Such A Fine Son (Part Three)
“Oh my God, my baby. What happened to my Wendy? What did this? Oh, sweet Jesus why isn’t someone helping her? Where’re the doctors? Nurse . . . Nurse . . .”
Tap, tap, tap.
“Dr. Canthrop? Doctor, sorry to disturb you but Jane Doe’s been identified. Her mother is asking for you.”
“Thank you, Maggie,” Lyle told the nurse. “Put her in my office and try to get her calmed down before she wakes up the entire floor. I’ll be right there.”
Yawning and stretching, Lyle ran a hand over his raspy face and peered at his watch. An hour of sleep was just enough to keep him on his feet until dawn. Raking his fingers through shoulder length dark hair, he ducked into the restroom to splash cold water over his bleary face. Carefully inspecting his long thin face in the mirror, Lyle pulled an elastic band from a smock pocket and quickly pulled his mass of hair back into a neat tail at the nape of his neck. From past experience, Lyle knew that parents felt uncomfortable with a doctor who resembled Jesus Christ or a host of current rock stars.
“Maggie, name?” Lyle whispered as he passed the nurse’s station.
“Wheeler, Wendy Wheeler. Mrs. Wheeler is in your office. She’s extremely agitated, Doctor.”
Lyle took a deep breath before bustling into the little cubicle he used for an office when on duty at the trauma center.
Joy Wheeler, perched bird-like on a hard plastic chair, and sprang to her feet. Her loud voice pelted the small room with needles of shrillness. “You’re the doctor? What’s happened to my daughter, Mister? I want the truth. Just tell me like it is. Was she raped?”
“Please try to calm down, Mrs. Wheeler.” Lyle leaned against a corner of his desk and folded his arms to keep from putting a hand over each ear.
“We’ve stabilized your daughter, she was beaten and raped.”
The hawk-nosed woman folded back into the chair like a deflated balloon, hands crisscrossed over her mouth and, for the moment, blessedly speechless.
Lyle waited silently for the woman to regain her composure. Her sharp-featured face, a study in whiteness under a bubble of brassy red hair, emitted a high, shrill whine from behind red-tipped fingers.
“Calm down?” she finally shrieked. “My Wendy is lying there in that bed like a broken doll and you want me to calm down? You don’t have any children, do you, Doctor?”
Lyle could feel an odd rush of heat spreading over his neck and ears. Intensely, he concentrated on keeping sarcasm out of his voice before he replied. “ I only meant . . . some coma patients are aware of their surroundings. Jane . . . er Wendy may be able to hear us. If we expect her to emerge from this coma whole in body and mind, we’ll need to surround her with tranquility and gentleness.”
“Wha-da-ya-mean we,” Mrs. Wheeler spat, crescendo rising. “What you really mean is ME! Let me remind you, ‘twas a man did this to her. I didn’t put her here. Unless you think I neglected her. That it, Doctor? You think she’s here cause I have to go to work every day to put food on the table?”
Mrs. Wheeler began to wail miserably. “How many times did I tell her to stay outa them woods? Full o’ perverts, I told her. Kids don’t listen, Doctor. They just don’t listen. I done the best I could.”
Curiously, Lyle felt unmoved by the woman’s apparent misery.
Continued . . .
Link to Part One (Such a Fine Son)
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