Chapter SixPyotr said goodbye to Mark and walked back to the hospital, keen to see his daughter. He had protected her all her life and it was a hard habit to break. It was funny, he thought: she was twenty-two now, she had a job and a flat and a bank account and a boyfriend, and he still thought of her as his baby, his responsibility. This had been the cause of some discord in the past.
He reached the revolving door and took his turn to wait for the walls to move. Like Darren, he hated these things. So complicated! So much extra thought required! A simple hinged door would work so much better. At least people knew where to stand.
He walked past the restaurant that sold food worse than the patients got and reached the lift, pushing the button for the second floor. He got in when it arrived, and then tapped his fingers impatiently as he listened to two verses of 'the Girl from Ipanema' as it made its glacially slow ascent.
It finally stopped and he got out, retracing his steps to the ward he'd visited before. The nurse recognised him and smiled.
“Good evening, Mr Frackoweski,” she said. “Were you able to find Mr Roberts?”
“Oh yes,” he said. “We talk much of lives and heroes. Now I see my daughter Dorota pliz.”
“Of course, Mr Frackowski. This way.” The nurse beckoned him and tapped her hair bun into shape. She was an old-fashioned lady who appreciated old-world manners.
She led the way to bed five and opened the curtains. “Dorota, your father is here...” She stopped, open mouthed at the sight before her: an empty bed, with specks of blood on the right side, covered in the adhesive pads used by the heart monitor, ECG, etc.
“Excuse pliz,” said Frackowski. “Where is daughter?”
“I'm not entirely sure,” said the nurse. She called over a colleague. “Nurse Flannagan, have you seen where Miss Frackowski has gone?”
“No,” she replied. “I've not seen her since she woke up and screamed.” She saw the look on Pyotr's faced and smiled that reassuring smile again. “It's OK, I think she was just a little disorientated because she'd just woken up. Why don't you take a seat and I'll track her down. She's probably just gone for some tests.”
Pyotr went to sit down and the nurse wondered why she had mentioned the tests. She knew there weren't any tests that were scheduled to be done. Of course she would know. The young lady was her patient. But she had no idea where she was and a little white lie was better than a frantic and potentially litigious relative.
She went to the nurses' station and asked the other nurses if they had any idea where the patient had got to. They had none. All the MRIs and x-rays were already complete, and the other tests for blood, urine, etc, could be done while she was still in the bed. She checked the toilets, and apart from finding a junkie shooting herself up, there was nothing amiss. But there was something missing. Dorota could not be seen anywhere.
She checked her reflection in the ladies, made sure her hair was neat and the clock at her breast was in position, practised her smile, braced herself and went to tell Mr Frackowski that she'd lost his daughter.