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January 23, 2023

Patterns in Blood 22

By Lydia Manx

Los Angeles
California
Still In The Past

I couldn't believe that Randolph expected me to leave with him. I'd sucked in more than a lungful of smoke from my burning house and he wanted me to just jump in his car and drive off into the sunset? I wanted to scream but held back.

"Alanna?" Randolph looked to me for approval. Yeah, I certainly wasn't going to do that, but wasn't going to argue with him in front of all the medical personnel and cops.

Suppressing my automatic inappropriate comment I said instead, "Randolph, I would feel better if my lungs were checked out by a doctor. After all I did just come from a burning building. I may need more oxygen -- that sort of thing. Why don't you go back to your mother's and I'll call you when I need you," mentally I couldn't help adding, "Like when hell freezes over." He reluctantly agreed. I was getting better at keeping those voices inside my head and given my current injuries that was saying something.

Since my health care provider was such a nice company they allowed for the friendly ambulance personnel to strap me down on yet another of those delightful carts and drive me back to the same hospital I'd come from earlier in the day. Ironically I was greeted by a few of the same staff members upon my arrival to the emergency room yet again by the back door. The delightful view of the ceiling was unchanged from my previous visit.

Various tests were conducted and I was pronounced severely stressed and to be monitored for shock and kept on oxygen, at least for a few more hours. There was a different attending doctor but he noted my paperwork earlier in the day on the new entrance forms. I doubted it was normal for someone to show up so many times in the same week for different complaints. I mean something like a heart episode, then coming in with a full-blown heart attack would be understandable. But mine were completely different issues. Maybe.

"Mrs. Hagen, we don't give frequent flyers miles here! But we are very concerned about the shocks you have sustained recently. You are exhibiting signs of emotional trauma and you may have some severe reactions in the next few hours. While a family environment could be nice I personally would feel better letting our nurses monitor you," he said calmly while unknowingly pointing out my house was wasn't available for resting. My stomach was in knots and I wanted to cry. That wasn't like me in the least.

The doctor then told me that while I was on my way over to the hospital, Randolph had called, begging to be allowed to take me home. I grew agitated by this piece of information. The monitor hooked up to me immediately reflected the change. The doctor gave orders I was to be given a sleeping pill and left undisturbed by any family or friends. So I leaned back and allowed the staff to do their jobs.

Thankfully I was given a different room because I didn't want any more déjà vu. I also didn't mind that the room was smaller and had no other occupants. The orderly helped get me into one of their lovely hospital designer gowns and brought me a dinner tray from the kitchen. I was put into a chair next to the bed and the oxygen mask was removed so I could eat. As I looked out my window I saw night was truly upon me. I shuddered at all my losses while picking at the dinner tray. All I wanted was to be home; it hurt even thinking about having no home.

The nurse broke into my worrying, bringing me an arrangement of flowers to my bedside. Reading the card attached I discovered Janice, from my office, had apparently been watching the evening news. Though I didn't think my story had made the early news, I figured it must be later than I'd thought. She promised, on the card, to smuggle me in some real food. After chuckling over her lighthearted comment, I picked up the phone.

I reached Janice on the phone at her home, "How did you know where I was?"

Laughing into the phone I was glad to be talking with someone who wasn't filling out a form or report.

"I didn't wake you did I?" I felt nervous talking with Janice once it dawned on me that it was probably like three a.m. or something. The sleeping pill had lasted only a few hours.

"Alanna, why didn't you tell me? Randolph just told me. Isn't it exciting? I bet you can't wait," she exclaimed.

I was growing very tired of people talking and me having no idea what the heck they were meaning.

"What? Wait for what?" I was bewildered because Randolph rarely paid any attention to my career and hardly ever even acknowledged my staff much less talked to them. Sure I was glad he had thought to call them, but I was still unclear on what Janice meant.

"Oh, Alanna, stop teasing! You know -- about your going abroad. You've said for years you wanted to sample the other half of the world's food personally. I think it's so romantic that he'll be taking you away for six whole months." She gushed on and on about his call.

Mechanically I answered. My head was reeling. This was just too weird. According to Randolph I was leaving as soon as possible. He, also, asked that they cut a check from my bank account first thing in the morning. A very, very large check, almost all of the cash in my savings. As politely as I could I asked to speak with George, my night chef and baker. I said to Janice, "Under absolutely no circumstances are you to issue that check. If it has already been cut, tear it into little bitty pieces and flush them down the toilet."

Stunned, she agreed and then handed the phone over to George. I explained to George that he needed to be cautious tonight and if possible to call his brothers in to help with the leftovers. There were always some sort of leftovers in the kitchen. We talked about security arrangements and told him under no condition should my husband or any of his family be allowed on the premises. I had almost finished my call when another nurse walked in and caught me still talking.

She was all fussy about my being on the phone. The oxygen mask, which I had tossed aside, was placed back on my face. I was angry, but not sick, she didn't care. She made me hang up the phone then unplugged it and tucked it aside to take with her when she left. First she handed me a small white paper cup and told me to swallow my medicine and settle down.

Smiling like a good little girl I calmly palmed the pills and mock swallowed. The nurse, naturally suspicious of a rule breaker like me, had me open my mouth. The pills were already worked underneath my thigh so I casually turned my palms upwards and let her check. With a curt nod she picked up the phone and strode out, erroneously figuring I had taken my pills. I wasn't taking any sleeping pills nor staying at the hospital much longer. After twenty minutes or so had gone by I crept to the wardrobe cabinet in the room.

My clothes were intact but very sooty and grubby. I shook them briskly, in a feeble attempt to remove some of the ash, then changed out of the lovely peek-a-boo hospital attire into my only surviving outfit. I was relieved that the nurse hadn't tossed them when I was admitted. The pills I tossed down the sink and ran water in making sure they dissolved. After surveying myself in the mirror I used the hospital "comfy station" supplied. They had nice neat little packets of soap, toothpaste and variety of creams and potions to beautify oneself. I scraped my hair back off my face and tied it with the ribbon from the flowers.

Some of the dirt on my clothes was dabbed off with a bit of soap and water. A few minutes later I looked somewhat presentable. My biggest problem was my shoes or lack of them actually. I hated the idea but was forced to do the only thing that came to mind.

The night nurse had distributed sleep medicines to all the other patients I concluded after hearing all the snoring in the ward. I snuck across the hall to the room of the lady was snoring the loudest. Quietly I opened her clothes wardrobe and found she had a pair of cheap tennis shoes inside. Quickly I tried them on and found them a bit large but durable enough. Pulling out a ten-dollar bill from the small stash of money I had been given by Kyle, which the hospital should have taken and in all the excitement had thankfully forgotten, I put the bill under her clothes and snuck back to my room.

Inside the cupboard in my room were additional pillows and blankets for patients in the event family members stayed with them. Not planning on waiting for such visitors I used the pillows to define a shape underneath the bedcovers. Artfully I draped some of the ugly hospital gown to fall out from under the bedspread so it appeared I was sleeping peacefully.

Since I hadn't found any socks I used the guest footsie slippers provided by the hospital. The tennis shoes were about a half-size too big but the bulkier slippers made up the difference. Needing a nice little reason to be wandering the halls at that ungodly hour I picked up my bouquet from Janice. Making sure my sweatshirt covered the pesky hospital plastic ID bracelet I sauntered down the corridor like I knew exactly where I was going and what I was doing.

The suspicious nurse who'd given me the medicine a half hour or so before was wrestling with a patient who'd gotten out of bed and was dragging an IV stand around and shouting about bugs -- she missed my brisk walk out of the ward. I turned a corner and another curious sort manned the nurses' station.

"Excuse me, what are you doing on this floor?" Her tone was less than sweet.

Responding in a cloyingly thick French accent I asked, "Where is my Jean Claude? Where are you hiding the man? This floor isn't staffed properly."

Having worked with a number of different chefs over the years I knew enough French if need be to get by in a variety of situations. The accent wasn't hard for me to fake. And that attitude was even easier and I convinced the nurse. She proceeded to give me directions to the Intensive Care Unit in a loud voice.

I responded in soft French, "Pardon moi?"

She repeated while physically steering me towards the evaluator. Slightly smiling I thanked her and left.

Deciding I might as well say hi to Jean Claude I discovered to my relief that his condition had been upgraded and he had regained consciousness. Given the hour he naturally was by himself in his room on the ICU floor. Thankfully the nurse was off in another patient's room and missed me sneaking in.

He said that he didn't remember much of what happened but he definitely remembered me. We spoke a bit and I gave him the flowers after pocketing the card quickly. He noticed my less than sparkling attire.

"Well, aren't all French woman slightly grubby?" I joked with a slight accent. I proceeded to ask him if he'd watched the local evening news.

"Mon Dieu! Was that your home on fire?" He looked genuinely upset.

Downplaying the importance of my mishap, instead I spoke to him about his brother and my ideas. Mentioning I might change a few things with his input, but wanted him to get better first he laughed and seemed relieved. I gathered he had been worried it wasn't going to happen once he was injured and his place torched. I knew that Jean Claude was a good man and would do well with my company. We talked about various business plans, some nonsensical and others quite good, for a while.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2008-04-21
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