Chapter 2 – Jane Doe 14562
Everything was so bright. She was surrounded by white bright light and in the centre of this was her Angel. He looked down at her with those clear blue eyes that looked like the ocean on a perfect day, his hair was chestnut brown all warm and its messiness was inviting her fingers to play, his face was a sculptor’s dream and his skin was the smooth warm tone of a man who liked the sun. If there was such thing as a stereotypical Angel, then this guy was the poster child.
“You must be an angel, because you are so hot!”
Did she just say that out-aloud? Her mouth moved but those words should have just stayed in her head. They weren’t supposed to come out of her head.
A sniggered laugh came from someone out of sight. She must have said the words. What a stupid thing to say to an Angel, he must be reconsidering her worthiness about now. But, if he was her Angel, then who laughed? Another Angel? If this was her Guardian Angel then he would be alone, right? She didn’t need two Guardian Angel’s, she wasn’t that accident prone, was she?
If she was surrounded by Angels and white light, did that make her Dead? Given what she’d just said, being dead might not be so bad. If this was the real world she’d be really embarrassed, whereas in Heaven everyone would be that honest. It wouldn’t be the worst thing she could have said.
This must be the afterlife. It was a valid assumption. There was an angel standing over her, looking down at her with concern. He was still there. If he was her Guardian, and she was alive, then she wouldn’t be able to see him like this. She must be in heaven. It was the only possible explanation. She tried to drag her eyes off the Angel.
If this was death, it was disappointing. Apart from the Angel guy, it wasn’t exactly ‘as advertised’. Firstly, the room was now less bright and was sparsely furnished with uncomfortable looking chairs and bulky equipment with trailing cords and unstylish knobs and displays. And then there was the pain. She was pretty sure that once you ‘pass-over’ you left worldly pain and discomfort behind. Her throat was raw, her mouth tasted hideous, and her whole body felt heavy and sluggish like it was punishing her for sleeping in and not going to the gym.
“Your name?” the Angel asked, “What’s your name? Do you know where you are? The date, can you tell me the date?”
She wanted to answer the Angel but couldn’t find her words. She wanted to ask him why he was so uninformed. If he was greeting her to heaven, then shouldn’t he know all these facts?
Her eyelids were heavy and she felt exhausted. She wanted to keep looking at this gorgeous creature in front of her, but her body wasn’t complying. She just needed to rest for a little longer.
“She’s losing consciousness,” a different voice said.
“Her brain waves are good,” another said, “Have a look Nurse Attwood, see how the read out is different to when she was in a coma. She’s sleeping. They do this when they come out. It takes awhile for most to fully return.”
She wanted to open her eyes and ask questions, but her body wasn’t cooperating. She floated in and out of sleep catching snatches of conversation that made no sense and random words that were confusing. She was too tired to do anything but this.
Tom looked down at the sleeping woman. Catherine was right, as she showed and explained it to the Junior Nurse Attwood, her readouts were good. She didn’t lapse back into the coma but was resting. He picked up her chart and made the necessary notes.
He didn’t want to leave. He wanted to be here for when she woke up again. He knew that he shouldn’t, but his shift was over and there was that phone call. He pulled up a chair and took a seat.
“What are you doing?” Catherine glared at him.
“I’m waiting,” he replied without looking at her.
“You’re what?” Catherine sounded confused.
“I’m waiting,” he repeated with a sigh, “The phone call I received, they want me to wait here until the police arrive.”
“What did you do?” the young nurse gasped.
“Not me,” he growled, he didn’t have to explain this to her, “Her, the police wanted me to wait with her. They seem to think they know who she is.”
“Won’t be the first time one of our Jane or John Doe’s leave here in handcuffs,” Catherine walked to the door, “Make sure you get all the juicy details for the nursing pool, you know they are all going to ask, bunch of gossips.”
“She’s a criminal?” Nurse Attwood frowned as she followed Catherine.
“It’s not for us to judge,” Catherine continued as she left the room, “Remember your oath, we provide healing and care to all, irrespective of circumstances.”
Tom turned his eyes back to the woman in the bed as Catherine’s voice faded down the hall. What did she do? She had looked at him so innocently, it seemed inconceivable that she could do any wrong. That could be her thing, though. She might be a con-artist and embezzle fools with her sweet naïve look. Did that make him a fool?
That was a good question. He was Thomas Layton, son of the Doctor Richard Layton, he wasn’t a fresh-faced doctor. He’d been brought up in Hospital wards, watching surgical procedures, and surrounded by the sick and the needy. He didn’t feel sympathy for his patients. There was no point, they were here for his expertise not his emotions. He just patched them back up and went on to the next one. If he felt anything for them he’d be left depleted and exhausted. That wasn’t his job and that wasn’t in anyone’s best interest. It was imperative that he stayed neutral, focused on the facts, and treated each patient as the statistic that they ultimately would be on the hospital records and his patient ratios.
That didn’t explain why he was sitting here. He could have asked security to wait with her. He should have done that. But for some reason that thought had only occurred to him now.
That woman, for some unknown reason, she had wriggled herself under his skin. She was unconscious, barely awake for five minutes, and he was unwilling to leave her side. It didn’t make sense. He should leave, just because he wanted to stay, he really should leave.
If his Father found out he’d have words to say. That wouldn’t be a first. Richard Layton only spoke to his son when he was disappointed in him. At one point it had been a driving force in Tom’s life, eager for some contact with his father, he had sought out his Father’s disappointment. That hadn’t worked out very well. He was too bright not to see where that was going to end. With a warning from the Police, he’d walked away with a clean record and a new plan. He would make his Father respect him. He would exceed his Father in his own field and then his old man would have no choice but to acknowledge him and might even be prepared to treat him as an equal.
It wasn’t working very well, so far, but Richard Layton wasn’t an easy target to surpass. Doctor R. Layton was a leading name in Cardiology and was a world renowned Cardiovascular surgent. He’d devoted his life to his career, ignoring both his wife and his son as he pursued his crusade to be the best. Tom had specialised in Neurosurgery in the hope that he could bring to this field of medicine more than his Father had contributed and was still contributing to heart surgery. He could see the path, but roadblocks, like the one Doctor Peters had constructed, weren’t helping.
Maybe his Father was right, maybe he was just ‘playing’ doctor. He dreaded to think what would be said if his Father heard that he was jeopardising his career with his philandering ways. Doctor Layton Senior was no saint. Tom had heard the rumours of his Father’s affairs, as had his Mother, but these never interfered with Richard Layton’s life or career. He never found out why his Mother stayed but, then again, she really didn’t stay. She just didn’t divorce him.
Anna Weston-Layton loved his Father, once, a long time ago. She’d meet him over a hospital bed, he was a Junior Doctor on the team looking after her father, Senator John Weston, after his first heart attack. Love bloomed, and they were married less than a year later. She was already pregnant with Thomas and, in signing the marriage certificate, she turned her back on her promising career in Hollywood as a movie actress. Tom never understood why she didn’t go back to the profession she so clearly loved, but she didn’t devote herself to Motherhood either. With his Father away so much of the time and ignoring her when he was home, hunched over publications and medical journals, she hired nanny after nanny to care for young Thomas while she recreated herself.
His Mother became the champion of the charities, devoting herself to the latest cause instead of her infant son. She jetted off to famine suffering countries, held fundraisers, did photoshoots with endangered wildlife, interviewed war-torn refugees, and rallied support and contributions from corporations, celebrities and common folk. To the world she was a saint, but to Tom she was just absent.
No one stayed long in Tom’s life. The nannies were dismissed, usually over the phone, because they had failed to do some obscure task or because they didn’t mesh with her current profile or image. Only when he started boarding school did structure, purpose and consistency enter his life. Although at first he was shy and this new environment scared him with all the noise, talking and people, it didn’t take him long to adapt. Boarding school soon became Tom’s new home and family, he thrived and excelled. His confidence grew but at the same time he discovered how parents were supposed to act. This knowledge seeded within him the awareness that his parents didn’t love him and possibly didn’t even like him very much, how else did an adolescence rationalise their behaviour.
The years that followed did little to shake Tom’s belief that he wasn’t wanted. He tried every tactic that he learnt from the other boys to secure his parents affections or, at least, their attention, but nothing worked. The only success was when he discovered that his Father was willing to contact him when his disappointment in him reached a level that necessitated communication. He read about his Mother’s achievements and latest exploits in the papers.
This upbringing resulted in him shunning everyone from his life. Friendship and love were things that other men needed. He only craved success and the respect that was going to bring him. Sex was a different matter. From the point he lost his virginity, sex became something close to a passion. His college psychology courses seemed to indicate it was linked to some deep need for love and acceptance, but what did some book know about his life. He rationalised it as his testosterone and his one release. It wasn’t like he was addicted to it.
He rubbed his hand over his face. Given this, given his convictions and his experience, why was he sitting here? Why was he sitting at this woman’s bedside like a teen with his first crush? He had conquests, not crushes. His skin was tough, his emotions were battle-hardened veterans, and his heart was a shrivelled to a dried prune then dipped in molten steel and left to solidify. But that didn’t explain why it was beating so hard in his chest.
He looked at her again. Her hair was almost black in contrast with the white of the hospital linen, her skin was smooth and the colour of fresh cream, and her lips were a kissable pink. What was wrong with him? Did he have some-sort of sickness? A virus? An infection that was altering his brain chemistry?
“Doctor Layton?” the voice came from the door.
“Yes?” he looked up to find a tall man standing in the doorway.
“I’m Detective Derek Salters, from the Organised Crime Division. Is this her? Is this the female with the head injury that was admitted two weeks ago?”
“They told me that you know who she is?” Tom looked at her again.
“Maybe,” Derek moved to the other side of the bed, “She fits the description. Is she awake? Can I question her?”
“What did she do?” Tom brought his eyes back up and meet the Detectives brown eyes.
“I can’t comment on an ongoing investigation,” he said quickly as if by rote. “I need to question her.”
“She came out of the coma, but she’s resting. If we wake her we risk her slipping back into a vegetative state. Her brain needs time to recover.”
“Is she,” Derek paused searching for the word, “Still alright up there? There’s no damage, is there?”
“We don’t know yet,” Tom shrugged, “Her toxicology panel came back showing Rohypnol in high doses and a blood alcohol reading of 0.27 which, as you probably know, isn’t a good combination. She has suffered a blunt force trauma to the back of the head which might have occurred as a result of falling backwards as she lost consciousness or from a heavy flat object contacting the back of her head. There is a lot we don’t know. She was dropped in our E.R. by an unidentified male just before 3am and since she has been in our care she has been ventilated and has not suffered from oxygen deprivation. Before that, anything could have happened.”
“Rohypnol? That’s Roofie, a date-rape drug? She was raped?” Derek asked.
“The rape kit came back negative,” Tom frowned, “Given her intoxication level, and the large dose given to her, if it wasn’t taken voluntarily then the guy who drugged her would have found her unresponsive, struggling to breathe, or unconscious. Luckily for her, he must have grown a conscience and dropped her here instead of taking advantage of her while she was dying.”
“Taken voluntarily?” Derek looked at him, “You think there’s a chance she did this to herself?”
“People do crazy things,” Tom released a long breath, “I’ve given up expecting rational behaviour. We do see self-administered overdoes of this, it’s easy to get and some find it a gentle method to end their lives or use it as a stimulant for other drugs. As I said, people do crazy things.”
“When will I be able to question her?”
“Waking up is different for each patient,” Tom reached out and took her hand, “She could wake up any minute or in 48hours. She will wake up again, but I can’t say when or for how long. When she did wake, she spoke but seemed confused as to her surroundings and unresponsive to questions.”
“What did she say?”
“People say strange things when they wake,” Tom laughed, “They are disorientated and often don’t realise any time has past since their last recollection.”
“What did she say?” Derek repeated with more urgency, “It could be important.”
“Well, if it’s important,” Tom smirked, “She said, and I quote, ‘You must be an Angel, because you are so hot,’ end quote.”
“Really?” Derek laughed, “To you, I’m guessing from your smug grin. She must have hit her head hard.”
“Thanks for that,” Tom laughed too. “What’s this really about?”
“We’ve received a tip off,” Derek sighed, “She might have seen something that could help us with an investigation.”
“Ah,” Tom grimaced, “Rohypnol is an amnesiac, add to that she was intoxicated, it isn’t likely she will remember much.”
“I’m aware of that,” Derek looked at the door, “But I’m still hopeful that she remembers something. That isn’t the only reason I’m here though.”
“I see,” Tom glanced to the door, “Your informant isn’t the only one who knows that she witnessed something, is he? That’s why you didn’t want her left alone. She wasn’t going to get out of bed and run away, but someone might want to silence her just in case she does remember, or maybe they don’t know about the Roofie and the alcohol, just about the girl who saw too much.”
“I’m not taking that chance,” Derek nodded to the man who was now visible next to the open door, “I’m placing her under protective detail until I know more. Stan will contact me as soon as she’s ready to be questioned and then we will be able to assess the situation.”
“And if she can’t remember anything?” Tom asked as the Detective walked towards the door, “What happens to her then?”
“I try not to make any promises that I can’t keep,” Derek shrugged, “The departments resources can only stretch so far. I’ll be back when she wakes, just tell Stan and he’ll make the call. I’m hoping that she will be the missing key that unlocks this investigation.”
“Do you know her name?” Tom asked him before he turned away.
“I can’t comment on ongoing investigations,” Derek smiled a sad grin, turned and left the room.
“Well, Jane Doe 14562,” Tom whispered to the woman who hadn’t stirred, “This isn’t good. It sounds like you have gotten yourself into a mess of trouble.”
He stood up and stretched. He needed sleep. He needed to go home. Why was he so reluctant? Detective Derek’s visit had made him even less willing to leave her alone, despite Stan’s presence at the door of the room. He didn’t have a choice. He had to go.
He walked past the guard at the door and didn’t look back.