The Cold Inside (a serial novel) Chapter Twenty-eight part three
The Cold Inside
By AL BRUNO III
Tuesday January 10, 1995
The critical care ward of the Albany Medical Center was a long wide room crowded with beds and equipment. Thick curtains instead of walls separated the patients from one another: the busy nurses' station murmured with activity. Phil had prayed he'd never have to see Zara like this again, lost under a cocoon of plastic tubes and white medical tape. He'd always hoped he'd die first; it would have been so much easier, and he wouldn't have needed Tristam.
But he didn't have the nerve to kill himself; he didn't want to think about what he might find waiting for him.
If only John was still here… Phil thought, I could rely on John or at least I thought I could.
The voice was familiar but he was so exhausted he failed to recognize it. He turned in his seat and just stared for a moment, “Carol? What are you doing here?”
Carol Bloom had a vase of flowers with her, she put them on the nightstand. “I just wanted to look in on you and Lucille.”
He motioned for her to sit down. His smile was uneasy, “Good to see you, but how did you get past the Nazi’s at the front desk?”
“I still have some friends from when I used to work here.” She sat down with her purse on her lap, “How is she doing? How are you doing?”
A doctor and a nurse were consulting somewhere nearby; their voices were almost drowned out by the indistinct murmur of a dozen life support machines.
“Just waiting now. They still aren’t sure of the extent of the damage. She hasn't even opened her eyes yet.”
“I'm so sorry Phil. If there is anything I can do…”
“Thanks, but I don't even know if she'll be your patient after this little setback.” Phil made a fist, “It just felt like we were so close you know? Like we were almost going to get back to normal.”
“How has that boy of yours been doing? Staying out of trouble?”
Carol frowned, “He's been quiet lately, especially since his bird died.”
“He had a bird? He doesn't seem like the bird type.”
“That's a long story but he's been keeping to himself. I think he's up to something but I'm not sure what.”
“I'm trying to catch him at whatever it is, but you know how sneaky kids can be.”
“I never had kids so I can only guess.” Phil shifted in his chair, “How... How have things been at that fancy school of his? Anything odd happening?”
Carol shrugged, “One of my daughter's friends crashed his car into the front gates of the school.”
“Really? Was he drunk or on drugs? What am I saying? All kids are drunk or on drugs these days.”
…you stupid dumb little punk. This was all Phil needed now. For a moment he regretted not attacking and devouring the boy's spirit the moment he first he saw it floating around. It could have given him years more life, it might even have helped Zara too. Maybe if he didn't have Victor to worry about he would have.
“They aren't saying much on the news about it but then again his family is very wealthy. Even if he was DUI he'll just get a slap on the wrist.”
Phil looked up suddenly, he'd forgotten that Carol was still talking to him. “Some things never change do they?” He gave Zara's hand a kiss and then stood, “What say we go for a smoke break?”
Carol stood, “You smoke? At your age you really shouldn't.”
He smiled cheekily, “And neither should you. Besides it will give us more time to talk.”