Chapter Twenty-Eight: The Confrontation
“Not long now Albert,” Victoria called out to her friend as they played stepping stones underneath the glittering waterfall.
“I bet you’re so excited!” Sidi’s voice rang from above. He was a little further up on the rocks and was preparing to take a massive leap into the water. “I have to admit I do feel very bad for Tobey,” he said wiping a strand of hair away from his eye, “when do you think he’ll finally leave this place and begin his real journey in the world?”
“I don’t know.” Albert looked around him in bewilderment. “Nobody seems to know why this is happening to him. Although, I do believe his journey has begun it just appears to be quite different from everyone else’s.”
“Did he say there was something the matter?” Francisco asked, joining in the conversation, “I’m sure he mentioned something about babies being in trouble?”
Albert answered him with a frown. He recalled the last time he and his friend were together. Tobey did seem visibly distressed; most especially about his welfare... “Even if there is something to be concerned about,” he eventually replied, he raised his arms above his head, “I’ve already made up my mind not to worry about anything.” He laughed again and did a perfect dive into the lily-scented water.
His happiness instantly lightened the air and filled them all with a sudden burst of energy. Laughter did that. For laughter is an exceedingly powerful resource - just the same as it is on earth. But like most natural human resources, it is not utilized as much as it could be...
Albert came up for air “…And to have you all as my friends,” he said creating ripples around him as he swam on the spot. “I couldn’t ask for a better start in life. And if fortune should have it that I should be born anywhere near our good friend Tobey, then my journey on earth is bound to be all the brighter for it!” He laughed again then ducked back into the warm water.
‘Tobey. My brother. I’m coming to be with you soon,’ he whispered into the open waters. ‘Please don’t leave us. We’re all coming to be with you soon…’
Lydia and Christine had left the hospital together. It was mid-afternoon but the pair of them were feeling emotionally drained. In different ways, and for different reasons...
Lydia told Christine about her odd conversation with Dr. Richard Lawson.
“You like him,” Christine accused seeing the light in her friends eyes. “How can you? How can you like him?”
“I-I don’t know,” Lydia replied with cheeks the colour of sunset. “I have no words...I-I don’t know how this has happened?”
Christine stared at her in disbelief. Nothing more was said.
Very slowly Christine and Lydia began their short walk towards the station. Each step as controlled and as dispassionate as a walk could be, as though the women had malice towards time itself. There was an awkward air of silence, which remained in place even after they had arrived at the entrance of the station. Lurking behind the silence was a problem, one, which could not be so easily articulated like most matters of the heart.
Eventually, Christine spoke up. “So what now?” she asked her eyes didn’t leave Lydia’s face.
They were only a few metres away from the entrance, which will inevitably lead them down towards the subway. As soon as they crossed over the barriers, the women would part ways. One, riding up towards the northern hemisphere, while the other, criss-crosses to the western parts of the city.
“What now Lydia?” She repeated.
Lydia could not avoid Christine’s gaze. She looked straight at Christine, and Christine looked right back at her. Very slowly they both began to smile. It was Lydia’s turn to say something.
“Okay!” she threw her hands in the air. “What can I say? How does that saying go again? It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all!”
“Ha! Love?” Christine scoffed. “Please pass me the sick bucket. Seriously. I think you might have dodged a bullet there my friend.” She said vigorously shaking her head.
“I think you might be right about that,” Lydia said joining in with her laughter. She sighed. “Sexy, fit, debonair doctor. Yes! I’ll have some of that. Sexy, fit, debonair ‘baby-murdering’ doctor…I don’t know.” She chuckled, “doesn’t quite have the same ring to it now, does it?”
Christine playfully nudged her “No it doesn’t,” she smiled and kissed her teeth.
“You did it again”
“Did what again?”
“That thing I said you do with your mouth” Lydia stated.
“I kissed my teeth,” Christine replied “And believe me, if there ever was a time it is warranted - it is now!” she said bluntly before laughing again.
Lydia looked towards the drizzly roads ahead. She didn’t know when it started to rain, it probably began when they were about leaving the hospital. “I’m going to make a call later,” she announced.
And later she did.
She put in a call to an editor she knew who worked for a well-known tabloid. Lydia alerted his attention to the unusually high number of neo-natal mortalities taking place at a reputable hospital in London’s East End.
“Keith. I’ll see if I can get more information about this. And as soon as I have more - you’ll have more. But in the meantime I would really suggest you have a proper look around. I think this has the potential to be quite a big story.”
Create the story. Make the story. Sell the story. My! Lydia gave a joyful laugh, ‘I bloody love my job!’
Only regrettably, she understood, there was very little creativity involved in this instance. What was happening at the hospital was all too real. And the consequences had been nothing short of severe.
“Etta. Any reason why you wanted us to meet here?” Richard asked, standing in a quiet section of the neo-natal ward.
Henrietta, again had a quick look through the glass partition.
There was nobody around. It was all clear.
She turned her attention back to Richard. She slowly began to approach him.
Henrietta wanted to scream at him. Hurl insults at him. Thump on his chest. Anything! Just to
make him see how much of a mess of a man he really was. And yet, despite his flaws she was willing to be there for him.
But what was the use? She realised. He had no intention of making anything easy for her.
How simple it was for him to float around with this strange woman. This woman - supposedly out to kill his career - while he stands here grumbling about the few minutes she’d just requested of him.
‘Aaarrrghhh’ she looked right at him. It was she who had the upper hand now. She was finally going to do what she should have done from the beginning. She was ready to let him have it!
“Richard. I know what you’ve been up to over the last two years” She gave him an accusatory stare. “I know what you’ve been doing.”
There was a moment of silence.
“What are talking about Etta?”
“I’m talking about Diligence. The stem cell project you’ve been working on with them.”
“And what about the project?”
“Have you completely taken leave of your senses, Richard? You can’t be obtuse about this! This - this is wrong! It’s criminal! It’s dangerous! How could you get involved with something like this?”
“Have you finished Etta? I’ve got to get back onto the ward.”
He didn’t wait for her response. He made to walk past her.
“Richard. I was on your home computer. I’ve copied most - if not, all of your emails with Diligence. I’ve got it all here on this disc.”
Dr. Lawson spun around. His eyes didn’t fall on her but on the blue and white floppy disc she was waving in her hand. He stared at the disc. Then his eyes slowly trailed up to rest on hers.
It seemed like more than a minute had passed before anything else was said. Then Richard spoke. “Etta. You have no idea what I’ve been going through.”
“Really?” She waited to hear more.
“You’re right. This has been my obsession for far too long. And it’s taken me away from everything.” He began to approach her. “Etta. I-I don’t know what to do any more. I thought I was embarking on a worthy project. Something that would someday provide a viable solution...Etta...”
He softly called her name.
“Richard. Oh Richard dear...” The hand, which wasn’t holding the disc, shot up to gently stroke his arm. “What are you going to do?”
“What do you think I should do?” Richard asked, paying close attention to her facial expressions.
Henrietta became solemn. She could see that Richard was earnestly reaching out to her. He needed help. But she needed something too…She took a deep breath.
“Richard. I’m tired of this, of not knowing where I stand with you.”
Richard coolly looked back at her.
She continued. “I’m not happy. To be honest, I haven’t been for a while - and you’re the cause of it! How can I lie down with you, but wake up hating the world. How is this even possible?” She laughed bitterly, “But that’s how I feel when I’m with you. I can’t do this anymore!”
“What is it Etta, what do you want?”
It was a good question. What did she want? In fact, what was she doing? She was begging this man to love her. Begging! She was wrong, she hadn’t lost all self-respect. It seemed there was still more she could give. She bit the bullet and went for the jugular.
“I just want you to give us…a go…that’s all.” Henrietta breathed.
Yes. That was her voice, it was her speaking. Although it sounded like it came from some far off place.
Richard was still looking at her, Henrietta saw, but there was something else in his eyes “Etta. I think I need help. I’m not sure what to do.”
“Help?” Her face brightened, “I can help you Richard. Listen, you have to distance yourself from this Diligence. It sounds like you’ve climbed into bed with an extremely unethical outfit, here…”
“I know. I understand what you’re saying, Etta, I really do,” Richard said rubbing his temples, “I’ve realized I’ve made a colossal mistake. And it seems I’ve been making these crazy decisions for quite a while now. There’s no one to blame. I did this under my own volition.”
He shook his head. “I feel like I can’t trust myself anymore…let alone...trust anyone else…” he said, looking long and hard at her and then shooting a quick glance at the disc in her hand.
Henrietta immediately felt terrible. She suddenly saw herself in a different light.
How could see earnestly profess to want to help someone, while she appeared to be blackmailing them at the same time - that was just insane!
The disc felt like burning coal in her hand. She looked at it one last time.
“Richard, my dear. This is not what you think,” she swallowed. “I-I wanted to help you, that’s all.”
Richard slowly nodded, his eyes never leaving her face.
“Take it! You should have it!”
Richard quickly took it from her, and just as swiftly enveloped her slender frame into his welcoming embrace.
Henrietta’s deep blue eyes were fixed on his cool grey ones. She searched for feeling; for hope, for anything. But they were quickly taken away from her sight, as his mouth descended on hers.
Mmmm lavender, burnt wood, and a promise of more…
Although he gave a good impression, Dr. Lawson didn’t actually kiss Henrietta. He just shared the bitter taste that was left in his mouth, or so, it felt like to him.
‘He got the disc back - one less thing to worry about!’
But now he had to put in a call to Diligence. Whatever was to come, was out of his hands now...