Tell me your dreams, p.8
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       Tell Me Your Dreams, p.8

           Sidney Sheldon
 
Chapter Eight

  FIVE days after Ashley returned from Quebec City, father was on the telephone. "I just got back. "

  "Back?" It took Ashley a moment to remember. "Oh, Your patient in Argentina. How is he?"

  "He'll live. "

  "I'm glad. "

  "Can you come up to San Francisco for dinner tomorrow?"

  She dreaded the thought of facing him, but she could think of no excuse. "All right. "

  "I'll see you at Restaurant Lulu. Eight o'clock. "

  Ashley was waiting at the restaurant when her father walked in. Again, she saw the admiring glances of recognition on people's faces. Her father was a famous man. Would he risk everything he had just to - ?

  He was at the table.

  "It's good to see you, sweetheart. Sorry about our Christmas dinner. "

  She forced herself to say, "So am I. "

  She was staring at the menu, not seeing it, trying to get her thoughts together.

  "What would you like?"

  "I - I'm not really hungry," she said.

  "You have to eat something. You're getting too thin. "

  "I'll have the chicken. "

  She watched her father as he ordered, and she wondered if she dared to bring up the subject.

  "How was Quebec City?"

  "It was very interesting," Ashley said. "It's a beautiful place. "

  "We must go there together sometime. "

  She made a decision and tried to keep her voice as casual as possible. "Yes. By the way. . . last June I went to my ten-year high school reunion in Bedford. "

  He nodded. "Did you enjoy it?"

  "No. " She spoke slowly, choosing her words carefully. "I - I found out that the day after you and I left for London, Jim Cleary's body. . . was found. He had been stabbed. . . and castrated. " She sat there, watching him, waiting for a reaction.

  Dr. Patterson frowned. "Cleary? Oh, yes. That boy who was panting after you. I saved you from him, didn't I?"

  What did that mean? Was it a confession? Had he saved her from Jim Cleary by killing him?

  Ashley took a deep breath and went on. "Dennis Tibble was murdered the same way. He was stabbed and castrated. " She watched her father pick up a roll and carefully butter it.

  When he spoke, he said, "I'm not surprised, Ashley. Bad people usually come to a bad end. "

  And this was a doctor, a man dedicated to saving lives. I'll never understand him, Ashley thought. I don't think I want to.

  By the time dinner was over, Ashley was no closer to the truth.

  Toni said, "I really enjoyed Quebec City, Alette. I'd like to go back someday. Did you have a good time?"

  Alette said shyly, "I enjoyed the museums. "

  "Have you called your boyfriend in San Francisco yet?"

  "He's not my boyfriend. "

  "I'll bet you want him to be, don't you?"

  "Forse. Perhaps. "

  "Why don't you call him?"

  "I don't think it would be proper to - "

  "Call him. "

  They arranged to meet at the De Young Museum.

  "I really missed you," Richard Melton said. "How was Quebec?"

  "Va bene. "

  "I wish I had been there with you. "

  Maybe one day, Alette thought hopefully. "How is the painting coming along?"

  "Not bad. I just sold one of my paintings to a really well-known collector. "

  "Fantastic!" She was delighted. And she could not help thinking. It's so different when I'm with him. If it were anyone else, I would have thought, Who is tasteless enough to pay money for your paintings? or Don't give up your day job or a hundred other cruel remarks. But/ don't do that with Richard.

  It gave Alette an incredible feeling of freedom, as though she had found a cure for some debilitating disease.

  They had lunch at the museum.

  "What would you like?" Richard asked. "They have great roast beef here. "

  "I'm a vegetarian. I'll just have a salad. Thank you. "

  "Okay. "

  A young, attractive waitress came over to the table. "Hello, Richard. "

  "Hi, Bernice. "

  Unexpectedly, Alette felt a pang of jealousy. Her reaction surprised her.

  "Are you ready to order?"

  "Yes. Miss Peters is going to have a salad, and I'm going to have a roast beef sandwich. "

  The waitress was studying Alette. Is she jealous of me? Alette wondered. When the waitress left, Alette said, "She's very pretty. Do you know her well?" Immediately she blushed. I wish I hadn't asked that.

  Richard smiled. "I come here a lot. When I first came here, I didn't have much money. I'd order a sandwich, and Bernice would bring me a banquet. She's great. "

  "She seems very nice," Alette said. And she thought, She has fat thighs.

  After they had ordered, they talked about artists.

  "One day I want to go to Giverny," Alette said, "where Monet painted. "

  "Did you know Monet started out as a caricaturist?"

  "No. "

  "It's true. Then he met Boudin, who became his; teacher and persuaded him to start painting out of doors. There's a great story about that. Monet got so hooked on painting out of doors that when he decided to paint a picture of a woman in the garden, with a canvas over eight feet high, he had a trench dug in the garden so he could raise or lower the canvas by pulleys. The picture is hanging at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. "

  The time went by swiftly and happily.

  After lunch, Alette and Richard walked around looking at the various exhibits. There were more than forty thousand objects in the collection, everything from ancient Egyptian artifacts to contemporary American paintings.

  Alette was filled with the wonderment of being with Richard and her complete lack of negative thoughts. Che cosa significa?

  A uniformed guard approached them. "Good afternoon, Richard. "

  "Afternoon, Brian. This is my friend, Alette Peters. Brian Hill. "

  Brian said to Alette, "Are you enjoying the museum?"

  "Oh, yes. It's wonderful. "

  "Richard's teaching me to paint," Brian said.

  Alette looked at Richard. "You are?"

  Richard said modestly, "Oh, I'm just guiding him little bit. "

  "He's doing more than that, miss. I've always wanted to be a painter. That's why I took this job at the museum because I love art. Anyway, Richard comes here and paints. When I saw his work, I thought, I want to be like him. So I asked him if he'd teach me, and he's been great. Have you seen any of his paintings?"

  "I have," Alette said. "They're wonderful. "

  When they left him, Alette said, "It's lovely of you to do that, Richard. "

  "I like to do things for people," and he was looking at Alette.

  When they were walking out of the museum, Richard said, "My roommate is at a party tonight. Why don't we stop up at my place?" He smiled. "I have some paintings I'd like to show you. "

  Alette squeezed his hand. "Not yet, Richard. "

  "Whatever you say. I'll see you next weekend?"

  "Yes. "

  And he had no idea how much she was looking forward to it.

  Richard walked Alette to the parking lot where she had parked her car. He waved good-bye as she drove off.

  * * *

  As Alette was going to sleep that night, she thought. It's like a miracle. Richard has freed me. She fell asleep, earning of him.

  At two o'clock in the morning, Richard Melton's roommate, Gary, returned from a birthday party. The apartment was dark. He switched on the lights in the living room. "Richard?"

  He started toward the bedroom. At the door he looked inside and was sick to his stomach.

  "Calm down, son. " Detective Whittier looked at the shivering figure in the chair. "Now, let's go over it again. Did he have any enemies, someone mad enough at him to do this?"

  Gary swallowed. "No
. Everyone. . . everyone liked Richard. "

  "Someone didn't. How long have you and Richard lived together?"

  "Two years. "

  "Were you lovers?"

  "For God's sake," Gary said indignantly. "No. We were friends. We lived together for financial reasons. "

  Detective Whittier looked around the small apartment. "Sure as hell wasn't a burglary," he said. "There's nothing here to steal. Was your roommate seeing anyone romantically?"

  "No - Well, yes. There was a girl he was interested in. I think he was really starting to like her. "

  "Do you know her name?"

  "Yes. Alette. Alette Peters. She works in Cupertino. "

  Detective Whittier and Detective Reynolds looked at each other.

  "Cupertino?"

  "Jesus," Reynolds said.

  Thirty minutes later, Detective Whittier was on the phone with Sheriff Dowling. "Sheriff, I thought you might be interested to know that we have a murder here that's the same M. O. as the case you had in Cupertino - multiple stab wounds and castration. "

  "My God!"

  "I just had a talk with the FBI. Their computer shows that there have been three previous castration killings very similar to this one. The first one happened in Bedford, Pennsylvania, about ten years ago, the next one was a man named Dennis Tibble - that was your case - then there was the same M. O. in Quebec City, and now this one. "

  "It doesn't make sense. Pennsylvania. . . Cupertino. . . Quebec City. . . San Francisco. . . Is there any link?"

  "We're trying to find one. Quebec requires passports. The FBI is doing a cross-check to see if anyone who was in Quebec City around Christmas was in any of the other cities at the times of the murders. . . . "

  When the media got wind of what was happening, their stories were splashed across the front pages across the world:

  SERIAL KILLER LOOSE. . .

  QUATRES HOMMES BRUTALEMENT TUES ET CASTRES. . .

  SUCHT WIRD EIN MANN DER SEINE OFFER KAS-TRIERT. . .

  QUATTRO UOMINI SONO STATI CASTRATI E UCCISI.

  On the networks, self-important psychologists analyzed the killings.

  ". . . and all the victims were men. Because of the way they were stabbed and castrated, it is undoubtedly the work of a homosexual who. . . "

  ". . . so if the police can find a connection between the victims, they will probably discover that it was the work of a lover the men had all scorned. . . . "

  ". . . but I would say they were random killings committed by someone who had a dominating mother. . . . "

  Saturday morning, Detective Whittier called deputy Blake from San Francisco.

  "Deputy, I have an update for you. "

  "Go ahead. "

  "I just got a call from the FBI. Cupertino is listed as the residence of an American who was in Quebec on the date of the Parent murder. "

  "That's interesting. What's his name?"

  "Her. Patterson. Ashley Patterson. "

  At six o'clock that evening, deputy Sam Blake rang the bell at Ashley Patterson's apartment. Through the closed door he heard her call out cautiously, "Who is it?"

  "Deputy Blake. I'd like to talk to you. Miss Patterson".

  There was a long silence, then the door opened. Ashley was standing there, looking wary.

  "May I come in?"

  "Yes, of course. " Is this about Father? I must be careful. Ashley led the deputy to a couch. "What can I do for you, Deputy?"

  "Would you mind answering a few questions?"

  Ashley shifted uncomfortably. "I - I don't know. Am I under suspicion for something?"

  He smiled reassuringly. "Nothing like that. Miss Patterson. This is just routine. We're investigating some murders. "

  "I don't know anything about any murders," she said quickly. Too quickly?

  "You were in Quebec City recently, weren't you?"

  "Yes. "

  "Are you acquainted with Jean Claude Parent?"

  "Jean Claude Parent?" She thought for a moment, "No. I've never heard of him. Who is he?"

  "He owns a jewelry store in Quebec City. "

  Ashley shook her head. "I didn't do any jewelry shopping in Quebec. "

  "You worked with Dennis Tibble. "

  Ashley felt the fear beginning to rise again. This was about her father. She said cautiously, "I didn't work with him. He worked for the same company. "

  "Of course. You go into San Francisco occasionally, don't you. Miss Patterson?"

  Ashley wondered where this was leading. Careful. "From time to time, yes. "

  "Did you ever meet an artist there named Richard Melton?"

  "No. I don't know anyone by that name. "

  Deputy Blake sat there studying Ashley, frustrated. "Miss Patterson, would you mind coming down to headquarters and taking a polygraph test? If you want to, you can call your lawyer and - "

  "I don't need a lawyer. I'll be glad to take a test. "

  The polygraph expert was a man named Keith Rosson, and he was one of the best. He had had to cancel a dinner ate, but he was happy to oblige Sam Blake.

  Ashley was seated in a chair, wired to the polygraph chine. Rosson had already spent forty-five minutes chatting with her, getting background information and evaluating her emotional state. Now he was ready to begin.

  "Are you comfortable?"

  "Yes. "

  "Good. Let's start. " He pressed a button. "What's your name?"

  "Ashley Patterson. "

  Rosson's eyes kept darting between Ashley and the polygraph printout.

  "How old are you. Miss Patterson?"

  "Twenty-eight. "

  "Where do you live?"

  "10964 Via Camino Court in Cupertino. "

  "Are you employed?"

  "Yes. "

  "Do you like classical music?"

  "Yes. "

  "Do you know Richard Melton?"

  "No. "

  There was no change on the graph. "Where do you work?"

  "At Global Computer Graphics Corporation. "

  "Do you enjoy your job?"

  "Yes. "

  "Do you work five days a week?"

  "Yes. "

  "Have you ever met Jean Claude Parent?"

  "No. "

  Still no change on the graph.

  "Did you have breakfast this morning?"

  "Yes. "

  "Did you kill Dennis Tibble?"

  "No. "

  The questions continued for another thirty minutes and were repeated three times, in a different order.

  When the session was over, Keith Rosson walked in Sam Blake's office and handed him the polygraph test "Clean as a whistle. There's a less than one percent chance that she's lying. You've got the wrong person. "

  Ashley left police headquarters, giddy with relief. Thank God it's over. She had been terrified that they might ask questions that would involve her father, but that had not happened. No one can connect Father with any of this now.

  She parked her car in the garage and took the elevator up to her apartment floor. She unlocked the door, went inside and carefully locked the door behind her. She felt drained, and at the same time, elated. A nice hot bath, Ashley thought. She walked into the bathroom and turned dead white. On her bathroom mirror, someone had scrawled in bright red lipstick YOU WILL DIE.

 
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