My eyes were bleary but I could make out the time on the round wooden clock over Ava's left shoulder. My kids would be home from school in less than thirty minutes. There was no i.v. in either of my arms and the oxygen tank wasn't being used. I felt dizzy, possibly drugged. Ava put my keys and cell phone in her jacket pocket and picked up her stethoscope.
"Caleb, rest would do wonders for you right now. They'll call soon. Then I'll take great care of you."
She seemed strange but comforting. I must have been drugged. I didn't feel like leaving the room even with her presence.
"My kids will be home soon, Ava. I'm off from work, so they're expecting me."
Ava patted the left pocket of her teal blazer, grimaced, then relaxed her broad shoulders and put her right hand on my chest.
"I took care of that for you. I texted your teenage daughter. I told her you were working. She texted back that she'd tell your wife. I even called her sweetheart. I guessed right on that one. You still call every woman you know sweetheart. I got a smiley face for that."
I was too dizzy and tired to be creeped out. Ava hadn't changed much; always in control. The song Bleed It Out by Linkin Park started playing. It stopped when Ava answered her cell phone. She walked toward the door and talked softy. I couldn't hear her conversation. Then I noticed a small, plastic contraption attached to my ribs. Pain shot through my waist and chest when I tried to get off the table. Ava saw me and walked toward me, then stiff armed me back where I was laying. She put up her left index finger and and scowled at me. I tried to remove the tiny machine attached to my side as the pain was unbearable. My skin began to rip and I screamed,
"Ava, what the hell is this thing?"
When I awoke, I was in Ava's car. I opened my eyes and saw the grey roof of a BMW. The seat belt was cutting into the side of my ribcage where the machine was and blood was staining my shirt. Ava reached over with her right hand and rubbed my chest.
"Please be okay, Caleb. I'm taking us to the airport. I can explain more once we get on the plane."
I was fuming with anger and reeling from the pain on my side, head, and chest.
"You'll explain everything now or I'll put this car in a ditch and we'll both need a doctor!"
Ava breathed in deeply and pulled over to a shoulder in the road. I had found the seat adustment and was sitting straight. From what I could recognize, we were in downtown Atlanta, maybe 10 miles from the airport.
"Caleb, that's a geiger-muller counter on your abdomen. It's measuring metalllics and other foreign objects in your body and thus diagnosing how much poison or radiation you have inside of you due to the side effects of the heart you have implanted. There's damage to your nervous system too. I don't know how much. We have to get to New York tonight. There's a doctor there, Oliver Wicks, that can buy you some time until we can get through to Dr. Cluber. We'll buy you a new shirt and overnight stuff when we get to the airport"
Stunned and still dizzy, I just want to get my bearings and try to figure out how to make the most of this situation. I look at the console and see it's 3:15pm. My kids are home.
"I checked plane flights to New York earlier today. I know there's a 4:35pm. I assume that's the one we're taking. We need to get there, start driving.
We're silent for a few minutes and I feel my cell phone in her jacket pocket. I put my hand in and take it out. She doesn't stop me.
"Text them, Caleb. If you call them, they'll know you're sedated and they'll worry. Tell them you're working or tell them something else. Breann Lucos called and texted. I answered her and she's meeting us at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York at 7:00pm tonight. I'll make sure she's taken care of too. You have my word. But we need to start getting smart about things. This is Anson Cluber and if he is still around, Connor Bulas' game. We have to play by their rules or I'll lose you and you'll lose Breann and others. Everything's riding on this trip to see Wicks. Watching your kids grow up, holidays with the family, seeing the Braves win a World Series; none of it is possible if you don't go along with me right now. I'll take care of you, okay, Caleb?"
She stares at me with her dark blue eyes. I know she's keeping something from me. She always was.
I sent a text to my wife that also went to Breann, accidently.
"I'm really sick. I'll explain more later. Trust me, I love you."
I dropped the phone in my lap in exhaustion. I looked at Ava and she gripped the steering wheel until her knuckles were white. At the same time, we seemed numb.
This is post 200 for My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog. It's another story episode. The other entries are here:
2) Personality Crisis
3) Serendipity 6
4) Hot Dog Harbinger
5) Goodbye Stranger
6) The House of Irony
8) Dead Man's Party
9) Hope Springs A Turtle
13) The Girlfriend Experience
14) Sympathy for the Devil
15) Tomorrow, The Green Grass
I hope you are digging the story. For those of you who have been around for most if not all of the 200 posts, thank you. This post is also associated with the good people at http://www.studiothirtyplus.com/ / @studio30plus from a prompt of HOLIDAYS WITH THE FAMILY.
Today's song is a guilty pleasure of mine. Most music snobs like me make fun of Linkin Park but I own Minutes To Midnight and Metora. The latter contains the song Numb. I was listening to it while I wrote this and it seemed to agree with Caleb's state of mind during this episode.Here's L Park's Numb;