Episode 34 — Chapter 39
Instantly a terrifying thought entered Dr. Cantril’s mind. Could she be a fellow psychiatrist who wanted to exploit the exceptionally unusual disorder for her own fame and fortune? She seemed too young, but her precise age was hard to tell with the poor resolution.
If she stole my patient, there will be hell to pay! Dr. Cantril’s anxiety increased. But, what could he really do about it? It wasn’t as if he owned Mr. Cobb.
Damn, damn, damn! I’ve got to find out who she is.
He watched the young lady speaking with a nurse in the hallway; he grumbled as the conversation continued, cursing that he wasn’t privy to their exchange. He made a mental note to confront the nurse about her conversation; it might contain a clue as to the woman’s identity.
On the computer screen, Dr. Cantril watched the young lady walk back into Mr. Cobb’s room after the brief discussion with the nurse. Fifteen more minutes passed before she left, without Mr. Cobb. That surprised Dr. Cantril. He had previously assumed that she had been an accomplice in his escape; now he questioned whether she was a participant at all.
He continued fast-forwarding past 7 p.m., 8 p.m., and 9 p.m. Just a few minutes after nine, a man stepped out of the patient’s room. Dr. Cantril didn’t recognize him at first, because the man was wearing civilian clothes. But there was no mistaking it, even with the hat and glasses—it was Mr. Cobb. The patient walked down the hallway, alone behind another couple, and disappeared from the camera’s view.
Dammit, I just missed him by a couple of minutes. Dr. Cantril remembered being on the floor just after the nurse noticed his disappearance.
If only there was better resolution on these damn cameras. Dr. Cantril reversed the disc to capture the best close-up of the young woman he could find and took a screen shot with his mobile phone.
Moments later, he sent the photo to public relations, accompanied by his conviction that the woman had assisted Mr. Cobb in leaving the hospital; he asked Blakely to disseminate the young woman’s likeness to the press and police.
Savannah was awakened by the howling wind. She looked at the digital clock on her nightstand: 2:57 a.m. The night before, Calvin had warned her that heavy northeasterly winds were headed their way. She loved listening to the sound of the wind in bed, just as she had often done as young girl on her parents’ farm. But Savannah’s mind was too active, and she twisted and turned for another twenty minutes, unable to go back to sleep.
Putting on a bathrobe, Savannah crept quietly down the main staircase, looking to see if the fire still burned in the living room fireplace. From the entryway, she could tell that there were only embers left from the evening’s large blaze. As she entered the living room, she discerned the silhouette of a man sitting near the fire’s hearth, his head buried in his hands. It startled her, and she stopped in her tracks, unsure who was there.
Quietly, Savannah retreated to the shelter of the entry foyer, and peered into the room, standing behind a large wooden pillar, wanting to remain unseen. Moments later, the man lifted his head and she could tell from the profile it was Cobb. She assumed he was also suffering from insomnia, but as she continued to study him from afar, it seemed there was something more. His hands were pressed to his face and his head was slowly shaking. Although she couldn’t see his facial expression clearly, she sensed he was suffering.
Savannah’s heart went out to her new friend, as she tried to imagine what it must be like believing you were in a strange, new alien world, without family or friends. She left her spot from behind the pillar and walked toward Cobb.
“Mr. Cobb, I see you weren’t able to sleep either.”
“Miss Cain,” Cobb turned his head to acknowledge her. “A good night’s sleep’s been mighty rare lately.”
“I’m a good listener,” Savannah offered.
“I don’t want to burden you any more with my troubles. I’ve already imposed too long on you and your family’s kindness.”
“Think of your time here as a vacation, a time to relax… a time to heal. You suffered a life-threatening accident. You’ve been laid up in the hospital for the past couple of months… it takes time to overcome something like that.”
“I’m worried sick about my wife and kids. What must be going through their minds?… wondering what’s happened to me and all. I wish there was some way for me to talk to them.”
“I wish I could help you with that, Mr. Cobb, I truly do. But right now, you just need to focus on getting better… regaining your strength.”
Cobb nodded as he stared at the embers in the fireplace.
“Could you let the Cains know that I would like to start repaying their hospitality by helpin’ out on the farm any way I can… right away?”
“I’m sure my brother and wife will be most grateful,” Savannah realized that performing some work might prove therapeutic. Savannah put a couple of logs in the fireplace and soon the fire regained its earlier blaze. She then sat down across from Cobb, searching for something more to say.
For several minutes, Savannah and Cobb both stared silently at the fire.
Cobb stood up abruptly, “I think I’d better try to get some sleep if I’m going to be any help to the Cains.”
Savannah wished Cobb a peaceful rest. As she watched him disappear in the darkness, she wondered what would become of him. She hoped his true identity would soon surface; but if it did, how would he deal with an altered appearance? What would it be like to look in the mirror and not recognize your own face? His life would never be the same.