Tell me your dreams, p.12
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       Tell Me Your Dreams, p.12

           Sidney Sheldon
Chapter Twelve

  AT the Santa Clara County Jail, Ashley Patterson sat in her cell, too traumatized to try to make sense of how she got there. She was fiercely glad that she was in jail because the bars would keep out whoever was doing this to her. She wrapped the cell around herself like a blanket, trying to ward off the awful, inexplicable things that were happening to her. Her whole life had become a screaming nightmare. Ashley thought of all the mysterious events that had been happening: Someone breaking into her apartment and playing tricks on her. . . the trip to Chicago. . . the writing on her mirror. . . and now the police accusing her of unspeakable things she knew nothing about. There was some terrible conspiracy against her, but she had no idea who could be behind it or why.

  Early that morning one of the guards had come to Ashley's cell. "Visitor. "

  The guard had led Ashley to the visitors' room, where her father was waiting for her.

  He stood there, looking at her, his eyes grief stricken. "Honey. . . I don't know what to say. "

  Ashley whispered, "I didn't do any of the terrible things they said I did. "

  "I know you didn't. Someone's made an awful mistake, but we're going to straighten everything out. "

  Ashley looked at her father and wondered how she could have ever thought he was the guilty one.

  ". . . don't you worry," he was saying. "Everything's going to be fine. I am getting a lawyer for you. David Singer. He's one of the brightest young men I know. He'll be coming to see you. I want you to tell him everything. "

  Ashley looked at her father and said hopelessly, "Father, I - I don't know what to tell him. I don't know what's happening. "

  "We'll get to the bottom of this, baby. I'm not going to let anyone hurt you. No one! Ever! You mean too much to me. You're all I have, honey. "

  "And you're all I have," Ashley whispered.

  Ashley's father stayed for another hour. When he left, Ashley's world narrowed down to the small cell she was confined in. She lay on her cot, forcing herself not to think about anything. This will be over soon, and I'll find that this is only a dream. . . . Only a dream. . . Only a dream. . . She slept.

  The voice of a guard awakened her. "You have a visitor. "

  She was taken to the visitors' room, and Shane Miller was there, waiting. He rose as Ashley entered. "Ashley. . . " Her heart began to pound. "Oh, Shane!" She had never been so glad to see anyone in her life. Somehow she had known that he would come and free her, that he would arrange for than to let her go. "Shane, I'm so glad to see you!"

  "I'm glad to see you," Shane said awkwardly. He looked around the drab visitors' room. "Although I must say, not under these circumstances. When I heard the news, I - I couldn't believe it. What happened? What made you do it, Ashley?"

  The color slowly drained from her face. "What made me - ? Do you think that I - ?"

  "Never mind," Shane said quickly. "Don't say any more. You shouldn't talk to anyone but your attorney. "

  Ashley stood there, staring at him. He believed she was guilty. "Why did you come here?"

  "Well, I - I hale to do this now, but under - under the circumstances, I - the company - is terminating you. I mean. . . naturally, we can't afford to be connected with anything like this. It's had enough that the newspapers have already mentioned that you work for Global. You understand, don't you? There's nothing personal in this. "

  * * *

  Driving down to San Jose, David Singer decided what he was going to say to Ashley Patterson. He would find oat what he could from her and then turn the information over to Jesse Quiller, one of the best criminal defense lawyers in the country. If anyone could help Ashley, it was Jesse.

  David was ushered into the office of Sheriff Dowling. He handed the sheriff his card. "I'm an attorney. I'm here to see Ashley Patterson and - "

  "She's expecting you. " David looked at him in surprise. "She is?"

  "Yeah. " Sheriff Dowling turned to a deputy and nodded.

  The deputy said to David, "This way. " He led David into the visitors' room, and a few minutes later, Ashley was brought in from her cell.

  Ashley Patterson was a complete surprise to David. He had met her once years ago, when he was in law school, chauffeuring her father. She had struck David as being an attractive, intelligent young girl. Now, he found himself looking at a beautiful young woman with frightened eyes. She took a seat across from him. "Hello, Ashley. I'm David Singer. "

  "My father told me you would be coming. " Her voice was shaky.

  "I just came to ask a few questions. " She nodded.

  "Before I do, I want you to know that anything you tell me is privileged. It will just be between the two of us. But I need to know the truth. " He hesitated. He had not intended to go this far, but he wanted to be able to give Jesse Quiller all the information he could, to persuade him to take the case. "Did you kill those men?"

  "No!" Ashley's voice rang with conviction. "I'm innocent!"

  David pulled a sheet of paper from his pocket and glanced at it "Were you acquainted with a Jim Cleary?"

  "Yes. We - we were going to be married. I would have had no reason to harm Jim. I loved him. "

  David studied Ashley a moment, then looked at the sheet of paper again. "What about Dennis Tibble?"

  "Dennis worked at the company I worked for. I saw him the night he was murdered, but I had nothing to do with that. I was in Chicago. " David was watching Ashley's face. "You have to believe me. I - I had no reason to kill him. "

  David said, "All right. " He glanced at the sheet again. "What was your relationship with Jean Claude Parent?"

  "The police asked me about him. I had never even heard of him. How could I have killed him when I didn't even know him?" She looked at David pleadingly. "Don't you see? They have the wrong person. They've arrested the wrong person. " She began to weep. "I haven't killed anyone. "

  "Richard Melton?"

  "I don't know who he is either. "

  David waited while Ashley regained control of herself. "What about deputy Blake?"

  Ashley shook her head. "Deputy Blake stayed at my apartment that night to watch over me. Someone had been stalking me and threatening me. I slept in my bedroom, and he slept on the couch in the living room. They - they found his body in the alley. " Her lips were trembling. "Why would I kill him? He was helping me!"

  David was studying Ashley, puzzled. Something's very wrong here, David thought, Either she's telling the truth or she's one hell of an actress. He stood up. "I'll be back. I want to talk to the sheriff. " Two minutes later, he was in the sheriff's office. "Well, did you talk to her?" Sheriff Dowling asked. "Yes. I think you've gotten yourself in a box. Sheriff. "

  "What does that mean. Counselor?"

  "It means you might have been too eager to make an arrest Ashley Patterson doesn't even know two of the people you're accusing her of killing. "

  A small smile touched Sheriff Dowling's lips. "She fooled you, too, hub? She sure as hell fooled us. "

  "What are you talking about?"

  "I'll show you, mister. " He opened a file folder on his desk and handed David some papers. "These are copies of coroner's reports, FBI reports, DNA reports and Interpol reports on the five men who were murdered and castrated. Each victim had had sex with a woman before he was murdered. There were vaginal traces and fingerprints at each of the murder scenes. There were supposed to have been three different women involved. Well, the FBI collated all this evidence, and guess what they came up with? The three women turned out to be Ashley Patterson. Her DNA and fingerprints are positive on every one of the murders. "

  David was staring at him in disbelief. "Are - are you sure?"

  "Yeah. Unless you want to believe that Interpol, the FBI and five different coroner's offices are out to frame your client. It's all there, mister. One of the men she killed was my brother-in-law. Ashley Patterson's going to be tried for first-degree murder, and she's going to be convicted. Anything else?"
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  "Yes. " David took a deep breath. "I'd like to see Ashley Patterson again. "

  They brought her back to the visitors' room. When she walked inside, David asked angrily, "Why did you lie to me?"

  "What? I didn't lie to you. I'm innocent. I - "

  "They have enough evidence against you to bum you a dozen times over. I told you I wanted the truth. "

  Ashley looked at him for a full minute, and when she spoke, she said in a quiet voice, "I told you the truth. I have nothing more to say. "

  Listening to her, David thought. She really believes what she's saying. I'm talking to a nut case. What am I going to tell Jesse Quiller? "Would you talk to a psychiatrist?"

  "I don't - Yes. If you want me to. "

  "I'll arrange it. " On his way back to San Francisco, David thought, I kept my end of the bargain. I talked to her. If she really thinks she's telling the truth, then she's crazy. I'll get her to Jesse, who will plead insanity, and that will be the end of it.

  His heart went out to Steven Patterson.

  At San Francisco Memorial Hospital, Dr. Patterson was receiving the condolences of his fellow doctors.

  "It's a damn shame, Steven. You sure don't deserve anything like this. . . . "

  "It must be a terrible burden for you. If there's anything I can do. . . "

  "I don't know what gets into kids these days. Ashley always seemed so normal. . . . "

  And behind each expression of condolence was the thought: Thank God it's not my kid.

  When David returned to the law firm, he hurried in to see Joseph Kincaid.

  Kincaid looked up and said, "Well, it's after six o'clock, David, but I waited for you. Did you see Dr. Patterson's daughter?"

  "Yes, I did. "

  "And did you find an attorney to defend her?" David hesitated. "Not yet, Joseph. I'm arranging for a psychiatrist to see her. I'll be going back in the morning to talk to her again. "

  Joseph Kincaid looked at David, puzzled. "Oh? Frankly, I'm surprised that you're getting this involved. Naturally, we can't have this firm associated with anything as ugly as this trial is going to be. "

  "I'm not really involved, Joseph. It's just that I owe a great deal to her father. I made him a promise. "

  "There's nothing in writing, is there?"

  "No. "

  "So it's only a moral obligation?" David studied him a moment, started to say something, then stopped. "Yes. It's only a moral obligation. "

  "Well, when you're through with Miss Patterson, I come back and we'll talk. "

  Not a word about the partnership.

  When David got home that evening, the apartment was in darkness.


  There was no answer. As David started to turn on the lights in the hallway, Sandra suddenly appeared from the kitchen, carrying a cake with lit candles.

  "Surprise! We're having a celebration - " She saw the look on David's face and stopped. "Is something wrong, darling? Didn't you get it, David? Did they give it to someone else?"

  "No, no," he said reassuringly. "Everything's fine. " Sandra put down the cake and moved closer to him. "Something's wrong. "

  "It's just that there's been a. . . a delay. "

  "Wasn't your meeting with Joseph Kincaid today?"

  "Yes. Sit down, honey. We have to talk. " They sat down on the couch, and David said, "Something unexpected has come up. Steven Patterson came to see me this morning. "

  "He did? What about?"

  "He wants me to defend his daughter. "

  Sandra looked at him in surprise. "But, David. . . you're not - "

  "I know. I tried to tell him that. But I have practiced criminal law. "

  "But you're not doing that anymore. Did you tell him you're about to become a partner in your firm?"

  "No. He was very insistent that I was the only one who could defend his daughter. It doesn't make any sense, of course I tried to suggest someone like Jesse Quiller, but he wouldn't even listen. "

  "Well, he'll have to get someone else. "

  "Of course. I promised to talk to his daughter, and I did. "

  Sandra sat back on the couch. "Does Mr. Kincaid know about this?"

  "Yes. I told him. He wasn't thrilled. " He mimicked Kincaid's voice. " 'Naturally, we can't have this firm associated with anything as ugly as this trial is going to be. '"

  "What's Dr. Patterson's daughter like?"

  "In medical terms, she's a fruitcake. "

  "I'm not a doctor," Sandra said. "What does that mean?"

  "It means that she really believes she's innocent. "

  "Isn't that possible?"

  "The sheriff in Cupertino showed me the file on her. Her DNA and fingerprints are all over the murder scenes. "

  "What are you going to do now?"

  "I've called Royce Salem. He's a psychiatrist that Jesse Quiller's office uses. I'm going to have him examine. Ashley and turn the report over to her father. Dr. Patterson can bring in another psychiatrist if he likes, or turn the report over to whichever attorney is going to handle the case. "

  "I see. " Sandra studied her husband's troubled face. "Did Mr. Kincaid say anything about the partnership, David?" He shook his head. "No. "

  Sandra said brightly, "He will. Tomorrow's another day. "

  Dr. Royce Salem was a tall, thin man with a Sigmund Freud beard.

  Maybe that's just a coincidence, David told himself. Surely he's not trying to look like Freud.

  "Jesse talks about you often," Dr. Salem said. "He's very fond of you. "

  "I'm fond of him. Dr. Salem. "

  "The Patterson case sounds very interesting. Obviously the work of a psychopath. You're planning an insanity plea?"

  "Actually," David told him, "I'm not handling the case. Before I get an attorney for her. I'd like to get an evaluation of her mental state. " David briefed Dr. Salem on the facts as he knew them. "She claims she's innocent, but the evidence shows she committed the crimes. "

  "Well, let's have a look at the lady's psyche, shall we?"

  The hypnotherapy session was to take place in the Santa Clara County Jail, in an interrogation room. The furniture in the room consisted of a rectangular wooden table and four wooden chairs.

  Ashley, looking pale and drawn, was led into the room by a matron.

  "I'll wait outside," the matron said, and withdrew. David said, "Ashley, this is Dr. Salem. Ashley Patterson. "

  Dr. Salem said, "Hello, Ashley. " She stood there, nervously looking from one to the other, without speaking. David had the feeling that she was ready to flee the room.

  "Mr. Singer tells me that you have no objection to being hypnotized. " Silence.

  Dr. Salem went on. "Would you let me hypnotize you, Ashley?"

  Ashley closed her eyes for a second and nodded. "Yes. "

  "Why don't we get started?"

  "Well, I'll be running along," David said. "If - "

  "Just a moment. " Dr. Salem walked over to David. "I want you to stay. "

  David stood there, frustrated. He regretted now that he had gone this far. I'm not going to get in any deeper, David resolved. This will be the end of it.

  "All right," David said reluctantly. He was eager to have it over with so he could get back to the office. The coming meeting with Kincaid loomed large in his mind.

  Dr. Salem said to Ashley, "Why don't you sit in this chair?" Ashley sat down.

  "Have you ever been hypnotized before, Ashley?" She hesitated an instant, then shook her head. "No. "

  "There's nothing to it. All you have to do is relax and listen to the sound of my voice. You have nothing to worry about. No one's going to hurt you. Feel your muscles relax. That's it. Just relax and feel your eyes getting heavy. You've been through a lot. Your body is tired, very tired. All you want to do is to go to sleep. Just close your eyes and relax. You're getting very sleepy. . . very sleepy. . . . "

  It took ten minutes to put h
er under. Dr. Salem walked over to Ashley. "Ashley, do you know where you are?"

  "Yes. I'm in jail. " Her voice sounded hollow, as though coming from a distance. "Do you know why you're in jail?"

  "People think I did something bad. "

  "And is it true? Did you do something bad?"

  "No. "

  "Ashley, did you ever kill anyone?"

  "No. "

  David looked at Dr. Salem in surprise. Weren't people supposed to tell the truth under hypnosis?

  "Do you have any idea who could have committed those murders?"

  Suddenly, Ashley's face contorted and she began breathing hard, in short, raspy breaths. The two men watched in astonishment as her persona started changing. Her Ups tightened and her features seemed to shift. She sat up straight, and there was a sudden liveliness in her face. She opened her eyes, and they were sparkling. It was an amazing transformation. Unexpectedly, she began to sing, in a sultry voice with an English accent:

  "Half a pound of tupenny rice,

  Half a pound of treacle,

  Mix it up and make it nice,

  Pop! goes the weasel. "

  David listened in astonishment. Who does she think she's fooling? She's pretending to be someone else. "I want to ask you some more questions, Ashley. " She tossed her head and said in an English accent, "I'm not Ashley. "

  Dr. Salem exchanged a look with David, then turned back to Ashley. "If you're not Ashley, who are you?"

  "Toni. Toni Prescott. "

  And Ashley is doing this with a straight face, David thought How long is she going to go on with this stupid charade? She was wasting their time.

  "Ashley," said Dr. Salem.

  "Toni. "

  She's determined to keep it up, David thought "All right, Toni. What I'd like is - "

  "Let me tell you what I'd like. I'd like to get out of this bloody place. Can you get us out of here?"

  "That depends," Dr. Salem said. "What do you know about - ?"

  " - those murders that little Goody Two-shoes is in here for? I can tell you things that - "

  Ashley's expression suddenly started to change again. As David and Dr. Salem watched, Ashley seemed to shrink in her chair, and her face began to soften and go through an incredible metamorphosis until she seemed to become another distinct personality.

  She said in a soft voice with an Italian accent, "Toni. . . don't say any more, per piacere. "

  David was watching in bewilderment.

  "Toni?" Dr. Salem edged closer.

  The soft voice said, "I apologize for the interruption, Dr. Salem. "

  Dr. Salem asked, "Who are you?"

  "I am Alette. Alette Peters. "

  My God, it's not an act, David thought. It's real. He turned to Dr. Salem.

  Dr. Salem said quietly, "They're alters. "

  David stared at him, totally confused. "They're what?"

  "I'll explain later. "

  Dr. Salem turned back to Ashley. "Ashley. . . I mean Alette. . . How - how many of you are in there?"

  "Beside Ashley, only Toni and me," Alette answered. "You have an Italian accent. "

  "Yes. I was born in Rome. Have you ever been to Rome?"

  "No, I've never been to Rome. "

  I can't believe I'm hearing this conversation, David thought.

  "E molto bello. "

  "I'm sure. Do you know Toni?"

  "Si, naturalmente. "

  "She has an English accent. "

  "Toni was born in London. "

  "Right Alette, I want to ask you about these murders. Do you have any idea who - ?"

  And David and Dr. Salem watched as Ashley's face and personality changed again before their eyes. Without her saying a word, they knew that she had become Toni.

  "You're wasting your time with her, luv. "

  There was that English accent.

  "Alette doesn't know anything. I'm the one you're going to have to talk to. "

  "All right, Toni. I'll talk to you. I have some questions for you. "

  "I'm sure you do, but I'm tired. " She yawned. "Miss Tight Ass has kept us up all night I've got to get some sleep. "

  "Not now, Toni. Listen to me. You have to help us to - "

  Her face hardened. "Why should I help you? What has Miss Goody Two-shoes done for Alette or me? All she ever does is keep us from having fun. Well, I'm sick of it, and I'm sick of her. Do you hear me?" She was screaming, her face contorted.

  Dr. Salem said, "I'm going to bring her out of it. "

  David was perspiring. "Yes. "

  Dr. Salem leaned close to Ashley. "Ashley. . . Ashley. . . Everything is fine. Close your eyes now. They're very heavy, very heavy. You're completely relaxed. Ashley, your mind is at peace. Your body is relaxed. You're going to wake up at the count of five, completely relaxed. One. . . " He looked over at David and then back at Ashley. "Two. . . "

  Ashley began to stir. They watched her expression start to change.

  "Three. . . "

  Her face softened.

  "Tour. . . "

  They could sense her returning, and it was an eerie feeling.

  "Five. "

  Ashley opened her eyes. She looked around the room.

  "I feel - Was I asleep?"

  David stood there, staring at her, stunned.

  "Yes," Dr. Salem said.

  Ashley turned to David. "Did I say anything? I mean. . . was helpful?"

  My God, David thought. She doesn't know! She really doesn't know! David said, "You did fine, Ashley. I'd like to talk to Dr. Salem alone. "

  "All right. "

  "I'll see you later. "

  The men stood there, watching the matron lead Ashley away. David sank into a chair.

  "What - what the hell was that all about?"

  Dr. Salem took a deep breath. "In all the years that I've been practicing, I've never seen a more clear-cut case. "

  "A case of what?"

  "Have you ever heard of multiple personality disorder?"

  "What is it?"

  "It's a condition where there are several completely different personalities in one body. It's also known as dissociatve identity disorder. It's been in the psychiatric literature for more than two hundred years. It usually starts because of a childhood trauma. The victim shuts out the trauma by creating another identity. Sometimes a person will have dozens of different personalities or alters. "

  "And they know about each other?"

  "Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. Toni and Alette know each other. Ashley is obviously not aware of either of them. Alters are created because the host can't stand the pain of the trauma. It's a way of escape. Every time a fresh shock occurs, a new alter can be born. The psychiatric literature on the subject shows that alters can be totally different from one another. Some alters are stupid, while others are brilliant. They can speak different languages. They have varied tastes and personalities. "

  "How - how common is this?"

  "Some studies suggest that one percent of the entire population suffers from multiple personality disorder, and that up to twenty percent of all patients in psychiatric hospitals have it. "

  David said, "But Ashley seems so normal and - "

  "People with MPD are normal. . . until an alter takes over. The host can have a job, raise a family and live a perfectly ordinary life, but an alter can take over at any time. An alter can be in control for an hour, a day or even weeks, and then the host suffers a fugue, a loss of time and memory, for the period that the alter is in charge. "

  "So Ashley - the host - would have no recollection of anything that the alter does?"

  "None. " David listened, spellbound.

  "The most famous case of multiple personality disorder was Bridey Murphy. That's what first brought the subject to the public's attention. Since then, there have been an endless number of cases, but none as spectacular or as well publicized. "

"It - it seems so incredible. "

  "It's a subject that's fascinated me for a long time. There are certain patterns that almost never change. For instance, frequently, alters use the same initials as then-host - Ashley Patterson. . . Alette Peters. . . Toni Prescott. . . .

  "Toni - ?" David started to ask. Then he realized, "Antoinette?"

  "Right. You've heard the expression 'alter ego. ' "

  "Yes. "

  "In a sense, we all have alter egos, or multiple personalities. A kind person can commit acts of cruelty. Cruel people can do kind things. There's no limit to the incredible range of human emotions. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is fiction, but it's based on fact. "

  David's mind was racing. "If Ashley committed the murders. . . "

  "She would not be aware of it. It was done by one of her alters. "

  "My God! How can I explain that in court?" Dr. Salem looked at David curiously. "I thought you said you weren't going to be her attorney. "

  David shook his head. "I'm not. I mean, don't know. I - At this point, I'm a multiple personality myself. " David was silent for a moment. "Is this curable?"

  "Often, yes. "

  "And if it can't be cured, what happens?" There was a pause. "The suicide rate is quite high. "

  "And Ashley knows nothing about this?"

  "No. "

  "Would - would you explain it to her?"

  "Yes, of course. "

  "No!" It was a scream. She was cowering against the wall of her cell, her eyes filled with terror. "You're lying! It's not true!"

  Dr. Salem said, "Ashley, it is. You have to face it. I've explained to you that what happened to you is not your fault. I - "

  "Don't come near me!"

  "No one's going to hurt you. "

  "I want to die. Help me die!" She began sobbing uncontrollably.

  Dr. Salem looked at the matron and said, "You'd better give her a sedative. And put a suicide watch on her. "

  David telephoned Dr. Patterson. "I need to talk to you. "

  "I've been waiting to hear from you, David. Did you see Ashley?"

  "Yes. Can we meet somewhere?"

  "I'll wait in my office for you. "

  * * *

  Driving back to San Francisco, David thought. There's no way that I can take this case. I have too much to lose.

  I'll find her a good criminal attorney and that will be the end of it.

  Dr. Patterson was waiting for David in his office. "You talked to Ashley?"

  "Yes. "

  "Is she all right?"

  How do I answer that question? David took a deep breath. "Have you ever heard of multiple personality disorder?"

  Dr. Patterson frowned. "Vaguely. . . "

  "It's when one or more personalities - or alters - exist in a person and take control from time to time, and that person is not aware of it. Your daughter has multiple personality disorder. "

  Dr. Patterson was looking at him, stunned. "What? I - can't believe it. Are you sure?"

  "I listened to Ashley while Dr. Salem had her under hypnosis. She has two alters. At various times, they possess her. " David was talking more rapidly now. "The sheriff showed me the evidence against your daughter. There's no doubt that she committed the murders. "

  Dr. Patterson said. "Oh, my God! Then she's - she's guilty?"

  "No. Because I don't believe she was aware that she committed the murders. She was under the influence of one of the alters. Ashley had no reason to commit those crimes. She had no motive, and she was not in control of herself. I think the state may have a difficult time proving motive or intent. "

  "Then your defense is going to be that - " David stopped him. "I'm not going to defend her. I'm going to get you Jesse Quiller. He's a brilliant trial lawyer. I used to work with him, and he's the most - "

  "No. " Dr. Patterson's voice was sharp. "You must defend Ashley. "

  David said patiently, "You don't understand. I'm not the right one to defend her. She needs - "

  "I told you before that you're the only one I trust. My daughter means everything in the world to me, David. You're going to save her life. "

  "I can't. I'm not qualified to - "

  "Of course you are. You were a criminal attorney. "

  "Yes, but I - "

  "I won't have anyone else. " David could see that Dr. Patterson was trying to keep his temper under control.

  This makes no sense, David thought. He tried again. "Jesse Quiller is the best - "

  Dr. Patterson leaned forward, the color rising in his face. "David, your mother's life meant a lot to you. Ashley's life means as much to me. You asked for my help once, and you put your mother's life in my hands. I'm asking for your help now, and I'm putting Ashley's life in your hands. I want you to defend Ashley. You owe me that. "

  He won't listen, David thought despairingly. What's the matter with him? A dozen objections flashed through David's mind, but they all faded before that one line: "You owe me that. " David tried one last time. "Dr. Patterson - "

  "Yes or no, David. "

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