N ightingale phoned Dr Keller on the way back to London and asked if he could visit his sister on Thursday. The psychiatrist said that he wouldn’t be working but that he was more than happy for Nightingale to visit. He asked Nightingale when he’d be able to see a transcript of Barbara’s hypnotic-regression session and Nightingale said that she was still working on it.
He arrived at Rampton Hospital at midday with a large Harrods carrier bag. A guard held out his hand for the bag before allowing Nightingale to walk through the metal detector, then took it over to a steel table.
‘Just somethings for my sister,’ said Nightingale. ‘Dr Keller said that it was okay.’
‘It’s not up to the medical staff what comes in here,’ said the guard. He tipped the contents of the bag out onto the table. ‘The inmates are here because they’re dangerous; they can cause mayhem with a crayon.’
‘That’s okay, because I didn’t bring her any crayons.’
The guard scowled at Nightingale and held up a box of chalk. ‘What’s this, then?’
‘That’s chalk. Chalk and crayons are as different as chalk and cheese.’ He smiled brightly. ‘Her doctor said it was okay. She wants to do some drawing and he figured it would be part of her therapy.’
The guard opened the box and took out a stick of white chalk. He stared impassively as he broke it in half. ‘Your sister doesn’t need therapy,’ he growled. ‘She needs the death penalty.’ He closed the box and put it back into the carrier bag, then picked up a small cloth bag and untied the piece of string around the neck. ‘What’s this?’ he asked.
‘Salt,’ said Nightingale. ‘Minus the iodine. There’s a chance she’s allergic to the iodine so we thought we’d try her on de-iodised.’
The guard retied the bag and put it with the chalk. He picked up a small linen pillow. ‘What’s this for?’ he asked.
‘It’s a herb pillow, to help her sleep,’ said Nightingale. ‘Dr Keller said it was okay.’
‘What sort of herbs?’
Nightingale shrugged. ‘There’s rosemary and lavender, I think. I’m not sure. I got it from a herbalist.’
‘We get a lot of people trying to smuggle drugs in here,’ said the guard. ‘I’m going to have to get a dog.’
‘A sniffer dog.’ The guard called the hospital’s security centre on his transceiver and requested a drugs dog at the visitor’s entrance, then continued examining the contents of the carrier bag.
Nightingale pointed at two plastic bottles of Evian water. ‘She was complaining about the taste of the water in here.’
‘There’s nothing wrong with it,’ said the guard, checking the seals.
‘She said it tasted of chlorine.’
There were five white candles in the bag. The guard examined them and looked at Nightingale quizzically.
‘Aromatherapy,’ said Nightingale. ‘The herbalist said they might help relax her.’
The guard sniffed one. ‘Can’t smell anything,’ he said.
‘They’ve got to be burning,’ said Nightingale.
The guard nodded and put everything except the pillow back into the carrier bag. ‘You’ll have to wait for the dog,’ he said and nodded at a chair. ‘Have a seat; it might take a while.’
Nightingale knew that it was pointless to argue. He sat for twenty minutes until another guard appeared with a German Shepherd, which refused to take any interest at all in the pillow.
When Agnes, the female guard who had accompanied him on his first visit, came to meet him, Nightingale was finally allowed out of the holding area.
‘You know that Dr Keller isn’t here today?’ she asked as she walked down the corridor with him, swinging her keys back and forth.
‘That’s right,’ said Nightingale. ‘I’m just here for a chat, to see how she is.’
‘She seems happier since you started visiting,’ she said.
‘How did she react to the death of her parents?’
Agnes shrugged. ‘Water off a duck’s back,’ she said. ‘Psychopaths can be like that. They don’t react to things the same way that you or I do.’
They reached the door to the visitor’s room.
‘Can I see her on her own, just so I can have some privacy?’ asked Nightingale.
‘No can do, I’m sorry,’ said Agnes, unlocking the door. ‘But there’ll be just me and I’ll keep well away. There has to be a guard in the room at all times. There are safety issues.’
‘I’m her brother,’ said Nightingale.
She opened the door and let him go through first. ‘That’s as may be,’ she said. ‘But we had a woman who bit her daughter’s nose clean off a few years back. She might well be your sister but she’s also a psychopath and the medical condition takes precedence, I’m afraid.’ She nodded at the tables. ‘You make yourself comfortable and I’ll go and get her.’
Nightingale sat down and put the carrier bag on the table. Ten minutes later Agnes returned with Robyn. This time she was wearing grey stretch pants, a pink sweatshirt with GAP across the chest and white Reeboks.
‘Hi, big brother,’ she said, sitting down opposite him.
‘How’ve you been, Robyn?’
‘I’m okay,’ she said. ‘What is this, twice in one week?’
Agnes walked over to the vending machines and studied the contents.
Nightingale leaned forward and lowered his voice. ‘I wanted to talk to you.’
‘About getting you out of here.’
‘I’m not appealing,’ said Robyn, folding her arms. ‘I’m not going back into court.’
‘It’s not appealing,’ said Nightingale. ‘That’s not what I had in mind.’ He put his hand on the carrier bag. ‘I want you to do something much more creative than that.’
‘I killed those kids and I deserve to be here.’
‘No, you didn’t.’
‘How do you know?’
Nightingale linked his fingers on the table. ‘Do you remember killing the children?’
‘Yes,’ she said.
‘Think, Robyn. Do you actually remember doing it? Do you remember the knife going in, the blood flowing, the way the eyes go blank at the moment of death?’
Robyn swallowed. ‘Why are you doing this?’ she whispered.
‘Because I don’t think you did it, Robyn. I don’t think you killed those children and I don’t think you deserve to be here. Which is why I want to help you to get out.’ He looked over at Agnes. The guard was sitting down and reading a newspaper. Nightingale took Barbara’s digital recorder from his coat pocket and put it in front of Robyn. The earphones were already plugged in. ‘Listen to this,’ he said. ‘It’s what happened during the session you had with Barbara.’
Robyn continued to stare at Nightingale as she reached for the earphones.