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The English woman across the street, a short story, Part 7
Before our law enforcement visitors headed back for their headquarters, I made them promise that they would come back when not on duty, They seemed pleased with the offer and agreed. After they left, I looked at Belinda. She looked awfully pale and tired to me :
- "Are you in pain?" I asked. Her tentative smile wasn't very convincing.
-"I'm all right for now, but I wish the doctor would be here".
-"Can I get you something, anything ?" She grabbed my forearm.
- "No, Tony, you've done enough already, and I am not your responsability. Or at least I shouldn't be. I don't know how to thank you for your help. I don't know what would have become of me if you hadn't been around".
- "You're safe now, and that's all that counts, and I'm glad I could help". As I caressed her hair, in a similar way I would have petted Reglisse. The knock on the door interrupted what would have been imminently the two of us crying. This time, Reglisse didn't bark. I guess he just doesn't care much for uniforms !
- "Hello, Doctor, how are you?" Handsome 55 years old devil, with just the right amount of grey hair, not one unnecessary ounce of fat. Sharp steel blue eyes and firm handshake. Meet Dr. Francois Hobereau, my physician.
- "Very well, very well, my friend, let's look at this little lady, here". I headed for the door but Belinda saw me and said :
- " I want you to stay, Tony, please?"
- "All right, I'll just sit by the fire, then". In the meantime, the good doctor had pulled some instruments form the leather bag he had carried in, and I started concentrating on the fire, Reglisse sitting by my side, begging for some petting. The examination took about half an hour and I trusted Hobereau not to neglect any possibility. Once he was done, his face was grave :
- "This is the most serious case of battery I have ever seen in thirty years of practicing medicine, and I thought I had seen a lot. This young person belongs to the hospital. We need to do some tests that I cannot possibly conduct here, we need some x-rays, blood tests, the whole nine yards". He looked at his watch : "When I get home, I'm going to make some calls, and you need to be at the hopital in Tours by 10 a.m. tomorrow, they'll be waiting for you, I'll pull some strings if I have to. Antoine, will you be able to drive her ?"
- "I think so, we'll take the Land-Rover and by then, the roads should have been cleared.
- "Since I am here, let me look at you, you don't look so hot to me". So he checked my pulse and blood pressure. He said he had to go to his car and came back with a piece of equipment that sent chills down my spine. He saw my terrified look and smiling, he explained :
-I'm going to do a quick EKG on you, don't worry, it's non invasive, so I'm not going to poke any hole in you, except for a couple of drops of blood I need. All right ? I mumbled a half-intelligible answer that could hardly pass for joy. Thirty minutes later, after I nearly passed out from the doc drawing blood, (hey, I'm a guy, guys don't do blood) the verdict came ;
- "Well, my friend, I hate to bust your Christmas spirit, but you had a heart attack. A very mild one, but the nitro pills you took may have saved your life". When in doubt, always trust me to do the right thing, I thought to myself, in a bittersweet, sarcastic kind of way. "I'm glad I checked you over. Now, there is no need to panic. I'm going to give you a couple of shots, and you will take one nitro pill every hour. They'll check you over at the hospital too. You both need some serious rest, so I suggest you don't go anywhere tonight. You have enough food ?" Where else in the world would a doctor you just pulled out of his Christmas preparation would inquire if his patients had enough food ?
- "Oh yes, we have more than enough, we were prepared for the snow". And I thought we were prepared all right. Just not prepared for my neighbor to beat his wife senseless, not prepared for yours truly to have yet anothe heart attack. You really never know what life has in store for you, and that certainly keeps you on your toes. And, by the way, what's this "we" business suddenly ? The dog and I, I suppose! After the doctor left, I suggested to Belinda that she took a nap, as I wanted to put the monster turkey inside the oven. Because we had to scale down our Christmas didn't mean we shouldn't celebrate in some moderate way. She agreed to my suggestion, and back to the kitchen I was, closely followed by Reglisse, who litteraly stuck to my heels. I reloaded the range once again with logs, and looked for an oven dish big enough to accomodate the cross between an average size dinosaur and a turkey. Damn, that was a big beast, and I was glad when I finally had it inside the oven. After that, I prepared the dough for my yule log and baked it in the gas range, as the turkey, very sellfishly, wouldn't accept company in the wood burning one. Occasionally, I checked on Belinda, who was sound asleep and breathing regularly, that's all I wanted to know. I took a trip to the cellar and selected a 1976 Graves,a Bordeaux wine to complement the turkey, probably a somewhere around $400.00 a bottle delicacy, compliment of my departed father.By the time the turkey would be ready, the wine would be at room temperature, just the way we wanted it. I set the table for two in the formal dining room, picking a festive tablecloth, and getting out the Royal Doulton English china and the crystal glasses. When I was done, I was amazed at the result, and I took some pictures of the table, before we started messing it up. That would make for a nice souvenir. I called father Bernard, explained the doctor's visit and told him that after all, we (here goes that "we" again) couldn't make it to the church.He couldn't resist to tease me by saying :
- Antoine, I didn't think for a minute you would come to church, if only to help, but I appreciated the offer, and there's always next year". I invited him to come for lunch on Christmas day, forgetting that Belinda and I (we!) probably wouldn't have returned from the hospital yet, provided they would let us come home at all. I poured the wine from the bottle into a carafe, got the turkey out of the oven and let it sit on top of the stove. Then I got the foie gras out of the refrigerator, along with the half bottle of Sauternes, a sweet white wine, and we were just about ready. I sliced the bread and put it in a small wicker basket, and voila ! Reglisse was ready too to celebrate Christmas, drooling all over the place as the scent of the baked turkey was invading the space. I guess Belinda had picked up on the scent too, as she showed up through the passage between the kitchen and the living room :
- "Ready to make a little piggy out of yourself ?" I asked her with a big smile.
- "I'm so hungry, I could eat a horse !"
- "I'm affraid you'll have to settle for dinosaur" as I gestured toward the turkey.
We both laughed and hugged, probably for longer than necessary, and both at the same time said to the other :"Merry Christmas"...
To be continued...
Copyright 2012 by Austinhealy, his heirs and assigns.
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