by Abbey Bradley
“I believe I’ll have to kill you tonight,” Theodore calmly stated to the blonde seated next to him.
The blonde pulled a lipstick from her purse and nervously chuckled. “Al, darling, do you hear this nonsense again?” She deliberately turned, so that her red dress revealed more thigh.
Alfred, who sat quietly in the back seat, traced the leather grain of a briefcase that lay on his lap. He seemed amused by Theodore’s newest threat.
“Ted, dear, tell me, what troubles your brilliant mind tonight? Is it the dress or the hair? Do you like my hair?” she inquired. She patted the platinum wig that fit better than the black one she had worn yesterday.
Theodore, who had ignored her until now, concentrated on traffic taillights that inched towards the Brooklyn Bridge. He gripped the steering wheel as the gridlock, hampered by relentless rain, slowed to a full stop.
“Trixie, I could care less about your dress or hair!” Theodore declared. “In fact, I think I will eliminate you both!”
Trixie lowered the mirrored visor and applied lipstick. “Should’ve left work earlier,” she mused, “I warned you but nooo, doctor Ted needed to stay and play —”
“Stop!” Theodore pounded the steering wheel, “Just shut up! Another word, I swear, I’ll throw you out right here!”
Trixie noticed Alfred’s smirk in the mirrored visor. “Well, Al !” she exclaimed, “You’ve nothing to say in my defense?” Alfred did not answer.
Now enraged, Theodore abruptly maneuvered to the left lane of the Brooklyn Bridge entrance.
* * *
At that same time, in the psychiatric wing of the Brooklyn Hospital, nurse supervisor Natalie Nolan felt frustrated. She motioned to a young nurse just preparing to leave. “Amy, have you seen the chart for Mrs. Daniels?”
“Not since I finished vitals,” Amy stated. She fastened her raincoat, “Then Dr. Ferrara came in. Have a good weekend!”
Suddenly, Natalie was distracted by screams.
“She’s dead and you killed her — why did you kill her?”
Although outbursts weren’t uncommon, Natalie watched an orderly rush to room 602.
Besides the fact that the chart for room 602 was missing, Mrs. Daniels had occupied that room.
Edith Daniels hadn’t spoken in nearly a year.
* * *
“Think you can really just throw me out?” Trixie asked.
Theodore, irritated by the traffic, squinted thru useless wipers. “Just shut up!” he warned.
“Think I’d forget about what you did to me — to us?” Trixie nagged. “It might be difficult to explain all the trysts and those frequent disappearances to the state medical board —”
It was then that Theodore reached across to grab Trixie, but a deafening crack and sudden flash startled him. Theodore hadn’t heard the muffled click, when Al had unlocked the briefcase, and he certainly hadn’t noticed the cocked pistol aimed at Trixie’s skull.
Although he struggled to comprehend what had just happened, Theodore noticed Trixie’s head now slumped forward and that splattered blood had colored her wig an unusual pink. While blood dripped from Trixie's shoulders and pooled onto her lap, a bewildered Theodore was unable to control the car.
“Holy Mother of God! Al, what the hell —”
What followed was a sickening screech of metal when Theodore’s car unexpectedly veered and scraped the bridge’s abutment. Seconds later, horns blasted and Theodore quickly hit the brakes.
* * *
When Natalie entered room 602, she was surprised to see a frantic Edith Daniels out of bed.
“Get away from me!” Edith waved at the orderly as he circled from behind. “Murderer! You murdered them — now you’re trying to murder me!”
With a syringe in hand, Natalie cautiously approached. “Let’s get her sedated.”
“No!” pleaded a terrorized Edith, “You killed Mr. Lewis and now Miss Parks! Please don’t —”
While Edith was eased back into bed, the hospital’s administrator appeared at the door. “Miss Nolan, it’s urgent that I see you in my office.”
* * *
Because the rain had turned to sleet, Theodore's car did a tailspin.He struggled to gain traction but hit the vehicle to his right. At that same time, a car behind Theodore had hit directly where Alfred had been seated. While the chain reaction accident that followed occurred in what seemed slow motion, both horns and crunch of metal easily masked the second shot.
* * *
Natalie felt confused when Mr. Smith, the hospital administrator, quickly escorted her to his office.
“Please have a seat, Miss Nolan. You know our chief coroner, Mr. Nguyen, and this is Detective Bolan from Precinct Two.” Mr. Smith remained standing.
“You may not be aware that inquiries and discrepancies had prompted an internal investigation. We not only need your help to reconstruct events, but to assist with unaccountable charts and medications.”
Mr. Smith paced near where Natalie had been seated. “Our mental health ward,” he continued, “has experienced an unusually high number of patient mortalities. All these patients were monitored by Dr. Ferrara. Unfortunately, the doctor’s whereabouts are unknown. His office appears to have been emptied.”
Now Mr. Smith moved near the window, “An inquest has led to exhumations. Foul play might be involved. High levels of thorazine, along with digoxin —”
“Mrs. Daniel’s chart is missing,” a frightened Natalie interrupted, “She’s hysterical that Miss Parks passed away. They roomed together for years. They were quite close.”
“We know about Edith Daniel’s chart.” Mr. Smith said matter-of-factly, “And we know about Miss Parks, but there’s an additional problem. Miss Park’s body is gone.”
* * *
The chaos on the bridge, as well as the hazardous sleet, obstructed the attempts by emergency personnel. Because of the treacherous glaze, even people who had left their cars could not find footing.
Yet one person had managed to reach a front vehicle. He had tried both passenger doors, which were either locked or perhaps frozen. He quickly scraped away sleet, but when he saw the passengers inside, he attempted to scream.
Two perfectly poised, nearly decomposed corpses, sat unaware of all the outside commotion.
The driver, however, was gone.
* * *
“First there was patient attachment, followed by counter-transference,” stated another of the hospital’s staff psychiatrists. He had joined Mr. Smith, Natalie, and the others. “From all appearances and evidence,” he concluded, “in my opinion, Dr. Ferrara had experienced full-blown hallucinations probably longer than six or eight months ago.”
When the meeting finally ended, a distressed Natalie gathered her things and quietly left the hospital.
Still shivering when she entered her cozy apartment, Natalie bent to greet her cat, who mewed noisily against her legs.
When Natalie stood up, she was horrified to see Theodore Ferrara in the kitchen archway.
* * *
The near skeletal remains of Trixie Parks and Alfred Lewis were identified, of course, and each had recent bullet holes to their heads.
Although the Brooklyn Bridge accident was cleared after midnight, and an earlier APB had been issued, Theodore Ferrara simply vanished.
Seasoned divers searched the East River; however, it would be weeks before investigators determined that Dr. Ferrara, who left an impeccable suicide note, could have been carried away by the icy, murky current.
Furthermore, investigators surmised that it would have been possible for Dr. Ferrara to slip by unnoticed. But had he actually jumped?
* * *
Amy missed Natalie Nolan. “She was such a nice co-worker,” she stated to another nurse, “It’s too bad her mother got ill. It’s a shame she had to leave so suddenly.”
“Yes,” the other nurse agreed. “That was a terrible night anyhow, remember? It was the same evening Dr. Ferrara committed suicide — the same night of that awful sleet. Accidents everywhere.”
* * *
“Ted, dear, tell me, what troubles your brilliant mind tonight?” Natalie deliberately turned so that her white uniform revealed more thigh. She lowered the mirrored visor, and adjusted her cap. “And why are you driving so fast?”
The car kicked up dust and pebbles under the hot Arizona sun.
Theodore gripped the steering wheel. He had just about enough of her nagging.
Just about enough.
Copyright © 2006 by Abbey Bradley