After proving a simple walk wouldn’t cause his collapse, his catheter was removed, as well as his I. V. and he felt free once again. The tests that followed soon after revealed nothing, so his neurologist announced he’d probably be discharged in the morning, as long as there were no complications.
A light knock on his door caught his attention. Soon after the knock, Stephanie came into his room.
“Are you decent?”
“I suppose you can say I am, as long as I don’t decide to wander around with my butt flapping in the breeze.”
“I brought you some clothes. I used the clothes you were wearing for the size. I’m sorry if they aren’t exactly to your taste, but I did the best I could. I kept you other clothes, although I don’t think you’ll want to wear them again.”
Dr. Carlson was thrilled by her actions. His earlier examination of his room revealed he had no clothes, which left him feeling vulnerable. He didn’t like the idea of not even having a pair of trousers and a shirt to put on if he decided to leave.
“I, also, brought your personal effects. The hospital gave them to me when you were admitted. “
“Even better”, was the doctor’s immediate thought. “Thank you. I wondered what happened to my belongings”
“How are you feeling?”
“Wonderful. No catheter, no I.V. and they even fed me.”
Stephanie handed the doctor the bag and watched as he removed the contents one at a time.
“That’s a beautiful locket doctor.”
Dr. Carlson was surprised as he took the small locket from the bag. Without thinking, he immediately asked: “Did you tell anyone about the locket?”
The shocked look on Stephanie’s face made him regret his outburst. Agonizing over what to say, he decided he could trust her. If she was involved, the locket would have disappeared. Considering the event that left him in the hospital, he realized he needed to tell her and help her with protecting herself.
“That locket was not supposed to be in my possessions. It’s evidence in a crime and what led to the explosion in the lab.”
Stephanie only stared and waited for Dr. Carlson to continue, which he did. He explained the events up to the moment she arrived. When he finished, they both just sat quietly for a few minutes.
“Doctor; what can I do?”
“First, you need to stay quiet about the locket. It’s important enough to kill for, so don’t say anything to anyone. I think you’re safe; if there was any indication you knew, they would have found you and done whatever they needed to get the locket and insure you never said anything.”
“What about you, Doctor?”
I’ll be fine. Eric is supposed to pick me up when I’m discharged tomorrow. I’ll call and make the arrangements after you leave.”
“Can you trust him?”
Stephanie had verbalized one of the nagging thoughts that occupied his mind all day. He wasn’t completely sure.
“I’ll call him to let him know you’re being discharged tomorrow. If he’s involved, he’ll wonder if I know anything and not do anything drastic.”
“That could be dangerous for you.”
“Maybe, but it’s something I can do to help.”
“I don’t like it.”
“Doctor, my curiosity far outweighs any fear. That’s one of the reasons for my career choice. Besides that, you’re a friend.”
“I still don’t like it.”
Stephanie smiled. The doctor’s concern was touching, and she felt honored he trusted her enough to confide his concerns. Her smile faded when she realized the implications and possible consequences.
Dr. Carlson took his cell phone from the bag and dialed. In a few moments he spoke: “Hello Eric.”
Listening to the reply on the other end, he quickly said: “I’m to be discharged tomorrow morning.”
A few moments passed and the doctor replied: “No, I’m fine. The tests say I am and my assistant Dr. Benoit thinks so, too.” Holding his phone away from his ear, he added: “Don’t you Doctor?”
Stephanie replied: “Yes, but you wouldn’t listen to me even if you weren’t”
Returning the phone to his ear, a few more moments passed and the Doctor replied: “She’s been checking up on me since I woke up. She’s worried, even though I tell her everything is okay.”
The doctor waited for Eric to finish the conversation and said: “I’ll call you as soon as I know what time.”
Ending the call, the doctor said: ”That’s much better than you calling.”
Stephanie could only reply: “I’m still worried.”
“Me too, but I’m thinking this is best. I’ll be fine, and you need to go home and get some rest. Tomorrow will be a busy day. ”
“Are you coming in tomorrow?”
“I plan on it. It looks like you’ve had a tough time and will need some help.”
“I haven’t been able to do as much as I’d like, especially with the temporary examiner and the lack of evidence to work with.”
“Lack of evidence?”
“After the explosion, there was no power, so the bodies were removed to another morgue. I didn’t realize there was another body, until you told me about what happened. Everything was such a mess, and it was dark, so the body of the man that attacked you must have been transferred with the rest.”
“Then there’s no record of his death, or an autopsy?”
“I’m guessing not. The bodies were only transferred to keep them refrigerated. The records are still in our possession.”
The doctor’s mind started working with the information immediately. A lot of things were now explained, including the lack of security and his stay without any unwanted visitors. Nobody knew anything except him, whoever the thug worked, Nick and maybe Eric.
“I’ll see you tomorrow Doctor. Call if you need anything.”
“Get some rest and drive carefully.”
Stephanie was only gone for a few minutes, when Dr. Carlson made another call. The familiar voice on the other end made him feel more comfortable than he had since he awoke.
“Hello James. I was so worried.”
“How did you know it was me?”
“You’re so clueless; caller I.D.”
“I forget. Where are you now?”
“I was coming to see you before I went home. Your husband-in-law is lecturing out of town and I’m flying to meet him the day after tomorrow.”
“Good. Wait until 10:30 tonight. I need a ride and you’re better than a cab.”
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. I’ll explain when you get here. I’ll meet you at the emergency entrance.”
“This is strange, James.”
“I’ll explain everything. I’m ready to leave and have enough of a medical background to know when it’s safe.”
“You were always hard-headed.”
“I’ll see you then.”
Hanging up, Dr. Carlson started working on his explanation. He wanted Carol to not worry, but he, also, wanted her to be safe. Few knew she was his ex-wife, but anyone that knew him, knew how fond he was of her and could use their relationship against him.”
Lying back in his bed, the doctor worked through his plan. His walks during the day allowed him to observe exactly where he was in the hospital. He knew enough about the schedules, and hospital, to know when it was best to quietly slip from his room and out the emergency department. He only had to wait.
A flash of lightning caught the doctor’s attention. Turning off the overhead light, he stared through the open blinds towards the horizon. Another bolt of lightning in the distance indicated a storm was building. It looked as though the weather was changing for the worse. He wondered how much.