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"Black Jim"

By Kellyanne Lynch

* Please e-mail with questions, comments, theories, complaints, or words of wisdom.


Chapter 9:
Thursday, 7:36 P.M.

"You haven't seen him anywhere?" Amanda covered her eyes and forehead with her free hand. She sighed and said: "Well, thank you for your help… Yes, please have him call me if he turns up."

Amanda hung up the telephone at the emergency room's nursing station. Plopping down on the chair behind her, she sighed again.

The doors of the ER burst open, and paramedics sprinted into the hospital with a gurney. Nurses barked orders amid the chaos, but Amanda wasn't paying attention to their words.

One voice penetrated: "Are you the ER nurse?"

Amanda glanced up at the unfamiliar orderly. Closing her eyes momentarily, she replied, "No. Pathologist."

The orderly turned around and walked away from the desk.

“Wait!" she called after the young man. He turned to see her gesture toward the chaos: "Do you know what happened?"

Nodding vigourously, the orderly replied, "Yeah! Two men were picked up under a bridge on the highway. One of them was dead on arrival, and the other one's a doctor here!"

Bolting upright in her chair, Amanda cried, "Who is it?"

"Dr. Trevors. No, I mean Tre…"

"Dr. Travis?!?" Amanda leapt out of her seat and raced down the corridor, into the ER storm.

"Is Dr. Jesse Travis here?" she called as she approached the paramedics, who were racing a gurney down the hallway. A couple of attendants turned around.

"Is that Jesse?" she shouted.

They nodded, and Amanda caught up with them. Rushing alongside the gurney, she held its railing and glanced over at the patient. Her eyes were drawn first to Jesse's stomach. Blood was seeping through a hastily applied patch of gauze. Amanda gazed with a furrowed brow upon his face. His eyes peeked out over an oxygen mask. They would twitch, revealing only the whites of his eyes.

A paramedic grabbed Amanda's shoulder as she tried to keep up with the gurney. The team hustled past her and into an operating room. Amanda did not resist the paramedic; she knew that would probably hinder the surgery. He led her to the waiting room and sat beside her.

Amanda sighed.

"What happened to him?" she asked.

"A piece of glass lodged into his stomach," he replied. "Dr. Travis took a nasty spill down the side of an embankment. He could have broken ribs, and he has a few contusions and abrasions." The paramedic looked Amanda in the eye. "He's your friend." As he sat back in his chair, he finished his thought. "Isn't he?"

Returning the paramedic's stare, Amanda shook her head yes. She lowered her gaze and turned from him.

"Who was with him?" she questioned the paramedic, who shook his head.

"Middle aged man," he replied. "We're guessing somewhere between thirty-five and forty-five. He didn't have any ID on him, and the doctor couldn't tell us anything about him. Do you have any idea who Dr. Travis could have been with?"

Amanda shook her head. "No, I don't."

"Well, whoever our John Doe is, he's waiting for you in your lab."

Rising from her chair, Amanda said, "Okay. I should attend to him." She smiled at the paramedic and added: "Thank you for being such a comfort! You've been wonderful to me. What is your name?"


"Well, thank you, Daniel!" Amanda put her hand over his before leaving the emergency room. She strode down the corridors of Community General, her shoes clacking on the linoleum, until she reached the pathology department. Heaving a sigh, she pushed open the door to her lab. The familiar sheet-covered corpse greeted her. Amanda flicked on the lights and stepped into the room. She found her tape recorder and hit the record button.

"Thursday, March 30th," she spoke into the device. "The time is now 7:45 PM."

Circling the gurney, Amanda reached her work area. She set her tools on the metal tray that lay on the table beside her, before reaching for the sheet that covered the corpse.

"Dr. Bentley?"

A nurse was standing in the doorway. Amanda glanced over at her.


"You had a phone call earlier from your babysitter. She said that your son's feeling much better, but she still has him lying down, watching TV."

Amanda nodded. Smiling, she said, "Thank you."

"No problem." The nurse left.

Amanda glanced around the room.

"Where was I?" she muttered to herself. Placing a hand over her eyes, she sighed. "Oh yeah."

Gripping the recorder, Amanda pulled back the sheet. She gasped.

"Steve!" she exclaimed, her eyes wide and bulging from their sockets. She dropped the recorder on the gurney and fell into a chair behind her. Tears filled her eyes. "What happened?"

Standing in the doorway was Steve. He was filthy; the only clean thing that he wore was the blanket draped over his shoulders.

"Long story. How's Jess doing? I didn't see where they took him."

"We should know soon enough. He's in surgery right now."

Steve nodded and sauntered into the lab. Wincing, he glanced down at his left hand. "You wouldn't happen to know why a hand would suddenly start to sting for no reason, would you?"

Rising to her feet, Amanda replied, "No, unless it's a chemical burn. But what did you touch?"


Amanda examined Steve's hand. Dried blood lingered around the lines that creased his palm.

"Is this Jesse's blood?" she asked, furrowing her eyebrows. Steve nodded.

"Then I know why your hand hurts."

Amanda led Steve to the sink. As she ran cold water over it, she said, "You must have got stomach acid on your hand, which is sixteen molar hydrochloric acid, highly concentrated. That's why your stomach lining has to replace itself every two weeks." She grinned. "More often if you eat at Barbecue Bob's!"

Steve smirked. "Very funny!"

Amanda's smile faded. "If you got Jesse's stomach acid on your hand," she thought aloud, "then that means the glass went all the way through his stomach lining."

She stared at the wall before looking back at Steve.

"Well what about you?" she asked, glancing over his body for apparent [obvious] injuries. "How come you didn't come in on a gurney?"

"What? Would you have liked me to?"

Amanda shook her head. "No, Steve, I'm serious. You were shot, and you haven't been here long enough to have had it taken treated. So, where's your wound?”

"There is no wound," Steve replied. "The bullet only grazed the surface of the skin; it didn't go through."

"That doesn't matter, Steve. You should have it checked and at least cleansed. It probably needs stitches, too."

Steve shook his head. "Amanda!" He closed his eyes. "I'm fine!"

Putting her hands on her hips, Amanda glared at Steve. "Don't make me come over there!"

Steve breathed a heavy sigh and used his left hand to remove the blanket. Amanda stared at the blood caked on his right shoulder.

"Oh, Steve!" she exclaimed. Her eyes met his. "Get your butt back to the ER! That thing is filthy, and there's no way of telling what got into it. Unless you want it to get infected and amputated."

"Okay! I'm going!"

Amanda glanced back at the corpse as Steve headed for the door.

"Wait a minute, Steve!"

He stopped and turned around. "But a minute could cost me an arm! What is it?"

She pointed to her John Doe and asked: "Do you have any idea who this man is?"

"No idea," Steve shook his head.

"All right. Now get out of here."

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