Myrah looked up when her husband came into the room. “Would you tell him who the hell he is?” She asked angrily.
Both she and Kinkaid were sitting on the edge of a bed that was positioned in the middle in a semi-darkened room at the far end of the ward. They were surrounded by blood pressure machines, call monitors and IV racks. The builder could see that his wife’s right eye bore a faint scratch and the cheek beneath it was a bit puffy. Kinkaid on the other hand looked healthier and more put together than he’d had ever seen the man before.
“Have you told him?” He grunted taking a seat on a nearby chair.
Once he’d passed through the doors and left Jill behind in the hallway the two of them had been easy enough to locate. All that the builder had needed to do was to follow the sound of the chatter from police radios. There were a lot of officers gathered around. Four of them were stationed outside in the hallway while two others stood in the room itself, their backs against the wall.
“Yes.” She frowned. “He doesn’t believe a word that I say.”
“Well you beat up his wife.” He laughed, looking over at the cops.
“She beat me up.” Myrah quipped. “I don’t even think that they’re legally married.”
The television that hung on the wall at the foot of the bed was showing scenes of some new meteor strike somewhere in some third world country. The sound was turned down but the picture made its own noise with images of burned bodies and crying children. There seemed to be more of these everyday.
“What are the police saying?” He asked.
His wife shot the officers a quick glance. “They don’t know anything.”
Kinkaid rubbed at his temples. “Please.” He said. “Please.”
“How long has he been like this?” Markoff asked.
“Pretty much the whole time.”
“And the accent?”
“Yeah.” Myrah frowned. “It’s weird.”
A nurse entered and began taking measurements of the older man’s body. She checked his pulse, shoved a thermometer in his ear and gave him a small cup of pills. “These should relax you and help you with your pain.” She said.
“Is there a doctor?” Markoff asked, looking up in her direction. She was a heavy set black woman who exuded an air of defiant authority.
“There sure is.” The nurse nodded. “He’s downstairs right now feeding himself.”
“What’s he say?”
She looked at Markoff as if he were another species. “He ain’t said nothing yet.” She shot back. “He’s got to eat.”
“So he hasn’t even looked at him?”
“He’s asked about him.” She answered. “We have sick people all over this place. The man’s been treating the flu all day long.”
Markoff cocked his head. “I thought that the flu was over.”
The nurse just stared.
From the corner one of the cops cleared his throat. “The flu has actually come back.” He interrupted. “Some Chinese plastic got shipped over here that weakened people’s immune systems. It was on the news.”
The builder shot a quick look at the television set. Bodies were being rushed through the streets piled into the backs of beat up trucks. Flames danced along the skyline of the slums dotting the hillside. A crater as big as a football field blackened the center of the unknown town. Military helicopters hovered above it. “How long will it be until the doctor gets up here?” He asked.
“He’ll be here when he gets here.” She said evenly. Draping her stethoscope over he shoulders she stood there until Kinkaid had taken his pills and then left.
“My wife.” The older man said. “I terribly worried about her and the baby.”
“I’m sure that she’s fine.” Markoff replied reaching over to give him a pat on his knee. “Listen, are you two really married.”
“I would never leave her.” Kinkaid said seriously.
“Well, that’s not what you told me over the phone a couple of months ago.” He said giving the man a long look. “Do you remember that?”
His neighbor squinted. “I’ve never met you before in my life.”
“So you think.” The builder grinned. “I’ve been paying your mortgage and fielding calls from a bunch of Jesus-freaks who want to find your body so they can hold a memorial service for a couple of months now. Everybody’s been real worried about you.”
“You’ve got to be mistaken.” He argued.
“No, I’m not.” The builder shot back.
“What’s with the accent man?” Markoff asked leaning forward.
Kinkaid shrugged. “It’s simply the way that I speak.”
“No.” Markoff argued. “You aren’t that refined. As a matter of a fact, you’re a straight up hell raiser and trouble maker. Maybe too much for your own good.”
“I have a condition.” The man said. “I’m dying.”
The builder looked at his wife.
“He thinks that he has a snake wrapped around his heart.” She explained.
He couldn’t help but laugh. “You got married again.” He said with obvious amusement. “I think that snake’s just the old you fighting against the institution of holy matrimony.”
Kinkaid regarded him with a hurt expression. “I love my wife.”
“Maybe so.” The builder nodded. “Still, you don’t have an English accent and you owe me about fifteen grand for paying the note on your house.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Kinkaid repeated.
Markoff looked up at the police officers. “What happens next?” He asked. “Do we just take him home or do you guys have to hold him?”
The cop who’d told him about the flu just shrugged. “This is beyond me.” He admitted. “The guy knows the girl and says that he’s the father of her child. He’s got his drivers license and his ID so it’s not like we could charge him or her with fraud. Maybe false imprisonment but that’s only if he wants to press charges and right now it’s not looking like he’s going to do that.”
“But he’s not himself anymore.” Myrah protested bitterly. “He doesn’t talk like that and he’d never be this concerned about a woman that he was with.”
“Maybe it’s not a bad thing.” The policeman offered. “I’ve heard on the news that couples were starting to stay together longer these days. This could have something to do with that.”
“He’s not the type to stay together.” Markoff argued. “He’s been married four times already. This new one, if it is a real marriage won’t be any different.”
Kinkaid seemed to be taken aback by the thought of what the builder had just said. “That’s so offensive.” He said angrily. “I would never think to leave a woman that was carrying my child.”
“Jesus Christ.” Myrah broke in. “What the hell did she do to you?”
He looked down at his hands. “She came and picked me up when I was alone and scared. She brought me home and then helped me feel like myself again.”
“We watched romantic comedies.” He smiled. “Delightful shows set in my home country. Ones starring good British actors.”
The cop pointed. “That right there probably explains the accent.”
Markoff sighed. “You’re not British Kinkaid.” He said seriously. “You don’t have a snake wrapped around your heart and even if you are really married you don’t love that woman. She’s just some girl.”
There was an uncomfortable silence in the room as they watched their neighbor consider what had been said. He ran his hands down his face and turned his eyes up to the ceiling seeming to try and connect the dots. Somewhere, deep inside him was the old Kinkaid struggling to get out.
“Let me see her.” He said at last balling up his fists and pounding the bed. “She’s carrying my bloody child!”
The cop took a step back and shrugged. “I honestly don’t know why we’re keeping him from her. I think it’s kind of noble to see a guy who’s so concerned about his family.”
The builder nodded.
After a moment doctor entered dabbing at a spot on his mouth with a napkin. “Randy Kinkaid?” He asked checking the chart at the end of the bed.
“That is my name.” The older man nodded.
“Well, good.” The doctor smiled. “That’s as good a start as any.”
They watched as he flipped through the pages on the clipboard reading what the nurses who’d attended to the man had written throughout the day. He was young, trim and dark haired. He had a long face and a pointed chin. His pale complexion made him appear tired and weak but his bedside manner was one of friendly confidence. “Can you tell me how you feel?” He asked, looking up.
“I’m rather scared.” Kinkaid replied. “I need to see my wife.”
“She’s fine.” The doctor assured him. “I checked in on her right before coming up here. She’s been given some Nifedipine to stop the contractions and she’s responding well. Is this your first child?”
The older man nodded.
“That’s good!” The doctor said grinning as he flipped through the chart again. “Do you recognize any of the people in this room?”
Kinkaid looked around. “No.” He answered.
“Great!” The doctor said making a note. “Do you have headaches or any kind of pain?”
“I have a headache right now.” He nodded. “My chest often hurts from the snake.”
“Snake in the chest.” The doctor said. He delivered the words slowly and deliberately as he wrote them into the file. “We can’t do much about that but otherwise you seem to be perfectly healthy. I could go ahead and clear you to leave anytime that you’d like”
Myrah stood up. “Can he go home now?”
The doctor grinned. “Sure!”
She looked towards the cops.
The one who’d been the only one to speak so far gave another little shrug. “I don’t see why not.” He said.
“Do you want to go home?” She asked patting the man gently on the shoulder.
Kinkaid pushed her hand away. “I want to see my wife!” He growled.