MAKE A LITTLE GIRL'S WISH COME TRUE...>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Anh yêu em Tuyet...
Tôi yêu con gái KaSandra & Katrina...
Tôi thương con trai của bố Luc…
a novel by nicholas sheridan stanton
LA General Hospital, Tuesday, August 25th, 2005…10:00pm
Elizabeth Andrews had been back on the graveyard shift for a couple of weeks now. She hated that term, graveyard shift, it sounded so "Addam's Family" and it was depressing as well given the nature of her work. Actually it wasn't even time for her rotation. She had requested the change when Katie Tate suffered a second stroke on the twelfth of August in the wee hours of the morning. One helluva way to celebrate your 10th birthday thought Lizzie as she stood outside of Katie's room reading through a chart that had become sadly predictable. The little girl's parents continued to stand vigil staying with her 24/7 and alternating between them the routine tasks of life as they waited for a miracle. Truth be told Katie's mother Anita had surrendered to the inevitable a long time ago, but her father Wallace was holding out. Lizzie had heard him say in calm frustration on many occasions "IT'S ALWAYS TOO SOON TO QUIT!"
She both admired and pitied the man for his steadfast optimism but she didn't think that he actually believed his own words. Lizzie chalked it up to a stubborn Irish trait, a characteristic she was all too familiar with growing up at the bootstraps of her own Irish father and her Uncle Ethan, the two of them as stubborn as the day is long. The both of them were her male role models from infancy and as hard headed as they may be no other man could come close to the depth with which they love their families, their wives and their children, especially their children. Children are special to the Irish, they give reason to smile, laugh and cry, and they make the sun and the moon rise and set. Wallace Tate reminded her of the two most important men in her life so far. He was cut from the same cloth even if he was an Englishman a few generations removed.
Mr. Tate would sit beside Katie's bedside and hold her hand, pretending that she could hear his soft voice and the secret words of love that he whispered as he prayed after Anita had gone to sleep. Lizzie waited until he stopped speaking and rested his head on the rail of her bed, pressing her limp hand to his face before she entered the room quietly. Wallace Tate did not acknowledge her but she knew that he knew someone had come in. Anita Tate did not stir on the narrow torture rack the hospital loosely called a roll away bed. She looked exhausted. Lizzie stood at the foot of the bed and waited for Mr. Tate to make the first move. It wasn't a long wait.
"You needn't check in so often Dr. Andrews, believe me, if there's any change you'll hear me shouting from any floor," said Katie's father softly without lifting his head from the rail.
"I know Mr. Tate, it's no trouble. And besides, looking in on Katie is way more than just part of my j-o-b, it's what I look forward to every day. And stop calling me Dr. Andrews, it's Lizzie to family, how many times have I told you that, honestly!" Lizzie answered.
"Sorry Elizabeth. You don't mind if I skip the Lizzie term of endearment, let's save that for Katie when she comes to," replied Wallace Tate apologetically through a long yawn.
"You know, in Med School they try and teach you to be clinical and distance yourself personally from your patients. I think you should know that I failed that class...twice," she replied in a hushed tone so as not to disturb Anita.
"Why doesn't that surprise me," Mr. Tate said, chuckling softly.
"Well, it didn't keep me from graduating, but it still hinders me at performance review time with the Chief of Staff," Lizzie said closing the metal chart.
"So, any words of wisdom or encouragement from Doogie, err, I mean Dr. Soo, in the chart tonight?" Mr. Tate asked sarcastically.
"Afraid not, I'm sorry," answered Lizzie meekly.
There comes a time in cases like these when there just aren't anymore words to say, when they make no sound as they fall weakly onto deaf ears. When the hospital starts sending more social workers and administrators than doctors and nurses to help with the "transition" from hope to reality you know the "end of life" talk is about to be laid on you. Lizzie knew that the Tate's were close to that talk, days away likely and it made her sad to think about it. She had never had to deliver a speech like that and she felt guilty about the relief that came with knowing that the task would fall onto Carrie Soo's shoulders. Clutching the metal chart close to her breast she settled into the chair on the opposite side of Katie's bed to spend a few quiet moments with her adopted family.
"It's peaceful this late isn't it?" Wallace Tate asked his voice slightly above a whisper.
"Yes," answered Lizzie, closing her eyes and relaxing for the first time in days.
"Do you ever wonder what she's thinking, what must be going on in her mind so close to the end?"
"Sometimes," Lizzie replied softly.
"I think about it all the time lately. I want to know what she sees in that darkness. I need to know what she knows. I don't believe all this equipment, with their alarms and squiggly lines and whatnot. I can see her eyes moving under her lids and I know she's trying to communicate somehow, if not with me then with what or who?" Wallace rambled in a horse whisper.
Lizzie had seen this sort of frustration before in other cases when a loved one tries desperately to rationalize the irrational aspects of the unpredictable and seemingly invulnerable disease draining the life from the innocent. But no one felt more helpless than the physicians tasked with making sense of it all, tasked with fighting an enemy that didn't play by the rules, an enemy that in fact made the rules. At the end of the day all medicine could offer were empty explanations when a battle was lost or give the credit for God's mercy to the pharmaceutical juggernauts getting rich off the suffering of humanity. If that sounds bitter and angry it's only because it is. Lizzie was feeling the weight of Katie's situation and there was nothing more she could do to help. All that was left was prayer and she was doing that right now, this very minute as she rubbed the small gold crucifix around her neck, the same one that her mother wore when she served in Vietnam. Her mom had always said it was a miracle that she made it home alive. Lizzie prayed that there was one more miracle in the little cross and chain, just one more.
30,000 feet over the Mid-Atlantic, Wednesday, August 26th, 2005…9:30am GMT
The Global 5000 long range Bombardier business jet, owned and operated by Standard Pharmaceutical, cruised along effortlessly at MACH 0.88 a safe ten thousand feet below the airline heavies above. The small flight crew busied themselves with checks and cross checks as they made their way to Paris and the Charles Da Gaulle international airport. The passenger manifest was extremely small for an aircraft of this size, five people on a plane that easily sat nineteen, even with the custom modifications. The number of passengers wasn't unusual as far as Captain Butler was concerned, but the group travelling with the boss was a little out of the ordinary. They definitely weren't part of the Peck's typical country club crowd with whom they occasionally vacationed. No, these guys didn't fit the mold, not even in their $5000 Armani suits. Captain Butler had seen their type before, they were mercenaries. They had the 1000 yard stare, a look that he knew all to well from his service back in the day. He immediately disliked them and he wondered what Mr. Peck was doing associating with this rabble. They were trouble with a capital "T" and the sooner they got to Paris the better!
Seated in the forward section of the large business jet were three of the four men that Captain Butler was anxious to unload on the French. The two large ones flanked the smallest of the three, one on each side keeping watch as if someone might burst in from the heavens and do God knows what. The smaller man was average height, around five feet ten inches and was obviously in charge. He didn't speak; he didn't have to as he had that air of command about him that said he was accustomed to being obeyed. He was studying six 8 x 10 photographs laid out on a round coffee table set in the center of a ring of four leather seats. The man picked up one of the photos and held it close enough to his face to cause one to suspect a stigmatism. He didn't see Sanford Peck arrive from the aft section of the plane, or if he did he gave no noticeable indication that he did.
"Well Mr. Price, have you had enough time to memorize every little detail of your targets?" Peck asked with a tone that declared himself as the alpha dog in the pack.
The smaller man, now unmasked, remained silent and did not answer right away. He marked his territory with a chilling silence that affected even the cold hearted Sanford Peck. The powerful executive sat patiently and waited for a reply. He knew instinctively not to press. A moment later Mr. Price set the photograph he was holding back onto the table with the others. He tapped it with his index finger gently and looked at his employer, making eye contact before he spoke.
"All of them then, this one included?" he asked in a voice softer then one would have expected.
"Yes, all of them, did I not make myself clear?" Sanford replied, sarcastically answering a question with a question.
"You did, I was just giving you a chance to change your mind," explained Mr. Price calmly with an expressionless face.
"I assure you that your offer was completely unnecessary. Have you ever known me to change my mind once the wheels are in motion?"
"No I suppose not. But in this case I expected you might, you surprise me."
"I didn't think that was possible," Sanford said curtly.
"It's rare admittedly, but it happens," replied Mr. Price with the same blank expressionless face.
"I trust this revelation will not interfere with your precision then," replied Sanford Peck.
"It will not. On the contrary, it may sharpen it. I like the personal angle here, it excites me," answered Mr. Price, a small grin betraying a personality beneath the grim mask that had been his face up until then.
"Be that as it may, I need this taken care of straight away. I want this whole mess tidied up by the time we return from this G.A.W.D. gala Alma Donnelly has dragged me to Europe to attend. I swear if it weren't for the Gateway billions I would have added her picture to that pile in front of you.
Sanford Peck leaned forward and picked up the photo that Mr. Price had been studying. He rubbed it as if it were alive and for a nanosecond a queer look of compassion washed over his face. Mr. Price noticed it but said nothing. The question had been asked and answered. There would be no reprieves. Peck tossed the photo back onto the table and rose to return to his suite in the aft section of the larger business jet. He straightened his tie, cinching up the Windsor knot as he turned to walk away. He paused a moment and said without looking back at his hired assassin, "take you time with the others, do what you will, but make sure Jackson doesn't suffer. Two in the head, quick and painless, he is my son after all," Sanford said calmly as he walked away.
"As you wish," replied Mr. Price.