Plea of Insanity, p.24Jilliane Hoffman
‘Cocaine psychosis?’ Julia said, taken aback. ‘So this was a drug rehab?’
‘That’s what it looks like to my untrained eye. But I’m not a three-hundred-dollar-an-hour defense attorney grasping at straws. I’m sure that in a courtroom anxiety disorder will become a misdiagnosed psychotic break. Make the illness fit the crime.’
‘Is the doc who diagnosed him still there?’
‘Hell, no. Left a year later. Died of a heart attack five years ago.’
‘And the violent behavior?’
‘He assaulted his mother with an iron.’
‘That was plugged in at the time,’ Brill added.
‘Ouch,’ she said, shaking her head at the picture. ‘Was he arrested? Were the cops called?’
‘Nope and nope,’ Lat replied. ‘Looking at the admission remarks, Dad apparently dragged Junior’s ass into the family Range Rover and drove him to this exclusive Betty Ford-like rest-stop. Under a different name, of course. It was all very hush-hush, which is why we couldn’t have found it, even if we’d known where to look.’
‘This is a family that likes to keep secrets, Jules,’ Brill added with a strange smile. ‘Big ones. And, for you, we’ve saved the biggest for last.’
Her eyes darted between the two of them. ‘Why am I getting a bad feeling?’
‘You can either hear it now or read about it tomorrow,’ Lat replied. ‘Levenson’s scheduled a press conference in an hour or so.’
‘A good defense attorney’s rule of thumb – when your client’s just not making the headlines anymore, spoon-feed some fun facts to the press to keep interest up,’ Brill scoffed.
‘Now I don’t know just how this is gonna play out, and I don’t even know how much it’s gonna matter in the end, but it is pretty damn interesting – especially if psychotic behavior runs in the family and swims in the gene pool,’ Lat began.
She stared at him, waiting.
‘David Marquette has a brother,’ Lat finished. ‘An identical twin brother, quietly stashed away in a psych hospital. His name is Darrell Armand Marquette, and he most definitely is a nut job.’
‘Officially diagnosed schizophrenic in ninety-two when he was twenty-one,’ Lat said. ‘Had a breakdown two months after a new girlfriend dumped him and Grandma up and died. He was supposed to be up at MIT studying nuclear physics, but instead Wackenhut Security found him rearranging the lawn furniture of a high-school buddy at three in the morning, preparing for the second coming of Christ with sixteen rolls of heavy-duty tinfoil and a few hundred yards of electrical tape. The family kept him hidden away at the homestead for a couple of years, like Norman Bates’s mother, but in ninety-eight, he was moved to South Oaks, a locked psychiatric hospital in the ’burbs. He’s there under the name Darrell Lamoreaux.’
Her head was spinning. An identical twin? ‘How’d you find him?’
‘That was tough. As Stevie Wonder here just said, this is a family that likes to keep its secrets, Julia. We only found out this guy even existed after a couple of old teachers we interviewed asked us which Marquette boy we were referring to. That’s when we discovered that even though David Marquette had an identical twin, not everything about the two of them was the same. Evidently Darrell was the one who stood out. He was the genius, one teacher told us. Our boy, Dave, struggled in comparison. It was Darrell who was valedictorian, Darrell who’d jumped a year ahead in school, Darrell who won track meets, Darrell who dated the prom queen, Darrell who was accepted to MIT on a scholarship. Everyone we spoke to after that who remembered both boys, all wondered what had become of Darrell. And so did we. Nothing came up on Autotrack, NCIC or with the locals. We got his social from school recs and checked with the Bureau of Vital Statistics and knew he wasn’t dead. It’s like he just up and disappeared. Of course, no one at the house would talk. So we found ourselves a former housekeeper who didn’t mind chatting if we helped her out on a bench warrant for some unpaid moving violations. She gave us the name of the hospital. We used Mom’s maiden name to figure out the alias.’
‘Did you interview him?’
‘Not much there to interview, Counselor,’ Lat said with a shake of his head. ‘He’s got what the docs call hebephrenic schizophrenia, also known as the disorganized type.’
‘Who knew there were different types? I thought it was one size fits all nuts,’ Brill said with a throaty laugh.
Lat ignored him. ‘You can’t follow what this guy Darrell’s saying when he does talk, which is rare. Nurses told us he just sits for hours and hours on end. He’s in his own little world. Looking at the daily activity log, only Dad’s been paying visits the last six months, which is how far back the records go. No Mom, no bro. In fact, no one who works there can recall visits ever from a brother. And since they are identical twins, you’d think someone would remember seeing that. The doc at South Oaks must have called Alain Marquette as soon as we hit the parking lot, ’cause the phone was ringing by the time our plane touched down at MIA. Levenson wanted to know exactly what we were doing over at Looney Land, who told us about it and what we’d found out. It sounded like he might not know too much himself.’
‘What did you say?’
‘I told him Nextel has a problem with dropping calls. Then I hung up. It’ll be interesting to hear what he decides to spill to the cameras this afternoon. What he’s been told he can spill.’
‘Ya know, I knew the parents were holding out,’ Brill said gruffly, twisting the end of his mustache with his fingers. ‘Why not talk to the police? We’re your friends.’
‘Unless you got something or someone to hide,’ answered Lat.
‘They wouldn’t be the first parents to want to distance themselves from their children,’ she said quietly. ‘Especially these kids.’
Lat shook his head. ‘And now? The reversal of engines? The high-priced attorney? Calling out the embassy? Holding press conferences?’
‘Heading you off at the pass on the last one. If the story’s inevitably coming out, better to put their spin on it than ours. As far as backing this son,’ she shrugged, ‘maybe they feel guilty for abandoning the other.’
‘Maybe. Wait a sec, you weren’t a psych major were you?’ asked Lat.
‘Just asking. So what do you think this twin thing means? Anything?’
‘Maybe Dave’s been taking notes all these years on how a nut’s really supposed to act,’ said Brill. Then he shrugged. ‘Or maybe that house was hell, drove ’em both crazy.’
‘There’s no known cause of schizophrenia, but it’s thought that there is a genetic link,’ she said slowly, remembering some of the things she’d been reading. ‘The DNA of identical twins is the same. So if one twin has the disease, there is a markedly increased risk of the other twin developing it. I think it’s like almost a thirty percent chance or something like that. So yeah, this arguably might be very relevant. At least to the court-appointed psychiatrists. Is there any other family history of mental illness?’
‘That’s gonna be a problem,’ said Brill with a sigh. ‘And not just because Dad and Mom and the rest of the hired help don’t want to cooperate.’
‘Huh?’ she asked.
‘We told you this case was full of surprises,’ Lat said. ‘And they just keep on coming. There are no other blood relatives, Julia. Darrell and David are both adopted.’
The same body, two completely different men. The same story, two completely different tales. Julia didn’t need to tune in to Mel Levenson’s late-afternoon press conference to hear just how his closing argument was shaping up. She could spin the yarn herself for both sides.
She washed down the last bite of her cannoli with a gulp of warm Diet Coke as she skimmed through the thick stacks of disturbing police reports, interviews and medical records that now covered her desk. In serial crimes, police often used profilers to develop psychological composites of possible suspects to help them hunt down rapists and killers. Like a slow-d
She spun her chair around and looked past the air handlers at the Dade County Jail across the street. Somewhere behind the iron bars and steel-mesh windows sat her defendant, locked away from the general population and buried deep within the screaming corridors of the ninth floor. The Crazy Floor.
The same story, two completely different tales.
A boy who didn’t fit in from day one: strange, odd, a loner, an underachiever, a misfit. A Charley in the Box with an identical twin who was anything but identical. In fact, he was perfect. Perfect grades, perfect personality. Wins track meets and scholarships and walks little old ladies across the street. Dates the cheerleaders and prom queens and makes Mom and Dad very proud. The Misfit Boy fits even less. He begins to act out. Hurts animals just to watch them suffer. Tries drugs. Flunks a couple of classes. If he can’t be his brother, then he won’t be his brother. As the Perfect Brother grows older and more perfect and his long list of accomplishments hits double digits, The Misfit’s behavior gets worse. Drug use intensifies. The violence reserved for animals escalates now to humans; he focuses on the object of his rage and tries to kill his mother. He gets kicked out of school. Again and again, Dad has to help him out of jam after jam. Dad has to clean up the verbal messes The Misfit leaves behind on arrest reports and admission papers so that no one gets ‘the wrong impression’ about the family with the good name and deep pockets. It’s Dad who pulls strings again to get The Misfit into another good school, buy him another chance. He is nothing like his brother. He is nothing but a scary, bitter disappointment. But then Perfect Brother gets sick. Comes down with the Mother of Bad Diseases. The most shameful: schizophrenia. Perfect Brother suddenly falls hard and fast from grace and becomes the son who Mom and Dad now want to hide away somewhere. Dad pushes The Misfit into his new role as Number One Son. Gets him through school, gets him a degree, gets him a prestigious job. The Misfit’s given a license to practice medicine and officially stamped a success. Only he’s really not. He’s really a time bomb, ticking away in this new, uncomfortable, socially enviable role, with a clingy wife and three kids he didn’t plan on having, until he finally, inevitably, just explodes.
But the same facts could just as easily tell a different story; the same brush could paint a much more tragic picture – that of a boy who was always a little odd, who struggled to fit in but never could for a reason. Because, like his twin, deep inside his brain an insidious disease was taking hold and growing silent roots, destroying and disrupting communication pathways as it spread out, stealthily seeding images and voices in his decaying mind like deadly landmines – so incredibly real, his own brain was sure to be fooled. Layer by paper-thin layer, the disease slowly breaks the boy down from the inside out, leaving only his body intact as his frightened adoptive parents willfully misread all the warning signs, hoping against hope that their son’s more and more obvious distress is anything but a mental illness. Anything but the horrible disease he is inevitably to be diagnosed with. And even then, the diagnosis is unacceptable. It’s changed, for the sake of the family name. When the boy’s identical twin suffers the same fate a couple of years later, he is locked away in a room, then shuffled into a psychiatric facility, never to be seen again. But his brother’s affliction is far worse, far more disabling, and so the boy must have recovered from whatever it was that had ailed him in college. A bad case of nerves, it was. Stress. He’s fine now, the denying family rationalizes once again with a hushed whisper. Only he wasn’t fine. The boy with the unmentionable disease was sick. He was denied the help he needed all these years because of stigma and embarrassment, and now four people are dead.
‘The world is either cheerfully rosy or depressingly gray; it all depends on how you’re seeing it,’ Julia’s mom used to say. ‘You choose the glasses you want to wear everyday. You choose how you want to see it.’
The same body, two completely different men.
Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde.
Who was David Alain Marquette?
‘Tell me this guy’s not a real nut, Chris,’ Rick said with a smile and a shake of his head as he and Julia followed the cute, young secretary with the tight Christmas sweater into an office that was a lot nicer than what one would expect the office of a psychiatrist on the State’s list to look like. Faux-painted hunter-green walls, leather club chairs, an antique burnished oak desk and an address on ritzy Brickell Avenue – business was clearly booming in Christian Barakat’s private practice. Forensic psychiatry was obviously the side-job. ‘’Cause if he is, I’m gonna need a standing appointment in that overbooked Day-Timer of yours. Julia Valenciano, this is Dr Christian Barakat, the man who’s going to save my perfect case from going to shit.’
A tall, dark and handsome man, who looked nothing like what Julia thought a psychiatrist should look like, stood up and stepped out from behind the desk. Dark hair, sculpted chin, incredible blue eyes – no wonder the desperate housewives were lining up outside to spill their secrets. ‘Hey there, Ricky,’ he said, shaking Rick’s hand, his perfect grin endcapped with saucer-sized dimples. ‘Nice to meet you, Julia.’
‘Yes. Nice to meet you, too,’ she answered.
‘Please, sit. You want some coffee?’
‘Nah. We just came from lunch. Julia’s second-seating me on this Marquette mess. I figured we’d stop in for some good news and a bite of that report you owe me,’ Rick said. ‘So what’s the final verdict on this guy?’
‘Ariana was about to messenger it over. She just finished typing it up,’ Dr Barakat said, taking a seat back behind his desk. His eyes narrowed and he smiled a thoughtful, teasing smile. ‘Feeling anxious, are you, Ricky?’
‘Cut the psychiatrist act, pal. Nothing like breaking my balls and waiting till the last goddamn minute. Christmas is breathing down my neck, every judge wants to get a head start on the holidays and wrap up their calendar for the rest of the year this week, and I’ve got this thing going on Wednesday. Not to mention that I haven’t even started my Christmas shopping.’
Julia was willing to venture a guess right then that Rick and Christian Barakat’s relationship was more than just professional – the two of them were obviously good friends. She felt a little out of place in the conversation, and wondered why Rick hadn’t shared that with her before walking in here today.
‘Only eight shopping days left. And with the length of your list, you’re right. You are running out of time,’ Dr Barakat replied with an inside-joke sort of laugh.
Good guess. Rick ignored the comment with just a smile, while Julia tried to, looking down at something on the carpet. Obviously the good friend didn’t know about her either.
‘The press on this has not been favorable.’
‘I know. I’ve been reading about you on line at the supermarket.’
‘Et tu, Brute? The French consulate’s now threatening to file a complaint with the World Court in The Hague if we don’t drop the death penalty. They want Marquette examined and treated by their own psychiatrists.’
Dr Barakat shook his head.
‘Exactly. I don’t need any more performers in the circus. They had their ten minutes with him to make sure he was being fed and read his rights. I’m not letting them build on this bullshit insanity defense by throwing in a few more store-bought, jaded opinions simply because they don’t want to see one of their displaced countrymen take the walk. As you well know, I’ve got a lot riding on this case. A lot. I need ammo to throw at my detractors, show
‘For trying to execute an insane Frenchman?’ the doctor asked.
‘Exactly. So tell me he’s not.’
Dr Barakat sighed. ‘I can’t do that. Yet. At least, not officially. But what I can tell you is that he’s competent to stand trial, despite his very best efforts to convince me otherwise.’
Rick slapped his hand on the desk. ‘I knew it. Is he schizo?’
A strange look crossed the doctor’s face, as if he were remembering something and wasn’t sure if he should reveal it. ‘I can’t be official on a diagnosis until I do the full psych eval,’ he said slowly, ‘but I don’t think it’s schizophrenia that ails him.’
‘Al Koletis found him incompetent. He filed his report this morning,’ Rickgrumbled, running a hand through his hair. ‘Which is one of the reasons I’m so uptight, even though I can’t say I was n’t expecting it. In my twenty at the State, I can’t remember Koletis ever finding anyone competent. That’s why Len Farley let Mel pickhim, ’cause he loves all the drama. It makes the old coot’s decision in front of the cameras all the more important.’
Dr Barakat slowly shook his head. ‘Don’t go celebrating just yet. I’m telling you, this is a tough call. You’re gonna have a hard time with this guy, Rick.’
A chill suddenly ran down Julia’s spine. The strange, uncomfortable unease was back once again, creeping through her bones. She remembered the figure in the red jumpsuit from the arraignment. The Human Monster on display, with his dead eyes and shackled hands. The smiling man from the hall photographs who, strangely enough, never appeared in any Marquette family videos.
Plea of Insanity by Jilliane Hoffman / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes