Chapter 11

Evangeline felt suffocated by the incredible heat. The air was chocked back by the incredible amount of steam that replaced the cool air. Her clothes felt heavy where they stuck to her body. She was soaked in beads of sweat that drenched every inch of her. At first, she didn’t open her eyes, struggling to breathe in even one breath of fresh, cool air. But her senses failed, the struggle against the muggy smell that seemed to engulf her was making her restless in her own skin.

Her hands shot immediately to her neck. She was fully awake now and instantly reminded of the choking seatbelt as she felt the pain of its hold still fresh in her chest. Evangeline sat up immediately, struggling to remember where she was. But she didn’t, she didn’t remember anything about this place. She was in a simply furnished room; one bed, a table and a chair and a side lamp that bathed the room in soft yellow light. The walls were white, bare and cold.

The nothingness of the room jumped out at her immediately; there was nothing that seemed to connect to a feeling of life. The sheets she lay on were a dull gray; the lamp, plain white and the chair and table made from plain wood. It didn’t make sense. Hows and whys flew through her mind as she attempted to make sense of the situation. Evangeline tried to think logically, keep your cool. There had to be some plausible explanation to her being here, at this moment, in this place and time.

But even as she tried to peace together fragments from the last twenty four hours, nothing in her short term memory could account for this. The last thought she clung to was like a nightmare, spinning cab, screaming taxi driver, the seatbelt, her neck, not being able to breathe.

Evangeline hadn’t realized that as she fought to remember her breathing took on a life of its own. Her lungs seemed to be burning now as she took in bigger and bigger gulps of air. The room was hot but the air was plentiful. Her body seemed not to respond to the logic of the situation. Her heart beat quickened, drumming in her throat at an incredible speed. She hadn’t realized her fingers curling into the sheets she lay under.

She was trying to breathe but it wasn’t working. It was as if her body was breaking down on her. Breathe, she willed it, BREATHE. She had felt like this only a few other times in her life, most notably, the very last time was when her father had passed away, she knew this feeling all too well. Evangeline was having a panic attack. By now her ears were ringing, drowning out the sound of her struggle for air. She closed her eyes and prayed for the feeling to pass, but she knew she was steadily losing this battle against herself.

The door directly in front of her suddenly shot open. A pale brunette in a simple cream-colored dress rushed in to place herself on the bed beside the convulsing woman. Evangeline’s dulled senses didn’t respond immediately as the woman’s hands closed over her, pulling her closer as she peeled back the strands of hair that clung to her drenched forehead.

“C’mon honey,” she whispered. “Don’t do this to me. Not again.”

She had brought in with her a cool wet cloth that she now wiped about Evangeline’s face. Evangeline hadn’t noticed the towel; neither had she noticed the glass of water the woman had brought in with her.

“The doctor will be here any moment now. He’ll take care of you.”

Discarding the towel, the woman brought the glass of water to Evangeline’s lips. She drank with undeniable urgency, the cool water helping to lower her temperature. Taking the empty glass, the woman started to rock Evangeline. It was several minutes before she felt her trembling frame began to settle down and her breathing start to return to normal.

“That’s it,” she crooned. “That’s it.”

It would be several more minutes before Evangeline finally opened her eyes again, returning to the land of the living.

“Thank you,” she would whisper. “. . .for saving my life.”

“Oh, honey,” the woman would smile back, “you have the doctor to thank for that.”


John turned as a familiar voice called his name.

“Hey, what are you doing here?” Michael eyed him with suspicion, where they stood in the hospital hallway.

“I’m here to see Evangeline; I need to see her…to apologize.”

“They didn’t tell you.” Michael cocked his head towards the nurse’s station.

“Tell me what?” John leaned in closer. “Is Evangeline alright?”

“That’s just it.” Michael shrugged, “the nurses say she checked herself out earlier this morning. She seemed pretty upset.”

John turned immediately making a beeline for the exit, forcing Michael to stumble after him.

“Hey Bro,” Michael continued while they waited for the elevator. “Look, it’s probably none of my business, but whatever’s going on between you two, you need to fix it. It’s not good for either one of you.”

“Easier said Mikey,” he half smiled as her entered the elevator. John waited for the doors to close before slouching back against the elevator wall. He couldn’t go on like this; he couldn’t sleep a wink just thinking about her and them and this whole mess. His heart hurt when he thought of her having to go home alone. Funny enough he couldn’t remember what they were fighting about. Of course, there was the whole mess with Gannon and the Santi case. But neither one of those things changed the way he felt about her. He didn’t know what he was going to say or do, but he had to do something. It didn’t make sense that two people who cared for each other so much could hurt each other with equal intensity.

He would take his fare share of the blame for this mess. But right now he didn’t want her to be alone. He didn’t want her to ever be alone.

Driving out of the underground hospital parking facility, John pulled out his phone, before speed dialing her number. His heart dropped when all he got was her voice mail.

“Hey it’s me,” he started, “look, I’m on my way…we need to talk. I’ll see you when I get there.”

He hung up abruptly, annoyed by trying to express his feeling to a damn machine. Easing into traffic he merged onto the freeway, bearing down on the gas pedal as he made his way to her home.

John pulled up almost half an hour later, recognizing a familiar face as he eased into a parking space at her apartment complex.

“Hey,” John said.

Nora smiled down at him as he ascended the stairs to the apartment building.

“Hey, yourself. I was just about to call you,” she replied. “How’s she doing?” She nodded towards the building as John joined her on the stoop.

“I wouldn’t know,” he shrugged, “I just got word from the hospital and decided to head down here. She didn’t call you?” He seemed genuinely surprised. Nora shook her head.

“She wouldn’t return my phone calls and I’ve been out here for a while. I thought maybe she might be with you.”

John stared at her, more than a little confused. His gaze shifted to the building before scanning the driveway. Her car was in the parking lot but that could mean anything. She hadn’t driven it since the night of the gala.

“How long have you been out here?” he posed to Nora.

“I dunno…” She stole a glance at her watch. “Ten, maybe fifteen minutes. Maybe she’s still asleep.”

Maybe wasn’t good enough. It was past noon and Evangeline rarely slept in late. Without hesitation, John whipped out his car keys, before identifying a single key from the bunch that opened the apartment complex.

“John?” Nora saw the look in his eye and she followed him up the stairs to the third floor.

He didn’t answer as he took the stairs two at a time. Nora caught up with him as he sauntered down the hallway, stopping at her door.

“It’s probably nothing. She’s been through a lot and needed the rest. We’re probably just overreacting.” She could see his wheels turning, sensing that he wouldn’t buy into her theory until he saw it for himself.

Moments later they entered the apartment. Nora watched from the foyer as John rapidly checked every room. Her bedroom was empty. She hadn’t slept in her bed; there was a cold stillness about the place that he had never felt before. Her smell filled the space but she wasn’t there. John just stood there, hands on hips, trying not to worry as he felt her essence and let it envelope him, only serving to make him miss her even more.

“She’s not here,” John called out to Nora, where she was still standing in the foyer.

When Nora didn’t answer he returned to the living area where she was still standing.

“Where could she be?” Nora said half to herself. “She’s not in any condition to be up and about.” She tucked her hands back into the pockets of her trench coat, feeling a shiver travel down her spine. She didn’t know whether it was the fact that Evangeline had just gotten out of the hospital or something else, but she was worried, very worried.

“I dunno,” John sighed as he circled the living area, looking for what, he didn’t know. “Maybe she . . .”

He immediately stopped dead in his tracks as he spotted the postcard that lay on her kitchen table. He noticed it because he had seen it before. There was one just like it sitting on the desk in his office.

“John?” Nora came to stand beside him, “What is it?”

He didn’t answer as he picked it up and flipped it over, reading it slowly.

‘Old Friends Never Die.
Dead men never cry.
But those who are loved may sleep forever.’

“What is it?” she asked reading the card that he had handed to her.

“I got one just like it,” John looked confused. “I don’t know what the hell it means or why Evangeline is getting the same message.” He rubbed his forehead…this doesn’t make any sense.

“It’s a poem, I’ve heard it before.” Nora flipped it over once more before handing it back to him. “I read it in college. What are you thinking?”

He just shook his head, not knowing how to answer.

“Who are you? Where am I?” Evangeline pulled away from the stranger. “What’s going on? Where…” She started to move away, but against her will she collapsed back onto the bed. Her legs were weak and her body was still in shock from all that had transpired over the last forty-eight hours.

“Take it easy, my name is Celia.” The woman brushed her upper arm, smiling in an attempt to reassure her. “You took a pretty bad beating with that accident. It’s a good thing Steve found you.”

Evangeline let her head rest in her hands for a moment before returning to her previous line of questioning. “The accident!” she blurted. “I don’t understand. There was a car. We landed in a ditch and…and…”

“Steve, the doctor, he pulled you from the wreckage.” She smiled sweetly. “Saved your life, he did. He takes care of all of his patients. Don’t worry, before long you’ll be good as new.”

“I-I don’t know how…to thank you.” She seemed a little relieved. “What about the cab driver? People will be looking for me.”

“Like this John…” she smiled. Evangeline’s head shot up. “You were running a fever earlier.” The woman’s hand moved to Evangeline’s forehead. “You kept repeating his name. Not to worry everything is taken care of. When you’re good and ready, Steve and I will make sure everything is sorted out.”

Usually Evangeline would be skeptical of the situation. Fragments of her memory were distorted and she had just had an accident. Now she was being cared for by a strange woman, whose kind smile and gentle demeanor seemed to soothe her.

“We want to make sure you are good and strong before you go hopping around again. Looks like you already had a bit of trouble.” Celia nodded to Evangeline bandaged side. Her fractured rib had been rebandaged and retaped.

“You did this?” Evangeline touched her hand to the wound. When Celia nodded, she seemed genuinely surprised. “I don’t understand. Who are you? Where am I?”

“All you questions will be answered soon,” she smiled, “Let’s just say I’m a friend of a friend.” She flashed that sweet smile again. Evangeline could feel the room spin, she leaned into Celia for support. “That’s the stuff Steve gave you for the pain.” She continued. “You poor girl, you’re probably starving, I’ll get you something to eat.”

As Celia got up, Evangeline collapsed back onto her pillow; nursing the onset of a headache. She closed her eyes waiting for the moment of unsteadiness to pass.

A lifetime later, Evangeline opened her eyes again. She realized she had fallen asleep again, more than a little annoyed she swung her bare feet from the bed. Her side still hurt, her thoughts were still muddled, and her head still spun. Somehow she was even more confused than before. Her eyes shifted about the empty room. The woman…where was she? Beside her on the bedside table, lay the wet cloth and the glass of water, there was still a little left. She reached for the glass, raising it. Bringing it to her lips, she noticed a white powder-like residue had settled at the bottom. Instantly, she lowered the glass back onto table with a large thud.

“Oh my God,” she got up, steadying herself on the bedpost. Her legs felt heavy and the water had left a bad after taste. Shielding her eyes from the light of the lamp, she walked across the small room, making her way to the closed door.

Turning the door handle, Evangeline was surprised to find it open. Outside her room, Evangeline was instantly blinded. Bright Fluorescent fixtures lit what seemed like a never-ending hallway. She raised her hand in an attempt to shield the light.

“Celia,” she called out, her voice hoarse. But all that came out was a loud whisper. Picking a direction, she looked away from the light overhead, feeling along the red brick wall as she mad her way down the hall. Her eyes slowly adjusted as she moved further and further down the hallway. Somewhere in the distance she could hear voices.

“Celia,” she tried to call out again, but nothing came out. She let the voices guide her until finally the hallway opened up into what appeared to be a large lobby. The light was still blinding as she tried to look up. Instantly, she made out the woman’s face, Celia.

“Help me please…” She finally rested against the wall facing Celia. The woman looked up to see Evangeline and smiled.

“Look who finally got up.”

Evangeline hadn’t noticed the man standing beside Celia with his back to her.

“What did you do to me?” She closed her eyes, trying for the umpteenth time to clear her thoughts.

“Gave you something to help you relax.” A male voice spoke this time. Celia was moving toward Evangeline.

“No,” Evangeline pushed herself from the wall. Something about this wasn’t right. This place, this woman, that man. She looked up at Celia; she had to get away from them.

“What are you doing to me…” she started to pull away, her eyes moving to the man who had spoken. I know that voice. For several minutes she studied his face, transfixed by his appearance. I know that face. I know that face, I know that face, I know that face, I know…

“Oh my God,” she whispered as she recognized him. “Evangeline…” Celia spoke but she didn’t respond, instead she used all her strength to push away from Celia, before turning the corner and heading back down the hallway r she had come from.

“Somebody help me!” she tried to scream, stumbling as she willed her legs to move, traveling as fast as she could. “HELP!”

Her cry for help was drowned out as she felt the strong arms that had rescued her from the cab take hold of her. Evangeline clawed and flayed, thrashing as the strong subdued. She tried to scream but her cry was muffled as a piece of cloth closed over her mouth and nose. Her thrashing creased substantially. She was looking up at him as she inhaled the chloroform fumes, realizing what he was doing. As she collapsed in his arms, Evangeline fought to remember.

I know that face. The doctor. Steve…Steven. Steven Haver.

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