ALBANYVILLE GENERAL HOSPITAL - THIRD
FLOOR NURSES STATION
take these files down to the lab for me," Talbot said as he handed them to
Rutledge. "And make sure you bring back those test results
for Mrs. Marceau."
"Yes, Dr. Campbell," Fay nodded and then quickly
hurried off to do as he'd requested.
No sooner had the doors of elevator one closed behind her,
the doors of elevator two opened so that Judith Linford could step out into the
"Talbot!" she called out as she tried to get his
attention. "Talbot, I need to talk to you."
Judith, what is it?" he asked, both surprised with and curious about her
visit. "You're not feeling sick again, are you? I talked to
your mother the other day and she mentioned something about you having a
"Oh, no, that was nothing." She
hurried over to him and grabbed his arm, startling him with her urgency.
"This is much more important."
"Then...what is it?" He gently took her by
the arm and guided her towards his office so that they could have more privacy.
"I need to...talk to you about
she explained in a voice just above a whisper as if she were afraid that someone
might overhear. "I need to ask you a few things."
"About Dr. Rutherford?" Talbot shut the
door of his office behind them and then shook his
head, not sure about the direction of the conversation. "If you have
a question, why don't you just ask him? He's married to your mother and
you live in the same house, after all."
"That's the problem!" she asserted.
"How she can be married to such a lowlife is beyond me. I mean, Daddy
must be turning over in his grave and...."
"Judith, I think that your mother's marriage is
really something that's between them. It really isn't any of your
of my concern?" Her eyes grew wide with surprise as if his comment
was the most illogical thing in the world. "She's my mother!
That makes it my concern." Pausing to take a deep breath, she decided
to use a different tactic and lowered her voice until it was nearly breathy and
seductive. "Talbot, dear, surely you can understand my position.
Family is so desperately important to me and...well...after we lost Daddy, it's
come to mean even more to me." Lowering her head slightly, she tried
to take on her best 'little girl' quality -- the same quality she'd always used to
get her way with her late father. "Isn't there anything about him you
could tell me? He's such a mystery and...well...maybe if I knew more about
him I could make an attempt to bridge the gap that's between us."
"Well...." Talbot eyed her
carefully. Although he was firm in his belief that her mother's marriage
was really none of her business, his heart went out to her. How could he
deny her request. "From what I know, Fred's originally from
Albanyville. I know he moved away for several years to go to medical
school and he worked for a time at a hospital in Boston, but he came home a few
years ago and took a position here."
"None that I'm aware of. At least, he's never
mentioned any. Anyway, he has an exemplary record. His patients love
him and he's got a wonderful bedside manner."
"I'm sure," she grumbled under her breath.
"N-nothing." Although knowledge of her
step-father's professional history was all good and well, it wasn't exactly what
she was fishing for. "What about...his social life? Has he ever
dated anyone seriously other than my mother? Does he have...well...a
former girlfriend or...."
"Judith, I don't make it a habit of prying into my
staff's personal lives." He lifted an eyebrow and gave her a
cautionary glance that indicated that she was touching on a topic that he didn't
care to discuss. "What they do outside these walls is entirely their
business. I only care about the quality of the work."
"I understand that, Talbot. Honestly, I
"Oh, but, Talbot, please? If I just had some
solid indication of his real character. If I could find a way to disprove
my suspicions of him...." Or prove them, as the case may be.
"I understand you concerns, really, but I can't let
myself fall into the habit of gossiping about my staff's personal lives.
Not when I'm in such a position of authority. Those kinds of conversations
are best left outside or in the nurses' lounge." Or to his wife Corinne. "Now, Judith, I hate to cut this short, but I've got a
patient to check in on."
"I understand," she sighed with disappointment
as he led her to the door.
when he opened his office door so that they could step out into the hallway,
they both saw a sight that both of them found quite ironic, although neither one
had expected it -- Dr. Fred Rutherford, himself, right outside the door involved
in a conversation with a young
making her presence known, Judith watched Fred and the nurse closely.
True, it wasn't an unusual occurrence to see a doctor and a nurse having a
conversation in a hospital, but something about this seemed different.
Maybe it was how close they were standing to one another or their body language.
When Fred lifted his hand to touch the young nurse lightly
on her cheek, Judith's head snapped around to face Talbot with look of
self-satisfaction. What she saw, however, was Talbot's own look of
surprise and concern. He clearly could tell that something was not as it
should be between Fred and the nurse, as well. Without saying a word, Judith's
eyes dared him to
casually explain this scene away.