The Naked Face / Chapter Three

Chapter Three


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MARY HANSON was a doll of a woman; small, beautiful, exquisitely made. On the outside, she was soft, Southern-helpless-feminine, and on the inside, granite bitch. Judd had met her a week after beginning her husband's therapy. She had fought hysterically against it and Judd had asked her to have a talk with him. "Why are you so opposed to your husband going through analysis?"

"I won't have my friends saying I married a crazy man," she had told Judd. "Tell him to give me a divorce; then he can do any damn thing he pleases."

Judd had explained that a divorce at that point could destroy John completely.

"There's nothing left to destroy," Mary had screamed. "If I'd known he was a fairy, do you think I would have married him? He's a woman."

"There's some woman in every man," Judd had said. "Just as there's some man in every woman. And in your husband's case, there are some difficult psychological problems to overcome. But he's trying, Mrs. Hanson. I think you owe it to him and his children to help him."

He had reasoned with her for more than three hours, and in the end she had reluctantly agreed to hold off on the divorce. In the months that followed, she had become interested and then involved in the battle that John was waging. Judd made it a rule never to treat married couples, but Mary had asked him to let her become a patient, and he had found it helpful. As she had begun to understand herself and where she had failed as a wife, John's progress had become dramatically rapid.

And now Judd was here to tell her that her husband had been senselessly murdered. She looked up at him, unable to believe what he had just said, sure that it was some kind of macabre joke. And then realization set in. "He's never coming back to me!" she screamed. "He's never coming back to me!" She started tearing at her clothes in anguish, like a wounded animal. The six-year-old twins walked in. And from that moment on, there was bedlam. Judd managed to calm the children down and take them to a neighbor's house. He gave Mrs. Hanson a sedative and called the family doctor. When he was sure there was nothing more he could do, he left. He got into his car and drove aimlessly, lost in thought. Hanson had fought his way through a hell, and at the moment of his victory...It was such a pointless death. Could it have been some homosexual who had attacked him? Some former lover who was frustrated because Hanson had left him? It was possible, of course, but Judd did not believe it. Lieutenant McGreavy had said that Hanson was killed a block away from the office. If the murderer had been a homosexual, full of hatred, he would have made a rendezvous with Hanson at some private place, either to try to persuade Hanson to come back to him or to pour out his recriminations before he killed him. He would not have plunged a knife into him on a crowded street and then fled.

On the corner ahead he saw a phone booth and suddenly remembered that he had promised to have dinner with Dr. Peter Hadley and his wife, Norah. They were his closest friends, but he was in no mood to see anyone. He stopped the car at the curb, went into the phone booth and dialed the Hadleys' number. Norah answered the phone. "You're late! Where are you?"

"Norah," Judd said, "I'm afraid I'm going to have to beg off tonight."

"You can't," she wailed. "I have a sexy blonde sitting here dying to meet you."

"We'll do it another night," Judd said. "I'm really not up to it. Please apologize for me."

"Doctors!" snorted Norah. "Just a minute and I'll put your chum on."

Peter got on the phone. "Anything wrong, Judd?"

Judd hesitated. "Just a hard day, Pete. I'll tell you about it tomorrow."

"You're missing some delicious Scandinavian smorgasbord. I mean beautiful."

"I'll meet her another time," promised Judd. He heard a hurried whisper, and then Norah got on the phone again.

"She'll be here for Christmas dinner, Judd. Will you come?"

He hesitated. "We'll talk about it later, Norah. I'm sorry about tonight." He hung up. He wished he knew some tactful way to stop Norah's matchmaking.

Judd had gotten married in his senior year in college. Elizabeth had been a social science major, warm and bright and gay, and they had both been young and very much in love and full of wonderful plans to remake the world for all the children they were going to have. And on the first Christmas of their marriage, Elizabeth and their unborn child had been killed in a head-on automobile collision. Judd had plunged himself totally into his work, and in time had become one of the outstanding psychoanalysts in the country. But he was still not able to bear being with other people celebrating Christmas Day. Somehow, even though he told himself he was wrong, that belonged to Elizabeth and their child.

He pushed open the door of the phone booth. He was aware of a girl standing outside the booth waiting to use the phone. She was young and pretty, dressed in a tight-fitting sweater and a miniskirt, with a bright-colored raincoat. He stepped out of the booth. "Sorry," he apologized.

She gave him a warm smile. "That's all right." There was a wistful look on her face. He had seen that look before. Loneliness seeking to break through the barrier that he had unconsciously set up.

If Judd knew that he had a quality that was attractive to women, it was deep in his subconscious. He had never analyzed why. It was more of a handicap than an asset to have his female patients falling in love with him. It sometimes made life very difficult.

He moved past the girl with a friendly nod. He sensed her standing there in the rain, watching as he got into his car and drove away.

He turned the car onto the East River Drive and headed for the Merritt Parkway. An hour and a half later he was on the Connecticut Turnpike. The snow in New York was dirty and slushy, but the same storm had magically transformed the Connecticut landscape into a Currier and Ives picture postcard.

He drove past Westport and Danbury, deliberately forcing his mind to concentrate on the ribbon of road that flashed beneath his wheels and the wintry wonderland that surrounded him. Each time his thoughts reached out to John Hanson, he made himself think of other things. He drove on through the darkness of the Connecticut countryside and hours later, emotionally worn out, finally turned the car around and headed for home.

Mike, the red-faced doorman who usually greeted him with a smile, was preoccupied and distant. Family difficulties, Judd supposed. Usually Judd would chat with him about Mike's teen-age son and married daughters, but Judd did not feel like talking this evening. He asked Mike to have the car sent down to the garage.

"Right, Dr. Stevens." Mike seemed about to add something, then thought better of it.

Judd walked into the building. Ben Katz, the manager, was crossing the lobby. He saw Judd, gave a nervous wave, and hurriedly disappeared into his apartment.

What's the matter with everyone tonight? thought Judd. Or is it just my nerves? He stepped into the elevator.

Eddie, the elevator operator, nodded. "Evening, Dr. Stevens."

"Good evening, Eddie."

Eddie swallowed and looked away self-consciously.

"Is anything wrong?" Judd asked.

Eddie quickly shook his head and kept his eyes averted.

My God, thought Judd. Another candidate for my couch. The building was suddenly full of them.

Eddie opened the elevator door and Judd got out. He started toward his apartment. He didn't hear the elevator door close, so he turned around. Eddie was staring at him. As Judd started to speak, Eddie quickly closed the elevator door. Judd went to his apartment, unlocked the door, and entered.

Every light in the apartment was on. Lieutenant McGreavy was opening a drawer in the living room. Angeli was coming out of the bedroom. Judd felt anger flare in him. "What are you doing in my apartment?"

"Waitin' for you, Dr. Stevens," McGreavy said.

Judd walked over and slammed the drawer shut, narrowly missing McGreavy's fingers. "How did you get in here?"

"We have a search warrant," said Angeli.

Judd stared at him incredulously. "A search warrant? For my apartment?"

"Suppose we ask the questions, Doctor," McGreavy said.

"You don't have to answer them," interjected Angeli, "without benefit of legal counsel. Also, you should know that anything you say can be used as evidence against you."

"Do you want to call a lawyer?" McGreavy asked.

"I don't need a lawyer. I told you that I loaned the raincoat to John Hanson this morning and I didn't see it again until you brought it to my office this afternoon. I couldn't have killed him. I was with patients all day. Miss Roberts can verify that."

McGreavy and Angeli exchanged a silent signal.

"Where did you go after you left your office this afternoon?" Angeli asked.

"To see Mrs. Hanson."

"We know that," McGreavy said. "Afterward."

Judd hesitated. "I drove around."

"Where?"

"I drove up to Connecticut."

"Where did you stop for dinner?" McGreavy asked.

"I didn't. I wasn't hungry."

"So no one saw you?"

Judd thought a moment. "I suppose not."

"Perhaps you stopped for gas somewhere," suggested Angeli.

"No," Judd said. "I didn't. What difference does it make where I went tonight? Hanson was killed this morning."

"Did you go back to your office any time after you left it this afternoon?" McGreavy's voice was casual.

"No," Judd said. "Why?"

"It was broken into."

"What? By whom?"

"We don't know," said McGreavy. "I want you to come down and take a look around. You can tell us if anything is missing."

"Of course," Judd replied. "Who reported it?"

"The night watchman," said Angeli. "Do you keep anything of value in the office, Doctor? Cash? Drugs? Anything like that?"

"Petty cash," Judd said. "No addictive drugs. There was nothing there to steal. It doesn't make any sense."

"Right," McGreavy said. "Let's go."

In the elevator Eddie gave Judd an apologetic look. Judd met his eyes and nodded that he understood.

Surely, Judd thought, the police couldn't suspect him of breaking into his own office. It was as though McGreavy was determined to pin something on him because of his dead partner. But that had been five years ago. Could McGreavy have been brooding all these years, blaming it on the doctor? Waiting for a chance to get him?

There was an unmarked police car a few feet from the entrance. They got in and rode to the office in silence.

When they reached the office building, Judd signed the lobby register. Bigelow, the guard, looked at him strangely. Or did he imagine it?

They took the elevator to the fifteenth floor and walked down the corridor to Judd's office. A uniformed policeman was standing in front of the door. He nodded to McGreavy and stepped aside. Judd reached for his key.

"The door's unlocked," Angeli said. He pushed the door open and they went in, Judd leading the way.

The reception office was in chaos. All the drawers had been pulled out of the desk and papers were strewn about the floor. Judd stared unbelievingly, feeling a shock of personal violation.

"What do you suppose they were looking for, Doctor?" asked McGreavy.

"I have no idea," Judd said. He walked to the inner door and opened it, McGreavy close behind him.

In his office two end tables had been overturned, a smashed lamp lay on the floor, and blood soaked the Fields rug.

In the far corner of the room, grotesquely spread out, was the body of Carol Roberts. She was nude. Her hands were tied behind her back with piano wire, and acid had been splashed on her face and breasts and between her thighs. The fingers of her right hand were broken. Her face was battered and swollen. A wadded handkerchief was stuffed in her mouth.

The two detectives watched Judd as he stared at the body.

"You look pale," Angeli said. "Sit down."

Judd shook his head and took several deep breaths. When he spoke, his voice was shaking with rage. "Who - who could have done this?"

"That's what you're going to tell us, Dr. Stevens," said McGreavy.

Judd looked up at him. "No one could have wanted to do this to Carol. She never hurt anyone in her life."

"I think it's about time you started singing another tune," McGreavy said. "No one wanted to hurt Hanson, but they stuck a knife in his back. No one wanted to hurt Carol, but they poured acid all over her and tortured her to death." His voice became hard. "And you stand there and tell me no one would want to hurt them. What the hell are you - deaf, dumb, and blind? The girl worked for you for four years. You're a psychoanalyst. Are you trying to tell me you didn't know or care about her personal life?"

"Of course I cared," Judd said tightly. "She had a boyfriend she was going to marry - "

"Chick. We've talked to him."

"But he could never have done this. He's a decent boy and he loved Carol."

"When was the last time you saw Carol alive?" asked Angeli.

"I told you. When I left here to go to see Mrs. Hanson. I asked Carol to close up the office." His voice broke and he swallowed and took a deep breath.

"Were you scheduled to see any more patients today?"

"No."

"Do you think this could have been done by a maniac?" Angeli asked.

"It must have been a maniac, but - even a maniac has to have some motivation."

"That's what I think," McGreavy said.

Judd looked over to where Carol's body lay. It had the sad appearance of a disfigured rag doll, useless and discarded. "How long are you going to leave her like this?" Judd asked angrily.

"They'll take her away now," said Angeli. "The coroner and the Homicide boys have already finished."

Judd turned to McGreavy. "You left her like this for me?"

"Yeah," McGreavy said. "I'm going to ask you again. Is there anything in this office that someone could want badly enough to" - he indicated Carol - "do that?"

"No."

"What about the records of your patients?"

Judd shook his head. "Nothing."

"You're not being very cooperative, Doctor, are you?" asked McGreavy.

"Don't you think I want to see you find whoever did this?" Judd snapped. "If there was anything in my files that would help, I would tell you. I know my patients. There isn't any one among them who could have killed her. This was done by an outsider."

"How do you know it wasn't someone after your files?"

"My files weren't touched."

McGreavy looked at him with quickened interest. "How do you know that?" he asked. "You haven't even looked."

Judd walked over to the far wall. As the two men watched, he pressed the lower section of the paneling and the wall slid open, revealing racks of built-in shelves. They were filled with tapes. "I record every session with my patients," Judd said. "I keep the tapes here."

"Couldn't they have tortured Carol to try to force her to tell where those tapes were?"

"There is nothing in any of these tapes worth anything to anyone. There was some other motive for her murder."

Judd looked at Carol's scarred body again, and he was filled with helpless, blind rage. "You've got to find whoever did this!"

"I intend to," McGreavy said. He was looking at Judd.

On the windy, deserted street in front of Judd's office building, McGreavy told Angeli to drive Judd home. "I've got an errand to do," McGreavy said. He turned to Judd. "Good night, Doctor."

Judd watched the huge, lumbering figure move down the street.

"Let's go," Angeli said. "I'm freezing."

Judd slid into the front seat beside Angeli, and the car pulled away from the curb.

"I've got to go tell Carol's family," Judd said.

"We've already been over there."

Judd nodded wearily. He still wanted to see them himself, but it could wait.

There was a silence. Judd wondered what errand Lieutenant McGreavy could have at this hour of the morning.

As though reading his thoughts, Angeli said, "McGreavy's a good cop. He thought Ziffren should have gotten the electric chair for killing his partner."

"Ziffren was insane."

Angeli shrugged. "I'll take your word for it, Doctor."

But McGreavy hadn't, Judd thought. He turned his mind to Carol and remembered her brightness and her affection and her deep pride in what she was doing, and Angeli was speaking to him and he saw that they had arrived at his apartment building.

Five minutes later Judd was in his apartment. There was no question of sleep. He fixed himself a brandy and carried it into the den. He remembered the night Carol had strolled in here, naked and beautiful, rubbing her warm, lithe body against his. He had acted cool and aloof because he had known that that was the only chance he had of helping her. But she had never known what willpower it had taken for him to keep from making love to her. Or had she? He raised his brandy glass and drained it.

The city morgue looked like all city morgues at three o'clock in the morning, except that someone had placed a wreath of mistletoe over the door. Someone, thought McGreavy, who had either an overabundance of holiday spirit or a macabre sense of humor.

McGreavy had waited impatiently in the corridor until the autopsy was completed. When the coroner waved to him, he walked into the sickly-white autopsy room. The coroner was scrubbing his hands at the large white sink. He was a small, birdlike man with a high, chirping voice and quick, nervous movements. He answered all of McGreavy's questions in a rapid, staccato manner, then fled. McGreavy remained there a few minutes, absorbed in what he had just learned. Then he walked out into the freezing night air to find a taxi. There was no sign of one. The sons of bitches were all vacationing in Bermuda. He could stand out here until his ass froze off. He spotted a police cruiser, flagged it down, showed his identification to the young rookie behind the wheel, and ordered him to drive him to the Nineteenth Precinct. It was against regulations, but what the hell. It was going to be a long night.

When McGreavy walked into the precinct, Angeli was waiting for him. "They just finished the autopsy on Carol Roberts," McGreavy said.

"And?"

"She was pregnant."

Angeli looked at him in surprise.

"She was three months gone. A little late to have a safe abortion, and a little early to show."

"Do you think that had anything to do with her murder?"

"That's a good question," McGreavy said. "If Carol's boyfriend knocked her up and they were going to get married anyway - what's the big deal? So they get married and have the kid a few months later. It happens every day of the week. On the other hand, if he knocked her up and he didn't want to marry her - that's no big deal, either. So she has the baby and no husband. That happens twice every day of the week."

"We talked to Chick. He wanted to marry her."

"I know," replied McGreavy. "So we have to ask ourselves where that leaves us. It leaves us with a colored girl who's pregnant. She goes to the father and tells him about it, and he murders her."

"He'd have to be insane."

"Or very foxy. I vote for foxy. Look at it this way: supposing Carol went to the father and broke the bad news and told him she wasn't going to have an abortion; she was going to have his baby. Maybe she used it to try to blackmail him into marrying her. But supposing he couldn't marry her because he was married already. Or maybe he was a white man. Let's say a well-known doctor with a fancy practice. If a thing like this ever got out, it would ruin him. Who the hell would go to a headshrinker who knocked up his colored receptionist and had to marry her?"

"Stevens is a doctor," said Angeli. "There are a dozen ways he could have killed her without arousing suspicion."

"Maybe," McGreavy said. "Maybe not. If there was any suspicion and it could be traced back to him, he'd have a hard time getting out of it. He buys poison - someone has a record of it. He buys a rope or a knife - they can be traced. But look at this cute little setup. Some maniac comes in for no reason and murders his receptionist and he's the grief-stricken employer demanding that the police find the killer."

"It sounds like a pretty flimsy case."

"I'm not finished. Let's take his patient, John Hanson. Another senseless killing by this unknown maniac. I'll tell you something, Angeli. I don't believe in coincidences. And two coincidences like that in one day make me nervous. So I asked myself what connection there could be between the death of John Hanson and Carol Roberts, and suddenly it didn't seem so coincidental, after all. Suppose Carol walked into his office and broke the bad news that he was going to be a daddy. They had a big fight and she tried to blackmail him. She said he had to marry her, give her money - whatever. John Hanson was waiting in the outer office, listening. Maybe Stevens wasn't sure he had heard anything until he got on the couch. Then Hanson threatened him with exposure. Or tried to get him to sleep with him."

"That's a lot of guesswork."

"But it fits. When Hanson left, the doctor slipped out and fixed him so he couldn't talk. Then he had to come back and get rid of Carol. He made it look like some maniac did the job, then he stopped by to see Mrs. Hanson, and took a ride to Connecticut. Now his problems are solved. He's sitting pretty and the police are running their asses off searching for some unknown nut."

"I can't buy it," Angeli said. "You're trying to build a murder case without a shred of concrete evidence."

"What do you call 'concrete'?" McGreavy asked. "We've got two corpses. One of them is a pregnant lady who worked for Stevens. The other is one of his patients, murdered a block from his office. He's coming to him for treatment because he's a homosexual. When I asked to listen to his tapes, he wouldn't let me. Why? Who is Dr. Stevens protecting? I asked him if anyone could have broken into his office looking for something. Then maybe we could have cooked up a nice theory that Carol caught them and they tortured her to try to find out where this mysterious something was. But guess what? There is no mysterious something. His tapes aren't worth a tinker's damn to anybody. He had no drugs in the office. No money. So we're looking for some goddam maniac. Right? Except that I won't buy it. I think we're looking for Dr. Judd Stevens."

"I think you're out to nail him," said Angeli quietly.

McGreavy's face flushed with anger. "Because he's as guilty as hell."

"Are you going to arrest him?"

"I'm going to give Dr. Stevens some rope," McGreavy said. "And while he's hanging himself, I'm going to be digging into every little skeleton in his closet. When I nail him, he's going to stay nailed." McGreavy turned and walked out.

Angeli looked after him thoughtfully. If he did nothing, there was a good chance that McGreavy would try to railroad Dr. Stevens. He could not let that happen. He made a mental note to speak to Captain Bertelli in the morning.


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