Book Publishing News
by Alan Jacobson
Pocket Books, 2001
The United States Attorney stood on the courthouse steps, the hot August air
oppressively still and heavy with humidity. Reporters were gathered around
him, microphones and cassette recorders shoved toward his drawn face.
"I only have a brief statement for you. At twelve-thirty this afternoon,
Judge Richard Noonan held a hearing on newly discovered evidence in the
Anthony Scarponi murder conviction of six years ago. The defense has secured
what Judge Noonan has determined to be a credible witness who can provide
evidence of Mr. Scarponi's innocence. Collaterally, the Department of
Justice has failed to locate former FBI Agent Harper Payne, who was the
central witness for the government in the original trial. As a result, Judge
Noonan has ordered the release of Mr. Scarponi on two million dollars bail
pending the scheduling of a new trial."
A flurry of questions burst forth from the press corps. Instead of
answering them, the U.S. Attorney turned and walked back up the
courthouse steps. A screaming headache was beginning to take shape, and the
last thing he needed was two dozen journalists asking the one question he
had been asking himself repeatedly the past several days: how could this
The apartment was a sparsely decorated studio on the outskirts of
Washington, D.C., secured by contacts he had maintained while incarcerated
in the maximum security prison in Petersburg, Virginia. He had hoped the day
would come when he would be out on his own again, free to roam the streets
like a jaguar prowling for its next quarry.
Anthony Scarponi knew that to have true freedom, the tiny device implanted
in his buttock had to be removed. Foreign physicians would perform such a
procedure without asking questions, but to find one in the United States
would be time-consuming and dangerous.
There was only one possible course of action.
He stood with his right leg up on the edge of the bathtub, a large
magnifying makeup mirror perched on a step stool beneath his buttock. A
high-intensity halogen light lay on the floor, flooding his skin with enough
brightness that if he looked away, he would have a temporary blind spot. His
paraphernalia was laid out across the bathroom counter, within reach of his
left hand: syringes filled with lidocaine hydrochloride solution, sterilized
stainless steel probes, a scalpel, forceps, clamps, gauze rolls, pads, and
After injecting the surrounding area with anesthetic, he began by opening a
long slit overlying the tiny, delicate scar line left by the surgeon's
original incision. It was tedious work at first, as he had to locate the
exact position of the microchip they had implanted. That it was buried
toward the rear of his buttock made the probing more difficult. Though he
was not supposed to know this had been done to him, he had sources. Even
inside a maximum security federal prison, he had sources.
According to his informants, a couple of guards had taken him from his cell
on a Monday-and didn't return him until the following Sunday. Scarponi
surmised he had been drugged, then kept sedated until he could heal. It took
him a few months, but he eventually learned what they had done to him.
An hour later, the lidocaine syringes lay empty, the last one having been
injected forty minutes ago. He was now working on sheer determination, grit,
and guts, using the skills of discipline his Chinese mentors had taught him.
After much tedious probing and searching, he finally found the tiny device.
Carefully, he extracted the foreign body, which was a quarter the size of a
penny, and placed it gently into a Pyrex dish filled with saline solution.
Ten minutes later, he tied off the last suture, packed away all evidence of
his crude surgery, then chased down an ampicillin capsule and a Vicodin
tablet with a glass of water. Scalpel in hand, he walked over to the rat
that was laying still in its cage. It was fast asleep, the drugs he'd given
it two hours ago having done their job in marked contrast to the largely
ineffective lidocaine he had used on himself.
He suddenly realized that he should have chosen a guinea pig instead of a
rat. Then it would have mirrored his own situation so closely the feds
couldn't help but see the irony in what he'd done. In the end, though, it
didn't matter, because he wouldn't be around to feel their shock, taste
He removed the rodent from its tiny prison, made his incision, and did his
deed. He stepped back and laughed a shrill howl, marveling at his
masterpiece, intrigued by what the feds would think of his latest feat.
"I've got her tied down to the chair. I slap her. She likes it, she smiles
at me. She wants more."
Dr. Lauren Chambers swallowed hard, then leaned forward in her seat. "Who is
this, Steven, who's tied down?"
"Gina. My girlfriend. The others are unconscious."
Lauren bit her bottom lip. This was one of the most extraordinary first
sessions she had ever experienced with a patient. Steven Simpson, a forty
year-old state worker, had come to her because he had lost his ability to
fight off his sexual urges. But they weren't just sexual fantasies, her
patient was quick to point out. "They're torture fantasies," he had said.
"There's a huge difference. Haven't you been listening to me?"
Normally, Lauren had no difficulty focusing on her patient. She was a
professional, and when she walked into the office, she left her problems at
the door. But today was different. She forced herself to look at this
person, really see this man, who wore oversized rose-tinted glasses and a
bright blue polyester shirt opened at the collar. She decided that if a
dictionary publisher were searching for a defining image of the word geek,
Steven would qualify. His hair was frizzy and wild, parted and combed across
his head in an apparent attempt to tame it. But the effort had failed
miserably, and he looked more like a mad professor than the moderately paid
state worker drone that he professed to be.
Judging by what he had just told her, she had to agree with him. These
torture fantasies were not merely a benign form of sexually oriented
Though in a hypnotic state, Steven smiled. "She wants more."
"Steven," Lauren said, "you mentioned others. How many women are there?"
"There are four. They're all strapped into chairs. I'm more intrigued by the
last one, the blonde."
"These...sessions you have with Gina and her, uh, friends. Are they just
fantasy, Steven, or are they real?"
"There's blood. She's grinning at me so I slap her again. There's too many
of them, too many women. The blood is coming from her nose, it's dripping
down to her chin. I smear it all over her face with my hand. She's laughing.
She loves it, she wants more. She wants me to hit her again. But there's a
noise from behind me. It's Cynthia. She's naked. She's calling my name."
Lauren suddenly felt uncomfortably hot. She knew she was taking risks by
placing her patient under hypnosis on his initial session. Establishing an
accurate diagnosis and a trusting rapport with a patient often took the
better part of two meetings. But from what she had seen in their first
forty-five minutes together, Steven's case required immediate intervention.
Although therapy could sometimes get stressful-and this one certainly
qualified-she never feared for her safety. Yet something about Steven made
the hairs on the back of her neck stand at attention. She pulled a couple of
times on her silk blouse, attempting to flap some cool air against her moist
skin, then refocused on her patient. "So what happens next, Steven?"
"I take Gina, right there on the chair."
"While she's tied down?"
"And how does Gina feel about this?"
Lauren paused for a second. "Does she cry out?"
Steven licked his lips. "Oh, yes. Very loudly." He threw his head back and
lifted his hands. "Owww," he groaned. "Like that."
"Oww?" she asked. "You mean, like she's in pain? Is she in pain, Steven?"
He smiled again. "Intense pain."
Lauren looked down at her pad. This man routinely rapes his girlfriend. But
is it fantasy or reality? She shook her head. "How does that make you feel,
Steven? How does her pain make you feel?"
"It makes me come. It makes me feel special. But not as special as tying
her down. I make the ropes so tight they cut into her skin. So tight that
they hurt. The ropes hurt, they hurt me."
Lauren's head snapped up. What did he just say? "The ropes hurt you, or do
they hurt her? Who's tied up, Steven? You or Gina?"
Her patient did not answer. A tear coursed down his cheek.
"Steven, remember. No one can hurt you here. You're completely safe. No one
will judge you. You can tell me everything."
He smeared away the tear with the swipe of a hand. "Gina. Gina is tied up."
"Does Gina say anything to you afterwards?"
"She's angry. She went away for a couple of days."
Lauren sat there for a moment, trying to think of the best treatment
approach to use on Steven. She knew what she had heard: her patient had
clearly stated that he was tied up, which could explain many things. Was he
abused as a child? Had he been tied down and tortured by one of his parents?
She shuddered at the thought.
A noise in the hallway grabbed her attention and she glanced at the large
black-on-white wall clock behind her patient. She needed to bring this
session to a close. But what a time to have to end it!
She sighed deeply. She knew she could not leave him in his current state. If
she could curb his overwhelming desires it might keep him in check until she
had a chance to work with him further and probe deeper to reach the root
cause of his psychosis. Right now, she needed an immediate, albeit
temporary, measure to accomplish this. To make it work, she had to take him
"Steven, we're going to talk more about this next week. In the meantime, I
want you to close your eyes, let your head fall back against the chair, and
focus on my voice." She used a calm, melodic tone to relax him. "That's it,
just let everything go. I want you to picture yourself at the ocean. The
waves are effortlessly rolling up the sand and tickling the tips of your
toes. The soft breeze is blowing the hair off your face. Now think about all
your anger, frustration, tension...and toss it out into the ocean. Watch it
float away as it bobs up and down on the waves, moving farther and farther
away from you."
Her patient's facial muscles went flaccid, causing his cheeks and mouth to
droop slightly. He was now exactly where she wanted him. She had performed
so many hypnotherapy sessions in graduate school that she was affectionately
known as "The Underlord," a nickname she did not particularly like. Still,
it was a good-hearted attempt by her colleagues to honor her exceptional
"Each time you feel a sexual urge coming on, when you feel yourself losing
control, you'll feel intense pain in your left temple. It will be an
explosive headache that will last for five minutes and then subside. Do you
understand what I'm saying, Steven?'
He continued to lay back in the chair, his head extended and cocked to one
side, his mouth hanging open. He smacked his lips a couple of times,
swallowed, and then spoke. "Yes."
"Good. Now, I'm going to wake you up. You won't consciously remember
anything we talked about. When I snap my fingers, you will awaken refreshed
He opened his eyes and sat up, looked around, and focused on Lauren. "What
happened, doc? We were talking, and then...I don't know, you're sitting
there looking at me."
"Everything went fine, Steven. You just went into a very relaxed state for a
few moments." She glanced again at the clock and rose from her chair. "Next
week we'll talk some more, try some things that I think will help."
"I feel great."
"Good. I want you to feel great." Lauren smiled. "This was an excellent
first session, Steven."
"What about those thoughts, those fantasies?"
"I don't think you'll have any problems with them. But you'd better carry a
bottle of Excedrin with you."
Lauren followed her patient out into the hallway, where the shared
receptionist sat behind the desk wearing a telephone headset. The other
therapists had gathered in the area, as they all had completed their
sessions at the top of the hour. Lauren ignored their burgeoning discussion
and looked over at the receptionist.
"Did my husband call?"
"No, doctor, he didn't. Just like the last hour, and the hour before that."
Fortunately, the bizarre case Steven presented had helped take her mind off
Michael, even if only for a few minutes. Lauren looked away and headed back
into her office. She stood in front of a photo on the wall, the one she had
taken of Michael in their backyard a few years ago, shortly after purchasing
"Michael," she whispered, "please come home."
Excerpted from The Hunted by Alan Jacobson.
Copyright © 2001 by Alan Jacobson. All rights reserved. No
part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without
permission in writing from the publisher.