Prologue and Chapter One of the World's First Blogospheric Mystery Novel...
Previously goes to Chapters Three and Four...
Next goes to Chapter Seven
And now comes Chapters Five and Six...
Chapter Five: Blog People
Wounded of heart, and feeling guilty as she sat around the blonde wood of the kitchen table, because she could not offer much beyond futile phrases, to assuage the terrified and grief-pulverized children, she had at last turned to prayer which was not her most common redoubt. In the midst of doing, and great in number was the list of all her doings; she had not time for many things. And one of them had been prayer.
But after a few minutes of awkwardness, staring at the shiny table with linked hands, it was like after seeing a friend one had not talked to for over a decade. Ease came back into her voice, and she found a point of balance and increasing strength. She prayed two prayers at once. One a verbal prayer for the children’s ears, and it was full of requests for healing, and some questions as to why, and so forth, but her private prayer of thought was overflowing with questions, and scorching anguish which would have been too much for the children to bear.
Finally, assurance that no matter the outcome, in the end, all would be well, touched her. It did not fill her heart, for that hurt too much, but a suggestion that all was in the Creator’s hands was heard by her soul, and she accepted it as the only alternative to madness. And from her renewed strength, she found words to soothe her children’s horror.
But still Jenna’s plea to her to “Can’t you make this go away?” stung her, and standing in the hallway, and listening to Samuel bawl into his pillow, trying to muffle his own agony out of kindness for others, and so that he could not hear his own pain, and find it reflected and magnified in his own ears, well it made her collapse against the wall heater, and cry fresh tears with shakings that racked her body. But she held herself silent, so as to not add more to her children’s shoulders. Not clearly able to see, she made her way by touch and memory down the upper hallway, and to the stairs.
An older neighbor woman, Elizabeth Camwood, from down the street had come over to offer assistance, which kindness had greatly surprised Sharon. For it was not like they had shared more than a few minutes a couple times a month. Now, Mrs. Camwood had coffee brewing, and a thick, dark coffee cake to go with it, plus a bowl of fragrant soup sitting in the kitchen atop a marble counter.
“Sit, please eat. Sugar is good for you in times like this.” The comment was spoken quiet and non-challenging, but Sharon found herself clenching her hands, ready to scream at the woman. How dare she order me around at a time like this? And then she felt ashamed of herself. And her hands relaxed.
“Dear neighbor, if you need to scream at someone, then please, go ahead. Better me than your children.” Elizabeth paused, and Sharon tried to rush in with a denying apology, but a sudden sharp chopping gesture by Elizabeth stopped her.
“I am married to a fine man, but well before we met, I had another fine man. He …died. And I’m not saying this is what is going to happen to you. I just remember one day, the postman came by, and offered some comment, I can’t even remember what he said, but I know now it was in sweetness, for old Joe McCormack, now in the retirement home, was that sort of man. But I came this close …” The older woman shook her mostly white-haired in a creamy sort of way hair violently, and held up two wrinkled fingers a half-inch apart. “From grabbing my butcher knife, and doing something to him. I was that angry.”
Sharon looked at the older woman, standing there, still tense from a remembered fury, at least two decades past, and felt inside her own soul, the similar need to lash out, to hurt something, somebody. She breathed in and out, and felt her convulsive grip relax a trifle.
“I’ve gotta look at his stuff. Doctor’s orders. Bring that along.” It was rude, vague, and Sharon felt reassured that Elizabeth would not take offense. The grieving accountant did not have energy to spare to be polite.
Sitting down in Charlie’s chair in his den brought back another wave of tears, which Elizabeth ministered too with a tissue, after putting the food down on an extendable sideboard. She departed saying she would be in the kitchen. And again, Sharon felt relieved that at least one sane person was in the house tonight.
Looking through his papers for a suicide note, a doctor’s report, directions for medicine was wearing. You kept turning over rocks, expecting to find a coiled rattler underneath, and finding nothing. But it started to reassure her, until she remembered that her husband was a computer person.
Habit had the coffee cup half to her mouth before she noted, and then deliberately she sipped some. The cake was sweet, and heavy, and tasted like cardboard except for the densest spots of encrusted sugar. Even looking at the soup roiled her stomach.
She looked away, and saw the plenitude of pictures of her, her with the children, her with Charlie, his brothers (whom she needed to call, and one was in the military and far away in a dessert land), his parents (sadly not in any condition to understand events), and a couple pictures of a much younger Charlie. The shrine occupied the wall along with the computer equipment. In fact, it framed the computer. Anyone sitting here for a length of time would unavoidably see his dearest ones.
And I begrudged you time in here, dear heart. Sharon wept fresh sobs, with guilt over her treatment of her husband adding fuel to the fire. And the look of happiness, radiant contentment, in his eyes in some of the pictures with her, was an accusing finger. If only he knew what a bad wife I was.But the surge of emotions settled, and the testimony of that happy face in the pictures kept saying she had been deeply loved.
Knowing that she was avoiding turning on the computer for fear that the first thing she would see was a letter to her, in a pop-up window, she made herself reach over, and despite increasing resistance, and sudden lack of strength in her fingers, push the “On” button in the hard drive tower.
Nothing came up, but the regular starting screens, and a wallpaper picture of the three children in last year’s Halloween costumes. A weight partially lifted off her shoulders, but still she renewed her strength with a prayer, and then a bite of soup, which became half the bowl because Mrs. Camwood was a surprisingly good cook. I have to get the recipe, Sharon thought.
And then she felt like she had betrayed Charlie, by enjoying the soup, and planning for a life without him. But seeing the pictures, particularly the one of him she had shot when they were dating, and he had laughingly caught her shaking the Christmas presents reminded her of the amused and mild condescension that he would greet such an idea. With a partial feeling of release that provoked a crooked smile, and another tear, she put such delusion behind her for the moment. She wiped the salt water away, and grimaced as more pain stabbed through her, the pain of loss, which she had been trying to hide from.
I can’t lose you, Charlie. We have something too good to let go of easily. Even the way you tease and provoke me when I’m being silly-headed is precious to me.
Fortified, she began to search around his computer. Shortly, she had verified that there was no suicide note. If he had one, then he would have left it where she could easily find it. And while she was not a consulting expert like Charlie, she knew her way well around a computer.
More searching, and she decided that unless he had gone to unusual efforts to hide something, there was no record of unusual doctor’s bills, or anything of the sort either. And such efforts were not like Charlie. He had for the longest time, not locked the door of the old car he had when they got married.
“If someone wants to steal it, then they must be pretty desperate.” He would say with a laugh, and a thump of the late eighties era Honda Civic®. It was white, of course.
So, it was perplexing. No suicide note, no doctor’s doom, and in fact she had found a number of lists of things to do, and plans that grew increasingly sketchy, of course, but plans for possible vacations later this year, next year, and two years hence. It was not the computer of a man on the verge of dying.
Biting her fingernails, and leaning back in the chair, Sharon let the conclusion be evaluated in her subconscious mind. She sipped coffee, and ate cake as she let the idea settle. An unexpected medical trauma had laid her husband low was the logical conclusion.
Sharon was no innocent, and was well aware such things happened all the time. But still she spun up her mental modeling skills, which she used primarily for tax accounting, and made a pattern in her head. Startled, she examined it. So many empty spots where knowledge should provide structure. She needed to know more.
But still it was a relief that it had not been otherwise, a suicide whether of financial despair or cancerous doom had not laid on him. There was another possibility, but beyond a faint niggling itch at the side of her brain, and a blinking cursor in her three-dimensional mental model made of shimmering planes of multiple colored light, it received no notice.
She saw the icon for the “blog” on the desktop screen of the computer, and remembered his frequent comments of “that will go good on the blog.” She had ignored such, finding the notion of a “bleg” or whatever it was to be nonsensical, and pointless. Still, she hesitated, there might be some information, in there, somehow stored.
So she tagged the icon with her mouse‘s arrow, and was transported to a screen that asked for her password. That was easy enough. She reached into the faux wood shelves of a cheap bookshelf that stored computer manuals only, except for a certain notebook. It sat next to the computer, and she pulled out the thin volume, a notebook, that listed all the family passwords.
One of the more recent was “Hyacinth” which was one of her favorite flowers, and beside it was written “High Mountain Travels Blog”, and a starting date.
She entered the password, and a username that was simply his first initial and last name squashed together, cwalker, and entered his blog. It took her very little effort to find her way around it. The whole thing had been arranged with an intuitive grace and elegance, and an eye for the ease of use of the end consumer.
Posts comprised of one to fifteen or so paragraphs, mostly about four, ran down the screen, and below it resided a “Comments” hyperlink followed by a variable number, which she soon ascertained was the number of comments. The comments were similar to the posts, but they usually ran from a single line to twenty lines or so. And each person commenting had their own name or handle with names like “Morgenstern”, “MomofFive”, “Kid Vicious”, “VampHunter”, ”Mike Haversham”, and “MaxtotheMax” commenting on the current thread she was examining.
The material was fascinating. She had known her husband had political interests, and that he had some offbeat ideas, but she never had the time, or to be truthful, much of the inclination to sit down and let him share them with her. In fact, sometimes, she had wondered why they did not talk so much anymore. The answer to that stared her in the face.
And before she could get too jealous of these other people sharing her husband’s thoughts, she noted that he had a post on the Cat Allergy Problem of Jenna’s as the title of the post put it, and in the midst of the comments he had put in a sentence that extolled her, his wife, for her patience with the whole problem. Sharon did remember biting her lip a lot when explaining to Jenna “While cats are fun, they make you sick.” And Jenna’s reply was “But I want to play with them.” As if that trumped all other considerations.
And then scrolling down the screen via the arrow at the right, she came to a post entitled Wife’s Birthday Suggestions. He began by admitting he was terrible at buying for the Lady, as he always referred to her in all the posts, gifts for Christmas and anniversary, and a dreaded birthday. She knew why he feared the day, and was surprised at his mix of realism and romance in his assessment of her. He always took the most positive interpretation of her actions, but he was not blind to her flaws. The birthday was especially bad, he said, because she got blue on the day since it was one more reminder that her youth was receding, and along with it her flawless, peach complexion. And she did not listen well when he told her; she looked the same as always--wonderful.
But, then I’d think she looked wonderful if dragged in the mud, and doused with a cooler full of Gatorade®. Prejudiced that way. Charlie.
No, you just like the image of her mud wrestling. Men. MomofFive.
Sharon bit her lip to keep an outright laugh in, and then let it out just a bit. It felt good.
And then Charlie asked for advice.
A whole slew of comments came back, some banal, some astonishingly perceptive given that they only knew her from her husband’s comments, and there were a number of hyperlinks to gift sites on the World Wide Web. She checked the first one by MomofFive which had been cryptically titled “How three becomes five.” It led to a rose bikini and silken robe which was definitely designed to be only worn a few minutes, and the sight led Sharon to imagine herself wearing it, and then Charlie “helping” her with it. With her pale face flushed, and lips a bit parted, she read on down further.
That could well do, MoF. But I thought you were happily married and did not need accessories.
Well, I am. Very. But I needed to convince the Stud that he wanted two more rugrats interrupting his football on TV for playing football in the backyard. Now he tells me he thinks he can get them trained well enough in basketball for them to be a whole first-string team. And of course, that would make him coach. And that means I get the TV remote. MomofFive.
Well, we are grateful MoF only wanted the remote, and not world domination… VampHunter.
It’s my experience you find something nice, and then if you want to stun the woman, you go an upgrade or two. Morgenstern. Another link followed to a website displaying a confection whose utter shamelessness exalted its female wearer to a demigoddess of romance.
Whoa, Morg, that’s, ah, quite something else. Charlie.
Us old geezers got a few things going for us, experience for one. My lifelong partner loved it. Morgenstern.
Curious, Sharon checked the debit card, and found that Charlie had bought the exotic confection, and made a significant dent in the bank account for a few ounces of fabric. She wanted to be happy, she wanted to give him a big kiss, but instead it was all bittersweet, and the source of unfulfillable longings.
Reading on, Sharon realized that there were a number of regulars. And some had definite areas of expertise. A few went by their real names, with some just going by a first name and a location, but most hid their identity behind a handle, a nickname. While at the same time, revealing more of themselves than most people did, sometimes even to their spouses.
These were Charlie’s friends, or at least acquaintances, as well as the people down at the church, and the neighbors, and their family and college friends. Definitely more friends than many of the businesses he consulted for, and would not that be a headache explaining to all those technophobic klutzes (as she thought of Charlie’s customers) that their wizard was laid low, and that Gandalf had fallen into the Abyss, perhaps not to return.
With that poetry, she faced her fears, and doubled up in weeping agony for several minutes until she forced herself to begin writing in a WordPad window® the list of people she needed to contact tomorrow. Halfway down the list, she hesitated, and then added “blog people”
End of Chapter Five.
Chapter Six: Communities of Kindness
The next morning, Mrs. Camwood had cereal ready in the good china bowls on the kitchen table, and bacon hissing and snapping until it settled down on their plates. The incongruously cheerful kitchen with its yellow daisy pattern scattered in intermittent tiles about the room hurt the souls in their grief to look upon. But, with sniffles, and long looks into their orange juice, or coffee, the morning was past, and the children were bundled off by Mrs. Camwood to her station wagon, and to their schools. Act One of the day left Sharon exhausted, but still determined.
First she rang up her office, and told her secretary, Kate, of the family tragedy, and that she was taking paid time off, effective immediately.
“I wouldn’t really be much good for anything today, anyways.”
Her new apprentice, George, also got on the line, and assured her that he would personally make sure that her projects were kept up to speed, so that her office would be ready for her when her husband got better, and she came back. His determined optimism about her husband’s fate was an infusion of hope.
The next person she called was the doctor, in her husband’s case. Traditionally one visits a doctor and asks in person, but in her stress, she had no thought of common etiquette or practice and simply dialed her cell phone.
“Ma’am, we are still uncertain of the cause, and until we do find it, we can’t really begin to treat the illness, but we have had some success with the symptoms. I’m also going to be trying a new drug later this afternoon to stabilize his sub-optimal and erratic heart rate, and of course, he is on a heart monitor. But he seems to have passed the initial crisis, and that’s a hopeful sign.”
He paused, letting her say something if she was of a mind too, but nothing came to her.
“We’ve irrigated his stomach, just in case something got in there that did not like him, and I have him on an intravenous drip to supply water to his system. His mouth and throat look irritated.”
The words, uncertain of the cause, kept hammering in her mind even after she hung up, and she first tried to dredge up anything she might know about such symptoms from her memory, and then restlessly driven by her inner fear, she got up, and wandered in a wide path looking about the house for medical dictionaries, but always heading toward the computer, and the online medical databases.
There she found irrelevant data about pregnancies, and muscular sclerosis (she hoped), and fearfully, she saw the use of a pacemaker was listed as one possible response to heart rate problems. Another was the use of atropine in some cases. It seemed to depend on what caused the problem in the first place as to whether one administered it. She realized she needed more data from the doctor, for she did not know whether Charlie had tachycardia (too fast) or bradycardia (too slow), or if it was something else altogether. The too fast seemed more serious to her novice’s eye since it was felt the other was easily treated with a device; she guessed they probably meant the pacemaker. So that eased her fears of a pacemaker.
She found that she could not bear looking up information about comatose patients. Every time she started, both her arms began to tremble violently. And so she put the questions aside for now.
The medical website had relaxed her fears a little, and since she was already on the computer, she decided to essay leaving a message for her husband’s readers. Odd to think that, but he might be considered some sort of journalist.
I guess that makes me the substitute columnist.
The Blogspot™ blog remained relatively easy to navigate, and intuitive enough that she only had to go once to the Help section for advice on posting. Another screen came up, and she saw an empty white space to fill.
A long pause, and then she moved her mouse over to click in the space.
Charles has had a sudden illness, and is in the hospital. He is unconscious. This is his wife.
Her writing was crude and awkward, but suddenly angry, for what did she care or owe these people? She posted it with a jabbing finger, and then re-posted her, well his blog, and saw her note. Probably no one would read it. The mere notion that others would read it, and care seemed just too fantastical.
She used her anger to begin pushing her through the list of people she had to call. The unpleasant ones first like the current business he consulted at. The receptionist there seemed to feel that Charlie’s illness was a personal insult deliberately aimed at inconveniencing her.
And she allowed that she would get the message to the boss at such time as seemed appropriate, rather than directly taking it now. In other words, I’ll do it if I feel like it, and when I get good and ready, if I get around to it today was the idea. The thought of Charlie’s reputation being smeared by an accident not his fault burned Sharon.
“Listen honey, you get your fat thighs up now, and deliver this message. Or I will come down there myself, and explain to your boss in person your sloth and incompetence.” Sharon paused, startled at her own rudeness. Oh, well, in for a penny… “Do I make myself clear?”
There followed a long pause, with Sharon breathing thunderously into the line like a bull about to charge.
“Yes, ma’am.” It was a very subdued response. “Right away, indeed.”
“Good.” Sharon bit out, and slammed down the phone.
“Idiots, I’m surrounded by idiots.” She yelled at the walls of the small room, which only heightened her sense of isolation as the noise flowed oddly in the empty house. And the sound came back seeming to mock her with an awareness of her misdeeds to a probably innocent secretary.
A glance down at the end of her tirade showed that a small window in the corner of her screen was blinking.
Replies are up, it said.
Curious despite herself, she opened back up the screen to her blog, High Mountain Travels with its subtitle of “and facing the wild airs of life”, and noted that Charlie had unexpected depths for she would not have thought him the least poetic.
Five, no seven replies were up. The number changing right before her eyes widened those orbs in shock and fear. Clicking on the comments link with her mouse she saw expressions of concern, mingled with requests for more information (some polite, some rather insistent), offers of prayers and offers of assistance, and that was only in the first nine, no eleven replies.
“Where did you people come from?” Sharon asked the walls of her empty house in wonder, and then drew herself back into the more warmly welcoming embrace of the blog rather than the tomb-like, as dim lit, and cool house.
She paused, not certain what to say, and finding herself choked up even as she tried to think of what to reply.
Another post is the thing, she decided.
My name is Sharon; Charlie called me the Lady, which was typically sweet of him. He…
And here she paused, feeling a sharp pain in her chest, but it subsided to be replaced by an ache of loneliness.
…He went to meet a friend of his from the blog, and took suddenly ill, collapsed, fell off a small footbridge, and into a creek, and bas-hurt his head on a rock. He’s being taken care of at a local hospital, and they are still not certain what caused his fainting spell. He is…
It was very hard to type the next phrase.
…Is still unconscious. The family and I appreciate your prayers and good wishes. Now, I need to go and contact the list of Charlie’s business associates.
She posted. The last sentence was a complaint, and also trying to get these people to step back because suddenly she was tired of the conversation.
But she waited despite that, drawn by curiosity, and looked for any replies. Sharon was only planning for a minute’s wait, but the replies kept coming in.
A couple stuck out in her mind.
Sharon, I’m a colleague of your husband’s in the sense that we are both computer geeks. Why don’t you email me your list of contacts, and I’ll handle getting the information to them. Morgenstern.
Sharon, you can also reply in the comments section. Save you the difficulty of making a new post. VampHunter.
Wanting to smack her head for missing the obvious, Sharon did as “VampHunter” suggested. What an odd name, she thought as she typed in a response to “Morgenstern“.
No, that won’t be necessary. Sharon.
If you like, Sharon, but I really would like to help. Besides, its raining on the deck so I can’t go out and look at the Pacific, and I’m retired, and my dearest one is busy in her pottery/gardening shed where She Is Not To Be Disturbed. Morgenstern.
Sharon paused. Charlie had occasionally mentioned some of his commenters, and Morgenstern’s name had come up frequently, and with a great deal of respect. Besides, her breath caught a little bit at the notion of a deck overlooking the Pacific. That implied a degree of economic success, and thus hopefully dependability.
It was a thin reed, but Sharon took it, in part because she did not really care that much. The key thing was to have her responsibility honorably discharged.
Ok, Morgenstern. Send me an email, and I’ll bounce the list back to you. And thank you. Sharon.
A few minutes later, Sharon’s task was accomplished, and with a sense of fading wonder, she saw that her post had nearly seventy replies.
But then the phone rang, and she went to get it, expecting a telemarketer, or a relative, but getting the school nurse.
“Sharon, I’m so glad I caught you. Samuel has taken ill, and is being transported to the hospital. Faintness, acting really tired, scratchy throat, and he complained of being light-headed. So if you could meet us at the hospital?”
Standing there with her own strength draining away, wondering what she had done to offend God, and her mind flashed back to the medical website, and the great similarities of the husband‘s condition, and her darling boy’s hurt.
The nurse came back to say something which Sharon did not catch.
“Mrs. Watkins, I hope we did right. I know we are supposed to call the parent first, but I really felt that we needed the EMT’s…” The nervous voice of someone possibly about to be fired jerked Sharon out of her terrified trance.
“No, ah, tell them to check for vasodilation, tachycardia, ah, also dyspnea which is air hunger, got it?”
“Yes, vasodilation, that’s low blood pressure isn‘t it? Is there a family history of it?””
At first Sharon wanted to say “No”, but then with Charlie in the hospital, she spoke. “Yes. And Mrs. Norton, you are now on my Christmas list. Thank you.”
And dazed, but cognizant of the horror of a bureaucrat denying medicine to a child because of foolish rules, as had happened in schools which feared a lawsuit more than they feared killing a child, Sharon walked out of the house, and left her house phone dangling over the edge of the central cleaning station in her expansive kitchen. She staggered up to her car, and clambered in stiffly, and somehow arrived, after a multitude of beeps of horns and two near misses at the hospital just in time to catch the ambulance as it pulled up with Samuel.
Not breathing right, and gasping from running across the insane uphill parking lot, she came to his side as they pulled the stretcher out of the back of the ambulance. One look at her, and the EMT’s knew this was “Mom”, and so they guided her along with them, but out of their way for she had no eyes to spare for the path of her feet.
Samuel looked up at her, and winked from behind his oxygen mask. She stifled a sob, and gripped his hand hard enough to bend finger bones while tousling his red hair with the other hand. He winced, and held back his own laugh, but not the smile.
So she followed mouthing, “I love you.” over and over as they got into the admittance area, and then directly up to the Pediatric ICU in the elevator.
The doctor, an auburn haired woman, Dr. Lindsay, came in coolly observing the situation, and sizing everyone up. The EMT’s left with a couple pats on the shoulder for their cheerful and gutsy patient, and his stricken mother.
Not wanting to essay the impossible, and eject Sharon from the room, Dr. Lindsay asked one of her nurse’s to do the very hard, and ask Mrs. Walker to back up to give the doctor some room to work.
Sharon did so, and then feeling that it might be terrifically important, and that she was dilatory for not mentioning it before now, she spoke of her husband’s condition.
“My husband is also admitted for fainting, and I wondered if it might be vasodilation or tachycardia or something, ah, atrioventricular first order blockage. The symptoms the school nurse mentioned seemed to…”
Sharon paused not wanting to be a foolish parent and make the expert’s work harder, but Dr. Jenn Lindsay was a new doctor and had grown up in a world where the amateurs often knew a great deal more than the patients her father had treated.
She changed her examination to an immediate check with stethoscope on the heart rate. And then she ordered a heart rate monitor, and an electrical stimulator brought in, stat.
“Yes, ma’am. That would be a possibility, but there’s another that mimics tachycardia, and that is bradycardia, which is the reverse of that. The body is funny that way. Sometimes exact opposite conditions cause similar symptoms.”
“Bradycardia, right, I’m also a little familiar with that.” Sharon breathed in and out, and shared a smile with Samuel that was meant to reassure him. The web site had said it was easily treated with a pacemaker. The notion of her little boy being equipped with a pacemaker, and probably slowed down from his tornado-like pace hurt like a dream shattered suddenly and without remedy. But she put that away from her. The important thing was keeping him alive; they could somehow find a way to fix the rest.
Dr. Lindsay nodded to herself. The look of panic was gone, replaced by a steel will that would face a machine-gun without flinching for her child. It was typical, and yet, absolutely astonishing every time she saw it.
“So a pacemaker might be in order?” Sharon asked trying to be calm and rational.
“Possibly, Mrs. Walker, but I think an administration of atropine might be all that is needed.” Dr. Lindsay replied looking at the numbers on the medical log sheets. “But I cannot say yet. We will have to wait and see. Right now, he’s doing fine. His blood pressure is a little low, but not so much as to unduly concern us yet. We just need to keep a close eye on him, which we will do.”
The doctor made a few more notes on the sheet, gave the nurse some orders, and then with a concerned look, Dr. Lindsay drew Sharon to the side, and summoned another nurse with a glance.
“Tell me…” And Sharon was prepared for another interrogation.
“Have you or members of your family been overseas, recently? Been exposed to environmental toxins?”
“No, we have a very typical suburban home. Charlie works in computers, consulting on software when he can, and sticking hardware systems for a whole company together when he can’t. I’m an accountant. Can’t get much more bland than that. Five years ago, we went on a cruise in the Bahamas. That was the last time we were out of the country.”
“No, not the Bahamas.” The nurse murmured, and Dr. Lindsay nodded. “What about your husband, any business trips to say the Congo? Or somewhere tropical?”
“Congo? No.” She laughed in sheer incredulity at the madness of the question. Unnoticed by her, the two medical professionals relaxed a fraction. An infectious outbreak of one of the many deadly tropical diseases leading like a juggernaut to an epidemic in an American city was one of their worst nightmares.
“Think about it. This list is a series of questions for you to answer. We don’t want you to answer right away, but return it tomorrow, alright?”
“Ah, okay.” Sharon took the sheet without reading it, and then recalled. “Oh, by the way, I had a collapse the other day when I was told of my husband’s condition. Stress, the doctor said.”
Lindsay, and the nurse shared a long look. And then Dr. Lindsay pulled out a business card.
“I want you to call this number, if you or anyone else in your family has any medical issues in the next week. Even as innocent or mundane as an elevated temperature.” Her voice took on an unusual directness, and she caught Sharon’s eyes with her own.
Sharon was startled at the sudden seriousness, and wondered if perhaps something was going on. But what that nebulous something was she could not fathom. Perhaps there might be something to this list of fears of environmental toxins, and strange visitors from foreign countries after all?
“Yes, I certainly will, Doctor.” She said and pocketed the card in a secure spot in her well-arranged purse.
End of Chapter Six.