The whole day went to shit. The kind of day that made you wonder why you even got out of bed. Although glad to have given up heroin, it did nothing to change the huge bag of shit my life currently turned into. I had to meet with someone at the bank and go over my finances. Right when I thought I got it under control, I came home to a letter from the IRS. Evidently not paying your taxes for several years pissed them off. Even that didn’t necessarily drive me over the edge as at least I had money coming in now and could bargain with them. My recent ire dealt with fucking Carissa Travers.
Carissa’s album climbed up the billboard list and with her tour coming out soon, it was sure to make platinum once again. I even had a lead on a new band. Some cocky young studs but their shit was good and as long as they didn’t fuck up I thought they had what it took to go all the way up the charts. Vic wasn’t easy to convince, but he let me streamline it all. If it failed, well it was my ass on the line, but I really could see it garnering a new payoff coming my way in the future.
Carissa turned out to be a pain in my ass. Her stepfather came to the studio today and tried to pick a fight with me. Evidently she took some of my advice and started proceedings to get her parents out of her pocketbook and out of her career. She finally got fed up with their shit. Whatever. It wasn’t my deal. Fuck him. It should have been done a long time ago after he promised 'Stud Weekly' a porn layout of his stepdaughter on her nineteenth birthday. All I had to do was get security to kick him out but I didn’t realize it would be on the news. The music channel once again fucked me over by plastering me as causing trouble and implied we had an affair when in fact I turned her down weeks ago. Well, fuck it.
Most of all my stress centered around the conversation from a couple of nights ago with Quade. Jaeger knew I was his father and the thought bothered me. Why the fuck couldn’t Quade just shut up? I couldn’t even sleep at night anymore and felt on a hair-trigger with all the shit piling down on me. What if Jaeger wanted to meet with me? What if he didn’t? All of this had me tied up in knots and I felt shaky, needy. Tonight I needed something to calm my nerves and my craving hit me harder than ever. Thankful I didn’t have plans to go to listen to any bands tonight I decided to just eat something quick and head to the gym ignoring the prodding part of my brain that wanted to dull my senses.
Going through the freezer in my kitchen I looked in the back for a frozen dinner or something to feed myself when I came across an old bottle of vodka I forgot about as part of my secret stash. My hands cupped it greedily as I pulled it out and set it on the kitchen island to stare at it. And stare at it. And stare at it. Fuck, I wanted a drink.
Drinking was never too much an issue with me but it brought down my inhibitions and led to a ripple effect causing me a hard road of pain and regret. I drank all the time but there wasn’t a point when I thought I couldn’t stop, at least I told myself the same. I functioned just fine while drinking but my thoughts went to the support group meetings I should be attending with more regularity. They all warned against getting rid of one addiction for another and I knew all too well what would happen. One drink would lead to twenty, just like my old man, and then what would I have left to give to Jaeger?
Going through it one last time in my head, I let the anger seep in too fast. How the hell did my life end up like this? I was on top of the fucking world. Money, riches, fame, I had it all. And never had anyone to answer to either.
And then I thought of my mother. What Chelsea said at her funeral of her being proud of me and it hit me where it hurt. Her pride in me never faltered and I should have gotten sober while she was still coherent enough to see I didn’t die with a needle in my arm. My anger reached its pinnacle and I grabbed the bottle of vodka and threw it at the sink. The bottle shattered spewing glass and liquor all over the place.
The pain wasn’t immediate but when I went to take a step I felt it. Looking down I saw a shard of glass sticking out of my upper right thigh. Panic spread as fast as the red bloom of color across my pant leg when I pulled out a thick piece of glass. Shit. This wasn’t something I could put a band-aid on.
Grabbing a dish towel, I applied pressure on the cut and grabbed my coat as I headed for the car. My thoughts went to the nearest emergency department and then I silently swore to myself. The one closest to my house was notorious for paparazzi hanging out there and I wanted to avoid being another target for them tonight. Deciding to drive a little further out of the way, I headed for the car. The way I was bleeding I thought it might be a stupid decision, but really, when have I ever made good decisions?
Once at the hospital the triage nurse took one look at me and knew I wouldn’t be able to wait in the waiting room. I was hunched over putting pressure on the cut to my thigh but every step I took caused my pant leg to spread more crimson color. No amount of putting pressure on it seemed to help and when she pushed me back into a wheelchair I hated feeling like a fucking invalid but excepted it.
The doors opened to the back emergency department and an array of people ran about. People in scrubs, as well as lab coats, and even a priest consoling a young woman. The noise was chaotic as screams were heard over yelling and the squeak of equipment being pushed down the hall. The nurse wheeled me into a room but I wouldn’t allow her to help me on the bed. Another two people came into the room and helped to expose my leg and take down other vital information. As one nurse cut off my jeans, another big guy pushed me down to fit a blood pressure cuff over my upper arm. He looked stoic as if this was a run-of-the-mill workday, but also looked as though should I protest he would knock me out, so instead of saying anything I sat back and watched.
An older nurse in gray scrubs manned a computer pulling up my file and asking me about medication and allergies as the male nurse next to me sounded off numbers above me on the screen. The triage nurse kept pressure on the cut while a flurry of staff worked around me. It all happened fast, but I was relieved to see that although the cut was deep, the bleeding must have stopped since I wasn’t upright and walking on it.
The triage nurse’s phone blared, and she looked up at the male nurse. “Sean put pressure on this. I need to go back out.” He nodded and came over to the other side holding pressure on my upper thigh.
“I can do it,” I exclaimed not really wanting his huge hand close to my junk but with the look he gave me, he shot me right down, so I shrugged and sat back.
“Do you smoke?” The older nurse continued her bombardment of health questions and I tried to concentrate on answering instead of the way the room was spinning. Did I lose that much blood or was it just my anxiety about hospitals? Either way, I focused on the questions to gain back some of my control. Each one was so much easier to answer than it would have been even a year ago. No, I didn’t smoke. No, I didn’t drink. And at least now, I didn’t do street drugs. The only time I stumbled was when she asked about any diseases. None I currently was being treated for. That was when I figured out she knew my recent STD predicament as it displayed on the screen in front of her. Well, I guess I should be happy my medical history was up to date.
When all the questions were answered I asked for a ballpark time to be seen. I hated to sound pushy but I noticed the long line of people waiting to get in and I could feel my hackles rising with each minute I had to spend in this death house. Ever since visiting my father in the hospital when he had cancer, I had been doing my best to avoid stepping foot in one. Hell, I wouldn’t even sober up in one knowing it wouldn’t work and it forced me to go cold turkey at my mother’s house. It worked but since then I only returned to see a doctor for my quarterly testing regimen. Even that I could barely handle, so this was a fucking nightmare.
The older nurse turned her nose up at my question and I felt that if I didn’t say something I would be conveniently forgotten for the rest of the night and it was only a little after six pm. “Look, I am not asking to skip ahead in line. It is just I don’t like hospitals. No offense, but they creep me out.” She smiled and I realized it wasn’t the only thing to creep me out. Either she enjoyed watching me panic like a child or she acted all condescending and it only made me want to lash out more.
“I think Dr. Rhodes clocked in early. Maybe I can see if she is available.” Nurse Sean took off his gloves and deposited them in the garbage as he turned to wash his hands at the nearby sink.
“Dr. Snap you mean?” The older nurse laughed and I looked between the two of them. Dr. Snap? It seemed to be an inside joke. They left the room with instructions of a call light and the silence that followed appeared just as menacing.
Not enough silence though as I could still hear the chaos outside my door. The walls were closing in on me and I tried to think of anything I could to get my mind off my situation. Nearing a point of ripping off the blood pressure cuff and leaving for the nearest store to purchase the world’s strongest tape I could buy, Sean finally returned with another person trailing behind him.
This woman was in a white long coat. Underneath her coat, she had on a large scrub top and pants set that left a lot to the imagination but still seemed to hug her slender hips. The faded green scrubs seemed out of place against the cream-colored softness of her skin. Besides the scrub top, she had on another shirt underneath to cover the rest of her essentials. The body wasn’t nearly as impressive as her face. Smooth beige and slightly reddened skin looked a little tanner than her arms made it seem almost as if she had a little too much sunlight lately. Her hair color was the most amazing shade of auburn I had ever seen as it changed from a brown hue into a dampened red as she tilted her head in the light above us. She had soft curls that framed her face but as she stepped inside she quickly tucked it up in a clip and went to the sink to wash her hands.
“Mr. Harries, it seems as though you have a deep cut. We will need to repair that. Do you know if you are up to date on your tetanus?” When I still couldn’t find my voice, she turned around to look at me. Her eyes were the color hazel that would change with the motions of her hair, green one second and brown the next. She wore very little makeup and the only flaw to be seen was a small bruise up on the left forehead just visible by her hairline. “Mr. Harries?” She seemed concerned at my lack of voice and looked to Sean, “Could you take another blood pressure?”
I came out of my stupor as I realized she must think I lost too much blood. “My tetanus is up to date and you don’t have to call me Mr. Harries. Just JJ.” Calling me Mr. Harries reminded me of my Dad. I never used a stage name preferring to change my real name slightly as there once was a time I wanted to make the Harries name great again not realizing it was an impossible feat.
Sean gave her the readout, “Blood pressure is 187 over 103.”
Alarmed, she viewed me cautiously, “How are you feeling Mr. Har... I mean JJ?”
“Like I want to run out of here. I hate hospitals.” Her expression softened with my confession.
“Well, that might explain your elevated blood pressure then. I need to get you to relax a little. Don’t worry. It won’t take long and you will be out of here. Let me just numb up the area and Sean will clean the wound.”
“Is it necessary to numb the area?”
She smiled as she took in the ink on my skin, “I always think it is strange how people who fear needles can get so many tattoos.”
“I’m not scared of needles!” I sounded exactly like that especially the way I blurted it out and I saw her smirk. “It is just that it will take even longer to get out of here.” She realized my comment referred to the fear of hospitals and took pity on me.
“Sorry JJ but the laceration is deep. We will need two sets of sutures. One that will dissolve internally and another on the surface of the skin that will need to come out in seven to ten days. There is no way I will be able to put those in without numbing the area. Don’t worry, you will thank me for it.” I slumped back in bed and sighed knowing I had no choice in the matter.
“You are lucky JJ. The bleeding has stopped and just another couple centimeters and it would have nicked an artery.”
Pouting like a little kid I just harrumphed, “Yeah, lucky.” I watched as she drew up some liquid in a syringe. The needle did look big but when she told me to look away, I couldn’t. “No, it would be worse. I told you I am not afraid of needles. Just get it over with.”
She took her time injecting the beefy red meat and skin around my angry looking cut. The bleeding started again, but she said it would stop soon. She took off her gloves and washed her hands again and I wondered if they hurt her at the end of her shift. With her skin being so soft looking she must do something to make them look so good.
She got to the door giving Sean instructions on cleaning and looked at me, “I will be back when the anesthetic takes effect. Don’t worry JJ, we will get you out of here better than when you first came in. Hospitals aren’t everyone’s Elysium.” After she left, I turned to give Sean a look of confusion.
He shrugged as he laid down towels around my leg. “She likes to use big words.”
Elysium? That made me wonder about another item. “Why do you call her Dr. Snap?”
He laughed as he squirted what looked like soapy water on my cut and I definitely was thankful she talked me into the numbing agent as I didn’t feel a thing. “That is Dr. O’Malley’s nickname for her but it sure fits. He is the general surgeon up on the fifth floor. He looks just like his name sounds. Short and a redhead like a leprechaun. He likes pool or what he calls billiards.” Sean said it in a snarky way that made me think this Dr. O’Malley was a little full of himself as well. “Well, the term snap means--”
“Breaking of the balls.” I finished and started to laugh remembering the term from touring over in Europe.
“Yeah, well I guess you can get it from there.” A ball buster. She kind of looked like it too. “Look, don’t say it to her. She would kill me and I still have thirty minutes left to work with her.” I nodded my head as he continued to clean my cut.
Sean set up a tray with instruments on it and put a bright light on my cut. He told me not to touch anything as he left me on my own again. The old anxiety level started to rise with his absence as the screaming and yelling outside my door intensified. Doing everything in my power to calm myself, I started to fidget in bed but then remembered how I wasn’t supposed to move. By the time Dr. Snap came back in, I was nearly in a full out panic mode again.
She noticed my wide eyes and damp skin when she entered the room and came over to the bed talking calmly as she addressed me, “Well let’s get this started so we can get you discharged soon. Sorry for the wait but it is a little busy around here.”
She wasn’t kidding. It seemed the shouts and noise from beyond the door only got worse since I entered the room.
“Is it always like this on a Friday night?”
Looking down, she gave a slow nod and sighed, “Yes, I am afraid so. It gets worse after bar closing too.” Almost as an afterthought, she added, “It seems out of your way to come here. I looked over your chart and it would be closer for you to go to St. Claire’s Hospital.” Finishing washing her hands at the sink behind her she grabbed a paper towel to dry them.
“I ah, was helping a friend in the neighborhood when it happened.” She didn’t seem convinced of my lie but didn’t ask me to elaborate.
Sitting down on a stool by the bedside, she opened a small metal tray with all different kinds of utensils on it. Taking out gloves from a package, she put them on while trying to figure out if I was lying or not. “Helping out a friend? This cut is pretty deep. How exactly did this happen again?”
I swallowed and decided to come clean, well partially. “I threw a bottle and it shattered causing the cut. I drove to this hospital hoping I wouldn’t be followed by the media. You see, sometimes I am on television but not in a really good light.”
It only piqued her curiosity, “Followed like by the paparazzi?”
I nodded, “Yes. I have been on the news lately surrounded by controversy and the vultures won’t let it go even though it isn’t true.” I cleared my throat and looked a little sheepish. The problem with all the shit that had gone down with Carissa’s stepfather, was that it brought to light my past struggles with heroin and it hit all the news stations again. They never posted my rehab though. That wouldn’t make good news. The whole world would rather I fail than come out ahead.
She took out a long-handled clamp and pinched on a small rounded needle with string on it. Taking great care to place sterile cloth around my cut, she angled herself over the gash poking at it first with the sharp end. “Can you feel that?” I shook my head. Even if I did, I didn’t want to look like a pussy. For whatever reason, I wanted to impress this woman. Why? I didn’t know. She was out of my league for sure. Never in my life did I ever use terms like Elysium.
“So, you must be famous then?” I actually found someone who didn’t know me? Did she not see my recent bout on the news for being a washed-up rock star? She must be one of those brainiac book worms.
“Ah... did you ever hear of the band Social Offender?”
Crooking her eyebrows together she kept focused on her work but addressed my question, “Ah, that is what Kelsey went on about outside. Some rock band, right? Be prepared to sign some autographs as your cover was blown.”
I groaned and laid my head back down. Great. So much for driving the extra ten miles to keep my anonymity tonight.
“I can call them off if you wish.”
I shook my head, “No, it's fine. You would think I would be used to it by now.” Wanting to at least make an impression since I was found out I asked, “So, have you heard of us?”
Shaking her head, she continued to talk and work. “Not that I can recall. What do you have out on the radio?”
Well, that was hard to say. “Nothing recently. It seems we have drifted to the oldies station. We haven’t put out much in the last couple of years.” Skimming my mind for a more respectable song instead of the earlier bang your girlfriend shit we migrated to singing, I thought of one of our earlier ballads. “Have you heard of the song ‘More’? It came out about fifteen years ago.”
“Sorry, no. About that time I was in residency. I was a little too tired to do anything except eat and work.” She looked up at me contrite.
It only made me laugh. Figures I couldn’t even impress her with a song I didn’t even write but I didn’t think the ‘Wet and Wanting’ song I composed would do anything but close her off to me. “Yeah, well it was kind of a while ago.” We weren’t even on most stations anymore. “Most of our songs are considered oldies now. I was even called ‘grandpa’ by one of the kids in the studio not too long ago.”
She laughed and I couldn’t imagine a better sound. Her eyes lit up and her whole face illuminated. “I know what you mean. I am all about manners but I guess I don’t like the title of ‘ma’am’ too much right now either.”
Wanting to keep the sparkle in her eye in the worst way, I scrambled for things to say. “C’mon, you can’t be that old.”
She hiked up one eyebrow at me while forking another bit of string through my cut. “JJ, you can’t really be asking a woman for her age now, can you?”
My turn to laugh as I realized my indiscretion. “I guess that ranks up there with asking a woman her weight.”
She nodded, “And neither one is what you will be getting from me.” I joined her in a laugh and realized my anxiety floundered with the easy way we communicated. The talk was comfortable even though she was supposed to be a ball buster.
Sean opened the door to peek his head in, “Do you need any help, Dr. Rhodes? I got held up in room ten.” He looked a little fearful as if he did something wrong.
She just shook her head, “No Sean. I should be fine. I will let you know when it is time to dress him.”
With a look of relief, he closed the door and I thought I knew why, “He is supposed to be in here, isn’t he?”
“Yes, hospital rules. None of our staff should be in a room alone with a patient. Our patients can be a little...” she stopped suddenly to choose the right words, “difficult at times.”
Feeling at least a little better about myself that she felt safe enough to be alone with me I called her on it. “So I don’t look like a raving lunatic?”
She smirked before she answered, “Lunatic? No, I guess not. Unfortunately, not all of our patients are as well-behaved as you.”
What exactly did she have to put up with here? “You must deal with some hard ass criminals then.” It wasn’t exactly a question and I didn’t really expect an answer. I looked at her fading bruise on her head but looked away before she noticed.
“Criminals, mentally incompetent, and drug seekers. We get our share just like any other hospital.” With the mention of the drug seeker, I absently pulled down my sleeves. The needle tracts weren’t easy to see but it was only because the general public didn’t know what to look for. She probably did though.
The automatic blood pressure cuff went off on my arm and the reading must be better as she looked at it and then back at me, “Your pressure is 142 over 91. Not ideal but coming down. I hope you are a little less anxious now I am closing up your laceration.” I had to agree with her. She put me at ease despite the cacophony of sounds in the hall as it ebbed and flowed beyond the door.
With her working so close to me I could smell her scent. More of a clean, citrus smell that could just as well be the soap she used constantly when going in and out of the rooms, but it was still pleasant. Her hair shined and constantly changed color with the light dancing off her head as she leaned in to get a better angle on my wound. Working close to my groin I started to sweat about sporting a woody and being forever labeled as a pervert.
Smiling, I thought about asking her out but stopped myself. There was no way a classy lady like this would ever date me. It sucked because this was the first time I actually wanted to date someone, and I realized I was so out of her league I wouldn’t qualify to gas her car. Instead, I shifted around to work off a little nervous energy as I waited.
Closing off on her touch to my skin because truly I couldn’t feel it anyway, I started to think of what implications might occur because of the cut. “Could this turn into an infection?”
“There is always the possibility, but we will give you the symptoms you need to look for.”
I swallowed and wondered if it would be enough. “Well, do you think I could get an antibiotic? Just in case?”
She shook her head, “Antibiotic use has become rampant, and we need to curb its handling. There is no need to give you any medication unless symptoms develop.”
Now I started to get anxious thinking I could get an illness from the cut. Shifting in the bed again she looked up at me, “Mr. Harries, please hold still. It won’t be too much longer but if you insist on moving around I will need to call Sean in to hold you down, and I am sure you don’t want that.” I couldn’t tell if she was being serious. She held my gaze for so long I lost myself in her gorgeous eyes. They changed color like a kaleidoscope and I only wished she didn’t need to look away from me and back down at my leg to sew it up. She had the most amazing eyes. I even noticed one contact in the left eye but not in the right. She kept the connection for a little while longer then lowered her eyes back to her work.
When our shared gaze broke, I cringed at the thought of looking like some sort of weirdo. I tried to remain still as she threaded the needle through my skin and I unconsciously went back to watching her. She concentrated on her task to the point a little furrow formed between her eyebrows on her forehead. It gave her a studious look and made her look a little less rough around the edges.
“You don’t seem the type of person that is a hypochondriac.” She patted a line of blood that seeped from the wound as she spoke.
“I am not. I just want to make sure I stay healthy. I already had to go on antibiotics for chlamydia.” Unfazed by my disclosure she never slowed on stitching me up. “I am sure it was in my chart along with my heroin and alcohol abuse.” I had appointments with doctors in this same medical affiliation, and they kept computerized records. She was definitely the thorough type and would have looked at my chart before coming in. When she didn’t answer right away, I knew I was right.
“Yes, it was. It is just refreshing to see someone own up to it their medical history. I commend you on getting clean, sober, and healthy. Which opioid rehabilitation facility did you go to?”
With my revelation, her eyes widened in shock as she looked up at me. I would never think of sugar-coating it. Why? She would never date me anyway, so I didn’t feel like lying to her would get me anywhere. Since I wouldn’t see her again, there wasn’t any reason not to be honest. “You didn’t?”
I just shook my head, “No. I went through my own detox at my mother’s house. I told you, I hate hospitals. Besides, I was in and out of several rehab facilities, and they didn’t seem to do any good.”
“But you could have died without medical monitoring.” She seemed astonished to the point she stopped her work and gawked at me.
“Sure felt like I wanted to. After the seizures and the puking, I didn’t think I wanted to live. Yet, here I am.”
Snapping out of her astonishment she shook her head. More silence followed but I could tell she was thinking. “Why? Not why your mother’s house, but why did it work this time?”
“I had a reason for it to work this time. I found out I had a son. He was in an accident and was born with just one kidney.”
She nodded, “Renal agenesis. The medical term. Uncommon but usually not fatal.”
“Unless you injure it and the only prospect of a donor kidney is a drunk heroin addict.” She had amazingly steady hands and look so proficient at her work that I couldn’t turn my head away as I kept talking. “So, when they dragged me out of bed and I learned of him, I got tested for everything. It seems that when you are so high you don’t know where you are, it makes it hard to remember a condom. I was told I lucked out with just chlamydia.”
She agreed, “It is curable where some of the other STIs grow resistant to our cures and have sequela that could cause physical problems.”
I shuddered a little at the ‘physical problems’ she referred to but I have since gotten retested, twice even, and gave up on sex, at least with anyone who wasn’t my right hand. I didn’t plan to make that mistake again.
“How often do you see your son?”
“I don’t. He only found out recently that I am his father. Otherwise, he hasn’t known for the last fourteen years of his life. I don’t even think he knows about the heroin.” I waited for the next obvious question, but she was done stitching me up and removed her gloves, changing back into strict doctor mode now her work was done.
Rattling off my discharge information mechanically I missed the personal side of her, but whatever we had was gone. “The subcutaneous sutures need to stay in for seven to ten days. They can be removed in our triage office here or by other qualified medical personnel. Watch for any signs of infection that includes redness, swelling, discharge, and if you develop a fever. See a physician immediately if these were to develop. I will have Sean come in and place a dressing on the wound and give you your discharge paperwork.” Now at the sink washing her hands again, she dried them as she was headed towards the door. I didn’t want her to leave but was powerless to stop it. There was something about her that made me want to get to know her but I knew it wouldn’t happen, no matter how I wished for it.
As she turned back, I couldn’t see her face fully, but she directed her statement at me, “It is too bad your son doesn’t know of the sacrifice you made for him. There are all kinds of exceptional fathers out there JJ.” Then she walked out. Her words had hit me hard and lingered in the room.
I had no time to ponder them as Sean came back into the room. “Doc get you squared away?” He had papers in his hand and I wondered if all the patients here got such fast service.
He answered my question, “The top paper is your discharge paperwork but if you could sign the bottom paper for my mother that would be great. She loved your work.” Aha. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he said to sign it for his girlfriend. His mother loving the band’s work just lent to me feeling old. Of course, I obliged as he cleaned up my leg and put a bandage on it with an elastic wrap to keep it in place.
My mind was still going to the exchange I had with Dr. Rhodes. “Sean? Did Dr. Snap get the bruise on her forehead from a patient here?” I could still hear the fluctuating noise from outside the door.
“No sir. Dr. Snap is pretty tough though. A couple of nights ago she was walking out to the parking lot when a guy came up and pushed her into her car and stole her purse. You see, the physicians are supposed to park in the parking garage, but she gave her spot to Betty, an older nurse who can’t walk as far. It is patrolled by our security but the doc leaves at a different time than the rest of us on account of her taking her time to do her charting.” Not much of a security system if they let their doctors get mugged in their parking lots.
All at once I started to get worried. I knew a lot of low life thugs from my time around them scoring drugs. They usually scoped out their victims and if they pocketed a lot of money, they might come back to chance it again. People were creatures of habit and it didn’t sound as though she was going to change her usual which could put her in danger.
Sean got me out the door where I noticed a couple of other hospital workers standing outside waiting for an autograph which I gave plainly enough. Part of me was grateful to leave as I truly hated hospitals but another part of me wouldn’t mind waiting all night just to see Dr. Rhodes make it to her car okay. In the end, I left and made my way to my own car with her still firmly on my mind.
The remnants of my trip in the form of blood still remained on the leather driver's seat of my car, so I decided to go home and wipe them down. Once I accomplished a clean seat I went inside to clean my earlier mess of booze and glass. Deciding I had enough excitement I made my way to bed but could only stare at the ceiling. Finally, on a whim, I set my alarm for much earlier than my usual and dozed off to sleep.
The alarm startled me awake, and at first, I couldn’t fathom why it would go off at this ridiculous hour. And then I thought of her. Dr. Rhodes. By the way the staff talked, they all worked twelve-hour shifts and by my speculation, she would be leaving the hospital shortly. Quickly I got up and took a shower to wake myself up to be more mentally alert.
Driving back to the hospital I was astounded by the lack of security as I was able to park in a parking lot down from the hospital and make my way over to the parking garage without being noticed. Looking around I spotted the occasional video camera but less than half of them had on a light indicating they were working. Currently I stood off to the side out of view of the people leaving the building and thought there really must be more that could be done to make them, and her, safe. No wonder she was pegged by the mugger.
Not knowing which car was hers, I waited in the lot as all the workers slowly left giving me fewer cars to manage. More cars came and parked, but I was able to determine which ones were likely. Taking a guess, I focused on the mid-size sedans to the middle of the rows. They were rated high in safety and would appeal to an emergency room physician. After closer to eight in the morning the trickle of people coming out dwindled and I settled down thinking maybe I had lost her somehow when there was a tap on my shoulder.
“Sir, do you have some ID?” Turning around I faced a kid no older than nineteen years of age. He had red hair and severe acne. He was as tall as me but far skinnier and I wondered if he could really take down any perpetrator. Where did they get this kid? Looking at his name badge I tried to stay calm as I thought of a way to talk myself out of this. Who knows, maybe this kid had a taser or something and I would be wheeled into the emergency department, shit-stained and all with being accosted by him.
“Ah, Officer Quincy, is it? I was just waiting here for a friend. She asked me to pick her up for a ride.” I could tell he didn’t buy it.
With a look of skepticism, he asked, “Which friend. I could call her floor and ask her to come out.”
Well, shit. I guess he was smarter than he looked. “Dr. Snap?”
His eyebrows met as he surveyed me. “Dr. Snap has a friend?” I guess she didn’t come across as friendly but if he called her she would certainly have me arrested.
Thinking fast I hoped he liked music. “Actually I was a patient of hers last night. We got on the discussion of music and she asked me for an autographed copy of my record.” I didn’t have a record in my car and I really didn’t have any memorabilia to speak of either, selling most of it for drug money.
His face studied me further, and then he said, “You do look familiar. What band are you with?”
Thinking I might be able to pull this off I said, “Do you know the band Social Offender?”
His eyes lit up. “Yeah, you are the drummer or something, aren’t you?”
I tried not to roll my eyes. “No, I play the guitar.”
With my acclamation, he got excited. “Really? I play the guitar.” Oh shit. Now I was going to hear about it. I guess I couldn’t complain if it worked to my advantage.
“Seriously? Hey officer Quincy, that really is cool. Do you play with a band?” Trying not to sound too fake I toned it down needing to keep him engaged long enough for him to either let me go or get some information from him.
“Actually, my first name is Quincy, and I am not really an officer. I just got this job a couple of months ago. The hours suck but with the six-week cyclical I know when I work and can get gigs around my shifts.” I placed a friendly enough smile around my face as he went on to tell me about his band Misfit Manager. They played for a year or so but had no real gigs adding up to anything that would take him away from his lucrative job in security.
Not wanting to admit my new occupation of record producer I decided on a more straightforward tactic, “Look Quincy, I will be honest with you. I am waiting for Dr. Rhodes. I was a patient of hers last night and I saw the bruise on her forehead.”
He winced a little with the mention of it and I guessed he was on the shift in question. “Yeah, well that kind of sucked. I mean, I was patrolling the area but I didn’t see anything. She is supposed to come out with a group of people. There is only me and two other people working this parking ramp and parking lot. We also have to do the other areas as well as some of the floors of the hospital.” I didn’t want to call him on it. He seemed remorseful enough about it and I felt as if I got him too upset I wouldn’t be able to get the information I needed out of him.
“Yeah, well, they have you understaffed but I think I can help.”
He eyed me weirdly. “We aren’t supposed to let non-employees back here.”
I nodded, “And I am not going to cause you trouble. I just want to make sure she gets to her car okay. At least for a little while until she feels less skittish.” He didn’t look sold on it, so I continued to push. “If it is easier to hide me in another spot, I can do that too. I am not stalking her or anything. I am not planning to follow her home I just want to make sure she gets out of the fucking parking lot. With me being in a well-known band don’t you think I am too famous to just be preying upon innocent people now don’t you think?” It sounded iffy to me too but I currently grasped at straws. Why did I have such a compulsion to make sure she got to her car anyway? I would probably never understand but at this point, I had committed to it.
He contemplated it some more and just when I thought I was about to go ballistic he said, “You have connections, right?” Christ, now what have I gotten myself into? He probably thought I could shoot him to stardom and his fucktard bandmate’s probably play polkas for Christ’s sake. Victor would rather string me by my balls than listen to a bunch of shit-kicker kids.
Having no real choice, I listened to his request. “Do you know anyone in Miami that could get me fifty-yard line seats to the December Dolphins game? It must be on the Miami side. I am a big fan of theirs and want to take my family when I go and visit them.”
It wouldn’t be easy but better than what I thought he would ask for. “Sure kid. That I think I can do.” I rolled my eyes and realized I would be working for Victor long after I was dead if he could pull this off for me.
It turned out I had some valuable information from Quincy. He was a good kid and would hide my car in a parking space in the ramp when I would go down to watch her get into her car. As I suspected she had a dark blue midsize sedan with all the comforts of airbags and crash points and I got into the easy habit of making sure she got out of work safe. Sometimes I would even come to her work early and watch her park but it was a little too risky and I figured that she would probably be walking in with staff at least going to work.
Quincy instructed me on the six-week cyclical most of the staff had. Every six weeks they would work the same shift. It made it easier to predict when she would be working. She had to work three of the six weekends and mostly the night shift. I started to understand her habits a little and Quincy helped me to meet the other guards and keep my secret. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to keep this going but every time I felt ready to quit, I found myself back at the parking lot making sure she was safe.
What was it about her that kept me coming back?