Maggie woke up and sighed. It was Friday morning, and Nora Bella was expecting her to send the completed manuscript of Raven Ridge today. She was so far behind; there was no way she was going to get it done. When Nora calls, and she will, Maggie would just have to ask her for an extension. Nora will not be happy, but there was no other option.
She lay on her side staring at the poorly painted plaster wall. Fortunately, she did not have a nightmare last night. No dream of Nurse Deborah and Dr. Bruce Hancock, and no image of the psychiatric patient, Susan, bond barbarically to a hospital bed, and lying there dead. Then she realized that her bed, the bed she was sleeping in, was in the same location as Susie’s—well, Susie’s in the dream. The bed she was sleeping in looked like a hospital bed. It was small in size and had old tubular head and foot boards, but there were no side rails or a way to raise and lower the head of the bed. However, she did notice an unusual crease that ran across the center of the mattress as if someone had folded it in half. She ran her hand along the bottom sheet feeling the groove. Then she jumped out of bed and stared at it. She brought a hand to her mouth and whispered, “Or the mattress could be creased from the head of the bed having been raised and repeatedly lowered, just like a hospital bed.”
There was one way to find out. She took the cell phone from the nightstand, turned on its light, and got down on her hands and knees to look under the bed. There were holes in the scratched metal frame, just like ones that are used to tie restraints, and the frame was split so that the head and foot of the bed could be elevated. She went to the foot and noticed a mechanism that could have once held two hand cranks for making manual adjustments.
“No frickin’ way!” she said, pushing the mattress off the bed. Through the frame, she could see the old inner workings of the hospital bed. “I’ve been sleeping in a hospital bed? I can’t believe it.”
Maggie went into the spare room and pushed the mattress to the side; the bed was the same as hers. She was horrified. “They have to be beds from when this place was a hospital. This is ridiculous; I’m not sleeping in that bed again.”
She walked into the living room and stood there. The bed she had been sleeping in must have been one from the building’s days as a psychiatric hospital. It had worn brown paint around the restraint holes in the bed frame, likely from frequent use. “This place is disgusting.”
While she made coffee, she thought about how a place with a warbler singing outside the window and a view of blue water and sky, could be so dark and freakish. Even the air inside the building was growing increasingly heavy, like walking through a film of some unseen substance.
She sneaked a cup of coffee as it dripped into the pot and took the camcorder from its hiding spot. Just as expected, the only recording was herself when she had set it and walked to her bedroom, and when she woke up and went into the living room. But to get the recording she needed, she would have to leave the apartment and give Debbie a chance to come in and do whatever she is going to do. For the first time since Cory’s death, going back to the house and sleeping in their bed sounded comforting.
Her shoulders slumped when she looked at her laptop sitting across from the backpack. She had so much writing to do and did not feel like doing it. She was too distracted with all the other things going on in her life. Not to mention, Nora will be calling her soon to see if the manuscript was done and ready to e-mail.
Maggie sat at the dinette table and found the recording she made of her and Jess yesterday. When she played it, all she could hear was static scratching over their voices. It was impossible to make anything out. “So much for that evidence,” she said, putting it into her purse.
She finished her coffee, took a much overdue shower, and put her laptop into the backpack. Then she stuffed as much clothing as she could fit into it. She did not want to let Debbie know she was moving out by taking the suitcase. The apartment needed to look like she was living there even though she did not intend to spend much time there.
But what to do with the camcorder? She thought about putting it under the couch, but the view would not be optimal, not to mention the fact that Debbie would probably notice it. Then she looked into the bedrooms. “Yes, that will work,” she said, walking into her room. She put the mattress back on the bed, fluffed the sheet and blanket into a messy pile, and placed the camera inside, leaving a tiny opening for the lens to see out. She swung the bedroom door all the way open. The camera now had a view of the apartment door, but not further inside the apartment. But catching Debbie entering the apartment would be enough to prove she was setting-up Maggie for something. But what?
When Maggie left and locked her apartment, she made enough noise so that Debbie would know she had left. Debbie’s apartment faced the parking lot, so all she had to do was look out her window and see if Maggie’s car was there or not. Nonetheless, she wanted to make it clear she was not in the apartment.
She was thankful she had not run into anyone on the way out to her car. Once again, it felt like a burden had been lifted from her shoulders as she drove away from the old sanatorium. If it were not for the new knowledge of Cory’s affair with Jess, she would have felt blissful. Instead, she drove to her house in meditative silence.
When she reached the house, she checked the mailbox and went inside. Junk mail and a couple bills were all there was. She looked toward the dining room table, there was still no way she could live in the house permanently, but for now, it was better than the apartment.
She walked past the table, into the kitchen, and opened the refrigerator door; all there was inside was bottled water, ketchup, and mustard. I’ll order a pizza later, she thought. Then she walked into the office, moved Cory’s computer to the side, and put her computer in its place so that she could get some work done.
Then her cell phone rang, it was Nora Bella.
“Just checking to see if you mailed the manuscript, I don’t see it in my inbox.”
Maggie leaned back in the chair. “I’m working on it right now, but I’m going to need more time.”
“How much time?”
Maggie had no idea how much time—lots of time. “Next week.”
“Next week?” Nora repeated. “The publisher needs it today. Can you get it to me today?”
Not today. Fire me. “I’m sorry, but I’ve had to go over the paperwork with the lawyer. I’m sure you understand.” Maggie was not sure Nora did. “I’m sure the publisher will understand.”
“I suggest you spend the weekend getting caught up. I’ll call you Monday. Chop, chop.”
They disconnected the call.
“What else do I have to do?” Maggie said, opening the manuscript. “It’s not like I’m going to be hanging out with Jess this weekend.”
Maggie spent the rest of the day working, surprising herself at all the writing she had accomplished. She ordered pizza, watched a movie, and went upstairs to her and Cory’s bedroom. After a short crying jag, she crawled into bed. Had Cory and Jess had sex in this bed? She sighed. “I’m definitely moving from here, too.”