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Chapter 34

The sheet of paper Barbara had torn from the hotel’s writing pad was still blank. Having eaten dinner at the small table, she now sat on the bed aided by extra pillows to prop her against the bedhead. As she stared at the naked sheet of paper, she was giving some thought to items not for keeping, before listing them.

“Why not list what to retain, rather than list those for disposal. It will be quicker,” she said, aloud.

Writing in the comfort of the hotel room had its attractions; it was warm, had a bed, and a bathroom for her own use. Surely, JM won’t be offended if I stay the night. Katherine and Sophia are in excellent care. They’re probably asleep. Convincing herself to stay was easy.

Having showered, wearing pyjamas, and the hotel dressing gown, she had resettled herself on the bed. With her call to JM’s cell phone crossing to his answering service, she left a message.

Tony Shapiro, removalist, and patient of JM’s, knew the urgency of his task. Although some items were for storage, most were for disposal. JM instructed Tony to return the temporary storage items on completion of the refurbishment. Those for disposed were Tony’s responsibility.

“I’ll leave a master key in the mailbox. I’ll ring you tomorrow.”

Fortuitously for JM both doctors arrived early the following morning, and their examinations were not coinciding. Sophia was first scheduled.


“She’ll be transferred to another room today. She was due yesterday, but there was a shortage of beds. If she keeps healing at this rate she could go home sooner than expected, but she’ll still need plenty of care.”

JM was quick to ask, “Will she be able to do things for herself?”

“Yes. She could do most things, but nothing strenuous. She can shower, but she’ll have to keep her head dry, until it’s healed. I hope to remove her jaw restraints soon.”

Sophia gave a slight nod of approval. I do feel a better.

Once alone with Sophia, JM said, “Well, it seems as though he’s happy and you’re going to be with other women. That will make it better for you. I may not see you as much as you would like over the next week or two. I have some work to do at the apartment, but Barbara will be here if you need anything.”

She raised her right hand in acknowledgement.

He leaned forward and kissed her cheek, then went to Katherine’s room to await Doctor Gilmore. An impediment to leaving the hospital was Barbara’s list. He had written his own, but having Barbara’s would guarantee a smoother transition.

Doctor Gilmore walked in, assisted by a nurse.

“Good morning, Doctor Harris.”

“Hi, Doctor Gilmore.”

Turning to Katherine, Doctor Gilmore said, “Hi, Katherine.” It was a generous smile and greeting. He browsed Katherine’s chart. “How are you feeling?” He then did his usual examination of her eyes and body temperature.

“Doctor Harris, we need to close the curtain until we’ve finished. I’m sure you’ll understand.”

Soon thereafter Barbara entered the room, walking at a fast pace and slightly short of breath. “Sorry, I’m late. How’s everything?” The closed curtains attracted her attention. “What’s happened? What’s wrong with Katherine?”

Doctor Gilmore opened the curtain just as JM was about to answer. “Good morning, Mrs. Harris. I’ve just finished my examination.” Seeing her look of concern, he said, “There’s no need to worry. She’s fine, and we’ll be moving her to another room.” He turned to face Katherine. “What do you say? Would you like to be with other women?”

“It’s funny how things turn out. Mrs. K’s transfer was yesterday, but no spare beds were available. I’ve not long left her room and Doctor Schneider recommended she, too, be moved to another room. Would it be possible to put Katherine in with younger women?”

“That’s up to the hospital staff. I could ask them to put them together in the same room, that’s if there are sufficient beds available.”

“Before you do that, I’d like talk to you in the corridor,” JM said. Once outside he described Katherine’s response to Sophia’s attempted apology.

“I’m glad you told me.”

“Do you have a time schedule for her Katherine’s release?”

“Not yet. It will depend on what treatment the psychologist recommends, but other than that, I’d give her another week, or maybe a bit more. Why do you ask?”

JM explained his plan.

“If you haven’t finished by the time she’s ready to leave, and keep in mind I can only speak for her, I can delay her release by a few days, if need be. Would that be of any help?”

“It certainly would. It would help immensely.”

“Ring me if you need further assistance.” Knowing JM had more than just Katherine to contend with, he added, “If I don’t see you over the coming week, keep me informed of where you’re up to.”

“I will, and thanks.”

JM signalled Barbara to the corridor and repeated the doctor’s comments. As they sat on the bench they discussed Katherine’s possible reaction to returning home, but other than what he was attempting no other idea was plausible. Barbara handed him the lengthy list, although the location of some items were proving elusive.

“Can you help me with this? Do you know where everything is? The larger things are not a problem, but the smaller ones would be easier to find if I knew where they are situated. If I read them out, could you tell me where you think they are?”

She nominated a room for each read item.

With the new master key extracted from the mailbox, JM opened the door and entered, ready to do battle with the evil that had encroached upon their lives.

“I need the apartment empty by tomorrow afternoon, and don’t worry about the cost.”

“I’ll have it empty before you know it.” Tony was a man of his word.

“Are you available now? If so, you and I can go over, again, what items are for keeping? Bring as many people as you can for the packing.”

“I’ll be there soon, and don’t worry about what time we finish. We won’t leave until everything’s packed. How does that sound?”

“That’s good. I knew I could count on you.”

Early the following afternoon JM decided to call Samuel, the painter, because Tony and his large contingent had advanced exponentially with the removal of furniture, and packing of boxes.

“Samuel? Sorry to ring late, but it’s Doctor Harris. I was wondering if you could come to my apartment. I am doing an urgent overhaul, from top to bottom. I need it painted white all over, except for the kitchen cupboards and any doors.”

“Before you go any further, and I apologise for interrupting, but my crew are on another job. It would be a few days before I could start. Is the colour the same?”

“Yes. Nothing’s changed since you were here last.”

“Moving the furniture will be a problem, so it’ll take some time and be a disruption to your family’s living arrangements.”

“The removalists are here, and should have everything cleared this afternoon. What if you send a couple of men and they can do the preparation, and when they’re finished they can start with the undercoating. I need this done urgently. If you can’t do it, could you recommend someone?”

“I’ve got your cell number. I’ll ring you within the hour.”


JM knew Europeans had one thing in common, no matter their nationality. They were always eager to work.

He stood on the stoop in the chilled air, awaiting Samuel’s call. Suddenly he turned and bound up the stairs, two at a time. A phone was ringing.

It’s probably Barbara, he thought, as he hurried to the living room. He came to an abrupt halt as he reached the doorway. Barbara’s private phone was ringing.

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