home | login | register | DMCA | contacts | help | donate |      

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


my bookshelf | genres | recommend | rating of books | rating of authors | reviews | new | | collections | | | add



38

A CCTV camera monitored their progress as Dr Keller and Nightingale walked down a long corridor. The walls were painted pale green below waist height and the upper half was cream. There were fluorescent lights set into the ceiling, shielded by wire mesh.

Prior to 2001 we were administered by the Home Office, along with Broadmoor and Ashworth special hospitals, said Dr Keller. But since 2001 weve been part of the Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS trust. So, strictly speaking, we are a hospital. But all NHS regions can avail themselves of our high-security service, making us a dumping ground for problem patients around the country.

But theyre all insane, right? Thats why theyre here?

Dr Keller laughed. Thats the way the media portrays us, but its not as simple as that. We do have a large number of patients with mental-health issues, that goes without saying. But we also care for patients who are deaf or have learning disabilities but have to be placed in a high-security setting. And of course we do have a Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder Unit, which is where were going now.

Thats where my sister is?

She was convicted of five horrendous murders, Mr Nightingale. Where else would she be? He unlocked another barred gate and they went through. Thats not to say that all our patients have been through the criminal justice system. About a quarter havent been convicted of anything but have been detained under the Mental Health Act. He stopped in front of a door. This is our visiting area, he said. There has to be a guard present at all times, Im afraid. But the guard is there for security reasons and wont be eavesdropping.

He pushed open the door to reveal a room with several tables, each with four chairs that were bolted to the floor. At the far end of the room were two vending machines, one filled with snacks and chocolate, the other for dispensing drinks.

Please take a seat and Ill have your sister brought in, he said. As Nightingale sat down, Dr Keller took a transceiver from the pocket of his white coat and spoke into it. He then walked over to the table where Nightingale was sitting. Shes on her way. Ill ask the guard to bring you back to my office when youre done. Id be interested to hear how you got on.

Dr Keller left the room and it was almost fifteen minutes before the door opened and a female guard appeared.

Mr Nightingale? she said. She was in her thirties with close-cropped black hair and a fierce stare.

Thats me, said Nightingale.

The guard stepped to the side and a woman walked in. Nightingale wasnt expecting to see a family resemblance but he was still taken aback by how small she was. Barely five feet tall. She was wearing a baggy grey polo-neck sweater, dark blue Adidas tracksuit bottoms and red Converse tennis shoes. She didnt look up as she walked over to the table and all he could see of her face was a slightly pointed chin and pale lips. Her hair was dyed blonde but the roots were chestnut brown. Nightingale realised her hair was pretty much the same colour as his own.

She sat down and clasped her hands together, keeping her head down so that he was faced with a wall of blonde hair. The guard walked over to the vending machines and stood there with her arms folded.

Nightingale leaned forward. Did Dr Keller tell you who I am? he asked, his voice a low whisper.

Robyn said nothing. She stared down at the table, breathing through her mouth.

He told you Im your brother? My names Jack.

Bollocks, she whispered.

Its true. They wouldnt have let me in otherwise.

She continued to stare at the table, breathing heavily. Her hands were still clasped together, the fingernails bitten to the quick.

Robyn?

She flinched as if shed been struck but still refused to look at him.

Im your brother, Robyn.

For several seconds she didnt react and for a moment he thought she hadnt heard him, then she slowly raised her head. No way, she said.

Way. Big way.

She looked up. Her eyes were dark brown, so dark that the irises were almost black. Her eyebrows were thin, as if theyd been carefully plucked. What do you mean, big way? That doesnt mean anything.

Im guessing it means the opposite of no way. Im your brother.

I was an only child.

We have the same father. Theres no doubt. I checked your DNA.

How did you get my DNA?

Its on file. Everyone whos been arrested is in the system. Theres no doubt, Robyn.

If youre my brother, why didnt my parents tell me?

Because they didnt know.

She sat back in her chair, folded her arms and scowled at him. Youre full of shit, she said. How could they be your parents and not know?

Because you were adopted, Robyn. You were adopted and so was I. Our father was a man called Ainsley Gosling. He killed himself a few weeks ago.

I wasnt adopted, she said flatly.

You were. On the day of your birth. Thats what happened to me. I was adopted by Bill and Irene Nightingale.

So youre Jack Nightingale?

Nightingale nodded.

And our father is Ainsley Gosling?

Nightingale nodded again.

She sneered at him. This is a joke, right?

Its deadly serious.

No, you dont get it, she said. Our father was Gosling, youre Nightingale and Im Robyn. Whats with the bird thing?

I dont know, said Nightingale. Coincidence maybe.

There are no coincidences, said Robyn emphatically. Everything is connected.

Thats a philosophy all right, said Nightingale. But I dont think theres a reason weve all ended up with birds names.

I bet youre wrong, she said. And, if its true, why did this Gosling have us both adopted? And why did he put us with different families?

Thats where it gets complicated, said Nightingale. But can I ask you something first?

Robyn shrugged. Sure.

Your parents. Do you still see them?

After what I did? She snorted contemptuously. They wanted nothing to do with me.

But theyre still alive?

Allegedly.

Nightingale grinned.

Whats so funny? she snapped.

I say that a lot, said Nightingale.

Say what?

Allegedly.

Yeah?

Nightingale nodded and retrieved his pack of Marlboro from his raincoat pocket. Can we smoke in here?

Robyn shook her head. They say were a hospital and not a prison so we cant smoke. Some of the inmates went to the High Court a few years ago to fight it but they lost. She smiled slyly. But rules are meant to be broken, right? She looked over at the guard. Miss Boyle, would it be all right if my brother and I have a cigarette?

The guard wagged a finger at her. Its against the rules, Robyn, you know that.

Oh come on, Miss Boyle. You think we dont know that you sneak into the Ladies for a quick smoke in the afternoon? Go one, one smoker to another. Pretty please.

The guard laughed and shook her head. Youre a bad girl, Robyn. Go on, then, just the one. But if anyone comes in Ill have to put you on report.

Thanks, Miss Boyle, said Robyn. She winked at Nightingale. Theyre okay in here really, she said.

Nightingale chuckled, tapped out a cigarette for her and one for himself. He took out his lighter and lit them both, then he offered the pack to the guard but she waved him away.

More than my jobs worth, she said. But thanks anyway.

Nightingale put the packet away. That was nice of her, he said quietly. She didnt have to do that.

Were all human beings trying to get through life as best we can, Jack, said Robyn. She blew a perfect smoke ring up at the ceiling. What about your parents? she asked.

Dead, said Nightingale. Car crash while I was at university.

University? You a smart guy, Jack?

He grinned. Allegedly. He took a long drag on his cigarette. Was it because of the court case that your parents cut you off?

Robyn shook her said. The rot had set in long before then, she said.

What was the problem? Were you a difficult kid?

I wasnt the problem, she said, and shook her head again. My mum was all right; my dad was a bastard.

Bastard in what way?

She scowled. Screwed me on my sixteenth birthday does that count?

Yeah, that counts.

At least he waited until I was legal, said Robyn. Did me on my sixteenth birthday while Mum was at the shops, and tried again two days later. I stuck a knife in him and got on a train to London. She shivered and took a long pull on her cigarette. I guess me being adopted explains a lot. Wasnt incest, wasnt paedophilia; it was plain old rape.

You never suspected they werent your real parents?

She shook her head fiercely. I used to dream that I was really a princess and that my parents were the king and queen of some faraway country and that one day they would come for me, but thats not how it turned out. She flicked ash onto the floor. I dont suppose my genetic father was a king, was he?

Not exactly, no, said Nightingale.

So who was he, this Ainsley Gosling?

Its a long story, Robyn.

She laughed harshly. Jack, time is the one thing I have plenty of right now.


| Midnight | c