The Mind Reader (2015)

Chapter 3

 

“Mr. Petruzzi, I presume,” she said brightly as she walked into the room. Chara never failed to be amazed at the differences in energy levels in two physically identical hospital rooms.

Each had impersonal white walls. Each had the same ugly green wood-framed chairs for visitors. All equally uncomfortable by the way. Each had the same bulletin boards with the same information that no one but bored, wandering children read when their parents dragged them in for visiting hours. Yet, when she had walked into Mrs. Kendricks’ room, the negative energy attacked Chara and nearly zapped her of her strength, both physical and mental.

It was definitely a study of contrasts in Mr. Petruzzi’s room. She could feel the positive energy emitting from this room even before she entered it. It spilled out into the hallway and down the corridor. She had no doubt it traveled right into the adjacent rooms as well.

“You’ve got the right person,” he said brightly.

She introduced herself. “I’ll be your RN for the next eight hours,” she said good-naturedly.

“You already know my name,” Mr. Petruzzi said. “I’ll be your patient for the next eight hours.”

Chara was already scanning his thoughts. “Finally, a nurse with a sense of humor,” he was thinking. She took this as a segue. “As you’ll soon discover,” she told her patient, “I believe in the power of humor to heal.” He laughed.

“What are you in for? Wait. Let me guess you’re in for observation because they believe you’re too happy and cheerful. Therefore, something must be wrong with you.”

“For a while I thought just that – the way some of your colleagues mope around these halls.”

“That’s because not every nurse is blessed with such wonderful patients like I have,” she said.

She picked up his chart as he said, “I fell and my family was concerned I sustained a concussion. The doctors thought it was a distinct possibility so they kept me overnight for observation.”

Those may have been his words, but Chara heard his thoughts loud and clear. “That’s a bunch of bull. I told the doctor that right from the start.”

“And I can tell,” Chara danced around the verbalized and the unstated thoughts, “you told them they were full of it. Right?”

“Exactly,” he exclaimed. “Only I didn’t mince any words. You’re good at reading people, young lady.”

“If you only knew the half of it,” she told him returning the smile he had given her. As far as I can tell from your chart, they’ll be coming around to your way of thinking very soon. Your period of observation is nearly complete.”

“Alleluia!” He said.

“I won’t bother you any more, Mr. Petruzzi. It doesn’t appear you need anything. If you do – even just a simple conversation – please call me. Is there anything I can get you right now?”

“Nothing but a release form,” he said eagerly.

“Easy, there tiger, easy. Everything in due time.”

“Thanks, uhm . . .” he said out loud, while his inner thoughts debated whether he should call her by her first name. He never could get that social etiquette right, he thought.

In response to his thoughts she said, “Please, call me Chara. And if you should need something, I’m only a push of a button away, Mr. Petruzzi.”

That only left one new patient to visit: Ted Langley, celebrity multi-millionaire. Before she reached that room – or even a chance to gauge the energy level of it – she heard the urgent click of footsteps from behind. And as the figure got closer, so did the thoughts in his head.

“I don’t know these thoughts,” Chara said to herself, “this is no mind I’ve ever read before.” What was even more curious, though, she could have sworn the person was thinking with . . . no is that even possible?  A French accent?

She thought for a moment. Shouldn’t all thoughts sound universal? Who knew it was even possible to think with an accent?

“Chara?” the voice asked, not surprisingly with that same French accent. She had never realized how terribly sexy the accent alone could be. “Chara, hold up a moment, would you please?” Chara was almost afraid to turn around. What if those sensual sounds came from a real geek? How disappointed would she be?

Pivoting on a heel, Chara came face to face with the most handsome doctor she had ever met in all her years of working at the hospital. He was so handsome, his presence took her breath away. Dark brown hair, eyes the color of a melted chocolate bar, aquiline nose, thin lips and she hadn’t even got to assess his body yet.

Broad shoulders. A torso that he couldn’t hide regardless of how baggy that white lab coat was. If Chara had to guess a profession merely on the state of his amazingly sexy body, she would have sworn he was some type of fitness professional – a bodybuilder or a fitness trainer. Not a doctor.

It was Doctor Jean Renault, the most recent addition to the hospital staff. She had read about him in the latest magazine the hospital sent out to its patrons and area residents. He had a list of credentials a mile long. The hospital had hoped his presence would attract more potential patients.

Granted, she had seen a photo of the man in the magazine, but it certainly didn’t do him justice. Either the photographer was very bad at his profession or the doctor was not the least bit photogenic.

“Yes, doctor,” Chara responded, trying hard not to hyperventilate. “Can I help you?” She knew darn well now that he was a bit closer what he wanted. She had already heard his thinking, loud and clear.

“Loud and clear,” Chara thought, it was an apt description, in fact, for his thinking. She had never heard someone’s thoughts with such crispness and precision before. If she didn’t know better, she would have thought he was purposely shouting his thoughts at her. “Impossible,” she said to herself.

“Can I ask you a question about Mrs. Kendricks in room 926B, please?” Before Chara could agree, he launched into his question. “You were just in there moments ago.”

“Sure, doctor,” Chara said. She hadn’t remember reading him as attending physician on her case.

“I’ve been assigned to this case,” he confessed, “because I’m low man on the totem pole.”

“Regardless, it’s nice to meet you.” Chara extended her hand. Apparently, he wasn’t used to shaking hands with nurses because he hesitated for a moment before he offered his. “How could I possibly help you?”

“I’m curious about the note you wrote on her chart,” he said. “The one that mentioned she might be afflicted with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. What makes you think so?”

Chara shifted the weight on her legs and quickly ran a hand through her thick, dark brown hair. She wasn’t sure how to word what had occurred in that room. She quickly thought. As long as I’ve been reading minds, I would think I could easily explain what I know without saying the words “reading minds.”

She couldn’t possibly tell this doctor that she read Mrs. Kendricks thoughts and was able to read thoroughly enough to pinpoint the types of pain and around where it hurt her most. That combined, of course, with the woman’s own hunches made celiac disease a logical – at the very least plausible – possibility.

“I spent some time listening to her.” She decided that was an appropriate response without having to get into too much more detail.

“I see.” The doctor accepted the response at face value, but Chara knew he was still harboring doubts about the answer. “There has to be another answer,” he was thinking, much louder than Chara thought necessary. That’s the moment, Chara understood he was shouting his thoughts. He was trying hard to think in English and not French. So he had to “think loudly” as it were so his English thoughts could talk over his instinctive thoughts of “thinking in French.” Clever. Very clever.

“I asked some of the other doctors about you,” he said out loud. Yeah, I know you have.

Chara raised her eyebrows and immediately folded her arms in front of her.

“They told me you’re intuitive mind is invaluable in instances like this. They said if you suggested it a possible option, follow up on it. Nine times out of ten, it’s right. Some doctors swear you can read the minds of patients.”

“What?”

“Yeah, silly isn’t it? But you do have a valuable gift.”

“Patients find me easy to talk to, Dr. Renault, that’s all. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to be able to interpret what they’re trying to say but can’t articulate fully.”

“From what I understand from the few doctors I’ve spoken with, they feel lucky to be working with you.”

“That’s very kind of you to say,” Chara stumbled over her words. No doctor has ever told her this and if they thought this she had been out of their range and couldn’t hear it. “It’s also very kind of the other doctors to speak so highly of me. It feels good to be appreciated.”

Chara wasn’t even pretending to be modest. She’s had so many arguments with doctors, it felt good to be appreciated.

“I won’t take up any more of your time, Chara,” the doctor said, “I know how busy nurses are. Especially valuable ones like you.” Chara heard the words and read his thoughts at the same time. He hoped they worked together more often. She complemented, apparently, one of his weaknesses: that of listening closely to patients. Therefore, he was very often at a loss to offer a proper diagnoses.

Odd. His reputation shone as a doctor. How he could excel in his profession without the ability to diagnose?

Chara was disappointed when he simply walked away. According to his unspoken thoughts, he was about to ask her out for some coffee. I wonder what changed his mind?

The nurse simply shrugged her shoulders and turned to go when Dr. Renault called back to her. “One moment, please,” he said. He turned around and hurried to her side.

“Would you like to meet me in the hospital cafeteria for your lunch break?” he asked.