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Author’s Note: The devil is in the details. I needed a place to throw in some details, red herrings and other things that my brain is throwing in. Research is chocked full of things a writer can use in order to grow a story.
I’m posting later on tonight. Busy day…
“It’s about time,” Lori sneered as Elena got off the elevator. The almost forty year old woman, eight years Elena’s senior, was a light skinned black woman trying to stay young. With her too short nurse skirts, low neckline shirts and too much perfume, she had put blonde highlights at the ends of her hair that looked as if her hair had dried out.
Elena was inclined to tell Lori how the highlights made her look horribly older, but she bit her tongue every time she had this feeling. The woman was acid on the inside, so commenting about an outer appearance wouldn’t really make a difference.
Biting her tongue yet again, she went straight to the clock to punch in. Actually Elena was three minutes early before her shift was to start. Lori had been behind her the whole time cackling about how Elena better not cut it so close next time.
“Beds four through nine need changing immediately and twelve needs a clean out. I called maintenance already, but you have to make sure all medicines and IVs are checked back into the closet. There are charts to be filed and the doctors’ reports needing to be turned in by the end of-“
Elena never professed to be very smart and Lori was talking very fast, but she did catch room twelve needed to be cleaned out. “Wait. Why does room twelve need to be cleaned out?” Even as she asked she was walking over to the main desk to find charts on patients and then gasped even before Lori answered her question.
“Mr. Cartwright died last night. Pulmonary edema?!”
She wanted to scream, How?! Yesterday, Mr. Cartwright was just laughing and happy about maybe getting out of the ward soon and getting back to fishing. He loved fishing.
The time of death had been five twenty seven am. Putting the chart down, she walked to room twelve. Bed A hadn’t been occupied, so she had to walk all the way to the second bed to see there was no one lying there. Mr. Cartwright’s body had been removed, but the room hadn’t been cleaned as of yet.
She was glad Lori wasn’t behind her anymore. The quietness was good for her to think. Moving up to the top of the bed, she saw the fishing picture Mr. Cartwright had taken with himself on the “best fishing trip of his life.”
As she was picking up the picture frame, she had to lean over the pillow and the the front of her shirt became wet. Feeling where the source of the wetness came, she realized the pillow was soaked completely.
“You shouldn’t touch that,” a familiar deep voice said behind her.
Turning around to see Vick standing there with cleaning supplies, mop and bucket dressed in a purple environmental service hospital scrub type uniform. This color was prohibited to wear by any other staff members so cleaning staff could be identified. Vick had a robust figure with just a little Dunlap over his belt. At thirty nine, he had seen some rough times. Including dropping out of school at 16, getting a full time hard working job the same year, serving time at nineteen and then having to come back home and help his mother out until the woman died which was about two years ago.
Vick took all the insurance money, but in six months wasted it all and had to come back to the only home that would put up with him – the house his mother had now left Elena.
So consumed about her hand getting better and having Chance Jefferson personally take care of her, Elena almost forgotten how she’d helped her brother get a job at the hospital and today was his first day.
Hopefully it was a step in getting out of her home and moving on with his life.
“Do you know how to clean the room by yourself?” she questioned doubtfully.
“Oh yea have little faith sister. You forgot I been cleaning after dead people when you were a little girl.”
He was bringing up thorns in his side, but she refused to even argue with him about the past. “I know what you’ve done, that’s why it was easy getting you the job, but the hospital has procedures. Have you been trained properly?”
“The hospital has been so short staff I’ve had a couple of rush lessons in ER early this morning and then on a couple of floors,” he said proudly handing her some rubber gloves. “First lesson, don’t touch nothing without gloves.”
She shook her head at the gloves and went over to the wall where there was a smaller box of hot pink gloves. “I have a latex allergy, Vick.” Putting them on and going back over to the bed, she picked up the picture again and then looked at the pillow quizzically.
“You knew the guy?” Vick asked.
Fondly, she rubbed the picture and said, “He was just a sweet old man and I thought he was getting much better.”
Vick made a vulgar snort. “You know this is just a job, right?”
She sighed knowing her brother was just being selfish. After making sure there were no pharmaceuticals in the room, she unplugged the machines in the room to remove them. “I do understand my job, Vick.”
“I’m surprised because you act like you’re too good to work for the man. Mamma, didn’t make you work like she made me.”
He’d always felt Elena had gotten preferential treatment because she looked like her father and their mother liked her more than she liked him. Yet, too Elena, their mother was equally evil.
“You got the money, Vick.”
“But you got the house,” he said viciously.
“After it was battered and worn and I used up every dime in my savings to fix it up,” she said bitterly.
Lori clapped at the doorway with her face full of sarcasm. “Well, well, well, a family reunion.” Coming into the room with her dominating presence, she glared only at Elena even though they were both wasting time on the clock. “I’m glad the hospital could fund this venture on their time. There are eight patients waiting downstairs for a room and ER is screaming at me because they think I’m the hold up.”
Elena explained. “I was on my way to put the machines in lockup and then give him the list of rooms that’s needed.”
Lori pulled out the list from her pocket and handed to Vick, while Elena started to push the machines out of the room and carefully made sure the frame of Mr Cartwright was hidden behind her so Lori wouldn’t see it.
As she was walking away, in her peripheral vision, she saw her brother make a motion to Lori and the picture was snatched from her hand, just as Elena was walking by Lori.
“This isn’t your property,” Lori sneered and tossed the frame to Vick. “Toss it Vick.”
Elena wanted to protest but decided against it. Getting out the room, she heard Lori say, “I swear the more I work with your sister the stupider she gets.”
Her brother replied, “Now you know what I have to put up with.”
They snickered and Elena kept going down the hall to get away from them.
After getting her rounds done, initiating some files to get put away and handling all the doctors’ transcripts, she returned to the Geriatric main floor desk to pull Mr. Cartwright’s files before they were sent to records.
The nurse at the desk said, “Those have already been signed and sent to records, Elena.”
Usually expired patients took twenty four hours before their records were sent to records. “How were they processed so fast?”
Lori came to the desk. “Maybe someone actually does their job around here instead of just hanging around the desk asking silly questions.” She handed a file to her. “Mr. Bradshaw is arriving at twelve. Please make sure he has the room to himself. This was specified by administration. He’s a big contributor to our hospital.”
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