Chapter no 38

The Locked Door

All I managed to keep down this morning was two cups of coffee, so when I’ve got a break in between two surgeries at ten o’clock, I head to the food cart outside the ER to get myself a danish. Ordinarily, I might worry about the calories, but at the rate I’m going, I’m going to be malnourished by the end of the month. I could use a danish right now.

Thankfully, the morning food truck doesn’t have any meat items. I don’t think I could stand the smell of sausage or bacon right now. I may have to become a vegetarian in the near future.

It’s a beautiful day today. The California sun is shining, and it’s warm enough that I’m perfectly comfortable in my short-sleeved scrub top. It’s too bad I’m going to spend the morning in surgery and then the afternoon in clinic. Of course, it’s not like I would have anybody to spend the day with if I didn’t. Anyway, at least I’m getting a little bit of fresh air right now.

While I’m waiting patiently for the person in front of me to decide what sort of breakfast pastry they want, I get that familiar sensation that someone is watching me. A crawling sensation in the back of my neck that makes me wish the woman in front of me would decide what she wants to eat already.

And then I hear the familiar voice behind me. A voice that makes my stomach clench.

“Dr. Davis?”

I turn around slowly. I suck in a breath when I see who’s standing behind me.

It’s Henry Callahan. The man who got fresh with me at the bar that night. Who followed me two nights in a row in his blue Dodge. Who I led into the dangerous turn that resulted in him slamming his car into a tree.

I would have thought he would still be in the hospital. Still in intensive care. But somehow, he’s standing in front of me now, looking completely unharmed.

“Mr. Callahan,” I manage. I take a step back, my hands clenched into fists. Nothing can happen—we have witnesses.

But maybe that’s a bad thing.

“What are you doing here?” I snap at him.

“I… I’m picking up a friend from the emergency room, and I saw you in the line.” He blinks up at me—none of the anger etched in his face that night in the bar is present today. He looks almost sheepish. “I just want to tell you…”

I clear my throat. “I don’t think—” “I want to apologize.”

“Excuse me?”

“I want to apologize for the other night at that bar.” He hangs his head. “I understand why you had your assistant call me and tell me I can’t come back to see you again. I was a jerk to you. I had a few too many drinks and I can’t believe how rude I was. You’re a great surgeon—a real professional— and you didn’t deserve that. I feel awful about it.”

Then why did you follow me two nights in a row?

“Oh,” I murmur.

“Anyway, like I said, I just want to apologize.” He shoves his stubby hands into the pockets of his worn blue jeans. “I promise I won’t bother you anymore. I… I’ll go find my friend.”

Unlike when Detective Barber apologized, he sounds genuine. I still can’t believe it isn’t an act though—he’s got to be furious with me. Because of me, he totaled his car. How could he not be angry over that?

“I’m sorry about your accident,” I finally say. He frowns. “Accident?”

“Your car accident.” I study his face, watching his response. “You seem like you’re okay.”

“Uh, yeah.” Callahan’s face fills with confusion. “I am okay, but I haven’t been in a car accident in years. Not even a fender bender.” He adds proudly, “I’m a great driver.”

My father may have been a great liar, but I’m willing to bet Henry Callahan isn’t. He sounds like he’s telling the truth. And it’s hard to deny that he does not look like somebody who was in critical condition only a week ago—he appears perfectly healthy, without so much as a scratch on him. “I… I thought I read about it in the newspaper. You drive a blue Dodge, right?”

He arches an eyebrow. “I drive a blue Ford. Maybe it was another Henry Callahan you read about?”

Except the article didn’t include a name in it. I assumed it was him, because I thought I saw him get into the blue Dodge and that was the car that was following me. But I was inside the bar, so I didn’t have a clear view of the car. Maybe the blue Dodge belonged to someone else.

But if it wasn’t Henry Callahan, who the hell was following me last week?

“You okay, Doc?” He squints at me. “You look kind of sick.” He laughs at himself. “Although you would know better than me, wouldn’t you?”

“Excuse me,” I manage.

I push past the other people in the line for breakfast pastries, leaving Callahan behind, a perplexed expression on his face. My meager appetite is gone.

I head straight to the surgical lounge, and I log into one of the two computers. While I’m waiting for it to load my profile, I can’t stop thinking about what Henry Callahan just told me. He wasn’t driving the blue Dodge. He wasn’t the one following me. It was somebody else.

And that person crashed their car and was brought to this hospital in critical condition.

Once I’ve logged into the electronic medical record, the first thing I do is look up Henry Callahan. I’m not surprised at all to see his story checks out. His last admission to the hospital was when he had his successful hernia repair courtesy of Dr. Nora Davis.

I stare at the computer screen, chewing on my thumbnail. Somebody was in the car following me. Somebody was brought to the hospital after that accident. It said so in the paper.

I click on the census for the surgical ICU. If someone were in critical condition following a car accident, they would most likely end up there. I bring up the list of names on the screen, checking to see if any of them look familiar. None do.

So I check one other thing. I look at the admissions that came in the night of the accident.

There’s only one.

William Bennett Jr. He’s thirty-five years old. Admitted from a multi-trauma the same night the blue Dodge collided with that tree. He’s in bed twelve in the surgical ICU.

The name doesn’t sound even remotely familiar. Even though it’s highly unethical to do so, I click on his chart. I read the history and physical, my eyes darting quickly across the page. He was in a motor vehicle accident, car versus tree. No alcohol involved. Fracture to the right humerus, right clavicle, left femur, left tib-fib. A skull fracture with a small subdural hematoma. Multiple broken ribs with a pneumothorax requiring a chest tube and respiratory failure, now with ventilator-associated pneumonia. The guy is sick. He’s still intubated. He might not survive.

I look down at my watch. I’ve still got ten minutes before I have to be back in the OR.

I’ve got to see him.

You'll Also Like