Elijah kept his voice light. "Now Mrs. Short, I'm sure you've heard of doctor-patient confidentiality."
She crossed her arms over her chest and frowned. "If it concerns the well-being of the Rock, then it becomes my business. The United States of America and its laws are only a memory."
He adopted his professional manner. "I assure you, Leo is no threat to health of the people here. He's not contagious."
Her eyes narrowed. "I wonder, Dr. Webb. You’re close friends, aren’t you? Unless Mr. Black Elk heeds God’s mandate, I think any association with such a man could be very dangerous to your health."
Anger awoke in a tiny spark, but he chose to ignore the veiled threat. "He came in here to seek my services, which I rendered. Now it’s your turn. What can I do for you?" He gestured to the chair vacated by Leo.
She shook her head. "You must refuse to associate with Leonard Black Elk for any reason. I want you to sever your relationship, personal and professional, with him. Now tell me what your conversation was about."
A wave of unreality washed over him. He opened his mouth then closed it again. Finally he croaked, "I beg your pardon?"
Concern replaced her cold expression. "For the sake of your immortal soul, Dr. Webb. That man is in league with Satan himself, and I‘m not sure I can save him or anyone he pollutes with his ways. He performs unthinkable rites in that abandoned ranch house. He hopes to destroy us all."
Elijah shook his head. "You're terribly mistaken. Leo simply follows the rituals of his ancestors to honor his people."
"So he would have you believe, but let me tell you what I've seen." Her voice dropped, and she looked about the room as if she expected Leo to reappear. "I've seen the 'ceremonies' he conducts in that basement. Do you know he actually vanishes from the room?"
"Listen to me!" At her cry, his mouth snapped shut. Geraldine's eyes bulged, and the color drained from her face. "I’ve seen that – that devil's imp completely disappear! As if the earth opens up and drops him straight into hell!”
He decided against reproaching her for spying. Instead he said, "Leo’s told me it gets very smoky in that basement and he can't see two inches in front of his face sometimes. The smoke just blocked your view."
"He wasn't hidden by smoke. One moment he was there, the next he wasn't. Part of the room itself disappeared and was replaced by a landscape. It was like a huge picture window appeared there, looking out on a view."
"Landscape?" His brow wrinkled.
She grinned at him, a sight that made his skin crawl. "You think I'm crazy, don't you? Yes, I saw an outdoor scene, but not one like around here. There was a tree in the distance, one of those weeping willows, with a boulder next to it."
Elijah gripped the arms of his chair as the room rocked around him. She leaned across the desk, her avid eyes searching his face.
"You do know something about Black Elk." She rushed around the desk to him. She grasped his chair and swiveled him to face her. Her breath buffeted his face in short puffs. "Doctor, it's not too late to turn back from that fiery path he's leading you down. You can still repent and return to the flock. Tell me what he came in here about just now."
He barely heard her. "You saw this tree and stone?"
She patted his hand. "It's all right, Doctor. The Lord is kind and loving. You will be forgiven for aiding the works of Satan. Together we can bring Leo back into the fold."
He pulled his hands away from her eager grasp. He felt sick and angry with himself for being taken in so easily. He pushed his chair back and stood. Let her look up at him for a change!
"How long were you outside that door before you knocked?"
Geraldine's eyes narrowed. "What?"
"Were you listening in on my private consultation with Leo?" he asked.
She flushed, her face hectic with red blotches. Her upper lip curled back. "How dare you! I offer you a chance to reclaim your immortal soul!"
He strode to the door and opened it. "This conversation is at an end, Mrs. Short."
She glared at him. "Not quite. You and your friend Black Elk may laugh in the face of the Lord, Dr. Webb. How long will you laugh when the Rock casts you out of this haven?"
Elijah tried one last attempt at reason. "Neither Leo nor myself are devil worshipers. You know the Rock needs its doctor."
"We need none of your medicine," she answered. "The Lord will keep us safe and healthy. Will the unholy one you follow do the same for you?"
"Good day, Mrs. Short. I'm sorry you find us to be such a threat."
"With God on my side you're no threat to me whatsoever. But I am a threat to you. Do not doubt that."
She stomped out, her footsteps crashing echoes down the empty hall. He closed the door and leaned against it. He sighed.