Chapter 1: Down for the Count
It was about dusk, and I was driving west down this two-lane country road, when out of the blue this bright yellow something came crashing into the driver's side of my truck. That is the last thing I remembered until I woke up in a hospital room with all kinds of tubes, wires, and bandages all over my body. I closed and then opened my eyes once again, because when I opened them the first time, the room started spinning. Finally, I closed them and drifted off to never-never land again.
The next time I remember that I awoke there was this matronly nurse, who reminded me of my mother, checking my pulse and temperature. Well, this seemed normal. At least, the thermometer was an oral one, not a rectal one. I croaked out something that I thought was 'water', but I think it came out as "woooor" around the thermometer and scared the nurse half to death.
"You're supposed to be asleep, not scaring the nursing staff half to death. I suppose you would like some water, but you only get some ice chips to suck on. Let me get you some; I'll be back in a jiffy."
I could see the room more clearly now, but there was still some blurriness around the edges, kind of like an out-of-focus picture or when the background is out of focus. The immediate surroundings were in focus, but anything beyond five feet was blurry.
About then the nurse returned, with a Styrofoam cup and a real spoon in her hand. She took the spoon and fished out a small chip of ice and said, "Open up." I opened my mouth and suddenly felt instant relief. The chip was fairly small, but the pleasure I derived from that small thing was off the charts. I moaned and it almost felt orgasmic to me.
Suddenly, the nurse was leaning on my bed, moaning herself; the cup of ice dropped to the floor along with the spoon that clattered as it hit the tiles. She appeared to swoon, and grabbed her right tit with her left hand and clutched the crotch of her whites with her right. Just as suddenly as it happened, she shook herself and looked around to see if anyone saw what just happened.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Morgan; I don't know what came over me. I'll get you some more ice and be right back."
She bent down to pick up the spoon and cup and tried to gather up all the ice, but some of it melted and slid away from her. I could tell since I could hear her silently cursing the ice and wondering what had just happened to her. She felt an instant orgasm; it was fleeting, but so intense that she couldn't help crying out in her pleasure. Nothing like this had ever happened to her before, why would it now? It couldn't have anything to do with Mr. Morgan, could it? I mean he hadn't even moved; he just moaned when she fed him the ice chip. Yes, that would have felt nice, but that reaction was beyond the realm of possibility, wasn't it?
How did I know all this about what was happening under the bed? I couldn't see anything. I could hear her inaudible musings. Wait; that was it. I could hear her silent musings, her thoughts. I could hear her thoughts in my head. Wow, now this was different. Was it just her or was it everyone? I listened, really concentrating and soon I could hear many voices in my head; almost too many. It was like being in a crowded room, but a little hard of hearing and blind. You could hear all the noise, but not being able to see you were confused as to where to look. So all you got were snatches of conversation, and a lot of murmuring. Sure I could catch a word here or there, but it didn't make much sense without context. Then it was as though some invisible curtain had parted and I was hit with a wall of sound. I cringed in my bed and tried to shut the din out. I mentally yelled 'STOP IT, Please stop all this noise!' I got an instant reaction; it was a collective 'HUH!!', and then I passed out again. I drifted in and out of consciousness for some time. When I woke up the din would start, gain in strength and I would shut down again.
I became aware of my surroundings sometime later, how much later I couldn't say, but there were two doctors discussing something over by the door. I seemed to be able to turn up the volume of my hearing or maybe it was that I tuned in on their conversation. Whatever the reason, I heard most of what they were saying.
My doctor, well the one I seem to remember seeing earlier during one of my more lucid moments during my fading in and out was saying, "But I just don't understand Dr. Hewlett. Mr. Morgan seems to be able to hear exceptionally well, or he is reading minds, well hearing thoughts. How do you explain that?"
Dr. Hewitt replied, "Jerome, like I said, head injuries like his can cause some very weird, temporary symptoms or manifestations that appear to be impossible. However, it is all explainable. The nurse, Ms. Wrachett, said she spilled the ice cup and was trying to clean it up. What is so hard in understanding that she would be cursing under her breath and that the patient could hear her? As for her saying she was startled by a profound feeling of satisfaction ... well that could be a reaction to the patient's extreme reaction to the ice, after all the man has been in a coma for over a month. So I am sure that ice chips in his dry throat would feel extremely satisfying and Ms. Wrachett could have been vulnerable to an intense emotive jolt. I have seen this before in people who are maybe a little more empathetic than most people. Nurse Wrachett is one of those people. She really cares for her patients, and that is why she is in this ward, right?"
"Yes Edward, but some of the other things. The patient has woken several times and tried to put his hands to his ears and has shouted, 'Please stop all the noise, I can't think'. That's surely not normal."
I tuned them out and pictured a heavy curtain in my mind and then all I heard were quiet whispers. This room was a normal two-person room, kind of like an 'L' with the beds kind of back in the alcove area. The bathroom filled the rest of the square room. The door was about fifteen feet away from my head, so I shouldn't be able to hear them, but I did.
I lifted the curtain again, and I could hear their conversation clearly again, but next several other voices started leaking in and pretty soon it was like I was in a crowded room with everyone speaking at once. I tried to close the curtain again, and the noise dropped in intensity and then stopped. This is really weird.
I guess I should introduce myself; I'm Henry Archbold Morgan, USA Major (Ret). Yeah I know, Captain Morgan the pirate and the brand name for a rum. Well, in actuality I am a somewhat descendant of the original Admiral Sir Henry Morgan. Not a direct descendent, however, my family goes back to Henry Archbold, his cousin's child. Henry Morgan was the godfather of Henry Archbold and Charles Byndloss. Henry's mother was Johanna Archbold, the daughter of Edward Morgan, his uncle and father to his wife Mary Elizabeth Morgan. Yeah it's a real mess trying to sort it all out. Henry Archbold and Charles Byndloss were instructed in Sir Henry's will that in order to inherit his estate; they were legally to change their surname to Morgan. This they did in order to gain access to all of Sir Henry's wealth. I suggest that you look it up to see the tangled mess.
Anyway, I spent twenty-two years in the Army and retired as a Major. I started out as an enlisted man and went to college on bootstrap at one of my stateside assignments. I'm an architectural engineer by degree and normally work contract work, so I can move around like I want. I got used to moving when in the Army, and I liked to travel. I was on my way to Austin, Texas for my next job when I was delayed. I'm forty-five years old, and in great shape ... well I was before all this happened. I'm 6' 2" tall and weigh in at 205; I try to stay in shape by running and practicing my martial arts forms. I'm divorced, no children ... that I know of anyway. My ex-wife couldn't take all the travel and alone time when I would go on some of my temporary duty assignments since I might be gone for a week or six months. I am an expert marksman and I did have many assignments in black ops over the years, after my wife left me.
That's about it. Oh yeah, I wondered about my next job since I had been here over a month and I'll bet no one has contacted my employer. Plus the fact I have no idea where here is, or how long I'm going to be cooped up in this bed.
I drifted in and out of sleep for a couple of days, with me staying awake more, the longer it was. I was feeling a lot better and asked the nurse if some of these wires and tubes could be taken out. She said she would check with the doctor. I had been moved into a four-person room however, I was the only occupant at the time. I was now able to talk, and be understood; but due to all the hook-ups, they had me pretty well tied down to the bed with not much wiggle room. My doctors were back in the room by the door talking again ... consulting would be their term.
"Excuse me doctors, but can someone get me my cell phone, so I can call my employer, so he knows what has happened to me, as if I know. However, first where is here, so I can to let my employer know where I am and how soon I can leave. I need to find out if I even have a job to go to, since I heard I've been in a coma for over a month."
"Of course, Mr. Morgan, I'll get someone on that right now." said Dr. Jerome Levitz.
They both left in a hurry, and soon a different nurse came in. This one was young, pretty, and built perfectly in all the right places. She was tall, about five feet, eleven in her white nurse's shoes and had a long starched white dress type of uniform on that did nothing to hide her body. She exhibited the haughty snobbish upbringing of a rich and privileged child. She seemed to exude this snobby bitchiness that she was so much better than any mere patient. She thought of herself as above most people and especially old Neanderthals like me.
"Dr. Levitz said you needed a phone and some answers. Your cell phone is in the drawer, and no one brought in your charger, so it's dead." She haughtily spat out at me. "I'll have a phone in here so you can make your precious calls. Your bags are in the secure storage; I'll see if I can find someone to bring your bags up. Then we can go through them to see if we can find what you need for right now. Good day, Mr. Morgan." With that said she was gone again. I never even got a word in edgewise.
A candy striper came in with a phone, and plugged it into the wall behind me. She then said, "You have to dial nine to get an outside line and after that zero-nine for long distance."
She started to leave and I stopped her, "Miss could someone please tell me where here is? I don't even know where I am or what the date is."
"Oh I'm so terribly sorry about that Mr. Morgan. I'm Cindy, Cindy Moore. Here is Waco, Texas and it is Monday the sixteenth of July. And this is the Providential Hospital"
"Thank you so much Cindy. You're the first person who has allowed me to speak long enough to ask some questions. Is everybody so unfriendly here?"
"Oh no, Mr. Morgan; I think there is a lot of confusion going on because of you, and they are trying to figure out what ward you really need to go into. Dr. Hewlett wanted you to go into the Psych ward, and Dr. Levitz wanted you to go to a regular ward, but a private room. Then again, Dr. Hughes wants you gone from here. He's the administrator here, and he says you're not a paying customer so you get the boot or at least transferred to the VA hospital down in Temple. He found out today that you're a vet, and he wants you gone from here and to the VA hospital."
"Thank you so much Cindy. I have gotten more information from you in two minutes than I have received from anyone else since I woke up. Why would the administrator just find out that I am a vet? Cindy would you check to see if my wallet is in that drawer, please?"
"Certainly Mr. Morgan ... yes here it is."
"Open it up and see if you can see my driver's license and Military ID Card. You should see both of them once you open the wallet."
"I can see your driver's license, but I don't see your military ID. Do you want me to look for it?"
"Yes please, it should be in the opposite compartment from the driver's license."
"Here it is, it behind a photo of six guys in uniform. Hey, you're in there, aren't you?"
"Yes I am; that's a photo of the guys I worked with in the Army. Well, that explains something, but why was it moved? Come around this other side of the bed and we can go through it and see what else is not where it belongs."
Cindy came around to my left side and opened my wallet again on my stomach. I immediately knew someone had rifled through my wallet. The driver's license was in the ID slot, and one of my Visa cards was in the other slot. Cindy pulled out everything that was in my wallet, and I confirmed that someone or for that matter, several someone's had gone through my wallet as there were many things missing. One was the close to three thousand dollars that had been in there hundred-dollar bills. Now there was just a twenty and three ones. My platinum American Express card was missing and one of my platinum Visa cards as well. I would have to see what I could do about that. I suspected that I had huge bills on both of them. This whole affair was getting weirder by the minute. I had Cindy put things back the way she found them, with a little help from me and put it back in my drawer. I asked her to see if she could get a police officer to come to my room to discuss the theft. I also wanted to talk to someone about my accident as well.
"By the way, the way Cindy, who was that beautiful, but grouchy nurse who was in here a minute ago?"
"That had to be 'Battleaxe Betty' ... well that's what most of us call her, of course not to her face. She is Elizabeth Hughes, yeah his daughter. Can I get you anything?"
"No I think I'm fine for now. I need to call and see if I even have a job anymore. Thanks and I won't mention anything about 'BB' if you don't."
"BB, who is ... oh, I see ... BB, that's a much better name. Get well soon Mr. Morgan and thanks for not being mad at me for being so short earlier."
"No harm, no foul, Cindy. You take care and try to stay away from BB."
She giggled and left the room. I tried to remember my contract company's number and then dialed it. I did notice a clock on the wall, and it was 2:20.
"Spencer, Tremaine and Cox, this is Claire, how may I direct your call?"
"This is Henry Morgan and I just found out where I am and what happened to me. Is Cecil Whitestone available? I was supposed to report to work on June 4th for the Simpson-Roberts job."
"Just one moment Mr. Morgan, I believe Mr. Whitestone is available. Let me put you on hold and check on him."
I heard some elevator music for a couple of minutes and then, "Hank, where the hell are you? You've had me worried sick. What happened?"
"Cecil, I'm laid up in a hospital in Waco; I don't know which one yet. I was coming down to see you when out of the blue, something big, and yellow came crashing into my truck door. I left Sulphur Springs on Friday the first and should have made it all the way there on Saturday. I had just gone through Hubbard on 31 when it happened. All I know is I awoke up sometime late yesterday, or the day before, I'm not really sure which. I was a little foggy at first, and this is the first chance I've had to call you."
"Well, are they treating you OK up there, if not maybe I can get you transferred down here. I suspect that your truck is totaled, has anyone talked to you yet about the accident?"
"Cecil, I have no idea, like I said this is all new to me. I guess I'm going to have to demand some answers, or I'll be talking to Fred. He's still playing at being a lawyer, isn't he?"
"Oh yeah, Fred would love to get a hold of some doctors and a hospital, let alone who hit you. As soon as you find out anything you let me know. I'll sic Fred on them up there. His cell is 512 555-1632. Call him as soon as you find out exactly where you are and what happened. I think unless he is really busy, he will be up there tomorrow. When you save people's lives, they try to repay you any way we can."
"Hey Cecil, that was more of a group effort rather than all me, I just was responsible after the Major bought it. We all did our part, not only me. Besides now is not the time to bring that up again. That's all ancient history. I also need to call and cancel a couple of credit cards that seem to have disappeared from my wallet along with almost three grand."
"Wow, robbery as well as hit and run. Maybe it was nothing to you, but we all four feel the same way about you. So you're going to have to put up with a little hero worship for a while. Oh yeah, the Simpson-Roberts build is already in progress, but I have another project that you would be perfect for, but it doesn't even start until maybe September or October. I'm sure we can find something for you to do until then. Take care and don't be a stranger, call me if you need anything more. You're not that far away."
"Thanks Cecil, I'll remember that. Say hi to Gail for me, OK?"
"I certainly will. You may be surprised when she shows up there demanding to know what is going on. She still thinks you walk on water after bringing me home from that assignment."
"Thanks, Cecil, I'll try to call again tomorrow or when I know more. Bye."
I hung up the phone and pondered my life. It sure was nice to have friends in all the places I did. Cecil, Fred Warren, John Hatcher, Tom Greer, and I were the team that Lieutenant Commander Steve Minor led a few years back. We always called Steve, Major Minor, rather than his Navy rank as they were the same. He kind of balked at first, but then it became a private joke among us. I guess that he sort of became an honorary Ranger so Major was right. We were an elite black ops team that handled wet work for some alphabet soup outfit out of Langley. We were all Rangers, well, except Steve, who was a Seal, but we didn't hold it against him for very long. Cecil is now an architect and major construction manager. Fred is a lawyer with one of the best firms in the state of Texas. John was our medic and was now a cardiac surgeon and head of The Baylor Heart Hospital, in Plano, Texas. Tom is an assistant football coach and strength trainer for Rice University in Houston. Me, I am a rover; I'm a Professional Engineer (PE) with degrees in architectural (BSE), mechanical (MSE) and electrical engineering (DSE). Those being Bachelors in Architectural, Masters in Mechanical and Doctorate in Electrical Engineering. Yeah, I've been working on my degrees all through my service hitches, especially the two years I went through bootstrap to get my commission, and I was studying Architecture then. Also when I wasn't working other areas I worked with the Corps of Engineers so I could get my PE license and my project manager license.
We actually grew up all over the US. Cecil was from Amarillo; Fred came from Cincinnati, Ohio; Steve came from Twenty-Nine Palms, California; John came from just outside Duluth, Minnesota. Tom was raised near Palm Beach Florida, and I was raised in upstate New York, south of Buffalo. Except for Steve; we met each other in ranger school, and then got stationed together at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. We separated there for a while when I went back to school and got my first degree. A special assignment came up, and I volunteered, and it was like an old home week when I saw Cecil, Fred, John, and Tom at the barracks when I checked in. That is where we met Steve. He was just an Ensign then and me a butter bar Lieutenant; the rest were master sergeants or new Lieutenants as well. Anyway, we worked black ops for about five years until the mission where Steve bought it. Then we kind of asked if we could go back to our old jobs.
Anyway that's my background. My ex, Judy left me right before I went back to school. I had enough college credits when I graduated high school that I wanted to go to college. I had graduated from High School at sixteen and started college right afterwards. I received a scholarship from the University of Cincinnati, and I had just started my third year when my family was killed by a drunk driver.
They came to Cincinnati to see me start my junior year. They were driving back home and somehow a drunk crossed the median on Interstate 90 just southwest of their turn off onto Interstate 86, the Southern Tier Expressway. He had no lights on, and he hit them almost head-on at about eighty. The Pennsylvania State Trooper whom I talked to said that Dad may have seen him at the last moment because there were some skid marks for Dad's brakes but none from the drunk. No one lived through the inferno that ensued. I lost my father, mother, and eleven-year-old sister all at once. With no close relatives, I had to leave school, and my only alternative was a foster family or the military. I had just turned eighteen, and so I joined the Army to get away from all the tragedy in my life. I did get a fair settlement from the insurance. Between my family's insurance policies, the drunk's insurance company, and his estate, I realized a little over three million. My dad had had a very good lawyer who took the drunk's estate to court and won a settlement in excess of five million; however, we were only able to collect three point seven from them.
I never found the right girl after Judy. Of course, I was kind of busy with school, work, and moving every eighteen months. Thank God for correspondence schools, like Phoenix, Trident, and DeVry. They allow many military people to achieve a college degree from almost anywhere in the world. That's how I got my Masters and Doctors degrees.
Enough about me, let's see if I can shake a couple of trees and find out what happened to me. I first called operator assistance and got the number for American Express, and I reported my card stolen. I also let them know I had been in a coma for over a month and could prove it. The nice young lady informed me that I was late on a payment; however, due to my circumstances, I could skip it right now. I asked for a balance on my card, and was told it was for fifteen thousand, four hundred, and thirty two dollars and fifteen cents. I asked, "What was the balance as of four PM on the first of June?"
"It was thirty-five dollars and twenty-two cents, Mr. Morgan."
"Well then, I only owe you thirty-five dollars and twenty two cents; the rest was put on my card after it was stolen from my wallet after my accident. You can verify that I was in a coma, and unable to purchase anything, from Dr. Jerome Levitz at the Providential Hospital in Waco, Texas. I would suggest that you try to find out who is using my card pretty quick before you are on the hook for even more, good-bye."
I hung up from that call and then made another one to Capital One for my card with them. I got pretty much the same story from them, and this bill was over twenty thousand. I explained to them about my accident, and whom to contact to verify my status. They thanked me for my concern and would get right on it.
I pressed the nurse button, and wouldn't you know it; BB showed up about ten minutes later. I'm sure glad it wasn't an emergency.
"Yes Mr. Morgan? You asked for assistance?"
"Yes nurse, can you explain to me why no police, county deputy, state trooper, or Texas Ranger has stepped in to ask me any questions regarding my accident? Also since we are on the subject of my accident, what happened, when was I brought here and why are none of my personal possessions, other than my cell phone and wallet, in this room? Why are they all in secured storage? Who is my doctor and for that matter, who are you?"
"Mr. Morgan, first I do not like your attitude, secondly I do not know, nor care, about any police involvement in your case. I only know an ambulance brought you here, and a truck brought your belongings the next day. That has been in secure storage since that time. Your doctor of record is Dr. Jerome Levitz. And I am RN Hughes. Anything else, Mister Morgan?"
My God, if she could have said all that without the full venomousness in her voice, I would have kissed her. Man, I could feel the daggers in my heart from her frigid look, let alone from the acerbic tongue lashing I just received. I said, "No thank you nurse Hughes."
She turned around and left me to my own thoughts. Now why in the hell was this bitch so mad at me? Well, only one way to find out. I dialed nine and then zero to get an operator.
"Providential Hospital, how may I direct your call?"
I had noticed earlier that the water pitcher was labeled with the room number and patient name, so I knew my room was 314. It was also on my wrist band, but the hospital name was not. That was weird that the hospital name was not on the wrist band. Every other hospital I have ever been in had their name on the band, why not this one? Just one more unexplained mystery about me and this accident.
"Yes, this is Mr. Morgan in room 314, and I wish the assistance of a Texas Ranger or DPS officer. I am having a slight problem, and I do not want to unduly alarm anyone, but I was in an auto accident, and I have never been debriefed or questioned regarding that accident. I have contacted my lawyer, and he is on his way up from Austin. He will be here tomorrow; however, if you would be so kind as to let law enforcement know I would request their presence at the time of Mr. Warren's visit with me tomorrow. However, if a Ranger or a Trooper becomes available sooner than that, I would still like to talk to them."
[DPS is the Department of Public Safety or the Texas State Police – BR]
"I'm very sorry, Mr. Morgan; I'm not really sure I can do that. I would have to clear that through channels first."
"I see, then, Dr. Hughes, the administrator, would be the final authority, as to whether or not I can see a law enforcement official here in my room. It that right?"
"Yes sir, Dr. Hughes would have final approval of any visit like that."
"Thank you, ma'am, for your time and effort." I hung up and then dialed nine, zero-nine and then nine-one-one.
"Hello this is the 911 operator. What is your emergency??"
"I need to speak to a DPS officer or Texas Ranger, preferably one in Waco as that is where I am currently located."
"May I ask the nature of your emergency?"
"Yes Ma'am. I was involved in a vehicle accident on June 1st of this year, and I have yet to speak to a law enforcement official concerning this accident."
"But Sir that situation would not constitute an emergency, now. I'm afraid I will have to ask you to please leave this line so that real emergencies can be dealt with."
"Well, would you consider false imprisonment, kidnapping, and intimidation as an emergency? The administrator of this hospital has done just that to me for well over a month. I would like to speak to an officer as soon as possible. My lawyer is due tomorrow morning, and I have the feeling that fur will be flying when he does arrive. I do not want to speak to a local officer I want a state or federal officer to speak with soon. Thank you Ma'am."
I hung up and let her stew in what I said. I figured that she would treat it as a crank call and let her supervisor know at her next convenient moment, which might mean by tomorrow or maybe the end of her shift. I was totally surprised when the phone rang. I had not given Cecil the phone number, so who could it be? Maybe it was the 911 operator again wanting more information.
Edited by WSV and B4Lurker, Proofread by DeepStar, and lamjam1956
And some more help from LughIldanach