I love first meetings, as I’ve said before. I enjoy bringing people from different walks of life together, for me that’s fun. Amos Lowery is down on his luck. Living on the street, he walks around Daytona, looking for work. One night, he doesn’t find a job, he finds trouble—a man jumps him, drugging him. He’s brought to the hospital, where they discover he has a mark on his neck. They believe this is where the man drugged him. A doctor comes in to take a sample, but is rude. At the Amos’ request, a different doctor is summoned.
A quick word with the nurse and a different doctor, a young woman, with black, curly hair and a sassy attitude, came instead.
“Hey there. I heard you and Craig had a problem?” She was very Southern. Amos placed her accent around south Alabama.
“He was rude,” Sarah said, ready to cut loose.
“He thought I was a junkie,” Amos said, shrugging.
“Hmph,” she snorted. “Don’t look like one to me. I’m Annabeth, and I’ll be accosting you with sharp tools. Let me get a clean set up. I’ll be right back.”
The nurse brought a tray instead and stayed to assist while the doctor took a small sample of the welt. The nurse did the blood draw, and the doctor washed her hands before settling on the end of the bed.
“He’s another mystery drug man?” she asked of the room.
“Yes,” Van said. “We were hoping for an update on his labs.”
“I’ll get that. We’ve been monitoring for Dr. Weiss, but someone was supposed to tell you. Probably Craig.” She rolled her eyes. “Don’t take it personally,” she assured Amos. “He’s entitled and superior, because his daddy has money, and he hasn’t had to work for a living. I put myself through school.” She bounced out and got a tablet from a stand near the nurses’ station. When she came back, she sat on the bed next to Amos and accessed his files.
“This is the level when you came in. It was still quite strongly in your system. Honestly, I’m surprised you were able to do much of anything, but lie on the beach and gurgle.”
Amos and the others laughed.
“It’s been going down gradually. That’s interesting.” She paused, examining something on the tablet. “It hit a point and started to degrade more quickly. You’ll be glad to know, it’s very nearly gone from your system. Based on this rate, I’d say it should be completely dissipated in a few hours.”
“Do you think I’ll get flashbacks, like with acid?”
“I honestly don’t know, Amos. I’m sorry. You’re the first person to survive this.”
“How did the others die?”
The police and doctor exchanged a look that Amos could easily read. They didn’t want to alarm him.
“Look, I don’t scare easily. I’ve lived on my own for six years, much of it on the street. Before that, I was dodging my old man’s fists, and learning to hold my own with boys twice my size. I’m gonna go out on a limb, and say it was a real ugly death.”
“Yes,” Annabeth said softly. “Very ugly. They mostly committed suicide. Some died as a result of the drug. We don’t know enough about it, to predict what will happen next.” She folded her hands in her lap. “Dr. Weiss believes the reason you survived is because you’re otherwise ridiculously healthy. Despite being malnourished, you’re the healthiest man I’ve ever met. In fact, your blood work is so good, they’re singing your praises in the lab.”
Amos chuckled, ducking his head. “I can’t afford to be bad,” he admitted.
“Clean living, no matter why, is probably what saved your life. You’re obviously not a junkie.”
“What’s-his-dick thought so.”
Annabeth snorted. Her lips were full, her skin a light cafe au lait. Amos suspected there was an interesting mixture of races in her background, which had gathered together to make an elegant woman. Her eyes were so dark brown, they looked like ebony. Her lashes were long and thick. He felt a flush start in his chest and move downward. Closing his eyes, he dearly hoped she wouldn’t notice.
“What’s-his-dick also thought, because I worked my way through med school as a pole dancer, that I’m a whore.”
Amos’ eyes flew open, his mouth firmed up. “How do you stand him?”
“I find myself having to rise above a lot. I clamp my mouth shut, and pretend I’m the adult. I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was six. No pompous, pampered prick is going to take that from me.”
Chuckling, Amos nodded. “I like you, Dr. Annabeth.”
“I happen to like you, too, Mr. Lowery.”
“Amos, please.” He paused. “When can I get out of here?”
She pressed her lips together, tilting her head. “I don’t want to give you false hope, Amos. You’re mine for the next two days, at least. We want to make sure the drug breaks down completely, and that there are no lingering after effects. I don’t want to release you, only to have you come back an hour later.”
“What you mean is, you don’t want to release me, and have me come back in a body bag.”
“Brutal honesty,” she smiled, giving him a fist bump. “Not to be mean, but yeah. Your case intrigues me,” she flashed a smile.
“And I’m charming,” he teased, winking at her.
“He must not be too sick,” Annabeth said to Van with a glance at Amos’ lap.
“Oh, shit,” he muttered, hands fluttering over his groin.
Laughing, Annabeth exited. Amos’ gaze lingered on the door as it slowly closed. He could still taste her scent on the air. It wasn’t heavy or perfumy, just clean and fresh, like sunshine at the beach.
© 2020 Dellani Oakes
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