Tell me your dreams, p.22
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       Tell Me Your Dreams, p.22

           Sidney Sheldon
 
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Chapter Twenty-Two

 

  THE COnnecticut Psychiatric Hospital, fifteen miles north of Westport, was originally the estate of Wim Booker, a wealthy Dutchman, who built the house in 1910. The forty lush acres contained a large manor house, a workshop, stable and swimming pool. The state had bought the property in 1925 and had refitted the manor house to accommodate a hundred patients. A tall chain-link fence had been erected around the property, with a manned guard post at the entrance. Metal bars had been placed on all the windows, and one section of the house had been fortified as a security area to hold dangerous inmates.

  In the office of Dr. Otto Lewison, head of the psychiatric clinic, a meeting was taking place. Dr. Gilbert Keller and Dr. Craig Poster were discussing a new patient who was about to arrive.

  Gilbert Keller was a man in his forties, medium height, blond hair and intense gray eyes. He was a renowned expert on multiple personality disorder.

  Otto Lewison, the superintendent of the Connecticut Psychiatric Hospital, was in his seventies, a neat, dapper little man with a full beard and pince-nez glasses.

  Dr. Craig Foster had worked with Dr. Keller for years and was writing a book on multiple personality disorder. All were studying Ashley Patterson's records.

  Otto Lewison said, "The lady has been busy. She's only twenty-eight and she's murdered five men. " He glanced at the paper again. "She also tried to murder her attorney. "

  "Everyone's fantasy," Gilbert Keller said dryly.

  Otto Lewison said, "We're going to keep her in security ward A until we can get a full evaluation. "

  "When is she arriving?" Dr. Keller asked.

  The voice of Dr. Lewison's secretary came over the intercom. "Dr. Lewison, they're bringing Ashley Patterson in. Would you like to have them bring her into your office?"

  "Yes, please. " Lewison looked up. "Does that answer your question?"

  The trip had been a nightmare. At the end of her trial, Ashley Patterson had been taken back to her cell and held there for three days while arrangements were made to fly her back east.

  A prison bus had driven her to the airport in Oakland, where a plane was waiting for her. It was a converted DC-6, part of the huge National Prisoner Transportation System run by the U. S. Marshals Service. There were twenty-four prisoners aboard, all manacled and shackled.

  Ashley was wearing handcuffs, and when she sat down, her feet were shackled to the bottom of the seat.

  Why are they doing this to me? I'm not a dangerous criminal. I'm a normal woman. And a voice inside her said. Who murdered five innocent people?

  The prisoners on the plane were hardened criminals, convicted of murder, rape, armed robbery and a dozen other crimes. They were on their way to top security prisons around the country. Ashley was the only woman on board.

  One of the convicts looked at her and grinned. "Hi, baby. How would you like to come over and warm up my lap?"

  "Cool it," a guard warned.

  "Hey! Don't you have any romance in your soul? This bitch ain't going to get laid for - What's your sentence, baby?"

  Another convict said, "Are you have any, honey? How about me movin' into the seat next to you and slippin' you - ?"

  Another convict was staring at Ashley. "Wait a minute!" he said. "That's the broad who killed five men and castrated them. "

  They were all looking at Ashley now.

  That was the end of the badgering.

  On the way to New York, the plane made two landings to discharge or pick up passengers. It was a long flight, the air was turbulent and by the time they landed at La Guardia Airport, Ashley was airsick.

  Two uniformed police officers were waiting for her on the tarmac when the plane landed. She was unshackled from the plane seat and shackled again in die interior of a police van. She had never felt so humiliated. The fact that she felt so normal made it all the more unbearable. Did they think she was going to try to escape or murder someone? All that was over, in the past. Didn't they know that? She was sure it would never happen again. She wanted to be away from there. Anywhere.

  Sometime during the long, dreary drive to Connecticut, she dozed off. She was awakened by a guard's voice.

  "We're here. "

  They had reached the gates of the Connecticut Psychiatric Hospital.

  When Ashley Patterson was ushered into Dr. Lewison's office, he said, "Welcome to Connecticut Psychiatric Hospital, Miss Patterson. "

  Ashley stood there, pale and silent.

  Dr. Lewison made the introductions and held out a chair. "Sit down, please. " He looked at the guard. "Take off the handcuffs and shackles. "

  The restraints were removed, and Ashley took a seat.

  Dr. Foster said, "I know this must be very difficult for you. We're going to do everything we can to make it as easy as possible. Our goal is to see that one day you will leave this place, cured. "

  Ashley found her voice. "How - how long could that -take?"

  Otto Lewison said, "It's too soon to answer that yet. If you can be cured, it could take five or six years. "

  Each word hit Ashley like a thunderbolt. '"If you can be cured, it could take five or six years. . . . "

  "The therapy is nonthreatening. It will consist of a combination of sessions with Dr. Keller - hypnotism, group therapy, art therapy. The important thing to remember is that we're not your enemies. "

  Gilbert Keller was studying her face. "We're here to help you, and we want you to help us do that. "

  There was nothing more to say.

  Otto Lewison nodded to the attendant, and he walked over to Ashley and took her arm.

  Craig Foster said, "He'll take you to your quarters now. We'll talk again later. "

  When Ashley had left the room, Otto Lewison turned to Gilbert Keller. "What do you think?"

  "Well, there's one advantage. There are only two alters to work on. "

  Keller was trying to remember. "What's the most we've had?"

  "The Beltrand woman - ninety alters. "

  Ashley had not known what to expect, but somehow she had envisioned a dark, dreary prison. The Connecticut Psychiatric Hospital was more like a pleasant clubhouse - with metal bars.

  As the attendant escorted Ashley through the long, cheerful corridors, Ashley watched the inmates freely walking back and forth. There were people of every age, and all of them seemed normal. Why are they here? Some of them smiled at her and said, "Good morning," but Ashley was too bewildered to answer. Everything seemed surreal. She was in an insane asylum. Am I insane?

  They reached a large steel door that closed off a part of the building. There was a male attendant behind the door. He pressed a red button and the huge door opened.

  "This is Ashley Patterson. "

  The second attendant said, "Good morning, Miss Patterson. " They made everything seem so normal. But nothing is normal anymore, Ashley thought. The world is upside down.

  "This way. Miss Patterson. " He walked her to another door and opened it. Ashley stepped inside. Instead of a cell, she was looking at a pleasant, medium-size room with pastel blue walls, a small couch and a comfortable-looking bed.

  "This is where you'll be staying. They'll be bringing your things in a few minutes. "

  Ashley watched the guard leave and close the door behind him. This is where you'll be staying.

  She began to feel claustrophobic. What if I don't want to stay? What if I want to get out of here?

  She walked over to the door. It was locked. Ashley sat down on the couch, trying to organize her thoughts. She tried to concentrate on the positive. We're going to try to cure you.

  We're going to try to cure you.

  We're going to cure you.

 
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