Jake Berman found her standing near the front of the stage, hunched over with her hands pressed hard against her mouth, her eyes constantly darting to the unseeing ones of a young man who was seated nearby. A trickle of blood could be seen flowing from the knife wound in the young man's throat, the pristine white of his shirt gradually turning scarlet as it absorbed the blood.
So little blood.
He thought there should have been more. His mind supplied an image from one of his own films of a severed carotid artery sending blood pumping, spraying - but there was just this trickle from the dead boy's throat.
He stared at the unseeing eyes, at the slackened mouth. Could this be the man--the boy--who had murdered seemingly without conscience? Who had slashed Belle's face with a razor? Who had tried to eviscerate David Barnum in the YMCA swimming pool by slicing him from sternum to groin? Was this the same boy who had written those weird letters full of paranoia, adoration and lust?
Jake stared down into the green eyes for a long time before flicking his gaze aside to take in the rest of the boy's features.
Could this be the same boy who had brutally murdered a complete stranger and set fire to the body just to make it look as if he had taken his own life? Was he the one who had threatened his ex-wife's life and sanity and, in doing so, had proved to Jake how much he still loved and wanted Sally?
It was so hard to connect those acts of brutality with the innocence so casually displayed on this angelic face. The blood was flowing sluggishly from the wound in the boy's neck and Berman reached out tentatively, touching the still warm skin, his fingers leaping back at the discovery of an unsteady pulse.
Not dead. Alive. Then why the silence? Why the lack of any motion? The boy had not even blinked in all the time he had been watching him.
Jake whipped round as the door to the theater's auditorium was thrown open, relaxing only when he recognised the concerned features of Inspector Andrews and Officer Stolz.
Andrews kept his gun at the ready as he approached the strange tableau of people who looked, for all intents and purposes, like actors frozen in a stage play. He gave Sally Ross a quick appraisal and then turned his attention to the young man seated lifelessly nearby.
Berman moved, breaking the spell, taking several steps to his ex-wife and wrapping her in his arms. He lay her head upon his broad shoulder, stroking her hair with soothing motions. It was then that Andrews spotted the knife lying on the floor, it's bloodied blade glinting silver and scarlet beneath the single stage light. He knew it was most likely the weapon that had killed the doorman, Pop, and maybe even the same one used to kill Ross's housemaid, Elsa.
Andrews sank down beside the young man, his fingers finding the thready pulse at the throat, confirming what he already suspected, that Douglas Breen was still very much alive. He had told Ross that he believed her ardent fan was psychotic and he wondered whether Breen had inflicted this neck wound upon himself, or whether Ross had turned the tables on her attacker. Breen's catatonic condition would make more sense if it had been the latter; the shock of having the star he adored sending a knife into his own throat, attempting to destroy him, might have been all that was needed to send him to his own private hell.
"Douglas Breen? Douglas?"
Nothing. There was not even a flicker of an eyelash across the wide open, large green eyes to betray the depth of this waking coma. Andrews withdrew his handkerchief and pressed it against the seeping wound, only looking up when he caught motion towards the back of the auditorium. He relinquished his spot to a paramedic, watching as Breen was loaded onto a gurney. He called Officer Emily Stolz over and they used their handcuffs to ensure Douglas Breen could not escape, or cause more acts of violence, should he suddenly regain his senses.
As the gurney was wheeled away another police officer told him of another victim discovered in a pool of blood near Sally Ross's dressing room. Her wardrobe assistant, Hilda, had become Breen's third and final victim.
Three Days Later:
Doctor Jacobs looked over his old notes, remembering the days when he would sit in the lecture theater at the university, listening intently as the lecturer gave a dry commentary on the different forms of mental disorder. Most of the students present were destined to become psychologists and personal psychiatrists, probably dealing only with over-anxious, over-weight and over-stressed individuals; the lure of financial rewards swaying them. However, Jacobs had set himself a different goal in life. He wanted to deal with the real problems. He wanted to see and help the worst cases.
His eyes tracked along the first notes he had ever taken down on the particular mental disorder that was apparent in the young man seated before him.
Schizophrenia (SKITS-oh-FREEN-ee-uh) One of the most damaging of all mental disorders which causes its victims to lose touch with reality. They often begin to experience hallucinations, or they become convinced of things that are simply not true (delusions). In the paranoid form of this disorder, they develop delusions of persecution or personal grandeur. The first signs of paranoid schizophrenia usually surface between the ages of 15 and 34. There is no cure, but the disorder can be controlled with medications. Severe attacks may require hospitalization.
He looked back up at the young man whose head was bowed, and whose open eyes were staring down at the floor. Douglas Breen had not so much as blinked since being brought into the room but that was not uncommon in Jacob's profession.
He read the next line in his old notebook.
Signs/Symptoms: Schizophrenia is a neurobiological disorder, thought to be caused by a chemical imbalance within the brain. Schizophrenia usually develops gradually, although onset can be sudden in some cases. Friends and family often notice the first changes before the victim does.
He had spent the last two days discussing Douglas with those closest to the patient, unable to start working with young man until Douglas had received medical attention. His sympathy had gone out to the distraught parents and sister. They were in shock, having known something was wrong but having been unable to reach Douglas through the fictional world he had created around him.
His eyes strayed back to the notebook, seeing the next entry.
Violence, homicide: The schizophrenic is rarely violent or homicidal and, moreover, threats or delusional statements invariably precede these acts. This allows the family time to consult with the treating psychiatrist to assess the seriousness of the situation.
His sister had described her last visit just days before the first attack on Belle Goldman. Douglas had been verbally aggressive and delusional, and he had slammed the door in her face, refusing her entry, refusing even to talk to her. It had been a shock, and she had been upset by his attitude as he had never shown such aggression with anyone before. He had always been a quiet boy; polite, a little sensitive, perhaps a little too serious on occasion, but it was nothing extraordinary.
Douglas had been working at the record store for the past two years and had only recently started to earn enough to pay rent on his own apartment. Everything had seemed to be going so well so none of the family could understand what had gone wrong. He had never shown any major personality disorder while living at home, so there had been no treating psychiatrist, and there had been no medication that could have been forgotten or deliberately ignored.
However, over the past few weeks the family had noticed an increasing tendency for him to talk about Sally Ross as if she was all that mattered in his life. In that short time he had managed to amass a vast collection of pictures and posters of the film star, and he would watch her films over and over, often reciting back lines of her dialog in place of his own words. Judging by the state of his apartment, he must have spent most of his paycheck on memorabilia, ignoring his own physical need for food. Still, there had to be thousands of people who shared the same sudden obsession over one film star or another.
His sister had gone to see him that day because she was worried about him; they were all worried about him. In the last few weeks he had stopped writing to them, and he had stopped visiting them, suddenly cutting himself off from everyone who knew and loved him. Of course, she blamed herself for all that happened, blamed herself for the attacks and for the deaths, convinced that there should have been something she could have done to shatter his newly-formed delusions before he toppled over the edge into violent psychosis.
Jacobs sighed softly. It was sad that many people overlooked the trauma to those closest to the attacker, all their sympathy going out to the victims and their families. Douglas's close family would need counseling too, and Jacobs had already started the wheels turning on their behalf.
He glanced down at one of the copies of the letters Douglas had written during those final days; the ones that had been handed in to the Police. Some were filled with threats against those who would keep him apart from the person he had fixated upon, and all were filled with delusional statements. The letters were addressed as if he and Sally Ross were close friends rather than complete strangers, implying an intimacy that did not exist, and describing erotic fantasies and acts that would never be made reality.
Jacob's thought back to the sister's words; to her shock at this dramatic personality change in someone she thought she knew; in someone she loved. Had the stress of leaving the family home brought on the symptoms? It was a possibility. Stress could be a major factor in many mental disorders.
More than five minutes had passed since he had been left alone in the consultation room with Douglas. The only sound had been the rustle of papers as he glanced through his notes and the muted sounds filtering in from the corridor beyond. Douglas had not moved at all.
Looking at the handsome young man, Jacob's noted the general appearance of his patient. Douglas was dressed in a clean pair of loose fitting, light-blue cotton pants with a matching short-sleeved shirt, and Jacobs checked for any signs of abuse on the exposed flesh. However, there was no bruising on his arms or face beyond what he had expected to see, judging by the Police report. His patient's hair was shining brightly in the sunlight pouring through the window, like a golden aura surrounding him and, if Jacobs tilted his head, he could see the brightness of clinical health reflected in the clear, staring green eyes. The medical report in his hand showed that Douglas had been seen daily by a doctor, and Jacobs noted the fresh bandage covering the knife wound on the young man's neck.
Everything was exactly as it should be.
As a Police psychiatrist it was his job to assess if Douglas Breen was fit to stand trial for the crimes he had committed. Over the years, Jacobs had seen many cases where the defendant was deliberately trying to obtain an acquittal through a plea of temporary insanity, and he could spot the majority of those shysters within the first five minutes of the first session. Equally, he was able to determine most of those with a legitimate psychological disorder within the same timescale.
Douglas Breen was no exception.
With those who were faking their mental condition his job was easy. He let them try to convince him of their insanity, and then he wrote up his report stating that they were mentally cognizant of their acts and were fit to stand trial for their crimes.
With those, like Douglas Breen, who were the true victims of a mental disorder, he had a slighter harder case. First he would have to prove that Douglas had committed those acts of violence while he was mentally ill, and then he would have to offer advice regarding his treatment and rehabilitation.
However, in this case it would be easy to prove Douglas was suffering from a personality disorder even though he was not a typical example of any particular kind of Schizophrenia.
Discussion with his family, and with his employer and colleagues at the record store, had shown an element of both Paranoid and Narcissistic personality disorders creeping in over just a short time period. There was no doubt in Jacob's mind that seeing his delusions of ideal love with Sally Ross shattered by the very person he idolized would have been sufficient to send Douglas spiraling into this form of Catatonia Schizophrenia.
It was time to make the first verbal approach.
"Douglas? My name is Doctor Jacobs." There was no reaction but Jacobs carried on, undeterred having decided that he would tailor his approach to using a grandiose introduction, acting as if Douglas was suffering mainly from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. "I am THE head psychiatrist for the New York Police Department."
Still no response, but Jacobs knew that the vast majority of patients eventually came out of this catatonic state. When they did they showed a surprising awareness of everything that had happened during the catatonic period, including what had been said to them.
Half an hour later, Jacobs watched as Douglas was led away, having gained not a single response from the young man. Despite this, he had already decided that he was going to treat Douglas personally rather than hand him over to the system completely. There was something about this young man's plight that called to both the professional and to the parent within him.
He traced down the medical sheet and began writing his recommendation that Douglas Breen started immediate treatment with a drug called Risperdal. The drug, one of the so-called new generation of anti-psychotics, had proved itself capable of combating symptoms in 4 out of 5 patients. In many instances, an acute attack such as this could be cleared up within 4 to 8 weeks.
Jacobs had high hopes that Douglas would be one of those 4 in 5 patients, and he stated his prognosis for a full recovery as being fairly good. He had come to this opinion based on the fact that the symptoms had developed over a period of a few weeks rather than gradually over the years. Reactive rather than process Schizophrenia. Even so, he knew Douglas would need counseling and group therapy for many years to come, both to help him understand the disease and to help him come to terms with what he had done while suffering from it.
Jacobs chewed thoughtfully on his lower lip.
He wished there was an easy way to make those who had suffered, because of Douglas Breen, understand that this had all come about because of a mental illness that might possibly be cured - or contained - through drugs and counseling. He wished he would be able to explain why Douglas should not have to suffer years of incarceration in either a prison or a mental institution, or be sent to Death Row as punishment for his actions.
As a psychiatrist he could understand their grief, and he could relate to the expected outrage when he submitted a report that could, possibly, let Douglas back into the outside world within a year.
Jacobs placed his pen in his jacket pocket and gathered up his papers. He would finish the report when he returned to his office later in the day. In the meantime, he would deliver his initial prognosis verbally to the head of the psychiatric department, and ensure Douglas was started on his treatment.
Douglas Breen allowed himself to be guided along the corridor, barely noticing the hand wrapped around his arm. There had been another new voice today, a man asking him questions, speaking to him gently about things he really couldn't understand. He didn't bother to acknowledge this new voice, nor did he acknowledge the kindly blue eyes that had looked into his own when someone had raised his chin. His mind was too wrapped up in reliving his last memory of the woman he adored.
Why had she hurt him? Why had she refused him? He had told her how much he loved her. She said she understood. She said she already knew how much he adored her; how much he wanted her. They would have been beautiful together. No one else was worthy of her. Only him.
Why had she hurt him? Why had she refused him?
But why had she hurt him? Why had she said she understood? Did she really understand? Did she really know much he loved her?
He gave in to the slight pressure on his shoulder, sinking to a seated position. Part of his brain registered the firm yet gentle words, and another part of him saw the movement of a man dressed in white turning away and leaving the room, but he could not spare any time to acknowledge either the words or the motion.
Why had she hurt him? Why had she refused his advances? He had told her how much he loved her. He had held her in his arms, had breathed in her heady perfume. He could still smell the scent of her shampoo mixed in with the cloying oiliness of stage cosmetics. She said she understood. She said she already knew how much he adored her; how much he wanted her. How much he loved her. They would have been beautiful together. No one else was worthy of her.