(Continued from The Demons of Meke Hospital II)
Jemimah is distracted as she walks to the male ward. She has just participated in a murder, and that is filling her with anxiety. Of course she did not do anything, and even if she did it would have been self-defense-Haye wanted to kill her-but she is anxious anyway. If the police get involved facts could be twisted.
Judy’s decision to kill Haye is also confusing her. Haye trusted her, that much was clear. That is why he would allow her to handle the very toxic chemical. Of course he was sleeping with her, but then again Haye was sleeping with a lot of girls in the hospital. That he removed her from her nursing duties and made her his personal secretary and regular lover means they had a relationship beyond sex. Why then would Judy turn against him?
Although Jemimah does not approve it, she understands why the women at the hospital fall for Haye’s charms. Meke is a very small town, and finding a suitable partner is a tall order. Jemimah’s own social life is in shambles. In those days before Bala and Haye ran down the hospital, there were always young doctors, clinical officers and male nurses making passes at her. Okay, they were also flirting with the tens of other young nurses, but who cared? She was young; time was on her side. She was sure that at the right time she would marry a doctor; then they would serve the sick for the rest of their lives.
Now that is a remote fantasy. Before his death today, the only doctor in the hospital was the very married Chief Doctor (was the title even necessary when he was the only doctor?). Many female nurses and clinical officers fled when the hospital started collapsing, but virtually all the male nurses and clinical officers fled. That left Haye as the only male on the medical staff team. Admittedly, he is-was-good looking, and his corrupt deals at the hospital made him very wealthy. That has swelled his head, and he felt entitled to every female he came across.
He tried to grope Jemimah three years ago, but she did not find it funny or romantic. She slapped him so hard that he blacked out for a second. He tried to fire her but was vetoed by Bala, who was sensible enough to know that she keeps the place running. From that time the relationship between the hospital’s Chief Doctor and Head Nurse was that of “hostile-tolerance”.
At 37, Jemimah’s life seems to be on crossroads. Marriage is no longer on her priority list, but she feels that she needs to do something about her career. There are rumors that the hospital is being bought, and that is the other reason she has been staying. She has been hoping that if the hospital falls under a different management team, then it could come roaring back to life. But she is no longer optimistic. Such rumors have been rife for the last six years, and nothing ever comes from it. Perhaps potential buyers see the financial accounts of the hospital and get scared. And after what happened today, it is time to jump ship and go to Beeline, where she can both enjoy her work as a nurse and get paid well for it.
“Oh Lord, help me,” she whispers to herself as she enters the male ward. Her first patient is an old, diabetic man who is as stubborn as they can get. He is a retired teacher who lives on a farm in the outskirts of Meke town. He refuses to take his medicines if they are not administered by Jemimah herself. She always starts with him, soothing him and laughing at his dry jokes before easing away to attend to other patients.
The old man has only two children: a doctor son who lives in the United States and who is said to be very wealthy and a lawyer daughter who lives in Nairobi. The daughter had wanted to take him with her to Nairobi, but old Hezekiah refused to leave his farm. She has not visited him since he was admitted ten days ago, although there is another young woman who used to come. Jemimah has not seen the young woman since yesterday though.
“Prepare your appetite Hezekiah, your plate of medicine is coming,” Jemimah says as she nears the door of the ward.
On cue, the old man throws the joke back,
“I hope it has soup today. I am tired of being fed on dry medicine.”
Jemimah is about to throw another joke when she notices that the old man is not alone. With him are a younger man and woman.
“You must be Nurse Jemimah,” the man says. He seems to be in his late thirties or early forties. “I am James, Hezekiah’s son. This is my sister Liz.”
“It is a pleasure to meet you doctor,” Jemimah says, shaking the man and his sister’s hands.
“My father has been telling us wonderful stories about you. He says you are not only an excellent nurse, but you somehow keep this place going.”
“Just doing my job doctor,” Jemimah replies, shrugging her shoulders.
“Can I have a word with you in private?” the doctor asks, leading her out of the ward. “I want you to quit nursing.”
Jemimah is confused.
“Why would I want to do that?”
“Because I want you to be my Deputy CEO.”
That makes Jemimah even more confused.
“What? I cannot go to the States with you. I…I have never left this country. I do not even have a passport. And, don’t take this the wrong way, but I hardly know you.”
“No Jemimah, I am not going back to the States either. I am the new owner and CEO of this Hospital. The church sold it to me. Before coming here to see my father, I was in a meeting with the Archbishop and the council of the hospital who also happen to be the trustees. We signed all the relevant papers. This place is now mine, but I will need help running and reviving the hospital, and I can’t think of a better person to help me than you.”
“I don’t know what to say, doctor. I am not an administrator. I am a mere nurse.”
“What you have been doing is administration, Jemimah. Besides, I will be there to do the actual administration of the hospital. I just need someone who understands this hospital to help me run it. And my father says you serve this hospital diligently as if it were yours. That is kind of person I need.”
“I don’t know doctor…”
“I can’t pay you much,” James adds. “For a start, I can only offer you 150k. But I promise that you will get it every month. As things improve, we will review that amount. You will have Dr. Haye’s staff car, staff house and office. Will you help me revive this hospital?”
Jemimah nearly collapses. Is he sounding apologetic for giving her 150k when she has been surviving on an erratic 20k? 150k is almost double the amount she was getting during the hospital’s glory days. Plus, what wouldn’t she give to see the place on its glory days again?
“Yes, I will help you doctor. You can count on my support.”
“Great. My sister has already drawn the papers. Why don’t you meet me at the hospital cafeteria once you are done with your rounds so that you can sign the papers? I need to give Bala a few days to clear out of the office before I can move in, so we can’t use it for now.”
Jemimah is at the cafeteria at eleven. She finds James and his sister Liz already there. James is sipping a cup of coffee while going through a bunch of documents. Liz is scrolling through her phone.
“You are here,” James says with a smile when he notices her presence. “Thank you for coming.”
Jemimah notices that he is very good looking. He is of average height and build and looks very much like his father. Although Hezekiah’s body is ravaged by old age and disease, his son’s good physical features leave no doubt that the old man was also a head-turner in his day. Liz is also a beauty, but she looks nothing like her father and brother, so Jemimah assumes that she got her looks from her mother, who is deceased.
Jemimah sits and Liz hands her three copies of the contract of employment. She skims through the contract. It almost the same as the one she got when she was hired the first time, except that she now the Deputy CEO and that has come with a lot of benefits.
She signs three copies then hands them to James, who also signs the three copies. He gives her one copy, gives his sister the second and retains the third.
Jemimah gets to her house at eight pm. It has been a long day, and she has had to cancel her coffee with Judy. They have agreed to catch up over lunch tomorrow. She can barely think right now. She is too tired and hungry. What she needs is a warm shower, a hot plate of food and plenty of sleep. She can think about everything else tomorrow.
She is surprised to learn that the door is unlocked. How could she have forgotten to lock it in the morning? She is not usually this sloppy. She switches on the light and scans the room. Everything seems to be in order, so there is no robbery.
But as she is about to close the door behind her, someone springs at her from behind the door and plants a pistol at her temple.
“Don’t even dare to scream,” the man growls.
Image by Bruno/Germany from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/stethoscope-doctor-medical-1584223/
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