Train of Thought

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TRAIN OF THOUGHT

1

Long train-journeys in the mid 70s seemed to take forever. This was especially the case for a young and attractive woman. She was going to be spending the weekend with some friends. Joan was heading to a pretty little village and she was assured that she would like it. Her friends were supposed to be meeting her at the station that late winter evening.

The papers said that “They hadn’t caught him yet”. All the more reason for her to be extra careful.

Three girls had been assaulted on this train-line in as many months. And, in each case, it was a lot more than just assault. One girl nearly died too. They said that there was nothing to worry about because they’d catch him sooner or later. However it was Joan who was doing the travelling on this line that winter evening.

The Papers said they were “looking for a man with short blond hair.” Joan had shoulder-length, straight, dark-brown hair. She had an air of class about her and was well-groomed. The train stopped at a station. The next stop was were Joan was to get off. So not long to go.

Joan picked up a discarded newspaper that had been left on a nearby bench-seat in her small compartment. She was engrossed in it when someone entered the cabin and sat down opposite her. Joan glanced up from her paper to see a man of about thirty staring directly at her. He had short-cropped blond hair.

The attractive-looking man in the checked-jacket, sitting opposite Joan, had a pleasant smile on his face. His pale blue eyes were piercing, almost hypnotic. He was well-dressed and had a confident and relaxed presence. He stopped staring at Joan and politely looked away.

Joan hid behind her paper, glancing over it now and then, revealing her wide eyes. The blond man rattled his fingers on the seat as if he was getting a bit agitated or impatient. It was just the two of them in the small cabin, sitting opposite each other on the bench seats.

2

Joan glances up at the alarm-chain above her. The notice says:

ALARM
Pull the chain
Penalty for improper use £25

Joan glances over to the blond man. He smiles. Joan then realises she is crossed-legged and her skirt has risen up at bit. She sits herself upright, pulls her skirt down, and tucks her open beige jacket over her red blouse. The blond man looks at her legs approvingly. Joan is now feeling very self-conscious and she shifts around on her seat.

The man pulls out a lighter as if he is some sort of a magician. It just appears in his hand. He stretches out his arm in front of himself as if for dramatic effect. He rapidly flicks the flint of the disposable lighter creating lots of sparks. Joan’s eyes widen a bit as she locks onto the lighter. She looks to the man to see that he now has a big wooden pipe in his mouth. But he still has those gleaming eyes fixed upon her.

Joan turns her head slowly and looks at the triangular red notice on the window. “No Smoking” it states. Her concerned eyes are reflected in the window. The train speeds along though the darkness of the night, gently rocking their carriage. The lighter may have just been for dramatic effect because the blond man now produces a big box of Schiff Hamburg matches. The matchbox has a tall clipper ship on the label. He strikes a match on the side of the box. It immediately bursts into flames. He lights his pipe; smoke temporarily engulfs his face. He tosses the match to the floor and holds his gaze on Joan.

With his pipe in his mouth, and both hands now free, the good-looking blond man sits upright, then slowly and deliberately, he leans forward. He stretches his hand out towards her. Joan shrinks back into her seat.

The blond man picks up the newspaper that was next to Joan. She sighs in relief. His outstretched arm was not a threat, he was merely reaching for the reading material.

He sits back and holds the Times over his face, occasionally peering over it to meet her eyes. The train carriage jerks and sways. Joan is thoughtful. She slowly reaches for her leather handbag while keeping an eye on the man behind the newspaper. She delicately puts the strap over her right shoulder and begins to make motions to get up and leave the small compartment.

She stands up, and then looks up at the luggage-rack, above her head, where her big case is lying. She stretches her hand upward and touches the case handle. With a start, she feels his hand over hers. He stands behind her and he grabs the handle. She slowly sits back down. He hands her the case. She accepts it with a frown and dashes out of the compartment. He looks on with a serious expression on his face as he caresses his pipe. He is no longer smiling.

Joan gets off the train at the next station. She walks over the platform, carrying her case, and into the station ticket-office. She looks around. There is no-one there to meet her.

3

She stands in front of the ticket-bureau window and looks inside. There is a lamp on but no-one in the office. A big wooden wall-clock above her shows the time to be 10.45pm. Looking through the ticket-office window again, she flinches at the site of a wooden pipe sitting next to the ticket machine. It is silent all around, and the clock above her head ticks away.

She feels a hand from behind, touching her shoulder. She jumps and lets out a subdued cry of fright. And then she spins around.

“Miss Stevens?”

“Yes” she answers warily.

The grey-haired Station Master peers over his glasses at her. His face is friendly and helpful. He is in uniform, with crisp white shirt and dark tie, and he wears his official cap of authority. His moustache is greying and his hair at the side is long and straggly, giving him a slightly dishevelled appearance. His voice is polite and clear as he looks over his gold-rimmed reading glasses at her.

“Your friends called me” he says.

“What?” she nervously flicks her hair back.

“Mrs and Mrs Hunt were on their way back to town and their car broke down. So they’ll be delayed and so they want you to go on and let yourself in.”

Joan looks a bit anxious.

“They key’s under the mat” he informs her. “This way miss” he gently puts a hand on her back and guides her out of the station building and into the dimly-lit forecourt. “Turn right, out of the station, and it is the first house that you see” the man says helpfully. “About quarter a mile” he says, then pauses. “Everything alright Miss?” he leans towards her and shows genuine concern as they both stand face-to-face in the dark forecourt.

“Yes, thank you” she says with composure. Joan briskly walks off.

A few seconds later a tall blond man, wearing a smart checked-jacket, over a light-coloured polo-necked jumper, walks through the station building and past the ticket office. He stands in the forecourt and looks around keenly. His eyes searching.

“Just a minute” a voice of authority says. “Can I have your ticket please?” the Station Master asks. The blond man spins around to look at the source of the voice behind him.

4

Meanwhile Joan is now out of the station and quickly walking uphill. She keeps glancing back towards the station lights. The road is dark and she briskly walks on the tarmac but not actually on the pavement itself.

The blond man is now emerging from the station and walking her way. Joan quickens her step while glancing back often. She crosses a road of traffic, dodging the speeding headlights. Her case is becoming heavy and cumbersome. Her face shows anxiety as she is well aware that she is isolated and vulnerable in this dark, late, evening light. She is not even familiar with the surroundings.

She steps onto the pavement as a car approaches. The car headlights momentarily blind her. As the car sweeps by she looks back at it to check the registration-number on the rear plate. The car has now travelled another 50 yards, or so, and its headlights illuminate the shadowy figure of a tall man behind her, walking along the pavement.

There is an intense beauty in the vulnerability that shows in the eyes of Joan as her polished heels click-clack on the pavement in the stark white shadowy moonlight. And there is a strength in those eyes too. A resilience.

5

Joan reaches the Big House. She finds the Yale key under the doormat. She glances back at the path to check if there is anyone following her. She quickly puts the key into the lock on the door. In her haste, she pushes the door open, walks inside, and slams it shut. But she leaves the key, still in the lock, on the outside of the door. Her attention is now fully focused on surveying the dark and empty house she has just stepped into.

Joan walks further into the dark house. Standing by a window she looks out into the moonlit night. She sees that the big white gate across the track to the house is not closed properly. There is a gap where the fences should meet. The curtains are wide open on the window she looks through but, so far, she has not put any lights on inside the house. She walks to the hall and flicks the light switch.

Her eyes see into the house. She turns slightly to her left. Bracketed on the wall, just two feet away, are two solid axes, crossed over in an “X” shape. It suddenly occurs to Joan that she has left the Yale key in the lock on the outside of the door. She frowns. Then her eyes widen with the realisation. She spins quickly and heads towards the front door. She opens the door and looks out.

Standing outside, just a few feet away, is the blonde man from the train compartment. He has a gentle smile and nods his head in greeting. He stretches his hand out and his palm is almost touching her face.

Standing outside the house, just a few feet away, is the blond-haired man from the train compartment. He has a gentle smile and nods his head in a greeting. He stretches out his hand. Joan, bares her teeth, and lets out a high-pitched scream of terror, as the shadow of the blond man’s hand covers her face.

6

The next morning is cold, but bright and sunny. A cream-coloured Rover car, registration PFA 324H, speeds along a stretch of dual-carriageway. Inside the car a middle-class couple in their mid to late thirties are chatting. The dark-haired man is driving. The good-looking woman in the passenger-seat, with the neat fringe, subtle pale-blue eye-shadow and streaked-blonde hair, has a big fur coat on.

“She’ll be furious. Absolutely furious,” Susan Hunt declares, slightly theatrically, in her cultured voice. She glances over to her husband to gauge his response.

Keeping a tight grip on the steering-wheel and sounding slightly irritated, Jeff Hunt replies to his wife, “Remember darling, it wasn’t our fault,” his voice sounding a bit strained. “It wasn’t anybody’s fault”. On both occasions he emphasises the word “fault”. Jeff has fine short black hair and looks like he needs a shave. His wide sideburns are neatly trimmed. He looks like a professional man who can handle responsibility. His even-featured, handsome face, looks pasty in the harsh winter light coming through the car window.

“It’s your car” she mildly accuses him. “Men are supposed to look after their cars, to make sure they don’t break down.” She looks at him mischievously to see if he is rising to the bait. Jeff handles this by saying nothing. He concentrates on his driving.

Jeff keeps tight-lipped for just a short while. Susan breaks the silence. “Poor Joan” she sighs. “We were supposed to meet her last night, but now look at it,” she quickly glances at her watch, “it’s … it’s tomorrow”. Susan looks at Jeff as if to challenge him a bit. Jeff puts on a calming tone.

“She probably made herself some supper and went quietly to bed” he says, reassuringly.

“But I had to sit by the roadside and freeze all night,” Susan puts on a slightly perturbed look.

“Just who are you worried about, Joan, or yourself?” Jeff says with a smirk.

“Both of us, of course” Susan has concession in her eyes as Jeff takes a bit of command.

This is all play-acting.

“Both of us had an absolutely beastly night” Susan says with a warm grin. Jeff is grinning too. “All because of your wretched car” she teases. They both now have wide smiles.

“But you love me” Jeff says with confidence. Susan pushes her big fur collar up over her neck and face, and peers over the top revealing just her alluring eyes.

“Maybe” she says.

7

Jeff and Susan arrive at the entry to the driveway of their big country house in their cream “H” registration Rover. Susan gets out of the passenger side-door, takes a few steps forward, and opens up the white wooden gates to allow the car access. Jeff drives the car through and parks it next to the house, stiffly yanking the hand-brake on before exiting from the driver's side.

They both walk along the paving-stones of the path still mildly grinning at each other. Susan’s thigh-level leather boots make an impressive clumping sound on the stone path. She squats down and lifts up the door-mat to check. There is no key.

She stretches her arm out towards Jeff and makes a beckoning motion with her hand as if to say “the door-key please”. Jeff picks up a couple of full milk-bottles from the ground, swiftly transfers both of them to his left hand, and uses his free right-hand to place a set of keys into Susan’s palm. Susan puts the keys into the Yale lock, turns them, and opens the front door.

“Jeff!” she shouts in a high-pitched voice.

They both stare into their house. In the hallway they see tables upturned, cabinets tipped over, and books scattered all over the floor. As they look around they see picture-frames smashed on the floor and stools lying horizontally. There are bloody, hand-marks and finger-prints, on the walls, and large streaks of deep-red blood in places. One of the short axes is missing from the display.

They stand there in shock, frozen. Jeff holds a milk-bottle in each hand in front of him. Susan’s dark-brown leather hand-bag dangles loosely off her left hand.

“Joan!” they both shout, in unison, at the top of their voices. A bloody hand begins to emerge from behind the plasterboard of the wall-corner about 20 feet away from them. The disembodied hand moves slowly, and is about three feet off the ground, as it creeps around the corner of the wall.

They hear the sound of sobbing. Joan gradually appears from around the corner of the hallway. She is on her knees and she grips the wall, to steady herself, as she rises slowly into a standing position. This takes all her strength of will. Joan is battered and bruised and her clothes are torn. She staggers and falls into the arms of Susan, who has rushed forward to catch her. Jeff grabs the telephone that is sitting on a small table nearby.

The police are on their way. Their blue lights are flashing and their sirens are loudly wailing.

8

“Surely just one minute” the plain-clothed Inspector demands, with his face contorted. He stands at around 5ft 10. The knot of his tie is loose and bulges out of his dark-blue suit as it attempts to grip the collar of his check-patterned shirt. His craggy face, furrowed brow, and big moustache, mark him out as a tough guy with experience. His receding, but still lively, dark-red hair and huge sideburns give him an imposing appearance.

“The answer must be no” states the tall and distinguished doctor in the white coat. The surgeon clears the height of the copper by at least two inches. His voice is steady and firm.

The Inspector and the Doctor both look over to see the limp body of Joan being placed down on a hospital bed by two orderlies.

“Half a minute then?” the Inspector pleads, and attempts to use a softer approach to persuade.

“No”.

“Look, you’re doing your job Doctor, I’m just trying to do mine”. The Inspector points at his own chest for emphasis. “She saw the man, she must have. Maybe she can give us an accurate description?” he tries to convince.

“Not now please”.

“Look Doctor …” the Inspector gestures for them both to go out into the corridor. When outside the room, the Inspector raises his voice to a shriller pitch. “If we don’t catch him, he’ll do it again”. The cop stares directly at the tall man in the white coat and challenges him to concede. The Doctor comes back robustly.

“Potential victims are your concern. Mine is that girl”.

The Inspector pauses for a second, realises there is no compromise and then says “I’ll be back tomorrow then” before quickly walking away. The Doctor calls out and the Inspector stops in the corridor and looks back.

“Don’t you realise it is her mind that is affected? The state she is on now she may never make any sense”.

“I’ll be back tomorrow” the copper mutters under his breath and then walks away.

9

Joan is lying on the hospital bed, unconscious. She’s just been given an injection to sedate her. The tall doctor in the white coat comes into the private room to check on her. He leans over the bed. Her eyes are open, but she doesn’t see the doctor, she sees the blond man looking at her.

“Take the man away” she whimpers. She sobs and cries. “Take the bad man away”. The doctor moves away from the bed and whispers some instructions to a nurse. Joan grips her pillow and carries on wailing and sobbing.

Meanwhile, Susan is down on her knees in the hallway, cleaning up the mess at the house. She scoops up broken glass and has a vacuum-cleaner sitting next to her. Some pieces of furniture are still tipped over. The big cream phone, sitting on the small table, begins to ring. Susan glances up with concern and looks over at the ringing phone. She is dressed in a thin black polyester top and long black trousers. Jeff, still wearing his checked shirt, which now has the collar wide open, walks over and picks up the phone handset.

“Yes, I see. Thank you for ringing” he says into the phone, using subdued tones. Susan looks on in anticipation, with worry on her face. She has both hands placed on her thighs, and from her kneeling position on the hardwood floor, she looks up at Jeff who has placed the phone back on the hook. “It’s the hospital. No change.” he quietly informs her.

In the hospital, Joan is lying quietly now. She has a pretty floral gown on. Joan is awake but her eyes are in the distance. The Inspector is standing at the bottom of her bed. He has a friendly expression. “Miss Stevens” he says quietly and gently. His face looks softer and more approachable than the day before. His tie-knot is now tighter, and neater, over his fine-checked shirt. He looks quite smart in his blue suit.

“Miss Stevens” he repeats softly, inflecting his voice to a slightly higher, questioning, tone. Joan stares but is unresponsive. He moves in close and leans over the bed and is about two feet away from Joan‘s face. “Look …” he shakes his head a little with impatience. “… I just want to find the man…” he puts on a grin for her. She stares at him, wide-eyed. Joan almost looks like an innocent baby as she lies there.

The Inspector continues “… the bad man…” he nods his head to her, gently trying to get her cooperation. “… the man you’ve been talking about …” Joan stares at him with her innocent and glassy wide eyes. “… you are going to help me find …” his voice trails away and his head goes down a bit. He tries again.

“Miss Stevens, you don’t have to be frightened of me … I’m a police officer …” He takes out his I.D. from his jacket pocket and places it firmly in front of her eyes, just six inches, or so, away. “See”. The unfolded card has an emblem on it and it says COUNTY POLICE. It gives names and numbers, and it is signed. Joan looks a bit more relaxed. She slowly moves her head up to look at the man who is holding the I.D. card. Joan sees the blond man; the bad man. She lets out a hysterical scream of anguish. The copper shrinks back and looks bewildered. The doctor enters the room and instructs the Inspector to leave immediately. Joan carries on screaming intensely.

10

Later on that day ...

The Inspector is peering closely at the remaining axe which is still hanging on the wall-bracket. There is an empty slot next to it, where the twin was. His craggy face is screwed up in concentration and he strokes his moustache with his thumb. He steps away from the wall.

“You haven’t found it yet” Jeff states with a sigh, and a flat tone of disappointment in his voice. He stands a few feet away from the Inspector, by the window. Jeff’s wearing a light-blue plain shirt which is open at the neck, and darker blue soft trousers that flair a bit at the bottom. Both his hands are in his pockets and his shoulders are hunched up. He’s clean-shaven but his thick, straight, black hair is looking a bit too floppy. He could do with a good haircut.

“Nah. The axe … nor him” the Inspector replies. “Funny though …” the Inspector continues, while shaking his head “I thought we would have found it”. He walks forward to stand in front of Jeff. “Judging from the injuries, he didn’t use the axe on her. I thought perhaps she took it to defend herself”

“Well if she did, it didn’t do much good” Susan buts in impatiently. She had been within earshot listening to them both. She is standing upright, about twenty feet away from them, leaning on a wall, with her arms tightly crossed over her chest. She’s wearing a light-coloured floral dress.

The Inspector paces around slowly and continues with his analysis. “Probably put his prints on it during the struggle … eh … what he did … he ran out though here …” he points down the hall “…he remembered the axe … and, eh, came back for it”.

“How do you know that?” Jeff asks with incredulity. He is now standing behind Susan and has his arms loosely around her.

“I don’t know, I’m just guessing” says the Inspector, but he doesn’t sound very convincing though. He looks at the floor. “But there’s mud on this carpet …” his voice trails off. “I wonder why he didn’t kill her?”. The Inspector hangs the question in the air. Jeff and Susan both fix their gazes on him.

“I wonder why he didn’t kill her?” the Inspector conjectures.

“Well he might as well have” Susan looks stressed, “They’ve taken her to Corby Hall”.

“I know” the Inspector confirms, with a slight grin.

Susan is perturbed. “She’s not mad is she?”

“Not mad, maybe disturbed, but that’s understandable after what’s happened to her. As a woman you should understand that” the Inspector says with a wide grin. Susan is now close to tears.

“When I think of Joan in that place …” Susan’s eyes are glassy. Jeff grips her by the shoulders.

“Now darling it isn’t … a place like that” Jeff puts on a comforting tone.

“Corby Hall’s the best in the country” the Inspector has a uplifting tone, and a grin on his face. “And expensive” the Inspector nods to Jeff, who is clutching Susan’s shoulders.

“The Americans are showing their customary generosity. The Embassy is paying all the bills” Jeff states.

Joan had just arrived in the country to take up a position as a stenographer. Her train journey was the first time she had travelled on a British train. Because she was so well brought-up and educated Joan only had the mildest accent which she could take away, at will, if the context required this.

She’ll soon be well enough to talk to me” says the Inspector, confidently, “…and then … I’ll nail him”.

11

Later …

It is a cold and overcast day at Corby Hall. Joan wanders around aimlessly on the immaculately-mowed lawn next to the water-fountain. She is wearing a long grey coat over an ankle-length white, floral-pattered, gown and her footwear is loose-fitting scandals. Her arms are wrapped across her body, tightly, in an effort to keep out the chill. A nurse, in uniform, walks towards her to check her welfare.

Jeff, Susan, and a psychiatrist, are standing on a balcony of the grand house. All three are observing Joan, who is below them, at a distance, talking to the attendant nurse. Jeff and Susan gaze down, looking concerned. The psychiatrist stands back a bit and has a look of professional detachment.

Jeff is wearing a light grey suit and blue shirt and dark tie. His hair, while still full of body, looks neater and trimmed. Susan is wearing a patterned tweed jacket over a bright yellow polo-neck jumper, and she has matching flared yellow trousers. The psychiatrist wears a fine-quality dark-blue jacket, a crisp white shirt, and a conservatively-striped tie and buttoned-up waistcoat. He stands upright, with his hands behind his back, and his fine grey receding hair, and slightly tanned skin, give him an air of authority. He looks to be a man in his early fifties.

“I understand she has no family” the psychiatrist states using perfect diction. He has the slightest of accents.

“None to speak of, a couple of distant aunts…” mutters Jeff in a low voice.

“It is important she doesn’t feel lonely … isolated in any way” the psychiatrist states, drawing out the word “lonely” in a commanding way, almost as if he is a high-level government-official advising a Minister of State. His manner irritates Jeff a bit.

“Yes of course” Jeff says snappily, “we come every weekend …” his voice trails off.

“Can I go and talk to her? Susan asks.

“Yes, but only bright things please” the psychiatrist instructs, in his superior tone, as he paces away with his hands behind his back. They all walk inside. The psychiatrist heads over and sits behind his polished wooden desk. Susan and Jeff begin to walk out the office door.

“Not you Mr Hunt” the psychiatrist’s voice booms out and echoes of the walls. Jeff pauses, turns around bemused looking, and meets the eyes of the psychiatrist. “For the time-being it is best she only has female contact” the psychiatrist then looks down and carries on writing busily, without looking up. Jeff is a bit taken aback and so is Susan. Jeff glances at Susan as if to say, you carry on and I’ll deal with this. Susan walks away out of the office. Jeff walks back in and closes the door. He paces around for a while but says nothing. The psychiatrist doesn’t look up. Jeff is uncomfortable. He rubs his hands together and sighs a bit.

Jeff moves over to stand by the desk. “Doctor Warder” he says in a quiet voice. Jeff is now wringing his hands. Warder carries on writing for a bit, then he looks up at Jeff. He says nothing. Jeff walks towards the window and gazes out into the bright-white daylight. He briefly points out of the window and then he gently asks, “How long is this going to take?”

“Progress will be slow, but over the next few months I hope that she may …”.

Jeff spins around from his window-gazing and cuts in, “A few months?” he says with a surprised tone while looking directly at Warder.

“ … I’d say six at least” Warder spins around on his chair to look at Jeff.

“But then she will be completely well again?” Jeff asks, with concern on his face.

“Well, the experience she has been through, there must be scars of course …”. Warder has spun back around in his chair and he looks away from Jeff, in a detached way, thinking abstractly. “But she will be a perfectly normal and healthy young woman again” Warder states confidently, with his voice resonating.

12

Meanwhile ...

The Inspector is sitting behind his untidy desk, scribbling away intently with his black ballpoint pen, on a sheet of cream paper which is part of the contents of a manila-coloured cardboard file. His desk is functional, and probably too small, as there are many sheets of paper covering the whole surface. His two black telephones sit under a desk-lamp at his right-hand corner. He’s wearing a sleeveless, thin-grey, ribbed-patterned, v-necked jumper over a fine-checked blue shirt. His dark tie is fairly tight to the collar. On the blue wall directly behind him there are some notices and a big map. There is a purposeful knock on the door.

“Yes” he acknowledges, absent-mindedly, while still annotating his document.

“Detective Constable Wallace, Sir” a female voice announces.

The inspector carries on muttering to himself about his analysis of his notes and then pauses and slowly gazes up from his desk. At his eye-level he is facing the crotch of a set of blue female jeans about two feet away. The belt of the jeans is soft-grey/blue and studded with beads. The buckle is an ornate face with blue-beads for ears. Just above the belt-line is a horizontally pin-striped fashionable blue casual top. His eyes dilate involuntary as he continues to slowly raise them upwards to reveal a glamorous young blond-haired woman wearing a decorative necklace. The Inspector’s expression is frozen in surprise for a second as he clutches a piece of A4 paper, and then a wide grin appears on his face. He looks upwards from his desk at this tall woman, standing there, with approval in his eyes. He rises up from his seat and takes a few steps around to be at the other side of the blond woman from his desk.

“Well now constable Wallace, what I want from you is …”. The Inspector’s eye-level only meets the woman’s chest-level. She towers over him. The Inspector looks distracted at what he sees just two feet away. Slightly embarrassed, he gestures with his hand, “Why don’t you sit down”.

13

Later ...

I’m very pleased with you Joan, very pleased indeed”. Doctor Warder leans forward over his desk. “Cure is a two-way process” Warder’s eyes gleam with self-satisfaction. “We can lead, offer, direct, but ultimately it must come from you” Warder speaks in his confident and formal manner. Joan sits on a hard chair, opposite him, at the other side of the desk. Her head is slightly bowed forward and she is fiddling with a string of paperclips she has assembled. Joan is wearing a medium-green open-necked top with lots of buttons running up the middle. She doesn’t look up at Warder, she focuses her concentration on adding more clips to her chain.

Warder slowly reaches over the desk to touch her hands to get her attention and to stop her fiddling away. “You are doing very well …” his voice booms out. Joan flinches at his touch and lets out a cry. Warder gives her a stern look. “But perhaps the most important factor of all … is time”. Warder maintains steady eye-contact on Joan. “Time to forget. Time to re-adjust”. Warder speaks with force, almost as if he is trying to hypnotise his patient.

14

Meanwhile ...

Susan stands in front of a full-length mirror, combing the neat fringe of her straight blondish hair. “I’m sure it’s going to be good news”

“Don’t build up any hopes”. Jeff can be heard from the other side of the room.

“They said be prepared for a surprise” says Susan, with a smile of optimism.

“I know, but don’t build up any hopes” Jeff repeats. He has moved forward and is now standing behind Susan, fixing his cuffs. He, too, has a smile on his face.

“You’ve already said that about half-a-dozen times”. Susan turns around to look at him. “Darling, you’re beginning to sound like a needle stuck in a groove”

“Well that doesn’t half date you. I always did go for the older woman” he teases, and then he gives her a cheeky smack on the bottom. Susan spins around fast and swipes at him. Jeff ducks down at lightning speed and her attempted blow completely misses the target.

“I’m sure we’re going to see a great change in Joan” Susan’s wide smile is bright. Jeff puts his arm around her as they walk, together, out of the house.

To be continued ...