CHAPTER 22 Al and Bernie paced the visitor's waiting room at the Government Employee Hospital on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington DC. Every time anyone passed the door Al rushed out for a progress report on Sam's condition. They had already been there for three-and-a-half hours and they had heard nothing. The flight from New Mexico was traumatic for everyone. The small plane hit turbulence several times caused by the atmospheric conditions due to the time of year. Only Al and Bernie could make the journey with Sam. Space was limited due to the extensive neurological team required for Sam's treatment. Sam's blood pressure was far too low and Dr. Mikowski was very concerned about the flow of oxygen to Sam's brain. Twice the electro-cardiograph showed an irregular heart beat. The third time Sam's systolic and diastolic rhythms almost merged into flat-line and then escalated into ventricular fibrillation, the defibrillator was used to stabilise Sam into a more normal rhythm. Here at the hospital everything was calm, too calm. Al was waiting again. He tried to pry information from everyone, he even tried to bribe a hospital porter to find out anything he could. Finally after four-and-three-quarter hours and still wearing his greens, Dr. Mikowski entered smiling into the waiting room. Al and Bernie both stood as he approached. "He'll be okay." Dr. Mikowski scratched his head. "There was no fracture, he was lucky, that last head injury left his scull weakened. If the blow to the head had been an inch more to the left and an inch higher, he'd have been in real trouble. An investigation with the ventriculoscope, revealed a large blood clot which was constricting several nerves and major blood vessels. No more problems with his heart either, that was just a matter of getting more blood into him, he was nearly running on empty. " He removed his cap and sighed, "We've stopped the internal bleeding and removed the clot. As I said last time Mr. Calavicci, we'll have to wait to see if there has been any damage to the brain itself." Bernie's head flopped onto Al's shoulder, as she relaxed after the long, tense wait. "I see Doc, when can we go and see him?" Al asked. "Give them about twenty minutes," Dr. Mikowski pulled away the mask that hung from his neck. "That should be enough time to get him settled. You both look exhausted, go and get some refreshments while you wait." He patted Bernie's shoulder, resting it there, "Who's this young lady?" Bernie looked up at Al, not knowing what to say. Al did the talking, "I think," he grinned at Bernie, "you're looking at Bernie, the future Mrs. Beckett." Bernie looked at Al, shocked, now definitely lost for words. "Congratulations Bernie," Dr. Mikowski squeezed her shoulder gently. "You have a good strong man out there, a will of steel. I'm sure he'll pull through." Dr. Mikowski turned and left, leaving a bedazzled Bernie and a relieved Al to relax. "What made you say that Al?" "Because I know." "How?" "I just do." Al took hold of her arm and led her through the door. "I've never seen him with anyone as I've seen him with you. Not even ....." The door swung closed behind them. * * * * * Half an hour later, the nurse showed Al and Bernie into Sam's room, "Don't be alarmed by all of the tubes and monitors, they're there only to help him." She stood by the door. The monitor beeped at regular intervals, "That thing would drive me crazy." Al said as they neared the bed. "He looks loads better Bernie look. Even has some colour now." Bernie turned to look at Sam, she'd been looking away from him, she didn't really want to see the tubes and apparatus. She was surprised to see him almost back to normal. "I can't believe Rosie could have done all this to Sam, how could this have happened Al?" "When I burst in Sam was already unconscious, she was all over him. She was like a snarling, wild beast. It took me a moment or two to take it all in." Sam's eyes flickered, "Look Al his eyes moved." Bernie was excited. "Sure did kiddo." The nurse almost ran to the other side of the bed, she checked him over, she whispered, "He's coming out of it, be quiet for a while, any sudden noises could be disturbing to him." They stood and watched as Sam blinked his eyes into focus. As he turned his head away from the light, two figures were standing, watching him. Their faces focusing into his vision, he squinted, creasing his brow. "Do you want me?" He asked. "How are you feeling Sam?" Bernie asked him quietly. "Who?" "It's Bernie and Al, Sam. We were so worried." Al whispered. "Do I know you?" Sam tried to get up. The nurse held his shoulders, gently pushing him back down. "Now Sam, you've got to rest, you've just had an operation and you're feeling a little groggy." "My name's not Sam, it's ....." Sam looked at the nurse, fear cloaking his face, "Who am I?" He cowered, pulling at the sheets and disturbing the electrodes fastened to his chest. The monitor gave out a high pitched shrill. Looking desperately between the three standing around him, he cried, "Who the hell am I?" "You'll have to go," The nurse said to Bernie and Al, "It's the anesthetic, he's still a little woozy and he needs some rest." She tried to fix the electrodes back to Sam's chest but he just ripped them away again, she pressed the emergency button. Al looked at the nurse in alarm. He tried to lead Bernie away but she was transfixed to Sam. "Bernie come on, Sam needs us to go." He half dragged and half pulled Bernie back to the visitor's room. "He doesn't know us Al, how could he not now us." Bernie burst into tears. "I don't know, like the nurse said it's the anesthetic, it's weird stuff, does strange things to your mind." Al was trying to convince himself as well as Bernie. He took out a cigar from his top pocket and rolled it between his fingers, the rich, sweet aroma from the Havana, made him crave it even more. His nervous energy got the better of him as he paced the room. "Do you want some air Bernie?" "No Al, I'll stay here, for Sam." Al wasn't about to leave her alone, not after what she'd just witnessed. She looked shocked and dismayed. Her brown eyes looked at him pathetically, her long lashes wet with tears. Al looked at his watch, it was nearly six-thirty. It had been a long day for the both of them. He replaced the cigar in his top pocket and sat down. As he lay back in the chair he closed his eyes thinking of the day's events. Could he have prevented any of this from happening. No, he couldn't, no-one knew what was on Rosie's mind, 'Neither did Rosie,' he thought. * * * * * The last rays of sunshine vanished behind the desert dunes, Rosie shivered as she made her way along the long road to Albuquerque. Blue, purple and red hues shimmered across the darkening sky, tumbleweed scampered passed as the wind began to pick up velocity. Soon the desert would be in complete darkness, the cold air falling like a veil of ice. She had no coat to keep the chill from her flesh, she had to hurry before she froze in the desert night. Her eyes focused on a point far in the distance. The light now gone, she followed her gaze blindly, stars twinkled distracting her vision, her mind becoming blurred with the thought of the night. She whispered under her breath, "They will pay for what they have done to me." Who? She hadn't decided yet, someone would suffer for her torment. On the horizon she saw the dimness of the lights from the town, this was her objective, her destiny. How far had she come? She didn't know, she didn't care. What had she done to deserve this? She couldn't remember, she didn't want to. All she focused on was her future, her past a forgotten blur. The distant haze of lights slowly drew nearer, closer, forever closer. Her body numb with cold, she staggered onward, towards the lights. Each painful step took her closer, the lights on her mind. The road became smoother, her tread a little steadier. She had reached the outskirts of the town. Thank God she had her purse in her pocket, she didn't have much cash but at least she had her credit card. The town lights grew brighter as she headed for its centre, she looked for somewhere warm, before she continued the journey to her father. A frantic thought abruptly filtered into her mind. 'I didn't have the information he wanted, I didn't have the chance to get it.' Panic froze her, looking around, she saw a cafE9. She went inside, she had to think. The warmth of the cafE9 made her face and fingers tingle, she ordered a large mug of coffee. She wrapped her hands around the hot mug, slowly the warmth relieved the numbness. She took a pack of cigarettes from her pocket, taking one out, she lit it. She did not smoke in the complex, she knew Sam disapproved, she wanted him to like her, perhaps even love her, but she'd really blown that now. All she wanted was to tempt him, seduce him, not hurt him. She'd lost control, she felt so desperate, she'd never done that before. Ah, she felt better now, by the clock on the cafE9 wall, it was six-thirty-five. She turned to the waitress, "Do you know what time the next train is, to Washington DC?" "I'll have to check the timetable, I think there's one behind the counter, just a minute." The waitress ambled to the back of the counter and disappeared as she looked for a timetable, a few seconds later she reappeared and ambled back to Rosie's table and sat in the chair opposite her. "Wrong time of year to be out dressed like that isn't it?" "Yeah, it is a bit, I left it in a fiend's car, I didn't realise till I got in here." Rosie lied and thought, 'I'm doing quite a lot of that lately.' The waitress showed Rosie the timetable, keeping a firm hold of it, "Yeah here, look, there's one in fifteen minutes, the station's only ten minutes walk up the road, you'll catch it if you hurry." "Thanks." Rosie drained the last of the coffee from the mug and headed back out onto the street. It had gotten colder since she had been inside, or was it that she felt the cold more, after warming up? She didn't care really. She just reached the station in time for the train to Washington DC, she climbed onboard. She found a vacant seat and sat down. ' What am I going to say to Peter Saint-James when I see him?' she thought. She felt in awe of her father, she wanted to please him so much. 'Perhaps it was his influence that made me hurt Sam, all that training, maybe that has changed me'.