“GET AWAY... GET AWAY FROM ME...!” Catherine was screaming, overturning tables and crashing through chairs toward the hospital restaurant’s open patio.
Patients and visitors scrambled to clear a path out of the deranged woman’s headlong dash for outdoors.
It was visiting hour and Catherine was having tea with a friend when Ken had materialized in the crowded public place. She could scarcely believe her eyes as his phantom boldly approached, a smile on his face, undaunted by witnesses.
Catherine’s sudden reaction had stopped him in his tracks, frozen and mystified, unsure whether to keep walking or retreat.
Two men tackled and restrained Catherine before she could vault over the parapet wall around the third story patio.
Within moments more bystanders ran to help until staff arrived. She fought like a woman possessed, the area rapidly cleared as people recoiled from the insanity of it.
The incident momentarily stunned Ken. It was the second occasion that his visit to a psychiatric ward had resulted in general mayhem the moment he’d entered the patient’s presence. He milled about, bewildered by the reaction.
A few minutes later the hospital superintendent approached him.
“I’m sorry sir... are you Mr. Torrington?” His photo had been circulated to all staff on a “no-visit” banned list. Much as Ken tried to keep a low profile in the media, most people knew him on sight anyway.
“Forgive me, but I am going to have to ask you to leave sir.”
Insulted and shocked, he left the hospital grounds in a shriek of rubber and 16 cylinders of Bugatti thunder. The instigators of his rude public ejection were clear, and he was on a mission to avenge this insult. Leon’s name had been mentioned as Catherine’s consulting specialist, so Leon’s house would be his first port of call. It was Sunday and Ken was positive that the old fool would be home.
On Friday, when Ken had called into the office from Russia, Jo had informed him that both Nancy and Leon were at the Santa Clara Hospital tending to Miss Kaplan who had suffered an emotional breakdown.
After touching down on Sunday morning he’d called the hospital, claiming that his sister had been admitted and they’d confirmed the ward number. He’d found the room vacant and correctly guessed where to find her.
He was now tearing through the traffic without respect for rule or sense, aggression stripping him of the last vestiges of sanity.
The Veyron screeched to a halt outside Leon’s door, announcing his arrival with a prolonged blast of its horn. A pedestrian and three neighbours stared with shock and irritation at the arrogant stranger who unsettled the harmony of their day; Ken saw nothing beyond the blind rush of assumptions fueling his tyrannical focus.
During the hell-ride he’d neatly pieced together the conspiracy that Nancy, Catherine and Leon had concocted against him. In his mind, all of the little incidents he’d witnessed between them over the weeks and months had accumulated, culminating in this final betrayal;
The exchanged smiles between the women... their dinner together, which Nancy had accidentally mentioned. Nancy and Leon plotting together at her desk when they thought he was in Korea... How he’d seen Nancy trying to hide the evidence of their devious whisperings on that occasion... Nancy’s aggressive defense of Catherine when Catherine was plainly avoiding him.
“Oh, yes,” Ken thought. “Now I see where allegiances lie.”
He was strutting up Leon’s pathway, his fists clenched tight. He beat his knuckles onto the door until they bruised and the skin smeared, yet Leon did not appear.
By the time he abandoned the door and spun his wheels the length of the quiet cul de sac, the street was deserted.
The little frail man must be cowering inside his house, he laughed out loud at the assumption; “quaking with fear, too fucking terrified to confront me.”
Ken blasted back onto the highway, putting his beast of a machine through its paces, but when he arrived at Nancy’s door she had already departed to rendezvous with Leon at the hospital. Ken had missed her by one change of the streetlights.
Again, he leaned on the car’s horn until nobody in the leafy lane’s vicinity could have missed his presence. It was a pointless and childish act, her car wasn’t in the driveway, but he didn’t care—he was nose-in against her gate and intended for the neighbours to report the incident to her.
Giving up, he drove away, still blind with rage; but enough sense had returned to know that he needed to slow down, so he found another secluded lane further down and pulled over.
He removed a vial from the ashtray and fished in it with the extra-long nail of his small finger, retrieving a measure of powdered relaxation for his left nostril to vacuum away.
With his fury anaesthetized he could head for home at a leisurely pace. There, he consoled himself, he would watch his beloved recording almost to punish this woman that gave him so much grief.
It was a possession of Catherine’s that he alone had the power to control, all day and all night if he so wished.