The Edwards, Mrs. Tillynaught, Mrs. Balanafeel, and Mr. Greenfield were all seated around the Edwards’s room chatting and laughing. Mr. Edwards was on his bed. Mrs. Edwards and Mrs. Tillynaught sat on her bed. Mrs. Balanafeel sat on one of the easy chairs and Mr. Greenfield sat in the desk chair, but had it turned to face the rest of them.
When Nora and Ryan entered, they all smiled and did golf claps.
“Good job, Nora! Well done, Ryan!”
Nora smiled around the room. “Well done, everyone! Mrs. Edwards, you’re the star of the show!” Mrs. Edwards beamed. “Mr. Edwards, bravo! Most convincing heart attack I’ve ever seen!”
There was more smiling and golf clapping. Nora pulled over the other easy chair and sat down, and Ryan sat on the bed next to Mr. Edwards.
“So tell us what happened at the hospital!” Nora said.
The old people all started talking at once. Then Mr. Edwards raised his hands like a teacher and lowered his palms to calm them all down. “One at a time, one at a time, folks. Let’s let Paramedic Greenfield tell, as I believe he was the star of the show at the hospital!”
Everybody agreed, and Mr. Greenfield beamed.
“Well,” he began, settling into story-telling mode, “as you know, Nora, Ryan, for thirty years before my retirement I worked as a paramedic. And even after retirement, I did some volunteer work with young people at the hospital, teaching the dangers of certain types of activities such as driving drunk, playing in construction zones, and so on. I also taught the young people how to do life-saving techniques such as CPR and artificial resuscitation. So, as you can imagine, I am very well-practiced as a paramedic.”
Nora and Ryan looked at each other to share their admiration of Mr. Greenfield. Nora never really thought about the old people and their lives before they came to OG. Imagine how many lives Mr. Greenfield had saved, not only as a paramedic, which over the span of thirty years must have been thousands, but then even in his retirement he taught kids what not to do, which probably convinced at least a few kids to not do something idiotic and wind up dead, AND he even taught other people how to save lives. Like the ripples a stone makes when you toss it into a pond, Mr. Greenfield’s teachings had spread out among his pupils, probably persuading at least some of them to enter the medical profession, and over the years saving the lives of an absolutely unimaginable number of people.
Nora had no words to express her admiration for Mr. Greenfield, who was pausing in his story to sip a cup of tea and blow his nose into the hankie he kept in the sleeve of his cardigan. “That’s amazing, Mr. Greenfield. I had no idea,” she said lamely.
Mr. Greenfield gave her a sweet smile and continued. “So when we arrived, it was like riding a bicycle — I became the paramedic again immediately.”
“It was wonderful!” Mr. Edwards exclaimed. “He started saying things about heart rate, BP, STAT; you know! It was like scene from, what was that hospital show you used to watch, Jean… Central Hospital?”
Mrs. Edwards smiled at the memory of her bygone TV-watching days. “General Hospital!”
“Oh, General Hospital! My favourite daytime TV show!” Mrs. Balanafeel said.
“I did so admire that handsome Dr. Drake,” Mrs. Tillynaught said.
“Oh, no. It was Dr. Franco for me!” said Mrs. Balanafeel.
“There was never any Dr. Franco on General Hospital, dear,” said Mrs. Tillynaught. “You might be thinking of ER?”
“No, no. ER.”
Nora had to interrupt. “Anyway, it’s getting late. We can discuss TV later, but now let’s get back to the real story of what happened tonight with Mr. Greenfield!”
“Oh, yes! He was truly unbelievable!” Mr. Edwards could barely control his excitement. “He really had those doctors and nurses running about! They had me hooked up to every machine they could find!”
“Did they figure out it was fake?” asked Nora. “Did you get into trouble?”
“Oh, no,” said Mr. Greenfield. “They checked his blood pressure, and put him on an ECG for a while. I had to wait in the waiting room with Ben, but they kept us informed of every step. Anyway, they eventually said it was a false alarm. We were very relieved, filled out some paperwork, and brought him back here!”
“Just wonderful!” Mrs. Tillynaught exclaimed.
“I’ve been advised to cut down on fats and sugars and watch my cholesterol,” said Mr. Edwards. “All round, it was a very interesting experience. Now I know what to expect if I ever do need to be rushed to hospital.” He made driving motions with his hands while Mrs. Edwards frowned and shook her head at him.
“And how did you two make out?” Mr. Greenfield asked. Suddenly everyone turned to Nora.
“Yes, do tell us, dear. Were you able to get the keys?”
“Oh, the keys!” Nora jumped up and pulled them from her hoodie pocket, dangled them in front of her and shook them to make them jingle, for which she got an excited round of applause. “I’m just going to leave them right here,” she said, dropping them to the floor and kicking them under Mr. Edwards bedside table. “Now, if anyone comes in here looking for them, you have no idea where they are. And if anyone finds them, you have no idea how they got there.”
Everyone laughed. “That shouldn’t be a problem,” said Mrs. Edwards. “I’m sure we’ll all forget by morning!”
They all laughed again.
“Oh, I won’t forget,” said Mrs. Balanafeel. “Don’t worry, Nora. I’ll help you find your keys.”
“No!” everyone said at once.
Mr. Greenfield said, “Evelyn, darling, we must forget. Now, empty your mind of the keys.”
“But, what if Nora needs them?” Mrs. Balanafeel asked, quite mystified.
“I don’t think I’ll be needing them again, Mrs. Balanafeel,” said Nora.
“Anyway, they aren’t actually Nora’s keys. She borrowed them from Ben without asking, and if Ben finds out, Nora could be in big trouble,” Mr. Greenfield explained.
“So I’m not to remember where the keys are?” asked Mrs. Balanafeel.
Mrs. Balanafeel looked perplexed but satisfied. “Well, that’s the first time anyone’s instructed me to try very hard to FORGET something, and not the other way around!”
Everyone laughed again.
Nora said, “We did find some very unsettling information, though. Maybe you can help us make some sense out of it.”
“Tell us,” said Mr. Greenfield.
Ryan started explaining what he had found in Mrs. King’s office, and then about the file drawer in the first storage room.
“Oh my goodness gracious!” Mrs. Edwards exclaimed. “It truly does sound as if they are actually planning the dates of our deaths!”
The others became very silent and horrified expressions crossed their faces.
After a pause, Mr. Edwards said, “We’re living in a murderer’s home.”
Mrs. Tillynaught covered her mouth with her shaking hand, her eyes wide with fright. “Nora,” she whispered, “who is going next?”
Nora felt like a block of ice. She was dreading that question. “We don’t actually know,” she said. “You see, we looked in Mrs. King’s office first, and at that time, we didn’t realize that the files… your files… were in any kind of order. So we didn’t pay any attention to which order they were in. Then afterwards we didn’t really have time to go back and look, because Ben came back.”
“But don’t worry,” Ryan said, “because as far as we’re concerned, nobody is next. We’re going to stop this and have that woman arrested. We have evidence now and we can go to the police.”
The old people didn’t look any less worried. “I don’t know if that’s enough to convince the police that something is going on here, or even enough to persuade them to investigate,” said Mr. Greenfield.
“Oh, and I have this,” said Nora, pulling the pill bottles out of her two pockets. “This one,” she showed them, “I found in Mrs. Rubens’s room this morning. I took it because it seemed new, compared to the other bottles she had. Also, I think it should be a prescription, but it doesn’t have her name on it.”
“Good sleuthing, Nora,” said Mr. Edwards. Mr. Greenfield took the bottle from her and examined the label.
“And this one,” Nora indicated the one in her other hand, “came out of the second storage room. They have a big box of them in there.”
Mr. Greenfield said, “It’s a sleeping aid, but a very mild one. It would take a huge amount of this to kill anyone. Probably the whole bottle. And the coroner would be able to figure out that the victim was poisoned pretty easily.”
“That’s if the coroner made any effort at all to figure out anything. He always just puts cause of death as natural causes and then leaves. We have all the papers from the file cabinets. There aren’t even official death certificates or anything.” Ryan showed everyone his phone.
“And, plus, that’s if it’s even actually what it says it is,” said Nora. “I mean, they’re capsules. They could have put anything in there. Each capsule could be filled with some kind of poison!”
“And if that’s the case, they’ll probably want to get it back out of Martha’s room,” said Mr. Greenfield. He opened the bottle and took out one capsule, then gave the bottle back to Nora. “I’ll keep this one. I’ll write a note and send it with you to the chemist. You put the bottle back where you found it in case they’re looking for it.”
Nora nodded. She didn’t know where to find a chemist. “Maybe Ryan should do it? Take the pill to a chemistry teacher.”
Mr. Greenfield shrugged. “Either way. I just want to find out what it actually contains. I don’t know if a chemistry teacher would have the facilities.”
Ryan took the pill with an uneasy look on his face. “I think I might know someone who might be able to, uh,” he glanced at Nora, “figure something out.”
“Great!” Said Nora, assuming from his glance that he meant a drug dealer or something. “So, that’s taken care of. Actually, Let’s have a few pills out of this bottle, in case Ryan’s friend finds something, so we have something to take to the police.”
“Oh, great thinking, Nora.” Mr. Greenfield did a big thumbs-up. Mr. Edwards yawned, and Mrs. Edwards followed her husband’s lead with a loud sound. She placed her hand over her mouth and said, “Oh, excuse me! I think it’s getting to be rather a late night!”
“With lots of excitement!” exclaimed Mr. Edwards. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep after all this, but I’d better try.”
“Just don’t let Mrs. King give you anything to help you sleep!” Nora said.