Hi Bloggies, sorry about last Friday (not exactly a story post).
I had to dig around a little to decide what to post, but eventually came up with this one.
Here are the links to the previous chapters:
And here is the next instalment.
Jerry had most certainly not had a drunk party all night on Christmas Eve. So when the noise of his cellphone hit him like a hammer, and he opened his eyes to a splitting headache on Christmas noon, he felt rather cheated. He groped for the phone and realized that half the reason for his aching body was that he was sleeping on the floor, with only a blanket for a mattress. The other half was of course that he’d spent the night stitching up patients and saving lives while others celebrated Christmas.
“Bloody hell,” he muttered as he tried to find the button to answer the call. By the time he was far enough awake to push it, the caller had rung off. Jerry stared at the small screen. Aunt Lucy. She should know better, he thought. It was a habit by now that he worked all through the night on Christmas Eve, and was therefore not available for comment on Christmas Day.
He gathered himself up from the floor and groaned as he got to his feet. Everything was aching. He staggered to the kitchenette, rummaged in his drawers, swallowed a double Panado and started to brew coffee. And rubbed his neck, where it was stiff and aching.
While the coffee was brewing, he stumbled off into the bathroom with a swift glance at the statuesque young lady sleeping where he should have been sleeping. She was still as pale and delicate as… a thoroughly sick psychiatric patient who’d spent the night in hospital. He shook his head at himself in irritation, because the fleeting thought had been there. His friends would certainly not believe him that he’d have a beauty like her sleep over and not at least tried to make something of the situation.
But the reason she was here, was because she needed help. And that was that. He closed the bathroom door, showered and went to the sink to shave. And scowled at the stuff that was making his neck itch. In the mirror he could see two small red spots. They looked – well, nearly like incisions. Definite holes, but they’d closed up again. The one was positioned a little below the other one, close enough to presume it had been the same bug but far enough that it must have crawled.
A spider, possibly. That would explain his headache. He went through the possibilities in his head. He’d been sleeping on the floor. Of course. Most spiders were not dangerous, even in Africa; the ones that were, didn’t leave you time to think about it. If he was alive now, it was probably not critical. He shaved and returned to his coffee.
As he sipped his cup, he meandered around his single-room flat, rifling through the stuff that was lying around. Unfinished paperwork on his desk. A few presents for his nephews and nieces, stashed ready for delivery in a plastic bag, next to the fridge. He had meant to give them to them last night. He rubbed the back of his neck to try and get a grip on the stiffness, and waited for the Panado to do its thing. He wasn’t going to bug them today – he wasn’t in the frame. They would understand. This was life as a clinician.
He drifted over to the bed and stared at Nadia. She looked a bit better than last night; not that her colour had improved, she was still as pale, but there seemed to be more life in her. He routinely felt for her pulse in her throat, and noticed that it was strong. She stirred a bit but didn’t wake up.
Gracious, did he envy her that sleep! He downed his coffee, collected his car keys and went out to get himself a Christmas present. Even on Christmas Day, some indefatigable money-mongers still kept their shops open. He bought a camping mattress.
Nadia came awake as the last light disappeared. She listened into the nightfall for a while, then slipped out of the bed of the good doctor without a sound. She moved to the bathroom and freshened up, casting a superficial glance in the mirror… as usual, it failed to show any reflection of her whatsoever. She missed knowing what she looked like. It was sad.
She smoothed down her hair and gave her absentee reflection one last smile, and emerged from the bathroom.
Coffee smell pervaded the place. It had been brewed hours back. The smell had very nearly roused her from her death-like sleep; the memory of coffee was vivid, and she missed it more than she missed her reflection. Like chocolate to a dieter, the coffee was beckoning to her. She went over to the kitchenette, bent over the coffee jug and deeply inhaled the aroma. And she turned away from it with sadness, and eyed the good doctor who was lying on a new air mattress on the floor, sound asleep.
Cor. He was more a creature of the night than she was!
She considered about the custom of Christmas. Maybe she ought to give him a gift. She thought of the usual gifts her family would bring each other, and subconsciously shook her head. He wouldn’t have appreciation for a dead cat, no matter how artfully arranged. She needed to think outside Schroedinger’s box.
In another few minutes she left the apartment, climbing through the window with the agility of a lizard, and monkeying down the whole side of the eight-story building. Before long she was standing on the pavement, glancing about. And then she disappeared, black-in-black, into the night.
Jerry opened his eyes. The camping mattress had done its thing; the stiffness was gone, and so was the headache. So quite obviously the spider had also not been that serious.
A cup of coffee was in his face, and Nadia crouching behind it. The place smelled of… what was that? Pizza! Indeed! He rubbed his neck and sat up.
“Good evening, sleepyhead,” said Nadia with a flawless white smile. It sounded strange, as though she had no real concept of what a sleepyhead was.
He accepted the coffee and nodded his appreciation as he sunk his identity into the mug and drowned in its wonderfulness. Aaaah.
“Have some food,” encouraged Nadia and pushed the pizza box towards him. He glanced at her and opened it. The pizza hadn’t been touched.
“You too,” he said as he took a piece. “Come, share with me!”
“Already eaten,” she informed him.
“Eaten what?” he challenged.
She was silent for a moment. “Let’s not go there,” she said then.
“Did you raid the blood bank again?”
“So you went out and crept up on some unsuspecting people and bit them and sucked their blood?”
She shook her head. “Leave it.”
“Nadia,” said Jerry patiently, “you need to let go of that fantasy of yours. You are not a vampire! There’s no such a thing as a vampire. You’re too old to play make-believe.”
She merely smiled.
“Look,” he said, “this pizza has a lot of garlic on. And it does nothing to you. Come on, take a bite!”
“I’m allergic,” she said.
“Oh.” He ate his pizza in ponderous silence. “That’s thoughtful of you,” he said eventually. “Getting pizza for me, even though you are allergic! But next time, get something you can eat too, won’t you?”
“Merry Christmas,” she said and produced, from behind her back, a small package. Jerry opened it. It was a leather wallet. A very nice one.
“Gee,” he said. “Thanks!” He thought hard for a moment. He didn’t have a gift for her.
This was ludicrous, anyway! She was a patient!
“Doc Jerry,” she said, “you are very nice.”
“Thanks,” he said absentmindedly, investigating all the pouches and pockets on the wallet.
“Too nice,” she said.
He looked up sharply. “Too nice for what?”
“My family,” she began, half uncomfortably. “We use and abuse. We destroy people. You’re too nice for that. I don’t want that happening.”
“Nadia, don’t be ridiculous. How would you be destroying me? Let go of that infantile little story in your head! Come back down to Earth! You’re a beautiful young woman. You don’t need any little story to make yourself sound more fascinating.”
She smiled wistfully. “Wish it were only that, Doc.”
“So what else? You have a highly contagious disease? Actually, with you raiding blood banks I wouldn’t be surprised!”
“No, that’s not it, Doc Jerry. I… think I’m falling in love with you.”
Doc Jerry stared at the girl, then he excused himself and got up, and walked out of his apartment and closed the door. He pulled out his cellphone and called Doc Manning. It was Christmas, but this was an emergency.
He had to get the girl out of his living quarters.
More by this author here:
Cheers for now