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 Trials and Tribulations

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Keays

Keays

Posts : 1447
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 62
Location : Camano Island Washington

Trials and Tribulations Empty
PostSubject: Trials and Tribulations   Trials and Tribulations EmptyWed Aug 12, 2015 8:19 pm

Trials and Tribulations


YUMA, ARIZONA


David stepped into the coolness of the office, and did a quick scan of the interior. He took casual notice of the deputy snoozing at the desk, and continued the search for his quarry. He knew Hannibal would be in here somewhere, and the row of cells seemed the most obvious line of focus. And David was not mistaken, although his friend's attitude was not quite what he had expected.

There he was on the cot, lying on his side, with his bare feet drawn up and his arms encircling his torso. His back, like a stone wall of defence, was facing the outside world, sending out the clear message of desired solitude.

David rarely was one to heed defensive messages from his patients, at least not in a way the sender intended them. Too often, a distraught person would send out signals that were the exact opposite of what they actually needed. Whether they themselves realized it or not. The silent scream of stay away! was all David needed to draw him in.

The doctor walked quietly through the office, flicking a slightly disapproving glance towards the now snoring deputy, and approached the occupied cell. He took note of the chair that was positioned strategically just outside the bars and presumed that this was Miranda's usual post while visiting her husband. He sat himself down and gave his friend the opportunity to acknowledge him. David sighed. He know Hannibal knew he was there, but the ex-con was exhibiting that now very familiar trait he shared with his cousin—the fine art of stubbornness.

David decided he didn't have time to play the game.

Hannibal?”

This greeting was met by an uncomfortable shift in the prisoner's position. The legs straightened out and Heyes rolled onto his back, his eyes staring up at the ceiling. He was at least willing to acknowledge David's presence, but his mood was dark, and David would have to use his best tactics to get the man to relax and allow himself to be drawn out.

I hear you had another episode,” David stated the obvious. No point in beating around the bush.

Is that what you call it?” came the sardonic response.

David ignored the rebuke. “How are you feeling?”

A snort from inside the cell, then silence. Finally, Heyes swung his bare feet down to the floor and sat up.

Why didn't you tell me this condition was contagious?”

Because I don't believe that it is,” David explained. “I haven't done extensive research on this ailment, but I have read the papers written by those who did. It's an old theory, Hannibal, and one that could never be proven.”

Finally, Heyes lifted his eyes and turned them towards his friend.

But you could have told me that there are other people out here—especially other doctors, who did believe it.”

Yes, you're right,” David agreed. “But I felt you had enough on your plate to deal with. Most professionals now are moving away from that hypothesis.”

Well, I know one who hasn't!” Heyes snarked. “And he's doing everything he can to have me committed!”

He won't be able to,” David reassured him. “Steven and I won't let him. We'll get this cleared up and then you and Miranda can carry on to Santa Marta.”

Heyes nodded, his mood shifting slightly with the reassurance.

Steven came with you?” he asked.

Yes, he's here,” David confirmed. “He's having a word with Sheriff Nugent as we speak.”

Did Kid come as well?”

No.”

The twinge of disappointment that flitted across his face was brief but obvious.

It's not that he didn't want to come,” David assured him. “He was ready to drop everything and come to your rescue. But with Jesse laid up, he realized he had to stay there to take control of the ranch. Things were still quite a mess when Steven and I left.”

Jesse's laid up?” Heyes asked, concern and contrition sharing his expression. “How bad?”

Bad enough for him to need Jed out at the ranch,” David confirmed. “but, luckily for you, no longer bad enough to prevent me from coming here. Hopefully things will stay quiet until I get back. There were still a number of people missing.”

Heyes nodded, feeling a little guilty now, that his situation had pulled David away from the town just when they might need him the most. David picked up on the shifted mood and was quick to reassure.

I'm sure John and Mary can handle anything that might come up,” he commented. “I think John is much like your friend, Walter Morin. No formal training, but still a damn good doctor.”

Heyes smiled wistfully and nodded.

How is everyone else?” he asked, concern for his friends taking a firm hold over his own issues. “How is Sally? And Harry! What about the wedding? Beth and the baby—are they alright? And Belle! This must be hard on her.”

David chuckled, pleased to see his friend becoming animated again.

They're fine, considering,” David assured him, but then turned serious. “Others haven't been so lucky. Lives were lost. Property, livestock and timber. Everything that holds that town together. It's going to take some time for the economy to come back up again.”

Heyes groaned. “Maybe we should all just head back home together.”

No don't,” David was quick to interject on that. “Everyone is managing.”

But Sally must be upset, and we've left her alone through all this.”

Miranda has the same concern,” David commented with another chuckle. “I assure you, the children are seeing this whole thing as one big adventure now. Sally is concerned about Fanny, but helping Belle keep Jesse company seems to have helped to settle her. From what I understand, the fire didn't come that close to the Jordan yard, so I would expect those horses are all fine.”

And Karma?”

I can't say for sure, but I would expect so,” David gave the best assurance that he could. “From what Belle has told us, Jesse turned all the stabled horses loose in case the fire did take over the house and barns. Jed seemed pretty sure that his old gelding would look after them out there. It was the best chance they would have and I wouldn't be surprised if they fared better than many.”

Heyes visibly relaxed and nodded his agreement. “Jesse sure was right about that horse. Range smart, for sure. Yeah, he would have looked out for them.”

There's not too many things that Jesse is wrong about,” David commented dryly.

Ha! Don't I know it!”

Hey!” came the explosion from the front desk. “Who in tarnation are you, and how did you get in here!?”

David smiled over at the indignant deputy.

I'm Dr. Gibson, and I walked in.”

Charlie was on his feet and was stomping towards the doctor, getting himself all blustered up for a confrontation.

You can't just walk on in here and get all cozy with a prisoner without informin' somebody!” he expostulated. “Fer all I know, you could be plannin' an escape or somethin'!”

David stood up to meet the onslaught of this rather incompetent lawman.

I assure you Deputy, I have no intentions of helping the prisoner to escape. For one thing there is no real need to since we have brought the means to attain his release.”

What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Charlie demanded as he finally thought to pull his gun and aim it that this unassuming interloper. David cocked a brow, but was otherwise unimpressed. “You bring a gun or dynamite with ya' or somethin'!? Get up against them bars, right now. I gotta search ya'!”

That won't be necessary, Charlie,” came Nugent's voice from the front door. “Dr. Gibson has my permission to speak with the prisoner.”

Oh.” Charlie backed off. “Yessir, Sheriff. Just doin' my job.”

If you had been doing your job,” Nugent commented dryly, “he wouldn't have gotten past you in the first place.”

Yeah, well I...”

Never mind,” Nugent dismissed him. “Go get Dr. Shandal.”

David was instantly on the alert. “I need to examine my patient before you bring in another doctor,” he reminded the sheriff. “And besides, I would prefer that your town doctor stay away from my patient, now that I'm here. I think Mr. Granger would also prefer to consult with his client before Dr. Shandal is allowed further access.”

Nugent sighed dramatically, the thought of having to head Shandal and his cohort off at the pass already putting a knot in his stomach.

Fine,” he agreed. “I'll do what I can to keep them at bay. But I thought you were already examining him.”

No. I need to give him a full examination,” David reiterated. “In his cell—with some privacy.”

I don't trust 'im, Sheriff,” Charlie tried to redeem himself. “He said he brung the means to get 'im out. Maybe he brought a lock pick or somethin'.”

I said, 'I brought the means to attain his release', Deputy,” David explained. “A slightly different meaning than 'get him out'.”

That's alright Charlie,” Nugent assured him deputy. “I doubt Dr. Gibson here is going to try anything nefarious.”

Huh?”

It's fine Charlie!” Nugent insisted. “Go get a cup of coffee or something.”

But there's coffee right here!”

Charlie! Go take a break,” Nugent told him. “Go get some lunch or something.”

Yessir.” Charlie grumbled, and finally remembering to return his gun to its holster, he quickly made his retreat.

Nugent went over to the safe to retrieve the keys.

Sorry about that,” he apologized sheepishly. “My wife's nephew. If I want peace at home I have to put up with an imbecile at work.”

David nodded with some understanding. Heyes simply rolled his eyes.

Actually I shouldn't be so hard on him” Nugent backtracked as he opened the safe door and attained the desired item. “Charlie's alright for the usual deputy duties. He's just not very good at thinking on his feet. I expect you kind of took him by surprise there doctor.”

Yes,” David agreed. “My fault. I should have informed him that I was here.”

Nugent made his way back to the cell.

I take it half an hour is long enough for this exam?”

That'll be fine, thank you,” David agreed.

Uh huh,” Nugent mumbled. “I guess that explains why that lawyer fella held off coming back here with me. You already tell him and Mrs. Heyes to give you some time?”

David simply smiled and waited for the sheriff to open the cell door. Nugent took that to be an affirmative, and though feeling a little niffed at being left out of the loop, he unlocked the door and opened it for the doctor to enter.

I'll let you in, Doc,” he said. “but I'm not leaving this office. Whatever you need to do, you do with me here.”

That's fine,” David agreed, already accustomed to the ways of sheriffs with their prisoners. “I just need quiet, and some privacy to discuss this situation with my patient.”

Alright.” Nugent stepped out of the way. “I'll be at my desk. I won't listen in, but I'll be keeping an eye.”

David nodded and stepped inside the cell.

This certainly conjures up some old memories,” he commented dryly.

Great,” Heyes mumbled. “Just so long as the outcome is different this time around.”

It will be.”

David glanced around, and stepping outside the cell again, he grabbed the chair and placed it down in front of his patient. He sat down and quietly scrutinized him.

Heyes sighed. “You're staring at me.”

David smiled. “Yes. Sorry. Just getting an impression.”

Heyes sighed again, over-dramatically this time, as he folded his arms and leaned back against the bars. He sent a direct look into the far corner, deliberately evading David's gaze.

You're tired,” David finally stated. “And angry. You're frustrated, resentful. And you're scared.”

Heyes' brow creased at that last observation. He drew one knee up in an unconscious gesture of protectiveness, and hugged it close to his chest. His expression was showing irritation at David, yet again, slipping in past his defences. But at the same time, his defiant stance was wavering.

Is this the way it's going to be from now on?” he asked, with just a hint of that despised fear in his voice. “I had hoped—and you gave me reason to believe, that the first time was going to be the last time.”

I never told you that it wouldn't happen again,” David corrected him. “Only that it wouldn't necessarily happen again. One good thing about this situation however, is that it is indicating a pattern, although it certainly takes more than two episodes to create a reliable pattern. Still, it's something to keep in mind from now on, and could help us to prevent these seizures in the future.”

Heyes raised his brows. “Us?”

David sent him a cynical look. “You know what I mean. I'm in this with you, you know that.”

Hmm.” Heyes conceded the point. “So what's this pattern you've spotted? Being scared?”

No, not scared—well yes, I realize you're scared,” David contradicted himself. “And that's part of it, but, I suspect, not all of it. Both times you've had seizures, you have been confined. You've had control taken away from you—hmm, there's that control issue again.
Anyway, I suspect this all goes back to your prison time. You're not letting yourself get over that. You're not letting it go.”

Heyes became defensive again. He started to bring his other knee up, but caught himself this time and left that foot on the floor. He wasn't able to stop himself from running his hand through his hair though, and then both hands were clasping the knee that was already pressed up against him.

And just how am I supposed to get over it?” he demanded. “I can't simply wipe out five years of living in terror! I admit it quite frankly! The thought that I could wind up back in there—or worse, scares the bejeezus outa me! How am I suppose to ignore that!?”

You need to start trusting us a little bit more,” David told him. “You get into a situation like this and you convince yourself that you're in it alone. That you can't count on any of us—not even your wife.”

That's not true.”

I think it is,” David countered.

I trust my wife!” Heyes insisted. “And I trust my partner. I could always count on Jed. I wouldn't even be alive right now if it wasn't...”

For Jed,” David finished. “Yes, I know. But you've both moved on into other lives now. You've both married and started families. Your priorities are different. Perhaps you're still not sure how these changing circumstances are affecting your relationship with Jed.”

Well, if it has to do with being confined, and not trusting my friends to get me out, then how come I didn't have a seizure in Joplin last year?”

I don't know,” David admitted. “Maybe it's because Jed and Abi were there with you. That subconsciously you knew they would pull something off together. Those two together can be very—resourceful.”

Heyes smirked, then pursed his lips. “Now you're contradicting yourself.”

Yes I know.” David sighed. “Contrary to popular belief, I don't always know the right answers.”

Really?”

David didn't miss the sarcasm—and sent him a look.

Yes, really!” he reiterated. “Especially when it comes to this condition. It's still all so new. Most people, even doctors were so afraid of it, that nobody wanted to take a really close look. Fortunately, that attitude is changing. I've had the opportunity to read some very interesting papers written on it now. A lot of new insights.”

The only one who needs new insights right now, is Dr. Shandal,” Heyes pointed out. “Otherwise, I just might be going away for a long, long, time.”

Trust, Hannibal,” David reminded him. “Steven and I will not let that happen.”

Heyes looked sceptical—and dejected. David decided it was time to move on. He scooted his chair forward a little bit, and taking hold of Heyes' uplifted knee, gently pulled it off the cot.

Bring your leg down,” he instructed. “Sit up straight.”

Heyes resigned himself to the upcoming exam. He sighed, but straightened himself up and sat square. David put a hand on his shoulder, and Heyes glanced up to find himself looking at David's upright finger positioned in front of his face.

Follow my finger with your eyes,” David directed him.

Heyes' expression took on a bored look. He complied with the instructions without a sardonic response because, by now, he knew there was no point, and David would simply ignore him.

Good,” David concluded. “You're a little slow, but that's probably from fatigue. I'll check it again after you've had some more rest. Have you been sleeping?”

I slept really well last night.”

I meant before the seizure.”

No.”

Dr. Shandal couldn't give you a sedative?”

Dr. Shandal didn't want to come near me,” Heyes explained. “He probably thought that giving me a sedative was too much like giving me what I wanted. Couldn't have that.”

Hmm. What's the bruising on the side of your face?”

Oh. Apparently I fell off the cot. My right shoulder is a bit sore as well.”

Oh?” David stood up to poke and prod at the shoulder.

Heyes rolled his eyes. When was he going to learn to keep his mouth shut?

Doesn't feel too bad,” David diagnosed.

No, it's not.”

Do you remember falling?”

No.”

So you were on the floor when you woke up?”

No. I was on the cot.”

How do you know you fell then?”

The sheriff told me I did,” Heyes explained. “And it does kind of feel like I hit something pretty hard.”

Or something hit you?”

Oh. I hadn't thought of that,” Heyes admitted. “I don't think so though. I have to admit that Nugent has been pretty decent through all this. He hasn't been letting ole' Doc Shandal have his way—thank goodness.”

Okay,” David accepted that. “Anything else?”

No. Just tired.”

David nodded and began a gentle probing of Heyes' skull, feeling around the back and side for any hidden bruising or bumps. Heyes grimaced slightly as those knowledgeable fingers found the tender areas.

You sure do abuse your head,” David grumbled. “These don't feel too bad though. Still, you need to stop knocking yourself about.”

This wasn't my fault,” Heyes groused. “It's not like I do it deliberately.”

Excuses, excuses” David teased him. “So, just tired hmm? Any headaches?”

Yeah!” Heyes snarked. “Just now, all of a sudden. Like somebody was poking at me!”

David smiled, but didn't rise to the bait. “Any memory loss?”

No,” Heyes commented, still feeling a little antagonistic. “not that I remember.”

Yes!” came Nugent's contradiction from the front desk.

Both men turned to look at him, with Heyes having to twist a little bit to peer over his shoulder.

You noticed memory loss, Sheriff?” David asked him.

Yes,” Nugent repeated. “As soon as he came out of that seizure—and I was helping him back onto the cot. He seemed confused. Didn't know where he was and didn't remember me, even after I told him my name. Now, he was groggy, but he appeared coherent, and was talking alright. Just didn't remember anything.”

David turned back to his patient. “Do you remember any of this Han? Any of it coming back to you now?”

No.”

Alright, never mind,” David was quick to reassure him. “It may come back after you've rested. Thank you Sheriff.”

Fine,” Nugent grumbled. “And no, I didn't hit him.”

David smiled an apology. “I understand, Sheriff. But it was a question I needed to ask.”

Hmm.”

David returned his attention to his patient. “You're tired,” he observed again. “Why don't you get some rest for now. Steven can come and speak with you after lunch.”

No,” Heyes shook his head. “I won't rest until I know what Steven has in mind. I'll rest after that.”

Alright,” David agreed and stood up. “I'll go get him and tell him you want to talk.”

Thanks.”

David left the cell and approached the sheriff.

Doc,” Nugent acknowledged him. “You done?”

For now,” David agreed. “But, as I'm sure you heard, Mr. Granger will be coming over to have a word with him now.”

That's fine.”

And where can I find this Dr. Shandal?”

He's probably on his rounds now,” Nugent speculated. “Good thing. You and your lawyer friend can get your talk with Mr. Heyes, and perhaps tonight, you can have your discussion with Shandal. I warn you though, he's not happy about all this.”

Too bad. I don't want Dr. Shandal anywhere near my patient until he's had a chance to speak with his lawyer,” David insisted.

So you said,” Nugent reminded him. “I doubt the Doc will be back until mid-afternoon, so that will give you and Mr. Granger plenty of time. Although, Shandal's friend, Dr. Benson is probably about somewhere. He may want a word with you.”

Dr. Benson?” David asked. “How is he involved in this?”

Shandal invited him here to sign the commitment papers...ah, just in case you didn't show up, you understand.”

David's lips tightened in irritation, and Nugent swore his suntanned complexion paled to white.

Just couldn't wait to have my patient, who also happens to be my friend, sent away to an insane asylum, is that it? Trying to beat us to the punch, was he?”

I wouldn't have let him do that, Doc,” Nugent insisted. “Even after what I witnessed last night, and that was one of the scariest things I've ever been a party to, I never got the impression that Mr. Heyes was insane, or even dangerous. I sure do wish the governor's message would have gotten to me sooner, as I would never have locked him up in the first place. I would like nothing better than to open that cell door and bid him and his wife farewell. But I can't do that as long as his mental health is in question. I'm just glad that you and Mr. Granger got here before Shandal and Benson began to put the heat on. I'm sure that you and your lawyer friend will soon get this all cleared up.”

David relaxed a little bit. Obviously, this sheriff was no fool—and would not be easily pressured into going against his own instincts. The good doctor decided that Nugent was an ally here, and could be trusted to keep Hannibal safe until the proceedings were concluded.

The cafe usually has a pretty decent lunch special if you'll be wanting a place to relax for now,” Nugent suggested. “I wouldn't be surprised if that's where you'll find Mrs. Heyes and Mr. Granger.”

David nodded. “Thank you, Sheriff Nugent. I'll check there first. Truth be known, I could use a cup of tea right about now. I”m sure I'll be seeing you later.”

I'm sure of that too.”

Xxx

Relax, Miranda,” Steven suggested. “Here, sit down. I'll order us some tea.”

Miranda sighed, but accepted the offered chair and sat down at the delicately adorned table. Despite being a border town, someone had taken the time to bring in white linen and embroidered napkins to give the cafe a fresh and airy feel, despite the arid temperatures.

Steven sat down opposite her, and caught the eye of the waitress.

Good afternoon,” she smiled sweetly at the handsome gentleman, who was obviously a stranger in town. “My name's Louise. You folks like some lunch?”

I'm not sure yet,” Steven admitted. “Some tea would be nice, and perhaps some scones and jam?” The question being aimed at Miranda more than the waitress.

Miranda nodded simply because she didn't have the focus to contradict it. She really wasn't hungry.

Louise smiled at her, noting her distraction, but accepted the order and moved away to fill it.

Steven's hand reached over to give Miranda's a gentle squeeze.

Is it really that bad?” he asked. “You look like you haven't had a decent night in a week.”

It's been a nightmare,” Miranda admitted. “It was bad enough that Hannibal was 'detained', but then that ophiolatrist Dr. Shandal had to get involved. And it's my fault!”

Steven had allowed a smile to show at Miranda's choice of insult, but it quickly disappeared with her latter statement.

How could it be your fault?” he asked. “Shandal is obviously an uneducated lout, and you certainly had nothing to do with that.”

Yes, but I went to him, thinking that he could give Hannibal a refill of his serum,” Miranda explained. “Well then, of course, he insisted on knowing why Hannibal needed it, and that he'd have to see him before he could simply hand out medication.” Miranda stopped talking and sighed heavily. “He came over to the Sheriff's office uninvited, in fact, I had told him to forget the whole thing, that we weren't interested, but he ignored us and had to come snooping.”

Louise arrived then, with the tea service and scones. She smiled at the lady as she set the light lunch out on their table.

Nothing like a nice cup of tea and scones to help you feel better, Mrs. Heyes,” she comforted her. “It's hot enough outside without getting all bothered in here.”

Miranda smiled up at her. “Thank you Helen, I'm sure the tea will be fine.”

The couple let the tea steep for a few moments, but Miranda distractedly took a scone, ripped it apart, and began to plaster butter onto its center. Steven smiled and put another reassuring hand onto her arm.

Relax,” he told her. “We're here to help you, remember? You don't have to deal with this all on your own anymore. So Shandal came to examine Hannibal without your permission?”

Yes!” Miranda exploded, and slapped the butter knife down against the saucer, causing a loud clatter. Several other partakers glanced her way and she sheepishly lowered her eyes and tried to calm down. “Yes,” she repeated, more sedately. “He seemed to think that he had the right. That because Hannibal was being detained, he didn't need my permission. Then when he discovered that Hannibal had had a seizure earlier in the summer, well! You would have thought it was the Small Pox outbreak all over again! What a horrid man he is! He actually seemed to take sinister pleasure in trying to get my husband sent away for life! What in the world is the matter with...”

Steven's fingers squeezed gently on her hand and gave it a little shake.

Shh,” he whispered. “Calm down. Try to relax. Have you seen Hannibal yet, this morning?”

Miranda drew in a couple of deep breaths and coyly took note of eyes once again turning her way. She realized that she needed to settle, and made a point of doing so. She picked up the tea pot and poured the steaming golden liquid into their cups; then set the pot back down again. She lifted the cup to her lips, blew gently on the beverage, and took a couple of tentative sips. Another deep sigh as her nerves began to relax and she set her cup back down.

Steven smiled, still amazed at the effect a simple cup of tea can have on the nervous system.

Miranda looked back up at him and smiled. “I'm sorry,” she told him. “I know I'm not being much help to you if I'm upset. It's been a very stressful week.”

I understand,” Steven assured her. “We don't have to talk about it.”

Ohh,” Miranda sat back and slumped. “I need to talk about it. There's been no one else.”

Alright. But just talk, tell me whatever is on your mind. And relax. Have some more tea.”

Miranda actually giggled, but took his advice and sipped some more.

It's been a crazy morning,” she admitted. “Sheriff Nugent got the message to me first thing, that Hannibal had had a seizure. I thought I was going to throw up, it was such a shock. Of course I went over there right away, thinking that I could give him comfort and reassurance.” She stopped and rolled her eyes. “Arg, what a nightmare. He wouldn't even look at me. I tried talking to him, I tried holding him, but he was distant, like he had withdrawn inside himself.
I'm ashamed to say that I actually started to cry. I need to be strong for him at times like this, and I can't be strong—I can't help him be strong, if I'm going to start crying over alleged insults. I knew he wasn't angry with me, but I was hurt that he wouldn't take comfort from me, that he felt he needed to be ashamed in front of me. He wasn't himself, Steven. It's like the emotional side of him had simply switched off.”

Miranda picked up her battered scone, and spooning some jam onto it, she bit into a mouthful, and quickly chewed and swallowed it to wipe away the knot in her throat.

Steven sat back and took a sip from his own teacup.

I don't know what to do,” Miranda continued. “I don't know how to help him.”

It doesn't all have to be up to you,” Steven reminded her. “That's why you called us here, remember?  You both needed medical and legal support in this situation. David and I are happy to help you. We're family—well, at least you and David are family. And I hope that you feel the same way about me and Bridget. I know Hannibal certainly thinks of Bridget as a sister, so that makes us family, doesn't it? We will help you with this.”

I know. But I'm his wife. I'm closer to him than anyone—well, aside from Jed, that is.” Steven couldn't help a smile, but Miranda was serious, and she simply continued on with her thoughts. “I should be able to reach him.”

Steven sat back and took the time to indulge in some more tea himself. He wasn't sure how to respond to Miranda's statement. Hannibal Heyes was not an easy man to understand. On the surface, he was often jovial and considerate, but there was an edge to him, an unpredictable streak that could turn dark at a moment's notice.

Of course Steven could only reflect on the Hannibal Heyes he knew from his trial date, and onwards. He never knew the high energy, fun loving outlaw with the mischievous sparkle in his eye and his ever ready dimpled smile. He only knew the mood swings that were exhibited at the trial, and then later, the subdued and broken convict who kept his emotions buried and his sparkle dimmed.

Hannibal's marriage to Miranda had brought about many positive changes, and even Steven had seen, what he presumed, had been a resurrection of the ex-con's truer personality. But the edginess was still there, and Heyes' more recent friends could only take Jed's word for the fact that this had not been as prominent a trait before their arrest as it was now.

Now they had these seizures to contend with. He had no idea how a seizure would affect Hannibal's moods, but he could understand how a man might feel vulnerable after having one, and therefore come across as defensive, and perhaps even hostile. But understanding that didn't help to give Miranda much assurance, and Steven could only hope that David, being not only a professional, but also a friend and a relative, might be able to get Hannibal to relax and open up.

David has been over there with him for a while now,” he pointed out. “Perhaps he has been able to make some headway.” Steven hesitated here, not sure how much was prudent for him to say. Finally, he simply spit it out. “These seizures must be extremely unnerving for Hannibal. I can't even imagine how disorienting they would be, especially to someone who is as intelligent as he is. He probably feels ashamed at the loss of control. Perhaps he feels as though he is letting you down, by not being the strong, and dependable husband that he thinks he is suppose to be.”

Oh, that's ridiculous,” Miranda stated. “There is no need for him to feel that way with me.”

I'm sure there isn't,” Steven agreed. “but I'm also sure that the majority of men would feel that way. It's how we see ourselves as husbands and fathers. The protector, the provider, the head of the family. Now he has this to deal with along with everything else. The seizures make him feel weak and out of control. Instead of being the protector, he feels vulnerable. And for a man with his history, being vulnerable means being at risk of attack, of injury, and perhaps even of death.
Take it slow with him, Miranda. Keep doing what you have been doing, and he'll come around. He loves you, and he does trust you. He just needs some time to remember that.”

Miranda sent him a weak smile and nodded her thanks.

Thank you,” she said, and brightened up. “Suddenly I am hungry,” she announced, as she added more jam to her scone. “Have one of these—they're actually very nice.”

Ah, here you are,” David greeted the couple as he approached their table. “Sheriff Nugent said I would probably find you here.”

Oh, David,” Randa greeted him, and stood up to give, and receive a hug. “How is he?”

David gave her shoulders a squeeze and smiled his reassurance. “Better,” he told her. “He's tired but, he insists on talking with you now, Steven, before he gets some rest.”

Well, at least he's talking,” Miranda said as she sat back down again. “That's some improvement.”

He's not ignoring you, Miranda,” David insisted. “He simply wants to get things started here, so the two of you can continue on with your honeymoon.”

Yes, I know,” she conceded with a sigh. “I guess I just need some reassurance as well.”

David gave her a hug and sitting down, gave her hand a squeeze.

He loves you, Miranda,” he told her. “He's angry right now, that's all. And he's trying to keep that anger away from you. He's trying to protect you.”

Miranda snorted, and rolled her eyes.

I know,” David continued. “It doesn't make sense to us, but it does to him. Just be there for him, let him know he's not scaring you away.”

Scaring me away?!” Miranda was incredulous, and then again lowered her tone in appreciation of where they were. “Doesn't he know by now, that I will stick by him no matter what? Why is he so...so...?

Insecure?” David asked.

Yes,” Miranda accepted that. “He puts on this big act of being so confident, so in control of everything. Then something like this happens, and he falls apart. Why doesn't he trust me?”

I think he does trust you, Miranda,” David assured her. “More than anyone. Maybe even more than Jed.”

Oh, I doubt that,” Miranda countered.

David smiled. “Well, maybe as much as Jed.”

Alright, I'll accept that,” she conceded. “I just wish he'd show it.”

He does, in his own way,” David assured her. “He's going to back slid once in awhile, but he loves you, and he does trust you. Believe me, he does.”

Miranda smiled, and gave an affirming nod.

It's going to be alright,” Steven put in his two bits worth. “With luck you'll both be on your way by tomorrow morning, and all this will be behind you.”

Oh I hope so!” Miranda agreed with emphasis. “Sooner, if possible.”

Louise had been quick to spot a newcomer to the table, and glided in to place a cup and saucer in front of the doctor. There seemed to be no end to pleasant looking, professional men coming to town these days. Unfortunately both of them sported wedding bands, and she'd learned that lesson the hard way when she was young a foolish; stay away from married men.


I'll bring some more hot water for the tea,” she told them, with a smile to David. “Would you like a scone as well, or something more substantial? We have a lovely lunch special.”

Oh, just tea for me,” David told her. “I'm not hungry.”

Louise nodded and moved off to replenish the tea pot.

So,” Steven asked, as he quickly finished his scone and tea. “What am I walking into over there? Is he hostile?”

No,” David told him. “Just the opposite in fact. I admit, I was also expecting the local law to be difficult, but Sheriff Nugent seems very supportive of the whole process.”

Actually, I was referring to Hannibal,” Steven corrected him. “but it's nice to know that the sheriff isn't going to be a problem either.”

Miranda laughed, and the two men smiled to see her mood lifting. She smiled back and nodded agreement.

Sheriff Nugent has been surprisingly kind throughout this unfortunate situation,” she agreed. “I think he regrets the whole thing now, and would have let us carry on days ago, if not for Dr. Shandal. The sheriff doesn't understand the legalities in this situation, and he wants to be sure he's doing the right thing.”

Sounds like a wise man,” Steven conjectured as he stood up. “I'm sure we can all put his mind at ease. Shall we meet back here in say, an hour? We'll compare notes, and plan our strategy.”

Yes, that would be fine, Steven,” Miranda agreed.

David nodded. “Perhaps I'll even be hungry by then.”

Xxx

Steven walked into the relative coolness of the adobe style office and jailhouse. He stopped just inside the threshold and took a deep, refreshing breath of air, and instantly felt better for it.

Howdy,” drawled a voice by the stove. “I take it you're Mr. Granger.”

Yes,” Steven answered, and moved forward to shake the sheriff's hand.

Nugent set his freshly poured coffee onto his desk, and returned the handshake.

Sheriff Nugent,” he introduced himself. “You don't look so good. Your last client unhappy with his verdict?”

Steven managed a smile. “No, Sheriff. Just a minor injury fighting a forest fire.”

Nugent's brows went up. “They had you out there fighting that fire? I heard it was quite a blaze, but to let a city slicker like you...”

It was quite a blaze, Sheriff,” Steven commented dryly. “I'm just glad I was there to help out.”

Yes, of course,” Nugent agreed, realizing that he had probably insulted the younger man, but not sure how to take it back. “Well, there's your client right over there. You might have to wake him up.”

Oh yes. So I see.”

Now, I know you have the legal right to privacy while consulting with a client,” Nugent informed him. “but like I told the Doc, I can't leave you alone with him, so I'll just be sitting over here, reading the paper and minding my own business. Take it or leave it.”

Ah.” Steven wasn't pleased about that, and began to have his doubts about how co-operative this sheriff was actually going to be. “Well, as long as you stay over there,” Steven conceded. “We'll try to speak quietly.”

Nugent frowned at the guarded tone coming back at him.

I am on your side here,” he assured the lawyer. “I figure Mr. Heyes has paid his debt, and even after what I witnessed last night, I don't see how he's a threat to anyone. If his condition was contagious, I expect his wife would be afflicted with it by now, not to mention his friends back home. What Shandal is suggesting just doesn't fit.”

Steven was still a little guarded, not sure if this was simply a ruse so the sheriff could gather damning information to help Shandal, or if he was being sincere. Steven sent him a smile with a curt nod. He went over to the open cell door and did a quick visual check of the sleeping man. Physically, he looked none the worse for wear, but he did look tired.

Knock, knock!” Steven announced his arrival.

Heyes jumped slightly and opened bleary eyes.

Oh, Steven,” Heyes acknowledged him as he pushed himself into a seated position. “Wow. Did I fall asleep?”

It would appear so,” Steven confirmed. “Are you sure you want to do this now?”

Yes!” came the adamant response. “Maybe a cup of coffee, or something...”

Here you go,” Nugent offered as he stepped around Steven and handed the prisoner a fresh cup of the steaming liquid. “Thought you might want some.”

Oh. Thank you, Sheriff,” Heyes smiled weakly and accepted the mug. “You make excellent coffee here.”

Uh huh.” Nugent turned around and, with a nod to Steven, exited the cell and sauntered over to his desk.

Steven watched him go and smiled quizzically to himself. He chuckled and sat down on the ever present chair by the cot.

I guess he is a decent sort, after all,” he commented.

Who, Nugent?” Heyes asked. “Yeah, he's alright.”

Okay, so—good to see you.”

Heyes rolled his eyes, then frowned when he got a closer look at Steven's face.

What happened to you?” he asked.

Steven slumped. He'd be happy when the bruising on his forehead healed up.

Had a head on collision with a five point buck while fighting that fire,” he explained. “Or so they tell me. I'll be alright.”

Heyes grimaced with simpatico. “You gotta watch those noggin knocks,” he cautioned. “They have a way of coming back to haunt you.”

Ah yes,” Steven nodded. “You would certainly know all about that, wouldn't you? It would appear that you've done it again, yourself.”

Hmm.”

Believe me, I'm fine,” Steven assured his friend. “Do you really think David would have allowed me to come on this trip, if I weren't?”

Heyes laughed, and Steven was pleased to see him in better spirits than he'd apparently been in earlier that morning.

No,” Heyes agreed. “Probably not.”

Okay.” Steven sent a quick glance over Heyes' shoulder to make sure the sheriff was staying to his side of the office, and then leaning forward and clasping his hands in front of him, he sent Heyes an assuring smile. “So, you want to tell me what is going on?”

There's some crazy doctor in this town who is trying to get me locked up in an asylum,” Heyes informed him in a whisper, as though saying it loudly would make it happen.

Steven creased his brow. “Why?”

Haven't you and David compared notes?”


Last edited by Keays on Fri Aug 14, 2015 3:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Keays

Keays

Posts : 1447
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 62
Location : Camano Island Washington

Trials and Tribulations Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trials and Tribulations   Trials and Tribulations EmptyWed Aug 12, 2015 8:20 pm

No. We felt it was best for each of us to get it straight from you.”

Oh.” Heyes took a deep breath and a sip of coffee. “He seems to think that epilepsy is contagious and that I'm a threat to the public health.”

Steven snorted, and Heyes raised a brow. Steven gave a discreet cough and shifted a little.

Ah, sorry. That seems a bit outdated to me,” he explained. “What is he going on?”

Heyes shrugged. “How should I know? His medical training from a hundred years ago? What difference does it make? That's what he thinks, and he's even roped in another doctor to second it. They're both chomping at that bit to sign the papers.”

Don't worry about it,” Steven assured him. “The only time a second doctor can co-sign on a commitment order, is if there are no family members present. The simple fact that Miranda was here would have been enough to block their efforts. Provided, of course, that Miranda was against the order.”

Of course she's against it!” Heyes snapped back. “but Shandal was using his assumption that she was also afflicted with it as a case against her ability to contest.”

Ah!” Steven nodded his understanding. “Well, I doubt that would have held up in court, but it certainly would have put a damper on your honeymoon.”

There's already a damper on the honeymoon, believe me,” Heyes mumbled. “Having bars between you and a law man on stand-by kind of makes a romantic evening somewhat pointless.”

Yes, I'm sure,” Steven smiled. “I'm sure you'll make up for lost time. Santa Marta sounds like a very romantic setting for amour.”

If we ever get there,” was Heyes' caustic response.

You will,” Steven assured him, then reached forward and gave him a slap on the knee. “Get some rest. David and I will compare notes and get the needed paperwork together. Hopefully Sheriff Nugent will be agreeable to meeting with us later this afternoon and we get this sorry mess all sorted out. I doubt we'll even need Dr. Shandal present, since he's not your regular physician.” Steven glanced over Heyes' shoulder at the sheriff reading his paper. “Is that agreeable to you, Sheriff Nugent?”

Nugent waved a hand, without taking his nose out of the paper. “Fine by me. I'll be here all afternoon.”

Steven and Heyes locked gazes and smiled. Heyes rolled his eyes.

Steven stood up and prepared to leave. “Alright, Hannibal. We'll talk later today.”

Okay,” Heyes agreed, already sounding relieved. “Ahh...” Steven stopped in his tracks and looked back at him. “How's Miranda? Is she upset?”

She was a little bit, yes,” Steven admitted and Heyes groaned. “She's doing better now, though. David is with her. She had her feelings hurt, but she understands.”

Heyes nodded, but still looked contrite. “I'll make it up to her.”

I'm sure you will.”

Xxx

Two hours later, three very determined looking people, two men and one woman, were striding purposely towards the jailhouse. David and Steven both carried satchels stuffed with paperwork they had brought with thim to use in defence of their case, while Miranda carried with her an air of righteous indignation that even Morrison would have cringed at.

Charlie, stepping out of the office to conduct his afternoon rounds, felt his eyes widen in surprise and he deftly nipped out of their way.

Is the sheriff inside?” Steven asked the deputy.

Sure is,” Charlie nodded, showing some relief at choosing this time to leave. “He's kind'a been waitin' on ya'.”

Good.”

The three people marched into the office, and Charlie carried on his way, but then brought himself up short when he spotted two more very determined people heading his way. Not surprisingly, Doctors Shandal and Benson had gotten wind of the newcomers in town, and were damned if they were going to get left out of the proceedings.

They came on like a mismatched pair of runaway horses, and didn't even acknowledge the deputy as they surged past him and through the open door of the jailhouse.

Charlie cringed at the thought of that encounter, and picking up the pace, hurried away from the vicinity, just in case he was called back in to mediate.

Inside the office, Nugent stood up from his desk as the entourage entered and came around to greet the group.

Gentlemen. Mrs. Heyes.” He motioned to chairs that had already been placed around his desk in preparation of this meeting. “Have a seat. As you can see, our guest of honour is asleep again, but I don't suppose it's absolutely necessary for him to be present.”

The three visitors glanced back to Heyes' cell, and Steven raised a brow in mild surprise.

You're not locking him in, Sheriff?” he asked.

I highly doubt he's going to run off now,” Nugent reasoned and then smiled. “It's not too likely that you're all imposters, and this is just one big con...” He stopped in mid-sentence and frowned as another thought occurred to him. “Of course, he's known for pulling elaborate con games, isn't he?”

The office went silent for a moment as a slight dread settled over the visitors. Was Heyes' past now going to jump up and bite them all in the ass—again!? Then Nugent waved the thought away and chuckled.

Naw, forget it,” he said. “I think I've been in this office enough years to be able to tell when something's not right. And if I am mistaken, then it'll serve me right for being a fool. Sit down, please. Let's get this done.

Relief settled over the group and everyone prepared to take their seats, when the two latecomers stormed into their presence.

Sheriff Nugent!” Shandal began, with an air of self-righteous indignation. “Were you preparing to conduct these proceedings without me?”

Yeah,” Nugent grumbled. “That had been the plan.”

Shandal's expression darkened. “I have every right to be included in this,” he retorted. “I am the attending physician.”

You are not the attending physician!” Miranda snapped at him. “You came in here to examine my husband against my expressed wishes.”

The man was ill and required attention,” Shandal reasoned.

He was not ill!” Miranda insisted. “He simply needed...!”

Steven put a hand on Miranda's arm to calm her down.

Let's not argue,” he reasoned. “This is a legal proceeding, as such, so let's conduct ourselves in a respectful manner.” He extended his hand to Shandal in greeting. “I'm Mr. Granger, Mr. Heyes' attorney.”

Yes, of course, you're right,” Shandal agreed and shook hands. “I'm Dr. Shandal and this is my colleague, Dr. Benson.”

I'm David Gibson, M.D.,” David greeted the other doctors. “I'm the Heyes family's rightful physician.”

The other two doctors shook hands with David, but were instantly guarded by his stand-offish greeting. Steven smiled at his friend, but also included a subtle warning that David be nice.

Alright,” Nugent said. “Let's get on with this. I'm afraid we've run out of chairs, so some of you will have to stand.”

You're welcome to use this chair,” came Heyes' voice from directly behind Shandal. “I don't mind standing.”

Shandal jumped as though he'd been goosed, and his complexion paled at the sight of the contaminated man standing within his personal space. He quickly moved away to the other side of the desk, as though that would actually make any difference to the state of his health.

That's quite alright,” he stammered. “I'm fine standing.”

Oh. Dr. Benson?”

NO!” Benson declined as he also moved over to stand beside his friend. “I suggest we simply get on with this. As quickly as possible!”

Miranda, who had seen her husband rise from his cot, pick up the chair in his cell, and quietly come over to join the group, smiled to see him back to his old, mischievous self. She moved over to give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Having done that, she sent a pointed look to the two doctors, letting them know exactly what she thought of their 'contagion'.

Heyes grinned, and took his wife in his arms for a real hug, and a full-blown kiss.

Alright, alright!” Nugent told them, though he was trying to hide a smile himself. “Enough theatrics. Down to business.”

Thank you, Sheriff,” Steven agreed. “Let's begin. The first matter at hand is the condition of Mr. Heyes' parole and subsequent pardon, which also includes his legal standing as a citizen and his right to cross the border into Mexico.”

I think that has already been established, Mr. Granger,” Nugent responded. “I received the updated information concerning Mr. Heyes' legal standing the same day I received your telegrams. Although, it is my opinion that, considering his previous legal inconveniences, it would be wise for him to carry some documentation on himself if he's going to be travelling outside his own county.”

I agree, Sheriff Nugent,” Steven responded as he was taking some documents out of his satchel. He stood up and extended one of the documents for the sheriff to inspect. “Is this the same document that you received from the Governor's Office?”

Nugent took the document and quickly scanned over the information.

Yes, that's it,” he agreed, and handed it back to Steven.

Steven took it, and offered it to Dr. Shandal. “Doctor,” he said. “If you would please take a moment to read over this document.”

Shandal took the offered papers, set them down on the desk, and with one hand placed on either side of them, he hooked his long body over the information like a vulture waiting for its prey to die. His sharp features appeared tight and irritated at this inconvenience, but he complied with the lawyer's wishes.

After a moment of both himself and Benson dissecting the fine print, Shandal grunted and pushed the documents back towards Steven.

Fine,” he conceded. “But my point here has nothing to do with his 'legal' right to cross the border...”

I realize that, Dr. Shandal,” Steven assured him. “But it's important that you realize that he does have that legal right. Do you accept this document as being official and correct?”

It appears to be so.”

Dr. Shandal, do you accept this document as being official and correct?” Steven repeated, pointedly.

Shandal and Benson exchanged glances, and Benson shrugged. Shandal sighed as though all this was beneath his dignity.

Yes,” he agreed, with an exaggerated show of boredom. “I accept this document as being official and correct.”

Thank you.” Steven then pulled out another single sheet of paper and pushed it over to Shandal. “This simply states that you agree that a full pardon has been granted and issued to Hannibal Ellstrom Heyes, and that this notice is official and correct. If you would please sign it.”

Oh for goodness sakes!” Shandal balked at the instructions. “This is ridiculous. Why must we play these silly games? I'm not questioning his pardon. I simply want him committed to an asylum where he will be kept safe, from himself and from others! It would be for his own good!”

Steven put a hand on Miranda's arm to diffuse the eruption he had felt coming, but he never took his eyes off Shandal.

First things first, Dr. Shandal,” he reasoned with him. “If you would please sign the document, and Dr. Benson can sign as witness. Then we can move on.”

I see no harm in signing these,” Benson encouraged his friend. “As you say, this has nothing to do with the man's physical or mental state, and those are the issues that are truly at hand here.”

Hmm, yes, I suppose,” Shandal reluctantly agreed.

Here you go, Doc,” Nugent offered as he pushed the ink jar and pen in his direction. “All ready for you.”

Yes, well...” Shandal took the pen, and dipping it into the ink, he quickly wrote out his name. He handed the pen over to Benson, who also added his signature as witness, and then both men looked at Steven as though expecting some kind of reward for their co-operation.

Thank you,” was all Steven gave them as he retrieved the paper and checked the signatures. He then signed the paper himself and dated it. “Now, Sheriff, if you would please sign as a witness to my signature.”

Sure will,” Nugent agreed, and quickly did his part.

Okay,” Steven sat back down, and reached into his satchel once again. This time he pulled out a letter size envelope and handed it to Heyes. “Hannibal, I suggest that you never again leave home without this on your person.”

Heyes took it, and opening it up, he quickly surveyed the contents and then smiled.

My copy of the pardon.”

Yes!” Steven confirmed. “Fortunately, Jed knows the combination to your safe.”

Oh, thank goodness,” Miranda breathed as she peered into the envelope with her husband. “Who would have thought that such a simple piece of paper could mean so much.”

Heyes grinned at her, and tucking the paper back into its envelope, he handed it to his wife.

Here,” he said. “I'll give it to you for safekeeping.”

Miranda accepted it, and folding it in half, she slipped the envelope into her belt purse.

There!” she announced. “Now you can't go anywhere without me!”

That suites me just fine,” Heyes agreed and leaned over to her for another kiss.

She willingly obliged.

Oh for goodness sakes, young woman!” Shandal practically yelled at her. “Stop kissing him!”

You do seem intent on putting yourself at unnecessary risk,” Benson agreed. “Not to mention the rest of us. Really, Sheriff, is it necessary for this man to be present during these proceedings? It really isn't safe.”

If his condition is as contagious as you two seem to think, then you've already been exposed,” Nugent caustically pointed out. “So why don't you stop worrying about it?”

I could put you at risk for a broken nose,” Heyes suggested, then took note of the hooked honker extending from Shandal's face, and grinned.

Hannibal,” Steven warned him. “I seem to recall it was this type of behaviour that got you into trouble the first time around.”

Oh no,” Heyes contradicted him. “I was much worse then.”

Miranda squeezed his arm. “Hannibal, be quiet,” she suggested. “Let Steven do his job.”

Heyes sat back in his chair and sent Shandal a crocodile smile. His frustration at being cooped up for days on end, all because of this man's uninformed paranoia, was beginning to erode his patience.

Fine,” he agreed. “Steven. Proceed.”

Thank you,” Steven accepted, dryly. “The next matter that needs to be dealt with pertains to Mr. Heyes' mental and physical health and whether or not he is a risk to himself and to others around him. Is that basically your complaint Dr. Shandal?”

Yes,” Shandal agreed. “The man needs to be hospitalized. Epilepsy is a highly contagious disease. It can also be passed on genetically. I hope and pray that it is not already too late!” And he cocked an eyebrow at Miranda, followed by a flash of a glance to her midriff.

Miranda's eyes widened and the colour on her face heightened to an explosive level. A mother bobcat springing to her kittens' defence would have been preferable to the attack that would have been launched at Shandal if David hadn't been quick to intervene.

I beg to differ,” David shouted as he jumped to his feet and blocked Miranda from leaving her chair. Both Nugent and Steven had reacted to the threat as well, but relaxed when they saw that David had it under control. Heyes hadn't moved a muscle, other than to smile wickedly.

Studies done in Britain on this condition and the people who suffer from it, have shown no indication of contagion,” David continued. “Nor have these studies made any suggestion of a genetic link. In fact, those patients who have been hospitalized for 'treatment' and placed into isolation in the past, displayed a worsening of their condition rather than an improvement. Needless to say, enforced sterilization of patients did little to encourage co-operative behaviour.”

Of course they have worsened,” Shandal protested. “The disease is degenerative. Fortunately these patients were placed into isolation before their mental health degenerated to the point of violent aggression. And don't try to tell me they don't become violent! It is well documented that these patients become dangerously aggressive as time goes on. Many even turn that aggression onto themselves and commit suicide.”

Yeah!” Heyes exploded. “Because they're locked up in a loony bin, when there's actually nothing wrong with them! All you need to do is spend a year in prison to know what kind of behaviour that environment breeds! In fact, why don't you give it a try, Shandal? It might help you in your research.”

There you go!” Shandal pointed out. “A prime example of the effects of this illness. How can you say that this man is safe to have out among normal people?”

Listen, you little...”

Settle down!” Steven demanded. “Hannibal, don't do this again. Keep in mind that you are only out of your cell right now because Sheriff Nugent has permitted it. Keep this up and I will suggest that he put you back there. Do you understand me?”

Actually, Sheriff?” Miranda spoke up. “Would you permit me to escort my husband over to the cafe for a late lunch?”

I'm not so sure that's a good idea, ma'am,” Nugent responded. “Allowing him privileges within this office is one thing, but for the two of you to be out the door on your own...what guarantee do I have that you'll come back?”

Miranda turned beseeching eyes to Steven. “Can't you write up some kind of an agreement or something, Steven?” she asked. “Surely you and David will vouch for us.”

I believe that is beside the point, Mrs. Heyes,” Benson pointed out. “The question being debated here, is whether or not Mr. Heyes is safe to be allowed out in public. We feel that he is not. For him to casually walk out of here and go to the cafe for lunch would make our whole case a moot point.”

That settles it,” Heyes announced as he pushed himself to his feet. “Let's go. I'm hungry.”

Hold on!” Nugent was on his feet just as fast, and came around his desk to stand between Heyes and the door. “I'm afraid you're not going anywhere. Not yet. Mrs. Heyes, I understand what you're trying to do here. And I agree with you; I think it best if Mr. Heyes not be here for these proceedings, but I can't let him go walking around town like everything's been settled.”

I agree,” Steven put in. “You're too close to this, Hannibal. Perhaps you need to take a time out.”

Heyes sighed. “Fine,” he grumbled. “But what do you propose to do? I can still hear what is going on from my cell, remember.”

I know,” Nugent told him. “There's an isolation cell out back where you can wait...”

Heyes tensed just ever so slightly. “Isolation cell?”

No, no, it's nothing like that,” Nugent assured him. “Hasn't been used for that in years. In fact, we fixed it up and made it into a bunk room sort of thing. Goodness knows I've slept in there a few times. But it's secure. You can go and sit with him, ma'am, if you like.”

Yes,” Miranda agreed. “I will, thank you.”

Good idea,” David interjected, and sent Miranda a meaningful look.

Nugent took Heyes by the arm and lead him around the front of the desk where the sheriff paused to get a set a keys out of the drawer. That done, he directed Heyes to the back door of the office, and with Miranda following behind, they headed outside to the out building.

I think I'd better go along and check this out,” Steven announced as he stood up to follow them. “I just want to make sure everything is on the up and up.”

Yes,” David agreed, not wanting to say too much in front of the other doctors present. But words had not been necessary, all of Heyes' friends knew by now that he did not do well in confined spaces.

He watched Steven leave, hoping all would be well with this unexpected turn of events. The jailhouse settled into a quietness that was stark in comparison to the recent blow up, and the three doctors were left to stare silently across the desk at one another.

Xxx

There you go,” Nugent said after he had unlocked the door and pushed it open. “I'm sure you'll be comfortable enough in here.”

Heyes stepped forward and peered into the small shed. It was made from the same adobe material as the jail house, and had a number of barred windows running along each side of it, so it would be cool and airy enough. There wasn't much room for more than the present cot, but it was clean and looked welcoming enough.

Still Heyes grumbled. “Looks like just another jail cell.”

That's because it is,” Nugent reasoned. “It won't be for long in any case. Just relax and take some time out.”

Looks accommodating enough,” Steven observed. “I've seen worse. Besides, the sheriff is right. I don't see this taking much more than half an hour. David and I came prepared for a fight, but this Dr. Shandal is basing his case on outdated information and misconceptions. We'll have both of you on your way very soon.”

In the mean time, Mr. Heyes...please.” And Nugent gestured for Heyes to enter the small room.

Heyes sighed and stepped in. Miranda came around the other two men, and was about to join her husband in his confinement, but Nugent put a hand on her arm, and stopped her in mid stride.

Sorry, ma'am,” he said, shaking his head. “I said you could keep him company, but I didn't say you could sit in the cell with him.”

Oh Sheriff, really!” Miranda complained, and turned beseeching eyes to their lawyer. “Steven, can't you do something?”

Sorry, Miranda,” he told her. “It's his jail, his rules. Here's a place where you can sit, right outside the door, and keep him company. Just like inside.”

Miranda drooped. Both she and her husband were getting tired of this enforced separation.

Nugent closed the barred door on the occupant, and turned the lock. Then he smiled at Miranda as she settled herself on the bench beside the door.

Ma'am,” he said. “I'll be back periodically to check up on you, in case this does take longer than we think. Don't go anywhere.”

A sardonic laugh from Heyes could be heard coming from inside the room as the two men took their leave to continue negotiations. Miranda sent an arched look after them, but softened her expression as she turned it towards her now pacing husband.

This is ridiculous,” Heyes was grumbling. “I'm a part of this, I should be able to witness what is going on. I can't believe Steven actually let Nugent get away with this. I thought he and David were here to help me, not back up the local law enforcement.”

My, aren't you in a state,” Miranda commented. “Actually this serves you right, the way you were behaving in there.”

The way I was behaving!” Heyes snarked. “What about Shandal and his buddy? The things they're saying...!”

I know,” Miranda agreed. “But you have to let Steven and David do their jobs. What was that all about? The help we needed is here now, and you decide to start needling the opposition? You weren't doing yourself any favours.”

It looked to me like you were getting ready to murder Shandal yourself,” Heyes countered. “Maybe this is Nugent's way of getting rid of both of us.”

Could be,” Miranda agreed with a smile. “And you're right. I did lose control in there. That man can be so insufferable.”

Heyes ran a hand through his hair, and sat down on the end of the cot, which pretty much put his knees up against the bars of the door.

I know,” he conceded. “I'm just so fed up with all this. Some honeymoon! You must be so disappointed.”

It's alright,” she assured him. She reached through the bars and took his hand in hers. “I'm sure we'll find ways to make it up.”

Heyes grinned cheekily, his dimples digging in deep. “You've been thinking about this, have you?”

Yes,” she answered quietly as she caressed his palm, and then began to massage the underside of his lower arm. “Relax.”

Heyes sighed and closed his eyes. It felt good, what she was doing. It hurt a little bit, but he could feel the muscles in his forearm begin to loosen, and gradually the pain disappeared.

You're so tense,” Miranda whispered as she gently put the one arm down, and picked up the other. “You're like a steel trap, getting ready to snap. No wonder you're having seizures. You've got to learn to relax.”

She was right. Heyes hadn't realized how keyed up he was, until she began to work her magic on him. He could feel the stress slowly slipping away, as her massaging fingers moved slowly further up his arm. When she was finished with the one arm, she went back to the other and worked it all the way up to the shoulder.

Heyes leaned closer, protruding his arms further through the bars, so she could reach to the top of his shoulders and massage the muscles in his neck.

He groaned with pleasure, and began to move his neck from side to side, stretching the tight muscles as the warmth from her fingers soaked into them. His tiredness re-emerged as his attack of nervous tension began to wear out, and he rested his forehead against the bars as Miranda continued to work the tight muscles around his neck and shoulders.

He was almost falling asleep when he felt her warm breath tickling his nose. He opened his eyes to find himself staring into the dark blue depth of hers, and all his troubles faded away. He smiled and gave her a gentle kiss through the bars. His hands found her elbows, and standing up, he brought her up with him, encircling her waist as they rose. He pulled her in close, and felt the delicious softness of her body pressing in against him. His one hand drifted down to squeeze her buttock, as man and wife melded into a tongue-filled kiss.

Xxx

Coming back into the office, both Steven and Nugent noticed the strain in the atmosphere. The two returning men exchanged meaningful glances as they sat down in their respective chairs and prepared to continue the session.

Is Hannibal alright out there?” David asked quietly.

Yes,” Steven assured him. “It's very comfortable, and I'm sure Miranda will help to calm him down”

It is very unfortunate, what this disease will do to people,” Benson commented. “As we could all see, he is volatile and somewhat unpredictable. The sooner we can get him into medical care, the much better off he will be.”

And that brings us back to the second matter at hand,” Steven interjected before David could respond. “You are aware, I'm sure, that in order for someone to be committed to an institution such as the one you are both suggesting, there must be both a doctor and a close family member in agreement.”

Of course,” Shandal responded, appearing insulted. “But the family member must be of sound mind themselves, then preferably a male or, in the case where there is no male family member, two doctors can accomplish the same task. This is why I requested that Dr. Benson make the trip to assist in this matter.”

There is no stipulation that the family member needs to be male,” Steven countered. “But even if that were the case, Mr. Heyes has a male cousin who would be very much against what you are trying to do here. Indeed, he wished to join us on this trip, but at the time, we didn't see the need, and his attention is required elsewhere. We can summon him, if you insist, but I expect you would regret doing so. As it is, Mrs. Heyes is legally capable of making this decision, and I believe she has made it clear that she has no intentions of supporting this action.”

I have known Mrs. Heyes for a number of years now,” David interjected. “In fact, she is my wife's cousin. I knew her for some time before she was introduced to Mr. Heyes, and I can assure you, her behaviour and personality have not changed. As their family doctor, I am confident that I would have noticed any changes in her conduct long before anyone else would have. I deem her to be of sound mind and quite capable of understanding these circumstances.”

Shandal ignored David's contribution, since as far as he was concerned, Mrs. Heyes was no longer a factor. He switched his attention to the new threat and made another counter move. “If you are referring to Mr. Curry, I doubt very much that his opinion would carry much weight. For one thing, he is also an outlaw, who would have no issues with lying in order to support his partner. For another, considering how much time he has spent in the company of Mr. Heyes, I expect he is also suffering from this condition. Taking into consideration both these facts, anything Mr. Curry might have to say would be questionable. Hardly a reliable choice.”

And what about myself?” David snapped at his opposition, feeling irritated that he had been shut out of the negotiations. “As I have just stated, I am also a relative of Mr. Heyes, from the other side of the family. I come from a well respected family of accredited physicians and am indeed an M.D. myself. I have also studied psychology and physiology. I have published a number of papers on both these topics that have been well received, and two are being used for teaching purposes in universities back East. I have also done extensive research on muscle injury and treatment and have published an extensive book on that topic. I am also a qualified councillor. Are you going to suggest that I am unreliable and my opinion biased?”

Shandal was determined to remain unimpressed and looked down his nose at Dr. Gibson while reluctantly responded to the man's counter attack. “Perhaps you are too close to the people involved to see the gradual change, Dr. Gibson. In a situation such as this, it might be preferable for an outside doctor to make these decisions.”

David's jaw tightened in anger at the blatant insult, and the self-appointed mediator stepped in.

Enough of this!” Nugent demanded. “Dr. Shandal, you are deliberately blocking every effort of these men to meet your demands. From the way you are talking, it would suggest that everyone who has had any contact with Mr. Heyes at all must therefore be affected by his condition. If that is your argument, then you would also be at risk and therefore, your opinion invalid. You have two people right here who are capable of making sound judgements. I suggest that you drop this line of attack so we can all get down to the matter at hand.”

We are merely looking out for Mr. Heyes' best interests,” Benson commented to give his associate time to compose himself. “We are simply pointing out that Mrs. Heyes is far too emotional, and as is so often the case considering her gender, far too irrational to make a sound decision. And that Dr. Gibson, who is not only the patient's regular doctor, but apparently a family member as well, is too close to the matter to see things as he should.”

Then you would have to say the same thing about any relative, male or female, who was brought forth to give an opinion,” Nugent pointed out. “In essence, you are cancelling out your own stipulation. You will accept Dr. Gibson and Mrs. Heyes as the family members you requested, and please, present your evidence so we can all get on with our day!”

The man has epileptic seizures!” Shandal stated, with a show of aggression. “He openly admitted to this himself, which would suggest to me, that deep down, he is still sane enough to realize that he is in need of help!”

He is under my care,” David assured the other doctor. “I am well aware of his condition, and I am treating him for it.”

But it is an affliction of the mind that is highly contagious!” Shandal countered. “Patients begin to exhibit the very traits that Mr. Heyes has already shown here this morning. What would clinch it all in my mind is if Mr. Heyes has also shown suicidal tendencies. That is also a clear indication of...” Shandal trailed off as he noted the uncomfortable atmosphere his statement had created. “Has Mr. Heyes had suicidal thoughts? Has he actually attempted to...?”

I hardly think that is relevant,” Steven countered, and he was instantly reminded of his own suggestion that Hannibal be removed from the prison and sent to an asylum due to his depression and suicidal thoughts. Jed's instant refusal of that proposal had taken the lawyer by surprise at the time, but not anymore.

Ah,” Shandal nodded. “I take that to mean that he has.”

As Mr. Heyes has already pointed out,” Steven continued. “Situations and environments often play a key role in a person's mental health. His time in prison was not easy for him, and extenuating circumstances made it even more difficult. It was later discovered that the Warden at the prison had his own agenda as well as a personal vendetta against the Heyes family. Warden Mitchell, with the assistance of his senior guard did everything they thought they could get away with, to break Mr. Heyes' mind and spirit. The fact that they very nearly succeeded, and yet failed in the long run attests to Mr. Heyes' strength of character rather than an indication of mental illness. Even under normal circumstances, instances of suicidal tendencies in prisons are not unusual but are more likely caused by the feelings of hopelessness many of the inmates are forced to endure while incarcerated, rather than proof of a contagion or demonic possession.”

That is only your opinion,” Shandal countered. “It is not mine.”

David sighed. “Have you read the writings of Dr. John Hughlings Jackson?”* he asked.

I have never even heard of him,” Shandal stated, as he puffed himself up with self-righteous pride. Apparently he felt that any doctor whom he had not heard of, wasn't worth the time it would take to research his works.

David raised an enquiring brow at Benson, who actually straightened up and gave his collar a tug before answering.

Of course I have heard of him,” he admitted. “Some quack doctor in Britain who seems to think he has the answers to everything. I understand that he is an atheist.”

David ignored the last comment, though he wondered why Benson would think it relevant. Surely, this doctor didn't hold with the view that epilepsy was caused by demonic possession? Being agnostic, Dr. Jackson had dismissed that theory out of hand, and hadn't even mentioned the possibility in any of the writings David had read. He brought his satchel up onto his lap, and opening the flap, pulled out three different, rather thick, transcripts.

Well,” David continued, as he pushed the documents towards his fellow medical men. “Mr. Jackson is indeed an Englishman, and he can be accredited with establishing a highly specialized field of medicine in neurology. He has been studying afflictions of the brain such as Epilepsy and Aphasia for at least thirty years now.”

Aphasia?” Nugent queried. “What is that?”

It's a condition, caused by stroke or other injury to the brain,” David explained. “The afflicted person loses the ability to speak. Patients can recover from Aphasia, with time and a lot of work. But Epilepsy is proving to be a harder condition to treat. Dr. Jackson has been able to determine that there are different compartments inside the brain, and the symptoms the patient displays will depend upon which section of the brain has been damaged. But it is caused by injury to the brain, Dr. Shandal, not a bacterium. And it is not contagious!” then added a mumbled, “and it certainly isn't caused by demons.”

I'm not suggesting that it is,” Benson explained. “Simply pointing out that there are many excellent Christian doctors and theologians who do hold demonic possession as a possible theory. ”

I don't agree,” David responded. “There have been no scientific studies to support that view.”

Perhaps not,” Shandal conceded. “but it is still a dangerous contagion. I know of more than one incident where someone with this disease has worsened dramatically once they were hospitalized...”

We have already been over this!” David snapped. “And I believe that Mr. Heyes himself has shot that line of logic full of holes.”

...but experienced some success with a Priest conducting...”

Do you have documentation?” Steven asked, before the proceedings could degrade into theological arguments and pointless snarking. “You keep insisting that studies done in institutions prove that epilepsy is contagious and a danger to everyone. Let's see your proof. Do you have anything official, from doctors studying these ailments, that can support your opinions?”

I'm sure I can find some,” Shandal responded. “I didn't see the need to bring any with me today, as I assumed that I would have full cooperation. It amazes me that you are all refusing to see what is right under your noses.”

Finding documented proof should not prove to be difficult,” David informed them, feeling the need to put this 'doctor' in his proper place. “But finding proof that supports your view may be another matter. The National Hospital for Diseases of the Nervous System, including Paralysis and Epilepsy” was founded in 1859 in London, and doctors have been treating epilepsy patients there for several decades with no evidence of contagion to the medical staff. Not only that, but Dr. Jackson had this disease right under his nose. In fact, his wife of many years was afflicted with this condition, which is, I'm sure, one of the main reasons for his dedication towards finding ways to understand and therefore be able to treat the disease.”

Well, there you go,” Benson pointed out. “Like I said, Dr. Jackson is a complete quack and a Godless man to boot! Now we can understand why. Obviously he contracted the disease from his wife, and his research became more and more outlandish as time went on.”

David sighed, finding Benson becoming more of a bore than Shandal was being. “He has spent his entire life in the study of neurology, and he has contributed more than anyone else to the study and understanding of these ailments. His research has been accepted at the highest levels of medical and psychological institutions. The papers I have here, were written between 1874 and '76, and are well worth reading. I'm sure you will find them interesting, Dr. Shandal, if you will just take the time.

Dr. Jackson is quite elderly now, but he continues to study and contribute to this branch of medical science. Hopefully, one day, a cure will be found. Or at least a more effective way of treating the symptoms.”

Steven, Benson and Sheriff Nugent had each discreetly dragged a copy of the available manuscripts towards themselves and were browsing through the contents. Shandal remained stoic and stubborn, and cocked a disapproving brow at his companion.

The way Mr. Heyes behaved, I was under the impression that you were already offering him treatments for the seizures!” Shandal pointed out. “Were you simply giving him some kind of placebo, in order to keep him complacent?”

David bristled. “Of course not!” he snapped. “The sedative I've prescribed for my patient should be very effective in not only relaxing the muscles after a seizure has begun, but, if administered quickly enough, can also help to ward off a seizure from even taking hold. People close to the patient, such as family members and friends, can learn to recognize the warning signs and administer the sedative immediately. It's the best we can offer at this time.”

You should take a look as this, Angus,” Dr. Benson broke in. “There is actually some very compelling research in this paper.”

This is quite interesting,” Steven agreed as he casually flipped through the pages. “From what I'm seeing here, this research has been very thorough and well documented.”

They are certainly worth a read,” David agreed.

You should have given these to me on the train,” Steven reprimanded his friend.

You had enough of your own reading to get done,” David reminded him. “I wanted you to get at least some rest on the way here, not read more boring documents.”

Reading boring documents is part of my job,” Steven pointed out. “Besides, these are hardly boring.”

If that research is going to be used against me, then I insist that I be given adequate time to read the documents myself,” Shandal pointed out. “I will take these home with me and go over them this evening.”

Oh,” David instantly regretted his suggestion and Shandal read them. “I had hoped to get this situation cleared up today.”

Dr. Shandal does have the right to review information that we have submitted,” Steven informed David. “We have offered it to him, so we need to grant him the time to read it over.”

I'd also like to take a look at the other two,” Nugent put in. “I may not understand all this medical talk, but I need to get an idea of what we're dealing with here.”

Yes,” David reluctantly agreed. “You're right, of course.”

Shall we convene back here tomorrow morning?” Steven suggested. “That should give us all a chance to take a look at these manuscripts. I'll drop by later in the day and perhaps we can switch copies.”

Fine by me,” Nugent said.

All eyes turned to Shandal.

Yes,” he agreed, as he picked up the manuscript in front of him. “I'll come by later as well. I would appreciate meeting up here at eight o'clock tomorrow morning, if you don't mind. I have my rounds to tend to.”

Fine,” Steven accepted that.

Goodnight, gentlemen,” Shandal grumbled, as he collected up his paperwork and headed for the door.

Benson also offered his farewell and followed his friend. David watched them go with some trepidation. If Benson truly believed that demonic possession was a cause of Epilepsy, then this could turn into a real battle.

I'll go get Mr. Heyes,” Nugent announced as he also headed for the door, but the back one, instead of the front. “I'll leave it to you fellas to tell him he has to spend another night here with me.”

Xxx

What?” Heyes snarked. “Another night in this place?”

We're close to getting this settled, Hannibal,” Steven assure him. “Try to relax.”

Everybody keeps telling me to relax!” Heyes complained. “You try spending a week in this place. No offence, Sheriff, but I'd rather be spending time with my wife, than with you. You know what I mean?”

Nugent snorted. “Yeah, I know. But you'll be out of here tomorrow. And you'll be just in time to catch the next stage down to Santa Marta. Almost like you planned it.”

Heyes rolled his eyes. He and Miranda exchanged disappointed looks. Both had become mildly aroused with their backyard foreplay and had been looking forward to building on that sentiment as soon as they'd be able to get to the hotel room. Now it looked as though it was going to take a little longer.

If you folks will excuse us,” Steven said. “I need to confer with my client, in private.”

Oh.” Miranda was taken aback. “I thought I'd stay with Hannibal this evening. If we can't have supper together at the hotel, then the least I can do is have it here with him.”

You can still do that,” Steven assured her. “I shouldn't be more than half an hour. Perhaps you can go over and order something now, and bring it back with you.”

Oh,” Miranda sounded disappointed. Hannibal didn't look too happy about it either. “Can't I simply stay here? The deputy usually brings us whatever is on special. I mean, what do you need to discuss that I can't be a party to?”

It's nothing like that,” Steven assured her. “Simply a lawyer wanting to discuss the situation with his client. It won't take long, but I do want privacy.”

It's alright,” Heyes assured his wife. “Come back afterwards. We'll have supper together then.”

Actually, I would like a word with Sheriff Nugent,” David put in, sensing that distracting Nugent from Steven's discussion with Heyes would be to the lawyer's advantage. “And I would prefer that you join us, Miranda. Why don't we retire to our respective corners, and when we're done, we can decide what to do about supper.”

That's fine by me,” Nugent agreed. “If you two will return to Mr. Heyes' cell, the rest of us can stay right here. Is that private enough for you, Mr. Granger?”

Yes, Sheriff. That'll do. Thank you.”

Steven and Heyes headed back to the cell, with Steven toting one of the chairs with him. Heyes sat down on his cot, and Steven settled in front of him, giving him a slightly reprimanding look as he did so.

Yes, I know,” Heyes grumbled. “I'm sorry, alright? I don't suffer fools easily, and when that fool has power over my life, I find it hard to stay quiet.”

I understand your frustration,” Steven assured him. “But you don't help your case by behaving that way. Just the opposite, in fact.”

Heyes sighed, but made no more comment.

Alright,” Steven accepted the apology. “But tomorrow, please, just keep your mouth shut.”

Heyes grinned. “I'll try.”

Good.” Steven leaned in closer, and brought his voice down to a whisper. “I wanted to discuss with you my take on how this situation is likely to play out. I wanted it in private simply because Sheriff Nugent is too close to the other party. I know he has shown support of you in this case, but I'm not sure how much he's willing to ignore protocol.”

Ignore protocol?” Heyes asked. “What do you mean?”

This is hardly a legitimate hearing,” Steven pointed out. “Nugent is no fool, so he must realize that we are not actually following standard procedures here. Still, I don't want to be giving him any ideas.”

You mean even something like this needs to follow certain guidelines?” Heyes asked. “I thought it was just a simple matter of you and David telling that idiot to shove off.”

Steven smiled. “Basically, that is what we're doing,” he admitted. “but Shandal has every right to insist that this situation be taken to a higher level. He could make it drag out for months, while he gathered evidence against us, and set up an official hearing date.”

You mean he actually has a leg to stand on here?” Heyes didn't like the sound of this. His memories of that long wait in jail for his trial date coming back to haunt him. “I don't want to go through that again.”

No, none of us do,” Steven agreed. “I'm amazed that Shandal has not sought legal council in this matter. A lawyer would have told him his rights and would have helped to gather evidence to support his stand. I agree with you, that the man is a fool, and an arrogant fool at that. Unfortunately, they are often the most dangerous.”

So you think that Nugent might suggest to Shandal to get a lawyer?” Heyes asked. “Wouldn't he already have done that, if he was going to?”

I don't understand why he hasn't,” Steven admitted. “Is it because he's willing to let things slide in this case, in order to get you on your way, or does he not realize how this matter should be handled? I don't want to take any chances by mentioning this situation to him, thereby making him obligated to pass the suggestion on to Shandal. I see no reason at all to help our opposition.”

You got that right,” Heyes agreed. “Benson seems to be a sharper whip than his buddy though. Let's hope he doesn't start getting ideas.”

Hmm,” Steven nodded. “I have a feeling that Benson is slowly being persuaded to our point of view. Once he has time to read over one of those manuscripts, he may just talk Shandal out of pursuing this whole matter.”

What manuscripts?” Heyes asked.

Oh,” Steven responded. “David brought some research papers that completely support our view. Benson seemed to take an interest. It could be enough to persuade him.”

Ahh,” Heyes nodded then added dubiously, “Maybe. Or he could go the other way and realize that they need some heavy artillery themselves if they want to win their case.”

Yes,” Steven concurred. “Which is why I wanted to have this conversation with you in private. The less people who know about it, the better. Even Miranda might inadvertently give it away if she becomes worried, or frustrated.”

Miranda's no fool,” Heyes was suddenly defensive. “She's not one to let things slip.”

I know,” Steven assured his client. “I meant no disrespect, simply that the fewer people who know about this, the less chance there is for a slip-up. I'm not even going to discuss this with David, for that very reason.”

Then why are you telling me?”

Because you have the right to know where we stand on this,” Steven explained. “And I'm trusting you to remain discreet. You're a professional con man, Hannibal. You put your mind to it, you can play the game.”

Heyes grinned with the compliment. “Yeah.”

So,” Steven continued. “When we meet up again tomorrow morning, just remember; play the game. Don't allow your emotions to control the situation. Back off of it. If Shandal returns tomorrow without legal council, and without official evidence to back up his position, then we have him. If he does try to strong-arm us, I have a few more tricks up my sleeve. I hardly came here unprepared. But please Hannibal, just keep your mouth shut.” Then he smiled at the unlikelihood of that happening and added, “Or at least your temper in check.”

Heyes nodded. “I promise.”

Xxx

What's on your mind, Dr. Gibson?” Nugent asked, once the three of them had the office area to themselves.

What do you remember about the seizure?” David answered him. “Do you recall what time it was, what the first indicators were, how long it lasted? Anything like that?”

Nugent sat back in his chair and contemplated the enquiry, and then shook his head.

Sorry Doc, I don't remember much of the details,” he told him. “I was asleep when it started, and it was him thrashing around that woke me up. It was after midnight and pretty quiet. That's unusual in itself, because this town can get awfully rowdy once the sun goes down. I don't know how long it lasted for. Seemed like ages, but now that I think back, it couldn't have been more than a couple of minutes. Why?”

Well, for one thing, Dr. Jackson describes different types of seizures, which indicate that different areas of the brain are being affected. The grey matter apparently shifts, and different chemical and electrical impulses cause different parts of the body to go into spasms.” David explained. “Where the seizures begin, could tell us what type of Epilepsy Hannibal has. It might give us a better understanding of how to predict an episode, and perhaps, in the future, how to treat it.”

Nugent sent David a blank look.

Grey matter?” he asked.

David flashed a smile.

Never mind, Sheriff,” he assured him. “It doesn't matter if you don't understand the science of it. Perhaps if you take the time to read through that manuscript, it might give you a better idea. I do have some of Dr. Jackson's later works with me, but I felt that the ones I presented here today, best illustrate the points I was trying to make.

Hmm,” Nugent nodded as he flipped through the papers in front of him. “Looks like an interesting read.”

Yes.” David agreed, surprised that the lawman was actually showing some interest in the complex study. “I was also hoping you could give Mrs. Heyes here some idea of what to look for, when a seizure is imminent. Are you sure there is nothing you can remember about the episode?”

That certainly would be helpful to me,” Miranda agreed. “I have yet to witness one, and to be perfectly honest, I have no idea how I'll handle it, when I do.”

You seem like a capable woman to me, Mrs. Heyes,” Nugent assured her. “The way I see it, the most you can do, is try to prevent him from hurting himself. The best thing about this seizure, was that it was over quickly.”

Yes, I suppose.”

But you don't remember how it started?” David asked again. “Please take a moment to think about it. Any information at all, anything you recall could be helpful.”

Nugent took a deep breathe as he settled back in his chair to contemplate. “Like I said Doc, I was asleep when it started. From what I saw, it seemed to start in the extremities, his arm and leg, and just on the one side. At first I thought he was simply having a bad dream, but then it began to escalate, and took over that whole side of his body, from his feet to his head. That's when I got concerned that he might really hurt himself.” Nugent described. “I have to admit, it was frightening. If I were a superstitious man, I could easily have thought that he'd been possessed. I've never seen anything like it. All I can say is that it did escalate until it reached a certain level and then it ended, quickly. Almost like someone blowing out a candle. How quickly or gradually it started in the first place, I can't tell you.”
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Keays

Keays

Posts : 1447
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 62
Location : Camano Island Washington

Trials and Tribulations Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trials and Tribulations   Trials and Tribulations EmptyWed Aug 12, 2015 8:21 pm

Alright, thank you,” David accepted that. “This information does help.” He reached into his satchel and brought out a small sealed envelope. “I brought a dosage of Laudanum for him tonight. He needs to sleep, and with all this coming to a head now, I doubt he'll be able to without a little help. Be sure he gets it, will you Sheriff?”

I'll be happy to,” Nugent agreed. “It'll be nice to get a decent night's sleep for once.”

I'll stay with him for as long as I can,” Miranda assured her cousin-in-law and sent a slightly reprimanding look over to the sheriff.

Nugent chuckled.

I know,” he stated. “You'd like to spend the whole night with him. I'm afraid that would really go against policy. You can stay until 10:00 pm, same as usual.”

Surely, after what has happened, you could stretch the rules a little bit,” Miranda hopefully suggested. “My being here with him would certainly help keep him more relaxed, and he'll sleep better.”

I'm sure he'll sleep fine with the Laudanum,” Nugent countered. “It's just for one more night. I can't have you staying here at the jail, ma'am.”

Miranda sighed, and was about to argue the point, when David stopped her.

The sheriff is right,” he told her. “The man has his job to do, and from what I can tell, he has been very accommodating. I can give you a small dose of Laudanum as well, Miranda. I'm sure both of you are quite stressed over this whole situation.”

Miranda frowned but didn't answer. David took that as an affirmative to his observation.

Xxx

There was no need for you to come and walk me back to the hotel,” Miranda told David. “The deputy usually does this.”

The couple walked arm in arm along the boardwalk. Across the street from them, the saloon was up to full swing, with tinny piano music and loud conversation, mingled with the occasional guffaw, spreading out onto the lantern lit street.. The bat wing doors banged open as a couple of the patrons stumbled out, their loud voices and raucous laughter making their inebriated state very apparent.

David sent them a frown, and tightening his embrace of Miranda's arm, he hurried them along, past the establishment. Fortunately the pair of liquor partakers stumbled off in the other direction.

I know,” David finally responded. “But I wanted to make sure you were doing alright this evening.” Miranda was silent, walking beside her cousin, but with her thoughts still back at the jailhouse. “Well?”

Hmm?” Miranda enquired.

Are you alright?” David repeated.

Oh.” Miranda sighed deeply. “Not really. I'm putting on a brave face for Hannibal, although I don't think I'm fooling him. I'm scared to death, David. What if...?”

David gave her hand a gentle squeeze.

I know,” he said. “Steven is in his lawyer persona now and is keeping his strategy close. But I know he has one. He thinks I thought he was resting on the train ride down here, but I know his mind was working behind those closed eyes. He's prepared, Miranda. Trust him, he knows what he's doing.”

I know he does,” Miranda agreed. “But there is still that chance things won't go in our favour.”

I presented the medical evidence to disprove Shandal's accusation,” David pointed out. “He came to the table with nothing but his outdated opinion.” He frowned, considering their second opponent. “Dr. Benson appears to be unsure of his footing at this point. I noticed that he was paying close attention to that manuscript. He is an odd one to place. He's extremely intelligent but his religious views give him a different perspective than mine. We'll keep our eye on him. And yet, the thing about spiritual intervention is that you can't really prove it, and in this situation, proof is what's going to count.”

You're right, of course,” Randa agreed. “but I'm still worried. Oh, I'll be so glad when we can leave this town behind us. Now more than ever, I'm looking forward to seeing Santa Marta.”

I can't blame you for that,” David admitted with a smile. “Come up to my room, and I'll give you that small dose of Laudanum. You'll see; tomorrow will be a better day.”

Miranda chuckled, already feeling a little bit better. “Alright.”

Walking into the lobby of the hotel, both David and Miranda smiled an acknowledgement to the sleepy clerk, who was sitting behind the check-in counter, reading a book. He nodded back and then frowned as the couple walked past him and carried on up the stairs to the rooms.

He wasn't sure he liked the look of that. He was very familiar with Mrs. Heyes by this time, and the gentleman she was with was definitely not her husband. Indeed, he had only just checked in that day. He'd used the title 'Doctor' with his name, but anybody could do that—it didn't mean he actually was a doctor. Maybe he was some con man, some slick womanizer who recognized a vulnerable female and was taking advantage of her.

The clerk chewed his lip. Should he do anything about this? He knew the hotel owner didn't put up with this kind of shenanigans in his establishment. There was the bawdy house in town for men who were after that type of companionship. Still, he didn't feel inclined to get involved. In fact, that 'doctor' had checked in with another man, and the clerk didn't have the courage to risk coming up against the both of them.

He'd keep his ears open for any sounds of a commotion. Of course, that would be the best way to handle this. Why make a fuss over something that may not even be happening. Perhaps the doctor was a friend of Mrs. Heyes'. It didn't look like they were trying to hide anything, and she certainly didn't seem concerned for her own safety.

Yes, they were probably friends, he concluded to his satisfaction. He knew that Mrs. Heyes was going through a difficult time, what with her husband being detained and all. Not that that was a surprise. What did they expect? Hannibal Heyes arriving in town, bold as brass, and expecting that no one would notice. Serves him right. But Mrs. Heyes was a personable young woman, and despite his opinion of her husband, he had developed a liking for her, during her stay at the hotel.

But what was she doing, going upstairs, arm in arm with another man? The clerk sighed and shook his head. Really, it was none of his business. He really shouldn't be surprised that the wife of a known outlaw would be somewhat loose and amoral. They try to hide their spots, these people. Try to come across as solid, upright citizens and lure honest people into trusting them. But he knew better. He wasn't going to fall for that, no sir!

Still, Mrs. Heyes was very pretty and had always been friendly and polite to him. He had considered asking her out for lunch himself, just to offer comfort and companionship in a strange town, of course. But he'd never really found the right words, and now, apparently, she had found solace in the arms of another. He gave a slightly regretful sigh and went back to his book. If he heard anything suspicious coming from upstairs, he'd simply get the law to look into it. That was their job after all, that's what they got paid for.

Xxx

Sheriff?”

Hmm.”

Are you finished reading that manuscript?”

I think I've gotten as much out of it as I'm going to,” Nugent commented. “It has made some very interesting conclusions, but if I read much more of it, my head is going to explode.”

Heyes smiled. “Do you mind if I take a look at it?”

Nugent glanced over at him. “Why aren't you asleep yet?”

Heyes shrugged. “Because I'm not.”

Did you take that Laudanum, like your doctor suggested?”

No.”

Why not?”

Because I want to look over the manuscript.”

Mr. Heyes, take your medicine and go to sleep. Tomorrow could be a very busy day for you.”

Why won't you let me read the manuscript?”

Why do you want to?”

Well, it is kind of about me, isn't it? Don't I have the right to know what it is I'm dealing with?”

Nugent sighed. “I'm not so sure that's a good idea.”

Heyes frowned. “Why not?”

Why don't you just forget about it, and get some sleep?”

Heyes got up from his cot and began to pace the cell.

Why don't you want me to read it?”

You probably wouldn't even understand it. It's full of all that medical gobbledygook.”

I took a course in medical gobbledygoop while I was in prison.”

Nugent sighed again. He was getting tired and wanted to get some sleep himself.

It's almost time for lights out,” he said. “You won't be able to read in the dark.”

You always have that small lantern going. I'll read by that.”

Heyes, I'm tired. I want to get some sleep. You should too.”

Well, Deputy Charlie will be stopping in soon, after his nightly rounds. Why don't you go home and sleep there?”

You know darn well I don't sleep at home when there's a prisoner here. Charlie walks the town until the saloons and bawdy houses shut down, and I man the jailhouse. Take your Laudanum and go to sleep.”

I'd sleep a lot better, if I could satisfy my curiosity about what that British doctor had to say. Come on, Sheriff. It's my disease, I have a right to know.”

Oh for goodness sakes! You're worse than a woman. How does your wife put up with you?”

Heyes grinned, his dimples dancing in the lamp light. “She gives me what I want.”

Yeah! I doubt she is that complacent.” Heyes' grin deepened, and he turned his charm on full force.

Fine!” Nugent snapped as he swung his legs off his desk and clumped his feet down to the floor. “Here. Read the damn thing. Then take your meds and go to sleep. I don't want you up and pacing all night.”

Thank you, Sheriff,” Heyes said to him as he took the offered papers. “I really do appreciate this.”

Yeah, well, just be quiet about it,” Nugent grumbled as he headed back to his desk. “I want to get some shut eye before Charlie gets back here.”

Sure, sure,” Heyes agreed as he settled into his pillow and got comfortable. “I won't make a sound.”

Xxx

Nugent jerked himself awake, suddenly aware of movement in the cell next to him. He hated to admit it, but a tingle of fear trickled down his spine as memories of the previous night's disturbance accosted his sleepy consciousness. His apprehension diminished when a quick glance into Heyes' cell revealed the shadowy figure of the man pacing the parameter of his confinement.

Nugent looked back up at the faded ceiling above him and sighed deeply. Swinging his legs off the cot and sitting up, he gave his face a full handed massage and then vigorously rubbed his sleepy eyes. He sent a frustrated look over to his guest, as that man continued to pace and quietly mutter to himself.

Goddammit, Heyes!” Nugent cursed. “Didn't you take that Laudanum your doc gave you?”

Heyes jumped and turned to face the sheriff.

Oh, Sheriff. You're awake.”

Nugent sighed again and shook his head in bewildered defeat.

I would have sworn you took that sedative,” he grumbled.

Well, I did,” Heyes assured him. “You saw me take it.”

I thought I saw you take it!” Nugent corrected him. “Obviously you didn't.”

Oh no, sheriff,” Heyes insisted. “You saw right. I took it.”

THEN WHY THE HELL ARN'T YOU ASLEEP?!”

Heyes gave an innocent shrug.

I donno,” he admitted. “Too much on my mind, I guess.”

Christ!” Nugent cursed again. “I knew I shouldn't have given you that document. Now you're all wound up about it.” He looked out the cell window and saw that it was still dark night outside. He sighed and rubbed his eyes again. “What the hell time is it?” he grumbled.

About 3:00 am.”

It was a rhetorical question,” Nugent retorted.

Heyes shrugged again. “Rhetorical or not, it's still about 3:00 am.”

You don't have a time piece on you, Heyes. How could you possibly know that?”

I just do,” Heyes answered. “I always could. Even in prison, with no windows, I always seemed to know what time it was.”

Hmm,” Nugent grumbled again as he stood up and headed out of his cell.

Where are you going?” Heyes asked.

Nugent stopped and sent him a pointed stare.

Are you intending to go back to sleep any time soon?” he asked.

I can't sleep now,” Heyes protested. “I have too much on my mind.”

That's what I thought,” Nugent responded. “I figured I may as well heat up the coffee. Damn,” he continued as he headed towards the stove. “I'll sure be glad when you get on your way. I haven't had a decent night's sleep since you got here. What the hell do you find so interesting to talk about in the middle of the night? I swear, I've never known a man who can go on and on and on the way you can. I heard tell that you had a silver tongue, but this is ridiculous...”

Nugent's voice faded as he became occupied with lighting the stove and setting the already prepared pot on the warm stove. It wouldn't take long for it to heat up.

Heyes felt some contrition, but his mind was spinning with the information he had gleaned from the manuscript, and he had found it impossible to settle into sleep. He felt frustrated, and scared, and angry too, that David had not told him everything. How could a man sleep with all that running circles around inside his head?

He sighed heavily, and thumped down onto the cot. Nugent glanced over and felt some sympathy for the man's agitation. He set the coffee pot on the stove to heat, and coming over to the cell, he leaned against the bars.

I think I have a pretty good idea, what's got you all wound up,” the sheriff told him. “I take it your doctor never told you that part of it.”

Heyes' lips tightened in irritation, not so much at the sheriff asking him about it, but the fact that David hadn't told him. He suddenly slapped his hands down on the cot, and springing to his feet, began to pace again.

Why didn't he tell me that?” he demanded to know.

Nugent shrugged. “That is kind of hard news to give to somebody,” he commented. “Maybe he just felt you were better off not knowing.”

There appears to be a lot of things about this, that David feels I'm better off not knowing!” Heyes snarked. “What the hell is he thinking?”

You can ask him that yourself, in about four hours,” Nugent suggested. “In the meantime, I suggest that you at least TRY to relax.”

The aroma of heating coffee made its way to the cell, and Nugent went to answer the call. He poured out two cups of the steaming liquid, then sending a serendipitous glance over at his guest, he opened the upper cupboard, and taking the whiskey bottle down from the shelf, poured a healthy amount into both cups.

Returning to the cell, he handed Heyes one of the cups through the bars.

Here, drink this.”

Heyes accepted it, and took a healthy swig before considering the contents. He got a whiff of the aroma around the same time as the liquor burned its way down his throat. His brows went up in surprise, and he sent the sheriff a questioning look.

Maybe it'll help you to calm down, and then both of us can get some more sleep,” Nugent explained.

Xxx

Why didn't you tell me?” Hannibal asked David, point blank. “Don't you think my wife and I have the right to know that?”

The four friends sat in various locations around the inside of the cell. Empty plates and dirty utensils littered the floor of the confined space, while the occupants finished up their final cups of coffee. Heyes had found this topic difficult to bring up, as he knew it would be upsetting to his wife, so he had allowed lighter conversation to prevail over the morning meal. Now that it was done, Heyes summoned the courage, and presenting the manuscript and pointing at the offending passage, he now awaited the answer to his question.

David had the good grace to look repentant.

I didn't know,” he admitted. “Remember, Hannibal, I knew very little about this condition before your situation prompted me to do some research. I gave you most of the information, as I got it. I was able to get in touch with Dr. Jackson's office some months ago, but it took time for copies of his writings to get to me.”

What?” Miranda asked, more concern etching lines into the constant worry that had settled onto her this morning. “What haven't you told us, David?”

Heyes and David exchanged glances, but Heyes found the information sticking in his throat. With all the issues Miranda had had to deal with since their marriage, he couldn't bring himself to add one more piece to it.

David took over.

Dr. Jackson's wife suffered from epilepsy,” he explained. “I expect that was one of the main reasons he began to research this particular ailment so vigorously. Unfortunately, she passed away in 1876, apparently from convulsions brought on by a severe epileptic seizure.”

Miranda gasped, and her complexion paled, but her eyes went darker as they bore into her cousin.

You mean Hannibal could die from this!?” she demanded to know. “And you didn't tell us!”

I already explained that I didn't know about this until recently,” David reminded her. “Believe me, I was as surprised as you. I brought more information with me to go over on the train ride down here, and what I learned from that, makes it very apparent that it is highly unusual for someone to die from a seizure. If it does happen, it's more often caused by secondary means, such as choking, or drowning, or falling from a horse. That is why it's so important for both of you, and especially you, Hannibal, to learn what the triggers are, and thereby avoid them. You also need to learn what the indicators are, so you'll know in advance that one is coming.”

But it is possible that I could have a seizure and not wake up from it?” Heyes asked, then cleared his throat as a small lump of fear tightened it up on him.

David sighed. “It's possible,” he admitted. “But extremely unlikely. From what Sheriff Nugent described of the seizure he witnessed, they would have to be a lot worse than what you're getting now for there to be even the remotest chance of a fatal attack. Just be aware of what you're doing.”

What do you mean?” Heyes asked.

Well,” David considered. “for one thing, you really shouldn't bathe alone.”

Miranda, despite the seriousness of the conversation, started to giggle. Heyes cocked a brow at the doctor, and then cast a glance over to meet his wife's eyes. They both smiled coyly.

I sure don't mind sharing a tub with my wife,” Heyes conceded. “but as for the Kid, he's just going to have to wait his own turn.”

David groaned inwardly. “You know what I mean,” he insisted. “Someone else should be in the house, and aware of what you're doing. If you're on the road, and by yourself, then go to the bathhouse instead of having a tub sent up to the room. It's little things like this that could end up saving your life in the long run.”

Next you're going to be telling me that I can't take Karma out for a ride by myself, or eat lunch in my own kitchen on my own, or go to the privy alone,” Heyes griped. “That's why it's called a privy, you know—it's suppose to be done in private. And what about making love to my wife? I suppose you're going to say—oh no, wait. If I'm making love to her, then she'd already be there, so...”

David groaned and ran a hand through his hair.

I'm going to regret bringing this whole thing up,” he grumbled.

No,” Heyes pointedly contradicted. “I'm working on making you regret not bringing it up at all.”

David's eyes snapped up, expecting an argument, but were instead met by a dazzling smile and deep dimples. The doctor was instantly disarmed.

Alright!” he conceded. “I stand thoroughly chastised. But I still stand by my decision on that. I was going to inform you of this as soon as we were through the current crisis. Remember, I told you that I suspected they could be triggered by increased levels of stress and anxiety brought on by confinement and the unfortunate memories, both conscious and subconscious, that arise because of it.
Try to see this from my point of view, Hannibal and Miranda. Please. You're already under a great deal of strain. I didn't want to risk inducing another seizure, especially so soon after your previous one. Once things had calmed down here, and you were released, I was going to tell you.”

So, you don't think I could have handled it?” Heyes asked, feeling insulted.

In your current situation, no, I don't,” David told him. “And looking at you now, I'd say I have been proven right.”

What do you mean?” Heyes demanded. “I found out about this last night, I haven't had another seizure.”

But you took the Laudanum,” David pointed out. “It was already helping you to relax, yet I venture to guess that it didn't help you to sleep. I'd say you were up and pacing half the night. If not all of it.”

Heyes' line of attack bottomed out, and his stance deflated.

Well, not all of it.”

A snort came from the vicinity of the front desk.

Sure as hell felt like all of it!” Nugent piped in, then regretted his sharpness. “Sorry ma'am. I don't normally cuss and certainly not around a lady. I'm just a little on the other side of too tired, after having this man in my jail for close on to a week now. No wonder the law could never keep hold of him. He probably wore them all out with his constant complaining and endless pacing. My hat is off to you, Mrs. Heyes. I really don't know how you do it.”

Steven laughed, and even David couldn't help a smile cross his lips. Heyes rolled his eyes, but the compliment did wonders to lift Randa's spirits.

We manage, Sheriff,” she told him. “I have my own ways of calming him down.”

Yes, ma'am,” Nugent agreed. “I'm sure you do.”

Well!” Steven stood up, instantly garnering everyone's attention. “considering the time, I suggest we prepare for our final encounter here.”

Oh dear, yes!” Miranda agreed and quickly began collecting up dishes. “I'll get them cleared up while you gentlemen get organized.”

Just leave them on the tray there, ma'am,” Nugent told her. “Charlie will take them over to the cafe later.”

Oh yes, of course.”

Nugent sent a sceptical look over to the prisoner.

Do I need to remove you to the outside cell, Mr. Heyes?” he asked dubiously.

No, Sheriff,” Heyes assured him. “I'll behave myself.”

Xxx

Nugent made sure there were enough chairs to go around this time, so when Drs. Shandal and Benson arrived for the morning meeting, everyone could be accommodated. Coffee was offered, but refused, as everyone had already filled up on the stimulant before gathering at the jailhouse.

Heyes sent Steven a concerned look as Shandal plunked a heavy book down onto the desk top, but Steven returned a subtle negative gesture to indicate that it was nothing for him to worry about. Indeed, as Shandal opened the book, and began rifling through to find his marked page, dust drifted up from the cover, and a musty smell of disuse permeated the area.

So, gentlemen,” Nugent greeted the assembly as everyone got seated. “I take it we are ready to proceed. OH, ma'am!” the sheriff nodded to Miranda. “Sorry, didn't mean to exclude you.”

Miranda smiled, trying not to let her nervousness show.

That's alright, Sheriff,” she assured him. “I'm quite used to being outnumber in these affairs.” Her smile broadened, and a wicked glint came to her eye that could have rivalled her husband's. “Sometimes, being a fly on the wall is the most advantageous position.”

Nugent chuckled. He found that he was liking Mrs. Heyes more and more, as these proceedings continued.

You are right about that,” he agreed. “Okay. Let's get started here. Dr. Shandal, did you have time to look over Dr. Jackson's research?”

I most certainly did,” Shandal stated. “An interesting read, but hardly conclusive.”

Do you have evidence to suggest that Dr. Jackson's research is incorrect?” Steven asked before David could respond.

I most certainly do,” Shandal responded, as he continued to flip through the pages of the text book.

I believe it is on page 357, Angus,” Benson quietly informed him. “The chapter on infectious diseases.”

Heyes groaned in frustration, but Steven sent him a warning look that instantly shut him up. He smiled winningly and sat back in his chair. Miranda took his hand, and held it between hers, and he settled even more.

Ah yes, quite right,” Shandal agreed, and proceeded to the suggested chapter. “Here it is.” He ran his finger down the page until he came to the desired text, and smiled in triumph as he began to read. “'Though once considered by many to be a sign of demonic possession, current medical opinion tends to support the evidence showing that seizures of the body are more likely caused by an affliction of the brain. The affliction will worsen if not treated, causing the convulsions to become more violent and of longer duration as time goes on. Damage to the brain will eventually result in aggressive behavior on the part of the patient, driving him to insanity and ultimately, to his death.

To date there is no known treatment or cure for this affliction. It is considered to be extremely contagious and the afflicted person must be kept contained and isolated in order to prevent serious injury to himself and to others.

People who have been in close proximity to the patient, such as friends and family, and especially spouses should also be examined for any signs of aggression or unreasonable behavior.'

There you have it gentlemen,” Shandal concluded with a smug look over to Miranda. “Clear as day, in black and white, in a well respected medical journal. What do you say to that?”

May I see the book, please?” Steven requested.

Certainly,” Shandal agreed, and he pivoted the book around and pushed it over to the lawyer. A helpful finger indicated the desired passage.

As Steven began to scrutinize the text and the book itself, Heyes took the opportunity to feel out his opposition. He noted that though Shandal was looking pleased with himself, Benson was remaining quiet and appeared uncomfortable with the way things were going. Smug, and sure of himself when he first arrived in town, Dr. Benson now seemed to realize that they could be fighting a losing battle.

Heyes turned his attention back to his main adversary. The two men locked eyes, and Heyes smiled.

You don't appear to mind being in my presence, Dr. Shandal,” he observed. “Are you not concerned that you might contract this contagion from me?”

I'm willing to take that risk for the common good,” Shandal replied. “As any good doctor would do.”

Oh,” Heyes nodded. “Dedicated man.”

Of course,” Shandal tried to straighten up with indignation at his integrity being questioned. “Although I can understand your desire to doubt my credentials.”

I simply find it interesting that a man who is dedicated to his profession could allow himself to fall so far behind in his own research as to become such a...”

Steven slammed the book shut upon Heyes' next words and sent his client a reprimanding look. Heyes smiled at him through the ensuing puff of dust, but he took the hint and did not finish his statement.

Steven returned his attention to Dr. Shandal.

Is this the only proof you can offer, Doctor?” he asked.

I think that it's sufficient,” Shandal answered him. “It states quite clearly that my conclusions are correct.”

This book was published fifty years ago,” Steven pointed out. “Even Dr. Gibson's evidence, though published in '76, is more current and has been used as the basis for ongoing research. This book is out of date. Now if you can show that this author has done further research and that that research has been substantiated by others in his profession, then it might be worth something. But as it stands it is not enough to refute Dr. Jackson's theories.”

This is ridiculous!” Shandal blustered, his already dubious features turning ugly with his anger. “The case studies in this book clearly show that the patients become violently aggressive not only towards others, but even towards themselves. It also gives clear evidence that it is a contagious disease and can be passed on from one generation to the next. You've hardly taken any time to read through the material, so how can you say that it is unsubstantiated?”

Mainly because of when it was written,” Steven responded. “It is archaic, and more recent studies have disproved many of these theories. It simply does not stand up as supportive evidence.”

I'd say that settles it,” Nugent put in. “The way I'm seeing things here, I don't feel that I have any further reason to detain Mr. Heyes.”

Oh, finally!” Heyes stated.

You're making a terrible mistake, Sheriff!” Shandal accused him. “I'm not going to give up that easily. I'll take this to a higher level—I'll take it to the courts.”

You go right ahead,” Nugent told him. “I can't stop you. But Judge Nichols won't be down this way for another month, and I have no intentions of keeping Mr. Heyes detained for that long. Besides, I've known the judge for many years, and I can tell you quite frankly that he'll take one look at your evidence and throw the case out. You'd be wasting everyone's time and money. I've had enough. As far as I'm concerned, we're done here.”

Shandal blustered to his feet and, with his hands on the desk, leaned into Nugent with what he hoped would be an intimidating manner.

Sheriff, you can't just let him go! There are certain procedures that need to be followed. I won't allow you to make a mockery of justice!”

Nugent slammed his fist down on the desk, and so close to Shandal's hand that the doctor jumped back in surprise. Nugent came to his feet as well, and his anger caused his already impressive presence to grow and take over the room.

How dare you tell me what I can and can't do in my town and in MY OWN OFFICE!” he yelled. “You have been a thorn in my side for ages! You've insisted that Mr. Heyes be detained on what is now obviously outdated research and opinions that cannot be substantiated. You've caused these two busy gentlemen to have to drop everything and come down here in order to defend their client and patient against accusations that you cannot prove. Enough of this! Get on with your day, and allow these people to get on with theirs!”

We can take this to a higher authority,” Benson interjected while his associate huffed and puffed in an effort to regain his composure. “If we had realized we would be coming up against such an opposition from supposedly educated men, we would have insisted on a legal hearing in the first place.”

Perhaps you should have,” Steven responded as he too came to his feet. “but you did not. As far as we are concerned, this matter is closed.”

I'm satisfied with the conclusion,” David agreed, as everyone now rose to their feet. “Are you satisfied, Mr. Heyes?”

Quite satisfied, Dr. Gibson,” Heyes quipped. “Are you satisfied with this conclusion, Mrs. Heyes?”

Miranda smiled. “Oh yes, Mr. Heyes. It could not have gone better.”

It seems we're all satisfied,” Nugent announced. “Good day to you all. I have work to do.”

Fine!” Shandal snarked as he collected up his belongings. “We'll see about this, Sheriff Nugent. This is not over!”

I'm sure we'll be seeing you in court,” Benson added.

And with that parting comment, the two complainants stomped their way to the door and disappeared into the bright sunshine.

A collaborative sigh of relief settled around the desk as the tension in the office left with the departing doctors.

Heyes gave his wife a hug with meaning, then smiled at the sheriff and shook his hand.

Thank you, Sheriff Nugent,” he said with a dimple flash. “You made my stay in Yuma a very memorable one.”

Nugent laughed as he returned the hand shake.

I'm sure, Mr. Heyes,” he agreed. “I don't think either one of us will be forgetting this little adventure any time soon.”

Heyes raised his brows and nodded in emphatic agreement.

Nugent turned his attention to Miranda, and taking her hand, he raised it to his lips and gave it a gentlemanly kiss.

Ma'am,” he said to a pair of surprised dark blue eyes. “It was a real pleasure having you in my town.”

Thank you, Sheriff,” Miranda responded through a rising blush. “Despite the circumstances, you were an honourable host.”

Heyes raised his brows again, and then grinned at his wife's embarrassment. She wasn't one to blush easily, so obviously the sheriff's compliment pleased her.

Alright,” Steven said as he also shook the sheriff's hand. “Thank you for contacting us, Sheriff. We appreciate it. If those two do decide to file official charges, they'll have to come to us, and then they'll really have a fight on their hands.”

I'll be surprised if they do,” Nugent assured him. “Shandal likes to talk, but anything that takes too much organizing, he backs away from. That threat was just posturing on his part. I doubt he'll go through with it.”

What about Benson?” Heyes asked. “That man could be trouble.”

You have a point there, Mr. Heyes,” Nugent agreed. “And I don't know him well enough to hazard a guess. Though I expect by the time they get around to organizing anything, you'll be back home. I'm sure you have a number of friends there who will stand up for your character. Not to mention, the local law must see some value in you, or they wouldn't be letting you set down roots.”

I certainly hope so,” Heyes agreed wholeheartedly. “But in the meantime, I'm not going to worry about it. We have a resort hotel on a nice sandy beach waiting for us, and right now, I am really feeling in need of a vacation.”

Oh, tell me about it!” Miranda agreed as she leaned into her husband's arm. “We'll wash all this worry away and enjoy ourselves. That is, as long as you're sure Sally is alright.”

Sally is fine,” David assured her again. “They're all having quite an adventure themselves, so don't either of you worry about her. Go have a good time.”

The couple exchanged smiles, and the light in Heyes' eye wasn't missed by anyone.

Ah, I'm assuming you folks will be staying in town one more night?” Nugent asked.

Hmm, what?” Heyes broke his attention away from his wife and looked at the sheriff.

In town, one more night,” Nugent repeated. “The stage to Santa Marta will be making that run again tomorrow. You might as well get some enjoyment out of Yuma while you're here. Get a chance to actually spend a night at the hotel. It is a very nice hotel.”

We'll be catching the morning train for home, I expect,” Steven ventured. “It would be nice to have a visit while we're here.”

Good idea,” David agreed. “I think we could all use the rest of the day to wind down from all this. We've all had a rough week.”

Oh,” Heyes smiled. “I guess it's settled then. No need to rent a coach if there's one heading down there tomorrow anyways.”

That would be lovely,” Miranda joined in. “But first, I think I would like to return to the hotel room to freshen up.”

Yes, me too,” Heyes agreed. “A decent shave, change of clothes. A bath would be nice.”

Okay,” David said through his grin. “Why don't we meet up at the hotel restaurant for lunch at around 1:00? Have ourselves a little bit of a celebration.”

That sounds like a plan,” Steven agreed. “1:00 it is.”

Sheriff, you're welcome to join us,” Heyes offered.

No, thank you, Mr. Heyes,” Nugent declined. “I think you and your friends can handle that on your own. I'm sure I'll see you again before you leave town in the morning.”

Alright.”

David took his turn to shake the sheriff's hand.

Thank you, Sheriff,” he said. “Without your diligence, this whole situation could have gone in a completely different direction. We all appreciate it.”

No problem,” he responded. “Tell me Doc, you're obviously a well learned man. What are you doing running a practice in a small town like Brookswood? Shouldn't you be back East, doing research in one of those fancy universities? Aren't you kind of wasting your talents here in the West?”

David smiled. “I like the West,” he told the sheriff. “I'm happy where I am, and Denver isn't that far away. That's a growing metropolis and offers its own brand of medical study and research.”

Well, I suppose,” Nugent shrugged. “It still seems to me that all the serious research goes on back East.”

But maybe if some of the best doctors stayed here in the West, we might get some good research facilities here,” David countered. “The West is growing Sheriff. There's plenty here to keep an curious mind busy.”

Yeah well, if you say so,” Nugent commented. “And however you figure it, I'm just glad you were here to help get this matter sorted out. Now, as for you, Mr. Heyes, I sure will be glad to get a decent night's sleep tonight. I'm relieved to say that he is now all yours, Mrs. Heyes.”

Miranda smiled. “No problem, Sheriff. I think I know what to do with him.”

Xxx

A dark ring of wet circled the tub that had been placed strategically in the plush hotel room. Clothing and towels lay scattered on the carpet, and the large soft bed stood dishevelled and abandoned in the background. The couple lying in the now calm water of the bath could have been asleep if it weren't for the smiles of sensual contentment that tugged at their mouths.

Hannibal had settled into the back of the tub, his knees, sticking up out of the water, rested gently against the insides of the confined space. Between them, his wife nestled atop him, her head comfortably pillowed upon the patch of wet hair on his chest. His smile deepened as his hand began to caress her long, wet hair, and she moaned with happiness as she squiggled deeper into his embrace.

I don't think this is what David had in mind, when he said that you shouldn't bathe alone,” she whispered after releasing a contented sigh.

I know what he meant,” Hannibal's voice rumbled in his chest. “I like my version better.”

Miranda smiled and nodded agreement as she closed her eyes and a relaxed into the liquid cocoon.

A knock on the door of their room caused both people to jump and exchange a quick glance. Hannibal shrugged his shoulders to Miranda's enquiring eyes.

Who's there?” he called.

It's the bellboy, Mr. Heyes,” came the squeaky response. “Your clothing is ready, sir.”

Already?” he asked. “I only sent it down, ah...let's see...it's been...”

Two and a half hours, sir,” came the response through the door.

The couple in the tub exchanged astonished looks.

Ah, just leave them there,” Heyes instructed the lad.

Out in the hallway, sir?”

Yes.”

I'm not supposed to do that, sir,” came the response. “I need to bring them into your room.”

I won't tell anybody,” Heyes assured him. “and I'll double your tip.”

A moment of silence followed as the lad calculated his advantage.

Well, as long as you don't tell anybody.”

I won't,” Heyes promised. “You have my word.”

Well, okay.”

Good lad.”

The couple listened silently for a moment, but when no further discussion was forthcoming, they started to giggle.

I didn't realize so much time had passed,” Miranda admitted. “We'll have to hurry if we're to meet up with Steven and David.”

True,” Hannibal agreed, though his heart wasn't really in it. “I don't suppose it would do to have them come knocking at the door.”

No, it wouldn't,” Miranda agreed as she raised herself up on her hands and stared into her husband's chocolate eyes. “It wouldn't do at all.”

Hannibal grinned as he felt the stirrings begin again. He pulled his wife in closer and kissed her long and deep as his hands moved down to caress her submerged form. The water in the tub began to vibrate, then it escalated into an agitated ripple. Soon, the ripples became waves and the water bounced and splashed over the rim to add to the dampness already soaking into the carpet surrounding the tub.


To Be Continued.


*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hughlings_Jackson
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Alias Smith and Jones Fun and Fanfiction  :: Writer's Area - Please email Admin to get your own thread for your stories. Use a new thread for each story. Please comment after the story. :: Stories by Keays-
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