Dr. Peter Trent was tempted not to answer the phone. He had a pretty good suspicion of whose voice would be on the other end. She called several times each day, and the shrill of her voice was comparable to a whistling tea kettle. His assistant, who normally screened his calls, had poor timing to be at lunch. He knew the repercussions of not answering would be worse than the temporary pain his ears would experience.
“Hello, this is Dr. Peter.”
“Oh good, you’re in.” Peter forced himself not to roll his eyes as she continued. “Well let me tell you what’s going on today. Someone was following me when I was out doing errands this morning.”
Someone was always following her. It was the same, exasperating story he heard from her every time he had a session with her. The time had finally come to help Mrs. Jones create some boundaries. “I’m sorry…Mrs. Jones?”
The shrill went up an octave. “I know. You don’t believe me. You always think these things are all in my head, but it’s true. When I went to the laundromat, there was a young man with a black stocking cap and a beard. He kept looking at me the whole time. It was unnerving, especially when I was moving my unmentionables from the washer to the dryer. And I saw him again at the little café I go to every Thursday for lunch. I’m a poor, old widow. Why would anyone want to stalk me?”
Peter still didn’t quite believe her, “If you really think this guy is stalking you, why don’t you go to the police and give them a description?”
“Like you, they never believe what I tell them!” The phone went dead.
From the first time he had met with her, Peter believed she would be afraid of her own shadow. Helping people deal with their fears and paranoia was his specialty, but something kept her from making much progress. Yet, he at least wanted to give her comfort, so he rang her back.
That’s strange. She just hung up with me, but she’s not answering her phone. Peter wondered if she had Caller ID and refused to talk to him. He wouldn’t blame her, but an uneasy feeling began to settle in his gut. It felt like the after effects of the over spicy chili he had for lunch, so he ignored it.
Two hours and two patients later, Peter’s phone rang again. It was his cell phone this time. “Hello, this is Dr. Peter.”
“Whatever she told you, it’s a lie.” After a click, he was left with silence.
Peter looked at the phone with a puzzled look on his face. Ring, ring. It went off again while he was still staring at it.
With hesitation in his voice he said, “Hello…this is Dr. Peter.”
“Dr. Peter Trent? This is Sergeant Graham with the Villion Police Department. Did you know Mrs. Rita Jones?”
“Yes, Sergeant. What’s going on?” The chili’s after effects returned with a vengeance.
“She was found murdered in her apartment, and her phone shows you were the last person she spoke with. Would you mind meeting me at the station for an interview?”
He was no stranger to police interviews in his line of work as a psycho analyst. “Not at all. I can be there in thirty minutes.”
Just as he parked his Mercedes into an empty spot halfway across the lot from the station’s glass front door, Peter noticed a mysterious looking gentleman leaning against a light pole at the edge of the parking lot. At 4:00 in the afternoon, the sun was hiding under a blanket of gray clouds, and the temperature was comfortable for an early spring day. But there was something familiar about the man. The way he stood with his hands jammed into the pockets of a beige overcoat reminded him of a man Peter saw occasionally outside his office building. Mrs. Jones had known the guy from somewhere, because she mentioned him in their sessions and even knew his name. Shaking off his uneasiness, he got out of his car and went to meet with the sergeant.
“Follow me.” The young lady guarding the front desk escorted Peter down a hall to a conference room that wasn’t like the conference rooms he was used to from his days in the corporate world. It was small with only a 4-seater table and bare walls. “Sergeant Graham will be right with you.” Then she closed the door behind her, leaving him alone with his thoughts and his file on Rita Jones. Even though he knew he couldn’t give any details of their meetings to the police, he wanted to be accurate on what information he could give them.
Peter looked up from the table at the sound of the door opening. “Dr. Trent?” Standing in the doorway was a middle aged man dressed in a pair of jeans and a navy blue police department issued polo shirt. He immediately regretted the assessment of Sergeant Graham as middle age since he was probably about 55, same as Peter.
Peter stood and shook the sergeant’s hand with a firm grip. “It’s nice to meet you, Sergeant. I hope I can help.”
“I do too. Can you tell me what you discussed with Mrs. Jones today?” He opened a notebook and poised his pen above a blank page.
“I’m afraid it wasn’t much.” He went on to give a brief explanation of how she lived her life with paranoia and how she sounded different with today’s story of being followed, yet he still ignored it. Something he will never do again with a patient. Even though he doubted there was a connection, he also told the sergeant about the fellow he saw in the parking lot. “I think his name was David, Daniel, Mitch, Mike, or something like one of those.”
“Douglas Mitchell, maybe?”
“Yes. That’s it. How did you know?”
“We found his name on some note paper in Mrs. Jones’ apartment. We’re still trying to connect the dots on how they knew each other.” The sergeant seemed to hesitate in contemplation. Then he stood and extended his hand to Peter. “Thank you, Doctor, for coming in.”
Outside in the parking lot, a mysterious man leaning against the light pole felt the hard end of a steel object jabbed into his back. He heard a recognizable piercing woman’s voice say, “Bang, you’re dead.” Douglas Mitchell, the man known to many as the Broker, could not control the look of fear that spread across his face.
Disclaimer: The first and last sentences were randomly taken from two different chapters in the book, “Eye of the God” by Ariel Allison. Everything else in between is purely from the deep, dark recesses of my head.