Oakwood Island Series

Part 5 - "Dr. Richard P. Edwards - Part 2 "

A collaboration By Angella Jacob & Pierre C. Arseneault

The hospital parking lot was nearly full when the Cadillac rolled into view. The car strolled slowly down the willow edged lot and came to a stop in front of the small white sign that read “Reserved: Dr. Edwards”. The doctor gathered his briefcase and jacket and started to head towards the hospital, ready to start his evening shift. Just as he closed the driver side door, a small car pulled up behind him and he heard a woman's voice calling out “Doctor Edwards! Excuse me, Doctor Edwards!” The lady in the car was Sarah, one of Peggy Sue's tennis partners. He felt his blood pressure rising, but kept a calm and cool demeanour as he replied: “Oh hello Sarah!”. She waved him over and the doctor immediately walked over to the passenger side, peering into the car. “Yes, Sarah?” he asked. Her face became serious and almost apologetic when she asked him “Have you heard from Peggy Sue at all yet?” The doctor had been waiting to play out his plan of Peggy Sue's disappearance for the past five days now. He figured it was time to set in motion the next part of his plan. “Why actually, yes, I have heard from her.” He lowered his eyes and looked at his feet, faking a look of sadness and hurt feelings. “She called me from Vegas just last night. She said both her and Ted are happy together and they are never coming back to Oakwood.” Sarah's face showed a truly concerned look and she extended a hand towards the doctor. He put his hand in hers and she grasped it with both her own, small and soft hands. “I am so sorry Richard. I'm sure it can't be easy. I know you probably saw it coming...the way she'd been acting lately and all. But still, can't be easy...” The doctor squeezed her hand lightly and thanked her for her kind thoughts and concern. He told her he wasn't able to talk about it just yet, as it was still too fresh. He needed time to accept what had happened and to let go of his wife. As she finally drove away, he extended a hand and waved her off. He felt aroused by his ability to pull off these two murders without a hitch. It made him feel the ultimate power and control. He stood there for a few moments, his eyes watching Sarah's car driving away. He watched until it turned onto Water street and was no longer visible. Richard Edwards returned on his intended path towards the hospital. As he stepped onto the walkway near the willow trees, he noticed Harriett sitting alone on the bench near the employee entrance. She was wearing her uniform, no doubt on the first break of her shift. He took a few quick steps to the right and stood in the shadows once more. He watched as she stretched her legs outward, her white uniform showing the contour of her curves. The same curves which he spent countless nights caressing. He'd taken her many times in recent weeks, always at the hospital, where they were often the only staff left during the late night shifts they both worked. He watched her closely, remembering how her hair smelled when he'd pull her close to him, how she tasted when he kissed her. The flashbacks of their lovemaking gave him a much needed respite of the vile murders he'd committed. Though in his mind, all was as normal as it should be. He saw no wrong doing on his behalf, even after carving up both Peggy Sue and her lover and having thrown both their remains in the ocean. It was a subconscious emotion, one that his living self would not recognize as being his own. When he was with Harriett, he allowed himself to forget. He got lost in the moments of passionate and fiery lovemaking, which was a release for all the pent up emotions he had been carrying around for so long. Especially the ones he'd recently developed, since his wife had started her own affair. She had made a habit of asking him to come spend the night over at her house, but Richard felt he was above her, and allowing himself to spend the night in her small and dingy house meant he'd have to bring himself down to her level, something he was both unable and unwilling to do. It was the power he held over her, the fact that he was the one pulling all the strings, that was an aphrodisiac to him. He often delivered an uncaring, aloof manner when she so blatantly made a pass at him, struggling to deliberately hold himself back, until he felt certain he saw her demeanour morphing right in front of his eyes. He held a fascination with how his own ability to have this sort of power over Harriett caused her emotional anguish, inner turmoil and frustration. His sexual ego fed off of her contorted emotions. His desire grew stronger each time he turned down her advances, his need would then turn into want and want would turn into action, as he would grab her by the arm and lead her to into an empty hospital room and take her, almost forcefully. She would always comply to his demanding ways, more and more willingly each and every time. Perhaps his age played a part in her wanting him so much. He was almost fifteen years older than she was. He concluded that her abusive father had planted a seed for her future need for such an unhealthy sexual relation. What he didn't take into account however, was that Harriett felt her own power growing from within. She gained strength and confidence every time he did come to her, her own sexual arousal mounting to higher levels every time. She felt that somewhere, somehow, inside this hurtful man there was some sort of need for her touch, and this was why she played his game so willingly.

Now as Harriett gathered her lunch bag and got up from the bench, she noticed the doctor watching her from behind the willow trees. She pretended to pay no attention to his blatant stare. She felt herself gaining pleasure from his watchful eyes, even slightly aroused knowing that she held an advantage to him. He thought he was unnoticed, that his secret was still his to keep. She knew he was watching her and so she made sure to let his eyes take in as much pleasurable sights as she could. She walked her curvy legs back inside the hospital, dropping her napkin, she bent slowly down and took her time claiming it again. She knew where his eyes focused, and so she walked with an extra beat in her step, one that made her hips sway back and forth, her curves carrying his stare straight into the hospital with her.

He stood and watched Harriett from under the willow trees, his arousal bringing forth a plethora of unconscious dialogue between the man and the powerful being that now comprised Dr. Richard P. Edwards. He felt completely in control of Harriett, and he would take her tonight once more, but not before he downplayed his desire once again.

*

Weeks passed by, the time within them intent on building up the yearning of feeling the powerful grip that the doctor had held over his victims, both in life and death. He struggled to understand the feeling. He poured himself into his work to keep the urge of killing at bay for as long as possible. He held no answers when the questions came to him on a few occasions. By the end of the second week, he no longer had the ability to control his thought patterns and obsessive thinking about how he had to gain that power again and act upon the responsibility that had been given to him by some unseen and unknown force.

As the doctor sat in his large office chair, the bony pale fingers of his right hand curling the edge of leather padded armrest, his eyes darted around the room, glancing towards the partially open door every few minutes. Sitting upright in his chair, rigid and balanced, he was becoming increasingly anxious with each passing moment. His mind replayed slicing through Ted's thick muscle tissue and recalled the heavy cracking sounds of bone when he'd separated Peggy Sue's joints. His face was now fully engrossed in a smile, and a few moments later, the doctor let out a stifling laugh as he rose from his leather chair, quickly stepped over to his cabinet and put on a pair of latex gloves. He rushed out of his office and into the empty hallway of the hospital. The quietness peered invisibly at him, cursing the footsteps that resounded, killing any hope of survival for tonight's victims. The doctor walked on down the hallway until he reached George Hatchet's room. The terminally ill cancer patient had been lying in this hospital bed now for several months. He opened his eyes slowly when the doctor stepped into the room. Richard came closer to George and with the most sincere and caring voice he could muster up he told his patient: “This is going to give you a bit of a break for the rest of the night my friend. It's going to make you woozy for a few minutes, so just lay back and relax. Let the medicine do it's job.” His patient was not aware of it, but he was serving as the doctor's personal fix. He was the doctor's drug of choice this evening. The little bit of life that remained inside of George would soon be extinguished in order to provide a needy doctor with the fix he had been waiting for since killing his wife and throwing her body parts into the pounding waves of the sea. George closed his eyes just as the doctor began humming a familiar tune. George fell into a deep slumber, so deep in fact that he would never wake again. His car was found a few weeks later, abandoned at Ted's garage, but George was nowhere to be found. He'd vanished from his hospital room, without so much as a trace of where he could have gone. His family knew that he'd been taking the news of his terminal cancer badly, but they couldn't believe he would do anything crazy.

During the days that followed, Doctor Edwards reminded himself that what he had done was a merciful act of compassion for another human being. He had read about mercy killings during his studies at medical school, and this was, in his mind, what he had done to George. The thoughts of the body parts floating away in the ocean were still fresh in his mind though, and this was why he had to continually repeat to himself that it had been an act of compassion. There had been nothing compassionate about leaving a man to wither away in a hospital bed for weeks, when the inevitable was fast approaching. The doctor felt it was his responsibility to use his power wisely, to take life away when he saw fit. That power he held rushed through his senses every day now as he remembered the killing and the disposal of the many parts that had been George.

*

The stretch of road where the two cars had collided head on was now blocked off to all traffic. Rain poured down, hard and furious on the emergency responders who were on the scene, which was drenched in rainwater, blood and broken glass. The bodies of one young woman and her five year old daughter were now being carried into the coroners' van, their final destination being the morgue. The driver of the other crashed vehicle was already en route to the hospital in the Oakwood ambulance. He was hanging onto life with nothing but the rising pressure that his bloodied body spurted through his veins in uneven amounts. The life was draining out of him fast, and so the ambulance pressed on, its sirens screaming out into the dark, drenched night. When it reached the hospital, nurses rushed to help transport the badly broken body into an operating room for the doctor to perform emergency surgery on the man's bleeding internal organs. The air filled with a burst of adrenaline as nurses and doctor Edwards cut off the man's shirt and pants. The doctor then sliced a long slit down his abdomen, pulling apart the layers of skin, revealing the damaged organs that the impact had crushed in a flash of a moment. The doctor worked fast, locating the sources of the bleeding and repairing the damage as best he could with steady hands. Forty five minutes after being admitted, Patrick Finnegan's life was now more than a slight possibility. When the doctor returned from the operating room after having washed and changed, he walked over to the emergency reception area to collect the paperwork he would need to complete following the surgery. As he stood near the desk, his attention turned to a man that was holding his teenage son by the shoulders, tears streaming down his face, he sobbed words more than he spoke them. From what the doctor could make out, he was breaking the news of someone's passing. The emergency nurse sighed and whispered “I can't imagine how hard it must be to lose a spouse but also a child...it's so sad.”. The doctor looked back at the grieving pair now, both crying and hugging each other. “It must of happened while I was in surgery with the crash victim in room 2A.” The nurse lifted her head to face the doctor and with a frown she said “That guy you were just working on is the one that killed that man's wife and daughter. He's the local drunk, didn't ya know? Just got his license back yesterday and already he's killed two people. It makes me sick!” The nurse returned her attention to the buzzing phone. The doctor hadn't felt this sort of quick rise in the need to kill, not ever. It had been over a month since he'd helped George out of his misery. Now it was different. He felt he had the responsibility to take care of this poor excuse of a man. Thinking how he had just saved his life, stabilizing his very existence, when the same soul had just taken two others, so much more worthy of living, in his eyes. He walked down the corridor and straight through to the operating rooms where Patrick was still unconscious from the heavy pain killers he had been administered. He removed the tubing that ran from the drunk's nose and let it fall down on the side of the hospital bed. He prepared a syringe and injected the man with a heavy dose of morphine to ensure he wouldn't awaken during the transportation. He wheeled the bed through the ICU doors near the emergency area on the first floor. The bed squealed, like a wounded animal that knew death was fast approaching but had no ability to relieve itself from its morbid destiny. The distance was fairly short, from the ICU room to the secondary emergency entrance, where the ambulance was now parked. Doctor Edwards pushed the bed with a steady and firm grip, not bothering to look around to see if any eyes were watching his bold and careless move. The doors opened and a brief wisp of cool night air fanned his damp forehead, the adrenaline of what was soon to come enthralled the doctor. He opened the back ambulance doors and with some effort but a strong will he managed to drag the patient from the bed and onto the floor of the ambulance. The dressings the nurses had applied over the wounds he'd just patched up were now beginning to ooze blood. The movement had no doubt ruptured some of the wounds again, but the Doctor had no intention of repairing those. His mind embraced the thoughts of ripping them open again, with his bare hands, feeling the slippery blood-soaked skin on his own fingers as he would pull apart the folds of skin that he'd just sewn together. A surge of excitement washed over him as he closed the doors of the ambulance and made his way into the driver seat. He kept the sirens and lights turned off. Attention was the last thing he needed at this moment. He took the back way out of the parking lot, where less people would see the vehicle leaving. Without looking back once, he drove off towards the cottage, where his next life removing surgery would take place.

*

That same night, Harriett had been putting away some supplies in storage when she heard the ambulance doors closing shut near the secondary emergency entrance. This area of the hospital was usually very light in traffic, especially at this time of night. She decided she best go and take a look. She made her way out of the small supplies room where she had been unpacking boxes. She peered outside of the frame of the door, and began making her way down the short hallway that led into the dim entrance. Straight ahead were two large automatic doors with the words EMERGENCY written in big bold letters on each one. She could make out the silhouette of a man standing next to the ambulance, getting something out of his coat pocket. She felt knots in her stomach as she recognized Doctor Edwards standing there, pulling a set of keys from his pocket. She stepped over to the side windows, making sure not to set off the doors which would also turn on the overhead lights above the entrance. She didn't want to call attention to herself, especially now she knew that it was her lover that was climbing into the emergency vehicle. She heard the ambulance's engine come alive and quickly pull away from the hospital and into the darkness of the night. As it got to the end of the parkway and turned to the left, she noticed even the headlights weren't on, a sure sign that something was terribly wrong, but what she couldn't tell. “Where is he going...at this time of night...” Harriett whispered to herself. She still held a sealed box of latex gloves under her left arm, her right hand rubbing her forehead in small circular motions as a light headache was starting to develop. She was also flush with warmth, small beads of sweat formed along her hairline and at the base of her neck. She watched on as the ambulance disappeared from view, heading down Ocean's Edge Road.

*

The next afternoon, the nurses and a few visitors at the hospital could hear the loud yelling that was coming from Doctor Edwards' office. Harriett and Richard were having a very loud discussion, though most of the yelling was coming from Richard. The nurses, hungry for gossip, strained to make out what was being said. All they could hear was a muffled argument. When the door swung open, they saw the doctor holding it, a stern and discontent look on his face, while Harriett meekly stepped out, her head hung down in shame as she walked down the hall, past the nurses' station and into the employee lounge and rest area. The tears started flowing as soon as she stepped past Richard and started down the hallway.

*

Every evening there was an after-hours clinic service at the hospital. Gina Bartlet, also known as “Easy Gina”, had walked in as soon as six o'clock rolled around and asked for a clinic appointment. She was the first on the list and so within fifteen minutes, she was sitting on the edge of a bed in one of the large hospital rooms. The room held two beds, divided by a curtain. The second bed wasn't used for the clinic unless it became necessary, which usually was never the case. Her long bottled blond hair was tied in a pony tail, her black eyeliner as heavy as the mood Doctor Edwards carried with him as he entered the room. He stood a few feet away from Gina, crossed his arms on his chest and without so much as a glance at her, he asked “What seems to be the problem today miss Bartlett?” As nervous as Gina was, she managed to explain that she was a few weeks pregnant and she couldn't keep the baby. She wanted to know if there were any procedures that were available to her to terminate the pregnancy at the hospital. The doctor became red in the face in a matter of seconds and said “You're a slut, Gina. Why should I bother helping you? You're just gonna keep getting pregnant, aren't you? I know you will, because you're a whore Gina. The hospital doesn't help whores...” Gina began crying as the doctor turned his back to her. He needed to collect himself, as he was still reeling off the emotional charge that he'd had a few hours before that stemmed from the argument he'd had with Harriett. His eyes became focused and a slight grin formed at the corners of his mouth as the wheels started to turn in his mind. He turned to face Gina and put a hand on her shoulder and with a softer tone of voice he comforted her. “I might have been harsh on you Gina, I'm sorry. You have to understand that it's against hospital policy to even discuss abortion with a patient. I could get in big trouble over this....but if you really want this done I can help you out, but we do it my way. How about you come over to my cottage tomorrow night and I'll help you out?” Gina smiled a weak smile, her cheeks still damp from tears that had poured down her face just moments before. “Thank you so much Dr. Edwards...Thank you!” she said before she rushed out of the room before he would change his mind.

As the pair exited the hospital room, the bed on the other side of the privacy curtain creaked and a pair of feet touched down on the floor. Harriett pulled aside the curtain and glanced out in the room before she made her way out into the hallway as well. Her heartbeat was fast and pounding. She had been changing the bedding on the other bed when she'd heard the doctor and Gina enter the room. She was still nervous around the doctor, and even afraid of him a little now. She had decided against stepping out into view, and instead she had sat quietly on the bed, holding her breath for most of the discussion. She wasn't about to confront the doctor about his choice to help Gina with the abortion either as she was already on thin ice with him. She was shocked he'd offered to terminate the pregnancy illegally, but she knew she had better keep the information to herself, especially with the state of things as they were now. She slipped out of the room unnoticed and walked on down the hall to the nurse's station.

*

The pod lights felt warm on Gina's exposed legs and thighs. The cold counter-top where the Doc had instructed her to lay upon was uncomfortable and held a strong odour of bleach. The chemical had flooded her nostrils the moment she had walked into the cabin. She had been nervous when the Doctor opened the door for her, his eyes held a gaze she had never seen before. Part of him seemed excited, his smile wide as she climbed onto the counter. Now, as she watched him prepare for the procedure, she felt her heart beating faster in her chest. Her mouth dry, she forcefully drew saliva to moisten it. Her blonde haired mane pooled around her head, providing little to no cushioning on the hard counter. The doctor turned towards her and with a smile he said “I'm sorry for the discomfort Gina...I wish I could make it more comfortable for you. We need to make due with what we have though, and this is the most sterile and sturdy spot for you in this place.” Gina tried to smile back but she could feel her lower lip morphing into a quivering frown, as much as she tried to force a grin to replace it. Terrified, she only managed to mutter a weak reply. “Ok Doc...” The doctor reached over to the nearby dining room table where he had set out a tray, lined with a white cloth. On the cloth were several surgical instruments that made Gina uneasy. He picked up a syringe and poked it into Gina's right arm. “This will help you relax.” Only a few moments later, Gina felt her limbs become heavy against the counter-top. He picked up the long scalpel and brought it to Gina's face. He slid the instrument down her cheek, piercing but a long thin sliver of a line until droplets of blood formed and began flowing down the side of her pale face. She tried to scream but only a small groan was made as the sedative was now in full effect. The doctor moved down to her abdomen and began to work his way through to her uterus. “Everything will be just fine Gina, just fine...” Her killer's smile was the last thing she ever saw.

*

The young man that stood at the bulletin board in the hospital cafeteria was carrying a stack of posters. He drew one from the pile and stapled it onto the board. The missing person poster showed a woman of about thirty-five years, long blonde hair, and very dark brown eyes. The words “MISSING: GINA BARTLET” were written in big bold letters across the top portion of the poster. The man held a sorrowful gaze as he pushed the final staple into the poster, fastening it onto the board.

Across the room, Harriett sat watching the man, her stomach in knots as she thought about Gina. Only three days had passed since she'd overheard Gina and the doctor from her hiding spot behind the curtain. She felt an uneasiness settling into the pit of her stomach just as Richard stepped out of the elevator and began walking in her direction. She waved him over to her table. His face seemed tired, like he hadn't been sleeping for days. He stood over her, his sunken eyes peering down into hers without the slightest bit of emotion in them. His voice sounded flat and annoyed when he spoke to her. “What is it Harriett?” She sat up a bit in the orange plastic chair, so uncomfortable for her these days. She looked up at him again and asked him the question that she would regret asking for the weeks following this moment. “Have you seen Gina since she came to the clinic earlier this week?”, she asked. The reaction that followed caused such a scene that everyone stopped and stared at the pair. “Why are you questioning me Harriett? Don't you know I see close to a hundred patients in the run of my shift here? I don't keep track of all of their whereabouts once they leave the examination room! You know for a nurse, you ask a lot of questions about my patients. You should learn to mind your own damn business!” Harriett shifted uneasily in her chair, her small feet tucking in under the plastic of her seat, her eyes down on the table in front of her. She could feel all the eyes in the room watching her. Her face felt warm and she felt her heartbeat rising. When the doctor noticed he'd drawn attention to himself, he quickly brushed off the front of his lab coat and went along down the cafeteria and into the hallway that led out to the emergency area. He walked with a brisk pace, never once looking back at his lover, as she tried to take deep breaths while holding in a flood of warm tears. When the doctor was no longer in view, she got up from her seat and quickly ran outside, her tears flowing heavy on her cheeks.

*

Later that evening, near the end of her shift, Harriett walked down to the doctor's office and knocked twice on his door. When there was no reply, she turned the knob slowly and pushed the door open. The office was dark except for a desk lamp that always remained on. She left the door ajar by a few inches, and went over to the large desk, eyeing it with a wide and hesitant glare. She saw a framed picture of Peggy Sue on his desk. She wondered how long it would take him to replace this photo with one of hers, now that their future was about to change. The doctor had been very irritable with her these past few weeks and so she knew she needed to put off talking to him about their future together for a while longer. She had grown afraid of Richard, especially after his outburst that afternoon in the cafeteria. She figured the affair would no longer need to be hidden from the public eye, especially now since Peggy Sue had run off to Vegas to be with Ted. She took the picture of a smiling and leggy Peggy Sue and placed it face down on the desk. A slight hint for him to find, she thought to herself. She knew she wouldn't be able to muster up enough courage to tell him face to face what she saw for them both in the future months and years. This was why she had decided to write him a letter explaining everything. She knew he kept some stationery in his desk somewhere, and so she started going through the many drawers of his massive mahogany desk. She unlocked and pulled open the top drawer and picked up a pen from the pile that was neatly stacked in a holder. In the second drawer she shuffled around a few file folders and found a note pad of lined paper. As she pulled it out, her fingertips touched something cold and small. She lifted the notepad out of the drawer and held the files up to see what the object was. In the few seconds her mind processed what it was she was looking at, her eyes grew wide with surprise as she realized to whom this golden cross belonged. She remembered seeing it just a few days earlier on the end of a chain around Gina's neck. She picked up the cross, her fingers minding the delicate details of the etched edges of the religious token. The woman known as “Easy Gina” had worn the pendant between her bosom as a reminder to herself and to others that her worth was not measurable by earthly bounds. Harriett got a chill as her eyes fell upon other items in the desk drawer that seemed to be holding more than just some notepads and file folders. A confused look spread across Harriett's face as she passed her fingers over items that she recognized easily. There was Peggy Sue's wedding ring and a pair of diamond earrings she always wore. This made sense to Harriett. She assumed the doctor was holding onto them, but keeping them out of the house so as to not have the constant reminder of his wife's sudden departure with her lover. “Completely normal for any person having to go through such a thing.”, she thought to herself. The other items, however, had no reasonable explanation for their being in this desk. Her fingers shook as she removed the file folders from the drawer and placed them on the top of the desk. Glancing up at the door, still ajar, the light of the hallway filled the threshold of the office, but the shadows protected her presence if anyone was to walk by. Looking back down at the contents that were now in full sight, she wondered what possible reasons Doc would have to be holding these. In the dim light, she made out a man's high school graduation ring. Upon closer inspection, her suspicion of who it belonged to was confirmed. The engraving inside read “T. Bryerson – Class of '69”. The mechanic had always worn his ring with pride on his right hand. There were more items, a watch that she knew belonged to George Hatchet. It had been a retirement gift from his co-workers last year. He had told her about the watch when she'd been assigned to him upon his transfer from the cancer treatment facility over to the Oakwood Hospital earlier that month. The pair of glasses that were among these items looked familiar also. Had she seen them in with Patrick Finnegan's belongings when he'd been admitted to Emergency following his car accident? She couldn't be sure, but they were very familiar to her. All these people were unaccounted for, but yet here were some of their most valuable possessions stored neatly away in this desk. Panic came over her as thoughts whirled in her mind. The apparent change in Doc's demeanour in recent weeks had not gone unnoticed. She had simply associated it with the normal reaction of having lost a partner so suddenly. Now she questioned his behaviour and the reasons behind the changes. Down the hall, she could hear voices near the nurse station. One voice sounded like a man, she knew she shouldn't chance getting caught at the doctor's desk, regardless of his reasons, if he caught her going through his desk, he would be angry with her again, and her stomach tightened just at the thought. Hands shaking, she gathered the folders again and put them back as fast as she could, trying to replace everything as it was before. In the hallway, she could now make out distinct footsteps approaching. They fell hard and heavy on the waxed floor. Harriett recognized them at once. With unsteady hands she closed the drawer shut and fumbled with the keys for a few seconds. The footsteps in the hallway stopped for a moment. Harriett looked up but nobody was in the doorway yet. Bewildered she ran across the office, realized she left the notepad and pen on the desk and as she turned back to get them, the footsteps started again. She made a run for the door again, glancing back once to make sure she didn't leave anything out of place on the desk. Her hand grasped the door handle as she began to turn towards the door. Instead of the bright light she was expecting in her eyes, she came face to face with Richard. She felt an instant warmth spread across her face as he stared at her for what felt like forever before he smiled a forced grin and asked her “Harriett, what's going on?” She brought up the notepad and pen in front of her chest and forced a smile herself. “Richard, you startled me! I was just looking for the Patterson file, but couldn't find it. I must of left it at the emergency desk...” Harriett inched her way out of the office and kept walking. She didn't dare look back at Richard, for fear he'd notice how nervous she was. Only when she heard the door closing behind her, once she was sure he was inside his office, did she let out the breath she'd been holding in. She wondered if she should tell someone of her findings. Another perspective on things was never a bad idea. She wouldn't want to cause more friction between her and the doctor though, especially now. The secret she still held hidden inside her couldn't be revealed to him until she was sure they were on good terms again. She decided to think it through before she told anyone about the items she found in the desk. She needed to be sure. Her thoughts kept returning to the golden cross, the etchings now carved permanently in her mind, as were the questions she kept asking herself.

*

Richard stood watching Harriett walking down the hall. He knew she had acted out of character, her eyes had not been able to look into his as she so often did since their affair had started. She had been clearly nervous when she'd bumped into him on her way out of his office. He walked in and closed the door behind him. He stood at the doorway and looked around. Everything was in its place. He turned on the overhead light and walked over to his desk. He picked up the stack of handwritten messages that had been left for him and placed his briefcase on the floor. As he sat down, he noticed something odd. He slouched forward in his large chair, the leathery seat moving forward with him. The tip of a file was sticking out of the middle desk drawer, just enough to see it poking through. He knew he hadn't left it this way, especially not this drawer. He turned the small key in the lock and pulled open the drawer. He peered down and saw that the top file was placed on an angle. All the others were straight, as they should, as he had left them. This top file had been moved by hands other than his own. Looking up at his door, he slammed the drawer shut, making the entire desk shake. He knew Harriett had been snooping, but how much had she seen. Would she recognize the items? He couldn't be sure and so he needed to be very careful with her in the next little while. Doctor Edwards' eyes reflected the light of his desk lamp along with the sudden influx of paranoia that had finally escaped his conscience and seeped into his reality.

*

Floating on the deep water, the fishing boat motioned to and fro, small waves of sea water splattered against its' structure. On deck, a large fish net was spread out wide, hundreds of salmon sprawled out in the sun. Normally there would have been fishermen hauling them into crates and prepping them to ship off to the processing factories. Today however, the boat was void of fishermen. The fish looked in all directions with their empty, dead eyes. The flash echoed through the daylight and shone brightly into the dead fish eyes as it went off. The police officer was taking photos amidst the dead fish, the buzzing of flies almost deafening in his ears. He got up and started taking different angle shots of the badly decomposed and swollen human head that had become tangled in the fishing net. The long red hair that was still attached to some parts of the head had seaweed wrapped around some of it's strands. Not far from the head there were more dismembered remains. Three human hands that were caught in hooks were placed side by side. They all appeared to have belonged to different people. This was obvious even with the considerable amount of decomposition, as the sizes of the hands differed greatly. The officer moved on to photograph the green plastic bag in which a severed leg had been stuffed. Through the plastic, a tattoo was clearly visible on the leg. The tattoo was still clearly identifiable as the bag had protected the leg better than the other remains from the salt water of the sea. Nearby, on the wharf, two police officers discussed the findings. “That leg has to be Ted Bryerson's. I'd recognize that tattoo anywhere. The size of the leg alone tells us it's a man.” The other officer nodded as he looked on past the taped off area of the wharf. A few on-lookers were watching and trying to catch wind of what exactly was happening on the wharf. The cop turned his back to the crowd and the other did the same, now facing the boat again. “If the leg belongs to Ted, and this we are almost positive it is, I have a feeling that red head is Peggy Sue Edwards. It was no secret that they had been having an affair.” The officer jumped a bit as a fisherman walked up beside him just as he finished this last sentence. “Sorry there bud. Just wondering how much longer you're gonna be on my rig. We do have some work to do, already lost half a day's catch, can't afford to lose much more.” The officer nodded and replied “We're just about done here. Now if you don't mind, we can't have anyone but officers near the boat right now.” The fisherman was already walking back towards the wharf before he was able to finish asking him to leave. “Let's hope he didn't hear any of that, the last thing we need is everyone on the Island knowing about this before we know for sure.” The officer was right to worry about word spreading, as that was exactly what happened. The first thing Lenny did when he got to his truck was to radio his wife to tell her he'd overheard the officers mention Peggy Sue and Ted. Within hours, the entire island was abuzz with the news that pieces of the adulterous couple had been found dismembered in the sea.

*

The doctor sat at his desk, fingers interlaced together, resting on the wooden structure in front of him. He knew as soon as he'd unlace them that the two officers standing in front of him would see how badly he was shaking. The taller of the two cops did most of the talking, as he had the most experience. “We're terribly sorry for your loss, Doctor Edwards. We are doing everything we can to find any possible leads surrounding your wife's murder.” The doctor sunk lower in his chair, letting his head rest against the leathery material. He closed his eyes and immediately there came the vision of Peggy Sue's dead eyes staring back at him on the cliff-side, her fiery red hair twisted between his fingers just before he sent her head flying over the edge and into the rough sea below. He opened his eyes, a distraught confusion now spread across his face. The second officer extended his hand and placed a business card in front of the doctor. “We know this comes as a shock to you and it's a lot to process all at once. If something should come to you, anything at all, give me a call. Try to take it easy over the next few days, Doc.” With this, the two cops walked out of the office, leaving the door open as they left.

The doctor felt his whole body shake. He had been very careful with the disposal of the bodies, but he'd never imagined they'd be discovered so quickly. He assumed the parts would be brought further out to sea. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest. Pushing back the chair, he stumbled as he tried to get up. His legs felt weak and frail. The power he had felt pulsating from within when he killed was now disintegrating into a puddle of illusion that caused him to believe he was a suspect in his wife's murder. The police hadn't even mentioned Ted to him, but he assumed they were trying to catch him in an underhand sort of way. He knew they had found Ted's remains. The island hummed with the stories of the findings and he felt sure the cops knew he had a part in it all. They were just waiting to have enough to bring him in, no doubt. His legs carried him to hall, where he saw the officers turning towards the exit. He decided to move in the opposite direction, and turned towards the stairwell which was the next door to his left. Just as the door was closing he heard a woman's voice calling his name. It had been faint but he was sure he heard it and recognized the voice. It had been Peggy Sue's voice. He mounted the stairs two at a time. In his mind, the dead eyes of his ex wife peered down into his, sunken and glazed over, they watched him, he knew they did. He ran up faster, passing the third floor door now. He glanced in the narrow window in the door and just before he turned the corner to commence the next set of stairs, he could of sworn he saw a tall and very dead Ted Bryerson making his way down the corridor towards the stairwell. Richard lost it completely. He ran up the stairs, his heavy footsteps echoing against the metal stairs. As each footstep fell, the sound reminded him of the loud cracking and popping sounds that Ted's bones had made as he had dismembered him. His mind reeled images from both the horrid reality he had brought upon himself as well as false images that were now playing within. He needed to get outside, to feel fresh air upon his face, he would be able to breathe deeply again. His chest constricted as he ran higher. When he reached the top of the stairs, he pushed open the door that led out onto the rooftop. The air was an instant relief. He ran out towards the edge of the four storey hospital.

Looking down below in the parking lot, he could see Harriett speaking with officer Blake Hatchet. Blake was George's cousin. He must of sent the other two officers to talk to him so as to not rouse suspicions. Richard wasn't able to make out what they were saying but he already felt that he knew exactly what the conversation was about. She was no doubt telling him about how she'd found the items in his desk and that was how they had determined he was the killer. In truth Harriett was not discussing this, but rather just asking Blake about his cousin George and if they had found any leads on his case. The doctor couldn't hear this from this height though and he assumed he'd been exposed as the killer. Guilt and remorse never came to mind at all for him though, but rather he felt a deep shame that his good name was about to get tarnished because of Peggy Sue and her lover. He felt betrayed by Harriett. How dare she bring such shame to him after she had professed her love for him so many times in the past few months. He had never once said it back to her, and he had known there was a reason. She was but another bitch with her own agenda. The only regret he had was not having taken care of Harriett the same way he had Peggy Sue. This way he would have held onto his good name and none of this would have come about. He felt betrayed and infuriated. As much as his feelings of hatred for Harriett wanted him to go down the stairs again and take care of her right then and there, he quickly reminded himself of the situation he had to face. The analytical part of his brain always kicked in when he needed it most. He felt he had done nothing wrong. Again, remorse was non-existent in the sick man's soul. He did listen to his mind though when it went over the possible outcomes of the paths he could choose to take now. He knew the police wouldn't see things the way he did, that he had a good reason for each of his killings. The decision of what to do next took him a full thirty seconds to analyze before execution. With his expensive shoes he climbed on the ledge of the rooftop and placed his arms neatly on the side of his body. He reminded himself to keep his hands on his sides until the very end. The last sound he heard was a woman screaming as he began to plunge off the building head first. Even as he fell, his deathly demise summoning him to a certain fate, Doctor Edwards found pride in knowing exactly how to angle his body to ensure the job would be accomplished with instant delivery. He would feel nothing. Death would be instantaneous, the blow would split his skull and destroy his spine, killing him on impact.

Now as he careened towards the parking lot below, the woman's scream was hushed by the rushing wind in his ears, loud but also calming. He held his breath but kept his eyes open. He wanted to see it all, right up to his last seconds of life. A blur of passing windows and siding of the hospital was all he would see in the few seconds it took for the fall to be complete. Across the parking lot, Harriett's scream carried on with the wind, her love for Richard already grieving at his loss before Death claimed him. The clouds rolled in shortly after, and the cold summer rain began falling. Harriett felt the rain drench her scrubs, her body down on the pavement, tears flowing as heavy as the cold rain pouring down onto her. The officers held her back. She became hysterical and they needed to call for a third bystander to help her back inside. Harriett would never be the same again.

*

Six months later, Harriett Foster was waiting for Doctor Derek Johnson in a small room in the hospital. Uncomfortable on the examination table, her back hurt against the hard surface. Her nurse, Jenny, was tending to the IV drip that had been started about an hour before. Soon it would all come to an end, or rather a new beginning. When the doctor entered, she tried to sit up, her face a display of worry. “Please, Harriett, it's alright, no need to sit up. Just relax.” Doctor Johnson came closer and slipped a pillow under her back and helped her turn to her side, a much more comfortable position for her. “I have good news Harriett. All the tests show the baby is fine.” Harriett let out a sigh of relief and closed her eyes, thanking her angels for the life that kept growing inside of her. The doctor went on: “I know the last six months have been difficult, but we won't let anything happen to you or your baby.” Harriett smiled as the doctor patted her hand to reassure her. “Now, Jenny is going to bring you back to your room, until the contractions start. Normally, an induced labour can take a bit of time, especially since it's your first pregnancy. So just try and be comfortable and we'll keep a close eye on you and the progress of your contractions.” Harriett squeezed the doctor's hand before he let go and said “Thank you Doc. This baby is the only thing that I have now. It means the world to me.” The doctor stepped out of the room and left Jenny to tend to Harriett's room transfer.

Once Jenny was done moving Harriett, she met up with Doctor Johnson at the nurse's station and pulled him aside. In a hushed voice she said “She's still in denial about Doctor Edwards you know. She keeps telling me that he is going to come by and see her soon. But the worse part isn't that she doesn't remember he is dead, but that she seems to have forgotten that he killed five people in cold blood!” Doctor Johnson looked at Jenny and with a look of apathy on his face he said “She was the one that eventually told the police about the evidence she had found in his desk after he killed himself. I think it was more the fact that she saw his suicide and then the guilt she felt for leading the cops to that evidence. Exposing him as a killer is what did her in. She is really in a bad state mentally. You know she even told me if it's a boy she will name the baby Richard after his father.” Jenny looked down the hall towards Harriett's room, where she could see the pregnant woman talking to herself again. She turned back towards Derek and asked “What if it's a girl?”. Doctor Johnson scratched his head, trying to remember the name Harriett had mentioned. “If it's a girl it'll be Maggie, after Richard's grandmother. That poor woman doesn't even realize that she won't be able to keep the baby while she is in the psych ward. Honestly, I'm not sure how long she will be in professional care.” Jenny felt a pang of sadness for Harriett. Throughout everything, she had only seen love from Harriett, for both Richard and her unborn baby. “So I assume the baby will go into foster care or into an adoption agency?” The doctor picked up some files from the station desk and before going on to his rounds he replied “I guess that's the best thing to do for that child, isn't it?” With that, Jenny looked on again towards her patient's room, her heart a bit more open to the unstable woman's needs.

*

When Jenny and Doctor Johnson left the room, Harriett closed her eyes to try and find a bit of rest, as she knew that soon enough rest would not come so easily. The dimness of the room was relaxing, quietness enveloped her, caressing her very essence, she drifted off to a light slumber. The room remained quiet and still for a short while, the only sound was Harriett's soft and rhythmic breathing. Suddenly there came a loud crashing noise as a tray of equipment flew across the room and smashed against the wall and then fell with resonating echoes onto the floor. Harriett, startled awake, held her wide eyes on the tray that had crashed into the wall nearest her head. A soft, faint voice could be heard, almost a whisper but not quite that clear. “Why do I keep getting weaker as time goes on...Damn you Harriett! Having my child and without me there to raise it properly. How dare you! Like your betrayal alone wasn't enough? Have you no shame? I will keep coming back until that baby is out of you, woman! Maggie huh? Naming the baby after my grandmother is the only sensible thing you will ever do in your miserable excuse for a life...” The voice rambled on, faint as ever, hardly discernible. The lightness of the voice is matched by the lightness of the air that carried the spirit of the doctor. As he approached Harriett, he noticed she had fallen back asleep. “Harriett...my dear Harriett...” he whispers into her ear, “You used to be able to hear me so clearly before. It seems as though you can hardly hear me anymore...” Harriett stirred and in a sleepy voice she replied “Is that you Richard?”.

*

Thirty years later, the spirit that was Doctor Richard P. Edwards was now drifting through the rooms of an old motel on Oakwood Island. It would go room to room, looking at the lives that all these living people were wasting away. “Those newlyweds...HA! They don't know what's in store for them...all the lying and the deceiving....Oh yes, my Peggy Sue was a beautiful bride...'til she decided she wanted Teddy Boy...”. He moved onto the next room, where the young man was still sitting slouched down on the floor next to the mini-fridge. His mouth hung open, drool oozing out of one corner. “What a fool, sitting there drooling all over himself....”. Danny raised his head, reacting as if he had heard something, or someone. Danny mumbled through the thick drool that coated his tongue “Who is that? Who's there?” The voice had seemed very far away to both Danny and to Doctor Edwards, but now both could hear each others voices much clearer. “You can actually hear me?” the doctor's spirit asked. Danny struggled a bit, trying to get up, but finding that he couldn't, he remained on the floor, slouched and drooling.

*

The spirit of the doctor held such a fascination with Danny's ability to hear his voice that he never noticed the beady black eyes watching him. He had felt these eyes before, never able to see them, but always sensed they were on him. Eyes that were not visible to the living but yet they were to the dead. They held a powerful gaze on him at times, so strong that he had to recoil and just stay still from the fear of what it was that held this gaze over him. On most days he had felt the stare, but now, he was distracted and the eyes peered ever so openly from up on the power line outside of the motel. The giant black bird, the crow with feathers as black as the darkest of nights was perched above both the spirit of the doctor and this young man, or rather what used to be a young man. The man that sat slouched against the wall appeared as empty as a shell to the crow. His spirit and mind had been disconnected from his body somehow and without a vessel, a spirit was free to roam anywhere it so chose. The crow had seen this purposely done by man before, especially in their dream state. They would roam in spirit form, and then return to their physical bodies. This body however, was now seemingly occupied by another spirit. The doctor had somehow found a way to command the body of the young man. Though rare, the crow remembered seeing this once before. The dark bird perched on the power line above, it watched and listened.

When Danny entered his room again and closed the door behind him, the bird flew away towards the centre of the island. It flew along an invisible path as if it knew precisely where it was going, as it was. It eventually reached a small clearing near the centre of Oakwood Island. It swooped down towards a small cabin in the clearing and straight into an opened window. The crow cawed once over a low chanting that also came from inside the cabin. Once the wings of the birds became still, so did the chanting voice still itself into quietness.

COPYRIGHT 2011 ANGELLA JACOB & PIERRE C. ARSENEAULT. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.