Jack In The Box

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Chapter 10


Jackson had tried to commit suicide, but thankfully we’d reached on time to save his life. He lay in the hospital bed breathing through an oxygen mask, an IV connected to him. As his nurse, I felt responsible for what happened to him. If I hadn’t let him out of my sight, maybe this wouldn’t have happened at all.

I watched Jackson as he slept peacefully, despite how chaotic his life had become. His chest moved in a constant slow rise and fall. Any normal person would easily peg him as Hollywood worthy. He should have been at one of the movie sets; sitting in his private room, reading the lines he was supposed to recite and sipping on fresh juice that the errand boy brought him, instead, he was. Bat-shit insane and convicted of murders. Besides that, he was so damn unpredictable and that’s what made him even more mysterious.

I doodled in my diary; Mysterious, Unpredictable and Drop-dead gorgeous.

Instinctively, I brushed the dark locks of hair away from his face. It was almost past lunch time when Jackson opened his eyes. His breathing was normal so the ventilator was removed. He stared straight ahead; any signs of amusement were non-existent.

I checked his vitals and told him about the extra medication doses that he was supposed to start from the next day. He just nodded once, his face masking nonchalance. He was then transferred from the ER to a normal hospital room on a stretcher where he was going to be under observation. This room in particular had a flat screen mounted against the wall.

The silence in the room was getting awkward so I decided to break it. “Would you like to rest some more? I think it’s best if you slept through the night. You will feel better by tomorrow.” I suggested.

Jackson regarded me with his dark stare. “All I’ve been doing for the past six months is fucking rest. What I really wanna do is get outta this goddamn institution.”

I didn’t say anything to that, instead I asked him. “Did you really kill Dave?”

“Nurse Riley, not you too!” He said. “Someone’s obviously framing me.”

“But all the evidence is against you, Jackson.” I said. “The murder. It is similar to your previous ones.”

“I. Did. Not. Kill. Mad- Dave.” He said with a raised voice. “If there’s anyone I’d like to kill, it would be Paul-Fucking- Bennet.”

“Shhh.” I said. “Lower down your voice.”

“If I told you something Riley, would you believe me?” He asked, his voice mellowed just a tad bit.

He’d called me straight as Riley instead of mocking me with his usual ‘Nurse Riley’ which spoke volumes that whatever that he had in store, wasn’t joking business.

“What is it?”

He sat up straight, and looked me in the eye. “The murders before. I...I didn’t kill any of them.”

I think it took a long while for his words to sink in and the shock to actually register on my face. “I don’t believe you.”

“And I can’t blame you, no one did until now but you can’t change the truth.” He said with so much sincerity that even the Pope would believe him but I knew better than to trust Jackson.

He was known to play his cards well, toss down all the barriers and leave a person unguarded enough to make them think he was being serious until the joke was on them.

“I don’t care if it’s the truth. I believe what I see.” I said. “I saw the murders and the Polygraph also proved that you were lying.”

He smiled ruefully, like a switch had gone off. “A Polygraph is known to be only about Seventy percent accurate while the examiner would disagree. Those morons had nothing better to do, but I thought you were smarter, Riley.”

“Don’t try to mock me.” I said.

“I’ve been framed.” He confessed

I sighed. “And what do you want from me?”

“A favor.” He said simply.

I raised my eyebrows as he began reciting the favor he wanted from me. When he was done, I took a step back instantly. To say I was furious would be an understatement. “I will not do it and that’s final!” I said.

“You won’t?”

“Do you think I am as insane as you? I could lose my job!” I was trying to keep my voice down.

“Kenneth Frazer. Sweet and helpful. Future veterinary surgeon.”

“Don’t you dare lay a finger on my brother or I’ll..”

“I don’t want to, Riley. I swear to you. You’re good to me as compared to all the other nurses I’ve managed to chase away, and that’s why I like you. If the circumstances were different, who knows we’d have something different than a mere Nurse and Patient relationship.” He said, and I had no doubt he meant every word he’d said. “I seriously do not want to hurt you or someone you love. All I ask is for your co-operation.”

I had no other choice. I closed my eyes and opened them; taking a deep breath. “Okay. I’ll do it.”

A week passed and I’d been growing even more anxious. What if I couldn’t do as Jackson told me? Will I be dead? Or worse, would he really hurt Ken? So far I’d done everything for him that he’d asked of me. Sometimes I spaced out and got an earful from the head nurse because it was hard to concentrate on my work. I sneaked into the operation theatre, pulled on some latex gloves and pushed one scalpel knife into my pocket. All I had to do was get out of this place without being noticed.

I didn’t wait to speak to anyone and walked straight towards the elevator. When I reached the fourth floor, I stepped out. Dr. Paul was in the hallway as usual. I suspected if he rarely sat in his office and preferred to be hanging around in the hallways just to keep an eye on anyone. I also suspected he was playing spy for Dr. Aaron Shaw.

Whenever I passed him, Paul usually gave me the cold shoulder which I really appreciated since I was avoiding drama. Occasionally I caught him staring at me, just the way he was staring at me right now, but I knew that had to be out of pure hatred for me. I could feel his green eyes bore into my back as I walked further.

“Nurse Riley!” He called out to me.

I stopped short, hoping like hell he didn’t suspect anything. I passed him my most fake smile. “What can I do for you, Doctor?”

His gaze was dubious. “You seem to be in a hurry. What’s the emergency?”

“This is a hospital.” I laughed. “There’s always an emergency.”

“But seems like you’re up to something.” He said simply.

“You need coffee. You’re hallucinating.” I said in a rush as I turned on my heel when he caught my hand.

I threw him a look and glanced down at his hand holding mine. Suddenly, he let go. He cleared his throat. “I was wondering if you’re free to grab lunch today.”

I stared at him incredulously, “What?!”

I had a dozen questions racing through my mind. Had I walked into another dimension? Was it another one of Paul’s strategy to get some information from me? What the hell did he want?

He sighed. “Nevermind.”

I swear I saw disappointment register his face.

Maybe he was running low on friends because of his trash attitude? I suddenly overcame with pity for my colleague.

“I’m kind of busy today, but I’ll go with you tomorrow.”

He raised his hand to stop me. “Save it. I don’t want you to take this the wrong way and think I’m asking you out because I like you or something which is out of question.”

My mouth was a large ‘O’ I couldn’t believe this man!

“You’ve got to be kidding me! I never said anything about your liking me. You obviously seem to have problems reading situations Dr. Paul.”

He sounded as crazy as Jackson, maybe even worse. At least Jackson wasn’t acting borderline like him. Maybe Paul Bennet needed to lie down in one of the hospital beds too.

“Oh I know what’s keeping you busy these days.” He said coyly.

“And what’s that?” I asked irritated.

“You enjoy entertaining that psycho Jackson Wolfe.” He pointed out. “I know what’s been going on between the two of you.”

“Sure.” I agreed. My fists balled into tight fists. “I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Think what you want to.”

Suddenly he leaned in, and I had never been intimidated by his height because I never noticed anything about him other than the line of hate that kept stretching between us. His minty breath fanned over my face. “Be careful with that one. You don’t wanna be chopped up like Mama Wolfe.”

That said he passed me. Tears spiked my eyes and I felt emotionally drained.

I walked casually into Jackson’s room. He was propped up in his hospital bed, watching a movie. When he saw me, he switched off the tv and turned his full attention towards me.

“Did you find it?”

I shut the door behind me and slipped the scalpel near his cushion. The corners of his mouth twitched up in a smile. “That’s a good girl.”

“I did what you asked of me, but you’ll have to promise me, you won’t hurt anyone.” I said.

“You have my word.” Jackson said.

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