The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides Read Online (FREE)
Jean-Felix looked surprised by the question. “What?” I could tell he was making some quick mental evaluation. Then he nodded. “Oh, I see what you mean. Well, there was a gate that led from the street to the back garden. It was usually unlocked. And from the garden I went into the kitchen through the back door. Which was also unlocked.” He smiled. “You know, you sound more like a detective than a psychiatrist.”
“I’m a psychotherapist.”
“Is there a difference?”
“I’m just trying to understand Alicia’s mental state. How did you experience her mood?”
Jean-Felix shrugged. “She seemed fine. A little stressed about work.”
“Is that all?”
“She didn’t look like she was going to shoot her husband in a few days, if that’s what you mean. She seemed—fine.” He drained his coffee and hesitated as a thought struck him. “Would you like to see some of her paintings?” Without waiting for a reply, Jean-Felix got up and walked to the door, beckoning me to follow.
I FOLLOWED JEAN-FELIX into a storage room. He went over to a large case, pulled out a hinged rack, and lifted out three paintings wrapped in blankets. He propped them up. He carefully unwrapped each one. Then he stood back and presented the first to me with a flourish.
I looked at it. The painting had the same photo-realistic quality as the rest of Alicia’s work. It represented the car accident that killed her mother. A woman’s body was sitting in the wreck, slumped at the wheel. She was bloodied and obviously dead. Her spirit, her soul, was rising from the corpse, like a large bird with yellow wings, soaring to the heavens.
“Isn’t it glorious?” Jean-Felix gazed at it. “All those yellows and reds and greens—I can quite get lost in it. It’s joyous.”
Joyous wasn’t the word I would have chosen. Unsettling, perhaps. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it.
I moved on to the next picture. A painting of Jesus on the cross. Or was it?
“It’s Gabriel,” Jean-Felix said. “It’s a good likeness.”
It was Gabriel—but Gabriel portrayed as Jesus, crucified, hanging from the cross, blood trickling from his wounds, a crown of thorns on his head. His eyes were not downcast but staring out—unblinking, tortured, unashamedly reproachful. They seemed to burn right through me. I peered at the picture more closely—at the incongruous item strapped to Gabriel’s torso. A rifle.
“That’s the gun that killed him?”
Jean-Felix nodded. “Yes. It belonged to him, I think.”
“And this was painted before his murder?”
“A month or so before. It shows you what was on Alicia’s mind, doesn’t it?” Jean-Felix moved on to the third picture. It was a larger canvas than the others. “This one’s the best. Stand back to get a better look.”
I did as he said and took a few paces back. Then I turned and looked. The moment I saw the painting, I let out an involuntary laugh.