Room 404 was in darkness when Alicia arrived. The shades were drawn. The fluorescent light behind the bed bulk head bled subtle diffused lighting up the cream colored wall.
Alicia noticed the patient was asleep. She moved alongside the bed to check the patient’s ‘Obs’- Blood Pressure, temperature, pulse and Oxygen saturation levels.
Alicia looked down at the unconscious patient. The young girl looked around early twenties. Red marks were visible on either side of her neck. Her left cheek had a large swollen contusion. The swelling had partially closed her left eye.
She shook her head in sympathy as she unhooked the blood pressure cuff hanging on the Baxter Pump beside the bed and attached it to the patient’s upper arm. She clipped the O2 Saturation probe to the patient’s finger and activated the machine.
After noting the results Alicia checked the patient’s temperature using a tympanic ear thermometer, instead of the traditional under-the-tongue thermometer, so as not to disturb the patient’s much needed sleep.
After unwrapping the cuff and returning it to its hook, Alicia moved to the foot of the bed. She checked her watch before updating the chart with the results of her morning Obs.
She curiously flicked through the pages. There was an entry recording how police had already conducted a rape kit on her. Alicia’s gaze lifted back to the sleeping patient. ‘Your poor thing,’ she said quietly, to no-one in particular.
The patient’s chart recorded that preliminary examinations failed to locate any visible signs of bruising, tearing or any other trauma to the vaginal area, which were injuries often consistent in a rape. Alicia lifted her sympathetic eyes back to the sleeping patient. Her mouth straightened as she regarded the young woman. ‘Good for you...’ she said quietly.’
Alicia returned the chart and moved to exit the room. As she did so her mobile phone vibrated in her uniform front pocket. She stopped in the doorway, just inside the room and removed her phone. She checked the phone’s display. It was a text from Jason.
The Hospital’s strict no-mobile phones on the wards policy prevented her reading the text as she walked along the hall.
She checked the hallway before returning back into the darkened room, away from door. Following a quick check to confirm the patient was still asleep, she opened the text message.
At their last one-on-one training session Jason confided in Alicia by telling her how much he loved her. He cleverly tried to plant the seed in her mind for her to start thinking about leaving her husband for him. Alicia told him she loved the sex, but she loved her husband more.
When Alicia called in to Jason’s place after work yesterday afternoon he again raised the idea, selling the suggestion like a seasoned salesman. Again, Alicia told Jason she was having fun but she had no interest in leaving her husband.
Jason’s insistence on the issue eventually caused Alicia to leave his place earlier than expected. She hadn’t spoken to him since she left him last night.
The text read.
“Will I C U 2Nite…on ur way home from work maybe? Also just wondering have U have given any more thought to us being together permanently?”
Alicia shook her head. She made it clear to Jason that she had no intentions of leaving Matt. She lifted her eyes to the ceiling in contemplation before typing out and sending her reply.
“Not sure if I can call in on the way home. Jason I love our time together but I have also made it abundantly clear I have no intentions of leaving Matt. If U can’t accept this maybe we should stop seeing each other.”
Jason’s reply was quick.
“Understand. Sorry. Can’t blame a guy for trying tho.”
Alicia shook her head when she read the reply. She dropped her phone into her uniform pocket and returned to her rounds.
By mid-morning Monday, while Alicia was completing her nursing rounds, Matt and his team had already commenced their return to the city from an early morning reconnaissance operation.
Unshaven, intentionally unkempt and dressed in scruffy jeans and T-shirts they traveled to El Cajon just before dawn to conduct inquiries into a large counterfeit operation his team was investigating.
They had unconfirmed information relating to specialized printing plates used in the production of counterfeit US bills. Their task was to gather as much intelligence and information as they could to support the possibility of future raids.
By 10am they had accomplished their covert mission having acquired sufficient information to confirm their Intel was accurate. Around-the-clock surveillance would be implemented upon their return to gather the required evidence for a federal search warrant.
Matt was feeling satisfied by their efforts as they set off on their way back to their office. While driving their black nondescript SUV through Broadway Heights he considered there was no hurry to get back to the office. It was such a beautiful day to be out and about and their stuffy office environment was all that awaited their return.
While sitting stationary at a red stop light, Matt lifted his eyes to his rear vision mirror, in particular, to check out his two back seat passengers.
‘Hey…you know what?’ He said gaining their attention, before shifting his gaze to his front seat passenger, Brad. ‘I don’t know about you guys…but I could kill for a good coffee.’
The response was overwhelmingly unanimous.
Brad gestured to a café up ahead. ‘That one looks as good as any,’ he said. ‘They’ve got outdoor tables as well.’
It wasn’t long before all four unkempt men emerged from their FBI standard issue SUV and sat around a small outdoor table at a Broadway Heights café savoring their much needed caffeine boost.
Despite their early start, the mood among the men was relaxed and jovial. They chatted casually, each one clearly appreciated the impromptu opportunity to take a break from routine to enjoy a coffee while basking in the glorious sunshine.
‘Anyone want another…?’ Matt asked eyeing his colleagues one-by-one. ‘Yeah…?’
After receiving nods to the affirmative, Matt slid a twenty across the table to Brad. With a jab of his thumb towards the café, he said, ‘I’ll buy if you go and order another round of coffees for everyone, buddy.’
‘Deal…’ Brad scooped up the bill and disappeared inside.
Matt took a sip from what remained of his first coffee when his mobile phone vibrated on the table. All eyes at the table dropped to the vibrating phone doing circles on the table.
‘Surely the office is not looking for us,’ one of the colleagues blurted.
‘I doubt it,’ Matt reassured as he lifted the phone and glanced at the display.
The roving bug in Alicia’s mobile had just alerted him to the text messages Alicia received and sent to Jason. His face tightened when he read the messages.
‘Bad news..?’ one of the colleagues asked.
Matt’s eyes lifted to his colleagues; both stared back with interest. ‘Huh…oh, no…no…’ Matt shook his head. ‘It’s ah…it’s just a text reminding me of something that I have to attend to later.’ He waved his hand. ‘It’s all good…’ he said before returning to the messages.
Unbelievable. He glared at his mobile phone display. It’s bad enough he’s fucking my wife, but now he’s trying to get her to leave me as well. The contempt he felt for this person compounded exponentially. Keep going, you’re only going to make it easier for me.
He started to question why he was offended by Jason trying to convince Alicia to leave him. As far as he was concerned she had already made that decision to leave as soon as she started screwing her trainer. He doubted he could ever feel the same way about her again. But maybe it was the principal of it; you don’t screw another man’s wife – period.
Matt wouldn’t admit it to himself, but despite what had happened, he was still a little impressed by Alicia telling Jason she loved her husband and had no intention of leaving him. But it still didn’t change anything.
When Brad returned from placing the order and slid into his chair Matt’s frowning focus was still on his phone. ’Everything OK…?' Brad asked.
Matt slid his phone back onto the table. ‘Nah, I’ve got it covered, thanks,’ he said before draining the last of his tepid first coffee.