Legacy Of Terror
hand, as he had grasped his son's. His flesh was hot and dry, like leather well-tanned and left in the sun.
He said, Do you think I'm crazy?
She was a bit confused by the abrupt change in the topic of conversation, but she tried not to let it show. Whyever should I think that?
I'm not crazy.
Of course not.
I had a cerebral hemorrhage, you know. And I have a bad heart. But besides some muscular control
I haven't been hurt. My mind-my mind is perfect yet.
He had worn himself out speaking so hurriedly and insistently. His dry, dusty voice faded in the last few words until she could barely hear it, like the call of a dream, unreal.
Many people recover completely from cerebral hemorrhaging.
Lee doesn't think so.
He said, Lee thinks I'm crazy.
Oh, I'm sure he doesn't!
He does. He won't believe me when I tell him things.
She smiled more brightly, concerned for him, and patted his hand which still lay in hers. Surely, if your son felt that way, he would have told me when he hired me. I can assure you that he didn't mention it.
He looked at her closely, probing her with his eyes, as if he might be able to read her mind, satisfied himself that she was telling the truth. There was nothing crazy about this old man; he was cunning and quite observant.
But he won't believe me about the knife, he said.
Outside, the storm descended on the house with the full measure of its ferocity, exploding with thunderclaps, ripping open the darkness with sharp-edged lightning that made the windows milky for an instant. The rain came twice as hard, a veritable deluge that made her feel, for a fleeting instant, as if she were in an ark, preparing for the worst.
What knife is that? she asked.
He looked at her for a long time, without speaking, and she was almost ready to repeat the question or- better yet-change the subject, when he said, I don't want to be pitied again. If I tell you and you don't believe it, I'll have to face that same expression that Lee gave me. Pity. It sickens me!
I don't think anyone could genuinely pity you, she said, meaning it. You're fighting back admirably well against a biological infirmity that you had no control over.
Not a mental infirmity? he asked.
It certainly doesn't appear to be, she said.
He seemed to decide he could trust her, for he nodded his head affirmatively and said, Someone tried to stab me with a kitchen knife.
She said, When was that?
Only three weeks ago.
She wondered why Lee Matherly had not told her. It was plainly still weighing upon the patient's mind, and it would have too be taken into consideration when treating him.
She said, Where did this take place?
Here, of course.
In this house?
She began to feel uneasy as she considered the possibility that the old man might actually be experiencing illusions.
She said, Perhaps it was a dream.
He was adamant that it could not have been. I saw the serrated edge of it. I screamed. I don't have much volume, and I had only been back from the hospital for about two weeks. I frightened the killer, whoever he was. He ran
but I saw
saw that serrated edge of the knife in a glimmer of moonlight from the windows.
He had exhausted himself again.
It was at night?
Yes, he said. I couldn't sleep, despite the sedative I take very evening. He wrinkled his face in disgust. I absolutely hate taking medicine to make me sleep.
She decided that cool, careful logic was the best way to handle the old man's accusations against the household. But you haven't got any enemies here, she said. She had been in contact with the victims of strokes before, and she knew that disagreeing with them only caused them to be more nervous and more positive in their delusions. But why hadn't the younger Matherly told her about this? She was a competent medical nurse, but she could not be expected to recognize minor mental impairment so quickly. If Jacob Matherly had not told her what Lee thought about the story of a knife, she might have even placed a bit of trust in the notion.
No enemies, he agreed. But there are those who don't require a reason to kill. He said it with such a flat tone of voice that he had bled most of the preposterousness from the idea.
Living here? she asked.
You'll meet everyone at the supper table, Jacob said. Watch all of them closely.
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