Back on schedule, Scott and Timber arrived at Dr. Miguel Avila’s office with four minutes to spare.
“So you nervous?” Scott inquired as he shut off the ignition.
“Yes. Would it be ok if I hold you hand?” Timber asked him.
“Sure you can Timmie,” Scott assured her reaching over and grasping hers just a little awkwardly because of its current state. The next thing he knew, Timber had seized his hand and written a big red ‘666’ across the back of it with a felt tip marker.
“Damn it Timber,” Scott complained, “The mark of the beast? I have a date tonight. What did you do that for?”
“Because everyone says your brother looks just like you, and I want to be sure I can tell you apart at all times.”
“Well couldn’t you just mark him? He’s lucky if he gets laid monthly. You know I just had shoulder surgery. You could just ask to see my scar.”
“And what if it isn’t you?” Timber argued. “You cannot ask your doctor to undress during a medical procedure, unless he’s George Clooney from his ER days. That is a longstanding medical practice Scott, going back to the time of the pilgrims.”
“The pilgrims eh?”
“Maybe longer.” Timber insisted.
“Are you trying to tell me you’re scared, Timmie?”
Timber closed her eyes tightly and shook her head yes.
“Hey, no worries. He’s going to look at your back, and that sore that ate New York on your backside, give us a prescription for some salve, and we’re out of there. Twenty minutes tops,” Scott predicted. “He’s seeing us on his lunch so he’ll want to hurry things along.
“So you know what you got to do here?” Scott prompted.
“Don’t tell any lies and behave myself.” Timber answered.
Oh hell, Timber, I don’t care if you want to write 666 across Miguel’s forehead. Just try not to be too bitchy.”
“Check.” Timber replied, and she was starting to do that wet puppy shaking thing again, so Scott gave her hand one last encouraging squeeze before he opened his car door, but Timber pulled him back.
“Scotty,” she said urgently, “If something happens, if they try anything, you have to call my lawyers, ok? Right away.”
“Timmie, nothing’s going to happen,” he reassured her.
“Scott!” Timber grabbed his hand and squeezed it. “Listen to me, this is important. If something happens, call World Wonders ask for John Vanderhei, he’s the COO, and tell him I need representation right away. Promise me.”
“Timber, you’re letting your imagination run away with you,” Scott soothed her.
“No, Scotty, I’m not. And if it happens, Remy and Coop will side with the doctors because they’ll think it’s what’s best for me, so I need you to be my champion. You need to talk your brother out of doing anything. But if you can’t, you call John Vanderhei, right away. He’s Chief Operating Officer, and no matter what do not talk to the CFO.”
“Timmie, nothing’s going to happen. Miguel is going to look at your ass, that’s all. What is it you think he’s going to do to you?”
Timber gave him a small smile, no dimple. “I hope that he finds me a way to get better Scott, but if it’s something else, you’ll know it when it happens, and I am counting on you because I used to count of Pete but don’t think I can do that anymore.”
With that Timber gave a puzzled Scott a kiss on the cheek and opened her own car door before he had a chance to do the gentlemanly thing and open it for her.
If his waiting room was any indication, Miguel Avila’s Eastside practice leaned heavily on blue haired Jewish ladies, all four of whom looked up from their magazines as Timber and Scott entered. Only one of the women had a husband in tow, or perhaps he was a lone male patient, and it was toward the two vacant leather chairs next to elderly gentleman that Timber started when Scott tucked her under his arm and brought her to the window in the wall where the receptionist sat. Scott seemed to be acquainted with her, and as they exchanged pleasantries which ended in “come on back, Doctor is waiting for you,” Timber looked back over her shoulder at the curious faces that stared at her with open curiosity.
A door to their right opened, and Scott escorted her through it, but before it closed again, Timber gave the waiting room a little finger wave, but no smile. She thought for sure she and Scott would be the topic of discussion for the next few minutes and hoped no one recognized the Yankee closer, then realized the ladies might have mistaken Scott for their own doctor, ushering a homeless person inside.
Their journey down a Berber carpeted hall ended in Dr. Miguel Avila’s swanky private office where he sat on the phone. Timber noticed that he did indeed look like Scott, but there were obvious differences. Miguel’s shave was closer and they wore different aftershaves. Though Scott seldom wore jewelry when he wasn’t out on the prowl, he had a pierced ear that Miguel didn’t have. But the most obvious difference for Timber were their eyes. They were the exact same shade of brown, but when you met them, different souls stared back at you.
“Yeah, they are here now, so I will get back to you on that,” the man who looked like Scott said into the phone, and then the receiver was down, and the men were shaking hands, and Timber thought to herself this was her last chance to run, if she stayed, today could very well end with her locked up somewhere. Just then Scott squeezed her shoulder, and she looked up to see him wink at her. Timber took a slow deep yoga style breath, screwed her courage to sticking point, and shook hands with Dr. Miguel Avila.
“It’s nice to meet you Timber,” Miguel smiled Scott’s smile at her. “I was so sorry to hear about your husband, I met him once, and he seemed like a very nice guy.”
Timber nodded but said nothing further, letting herself fade away from the conversation, wondering if this is how it feels to be a shoplifter when you first come out of the store with your pants stuffed with cellphones, waiting to see if security is going to nail you. And then she was standing up to follow the nurse into an exam room. And the nurse was chit chatting, asking how she knew Scott in between taking her blood pressure and temp and pulse/ox level, and Timber answered, “Who?” and the nurse laughed like she understood the joke. Then there was the scale, every woman’s dreaded enemy, and the nurse wrote the number down without saying it out loud, which made Timber think she was probably a good nurse, a kind nurse who didn’t announce how much people weighed. Then the possibly kind nurse took vials of blood and gave her a plastic jar for pee, and finally it was over, and the nurse left promising, ‘Doctor will be right in.’ And sitting there staring at a jar of cotton balls, she wondered what it would be like to have to spend the rest of her life in a room like this.
Then the door opened, and the water came on for the ritual hand washing. Then came the inquisition. Although she felt confident she could now tell the difference, Dr. Avila looked too much like Scott to answer questions like, ‘when was your last period,’ and ‘are you sexually active,’ making eye contact, so Timber kept her eyes closed.
After the interrogatory came the medical foreplay. Eyes, ears, skip the nose, open wide, say ‘ah’. Feel up the glands behind the ear.
“Does your throat hurt when you swallow Timber?” Dr. Avila asked. Timber swallowed, thought about it and nodded yes. Wrong answer. That precipitated a long cotton swab down the throat. He listened to her heart for a long time, and her lungs for even longer, making her take so many deep breaths and cough so many times she thought about asking him if he skipped class the day lungs were discussed, but the one thing Scott had asked was that she not be bitchy, and this was not a good time to cross Scotty, not when he may be her only ally.
And then it was time, he was opening her gown and looking at her back, and she screwed up her eyes tight waiting for his reaction. She tried not to cringe when he touched her, and he asked her if it hurt when he did so, and she shook her head no. Then he asked her to lay down on her stomach, and the nurse put a sheet over her and she was trying so hard not to cry that it was impossible to answer the doctor’s questions anymore, even though she had promised herself she would.
Finally the man who looked like Scott but wasn’t told her to remain lying there on her stomach and that the nurse would be in to clean her pressure sores and that he’d be back to what sounded like “debrief” them, and she flashed on a picture of Scott’s brother shining a bright light on her butt demanding they “answer the question.” Then she was alone again and the countdown had started. Would he lock her up or help her? Timber lay humiliated and defeated waiting for the arrival of the men with the butterfly nets.
Miguel Avila returned to his office where Scott was reading the latest copy of Sports Illustrated, sipping on something from the Starbuck’s two doors down.
“So?” he asked as Miguel closed the door and took his place behind his desk.
“So we’re going to be here awhile Scott,” Miguel told him in a tone Scott recognized as displeasure.
“Why? Is Timber ok?” Scott put his magazine down and looked at his watch worried this would screw up the schedule.
“No, Scott, she is definitely not ok.” Miguel told his brother.
“So some guy has been beating on her then?” Scott concluded.
“No. No one has been hitting her,” Miguel answered, “those aren’t bruises. It’s a condition called “lividity.”
“Lividity.” Scott repeated. “I know that from CSI. It’s like when blood sinks to the bottom in a dead body.”
“Right.” Miguel confirmed. “Gravity pulls the blood in an inactive body to its lowest point, which causes the discoloration that mimics bruising.”
“So what? Timber’s dying?” Scott was suddenly very concerned.
“No Scott. It means for Timber to have this amount of lividity, she must have been lying in the same position, on her back, for many many hours a day, possibly for many many months. I can’t be sure of how long because she is not forthcoming at all. But it’s substantial. Besides the lividity there’s a bald spot on the back of her head where she rubbed off the hair, and calluses on the back of her heels.
“She what?” Scott’s mind went immediately to that cot in the pool house Timber had been sleeping on when he and Remy had found her, on her back with her hands crossed over her chest, and how for a moment he had thought she might be dead.
“Like she was dead and came back to life?” Scott asked.
“Scott,” Miguel sighed, “This is not a movie. There are only two options I can see here. One is somebody took her, kept her in a box and didn’t feed her very well. The other is she voluntarily laid on her back while she withered away. And it’s hard for me to see either one as the answer because while I certainly see some classic signs of depression, she readily joked about you with me, and she seems mentally sharp, the depression just doesn’t seem profound enough for her to take to her bed. On the other hand, she shows none of the post-traumatic signs you’d expect if she had been abducted. So I don’t know what to think here, Scott. And I’ll tell you, if I didn’t know you were on your way to see Sam Chen, I would be on the phone to the police right now to ask them to make sure this woman wasn’t kidnapped.”
Scott thought about Timber telling him he had to try to convince his brother not to “do anything.” He knew he should tell Miguel about the cot they had found Timber sleeping on; show him the pictures of the pool house that were in his cell phone, but Timber’s last minute plea to him to be her champion stopped him.”
“So what’s happening now?” Scott was suddenly suspicious. “Why are things going to take awhile?”
“Because, to start with, she’s dehydrated, so I’m going to start an IV, and it’s going to take about an hour and a half for it to run.”
Scott looked at his watch. “Ok, we got that. “She doesn’t have to be at Dr. Chen’s until 3:00. I’m supposed to feed her lunch, so maybe I can bring something in while we’re waiting on the IV to drip.”
Miguel looked frustrated by his brother’s casual response.
“Scott, listen to me,” he ordered. “When you called me up and asked me to see Jordie Lilley’s widow because you thought someone had been beating her up, I was glad to do it. I AM glad to do it. But this is not that, and what you told me about you and Remy and Coop planning to take care of her, I’m telling you Scott, I have my doubts that’s a good idea.
“Well what then?” Scott asked.
“My choice would be a hospital,” Miguel told his brother, but I don’t think she’ll consider it. “So I think I need to talk to Remy or Coop about what care this girl needs.”
“No fucking way!” Scott objected. “I’m in charge of her medical stuff.”
“This isn’t a game Scott. Timber needs some serious attention right now, not someone to stop by and bring her a cup of soup between hook ups.”
“Low blow bro. I’ll have you know I care about Timber. I cleaned up her puke this morning. I washed it out of her hair. So are you going to do something for her or not?”
“Yes. Of course I am. I’m going to give her some medication to help her absorb the blood back into her system along with some pills to keep blood clots from forming. And most of all she needs Keflex for one of the sores which has become infected and Amoxicillin for her throat.
“One of them?” Scott questioned. “You mean there’s more than one of those suckers?”
“Yes, there is one on her left buttock and one on her left thigh that has become infected. Once I get the IV going I’ll give Timber something for the pain so I can clean and debride them – that means remove all the dead skin that can easily become infected. But she will need sterile dressings changed on both her buttock and leg at least 4 times a day.
“Ha! Timmie’s buttock,” Scott snorted.
“This is exactly what I’m talking about Scott,” Miguel scolded. “This isn’t funny. Timber needs a lot of attention at the moment and I am not persuaded that if left alone she is sufficiently invested in getting better so that that she will do all the things she needs to do.”
“Ok. Ok. Buttocks is a funny word is all.” Scott pouted.
Miguel sighed in frustration. “I’m also giving her something topical for the sores in her mouth but you might want to check with a dentist. It’s really not my field and he might have something better. And she hasn’t had a period in months, she thinks since the summer, so she needs to see an OB/GYN.
“I can take her.” Scott insisted.
“And someone will need to supervise her inhalation therapy twice a day.”
“No problem. I’m on it.” Scott said defiantly.
“Scott,” Miguel cut back on the outrage. “Timber’s going to need someone to make sure she takes all her medication when she’s supposed to and change her dressings and give her her breathing treatments. She needs someone to make sure she exercises and changes positions when she sleeps, and none of these things can wait until you get home from Whistler, so I think I should talk to Remy or Coop.”
“Well, it will have to be Remy then, because Coop is going to Turks and Caicos Wednesday.” Scott informed him.
“No, he’s not,” Miguel answered. “That was him on the phone when you came in, he’s cancelled his trip and is moving into Remy’s for a few weeks.”
“You called Coop?” Scott’s displeasure was evident.
“No, Coop called me.” Miguel snapped. “He wanted to make sure I knew about the sores inside Timber’s mouth.”
“I was going to mention that,” Scott defended himself. “Look I have it written down. I made a list of things we needed to ask about.”
Scott pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and unfolded it. “See?” Miguel squinted at the paper which read, 1. Food, 2. Hangover.
“Hangover?” Miguel inquired.
“Yeah,” Scott said. “Timber had an unhappy meet up with Johnny Walker last night, and I thought you might have something to settle her system. So Scott’s really going to stand up Carolina to stay with Timmie?”
“I didn’t discuss his holiday plans with him Scott,” Miguel sounded frustrated, “he just said he feels like he needs to be here for this window of time so he can get Timber back eating right and that he’d be staying at Remy’s to try to get a handle on it. And since Friday is Christmas and you will be gone, I want him or Remy to bring Timber back Thursday, so I can check that infected sore.”
“So you aren’t coming skiing?” Scott was blown away. Miguel didn’t even know Timber.
“Not this time, Scott.” Miguel told him.
“Why? You met her husband like once.”
“Because this is why I became a doctor Scott, for the patients who comes along when you least expect them who really need help. Now, this girl, right now, she trusts me a thimble full, and that’s only because she trusts you a shot glass full. My other patients, we have a relationship. They know that if I leave them with Dr. Goldman for a week while I go skiing, he’s going to take good care of them. I can’t tell Timber, ‘Bye bye see you in a week here’s Dr. Goldman’s number,’ when I just cracked the door with her.
“If I understand this history you gave me, three months postpartum, with her hormones still raging, her husband and baby die. Five days later she’s shipped out to a place where she previously lived for only a few months a year, with no neighbors, no family, no job, and if she did go back to work, she’s everyone’s boss. It doesn’t make for a good support system. It must have felt like everyone abandoned her. So now she’s reached out for help, but she’s so scared I can feel it coming off her. So no, I’m not going to abandon her too Scott.”
Scott stood thinking, jingling the keys in his pocket, looking at his shoes as if the correct answer was written there. “OK” He finally made his decision. “I’ll stay. I’ll move into Remy’s. The room Coop must be using has twin beds, and we bunk together on the road, so we’re used to one another.”
“Scotty,” Miguel cajoled his brother. “This is a serious situation. There is no room for error. Those sores on her buttocks? That’s what killed Christopher Reeve. She needs more than you taking responsibility for her, Scott.”
“That’s not fair.” Scott told his brother. “I didn’t realize the gravity of the situation before, but now that I do, I’m in charge of medical. And I am going to stay and do what I said I would. Now you should get that IV started because we have an appointment to keep at 3:00.”
“I’m going to give Dr. Chen a call while you are on your way over and talk to him about this,” Miguel told Scott. “He’s much better at getting people to open up than me. Maybe he’ll get some answers on how this happened. You make sure you get her there.”
Absolutely.” Scott promised. “And you make me a list of all the things I need to do. I’ll check them off every day.”
“And call if you have any questions.” Miguel added. And Scott, it will probably take some time for Timber to trust Dr. Chen and myself, but she trusts you and Remy and Coop at least a little. Maybe she’ll talk to one of you.
“She’s going to be all right though, right?” Scott wanted reassurance.
“I hope so, Scott,” Miguel told him. “But right now a lot of that comes down to you.”