Hollow Moon Part 23
- Hollow Moon Part 1
- Hollow Moon Part 2
- Hollow Moon Part 3
- Hollow Moon Part 4
- Hollow Moon Part 5
- Hollow Moon Part 6
- Hollow Moon Part 7
- Hollow Moon Part 8
- Hollow Moon Part 9
- Hollow Moon Part 10
- Hollow Moon Part 11
- Hollow Moon Part 12
- Hollow Moon Part 13
- Hollow Moon Part 14
- Hollow Moon Part 15
- Hollow Moon Part 16
- Hollow Moon Part 17
- Hollow Moon Part 18
- Hollow Moon Part 19
- Hollow Moon Part 20
- Hollow Moon Part 21
- Hollow Moon Part 22
- Hollow Moon Part 23
- Hollow Moon Part 24
- Hollow Moon Part 25
- Hollow Moon Part 26
- Hollow Moon Part 27
- Hollow Moon Part 28
- Hollow Moon Part 29
- Hollow Moon Part 30
- Hollow Moon Part 31
- Hollow Moon Part 32
- Hollow Moon Part 33
- Hollow Moon Part 34
- Hollow Moon Part 35
“Reverend Bandersnatch, we need a plea,” the judge said.
The Reverend could not respond and stared through the oak floor to some place beyond where he was standing—beyond reality. His attorney asked the judge to return him to the inpatient psychiatric unit for further evaluation as to whether he was fit to stand trial.
“Fine, Sir, but I expect a plea soon, at the very least—an official one.”
The loud crack of the gavel broke the stale air, and the Reverend was led out in the hobbles he came in with. Jean Bandersnatch, suitably tearful, exited the courtroom in dramatic fashion. She was doing her best to come off as distraught. Old Mrs. Fink saw her outside the courthouse and noted how dedicated she was to her husband. Old Mrs. Fink was good at sharing such tidbits with the other Gossips, it so happened. This pleased the Chief Gossip immensely.
Sam was also in the courtroom, as was the entire population of Fletcher. This was the crime of the century as far as they were concerned. Sam noted how Mrs. Bandersnatch reacted. Shaking his head, he got out of his seat and left before the real theatrics could begin. The whole affair—both on the Deacon’s level and on the criminal level—made Sam sick. Sam did wonder, though, why the Preacher would help Esk in the psych ward when his little buddy needed to contact him. Didn’t the Reverend hate them both?
“Give me the antidote, Lod,” Esk ordered Severius.
Dr. Severius was trapped underneath his desk with nowhere to go. He was now rethinking his choice of hiding places and trying to formulate an escape plan. Esk leaned forward and squinted at him.
“Are you a psychopath, Lod?” Esk began to glow from within his chest.
“I don’t know who Lod is, Esk. Really, I don’t. Please. I’m just the prison psychiatrist,” Severius cried with his hands up in defense.
“Dr. Severius, then. Let’s pretend that I’m a psychopath. What do you think I would do to a doctor whom I trusted if he drugged me for no good reason and I ended up in the secure unit of the inpatient psychiatric ward with my mortal enemy?”
Severius could no longer speak. Sweat rolled off his forehead and into his eyes. He wiped it away with the back of his hand, blinking hard.
“No answer? That can be fixed easily enough. And you will give me the antidote.”
Esk translated both himself and Dr. Severius to an examination and reprogramming room in the moon. He needed to tweak the moon’s course again, anyway, since the Council was indisposed. Lod would give their location up, too, when Esk was finished with him.
The Gossips were flustered when Jean walked into the church hall. An abrupt hush fell over the small crowd of gaudily clad women as the pious Chief Gossip walked among them. No one dared speak. If there was ever a female court on such matters as the one at hand, this was it. Judgment would be passed. Bandersnatch relished the attention—all hers—for what her jealous idiot husband had done. What she had done to precipitate events was not in question here—not at this meeting.
Old Mrs. Fink was the first to open her trap. The rest of the Gossips were rapt as she recounted how Mrs. Bandersnatch had conducted herself in the courtroom. All nodded their heads in approval like a flock of hens pecking for corn once she had ended her testimony.
Now it was Jean’s turn to speak. For effect, she dabbed the corner of her eye with her handkerchief and then burst into tears. Each of the Gossips took their turn at hugging and consoling her. The Reverend’s wife could not get enough. This was her moment, and she milked it for all it was worth. The Gossips rallied around her.
“I…I remain supportive of ma’ husband, the Reverend…” she sobbed, faking a very convincing wail at the end.
“Aw, Honey, we know ya’ do,” said Old Mrs. Fink. “He’s not right in the head. Let us pray fer ‘is soul…”
Sam had questions, and he wanted answers. The events of the past few days had been a roller-coaster ride for him. Not only had they been an intense burden for him, but for Esk as well. Where was Esk, anyway? Sam was at the end of his rope. It seemed to him that Dr. Severius had betrayed Esk for some reason. The Reverend had shot at the Deacon Pritchard only to maim him over that affair with his wife, and the whole town was aflame—figuratively speaking—over the Reverend.
What about Jean Bandersnatch? How did she get off looking so innocent? As far as Sam was concerned, she was the root cause of the whole circus. Esk was right to call her the Chief Gossip as he did. Sam could not yet figure out how Dr. Severius fit into the picture, but he was beginning to.
Sam rested his hand on the phone receiver. Inhaling deeply, he picked it up and dialed the number to St. Sebastian Medical Center’s inpatient psychiatric ward.
“Hello? Can I help you?” asked a receptionist.
“Yes, I’d like ta’ speak ta’ the Reverend Bandersnatch, please. He’s in the secure unit.” Sam said, covering the phone so that he could exhale, shaking.
“One moment, please.”
Sam drew an instant blank. What was he going to say to the pontiff who bullied and belittled him publicly in church services week after tormenting week? How could his mother have stood for that behavior for so long before she passed away? How…
“Hello?” the Reverend’s raspy voice asked.
“Reverend Bandersnatch, this is Sam Wilkins. Ya’ might not remember me, but…”
“Oh, I remember ya’. How could I forget ya’—you and yer friend Esk?”
“Preacher, all I wanna know is why ya’ helped Esk when he was in the hospital with ya’ the other day. Ya’ didn’t hafta’.”
“Sam Wilkins, yer momma gave money ta’ that offerin’ plate ev’ry week she was alive and sittin’ in them church pews. I’s sorry ta’ see ‘er go. I guess I owes ya’ an apology, too. An’ yer friend. I ain’t been fair ta’ ya’—neither one a’ ya’—but Jean insists that yer buddy there is evil. I didn’t see no evil in ‘im here the other day. All I saw was an innocent man bein’ locked up with nobody ta’ talk to, not even bein’ able ta’ use a telephone. So I helped ‘im. I dunno what’s gonna happen ta’ me. I’m not even sure who I am anymore. But Esk d’served help, so I dialed yer number fer ‘im.”
“Why does yer wife think Esk’s evil?”
“Somethin’ ‘bout space aliens an’ getting’ probed. Ya’ know—stuff people say when they’s hidin’ somethin’. I found out what she was a-hidin’, though. That Deacon Pritchard an’ her havin’ an affair. Right in front a’ me. Right in front a’ the whole town, jus’ ta’ embarrass me. So I wanted ta’ divorce ‘er. Left the papers on the kitchen table fer her ta’ sign. But she wouldn’t sign ‘em. So I d’cided ta’ take care a’ both of ‘em. Just meant ta’ scare ‘em. ‘Cept now I’m gonna hang an’ she’s gonna get ever’thing she wants. Jus’ like always. She’s one a’ them psy-cho-paths. Stay away from ‘er, Sam, or you’ll be next.”
“Don’t you worry, Preacher. I’ll get Esk. He’ll think a’ somethin’. I’m sure he’s grateful fer whatcha’ did fer ‘im in there. We’ll figure somethin’ out.”
A light bulb had come on for Sam. “Psychopaths,” Reverend Bandersnatch had said. “Psychopaths” were what Esk and Dr. Severius were talking about in the prison office when he was there. Sam was now sure there was a link… but what?