When they turned to us, Jan said, "We can't cover this up. I can't cover this up."
Claudia nodded. "I know. He's not well, but he doesn't belong in jail."
"Agreed, but we need to talk to your mother, and–"
Claudia shook her head. "No. Tempting as it is to have you do this for me, I should go and talk to her–"
"We will go talk to her," Erika said abruptly. "You and I."
I expected Claudia to protest, but she smiled. "Yes. Of course."
"Before you go," Jan said, "I'm going to be very blunt about a couple of things, so there is no possibility of confusion. Mrs. Forrester needs to arrange for Bobby to be committed to some sort of appropriate institution, or I will have to act. Not just therapy or counseling or anything on an outpatient basis. He needs to be helped, on a level commensurate with his illness, or I will see that he gets arrested, which will almost certainly mean that he will go to jail.
"I agree that he is unwell, and that he is not a professional criminal. But he knifed a friend of his to death, on the basis of an adolescent infatuation, a 'relationship' which existed only in his mind. He cannot be allowed to be free until he is better.
"Of course, the U-town hospital is an option. We have facilities for people in his situation. But, no matter what, the authorities need to be involved. I imagine that your mother, if she initiates things, will have enough influence to affect where he ends up. However, I also want to be blunt about the fact that, though she is used to getting her own way, there is no lever she can use which will budge me."
"Are you going to wait while we go and settle this?" Claudia asked as they stood up.
"Of course. I have to know what the decision is."
"We'll come back as soon as we can. I would ask you to come with us, but there is a very strong reason that I would prefer you to stay here. There are some reporters who hang around outside the gate, hoping to get some tidbit of scandal. Even so, eventually the story will start to die down. However, if they should see you, you can imagine the headlines. 'Jan Sleet steps in to solve local mystery!' You can imagine."