Claire walked into her boss’ office. Vinnie Pasqual was just keeping the chair warm for her. In a couple of years, he would retire and she would take over, and he was happy with the arrangement. She was, after all, “his project.” He had watched and mentored her all the way up from a part-time, low-level employee, to her current position.
Claire asked, “Vinnie, you got a minute?” Vinnie, with his ever-present smile just nodded and motioned her in. “Freda was just dropping off the initial reports of your group’s new customers. I do not see how you have time at the seminars to do all that you do. What’s up? You don’t look good, girl? Freda, get Claire some water from my fridge.”
The female VP and Freda, did not get along for a variety of reasons, so she kept it simple. “Vinnie, I have not heard from my husband since the day I left for the seminar. I just called missing persons and they say a man matching Greg’s description was involved in a horrible car wreck close to our hotel, early Saturday morning. The man is listed as a John Doe. No ID was found with him, and due to the condition of the car, it–it oh shit. It blew-up on impact with an 18-wheeler.” Claire noticed Freda’s hand was shaking so bad, the bottle of water fell to the floor.
Claire looked up at Freda and with a vicious bite to her voice asked, “What do you know about this?”
Freda looked like death warmed over, all of a sudden, and she replied, “I do not know anything about your husband and a wreck. I just like Greg, and I hope like hell that is not him. What can I do to help?” The offer of help from Freda distracted Claire from any further questions.
Claire told Vinnie she might need a few days, and if it was, God forbid her husband, she did not know what she would do. With that she left, but only after she assigned members of her team to continue closing the deals they had gotten from the past weekend. She caught a flight from Baton Rouge to Dallas on a turboprop commuter plane, and her secretary had called and gotten her a car and driver to take her to the Dallas Trauma Center to see if the John Doe was her husband. Her guilt for her adultery, lack of helping her husband with the house and family, for putting him second in her life, no third, ’cause she had put the sex with Mutt and Jeff in front of her husband during the seminars. She had to get her priorities in order. Again, she mentally heard the clicking of the hotel door that Friday night / Saturday morning, echoing in her head, time and time again. The executive car pulled up to a multi-floor glass structure, sitting beside a large pond. Here in Texas this might be a lake, but in Louisiana it was not much bigger than a fish pond. The structure did seem to give off an air of confidence, so hopefully this was the best place around, if…
Claire walked briskly into the trauma center’s lobby and marched up to information, explained who she was looking for and the receptionist gave her directions to the trauma unit, which was located on the top floor. Continuing to use her assertive personality that normally came off as a bitch on steriods, which was the reason she had been set up oh so long ago, she went to the person she thought must be the head nurse. She had been right, of course. Claire identified herself, and that she was looking for the John Doe traffic victim from Saturday morning. She was shown to a bed with a man in a full-body cast. His head was fully encased in plaster as well, and so were his hands, down to and including his fingers! The patient was in a drug-induced coma, and would be for weeks, if not months, to hopefully recover from the massive injuries, and so that his brain swelling would also reduce in severity.
Claire noticed the quality of all the equipment, so she asked, “Two questions. First, how do we confirm this is or is not my husband? Do you have skin or something to do DNA? And second, who is paying for all this, if he is a John Doe?”
The nurse responded to each question. “Yes, we have DNA material, so if you could have a blood relative of your husband, send us material, and their possible relationship, and we will compare it immediately, so you will know one way or another. Second, a Mr. Nathaniel Tims has said he would pay the bills for the foreseeable future. I do not know why. He has actually visited the patient a couple of times. The emergency surgery unit took pictures of this patient when he came in, but you could not tell who he was due to the wounds. They were quite extensive and I would advise against looking at them. They will give you nightmares for the rest of your life. I really hope this is not your husband. I hope your husband is in Vegas or somewhere. I would pray that this is not him, if I were you. Whoever saved this man, should have let him die. I am sorry, but I have seen the pictures. Claire looked from the nurse to the mummy-looking figure lying in the bed identified as “Unit 5” and silently nodded.