[adjective. pertaining to war or to those engaged in war.]
His short brown hair and puppy dog brown eyes made many people’s hearts skip a beat. Added to that was his olive skin and athletic physique. The stubble on his face was the only sign that he was a somewhat normal human. Perhaps he could have been a supermodel. Perhaps he could have been an elite athlete. Perhaps he could have even been a celebrity. But Joel Prasad was none of those things. The thirty-something year old was Peppercorn Patch’s new doctor. The local GP.
He had only been at the Peppercorn Patch Hospital for a few short months since the departure of Doctor Peter Smith, but Joel Prasad had seen many things. He had also met many interesting characters. There never seemed to be a dull moment in the small town. And today was no exception.
Four rifle bullets had pierced explosively through the window of one of the hospital’s rooms, injuring the occupants inside it. The exploding glass had caused Cathy Gilmore, a hospital nurse, to fly towards the floor. The only injury she sustained was a bruised knee from her fall. Amber Harp, who had been sitting in the chair next to the hospital bed as the bullets entered the room, threw herself instinctively into a ball to protect herself. She, too, was unharmed. Michael Anders, who had been recovering from surgery in the hospital bed, was lucky that the bullets entered the room at a trajectory that avoided him. The hospital bed sheets that he pulled over his body and face protected him from the spraying glass.
It was Kelly Driver, the town’s local park ranger, however, who was not so fortunate. She had taken one of the bullets and it had struck her through her abdomen. She had been shot by her own rifle.
She was lucky to have been in a hospital, otherwise she would have certainly been killed.
Joel Prasad and his medical team worked tirelessly to save the woman’s life.
Kelly Driver had survived the attack on her life, if only just. Joel knew that she had a long recovery in front of her. The attack was potentially career ending, and even though he had only known Kelly for a few short months, he knew that if she could no longer do the job she loved so much, a part of her was dead already.
The question on everyone’s lips, of course, was: Who shot through the window? Who broke into Kelly Driver’s vehicle, took her rifle and shot four bullets through the hospital window?
The police investigation, headed by Leading Senior Constable Kyle Cook, had so far been fruitless. The stolen rifle had been found dumped in the garden hedges outside the hospital room, but no other evidence about the perpetrator had been discovered. There had also been no witnesses to the event. It was frustrating to all, but it seemed that no-one knew of what had happened. No-one seemed to know who pulled the trigger.
But someone did pull the trigger. Someone reloaded and pulled the trigger of the rifle four times. And she hoped that no-one would ever find out.
“It’s Melody, isn’t it?” Joel Prasad asks Melody Walker as she sits in his office.
“Yes, nice to meet you,” Melody shakes the good-looking doctor’s hand.
“How can I help you today, Melody?” Joel asks, adjusting the stethoscope around his neck.
“Well, it’s more how I can help you,” Melody says, brushing her leg closer to the doctor’s. “We’re both fairly new around here, so I thought we could get to know the place together.”
“Sounds logical,” Joel laughs.
Melody pushes her leg even closer to the doctor’s and thrusts her chest forward. “Let’s start by getting to know each other.”
The two Holgate Bedlamites security guards assist Doctor Peter Smith to the cold metal chair, push him into the seat and clasp his hands behind his back with handcuffs.
“A pillow or two would be nice,” Doctor Smith grimaces, smiling at the guards. With no reply forthcoming, he adds, “or not.”
Doctor Smith sees the interview room door open and Constance Helling, the head nurse at the psychiatric hospital, enters, followed by a disheveled looking Joanne Evans. Her blonde hair, usually brushed neatly down to her shoulders, sits matted and teased on her head. He can see that Joanne has been crying, as her eyes are red and her face is puffy.
Constance Helling ushers Joanne, dressed in a hospital gown and slippers, to a chair on the opposite side of the table to Doctor Peter Smith. The chair, in contrast to Doctor Smith’s, is cushioned, and Joanne crawls into it, bringing her knees up to her chest.
“Joanne doesn’t trust you,” Constance begins, “but is willing to hear what you have to say to her.”
“I understand her apprehension.” Doctor Smith tries to catch Joanne’s eyesight, but the woman has her head lowered towards her lap. “I thought Joanne deserved to know the truth.”
“She’s been through a traumatic experience,” Constance reminds the doctor, before adding brashly, “no thanks to you.”
“I mean to do her no more harm,” Doctor Smith tries to reassure his biological daughter. “I only want what is best for Joanne.”
Constance huffs disbelievingly. “Too late for that.”
“I don’t have schizophrenia, Joanne,” Doctor Smith says, as Joanne lifts her head to look at the man in front of her quizzically. “There are no drugs that can fix what I have. And I’m afraid it could be hereditary.”
“Enough!” Constance suddenly interjects, grabbing Joanne by the arm and attempting to pull her up. “Joanne doesn’t need to hear this. She doesn’t need to hear any more of your pathetic excuses!”
Joanne pushes the woman off her and stands closer to the table, looking down at her biological father. “Tell me,” Joanne says interrogatingly. “Tell me what I’ve inherited from you.”
Doctor Peter Smith lowers his head and emits a small sigh.
Joanne slams her fists on the desk. “Tell me!” she screams.
“Joanne, I don’t think this is helping.” Constance tries to pull Joanne away again.
Joanne brushes off the woman and walks around the table. She comes face to face with her attacker. She comes face to face with The Poetry Predator. She comes face to face with her father.
Doctor Smith can see the pain in Joanne’s eyes. “I’m sorry, Joanne,” he says, looking away from her harsh stare. “I never meant to harm you.”
“What about everyone else you harmed, or killed?” Joanne snarls.
“I’m a bad person.”
“Am I going to be a bad person too?” Joanne queries.
“I have Huntington’s Disease,” Doctor Smith informs Joanne. “There’s no cure.”
Joanne exhales loudly and turns and walks towards the door, thinking about her own depressed state of mind as of late. She wonders if she could have possibly inherited the same condition.
“You can be tested,” Doctor Smith informs her as she reaches the door.
Constance Helling helps Joanne open the door and the two start to exit the room.
“Joanne,” Doctor Smith calls out, “there’s something else I haven’t told you.”
“I’m sure you’ve provided her with enough grief for one day,” Constance snaps. “In fact, her whole lifetime!”
“How could this possibly get any worse?” Joanne whispers, grabbing onto the door frame to keep herself upright.
“I was already a father before you came along, Joanne,” Doctor Smith confesses. “You’re not an only child.”
Next Episode – Monday April 18