All that remains, p.25
All That Remains, p.25Patricia Cornwell
Then we disappeared into our respective offices. Two hours later, Rose appeared at my desk, tenderly massaging her right ear.
She handed me a call sheet and could not suppress a triumphant smile. "Boulevard Drug Store at Boulevard and Broad. Jill Harrington had two prescriptions for Librax filled."
She gave me the dates.
"Dr. Anna Zenner," she answered.
Good God. Hiding my surprise, I congratulated her. "You're wonderful, Rose. Take the rest of the day off."
"I leave at four-thirty anyway. I'm late."
"Then take a three-hour lunch tomorrow."
I felt like hugging her. "And tell the others mission accomplished. They can put down the phones."
"Wasn't Dr. Zenner the president of the Richmond Academy of Medicine not so long ago?" Rose asked, pausing thoughtfully in my doorway. "Seems I read something about her. Oh! She's the musician."
"She was the president of the Academy year before last. And yes, she plays the violin for the Richmond Symphony."
"Then you know her."
My secretary looked impressed.
All too well, I thought, reaching for the phone.
That evening, when I was home, Anna Zenner returned my call.
"I see from the papers you have been very busy lately, Kay," she said. "Are you holding up?"
I wondered if she had read the Post. This morning's installment had included an interview with Hilda Ozimek and a photograph of her with the caption "Psychic Knew All of Them Were Dead."
Relatives and friends of the slain couples were quoted, and half of a page was filled with a color diagram showing where the couples' cars and bodies had been found. Camp Peary was ominously positioned in the center of this cluster like a skull and crossbones on a pirate's map.
"I'm doing all right," I told her. "And I'll be doing even better if you can assist me with something."
I explained what I needed, adding, "Tomorrow I will fax you the form citing the Code giving me statutory rights to Jill Harrington's records."
It was pro forma. Yet it seemed awkward reminding her of my legal authority.
"You can bring the form in person. Dinner at seven on Wednesday?"
"It's not necessary for you to go to any trouble - " "No trouble, Kay," she interrupted warmly. "I have missed seeing you."
The art deco pastels of uptown reminded me of Miami Beach. Buildings were pink, yellow, and Wedgwood blue with polished brass door knockers and brilliant handmade flags fluttering over entrances, a sight that seemed even more incongruous because of the weather. Rain had turned to snow.
Traffic was rush-hour awful, and I had to drive around the block twice before spotting a parking place within a reasonable walk of my favorite wine shop. I picked out four good bottles, two red, two white.
I drove along Monument Avenue, where statues of Confederate generals on horses loomed over traffic circles, ghostly in the milky swirl of snow. Last summer I had traveled this route once a week on my way to see Anna, the visits tapering off by fall and ending completely this winter.
Her office was in her house, a lovely old white frame where the street was blacktopped cobblestone and gas carriage lamps glowed after dark. Ringing the bell to announce my arrival just as her patients did, I let myself into a foyer that led into what was Anna's waiting room. Leather furniture surrounded a coffee table stacked with magazines, and an old Oriental rug covered the hardwood floor. There were toys in a box in a corner for her younger patients, a receptionist's desk, a coffee maker, and a fireplace. Down a long hallway was the kitchen, where something was cooking that reminded me I had skipped lunch.
"Kay? Is that you?"
The unmistakable voice with its strong German accent was punctuated by brisk footsteps, and then Anna was wiping her hands on her apron and giving me a hug.
"You locked the door after you?"
"I did, and you know to lock up after your last patient leaves, Anna."
I used to say this every time.
"You are my last patient."
I followed her to the kitchen. "Do all of your patients bring you wine?"
"I wouldn't permit it. And I don't cook for or socialize with them. For you I break all the rules."
"Yes." I sighed. "How will I ever repay you?"
"Certainly not with your services, I hope."
She set the shopping bag on a countertop.
"I promise I would be very gentle."
"And I would be very naked and very dead, and I wouldn't give a damn how gentle you were. Are you hoping to get me drunk or did you run into a sale?"
"I neglected to ask what you were cooking," I explained. "I didn't know whether to bring red or white. To be on the safe side, I got two of each."
"Remind me to never tell you what I'm cooking, then. Goodness, Kay!"
She set the bottles on the counter. "This looks marvelous. Do you want a glass now, or would you rather have something stronger?"
"Definitely something stronger."
"Please." Looking at the large pot simmering on the stove, I added, "I hope that's what I think it is."
Anna made fabulous chili.
"Should warm us up. I threw in a can of the green chilies and tomatoes you brought back last time you were in Miami. I've been hoarding them. There's sourdough bread in the oven, and coleslaw. How's your family, by the way?"
"Lucy has suddenly gotten interested in boys and cars but I won't take it seriously until she's more interested in them than in her computer," I said. "My sister has another children's book coming out next month, and she's still clueless about the child she's supposedly raising. As for my mother, other than her usual fussing and fuming about what's become of Miami, where no one speaks English anymore, she's fine."
"Did you make it down there for Christmas?"
"Has your mother forgiven you?"
"Not yet," I said..
"I can't say that I blame her. Families should be together at Christmas."
I did not reply.
"But this is good," she surprised me by saying. "You did not feel like going to Miami, so you didn't. I have told you all along that women need to learn to be selfish. So perhaps you are learning to be selfish?"
"I think selfishness has always come pretty easily to me, Anna."
"When you no longer feel guilty about it, I will know you are cured."
"I still feel guilty, so I suppose I'm not cured. You're right."
"Yes. I can tell."
I watched her uncork a bottle to let it breathe, the sleeves of a white cotton blouse rolled up to her elbows, forearms as firm and strong as those of a woman half her age. I did not know what Anna had looked like when she was young, but at almost seventy, she was an eye-catcher with strong Teutonic features, short white hair, and light blue eyes. Opening a cupboard, she reached for bottles and in no time was handing me a Scotch and soda and fixing herself a manhattan.
"What has happened since I saw you last, Kay?"
We carried our drinks to the kitchen table. "That would have been before Thanksgiving? Of course, we have talked on the phone. Your worries about the book?"
"Yes, you know about Abby's book, at least know as much as I do. And you know about these cases. About Pat Harvey. All of it."
I got out my cigarettes.
"I've been following it in the news. You're looking well. A little tired, though. Perhaps a little too thin?"
"One can never be too thin," I said.
"I've seen you look worse, that's my point. So you are handling the stress from your work."
"Some days better than others."
Anna sipped her manhattan and stared thoughtfully at the stove. "And Mark?"
"I've seen him," I said. "And we've been talking on the phone. He's still confused, uncertain. I suppose I am, too. So maybe nothing's new."
"You have seen him. That is new."
"I still love him.
"That isn't new."
"It's so difficult, Anna. Always has been. I don't know why I can't seem to let it go."
"Because the feelings are intense, but both of you are afraid of commitment. Both of you want excitement and want your own way. I noticed he was alluded to in the newspaper."
"I haven't told him."
"I shouldn't think you would need to. If he didn't see the paper himself, certainly someone from the Bureau has called him. If he's upset, you would hear, no?"
"You're right," I said, relieved. "I would hear."
"You at least have contact, then. You are happier?"
"You are hopeful?"
"I'm willing to see what will happen," I replied. "But I'm not sure it can work."
"No one can ever be sure of anything."
"That is a very sad truth," I said. "I can't be sure of anything. I know only what I feel."
"Then you are ahead of the pack."
"Whatever the pack is, if I am ahead of it, then that's another sad truth," I admitted.
She got up to take the bread out of the oven. I watched her fill earthenware bowls with chili, toss coleslaw, and pour the wine. Remembering the form I had brought, I got it out of my pocketbook and placed it on the table.
Anna did not even glance at it as she served us and sat down.
She said, "Would you like to review her chart?"
I knew Anna well enough to be sure she would not record details of her counseling sessions. People like me have statutory rights to medical records, and these documents can also end up in court. People like Anna are too shrewd to put confidences in print.
"Why don't you summarize," I suggested.
"I diagnosed her as having an adjustment disorder," she said.
It was the equivalent of my saying that Jill's death was due to respiratory or cardiac arrest. Whether you are shot or run over by a train, you die because you stop breathing and your heart quits. The diagnosis of adjustment disorder was a catchall straight out of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It qualified a patient for insurance coverage without divulging one scrap of useful information about his history or problems.
"The entire human race has an adjustment disorder," I said to Anna.
"I respect your professional ethics," I said. "And I have no intention of amending my own records by adding information that you consider confidential. But it's important for me to know anything about Jill that might give me insight into her murder. If there was something about her life-style, for example, that might have placed her at risk."
"I respect your professional ethics as well."
"Thank you. Now that we've established our mutual admiration for each other's fairness and integrity, might we push formalities aside and hold a conversation?"
"Of course, Kay," she said gently. "I remember Jill vividly. It is hard not to remember an unusual patient, especially one who is murdered."
"How was she special?"
She smiled sadly. "A very bright, endearing young woman. So much in her favor. I used to look forward to her appointments. Had she not been my patient, I would have liked to know her as a friend."
"How long had she been seeing you?"
"Three to four times a month for more than a year."
"Why you, Anna?"
I asked. "Why not someone in Williamsburg, someone closer to where she lived?"
"I have quite a number of patients from out of town. Some come from as far away as Philadelphia."
"Because they don't want anyone to know they are seeing a psychiatrist."
She nodded. "Unfortunately, many people are terrified by the prospect of others knowing. You would be surprised at the number of people who have been in this office and left by way of the back door."
I had never told a soul I was seeing a psychiatrist, and had Anna not refused to charge me, I would have paid for the sessions in cash. The last thing I needed was for someone in Employee Benefits to get hold of my insurance claims and spread gossip throughout the Department of Health and Human Services.
"Obviously, then, Jill did not want anyone to know she was seeing a psychiatrist," I said. "And this might also explain why she had her prescriptions for Librax filled in Richmond."
"Before you called, I did not know she filled the prescriptions in Richmond. But I'm not surprised."
She reached for her wine.
The chili was spicy enough to bring tears to my eyes. But it was outstanding, Anna's best effort, and I told her so. Then I explained to her what she probably already suspected.
"It's possible Jill and her friend, Elizabeth Mott, were murdered by the same individual killing these couples," I said. "Or at least, there are some parallels between their homicides and the others that cause me concern."
"I'm not interested in what you know about the cases you are involved in now; unless you feel it necessary to tell me. So I'll let you ask me questions and I'll do my best to recall what I can about Jill's life."
"Why was she so worried about anyone knowing she was seeing a psychiatrist? What was she hiding?"
"Jill was from a prominent family in Kentucky, and their approval and acceptance were very important to her. She went to the right schools, did well, and was going to be a successful lawyer. Her family was very proud of her. They did not know."
"Know what? That she was seeing a psychiatrist?"
"They did not know that," Anna said. "More importantly, they did not know she was involved in a homosexual relationship."
I knew the answer before I asked. The possibility had crossed my mind.
"Yes. Jill and Elizabeth became friends during Jill's first year in law school. Then they became lovers. The relationship was very intense, very difficult, rife with conflict. It was a first for both of them, or at least this was how it was presented to me by Jill. You must remember that I never met Elizabeth, never heard her side. Jill came to see me, initially, because she wanted to change. She did not want to be homosexual, was hoping therapy might redeem her heterosexuality."
"Did you see any hope for that?"
"I don't know what would have happened eventually," Anna said. "All I can tell you is that based on what Jill said to me, her bond with Elizabeth was quite strong. I got the impression that Elizabeth was more at peace with the relationship than Jill, who intellectually could not accept it but emotionally could not let it go."
"She must have been in agony."
"The last few times I saw Jill it had become more acute. She had just finished law school. Her future was before her. It was time to make decisions. She began suffering psychosomatic problems. Spastic colitis. I prescribed Librax."
"Did Jill ever mention anything to you that might have given you a hint as to who might have done this to them?"
"I thought about that, studied the matter closely after it happened. When I read about it in the papers, I could not believe it. I had just seen Jill three days before. I can't tell you how hard I concentrated on everything she had ever said to me. I hoped I would recall something, any detail that might help. But I never have."
"Both of them hid their relationship from the world?"
"What about a boyfriend, someone Jill or Elizabeth dated from time to time? For appearances?"
"Neither dated, I was told. Not a jealousy situation, therefore, unless there was something I did not know."
She glanced at my empty bowl. "More chili?"
She got up to load the dishwasher. For a while we did not speak. Anna untied her apron and hung it on a hook inside the broom closet. Then we carried our glasses and the bottle of wine into her den.
It was my favorite room. Shelves of books filled two walls, a third centered by a bay window through which she could monitor f
All That Remains by Patricia Cornwell / Mystery & Detective / Thrillers & Crime have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes