Chapter no 63

The Silent Patient

DIOMEDES TURNED UP half an hour later. He had been in a meeting with the Trust, he said, then got stuck on the underground, delayed by a signal failure. He asked Yuri to send for me.

Yuri found me in my office. “Professor Diomedes is here. He’s with Stephanie. They’re waiting for you.”

“Thanks. I’ll be right there.”

I made my way to Diomedes’s office, expecting the worst. A scapegoat would be needed to take the blame. I’d seen it before, at Broadmoor, in cases of suicide: whichever member of staff was closest to the victim was held accountable, be it therapist, doctor, or nurse. No doubt Stephanie was baying for my blood.

I knocked on the door and went inside. Stephanie and Diomedes were standing on either side of the desk. Judging by the tense silence, I’d interrupted a disagreement.

Diomedes spoke first. He was clearly agitated, and his hands flew all over the place. “Terrible business. Terrible. Obviously it couldn’t have come at a worse time. It gives the Trust the perfect excuse to shut us down.” “I hardly think the Trust is the immediate concern,” Stephanie said. “The safety of the patients comes first. We need to find out exactly what happened.” She turned to me. “Indira mentioned you suspected Elif of

dealing drugs? That’s how Alicia got hold of the hydrocodone?”

I hesitated. “Well, I’ve no proof. It’s something I’ve heard a couple of the nurses talking about. But actually there’s something else I think you should know—”

Stephanie interrupted me with a shake of her head. “We know what happened. It wasn’t Elif.”


“Christian happened to be passing the nurses’ station, and he saw the drugs cabinet was left wide-open. There was no one in the station. Yuri had left it unlocked. Anyone could have gone in and helped themselves. And Christian saw Alicia lurking around the corner. He wondered what she was doing there at the time. Now of course it makes sense.”

“How fortunate Christian was there to see all this.”

My voice had a sarcastic tone. But Stephanie chose not to pick up on it. “Christian isn’t the only person who’s noticed Yuri’s carelessness. I’ve often felt Yuri is far too relaxed about security. Too friendly with the patients. Too concerned with being popular. I’m surprised something like this didn’t happen sooner.”

“I see.” I did see. I understood now why Stephanie was being cordial to me. It seemed I was off the hook; she had chosen Yuri as the scapegoat.

“Yuri always seems so meticulous,” I said, glancing at Diomedes, wondering if he’d intervene. “I really don’t think—”

Diomedes shrugged. “My personal opinion is Alicia has always been highly suicidal. As we know, when someone wants to die, despite your best efforts to protect them, it’s often impossible to prevent it.”

“Isn’t that our job?” Stephanie snapped. “To prevent it?”

“No.” Diomedes shook his head. “Our job is to help them heal. But we are not God. We do not have the power over life and death. Alicia Berenson wanted to die. At some point she was bound to succeed. Or at least partly succeed.”

I hesitated. It was now or never.

“I’m not so sure that’s true,” I said. “I don’t think it was a suicide attempt.”

“You think it was an accident?”

“No. I don’t think it was an accident.”

Diomedes gave me a curious look. “What are you trying to say, Theo?

What other alternative is there?”

“Well, to start with, I don’t believe Yuri gave Alicia the drugs.” “You mean Christian is mistaken?”

“No,” I said. “Christian is lying.”

Diomedes and Stephanie stared at me, shocked. I went on before they could recover their power of speech.

I quickly told them everything that I had read in Alicia’s diary: that Christian had been treating Alicia privately before Gabriel’s murder; that she was one of several private patients he saw unofficially, and not only had he not come forward to testify at the trial, he had pretended not to know Alicia when she was admitted to the Grove. “No wonder he was so against any attempt to get her talking again,” I said. “If she did speak, she would be in a position to expose him.”

Stephanie stared at me blankly. “But—what are you saying? You can’t seriously be suggesting that he—”

“Yes, I am suggesting it. It wasn’t an overdose. It was an attempt to murder her.”

“Where is Alicia’s diary?” Diomedes asked me. “You have it in your possession?”

I shook my head. “No, not anymore. I gave it back to Alicia. It must be in her room.”

“Then we must retrieve it.” Diomedes turned to Stephanie. “But first, I think we should call the police. Don’t you?”

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