I HAVE AN ETERNITY AHEAD OF ME

(Intermittent Waves Recorded From The Transformed Heart Of A Woman)

Episode 18

AUNTIE YONNY: IT COULD HAVE BEEN ME

 

 

 

It was hard saying goodbye to Rachel, but Hal knew that it was to protect her. He went back into the hospital and watched her walk down the street and get into her car. He planned to ask the receptionist if the elevator was working yet, but, as he turned toward the reception desk, he saw the bully brothers, Jake and Steve seated in the lobby, being questioned by two police officers. He wanted to hear what they had to say about the events of last night and if they had an alibi for where they were during those hours, but, he knew he better get back to Lieutenant Hamilton.

 

The Lieutenant was waiting for him near the stairwell. Walking on tip-toe with his injured foot, Hal limped over to the door and the two descended into the parking garage. Franky was waiting for them. She had some shots of the murdered bodies on a tablet for Hal to try to identify.

 

Hal took one look at the gruesomely murdered victims and wanted to vomit. It appeared that Arturo had put up a good fight, but, lost, then, had his neck slit. His uniform shirt was a crimson red. Miriam lacked the bruises and multiple lacerations, but there was a clean cut across her throat. Blood was everywhere in the van.

 

He'd seen bodies before, but, what people always said was true, knowing the person makes it much worse for having seen them alive and being connected with them. The two law enforcement officers observed his reaction carefully, making their deductions about his guiltiness or innocence of the crime. It didn't help the way he felt.

 

"From your reaction, I take it that this is Miriam Barrett and the security guard, Arturo?"

 

Unable to get the picture out of his mind and stifling his urge to throw up in front of the detectives, Hal nodded his head.

 

"Do you need me for anything else, Lieutenant Hamilton?"

 

"No, not right now, but, don't go anywhere, we might still have some questions for you to answer."

 

Pain gripped Hal's foot, making him want to try the basement elevator, but that area was roped off. He had no other choice but to hop back up the stairs and back into the lobby. Jake and Steve were gone, but the two officers were still around. He limped over to them and asked them if the elevator had been repaired. It was like an answered prayer, when they said yes.

 

Hal hopped into the elevator and grabbed the rail for support. Pressing his head into the elevator wall, he imagined the details and horror of Miriam and Arturo's brutal murder. What were their last thoughts? And, who could have done such a blood curdling, insane, and inhuman thing to another human being? Then, reality hit him and he spoke the words out loud.

 

"It could have been me."

 

Jake and Steve were at their post sitting at the security desk. One of the officers assigned to keep watch over people coming and going stood guard standing next to them. They stared at Hal when the elevator door opened.

 

"Hi, have things settled down, yet? I'm glad the elevator is working."

 

The police officer smiled and nodded, but, as usual, there was no reaction from the stolid security guards.

 

 

He noticed his foot was bleeding profusely again, dripping drops of blood. After washing his foot and wrapping it again with gauze he'd nabbed from one of the supply rooms, Hal contacted Darla with the news about Miriam Barrett and Arturo, telling her that it must be kept quiet, until further notice. He thought about poor, kind Arturo, whom he couldn't see hurting anyone on purpose. He felt bad that he didn't even know how to contact his family. He would have Darla find out. He'd asked if she would mind coming in early to help him take care of things and she said she would be in as soon as possible.

 

He knew that he had to get some sleep soon, because the stress, pain, and fatigue were getting to him. He was just about to go to his room, when, Lieutenant Hamilton and a uniformed police officer walked up to him.

 

"Mike's going to take you down to the emergency room to get that foot taken care of now. He'll stay there with you and bring you back up."

 

From the sound of his voice, Hal knew that Lieutenant Hamilton wasn't asking him to go with Mike, he was ordering him to go. Hal felt like he was a prisoner under guard.

 

When they arrived at the intake desk, the policeman took over and did all of the talking. Hal noticed the look the clerk gave him, which branded him as a criminal. Officer Mike handed the clerk some kind of legal document, gave her Hal's name, the nature and circumstances of his injury and requested an x-ray of the wound area, along with all records of the care he received.

 

At that moment, Hal was certain that he was a suspect in the double murder and attempted murder case. The Lieutenant was just waiting to go through the proper procedures to collect evidence. He felt nauseous and light-headed.

 

"Am I under arrest?" he asked the officer.

 

"Do I have a reason to arrest you?"

 

"No, but, it seems like you're collecting evidence on me."

 

"Routine, buddy. Just, routine. We're trying to help you out and speed things along."

 

Hal didn't buy that answer for one minute. He knew he'd be interrogated and he'd better get legal counsel as soon as possible.

 

"We need the patient to fill out this form, first," the clerk told Officer Mike.

 

It was the clerk who was the first to notice that Hal was a little unsteady.

 

"I think we need to get him a wheelchair. He looks kinda..."

 

That was the last Hal heard and remembered when he woke up on a bed in the emergency room, with an intravenous needle sticking in his arm giving him fluids and oxygen tubes in his nose. He noticed that he was wearing a hospital gown, then, he looked down at his foot. It had a new bandage on it, much better than the job he had done wrapping it. They must have patched it up and drugged him, he thought.

 

Officer Mike was sitting beside his bed. When he saw that he was awake, he phoned Lieutenant Hamilton. Hal tried to sit up, but he was feeling really woozy from the medication.

 

"How long have I been out officer?"

 

"A couple of hours or so since you came out of surgery."

 

"Surgery?! I had surgery?"

 

"Yep. They had to remove an object from your foot.You'd better lay down and keep still until the nurse comes. They're not ready to release you yet. The Lieutenant will be down to talk to you in a minute."

 

"Do you know what they removed from my foot?"

 

The officer robotically repeated himself.

 

"The Lieutenant will be down to talk to you in a minute."

 

Hal knew it would be useless to press Officer Mike for any more information. He was assigned to do one job, to watch over him like a hawk.

 

Resting his head back on the flat hospital pillow, Hal almost fell asleep, until he heard voices from outside of his room. Recognizing one as Lieutenant Hamilton, he sat up in expectation. Soon, the Lieutenant came through the drawn curtains.

 

"Here's your little enemy, Hal. A blade, matter of fact, a stainless chromium steel blade."

 

Lieutenant Hamilton held up a plastic back holding a small, steel blade.

 

"A blade? Where did that come from?"

 

"It's a blade from a pill splitter. You stepped on a pill splicer and the blade dislodged and went up into your foot. They had to take you into surgery. It was next to an artery. Continuing to walk around on that foot could have been bad news for you. Good thing we brought you down here."