Life in Darkness

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Chapter 17


The hospital turns out to be a bust, there are no records of Rowaelin’s father, and there are no security tapes of the day Rowaelin was born.

I run a hand through my hair in frustration and then turn to leave, but before I can get too far I hear a scream and a familiar voice.

I race to where the ambulance drop off is and see a gurney roll by, on that gurney is Rowaelin. John and a stranger walk alongside the gurney, the stranger holds her hands and talks to her, begging her to be alight while the paramedics talk to the doctors who run to them and help wheel the gurney further int the hospital.

“What happened?” I ask.

“Were going to have to insist that you all stay out here,” a paramedic says, turning away from Rowaelin and holding a hand up to John, me and the stranger.

“What the hell happened?” I ask, turning to John.

“She was shot in the neck, by him.” the stranger answers, glaring to another person being wheeled in on another gurney, there is no rush to get this man in; he is already dead.

“Who are you?” I ask, turning to the man.

“Thomas,” he answers, holding out his hand, “Jefferson.”

“A friend from Rowy’s past,” John explains, “We went to the ice cream shop, a man came in and shot her, Tom took him down.”

There is more that John isn’t telling me, he scratches the corner of his eye inconspicuously, indicating that the man was compelled.

“I’m sorry, but who are you?” Thomas asks me.

“He works with me,” John says before I can say anything, “He’s a private investigator, we’re trying to track down Rowy’s father or any other living relatives she has.”

“Do you know anything about her family?” I ask, Thomas looks over my shoulder, he looks to the doors that lead to the operating room, his face is pale, he is concerned for Rowaelin.

“Uh, I don’t know,” he says.

“Think harder,” I command, folding my arms over my chest.

“Mate,” John says, placing a hand on my shoulder, Tom doesn’t take notice of me, he stares at the doors.

I look to John and he points to Thomas’s shirt, there is blood on it, Rowaelin’s blood.

“Come on,” John says, letting go of my shoulder to take Thomas’s, “I think you need to take a seat.”

We sit in the waiting room for an hour and a half, I listen to the moaning and screaming of other patients, it sets me on edge, hospitals irritate me, all the death and sickness covered by strong smelling disinfectant just makes me feel uncomfortable.

Just when I’m about to stand up and start punching, the doctor walks out and looks to us.

“Does Rowaelin have no parent or guardian?” she asks, Thomas opens his mouth but it is John who speaks.

“I am Dr John Jonas, Rowaelin’s psychologist, she has no guardian but me and my colleague here,” John says, he stands and gestures to me, “we have been living and working closely with Miss Black.”

I stand next to John as the doctor looks between us.

“The bullet lodged in Rowaelin’s neck,” the doctor says, “She lost a lot of blood during the operation, we have set her up on a blood transfusion and have managed to get the bullet out.”

“Is she going to be ok?” Thomas asks, standing to his feet.

“She has survived surgery and we want to keep her under observation for at least twenty-four hours,” the doctor replies.

“Thanks, doctor,” John smiles, “If I could perhaps ask a favour? Rowaelin is having gaps in her memory and we are having a hard time getting her to remember her father, we were hoping to track him down, to let him know his daughter is safe. Do you know anyone who could help us?”

“I can,” the doctor replies, tucking her clipboard under her arm, “I was the midwife in her delivery. I don’t think I will ever forget that day, her birth was, well it was nothing short of a miracle, she was born dead, there was no heartbeat, no breath in her, we tried everything, then almost ten minutes after being born, she took one giant gasp of air, her eyes opened, but still she did not make a sound. She just looked around and waited to be passed to her mother. ”

“Was her father here?” I ask, stepping forward.

“Yes, he was,” the doctor smiles, “Real nice man too, absolutely adored Rowaelin from the moment he set eyes on her. He came in after the birth, he took little Rowy into his arms and just fawned over her.”

“Do you know where we might find Mr Black?” John asks.

“Why wasn’t he on the birth certificate?” I add.

“Black isn’t his last name, he remained off the birth certificate because Rowaelin was born out of wedlock.” the doctor informs, “As to where he could be, I do not know, however, his lack of presence here is unsettling; every single time Rowaelin was here he was not far behind.”

“What about other relatives?” John asks, “Grandparents?”

“None on record,” the doctor says, “The reason was asked to be kept confidential.”

“When will Rowaelin be waking up?” Thomas asks, interrupting our conversation, “Can I see her?”

“She should be coming to any moment now,” the doctor says, “follow me.”

We follow the doctor through the halls and she leads us to Rowaelin, who somehow has her own private room.

When we walk in, Rowaelin is already awake, she stares at the ceiling, her neck wrapped in bandages.

“Rowaelin, you have visitors,” the doctor announces, Thomas pushes forward and kneels next to the bed.

“Rowy,” he breathes, taking her hand in his, “Are you alright?”

Rowaelin doesn’t say anything, she stares at the ceiling, blinking every few minutes; she doesn’t look to Thomas, or John, or me.

“She needs time,” the doctor says, “If you need anything, I’ll be close.”

“Could I have a word?” I ask, following the doctor out.

The doctor closes the door as we leave and then she turns to me.

“How is it that she has a private room?” I ask, “I know you Americans are very greedy when it comes to health care.”

“All of Rowaelin’s bills are paid by her father,” the doctor says, hugging the clipboard to her chest, “All bills are sent to him and are paid in full and on time.”

“Do you have a mailing address?” I ask.

“I’m a doctor,” she sighs, “I don’t take care of billing, and our records are strictly confidential, so unless you have a warrant, you won't see a word of Rowaelin's records. If that is all?”

I don’t say anything so the doctor walks away. I grind my back teeth and groan in frustration, there is something off about this whole thing. Why would Rowaelin’s father pay for her hospital bills and not come to see her when she was found?

I go back into Rowaelin’s room and she is still staring at the ceiling.

“Rowy?” Thomas begs, “Please, say something.”

She finally looks at Thomas and then to John.

“Where’s Max?” she asks, looking around.

“Back at my father’s store,” Thomas explains, “Don’t worry he’s fine.”

Rowaelin sits up and I hold my breath as she winces in pain.

“Are you alright?” Thomas asks, his questioning makes me mad.

“She was just shot in the neck,” I growl, “Do you think she’s alright?”

Before I can say anything else, Thomas’s phone starts ringing, he answers and steps out of the room.

“They’re still after her,” John whispers to me softly.

“Seems like,” I agree, “But why?”

John shrugs his shoulders and then looks to Rowaelin.

We stay with Rowaelin for two hours, the whole time she says nothing, she remains staring at the ceiling, barely moving except for the occasional rise and fall of her chest; she hardly even blinks.

Eventually, the doctor kicks us out and we all have to leave because none of us are family and Rowaelin doesn’t speak on who she wants to stay. While John leaves to pick up Max, I watch the hospital, patrolling the perimeter as the sun goes down.

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