby clearing his name. Scares him to think what will happen to Odera if he doesn’t act decisively.” Brinkman stopped speaking and donned his glasses. “I wonder what it would take to frighten someone who served so many years in prison? What it would take to frighten someone who was once willing to put his life on the line for his country?”

“You seem to have all the answers Doc, why don’t you enlighten us,” sneered O’Reilly while Sands adopted a thoughtful expression.

“I don’t have the slightest clue detective, nor do I believe that I want to know.”

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, offering an online community for talented authors and book lovers. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books you love the most based on crowd wisdom.