Checks and Balances

White pearl necklace

We pulled up the circular driveway, in a private ambulance. I didn’t need the fuss. My injuries were manageable: a broken leg, a separated shoulder, and a couple of bruised ribs. Sure, I had pain with every breath I took. I was slow, but agile enough to move on crutches. Enduring the difficulties of torture or fighting through a loosing battle with my wits and a stick, was part of my military training. It was their medications that made me achy and over sensitive. Astral insisted.

Two babbling nurses, a chain-smoking Croatian house keeper, Serena, managed those uncomfortable days, in an opulent guest bedroom. Astral was in and out fretting  over the details. I was set up like a doll, in the south wing. She occupied the east wing, according to Serena. I didn’t see her husband until the third day. He grumbled at Astral behind my door before they entered.

“Why here …why now?”

She replied: “ You said we couldn’t afford a scandal. The police agreed and released him under our care. The doctors didn’t have a problem. I was thinking of you.”

“We have the campaign dinner in three days. We can’t afford to have a stranger just hanging around. Move him out, pay him off. Talk to his lawyers?“

“He didn’t mention lawyers to the police or me.”

There was an awkward silence in the hall then Serena’s voice called out,”Lunch in ten minutes, madame.”

“In a moment. Hold all our calls please,” Astral replied.

“Put mine through, to my office especially, Senator Whitney,” he said.

I struggled to sit up in that soft bed. Carrie, the day nurse, pushed the control button and I was propped up for inspection. She then  whispered,  tucking in my sheets,” He’s not so bad.”

When the door opened, Carrie stood at the foot of my bed, smoothing out her uniform. I pulled the taunt blanket out with such force that my torso spasmed like a vice. I ached for my independence and to start my search again.

Astral, with her eyes fixed on the carpet, walked in first. I felt like a child, about to take the slap of disappointment. He strode in behind her. I could hear her heart pounding. He pulled at his shirt cuffs before he spoke. Carrie stepped towards her chair trying to disappear.

“And you are?” He asked.

“Very grateful, sir.”

“Astral is our stray collector… “

He didn’t impress me. “I’ll leave when …”

‘You’ll leave when you are ready,” Astral said.

“Have you talked to anyone, your lawyers…?” He asked.

“Lawyers…?” I was confused. I looked to Astral.

“We all agreed. There was no fault, “ Astral said.

He cleared his throat,” I need your word on that. My team will put it on paper. Just to make it clear.”

“Don’t rush him,” Astral said.

He took her arm and squeezed it hard enough to make her wince. I watched her long string of pearls sway to one side.

“Sure, whatever you need Mr. Henning” I said. He let her arm go. The pearls swung back.

Astral was older than he was. She was afraid of him. He was a brute and a one-sided man. She was a woman who manged her difficulties with internal checks and balances. She worked him, dug around him, up to a certain point. I was puzzled by her loyalty. I had no time to get mixed up in their dynamics.

“Ryan, you have a busy day…” She said to her husband.

“Yes… so do you.”

Copyright 2015 Digestible Ink

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Checks and Balances

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