“Hi,” Angelica greeted to two women sheepishly. She looked worn to a frazzle and dishevelled, understandably so. “Morris told me you were coming… You’re friends of Joy Brighterday, right?”
“Yes,” Dr. Morris answered politely as she and Lucent stepped through the door. “I’m Dr. Sage Wiseman, and my friend is Lucent Keener, nurse practitioner and social worker. We are good friends of Joy Brighterday and, in fact, she was so concerned about you, Angelica, that she asked us to come by.”
“And we’re very happy to be here, Angelica,” Lucent quickly added. “Is this o.k.?” She knew they had to have Angelica’s compliance, reluctant or not, before they could proceed. Of course, both women were speaking clearly but as softly, kindly and reassuringly as possible.
Angelica just put her hands up to her face and started sobbing. Sage and Lucent stood for a moment to give her some time. No fast moves; that was the key here. They had to remain calm, cool, and collected. So it was only after a couple of minutes that Sage stepped forward slowly and simply, gently put on hand on Angelica’s left shoulder. “Hey, Angelica, why don’t we go sit down in your living room … where we can talk a little bit, o.k.?”
Angelica complied and sat down in one corner of the sofa with Lucent sitting down in the other, so as to be close but not too close. It was actually a very comfortable couch, and after a long, emotionally draining day she suddenly felt a huge yawn rising that she only barely managed to stifle. Oh dear Lord, help me stay awake and alert! Sage took one of the recliners.
“Angelica, if you don’t mind, before we start talking, I’d like to take your vitals and maybe ask a couple of nurse-type questions,” Lucent chuckle a little to try to lighten the thick atmosphere just a bit. Angelica nodded her head.
“Morris trusts Joy Brighterday,” she said in a very hollow, monotone voice. “He doesn’t trust anyone, usually … except me. So he said, ‘If I trust her, you should trust her, and they are her friends, so you need to trust them, too.’”
“And you certainly can,” Lucent said as she wrapped the blood pressure cup around Angelica’s left arm.
“Angelica, we are honestly here to do anything and everything we possibly can for you … for you. Morris is with Joy, although he’ll be home tonight, but something tells me he’s getting all the help he needs tonight, right there in that hospital room … so he’s o.k.” Lucent and Sage smiled at each other. “And we want to at least begin helping you to be o.k.”
“Ha!” Angelica burst out, which didn’t surprise either one of them. “How the hell can I ever be o.k. again? If you know what happened, and you’re a damn psychologist, and you’re f***ing nurse practitioner and social worker, then you know good and damn well I’m never, ever, ever going to be o.k. for the rest of my miserable life.”
“One hundred forty over 89; heart rate at 102,” Lucent spoke calmly, which she knew was absolutely best in this situation. It’s not as if she, or certainly Sage Wiseman, had just crawled out from under a rock somewhere. No, they were not only trained and educated professionals, they’d both been down in plenty of nasty trenches, too. They were not just veteran healthcare providers by now; they were veteran healthcare warriors. Lucent opted for the tympanic temperature check, and stuck her little gadget slightly inside Angelica’s ear. Her patient was quite compliant with this; she didn’t budge. “Ninety-nine point two, so you’re running a low-grade fever … elevated blood pressure and heart rate. Do you frequently, or periodically, check your blood pressure?”
“No,” Angelica answered now more calmly. When Lucent talked like this – straightforward and professionally – it made her feel more like she was in a doctor’s office and had to be a good patient … which was, strange as it may seem, somewhat comforting. She began to feel as if she really was authentically in the hands of professionals. “But the last time I went to the doctor … umm, about six months ago, my blood pressure and everything was fine.”
“So no history of problems with heart, blood pressure… Are you on any medications?”
“No,” Angelica shook her head. “We prefer the more homeopathic remedies, organic foods … the whole nine yards, you know? Never been much on meds! In fact, no disrespect, but I actually hate going to the doctor, even for my annual physical.”
“That’s quite alright,” Lucent answered as she put her toys, as she called them, back in her toy bag. “You’re certainly not the only one who feels that way, believe me.” Lucent smiled, which brought a very weak smile in return.
“Now, I am going to ask you an upfront, direct question, Angelica. If you do not care to respond, then that is understandable,” Lucent maintained her calm, professional voice with just a light coating of friendliness. “Do you hurt, or feel pain, anywhere in your body and, if so, can you tell me precisely where, please?”
“Wow! You mean you don’t know? Or can’t guess?”
“Yes, I could probably guess all sorts of information but, Angelica, it’s so very important for me to keep you in the loop, so to speak. I’m here to come along side you, as it were, to help you … as a professional, yes, but it’s imperative for me to keep everything as clear and open and honest as possible … so, my dear, I just need you to tell me where it hurts, and I promise you, this is not leaving this room.”
“Certainly not,” Sage echoed and smiled kindly at Angelica. “Everything here falls under doctor-patient confidentiality. And it will remain private, unless at some point you want or need to divulge any information from this … check-up and consultation.”
“Whoa! Sounds pretty damn official … but o.k. I guess I don’t have to worry about either of you broadcasting everything, so … here goes.” Angelica shook her long hair back behind her shoulders. “Yeah, I hurt. I hurt like hell, which is why I popped two tramadol when I got home … along with a couple of muscle relaxers, all chased down with an ice-cold beer… So, alright, then … I do have meds. Anyway, my breasts are particularly sore, still red and probably bruising by now. My vagina is on fire and feels like thousands of sharp, little swords are being jabbed into it and all around. My rectum practically feels the same way; it’s terribly uncomfortable to sit. My jaws ache, and I’m very nauseated; I’ve already up-chucked three times to get … his poison out of me. My stomach hurts from being punched three times, and my right arm is sore from being twisted behind my back, which is also sore and burning from where his belt missed my buttocks and landed a few inches above… Other than that, I’m doing fine, doc!”
Angelica looked empty and drugged, like death warmed over. Not surprising, either; more than her dignity, she’d had her life ripped out of her. Wiseman naturally wondered about Morris, too, but he was with Joy Brighterday and that knowledge comforted her a great deal.
“Angelica, I know you may not want to hear this, but you really should go to the hospital,” Sage advised. “Even if you’re not ready to see the police, you would receive better and more comprehensive treatment there than we can give you here, my dear.” She continued to speak slowly, clearly and non-abrasively, yet she could tell immediately the suggestion went over like a lead balloon. So could Lucent.
“O.k. It’s ‘no,’ then, and that’s fine,” Lucent chanced a hand on Angelica’s left knee. Angelica didn’t seem to mind… In fact, she didn’t seem to feel. “If I may, then, I would very much like to do what I can here, Angelica. I’ve brought my medical travel bag, and so I can offer at least some immediate, minimal to moderate treatment … but, even still, if you will, I’d like to see you in my office tomorrow morning at the Hart Clinic. There I’m better equipped and can do more.”
“O.k. Fine…” she replied after some hesitancy. “Morris would want me to do it … but I don’t know what the hell good all of this is going to do in the long run. We’re stuck. That grotesque bastard has us…” Then she stopped and looked up, shocked. She’d about spilled it all!
“It’s alright,” Dr. Wiseman replied. The direct approach was best now. “We know, and so does the Reverend Brighterday, and she’s already forgiven Morris, and she’s bound and determined to help your son … and you, any way she can, to the greatest extent she can, and that’s why we’re here. We know… we know. And we really do care, and we really do want to help, and if you let us, we will also help as much as we can, to the greatest extent we can. This is a collective effort, with an awful lot of fine people involved.”
“You mean…” Angelica was stunned. “And Joy Brighterday has actually forgiven him? What the hell… And what do you mean by collective effort? How many other people know? How many others are involved?”
“Angelica … we and Joy and a few others, at least, already knew – or, at least, had very strong suspicions – before we even thought about coming over here,” Dr. Wiseman answered calmly. “And, like Joy, we’d already reconciled ourselves to not only forgive … but to rescue.”
“And now,” Lucent jumped in before more could be said, “we really need to look you over and do what we can do here tonight, so … do you have a fairly sizeable bathroom, Angelica?”
“Uh … yeah, in my bedroom … umm, the master bathroom, it’s pretty big.” She was still stunned and really didn’t know what to say. As they made their way back into the bedroom, Dr. Wiseman did want to go ahead and nail down the basic facts, since, for all practical intents and purposes, it was all fairly well out in the open and clear anyway. It was important, though, for Angelica to verbalize it, not in graphic detail – that would likely come later in an unrestrained rage – but at least simply.
“Angelica … even though I think we all know it’s pretty clear, still…” she tried to measure her words very carefully. “I would like for you to tell us … Who did this to you? Who so grossly abused you today? Who hurt you?”
“Ha! Now you’re playing the psychologist perfectly! You already know the answer, but I guess there’s some deeply-rooted, sub-conscious reason I need to state the obvious, or … what? I might keep it cooped up inside and end up having a nervous breakdown? Been there, done that, doc! You should have stepped in a few hours ago if you wanted to save me from so much pain and suffering, but what the hell…” Angelica was beginning to really feel the medication and bit of alcohol she’d consumed. “I’ll play along. It was – drum roll, please – the Reverend Fen Sloughheart! Someone call CNN and the New York Times!” She laughed an uncanny laugh and practically fell backwards. Lucent and Sage both caught her.
“O.k. Angelica,” Sage continued. “No more questions right now, then. Let’s just focus on your physical wounds and do what we can here, tonight to treat those.” Her voice sounded just a little strained, and Angelica picked up on it right away.
“Oh, I don’t mean to … I mean, look, Dr. Wiseman… Really, I appreciate both of you being here, really I do. I can tell Morris was right. It’s just…” Lucent tenderly pulled Angelica’s shirt up and off, but it still caused some discomfort. There was plenty of discoloration, to be sure, and bite marks. The same held true for most parts of her body when they finally, completely undressed her.
“Well, we’ve got our work cut out for us,” Lucent remarked. “Do you have a first aid kit here, in your home?”
“Yeah … in fact, it’s under the sink there,” Angelica answered through half-closed eyes.
“Sage, if I remember, I think you have a first aid kit in your car?”
“Sure do; I’ll go get it right now!” And off Dr. Wiseman went to retrieve the kit from her car.
“Great! I’ll need the extra supplies, I’m sure.”
“I … hope Dr. Wiseman’s not mad at me,” Angelica said groggily. “I didn’t mean to make her angry.”
“I believe she’ll be alright, Angelica,” Lucent managed a smile. “Just keep in mind: We’re on your side. We’re here to help… And Dr. Wiseman is some of the best help you could hope for, Angelica. She’s definitely top quality and has nothing less than your best interests in mind… Promise.”
“Promise… Yeah, prom…” Her head plopped forward. Sleep had finally stolen her away. Probably a blessing right now, Lucent thought.