Cliff looked at Mary. She was slumped over the side of the bed, Monica’s hand in hers. Cliff started to walk into the room. He stopped. He looked around. The ceiling. The corners. Even under the bed. He wondered where the cameras were. Microphones too. They must be there somewhere. Must be some kind of recording system. The background noises in the room, the clicking of the pump, the soft beat of the monitors, they would be hard to weed out. Well, as the man in the trenchcoat said, they can do anything. Eliminating some annoying noises from a recording is probably childs play. Cliff felt his pockets for a pen. Nothing. On the bedside table. There was a pen. Cliff strode into the room and grabbed the pen. He sat down beside his wife. Mary lifted her head and looked at Cliff. “She’s not going to make it”, she whispered.
That took Cliff by surprise. He had never heard Mary say anything negative. “She will be fine,” Cliff tried to reassure her.
Mary looked at him and smiled. “Yeah, I guess so.”
Again Cliff searched the room for evidence of something. He turned back to Mary. She had a quizzical look on her face. “What are you doing?”
“What do you mean ‘What am I doing?’”? he responded.
“Why are you looking around the room like you are expecting a plane to land soon?”
“Oh, no reason.”
“Uh huh. You just keep getting weirder and weirder,” Mary sighed.
“Look, there is a lot going on right now, with the telethon and everything,” Cliff started. “You have to trust me. Okay.”
Mary chuckled, “Okay Sherlock, I have never trusted you before why should I start now?”
“Really, you have to trust me! Okay.”
“Okay, okay. I will trust you.”
Cliff reached for a prescription pad that was on a table. He began scribbling on it. He wrote – Mary, no matter what happens tonight you have to go on like nothing is wrong. You also cannot say another word to me in this room. Once you have read this note pass it back to me. He passed the piece of paper to his wife. The look of amazement on her face showed him that this wasn’t going to be easy. He watched her start to read. Immediately her mouth opened as she began to speak. He quickly put his finger over her lips. She understood by the stern look on his face that she shouldn’t say another word. She passed him the paper. He placed it in a glass of water on the table.
He quickly wrote another and passed it to Mary.
She read it – There is a good possibility that the girl they bring out for the telethon will not be Monica. Monica will be here in her room, safe and being treated. You need to act like that girl is Monica.
Cliff looked at Monica and raised his eyebrows, hoping that Mary would nod. Instead Mary grabbed the pad and pen, wrote something and shoved it at Cliff.
YOU’RE KIDDING RIGHT? – was scrawled on the pad. Cliff shook his head. He wrote another note. You have to understand how important this is for Monica. Please try and act normal. TRUST ME. He passed that to Mary. She read it and stared at it for a while then she passed it back. Immediately she grabbed the pad and pen. She was scratching at the paper now. She shoved it back at him.
Cliff, I am getting angrier by the minute. I don’t know what you are up to, but if you hurt Mary I will never forgive you. Cliff looked at Mary and nodded. She shook her head, got up and walked out of the room. Cliff sat there, in the chorus of clicks and beeps, and took a deep breath. And so it begins, he thought. He leaned over and kissed Monica’s forehead. He whispered in her ear, “Don’t worry, it is all going to get better soon.”
The glass was full of soggy paper now. He looked at it and wondered what he was going to do with the mess. Well, he thought, if I was a real spy I would probably eat it. He reached in with his finger and pulled a piece out and stuffed it in his mouth. He chewed as quickly as he could. The chemical taste was awful. He swallowed hard and reached in for the next piece. It fell apart as he was pulling it out. Ah ha. He took the glass over to the waste basket. He poured all of the paper and water into his hand. With both hands he rubbed the soggy mass together until it was just a lump of paper fibre. He pulled it apart into little pieces and dropped them into the garbage. He turned and looked at the ceiling. “Try and read that you pricks,” he yelled. He strode triumphantly to the door. Pulling it open he nearly ran into the Man. The Man pushed Cliff back into the room.
“Cute trick Cliff,” the Man sneered. “What did you tell her?”
“I told her that you were obviously a man compensating for small physical attributes.”
The Man smirked. “Cliff, you are way out of your league and you are going to pay the price.”
Cliff moved forward and got in the Man’s face. “Don’t threaten a man who has nothing to lose. You will regret it.” With that Cliff shoved his way passed and out the door into the hall. He kept walking and not looking back. His heart was pounding and he hoped that Mr. Big was not noticing that Cliff was unable to walk a straight line. He stood in front of the elevator and when the door opened he walked in, using the chance to steal a glance down the hall. It was empty. When the door closed Cliff drew in a big breath. He held it for a second and then slowly let it out. Maybe the Man was right. Maybe Cliff was out of his league. Either way, he needed to be strong and keep going. To his amazement he was actually realizing that he was kind of enjoying this. Uh oh. That can’t be good.
The door opened. Cliff looked out the door and found himself in some underground garage or equipment room. He looked at the floor button. He had pushed “L” for the lobby. This was not the Lobby. Far accross the “garage” he could see a couple of “trecnhcoats” milling about. Aw crap. I am not enjoying this, Cliff thought. As if out of fog, the Man appeared at the open door. Now Cliff was getting annoyed. “What now!”
“You think that it is that easy to get away?” the Man questioned.
“Nah, if it was that easy, I am sure your mother would have left you on an elevator a long time ago. What do you want this time? Gonna threaten me again?
The Man looked hard at Cliff, “Fred is with us.”
Cliff was stunned. He tried not to look suprised, but he wasn’t sure if he had been successful. “You guys dating, or he works for you?”
“Neither. We just have him.”
“Sucks to be Fred then doesn’t it?”
“He won’t be there to help you tonight,” the Man explained.
“To be honest”, Cliff started, “I never liked Fred in the first place. And as far as his help, I have no idea what he was going to do or could do to help me anyway.”
That put a smile on the Man’s face. “You are something else aren’t you.”
Cliff took the opportunity. “Look, are we going to keep playing these stupid games or are you going to let me go to the lobby?”
With that the door closed and the elevator started up. When the door opened and Cliff walked out into the familiar confines of the hospital lobby, he took a breath of fresh air. No, he was not enjoying this.