I stand on the raised podium with obnoxiously large scissors in my hand, a red ribbon hovering in between the shears.
“A few more pictures and we will be done,” Delilah whispers. She stands back as I smile, showcasing my pearly whites as the reporters take a few more shots.
I cut the ribbon handing the scissors to Delilah before shaking hands with the chief of the hospital, Dr Hail.
Taking a few more photos the flashes just as blinding as the sun, almost making me feel disorientated and nauseous. I find my way onto the podium, running my cold, red hands over the equally freezing microphone.
“Today is a good day, aside from the chilly autumn weather.” The crowd laughs. “I’m proud to have been a part of the renovations of the children’s ward for Tacoma General.” I take the mic from the stand moving in front of the stand.
“There’s nothing sadder than seeing a child unwell. Now I’m not a doctor I leave all the hard work to Dr Hail and his very talented doctors and nurses.” Dr Hail nods his head in recognition. “But what I can do is make their stay comfortable, make their life comfortable because no child should have to suffer. Keep their innocence; keep them smiling is the motto I live by.”
There is a round of applause as I fit the mic to the stand. This was my favourite bit, standing on top of the world as people shower me with praise and adoration. I am the King of Seattle.
“Mr Aldrek, Mr Aldrek.”
I cast my eyes down on the reporter who so eagerly pushes to the front before security stops him. The mere eye contact meant that he assumes I let him speak.
“David Hanesley from the Puget Sound Business Journal. Can we assume there won’t be a repeat of four years ago?”
I look to Delilah who waves her hands to security to usher David away. I watch as David scrambles forward.
“When Aldrek pharmaceuticals came under fire when their self-administrated Citalopram caused problems to their user.” The security attempt to pick him up, but David still resists, continuing his shouts. “And it came to light that FDA trials and protocol had been back benched to get the medicine on the market.”
At this point, David has been hoisted up by security. The atmosphere around the audience dims, everyone begins to whisper to themselves, and a melancholy air begins to envelop us all.
“Leaving victims tired, fatigue, and in one case, a complete nervous system shutdown.”
I look at Delilah. These hecklings will only continue.
“It’s alright, let him speak,” I say, raising my hand to the guards. The security drops him, and David hurries to the front his phone stretches towards me.
“And when victim’s and parents of victims came forward Aldrek swamped them in court bills and legal fees. A child died Mr Aldrek.” David ruffles through his worn brown satchel, pulling out a sheet of paper waving it frantically in my face.
A boy no older than 17, he was gazing out of a window his ashen blonde hair swept by his ears. He was probably in the first week of medicating.
I sigh, fixing my collar as David continues speaking.
“He was 15 Mr Aldrek, suffering from mild depression and anxiety. He took Citalopram in the hopes it’d make going to school easier, yet three months later Sean Piers died. Heart failure Mr Aldrek. A 15-year-old died of heart failure, and all his parents received was a funeral debt and legal fees.” David chucks the paper at me it floats and lands just in front of my feet.
I look down at Sean, though his eyes weren’t on the camera they seem to burn holes into my chest. I take the mic from the stand.
“Sean Piers was a roll call student. Despite his depression, he still maintained his grades. His mum said Sean was into music, but his dad was convinced Sean would go on to play football. I when I met Sean was convinced, he’d be a musician the next Jimi Hendrix or Slash. Sean just wanted to be like Mendes saying the name alone would help him get there.” I smile looking down at the floor before raising my head to the silent crowd.
“When Sean passed, I was in Vienna. His mum called not merely hours after and I hopped on the first plane over there. I covered those funeral costs paying for every requirement that would make Sean’s resting place as beautiful as his kind soul. Sean was the worst case, by that time, I had made sure that Citalopram had been discontinued until it was thoroughly checked, products stripped from the shelves, and recalls being sent out, but that did not stop the other victims.
“Ten other teens faced problems caused by Citalopram, unluckily lucky not as serious as Sean’s. There was nothing I could do for Sean’s parents. I could not bring their child back but what I could do is not let it happen again.” I raise my hand, and the crowd parts as a couple walk forward. I smile as Sean’s mum wipes her eyes. His father is cradling her as they step onto the podium.
“Aside from the new state of the art equipment in the children’s ward, I have added a new sector for children who have mental illnesses. A recreational hall where children can do their homework, make friends with others around the state. It is the first of many which I hope to include in all hospitals within Seattle. I named it The Pier, and hopefully, these children can overlook a brighter future.”
Cheers and shouts explode from the crowd. Mrs Piers engulfs me in a hug, Mr Piers patting me firmly on the back. I take her hands into mine as I stare at her.
“You are doing an amazing job, Diane. I hope this does Sean justice.” All Diane could do was nod, tears streaming down her face.
With both parents on either side of me, the press laps it up. I give them a dazzling smile as David slinks away disheartened at the result.
Delilah takes the chance to take control of the matter finally.
“That is all we have time for, thank you for coming to the unveiling.”
With one last hug from the parents, Delilah ushers me away, heading to the double doors of the children’s ward.
It hasn’t been in use yet, the staff making sure they can move the children in staggered groups. My shoes squeak across the polish floor matching with the clicking of Delilah’s heels.
“How the FUCk!” Delilah jumps as I raise my voice. “Did a reporter of the business journal get in?”
She turns to face me her hands tightly clasped around her notebook.
“I’m not sure Mr Aldrek I checked the list, only those approved reporters were allowed. But we were outside it’s a lot harder to keep an area secure when it’s on public property. If we had the unveiling insi-”
“No!” I shout my voice bouncing off the empty halls’ walls. “Had we’d done it inside the press would’ve just deemed me some poncy entrepreneur who’s too good to stand in the cold. It had to be outside,” I explain, Delilah nods her blonde hair falling in front of her face.
“You should count yourself lucky that I was able to handle Mr Hanesley so well.” I continue walking Delilah trotting behind me.
“Is that why you started the Pier project?” she asks.
“Exactly, I knew that the press wouldn’t let me forget the failure that was Citalopram, so I needed to make good again,” I reply. We walk to the end of the hallway to the elevator that will take us down to the car park. I press the button.
“Mr Aldrek... Mr Aldrek.”
I turn around to see Dr Hail running down the hall a bag in hand. The elevator opens, and I push Delilah inside.
“I will see you at the office.” The doors close before she could speak.
“Yes, Dr Hail?”
Dr Hail raises his arms holding out a black leather duffle bag to me.
“For you,” he said.
I take the bag from him, placing it over my shoulder.
“Thank you, Dr Hail,” I say gratefully. I put my hand on his shoulder, capturing his brown eyes into mine. “Don’t forget, this is between you and me.” Dr Hail body slumps forward suddenly as I compel him. “If anybody asks you know nothing.” I slap his shoulder, waking him from the trance.
“Thanks again, Dr Hail.” I lift the duffle bag. “Black leather, my favourite. The team didn’t need to get me a gift.”
Dr Hail rubs the back of his neck, confused briefly before nodding and smiling.
“Well, it’s the least we could do, thanks to all your hard work.” The elevators doors open, and I step in.
“The hard work is done by you, doctor.” With that, the doors close, and I sigh.
I walk out onto the empty car park unlocking the door to my car. I chuck the duffle bag into the passenger side, my inner jacket buzzes, and I pull out my phone ‘Ada Aldrek’. I roll my eyes, answering the phone.
“What is it?” I answer.
“Is that how you greet your mother?” she barks on the other line.
“No.” I rub my eyes. “I’m just stressed. Another report tried to dig at me for the Citalopram incident.” I could hear the clink of a martini glass being set down.
“Did you mention the Pier project?” she asks.
“I did mother, that wasn’t a bad idea.”
“Dominic honey, your mother is full of them. Where do you think you get it from?”
I laugh sliding in the driver’s seat.
“When are we seeing you?” My mother asks. I groan as she mentions meeting up.
“Not anytime soon mother,” I reply.
“Not even for Christmas?”
“I’m busy Christmas, and besides I’m too tired to accompany you to another gala so you can show me off and bid large amounts of money on useless items,” I explain.
“Now Dominic, if I want to show off my favourite child, I should be able to.”
“Don’t let Lincoln and Freya hear you say that.” I sit up. “Here’s an idea, take Freya. Have her and Christopher make an entrance. Nothing screams wealth than having someone to pass it to, perhaps Elsie could accompany them show off your one and only granddaughter. Maybe that’ll spark them to have more.”
“Freya said she was busy.” Oh, so I wasn’t even your first choice. “And your brother... well he doesn’t own several multimillion companies, and he doesn’t have a wife and child, so he’s a no. What have you got him doing again?”
“He manages the nightlife mum... is dad not enough?” I can hear a laborious sigh.
“He’s somehow wormed his way out of it, winter golf apparently. We live in Bali. How could he possibly be doing winter golf?”
“I suspect he will be flying out for that mum.” I rub my chin as I think. “Why don’t you skip this year mum, spend Christmas with Freya.”
“Nonsense,” my mother cries. “That is my event, focusing on the charities making us look humble and charitable.”
I rub my head. It isn’t about looking more charitable; it is an excuse for her to flaunt our wealth, rub it in every women’s nose.
“Fine, don’t skip, we can meet in the new year, ok?”
The was a loud sip as she drinks from her glass before setting it back down.
“That’s all I ask, to see my babies at least once.”
I grumble something inaudible to her ears and let out a sigh.
“I need to get back to work. Bye, mother,” I say quickly.
I hang up the phone chucking it on the passenger’s side. I turn to the duffle bag unzipping it, revealing the IV packs filled with blood. I graze my hand over it-- O negative, B positive, AB positive. I lick my lips as I close the bag.
I push the start button the engine roaring to life and pull out the car park.
A.N. Blood in a bag, because that’s not suspicious. Do you guys think that’s why Dominic helped renovate the hospital?
Let me know what you think.
Fun fact: I was born in Tacoma general.