Tell me your dreams, p.19
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       Tell Me Your Dreams, p.19

           Sidney Sheldon
 
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Chapter Nineteen

  ASHLY Patterson was on the gallows being hanged, when a policeman ran up and said, "Wait a minute. She's supposed to be electrocuted. "

  The scene changed, and she was in the electric chair. A guard reached up to pull the switch, and Judge Williams came running in screaming, "No. We're going to kill her with a lethal injection. "

  David woke up and sat upright in bed, his heart pounding. His pajamas were wet with perspiration. He started to get up and was suddenly dizzy. He had a pounding headache, and he felt feverish. He touched his forehead. It was hot.

  As David started to get out of bed, he was overcome by a wave of dizziness. "Oh, no," he groaned. "Not today. Not now. " This was the day he had been waiting for, the day the defense would begin to present its case. David stumbled into the bathroom and bathed his face in cold water. He looked in the mirror. "You look like hell. "

  When David arrived in court, Judge Williams was already on the bench. They were all waiting for him.

  "I apologize for being late," David said. His voice was a croak. "May I approach the bench?"

  "Yes. "

  David walked up to the bench, with Mickey Brennan close behind him. "Your Honor," David said, "I'd like to ask for a one-day stay. "

  "On what grounds?"

  "I - I'm not feeling very well, Your Honor. I'm sure a doctor can give me something and tomorrow I'll be fine. "

  Judge Williams said, "Why don't you have your associate take over for you?"

  David looked at her in surprise. "I don't have an associate. "

  "Why don't you, Mr. Singer?"

  "Because. . . "

  Judge Williams leaned forward. "I've never seen a murder trial conducted like this. You're a one-man show looking for glory, aren't you? Well, you won't find it in this court. I'll tell you something else. You probably think I should refuse myself because I don't believe in your devil-made-me-do-it defense, but I'm not refusing myself. We're going to let the jury decide whether they think your client is innocent or guilty. Is there anything else, Mr. Singer?" David stood there looking at her, and the room was swimming. He wanted to tell her to go fuck herself. He wanted to get on his knees and beg her to be fair. He wanted to go home to bed. He said in a hoarse voice, "No. Thank you. Your Honor. "

  Judge Williams nodded. "Mr. Singer, you're on. Don't waste any more of this court's time. "

  David walked over to the jury box, trying to forget about he's headache and fever. He spoke slowly.

  "Ladies and gentlemen, you have listened to the prosecution ridiculing the facts of multiple personality disorder. I'm sure that Mr. Brennan wasn't being deliberately malicious. His statements were made out of ignorance. The fact is that he obviously knows nothing about multiple personality disorder, and the same is true of some of the witnesses he has put on the stand. But I'm going to have some people talk to you who do know about it. These are reputable doctors, who are experts in this problem. When you have heard their testimony. I'm sure that it will cast a whole different light on what Mr. Brennan has had to say.

  "Mr. Brennan has talked about my client's guilt in committing these terrible crimes. That's a very important point. Guilt. For murder in the first degree to be proved, there must be not only a guilty act, but also a guilty intention. I will show you that there was no guilty intention, because Ashley Patterson was not in control at the time the crimes occurred. She was totally unaware that they were taking place. Some eminent doctors are going to testify that Ashley Patterson has two additional personalities, or alters, one of them a controlling one. " David looked into the faces of the jurors. They seemed to be swaying in front of him. He squeezed his eyes shut for an instant.

  "The American Psychiatric Association recognizes multiple personality disorder. So do prominent physicians around the world who have treated patients with this problem. One of Ashley Patterson's personalities committed murder, but it was a personality - an alter - over which she had no control. " His voice was getting stronger. "To see the problem clearly, you must understand that the law does not punish an innocent person. So there is a paradox here. Imagine that a Siamese twin is being tried for murder. The law says that you cannot punish the guilty one because you would then have to punish the innocent one. " The jury was listening intently.

  David nodded toward Ashley. "In this case, we have not two but three personalities to deal with. "

  He turned to Judge Williams. "I would like to call my first witness. Dr. Joel Ashanti. "

  "Dr. Ashanti, where do you practice medicine?"

  "At Madison Hospital in New York. "

  "And did you come here at my request?"

  "No. I read about the trial, and I wanted to testify. I've worked with patients who have multiple personality disorder, and I wanted to be helpful, if I could. MPD is much more common than the public realizes, and I want to try to clear up any misunderstandings about it. "

  "I appreciate that, Doctor. In cases like these, is it usual to find a patient with two personalities or alters?"

  "In my experience, people with MPD usually have many more alters, sometimes as many as a hundred. "

  Eleanor Tucker turned to whisper something to Mickey Brennan. Brennan smiled.

  "How long have you been dealing with multiple personality disorder? Dr. Ashanti?"

  "For the past fifteen years. "

  "In a patient with MPD, is there usually one alter who dominates?"

  "Yes. "

  Some of the jurors were making notes.

  "And is the host - the person who has those personalities within him or her - aware of the other alters?"

  "It varies. Sometimes some of the alters know all the other alters, sometimes they know only some of them. But the host is usually not aware of them, not until psychiatric treatment. "

  "That's very interesting. Is MPD curable?"

  "Often, yes. It requires psychiatric treatment over long periods. Sometimes up to six or seven years. "

  "Have you ever been able to cure MPD patients?"

  "Oh, yes. "

  "Thank you. Doctor. "

  David turned to study the jury for a moment. Interested, but not convinced, he thought.

  He looked over at Mickey Brennan. "Your witness. "

  Brennan rose and walked over to the witness box.

  "Dr. Ashanti, you testified that you flew here all the way from New Yolk because you wanted to be helpful?"

  "That's correct. "

  "Your coming here couldn't have anything to do with the fact that this is a high-profile case and that the publicity would be beneficial to - "

  David was on his feet. "Objection. Argumentative. "

  "Overruled. "

  Dr. Ashanti said calmly, "I stated why I came here. "

  "Right. Since you've been practicing medicine. Doctor, how many patients would you say you've treated for mental disorders?"

  "Oh, perhaps two hundred. "

  "And of those cases, how many would you say suffered from multiple personality disorder?"

  "A dozen. . . "

  Brennan looked at him in feigned astonishment. "Out of two bundled patients?"

  "Well, yes. You see - "

  "What I don't see. Dr. Ashanti, is how you can consider yourself an expert if you've dealt with only those few cases. I would appreciate it if you would give us some evidence that would prove or disprove the existence of multiple personality disorder. "

  "When you say proof - "

  "We're in a court of law, Doctor. The jury is not going to make decisions based on theory and 'what if. ' What if, for example, the defendant hated the men she murdered, and after killing them, decided to use the excuse of an alter inside her so that she - "

  David was on his feet "Objection! That's argumentative and leading the witness. "

  "Overruled. "

  "Your Honor - "

  "Sit down, Mr. Singer. "

  David glared at Judge Williams and angrily too
k his seat.

  "So what you're telling us. Doctor, is that there's no evidence that will prove or disprove the existence of MPD?"

  "Well, no. But - "

  Brennan nodded. "That's all. "

  Dr. Royce Salem was on the witness stand.

  David said, "Dr. Salem, you examined Ashley Patterson?"

  "I did. "

  "And what was your conclusion?"

  "Miss Patterson is suffering from MPD. She has two alters who call themselves Toni Prescott and Alette Peters. "

  "Does she have any control over them?"

  "None. When they take over, she is in a state of fugue amnesia. "

  "Would you explain that? Dr. Salem?"

  "Fugue amnesia is a condition where the victim loses consciousness of where he is, or what he is doing. It can last for a few minutes, days or sometimes weeks. "

  "And during that time would you say that that person is responsible for his or her actions?"

  "No. "

  "Thank you. Doctor. " He turned to Brennan. "Your witness. "

  Brennan said, "Dr. Salem, you are a consultant at several hospitals and you give lectures all around the world?"

  "Yes, sir. "

  "I assume that your peers are gifted, capable doctors?"

  "Yes, I would say they are. "

  "So, they all agree about multiple personality disorder?"

  "No. "

  "What do you mean, no?"

  "Some of them don't agree. "

  "You mean, they don't believe it exists?"

  "Yes. "

  "But they're wrong and you're right?"

  "I've treated patients, and I know that there is such a thing. When - "

  "Let me ask you something. If there were such a thing as multiple personality disorder, would one alter always be in charge of telling the host what to do? The alter says, 'Kill,' and the host does it?"

  "It depends. Alters have various degrees of influence. "

  "So the host could be in charge?"

  "Sometimes, of course. "

  "The majority of times?"

  "No. "

  "Doctor, where is the proof that MPD exists?"

  "I have witnessed complete physical changes in patients under hypnosis, and I know - "

  "And that's a basis of truth?"

  "Yes. "

  "Dr. Salem, if I hypnotized you in a warm room and told you that you were at the North Pole naked in a snowstorm, would your body temperature drop?"

  "Well, yes, but - "

  "That's all. "

  David walked over to the witness stand. "Dr. Salem, is there any doubt in your mind that these alters exist in Ashley Patterson?"

  "None. And they are absolutely capable of taking over and dominating her. "

  "And she would not be aware of it?"

  "She would not be aware of it. "

  "Thank you. "

  "I would like to call Shane Miller to the stand. " David watched him being sworn in. "What do you do, Mr. Miller?"

  "I'm a supervisor at Global Computer Graphics Corporation. "

  "And how long have you worked there?"

  "About seven years. "

  "And was Ashley Patterson employed there?"

  "Yes. "

  "And did she work under your supervision?"

  "She did. "

  "So you got to know her pretty well?"

  "That's right. "

  "Mr. Miller, you've heard doctors testify that some of the symptoms of multiple personality disorder are paranoia, nervousness, distress. Have you ever noticed any of those symptoms in Miss Patterson?"

  "Well, I - "

  "Didn't Miss Patterson tell you that she felt someone was stalking her?"

  "Yes. She did. "

  "And what she had no idea who it could be or why anyone would do that?"

  "That's right. "

  "Didn't she once say that someone used her computer to threaten her with a knife?"

  "Yes. "

  "And didn't things get so bad that you finally sent her to the psychologist who works at your company Dr Speakman?"

  "Yes. "

  "So Ashley Patterson did exhibit the symptoms we're talking about?"

  "That's right. "

  "Thank you, Mr. Miller. " David turned to Mickey Brennan. "Your witness. "

  "How many employees do you have directly under you Mr. Miller?"

  "Thirty. "

  "And out of thirty employees, Ashley Patterson is the only one you've ever seen get upset?"

  "Well, no. . . "

  "Oh, really?"

  "Everyone gets upset sometimes. "

  "You mean other employees had to go and see your company psychologist?"

  "Oh, sure. They keep him pretty busy. "

  Brennan seemed impressed. "Is that so?"

  "Yeah. A lot of them have problems. Hey, they're all human. "

  "No further questions. "

  "Redirect. "

  David approached the witness stand. "Mr. Miller, you said that some of the employees under you had problems. What kind of problems?"

  "Well, it could be about an argument with a boyfriend or a husband. . . . "

  "Yes?"

  "Or it could be about a financial problem. . . . "

  "Yes?"

  "Or their kids bugging them. . . . "

  "In other words, the ordinary kinds of domestic problems that any of us might face?"

  "Yes. "

  "But no one went to see Dr. Speakman because they thought they were being stalked or because they thought someone was threatening to kill them?"

  "No. "

  "Thank you. "

  The trial was recessed for lunch.

  David got into his car and drove through the park, depressed. The trial was going badly. The doctors couldn't make up their minds whether MPD existed or not. If they can't agree, David thought, how am I going to get a jury to agree? I can't let anything happen to Ashley. I can't. He was approaching Harold's Cafe, a restaurant near the courthouse. He parked the car and went inside. The hostess smiled at him.

  "Good afternoon, Mr. Singer. "

  He was famous. Infamous?

  "Right this way, please. " He followed her to a booth and sat down. The hostess handed him the menu, gave him a lingering smile and walked away, her hips moving provocatively. The perks of fame, David thought wryly.

  He was not hungry, but he could hear Sandra's voice saying, "You have to eat to keep up your strength. "

  There were two men and two women seated in the booth next to him. One of the men was saying, "She's a hell of a lot worse than Lizzie Borden. Borden killed only two people. "

  The other man added, "And she didn't castrate them. "

  "What do you think they'll do to her?"

  "Are you kidding? She'll get the death sentence. "

  "Too bad the Butcher Bitch can't get three death sentences. "

  That's the public speaking, David thought. He had the depressing feeling that if he walked around the restaurant, he would hear variations of the same comments. Brennan had built her up as a monster. He could hear Quiller's voice. "If you don't put her on the stand, that's the image the jurors will carry in their minds when they go into the jury room to reach a verdict. "

  I've got to take the chance. I've got to let the jurors see for themselves that Ashley's telling the truth.

  The waitress was at his side. "Are you ready to order, Mr. Singer?"

  "I've changed my mind," David said. "I'm not hungry. " As he got up and walked out of the restaurant, he could feel baleful eyes following him. I hope they're not armed, David thought.

 
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