Reverend Mother lie in a narrow nursing home bed and tried to make sense of the events which landed her there. One moment, she was at the doctor’s office with her son Joshua and daughter Rachel getting the wound on her abdomen treated. The next thing she knew, the doctor was telling her that she needed to be transferred to a rehab facility.
Dr. Mohammed had just told her that the wound was not as bad as it looked. The man had even joked around with her. That reassured Reverend Mother. She started thinking that perhaps she had overreacted. He stepped out of the room to grab a fresh bandage and returned with a grim expression on his face.
What happened in the space of a few minutes to change his attitude? His vague explanation had made no sense. Being in the hospital for gallbladder surgery is what had led to her developing the wound, after that…that..woman had injected her with something as she slept.
The last thing Reverend Mother wanted to do was stay in some facility. It made her vulnerable to another attack. Dr. Mohammed was strangely reticent to clarify himself, so she told him that she was going home. Reverend Mother was dumbfounded, when he told her that Joshua had enacted his power of attorney for healthcare decisions.
She knew that had to be a lie. Her son would never go behind her back and do something like that, not her sweet baby Joshua. He always had her back. It was the two of them against the world. Reverend Mother demanded that she be allowed to speak with him, intending to clear up what was clearly some mistake.
One look into Joshua’s eyes and she knew that Dr. Mohammed was telling the truth. Joshua offered up some lame excuse about the infection from her wound spreading. His explanation made even less sense.
Reverend Mother had leapt to her feet. She was not about to allow her son to overrule her. She was the parent and he was the child. Joshua stepped in front of her and refused to move. Reverend Mother tried to push past him and he gently held her wrists. She was attempting to free her arms, when she felt the prick of a needle.
She awoke in nursing home with a nurse bending over her. For one confused moment, Reverend Mother thought she was back in the hospital. The nurse spoke to her as though she was a child, patting her on the head until she threatened to break that condescending hand. The nurse started to laugh it off, saw the rage in Reverend Mother’s eyes and decided to leave her alone.
Thinking about Joshua’s betrayal got her riled up again, to the point that it was impossible to sit still. Reverend Mother felt sluggish and her thoughts were muddled by the sedative still swimming through her system. She needed to talk things through with someone and come up with a game plan.
Joshua had probably already gotten to her other children and won them over to his way of thinking. Reverend Mother decided to call Thomas. There was no telephone in the room, so she searched for her purse thinking that she would just use her cell phone. It was nowhere to be found. She bellowed for the nurse, who came bustling in.
“Where is my purse?”
“Your son Joshua took it back home for safekeeping.”
“Well, I need a phone.”
“Who are you trying to contact?”
“That’s none of your business.”
“I’m afraid it is. Your son left a phone list.”
“Fine, I want to talk to him.”
“I’ll dial the number for you.”
Reverend Mother kept her anger in check and waited in silence for the woman to hand her the receiver. Joshua never answered the phone. She considered venting her frustration to his voicemail and settled for slamming the phone back into its cradle. Reverend Mother turned on her heels and headed for the door at the end of the hall, leading off the rehab unit. She needed to get some air. She was about to grab the handle when a different woman wearing hospital scrubs stepped in front of her.
“Ma’am, I’m gonna have to ask you to return to your room.”
“I need to get some air.”
“Then go out into the courtyard.”
Reverend Mother took offense at her tone. Why did everyone in the place think it was acceptable to speak to her as though she were a child? She pushed past the woman and grabbed the door handle. It seemed to be stuck. Or maybe she was pulling when she should be pushing on it. Reverend Mother suddenly realized that the door was locked.
“Why is the door locked? Open the door young lady!”
“Now Ms. Coleman, don’t go getting yourself all worked up. You can get all the fresh air you want out in the courtyard. C’mon now, let’s not make this more difficult than it needs to be.”
Reverend Mother was about to resist, when she saw the charge nurse closing in on her with a syringe. Keeping her expression blank, to conceal the rising panic inside of her, she stalked off to her room. Behind the relative privacy of a closed door, all of her self-assurance drained away. A crippling sensation of despair weakened her resolve. Reverend Mother sank down on her bed expecting tears that never came.
Without Joshua in her corner, she felt defeated. Her heart ached every time she recalled the guilty look in his eyes in the doctor’s office. Reverend Mother hadn’t seen his betrayal coming. That bothered her. She must be getting soft…in the head. Perhaps he was right. Maybe she was…crazy…Reverend Mother didn’t know how she felt about that possibility. She realized that she didn’t feel anything anymore.
Exhaustion began tugging at her. She moved up into bed and laid down. The emptiness wasn’t all bad. For the first time in a long time, her mind was untroubled. It was restful not to expend energy on vengeful thoughts and schemes.
Reverend Mother was on the verge of sleep, when she felt a presence in the room. The hair on the back of her neck stood up. Reverend Mother didn’t need to open her eyes to know that no one had walked in. Her tormentor had returned. The sedative swimming in her system blunted the fear she normally felt.
Reverend Mother made no attempt to guard her mind against the demonic voice. Running the gamut of emotions had left her feeling drained and strangely detached. She didn’t protest, when the voice insisted that no one could be trusted. After all, her own children had tricked her doctor into having her committed. The voice suggested that if they wanted to believe that she was suddenly off her rocker, she should play along and use it to her advantage. Reverend Mother’s curiosity piqued, she spoke aloud to the spirit.
“How can it be advantageous to let people think I’ve lost my mind? I’m trying to get out of here.”
“Don’t be in such a hurry to leave. Your children feel guilty about putting you in here. Use that guilt to get them to do your bidding.“
“What, like making them spend more time with me?”
“Like getting rid of your enemy. Being in here, you’d have the perfect alibi. Even if some cop traced anything back to you, you can plead not guilty, due to insanity.”
“Are you saying I should ask one of my children to kill Nicole? I couldn’t do that.”
“Of course not. You forget that daughter of yours has a jail-bird for a father who could find someone to do the deed.”
“Harriet is pure as the driven snow, she’d never go for it.”
“Then ask Samentha to do it.”
“How do you know about Harriet’s alter ego? I never told anybody about her having multiple personality disorder.”
“I know all of your secrets, like the things you used to call on Samentha to do.”
Categories: Valley of Shadows (Novel)