CHAPTER 2 Verbena Beeks had spent nearly the entire morning in the Waiting Room with the latest "visitor" calming him down enough to just get his name out of him. "Perry," he finally said. He never took his eyes off the handsome black woman who had been with him since he'd opened his eyes to find himself on a hospital bed in a large white room, wearing what appeared to be a tight fitting jump suit. "My name is..." he frowned. "It's... I can't think of it..." "That happens to a lot of our visitors," Verbena reassured him. "...Kirkwood. My name is Perry Kirkwood. This is a hospital, isn't it?" "Why do you ask that?" Verbena asked, following the non-aggressive form of questioning she used with each new "visitor". Only on rare occasions did she have to frame her questions in a firmer manner; still rarer were the moments when she had to take on a more demanding style of questioning. Experience and instinct told her that low key was the best method to use with Perry. The young man watching her closely, had seemed startled by her presence though not especially frightened, only wary in a sort of resigned way. "Because dad's been saying that if my headaches didn't start getting better, he was gonna put me in the hospital until they did," the young man now wearing Sam's aura said. He shifted his position on the bed, swinging his legs over the side. "So, this is a hospital, right?" At the young man's words, Verbena glanced up and behind him, looking at the observation room and the technician who was monitoring the Project psychiatrist's interview with the visitor. A tiny blue light on a panel on the wall outside and to one side of the observation room winked once, Ziggy's alert to Verbena that she too was making a detailed audio and visual record of the Waiting Room's current occupant. "It has been described as such," she replied. "While you are here you will be taken care of and protected. Now, Perry, I need to ask you some questions. Some of them may seem a bit odd, but we need you to answer them as completely as you can. And don't worry if there's some things you can't remember. It's just temporary. It will clear up when you go back home." She smiled when he nodded. "What is today's date?" "August 13, 1963." "Are you sure?" "Yeah. Today's my birthday. I'm nineteen today." "Happy birthday," Verbena said. "Now, Perry...." Her sentence was cut short by a beep from the wrist monitor she wore. Looking up at the observation room, she saw the technician pointing to the Waiting Room door. "Excuse me. I'll be back in a moment." She said and left the Waiting Room. The moment the Waiting Room's soundproof doors sealed behind her, Ziggy spoke. "Admiral Calavicci has made an urgent request that you determine if the visitor is currently taking medication for headaches, possibly migraine." "Is Dr. Beckett experiencing a migraine?" Verbena asked. She had long ago gotten over feeling odd about carrying on what would appear to be a one-sided conversation with herself in an empty corridor. "Unknown," Ziggy responded. "All the admiral said was that Dr. Beckett is experiencing a headache that appears to make him sensitive to light." "Alright, continue monitoring the Waiting Room, and if Mr. Kirkwood gives any information about headaches..." "...I will notify Gooshie immediately to update Admiral Calavicci," Ziggy finished the psychiatrist's sentence. "Since the visitor has supplied his name and date of birth, I have begun a background search." Verbena re-entered the Waiting Room. "Perry, you said that you've been having headaches. Can you tell me about them? Are they very bad?" "Sometimes it feels like somebody's poking hot needles in my eyes and squeezing my head in a vice at the same time. When I get 'em I have to lay down in a dark room and not move a muscle. Sometimes for hours. Those aren't so bad." Verbena sharpened her attention at the last sentence. "What do you mean, "those aren't so bad?"". The young man had just described two classic symptoms of a migraine headache, as well as a method many people used to ease it, yet "those weren't too bad"? "They're not," he insisted, as if trying to reassure her. "It's the ones that make me black out that I don't like." "You black out? How long does a headache like that last?" Verbena noticed how Perry had begun to relax as he talked about his headaches, the fine worry lines smoothed away, his mannerisms calmer. "Dad says usually just a few hours. He did tell me that I was once out for four days straight," Perry said, then hesitated. "I hate getting one of those headaches cause all I can remember is that it feels like I'm in a black room. And there's no sound and no way out, until I get another headache that pulls me out of it. Then I'm okay again...for a while." He lifted his eyes to meet Verbena's gaze. "I must have blacked out again. Dad told me the next time it happened he was gonna put me in the hospital." His eyes wandered around the large, quiet room, then back to her. "And here I am." "Did your family doctor prescribe medicine for your headaches?" Perry nodded, his eyes clouding with confusion as he struggled for answers. "Yeah. But I don't take it any more. Dad can't afford it. He doesn't earn enough at the bottle factory to buy it, plus pay the rent and bills and buy groceries." Anxiety had crept into his voice again. "That's why he said he was gonna put me in the hospital if my headaches got worse." "But you just said he couldn't afford medicine for you," Verbena pressed gently. "How could he afford to put you in the hospital if he can't afford medicine?" A shadow of resignation passed over the young man's eyes as he shook his head. "Dad never said what hospital, but I know he means the state hospital over in..." Again he struggled to remember."....Colver." The resignation was plain in his eyes as he finished." That's where they put people who are retarded or aren't "all there". And, somebody told me that if certain papers are signed, it won't cost dad anything to put me in." He sighed deeply, adding almost as an afterthought, "Maybe Aaron will visit me." "Who's Aaron?" "A cousin...I think. I've never met him, but dad's told me that sometimes he stops for a visit when I'm having a really bad headache. Could I rest for a while?" "Are you getting a headache?" Verbena asked immediately. Perry shook his head. "No, just tired. Guess however I got here took a lot out of me." He saw Verbena's concern. "I'm okay, really." While her mind began assessing the information Perry had supplied, Verbena made sure he was comfortable before leaving the Waiting Room. Different pieces of what the young man had said were beginning to take a vague form, and Project Quantum Leap's chief psychiatrist didn't like the way pieces of this new puzzle were falling into place. She stopped at her office on the way to the Control Room to check some things in some of the medical reference books that covered nearly a whole wall. A half hour later she hurried to find Gooshie. The whole time, one of the last things Perry said to her kept running through her mind. "..however I got here took a lot out of me." Never a superstitious person, Verbena nonetheless felt a chill run down her back each time the words echoed in her mind, and she shivered involuntarily as she entered the Control Room.