The Naked Face

Chapter Four


THE MORNING NEWSPAPERS headlined the sensational torture murder of Carol Roberts. Judd was tempted to have his telephone exchange call his patients and cancel his appointments for the day. He had not gone to bed, and his eyes felt heavy and gritty. But when he reviewed the list of patients, he decided that two of them would be desperate if he canceled; three of them would be badly upset; the others could be handled. He decided it was better to continue with his normal routine, partly for his patients' sake, and partly because it was good therapy for him to try to keep his mind off what had happened.
Judd arrived at his office early, but already the corridor was crowded with newspaper and television reporters and photographers. He refused to let them in or to make a statement, and finally managed to get rid of them. He opened the door to his inner office slowly, filled with trepidation. But the blood-stained rug had been removed and everything else had been put back in place. The office looked normal. Except that Carol would never walk in here again, smiling and full of life.
Judd heard the outer door open. His first patient had arrived.
Harrison Burke was a distinguished-looking silver-haired man who looked like the prototype of a big business executive, which he was: a vice-president of the International Steel Corporation. When Judd had first seen Burke, he had wondered whether the executive had created his stereotyped image, or whether the image had created the executive. Some day he would write a book on face values; a doctor's bedside manner, a lawyer's flamboyance in a courtroom, an actress' face and figure - these were the universal currencies of acceptance: the surface image rather than the basic values.
Burke lay down on the couch, and Judd turned his attention to him. Burke had been sent to Judd by Dr. Peter Hadley two months ago. It had taken Judd ten minutes to ascertain that Harrison Burke was a paranoiac with tendencies toward homicide. The morning headlines had been full of a murder that had taken place in this office the night before, but Burke never mentioned it. That was typical of his condition. He was totally immersed in himself.
"You didn't believe me before," Burke said, "but now I've got proof that they're after me."
"I thought we had decided to keep an open mind about that, Harrison," Judd replied carefully. "Remember yesterday we agreed that the imagination could play - "
"It isn't my imagination," shouted Burke. He sat up, his fists clenched. "They're trying to kill me!"
"Why don't you lie down and try to relax?" Judd suggested soothingly.
Burke got to his feet. "Is that all you've got to say? You don't even want to hear my proof!" His eyes narrowed. "How do I know you're not one of them?"
"You know I'm not one of them," Judd said. "I'm your friend. I'm trying to help you." He felt a stab of disappointment. The progress he had thought they were making over the past month had completely eroded away. He was looking now at the same terrified paranoiac who had first walked into his office two months ago.
Burke had started with International Steel as a mail boy. In twenty-five years his distinguished good looks and his affable personality had taken him almost to the top of the corporate ladder. He had been next in line for the presidency. Then, four years ago, his wife and three children had perished in a fire at their summer home in Southampton. Burke had been in the Bahamas with his mistress. He had taken the tragedy harder than anyone realized. Reared as a devout Catholic, he was unable to shake off his burden of guilt. He began to brood, and he saw less of his friends. He stayed home evenings, reliving the agonies of his wife and children burning to death while, in another part of his mind, he lay in bed with his mistress. It was like a motion picture that he ran over and over in his mind. He blamed himself completely for the death of his family. If only he had been there, he could have saved them. The thought became an obsession. He was a monster. He knew it and God knew it. Surely others could see it! They must hate him as he hated himself. People smiled at him and pretended sympathy, but all the while they were waiting for him to expose himself, waiting to trap him. But he was too cunning for them. He stopped going to the executive dining room and began to have lunch in the privacy of his office. He avoided everyone as much as possible.
Two years ago, when the company had needed a new president, they had passed over Harrison Burke and had hired an outsider. A year later the post of executive vice-president had opened up, and a man was given the job over Burke's head. Now he had all the proof he needed that there was a conspiracy against him. He began to spy on the people around him. At night he hid tape recorders in the offices of other executives. Six months ago he had been caught. It was only because of his long seniority and position that he was not fired.
Trying to help him and relieve some of the pressure on him, the president of the company began to cut down on Burke's responsibilities. Instead of helping, it convinced Burke more than ever that they were out to get him. They were afraid of him because he was smarter than they were. If he became president, they would all lose their jobs because they were stupid fools. He began to make more and more mistakes. When these errors were called to his attention, he indignantly denied having made them. Someone was deliberately changing his reports, altering the figures and statistics, trying to discredit him. Soon he realized that it was not only the people in the company who were after him. There were spies outside. He was constantly followed in the streets. They tapped his telephone line, read his mail. He was afraid to eat, lest they poison his food. His weight began to drop alarmingly. The worried president of the company arranged an appointment for him with Dr. Peter Hadley and insisted that Burke keep it. After spending half an hour with him, Dr. Hadley had phoned Judd. Judd's appointment book was full, but when Peter had told him how urgent it was, Judd reluctantly agreed to take him on.
Now Harrison Burke lay supine on the damask-covered contour couch, his fists clenched tightly at his sides.
"Tell me about your proof."
"They broke into my house last night. They came to kill me. But I was too clever for them. I sleep in my den now and I have extra locks on all the doors so they can't get to me."
"Did you report the break-in to the police?" Judd asked.
"Of course not! The police are in it with them. They have orders to shoot me. But they wouldn't dare do it while there are people around, so I stay in crowds."
"I'm glad you gave me this information," Judd said.
"What are you going to do with it?" Burke asked eagerly.
"I'm listening very carefully to everything you say," Judd said. He indicated the tape recorder. "I've got it all down on tape so if they do kill you, we'll have a record of the conspiracy."
Burke's face lit up. "By God, that's good! Tape! That'll really fix them!"
"Why don't you lie down again?" Judd suggested.
Burke nodded and slid onto the couch. He closed his eyes. "I'm tired. I haven't slept in months. I don't dare close my eyes. You don't know what it's like, having everybody after you."
Don't I? He thought of McGreavy.
"Didn't your houseboy hear anyone break in?" Judd asked.
"Didn't I tell you?" Burke replied. "I fired him two weeks ago."
Judd quickly went over in his mind his recent sessions with Harrison Burke. Only three days ago Burke had described a fight he had had that day with his houseboy. So his sense of time had become disoriented. "I don't believe you mentioned it," Judd said casually. "Are you sure it was two weeks ago that you let him go?"
"I don't make mistakes," snapped Burke. "How the hell do you think I got to be vice-president of one of the biggest corporations in the world? Because I've got a brilliant mind, Doctor, and don't forget it."
"Why did you fire him?"
"He tried to poison me."
"With a plate of ham and eggs. Loaded with arsenic."
"Did you taste it?" Judd asked.
"Of course not," Burke snorted.
"How did you know it was poisoned?"
"I could smell the poison."
"What did you say to him?"
A look of satisfaction came over Burke's face. "I didn't say anything. I beat the shit out of him."
A feeling of frustration swept over Judd. Given time, he was sure he could have helped Harrison Burke. But time had run out. There was always the danger in psychoanalysis that under the venting of free-flow association, the thin veneer of the id could blow wide open, letting escape all the primitive passions and emotions that huddled together in the mind like terrified wild beasts in the night. The free verbalizing was the first step in treatment. In Burke's case, it had boomeranged. These sessions had released all the latent hostilities that had been locked in his mind. Burke had seemed to improve with each session, agreeing with Judd that there was no conspiracy, that he was only overworked and emotionally exhausted. Judd had felt that he was guiding Burke to a point where they could begin deep analysis and start to attack the root of the problem. But Burke had been cunningly lying all along. He had been testing Judd, leading him on to try to trap him and find out whether he was one of them. Harrison Burke was a walking time bomb that could explode at any second. There was no next of kin to notify. Should Judd call the president of the company and tell him what he felt? If he did, it would instantly destroy Burke's future. He would have to be put away in an institution. Was he right in his diagnosis that Burke was a potentially homicidal paranoiac? He would like to get another opinion before he called, but Burke would never consent. Judd knew he would have to make the decision alone.
"Harrison, I want you to make me a promise," Judd said.
"What kind of promise?" Burke asked warily.
"If they are trying to trick you, then they want you to do something violent so they can have you locked up... But you're too smart for that. No matter how they provoke you, I want you to promise me that you won't do anything to them. That way, they can't touch you."
Burke's eyes lit up. "By God, you're right," he said. "So that's their plan! Well, we're too clever for them, aren't we?"
Outside, Judd heard the sound of the reception room door open and close. He looked at his watch. His next patient was here.
Judd quietly snapped off the tape recorder. "I think that's enough for today," he said.
"You got all this down on the tape recorder?" Burke asked eagerly.
"Every word," Judd said. "No one's going to hurt you." He hesitated. "I don't think you should go to the office today. Why don't you go home and get some rest?"
"I can't," Burke whispered, his voice filled with despair. "If I'm not in my office, they'll take my name off the door and put someone else's name on it." He leaned toward Judd. "Be careful. If they know you're my friend, they'll try to get you, too." Burke walked over to the door leading to the corridor. He opened it a crack and peered up and down the corridor. Then he swiftly sidled out.
Judd looked after him, his mind filled with the pain of what he would have to do to Harrison Burke's life. Perhaps if Burke had come to him six months earlier...And then a sudden thought sent a chill through him. Was Harrison Burke already a murderer? Was it possible that he had been involved in the deaths of John Hanson and Carol Roberts? Both Burke and Hanson were patients. And they could have easily met. Several times in the past few months Burke's appointments had followed Hanson's. And Burke had been late more than once. He could have run into Hanson in the corridor. And seeing him several times could easily have triggered his paranoia, made him feel that Hanson was following him, threatening him. As for Carol, Burke had seen her every time he came to the office. Had his sick mind conceived some menace from her that could only be removed by her death? How long had Burke really been mentally ill? His wife and three children had died in an accidental fire. Accidental? Somehow, he had to find out.
He went to the door leading to the reception office and opened it. "Come in," he said.
Anne Blake rose gracefully to her feet and moved toward him, a warm smile lighting her face. Judd felt again the same heart-turning feeling that had hit him when he had first seen her. It was the first time that he had felt any deep emotional response toward any woman since Elizabeth.
In no way did they look alike. Elizabeth had been blond and small and blue-eyed. Anne Blake had black hair and unbelievable violet eyes framed by long, dark lashes. She was tall, with a lovely, full-curved figure. She had an air of lively intelligence and a classic, patrician beauty that would have made her seem inaccessible, except for the warmth in her eyes. Her voice was low and soft, with a faint, husky quality.
Anne was in her middle twenties. She was, without question, the most beautiful woman Judd had ever seen. But it was something beyond her beauty that caught at Judd. There was an almost palpable force that pulled him to her, some unexplainable reaction that made him feel as though he had known her forever. Feelings that he had thought long since dead had suddenly surfaced again, surprising him by their intensity.
She had appeared in Judd's office three weeks earlier, without an appointment. Carol had explained that his schedule was full and he could not possibly take on any new patient. But Anne had quietly asked if she could wait. She had sat in the outer office for two hours, and Carol had finally taken pity on her and brought her in to Judd.
He had felt such an instant powerful emotional reaction to Anne that he had no idea what she said during the first few minutes. He remembered he had asked her to sit down and she had told him her name, Anne Blake. She was a house-wife. Judd had asked her what her problem was. She had hesitated and said that she was not certain. She was not even sure she had a problem. A doctor friend of hers had mentioned that Judd was one of the most brilliant analysts in the country, but when Judd had asked her who the doctor was, Anne had demurred. For all Judd knew, she could have gotten his name out of the telephone directory.
He had tried to explain to her how impossible his schedule was, that he simply was unable to take on any new patients. He offered to recommend half a dozen good analysts. But Anne had quietly insisted that she wanted him to treat her. In the end Judd had agreed. Outwardly, except for the fact that she appeared to be under some stress, she seemed perfectly normal, and he was certain that her problem would be a relatively simple one, easily solved. He broke his rule about not taking any patient without another doctor's recommendation, and he gave up his lunch hour in order to treat Anne. She had appeared twice a week for the past three weeks, and Judd knew very little more about her than he had known when she first came in. He knew something more about himself. He was in love - for the first time since Elizabeth.
At their first session, Judd had asked her if she loved her husband, and hated himself for wanting to hear her say that she did not. But she had said, "Yes. He's a kind man, and very strong."
"Do you think he represents a father figure?" Judd had asked.
Anne had turned her incredible violet eyes on him. "No. I wasn't looking for a father figure. I had a very happy home life as a child."
"Where were you born?"
"In Revere, a small town near Boston."
"Are both your parents still alive?"
"Father is alive. Mother died of a stroke when I was twelve."
"Did your father and mother have a good relationship?"
"Yes. They were very much in love."
It shows in you, thought Judd happily. With all the sickness and aberration and misery that he had seen, having Anne here was like a breath of April freshness.
"Any brothers or sisters?"
"No. I was an only child. A spoiled brat." She smiled up at him. It was an open, friendly smile without guile or affectation.
She told him that she had lived abroad with her father, who was serving in the State Department, and when he had remarried and moved to California, she had gone to work at the UN as an interpreter. She spoke fluent French, Italian, and Spanish. She had met her future husband in the Bahamas when she was on vacation. He owned a construction firm. Anne had not been attracted to him at first, but he had been a persistent and persuasive suitor. Two months after they met, Anne had married him. She had now been married for six months. They lived on an estate in New Jersey.
And that was all Judd had been able to find out about her in half a dozen visits. He still had not the slightest clue as to what her problem was. She had an emotional block about discussing it. He remembered some of the questions he had asked her during their first session.
"Does your problem involve your husband, Mrs. Blake?"
No answer.
"Are you and your husband compatible, physically?"
"Yes." Embarrassed.
"Do you suspect him of having an affair with another woman?"
"No. " Amused.
"Are you having an affair with another man?"
"No." Angry.
He hesitated, trying to figure out the best approach to take to break down the barrier. He decided on a buckshot technique: he would touch on every major category until he struck a nerve.
"Do you quarrel about money?"
"No. He's very generous."
"Any in-law problems?"
"He's an orphan. My father lives in California."
"Were you or your husband ever addicted to drugs?"
"Do you suspect your husband of being homosexual?"
A low, warm laugh. "No."
He pressed on, because he had to. "Have you ever had a sexual relationship with a woman?"
"No." Reproachful.
He had touched on alcoholism, frigidity, a pregnancy she was afraid to face - everything he could think of. And each time she had looked at him with her thoughtful, intelligent eyes and had merely shaken her head. Whenever he tried to pin her down, she would head him off with, "Please be patient with me. Let me do it my own way."
With anyone else, he might have given up. But he knew that he had to help her. And he had to keep seeing her.
He had let her talk about any subject she chose. She had traveled to a dozen countries with her father and had met fascinating people. She had a quick mind and an unexpected humor. He found that they liked the same books, the same music, the same playwrights. She was warm and friendly, but Judd could never detect the slightest sign that she reacted to him as anything other than a doctor. It was bitter irony. He had been subconsciously searching for someone like Anne for years, and now that she had walked into his life, his job was to help her solve whatever her problem was and send her back to her husband.
Now, as Anne walked into the office, Judd moved to the chair next to the couch and waited for her to lie down.
"Not today," she said quietly. "I just came to see if I could help."
He stared at her, speechless for a moment. His emotions had been stretched so tight in the past two days that her unexpected sympathy unnerved him. As he looked at her, he had a wild impulse to pour out everything that was happening to him. To tell her about the nightmare that was engulfing him, about McGreavy and his idiotic suspicions. But he knew he could not. He was the doctor and she was his patient. Worse than that. He was in love with her, and she was the untouchable wife of a man he did not even know.
She was standing there, watching him. He nodded, not trusting himself to speak.
"I liked Carol so much," said Anne. "Why would anyone kill her?"
"I don't know," said Judd.
"Don't the police have any idea who did it?"
Do they! Judd thought bitterly. If she only knew.
Anne was looking at him curiously.
"The police have some theories," Judd said.
"I know how terrible you must feel. I just wanted to come and tell you how very sorry I am. I wasn't even sure you'd be in the office today."
"I wasn't going to come in," Judd said. "But - well, here I am. As long as we're both here, why don't we talk a little about you?"
Anne hesitated. "I'm not sure that there's anything to talk about any more."
Judd felt his heart jump. Please, God, don't let her say that I'm not going to see her any more.
"I'm going to Europe with my husband next week."
"That's wonderful," he made himself say.
"I'm afraid I've wasted your time, Dr. Stevens, and I apologize."
"Please don't," Judd said. He found that his voice was husky. She was walking out on him. But of. course she couldn't know that. He was being infantile. His mind told him this clinically while his stomach ached with the physical hurt of her going away. Forever.
She opened her purse and took out some money. She was in the habit of paying in cash after each visit, unlike his other patients, who sent him checks.
"No," said Judd quickly. "You came here as a friend. I'm - grateful."
Judd did something he had never done before with a patient. "I would like you to come back once more," he said.
She looked up at him quietly. "Why?"
Because I can't bear to let you go so soon, he thought. Because I'll never meet anyone like you again. Because I wish I had met you first. Because I love you. Aloud he said, "I thought we might - round things out. Talk a little to make sure that you really are over your problem."
She smiled mischievously. "You mean you want me to come back for my graduation?"
"Something like that," he said. "Will you do it?"
"If you want me to - of course." She rose. "I haven't given you a chance with me. But I know you're a wonderful doctor. If I should ever need help, I'd come to you."
She held out her hand and he took it. She had a warm, firm handclasp. He felt again that compelling current that ran between them and marveled that she felt nothing.
"I'll see you Friday," she said.
He watched her walk out the private door leading to the corridor, then sank into a chair. He had never felt so completely alone in his life. But he couldn't sit here and do nothing. There had to be an answer, and if McGreavy wasn't going to find it, he had to discover it before McGreavy destroyed him. On the dark side, Lieutenant McGreavy suspected him of two murders that he couldn't prove he did not commit. He might be arrested at any moment, which would mean that his professional life would be destroyed. He was in love with a married woman he would only see once more. He forced himself to turn to the bright side. He couldn't think of a single bloody thing.