Been looking after the lovely Mrs. Miller a bit more than usual this week. She’s developed a wicked case of tendinitis (or something). Just one of the hazards of being a hard working human in the digital age. But that doesn’t mean I won’t give my legions of fans the bread and/or circuses they’ve come to expect from this blog.
“Open your mouth for me OK, Mama?” Maria worked hard to mask her concern and pity as Sophie opened her cracked lips. The flesh was almost white like a cottonmouth snake. Her gums were an unhealthy grey, and her breath was putrid. When Maria’s mother died, she had laid dead in her little apartment for a day before they found her. That smell, day old death, was coming out of Sophie. Maria didn’t care for the state of Sophie’s gums either. They were shrinking, retracting almost to make the teeth seem longer.
“I’m gonna talk to Dr. Constantin about getting you a more comprehensive blood panel when he comes in for the night shift OK?”
Sophia smiled weakly, “Oh, good. Dr. Constantin is such a talented physician isn’t he? I feel safe around him.”
With great effort, Maria bit her tongue. Sharing her honest opinion of the brilliant Dr. Constantin wouldn’t help Maria or her patient.
“Yes, he’s a very talented doctor.” Maria murmured. “The hospital is lucky to have him.”
Sophie spoke as in a trance staring at something that was not there, “I have dreams about him, you know. It’s the weirdest thing. Mostly, it’s just his voice calling out to me. Sometimes I see him standing still in a crowd of people rushing around him. Our eyes meet even though there’s hundreds of people passing in between us.”
“Are you comfortable?” Maria assessed the pale form in front of her. Sophie was losing weight.
“I’m fine, thanks.” Sophie smiled again. “I get tired so easily. Will Dr. Constantin be coming tonight?”
“Yes I believe he’s working the night shift again.”
Maria stood chatting with one of the nurses on duty at the run down nurses’ station, but her mind wasn’t on the conversation. She scanned the hospital corridors for any sign of Dr. Constantin. Since she’d stopped working nights, Maria barely saw her Romanian superior except at the end of of her shift in the evening. As she thought of it, Maria wondered why such a talented doctor would choose to work the night shift exclusively.
Maria’s head whipped around as the big double doors that led to hepatology and the blood bank swung open. She steeled herself for the confrontation with Constantin. Instead of the tall, pale form of the Romanian, Maria was treated to the square, brown figure of the Hungarian. She clicked her tongue in quiet consternation, but reminded herself to be friendly.
“Hello Mr. Zoltan, are you working the night shift now?”
Zoltan lifted his square head up from arranging his cleaning cart, “Ah! Ms. Lopez! Yes I am now a creature of da night.” He waggled his fingers in a ghoulish fashion.
Maria forced a smile, “Have you seen Dr. Constantin at all tonight?”
“Not tonight. He is a man wit many duties. He volunteered to run the blood bank after Dr. Brown’s disappearance.”
“Thank you, Mr. Zoltan.”
“Good night, Ms. Lopez.” Zoltan and his cleaning cart passed them by. The Hungarian grinned and nodded at Maria and her companion as he went. In the pocket of his scrubs, Maria noticed a string of wooden beads hanging from his pocket.
“Everywhere I go lately, that guy shows up.” Maria murmured out of the side of her mouth to her companion. The nurse on duty whose name Maria still couldn’t remember laughed a little.
“Just my luck. The doctor’s nowhere to be found, but I can’t escape the janitor.”
“His mustache game is solid, though,” the nurse replied. “It’s like he grafted a big shop broom onto his upper lip.”
“Nurse Lopez.” The deep, viscous voice of Dr. Constantin startled Maria.