As I woke up, I found myself lying in bed. I looked at my arm – I could see a needle that was attached on my veins, there was a drip too.
I was wearing a dress, which was white and had a few spots on it. I could barely familiarise myself with my surroundings. I looked up – there was a light shining into my eyes and blurring my vision.
Then the door opened, making a flat sound. I saw a woman, wearing a white uniform with a dark blue skirt. She looked like a nurse. Then a man walked in, wearing a white uniform. He looked like a Doctor. “How do you feel?” he asked.
I tried answering but found that I couldn’t, I couldn’t say anything. “Where am I?” I spluttered on the second attempt.
“You’re in the public hospital of Block Stallian. You were found mugged at the bushes of Old Block Stallian,” the Doctor said. “Try not to think about it, just rest and we’ll assess you tomorrow.
Days passed. The doctor visited frequently to assess me. But, I still struggled to utter some long words. Eventually I asked breakingly: “What’s the day, doc?”
“It’s 20 February. You came here on 21 January and were in a coma. If the residents didn’t find you when they did, it could have had a different outcome. You’re a lucky man, Mr Benard. You were in ICU for four weeks. But, you’re recovered really well since waking up some days back. Your blood pressure appears to have normalised. Hopefully we’ll be able to discharge you in a week, but for now, let’s just focus on your recovery,” the doctor explained. “I’ll continue to run some tests on your injuries to see how severe they are. And, I’ll prescribe some headache pills, which you’ll start getting from tomorrow.”
“By the way, there have been a number of police officers and journalists wanting to investigate and interview you. They’ve been badgering me since they heard you were on the way to recovery. But I told them you needed more time to get used to your surroundings. Two weeks is a long time. And, it’s obvious that you may not be able to remember some of the things that happened before you arrived in this hospital bed.” The doctor paused. “I shouldn’t have said that.”
I looked at the doctor. “What did you just say?” I ask.
“Forget it. It may hinder your recovery. Look, Mr Benard, I’m not sure whether it will be the case for you so I will run more tests. It is something I should have done earlier but – you know – it is a public hospital and we are short-staffed and have limited resources. Plus, there were lots of other patients also in ICU.”
“I’ve got everything and we have already tested you.” The doctor said, “It’s just that we had to delay your blood samples as many other patients needed testing too. But your results should come in a few days time.” He continued: “Right now, just focus on your recovery. Don’t even think about this. I can’t be certain of how the injuries will affect your brain. It’s too early to say.”
This doctor can send one to “sleepville” with his long speeches. Well, whatever the results, at least I still had my sense of humor.
“Anything else?” the Doc asked.
“Yes, when can I see my friends and family?”
“Ha, ha,” the doctor laughed. “Every patient asks me that. Tomorrow, OK? Your mother spent the whole night here when you were first brought in. I told her to go home and get some rest. But she insisted on staying, spending more than 15 hours here to find out about your condition. But then your father arrived and she did leave. She’s since…” He paused. The machine reading my body’s data beeps. “Your blood pressure is starting to rise.” Whoa, slow down there Mr Benard. Do you want to give yourself a heart attack? he asked with an intense stare.
Anger diffuses through my body. The screen starts beeping faster.
“OK, what’s eating you?”
“It’s nothing I can’t handle,” I say.
“Maybe you don’t know this but I’m a well qualified therapist and I’ve helped a lot of people, helped to change lives in fact. Talking helps. it’s better to let it all out rather than just keeping it inside, where it’ll eat you up daily,” Doc says.
“Ha, ha, ha. OK Dr Phil,” I laugh. The beep from the machine lowers, going back to its normal rate.
“But, seriously man, your blood pressure was extremely high. If that continues then I’ll need to keep you in here for more than three weeks.” The doctor writes his final assessment on my chart and stands.
“Look, man, whenever you need to talk, you know where to find me.”
He gives me his business card.
“I’ll bring the results tomorrow and we can possibly also allow some visitors depending on how you are feeling. Is that a deal?”
“Yeah, we sure do.”
The doctor closes the door behind him. I touch the bandage thats wrapped around my head. I try to remember what happened the day I got mugged but that only causes the ‘beep’ sound of the machine to increase.
The doc’s right, I thought, I need to rest and regain my strength. But, what if what the doctor thought was true? What if there is something wrong? What if my brain is damaged?
Tomorrow arrived as quickly as counting numbers. A lot of police officers came to ask questions but I couldn’t remember the decisive moment when I got mugged. All I could remember was seeing two cars: a porsche and a bakkie… but the colours, I really can’t remember them.
A short while later my mother arrived and gave me a hug. Then the doctor entered the room. “Oh, good afternoon,” he said.
“It’s good you’re both here. I’ve got the test results.”
He opened the file and paused for a second.
“Well, I’ve got good news and bad news.”
“What’s the good news?” I ask.
“Well, the good news is that your brain is functioning normally considering the circumstances.”
“What circumstances?” I ask worriedly. “What’s the bad news?”
“The left and right sides of your brain, that is the left and right hemispheres…” he said.
“Yes, I know and understand them, but what’s wrong with them?” I demanded.
“Well, the left hemisphere, which controls your mathematical, analytical and logical abilities, as well as your verbal communication have suffered a major stress. So it will be hard for you to talk properly with others at times. Sometimes you’ll make weird comments and you may get confused,” the doctor elaborated.
“The right side of your brain also took a major knock. That’s the one that controls your ability to see pictures in your mind and to recognise faces. The good news is that this isn’t going to be permanent. If you take the pills starting today then your brain will be as good as new in no time.”
He hands me the pills.
“With time, I’m sure your brain will start to function normally soon.”
Those were the doctors last words as he left the room and closed the door. I was puzzled but at the same time I could understand why I wasn’t feeling my normal self.
My mother advised me to stay positive but I really didn’t listen one bit. I was too busy thinking about revenge. My memory was out of place because of whoever did this to me. And so, they must pay.
The next day arrived and more police officers came around to ask more questions about the incident. They were different officers this time. I told them everything that I remembered – I’d gone to fetch some water with a basin and remembered seeing two cars and two men exchanging something. But what exactly? And, I remembered a countdown and threatening voices. But I couldn’t match up the moving images and my vocabulary to say exactly what had happened. The officers just nodded and wrote notes.
Neither officer seemed that interested in what I was saying. To be frank, they looked bored. The one police officer stood up and told me to alert them if I remember anything more. He went off and the other officer nodded to say he’d join him soon.
He then took a chair and placed it next to my bed. “Look, man, I know that you’re confused and all but I need to ask you a favour, a big one,” he said.
“Err… OK,” I said.
“Look, there are going to be promotions for the best officer of the year and…” he paused. “Well, I think that this case could be what I need to get promoted to the senior officer in the police station at New Stallian.”
He bit his lip, gently on purpose.
“This is where you come in. If you remember anything, tell only me – no one else. We’ll see how we can take it from there.”
He took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his forehead. The room was quite warm.
“So, do we have a deal?”
I was surprised. Modestly, I agreed.
“Thanks, man, you really don’t know what this could mean for me.”
He stood up. “Oh, and before I forget, don’t mention this to anyone, including your mother. You got that?”
“Uhm, yeah,” I said, not quite sure.
“Let me know when you remember anything. And, I mean anything,” he smiled gallantly and then left the room.
I lay on my bed. Suddenly the door reopened. “I forgot to give you my numbers. How stupid of me,” he scratched his chin.
The officer was fat, with a big round belly, huge cheeks and a large nose. He wrote his numbers on a piece of paper and threw it to me. I placed it on the other side of the bed.
“Remember, this stays between us.”
How many times did I have to nod?
An hour later Collen came to see me.
“My bra!” I laughed.
“Hola, my man,” he responded. “What’s up?”
“Well, other than being mugged and spending the last two weeks or so lying here in hospital, I guess I’m fine. How’s school?”
“Do you really want to know?” Collen asked, looking a little guilty.
“Of course I do.”
“Well, there were rumours.”
“What rumours?” I asked enquiringly.
“About me?” I asked bewildered.
“Yeah, some kids said you were kicked out of Jet for attempted shoplifting.”
I frowned. She’s got such a nerve for bringing my name down the drain. What’ll the pupils think of me now at school? I tried not to look too angry.
“Ha, ha.” I laugh with a smirk. “What’s got into you, bra?”
“Huh? What are you on about man?”
“Your face, you look… Ha, ha… you look like a black cat, bra,” I say laughingly.
“Oh, was that a joke?” Collen asks looking bored.
“Agh, come on man, you really look pitch blackish, have you been using shoe polish on your face?” I joke.
“You’re mad, you’re really brain damaged,” he says with a sharp smirk.
“Bra, there was definetly no need for that!” I say with a sharp if not loud voice.
“Just don’t ask stupid questions next time.”
“Stupid questions….?” I ask fuming.
“Yeah, you heard that right,” Collen says with a smirk on his face.
“If you want to behave like a retard, then you’re going to have to leave!” I respond.
“Who cares. I wouldn’t be friends with a loser like you anyways.”
“Now, I’ve heard about enough. Get out of here, black cat,” I say scowling.
He stands up. “Drunk retard!” I say laughing.
“Suit yourself,” he said with a smirk. He got up to open the door, then turned back to me. “I’m the one who told the whole school that you were a thief, a poor little cow who lives in a house that’s smaller than a shack.”
Anger rushes through my veins. Is this really Collen speaking? My best friend through thick and thin? I’m astonished. But I ask again.
“What’s up with you, man?”
He just smiles and flicks his hand through his pocket taking out black shades. “That’s none of your concern. I’m not your friend.”
Indescribable rage gets hold of me. He laughs in his distinctive way and shuts the door. Tears are threatening to flow down my cheeks. I still don’t understand what’s happened.
I look down to where Collen was standing on the mat and see a plastic paper, square in shape and covered. I get out of bed sluggishly to get it. The paper is covered with a white powder. In that instant I remember the moment I got mugged. It came back to me – well most of it.
I remember the discussions but can’t remember the faces. But that doesn’t matter: I know that someone is selling drugs at school, but who? Now I realise why Collen was behaving so strangely.
I pick up the telephone to call the police. As I dial the number, I remember my promise to the fat police officer. Eish, now I’m confused. What do I do? Do I call the police station or just the officer who wants to get a promotion.
Collen could get arrested for this. I’ve seen how arrogant he is. He deserves it. But, a part of my thinks otherwise. Could it be the drugs the hospital is giving me making me unsure? Am I making excuses for him?
I scratch my head and look up at the ceiling, hoping that it will give me the answers.
Tell us what you think: What will Benard do? Will he call the police officer? Will he tell them about Collen’s involvement?