Chapter no 24

The Silent Patient

I KEPT THINKING ABOUT what Max Berenson had said—about Alicia’s suicide attempt, following her father’s death. There was no mention of it in her file, and I wondered why.

I rang Max the next day, catching him just as he was leaving the office. “I just want to ask you a couple more questions if you don’t mind.” “I’m literally walking out of the door.”

“This won’t take long.”

Max sighed and lowered the phone to say something unintelligible to Tanya.

“Five minutes,” he said. “That’s all you get.”

“Thanks, I appreciate it. You mentioned Alicia’s suicide attempt. I was wondering, which hospital treated her?”

“She wasn’t admitted to hospital.” “She wasn’t?”

“No. She recovered at home. My brother looked after her.” “But—surely she saw a doctor? It was an overdose, you said?”

“Yes. And of course Gabriel got a doctor over. And he … the doctor— agreed to keep it quiet.”

“Who was the doctor? Do you remember his name?”

There was a pause as Max thought for a moment. “I’m sorry, I can’t tell you.… I can’t recall.”

“Was it their GP?”

“No, I’m sure it wasn’t. My brother and I shared a GP. I remember Gabriel made a point of asking me not to mention it to him.”

“And you’re sure you can’t remember a name?” “I’m sorry. Is that all? I have to go.”

“Just one more thing … I was curious about the terms of Gabriel’s will.” A slight intake of breath, and Max’s tone instantly sharpened. “His will?

I really don’t see the relevance—” “Was Alicia the main beneficiary?”

“I must say, I find that rather an odd question.” “Well, I’m trying to understand—”

“Understand what?” Max went on without waiting for a reply, sounding annoyed. “I was the main beneficiary. Alicia had inherited a great deal of money from her father, so Gabriel felt she was well provided for. And so he left the bulk of his estate to me. Of course, he had no idea his estate would become so valuable after his death. Is that it?”

“And what about Alicia’s will? When she dies, who inherits?”

“That,” Max said firmly, “is more than I can tell you. And I sincerely hope this will be our last conversation.”

There was a click as he hung up. But something in his tone told me this wouldn’t be the last I’d hear from Max Berenson.

I didn’t have to wait long.

* * *

Diomedes called me into his office after lunch. He looked up when I walked in but didn’t smile. “What is the matter with you?”

“With me?”

“Don’t play the idiot. You know who I had a call from this morning? Max Berenson. He says you contacted him twice and asked a lot of personal questions.”

“I asked him for some information about Alicia. He seemed fine with


“Well, he’s not fine now. He’s calling it harassment.” “Oh, come on—”

“The last thing we need is a lawyer making a fuss. Everything you do

must be within the confines of the unit, and under my supervision. Understood?”

I was angry, but I nodded. I stared at the floor like a sullen teenager.

Diomedes responded appropriately, giving me a paternal pat on the shoulder. “Theo. Let me give you some advice. You’re going about this the wrong way. You’re asking questions, searching for clues, like it’s a detective story.” He laughed and shook his head. “You won’t get to it like that.”

“Get to what?”

“The truth. Remember Bion: ‘No memory—no desire.’ No agenda—as a therapist, your only goal is to be present and receptive to your feelings as you sit with her. That’s all you need to do. The rest will take care of itself.”

“I know. You’re right.”

“Yes, I am. And don’t let me hear you’ve been making any more visits to Alicia’s relations, understood?”

“You have my word.”

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