The Naked Face

Chapter Six


HIS FIRST PATIENT, Teri Washburn, was waiting in the corridor. Twenty years earlier Teri had been one of the biggest stars in the Hollywood firmament. Her career had fizzled overnight, and she had married a lumberman from Oregon and dropped out of sight. Teri had been married five or six times since then and was now living in New York with her latest husband, an importer. She looked up angrily as Judd came down the corridor.
"Well..." she said. The speech of reproval she had rehearsed died away as she saw his face. "What happened to you?" she asked. "You look like you got caught between two horny mix-masters."
"Just a little accident. Sorry I'm late." He unlocked the door and ushered Teri into the reception office. Carol's empty desk and chair loomed in front of him.
"I read about Carol," Teri said. There was an excited edge to her voice. "Was it a sex murder?"
"No, " Judd said shortly. He opened the door to his inner office. "Give me ten minutes."
He went into the office, consulted his calendar pad, and began dialing the numbers of his patients, canceling the rest of his appointments for the day. He was able to reach all but three patients. His chest and arm hurt every time he moved, and his head was beginning to pound again. He took two Darvan from a drawer and washed them down with a glass of water. He walked over to the reception door and opened it for Teri. He steeled himself to put everything out of his mind for the next fifty minutes except the problems of his patient. Teri lay down on the couch, her skirt hiked up, and began talking.
Twenty years ago Teri Washburn had been a raving beauty, and traces of it were still there. She had the largest, softest, most innocent eyes that Judd had ever seen. The sultry mouth had a few hard lines around it, but it was still voluptuous, and her breasts were rounded and firm beneath a close-fitting Pucci print. Judd suspected that she had had a silicone injection, but he was waiting for her to mention it. The rest of her body was still good, and her legs were great.
At one time or another, most of Judd's female patients thought they were in love with him, the natural transference from patient-doctor to patient-protector-lover. But Teri's case was different. She had been trying to have an affair with Judd from the first minute she had walked into his office. She had tried to arouse him in every way she could think of - and Teri was an expert. Judd had finally warned her that unless she behaved herself, he would send her to another doctor. Since then she had behaved reasonably well with him: studying him, trying to find his Achilles heel. An eminent English physican had sent Teri to him after a nasty international scandal at Antibes. A French gossip columnist had accused Teri of spending a weekend on the yacht of a famous Greek shipping magnate to whom she was engaged, and sleeping with his three brothers while the ship's owner flew to Rome for a day on business. The story was quickly hushed up and the columnist printed a retraction and was then quietly fired. In her first session with Judd, Teri had boasted that the story was true.
"It's wild," she had said. "I need sex all the time. I can't get enough of it." She had rubbed her hands against her hips, sliding her skirt up, and looked at Judd innocently. "Do you know what I mean, honey?" she had asked.
Since that first visit, Judd had found out a great deal about Teri. She had come from a small coal-mining town in Pennsylvania.
"My father was a dumb Polack. He got his kicks getting drunk on boilermakers every Saturday night and beating the shit out of my old lady."
When she was thirteen, Teri had the body of a woman and the face of an angel. She learned that she could earn nickels by going to the back of the coal tips with the miners. The day her father had found out, he had come into their small cabin screaming incoherently in Polish, and had thrown Teri's mother out. He had locked the door, taken off his heavy belt, and begun beating Teri. When he was through, he had raped her.
Judd had watched Teri as she lay there describing the scene, her face empty of any emotion.
"That was the last time I saw my father or mother."
"You ran away," Judd said.
Teri twisted around on the couch in surprise. "What?"
"After your father raped you - "
"Ran away?" Teri said. She threw back her head and let out a whoop of laughter. "I liked it. It was my bitch of a mother who threw me out!"
Now Judd switched on the tape recorder. "What would you like to talk about?" he asked.
"Fucking," she said. "Why don't we psychoanalyze you and find out why you're so straight?"
He ignored it. "Why did you think Carol's death might have something to do with a sexual attack?"
"Because everything reminds me of sex, honey." She squirmed and her skirt rode a little higher.
"Pull your skirt down, Teri."
She gave him an innocent look. "Sorry...You missed a great birthday party Saturday night, Doc."
"Tell me about it."
She hesitated, an unaccustomed note of concern in her voice. "You won't hate me?"
"I've told you that you don't need my approval. The only one whose approval you need is you. Right and wrong are the rules we make up ourselves so that we can play in the game with other people. Without rules, there can't be a game. But never forget - the rules are artificial."
There was a silence. Then she spoke. "It was a swinging party. My husband hired a six-piece band."
He waited.
She twisted around to look at him. "Are you sure you won't lose respect for me?"
"I want to help you. We've all done things we're ashamed of, but that does not signify that we have to continue doing them."
She studied him a moment, then lay back on the couch. "Did I ever tell you I suspected my husband, Harry, is impotent?"
"Yes." She talked of it constantly.
"He hasn't really done it to me since we've been married. He always has some goddam excuse... Well..." Her mouth twisted bitterly. "Well...Saturday night I fucked the band while Harry watched." She began to cry.
Judd handed her some kleenex and sat there, watching her.
No one had ever given Teri Washburn anything in her life that she had not been overcharged for. When she had first gone to Hollywood, she had landed a job as a waitress in a drive-in and used most of her wages to go to a third-rate dramatic coach. Within a week the coach had her move in with him, doing all his household chores and confining her coaching to the bedroom. A few weeks later, when she realized that he could not have gotten her an acting job even if he had wanted to, she had walked out on him and taken a job as a cashier in a Beverly Hills hotel drugstore. A movie executive had appeared on Christmas Eve to buy a last-minute gift for his wife. He had given Teri his card and told her to call him. Teri had made a screen test a week later. She was awkward and untrained, but she had three things going for her. She had a sensational face and figure, the camera loved her, and the studio executive was keeping her.
Teri Washburn appeared in bit parts in a dozen pictures the first year. She began to get fan mail. Her parts grew larger. At the end of a year her benefactor died of a heart attack, and Teri was afraid the studio would fire her. Instead, the new executive called her in and told her that he had big plans for her. She got a new contract, a raise, and a larger apartment with a mirrored bedroom. Teri's roles gradually grew to leads in B pictures, and finally, as the public showed their adoration by putting down their money at the box office to see each new Teri Washburn picture, she began to star in A pictures.
All that had been a long time ago, and Judd felt sorry for her as she lay on his couch, trying to control her sobs.
"Would you like some water?" he asked.
"N-no," she said. "I'm f-fine." She took a handkerchief out of her purse and blew her nose. "I'm sorry," she said, "for be-having like a goddam idiot." She sat up.
Judd sat there quietly, waiting for her to get control of herself.
"Why do I marry men like Harry?"
"That's an important question. Do you have any idea why?"
"How the hell should I know!" screamed Teri. "You're the psychiatrist. If I knew they were like that, you don't think I'd marry those creeps, do you?"
"What do you think?"
She stared at him, shocked. "You mean you think I would?" She got to her feet angrily. "Why, you dirty sonofabitch! You think I liked fucking the band?"
"Did you?"
In a fury she picked up a vase and flung it at him. It shattered against a table. "Does that answer you?"
"No. That vase was two hundred dollars. I'll put it on your bill."
She stared at him helplessly. "Did I really like it?" she whispered.
"You tell me."
Her voice dropped even lower. "I must be sick," she said. "Oh, God, I'm sick. Please help me, Judd. Help me!"
Judd walked over to her. "You've got to help me help you."
She nodded her head, dumbly.
"I want you to go home and think about how you feel, Teri. Not while you're doing these things, but before you do them. Think about why you want to do them. When you know that, you'll know a great deal about yourself."
She looked at him a moment, then her face relaxed. She took out her handkerchief and blew her nose again. "You're a helluva man, Charlie Brown," she said. She picked up her purse and gloves. "See you next week?"
"Yes," he said. "See you next week." He opened the door to the corridor, and Teri exited.
He knew the answer to Teri's problem, but she would have to work it through for herself. She would have to learn that she could not buy love, that it had to be given freely. And she could not accept the fact that it could be given to her freely until she learned to believe that she was worthy of receiving love. Until that time, Teri would go on trying to buy it, using the only currency she had: her body. He knew the agony she was going through, the bottomless despair of self-loathing, and his heart went out to her. But the only way in which he could help her was to give the appearance of being impersonal and detached. He knew that to his patients he seemed remote and aloof from their problems, dispensing wisdom from some Olympian height. But that was a vital part of the facade of therapy. In reality, he cared deeply about the problems of his patients. They would have been amazed if they had known how often the unspeakable demons that tried to batter down the ramparts of their emotions appeared in Judd's own nightmares.
During the first six months of his practice as a psychiatrist, when he was undergoing the required two years of analysis necessary to become a psychoanalyst, Judd had developed blinding headaches. He was empathetically taking on the symptoms of all his patients, and it had taken him almost a year to learn to channel and control his emotional involvement.
Now, as Judd locked Teri Washburn's tape away, his mind came forcibly back to his own dilemma. He walked over to the phone and dialed information for the number of the Nineteenth Precinct.
The switchboard operator connected him with the Detective Bureau. He heard McGreavy's deep bass voice over the phone, "Lieutenant McGreavy."
"Detective Angeli, please."
"Hold on."
Judd heard the clatter of the phone as McGreavy put the receiver down. A moment later Angeli's voice came over the wire. "Detective Angeli."
"Judd Stevens. I wondered whether you'd gotten that information yet?"
There was an instant's hesitation. "I checked into it," said Angeli carefully.
"All you have to do is say 'yes' or 'no.'" Judd's heart was pounding. It was an effort for him to ask the next question. "Is Ziffren still at Matteawan?"
It seemed an eternity before Angeli answered. "Yes. He's still there."
A wave of disappointment surged through Judd. "Oh. I see."
"I'm sorry."
"Thanks," Judd said. Slowly he hung up.
So that left Harrison Burke. Harrison Burke, a hopeless paranoiac who was convinced that everyone was out to kill him. Had Burke decided to strike first? John Hanson had left Judd's office at ten-fifty on Monday and had been killed a few minutes later. Judd had to find out whether Harrison Burke was in his office at that time. He looked up Burke's office number and dialed it.
"International Steel." The voice had the remote, impersonal timbre of an automaton.
"Mr. Harrison Burke, please."
"Mr. Harrison Burke...Thank you...One moment, please..."
Judd was gambling on Burke's secretary answering the phone. If she had stepped out for a moment and Burke answered it himself..."Mr. Burke's office." It was a girl's voice.
"This is Dr. Judd Stevens. I wonder if you could give me some information?"
"Oh, yes, Dr. Stevens!" There was a note of relief in her voice, mixed with apprehension. She must have known that Judd was Burke's analyst. Was she counting on him for help? What had Burke been doing to upset her?
"It's about Mr. Burke's bill..." Judd began.
"His bill?" She made no effort to conceal her disappointment.
Judd went on quickly. "My receptionist is - is no longer with me, and I'm trying to straighten out the books. I see that she charged Mr. Burke for a nine-thirty appointment this past Monday, and I wonder if you'd mind checking his calendar for that morning?"
"Just a moment," she said. There was disapproval in her voice now. He could read her mind. Her employer was cracking up and his analyst was only concerned about getting his money. She came back on the phone a few minutes later. "I'm afraid your receptionist made a mistake, Dr. Stevens," she said tartly. "Mr. Burke couldn't have been at your office Monday morning."
"Are you sure?" persisted Judd. "It's down in her book - nine-thirty to - "
"I don't care what's down in her book, Doctor." She was angry now, upset by his callousness. "Mr. Burke was in a staff meeting all morning on Monday. It began at eight o'clock."
"Couldn't he have slipped out for an hour?"
"No, Doctor," she said. "Mr. Burke never leaves his office during the day." There was an accusation in her voice. Can't you see that he's ill? What are you doing to help him?
"Shall I tell him you called?"
"That won't be necessary," Judd said. "Thank you." He wanted to add a word of reassurance, of comfort, but there was nothing he could say. He hung up.
So that was that. He had struck out. If neither Ziffren nor Harrison Burke had tried to kill him - then there could be no one else with any motive. He was back where he had started. Some person - or persons - had murdered his receptionist and one of his patients. The hit-and-run incident could have been deliberate or accidental. At the time it happened, it seemed to be deliberate. But looking at it dispassionately, Judd admitted to himself that he had been wrought up by the events of the last few days. In his highly emotional state he could easily have turned an accident into something sinister. The simple truth was that there was no one who could have any possible motive for killing him. He had an excellent relationship with all his patients, warm relationships with his friends. He had never, to his knowledge, harmed anyone. The phone rang. He recognized Anne's low, throaty voice instantly.
"Are you busy?"
"No. I can talk."
There was concern in her voice. "I read that you were hit by a car. I wanted to call you sooner, but I didn't know where to reach you."
He made his voice light. "It was nothing serious. It will teach me not to jaywalk."
"The papers said it was a hit-and-run accident."
"Did they find the person who did it?"
"No. It was probably some kid out for a lark." In a black limousine without lights.
"Are you sure?" asked Anne.
The question caught him by surprise. "What do you mean?"
"I don't really know." Her voice was uncertain. "It's just that - Carol was murdered. And now - this."
So she had put it together, too.
"It - it almost sounds as if there's a maniac running around loose."
"If there is," Judd assured her, "the police will catch him."
"Are you in any danger?"
His heart warmed. "Of course not." There was an awkward silence. There was so much he wanted to say, but he couldn't. He must not mistake a friendly phone call for anything more than the natural concern that a patient would have for her doctor. Anne was the type who would have called anyone who was in trouble. It meant no more than that.
"I'll still see you on Friday?" he asked.
"Yes." There was an odd note in her voice. Was she going to change her mind?
"It's a date," he said quickly. But of course it was not a date. It was a business appointment.
"Yes. Good-bye, Dr. Stevens."
"Good-bye, Mrs. Blake. Thanks for calling. Thanks very much." He hung up. And thought about Anne. And wondered if her husband had any idea what an incredibly lucky man he was.
What was her husband like? In the little Anne had said about him, Judd had formed the image of an attractive and thoughtful man. He was a sportsman, bright, was a successful businessman, donated money to the arts. He sounded like the kind of person Judd would have liked for a friend. Under different circumstances.
What could Anne's problem have been that she was afraid to discuss with her husband? Or her analyst? With a person of Anne's character, it was probably an overwhelming feeling of guilt because of an affair she had had either before she was married or after her marriage. He could not imagine her having casual affairs. Perhaps she would tell him on Friday. When he saw her for the last time.
The rest of the afternoon went by swiftly. Judd saw the few patients he had not been able to cancel. When the last one had departed, he took out the tape of Harrison Burke's last session and played it, making occasional notes as he listened.
When he had finished, he switched the tape recorder off. There was no choice. He had to call Burke's employer in the morning and inform him of Burke's condition. He glanced out the window and was surprised to see that night had fallen. It was almost eight o'clock. Now that he had finished concentrating on his work, he suddenly felt stiff and tired. His ribs were sore and his arm had begun to throb. He would go home and soak in a nice hot bath.
He put away all the tapes except Burke's, which he locked in a drawer of a side table. He would turn it over to a court-appointed psychiatrist. He put on his overcoat and was half way out the door when the phone rang. He went to the phone and picked it up. "Dr. Stevens."
There was no answer on the other end. He heard breathing, heavy and nasal.
There was no response. Judd hung up. He stood there a moment, frowning. Wrong number, he decided. He turned out the office lights, locked the doors, and moved toward the bank of elevators. All the tenants were long since gone. It was too early for the night shift of maintenance workers, and except for Bigelow, the watchman, the building was deserted.
Judd walked over to the elevator and pressed the call button. The signal indicator did not move. He pressed the button again. Nothing happened.
And at that moment all the lights in the corridor blacked out.