Maggie held the master key in her hand and watched Deborah as she pranced down the stairway to her clandestine meeting with Dr. Bruce. She was alone on the psychiatric floor. Her white nursing shoes squeaked as she walked out of the nurses’ station and into the hallway. The layout was almost like the second floor of Sandpiper Bluff. The apartments had to be rooms for patients, violent patients according to Ethel.
What was she to do? This was a dream, after all. But it did not feel like a dream. The sky through the double doors flashed with light from the storm outside. She could feel the cold metal of the key and the heavy dampness in the air.
She crossed her arms and turned around in a circle to look at her surroundings. The plaster walls had cracks, but they were not as prominent as they were now. Now? Oddly, the dream felt like now but it was not the now she was living in. Where she was in the hospital could not be real because her memories were of Sandpiper Bluff Apartments and not of this. Not of this time. She had no idea what she was supposed to do. Yes, she was a nurse, and she knew what nurses did, but not here, not now.
Maggie almost jumped, almost dropping the key when she heard a scream come from her apartment, or rather, from the locked patients’ room. The person in the room screamed again, then the nurse call light lit above the door, and a bell began ringing.
What was she supposed to do? When was Deborah getting back on the floor? Maggie walked up to the door and slid the skeleton key into the lock. She turned it, opened the door, and stood there. She could not believe what she was seeing. Her apartment had three hospital beds in it; the kitchen and two small bedrooms were nonexistent.
The first hospital bed had a patient curled up in the fetal position. The second bed had a patient sitting up, clutching her hospital gown while pointing to the patient in bed three. Maggie looked and saw a young girl, lying face down on the bed and secured with five-point restraints. The girl’s wrists, ankles, and chest were tied to the bed so that she could not move. Indeed, she was not moving.
“She’s dead,” the second patient said, shaking from fright. “I called for help. I called for help.”
Maggie walked up to the girl and nudged her shoulder. “Are you okay?”
The girl did not move.
“Here name is Susan,” the second patient said. “Call her Susan, please.”
Susan? This dream is out of control. Maggie palpated for a carotid pulse and listened for breathing, there was none. She took Susan out of the restraints and turned her onto her back. Susan was dead.
“Help, Deborah, help me,” Maggie yelled as she began chest compressions. Moments later Deborah and Dr. Bruce ran into the room.
“What did you do?” Deborah said, watching Maggie perform CPR.
Dr. Bruce took the stethoscope from his lab coat pocket. “Stop compressions while I listen.” He listened to her heart and then said, “She has expired. For the record, it’s three in the morning.”
They three of them stood there staring at Susan.
Maggie could not believe what she was looking at. Susan was dead. Her ratty hair and urine soaked gown made her look pathetic. She felt sorry for Susan and her poor care.
“You killed her,” Deborah said, sneering. She looked at Maggie and waited for her reaction.
“I did not kill her; I was helping her.” Maggie could not believe Deborah was casting such an accusation at her. “I answered the call light and found her like this. I took her out of the restraints to perform CPR. She probably died from asphyxiation from being face down on the blanket and pillow.”
“You were in charge and you were the only person on the unit when she died,” Deborah said, not taking her eyes off Maggie. “You are responsible.”
“I didn’t put her in five-point restraints on her belly. I found her like this.” From Deborah’s facial expression, Maggie could tell she was thinking of a comeback.
Dr. Bruce put the stethoscope back into his pocket. “It appears she died from asphyxiation; an autopsy will need to be done.”
Deborah and Dr. Bruce walked out of the room. Maggie pushed Susan’s hair away from her sad little face and then looked at the patient who had called for help. “You saw what happened, didn’t you?”
The patient put her face into her hands and shook her head. She kept repeating, “I see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. I see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”
Maggie walked out of the room and to the nurses’ station where Deborah and Dr. Bruce were talking. They stopped when Maggie walked to the desk. “Where’s Susan’s chart?” Even though this was a dream, she still wanted to chart the facts of the incident.
“I have it,” Deborah said, holding the blue chart in her hands. “I need to call the coroner and the authorities.”
Maggie took a blank sheet of nurse’s notes from a wall pocket and began charting. She knew Deborah would not tell the truth, and she needed to protect herself.
Deborah stood and rubbed against Dr. Bruce seductively. “Your notes won’t matter, we know what happened. You were negligent, and now a patient is dead. That is what the record will reflect.”
Maggie looked at Dr. Bruce. “You know that’s not true, right?”
Dr. Bruce did not say anything while Deborah whispered into his ear. “I concur with Deborah and will chart it as such.”
“You’re kidding?” They were setting her up to take the fall for a death that happened while they were off the floor having sex. It was coming down to either them or her. Someone was going to be accused of negligence, lose their job, and defend themselves in court. And they were winning.