A Wilderness of Mirrors

A Wilderness of Mirrors

by RJ KapHart


Publisher Wilderness Ink

Published in Mystery & Thrillers/Mystery, Literature & Fiction/Contemporary, Mystery & Thrillers, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

This intriguing story centers on the lives of Crystal and James Hoffman. Outwardly, they are a successful, wealthy couple. Privately, however, they lead a very complex and psychotic lifestyle. A lifestyle that escapes the bedroom and snares others into its web of eventual deceit, murder and mayhem. Careers are destroyed and lives are ruined as the true nature of the fantasy is revealed.

The engaging storyline incorporates several sexual and psychological twists and turns ending in liberation for some, death for others and frustration for a hardboiled Detective nearing the end of his career.

Sample Chapter

She began her attack in the soft haze of early morning light. She parked her car in front of the hospital annex building and emerged, carrying a vase of pink flowers. She was dressed elegantly, suitable for any major city in the world. But her mode of dress was completely foreign to the sleepy, small, town of Sagan. She was wearing black Louboutin stilettos with five-inch heels. A tight fitting black skirt hemmed just above the knee, and a long sleeved red silk blouse, completed her ensemble. The frame of her glasses matched her blouse. She wore no coat as she strode elegantly toward the annex entrance. Her gait was indicative of a woman confident and comfortable, moving through the world in such towering heels.

The annex, though of newer construction, was similar in style to the older buildings of the facility, and the annex entrance was equally foreboding. She entered to find the security desk checkpoint unmanned. Ignoring the sign indicating ‘all visitors must check in’ she decided to continue deeper into the building. She originally expected, she’d have to leave the flowers at the Security Desk to be delivered by a hospital staff member. Now she might be able to deliver them in person. This would be an even better outcome than she’d hoped. Most of the building’s security measures focused on keeping patients from getting out, not necessarily from someone coming in. This annex was, after all, part of a mental health facility. A timeworn one at that.

As she began climbing the center stairwell, she recalled all the data she’d researched on this complex of buildings. The Malcolm Bliss Mental Health Complex in the city of Sagan began life as the Sagan Hospital for the Insane. She stopped briefly on the third step of the center stairwell and listened for footsteps, checking, if anyone was coming. She already knew which room to deliver the flowers on the second-floor. The silence was palpable as she began again to ascend the center stairwell quietly.

The soft light of the morning created dark shadows between the windows. She entered the second-floor corridor and quickly glanced in both directions. Few overhead lights were on, and most patient room doors were shut creating another set of deep shadows. She quietly weaved her way toward the north end of the building, staying in the shadows as much as practical. She also stayed on tiptoe, so the heels of her stilettos couldn’t make their usual clicking sound. She reached the room and was about to enter.

Verne Fletcher emerged from the room. The pair almost collided. Verne, known as the gentle giant of Ward B, due both to his ample size and his mild disposition, quickly extended his arm and blocked the woman from entering.

“How did you get up here Ma’am? You’re not supposed to be here. We aren’t open for visitors yet.”

“I’m sorry. There was no one at the desk, and I wanted to deliver these flowers to Dr. McNabb. May I?”

“Sorry, but no. I’ll have to speak to the guard. No one is allowed up here this early in the morning. However, I can give them to him for you. He’s still sleeping, and, also not allowed visitors now.”

“Oh, OK, sure. I understand. I put a card in with the bouquet. Could you make sure Bob reads it?”

“Of course, Ma’am. Gladly. May I tell him who they’re from?”

“Please say they’re from his wife. He just loves roses.”

Fletcher looked quizzically at the bouquet in the expensive Mikasa cut crystal vase. He shrugged his shoulders. People had strange tastes.

“Please register at the front desk if the guard is there when you leave, which I must insist you do now, Ma’am. I’d escort you down, but we’re short staffed this early in the morning. Can I trust you to exit promptly?”

“Of course, I’m sorry for breaking the rules. Good day.”

“And good day to you Mrs. McNabb. I’ll see that he receives the roses directly.”

The stunning woman, a couple of inches over six feet tall in the heels, turned and walked rapidly down the center of the corridor, her stilettos clicked softly on the well-worn, faded floor tiles. Fletcher couldn’t help but watch her departure appreciatively. He then entered the room and placed the vase of roses on the nightstand. He was surprised at the persistent, yet delightful, aroma of the bouquet. Unusual, he thought to himself. McNabb was still sleeping. Fletcher let him have another fifteen minutes and then, gently roused him. It’s almost 7:30 AM and he had orders to wake McNabb and help him get ready for the day’s activities.

McNabb began to awaken slowly, but kept his eyes closed, as if that act would delay the return of full awareness. Lately, that awareness had become a battlefield, and he had no desire to fight today. Fight the anxiety, fight the anger, and fight the frustration, no, not today. But something was different this morning. Something penetrated his defenses effortlessly. He struggled to identify this new foe. It was right there, just below the surface of his mind. An aroma.

That’s it. He recognized it. It’s familiar, but the drugs have slowed his mind, just enough, that he can’t quite connect the aroma with a name, a location or an event. He rolled the covers off and slowly sat up on the opposite side of the bed, his back to the nightstand. He began breathing in the aroma deeply through his nose trying to lock in on the smell and its associated memories.

Suddenly, his eyes popped wide open. The awareness he’d tried to avoid instantly filled his brain. Sense memories, associated with this aromatic, flooded his consciousness. He was very much alert. And very much afraid as well. He knew what this aroma was with frightening certainty and who’s it was. Nothing else in this world possessed the combination of pheromones and odors, sickly sweet and pungent at the same time, blended into a sensual perfume. McNabb, now totally engrossed, felt the first tingling of an erection. He turned his head slowly and looked at the amiable giant superintendent with pleading eyes, as he pointed at the Mikasa cut crystal vase.

“She just dropped them off for you Doc. Here’s the card.”

Fletcher retrieved the little card envelope and gave it to him. He took it with a shaking hand as he continued to stare at the crystal vase. His wife knew he liked roses. Where the roses in the vase from her? Had his wife had a change of heart? She’d filed for divorce. Was she now having second thoughts? Fletcher saw the shaking hands.

“Relax Doc. They’re from your wife. She told me you loved roses.”

He nodded his head slowly.

“I do.”

He tore open the envelope, pulled the card out and read the inscription.

‘… Your loving wife, Crystal.’

McNabb let the card fall from his hands. His arms fell limp into his lap. His shoulders slumped. He began to softly repeat the word “No” over and over slowly, deliberately, obsessively. Fletcher watched and noted McNabb’s unnerving stillness. Apparently, something associated with the roses, or the card, triggered some psychic event in him, leaving him unresponsive to Fletcher’s verbal instructions. He physically moved McNabb to the chair with no resistance. He sat motionless and continued repeating the word ‘no’ softly and slowly.

Fletcher quickly checked McNabb’s file to make sure there was no order entered that banned flowers or cards. No such entry existed. Fletcher then called the attending Psychiatrist, Dr. Fred Nietzsche, requesting his presence as soon as possible. Nietzsche arrived within minutes. Fletcher comprehensively recounted the events of the past 15 minutes.

“Evidently, Dr. Nietzsche, the dipshit guard was in the crapper, or, otherwise absent from his post when this tall, elegantly dressed blonde walked into the building, climbed the stairs, walked on down the corridor and almost entered McNabb’s room. I stopped her, though, and McNabb was still asleep at the time.”

“Did she give you her name?”

“No Doc, she didn’t. I asked who the flowers were from and she said to tell him, they were from his wife. I guess I just assumed it was his wife, I was speaking with.”

“Did you touch that card, Verne?”

“No Sir. I did handle the vase, and I did hand him the little envelope with the card in it. That was all. I’m certain, 100%.”

“Ok Verne, for now, let’s get him moved to another room. Then I want this room on lockdown. Nobody goes in or out until I report this incident. I must call the Detective, the DA, and McNabb’s lawyer. Oh, and, enter an order in his file, no outside items, period, without my expressed approval. OK?”

“Sure, Doc, no problem. Can you give me any background that might help me with him?”

“For starters Verne, McNabb’s wife is divorcing him over this mess. Her name is Victoria, and from what I know, she is in Massachusetts attending to a sick mother. Oh, and by the way, Verne, don’t touch anything, consider this room a crime scene!”

“I totally understand. Is there anything else we need to do before I seal this area off?”

“No, I don’t think so. But Verne, lean over and look at the name on that card laying on the bed. Don’t touch it, just read it.”

“Crystal,” Verne responded with a quizzical look on his face. "Oh shit, Doc! That’s the name of the woman he allegedly murdered. Isn’t it?”

“Bingo Verne. Do you think you can accurately describe the woman that gave you that vase of roses?”

“Yes Sir, I do.”

Nietzsche saw another look of puzzlement cross Fletcher’s face.

“What is it, Verne?”

“The flowers! Who the hell gives a bouquet of Rose of Sharon? They’re a rose that shrivels and dies in two days or less off the bush. They also have virtually no aroma. These have a wonderful aroma. Someone must have scented them with perfume.”

“Interesting. How do you know so much about flowers Verne?”

“I worked in my Aunt’s flower shop while in college. We never had any calls for Rose of Sharon bouquets, nor, any other type of arrangements using them. They weren’t practical.”

“Strange,” Nietzsche responded before returning to McNabb’s situation.

“OK Verne, let’s get him secured in another room, and then I want you to go write out as full a description of the event, and the woman, as you possibly can while it’s fresh in your memory. And, one other thing, be sure to add your thoughts concerning the Rose of Sharon bouquet and the perfuming of the arrangement. It may be of some help, and could have some bearing on the event. And while you’re doing that Verne, I’m going to start a reassessment of him and try and understand what’s going on.”

“Sure, Doc, I’ll move him to room four right now and then get that description done.”

Nietzsche called McNabb’s lawyer first. Then the District Attorney’s office, and finally Detective Jake Hollis of the Pilot Point Police Department. Nietzsche explained, to all parties, the known details of the event. He concluded that, in a very real sense, someone just attacked McNabb emotionally. Because of this attack, McNabb is now unresponsive to verbal or physical inputs. Nietzsche told all three parties that at present, McNabb would be unable to provide further relevant information until this psychic event is resolved.

Detective Hollis immediately requested sequestration of all security videos. He said he’d drive down from Pilot Point to Sagan, within the hour, to pick up the discs. Nietzsche said he could support that and called the security office to have them make a copy, sequestering the originals for Detective Hollis.

Nietzsche also told McNabb’s lawyer, Dewey Maloney, that something seemed very fishy. Maloney agreed. Nietzsche and Maloney had been friends for some years, but that friendship was and always would be, outside of their professional duties. Both were honest and fair in their assessments, conduct, and behavior. Maloney knows the physical evidence against his client is both overwhelming and airtight. So why would anyone want to risk exposure by playing games with, barring a miracle, a dead man walking?

Did this mean the evidence is too overwhelming and too airtight? According to Maloney, based on his profile, McNabb didn't seem capable of such a heinous crime. But Maloney also knew that when sex, marriage, and money were involved, anything was possible.

“Let me ask you something, only as a psychiatric resource, what’s going on with this guy? Let’s start with this Fred; is this guy faking?”

“No, absolutely not Dewey. McNabb has real problems, even though they may, in fact, be imaginary, they’re real to him. I’m going to have to start over with him. And I have a few ideas where that might lead.”

“Help me out here, Fred. What direction do I, and my team, need to head? Can you give me a compass heading? I mean, I feel horrid about this guy’s condition. He was a basket of agitation, anger, and anxiety during the pre-trial stuff. You know, you saw it. I mean, Christ, we’re the ones that suggested he do a voluntary commit, as much for building a defense strategy, as for getting him calmed down, so he could be alert and helpful at trial. Now this?”

“Well, seeing as how he’s in on a voluntary commitment, and, as I will be reporting my findings as a defense expert witness, I feel comfortable feeding you this information. Right now, I mildly sedated him again, and I intend on keeping him on the anxiety inhibitors. Tomorrow, I’ll start trying to identify and unravel the knots in his head. Beyond that, I’d rather not say. I’ll have more for you in a few days, a week at the outside.”

“OK Fred, thanks. Any ideas who the mystery woman was? Obviously, it wasn’t his wife. I know she and her daughters are staying with her parents in Boston helping her Mom. Alzheimer’s I think she said. I spoke with her a few days ago.”

“That’s one of the scarier aspects of this event. I haven’t read Verne Fletcher’s description yet, but from what he said to me verbally, it sure sounded like he was describing the murder victim. I’ve already had security pull the video feeds and lock them up for Detective Hollis. You’ll need to file discovery with the DA to get copies. And no, I haven’t seen them yet.”

“Sure Fred, I get that. And you’ll call me as soon as possible with an update?”

“Yep, a week at most. I assume you’re going to have your guys start over from scratch as well, with a review of all the case evidence to date?”

Maloney chuckled, “You’re starting from scratch. I’m starting from scratch. The DA’s office is the only one with nothing to do but wait, and maybe, investigate a sinister floral delivery girl.”


Excerpted from "A Wilderness of Mirrors" by RJ KapHart. Copyright © 2017 by RJ KapHart. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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