In The Midnight Of His Heart
By AL BRUNO III
August 25, 1993
The hospital staff had given up on trying to make Phil stop smoking in the waiting room; they tried reason, they tried patience and finally they tried force, but it was all to no avail. He wasn't going anywhere and there wasn't a damn thing they could do about it. Two hours worth of stale smoke hung in the air; it had driven everyone but John from the room. The soda machine whirred to itself, the florescent lights hummed an idiot tune. The P.A. system crackled to life every few minutes or so, calling this doctor here and that doctor there. People passed in the hallway, tired orderlies, busy nurses and bodies on wheeled stretchers. Every once in a while a man in a three-piece suit, with slicked back blonde hair and a weary expression passed by. Sometimes his hands were buried deep in his pockets and other times he was talking animatedly on his cellular phone, but each time he passed he watched them intently through the waiting room's glass walls. John recognized the man from Zara’s scrapbooks; it was Lionel Wight’s son, Gawain.
Phil practically quaked in his seat with impotent rage. There was no one he could shout at now, no one he could complain to or browbeat. He could only sit here and wait and every moment he waited the venom pulsing in him doubled in strength. John had seen that venom in action an hour ago when the security guard dispatched to eject Phil from the building had run screaming from the room, a cigarette burn on his face. The damn fool would probably be in a jail cell right now if not for the timely arrival and intervention of Special Agent Gawain Wight. He was the spitting image of his father and his credentials from the Project looked official enough. At the sight of that familiar badge Phil had clamed up, refused to say anything.
Glancing at the clock John counted the hours Zara had been in the operating room. Operating room. John shivered at the thought. Since boyhood Victor had instilled in him an intrinsic terror of places like this. Warning that if a human doctor ever got so much as a blood sample from him he would end his life in an operating theater with scientists slitting him open from his groin to his throat in a misguided attempt to understand the metastasis. “A great many Vlodek,” Victor had said, “have concluded their existences as samples floating in formaldehyde.”
The Special Agent passed by again, surveying them coolly. With all their false identity papers and bogus insurance information he had still found them. Found them easily by the looks of things. John had to wonder what Project Pharos was going to do about them. Were they considered heroes or deserters? After thirty-five years what use could they possibly be to anyone?
“It's my fault.”
John looked up, “What are you talking about?”
“I put her here.”
“Don't be ridiculous.”
“We were arguing, you know how I get sometimes.” Phil inhaled deeply on his cigarette, “And then she just collapsed right in front of me.”
“If only I wasn't such a prick, she'd be all right.”
“Don't think like that.” John said, “Zara's going to need you more than ever now.”
A portly doctor entered the waiting room, his nose wrinkling at the all-pervading odor of cigarette smoke, “Mister Adorskil?”
“That's me.” he dropped his Pall Mall to the floor and ground it out beneath his heel, “How is she?”
“Your wife has had a CVA, or a stroke. That is, a blood clot has lodged its self in her brain creating pressure.” the Doctor explained, “We had to relieve the pressure on the brain that was made worse from the fall she took. There are good signs that this will help her to recover.”
Phil stood, “Take me to her.”
“She's just gotten out of surgery.”
John watched his friend's features go from tearful to stormy, “I said take me to her.”