“I don’t know. You tell me.”
“She’s obsessed with puzzles, O.K. She always wants to put them together. Her whole life, she’s enjoyed putting them together.”
There’s a scream from the bathroom. “Stop it! You’re hurting me!”
Just then, Bob arrives with the Nembutal. “You called?” Bob smirks.
I give him “the look” to shut up.
Bob looks away. “Where’s Dan?”
“I’m in here.” Dan is straining. “Nurse, I think we’re gonna need your help.”
“I’ve never seen her like this,” Mr. Stevens’ voice trails off.
I rush into the bathroom again. Ruth looks tired and is still bleeding from her feet. She turns to us. “Please, help me.”
“That’s what we’re here for, Ruth, but you’ve got to listen to us, dear.”
Bob prepares the shot behind me. “Yeah, Ruth we just need you to cooperate.” He approaches with the needle.
At the sight of the needle, Ruth screams. “Nooo! I don’t want it. Take it away. Help me!” She draws her arms and hands to her body, stiffens, and closes her eyes. “Robert, Robert, Robert, Robert.”
Bob steps closer. “Is she calling me by my Christian name?” Bob asks.
“No,” I say. “That was her first husband’s name.”
Bob shrugs. “Geez. I feel like I’m about to stick my own mother.”
Dan and I try to turn her over. “Robert!” she interrupts her chanting with one loud call for help. She pulls away and begins to bloody my arms with her hands. Finally, we turn her over, and I feel something pull in my back. Bob approaches and sticks her in the buttocks with the needle and releases the Nembutal.
She screams again; we release her, and back away. “O.K., it won’t be long now. I give her 2 minutes, and she’ll be out cold,” Bob says.
As we watch, Ruth wobbles unsteadily, and her eyes begin to close. As she fades, I kneel beside her and support her head to keep it from banging against the tub.
Dan turns over her hands, still gripping the pieces of glass tightly as if treasuring diamonds. He wraps them in gauze. “Bob, push the stretcher over here, will ya?” Dan finishes weaving the blue gauze around her feet and hands, now resembling blue stumps. Both men lift her, place her on the stretcher, and strap her down, securing her in case she awakens. The stretcher’s wheels screech as the three of us begin to leave.
I stop at the door.
Dan turns his head, “something wrong?”
“Go ahead without me. I’ve got to get some answers.”
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