I simply couldn’t believe it, today of all days. All I wanted was for George to realise he wasn’t alone and that I was there to help him.  I’d suggested the park for our outing today because he had told me it had, in the past, been a happy place for him. As we entered the park he indicated a distant bench and suggested we sit there for a while.

As we got closer,  I saw an elderly woman seated on his bench, knitting what appeared to be a small red sweater.  George saw her too and I sensed a growing agitation in his demeanour.

I tried to distract George and turn him away but it was to late. I couldn’t see his face but he seemed to be sobbing. Taking him firmly by the arm I thought I could feel him shivering as I steered him towards the nearby park rotunda where I thought he would have some privacy.

In a low tone of voice I said to him,’ it’s alright George, it’s alright’. George didn’t appear to hear me and although his face was still turned away from me, I sensed that he was continuing to sob.

Looking over my shoulder as we walked away, I saw the old woman staring at us, on her face, an expression of surprise, or was it recognition?

George stumbled up the few steps into the rotunda and collapsed onto the vacant bench. His face and posture gave the impression of a man crushed by an unbearable weight.  I couldn’t understand what had caused his behavioural regression.

After a time, the colour began to return to his face and the vice like grip he had on my arm eased.

I had been taken totally by surprise by this turn of events and I didn’t quite know how to handle it. My instructors had never covered such an eventuality during my training.

I’d read George’s file many times over. I thought I knew enough about him and what had brought him to our notice. From my many interviews with George I’d formed the opinion, supported by my superiors, that he would benefit by gradually reentering the community as his time with us was drawing to a close.

How would today’s situation impact on him I though? What triggered his reaction to the old woman? Should I quiz him about it? What impact would today’s event have with the decision makers on our Board?

I could see that George was still agitated and very ill at ease. Although we still had many hours before we were due to go back to base I gently suggested to him that perhaps we should go back early.

George seemed quite relieved at my suggestion and simply nodded.

With that, we walked straight to our car and drove off, leaving the park and whatever spooked George. On our way back to base I thought it odd that George remained unusually mute, stared straight ahead, emotionless. This was not the George whom I’d taken to the park only a short time before.

Back at base, after the perimeter gates had closed and the car was parked, I walked with George through the massive entrance doors to our main building.

Once inside, George, without a word, went straight ahead towards his room and I went to my office to write up the events of this most extraordinary day.

Tomorrow, I thought, after debrief with my colleagues I’ll see George and encourage him to open up on why our park visit upset him so dramatically. By that time too, my superiors will have read my report and may be able to shed some light on why the park visit was such a drama for both George and myself.

At the time, I had absolutely no idea of what would occur over the days and weeks.

Meanwhile, back at the park, the elderly knitter had not been idle. She watched intently as ‘George’ and the person who appeared to be his escort entered the rotunda. Packing up her knitting she quickly walked to her car and moved it onto another parking spot from where she could observe access and egress to the rotunda.

In her mind travelled she travelled back in time, ten, perhaps fifteen years years ago?  In those days, she had a thriving psychiatric practise and was often called to give evidence at court, sometimes for the Crown and sometimes for the defence.

Could it be her patient, from that long time ago, whom she had just seen have what appeared to be an adverse reaction to her presence in the park? Same build and stature, same gait, same shock of unruly auburn hair. Only the face seemed a little different, perhaps through the passage of time, perhaps not. Whatever, he was certainly her ex patient.

Her thought process shifted into top gear and she began to recall the GP’s referral of the patient to her. It was not long before her retirement. At the time her rooms were in another city, almost a thousand kilometres away.

Despite her advancing age, she had an encyclopaedia like recall of patient detail and her diagnosis of their problems.

Yes, she thought, that was Fred, he looks a little different now but it was him I just saw, no doubt about it. She remembered that Fred had been referred to her for what the GP thought was some form of functional psychosis.

After a number of sessions with Fred, she had diagnosed him with the most potentially severe and disabling of the psychoses, Schizophrenia.

She recalled reaching this diagnosis based firstly on his highly disturbing experiences during his childhood and early adult life.

In her presence he revealed a withdrawal from reality, delusions, hallucinations, apathy, and most disturbingly of all, an inability to feel any emotions whatsoever and preoccupation with bizarre fantasies.

She remembered vividly his hatred of anything coloured red and the pleasure his thoughts brought him when, in his imagination, he began throwing babies and young animals from bridges after he had dressed them in his hated colour, red.

After discussing the patient with a number of her peers, she suggested to the GP that Fred should be scheduled under the Mental Health Act and be placed into a secure facility until deemed sufficiently recovered for reenter open society. She added that she was prepared to authorise the scheduling and indicated that there should be a police presence to convey Fred to the selected secure institution.

Unfortunately, the GP, in his wisdom felt it prudent to advise Fred’s elderly parents with whom he resided, of the psychiatrist’s determination. Of course, they informed Fred who immediately decamped, never to be seen or heard of again.

Until now she thought.

She was well aware that without continuing to take his medication, adequate support and regular psychiatric help, Fred was extremely likely to carry out one of his bizarre fantasies, that is,  murder a child or torture a small animal after clothing them in red, particularly something knitted in wool.

As she sat thinking, she recalled that  shortly after her retirement she read a newspaper article about the murder of a three year old female child, found floating in a river with her dead pet dog tied to her body by its lead. Both were dressed in red woollen outfits. The gruesome discovery was made not too far from Fred’s former residence.

She remembered immediately informing the local police about Fred and he was placed at the top of their people of interest list. The police kept her informed of progress as they knew she would be a vital witness should Fred be arrested and charged, but, over time the homicide became listed as a cold case and placed on file with many others. Fred had never been located, despite extensive inquiries as to his whereabouts.

Until now that is.

It wasn’t too long before she watched Fred and his escort leave the rotunda and get into a car. By chance the car was facing in the same direction as hers and she followed it at a safe distance as it was driven away. Stopped at the first set of traffic lights she noted down the car’s registration number, considered calling the police on the triple 0 number but decided against it.

After following the car containing Fred for half an hour or so, she saw it turn into the entrance driveway of what was obviously a secure psychiatric hospital.

After noting the time and the address, she drove to the local police station, saw the detectives and related everything she had seen and what she knew of Fred’s history. The detectives took her particulars and promised to let her know the outcome of their inquiries.

The next day, after contacting their colleagues at the police station where the cold case had occurred, two detectives arrived at the psychiatric hospital and by appointment met with the psychiatrist in charge.

They were informed that George was a voluntary inmate and had been in their care for over ten years. He had recently been assessed by a panel of psychiatrists as fit for return to open society after a period of supervised outings, of which the park activity was the first. The detectives were also brought up to date with the report on George’s demeanour in the park and arrangements were made for George to be interviewed, with appropriate representation the following day.

On return to the police station, arrangements were made with their interstate counterparts to be present at the upcoming interview with George.

George knew that his routine was being changed. He had an idea that it arose from the park incident but thought that nothing untoward could come from it. He felt that he’d not been recognised as his act had got him out of the park before any damage was done. Perhaps today would bring news of his discharge date. When he got out, the world would just forget about him. He’d simply disappear again.

When he entered the interview room he suspected that all was not as he had assumed. There were four men in suits, plus his doctor and another man he didn’t recognise.

It was when the introductions were made that he knew his years of relative freedom were probably coming to an end. He felt anger and antagonism towards every one in the room. He just wished his escort to the park had been there. If things didn’t go his way she was going to be the first to get it in the neck. Bitch.

One of the four suited men was obviously in charge and he introduced himself as a Detective from the Homicide Squad.

He said, “My name is Detective Inspector Baker, What is your full name” The George replied, ” “George Green”.

The next question stunned him,” we have been reliably informed that your correct name is Frederick Green. Is that correct”? George thought for a moment, I’ve been through interrogations for years now, this isn’t any different so I’ll deny it. ”No” he replied, just call me George”.

“That will upset em”, he thought to himself, “They’ve got nothing on me unless I give myself up and that’s not going to happen, no way, they can all go and get stuffed”.

Baker then said,” George,we are making inquiries about the death of a young girl 14 years ago. She was found with her dead dog tied to her by its lead. I’m going to ask you a series of questions about it and I want you to understand that you are not obliged to say anything unless you wish as anything that you do say will be recorded and may later be used in evidence. Do you understand that?” George, with a grin on his face replied,” sure, go for your life but I’m not going to say nothing to youse and I want a can of coke”.

Over the next half hour or so the detectives asked George a number of questions to which he gave unrelated and inane responses. The interview was then terminated. George left the interview room elated and thinking ” I’ve done well,they know damn all and I’ll be out and about in no time at all”.

The detectives recovered Georges’s empty coke can and preserved it for fingerprint and DNA comparisons . They then left to continue their inquiries after suggesting to the hospital staff that perhaps it would be advisable to restrict George to the institution until his identity and possible involvement in a homicide had been be concluded. Their suggestion was unanimously adopted.

Days turned into weeks and George was becoming more and more concerned about his future. He wondered why his outings had been curtailed, why his doctors were showing a lot more interest in him and why his sexy outing supervisor was nowhere to be seen when he was allowed out to exercise in the grounds. Then he thought, “those bastards are letting me stew, they reckon I’ll give myself up, like hell I will”.

The more he thought about it, the more he remembered  the fun he had abducting the little girl from her playground and the added bonus of getting the puppy she was playing with. He remembered with absolute joy the pathetic struggle she put up when he stripped her naked and wrapped her in a red jumper he’s bought for a dollar just for such an occasion from the St Vincent de Paul’s opportunity shop. The best part he remembered was getting an erection as he choked the life out of her before tossing her and the dog into the river. “Christ that was good”, he thought to himself, ” I’ll knock off another one when I get out”.

It was then he remembered the woman in the park. It was his old psychiatrist and the bitch was knitting something red

He thought,” That bitch knew I’d be in the park, I bet my bloody escort sheila told her. How else would she know. I put on a pretty good performance for that bitch with me though. I reckon I’m home and hosed there but they’ll both be first on my bloody list as soon as I’m out of here”.

A day or so later George was back in the interview room and the same line up of men in suits were there too. They introduced themselves again and the bloke named Baker said,” G’day George, I’ll get straight to the point, I’m going to caution you again”. That out of the way,  Baker said,” We had that can of coke you had analysed for DNA and fingerprints. The results are back. You are not George Green. Your correct name is Frederick Green. Have you anything today to say about about that?”

The suspect subject just shook his head which was duly noted. Baker continued,” Your DNA has been identified on the red woollen garment worn by the three year old girl found dead in the river near the dwelling you occupied with your parents. Would you care to comment”? George thought,”They’re bluffing, I’ll deny it”. To the detectives he said,”Not me”.

Baker then said,”Your fingerprints were found on the dog’s lead. Have you anything to say about that?” Again George said,” They’re not mine”.

Baker then said,” I believe that you fantasise about the colour red. Would you like to tell us about that?”

Before he could answer, the appointed solicitor tugged George’s arm and whispered into his ear.

George considered what he had been told and said to the detectives,” there are a lot of horrible things I’d going around in my head. Been like that for years. I’ve been advised by this solicitor here that before I say anything more  I should ask you if you will take my mental illness into account?”

Baker said,” We are not in a position to make any promises. Whatever you tell us will be provided to the Crown Law Officers to determine if criminal proceedings should ensue. Please keep in  mind that the homicide we are talking to you about occurred in another jurisdiction where the processes may vary. I can’t add more than that”. George thought about what had been said and replied,” OK, I admit it was me that killed that little girl and her dog and tossed them in the river near home”. Immediately, Baker cautioned George again and George said,”Yair I know that. It was seeing that old bird in the park knitting that red thing that brought it all back to me. She was my psychiatrist years back and she predicted that one day I’d live out the things going on I’m my head. When my Mom told me that they were going to have me locked up in the nut house I decided to shoot through but before I went I thought I’d show my old quack that she was right after all. That’s when I sussed out the girl and knocked her off, just like you said. I really got my rocks off over that. What happens next”.

Baker said,” I’ve a Schedule 2 under the Mental Health Act in your name here. I’m taking you into custody now. The medical staff here will hold you in a secure unit until the authorities decide what course to take”.

George nodded to the nearby orderlies and without a word was escorted from the room.

Later, detectives briefed both the elderly woman from the park who was knitting the red item and the Mental Health Official who had escorted George/Fred to the park with the outcome of their enquiries.

The man known as George or Frederick was later extradited to another jusrisdiction.  There, after exhaustive psychiatric analysis he was found fit to stand trial for murder. He was found guilty and sentenced to penal servitude for life without parole.

As for the demise of the puppy, it was only considered collateral damage and not worth the expense of pursuing a prosecution under Prevention of Cruelty Animals Legislation.

A short time after commencing his sentence, George or Frederick as he once again called himself was found dead, hanging in his prison cell. The subsequent inquiry had a positive outcome. No Corrective Service Officer was found to have neglected their duty in relation to this death in custody.

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