'The Pretender' and it's characters are property of...someone else...not sure who,
but they certainly don't belong to me...though sometimes I may like to pretend
otherwise...This story wandered into my head one day and refused to leave except
by way of my fingers on the keyboard. It's completely unrelated to my other
Pretenders stories (except for using the same characters, naturally).

Number 413
By Donna

She slammed the phone down as she dropped into her desk chair.

She couldn't believe that he had managed to elude her again.

'The loony bin,' Miss Parker thought. 'He's trying to drive me to the
nut house...and doing a pretty darn good job of it, too."


"So what's the story with this one?" the man asked, looking through the
small, thick window set in the upper part of the door.

The man with him looked through the same window, a sad smile on his

"A real shame, that's what her story is."

His eyes were fixed on the figure huddled in the corner of the room.
For a moment, it seemed he would say no more. Finally,
he shook his head, as if to shake away disturbing thoughts.

"Her father is really high up in one of the local 'families', if you
understand my meaning?"

The other man nodded.

"She was almost a teenager when her mother was gunned down right in
front of her by one of the family's rivals. She was spared only so
that she could pass the warning along to her father."

"Poor kid."

"Yeah. Her father was smart enough to realize that she needed
professional help to deal with what had happened, but he wasn't very
careful about choosing it. He turned her over to Dr. William Raines."

"I think I remember hearing about him. Wasn't he that guy they did an
investigation on about fifteen years ago? Ran that private hospital?
There were all kinds of allegations about patient abuses and stuff."

"That's the guy."

"Seems like I remember that his hospital burned down and he


There was a snort of laughter. "That's the official story anyway."

At the other man's questioning glance, he continued, a mirthless smile
on his face.

"Her father does not take well to being betrayed."

He received a nod of understanding.

"That's when she was brought here. Officially, she's listed as
catatonic, but she has occasional violent outbursts..."

"She certainly looks pretty quiet to me."

"Right now she is, but I'd certainly love to know what's going through
her mind sometimes."

"A couple of the other orderlies warned me about her...said that she
can be pretty unpleasant to be around."

"Her outbursts...they can be nasty, but they're pretty rare. And
they're usually directed at specific people...like her brother and her
stepmother. For some reason, they seem to really set her off. Most
people, though, she simply ignores."

"They said she likes you, though."

"I don't know that I'd say that she 'likes' me, but she seems to
tolerate me better than she does most. There are only about three or
four people that she really likes. Dr. Jacobs is one of them."

"I don't think I've met him."

"Dr. Sidney Jacobs. He's a psychiatrist...older guy...been around here
forever. He goes in to talk to her every couple of days. She never
talks to him, but she sure gets agitated if he doesn't show up when
he's supposed to. A couple of years ago, he had a family emergency and
had to return to France for a couple of weeks. She was completely
unmanageable until he returned...no one dared to go into her room.
When he got back, she gave him a nasty stare for a couple of minutes,
then everything was back to normal."

He smiled, shaking his head.

"Then there's Bruce. He's another one of the orderlies."

"Thin, balding guy?...always looks kind of nervous about something?"

"That's him. Her attention makes him more nervous than ever, but she
seems to enjoy that. She sure doesn't like for anyone else to mess
with him, though. He had taken her down to the TV room one night, and
one other guys on staff was picking at him...saying the only way he
could spend time with a beautiful woman was to pick one up in the
vegetable department...she actually physically attacked the guy. He
was a big guy, but she just tore right into him...broke his
nose...nobody picks on Bruce much anymore...especially if she's in

"I'll keep that in mind."

"Then there's Bruce's daughter, Debbie. He's doing the single parent
thing...had to bring her in one night when he had to work. She was
supposed to be sleeping in the on call lounge, but disappeared. We
finally found her in here. Don't know how she got in, but the two of
them were sitting there on the bed, the kid reading to her while she
braided her hair. Now, Debbie comes in at least once a week to read to
her. I think they've been through 'Little Women' about five times."

"Yeah...that's my daughter's favorite."

"Then there's Jarod."

He stopped.


"He's another patient. No one is real sure where he came from. One of
the staff members at Dr. Raines' hospital said that he had been there
since he was a child. They told her father that Jarod had tried to
protect her from Raines, so daddy is paying for his care, too. He
likes to come visit her."

"He's not locked up?"

"Actually, he is. We don't know how, but he keeps getting out of his
room. We've changed the locks several times and moved him into about
three different rooms, but it keeps happening. He's there, then all of
a sudden, he's not. I don't know why it worries the administration so
much, though. He always comes to her. They've even moved her a couple
of times, but he always finds her. Any time he's missing, we always
know where to look."

"What do they do?"

"Nothing. They're always just sitting in the floor...looking into each
other's eyes...not quite touching...and smiling...like they know this
grand secret that they're not letting anyone else in on."


"So...are you ready?"

"I guess so..."

He knocked on the door of room 413 before unlocking it and leading the
other man in. They crossed the floor to the woman sitting in the
corner, her arms locked around her legs.


Miss Parker looked up at the knock on the door. Sam came in, followed
by a nervous looking young man dressed in the dark suit that shouted

They stopped in front of her desk and waited for a moment until she
raised an eyebrow at Sam.

"Miss Parker, this is Eric. He'll be working with me."

She looked him over, snorted slightly, and returned to the paperwork on
her desk, effectively dismissing them.

They took the cue and left quietly.


As Sam locked the door back behind them, he looked at the new orderly.

"Well, that's Miss Parker. What do you think?"

Eric shivered slightly.

"I'm really hoping to be one of those people that she mostly ignores.

Sam just laughed.

The End.