Chapter 21 in Rainstorm

  • July 3, 2022, 1:17 a.m.
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Part Three
The Nurse

Elizabeth Curran had been a registered nurse for the same medical group for years. The thirty-five-year-old California native loved being in the medical field. Unlike many burned-out and often irritable nurses that you would think shouldn’t belong in the healthcare field, Nurse Elizabeth had always enjoyed the work and had plenty of energy for it.

The only thing she didn’t like about the job was the random transfers. They often came fast and with little to no warning. One minute she would be working in a doctor’s office and the next she would be assigned to go to someone’s home that was in need of assistance, say if they had a stroke or something. Now it was off to the psychiatric clinic in Folsom. They felt the variety was good for the nurses so they could gain experience in multiple ways. It wasn’t the change she minded so much, it was that just when she would get used to the latest routine in the latest building or home, she would then be rerouted elsewhere.

While one may be bounced around from Citrus Heights to Roseville and back to Sacramento, the job paid well and you knew you were never going to run out of sick people to care for. She almost never got hit with any unwanted overtime and knew she could count on arriving home at approximately the same time every day unless she changed her shift. But even that would have predictable hours as well.

It didn’t bother her if she was working with the physically sick or the mentally sick. To her, sick was sick.

She was on her way out of the building that afternoon when she ran into Doctor Santiago. They exchanged greetings and that was when the doctor asked her about Rain Rudkin.

“She didn’t sound all that great when I spoke to her yesterday. Is something wrong?”

“She’s been admitted here due to stress, anxiety and depression.”

“Oh, that’s too bad,” said the nurse, “though it’s not much of a surprise. I also understand she’s been going through a horrible ordeal so this may be just what she needs. Is she a suicide risk?”

“I can’t say for sure that she is, but my guess is no, she’s not. She seems very determined to have her husband’s killer found and I think if anything is keeping her from giving up, it’s that.”

“Well, at least she has something.”

“The surprising thing is that she’s been living with Doctor Linden who happens to live across the street.”

“I know. She told me.”

“Ms. Rudkin told you?”

“They both did actually. Strange that both of them have lost their husbands so close together, but maybe there’s a connection there because of that and that’s what compelled the doctor to take her.”

“Could be. Either way, I can’t guarantee that Ms. Rudkin won’t self-harm, and it was without that concern that I convinced her to allow herself to be admitted without having to forcefully have her committed.”

“Well, I’m glad she went willingly. I hope it helps her. Have you spoken to Doctor Linden?”

“I have, and her opinion is that she is not suicidal.”

“That’s good. I hope she’s right. After all, she probably knows best since she’s spent more time with her,” said the nurse.

Doctor Santiago still looked worried. “I’m confused, though.”

“How so?”

“Well, the doctor seemed – I don’t know – almost upset with the fact that she’s gone into the hospital and rather eager to have her released. She kept asking how soon I thought she would be discharged, and as I told her, that will be up to the psychiatrist to determine.”

Elizabeth frowned. “You mean she came to the hospital from your office?”

“Yes. And then I contacted Doctor Linden so that she could bring her some of her belongings.”

The two stared vacantly out at the parking lot for a moment, each lost in her own thoughts. Finally, Nurse Elizabeth said, “Well, I’ll be back the day after tomorrow. Tomorrow I have some family business to tend to, but hopefully, she’ll be in better spirits when I get back on Thursday.”

“Yes, let’s hope so. Did she say anything about staying at the doctor’s… anything about something strange going on?”

The nurse’s eyes blinked and flicked over to the doctor. “Actually, yes. She said something about something not being right, but she wouldn’t elaborate.”

“She ever mentioned being drugged?”

“Drugged? No.” The nurse looked at her curiously. “Why?”

“I’m not sure if she’s just being paranoid, which would be totally understandable after all she’s been through, or if perhaps the same person responsible for her husband’s death might be doing something to try to harm her as well.”

“Gosh, I hope not.”

Doctor Linden was fuming. Instead of Rain coming to live with her and turning to her as the chemically induced depression set into an already depressed person, her plans had backfired. Instead, Rain had freaked out, got her ass committed, and she talked too damn much, too. She really needed to shut her mouth and shut it fast.

She urged herself to get a grip, knowing that if she let herself grow more and more paranoid it would only screw things up worse.

Rain had been tested for evidence of gunpowder residue on her hands. Witnesses had also pointed out that they had seen her riding her bike the night of the murder. This meant that the police knew that Rain was not the shooter, which meant that they would now be focusing their investigation on other people.

The doctor stuck her hand out in front of her and watched it tremble. She wiped a beat of sweat from her forehead and commanded herself to calm down. “If you don’t calm down, the police are going to be onto you in no time. At this rate, you may as well point out the gun in the river and tell them where you threw it.”

The specialist splashed water on her face and then gathered some of Rain’s belongings. Then she glanced at the clock and saw that it was 1 o’clock. Lunchtime was over.

She arrived at the hospital fifteen minutes later and took the elevator up to the floor to which Rain was admitted.

She walked up to the nurses’ station which a petite black woman with surprisingly light gray eyes sat behind. “May I help you?”

“Yes, I’m Doctor Linden. I’m here to see Rain Rudkin. She was brought in yesterday.”

The nurse frowned. “Doctor Linda?”

“Linden. I’m her former endocrinologist. She moved in across from me before her husband was shot, and she’s been staying with me. I have some things of hers that she could use.”

“Oh, okay,” the nurse said, taking hold of the bag Julia placed on the counter. She searched the items for contraband and then asked the doctor to follow her.

They proceeded down a long corridor, floor shining like a polished stone. Julia could see an elderly man being pushed in a wheelchair down at the end of the corridor. A younger woman then emerged from one of the rooms, presumably a patient based on the pajamas and slippers she wore.

“How has she been doing?” the doctor asked, hoping to find out what others might know.

“Well, she’s certainly depressed. I’m new here so I haven’t had a chance to really get to know the patients very well just yet.”

Good, thought Julia.

The nurse led the way into a room with two beds. Rain was propped up in the bed closest to the door. The bed by the window was unoccupied.

“Hello there,” the nurse said with a smile. “Brought you some company.”

The nurse left the room as the doctor approached Rain’s bed.

She’d been crying.

She fought the urge to throttle her, but forced a smile in place and cooed, “Hi, sweetie. How are you feeling today?”

Rain’s face didn’t dissolve into a smile, happy to see her. Instead, she had become tense and had a frightened look in her eyes much like a deer caught in one’s headlights.

“I-I guess I’m okay, though I’ve certainly seen better days.”

Julia held up the bag to her and then placed it on a table by the bed. “Some things you might need so that your hopefully brief stay will be a little more comfortable.”

“Thanks,” Rain said softly.

It was time to get down to business. “Rain, what happened?”

Rain just looked at her through wet eyes. Finally, she gave a slight shrug and said, “I guess I just freaked, you know? I lost it.”

“Yeah, well, you really made me look bad.”

“What?” Rain asked, shocked and confused.

“You told Doctor Santiago that you thought I might be harming you in some way. Now why in the world would I do that, and why in the world would you say such a thing?”

Rain suddenly felt betrayed by Dr. Santiago. A flash of guilt and then fear crossed her azure eyes, though Julia could see that she tried to hide it.

“I-I’m sorry. I just…I.”

“You just what, Rain?” She’d gotten the bitch and she knew it.

“I know you mean well, and I’m sure I’m just being paranoid after losing my husband to a senseless murder, but I just got a bad feeling and was super depressed. I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to make you look bad.”

The doctor studied Rain’s face or at least as much of it as she could see since she had glanced down and then over to the window at the sunny sky beyond. She wasn’t buying it for a minute. Somehow, some way, Rain really suspected she was somehow responsible for her mental state.

“Well, you better knock it off, hun, because not only does it unjustly hurt me, a well-respected doctor in the community, but it leaves you with no place to go once you get out of here. You don’t want that, do you?”

Rain slowly shook her head as she studied her folded hands that rested in her lap. “No. I just want my husband back.”

“I know, honey,” the doctor said, softening up and placing a hand on Rain’s shoulder. “But he’s gone. It’s either me or the streets since you can’t afford your own place now, and somehow, I think you know which is the better choice.”

Rain slowly looked up at her. Gone was the fear and sorrow that had been in her cerulean eyes only moments ago.

“Get the fuck out of here.”

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