Chapter Twelve; Part One
The next day, as I’m driving to work, I have the strangest feeling that I’m being followed. I check my mirrors several times, but there’s nothing suspicious. I’m probably being paranoid because of everything that has happened in the last week, but I double-check again. Nothing. When I pull into the parking lot, I hunch my shoulders as I lock my door. I whip my head around, but there is no one there. I hurry into the building, irrationally glad to get out of the open. I go to the office floor and sit at my desk. I frown again. My coffee cup isn’t in the same place as where I normally put it, and several of my pens have been disturbed. I look at my computer, but nothing seems out of order there. I quickly check my files, but there’s nothing there. I still have five minutes, so I check the local news on my phone. The Strib. To my surprise, there’s a picture of Rembrandt on the front page. Does he have a show he never mentioned to me? I read the article, and my surprise turns to horror. He was attacked in front of his house early this morning on his way to his first client. He managed to fight off his attacker, but not before the attacker gouged out his (brown) eye. Rembrandt was rushed to Abbott Northwestern, and I have to get to him now. I run into Cara’s office. Fortunately, she’s not busy, so I tell her I need to take off. She’s not happy about it, but she lets me go. I promise her I’ll make it up to her, and I leave. My thoughts are racing as I speed towards Abbott Northwestern. How can this be happening again? Who the hell would attack Rembrandt?
“I need to see Rembrandt. Rembrandt DiCampo,” I say to the nurse at the front desk.
“Only family is allowed,” the nurse says, looking up at me. Her tone is brisk, but not unsympathetic.
“Can you at least tell me how he is?” I ask, my voice trembling.
“No, I can’t. I’m sorry.” The nurse nods at me. I’m about to leave when I remember that Simon is still here. I get a nurse to give me directions to his room and make my way over there. Trinity is in the waiting area, and I go sit by her as she dozes.
“How is he?” I ask Trinity, startling her into sitting upright.
“He’s bad, but the doctors say he’ll be fine,” Trinity says after she wakes up a bit. “If he stays off the drugs, stays away from old associates, etc., etc., etc.” Trinity and I exchange glances. We both know how likely that is about to happen.
“May I talk to him?” I ask Trinity, holding my breath. There’s no reason for her to say yes, but to my surprise, she does.
“Go on in. No one else has visited him.” Trinity’s shoulders droop, and I know she thinks she has to be there for him because he has no one else. It’s not my job, but I feel somewhat responsible for her.
“You don’t have to do this, Trinity,” I say, placing my hand on her shoulder. She leans into it before pulling away.
“He has no one else.” Trinity’s voice is weary, and I think she’s near the edge of leaving; I just have to find the right words to push her over, so to speak. I think about my options, then I speak.
“I know you feel responsible for him. I know you think he’s alone and has no one else. That can be a powerful drug for people who like to help other people.” I pause to see how she’s reacting. She’s looking at me and is leaning slightly toward me, so that’s a good sign. “The problem is, and this is tough love, a guy like that will drag you down before you can pull him up.” Trinity flinches, but she doesn’t say anything. “I have tried so many times. Lord knows. I’ve lost count. Every time I think I can save someone, not only have I lost that person, but I’ve lost parts of myself as well.”
“I need to leave him,” Trinity says softly. “I know that, but—”
“No buts,” I say firmly. “You’re going to say you should at least be there for him through this. But, there’s always something with a man like him. You know that.” I pat her hand before standing up. “I’ll be right back.” I stride towards Simon’s room and stop before entering it. I never told Julianna, but I smelled rot coming off of Simon the few times I’ve met him. I walk in, and the smell lingers. Simon’s head is wrapped, his arm is in a cast, and his face is all puffy. I can’t tell if he’s sleeping or if his eyes are just swollen shut.