by Winnie


Part 3


Daniel Coburn watched as the black limousine pulled through the heavy metal gates at the end of the red brick driveway. He knew who was in the car and wondered how this was going to go. Susan James would’ve explained to Larabee what would happen once he turned violent, but it still bothered him that he would have to order the medication.


“Is that the new client?”


Coburn turned to look at the man who’d just joined him. Carl Sheppard was a short man, barely over five foot, with thinning black hair, and a thick moustache under a nose that was too big for his gaunt face.


“Yes, just remember the client doesn’t know he’s being admitted today,” Coburn explained.


“I know, Doctor, you just make sure you keep control of the situation. We don’t need to cause a scene with the possibility of new money.”


“Is that all you ever worry about, Carl? What about the patients?” Coburn’s voice was filled with loathing as he stared at the smaller man.


“My job is to keep this place running smoothly and make sure the high standards are maintained,” Sheppard snapped. “The patients I leave in your capable hands, Dr. Coburn! Now we both have jobs to do, so please keep your opinions to yourself until after the client is admitted.”


Coburn watched as the limousine pulled to a stop and the chauffeur exited the car and moved to the back doors. A woman stepped out and the doctor knew this was Susan James. She wore a well-tailored beige suit with a white blouse. He recognized the second man as Ezra Standish and again was amazed at the way the man seemed to ooze sophistication. The dark Armani suit was tailored to fit his body to perfection. Standish stood beside James and looked around the grounds disinterestedly.


He had to hide his shock as the third passenger exited the car. Chris Larabee was barely recognizable from the man he’d met nearly three weeks ago. The man who stepped from the limo wore black jeans and a black leather jacket, but what struck Coburn was the scruff of beard and the unruly blond hair. He wore dark Ray Ban sunglasses and staggered as if he’d already had a drink or two too many. The man actually looked the part of a drunk and the doctor knew Larabee would be able to fool the staff, at least for now. 


“What the fuck are we doing here, brother dear?” Larabee asked.


“Now, Chris, I already explained that we were asked to check Shady Acres as a possible tax break. You do want to make sure we pay only what we need to, don’t you?”


“Why the hell should I care! I’ve got plenty of money,” the blond snarled, leaning so that his face was next to Standish’s ear. “Or are you afraid there won’t be any left over for you if you succeed in getting rid of me?”




“Don’t bother answering, Ezra. We both know you’ll soon be ousted from the company and I’m not even gonna have to lift a finger...”


“Chris, you’re making a show of yourself,” James said as she placed her hand on Larabee’s shoulder.


“What the hell do you care, Doc, long as I keep paying you,” Larabee smiled and lewdly reached for her. “Hell, Doc, that suit makes you downright appealing!”


“Excuse me...”


Larabee turned toward the newcomers and smiled crookedly at the doctor who was now officially their client. “What the hell do you want?” the blond asked.


“Mr. Jacobson, you’re disturbing some of the patients...”


Larabee started to laugh at Coburn’s statement. “I thought the patients were here because they were...ah...disturbed.” He laughed at the look on his ‘brother’s’ face.


“Chris, let’s just take the tour and you can get back to your...”


“Drinking and carousing, Ez...Jesus are you ever gonna get a life of your own and stop interfering in mine?”


“Mr. Jacobson, my name is Carl Sheppard and...”


“Is that supposed to mean something to me?” Larabee asked.


“Not yet, but it will. You see I’m the man who looks after the finances here at Shady Acres...”


Larabee laughed as he looked at the man. “Let me tell you something, Sheppard, if I do invest in this mental hospital the first thing I’m gonna do is insist on a name change. Who the hell came up with that name. Jesus, Shady Acres sounds more like a graveyard than a, what is it you called this place, Dr. James? Oh yes…a luxurious home for the mentally impaired.”


“Chris, stop it right now!” Standish said as he stood beside his ‘brother’.


“Or what, brother? You’ll make me leave. Well, shit, I’m ready to leave right now!”


“Mr. Jacobson, please calm down for a minute.”


“I am calm, Dr...”


“Coburn,” the psychiatrist answered automatically. “I know you don’t want to be here, but if you’ll bear with me we’ll get the tour over as quickly as possible and you can be on your way.”


“Chris, please,” Ezra began.


“Oh, fuck, he’s using his impeccable manners. All right, let’s get this over with. I need a drink.”


“I believe you’ve already had enough,” Standish mumbled, and was surprised when Larabee turned on him, grabbing him by the collar of his expensive suit.


“It’s none of your business what I do, Ezra, and it’s about fucking time you learned that! Those gambling debts of yours are not gonna go away and I’m not gonna okay any more money to your accounts!” he said and shoved the younger man. He smiled as Standish hit the ground and stared up at him wild eyed. “Don’t look so surprised, brother dear. I’ve known about your heavy hand at the table for some time now and have just been waiting for you to dig your own grave.”


“Chris, that’s enough,” James said as she helped the younger man to his feet.


“Yes, Doctor, that is enough. All right, Sheppard show me around your little facility,” the blond ordered, turning his back on the gambler and the female doctor.


Sheppard smiled as he looked at the three newcomers. “Alright, Mr. Jacobson, would you like to start with the grounds?”


“I don’t care! Just show me what I’m supposed to be investing in. Ezra, since this was your idea you’d better get your ass in gear and follow me,” Larabee insisted.


“We’ll start with the gardens then. Follow me,” Sheppard said, filing away the information he’d just received. He smiled inwardly at the possibility of getting his hands on some of the Jacobson millions.


“Gardens…just what I want to see,” Larabee said sarcastically.


“Chris, please...”


“Please what, Ezra. Please don’t make a that what you were gonna say? Well, if you don’t like it then just go wait in the fucking car!”


“Mr. Jacobson, please watch your language,” Coburn said, amazed at the change in the man walking beside him. 


“Or what? You’ll ask me to leave. Jesus, that’s just what I want anyway...”


“Dr. Coburn, please leave Mr. Jacobson alone,” Sheppard said.


“Yeah, Coburn, do as the little weasel says and leave Mr. Jacobson alone,” Larabee laughed.


‘Jesus, Chris, I’m glad I know this is all an act,’ Standish thought as he walked meekly beside his ‘brother’.


“Chris,” James began, but was cut off by an icy glare from the blond.


“Look, Doc, you’re just along for the ride! So why don’t you just do your job and analyze the situation!” Larabee laughed at his choice of words, not caring that only Sheppard joined him. As he walked beside the institution’s representatives his eyes expertly took in everything around him. He spotted Vin Tanner wheeling a patient toward a strand of rose bushes, but hid any sign of recognition.


“Mr. Jacobson, the gardens as you can see are well maintained and a lot of it is done by the...”


“Inmates,” Larabee interrupted. “That’s a good way to save money, Sheppard.”


“It’s not done because of money,” Coburn interrupted. “It’s done so the patients have something to feel proud of; they’ve accomplished a great deal when they see the flowers begin to bloom.”


“Oh what a thrill,” Larabee spat.


“It’s part of their therapy, Mr. Jacobson,” the psychiatrist told him.


“Therapy?” the blond laughed. “Just what we need a bunch of therapeutic gardeners who don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground!”


“That’s enough, Chris!” Susan James warned. “These people just need help and if they get some enjoyment out of gardening then it’s well worth training them.”


“Sure, Doc,” Larabee laughed sarcastically. “On with the tour, Sheppard!”


“Certainly, Mr. Jacobson. As you can see the gardens and landscape are immaculate and again it is all done by the patients,” the smaller man advised. 


Ezra hung back with Susan James, watching as Larabee put on a performance worthy of an Oscar.


“The gazebo over in the corner and the benches were done by former patients as well. Most of the crafts you see in here were provided by the hands of our clients,” Sheppard explained.


“Cheap labor,” Larabee chuckled obnoxiously. “All right, I’ve had enough of communing with nature. Show me where my money will be spent.”


‘This way,” Sheppard said. “We’ll start with the kitchen and cafeteria.” He led them through a set of reinforced glass doors and into a spacious common area. One wall was completely covered by a bright mural depicting a seascape, with seagulls, white clouds, and the sun peeking up over the horizon, spreading a warm glow across the whole scene. “This is where the patients come to mingle and get to know each other. They get to spend most of their free time here if that’s their desire. There are plenty of books in the library.”


“They can read? What kind of books...those little golden ones?” Larabee laughed at his own private joke.


“Mr. Jacobson, we can all see you have a very intense dislike for our patients, but could you please refrain from the callous remarks while you’re here?” Coburn warned.


“Chris, show some tact for a change.”


“Hell, Dr. James, you’ve always said I don’t have any tact!”


“Chris, the faster we get through the tour, the quicker we get out of here,” Standish explained.


“Shit, never thought of that, Ezra. All right, Sheppard, show me the rest of this place.”


“As you can see, there are orderlies and nurses present at all times. They make sure everyone is occupied and enjoying themselves,” Coburn took over the tour. “We encourage the patients to wear street clothes in order to maintain as normal an atmosphere as possible.”


“Where are the problem patients kept?” Larabee asked, pretending interest for a change.


“We don’t call them problem patients, Mr. Jacobson,” Coburn explained.


“I don’t care what you call them, but these patients are too calm. I’m sure you have violent ones in here. So where are they and do they get any freedom?”


“There is a separate section for the patients who require more care. They have to earn the right to use the common area,” the psychiatrist explained.


“Show me,” Larabee ordered.


“Mr. Jacobson, I don’t really think you need to go in there,” Sheppard said.


“Do you want my money, Sheppard?”


“We...why yes...of course,” the man stammered.


“Then show me where you keep the ones you don’t want your investors to see.”


“Chris, I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” Standish said, letting a hint of fear show in his voice.


“I don’t give a damn what you think, Ezra. I want to see what they’ll be spending my money on!” Larabee snarled, his face inches from the gambler's. Out of the corner of his eyes he spotted a familiar figure pushing a broom. He kept his eyes diverted from Wilmington, not wanting to bring attention to the cleaner.




Larabee whirled on the female psychiatrist and his gaze hardened as he saw the flicker of fear cross her face. ‘Good one, Doc,’ he thought. “Dr. James, if you and Ezra don’t want to see the darker side of this place then go read one of these inmates a story. I want to see everything I’m paying for. So, Sheppard, are you ready to show me where you’ll be spending my hard earned money?”


“I...I d...don’t think that’s a wise i...idea...”


“Ezra, Dr. James, let’s get out of here!” Larabee ordered, turning toward the door.


“Please, Mr. Jacobson....”


“What, Sheppard?” the blond asked.


“I’m sure Dr. Coburn will be only too happy to show you the ward as soon as we’re finished with the regular...”


“I’m not interested in the regular tour! I don’t need to see the inmates making tea and reading books or painting! If you want my donation then you’ll do as I say!”


“Follow me, Mr. Jacobson,” Coburn said.


“That’s better. Ezra, you and Dr. James can take the regular tour with the little weasel there!”


“Chris!” James said, disgust evident on her face.


“Come on, Dr, Coburn, take me on the grand tour!” Larabee ordered and followed the psychiatrist toward a door beside the wall with the mural. He could feel four sets of eyes watching him and knew Wilmington was still there.


“This way,” Coburn said as he opened the door and held it for Larabee. He closed the door behind him and leaned heavily against the door.


“Chris, that was some performance,” he said when he was sure they were alone.


“Thanks, Doc, and I’m sorry for being so damned obnoxious.”


“It’s part of your undercover persona, Chris, so please don’t worry about it. This idea of yours to take a tour of the isolation ward was perfect.”


“At least this way I get some idea of what I’m in for.”


“Chris I’m really sorry for...”


“There’s nothing you can do about that, Doc. I know what I’m in for when we go to your office.”


“I know you do, but it’s still gonna be a shock to you when it happens. Try not to fight too hard.”


“If I don’t put up a struggle they’ll know something is wrong,” Larabee said.


“Shit! I wish there was some other way to do this!” the psychiatrist said regretfully as he led Larabee toward another door. “The second building is isolated from this one and has a lot more security. I think Buck will be assigned there as part of the cleaning crew within the next few days.”


“That’s good. It’ll be nice to see a friendly face while I’m in there,” Larabee said as they strode across the lawn and followed a well-kept path deeper into the property.


“Vin will also be given a rotation here starting next week.”


“How’s JD working out?”


“He’s in the offices and so far he’s doing very well. One of the older ladies has taken him under her wing and is showing him the way things work in here.”


“JD does have a way about him,” Larabee said, his pride in the younger man showing in his words. They were nearly at the second building where violent patients were housed and he quickly resumed his role, but felt Coburn’s hand on his arm and stopped.


“Chris, I...”


“It’s too late for anything else, Doc,” Larabee explained.


“Damn it!”


“I know. Let’s just get on with it.”


“All right,” the psychiatrist said, resigned to the plan they’d come up with to get inside the sanatorium. They walked up to the gate, where a uniformed man waited inside a small gatehouse.


“Afternoon, Doc, what can I do for you?”


“Afternoon, Henry. This is Mr. Jacobson. He’s thinking about investing in Shady Acres, but wants to make sure the facilities are up to standards,” Coburn explained to the grey haired man.


“I’ll have to check with the office to make sure it’s okay,” Henry told him.


“Well hurry it up, Henry!” Larabee snapped. “Otherwise you might just be looking for another job!”


“Pardon me?” the older man asked.


“Never mind, Henry, just check with the office…tell them it’s Chris Jacobson and Daniel Coburn.”


“Sure, Doc,” Henry said, casting a suspicious gaze in Larabee’s direction, before stepping back into the small gatehouse.


Chris paced back and forth in front of the wrought iron barrier. “What the hell’s taking him so long?” he snarled, knowing the guard could hear him.


“He has to make sure it’s okay for us to go in. This is a secure area, Mr. Jacobson. How would it look if we could just walk in?”


“Dr. Coburn, you can go on in. Dr. Kent will meet you at the front desk with your passes,” Henry said, opening the gate for the two men.


“Jesus, it’s about time!” the blond snapped as he strode through the gate. Out of the corner of his eye he caught sight of the contempt on the guard’s face.


“Mr. Jacobson, slow down!” Coburn ordered and hurried to intercept the blond. Once they were out of earshot of the guard, the doctor breathed a sigh of relief.


“Kent is one of the ones we’re investigating,” Larabee said as they walked side by side toward a dark grey building.


“Yes, I’m pretty certain he’s involved in all of this,” Coburn explained. “He’s dangerous, Chris, so please try to stay out of his way.”


“That’ll be hard to do if he’s assigned as my psychiatrist,” the blond said.


“I know, I wish you were being admitted to the regular residence instead of the secure facility.”


“Nathan and Buck can handle the residence, but we needed to find out what’s going on in here. You said yourself that the six people who died should not have been in the secure area, so something had to have caused them to be transferred there.” He searched the grounds, watching as a few men walked around the area. The landscape in this area was immaculately kept as well, and he noticed several men and women tending the flower gardens under the watchful eye of two burly guards. He knew the layout of the grounds from the maps Coburn supplied them with. The fence was well over ten feet high and the only way out was the gate they just came through. He felt Coburn stop beside him and turned to hear what the man had to say.


“Chris, promise me you’ll be careful. Orin would never forgive me if something happened to you or one of the others.”


“I’m not going to do anything to draw attention to myself,” Larabee told him. “At least not if I can help it. So where do we meet Kent?”


“Just inside here,” the psychiatrist explained, opening the door and letting the blond enter before him.


Chris was amazed at the difference between this building and the one he’d entered earlier. There were several doors leading out of the front office, all of them controlled by security cards. A large desk stood against one wall, and several monitors showed different areas of the buildings and grounds. Two men were seated behind the desk, both dressed in the blue grey uniform of the security guards. There were no pictures on the walls, nothing to give the place any kind of atmosphere. No chairs for guests to sit on, no carpet covering the drab tiles on the floor. Taking a deep breath he turned his attention to the man in the white lab coat speaking with one of the security guards.


The man had jet-black hair, a thick moustache, and small goatee. His six foot two inch frame was lean, but heavily muscled, under the blue satin shirt he wore. His eyes were a steel blue and held Larabee’s gaze once he finished his talk with the guard.


“Dr. Raymond Kent,” Coburn said before Larabee could say a word. “This is Chris Jacobson.”


“Ah, Mr. Jacobson, so nice to meet you,” Kent said, his hand automatically reaching out to shake Larabee’s.


The blond ignored the proffered hand and moved around the doctors looking at the monitors covering the back wall.


“Cut the niceties, Kent! Let’s get this over with so I can get the hell out of here.”


The two psychiatrists exchanged glances and Coburn had the distinct impression Kent couldn’t wait to teach the blond some manners. He prayed once Larabee was admitted things would go smoothly between them.


“All right, Mr. Jacobson. First you need a guest pass,” Kent explained, accepting the pass from one of the security guards. “Let me just pin it...”


Larabee grabbed the pass and glared at the psychiatrist. “I can do it myself!”


“I can see that,” the dark haired man agreed. “If you’ll follow me I’ll show you the kitchen area. The patients here help with meals and clean up.”


“Makes me wonder why you need my money. You’re certainly not spending much for labor,” Larabee said as they walked toward one of the doors and Kent placed his card into the slot. The man’s hands flew over the numbered and lettered buttons until Chris heard the distinct sound of the lock disengaging. 


“So tell me how you keep the inmates from escaping,” Larabee ordered when Coburn fell into step behind him. They walked down a well-lit hallway toward another open area.


“All our doors are security coded. Staff members are given a card and a personal number that matches the card. The doors will not open unless the card and code match. There are cameras set up on each floor, and also in the common area, labs, and individual rooms. Curfew is at ten pm and all patients must be in their room at that time.”


“What do you do if an inmate is not in his room by curfew?” the blond asked.


“Their privileges are revoked for a period of time.”




“Yes, privileges. A patient earns the right to use the library, or the exercise gym, or having visitors on family day. If a patient defies authority he or she loses those rights, until such time that they can show they can be trusted to obey the regulations,” Kent said as he slid the card into another slot beside the only door.


Larabee exchanged a quick glance with Coburn, knowing the doctor was already nervous about what they were doing.


“This way, Mr. Jacobson,” Kent indicated the now open door and Larabee could hear people talking as he entered the secured area. “This is what we call the common area, where patients can visit and read, watch TV, or just mingle with each other...”


Larabee laughed as he faced the dark haired man. “Mingle? Jesus, you sound like you’re talking about a church social instead of a mental hospital.”


“We don’t call it a mental hospital, Mr. Jacobson. This is a secure facility where people in need of therapy...”


“Cut the crap, Doc! I don’t give a damn what you call it. Just show me around the place and I’ll make up my mind just how much money this place is worth!”


“As you wish,” Kent said, moving into the common area. “The library is well stocked with many famous authors such as...”


“Dr. Seuss?” the blond said, smiling at his own joke.


“Are you always so condescending, Mr. Jacobson?” Coburn spoke for the first time since they left the outer office.


“I call it as I see it,” Larabee grinned cockily as he looked around the area. Two male orderlies, dressed in white, stood watching the patients, their eyes constantly on the move. There were several patients, male and female sitting at the tables. Some were reading, some doing puzzles; others just seemed to be staring straight ahead. Chris had the feeling that most of them seemed a little too calm for patients who were supposed to be under high security. One man sat off by himself, a well-worn book in his hand. There was something about the large man that caught and held Larabee’s attention, but he was jerked from his thoughts as Kent called his name.


“What?” he snapped.


“As you can see we provide many of the things needed to keep our patients occupied. The kitchen is through this door,” he said as they walked past the table and placed his card in the slot.


“What’re those doors for?” the blond asked, pointing to two doors on the opposite wall. One was open and he could actually hear laughter from inside, the other was closed and locked.


“The open door leads to the Game Room. There’s a small pool table, ping pong table, a couple of video games and shuffleboard,” Kent answered.


“Oh great, I’m on The Love Boat! Where are Gopher and Julie?”


“Mr. Jacobson, the patients here are human and deserve to have some form of recreation!” Coburn exclaimed angrily.


“Sure...sure...that’s just fine!” Larabee stated and turned to the dark haired man. “Okay, Kent, what’s the locked door for?”


“That leads to the patients' rooms. It’s locked at night and cannot be opened except by special cards. We pride ourselves on our security system. No one has escaped from the secure area of Shady Acres in over ten years,” the psychiatrist explained. “This way,” he ordered holding the door for Larabee to enter as he switched on the double row of florescent lights.


Chris was amazed at the high tech kitchen before him. Four large convection ovens and grills were cleaned to shimmering perfection. The counter tops glistened as if the Formica were scrubbed to a polished shine by many hands. Pots and pans hung from hooks over three center islands. Row upon row of well-stocked shelves were placed wherever a space could be found. A locked cabinet containing carving and chef’s knives stood on one wall. The black and white checked tiles were done in a high gloss shine that reflected the white walls back at them, creating a sterile atmosphere usually preserved for operating rooms.


“What do you think, Mr. Jacobson?” Kent asked.


Larabee ran his fingers along the counter tops. “Not bad,” he said as he inspected the stoves and ovens.  


Kent looked at Coburn as Larabee looked around the vast kitchen area.


“I take it you haven’t told him yet?” Kent asked softly.


“Not yet, his brother and the family psychiatrist will spring it on him when we meet in my office,” Coburn answered.


“I’d love to be there to see his reaction,” Kent’s eyes gleamed with malicious intent as he watched the man who would soon be a patient, and probably assigned to the secure area.


“All right, I’ve seen enough,” Larabee said, rejoining the two men.


“What would you like to see next?” Coburn asked.


“Where are the therapy sessions held?”


“There are several rooms available for each doctor. Sometimes we have one on one meetings with our patients. There are also regularly scheduled group therapy sessions and each patient is required to attend those.”


“What if they refuse?” Larabee asked as Kent opened the door leading into the common area.


“They cannot refuse, Mr. Jacobson. As I said it is required of all patients.”


“Show me the rooms!” the blond ordered.


“This way,” Kent said, leading Larabee and Coburn to the second locked door.


Chris looked toward the large man who still remained on his own. Something about the figure tugged at his conscience and he wondered why the man was such a loner.


“You like me don’t you, Mister?”


Larabee turned to see a woman with shoulder length dull red hair. Her eyes were a glazed green, her face pockmarked with scars. Her hands reached for him and wrapped tightly around his waist. Chris felt sympathetic toward the woman, yet knew to show it would cast suspicions on his new persona.


“Get your hands off me!” he snarled as Kent signaled an orderly to join them.


Kent easily removed her weak grip from Larabee’s waist and smiled at the woman. “Now, Melanie, why don’t you go take care of your baby?” Kent said softly.


“My baby?” Melanie asked as the orderly took her hand and led her back to the table. “My baby,” she repeated as she picked up the tiny doll sitting on top of it.


Chris watched as she rocked the doll in her arms, her soft voice humming a song all parents knew. Rock-a-bye baby was one he’d hummed many times to his own son. He shook off the memories, knowing he couldn’t show just how much this affected him.


“Is that what you call controlling your inmates?” he asked wiping his hands along his sides, as if warding off any diseases the woman might have.


“I’m sorry, Mr. Jacobson, but Melanie is harmless,” Kent said.


“Then why is she in here?” the blond snarled.


“She’s been through a lot,” Coburn explained.


“Yeah, well, make sure she stays away from me!” Larabee spat as another patient strode toward him. “Coburn, I think I’ve seen enough.”


“What do you mean?” Kent asked.


“I mean I’m cutting this tour short before any of your other inmates touch me!” the blond said, hurrying toward the door he knew lead out of the facility.




“No buts, Kent. This place gives me the creeps. Let’s go, Coburn!”


Kent slid his card into the slot and held the door for them to exit. He walked the two men to the outer door and watched as Larabee moved outside.


“I’m sorry you feel you needed to cut the tour short, Mr. Jacobson. Perhaps you’d like to return later?”


“Not fucking likely, Kent!” the blond said, walking alongside Coburn.


‘Oh, I can’t wait to get you under my care, Jacobson,’ Kent thought, turning away and moving back into the facility he ran.




Ezra Standish and Susan James were alone in Coburn’s office, waiting for Sheppard to return with the promised refreshments.


Shady Acres was a well maintained and highly organized institution and James was duly impressed by what she’d seen so far. She wished she’d been allowed to follow along with Larabee in the secured area, but didn’t want to arouse suspicions. The staff nurses and psychiatrist seemed very competent in their care of the patients and she hoped things would run smoothly for all involved. She’d seen Vin working with a young man in a wheelchair, but didn’t acknowledge him. She’d caught site of JD Dunne in one of the offices tapping away at the keyboard of a computer. She knew Jackson was starting the following day, an assignment that was supposedly set up two months prior to the actual starting date. She knew once Chris was admitted Josiah would be visiting at regular intervals as the family’s spiritual advisor.


Ezra stood up and walked to the window. His stomach churned at the thought of the next phase of the operation and he knew he had to get his emotions under control. He was supposed to be cold and uncaring about his ‘brother’, yet even as an established conman this went beyond his abilities to stay neutral. ‘Damn!’ he thought as he watched Larabee and Coburn walk toward the building. “They’re coming back,” he said.


“It’ll be okay, Ezra,” James assured him, turning toward the door as Sheppard returned pushing a cart before him.


“Dr. Kent called to say Dr. Coburn and your brother are on their way back, Mr. Jacobson,” Sheppard explained.

“Is everything ready for my dear brother?” Standish asked.


“Yes. Two orderlies have been notified in case Chris reacts as you seem to think,” the hospital administrator advised them.


“Oh, Chris will react as I told you. He’s not going to agree to stay here on his own. I would advise you to remember that!” the gambler warned.


“Duly noted,” Sheppard said as the door opened and Larabee and Coburn stepped inside.


“Well, Doc, what did you think of this place?” Larabee asked disinterestedly.


“It’s a very well maintained institution, Chris. The staff is competent and the facilities are high tech and modern,” James answered.


“What about you, Ezra? What are your impressions?”


“I agree with Dr. James. I believe this place would make a sound investment of our money...”


“Our money, Ezra,” Larabee’s eyebrows rose as he strode toward his brother. “Don’t you mean my money?”


“Y...yes, your money, Chris.”


“That’s better. Now here’s what I think. I don’t give a fuck what you think, I’m not giving one Goddamned penny to this place...”


“But, Mr. Jacobson...”


“But what, Mr. Sheppard? But you need it to pay your bills? I don’t think so. From what I saw you shouldn’t have any bills! It looks like you’re using the inmates to run the place and I bet they don’t receive any wages! Find someone else to invest because I’m leaving. Coming, Brother?” Larabee asked as he strode toward the door.


“Chris, I think you’d better take a seat!” James ordered.


“What for, Doc? I already made up my mind and you know damn well once I do I don’t change it! Now, let’s get out of here before we catch something!”


“Chris!” Standish called from the window.


“What?” Larabee snarled.


“You’re not leaving...”


“What the fuck do you mean I’m not leaving? I just told you I’m not giving them any money so there’s no point in sticking around!” Larabee reached for the handle on the door and started to open it, only to have the door closed before he succeeded.


“You’re staying here, Chris!” Standish snapped at the blond.


Larabee’s eyes turned glacial, his hand reaching out to shove his brother as he heard Coburn’s voice behind him.


“Send an orderly to my office right away!”


“What the hell’s going on?” the blond snarled as he turned to face the three people in the room.


“Chris, we really need to get your temper under control,” Standish said, standing in front of the blond and blocking his exit.


“My temper!” Larabee screamed. “You want to see my temper, Ezra!” he asked, shoving the other man against the wall. “Now get the fuck outta my way before I show you just how bad my temper can be!” He turned as the door swung open and two orderlies hurried into the room. ‘Jesus, Vin,’ he thought as the two men advanced on him.


“Chris, you really need to calm down!” James snapped as she knelt beside a dazed Standish.


“Get the fuck away from me!” the blond snapped, unable to meet the tracker’s eyes, knowing they’d be filled with pain and sorrow. He struck out at the nearest man, his fist impacting with the strong chin as he sidestepped the two men in his bid for freedom. He nearly made it to the door, but was tackled from behind and landed heavily on his stomach. The air hissed from his lungs, but he continued to fight as a knee was placed at the center of his back and his arms were grabbed and pulled behind him. Something heavy lay across his legs, making it impossible for him to move.


“Calm down, Mr. Jacobson, or I‘ll be forced to have you sedated!” Coburn warned.


“Don’t you fucking try it!” Larabee snarled, turning his head to the side as the weight on his back held him down. “Get off me you bastards!”


“I’ll be right back!” Coburn said. He hurried from the room, the sounds of Larabee’s struggles following him from his office. “Janina, I need the keys to the drug cabinet!” he snapped at one of the nurses at the desk.


“Here you go, Dr. Coburn!” Janina Faraday said as she took the keys from her belt and followed him to the locked room.


Coburn hurried to the cabinet housing the sedatives and quickly drew off the required dosage of Valium before hurrying out of the room. He entered his office to find Larabee still struggling against the two men holding him down.


“Mr. Jacobson, I’m going to give you a sedative to calm you down,” Coburn explained.


“Don’t you touch me!” he snarled, lifting his head until he found his ‘brother’. “Ezra, call this off or I swear I’ll kill you!”


“I can’t, Chris, you need help before you hurt someone else!”


Vin kept his knee in the center of his best friend’s back as the doctor pulled the patient’s arm from his grasp. He swallowed as he listened to Larabee’s tirade, knowing he couldn’t show any emotions one way or the other. He felt Chris squirming beneath him and pressed a little harder.


“Hold him still!” Coburn ordered as he swabbed an area on Larabee’s shoulder.


“No! Don’t!” the prone man spat as he felt the sharp prick of the needle. He felt the medication enter his system and slowly take control. “ Kill...the...lit..tle prick!” Larabee wheezed as the fight went out of him. 


“All right, you can release him now,” Coburn said when he was sure Larabee was under the calming effects of the Valium.


Ezra watched as Chris’ eyes glazed over with the administered drug. His fear heightened as he watched the sharpshooter ease his weight from the blond’s back. Their eyes met and Standish knew Tanner was just as fearful of what would happen as he was, but it was too late to call it off now. He looked at the blond as the tracker and the other man lifted Larabee to his feet. ‘God, Chris, don’t do anything stupid in there!’ he thought.


“Put him on the sofa,” Coburn told them. He watched as the two men eased the sedated patient onto the couch and moved to check him. He shone a light into both eyes and knew the blond was totally under the drug's control.


“Is he always this violent?” Sheppard asked, his voice trembled as he looked at the young man moving toward the sofa.


“I’m afraid he is. Sometimes he’s even worse,” Standish explained. “That’s why Dr. James agreed he should be committed.”


“He’ll get the care he needs at Shady Acres,” the administrator explained.


“Craig, go get a wheelchair and we’ll get him to his room,” the psychiatrist ordered.


“Yes, Doctor,” the second orderly said.


“How is he, Dr. Coburn?” James asked.


“He’s fine now.”


“Chris,” Standish said as he knelt in front of the blond. He waited until the head came up and the glassy eyes met his. “You’re going to be just fine now. The doctors and nurses will take good care of you.”


Chris felt detached from his surroundings as the strong drug relaxed him. His eyelids were heavy, and continued to droop as gravity took control.


“N...need to g...go h...home...tired,” he mumbled, unable to control his thick tongue.


“Here you go, Dr. Coburn,” Craig Styles said as he returned with the wheelchair.


“Bring it over here. Chris we’re going to move you into the wheelchair and take you to your room,” the psychiatrist said. “Vince, would you take his right arm?”


Tanner reached for the blond’s arm and the two men pulled Larabee to his feet and eased him into the wheelchair.


“What room. Doc?” he asked as he secured the blond in the chair.


“Dr. Kent will tell you that when you get him into the secured area,” Coburn explained. ‘God, I hope we’re doing the right thing,’ he thought as Tanner moved Larabee out into the corridor.


“Can we see him once he’s in his room?” Standish asked.


“I’m afraid not. Our policy is to give the patient a chance to get settled before allowing any contact with the outside world. Your brother will need that time to become acclimated with his new surroundings,” Coburn answered.


“When can I see him?” the gambler asked.


“Today is Wednesday. Call me on Friday and I’ll update you and let you know if Dr. Kent has okayed visitors for your brother.”


“We need to finish signing the papers for your brother’s care,” Sheppard told Standish.


“I have other patient’s to see, Carl. Mr. Jacobson, Dr. James, try not to worry. Chris will be fine.”


“Thank you, Dr. Coburn,” Standish said.


“If you’ll follow me to my office we can go over the paperwork and make sure everything is in order,” Sheppard said, leading the two clients from the doctor’s office.


‘Oh, Orin, I hope and pray this was the right decision,’ Coburn thought as he picked up the file from his desk and hurried out of the office.




PART 1 / PART 2 / PART 4 / PART 5 / PART 6 / PART 7 / PART 8 / PART 9 / PART 10 / PART 11




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