The silent patient by alex michaelides

“I’m not sure Jesus was anguished. I don’t see him like that. Don’t pull any faces—just stand there. And don’t move.” 

“You’re the boss.” 

He stood for about twenty minutes. Then he broke the pose, saying he was tired. 

“Sit down, then. But don’t talk. I’m working on the face.” 

Gabriel sat on a chair and kept quiet while I worked. I enjoyed painting his face. It’s a good face. A strong jaw, high cheekbones, elegant nose. Sitting there with the spotlight on him, he looked like a Greek statue. A hero of some kind.

But something was wrong. I don’t know what—maybe I was pushing too hard. I just couldn’t get the shape of his eyes right, nor the color. The first thing I ever noticed about Gabriel was the sparkle in his eyes—like a tiny diamond in each iris. But now for some reason I couldn’t catch it. Maybe I’m just not skilled enough—or maybe Gabriel has something extra that can’t be captured in paint. The eyes remained dead, lifeless. I could feel myself getting annoyed. 

“Fuck,” I said. “It’s not going well.” 

“Time for a break?” 

“Yeah. Time for a break.” 

“Shall we have sex?” 

That made me laugh. “Okay.” 

Gabriel jumped up, took hold of me, and kissed me. We made love in the studio, there on the floor. 

The whole time, I kept glancing at the lifeless eyes in Gabriel’s portrait. They were staring at me, burning into me. I had to turn away. 

But I could still feel them watching.


I WENT TO FIND DIOMEDES to report on my meeting with Alicia. He was in his office, sorting through piles of sheet music. 

“Well”—he didn’t look up—“how did it go?” 

“It didn’t, really.” 

Diomedes gave me a quizzical glance. 

I hesitated. “If I’m going to get anywhere with her, I need Alicia to be able to think, and feel.” 

“Absolutely. And your concern is…?” 

“It’s impossible to get through to someone when they’re so heavily medicated. It’s like she’s six feet underwater.” 

Diomedes frowned. “I wouldn’t go that far. I’m not familiar with the exact dose she’s on—” 

“I checked with Yuri. Sixteen milligrams of risperidone. A horse’s dose.” 

Diomedes raised an eyebrow. “That’s certainly quite high, yes. It could probably be reduced. You know, Christian is the head of Alicia’s care team. You should talk to him about it.” 

“I think it’ll sound better coming from you.” 

“Hmm.” Diomedes gave me a doubtful look. “You and Christian knew each other before, didn’t you? At Broadmoor?” 

“Very slightly.” 

Diomedes didn’t respond immediately. He reached over to a little dish of sugared almonds on his desk and offered me one. 

I shook my head. 

He popped an almond in his mouth and crunched it, watching me as he chewed. “Tell me, is everything friendly

between you and Christian?” 

“That’s an odd question. Why do you ask?” 

“Because I’m picking up on some hostility.” 

“Not on my part.” 

“But on his?” 

“You’ll have to ask him. I have no problem with Christian.” 

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