Recap of chapter one: Doctor George Benny and Susan Cole didn’t live happily ever after. She murdered him in cold blood after she discovered he was having an affair. Now she is on her way back to the states as she runs for her life.
Meanwhile, back at Salter’s Point Regional Hospital, Billy Moonwalker, a patient suffering from paranoid schizophrenia elopes from the hospital. Teresa, a nurse runs after him only to witness him run into traffic and be killed. He died instantly sending Teresa in hysterics. Now the hospital staff, including Rachel and crew must deal with the aftermath of his untimely death along with newcomers Social Workers Cathy Ray, Betty Jo Brewer and Doctors Mark Brewer and Ethan Poppy.
The next day was Tuesday morning. Cathy Ray, nauseated after binging on a plate of pancakes and eggs, hightailed it to the bathroom. It was her first full meal in three days, and she was hungry, at least she thought. She made it to the commode and fell on her knees. She lifted the toilet seat up. She twisted her long strawberry blonde hair in a neat ball on top of her head and then shoved a finger down her throat. She gagged and her eyes watered. A concoction of slimy food particles projected straight from her mouth. Each retching episode lasted a full minute until every piece of food was expelled from her stomach.
Relieved, she flushed the commode and watched the contents whisked down the drain. She shook her hair, and it fell gently on her shoulders in a tangled strawberry mess. She struggled to her feet and steadied herself against the porcelain sink. She took a deep breath, gripping the rim of the sink, feeling nauseous again. After a while, the feeling subsided, and soon she felt a lot better. She reached for her toothbrush and started scrubbing her teeth. After she was finished, she wiggled out of her pajamas, and a reflection of her skinny five-foot-four-inch frame caught her eye in the full-length mirror. No more than eighty pounds spanking wet, she inspected herself from head to toe searching for any evidence of cellulite. She was obsessed with her weight. Eating like a bird most days and then binging the next. A routine of self-imposed retching, a constant habit in her everyday life.
Her eating disorder began at the age of eleven when her father, an engineer and the family’s sole provider, left her mother and moved to Nevada with his lover. Her mother struggled financially for a while but then the daily grind of supporting Cathy and herself became too much. One day she went home and overdosed on Benadryl, killing herself. After her mother’s death, Cathy went to Nevada to live with her father and his new wife. She despised her step-mother. She blamed the woman for her parents’ divorce as well as her mother’s suicide. When Cathy was twelve, she became angry at her stepmother one morning and mixed rat poison in her orange juice. Her step-mother later died in the hospital and no one connected Cathy to her sudden demise.
A year later, her father fell ill and died from a massive stroke, leaving Cathy orphaned and alone. Struggling with abandonment issues, she spent the rest of her teenage years in foster care excelling in school and graduating with honors. She left Nevada and moved to a little townhouse in Federal Way, thirty minutes from the City of Seattle. She enrolled at the University of Washington, majoring in social work, and six years later she graduated with a Master’s degree in the field. After graduation, she landed a job at Salter’s Point Regional Hospital, and it was there her professional career began.
She jumped when the shrill buzzing of the alarm clock went off. It was seven o’clock, and she revolted in panic. She had only an hour and a half to get to work, and she couldn’t afford to be late. With just one month left on her probation, she had already been written up four times for being late. She showered and dressed, then she inspected herself in the mirror again. She brushed her long strawberry blonde hair for a total of five minutes and after she was done, she was finally satisfied with her appearance. Then she threw her jacket on, grabbed her handbag and dashed out the door.
The traffic on interstate five was light and steady, an unusual occurrence during the work week rush hour. She zoomed down the highway, seventy miles per hour in her blue Mustang. She glanced at her watch. It was almost eight o’clock. For the next thirty miles, she weaved in and out of traffic until she spotted a state trooper up ahead. He was parked in a grassy grove off the freeway between two big evergreen trees. She pumped her brakes, and her heart thumped hard in her chest. “Please Lord, I can’t afford to get a ticket,” she prayed out loud. She passed him, and he didn’t look up, and she sighed with relief. “Whew, that was close!” She said.
Taking precaution, she drove the speed limit until she could no longer view the trooper in the rearview mirror. Then she stepped on the gas, taking off at seventy-five miles per hour. Forty-five minutes later, she was turning right onto the hospital grounds. Her anxiety was off the charts, and she was fifteen minutes late. The guard, decked out in Darth Vader garb, waved her through. Sweat broke out above her brow as she drove closer to East Campus Hospital. She scanned the area like an animal on alert, looking for Doctor Poppy, and hoping not to run into her. The doctor tattle on her the other day for being tardy; prompting Beth to issued her a written warning and since that time, Doctor Poppy has been in her crosshairs. As she made her way up the hill to East Campus Hospital, she noticed police cars parked alongside the road. Looking befuddled, she wondered out loud. “What’s going on here?”
She speeded into the parking lot and parked. She grabbed her things and scrambled out of the car. She ran across the parking lot and into the hospital building. The lobby, crowded with doctors, nurses, social workers and techs took her by surprise. Police officers slithered in and out of the crowd as they stopped periodically to ask questions.
“What’s going on here?” Cathy wondered again her eyes big as saucers. She gave the lobby a once over and spotted Rachel Thomas, now married to Doctor James, and Betty Brewer huddled in a corner near the reception desk. Betty Jo Brewer wasn’t pretty in a traditional sense, but she was tall and attractive in her own right, a dark-skinned woman with expressive almond brown eyes and thick long braids to her waist. She was married to Doctor Mark Brewer, a handsome, slightly built man in his early forties with blue-green eyes and thick blonde hair combed back away from his face. They were new to Salter’s Point Regional, transplants from California. As Cathy forced her way through the crowd, Betty Jo noticed her and gave Rachel an elbow nudge.
“Look who just came in,” she said. “The little witch has just flown in on her broomstick, and she’s late as usual,” she joked.
“Oh be nice,” Rachel giggled as she waved for Cathy to come over their way.
“Hi Ladies,” said Cathy finally joining them. “Do you guys know what’s going on here?” She asked.
“You are late!” Betty Jo said not cutting her any slack.
“I know. I am optimally delusional on how long it takes me to arrive at places on time,” Cathy nonchalantly said.
“Whatever!” said Betty Jo rolling her eyes. Cathy raised up on her toes to see over the crowd. “What’s going on here? Why is everyone in the lobby?” She asked.
“Billy Moonwalker committed suicide this morning,” Rachel said with her face grim.
“Oh my goodness,” Cathy said with big eyes. She squeezed her mouth with one hand. “What happened?”
“He eloped from the unit and ran into traffic,” Rachel explained. “He was hit by a car and died.,” she added.
“How terrible,” Cathy said shaking her head.
“Yeah, it is,” Betty Jo said still checking out the crowd.
“Maybe his voices came back,” Cathy reasoned as she tried to make sense of Billy’s untimely death. “His voices were destructive. They would tell him to kill himself,” she pointed out. Her eyes searched the lobby for Ethan Poppy. “Does Doctor Poppy know? Billy was on her caseload.”
“Yeah she knows, and she is devastated,” Betty Jo said. “She told us Billy was in skills group last evening and he had fun decorating cupcakes. He even ate one!”
“And you are surprised by that?” Cathy smarted off.
“Well yeah,” Rachel piped in. “You were the one who told us he suffered from stomach ulcers,” she said surprised by her attitude. “He hardly ate!”
Cathy shied away for a moment, with her cheeks a rosy red. She hated when others called her out on her mistakes. Feeling embarrassed, she reluctantly takes the hit steering the conversation another way. “Where is Doctor Poppy anyway?” She asked observing the crowd.
“In her office,” Rachel said. “She refuses to answer the door.”
Cathy rolled her eyes. “That woman is so weird,” she said.
“Yeah, she’s a little special,” Betty Jo chuckled under her breath. Rachel frowned, and the vein in her forehead protruded a little. “Give the woman a break you two,” she said. “She just lost a patient, and she’s probably feels terrible about it!”
“The woman is an idiot,” Cathy blurted out showing no mercy. “She has a mind like a paper doll, and she sleeps in a damn coffin for goodness sakes!”
“She does not!” Rachel retorted taking up for the doctor. Cathy’s eyes narrowed. “I wouldn’t put it past her and besides the cupcake thing was her idiotic idea,” she disclosed. “She thinks serving cupcakes in the group brings the patients closer together, how ridiculous is that?” She huffed.
“I don’t see anything wrong with it myself,” Rachel said giving her the stink eye. “The group activity encourages patients to socialize with one another,” she reasoned.
“I agree,” said Betty Jo siding with Rachel. “Sharing a dessert promotes camaraderie, intimacy and good communication,” she added. Cathy threw her arms across her chest and rolled her eyes again. “Okay I get it; I see it from your vantage point. But I still think the idea is ridiculous!” She insisted.
“All righty,” Betty Jo sighed. “You are entitled to your opinion!”
She and Rachel exchanged wary glances. Then Betty Jo announced. “I’m leaving and going to my office. I’ll see you guys later.”
“I think I’ll join you,” Rachel said taking her cue. She and Betty Jo take off, leaving Cathy Ray alone in the lobby. “She’s exhausting,” Rachel said taking a deep breath.
“Toxic more like it,” Betty Jo interjected.
“The more I get to know her, the less I like her,” Rachel shared.
“Me too,” Betty Jo said.
Later mid-morning. Doctor Everett James sat in his office, brooding. He just finished reviewing Billy Moonwalker’s chart trying to identify any missing clues leading to his tragic death. On the surface, it appeared Doctor Ethan Poppy provided adequate medical care, and nothing was amiss as far as he could tell. However, deep down in his gut, he felt something wasn’t right. He respected Doctor Poppy, although, he found her a bit strange. Every time she emerged from her office or showed up for a meeting she was wearing a different color pair of high top tennis shoes or her hairstyle had changed.
Her violet colored eyes, short frizzy white hair, along with her albino ghost-like complexion, took a while to get used too. She had a germ phobia, often donning long gloves before shaking a colleague’s or patient’s hand. Her most striking feature was her bright, perfect smile. Her smile was known to light up the darkest of rooms, and he chuckled at the thought of it, despite himself. “That woman is quite a peculiar creature of specific habits,” he mused. He leaned back in his chair and placed his feet up on the desk. His dark brown eyes wandered to his wife’s picture. He grinned like a Cheshire Cat when he thought about making love to her. His wife and little girl, Jamie Lee, were the love of his life.
Three years ago, six months after their friend and colleague Jamie Lee’s death, he and Rachel married in front of the justice of the peace in downtown Salter’s Point. They moved into a modest, three-bedroom bungalow home in the town of Seaside, not far from the beach. Attracted to the house for its breathtaking view of Puget Sound. On a bright sunny day, one could see white glistening snow on the peaks of Mount Rainer. A barely visible McNeil Island could also be viewed floating one hundred miles away from the rocky coast of Puget Sound. The small town feel of Seaside, Washington boded quite well for the couple. Everything was close, including Salter’s Point Regional, which was ten miles down the road. The daycare center Jamie Lee, their two-year-old daughter, attended was a few blocks from the hospital.
Still very much in love, Everett and Rachel were very content with the life they had made for themselves there, and marriage had done wonders for Doctor Everett James. He had changed his overall look. He no longer wore his usual garb of combat boots, beret hats, and jeans. Instead, he dressed in suits and kept his afro cut very low. Still favoring his dark sunglasses, however, often wearing them to meetings. After reviewing Billy Moonwalker’s chart for the third time, Everett gave up.
“This chart needs fresh eyes,” he concluded. While he gathered up his notes, Doctor Mark Brewer barged in. He stood in the doorway, propped up by his cane. He sprained his ankle two weeks earlier while stepping off a curb, intoxicated in front of Sully’s Bar and Grill. “What’s shaking,” he said.
“What happened to knocking first?” Everett scolded him looking irritated.
“Sorry man,” he apologized. He hesitated for a second. “Are you going somewhere?” He asked with a curious look on his face.
“Yeah, I am going to see our boss,” said Everett. “I know you heard what happened to Ethan’s patient Billy Moonwalker this morning?”
“Yep, I heard,” Mark said. “Very tragic!”
“Yeah….I have racked my brain all morning looking for clues in his record that might explain his bizarre behavior,” Everett said looking somber. “I think another pair of eyes needs to review this chart before I blame it on his illness.”
“What was his diagnosis?” Mark asked.
“Paranoid Schizophrenia,” said Everett. “Initially he was experiencing voices telling him to kill himself, but it appears Ethan had the symptom under control with medication,” he surmised.
“Okay, then what’s your problem then?” Mark asked scratching his head.
“My gut tells me there could be something else with this case,” Everett said looking concerned.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself there, buddy,” said Mark. “We can’t save everybody.”
Everett’s face tensed up. He closed Billy’s chart and started for the door. “Dude do you hear me?” Mark asked looking cross and feeling ignored. Everett turned to face him. “I need a second opinion man,” he snapped back.
“Okay, if you insist,” Mark said backing off. “It’s your call.”
Everett opened the door. “After you,” he said gesturing for Mark to exit before him. The doctor limped passed him and stepped out into the hall. Everett followed him out and locked the door. “See you later dude,” he said gliding down the hall.
“Good luck man,” Mark said. He turned and limped back to his office in the opposite direction.
Next Sunday, February 25, 2018-Chapter Three
Don’t Forget To Purchase A Copy of the Novel Three Sheets In The Wind on Amazon.com in March 2018! Comments Are Welcome! Thanks For Reading!
Categories: Short Stories