“Tarnished” Part 6


Hannah’s injuries landed her in the hospital. Even there, she isn’t safe. Late at night, the woman from the shop appeared in her room only to mysteriously disappear when Hannah called for help.

The nurse calls Bernie. While Hannah waits for him to arrive, a kindly woman keeps her company.

They stayed in companionable silence until Bernie arrived a few minutes later. He rushed to Hannah’s side, taking her hand in both of his.

“I shouldn’t have left you alone. I’m so sorry. The nurses said you’d sleep all night and I should go home and rest. I’m not leaving again.”

“Bernie, you’re so good to me. Really you are.” She smiled halfheartedly as he sat next to her on the edge of the bed.

The aide slipped out, smiling and waving as she left. Hannah leaned forward and whispered as soon as the door was closed.

“She was here, Bernie. The woman from the store. I don’t know how she got in or where she went, but she was here in this room!”

“That’s not possible, Hannah.”

“I’m telling you she was! And I had a nightmare. I was back in that basement and they were torturing me with those knives!” She shuddered, clutching his shirt with both hands. “And they were saying something.”

“What did they say?”

“It was weird, sort of like from the Bible or something. They kept saying, ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.’ It was so creepy!”

A shiver ran up and down her spine. Bernie put his arms around her, holding her tightly against him. She wept softly into his shirt, tears staining the light blue fabric.

“What’s happening to me, Bernie? What’s wrong? I’m so scared.”

“We’re checking you out today,” Bernie said suddenly. “I’ll call Zimmerer and tell her you’re leaving. I’m taking you away from here, home where I can keep an eye on you. I want you where I know you’ll be safe.”

“But is that such a good idea? The police….”

“They don’t know who did this and they aren’t really looking. They’ve got no leads, hell they don’t even have the shop! No. As soon as her office opens, I’m calling the doctor and we’re getting you out of here.”

“Okay, Bernie.” She wasn’t going to argue. She didn’t have the strength. Instead, she lay down and closed her eyes, feeling Bernie’s hand in hers.

~ * ~

She slept deeply with no dreams for about two hours. Breakfast was brought in on a plastic tray. She looked at the gray oatmeal, runny eggs and limp bacon with disgust. Shoving it aside, she stared disconsolately out the window, waiting for the doctor to come by and tell her she was going home. Around noon, Dr. Zimmerer walked briskly through the doors. She was frowning.

“They tell me you didn’t eat breakfast.”

“It was disgusting, Nancy. She couldn’t eat it. I got her a Danish and coffee at the coffee shop downstairs.”

“When God makes you a doctor, Bernie, tell me please? Until then, don’t do that unless I say so, okay?”

Chagrined, Bernie nodded, looking at the floor. Hannah’s eyes turned slowly to the physician pleadingly.

“I want to go home, Nancy. It’s awful here. I want Bernie to take me home.”

The doctor’s eyes softened and she looked from Bernie to Hannah and back. “On one condition. If anything weird happens, you call me anytime of the day or night. Are we clear on that?”

They nodded, gazing steadily at her, meeting her eye. She looked from one to the other appraisingly. “I’ll get the paperwork started. Bernie, go get her some lunch. We should be cleared by three.”

“Thanks, Nancy.”

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