Obsessive Compulsive Amateur Sleuth, Scene 11

Written by Mark Wm Smith

An overeducated, blue-collar cowboy, Mark Wm Smith grew up on along the banks of the Yellowstone River in Eastern Montana. Raised by a long haul trucker and a bartending waitress, Mark learned the hard ways of the modern frontier, scraping life from the unforgiving high chaparral.

October 12, 2020

“Obsessive Compulsion” Scene 11

Bennington tied his shoes under the blanket of the hospital bed.

A shadow rode the curtain separating his ICU from the nursing station.

He snapped his body to attention beneath the sheets. The ridiculous image of a mannequin under intensive care occurred to him too late. Once the threat had passed, he resumed his exit plan. Memories of Greco dominated his mind, crowding out the urgency for escape.

“Doc, this dream, it’s unbearable. I’m trapped in the prison chow hall. My cellie, Goopa’s, got a shank for me over some missing cigarettes,” Greco told him during their last session. “Prison stays with you, man. Big guys like the Greck, they gonna ambush under the cut.” Bennington sounds his ignorance. “Away from surveillance cams,” Greco said. “Happens regular.” Greco trembled when he said it. “Little guys, say my pal Jenks? Pin ‘em in the corner of a cage. It’s a public hell, Doc. Now it’s haunting my privates.”

Bennington shuddered all the way to his hip bones. He knew which category he’d find himself—five ten with nary a friend. He rolled to the edge, blankets and sheets coiling around him. An unanticipated complication.

“Damn,” he exclaimed as he reached the limits of the mattress.

Gravity took charge of the situation and Bennington hit the white tile floor with a thump.

“Mr. Tanskanen?” a young female voice asked from above.

The agony in Bennington’s hip partnered with the clench in his jaw to prevent him from blurting I’m fine or something less useful.

The girl rounded the corner of the bed, a shock of red hair and heavy-breasted cleavage peering at him.

“I think I need the doctor,” Bennington said.

“Oh boy,” she replied, patting away without checking him for contusions or concussion.

Bennington fought the homemade straightjacket with punches and kicks. A desperate urge for Hulk-strength swelled in his chest. 

The material gave way.

He bounced to his feet and across the mattress, tucking himself into the curtain folds just as the busty redhead returned with a white-coated young man on her tail. 

“Was he hurt?” the man asked was asking. 

“I, I didn’t check.”

Two more nurses followed, curling over the others to see.

Bennington slipped from the curtain and strode down the hall. 

A heated argument ensued behind him.

His beating heart kept double time with his steps all the way to the elevator. He feigned a directory search to hide his face while the compartment emptied.

Sweat lined his undershirt. He exited the building into the cool night air. Gloria would return with a change of clothes and find him gone. The thought of her panic, heartbreak, and tears turned him back toward the hospital’s entrance. Memories of those tormented months after they lost the baby—in a hospital just like this one—pressured him to return to his room. 

Greco’s voice chanted in his inner ear. “Little guys… Pin ‘em in the corner of a cage.”  His feet spun him around and marched his shaky legs to the bus stop on the corner.

Tucked inside the safety of a hospital bed, his fears had turned on Greco’s stories of prison time. Outside, the cool night air reminded him that his freedom was on a chain. If Detective Bronson Hanibal found him before he could prove his innocence, he’d be on the hook for Josiah’s murder.

Footsteps raced up behind him.

Bennington’s throat choked off his air flow.

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