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#FREE Chapter 4 of Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

We’re getting close to the publication. I’m going through the final corrections of the Spanish version now. Today I bring you chapter 4of Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings. And don’t miss the ending of the post, as I have a surprise if you want to listen to me on the radio this afternoon (26th January).

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés

Chapter 4. The Assessment

Mary and Phil arrived at Wright and Partners at eight forty five. Phil formally introduced Mary to Maggie and showed her the kitchen cum staffroom, where the coffee-making facilities were.

“There are always some soft drinks and juice in the fridge too. I know you aren’t overly fond of coffee or tea.”

Mary nodded.

“Will you be OK here? You can wait in Maggie’s office, if you prefer.”

“I’ll be fine. I imagine I’ll get to see more people here.”

“True. If you get bored, just come over. We’ll be in the same meeting room where we interviewed Mr Fenton on Saturday. I’m pretty sure Mr Wright wouldn’t mind, but I’d rather if he suggested it himself. We might be discussing other cases too…”

“Don’t worry. I have my book,” Mary shook her copy of Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. She had wondered about taking a different book with her, but she was enjoying the novel, and it seemed fairly appropriate. And she didn’t have long to go. She planned to read The Darkest Night next. She’d count it as research, and she was sure she could add it to the expenses of the case. Of course, that was if they were planning on paying her, which she hadn’t even thought of asking. They didn’t seem to need to make any savings but appearances might be deceptive.

Tania entered the room, wearing a short red dress and even more make-up than on Saturday, or at least that was Mary’s impression. As she didn’t usually wear make-up, she was aware that hers might be a biased opinion.

“Oh, hi! Mary, isn’t it? This must be very weird for you, used to mad people and all that. Although I guess plenty of…what do they call them? Oh, yes, ‘the worried well’ also go and visit psychiatrists, don’t they? If you ask me, they must be a bit nuts if they choose to go and see a psychiatrist. No offence.”

“None taken,” Mary had to bite her lip to not burst out laughing. Phil was right. Tania didn’t strike her as lawyer material.

Tania prepared a tray. “It’s for the morning meeting. Aren’t you coming?”

“No, there’s bound to be confidential stuff discussed that I shouldn’t be party to. I’m here for the assessment.”

“Oh well, as long as nobody tells the clients it should be OK. But, to be honest, these meetings…they can go on and on forever, discussing some silly thing. You’re probably better off here. See you later!”

“Do you need a hand?” Mary went to stand up and help Tania with the heavy tray.

“Oh, no, don’t worry. My mom always says I’m strong as a horse. And my father always corrects her. ‘As a mare, dear, as a mare.’ They’re a funny couple, my parents. Well, I’d better go, before they notice their coffees are missing and start moaning.”

And off she went. Mary chuckled and went back to her book. A few minutes later she felt as if somebody was watching her. When she looked up she found a young man, at least four or five years younger than Phil and her, standing next to the sink, looking at her. He was wearing a beautiful grey suit, a very fine turtleneck jumper of darker grey, and black leather shoes that screamed hand-made. He was tall, seemed very athletic, and had a beautiful face, like a Greek sculpture. Perfect profile and deep blue eyes. Blond wavy hair. He smiled and, as Mary expected, his smile was also perfect. The best money could buy, no doubt.

“You must be Mary,” he said, reaching her in a couple of long strides and extending his arm. He had a firm handshake. “Maggie told me you came on Saturday and were present at the interview with Mr Fenton. I couldn’t be here. Family matters. I’m Lance Mayfield.”

“Yes, I imagined that.”

He nodded. “And I understand you’re going to assess Mr Fenton to rule out any mental health problems. Your insight will be very useful, I’m sure.”

“Thanks. I might not be able to clarify matters much, but considering the circumstances of the case, it should be interesting.”

“No doubt. Unfortunately the victim is in no fit state to be assessed now, but perhaps he should have been a long time ago and this unfortunate incident would have been avoided. It’s a shame that nobody intervened, or at least not in a constructive way, before things got to that point…” Lance went quiet, as if deep in thought. After a few seconds he jolted and smiled, back from wherever his mind had taken him. “So, you like to read… I used to read a lot, both fiction and non-fiction, but these days I don’t have much time. The last book I read was, well, The Darkest Night. For research purposes. It’s not my usual type of book, but it’s quite good. And very realistic and detailed.”

“I was thinking of reading it next. It might help give me a better picture of Mr Fenton.”

“They say all authors write themselves into their books, consciously or unconsciously,” Lance said, nodding.

“I’ve read the same,” Mary added.

“Is Phil being a good host? I’m still discovering the city myself. I’m a newcomer. But if you’d like to see something or go exploring, I’d love to keep you company.” He flashed his winning smile again. And now that he was closer, Mary noticed he had dimples. Of course—he would, wouldn’t he?

“Thanks. You’re very kind. Aren’t you going to miss the meeting?”

“Oh, I had a meeting elsewhere this morning. Don’t tell anybody, but Mr Wright is interested in expanding and sent me to talk to one of my connections, Mr Timmins, who runs his own firm, mostly to do with property and finances. He wants to arrange a meeting and see if he could convince him to bring his firm in, but thought it would be better to test the waters first.”

Mary looked up at him. She didn’t know if all his friendliness and sharing of information was for her benefit, or if this was how he was with everybody. She didn’t know why, but another scene of House of Games came to her mind. The one where Mike (played by Joe Mantegna) is telling Margaret (the psychiatrist, Lindsay Crouse) the basics of the confidence game. He explains that the conman makes it work by taking the victim (or ‘mark’) into his or her confidence. Perhaps she was too cynical about lawyers, but couldn’t help but think that Lance was very smooth, and she understood well why Phil wasn’t terribly fond of the firm’s new acquisition.

Mary smiled. “Did it go well, then?”

“Oh, he was very receptive. I’m sure if the offer is good enough he’ll be more than happy to join Mr Wright’s firm. It must be nice to be your own boss, but having the support of a big firm can be handy if things don’t go according to plan.” He went quiet and seemed to be lost in his own reveries again.

Mary looked at him, wondering. He didn’t look as if anything had ever not gone according to his plans. But perhaps he was a very good actor. “Yes. It’s quite risky to have to shoulder all the responsibility.”

Lance shook his head and smiled again. “I should be getting back to my office. But don’t forget to think about what I told you. I’d love to go exploring with you. I’m sure we’d make a winning team. A psychiatrist and a lawyer!”

He left the room and Mary thought she had enough with one lawyer in her life. And she suspected that Phil was of the same opinion with regards to psychiatrists.

She went back to her book and a while later, when she had just finished reading the last sentence, as if perfectly timed, somebody coughed, trying to get her attention. She looked up. “Mr Fenton.”

“Hi. Mary Miller, isn’t it? Doctor…Mary Miller.” Although Mary wasn’t surprised, Fenton must have thought she was, because he added, “There wasn’t anybody at the desk in reception when I left on Saturday. I just checked the registry.”

Mary found it a bit odd. “Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that was the first time you’d come to the offices of Wright and Partners. I assume the other people must have been introduced to you before we arrived but…”

“You assume wrong. Mr Wright introduced himself and told me it was a preliminary meeting, as there had been no decision made yet as to who would take on my case. He said we were waiting for some more members of the team. And then he went back to check his notes.”

Mary looked at him, expectant.

“You see? I’m an author. And I love the research part of things. I had checked out all the information I could find about the firm and its staff. And you were nowhere to be found. That’s why I had to check. Then I understood why you took such a stance when I made a comment about the actions of people—”

“…suffering from a mental illness,” she finished.

He stared at her for a few seconds and finally dropped his gaze. He sighed and looked up again. “What’s the idea, then? That we go over the details of all the incidents with Mr Green so you can come up with a likely diagnosis of what was wrong with him? How is that going to help?”

Mary couldn’t lie. Even if the firm was the one requesting her services, to her, the ‘client’ was Fenton, and lying to your client is hardly the best way to enter a therapeutic, or at least a diagnostic, relationship. “No. That’s not it at all. They thought it would be a good idea if I assessed you. Of course, you’d need to be in agreement.”

His eyes opened wide, to the point where his eyelids seemed to have retracted into the eye sockets. “Assess me? Why? Do they think I’m mad?” he asked, raising his voice.

She shook her head. “Perhaps we should talk about this somewhere else. It’s not very private.”

He nodded and left the room. He came back a few minutes later and stopped right in front of her. She looked up at him.

“I went to talk to Maggie. She showed me to a small reception area. She assured me it would be empty. We can go there.”

“It might be better to wait until Mr Wright and his team finish the meeting.”

Fenton tried to laugh but it sounded like a bark. “Lawyers are a necessary evil. From that to trusting their explanations… They’re handy for dazzling the other party, but if we’re going to be talking about a psychiatric assessment, I think a psychiatrist is the right interlocutor.”

Mary shrugged, giving up. Either he would agree to the assessment or not, but it would be an interesting exercise in getting to understand how his mind and his emotions worked, although he appeared very calm. She stood up and followed the author to a small room with four easy chairs, a small coffee table and some magazines. Opposite the door, where a window would normally have been, there was a rather large aquarium. The blue light coming off it seemed to hypnotise them for a little while. Eventually Fenton pointed at one of the sofas, and once Mary had sat on it, he took a seat on the sofa opposite. Mary realised the writer liked to be in charge and was trying to manipulate the ‘characters’ and the ‘setting’ as he would in one of his novels.

“So…why assess me?” His tiny grey eyes were piercing hers.

When talking to patients who were unwell or fragile, Mary tried hard not to upset them by being too direct or bringing up subjects likely to disturb them before she’d got to know them well; but there was nothing like that in the writer’s case. Blunt might be the way to go. After all, he was a professional author, and she was unlikely to be more adept with words than he was. “The violence you used seems quite extreme. When your neighbours found you, they had to physically prevent you from carrying on hitting him when he was already unconscious on the floor.”

“He was inside my building! He’d stop at nothing!”

“Mr Fenton—”

“Call me Oliver.” His tone had gone back to normal in a fraction of a second, as if he had an on-off switch. Very peculiar. Mary nodded. “You must understand, Mary… Can I call you Mary?” He looked at her and she nodded again. “This wasn’t an isolated incident. Yes, from the moment my book became a bestseller and it appeared everywhere, all kinds of people have been pestering me. Readers who want some memento, or an autograph, groupies who will follow the latest thing—whatever it might be—others who hope to steal a bit of the limelight by getting close to someone known, paparazzi, reporters… But they normally got tired or stopped when they’d achieved whatever they were looking for. But this man, no. He had neither rhyme nor reason. The others didn’t frighten me. One expects such individuals. But not somebody like him.”

He didn’t appear frightened, but Mary nodded.

“When I got downstairs to leave the building…”

“Sorry. Before we get to that—”

“Don’t tell me you’re going to ask me about my parents and my childhood and all that nonsense? Come on! Well, if you must know, my mother was an elementary school teacher for many years, and now she’s the headmistress. It’s a Catholic school, St Mary’s, but no, I’m not religious, and I wasn’t brought up a Catholic. And my father runs a car dealership. General Motors. I have an older brother, Tom, who customises cars, and a younger sister, Ellie, who’s studying to be a teacher. No abuse in the family, neither sexual nor physical, no substance abuse, no domestic violence, no divorce, no suicide. I enrolled in and dropped out of several degrees: Architecture, Philosophy, Law. I started writing articles for the student newspaper at college, and then carried on writing features for the local newspaper. And the stories got longer and longer. And my sex life is perfectly fine,” he concluded, with a gasp when he finally stopped to breathe.

“Thanks for all that, although it’s not what I was going to ask you. Yes, it would form part of a full assessment, but you haven’t agreed to it yet. No, what I was going to ask you was if you could tell me exactly what Mr Green had done before that worried you so much. How long ago was your book published?”

“Eight…no, nine months. It came out on a Monday but there had been a fair amount of interest already. My agent and the publishing company had managed to get some pretty important writers and reviewers to read the book and publish their reviews within the first week of launch. There was a lot of speculation about how much of a change had been made to the location and the circumstances. You must have heard about the accusations and the allegations about the clergy and the sexual abuse of youths in some places. Yes, people wondered. They asked me for a few interviews… The New York Times, ABC, Sky News. Oprah chose The Darkest Night as the September book for her book club. And that pushed it to the top. Everybody was talking about it. And that’s when it started.”

“So, Mr Green appeared for the first time in September, then.”

“Well, no, not exactly. That’s when my life changed completely. My agent sold the rights to make a movie. It’s all being kept very hush-hush, but big names are interested. And he also sold the rights to the serialisation of the novel to a chain of newspapers, country-wide. My life spiralled out of control. I was about to take my exam to become an accountant, but it no longer seemed necessary.

“I moved to a new apartment and a big book tour was organised. I visited all the big cities, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Dallas, Miami… Universities requested me as a speaker; several charities wanted me as their figurehead… It was mid-January when Mr Green appeared for the first time in my life.”

Mary calculated. That meant it had been around four months ago, but under three months of persecution, if one took into account when the incident had taken place. Not that long a period of time, but it could feel very long if one was the victim of persecution and harassment.

“At first he didn’t seem dangerous. He just started appearing at all the bookshops, libraries, wherever I was going to give a talk. He always sat on the first row but never asked any questions. Mike, my agent, was the first one to notice him. He thought it was peculiar. It didn’t matter how far we travelled, he’d be there. But just there. Sitting and listening. Sometimes he’d take some notes. But I had no idea what for, as reporters always tried to get one on one interviews and would talk to Mike. He simply sat with the public. I joked that perhaps he was a writer trying to learn something. He seemed so intent.”

The author stopped and fixed his eyes on the aquarium. “What a strange existence, don’t you think? Living your whole life inside a box, at the mercy of a puny human being and his or her whims. When they turn on the light it’s day. If they switch it off, it’s night again. For them, it’s probably a whole universe and we’re their god.”

“Probably. What happened next?”

He sighed. “This is tedious. I’ve explained it millions of times. One day, after he’d been coming to the events for several weeks, out of the blue, he came to me with a book for signing. When he was in front of me, he threatened me. And from that moment on, he kept doing the same, everywhere I went. We banned him and warned the security guards not to let him in, but he wouldn’t stop. He wore disguises; he would sneak in through the back door…”

“What exactly was the nature of his threats? Did he threaten violence?”

“I’ve told the same story many times. I’m sure it’s written down somewhere in the file. But, anyway…he told me he knew my ‘secret’ and he would ‘ruin’ me. Mike can bear witness to it. I think he has. He was next to me.”

“What secret? Did you have any idea what he was talking about?”

“At that point, no. Of course not. I have no secrets, at least nothing that could ruin me or be of any interest to anybody else. Later on, he told me that he knew I had used his story without his permission and I had no right to do that. I told him I had no idea who he was but he insisted. He wouldn’t leave. I had to call security and they had to drag him out, kicking and screaming. Actually kicking and screaming. But that didn’t stop him and he kept coming back. We tried the usual, even an injunction, but nothing seemed to deter him. And things escalated. He started shouting, threatening me, telling me he would talk to the media and reveal how I had exploited his life for my benefit. All complete madness. I’d never seen that man before.”

“Did he ever mention how he thought you had got hold of it?”

“He mentioned something about ‘bastards’ selling the story. He’d go into a rant every time he started talking about that. The only words I could make out were ‘therapist’, ‘school’ and ‘police’. My assumption is that he thought somebody he must have told the story to, some professional, must have spoken to me. But I’ve never given any details about how I got hold of the story. He doesn’t even look like the man in question!”

“What makes him think it’s his story then?”

“You’re asking the wrong person. I have no idea. I guess it’s possible that more than one person has gone through similar experiences.”

“And you said you made some changes to ensure that the real person would not be identifiable.”

“Yes. It’s all nonsense. Of course it’s not him. He’s a lunatic. Or mentally disturbed, whatever is the correct way to catalogue him.”

“Perhaps some of the details were the same.”

“Perhaps. But I can’t help that and it’s not my fault. I wasn’t the abuser. And I didn’t write about him. Or about…” He stopped suddenly, as if he had said too much, looked down and then, after a few seconds, fixed his eyes on Mary. “As you can see, this is nothing to do with me. It would be a waste of your time—and mine—to proceed with a full assessment. I sleep well, I eat like a horse, my mood is fine, other than the stress due to the case. I have never heard voices—”

“Not even your characters?” Mary asked.

He chuckled. “I am perfectly capable of distinguishing my imagination and my creativity from somebody or something trying to control my brain or talk to me. No. I have no strange ideas, unless you consider self-defence and wanting to survive and live another day a strange idea.”

Mary seemed to have hit a wall. There were many other things she would have liked to ask, and some things she wasn’t very convinced of in Fenton’s account, but she didn’t believe she could justify pursuing that course of action. The writer was looking at her with a placid expression, convinced that he had won. As Mary opened her mouth to say something, although she wasn’t sure of what, the door opened, giving her a reprieve. Mr Wright’s head peered in. “So here you are. Maggie told me you wanted somewhere private to talk. Could you come with me? I have something I must communicate to everybody involved in the case.”

Fenton stood up, while Mary just looked on. She wasn’t really involved in the case, especially now that the writer had made quite clear what his opinion of the possible psychiatric assessment was. But Mr Wright didn’t know anything about it and gestured for her to follow him, impatient. Mary was convinced that Mr Wright wasn’t accustomed to being kept waiting. Ever. She stood up and followed the two men. She speeded up, managing to get by Mr Wright’s side. “Mr Wright—”

“Call me Percy. After all, you aren’t one of my employees.”

“Thank you. Percy…Mr Fenton isn’t keen on the assessment—”

“That’s of no consequence at the moment. Just go to the meeting room. I’ll go and find Lance.”

Mary stood in the middle of the corridor, wondering what was happening. She saw Phil by the meeting room door and walked towards him. “What’s going on? I was talking to the writer, who, by the way, is less than keen on having an assessment of his mental state, when Percy turned up and said he had something to ‘communicate’. Do you have any idea what all this is about?”

Phil shrugged. “None. We were just going through the cases in the meeting, like every morning, when Maggie knocked at the door, came in and whispered something in his ear. And then he stood up, told us we could leave and should meet him there again in fifteen minutes, and left. It’s the first time something like that has happened since I’ve been here. And from the expression in everyone else’s faces, it’s the first time for them too.

“You see, according to Percy Wright, these morning meetings are the key to the firm’s success and they are sacred. They can’t be disturbed or interrupted. So whatever is going on must be pretty big.”

Mr Wright arrived, followed by Lance Mayfield, who flashed a smile in Mary’s direction before following the boss. Phil and Mary went in too. Steve, Tania, Ryan and the client were already siting inside.

“Shall I go to call Maggie?” Steve asked, half-rising from his chair.

“No, no. That won’t be necessary. She has quite a few things to deal with, and she’s aware of what we’re going to discuss.”

In the silence that followed, they all looked at each other. Mary noted Mr Wright’s use of pause for dramatic effect. Perhaps it was true that being a good actor could be very helpful in a career as a lawyer.

“Sorry for having to interrupt the meeting like that, but I had some very grave news that I had to check… No, don’t worry; it’s not about me or my family. Nothing like that. It’s about the case. That’s why Mr Fenton is here too. In the early hours of the morning, the victim of the case, Miles Green, passed away.”

There was a collective gasp. Mary looked at the writer, but other than opening his tiny eyes slightly, he showed no other outward evidence of any emotion. As she turned to look at Phil, something caught her eye. She noticed Lance’s hand right was shaking uncontrollably as he tried to grab the glass of water in front of him, to the point that he gave up and hid both his hands under the table. She looked at his face. He looked so pale and gaunt that Mary wondered if he was physically ill and worried that he might collapse.

“Do they know what happened?” Steve asked.

“They aren’t a hundred per cent sure but suspect a brain haemorrhage, most likely as a consequence of the…alleged assault,” Mr Wright said.

“And now?” Steve asked.

“Now? Well, I guess they’ll change the charges. Perhaps you should reconsider that assessment, Mr Fenton—Oliver,” Mr Wright said, turning to look at the author.

“I can’t see why the fact that the hospital didn’t know how to look after Mr Green should mean that I have to undergo a psychiatric assessment. Do you think there’s anything wrong with me?” Mr Fenton asked, turning to look at Mary.

She sighed and looked straight at the writer, although she could feel everybody’s eyes on her. Then she looked at Mr Wright. He nodded in the author’s direction. “It’s evident he doesn’t think there’s any point in doing an assessment, and I know that without his cooperation there isn’t much you can do. But honestly, what do you think?”

“I can’t say I’ve had a chance to conduct a detailed interview, and I have had no access to any medical records or anybody else’s corroborative information, but from what Mr Fenton has told me and what I had observed, no, I wouldn’t say there’s any evidence that he is mentally ill or disturbed to the point of not being aware of the consequences of his actions. But my examination isn’t thorough enough to stand up in court—or anywhere else, for that matter. It’s more of an educated opinion than anything else.”

The writer nodded.

Mr Wright said, “It’s good enough for me. I think we have many other things to worry about and quite a different trial to prepare for, now. Mr Fenton, if you are in agreement, I’d like Mr Mayfield—Lance—to be in charge of the case. He’ll have plenty of support from the team, and I’ll personally supervise him, and officially the case will be listed under my name. You shouldn’t let his young age worry you. I trust him implicitly.”

Mary looked at Lance. He had fixed his eyes on the white piece of paper in front of him and his hands remained out of sight. He finally stood up, slowly, and extended his arm towards the writer. The lawyer seemed to have managed to get his emotions under control; other than being slightly pale, he appeared as sleek as usual. Fenton stood up and shook his hand.

“Well, I guess that will be all. Let’s get to work. If you have any ideas on how to formulate the case, do share with Lance or me. And I hope we can count on you all if we need an extra hand.”

Everybody nodded and stood up. As Mary followed Phil towards the door, Mr Wright put his hand on her shoulder. “Sorry about that. I’m sure it would have been helpful to have a full assessment, but there’s nothing we can do at this point.” He looked at the door and, once he saw Fenton was out of hearing, he added, “He’s very stubborn. But I guess that’s not a mental illness. You’ll be compensated anyway. And hopefully we will have occasion to cooperate more fully in the future.”

“Thanks, Percy. And don’t worry. There’s no need for compensation. I didn’t really do anything.” Mary didn’t know why, but she decided she didn’t want to be in Mr Wright’s debt. She followed Phil to his office and closed the door behind her.

“I knew he’d give the case to Lance. Teacher’s pet. Oh well, perhaps it’s better that way. I can’t say I feel very positively disposed towards Oliver Fenton.”

“How is that? I thought everybody deserved a defence.”

Phil sighed, dropping on his chair. “Yes, of course. But it’s always helpful if you believe your client and they are vaguely likeable. And I can say, with hand on heart, that I find him neither believable nor likeable.”

Mary nodded. “Yes. I agree with you on both counts.”

“Did he say anything of interest to you?”

“Nothing I could put my finger on, but there are things that don’t seem to fit. No, it’s officially none of my business. But I still intend to read his book… Mr Green’s death is very sad. And we never got to hear his side of the story, not independently, anyway.”

“That’s true.” We were quiet for a few seconds. Finally, Phil said, “Do you have any plans, or do you want to stay around and we can go for lunch later?”

Mary checked her watch. “No, thanks. It’s too early. I had a long list of things I wanted to do, and places I wanted to visit, and I had put them on the back burner because of this, but now I’ll have time. I have museums to visit, and I want to wander around the park again, take the ferry and go to Long Island… And if you fancy, I’ll try to get half-price tickets and we can go to watch another show later in the week.”

“Sounds perfect.”

“See you later.” Mary left the firm and set off on her adventures in the Big Apple.

If you want to catch up with the three previous chapters, here are the links:

Chapter 1 

Chapter 2 

Chapter 3 
If you’re intrigued and you haven’t caught up with the three others stories I’ve published featuring Mary and Phil, I just wanted to remind you that Escaping Psychiatry is available for only $0.99. Here I leave a few more details and some links:

 

Escaping Psychiatry cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry cover by Ernesto Valdés

Escaping Psychiatry

‘Escaping Psychiatry’ is a collection of three stories in the psychological thriller genre with the same protagonist, Mary, a psychiatrist and writer. She is trying to develop her literary career but circumstances and friends conspire to keep dragging her back to psychiatry.

In ‘Cannon Fodder’ Mary has to assess Cain, an African-American man accused of inciting a religious riot when he claimed that he could hear God and God was black. He might not be mad, but Mary is sure he’s hiding something.

‘Teamwork’ sees Mary hoodwinked into offering therapy to Justin, a policeman feeling guilty after his partner and ersatz father was killed on-duty. Before Mary can extricate herself from the case, things get personal.

In ‘Memory’ Mary goes missing after an incident with Phil, who is manic as he hasn’t been taking his medication. When she is found, she has been the victim of a horrific crime, but they soon discover she was luckier than they had realised.

The epilogue revisits Mary at the point of the trial of her abductor and sees what changes have taken place in her life. Will she finally manage to Escape Psychiatry?

AMAZON (e-book) KOBO NOOK APPLE SCRIBD

PAGE FOUNDRY OYSTER PAPER

And if you want to get a taster of the book, you can check here:

Thanks so much for reading and you know… Like, share, comment and of course CLICK! 

Ah, and I wanted to share the post I did for Lit World Interviews yesterday as I explain that I’m doing my own programme in Penistone FM this afternoon (26th January form 5 to 8 pm, GTM) just in case you can join me. All Welcome!

http://wp.me/p4XFVw-1ge

 

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#FREE Chapter 3 of Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

Today, as promised, chapter 3 of Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings. And as I’ve received and gone through the corrections by Express Editing Solutions it should be more polished now…

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés

3.     The Players

Tania took out her phone as soon as they left the meeting room. Steve shook Mary’s hand and said goodbye.

Phil looked at Ryan. “What about coming for a drink, or perhaps lunch?”

Ryan hesitated but finally shrugged and sighed. “As much as I’d like to, I’m afraid I can’t. My sister, Romy, is getting married in a few months, and we’ve got to the stage of choosing menus. Her fiancé is away, working abroad, and she’s enlisted me to provide her with tactical support. God knows why she thinks I’d be any good at that! She’s told me I’ll represent fussy eaters, so if I approve of something, it’s likely to be OK for the difficult people. The things one has to put up with!”

Mary smiled. Phil said, “Well, I see there’s no hope then. Neither Mary nor I have siblings, so don’t expect a lot of sympathy from us.”

“Lucky you! Although no, that’s not true either. I love my sister, though she can be a pain. Nice to meet you, Mary. It seems you’ll be spending some time here, so hopefully we’ll be able to catch up and do something else.”

“Sure.”

Mary and Ryan shook hands, and Phil patted his shoulder.

“Good luck!”

After debating what to do for lunch on the way back to Phil’s apartment, they decided to buy a few things at a deli in the neighbourhood and eat at home.

“So…what did you honestly think?” Phil asked Mary after they sat down to eat.

“About the writer?” Phil nodded. Mary ate some bread and when she finished chewing, looked at Phil. “You do understand I don’t have a crystal ball or superpowers? I can’t just look at the guy and know what’s going on inside his head.”

“Of course I know that. And I didn’t suggest you come to obtain a confession or anything like that. But I’m curious to hear your opinion.”

“I think Ryan is right. And so are you. He doesn’t seem in the least affected by his actions or worried about how the victim might be. He might be worried about what could happen to him, but not about Mr Green’s well-being. Whatever that man has done to him, or he thinks he has done, it seems a bit callous.  But Mr Wright has a point. Perhaps a formal assessment would shed some light.”

Phil looked at Mary sideways.

“What?”

“You don’t believe there’s anything wrong with him.”

“No. You’re right. I don’t think he’s mentally ill, no. With regards to his personality, no comment.”

“But you will use your interrogation methods to get to the truth.”

“I’m not a torture expert, Phil. I’ll just ask him a few questions and try to see if I can establish what his state of mind was like at the time of the assault. That’s all.”

“OK. If you say so.”

Mary looked at Phil, frowning, and he raised his hands, mouthing ‘sorry.’ After a few minutes of eating in silence, Phil asked, “So, what do you think about the players?”

“The players? Do you mean the people at the firm?”

He nodded.

She laughed. “Well, Tania…”

“Tania isn’t a player. Merely decor.”

“Phil!” Mary punched him, jokingly, in the arm.

“OK, OK. No need to go all feminist on me. You know I’m all for woman power, but Tania isn’t even interested in law. I suspect her father thought that at least if she was there she wouldn’t be getting herself into trouble and keeping bad company. Honest!”

Mary continued eating, pretending to be upset. Phil could be incredibly patient at work, but was not very tolerant of the silent treatment.

“So, what do you think?”

“Of your colleagues, you mean?”

“Yes.

“It’s difficult to know. I’ve only seen them in the boss’s presence, apart from Ryan very briefly, and wouldn’t dare to judge based on that. Is Steve his right hand?”

“Steve came here as a trainee shortly after Wright established the firm. They’ve been through a lot together, although there are rumours that there was some scandal and that’s why Steve hasn’t moved on to create his own firm and hasn’t insisted on having his name next to Percy’s.”

“A scandal?” Mary looked at Phil with her eyes wide.

“Yes, I know. It doesn’t look likely. And I have no idea what kind of scandal. It seems it was a while back, and it’s well buried.”

“And Ryan?”

“As I told you, he’s hoping to make partner, although I’m not sure he’ll fit in. He’s too… Well, he’s like the court jester. Always bouncing around and saying the first thing that comes into his head. He’s as likely to get a good kicking as make someone laugh.”

“I don’t think he’s a court jester at all. I think he’s a very sharp observer, although sometimes he might not come across in the right way, and people might dismiss his words. I think at their peril.”

“OK… And you haven’t met Lance, the shiniest new acquisition. He hasn’t been with us long but he has the perfect image and credentials. And Percy is like a boy with a new toy: he has to show him off to everybody.”

“I can see you really like him,” Mary said, winking.

Phil laughed. “It’s not so much him as the effect he has on others. But hey, it’s too early to call…”

“But there are other people working there too, no?”

“Yes, but in other departments or capacities. You might meet some of them, but these are the ones most likely to be involved in the case.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing them all in action. And you, of course.”

Phil smiled and they both started clearing up the table.

“And now, what are we going to do for the rest of the weekend?” Mary asked.

“Let’s pretend we’re tourists and do the whole New York experience,” Phil said. “What do you think?”

“Fantastic idea!”

And that’s what they did. They wandered around Central Park and even went for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, visited the Empire State Building and went to the top, queued at the Times Square half-price ticket booth and went to watch a musical, window shopped in Fifth Avenue…

“It is a great place,” Mary said.

“Yes. One feels like singing ‘New York, New York’,” Phil replied.

“Please, no. I’ve heard you sing before.”

Phil laughed.

When they got to Phil’s apartment on Sunday evening, there was a message on the answering machine. While Mary went to drop off her handbag in the guest bedroom, Phil listened to it. She joined him in the kitchen.

“It was from the office. It seems the client will be in early tomorrow morning to go over some details and paperwork. Percy wondered if you would mind seeing him and starting your assessment at around eleven a.m.”

“Yes. No problem. I assume they’ll tell him that’s what we’re doing though.”

“Well, yes. I have to go in earlier. We always have a meeting first thing, around nine, to discuss the work we’re doing. If you don’t mind waiting around for a bit, you can always come with me.”

“Sure. I’ll take a book.”

“No surprises there.”

If you’ve missed the previous two chapters, here are the links:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Just in case you’ve been hiding and don’t know I just wanted to remind you that Escaping Psychiatry is available for only $0.99. Here I leave you a reminder and some links:

 

Escaping Psychiatry cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry cover by Ernesto Valdés

Escaping Psychiatry

‘Escaping Psychiatry’ is a collection of three stories in the psychological thriller genre with the same protagonist, Mary, a psychiatrist and writer. She is trying to develop her literary career but circumstances and friends conspire to keep dragging her back to psychiatry.

In ‘Cannon Fodder’ Mary has to assess Cain, an African-American man accused of inciting a religious riot when he claimed that he could hear God and God was black. He might not be mad, but Mary is sure he’s hiding something.

‘Teamwork’ sees Mary hoodwinked into offering therapy to Justin, a policeman feeling guilty after his partner and ersatz father was killed on-duty. Before Mary can extricate herself from the case, things get personal.

In ‘Memory’ Mary goes missing after an incident with Phil, who is manic as he hasn’t been taking his medication. When she is found, she has been the victim of a horrific crime, but they soon discover she was luckier than they had realised.

The epilogue revisits Mary at the point of the trial of her abductor and sees what changes have taken place in her life. Will she finally manage to Escape Psychiatry?

AMAZON (e-book)    KOBO           NOOK            APPLE           SCRIBD        

PAGE FOUNDRY   OYSTER    PAPER

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#FREEChapter2 of my psychological thriller ‘Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings’ #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

As I promised last week, here is chapter 2 of the prequel to Escaping Psychiatry. Escaping Psychiatry Beginnings.

Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings by Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Ernesto Valdés

2.     The Firm

“Mary! Here you are!”

Phil hugged her and slapped her on the back. He looked well. Dressed casually, well, what passed for casually in Phil’s books, perfectly ironed chinos, Italian black leather shoes, a polo shirt, and impeccably cut and combed hair, and with a huge smile on his face. He definitely had something planned.

“You look like the personification of a WASP on his day off,” Mary said.

He chuckled. “Now, now. I’m wearing full length trousers. No tweed or golfing attire. And in my heart of hearts I’m a small town boy.”

“If you say so.”

He grabbed Mary’s arm by the elbow and picking up the suitcase she had deposited on the floor, guided her inside. “Come in, come in, have a look. You can drop your things in your room, here, and then we’ll have breakfast.”

“I had a drink on the train.”

“But I haven’t!”

Mary had a quick look at the apartment while Phil set the table. Tall ceilings, huge windows and an air of quiet elegance. A bit old-fashioned, but not pretentious.

“What do you think?”

“It’s a nice building and a quiet street, especially for Manhattan.”

“The rent is high, but I prefer it to one of those slick new apartments with no personality or charm.”

They munched on the toast, quietly. Finally Mary asked, “But how do you find the firm? I know you had misgivings. You thought it would be good for your career, but didn’t necessarily like their ethics.”

“I still don’t, although I keep quiet about it. Don’t ask, don’t tell, kind of situation. But they do have some of the best lawyers and I’ve learned a lot already. And there’s plenty more to come, I’m sure.”

“Are you thinking about effecting change from the inside?” Mary asked.

Phil didn’t look up from his plate, and kept playing with the marmalade and the butter, making patterns with his knife. “I don’t have a master plan as yet. So far I haven’t seen them do anything too questionable, although yes, they have a preference for taking cases that attract plenty of attention and are likely to be on the newspapers and TV. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with free publicity.”

Mary put her right hand on his, and managed to make him stop playing with his food and look up.

“Uh?”

“Don’t tell me you’re thinking of defecting to the dark side?”

He laughed, although his laughter sounded flat and not genuine. “Let’s not get melodramatic. I think the Force is still with me. They are committed to taking up a percentage of pro-bono cases, and I’ve volunteered. Sometimes one has to compromise. Even the devil can be a good ally if the cause is worth it.”

“Be careful. I fear for your soul.”

As he opened his mouth to reply, his mobile phone rang. Mary didn’t have one and didn’t want one. The thought of somebody being able to get hold of her anywhere and in any circumstances made her quite nervous. She hated being on-call, because you could never be completely at peace and you could be summoned at any time, and she felt that having one of those contraptions would be the equivalent of being forever on call. But Phil loved his gadgets, like most men she knew. And she also suspected it was a status thing. Although, thinking about it, it was probably one of his firm’s requirements.

“Yes. Of course I’m interested in being there when we talk to the client.” Phil put his hand on what must have been the microphone and made a gesture with his head, towards the phone. “It’s about that case I was telling you about. The writer,” he whispered.

Mary nodded. So far, she only knew the case involved a writer in some fashion or other but nothing else. He was doing a good job of building up the suspense.

“Yes. Sure. I’ll be there, Mr Wright. Oh, my friend… yes, the psychiatrist.” Silence. “Yes, of course I’ll ask her. I don’t think it’ll be a problem, if you’re sure the client will be OK with it.” He listened again and then laughed. “See you in half an hour. And thanks!”

“Was that your boss?”

“Yes. Percy Wright. Of the Wrights of Virginia. He doesn’t do much in the firm anymore, only picks up some case he’s interested in, occasionally, but he leaves all the groundwork to other lawyers and he just pokes his nose wherever he fancies. For some reason he’s quite intrigued by this case.”

“I guess he said I could go. But what did he say that made you laugh?”

“Oh, when I mentioned that I thought you’d be happy to come, of course if the client was OK with it, he said the client would be OK with whatever we told him. That he knew we were his best chance and he’d have to earn it. And he’d be grateful.”

“Oh.”

“Sorry for assuming you’d want to come…”

“Of course. I wouldn’t miss it. Now, I’m not sure if I’m more interested in the case or in your boss and the firm.”

“Well, Mr Wright always says that there might be some intrinsic quality attached to good and evil, but the justice system is a completely arbitrary set of rules and which side we are in is at best an accident and at worst just pure bad luck. So perhaps there isn’t much difference.”

Mary wondered if her friend believed what he’d just said or it was a philosophical position. The Phil she knew had always been very convinced of what was wrong and what was right. Jokes apart, she was slightly worried.

They left the apartment and hailed a taxi.

The offices of the firm where Phil worked (Wright and Partners, Attorneys at Law) overlooked Central Park. They occupied a whole storey in a slick commercial building, all glass and shiny surfaces. It was slightly cloudy but Mary imagined that on a sunny day it must have glistened and glowed like a diamond.

While they were in the lobby, waiting for the elevator, Mary said, “How peculiar! I would have thought that somebody like your boss would have an office in an old building, full of the weight of history and following tradition. But no. It couldn’t be a more modern and neutral place if he’d designed it intentionally.”

“I think that he wants to make sure everything is impersonal and can be replaced. Apart from himself, of course. And the same goes for the firm’s name.”

“Don’t the partners query the fact that their names are not on top of the door, so to speak?” Mary asked Phil.

He turned to look at her with a lopsided smile. “Like Mr Wright said about the client, they are OK with whatever he says. And they’re grateful. In my opinion it all boils down to his insistence on not leaving the slightest option open for anybody else to make a claim. The partners might come and go, but there’s only one Mr Wright.”

They reached the top floor of the building and stepped out. As soon as they crossed the massive glass doors, a young thin man who had been pacing up and down, rushed towards them. “Oh, you’re here, Phil. Mr Wright didn’t want to make the client wait too long. You know he likes to strike when the iron is hot, as he says.”

“We came as soon as we could. Traffic was quite heavy. This is my friend, Mary Miller. She’s a psychiatrist. We met at college. This is Ryan Spencer. One of the lawyers here. And aspiring partner.”

Ryan wore black thick-rimmed glasses that made him look child-like, and a beautifully cut suit that looked loose on him. Not as if it was the wrong size, but as if he’d lost weight. He didn’t look sickly, though, only anxious.

“Some days I’d be quite happy if I was just left to do my work in peace, but that’s very unlikely. Pleasure to meet you.”

He extended his arm and bowed slightly as he shook her hand. “And now, let’s go in. Mr Wright said that he didn’t want to formally introduce you, Mary, can I call you Mary?, at least not for the time being. He just wants the client, Mr Fenton, to think that you’re part of the team. No details.”

She nodded. She wasn’t expecting any long term involvement and that would make life easier. No need to overcomplicate matters. Also, people’s reactions on being told that she was a psychiatrist had always been a mystery to her. Some people would take the opportunity to try and get an impromptu consultation, right there and then. Others would retreat, as if they feared that she’d discover their most intimate thoughts and secrets only by looking at them. But Mary had no superpowers, and although at times she might have her suspicions and be able to come up with an educated guess as to what people were thinking, especially people she knew, unless the person talked to her, it was an almost impossible task. There were also the people who treated it as if it were a joke, or a funny anecdote, and asked her if she was going to ‘analyse’ them. Surely if someone asked her that, there would be little need for analysis. And she’d never been an expert in psychoanalysis. Or keen on the idea.

The three entered what looked like a meeting room, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. There was a middle aged woman, dressed in a blue suit, sitting with a laptop in front of her, in the farthest corner from the door. There was a very attractive young girl, blonde, with honey-coloured eyes and wearing a polka dot dress, sitting close to the door. She had a small notebook and a pen and seemed poised to not miss a single word. Next to her was a man, older than Phil and Ryan, probably early forties, impeccably dressed in a navy blue suit, whose greying hair was a bit longer than the standard of the business seemed to impose. Perhaps he had a streak of rebellion in him. Sitting at the centre of the oval-shaped table, was Mr Wright. Although Mary had never met him, once she saw the man sitting there, she had no doubt.

Mr Percy Wright’s appearance was rather peculiar. He was dressed as if he was in the country house he surely had, in tweed, wearing a jacket with brown elbow patches, and his face, with a protruding jaw and a broken nose, seemed more appropriate for a price fighter than for a top layer. On closer look, his green eyes were inquisitive and exuded authority, and his hands were perfectly manicured. Mary wasn’t sure if the man was a genuine puzzle or he had put a lot of thought into wrong-footing his opponents and collaborators alike. Phil’s boss turned towards the door when they entered and nodded curtly. Phil, his hand behind his back, gestured for her to follow him.

When they sat, on the same side as Mr Wright, she was finally able to see ‘the client’. He looked younger than she had imagined, mid-thirties, and was the only one dressed casually, in jeans and a black T-shirt, that she wondered if it was his uniform perhaps, like some very successful people were said to do (always wear similar clothes to be more productive and avoid getting bogged down making inconsequential choices). His eyes were small, so much so that Mary couldn’t see them well enough to decide what colour they were. Nothing too striking. He was slim, but his hands looked skeletal, and she hoped they would not be expected to shake hands with him. The thought that she might feel the bones made her cringe.

“Are we all here, then?” asked Mr Wright. They all nodded. He stared around the table, to make sure he had everybody’s attention, and nodded at his secretary. “Good. We can start, then. For those of you who haven’t met him yet, this is Oliver Fenton, the famous author. Steve, give us the main details of the case.”

Steve, the older man of undefinable age, started talking. “Mr Fenton is accused of aggravated assault, although it could become attempted murder —it depends on the DA and how things evolve—, on the person of a Miles Green. Mr Fenton describes what amounts to serious harassment on the part of Mr Green, who had been pestering his agent, and later him personally, sending letters, making phone calls, and in general making a nuisance of himself, for months. On the day of the incident, Friday the 23rd of April, as Mr Fenton was on his way out of his apartment building in 5th Avenue, Mr Green appeared from behind the reception desk, and attacked Mr Fenton, threatening him and trying to choke him. Mr Fenton managed to overcome his attacker and restrain him onto the floor. As he resisted and tried to attack him again, Mr Fenton hit him on the head with a heavy brass lamp. Very shortly after, it seems, a couple who also lived there arrived, stopped Mr Fenton and called an ambulance and the police. Mr Green was already unconscious then. He hasn’t recovered since and remains in hospital in intensive care.”

That had been around six weeks ago.

“What did you mean when you said that the couple ‘stopped’ Mr Fenton?” Phil asked.

“He was still hitting him with the lamp when the neighbours walked in.”

“Do we have any pictures of the victim?” Phil asked, again.

Steve looked at Mr Wright, who nodded, and Steve passed a folder to Phil. He looked at the contents for a few seconds and then passed it to Mary. She thought she shouldn’t look at them, but realised it would seem weird to the client, and quickly looked over the pictures. She doubted she’d ever be able to recognise Mr Green based on those pictures. His face was so swollen and bruised that it was difficult to make out the slits of the eyes. The bridge of his nose was flattened out, and it looked as if both cheekbones were fractured. The next picture showed a ragged hole in the back of the head, a few inches from the nape of the neck. The impact had been so hard that the skull had caved in.

She passed the file to Ryan, who shook his head, indicating that he’d already seen the contents, and stood up, taking the file back to Steve.

“Any word from Mr Green’s doctors?” Mr Wright asked.

Steve cleared his throat and said, “They have no idea if he’ll make it. They had hoped that with steroids the swelling of the brain would go down and things might improve, but so far that’s not the case. His family have asked that they do some further tests. They seem determined to pull the plug if they can find no evidence of brainwaves.”

As Mary was about to say something, Phil grabbed her arm tightly and she kept quiet. He asked, “What family are we talking about?”

Steve sighed.

“He was, is, I mean, married and they have twins, a boy and a girl, 18 months old. They were separated, and had not lived together for six months prior to the incident.”

“He blames me for the separation. The victim, I mean.” Oliver Fenton had spoken. Although the volume was low, there was steel in his voice and his words resonated around the room. No remorse, no sadness.

They were all looking at the client. Rather than being intimidated by having all eyes on him, Mary thought he seemed to puff up and grow taller, as if he enjoyed public attention.

“Yes, he kept following me everywhere, writing, phoning, turning up at events, insisting that I’d taken everything from him and I was a criminal.”

“How?” Phil asked. “Did you know him? Did you have an affair with his wife? Was that the reason for the separation?”

Mr Fenton shook his head. Mary noticed how his neck was reddening. “I’ve never met the woman. Or him before all this. He was mad. Who knows why somebody as crazy as him does anything?”

“Even when people are ‘mad’, they usually do things for a reason, although perhaps it’s a reason that only fits in with their delusional view of the world. Do you have any idea about what he thought you had done to destroy his life?” Mary asked ignoring Phil’s kick under the table.

“He insists that I’ve written about him in my book. He told everybody that he was the person my main character, David Collins, was based on, and he kept insisting that due to that people were pestering him. It seems that the guy who had abused him had turned up, convinced that he had sold the story, and had threatened his family, and Green had been the victim of all kinds of humiliations.”

“Was it true?” Phil asked, looking at me intently, before turning to the client.

“No, of course not! Yes, I’ve based the book on the story of a person I know, but I’d never met that Miles Green guy before. And I’ve changed the details. Nobody would be able to recognise the individual by just reading my novel. I made sure of that.”

Mr Wright cleared his throat, noisily. It seemed his time to talk had come. He leaned forward and looked at the client intently. Mr Fenton’s face grew paler, but he returned the look.

“So, Mr Fenton… You’re telling us that Mr Green was making a nuisance of himself and following you everywhere, accusing you of all kinds of things and threatening you. Didn’t you think of going to the police?”

“Of course I did! You can ask my agent, Mike Spinner. I called them and we even went to the station to make a statement. They agreed to give him a warning but said that unless he actually tried to do something violent, there wasn’t much they could do. They suggested that perhaps the easiest thing to do would be to reveal who the real person behind the character in the novel was. That way he’d leave me alone and move on to something else. Can you imagine?! Reveal my sources!” Two red marks had appeared on his cheeks and seemed to be spreading and his eyes were bulging with anger. Mary saw now that they were grey.

“Well, you’re not a journalist…” Ryan said.

Mr Fenton jumped from his chair, but Mr Wright raised his hand and waved at him, getting him to sit down again.

“Don’t get excited, Mr Fenton. I guess what Mr Spencer, our young friend here, meant, was that you’re not sworn to secrecy and it’s not a professional obligation. Although I understand your wish to protect your sources. But, I wonder if you could enlighten us and give us some background, as I suspect not everybody here will have read your story, no matter how popular. We tend to have our heads buried in other types of books and papers, so you’ll have to forgive us for our ignorance. If you could be so good as to tell us, what your novel is about, when it came out, etc. We don’t need too many details, but just enough to help us understand the circumstances of the affair.”

Mr Fenton kept looking sideways at Ryan while he talked. “My novel, The Darkest Night, is the story of David Collins, a man who is brought up in a Catholic family, subjected to sexual abuse by one of the priests at the religious school where he studies, and later by a male neighbour, who is also a friend of his father. When he tells his family, they do not believe him, and he ends up on the streets when he is only fifteen. His life is very difficult. He lives on the streets for a while, and survives as best he can until he is literally pushed into an Army recruitment office and decides it must be fate and enlists. And life changes completely for him. He fights for this country and becomes an upstanding citizen.”

“I see. And you say it’s based on a true story,” Mr Wright added, opening the file and seemingly checking something.

“Yes.” The writer’s eyes were fixed on the file.

“At this moment in time we’re not going to ask you to give us the name of that person, although let me make it perfectly clear that it might become necessary that we know, later on, and that here we are obliged, by professional code, to keep the secret, so you don’t need to be worried about that. But in the meantime, if you could tell us how you came across the story, unless the protagonist is based on somebody you’ve always known.”

“No, no. Nothing like that. It’s quite simple, really. I volunteered, years back, and manned a telephone helpline for people thinking of committing suicide, or with mental health problems in general. A young guy phoned me and told me his story. This was a few days before he enlisted and he had hit rock bottom. We chatted for quite a while and he agreed to phone me again in a few days. When he phoned me again, he had enlisted and was ready to go into training. He kept in touch when he could and even phoned me when he got posted to Iraq. When he came back, we arranged to meet and by then I had decided his story should be told, although in novel form. When I suggested it, he agreed, on the understanding that he would read it and I’d make changes to protect his privacy and hide his identity. And that’s what we did.” He only raised his eyes to look at Mr Wright when he finished talking. To Mary’s ears it sounded rehearsed, but then he’d probably been asked the same question quite a few times.

Mr Wright looked around, as if inviting further questions. Phil didn’t hesitate, “Are you still in touch?”

“With the original David, you mean? Once the novel came out and it started to attract so much attention we decided it would be best not to be in contact, to prevent anybody from making the connection between him and the book.”

“I’m surprised he didn’t come forward when he heard you were in trouble,” Ryan said.

Judging by the look Mr Fenton shot at him, Ryan would not be on his Christmas-card list.

“He’s not that easy to reach.”

Mary was surprised that nobody asked him why. Either the information was already known, or they’d all assumed that somebody else would ask the question and now the moment had passed. Ryan was on the edge of his seat, but even he must have thought he’d attracted enough hostility from the client for one day and gave up.

“If it’s OK, I have to meet my agent for lunch. We had organised a book signing tour, and with all this we’ll have to reschedule.”

“Yes, of course. Maggie, my PA, will arrange a few appointments, starting on Monday morning. We have plenty of information to work through. And you haven’t met Mr Mayfield, yet. Although he’s the youngest of my partners in the firm, he has plenty of experience in similar cases.”

Mary looked at Phil and he shook his head slightly, as if to indicate that they’d talk about it later.

The author stood up and nodded briefly. The woman who had been typing in the corner accompanied him out of the meeting room. Once the door closed behind them, Mr Wright cleared his throat. “Phil, will you introduce your friend to all of us, please?”

Phil blushed and stood up. Mary couldn’t help thinking about a headmaster telling off a young kid.

“This is Dr Mary Miller. She’s a psychiatrist. She also writes, although she has not published anything yet.”

Everybody nodded in her direction. Then Phil proceeded to introduce everybody. Steve Burman smiled pleasantly. The young girl, Tania, no surname used in the introduction, was there on a placement from college.

“My Dad works in accounts and thought it would make for an interesting project. And Mr Wright kindly agreed.”

“And Maggie, my PA, who’s gone out with Mr Fenton. So, first impressions?”

“It’s a good story,” Steve said.

“Do you really think so?” Ryan asked. “There are lots of holes in it.”

“Nearly as big as the one in the victim’s skull,” Phil added. “I don’t know how big or heavy that lamp was, but to make a hole that size, he must have hit him with something very heavy and many times. Once the attacker was unconscious, why carry on?”

“Perhaps we’ll have to look at his mental state and mental health. Maybe the harassment became a bit too much for him and he lost control,” Steve said.

“Could we convince you, dear Dr, to consult on the matter? You could do an assessment of Mr Fenton’s mental state and see if there’s anything else we need to do. I mean any tests, imaging, or any other expert we could call that might be of use when putting together his defence,” Mr Wright said, looking intently at Mary.

“He didn’t strike me as particularly disturbed, but the current circumstances aren’t the best to make a judgement. As long as I can fit it in during my visit, I’d be happy to be of assistance.”

Mr Wright smiled at Mary and then stood up, nodding at everybody and officially ending the meeting.

 

As I told you last week, to prepare for the launch, Escaping Psychiatry is available for only $0.99. Here I leave you a reminder and some links:

 

Escaping Psychiatry cover by Ernesto Valdés
Escaping Psychiatry cover by Ernesto Valdés

Escaping Psychiatry

‘Escaping Psychiatry’ is a collection of three stories in the psychological thriller genre with the same protagonist, Mary, a psychiatrist and writer. She is trying to develop her literary career but circumstances and friends conspire to keep dragging her back to psychiatry.

In ‘Cannon Fodder’ Mary has to assess Cain, an African-American man accused of inciting a religious riot when he claimed that he could hear God and God was black. He might not be mad, but Mary is sure he’s hiding something.

‘Teamwork’ sees Mary hoodwinked into offering therapy to Justin, a policeman feeling guilty after his partner and ersatz father was killed on-duty. Before Mary can extricate herself from the case, things get personal.

In ‘Memory’ Mary goes missing after an incident with Phil, who is manic as he hasn’t been taking his medication. When she is found, she has been the victim of a horrific crime, but they soon discover she was luckier than they had realised.

The epilogue revisits Mary at the point of the trial of her abductor and sees what changes have taken place in her life. Will she finally manage to Escape Psychiatry?

AMAZON (e-book)    KOBO           NOOK            APPLE           SCRIBD        

PAGE FOUNDRY   OYSTER    PAPER

Thanks so much for reading and you know… Like, share, comment and of course CLICK!

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book promo

Offers and new books

Hi all:

As you know on Fridays I usually bring you  new books and/or writers. With the move and the holidays I haven’t been paying that much attention (I must confess) but I hope to catch up on new books and bring you some. Also, I’ve realised many of my posts didn’t move to this site, so I’ll be refreshing and bringing you  reminders and updates.

But, I thought I’d share something. As part of a promotion I participated in to welcome the new year, I’ve put some of my books on offer.

As Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings should be ready soon, Escaping Psychiatry the three stories with writer/psychiatrist Mary Miller as protagonist, is now on offer for only $0.99.

Escaping Psychiatry
Escaping Psychiatry

Escaping Psychiatry

‘Escaping Psychiatry’ is a collection of three stories in the psychological thriller genre with the same protagonist, Mary, a psychiatrist and writer. She is trying to develop her literary career but circumstances and friends conspire to keep dragging her back to psychiatry.

In ‘Cannon Fodder’ Mary has to assess Cain, an African-American man accused of inciting a religious riot when he claimed that he could hear God and God was black. He might not be mad, but Mary is sure he’s hiding something.

‘Teamwork’ sees Mary hoodwinked into offering therapy to Justin, a policeman feeling guilty after his partner and ersatz father was killed on-duty. Before Mary can extricate herself from the case, things get personal.

In ‘Memory’ Mary goes missing after an incident with Phil, who is manic as he hasn’t been taking his medication. When she is found, she has been the victim of a horrific crime, but they soon discover she was luckier than they had realised.

The epilogue revisits Mary at the point of the trial of her abductor and sees what changes have taken place in her life. Will she finally manage to Escape Psychiatry?

AMAZON (e-book)    KOBO           NOOK            APPLE           SCRIBD        

PAGE FOUNDRY   OYSTER  

In case you’re feeling romantic….

I Love Your Cupcakes
I Love Your Cupcakes

I Love Your Cupcakes

Dulce, Adelfa and Storm, the protagonists of I Love Your Cupcakes are business partners, friends and share some “interesting” family connections. All the men Dulce meets only want to talk about her cakes and she’s tired of it. Her friend Adelfa, although she’s a Chemistry Professor, can’t manage to find the recipe for the perfect relationship. And Storm, the third of the partners of their bakery/coffee shop/bookshop/art gallery and ex-fire station, is an artist who is not a master in the art of love. How could they imagine that at the studio of the contest “Do You Have What it Takes to Be the Next Baking Star?” they’d find sexual harassment, cheats, fights and also love? Recipes included (only for cakes, not love!)

AMAZON (e-book)    KOBO           NOOK            APPLE           SCRIBD        

PAGE FOUNDRY   OYSTER  

And my most recent, the full Angelic Business Collection:

Angelic Business YA Paranormal Trilogy in one volume
Angelic Business YA Paranormal Trilogy in one volume

Angelic Business. The Full Trilogy

The Angelic Business trilogy tells the story of Pink, a 17 years old girl whose ordinary life gets suddenly invaded by demons and angels telling her she is ‘the elected’ and has the future of humanity, and of Heaven and Hell, in her hands. Or perhaps she isn’t. It depends on whom she believes. Weird things start happening all around her, and her friends and family become possible victims of these paranormal beings. Is Pink the true ‘elected’? And if she is, what will she do about it?

AMAZON (e-book)    KOBO      NOOK      APPLE       SCRIBD      

PAGE FOUNDRY       OYSTER        24 SYMBOLS

Thanks very much for reading. If you know anybody who might be interested, please pass the links on. And if you read them and love them, tell others why by leaving a review. Ah, and don’t forget that the first book in my YA trilogy Angelic Business is FREE! 

Ah, and if  you want to be kept informed, don’t forget to sign for my newsletter:

http://eepurl.com/bAUc0v

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