Excerpt of Monster by Jonathan Kellerman
(Page 8 of 10)
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Heidi leaned against the elm and watched them. If I hadn't been looking for the
fear, I might not have noticed it. She wore it lightly, a glaze of anxiety,
hands knotting then releasing, eyes fixing too intently on the swinging child.
"Thanks for meeting with us, ma'am," said Milo.
"Sure," she said. "My roommate's sleeping, or I would've had you come to my
She moistened her lips with her tongue. She wore low-slung jeans, a ribbed white
T-shirt with a scalloped neck and high-cut sleeves, blunt-toed brown boots. Her
hair was drawn back, just as it had been at Starkweather, but in a ponytail, not
a tight bun. Dangling earrings of silver filigree, some eye shadow, a smear of
lip gloss. Freckles on her cheeks that I hadn't noticed on the ward. Her nails
were clipped short, very clean. The T-shirt was form-fitting. Not much meat on
her, but her arms were sinewy.
She cleared her throat, seemed to be working up the courage to speak, just as a
tall, thin man with long hair came loping by with a panting mutt. The dog had
some Rottweiler in it. The man wore all black and his coarse hair was a dull
ebony. He stared at the ground. The dog's nose was down; each step seemed to
strain the animal.
Heidi waited until they passed, then smiled nervously. "I'm probably wasting
"If there's anything you can tell me about Dr. Argent, you're not."
Squint lines formed around her eyes, but when she turned to us they disappeared.
"Can I ask you one thing first?"
"Claire--Dr. Argent--was anything done to her eyes?"
Milo didn't answer immediately, and she pressed herself against the tree trunk.
"There was? Oh my God."
"What about her eyes concerns you, Ms. Ott?"
She shook her head. One hand reached back and tugged her ponytail. The man with
the dog was leaving the park. Her eyes followed him for a second before
returning to the swinging child. The boy squalled as the young woman pulled him
off, struggled to stuff him into a stroller, finally wheeled away.
Just the three of us now, as if a stage had been cleared. I heard birds sing;
distant, foreign chatter; some traffic from Fuller Avenue.
Milo was looking at Heidi. I saw his jaw loosen deliberately and he bent one
leg, trying to appear casual.
She said, "Okay, this is going to sound weird but . . . three days ago, one of
the patients--a patient Dr. Argent worked with--said something to me. The day
before Dr. Argent was killed. It was at night, I was double-shifting, doing bed
check, and all of a sudden he started talking to me. Which by itself was
unusual, he's barely verbal. Didn't talk at all until Dr. Argent and I began--"
She stopped, pulled the ponytail forward so that it rested on her shoulder,
played with the ends, squeezed them. "You're going to think I'm flaky."
"Not at all," said Milo. "You're doing exactly the right thing."
"Okay. This is the situation: I'm just about to leave his room and this guy
starts mumbling, like he's praying or chanting. I pay attention because he
hardly ever talks--never really talks at all. But then he stops and I turn to
leave again. Then all of a sudden, he says her name--'Dr. A.' I say, 'Excuse
me?' And he repeats it a little louder. 'Dr. A.' I say, 'What about Dr. A?' And
he gives this strange smile--till now, he never smiled either--and says, 'Dr. A
bad eyes in a box.' I say, 'What?' Now he's back to looking down at his knees
the way he always does and he's not saying anything and I can't get him to
repeat it. So I leave again and when I reach the door and he makes this sound
I've heard him make a few times before--like a bark--ruh ruh ruh. I never knew
what it meant but now I get the feeling it's his way of laughing--he's laughing
at me. Then he stops, he's back in space, and I'm out of there."
Excerpted from Monster by Jonathan Kellerman. Copyright© 1999 by Jonathan Kellerman. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.