Becky Pearl O’Leary had become a nurse out of no great desire of her own, but
rather to satisfy what had become a near-obsession to her mother. Margaret Hayes O’Leary had dreamed of becoming a nurse but instead became a housewife and mother four times over. All the elder woman’s dreams and aspirations she had transferred to her youngest daughter. For her own part, Becky Pearl didn’t know what she would have preferred to do with her life; she’d never given it much thought. She just knew it wasn’t nursing.
Becky Pearl found the private field no more appealing than hospital work though, granted, it paid more. Still, spoon feeding and sponge bathing an invalid proved much the same in either field, dumping jugs of urine and wiping asses and trying to remain cheerful in the midst of it all. At least her current position, Becky Pearl admitted, allowed for better surroundings.
Her patient, a former scientist of Russian descent named Selivanov, had been a wealthy man before his failed suicide attempt, and remained wealthy enough to keep this large house and estate in swanky upstate New York. These perks Becky Pearl enjoyed, pampering herself often with much deserved swims in the heated indoor pool, walks along the well-tended grounds. Though she had to prepare the meals, she got to eat them, too, and the pantry always held the finest provisions. All in all, Becky Pearl might have been content, if not happy, in her current job, had it not been for the patient himself.
Becky Pearl knew before accepting the position of Selivanov’s mental state.
Paranoid delusional, the doctors said, though they kept him drugged up to render him incapable of harming either himself or anyone else. Harmless, maybe, but still a major pain in the ass. Feeding him, cleaning him, giving him his medicine, each task became a battle. But at least with his being a paraplegic and Becky Pearl being a large woman, these proved to be one-sided conflicts. It could be said that Becky Pearl disliked the man. In truth, she came closer to hating him.
Worst of all, he babbled. Ranted. On and on about some evil force out to get her and the end of the world and other such nonsense.
“Please, Ms. O’Leary, you have to believe me!” Selivanov intoned like the
proverbial broken record.
“Shaddup you!” Sometimes Becky Pearl would punctuate her orders with a mild
slap to the cheek. This quieted him down, at least for a while. On this particular morning, Selivanov began as soon as she’d gotten him out of bed.
“Oh, God, the dreams!” he moaned.
“Forget the dreams and eat your breakfast already.”
“It won’t leave me alone! It’ll never leave me alone!”
When she’d finished force-feeding him his toast and eggs, Becky Pearl wheeled
Selivanov into the study and locked him in. Then she sat down to enjoy her own breakfast. She could hear him sobbing, so she knew he must be fine. Maybe she’d get lucky and he’d take a nap before lunch. Then she could watch a little television.
The doorbell rang as she finished her coffee.
“Now who the hell’d be stopping by this early?” Becky Pearl grumbled, laying
aside the newspaper. She made the trek from the dining room to the foyer. The doorbell buzzed again.
Becky Pearl didn’t recognize the face when she peered through the peephole. She opened the door the two inches allowed by the security chain.
“May I help you?” she asked, brushing a crumb from her chin.
“Good morning,” the visitor said. A big man, heavy but not obese, with several days’ growth of beard. Becky Pearl didn’t like the look of him. “Is this the home of Konrad Selivanov?” he asked.
“Who are you?” Becky Pearl said.
“I’m a friend of Konrad Selivanov’s. I’d like to see him.”
“Sure you are,” Becky Pearl said. “You got ten seconds to make like the wind
before I call the cops.”
“Then this is the right house.”
Becky Pearl had no time to brace the door, for all the futility of said act. The man hit the door like a charging bull, tearing the security chain from its mounting and knocking Becky Pearl backwards. Stepping inside, he slammed the door behind him. Becky Pearl screamed.
Charlie Drenth smiled. *I found him.* He pulled his hunting knife from its sheath.
“No!” The fat woman begged, sitting up. “Please, don’t!”
Charlie kicked her in the face. The woman collapsed onto her back. Charlie
straddled her, squatting, and grabbed her by the hair with his left hand. He slid the blade along her throat, from beneath her right ear across to her left. The woman lay still, her mouth opening and closing like the severed head of a fish, still trying to breathe. Her eyes were already dead.
“Mister Selivanov!” Charlie cleaned the knife on her apron. “Mister Selivanov, Sir! I’m here, Sir!”
He found Selivanov locked in the empty room, his wheelchair backed against the far wall, the wheels spinning as Selivanov toggled the motor controls, trying to escape.
“What do you want?!” Selivanov cried.
“Mister Selivanov. Don’t be scared.” Charlie walked to him, lifting the blind man’s hand from the wheelchair’s controls. Kneeling, Charlie pressed it to his cheek. “I’m here to take care of you.”
“Who are you?!”
“My name’s Charlie, Sir. Charlie Drenth. It sent me. It said I was to come take care of you. It said you had a real important job to do, and that I was to help you. And now I’m here.”
“Alright!” Selivanov hissed. “Alright, goddamn you! You win! I’ll do whatever
you want me to do! Whatever you want!”
But Charlie knew Selivanov wasn’t talking to him.