Corinne had visited very few hospitals in her life, mainly because her father was a doctor and the few she had, when very young, had put her off ever going, even if she needed medical attention herself.
The one Harry had ended up in was big, bustling, and full of sick people.
It was also one her father would not go near, or so he had said once, one of the few conversations she had listened to over the table. He had opinions about everything, particularly the medical profession, and how it never seemed to measure up to his standards/
Or, she realized one day, after Harry had left or was it banished, that it was Harry he was referring to. She had tried to talk to her mother about it, but her mother was too wrapped up in her role as charity queen, or some such, she could never understand her compulsion to be a leader in everything rather than a drone.
That was what Corinne was, she thought to herself, a drone.
She didn’t want to be a doctor, she had tried her hand at nursing and hated it, she had tried being a charity queen, and couldn’t stand half the people she had to be nice to, and was now languishing in her father’s practice as a records clerk.
Of everyone in that house, she was the only one who ‘understood’ Harry.
“So,” she said, sitting in the seat beside the bed, “I leave you to your own devices for a few months and this is what happens to you?”
Harry had been surprised to see her, no, make that shocked.
And then immediately cursed Sykes under his breath. He had gone and told his mother, and no doubt Corinne had also been there.
“Sykes tell you?”
“You mean the grubby policeman?”
“Don’t judge a book by its cover. I’m surprised he didn’t shoot you.”
“I think he was going to but changed his mind.”
“It would only be the paperwork that stopped him then.”
Banter. Something she missed at home, something her mother and father detested, at the dinner table, or anywhere else.
“I got hit by a bus. You should see the bus.”
“Ask no questions and I’ll tell you no lies. It’s none of your business, especially when you’ll go back and tell everyone and cause un-necessary anguish.”
“If I promise not to?”
“This from the girl who always crossed her fingers behind her back when pretending to make a promise?”
“If I put my hands on the bed where you can see them?”
He gave her a long hard look, trying to figure out what her angle was. She always had an angle. Getting out of that house and away from the schemes and lies of his fellow siblings was the best thing he ever did.
“Why? What’s in it for you?”
“I’m looking for something better than being a filing clerk for the rest of my life. It seems your life has progressed remarkably from finding lost cats, and given what’s happened to you, I think you need someone to watch your back.”
She would be the one looking to stab him in the back, not watch it.
“I’m going bonkers in that surgery.”
“If I promise to do everything you say?”
He snorted. That would never happen. “No.”
“What would it take?”
“What do you mean?”
“What would it take to prove I’m willing to be your right-hand woman?”
“Nothing. Never. This is no job for someone like you. You’re far more suited to working with mother and her charities.”
And the fact that she had never stuck to one job for longer than a few days before the old habits returned, late nights partying with her indolent friends, hangovers the following morning, and any excuse not get a job, or having a job. Records Clerk in her father’s practice was the best she was going to have. At least their father was not going to dismiss her.
“Then give me an impossible task, and if I can’t complete it then I’ll abide by no.”
It was a game to her, Harry thought. She didn’t understand it could be life and death, and that she could finish up like him, now, in hospital, lucky to be alive.
But there was an impossible task.
“You’ve got one, haven’t you?” she said.
“Yes. Get all the case notes for the Jones’ murders off Detective Sykes, the so-called grubby policeman, and bring them to me here. I’ll give you 48 hours.”
Her smile turned into a frown. She’d asked for an impossible job, and he knew that Sykes would not share anything with him let alone give anything to her, particularly after what she had said about him.
She stood. “OK. Challenge accepted. I hope he knows what you’re talking about. Jones, you say?
“Two of them. Murdered. Case notes. Go.”
© Charles Heath 2016-2019