Read Code Blues Online

Authors: Melissa Yi

Tags: #romance, #suspense, #womens fiction, #medical, #doctor, #chick lit, #hospital, #suspense thriller, #nurse, #womens fiction chicklit, #physician, #medical humour, #medical humor, #medical care, #emergency, #emergency room, #womens commercial fiction, #medical conditions, #medical care abroad, #medical claims, #physician author, #medical student, #medical consent, #medical billing, #medical coming of age, #suspense action, #emergency management, #medical controversies, #physician competence, #resident, #intern, #emergency response, #hospital drama, #hospital employees, #emergency care, #doctor of medicine, #womens drama, #emergency medicine, #emergency medical care, #emergency department, #medical crisis, #romance adult fiction, #womens fiction with romantic elements, #physician humor, #womens pov, #womens point of view, #medical antagonism, #emergency services, #medical ignorance, #emergency entrance, #romance action, #emergency room physician, #hospital building, #emergency assistance, #romance action adventure, #doctor nurse, #medical complications, #hospital administration, #physician specialties, #womens sleuth, #hope sze, #dave dupuis, #david dupuis, #morris callendar, #notorious doc, #st josephs hospital, #womens adventure, #medical resident

Code Blues (6 page)

He frowned when I said Dr. Dupuis had
shifted the bundle of clothes in the bathroom, but really lit up
when I remembered I'd gone through Dr. Radshaw's pockets. "You must
never touch anything! This is a suspicious death. You should leave
everything alone. If you disturb a hair, make any marks, we could
lose the case! You must never move anything! Just call the
police!"

I felt bad. I'd just been following Dr.
Dupuis's, but I understood the police's point. "Sorry."

He shook his head, mumbling, "Nev-er,
ne-ver."

"So, you think it's was murder, then?" My
voice was too loud.

He shook his head and stared at his navy
spiral-bound notebook. "We have no evidence for that right now. It
is only a suspicious death."

"But you think—"

His hazel eyes met mine. "I will contact the
sergeant. If the homicide team gets involved, we will interview
you. But right now, we have no evidence."

But then it struck me, what had been
bothering me about Dr. Radshaw's relatively empty pockets and belt.
"Wait a minute. He wasn't wearing his pager."

The officer pursed his lips. "Should he have
been?"

"I'm not sure if he was on call. We could
check. But the thing is, Dr. Radshaw wore his pager, 24/7. Even to
bed. He wanted to be available all the time. For him not to have
his cell phone or pager on him—that's wrong. I think—" It sounded
preposterous, but I pushed it through. "I think he was
murdered."

The officer heaved his shoulders. "You
remember what I told you. No interpretation."

"Yes, but you don't understand. It was like
his trademark. Ask anyone!"

The officer looked at his watch. "I must
talk to my colleagues and the sergeant again. We will be in touch
if homicide gets involved. But for a known diabetic, if his insulin
was low, the other doctor told me, he might be confused and not
know his own mind. He might forget his pager."

But he'd wander around St. Joseph's in
hypoglycemic shock? It didn't add up. The OR change room was a
funny place, too. I heard you needed a numerical access code for
the elevator, although the stairs were open if you knew how to cut
through the halls, as Dr. Dupuis and I had done this morning. A
confused hypoglycemic would have a hard time navigating the stairs
or a coded elevator.

Plus, a doctor should know how to regulate
his insulin and recognize symptoms of hypoglycemia early on. He
probably injected himself and checked his sugar four times a day.
Why would he suddenly make a fatal error in the hospital, in the
middle of the night?

No. The more I thought about it, the more it
rang true. Dr. Radshaw was murdered.

The policeman studied me. "If you remember
anything else..." He tapped the notebook with his pen. I noticed
the pen cap had been chewed into a well-nibbled point. Gross. I
folded my hands in my lap so I wouldn't accidentally brush the
pen.

He handed me his card. J.
Rivera,
Inspecteur
. I tucked the card into the front pocket of my shirt, next
to my own navy notebook.

My throat was dry, and I felt a little
light-headed. I'd seen a few dead people in medicine, but none of
them had been murdered. As far as I knew, anyway. I turned blindly
to the right, down a dim hallway, away from the men's change
room.

I found a water fountain embedded into the
wall. The white porcelain felt cool against my palms. The water was
a thin stream, barely arching above the metal drink spout, but I
wet my lips a little.

"Hi."

It was a low female voice. I spun around,
pain streaking into my neck. "Ow!"

Jade Watterson took a step back. "Sorry.
Didn't mean to scare you."

I rubbed my neck. After a long drive and a
tense morning, my muscles had relatively seized. "It's been a lousy
day."

She smiled wryly. "Tell me about it. I'm
post-call."

"Ouch." I checked my watch. Getting on 10
a.m. She'd probably been going for 26 hours straight.

"At least I get to go home." She smiled. It
made a huge difference on her. Her eyes were bloodshot, her face
wide at the cheeks, her eyes a little close-set for classic beauty,
but when she smiled, she jumped up a few points on the Richter
scale. Her teeth shone toothpaste-commercial white against her
brown skin. She asked, "Are you an R1? What a way to start!"

"Yeah."

She flipped her hand at me. "Gotta go. See
ya."

She was already halfway down the hall when I
mustered my voice. "Wait! Did you notice he didn't have his
pager?"

She stopped, but didn't turn around. She
jammed her hands in the front pocket of her lab coat.

I said, too loud, "Do you think someone
killed him?"

She started to turn. Opened her mouth to
speak. But up ahead, the door to the change room drew inward. She
tucked her head down and strode past the change room, away from me,
without another word.

 

 

Chapter 5

 

My backpack cut off my circulation from the
shoulders down. Maybe I shouldn't have bought four liters of milk
and Sherpa-ed them home. I snaked my arm around my own back,
fumbling for the keys I'd left in the front pocket of the bulging
pack, and managed to unlock the building door. After a strenuous
emerg shift, plus shopping, my eyes ached, my feet were tired, and
I was ready for an untaxing supper. Say, a bowl of Cheerios.

The concièrge must have been by, because the
hallway floors glistened and a few shallow puddles were still
drying along the wall. Good. At least they kept the apartment halls
clean, even if Alex had dissed my neighborhood.

My pack was so heavy that I had to bend
forward to counterbalance it as I mounted the relatively minor
stairs to my apartment. I felt like an unlucky donkey.

I was two steps away from the landing when I
heard the phone ring inside the apartment. I rolled my eyes. What a
time for Alex to call, when I was in danger of toppling like the
Titanic. Still, I sped up.

Mistake. My foot slipped off the last
step.

I grabbed the wooden banister. It
wobbled.

Dear God, I was going to die. I had a
fleeting vision of falling backward and cracking my head on the
fake granite floor, pinned in place by the weight of my backpack.
The firefighters would have to cut me free with the Jaws of
Life.

The banister held, but my keys dropped with
a clang and slithered down a few steps.

The phone rang on.

I slipped the straps from my shoulders and
heaved my backpack around to my front stoop. Newly freed, I fetched
the keys, unlocked the door, and bumped the backpack inside.

As I locked the door behind me and kicked
off my shoes, the phone stopped in mid-ring.

The air seemed to vibrate with sudden
silence.

I wanted to curl into my sleeping bag until
tomorrow's evening shift. But I was hungry. One of my classmates
once said, about our work life, "You have to decide if you're too
tired to eat or too hungry to sleep." This time, hunger won.

I wouldn't bother with my voice mail. If
Alex was now feeling contrite, he could stew, simmer, and even boil
in his own juices until tomorrow morning.

I unzipped my backpack and started toting
groceries down the hall to my little galley kitchen. What had
possessed me to buy two economy-sized cans of spaghetti sauce? I
could do weights with these things.

The phone rang again.

Maybe something was wrong with my family. Or
maybe Alex was extremely intent on kissing my ass. Either way, I
thunked the cans of zesty Italian on my kitchen's black and white
tile counter. Then I ran to my bedroom and caught it on the third
ring. "Hello?" I brushed the hair out of my eyes. I needed a bang
trim.

"Hello. Is this Hope? Hope Sze?"

It was a woman with a French accent. A
telemarketer? How had they gotten my number so fast? And why wasn't
it Alex?

"Yes," I said, wary.

"This is Mireille Laroque. From St.
Joseph's."

It took me a minute to place the butchy
French resident. "Ah, yes. How are you?"

She paused. "How
are
you
?"

I wouldn't admit that I was exhausted and
hated Montreal so far. "Just peachy."

Pause. "I heard that you found Dr. Radshaw
this morning. It must have been very...traumatic."

"Kind of. They called a code, and Dr. Dupuis
and I ran up from emerg, but a second year on ICU found him
first."

Her voice hushed. "It was definitely Dr.
Radshaw?"

The face reared in my mind again, with its
open mouth and filmy eyes. I focused on the beige plastic telephone
cradle, trying to propel the image away. "Yeah. It was him."

"But you didn't know him. You only met him
once."

"That's true, but it looked like him. Dr.
Dupuis, the nurses, the other resident—everyone else said it was
him. You can talk to them if you want."

There was a long silence. At last she said,
"That sounds definitive."

I felt bad. It wasn't Mireille's fault that
I'd had a rotten day. "Yeah. Sorry. I know it's hard to believe. He
seemed like a nice guy."

Another pause. "Yes." Pause. "What an
experience for you."

"Yes. Well."

"It must have been horrible. Just terrible.
We must do something. I was speaking to the other residents and
everyone is in shock. In shock," she repeated. "No one should be
alone tonight. It would be cruel. I am inviting everyone to my
house for a potluck dinner, so that we can support each other."

Eesh. Tonight, I needed that support like I
needed control top pantyhose. "Well, that's very kind of you. I'm
sure everyone will appreciate it, and you'll feel better afterward.
But it's been a long day for me—"

"Hope." When she said my name, she nearly
dropped the H, shortened the O, and emphasized the P. Not Ope, as
it Grand Ol' Opry, but close enough. "Please. It will be for your
own good. You need to process the experience. I think it would be
very healthy for you."

I should have pleaded exhaustion from the
very beginning, setting up a graceful exit. "Thank you, Mireille,
but—"

"Have you eaten yet?"

I hate to lie. I closed my eyes. "No,
but—"

"There you go. You have to
eat. Come and eat with us. Of course, I do not expect you to bring
anything to the potluck. You will be our guest. I am making pasta
for everybody, and Alex will probably bring a cake from
La Première Moisson
—he
always does, it's an excellent bakery—and I asked Tucker to bring
appetizers, but he will probably bring beer."

My hand tightened on the receiver. "Alex is
coming?"

"Oh, yes. I just spoke to
him. He said he wanted to see you." She paused to let that sink in.
I remembered his phone message.
I'll make
it up to you. Maybe tomorrow
. Tomorrow had
arrived.

Mireille was still talking. "Tori is making
a Greek salad and garlic bread. Anu was not home. Neither was
Robin, but his wife promised to give him the message. I hope they
will come."

My stomach twisted with
longing. I adore good food. All Chinese people do. This potluck
sounded a lot better than Cheerios. And Alex—well, I was still mad,
but the fact was, Dr. Radshaw had appeared hale and hearty
yesterday, and today he was dead. That shook my anger a little. In
high school, we'd studied that poem, "To His Coy Mistress," which
began, "
Had we but world enough, and
time,/This coyness, lady, were no crime." Back then, I thought that
poem was pathetic blackmail. But today, I thought he might have a
point. Alex was the first guy I'd dated in two years who gave me
some zing
. I could stave off sleep for a
few more hours and delay my grudge long enough to hear him
out.

I cleared my throat. "I don't have anything
to bring." Except the econo spaghetti sauce.

"No, no, no! Don't bring anything! I will be
very angry if you bring something. I will give it back to you. You
should rest. We will take care of you."

Another of my secret weaknesses is that,
although medicine is very take-charge and kick butt, deep down,
when I go home, I like to be cosseted. "Well..."

"Seven o'clock. I am on Côte-des-Neiges,
near the corner of Queen Mary. Across from the cemetery. You know
the two apartment towers covered in black glass?"

I found myself agreeing to drive over. Have
stomach, will travel.

 

 

Chapter 6

 

Refreshed by a mini nap, I landed on
Mireille's doorstep and compared her building to mine.

My three-story apartment building was built
in the 1930's, and its security consists of a buzzer above each
mailbox, with everyone's box clearly labeled according to
apartment. The outer door was unlocked and the inner door has a
single key lock. Windows made of Art Deco glass rimmed the outer
door, and plain glass bordered the inner doors, so a thief could
easily smash a way in. But he or she wouldn't bother, because half
the time, both building doors were propped wide open. The easier
for people to move in and out, my dear. It hadn't bothered me,
except that I'd wished they'd left them open for me and my
groceries this afternoon. Alex's warnings about my neighborhood
seemed much more ludicrous in the daytime.

In contrast, Mireille's building was a
sleek, shiny, black skyscraper. She had a real, live security
guard, and a call-in buzzer system where the buzzer codes didn't
match the apartment numbers. High tech stuff. The lobby had a
lounge with a sofa, two loveseats, and a mirrored wall. I bet she
had a pool, too. At least my apartment had a mirrored lobby, I
consoled myself. And my rent was only $550 a month, whereas hers
might hit four digits.

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