Authors: K. L. Burnham
Table of Contents
Copyright © 2013 by K.L. BURNHAM.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used factiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Book cover design by Dave M. Bolton
This novel is dedicated to
My dad, who always believed in me and encouraged me to shoot
for the stars.
My daughters, Enya and Kaitlynn, who are my world.
My mom, sisters and many nieces and nephews for your continued inspiration and love.
Dr. Gary Humphries for his advice, guidance, support and belief in me and my accomplishment.
And to all my close friends for your words of support.
“The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.”
” Armani screamed. The left side of his face burned like the fires of Hell. He stared at the ceiling and tried to sit up but a jolt of pain like lightning stopped him.
“Where the hell am I?” Armani asked, staring at the IV needles in both his arms. He slammed them against the bedrails like an animal ramming itself against the thick wire of a trapper’s cage. Seconds later he heard faint steps getting louder.
Two nurses in pink scrubs ran in followed by a man in white.
“Relax. Lay your head on the pillow.” A jolly nurse ordered.
“Check his vitals!” The man in white, whom Armani presumed to be the doctor said. “We’re going to need to sedate him.”
The nurse put a cuff on his arm, checked her watch, and counted his respirations. Armani thought it was a pretty stupid thing to do at this time. His blood pressure would be sky rocketing. His breaths were labored, as it was. No one seemed to want to tell him what was going on and why he woke to find himself in this hospital bed. The doctor and nurses were talking as if he weren’t in the room.
“Doctor, his blood pressure is 186/101. Shall we give him another dose of morphine for pain?” The jolly nurse asked.
Armani rolled his eyes. Of course his blood pressure was high. No one seemed to give a damn about him and offer an explanation. Armani looked at the nurse. “Don’t sedate me.” He ordered and shifted his gaze at the doctor. “Excuse me, Doctor, but what is going on here? How did I end up here? I have no memory of admitting myself into this hospital or of what happened to land me here. It’s my right to get an explanation right now. And where’s my attorney? I want to call him.”
The doctor nodded and looked Armani in the eye. “Mr. Belvedere, three months ago a tragedy occurred that the police are still investigating.” The doctor said and paused like he was searching for how to say what needed to be said.
Armani was losing his patience. ‘Why doesn’t the doctor just get to the point?’ he thought. Beating around the bush was for shallow people who were afraid of the truth. Shades of gray didn’t work for Armani. He wanted to hear things in black or white, simple as that.
The doctor cleared his throat, looking Armani in the eyes. “You were brought here by ambulance three months ago. A housekeeper found you unconscious on your hotel room floor. Your heart rate was deathly low. The medics thought they would lose you on the way to the hospital. The police believe it was either an insider with a vendetta against you or a crazy fan gone mad who may have been stalking you for some time.” The doctor paused and rubbed his chin. “The people or person who did this must have taken you by surprise. The police believe when you opened the hotel room door they hit you with a hammer or blunt object hard enough to knock you out. You hit your head hard on something sharp when you fell. The gash on the side of your head was large and deep causing you to lose a lot of blood.”
“That wouldn’t put me here for three months, Doctor.” Armani stated. “It’s Impossible.”
The doctor sympathized with Armani because he knew the worst news was about to be dealt. He sat and folded his small hands in his lap and nervously licked his lips. “Armani, after you collapsed, the person or people who did this, injected you with a drug to keep you passed out. You were unaware of what was going on. Armani, the left side of your face was severely burned with third degree burns. You were near death when the medics arrived here with you. We immediately took you to the burn unit where we sedated you and worked on you for hours.”
Armani’s brows creased with worry. “What procedures were done, Doctor? I don’t remember any of it. Please explain to me what happened the past three months that I’ve been here.” He touched the left side of his face expecting to feel scabby skin but instead felt a large cotton wrap. “I want to see my face.”
The doctor cleared his throat. “No, not yet, Armani, one thing at a time. Let me first explain to you what we did to help you heal as you asked first.”
Armani nodded for the doctor to continue, trying hard to be patient and understanding. After all, these people had saved his life, and hopefully Simone’s as well.
“As you can see, we have you hooked up to IV’s which are still transporting fluids into your body. Most of it right now is saline. We had to secure additional venous and arterial access, so I inserted a flexible plastic catheter into your femoral vessels, entering near your groin, a necessity because of the risk of death due to shock. The continuous flow of fluids entering your body kept this at bay. This needed to go on for months once we started, and we constantly drew blood to test the carboxyhemoglobin level which is an indicator of how much deadly carbon monoxide is circulating in the blood.”
“Why can’t I remember?” Armani interrupted.
“Burn unit patients all spend a long period of time heavily sedated so that they don’t remember anything of the horrible time spent in the hospital during operations and the healing process. It is for the sake of the patients and their loved ones.” The doctor paused, noticing Armani looking at the IV line in his arm puzzled. “That IV was first used to deliver morphine and Versed into your body the past three months. The morphine was for pain, the Versed was to quell anxiety and induce amnesia.” He smiled. “The IV’s are delivering antibiotics and saline into your body now.”
Armani looked at the doctor’s face. “Thank you for reading my mind.” Armani hated drugs of any kind. He was a rock star but never succumbed to the lifestyle of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. His music was the only drug he needed to get high.
“It was all a necessity, Armani,” the doctor said. “Our next procedures were healing the burns on your face. We used what is called Bair Huggers. We would heat a solution called Ringers Solution to 102 degrees, dip the Bair Huggers into it and spread them on your face. Up until a week ago, you had a nasogastric tube inserted through your nostril and into your stomach to vent gas and carry liquid nutrition to feed you as well as your hungry wounds and to keep your bowels from shutting down. The foley catheter will be removed later this afternoon.” The doctor stood up and placed his hand on Armani’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, I know this is a lot to take in and understand.”
“I want to see my face now.” Armani said.
“You will later. We did reconstructive work and skin graphs on your face. Why don’t you wait until after dinner? A nurse and I will remove the bandages and allow you to see your face. Tonight, I suggest taking ambien for sleep and getting a solid nights rest.”
Armani grabbed the Doctors arm and read the name on his tag. “Dr. Weaver, who did this? Where is Simone? Was she as badly injured as I was?”
“Armani, nobody knows who did this. We notified the police department that you were out of sedation and available for questioning. An officer should be here shortly to speak with you. They will have more answers than I do.” The Doctor’s heart went out to Armani. “I’m sorry for everything that has happened to you.” Dr. Weaver said, his eyes misting over. He turned and walked toward the door, the nurses close behind.
“But what about Simone? Is she . . . . .” Armani asked, but before he could finish Dr. Weaver had closed the door. His heart ached and a sinking feeling of loss punched him in the gut. He looked at the white tile ceiling. A tear trickled down his cheek and landed on the pillow. Armani was alone in the cold empty hospital room, his body a soulless hollow shell.
A knock on the door startled him. The same jolly nurse he had seen before entered the room and smiled warmly at Armani. “Hello Armani. I’m going to give you more morphine per Doctors orders.”
Armani cringed. Thinking about more meds in his body made him feel sick. “How about Ibuprofen or Motrin? I’d prefer over the counter meds, please.” ‘How about something for severe depression?’ Armani thought. He was trying his best to be compliant and with the staff while he was stuck in this dreary hospital room wanting answers.
“I’ll have to ask the doctor about that.” The nurse studied Armani’s face, noticing the sadness in his eyes. “Armani, would you like to talk with me about your feelings?”
“That’s fine,” he stated. “By the way, what is your name?”
“Louise,” the jolly nurse said. Her gray hair was slicked back in a tight bun. When she smiled, her brown eyes sparkled like stars in the sky on a clear night. “I know this is probably a terrible time to ask you a favor,” she began, her cheeks tinged red. “I wondered if I could get your autograph. I’ve been a fan of yours for a long time. I love your music and your voice is divine, mesmerizing, in fact. Your voice sounds so much like Chad Krueger, the lead singer of Nickelback. Are you brothers?” Louise asked, sitting in the chair beside the bed.
Armani smiled. His first real smile since he awoke to find himself lying in a hospital bed. “Thank you for your gracious compliments. No, Chad and I are not brothers. When our band started touring we were the opening act for Nickelback. He coached me in many areas of vocalization and taught me to sing as he does. That’s why we sound so familiar,” he said and put his finger to his mouth. “Don’t tell the press.”
Louise handed him a photograph of Armani and his band. “Would you autograph this for me? It would make my day.”
Armani took the photograph, trying not to look too closely. “What would you like me to write?” He looked at Louise and smiled.
“Write anything that comes to your creative mind.”
“Ok, simple enough.” He said, took the pen from Louise and wrote a quick note. ‘
He tried to smile and handed the photo to her.
“Thank you so much,” Louise said a grin the size of Texas on her face.
Armani extended his hand and shook hers. “No, thank you. Without our fans, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
Her chubby cheeks turned bright red. “Sorry to change the subject, but I’ve got to ask Dr. Weaver about the meds and see if he’ll let you have something other than morphine. I’ll be right back.” Louise said and left the room.
She was back a few minutes later. “I’m sorry, Armani. Dr. Weaver wants you to have morphine. He said the other pain meds haven’t fully worn off yet, but when they do, you will be in extreme pain. He wants you to rest before the police and detectives arrive.”
Armani sighed. “So be it, then. You’re just doing your job.”
Louise injected a vial of morphine into Armani’s IV. “This is a fairly large dose. Rest well, Armani.” She said and squeezed his hand.
Armani felt the effects of the morphine take effect right away and felt like he was floating on a cloud soaring to the Heavens. In the Heavens he saw Simone surrounded by angels singing a beautiful chorus. “Where’s Simone?” Armani asked Louise, his eyes pleading for an answer.
Louise wrapped her chubby hand around his and squeezed. “I’m not allowed to say anything about that. I’m so sorry. I wish I could. The detectives will be here in a few hours to talk with you. Please get some rest now.” She said and placed his hand on his chest. “I’ve got to go do my rounds, but I will check on you in a bit.” Louise pulled the blankets up to his neck before leaving the room.
He knew the detectives would have answers for him. He held onto the hope that Simone was in the hospital recovering as he was. Armani could no longer fight sleep and drifted into complete darkness hoping to dream of Simone.