She feared the illness had erased her psychic abilities.
September 22, 2013
A VG Serial: Dark Continent Continental
“I have some mail for you, Laroux.” Nurse Pennypacker announced.
Laroux raised her head up and fumbled around for the bed control. The drone of the bed motor working was the only sound in the room until Nurse Pennypacker asked, “Maybe I’d better open this for you—is that okay?”
Laroux, who was finally sitting upright smiled and nodded. The nurse put the 8” x 10” manila envelope on the tray table. When she was sure Laroux could manage removal of the contents, she left the room.
“Who is this from?” Laroux mumbled to herself. “No one would be sending me anything.” She reached inside the envelope and pulled out a piece of paper and another envelope that had “read letter before opening” on it. She unfolded the piece of paper and began reading:
“We hope you are feeling better, Laroux. When you are up to it, we could use your help. We are working on a case that involves obscure crimes scattered across North America. See if you can get anything on the envelope, as it is, sealed. If it is too vague, then open the envelope and try again. It is a photo. Thanks, Laroux. We will be in touch with you before long.” –Angus”
Nurse Pennypacker did not like the expression on Laroux Dimitri’s face since she had returned to the room. She had seemed glum and dour since she had received the manila envelope.
“Did you get some bad news in the mail?” Pennypacker decided to dig a little.
“No, I was glad to get the mail. It made me feel appreciated—hard to explain, but I was glad,” Laroux squeaked with effort.
Laroux remained dismal all day. When Nurse Pennypacker came in the afternoon to ask Laroux to fill out her menu request for supper, Laroux handed her the already-filled-out-form, appropriate boxes checked, then blurted out in her labored, squeaky voice, “I know it’s a lot to ask, but could you get me Austin Homicide on the phone? I want to speak with Angus Carlyle.”
“Turning yourself in, are you?” Nurse Pennypacker asked with a snort.
Laroux smiled but did not laugh back.
“Sure. Hang on. Now, it’s ringing. I will leave the room so you can have privacy.”
“This is Angus Carlyle.” Angus and Skeeter had been back in their office for several days, and were going over the sweep materials when they found the time.
“I have someone who wishes to speak to you.” Nurse Pennypacker handed the phone to Laroux and left the room. She parked herself outside the door and craned her neck and strained her ears to the amusement of co-workers passing by. Her patient’s demeanor had her worried and she needed more information about why.
“Angus? This is Laroux. Laroux Dimitri. Are you there?” The raspy, squeaky voice was barely audible.
“Laroux. I am so glad to hear your voice. You must be feeling better. Did you get my letter?”
“Angus, listen! I have lost my abilities. They’re gone. Since I got sick—nothing! Nothing is happening. I have lost all of my psychic powers.”
“Well, now, don’t you worry or fret about it. They will come back. You just try to get to feeling better. It was a long shot anyway—we don’t expect anything. Just get well. We are very involved here and we will get back in touch with you when we know something more. If you ever think of anything you think we need to know, you know how to get in touch with us. Skeeter sends her best and thanks so much for calling.”
“What is it Angus.” Skeeter asked.
“Laroux is convinced that her near-fatal illness has removed all of her psychic abilities.”
“It could be true, I guess. I have heard of people’s abilities disappearing and I have also heard of people that had no abilities at all, their entire lives, then they suddenly got some when they were ancient. I guess we will know sooner or later, but better not pressure her now. It will come in its own time if it’s coming. I think she will call the instant she gets something.”
Angus answered, “I would stake my retirement on it.
“What was the photo you sent, Angus/”
“It was a photo of the chalk outline in the death house.”
Chapters of Dark Continental by Sara Marie Hogg will be published on Saturday and Sunday.