Luka opened his eyes blearily and focused on the clock radio display. The red numbers flashed ominously at him 7:00 am.
He leapt out of bed, cursing in Croatian. He was going to be so late! Luka had spent the previous night drifting in and out of sleep, tossing and turning, worrying about Rebecca. He threw on his clothes and ran out to the car.
Luka drove quickly towards the hospital, but he could barely concentrate on the road. What had he done wrong? Why had she pushed him away like that, after such a wonderful evening? They had laughed and talked together all night, the atmosphere between them was electric until she suddenly changed. Had he been too rough with her pushed things too far? He had only caressed her breast, it had been such a tender moment, but Rebecca obviously couldnt cope with it. Luka just wanted to go to her and hold her, talk with her, ask her what was wrong. She would probably just turn him away.
Ah! Good afternoon, Kovac! said Dr Kerry Weaver, sarcastically, Wed almost given you up for lost!
Luka put his overcoat into his locker and quickly put on his white coat.
Sorry, Kerry, I overslept, I I know its no excuse.
Weaver walked briskly away, calling over her shoulder,
Haemorrhoids in curtain three! When youre ready
Luka sighed. He did not need this today. As he left the doctors lounge, he almost bumped into Dr Mark Greene.
Ah, Kovac, Ive been looking for you.
Luka groaned inwardly. What now?
We have a visiting lecturer from New York City here today, and Romano wants you to go along as a representative from the E.R.
Oh, right Luka brightened slightly, this was better than haemorrhoids.
Ill be covering your cases today, so dont worry, Mark continued, Youd better hurry, it starts in a few minutes. Its in the lecture theatre on the third floor.
Thanks, said Luka, hurrying along the corridor, adding, Haemorrhoids in curtain three
I got it! laughed Mark, grimacing.
Luka made his way through the rows of seats in the busy lecture theatre, squeezing past peoples knees, trying to locate a free chair.
Luka looked across to the direction of the voice, and saw Dr Peter Benton, indicating an empty seat next to him.
Luka sat down next to Benton. Having almost come to blows with the dynamic surgical fellow on several occasions, he was glad they would not have to speak to each other. The two men smiled politely at each other, then turned towards the front of the hall as the lights dimmed.
A woman walked onto the stage and tapped the microphone. She introduced herself.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Professor Jane Wainwright. Id like to talk to you today about the issues raised with cases of violent sexual trauma, specifically female patients. Were going to look at the hospital from the victims point of view, and discuss ways in which we can make the whole experience as painless as possible relatively, of course, given the circumstances.
The Professor switched on the projector, bathing the screen in white light.
Id like to start with the first point of contact the Emergency Services, and of course, the E.R.
Luka settled comfortably into his chair and took out his pen and pad, to make notes.
Professor Wainwright began to operate the projector, flashing slides onto the screen.
Luka dropped his pen and bent down under the seats to try and retrieve it. It rolled under the chair in front, and he had to grovel down underneath, attempting to listen to the lecture at the same time, without disturbing the chairs occupant.
OK, continued the Professor, We have here a real-life case study to illustrate the patients point of view. The victim, who we will be calling Miss A to protect her identity, is a 26 year old woman who was violently assaulted by a single male assailant. She was abducted at knife-point, raped and then stabbed repeatedly before being abandoned. These polaroid pictures were taken by paramedics arriving at the scene.
Luka managed to grab the pen, and sat back into his seat. He scribbled a few lines on his pad paraphrasing the Professors opening speech, and turned his attention to the pictures on the screen. Lukas heart almost stopped.
The slides showed a woman lying on a gurney, naked and covered with blood. She had an oxygen mask over her face and her eyes had been covered with a black strip to protect her identity. But Luka knew he had seen this woman before. Her arm hung limp over the edge of the gurney in one shot, and her delicate hand with its long fingers was in the foreground of the picture, in close-up. He swallowed hard, his face hot and his heart beating fast. In an instant, Luka realised that the woman in the picture was Rebecca.
Hey,man are you ok? whispered Benton. Lukas face had gone as white as a sheet and there were beads of sweat forming on his brow.
I Im not sure Luka stuttered. He tried to compose himself, took a few deep breaths. He tried to concentrate on the Professor, but her words made him feel worse, as she described in awful, graphic details the ordeal that Miss A had gone through. More photographs were projected, shots taken in the E.R., close-ups of her injuries. These pictures of the victims face, left Luka in no doubt of her identity. He felt sick, and the room took on a strange edge, as though he was not really there. Lukas breathing became more laboured, and he knew he had to get out of there.
Luka stood up quickly and forced his way through the rows of seats again. People gasped in astonishment and stood up to let him by. As he pushed open the doors, the last thing Luka saw was another horrific picture, six feet high on the big screen immediately above him. He ran outside into the hallway and slumped into a chair at a nearby nurses station, shaking violently.
Images flashed through his mind of the terrible atrocities he had witnessed during the war in Croatia. Victims of explosions, random attacks from masked gunmen. Even for a trained doctor, it was hard to stomach the blood, the screams of agony, people dying in front of him. Thoughts of his poor dead wife and children merged with the hideous images from the lecture theatre. What was happening? Was this a dream? Luka did not know for sure where his frightening memories ended and reality began.
Oh God Rebecca he murmured, thinking of her beautiful, bright eyes terrified, in dread of her attacker. The professors voice echoed in his mind, monotonously intoning the horrific injuries Rebeccas attacker had inflicted, as though it were a shopping list. Luka sat on the plastic chair, crying silently.
The lecture theatre doors swung open, and Peter Benton appeared in the doorway. He approached Luka slowly.
Hey, man whats wrong?
Luka looked up, not recognising his colleague for a moment through the tears.
I just felt a bit sick Luka began.
Hey, it happens to us all sometimes, man. Benton said, Those pictures were pretty bad. Benton poured water from a carafe at the nurses station into a cup and handed it to Luka. He took a sip from it and wiped his eyes, calming down slightly.
You must have seen some terrible sights in the war, Benton said gently.
Its not that .well, it is, but . Luka took another gulp of water to help his dry mouth, before suddenly blurting out,
Its awful, Peter! I know that woman, the woman in there!
Peter looked confused.
Who? The Professor?
No! The rape victim, the woman in the pictures. She I would know her anywhere, she lives nearby, we went out for a meal last night, I kissed her shes so beautiful I Oh, God
Luka trailed off, close to tears again, and Benton sat next to him.
Man I dont know what to say. Are you sure?
Yes, I know its her.
She wasnt brought in to this
E.R. you know, that Professor is from New York. Maybe its
just someone who looks like her?
Luka shook his head.
What can I say to her? I want to be with her, I want to help her so much, but when I tried to get close to her she pushed me away Now I know why
Luka, I know weve had our differences in the past. But I wont just walk out on a guy in trouble. Benton said.
Why dont we go to Doc Magoos for a coffee and try and figure something out.
OK, said Luka, shakily.
The two doctors got up and made their way towards the elevators.
to part 5
Back to table of contents
Back to new fic