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Code Blues

Sex. Drugs. Doctors. Code Blues, by Melissa Yi. Now on sale.

Code blue.  Third floor.  Men’s locker room.

Dr. Hope Sze rolls into Montreal with three simple goals:  1) survive her family medicine residency, 2) try pain au chocolat, 3) go on a date sometime in the next two years.

Then she discovers a doctor’s body in the locker room.

When she tries to uncover his killer, two men are more than willing to help her.

The one man with charm to burn, the one man who makes her melt, has zero alibi.

Code Blues.  Sex, drugs, and doctors.

Written by an emergency physician trained in the crumbling corridors of Montreal.

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CODE BLUES

by Melissa Yi

Chapter 1

I pictured the city of Montreal as a woman with bleached blonde hair and a generous, lopsided bosom, who would draw me into her perfumed embrace and whisper, “Bienvenue.” Instead, I found a skinny brunette with a cigarette jammed in the corner of her mouth who turned around and bitch-slapped me.

At least, that’s what it felt like. Even before I got mixed up with murder.

Last night, it took me seven hours to drive here from London, Ontario. When I hit the Quebec border, I could hardly make out the blue and white sign declaring “Bonjour!” and the fleur-de-lis flag fluttering against in the dusky, grey-indigo June sky, but I noticed that my Ford Focus began bouncing over more frequent potholes. Although the maximum speed was still 100 kilometers per hour, there was also a minimum speed: 60. I decided that the roads were natural speed bumps. Everyone slowed down to about 110. Not me. I cranked up the On the Rocks cover of Lady Gaga, gave my cinnamon gum an extra-hard chew, and zipped by them –

– only to pull up at a dead stop at a red light, one of many in two little towns, Dorion and Île-Perrot. I thought these must be the suburbs of Montreal, but no. Some planning committee thought it was a good idea to run Highway 20 through the heart of little bergs advertising musculation and rénovation. I knew the second one, but the first was intriguing. I could use a guy with some musculation.

I crossed the bridge over to the island of Montreal. Strange to say, as a girl from nearby Ottawa, but I hadn’t realized Montreal was an island. Or how big a city it was, with the billboards lining the Ville Marie expressway, advertising everything from “Cuba, si” to cell phones. Skyscrapers loomed above me, including one topped by a white searchlight that revolved around the city.

By the time I took a left up the steep hill of University Avenue, it was after 8 p.m. I felt very small and tired, but at least I’d arrived. I cashed in the last of my good karma by finding a parking space, avoiding the $10 parking lot at the top of the hill. It would all be strawberry daiquiris and whipped cream from here.

Except that the next morning, my alarm didn’t go off. Like the white rabbit, I was very, very late.

I didn’t panic. Being late was a habit of mine. Even though I was now a doctor, or at least a resident doctor, I often spared a moment to brush my teeth or dab on some lip gloss. Then, suddenly, there was no time, and I was hopping around, pulling up my socks after barely yanking on my underwear.

Today, I was late for my first day of orientation at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Montreal. After four long, hard years of medical school, earning my M.D., I was in for two years of a residency in family medicine, mostly based at St. Joseph’s.

I’d stayed the night at the Royal Victoria Hospital, in a cramped, pink call room with peeling paint, because it was free for visiting students.

Or not so free. When I ran down the hill, my keys clutched in sweaty fingers, my silver car was one of a chorus line sporting a $30 parking ticket under its windshield wiper.

After multiple red lights, one-way streets, and a guy flipping me the bird, I finally managed to drive up the right street, Péloquin.

I hit the brakes when a moving van shuddered to a halt in front of me. WTF? It reversed and angled left to obstruct all traffic on a diagonal.

The van’s doors popped open. Two men leapt out. One pulled down the rear ramp while the other ran into the open door of a nearby apartment and began loading boxes into the van.

Heart hammering, I took a hard right into a parking spot. Even as I locked my doors, a city bus tried to nudge its way around the van, failed, and began honking. Two more cars joined the chorus.

The moving men continued loading the van. They were still smiling.

I did not understand this city.

However, I swiftly recognized St. Joseph’s concrete block architecture, typical of hospitals and 19thcentury prisons. It looked like something my eight-year-old brother, Kevin, might build out of Legos. The only fancy bit was the limestone front entranceway declaring, CENTRE HOSPITALIER DE SAINT JOSEPH, and underneath it, in smaller letters, the English version. Taxis idled in the semicircular driveway with a widened lot for parking and drop-offs. A straggly-haired patient in a wheelchair, an IV still hooked up to her arm, took a drag off her cigarette.

I held my breath against the smoke and pushed open the glass door, ready for the Family Medicine Centre. Only the receptionist told me the FMC wasn’t part of the hospital, it was in “the Annex.” Great. Like Anne Frank’s hiding place.

Finally inside the correct building, even I couldn’t miss the orientation room immediately across from the Annex entrance. Its wooden doors were flung open to reveal a room full of people staring at me instead of the man saying, “… any time. I don’t mind. That’s why I get paid the big bucks.”

The speaker stood at a podium to the left of the door. Dang. I tiptoed past him with an apologetic smile.

“Hi, I’m Dr. Kurt Radshaw.” The speaker, a good-looking guy in his late 30’s, held out his hand. His smile seemed genuine under his dark ,Tom Selleck-style moustache. “Welcome to St. Joseph’s.”

“Thanks.” I shook his hand. His grip was firm but not crushing. Bonus.

The skin crinkled around the corners of his eyes. “I was just saying, if you have any problems, page me. Sheilagh’s handing out my numbers and e-mail address in the orientation package.”

“Great. Thanks.”

“I know what it’s like to have problems,” he said to the group. “I have Type I diabetes myself. So don’t be afraid to speak to me anytime. My pager’s always on.” He tapped the small black plastic pager clipped to his belt.

I surveyed the room, looking for a place to sit. The room’s two couches and two armchairs were full, and everyone else was sitting on cheap orange plastic chairs.

I got the hairy eyeball from a milky-white, twenty-something guy who was wearing a tie, his suit jacket neatly folded on the sofa arm. Clearly, my tardiness, tank top, and board shorts failed to impress this fellow resident.

I picked a plastic chair across from him and smiled, showing a lot of teeth. Nothing to do but brazen it out.

Beside Mr. Bean, a guy with slightly long, messy, chestnut hair smiled back at me. A real smile, his eyes glinting with amusement. He sat with his knees sprawled apart, but his ankles hooked together. He was wearing a shirt that reminded me of blue milk paint, dark instead of flashy, but fitted enough for me to see that he had some musculation.

Maybe Montreal wasn’t so bad after all.

At the break, everyone made a run for the refreshments table against the wall, next to the entrance. Dr. Radshaw chewed on a croissant as he talked to the tie guy and an Asian woman.

I didn’t rise. I tilted in my chair so I could peek around an East Indian woman. The milk paint shirt guy and I smiled at each other again, across the room.

“Hello.” The white woman on my left held out her hand. Her square-jawed face might have been pretty, if she hadn’t been forcing her smile. She wasn’t fat, but big boned, and her grip was worthy of a wrestler. “My name is Mireille.” Her chin-length brown curls were the only bouncy thing about her.

“Hope,” I said, belatedly returning the metacarpal-crushing handshake. She didn’t wince. I pulled my hand away, smiled, and said, “Boy, those drinks look good.”

I was contemplating the mystery meat sandwiches, when a male voice behind me said, “Don’t do it.”

I spun around, empty-handed. It was the milk paint guy. He was even better-looking up close. His grey eyes looked straight into mine. He was shorter than I expected, maybe half a foot taller than my own five-foot two. I didn’t mind. The nice thing about being short is that guys of all size feel comfortable hitting on you.

I found myself focusing on his lips as he said, “I think they put something in those sandwiches so that you never want to leave Montreal.”

I had to laugh. “Oh, yeah? Don’t worry, I’ve already been immunized. In about twelve hours, I’ve gotten lost, got a thirty-dollar parking ticket, and almost ran into a moving van with moving violations.” I explained my morning while he snagged a bottled water and offered it to me. I took it.

He broke open another bottle for himself. “Don’t worry. Everyone gets parking tickets when they move here. It’s like losing your virginity.”

He watched me blush. Silent laughter danced in his eyes. I tossed my head. “What about the moving van?”

“July first is moving day in Quebec. It’s the default date when all the leases expire.”

“On the same day? For the whole province?” My organized, Ontario head spun.

He laughed and crunched on a carrot stick. “Pretty much. It’s chaos here for the week before and after. Where are you from?”

“Ontario. Ottawa, originally. Western for med school.” I held the water bottle up in a silent toast.

He nodded. “Poor little Ontario girl.”

“Hey. Ain’t no such thing.” I gave him an arch look. Mireille bumped into me on her way to the refreshments table and muttered ‘sorry.’

Alex and I gravitated toward the windows at the opposite end of the room. He leaned against one of the carved oak windowsills. I drank some water and asked, “So. Are you a poor, little Quebec boy?”

He bent toward me and lowered his voice. “Sort of. I’ve been here for years. Undergrad, med school. But originally –” He whispered, his lips only two inches from my ear, “Kitchener.”

I giggled. Not that there’s anything wrong with Kitchener-Waterloo, a town famous for its university and its Oktoberfest, but it’s not exactly cosmopolitan. In answer, he held his index finger so close to my mouth that I could almost feel the heat from his skin against my lips.

I stopped laughing, suddenly shy.

A smile grew across his face. He lowered his finger and intoned, “Not one word. I have a reputation to uphold.” He held out his hand. “Alex Dyck.”

His hand was warm and strong, and felt right in mine. I held it for an extra beat. “Hope Sze.”

We let go slowly. I could hear the chatter around the room and feel the sun’s rays on my shoulder and arm, but nothing felt as real as his fingers sliding away from mine.

He cleared his throat and dropped his hand back down to the windowsill. “Did you get teased as much about your name as I did about mine?”

I shook my head. “More.” My voice felt a bit rusty.

He laughed. “It can’t be worse than Dyck-head, Dyck-face, Dyckie-Dee…”

“Hopeless,” I countered. “I hope not. Sze-saw. Sze-sick. Sze-nile. Sze-nior. Sze –”

He held up his hand. “I surrender.”

I tucked my hand into the shape of a gun and blew across the barrel that was my index finger.

Alex nodded slowly. “I like you.”

I couldn’t hide my smile. “Likewise.”

When we headed back to the little circle, he abandoned his spot on the sofa to sit in the hard plastic chair on my right.

The program director, Dr. Bob Clarkson, tapped at the top sheet on one of those things that look like easels. “Ahem. Now that we’re all here –”

A few eyes swung in my direction. I shrugged and smiled, but with Alex at my side, I was tempted to take a bow. Alex smothered a laugh into a cough.

Dr. Clarkson frowned at me. “Why don’t we introduce ourselves and say why we chose family medicine? Let’s start with –” His eyes moved to my right. “Alex, you’ve been here a while.”

“Sure have,” said Alex in a fake-jaunty voice. “I’m Alex Dyck. I’m doing family medicine because no one else would have me. Oh, and because it’s what I’ve wanted to do ever since I was a little kid.”

A small, relieved laugh rippled from the crowd. I glanced sidelong at him. He smiled back at me.

My turn already? I cleared my throat. “I’m Hope Sze. I like long walks on the beach, candlelit dinners, and family medicine.”

Alex laughed out loud.

Dr. Radshaw’s eyes twinkled at me. He’d taken Alex’s place on the sofa.

The program director, Dr. Bob Clarkson, rotated his upper body from side to side like a perturbed puppet. “Yes. Well. I was hoping for a little more explanation of the reasoning, the process behind your selection of family medicine and our program in particular, so…”

I smiled again, but added nothing. Neither did Alex.

“All right then.” Bob Clarkson cleared his throat and tried the other side of the room. “Uh, Tori?”

Tori was the other Asian woman. She wore an indigo dress with tiny blue flowers. She folded her hands in her lap, and I noticed her long, artistic-looking fingers. “My name is Tori Yamamoto.” So her background was Japanese, not Chinese like me. Her voice was clipped and low-pitched, with no accent. “My aunt is a family doctor in Edmonton.”

Next was the tie guy. “Robin Huxley.” That explained a lot about him. “I chose family medicine because I like the continuity of care.” He looked at the floor and straightened his tie. Not a big talker.

John Tucker was a white guy with a shock of wheat-coloured hair. I wondered if he dyed it, while he said in a baritone voice, “Call me Tucker. Everyone does. You can call me Tucker, Tuck, Turkey. I’ll answer to anything.” He winked at me.

I wrinkled my nose. He was trying too hard. Not my type.

Anu Raghavan had a single, long, braid of hair behind her back and several gold and silver rings, but none on her engagement finger. She said she was interested in doing obstetrics and family medicine.

Mireille’s chair squeaked. She kept shifting, impatient for her turn. When it came, she wouldn’t shut up. “Before medical school, I went to Kenya, and since then, I’ve been to Thailand and Guatemala, but I’m most fascinated by the plight of the native people of Canada. The conditions on the reservations are appalling.”

I glanced at Alex. His eyelid barely twitched, but I knew we were on the same page. Although I’m interested in those issues, I don’t bash people over the head about it.

While Bob Clarkson sounded off about the joys of family medicine, Dr. Radshaw’s pager beeped. He leapt to his feet and rushed over to the phone in the corner. Bob Clarkson frowned and raised his voice over Dr. Radshaw’s murmurs. Mireille kept shooting glances at Dr. Radshaw.

While everyone was distracted, I tugged the top sheet out of my orientation package. It was my schedule for the year.

I’d be starting with emergency medicine. Cool. That’s what I wanted to do when I grew up.

Although I could’ve done without the first shift on the first day of residency: Saturday, July first, at 7:30 a.m. Tomorrow.

I tilted the schedule so Alex could see it.

“Sucks,” he breathed, and tilted his schedule toward me: palliative care. I didn’t even know that was part of our residency program. I rolled my eyes at him.

Alex scrawled on his envelope, “Want to go out tonight?”

I scrawled back, “Yes.” And for the rest of orientation, my Spidey-sense was tingling.

Photo by Jessica Sarrazin

Chapter 2

Alex laced his fingers together on the white linen tablecloth. “So what did you think of the clinic?”

“Honestly?” I sipped some jasmine tea out of a blue- and- white china cup. “It was scary.”

Alex laughed. He’d taken me out for sushi, which I’d only had once before, in Toronto, for a friend’s birthday. All I remembered was eating a piece covered in orange sacs of oil called roe eggs. It was disgusting. The meal had also cost me $40, and two hours later, I was so hungry that I ate a bowl of Bran Flakes. I wasn’t eager to repeat the experience, but Alex had insisted, “I didn’t like sushi either, until I came here. Come on. It’s baptism by raw fish.”

I had to admit that the ambiance was great. Elegant ebony furniture, white floral linen napkins that matched the tablecloth, and tinkling music in the background. We didn’t sit on tatami mats, though. That was Alex’s one concession to my bourgeois upbringing.

The tea was fragrant, but had a subtle flavor. I set the cup back on the table. “You know, I didn’t bother to tour St. Joseph’s at the interview. So I’d never seen the clinic before.”

Alex raised his eyes. “You didn’t like the duct tape holding down the carpet? Or the examining rooms with no running water?”

I shuddered. “I’ve heard of ‘shabby chic,’ but that was just shabby.” The upstairs rooms were much more run-down than the conference room had been. “And that nurse who made us stab ourselves –”

He laughed. The nurse had insisted that in order to check diabetics’ blood sugar, we should practice on ourselves. I had to jab my left pinky with a needle and drip the blood on a paper strip. My finger still ached. Plus Tucker had taken the opportunity to point out that my post-cookie reading of 7.5 was higher than his own 4.9. “I guess you’re sweeter,” he’d said. Yuck.

Alex tapped the tablecloth just next to my hand. “Dr. Kurt is awesome, though. You’ll love him. Everybody does.”

I hoped Dr. Kurt was awesome enough not to mind me interrupting his speech. I squirmed.

Alex didn’t seem to notice. “The whole thing with the pager? It’s true. You can call him anytime. I think he clips it to his bedpost. Seriously.”

I found it a bit weird, but Dr. Radshaw had certainly seemed delighted to answer his page during Bob Clarkson’s speech.

A slender, Japanese woman appeared at our elbows and laid an enormous china platter in front of us. My eyes widened at the neat bundles of rice topped with shrimp, fish, caviar, and other items I couldn’t identify. Alex had ordered octopus, eel, and all sorts of goodies. “Bon appétit,” the server murmured and withdrew silently.

Alex laughed at my expression. “Are you not in Kansas anymore?”

I looked across the table at him. His bangs were long, and he tossed his head, flipping them out of his eyes. I was on a date with a guy who intrigued me, for the first time in two years, and it felt damned good. I grinned back at him. “Yeah, but now I don’t miss Kansas as much.” I picked up my wooden chopsticks, which did not come in a paper wrapper and have to be snapped apart. “Do you miss Kitchener at all?”

He frowned. “What about it?” He looked away, focusing on the boisterous birthday crowd in the corner.

I tried to ignore the foot-in-mouth feeling. He was the one who’d mentioned his roots. “I don’t know. Your family? Oktoberfest?” I paused, trying to dredge up more memories of the area. “The Mennonites?”

His fingers tightened on his chopsticks before he carefully laid them back on the tablecloth. His eyes didn’t quite meet mine. “Have you been talking to people?”

I shook my head. I’d hardly had a chance. After orientation, I’d zipped to my new apartment, moved in a few boxes – the rest were coming via the Zippy Moving Company – showered, and slipped into a strappy silver top and a black miniskirt. My hair was barely dry before Alex had buzzed my apartment. “What’s wrong?”

He picked up his chopsticks and arranged a smile on his face. “Nothing. Do you want wasabi or pickled ginger?”

“Uh –” I was still five steps back.

“I find that people are either into one or the other, not both. What’s it gonna be?” He gestured at the triangular green mound in the centre of the dish. “I bet wasabi. Because you’re a very hot chick.” He waggled his eyebrows with the last three words.

I giggled. Tucker could take lessons from this guy. You can say cheesy things, as long as you’re funny. “Well, I’ve never been into the ginger.”

“See?” He picked up the soy sauce and poured a black puddle into a porcelain dish in front of me.

The sushi turned out to be delicious. No oily roe eggs. When some wasabi shot up my nose and made my eyes water, Alex handed me his napkin and watched me in concerned silence. I had to laugh as I wiped my eyes. “I’ll live, doctor.”

“Yeah, but I don’t want you to hate sushi from now on. First the roe eggs, and now, attack of the wasabi.”

“I don’t hate sushi,” I said softly, to my porcelain plate.

“Good.” He took my hand. His hand was bigger than my ex’s and definitely paler, with blunt-cut fingernails.

No. This was not the time to think about Ryan Wu. I smiled at Alex instead. He smiled back.

For dessert, I would have been happy with green tea ice cream, but Alex said, “I want to take you downtown, show you the action. There’s a nice café on Ste-Catherine.”

“Sold.” I squeezed his hand before I reluctantly dropped it.

I would have split the bill, but Alex waved my MasterCard away. He wouldn’t even let me see the final tally. “You can get the next one,” he said, as he scrawled his signature.

I had to admit, I was relieved not to know the damage. I’d be getting my first paycheque in two weeks, but my student loans and moving costs cried out for repayment. “Thanks.”

He reached out to run his thumb up the delicate inner skin of my wrist. I had to catch my breath. He said, “You’re welcome.”

As Alex ordered dessert at the café, I watched the passers-by on Ste-Catherine through the glass windows on its south wall. Just walking down the street seemed to be a Friday night party. A guy stumbled along in a green-sequined miniskirt, fishnet stockings, and high heels. His friends bellowed and laughed and shoved him down the street, probably on their way to a stag party.

I realized, too late, that Alex was handing the cashier a ten for our slice of Black Forest cake, coffee for him and papaya juice for me. I unzipped my purse, but he shook his head and faked an accent. “Your money no good here!”

A group of college kids lounged at the back near the bathroom. They seemed to be playing some sort of game, not checkers, but using the same board. A middle-aged man read the newspaper and nursed a coffee near the front of the café, ignoring the Ste-Catherine pedestrian party.

Alex chose a small table on the west wall, facing a quieter side street, away from everyone else. He slid our cake and drinks off and dropped the tray on an empty table behind him. When he put away his change, he ended up flashing a pack of cigarettes tucked away in his pocket. He caught me staring and said, “They don’t let us smoke inside anymore, but we can hit the sidewalk if you want.”

“You smoke?” I stalled.

“Sure. They’re clove,” he said, as if that made a difference.

I had taken a drag or two of clove cigarettes during medical school and enjoyed posing and flicking the ash. But first I had to be a nerd. “You’re a doctor.”

He laughed. “Yeah.” He plucked a cigarette out of the packet and held it expertly between his teeth while he still managed to speak. “And you’re Little Miss Muffet.”

“Shut up.” Just for that, I wasn’t going to smoke. Peer-pressure booted me in the opposite direction. “But I thought you said they didn’t allow smoking in restaurants anymore.”

A red lighter appeared in his hand. He flicked it on, and brought the flame to the end of the cigarette.

I glanced around to see if anyone was watching. The counter girl shot me a worried look. I pointed at her. “See?”

Alex mimed astonishment. “Hey, you’re right! My bad.” He pocketed the lighter and held the cigarette out for me to inspect. The end hadn’t caught.

I didn’t understand him any better than this crazy city, but both of them were growing on me. “So where are we going after?”

“There are a few clubs downtown. But it’s still early. They don’t start rockin’ until after midnight.”

I struggled to keep a deadpan expression. “Rockin’, huh?”

“Rockin’,” he repeated firmly. “You probably don’t know what that means, after living in London for four years.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Have you ever been to clubs in London?”

“Yes.” His lips quirked.

I believed him. “Dang.”

We both laughed. He said, “You like frosting?”

I nodded. “It’s the best part.”

He spun the plate around so the cake’s frosting end pointed toward me and the tip toward himself. I toyed with the cool metal handle of my fork and dug in. Thank goodness, they used real whipped cream. I’m a real snob about that. In short time, we polished off the cake.

Alex’s cell phone played a tinny, Bach riff. He held it up to his ear and almost immediately, his eyebrows drew together. “Yeah.”

I sipped my too-sweet papaya juice. Maybe we could hit the Jazz Festival. Place des Arts was probably within walking distance, and I’d heard that there were lots of free shows. It was almost ten, so we still had two hours to kill before midnight.

“So?…Uh huh. Yeah.” Alex was half-turned away, his shoulder hunched. “Yeah. Okay.” He jerked his chin at me, then at the door. He was going outside to finish the call.

I reached for my purse. He shook his head, gestured at me to stay there. He held up his index finger.

I got it. One minute. Well, that would give me a chance to go to the bathroom.

The bathroom was small, with cobalt tile walls and a terra cotta floor. More importantly, it was pretty clean except for a twirl of toilet paper in the corner of the stall. An ad mounted on the door warned me about sexually transmitted diseases. Nice.

I washed my hands and combed my close-cropped black hair. I’d cut my hair during clerkship, on my surgery rotation, and kept it short because I liked it. My eyes were a bit red, from smoke and from my contact lenses, but I looked good. My skin was a clear, smooth tan, and my smile was genuine.

I refreshed my burgundy lipstick, winked at myself, and sashayed back into the café.

Alex hadn’t made it back, but his unused cigarette lay on the plate. I sat back down and crossed my legs. The college kids behind me burst out laughing, but not at me, I hoped.

The Ste-Catherine traffic ground to a standstill. A bunch of girls in skimpy club outfits shrieked and pushed their way through the cars. A Camaro played dance music with such a heavy bass that my chair vibrated with it. Behind it, a Mercedes broadcasted rap, while the little, white driver and his buddies nodded along. How could Alex hear anything out there?

Alex. I scanned the crowd. He wasn’t in front of the café.

No. That couldn’t be right. I half-stood, craning my neck. He must have gone around the corner, to get away from the mob.

Why did he go out there, anyway? It was louder out there than it was in here.

Better reception? But that was lame.

I crossed to the front of the café. Across the street, I caught sight of a guy with brown hair, his head tipped down. He held his shoulders like Alex. I rapped on the glass.

The guy turned west and disappeared into the crowd.

“Wait! Alex!” I called.

Beside me, the old man with the newspaper cleared his throat.

I muttered, “Excusez-moi.” I shoved open the glass door and sprinted out on the street.

“Watch it, lady!” hollered a guy on the pavement. I barely registered him and his blanketful of necklaces and earrings.

“Sorry,” I called over my shoulder, and I started running after the guy. I nearly knocked down an elderly couple who were arm in arm, taking up most of the sidewalk.

I stopped at the blue and white metro sign near the Paramount theatre. Herds of people pushed past me, intent on seeing Batman 3 or The Avengers. I scrutinized their faces until I realized that I was, to stretch the movie analogy, on my own mission impossible.

Alex had vanished.

“Worst. Date. Ever,” I muttered, but it had been great until the phone call. “So his dismount needs work.”

A guy who was passing by gave me a strange look and hugged his girlfriend closer.

Okay, now I was talking to myself. I joined the crush of people and snagged a lobby pay phone. I dug in my purse for Alex’s numbers. The phone rang once, twice, three times.

Click. “We’re sorry. The Bell Mobility customer you have reached is not in service.”

It wouldn’t even let me leave a message. What the hell? Was he still talking on the phone?

On my last quarter, I tried his home phone number. It rang four times. A recorded female voice, the phone company default one, intoned, “You have reached 555-2431. Please leave a message.”

I wouldn’t have figured Alex for such a vanilla message. Was this even the right number? I said, “Alex, it’s me. Hope. What’s up? I lost you at the café. I don’t have a cell phone” – I’d planned to buy a new one in Montreal –”and my pager’s back at the apartment. So I’ll check for you, and then I’ll, uh, head home, I guess. Call me.” I left my apartment number and hung up.

One last try. I walked back to the café. A breeze raised goose bumps on my arms. I rubbed them.

“I’ll keep you warm, baby!” a guy yelled. He was standing with a group of friends outside Club Sexxxy’s drawings of chesty danseuses nues.

I gave him the finger. It made me feel better, even though he just cackled.

In the café, the old man was still reading his paper, a couple perused the display case, the college kids played on, and a server was wiping down the tables. No Alex.

My heart sank. I headed outside to ask the guy on the pavement with the necklaces. He looked like a middle-aged hippy, with a graying brown ponytail and a Guatemalan poncho even though it was a warm night. He smiled. His teeth were crooked. “Wanna buy something? I got the best beads.”

Chunky plastic beads and some silver rings. I tried to look interested. “Hm. Maybe.” I paused. “Did you see the guy with the cell phone who left the café? Brown hair, about five-seven, black T-shirt and jeans?”

He shrugged and smiled some more. “Wanna buy something?”

“Did you see him?” I countered.

“Yeah, I saw him.” He gestured at his blanket ware. “I don’t have all night, you know.”

He did have all night. And silver doesn’t complement my coloring as well as gold, but better that than plastic beads. I pointed to a plain silver ring. “How much?”

“A steal. Six bucks.” He grinned, displaying nicotine teeth with a gap between his incisors.

Cigarettes reminded me of Alex. Something had to be really wrong for him to leave without a word. I shook three toonies out of my change purse. Before I handed them over, I prompted, “The guy with brown hair?”

“Yeah,” he said. “I saw him.” He grabbed the money. “He went that way.” He gestured north, up the little cross-street.

“But –” I should have seen him. I’d been sitting right alongside – I checked the name – Ste-Alexandre. But then I’d gone to the bathroom. And north of here was McGill University. Alex had said he lived in the student ghetto. Had he chucked me and gone home?

“Here.” The street guy held up the ring. His eyes were soft with – was that pity? I was now being pitied by a guy who sold chunky beads?

I snatched the ring away and headed back to the metro.

“Hope!” A guy’s voice.

My head snapped up, my heart drumming at hummingbird speed. Then I saw the white-blond hair and more angular face. It was Tucker coming down the street toward me. Tori raised her hand in a cautious wave, and Anu beamed at me.

Shit. The last thing I wanted to do was face my new classmates. Clearly, Montreal wasn’t that big a city.

“Hey guys,” I said, adjusting the purse strap on my shoulder.

Tucker said, “Hey, we tried to call you. We’re going to grab a bite to eat and check out the Jazz Fest. Wanna come?”

I shook my head. “I’m beat. Gotta unpack, and I’ve got the first emerg shift tomorrow.” I bared my teeth in a cheery grin. “But have fun, okay?”

Tucker opened his mouth, but Tori said, “Sure. Some other time” and towed him off. Anu waved.

Once on the metro’s orange and white plastic seats, I closed my eyes and tried not to feel like a disaster. My feet hurt, my eyes felt dry beneath my contact lenses, and I didn’t know whether to worry about Alex or strangle him. The metro car was almost deserted. An electronic board flashed the names of the next stop and bus numbers for transfers, as well as ads and tidbits of news. My main companion was the recorded woman’s voice that announced, “Prôchaine arrêt…” Everyone was heading downtown for the night, not partying in Côte-des-Neiges.

Actually, that was something else to worry about. When Alex picked me up, he told me that my neck of the woods “wasn’t the greatest area.”

At my expression, he tried to back peddle. “You probably don’t have to worry. The real low-income housing is on Van Horne.” Right by my neighbourhood grocery store. After I freaked out more, he said, “Look. It’s probably just a bad rep, because Côte-des-Neiges has a lot of immigrants. And some students, because it’s near the U of M, l’Université de Montréal.” Then he smiled and said, “Don’t worry. I’ll protect you.”

He wasn’t winning any gold stars right now. The Université de Montreal metro stop was only a five minute walk from my new place, but his warning had me jumping at every shadow behind a tree. I didn’t dare cut through the university. I stuck to the poorly-lit streets. During the day, the maple, ash, and birch trees were pretty, but at night, they could hide a family of rapists. The sound of my own steps beating on the sidewalk, the wind in the leaves, the shadows in the apartment balconies – all of it spurred me, until I was almost running down Mimosa Avenue. My keys were clenched in my fingers, pointy side out, ready to take out someone’s eyeball.

At last, I dashed up the concrete walkway to my three-story brick apartment. Only two dim torches lined the path. As soon as I opened the building door and stepped into the well-lit front hallway, I felt safer. Even silly. No one had attacked me. The silver mailboxes and buzzer system inside the entrance looked perfectly innocent.

Like St. Joseph’s, the apartment had probably been beautiful when it was first built, but it had fallen into disrepair, from its overgrown, dandelion-fiesta lawn to the cracked glass in my balcony door. It was really two buildings, with an arched wrought iron sign between them that read, MIMOSA MANOR. Still, there were Art Deco squares of glass on either side of the outer door and I had real hardwood floors in my apartment.

I unlocked the inner building door, ambled up the staircase and turned the key in my apartment lock. I half-expected Alex to be there, saying, “Boo.” But it was empty. I could hear the silence. Only a tap dripped in the kitchen.

I marched down the hall, to the kitchen, and tightened the faucet. I’m an environmentalist. I’d hate to end the day by wasting water, too.

The phone rang. I nearly jumped out of my skin. I had to race back to my bedroom to pick it up. I’d only brought one phone. The rest were on their way, in the moving van. The phone had rung four times before I snatched it up. “Hello? Alex?”

“Who’s Alex?” said my mother.

“Are you making friends already?” said Dad. “That’s good.”

“Oh.” I sunk into bed. “Hi guys. I was going to call you.”

“I miss you!” said my brother, Kevin. He’s only eight. My family makes weekly phone calls with everyone on a different extension.

“I miss you, too, bud.” My throat tightened. I felt perilously close to tears. Ridiculous.

Dad said, “You sound like you have a cold!”

I cleared my throat. “I don’t have a cold.”

He tsked. “Well, you sound like you’re getting one. It’s a long drive from London. You should have let us help you pack!”

“It’s too far. And you have Kevin.” I took comfort in our old argument.

“I could have helped!” Kevin protested.

“I know, bud. But then you might have missed your violin lesson.”

“Good,” he muttered. My mother started scolding him.

I felt almost normal again. No matter what, my family was always there for me. I told them I was starting with an emerg shift at 7:30 a.m. Not a word about Alex, even though his name was throbbing at the back of my brain.

“Wow. We’d better not keep you up too late, then,” said Dad immediately. “You need your rest.”

“Wait, I wanted to tell you Grandma still has that cough, but she’s feeling better.” Mom went on at some length. My grandmother is very healthy, but we all need up-to-the-minute bulletins about her few vagaries. Especially me, the family doctor. I thought I heard a noise in the front hall, but turned back to hear, “Kevin is going to start summer school, but we could still go on a trip in August –”

I sighed. “Mom, I told you, I don’t want to take a vacation at the beginning of residency.”

“Right, right, right, I was just going to say, or we could come visit you. Maybe spend a week. What do you think?”

I looked around. My one-bedroom apartment was littered with a handful of half-unpacked boxes. “You guys would sleep in the living room?”

“Sure, sure. Why not? We could bring sleeping bags.”

“It’s like camping!” crowed Kevin.

“Uh.” I held my head. It felt like the beginning of a headache. I massaged my temples.

“You think about it,” Mom insisted.

“She should go to bed,” Dad said.

Kevin piped up. “You’re going to bed earlier than me!”

“Good for you.” After some more last-minute news, I hung up. I had to smile. There was only one more thing to do tonight.

With an Exacto-knife that had been lying by the front door, I slit open a box labeled “Misc.” Right at the top, wrapped in tissue paper, lay my faceless, jointed wooden man. I’d bought him for a long-ago art class, but didn’t really have any drawing talent. I just liked this guy. Some of my friends called him my imaginary boyfriend. I called him Henry.

The previous tenants had left behind a black veneer desk, topped by a bench-shaped piece of wood that made a second level. Carefully, I placed Henry on top of the bench. I made him sit with his legs dangling down and his right arm bent, hand to his head. Not sad, but pensive.

Beep!

I definitely heard something that time. I tracked the noise to my backpack in the front hall. My little black pager read DUPLICATE. I pressed the button to read the number. Alex’s cell phone.

Hot dog! I picked up my phone and heard the rapid beeps that meant someone had left a voice mail message.

“Hope. It’s me. I’m so sorry.” Alex’s voice, a bit muffled.

I bit my lip.

“Listen. Something…came up. Something important. I know this sucks. I’ll make it up to you. Maybe tomorrow.” A noise, like he covered the mouthpiece, and he said, his voice far away but irritated, “In a minute.” His voice got loud again. “Hope, I’ll call you.” And then he hung up.

I tried the cell phone number he’d left on my pager. Still out of service. He must have turned it off before and after calling me at home and on my pager. But why?

I bent Henry’s other arm, so now both hands were pressed against his face, like in The Scream.

I slept fitfully that night.

Alex never called back.

Chapter 3

At 7:25 a.m., I stepped through the ER’s automatic doors on the east side of the hospital, near the bike racks. I promptly spotted ten people on lime-green plastic chairs, dozing or watching the TV in the waiting room on my right.

Ten people already. Happy Canada Day to me.

On my left stood one black-uniformed security guard in a cubicle. Beside him sat two women behind desks with computers, supposedly registering patients, but really chatting with each other. Triage was a little Plexiglas alcove straight ahead, empty except for an examining table and a stray BP cuff machine, but even so, I didn’t feel right cutting through the triage room.

I turned left, down a little hallway, hoping it would lead to an alternate entrance.

“Excuse me, miss,” called one of the receptionists. “You’re not supposed to go in there. That’s for stretcher patients.”

People never thought I worked here. I turned and smiled. “Hi, I’m one of the new residents.”

“Oh. Sorry,” trilled the middle-aged receptionist. Her mascara had smudged under her eyes, giving her a Goth look.

“It’s July first,” the older one muttered. “All the new residents.”

“Oh.” They giggled together. Way to make me feel welcome.

At the end of the hallway, I saw the ambulance bay, and took a right, pushing open the teal emerg doors. Made it.

Two people bent over charts at an extra-long desk on my right. On my left was an examining room with an eye chart and then two empty resuscitation rooms, their monitors off, oxygen masks and tanks hanging unused on the wall, and the stretchers covered in clean white sheets.

Nurses in pink uniforms chatted at the large, octagonal nursing station in the middle of the room. Along three walls surrounding the nursing station, blue-gowned patients sat in beds or rooms clearly labeled from one to 14, and more patients lay stretched out on beds beside the station and along the wall.

I took a cautious sniff. People often complain about the smell of hospitals, but unless it’s bloody stool, pus, or a newly-disinfected room, I don’t notice much anymore. St. Joe’s smelled fine to me.

I walked up to a nurse with snapping brown eyes and a big smile. She looked to be about my age, and although she was wearing pink scrub pants, she had a blue and brown striped top. I said, “Hi, I’m Hope. This is my first day here.”

She shook my hand. She had quick, bird-like movements. “I’m Roxanne. Let me show you the residents’ room.” From the windowsill, she plucked a two-foot long yellow stick with a key dangling from the end of it. It looked like a potential weapon. I stared. She laughed. “That’s so we don’t lose it.”

Behind the nursing station, she showed me a small hallway with a kitchen, a bathroom, a conference room, and two little call rooms, one for the residents and one for the staff doctors. “The staff one has a shower. Yours is the one on the left. Have fun.”

I shed my bag in the residents’ room, which was a basic white box with a bed, a desk, and a few hooks for jackets. I wound my stethoscope around my neck and jammed a pen, a pharmacopoeia, and my trusty navy notebook into my pockets. It was just past 7:30.

Dr. Callendar turned out to be one of the guys I’d passed at the desk when I came in. I now knew that this was the ambulatory side of the emerg. Dr. Callendar looked fifty-something, with a black crew cut, beat-up Nikes, and a white coat over his greens. When I plopped into a chair beside him, he kept on writing a note on a brown clipboard.

After a full minute, without looking up or putting down his Bic pen, he grunted, “Who are you.”

“Hi, my name is Hope Sze, I’m a first-year resident, and this is my first emergency shift –”

He glanced up, wearing extra wrinkles across his forehead. His nose was too blunt-tipped and his lips too thin for him to be handsome “You got oriented?”

Not really. “Well, we walked through the ER yesterday –”

He handed me a clipboard. “Start seeing patients.”

Automatically, I took the clipboard, but my brain had stalled out. As a medical student, they took pains to orient me and make sure I was comfortable before I worked. As a first year resident, a.k.a. an R1, it was obviously sink or swim. Not to mention the fact that Alex told me my shift didn’t really start until 8 a.m., so I was here voluntarily early.

Dr. Callendar had already turned back to his chart. I took meager comfort in his stereotypically atrocious handwriting. While I watched, he grabbed a giant rubber stamp, pressed it in a blue inkpad, and stamped his chart with headings for a complete history and physical, from “ID” to “Extremities” on his chart. At least that was legible.

I glanced at my own chart. A twenty-year-old woman, six years younger than me, who’d complained of burning, frequent urination. It sounded pretty straightforward. The triage nurse had even written, “Feels like UTI,” or urinary tract infection. Still, it was cool to knock on the door of room 2 and introduce myself as Dr. Hope Sze for the first time.

By the time I returned, Dr. Callendar had disappeared. All that remained of him was his rubber stamp. I found him in the nursing station, rifling through green slips of paper. He scowled at me, and shoved them in the pocket of his lab coat, but not before I saw the patient names and numbers printed on the slips. He was doing his billing for the night shift.

I pretended not to notice. “Dr. Callendar, did you want to review the UTI before I send her home?”

“Of course!” he snapped. “All your patients have to be reviewed. You’re a resident!”

Thanks for sharing. And then he went on to share some more. Did I ask about risk factors? Was she sexually active? Had she had UTI’s in the past? How recently? Did she wipe from back to front or front to back?

I had asked some of these questions, but not others, so I felt stupid but also annoyed; I doubted he was this thorough when he was the one on the line. If pressed, he’d probably just say it was a UTI for reasons NYD, not yet diagnosed.

At last he waved me away. “Go back and do it right. You can follow up with Dr. Dupuis afterward. He’s the one coming on at eight.”

Good news: Dr. Hardass was leaving. Bad news: maybe Dr. Dupuis was Dr. Hardass II.

Granted, I was here to learn as well as serve, but some doctors really like to put you in your place at the beginning. I didn’t look forward to playing Who’s the Boss for the next two years. Good doctors, secure doctors, don’t need to belittle you.

Sometimes I feel sorry for the patients at a tertiary teaching hospital. You may have to battle your way through multiple layers: med student, junior resident, senior resident, staff. But it’s all learning, and as a community hospital, St. Joe’s had a thinner hierarchy than most. I headed back to the twenty-year-old to play another twenty questions.

When I came back, Dr. Callendar was doing “sign out” with a thin, blond, stork-like man in glasses and greens. They strode around the room, talking about patients’ results and what needed to be done.

When I got within a five foot radius of them, Dr. Callendar flicked his fingers at me like he had water on them. “Go see more patients.”

The blond doctor laughed and shook his head. “Wait a minute. You’re a new resident?”

I nodded and held out my hand. “Hope Sze. R1.”

He shook it. “Dave Dupuis. Welcome aboard.”

“Thanks.” At Western, once you were a resident, and therefore, a fellow M.D., a lot of the staff physicians let you call them by their first names. It sounds like a small thing, but after four years of undergrad and four years of medical school, I was ready for a tap on the shoulder.

Dr. Dupuis smiled down at me as if he were reading my mind. “Are you interested in working the ambulatory side or the acute side?”

Runny noses vs. potential heart attacks. No contest. “Acute.”

Of course, Dr. Evil had to step in. “Dave, she’s already started on the ambulatory side. She’s ready to review a UTI.” Dr. Callendar gestured at the chart in my hand.

I opened my mouth to object, but Dr. Dupuis was already on it. “Good. If you know that case, you can review it. But if a resident wants to work the acute side, she should.” He turned to me and added, “Are you interested in emerg?”

“Yeah. I’m thinking of doing the third year.”

“Good woman,” he said.

We grinned at each other. Dave Dupuis was on my side. There was a hierarchy here, and Dupuis trumped Callendar. Good to know.

Some people, you just know you’re on the same page. Like me and – Alex, I remembered, and my smile dimmed. But for only a second. If he didn’t call back and beg my forgiveness, it was his loss. I had a job to do.

After sign-over, Dr. Callendar glared at me like I needed deodorant and a brain transplant. “So what do you think. Yeah, yeah, yeah. What do you want to give her? Okay.” He scribbled his signature after my note, tore out the green slip, and stood up to go.

A mere 45 minutes after I first saw her, I handed my patient her prescription. It was the first time I’d written a script without getting it co-signed, and it felt good for about 60 seconds. Then Dr. Dupuis handed me a chart for a seventy-five-year-old woman with abdominal pain. “Have fun.”

I drew the dirty pink curtain around bed number 11 before I began the interview. The patient’s son helped swish it around his side of the stretcher. My patient turned out to be a tiny, white-haired, half-deaf woman who only spoke Spanish. Her family spoke a little French, but not much. I found myself yelling and playacting a lot. “Do you feel nauseous? Are you vomiting?” Grab stomach, pretend to retch. “Do you have pain in your chest?” Hands to heart, with tormented eyes raised to the acoustic tile ceiling, like I was Saint Hope at the stake. “Do you have diarrhea?” That one was hard. I made shooing motions around my rear end. Even the patient laughed.

During the physical exam, my hands traversed all over her abdomen, while I asked if it hurt. “Dolor? Dolor?”

The family enjoyed this demonstration of fifty percent of my Spanish vocabulary (the other word I knew was si, or yes) and praised my excellent command of the language. “Très bien!” The patient beamed at me. She didn’t look too pained. I was in the middle of asking her to turn over for a rectal exam when I heard a flat woman’s voice from the speakers overhead, “CODE. BLUE. OPERATING ROOM.”

I froze.

CODE. BLEU. BLOC OPÉRATOIRE.”

The pink curtain ripped open, revealing Dr. Dupuis’ flushed face. “Come on!” he yelled.

We flew around the nursing station and past the X-ray light boxes. He slammed the side door open with the heel of his hand. We dashed down the narrow back hallway.

He punched open another teal door. As we sprinted up two flights of stairs, one of my black leather clogs almost went airborne. I jammed my foot back into it. Dr. Dupuis ended up a half-flight ahead of me, but I caught up to him on the landing.

We dashed left, and then another left past the elevators, and then we were at the T junction of a hallway and Dr. Dupuis was yelling, “Where is it?” at a guy in a white uniform and a blue bonnet-cap.

The guy pointed back over Dr. Dupuis’s shoulder. “Men’s change room!”

Dr. Dupuis doubled-back a few steps and shoved open the door to a small, jaundice-yellow room.

Should I follow him in a men’s room?

The door nearly swung shut again. I thrust it open.

Beige lockers lined the four yellow walls and made a row down the middle of the room. A wooden bench stretched lengthwise in each half-room.

In the far half, wedged between the bench and the lockers, I spotted a pair of men’s leather shoes. The feet sprawled away from each other. The scuffed gray soles of the shoes pointing toward me.

Dr. Dupuis crouched at the man’s head, blocking my view of the top, but someone had yanked the man’s charcoal T-shirt up to his armpits, exposing his white belly and chest, above his brown leather belt and khaki pants.

A black woman in a white coat pressed her fingers against the side of the man’s throat. “There’s no pulse.”

“I’ll start CPR!” I yelled, running toward them. I’d only ever seen one code blue, on a sick patient in the emergency room who didn’t make it. I’d never heard of a code in a men’s room. We didn’t even have gloves. Mouth-to-mouth wasn’t my first choice.

I knelt on the cold tile floor, my arms extended, hands laced, and braced to do CPR. Then I finally saw the man’s face.

His features were mottled purple, his filmy eyes fixed half-open, his jaw hanging open under his moustache.

The man was dead. Long dead. Cause NYD.

Dr. Dupuis lifted his stethoscope from the man’s hairy brown chest, his face grim. “I’m calling it. Eight twenty-four.”

He was calling the time of death. I had only seen that once, after the code. After we had tried intubation, CPR, drugs, and even a pericardiocentesis to try and remove any blood from around the heart. It was too late to try, for this man.

Dr. Dupuis pressed his fingers against the man’s cheekbone. I flinched, but the purple color overriding the face didn’t blanch. “Livor mortis,” he said.

I took a deep breath. I remembered that from my forensic pathology course. After someone dies, gravity makes the blood pool and discolors any skin that’s not under pressure. I’d just never seen it up close and personal. Now, avoiding the man’s staring eyes, I could see that his anterior flanks were also blotched purple. He had died on his stomach.

I poked my index finger against his mottled flank, indenting the cool skin. As I pulled back, the flesh slowly rebounded, but still didn’t change color.

Dr. Dupuis voice was loud and sudden in my ear. “Let him go.”

I recoiled, wiping my finger against my scrub pants, but he was talking to the black woman who still had her fingers on his throat. “He’s too far gone, and this may end up being a crime scene.”

Crime scene?

Dr. Dupuis’s voice shook only a little when he said, “It’s Kurt.”

She nodded, dropping her eyes. She withdrew her hand from his throat and crossed her arms, hugging herself tightly.

Dr. Dupuis stood. “He was one of the doctors here,” he said, his head averted.

Oh, my God. I scanned the face again. The moustache. Was this the guy whose speech I’d interrupted?

Slowly, I reprogrammed the brown eyes, the broad forehead, the slightly hooked nose, and the moustache in my mind. Yes. It was him. I closed my eyes.

I heard Dr. Dupuis’s steps thumping around the room. He called, “Did you see anything? Evidence of foul play?”

It sounded like something out of a movie. Maybe it was. I doubt Dr. Dupuis had ever found a colleague dead in the men’s change room before, but he didn’t let it faze him. He lifted the white plastic lid of the soiled linen cart by the door. “Look for needles,” he said, peering inside. “Anything to do with drugs.”

I glanced at the black woman. She lifted one shoulder in a shrug.

I said, “But wasn’t he diabetic? Maybe he’ll have his own needles.”

“Even so,” Dr. Dupuis replied, his mouth a grim line.

“You think we should search his pockets?”

Before he could answer, the door burst open. “Where’s the –” Two nurses manhandled a scarlet crash cart into the room. “My God!” exclaimed the plump, blond one.

The black woman said, “It’s not a code now. Dr. Dupuis already called it.”

While she explained, I checked Dr. Radshaw’s pockets. His wallet was still in his right pocket. I didn’t open it. I found an Accucheck, the machine to check the glucose for diabetics, along with a few test strips, in his left pants pocket. Nothing in his shirt, and he wasn’t wearing a jacket.

I hit the bathroom for evidence. Something was bugging me, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Dr. Dupuis was already in the bathroom, nudging a pile of clothes under the sinks with the toe of his running shoe. The room smelled of urine, mold, and I didn’t want to know what else.

I held my breath and flung open the door of the first toilet stall. The last customer hadn’t flushed, and the toilet was balled up with paper and worse, but the floor was clear. I slammed the door and opened the next one.

An empty white toilet bowl ringed with rust, the black toilet seat pointing toward the sky. Dr. Dupuis materialized over my right shoulder, banging open the stall door. “Don’t touch anything!”

“I didn’t.” I didn’t see any needles or drug baggies. I backed out slowly while he yanked back a beige shower curtain in the stall at the end of the room.

“Dave!” The plump, blond nurse appeared in the doorway, looking tearful. “It’s Kurt –”

“I know,” said Dr. Dupuis. “I know.”

Behind her, I heard a flurry of voices arguing in the main room. Dr. Dupuis pushed past me. I hurried on his heels.

A freckled woman in glasses and a white coat barked orders, her brown flats parked inches away from Dr. Radshaw’s hair.

A man in greens tried to fit the mask of an ambu bag over Dr. Radshaw’s open, rigid mouth.

The black resident started CPR.

A nurse knelt beside Dr. Radshaw’s arm while two more nurses, plus the blond nurse, yelled at her to stop.

Two men in black uniform gawked from Dr. Radshaw’s feet.

And then a very thin woman in purple scrubs, standing by the main door, fisted her hands and started to scream.

Copyright Melissa Yuan-Innes, 2011

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8 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Debbie Finestone / Jan 25 2011 9:34 am

    sounds interesting!!! glad I haven’t found myself in it yet.

    • melissayuaninnes / Jan 25 2011 11:14 am

      Ha ha! You’ll have to keep reading, Dr. Finestone.
      Just kidding.
      So glad you’re here. Nice to “see” you again. I hope you’re well. See, you and St. Mary’s have inspired me.

  2. melissayuaninnes / Jan 27 2011 4:57 am

    Hiya M,
    Just read Code Blues…I was riveted. Well written! You inserted so many hilarious and recognizable aspects of St. Mary’s. It was heartwarming.
    Will reach Notorious a bit latter – must put children to bed.
    Much love,
    Bernice

  3. Deb Duquette / Feb 5 2011 10:07 pm

    Just about to start Chapter 3 but wanted to say…… Melissa, this is fantastic!!!!!! Can’t wait to read more! Can’t wait to hear the finished product!!!!!

    • melissayuaninnes / Feb 5 2011 10:13 pm

      Ooh, thanks, Deb! I’m so glad you like it.
      I’m revising the novel before sending it out again.

      I hope you like the radio version too, if it does go to air. I just finished redrafting the first episode. Hope and Dr. Dupuis and Dr. Callendar are in that one, too–just no murder or sex. 😉

  4. prise de masse / Feb 10 2013 9:00 am

    Your style is really unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from.
    Thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I
    will just book mark this page.

    • melissayuaninnes / Feb 10 2013 3:39 pm

      Thanks! I don’t know how to write like anyone else, really, but not every reader understands “unique,” so I really appreciate your comment and bookmark. If you ever get tired of waiting for blog posts, I have dozens of e-books and a half-dozen print books available, including Code Blues. Thanks again!

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