Such A Fine Son (Part Five)
Spots of anemic pink blood spattered on white . . .
Dark hollows circled Lyle’s eyes like smudged ink but he refused to allow his lack of rest to affect his work. With steady hands he continued to save the battered lives of trauma victims rushed into his care from dusk until dawn. When he wasn’t scrubbed and engaged in the ER, Lyle made rounds to check on his patients or attempted power naps in the intern’s quarters.
Tap, tap, tap.
“Doctor, Detective Steiger is asking for you.”
The squeak of a door hinge and Maggie’s anxious face emerged haloed in a slice of light from the hall.
“Doctor . . . there’s been another incident. The police need to talk to you.”
“I’ll be right there, Maggie.”
Wearily, Lyle rubbed his aching eyes and ran a hand over his raspy shadow of whiskers. Gathering his hair back into the ever-popular tail, Lyle took time to run a toothbrush over his gummy teeth and slosh a little water over his haggard features.
Striding into his office, Lyle could find no sign of Detective Steiger’s presence except for a faint whiff of spearmint. Puzzled, Lyle backed out and gave Maggie a questioning look. She quickly pointed toward Wendy’s room before returning silently to her med. charts.
Through the patch of glass imbedded high on the door, Lyle could see Detective Steiger. The rugged young cop had hold of one of Wendy’s tiny hands. His lips were moving but Lyle couldn’t hear the words through the heavy oak door. The sight of Wendy spurred Lyle’s emotions. The normally slack blue-gray eyes typically gazed straight ahead. Those eyes, still quite dull and lifeless, now seemed trained on the face of the babbling detective. Concern gushed over Lyle. His hands clenched and unclenched. A gout of anger pushed him through the door.
“You were looking for me, detective?”
“Yes, can she hear us?”
“We believe that, yes, coma patients do hear and remember what goes on around them. You were talking to Wendy just now when I came in. Tell me, did you get a response from her? Anything at all?”
“She seemed to be paying attention to me, although she never moved a muscle.”
Lyle sighed. “I thought as much,” he replied scratching his raspy beard.
“Has she said anything since I brought her in?” the detective inquired.
“I’m afraid not, it’s still too soon after her ordeal. Shall we talk in my office?”
As he followed the detective from the room, Lyle glanced back at Wendy’s prone shape, little potbelly just beginning to make a dent in the blanket. The expressionless blue-gray eyes stared straight ahead.
“What seems to be the problem?” Lyle asked, holding open his office door and motioning Detective Steiger inside.
“Doctor, I’m sure you’re familiar with Wendy’s mother, Joy Wheeler,” the detective began speaking carefully around his massive wad of gum.
“Yes, quite,” Lyle returned, expressionless.
“Well, we found what was left of her scattered about the foot of Coca-Cola Ledge.”
“Suicide?” Lyle questioned.
“Hardly,” the detective shot back. “She was literally torn to pieces. Chewed up and spit out like an old hamburger.”
Lyle noticed that Detective Steiger seemed to be studying his face for a reaction of some sort. Although the detective’s words affected him hardly at all, he tried to compose his features into what felt like a look of shock and surprise. Steiger finally seemed satisfied with Lyle’s facial expression and continued.
“Could be the same perpetrator as that of the girl.”
“Soooooo . . .” Lyle prompted.
“Well, nothing, I guess,” the detective muttered chewing vigorously on his gum.
“If the girl still isn’t talking, I’m pretty much dead-ended here.”
“Like I said,” Lyle stated, “It’s still too soon. While Wendy has healed well physically, her mental state is still working to recover from her ordeal.”
“Well, keep me posted, Doc.” Steiger left the floor in his customary haze of spearmint.
Lyle splayed his hands on his desk blotter to keep them from clenching and unclenching uncontrollably. His head ached from battling the deep-seated fury that seemed about to consume him.
“Control,” he seethed through clenched teeth. “100, 99, 98, 97, 96, control.”
Lyle’s breathing slowed and his head cleared. Incident all but forgotten, the young doctor began his early morning rounds.
Continued . . .
Link to Part One (Such A Fine Son)
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