Like the fall of Western Civilization, my writing is not progressing as fast as I’d hoped. I need to get more disciplined during my designated writing time. This goes double once I begin outlining a novel.
But here it is, legions of fans. The fourth installment of “The Night Shift.”
“Nurse Lopez.” The deep, viscous voice of Dr. Constantin startled Maria.
She whipped around to face Dr. Constantin. Maria paused before responding. He looked different. Instead of his customary alabaster hue, his face was rosy and vibrant with life. The blood was very close to the surface of his cheeks as though he’d been running or drinking hard liquor. His lips were scarlet. His cold, distant beauty had been replaced by a lurid, lively presence.
“Dr. Constantin,” she let out the breath she’d been holding in. “May I speak with you?”
“Regarding which matter?” Though his outer appearance was transformed, his manner was as imperious and arrogant as always.
Maria gathered herself again.
“Regarding Sophie Canclosi in room 1213. Sophie needs a new blood panel. Her original tests and her records don’t show anything abnormal, but her condition has deteriorated since she’s been here.”
Dr. Constantin hesitated and then ushered Maria away from the nurse’s station and down a deserted hallway. He didn’t speak but glided down the hall at a lazy pace.
“Are you questioning my methods, Nurse Lopez?”
“I am trying to understand them, Doctor.”
“Nurse Lopez, I haven’t taken the time to explain my methods to you precisely because you are incapable of understanding them. Rest assured, I am intimately familiar with Sophie Canclosi’s condition; her well-being is my highest concern. To administer another blood test, would merely confuse you further. While you may not comprehend my technique, you rest assured that she will walk out of this hospital healthier than you.”
“You don’t want to confuse me?” Maria flung the words at him. “Maybe I should tell Doctor Wilson and see if she finds your explanation confusing.”
Constantin grinned, baring his teeth slightly. “I can talk circles around a mongrel like you. I know that girl’s body from head to toe. By the time I’m finished with her, Dr. Wilson will want to name a wing after me.”
“You’re not just arrogant, you’re insane! I don’t know what you’re doing, but I will stop it!” Maria whirled around before Dr. Constantin could reply and marched toward the elevator bank.
She heard the squeak of Zoltan’s cleaning cart as she went, but she was past caring. The nurse whose name was still escaping Maria must have overheard the raised voices, but Maria avoided eye contact studiously. If she lost her job, she would at least know she did it for the right reason.
In the elevator, Maria experienced a the brief elation that comes with comes with telling a superior to get stuffed. By the time she reached level P2 of the parking structure however, it occurred to Maria that she had kicked a bigger hornet’s nest than she was prepared to face. Did she really need to insult one of St. Alena’s most respected physicians? Maybe not, Maria thought.
Maria passed through the sterile glory of the elevator bank and into the brown and gray of the parking garage. The sloping darkness was interrupted by pale fluorescent bars of light. There was a chill in the air. Maria consulted her wristwatch; it was nearly ten o’clock. She’d stayed longer than she’d thought. She thought of Sophie again and couldn’t bring herself to repent her harsh words to Dr. Constantin. Maria took a step toward her little grey Ford and then felt a rough hand slide over her mouth.