Chapter Fifty: The Walls Came Tumbling Down
It was raining on Friday, and the steamy heat seemed to cling to John Hamlin’s clothes as he pushed through the double glass doors of a downtown office building. He crossed the lobby, gave the receptionist his name, and waited. The girl told him to take the elevator to the fifth floor. Suite 503.
John had been making inquiries over the last week with medical and psychological professionals, trying to find more information on Tori’s condition. The responses had been...disturbing. The replies were all the same. There was no such condition, at least not under that name. Certainly, there were people out there who were addicted to sex, and several of the responses he’d gotten back had admitted as much.
However, none of them could pin down exactly what he was talking about. A few had offered to examine Tori, but he politely declined at this juncture. He didn’t want to subject his daughter to more therapy, tests, or anything else without knowing more.
Then, he’d received a call from a special investigator with the FBI’s sexual crimes unit, asking him to please come in and talk with them. They promised that it would be worth his while and that they could offer him some information. His interest piqued, John now found himself riding the elevator to suite 503.
He stepped off, and made his way down a carpeted hallway to suite 503, let himself in, and was greeted by a receptionist. Again, he gave his name, waited. A stocky man in a dark suit and tie came through a door in the back and held out his hand.
“Mr. Hamlin? Agent Arnold Oliver. It’s good to meet you.”
“Would you follow me, please?”
He took John through the back door and into a sparsely decorated office. He offered him a chair, then sat behind a metal desk, and slid a piece of paper and a pen over.
“This is a nondisclosure agreement,” he explained, “Before I can tell you anything, I’ll need you to sign it, please.”
John looked it over. He’d seen many such agreements in the past, and it looked pretty standard. He signed it and passed it back. The agent slipped it into a folder, and then pulled a large file out of his desk.
“Thanks for coming in,” Oliver said, “I’m sure you’re wondering why I asked you here.”
“Your recent inquiries into a rare disorder tipped us off, so I tracked you down. You see, I head an investigation into sex crimes, things like human trafficking, and I understand you have a daughter who was recently incarcerated at the NewYou Clinic here in the city. Do I have that right?”
“You do. So, what interest does the FBI have in psychological disorders?”
“Ordinarily, we don’t,” Oliver said, “however, this particular one caught our attention about a year ago.”
He opened his file and began to lay out photographs. One in particular, caught John’s attention.
“Do you recognize any of these people?” Oliver asked.
“Him,” John said, a cold sense of dread creeping over him as he pointed to the photo.
“Dr. Peter Carlson,” Oliver said, “He heads the NewYou Clinic.”
“That much I know. Why am I looking at him?”
“On the face of it, the NewYou Clinic is exactly what it claims to be. It’s a rehabilitation ward for troubled teens. Some, or even most of what they do, is actually legitimate work. It has to be when you’re trying to hide... other things, I guess.”
“What are you telling me?”
“Dr. Carlson, and several members of his staff, were very respected in their fields. However, all of them had a penchant for not playing by the rules. Most of them were dismissed, very quietly, from prominent positions in pharmaceuticals, DNA research, psychological conditioning, and a pretty broad spectrum of medical professions. It’s the sort of pool of talent that you would want to bring together if you were, say, trying to run a clinic for addiction recovery.”
He pulled another set of photographs and laid them out, asking if John recognized any of them. Again, one face he did know.
“That’s Mr. Hart. He teaches chemistry at my daughter’s school. I met him at a parent/teacher conference last year.”
Oliver nodded, saying, “All of the people in these photographs, we’ve been looking into for the last year. They occupy positions at high schools around the state. Some of them are teachers, counselors, and principals. But what they really are, are the scouts.”
Oliver leaned back in his chair, “Everything I’m telling you is classified as part of an ongoing investigation. I wouldn’t even be divulging it, except that you have a unique connection to this case.”