There was rain. Hard rain. Soft rain. Rain that could only echo like a whisper. And there were many whispers... Hollow tones and chirps.
I felt nimble fingers through my hair and… hands in my hands. On my skin.
I saw pulsating blue and red flooding through my closed eyes and blurred figures dance in white fluorescence...
As the doctor waited for me to go on, perhaps a minute went by with nothing much more than a page for Dr. Babich and the sounds of the ventilator. It belonged to the patient sleeping in the bed next to mine.
Finally the doctor asked, “Anything else?”
She gave me a look. Her lips were pursed, and her toe tapped the tile.
There was something else, but I refused to tell her what.
“You can’t think of anything more? Nothing happy or blissful?”
Briefly I spied upon her, before closing my eyes again. Tightly, as I delved into emptiness for something more. Something happy; as instructed. For at least a minute I lay there in quiet reflection, searching.
I soon decided what I had stumbled across: a beautiful, faceless, red headed woman, came to mind all on my own. With no help from Dr. Dziedzic. (A lovely Polish name I’m told.) So I ignored her.
“Kamala? Why don’t you want to look at me today?”
Now I rubbed my whole face with my left and sighed again. Loudly enough for Dr. Dziedzic to hear. My eyes were closed, and my face was turned away from her.
There was a pause. A lull in the conversation like there often was whenever Dr. Dziedzic came to check up on me. She would eye me strangely. Leaning over the hospital bed. Making me nervous. Of course, the other reason I wouldn’t look up at her was the light. My eyes seemed quite sensitive to them today.
“Could you turn off the lights please? It’s bright enough as it is, and the windows are open.”
“And whatever you have me on right now, it’s either too much or not enough, because my jaw is starting to hurt again. I’d increase the drip myself, but…” My voice trailed off and I let the clink of the chain finish speaking for me, as I gave a tug on my restraints.
“Kamala… unfortunately, we need to keep the handcuffs on a little longer. You tried to stab a nurse with a piece of glass. Do you not remember—”
“Yes, of course I remember! I’m not a fucking idiot!” I snapped at her and made the woman jump. I panted and felt tears begin to well up. “I’m sorry… I just…”
Even though I’d once again turned my back to her, I could feel her deciding whether to call for assistance. Weighing whether my little outburst was warrant enough to sedate me. I don’t know if I’d watched too many movies, but I had the suspicion that once I had been treated in the hospital, I’d be transferred to an asylum. Because that’s the sort of woman Mieczysława Dziedzic was. Not a nice woman.
As per medical guidelines, she herself did not wear any perfume that I could detect, yet whenever she was in my presence, I imagined the smell of some kind of spirit. A familiar smell. Though before admittance I don’t believe I had ever seen her.
Tall and thin, she would always wear the iconic stethoscope and the labcoat. This time over a polka-dot dress. And along with her pumps rather than the prescribed scrubs, she looked even taller. The Pole’s skin was pale, her lips were plump and her smirk a pearly white. Her nose was as cute as a button. Her flaxen hair was long and thick, though she kept it in a bun. Dr. Dziedzic's appearance would look professional whenever we met, but she was still pretty enough to turn heads.
I on the other hand, probably looked ghastly. I probably looked like shit.
What was most off about her however were her eyes. Behind a set of rims were these… unimpassioned… poisonous cobalt eyes. Actually no. Poisonous is the wrong word. I think the word I meant to use was venomous.
A pair of hawkish nurses, one much older with her hooked beak, amber eyes and wispy hair, and a younger one with enough kohl on her long lashes and a hipster feathered warbonnet, swooped in alongside the paramedics. Both of the EMTs pushing along their gurney were equally unattractive. The first, slick and oily wore a handlebar moustache and had severe hypertropia, while the second, who shed dandruff like a snake sheds his skin, had mostly gums for a smile and was too young for dentures. None of them said much, but they seemed to know where to go.
They had been accompanied by Ms. Dowling earlier, but past a certain point, she wasn’t allowed further entry so she didn’t know much of what was happening.
However, she did know who was being led through the hospital on the gurney. Likewise, the general direction they were headed. It was her friend Kamala. On her way to the trauma ward.
Kate hadn’t exactly paid much attention to what was going on on the ride to the hospital. Not that she understood much of what the paramedics said to begin with. Their technical medical jargon which was too advanced for her would have been right up Kamala’s alley. But she couldn’t get past Kamala’s injuries.
Her tattered dress. Her bruised and battered body. Her swollen, bloody face. Realising the extent of Kamala’s physical injuries, Kate found it miraculous that the girl managed to blink her eyes at all, let alone as many times and as wide as she did. She at least knew Kamala was alive, but once she disappeared behind those doors… All that of course was skin deep. And Kate could tell something much worse had happened.
What felt like days passed by for Kate who was still ignorant of what was happening regarding her friend, leaving her alone to her thoughts. Silently wondering to herself. Uncomfortable in the low-backed chair, with the steel frame and the peeling ecru vinyl. And she felt like she might be sick, only she knew that nothing would come up. And just a few hours ago, it looked like it might turn into a nice day.
Kate nearly said out loud how unpredictable the weather could be. Although she didn’t actually mean the weather.
Soon, people came to join her. Some to see other patients. Some curious to learn more than what Kate knew to tell them.
There was Jack of course, who was inclined to come since he was Kamala’s boss. Ms. Anderson came too. And for some reason Aaliyah was there and she had dragged poor Aaron Schaffer back to the hospital. But Kate was too tired to say anything or roll her eyes at them. Last but not least was Alex Kensington, who apparently was Kamala’s secret lover. She eyed the four of them, but she remained despondent and her expression blank.
Finally Ms. Anderson spoke, “Where is she?”
Her assistant only motioned with her head.
“The emergency room?” Kate didn’t even nod to reply. Her silence was enough.
Looking obviously bored, slumped in a chair that could demoralise nearly anyone, Aaliyah jolted up and groaned. Loudly enough to stir everyone else in the reception area. Then true to form, Aaliyah interjected. “Urgh! Why don’t we know what’s going on? It’s been hours!”
“What?” said Aaliyah, not giving heed to Aaron’s plea for delicacy. “How am I being insensitive for asking what everyone is clearly thinking? I mean, we should know something by now, shouldn’t we?”
“You and I have been here for less than a minute.”
“Even so,” Alex replied, “it has been hours for her.”
“Hmph. Suddenly concerned I see,” Aaliyah fired at the director.
“Did I stutter?”
“Jesus, what is your problem? I just agreed with you!”
Aaliyah threw her head back and gave a pompous laugh, “Right now? You are, honey. You’re my problem. Oh and um, why don’t you remind us… what you’re even doing here?”
“I—” Alex stopped. She looked around at her co-workers and then everyone else in the waiting room, who all seemed excited to be watching the latest episode of General Hospital. And with everyone there, even Aaliyah, she reconsidered answering altogether.
“I’m here because Kamala is my BFF,” Aaliyah carried on haranguing her director, looking quite pleased with herself as she did it. “I know why Jack is here. And as cold as she is, I even know why Ms. Anderson is here. She’s got to cover her ass. But… why are you here?”
Helena interrupted, “Miss Greene, this is neither the time nor the place—” but was herself immediately cut off.
“Give it a rest, Ice Bitch. You’ll notice we’re not on the set? You know? A place where you have no power?”
Aaliyah spun about in her flashy skirt and continued her inquisition. “So? Why are you here, Mrs. Finnick?”
“What the hell is she going on about, Aussie?” asked Jack, who now rose to his feet like everyone else had; intrigued.
“I’m here because she’s my friend!” lied Alex.
Unfortunately her tone wasn’t quite convincing. And the diva called her out on it. Her words a-chuckle at the start. “Oh please! Like anyone believed that! Why don’t you just put it out there? You’ll feel much better!”
“Alex, don’t indulge her. She’s just trying to antagonise you!” said Helena.
“OMFG! Just shut up! No one is talking to you! Besides, I’m sure your girlfriend can stick up for herself.” The quip silenced Helena.
“Aussie, what are they talking about?” Jack insisted.
“Go on, Aussie. Why don’t you tell him? Tell him or... or maybe I can tell him instead? It’s not like you have to spare anyone’s feelings, right? A faithful, married woman like you?”
Alex was on the ropes. She found all she could do was reiterate, “I’m— She and I are friends. We’re work friends.”
“Really? ‘Work friends?’ Is that the term?”
Giving Aaliyah a light nudge, Aaron piped in at the last second, and pointed out that everyone with a phone was recording the melodrama. That the cast and crew were on display.
Before storming off, Ms Kensington strode up to Aaliyah and sneered in the actress’s face. So close she could blow smoke. And then her voice dropped low. Low, but forceful as she fought her tears. “You know what, Aaliyah? I don’t have to explain anything to you. I owe you nothing. Because it’s none of your fucking business.”
In the ensuing quiet, Alex left, headed presumably for the restroom. Jack smirked at the nearest camera phone, but he himself sauntered off in disappointment. Out of the hospital completely. And when Helena looked around the waiting room, she discovered that Kate too had vanished. Without a word. Where every stall was wider than average, each one with a set of hand rails along the sides; she reappeared alone in the women’s lavatory.
Despite not being finished and still feeling ill, Kate couldn’t vomit. Only then, her ribs and diaphragm were tender from all the dry heaving and gagging. Simply from imagining what may have happened to Kamala. Although Kamala had obviously been beaten. The question was ‘why?’
Kate went through the reasons why. She left the cubicle and leant against its door. And then another woman entered. Her company was the director, Alex Kensington. Kate hid her dirty look before she was caught wearing it.
There was no shame in it, since Kate had done the same and run through her makeup, but Alex looked about ready to do the same. Only she was startled when she came across Ms. Dowling.
“Sorry,” she said. “I just needed to…”
As she was about ready to depart, Kate protested, “It’s okay. Use this one if you want to.”
“No, I was hoping to touch up my makeup. But if you’re in here; I’ll find another—”
“Seriously. It’s alright. I was done anyway.”
“Okay.” Slowly Alex backed inside again.
Kate stepped past the woman and let the door swing out. Again, nearly without a word. But she stopped short. She closed her eyes and sighed, before copying Alex’s movements and returning to the bathroom.
“...Actually I have to know. Is it just a rumour?”
“Kamala.” Alex immediately looked worried. “Did you fuck her?”
“Look, I’m not jealous or anything. I don’t care if she’s a lesbian or if you are, or even if you’re married. Frankly if you did, you made her very happy. Like intoxicated happy. I know she’d have a big smile and blush a lot of the time because she was infatuated with Jack, but she wasn’t happy. Not until you came along.” Kate paused for a moment and saw Alex give the slightest, most subtle of smiles. “But she’s my best friend and I care about her. Way more than that stuck up bitch, Aaliyah ever will. Do you understand?”
It would have been a strange thing to see Kate threatening her when Alex was well over a head taller and easily had fifty pounds on the small skinny girl.
“So did you sleep with Kamala?”
Reluctantly, Alex said, “Yes.”
Kate nodded, but her unexpected reply came out a little coarse, “Did you hurt her?”
Immediately came a rebuttal, “NO!”
“No! Absolutely not! Why would you even—”
“Alright fine! Fine! Just... shut up then.”
“You thought I had something to do with what happened?”
“You don’t think it’s within the realm of possibility?”
“I didn’t lay a finger on her.”
“You mean today?”
“Hey!” Kate soon muttered, suddenly aware of how loud she might be speaking, “Hey, I just want to figure out what happened to my friend.”
“How are you suddenly beyond reproach?”
“I would never—”
“Right. Never. Listen, I know I can’t prove it, but I didn’t hurt anyone. In fact,” Alex’s voice turned to whisper as well, “In fact, I rescued Kamala from certain danger last night.”
“What danger? And why didn’t she tell me?”
“For obvious reasons, I insisted that Kamala not tell anyone what we did. But I assume she neglected to say anything about Patterson because she was daydreaming most of this morning. And yes, it wasn’t hard for me to notice that she was miles away.”
“Hold on. Patterson? Slimy Patterson?”
“That’s the one. She spoke to him last night.”
“Why would she—”
“The way she described it, she was ambushed. But I intervened before anything could happen. Or…” Alex let out a heavy sigh. Kate could see the regret on her breath. “...I guess I just delayed the inevitable.”
“Slimy Patterson?” repeated Kate.
“I suppose I never would have suspected him.”
“I’d thought it was someone else, but he does make sense… Jeez. That fucker!”
Alex gave a puzzled look. “Who else did you think it was?”
Kate raised a single eye to Alex, as if to pretend she had forgotten. “No one. It doesn’t matter now.”
“Maybe I shouldn’t tell you. You wouldn’t—”
Kate was hesitant to give up the name. Perhaps even opposed to it, as if she’d made a mistake not just in bringing up the subject, but birthing the idea as well. “Okay. But keep in mind—”
Alex owled a third and final time, “Who!?”
“Ms. Anderson. Helena.”
“You can’t be serious. Where’s the evidence?”
“Well maybe not, but an argument could be made.”
“I don’t know.”
“When? When would she have done it? And why?”
“Well, it’s hardly a secret that Ms. Anderson took issue with you and Kamala.”
“So you’re suggesting that she attacked her over it? Helena?”
“How much do you actually know about her private life?”
Admittedly, Alex didn’t know much. They would flirt of course, and as hard as she had tried, she had barely cracked the shell of the nut that was Helena.
“I’ve heard,” Kate continued, “that there was some delinquency in her younger years. Then of course, she was close to Kamala’s family as a child. And I’m sure you’ve been witness to phone conversations with her mother. Their relationship is quite strained.”
For however long Alex paused to consider what Kate said, there was still denial from Alex. “No way, that’s preposterous.”
But Kate wasn’t finished, “And she had a window of opportunity.”
“There was at least half an hour during filming where she was alone. When it was raining. When we were all on set. You wouldn’t happen to know where she was in that time?”
“Yeah, she was in her trailer.”
“Right. But she was alone.”
The wheels were turning but Alex still didn’t believe it. Perhaps she was upset, but she didn’t think Helena hated Kamala. Certainly not to the extent that she could beat her to within an inch of her life. But then Ms. Kensington realised what she doubted wasn’t the motive but the resolve. Alas, she still didn’t know Helena well enough. She didn’t know if someone like her, who stifled their emotions, always kept them bottled up.
Then there was the matter of proof. Neither Kate nor the police had even begun to or had a chance to collect evidence. When she and Helena were in the trailer where… Helena found Kamala… nothing stuck out as being a definitive clue. But she hadn’t truly looked. Her fingerprints would have been everywhere she supposed, it was the director’s trailer. It wasn’t out of bounds to her. And since she discovered the injured girl, prints on Kamala’s body could suddenly be disqualified. There were signs of a struggle, but it was possible Helena could have overpowered Kamala by surprise.
What didn’t fit, one of the last few pieces to this theory were the hints, the marks of different abuses that Alex saw and hoped were all a part of her imagination. She wondered if Helena’s jealousy; if her rage could drive her to do something so awful? So sinister?
“Although you’re probably right. That… sonofabitch Patterson…” Kate rubbed her eyes, and put her hand in Alex’s. “Hey, I’m sorry I… I’m sorry I accused you. It doesn't make up for it but, I do like you.”
For a moment, Alex lightly held her hand, but hardly noticed the gesture or the apologetic smile.
Sniffling and clearing her throat, Kate continued, “Ugh, look at this. I have missed messages from Twynam’s people, KTCA, The Hollywood View, Mélange… And now, I’m getting calls from Mr. Monroe’s office. They probably want to know what’s going on on set. I feel a little guilty now for suspecting my boss. And now I have to dump all of this information on her.”
Simply mentioning Mr. Monroe made Alex ponder. For only a few hours ago, Helena had told the crew that filming would continue without either hers or Jack’s assistants. And though she thought she had convinced her to suspend work, when she looked back on their conversation, the producer hadn’t actually agreed. If she remembered correctly, her words were: “We’ll sort something out later.”
Aloof and uninspiring words on their own, but in light of events, if someone could call Ms. Anderson suspect, then her dedication was more than a little distressing.
Suddenly, a nurse missing only warpaint stumbled into the bathroom. Her badge said Heidi Cuthbert, but scribbled underneath in black ink read Pocahontas.
However offensive her attire might have been, Kate didn’t seem to care. She exclaimed, “Hey! You took my friend off to Trauma. What happened to her? Where is she?”
Both Kate and Alex became worried when the pale woman grew magically paler, and they thought the next words she might utter were ‘the morgue.’ No news was better than bad news.
Yet Heidi began her spiel; her rehearsed speech for when people asked her the same question, though couldn’t answer or didn’t want to. “Ma’am, if you’re inquiring after a patient, you have to—”
“Please just tell us,” Kate motioned to Alex and herself. “I saw you wheel her in. Save some time; where did she go?”
The women strode back to the waiting room, purpose and determination in their steps. Apparently, she had been taken to recovery due to patient overflow. Something to do with multiple casualties in a gang shootout.
Aaron and Aaliyah had both gone by then, and had been replaced by another man. There was an air of justice about him; the way he stood. He towered over Helena with a wide smile on his face. Seeing him made Alex slow down, but when Kate said “Good, the police are here,” it gave the director pause.
Not five minutes ago she had discussed the theory that Helena had, or could have hurt Kamala. Now there she was being interrogated by a police officer. Indulging that theory. Giving it credence.
Eventually the two of them looked her way and saw Kate approaching to tell them the news. The cop pulled a sleeve of his leather jacket as he gave Kate his attention.
Helena adjusted herself as well, brushing away from her eyes what hair had come loose. And briefly, she gave Alex a smile. Despite her features having softened and her brows relaxed, Alex could exchange neither a grin nor a simper.