Chapter no 42

The Silent Patient

“HOW IS ELIF?” I was waiting in the goldfish bowl and caught Yuri once he returned from the emergency ward.

“Stable.” He sighed heavily. “Which is about the best we can hope for.” “I’d like to see her.”

“Elif? Or Alicia?” “Elif first.”

Yuri nodded. “They want her to rest tonight, but in the morning I’ll take you to her.”

“What happened? Were you there? I presume Alicia was provoked?”

Yuri sighed again and shrugged. “I don’t know. Elif was hanging around outside Alicia’s studio. There must have been a confrontation of some kind. I’ve no idea what they were fighting about.”

“Have you got the key? Let’s go and have a look. See if we can find any clues.”

We left the goldfish bowl and walked to Alicia’s studio. Yuri unlocked the door and opened it. He flicked on the light.

And there, on the easel, was the answer we were looking for.

Alicia’s painting—the picture of the Grove going up in flames—had been defaced. The word SLUT was crudely daubed across it in red paint.

I nodded. “Well, that explains it.” “You think Elif did it?”

“Who else?”

* * *

I found Elif in the emergency ward. She was propped up in bed, attached to a drip. Padded bandages were wrapped around her head, covering one eye.

She was upset, angry, and in pain.

“Fuck off,” she said when she saw me.

I pulled up a chair by the bed and sat down. I spoke gently, respectfully. “I’m sorry, Elif. Truly sorry. This is an awful thing to happen. A tragedy.”

“Too fucking right. Now, piss off and leave me alone.” “Tell me what happened.”

“That bitch took out my fucking eye. That’s what happened.” “Why did she do that? Did you have a fight?”

“You trying to blame me? I didn’t do nothing!”

“I’m not trying to blame you. I just want to understand why she did it.” “’Cause she’s got a fucking screw loose, that’s why.”

“It had nothing to do with the painting? I saw what you did. You defaced it, didn’t you?”

Elif narrowed her remaining eye, then firmly closed it.

“That was a bad thing to do, Elif. It doesn’t justify her response, but still


“That ain’t why she did it.” Elif opened her eye and stared at me


I hesitated. “No? Then why did she attack you?”

Elif’s lips twisted into a kind of smile. She didn’t speak. We sat like that for a few moments. I was about to give up, then she spoke.

“I told her the truth.” “What truth?”

“That you’re soft on her.” I was startled by this.

Before I could respond, Elif went on, speaking with cold contempt. “You’re in love with her, mate. I told her so. ‘He loves you,’ I said. ‘He loves you—Theo and Alicia sitting in a tree. Theo and Alicia K I S S I N G

—’” Elif started laughing, a horrible shrieking laugh. I could picture the rest

—Alicia goaded into a frenzy, spinning round, raising her paintbrush … and plunging it into Elif’s eye.

“She’s a fucking nutter.” Elif sounded close to tears, anguished, exhausted. “She’s a psycho.”

Looking at Elif’s bandaged wound, I couldn’t help but wonder if she was right.

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