By Micheal Rivers

Crime & mystery, Paranormal, Thriller

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8 mins



It was once said that to hide something from prying eyes you must place it where people can see it. Located within a magnificent valley in the mountains of West Virginia is one of the hidden jewels of society. The spring of 2003 brought the completion of a thirty-nine-room mansion, complete with manicured lawns and sculptured shrubbery. The wrought-iron gates barring the entrance to the grounds serve as a deterrent for those wishing to satisfy their curiosity about any of the residents.

Discreetly, a name was passed to the populace by the contractors building the mansion, giving credence to the idea that the estate belonged to a single family. The contractors, as well as the United States government, know this is far from the truth.

There are circumstances when a prisoner can be protected from society by a government. The truly rich and powerful are not immune to the laws of the United States. Through the power of their money and influential connections, none of these men and women will ever serve a day of incarceration in any common penal institution for their crimes. At times, the knowledge they have obtained from others or their experiences with government officials automatically make them guests at the Arlette Mansion.

Chapter 1

Dr. James Pellitere drove slowly along the tree-lined drive leading to the main gates. As he rounded the curve, the entrance came into view, with the mansion looming in the background. He was fully aware of what this beautiful building contained, and he was not impressed. The building was filled with some of the most vicious killers he had ever encountered during his years as a psychiatrist.

As the car rolled to a stop, he watched the security cameras turn silently on their pedestals toward his car. A few seconds later the gates swung silently open, allowing him to drive through. In the rearview mirror he watched the gates close, and he heard the slight tumble of the locks.

The journey from the main gate to the circular drive in front of the mansion was a wonder. The drive was formed with hand-laid bricks, the same kind as were used for plantation drives before the great Civil War. To his left were a large pond with gleaming white benches and an ornate gazebo that stood proudly in the afternoon sun. The high mountains beyond gave the scene a surreal sense of paradise. Arlette was a world of illusion for those who had not the slightest idea of what went on behind the locked doors.

James laughed easily, grinning to himself. He was a self-disciplined man, who was well behaved and a keen observer. His receding hairline did nothing to improve upon his hawkish features.

The doctor arrived at the front entrance of the mansion, and a large man in a blue suit greeted him with a smile as he stepped from his car.

“Welcome to Arlette. It is good to see you again. If you will follow me, we will get you to your accommodations.”

Stepping lightly through the ornately barred stained-glass doors, James walked through the foyer with his escort into a spacious office to his right. Although he had been here before it always felt like a new experience to him.

The splendidly dressed young lady behind the desk greeted him politely and requested his identification, because his identification was always retained here until it was time for his departure from the facility. There was very little chat, and never did she offer any information as to her identity.

Standing next to the security guard, James appeared to be small in stature, though he easily measured six feet in height. His slim build gave the impression that he was a much smaller man.

Smiling quaintly, the young lady handed James his identification badge for the facility and wished him a pleasant day.

Leaving the office, James and his escort reported to an officer who was waiting for them just outside the door. Without a word, James followed them up the stairs and down a long hallway.

There were no numbers on the doors. Each room had a means of identification unknown to anyone but the staff of Arlette. It made little difference because the residents were never allowed to be unescorted beyond the doorways of their own suites. The only recreation they had was spending time on their balconies, and they were never allowed to spend more than an hour at a time there.

The sound of James’s shoes barely whispered on the deep-piled blood-red carpeting. He always admired the craftsmanship of the paneling adorning the walls, which were devoid of pictures and paintings. Cameras that watched the hallway were hidden in such a manner that a person would never know of their existence unless they had been told of the locations.

When they reached James’s suite, the officer opened the door and escorted James inside. The officer said, “Everything you have requested is at your disposal, doctor. Your first patient will be available for you at nine a.m. as you have requested. Should you require anything during the night, just pick up your phone and an operator will assist you. Dinner will be served at your convenience.”

James nodded politely. He had heard this speech many times, and each time the officer acted as if he had never seen James before. He heard the door shut quietly behind him as the officer left the room.

It was a quaintly decorated suite that was provided for visiting doctors. There was never more than one doctor on the premises other than a general practitioner in case of an accident. His quarters were unknown to anyone except the staff, and James had never met the practitioner. All things considered, he felt the chances of meeting him were almost none.

Oftentimes, if something did occur, the practitioner would leave a copy of his findings with the patient’s psychiatrist so he would be aware of everything that happened. James had four patients here and would see each in turn. Three of the patients he had been attending for at least two years. The fourth patient was new to the facility. According to the facts in his records, he was worth the trip for James to see him. James was intrigued by Adrian Bolt’s case. He too carried many secrets about this great nation’s leaders, making him qualified for his rooms here at Arlette.

Pulling the file from his briefcase, James opened it with a flourish and placed it on the desk in front of him. Mr. Bolt had been convicted of murdering his wife. James had always been a bachelor, and he could never understand what would be a sufficient reason for a man to kill his wife—being a psychiatrist and dealing with the masses never had given him a reason he could accept. A spouse was supposed to be someone a person loved and desired to spend their life with.

It was not just a simple gunshot wound or a case of strangulation. When Bolt was arrested, his wife’s body lay in front of him completely torn apart. She had been hacked to death by an antique sword. This was two years prior to his being brought to Arlette. He had not spoken since the death of his wife.

There were cases by the hundreds of people in catatonic states after committing crimes. Bolt’s case was far different. He was not catatonic; he just refused to speak to anyone. Bolt never entered a plea in court in his defense. When the jury brought back a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree, he simply nodded and sat down in his chair. He was never a problem for any of the police officers or for anyone of those involved in his case.

Each and every psych evaluation brought them no closer to finding the solution to the case of author and historian Adrian Bolt. Closing the file, James leaned back in his chair and stared at the walls. There had to be a way to get this man to open his mind to him before it was too late. A person who stayed in this condition long enough would eventually go completely insane.

Judging from the facts involved in his wife’s death and the profile he had on Adrian, James found it difficult to believe that Adrian had murdered his wife. There was no prior history of violence toward others—Adrian didn’t have so much as a parking ticket to his credit.

The evidence presented did not fit Adrian’s profile, regardless of professional opinions. James sat at the desk tapping the top of the file with his forefinger. You are a mystery to me, Mr. Bolt. You are a mystery I have to unravel for my own satisfaction.

He picked up the phone and ordered a sandwich and coffee. As the night went on, his mind kept returning to Adrian Bolt’s file. Disgusted with his inability to concentrate, he placed the file on the corner of the desk and got ready for bed.


The phone rang early the next morning, jolting James from his sleep. A pleasant voice on the other end of the line reminded him of his first appointment for the day. He thanked the young lady and placed the phone back into its cradle. He raised himself slowly from the bed and headed to the shower. With each visit to Arlette, he found it hard to believe this bathroom was almost as large as his bedroom at home.

His shower and shave completed, he ordered breakfast and made himself ready for his first appointment. He never wore a traditional business suit, or even a modest blazer, to receive his patients. James preferred to wear casual sports attire in an effort to place his patients at ease.

The first appointment was with Adrian Bolt. When this appointment was complete, he would call them for the schedule of his other patients. James gathered his recorder and notes in preparation for his interview with Adrian Bolt. He had to admit, even the man’s name had a certain ring to it. Usually a man’s name was something you could judge him by to a degree before you ever met face-to-face. James found it impossible to attempt to judge Adrian for anything.

Soon, James and his escort were walking to the elevator, headed for the third floor. They spoke very little until they reached the door of the patient.

“This is Mr. Bolt’s suite. It is monitored at all times. If you have a problem with your patient, we will be there for you without you having to call out. Just lift the phone when you are ready to leave. Enjoy your visit.” The escort stated all of this as if he were reading from a notepad stuck somewhere in the back of his mind.

Unlocking the door, he escorted James into the room and announced his presence. Adrian Bolt sat in a large wing-backed Victorian chair that faced the picture window of his suite. Nodding to James, the escort left the room, closing the door quietly behind him.

James introduced himself and asked quietly if he may sit down. Silence filled the room around him. It was not an awkward silence, nor was it uncomfortable—it was a deep, nameless void with no boundaries. Adrian refused to acknowledge being in the room with him.

James looked around the suite. The opulence was fit for a king. He knew each suite was designed for the individual’s taste for life, but these rooms did not reflect Adrian’s personality. Reaching into his pocket, James pressed the record button on his mini recorder.

James coughed lightly and proceeded with trying to communicate with Adrian. “Adrian, I would like to help you. Is there anything you would like to say to me today?”

Adrian did not move and continued his silence, staring out over the balcony to the distant hills.

James watched Adrian sitting upright in his chair by the window. He had thought Adrian would have been a much larger man than the person seated before him. Adrian was small in stature, barely reaching five feet nine inches. Adrian’s reputation in James’s field made him larger than the man who sat here now. Nothing about him spoke of being a brave man, or for that matter a calculating killer. The neatly trimmed hair and tailored clothing only added to the air of mystery.

James looked at the breakfast tray close to Adrian, and said, “You didn’t have your breakfast this morning.”

A barrage of questions met with no resistance; only the silence of Adrian filled the air. James pulled a chair closer to Adrian, and he sat facing toward the window with him. James knew a different approach was in order. He hoped, by the grace of God, it would be successful.

James said, “The view here is spectacular. I could probably spend the rest of my days sitting with you and seeing this. I have always wanted a place where I could escape the drudgeries of life. You are a lucky man in a lot of ways.”

Adrian shifted slightly in his seat.

“I tried the eggs Benedict this morning. I must say, the food is some of the best I have ever tasted,” James said.

James glanced at Adrian for only a second. It was enough to see that Adrian was not listening to anything he had said. If this was not the case, he was simply the best at ignoring a person’s presence in the room.

Adrian raised himself from his chair and walked toward the window. James watched as he reached for the curtains and opened them a little farther. This was a sign of progress for the doctor. He knew immediately Adrian had heard every word he had spoken.

Adrian stood staring out across the huge lake as the doctor continued trying to communicate with him.

“The lake is like a poet’s dream. A man with a gift for the written word would have an endless supply of inspiration. Tonight, with your permission, I would like to watch the sunset from your suite.”

Adrian returned to his chair, staring straight into James’s eyes before snuggling comfortably into his chair.

James noticed Adrian had dressed himself fully, as if he were expecting guests. His file verified he had no problems with hygiene. It was well-known in the medical field nearly all subjects with altered mental statuses had problems with cleanliness.

James continued trying to get him to speak. “I recall from my days in college when a group of us came to a place like this to camp for the weekend. They are some of the best memories of my life. After we graduated, several of us stayed in touch with one another and traveled quite a bit.”

James watched Adrian for a reaction, then said, “We traveled to Europe one year and found some very interesting historical sites. I believe I still have the photographs somewhere in my home.”

Adrian continued his silence, staring across the lake to the mountains on the other side of the valley.

James checked his watch and decided he would try to break through to Adrian again tomorrow. Standing from his chair, James picked up his notes and files and headed for the door. He stopped by the phone and started to reach for it. Looking back at Adrian, he tried one more time.

“I will try to come visit with you again tomorrow, Adrian. I have to leave for now, but I shall see you again as soon as possible. I would like to tell you that I don’t believe for an instant you murdered your wife.”

An ever-so-slight tilt of Adrian’s head told James he had caught Adrian’s attention. Waiting for some sign of a response from him, James hesitated in his movements. Seconds began to tick away, seeming like an eternity echoing the silence in the room.

“Adrian, you should know, depending on my findings, your wife’s demise may have been no fault of your own. I have worked with hundreds of patients finding proof that their situations could not have been changed by anything they could have tried to prevent the outcome. I am hoping I can do the same for you.

“Your friend Congressman Daigler is very worried about you. He has relayed to me that he wants you out of here and returned to your home. I will do everything in my power to see that this happens.”

James waited for a response. Shaking his head, he continued his efforts.

“I can’t help you unless you help me. It is in your hands. The decision is yours to make.”

Turning back toward the small table, he again reached for the phone.



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