While waiting for the doctor to arrive, agent Chandler, crossing his legs, starts to read the morning newspaper of that blurry November day. One piece of news raises a particular interest to him. A police agent of the 6th Precinct has been found wandering near the railway. “He seemed to be lost, with no actual contact with the real world when he was found by his partner. We assume he suffered a psychological trauma beforehand, but further investigations will reveal the truth,” doctor David Leive, from the E.R. of Saint Michael’s Psychiatry Hospital declared. Agent Chandler rolls his eyes and takes a deep breath. He browses the newspaper. Another headline. The unidentified victim of last week’s railway accident is now medically stable. Doctors say she is likely to make a good recovery. He crumples the newspaper and throws it into the trashcan. “The hell with these good for nothing journalists!,” he says to himself, grinding his teeth.
Mister T. is a forensic detective. He has a job that bores him to death, simply because he has seen so many cold and mutilated human bodies over the last 20 years that nothing gets to him. No case is more particular, or harder or uglier.
He’s drinking his coffee this morning, just as he does any other morning; he’s not one of those people who hate Mondays just because they have to work; actually, he lives for working. He’s staring at an old folder, some lost case that hasn’t yet been solved, but his face shows no surprise. He’s patient in sipping his black, strong coffee, yet eager to get to work. On the other side of his desk, the phone rings.
“Sir, agent Shepherd is on hold on line 2. He says it’s urgent.”
“I got it from here.”
“Oh, and, sir? You’ve got a letter, it arrived this morning.”
“I will take it later. What’s up, Chandler?”
“There was a railway accident. A car has been crushed while crossing; we have a victim, female, about 42.”
“Is she alive?”
“She was, ten minutes ago; now, hell knows.”
“I’ll call you. I’m on my way.”
His colleagues have already closed the scene, the traces were carefully collected, but nobody, except the victim, knows what happened. Mister T. shrugs his shoulders, apparently the woman got stuck on the railway being a novice driver and most probably her engine died; then she couldn’t restart it; then the train came; then her car and the train went “boom!.” That’s the dumb scenario that mister T. has already thought about.
“So what do you say, T.?”
“Apparently it’s the victim’s fault. I think her engine stopped, but it’s hard to know why,” said the agent lighting a cigarette.
“If by «far» you mean «the barrier had no light and audio signals», then you must be right.”
“Oh, then I suppose I really have to do my job.” He thirsty pulled his cigarette’s last smoke and nervously quenched it under his right foot. “So she wasn’t a novice, after all,” he said to himself.
At the hospital, he found out that the victim’s survival chances were close to zero. She had suffered “severe abdominal and head trauma” – “God damn these doctors with their stupid way of translating somebody’s medical condition. They all suffered a severe blah, blah trauma,” said mister T. more to hear himself, after consulting the doctors – . The rumours are that mister T. has such cold blood when it comes to death, that he bears every image, every look, without even blinking, no matter how mutilated it looks like. He then had no explanation to his new, bizarre, state of mind; he didn’t want to see the face of “this” woman. After spending an entire night trying to find out who she was, he still didn’t want to see her. Not even to ease the identification process. He hardly knew why.
All this happened four days ago and still no clue about who the victim could be.
“Has somebody reported Jane Doe’s disappearance?”
“No, sir. No phone call, nothing in the newspaper or at the headquarters.”
“If only she’d stay alive long enough to find out who she is,” replied mister T., gazing at the painting behind Irene’s shoulders.
“Do I smell personal interest in this case, sir? Sorry for asking, but…”
“Don’t be ludicrous, Irene! Did you finish arranging those folders?,” shouted the agent, lighting a cigarette, with Irene’s last words in his mind. “To hell with this woman, I must find out who she is, otherwise I’ll have Irene buzzing me all the time.”
That Thurdsday afternoon, mister T. went to visit the victim; her condition suffered no change and her survival chances were still not increasing. The agent was treated as a member of the victim’s family, as nobody claimed her yet and he was the only one visiting her twice a day. He always had that troubled look on his face every time he entered the hospital, as he expected the worse to happen and he was always relieved to find out that she was still alive. Maybe Irene was right after all.
Despite his obvious interest towards his Jane Doe, as he would often call her, he never saw the figure of this stranger. He always stood behind the glass and observed her, counting her breaths, almost afraid that he would eventually have to stop keeping score. When he eventually pushed the door to her room, he felt her presence so familiar; the woman was lying with her face up, breathing through the oxygen mask, showing a serene expression.
But then, instead of approaching, mister T. took a step backwards. “She has her eyes open, how could this be possible?,” he asked himself, while he hindered on something. He cursed and he expected the woman to react somehow, but she was staying there with her eyes wide open, looking as if the ceiling had some secret to hide.
While mister T. couldn’t decide whether he should come closer or not, the doctor entered the room.
“Oh, mister T., what a surprise. And I say it with no sarcasm, being here is a step forward.”
“Yes, well, I thought that, you see, maybe I could have been of some help,” answered the agent, slightly swallowing his words.
The doctor then approached the bed, “there is nothing you can do, sir. We are doing our best to keep her alive, but until she comes out of the coma, we are helpless too.” While laying his ears to the woman’s chest, listening to her hearts beat, mister T. stood still, staring at her. His face became livid, he felt he was losing his breath; then he began to cry after 24 years.
“Somebody, please, do something! I know who this woman is!,” mister T. was shouting, he began to breath unconsciously fast while rushing out of the victim’s room. He grabbed a nurse’s neckband as if it was his last hope and began to strongly pull on it. “You good for nothing! It’s her, how could you not tell until now? You fools! Bastards!,” the agent began to lose control and he started to talk nonsense.
“Calm down, sir! What are you talking about? Try to clean up your thoughts!,” said the nurse, in an attempt to calm him.
“Clean up my thoughts my ass! Can’t you see she’s dying because of you? Good for nothing!,” his eyes not only betrayed anger, they seemed to thunder a curse never seen before; the medical staff stepped backwards, realizing they were in front of a mad man. The agent gnashed his teeth and clenched his fists, thrusting the nurse into the wall. “You good for nothing!,”he shouted once again, leaving the poor woman with tears in her eyes. He raised his right fist, ready to rush it into the nurse’s face, but he hit the wall as hard as he could, as if that blow could have calmed his soul. He then rushed to the stairs, leaving the building almost running, not knowing where he was heading to. He bumped into people as he was just being touched by the wind, sharply moving his shoulders as in a brutal dance. He had no memory about what just happened several minutes ago, he totally forgot where he parked his car, so he started wandering on that glasslike, gloomy afternoon.
He was a walking box of memories, his face reflected all the pain and misfortune that have marked the last 24 years of his apathetic life. From time to time he turned his hand to his chest to check if his heart was still beating, for, ironically, he never felt so lifeless in his life. His cold blooded character was defeated by a pair of spring like eyes; he was homesick and he didn’t know how he could’ve fought that feeling without crying. “Great, just splendid! This is the second time I’ve cried in the last fourty minutes!,” he said to himself, mad as hell. The only relief he had was that he wasn’t wasting his tears on things with no importance like all those crimes and cases he had during this last quarter of his life, but he was crying for the sparkling green eyes he swore never to forget.
“Look at us, T., we are a bunch of idiots smoking, making carcinogenic smoke circles, cheeringly crushing the cigarette with a last chronical addiction gesture.”
“Blah, blah, A.. You know that nothing you say makes sense to me,” replied mister T.
A. pursed her lips into an imaginary kiss and pulled out almost white circles from that smoke that she most hated. “One, two, three,” counted in her had. The jazz sounded great and A. lost her mind somewhere between the second and the third breath. Someone twitched her, but she remained still, it looked like she took hold to the wooden floor. “What time may it be?,” suddenly crossed her mind.
“It’s late, A., it’s later than you might think,” some distorted voice responded. And the words seemed so heavy, that they almost hanged on to her tiny ears like a bucket full of water. “God damn you all, now you’re reading my mind? Or am I thinking it aloud?,” she asked herself, nervously spitting the last remnants of tobacco. She then fell on the bed, covering the yellow light with her rosy fingers, feeling every gleam burning her eyes. “Where the hell are you, T.? You’re always gone when I need you most.” She turned on the other side, rolling her eyes, feeling as she was losing her consciousness, her lips asking for water and her body for rest, but she fell in a range of seizures from which she recovered too late.
When T. approached the bed to turn off the light, he thought she was sleeping, he kissed her humid, tepid forehead and put out the cigarette still smoldering in the ashtray. He barely noticed she didn’t take her medicine for weeks, as the pills were still in the pack.
Here and there the snow began to melt and mister T. was heedlessly walking, taking big steps, rushing to somewhere. His feet were wet, but he hardly noticed. He looked like a man standing on the edge of a cliff, forced to choose between crossing the bridge close to him or throwing his body into the darkness. When he arrived to the Police Headquarters, he looked as he had already thrown himself.
At the station, everybody had already found out about what happened at the Hospital, so mister T. found himself in the middle of a storm, overwhelmed by voices, questions and doubtful eyes. He silently rushed into his office, giving no response to his coworkers’ questions, he even avoided Irene’s eyes when she looked at him with compassion, almost like wanting to tell him “I know, sir, you are not insane, we are.” He locked the door, hustling to the computer where he had the confidential data base and, with his hands trembling, started to type a name. He thought he had completely deleted this name from his memory, he fooled himself thinking it’ll be as hard to remember it as it would be to recall at least one of Shakespeare’s works, with the difference that he never knew the latter. Mister T. still hoped that he was mistaken, that the woman he saw at the hospital is not the same one he was searching for right now.
“Agent T., open this door, otherwise I’ll be forced to knock it down and we both know that’s gonna have a bad outcome,” Chandler said, keeping his right ear close to the door, trying to hear what his friend was doing on the other side.
But agent T. remained silent. He was caressing the face of a woman he found after years and years of abnegation, he followed her cheek line almost feeling them rippling under his touch; he had done this so many times in the past, he could now feel the warmth of the skin, although he was just deceiving himself with a virtual and younger version of her. She was only 23 years old in the picture and she was already beginning to go mad. Oh, how much he loved her, despite all her madness.
“I think you’re just acting foolishly now, T., I don’t have time for jokes, neither do you,” said Shepherd. And still no response. His friend then began to force the door, when mister T. stood up from his desk and, calmly turning the key, let the door open. Suddenly, seven or eight figures appeared in the threshold, defending themselves by Chandler’s head as it has bloomed all of the sudden and each one of the petal was staring at mister T.
“What is this? What the hell…,” Chandler’s preachy discourse was interrupted by his petal’s whispers. “Are you people out of your mind? Did everybody from this office got mad? For God sake!,” screamed the agent, slamming the door. He looked like a sad autumn flower now.
“I think I deserve some kind of explication. Are you out of your mind, T.?”
“Look,” answered mister T., pointing at the computer’s screen.
“Are you mocking me? What in the name of…but that is… Is she, I mean, Is this the same person as…”
“Yes, she is. I must have been an idiot, Chandler, a blind fool!,” mister T. fiercely knocked his fist into the wall, leaning his head.
“But I thought she was admitted to that mental facility, how could she have gotten out? They said she was completely out of her senses.”
Mister T. took his jacket and went out in the snowstorm. His left hand was warming up in his pocket while his right one was holding the cigarette. The last time he smoked, he was 24 and had no clue about what life really was; from time to time he switched the hands so he could keep both of them warm. He was in the midst of his youth, about to get married, but full of doubts concerning this step. He knew he loved her, after all, wasn’t she the one who helped him through his worst times? But was this a good enough reason to spend his entire life with just one person? An ambulance passed him by and awoke him from his thoughts. Yes, of course he loved her! Despite her illness, despite her bipolar personality. He was going to say yes without even blinking. He was going to look her in the eyes and see his future, obviously. His phone rang.
“Mister T.?,” asked a rushing throaty voice.
“Speaking. Who is this?”
“Mister T., we found your number in miss’ A. phonebook. Are you a relative or a close friend?”
“I am her fiancée. Did something bad happen?”
“My name is David Leive, I am a doctor in the E.R. of Saint Michael’s Psychiatry Hospital. There is no need to be alarmed at this very moment, but miss A. was admitted 45 minutes ago, due to a series of seizures…”
“Please, say no more!,” mister T. had almost dropped the phone. The voice kept on speaking while he was trying to swallow the words that he has just heard, like they were cactus’ needles. When he finally found the courage to answer, Chandler’s voice already sounded alarmed:
“What the hell, T.? Where the fuck did you disappear to? Don’t ignore me! Where are you?.” Mister T. could have been anywhere. He had no idea how long he was walking for or where he was heading to. He didn’t even know how much time had Chandler been talking to himself on the phone. He hung up and soon after that he felt the salty taste of tears on his lips. He knew that that night he was the one losing his mind while A. was losing her life. He shouldn’t have left her there, decades ago. But she had gone mad, completely insane; she was not the same woman he used to know. “They said… Lord, they said she would never recover. Never! Is this never?.” He kneeled in the fresh snow which creaked under his weight; lowering his hands, he felt cold metal under his fingers, but he just couldn’t open his eyes to see. He stood there for a while, losing track of time. At a given point, some weird sound began to twirl around. Mister T. knew exactly what it was, but he couldn’t react, not because he didn’t find the strength to, but because he didn’t want to. He felt as if nothing was waiting for him ahead; he knew that the woman from the hospital was going to die and along with her, himself. He was waiting for the final strike, almost praying, when Chandler’s hands ripped him out of the rail tracks.
“Are you out of your mind, T.?!? What the fuck?,” Chandler yelled, making big eyes. Mister T. almost hated his partner for saving his life, for he knew he was going to be a lifeless body anyway after A.’s death.
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This short story is a personal work on a personal blog which belongs to Cristina-Elena Babii. Any reproduction without permission is considered intelectual theft and will be acted upon.