Elmer’s daydreams of escape and relief at having finally left the office, were disturbed within a minute or so of him arriving at the bus stop. The disturber was a disheveled eccentric woman anxiously circling a car that she seemed far too poverty-stricken to have ever owned. His own hair, primped, preened and moussed to perfection, bristled as he took a proper look. He shuddered, clearly being as fit, healthy and self-contained as she was demented. It’s what came from working at the hospital, surrounded by sickness and by healthy living posters. There was something to be said for saturation advertising.
It wasn’t only the woman’s actions that were demented. Her legs were clad in filthy long anglers’ wellies and her trenchoat, face and hair were blood-streaked and filthy. Later, he’d remember her as flapping like a vampire bat, but as she called him, he was far more concerned that she didn’t get run over.
‘Are you alright, lady?’
His accent was refined Edinburgh, with the intentional focus on ‘refined’.
‘Thank God. Thank God. Come here. Wounded cargo.’
She grabbed the sleeve of Elmer’s suit jacket and he bristled again. She was not the kind of woman who’d be encouraged to touch any part of him or of his apparel, and she definitely was not allowed to touch his navy blue silk blend. Lee Rager suits weren’t made to be pawed at by unwashed fingers, nor their fibres broken by her rasping, uncut nails. Almost £2000, the suit cost him. £1993, to be exact, once he’d had he pants shortened.
‘Can you get off me, lady?’
It was more an order than a request, and the woman backed off, beckoned and urged him towards the car’s back seat.
‘Look. Look. Me sister’s been attacked. She’s been attacked. She’s precious, wounded cargo. Make her better. You’re a doctor aren’t you?’
‘No. I work in administration. The hospital’s just there – that big building there.’
‘I know. That’s why I’m here… but I bumped the car.’
Elmer followed the madwoman’s eyes. Lying on the car’s back seat was a woman dressed in black robe with white headpiece. The white was stained with blood, rusty dried and cherry wet. The black was speckled and streaked with dried clay mud and darkened bloody patches. The woman moved her head a little and looked back at him.
‘You’re an angel. A saint,’ she mumbled, blood bubbling from her mouth’s corners.
‘I’m a hospital administrator. Not an angel.’
‘Oh God, in heaven. I give you thanks for delivering this angel to me.’
Elmer sighed. She was as batty as her sister.
‘She’s in a bad way, kid,’ he said to the crazier of the two. The one not lying collapsed on the back seat. ‘You have to take her to hospital.’
‘I can’t drive.’
Elmer shook his head. It was typical of him to get saddled with each and every lunatic who passed his way. And here were two – one who was demented and the other who thought she was a nun. Perhaps they were on their way to a fancy dress party, but he suspected that both of the poor unfortunates had come straight from the loony bin.
Part two coming soon…