Scott Williams *
(novel excerpt *working title*)
by: Derek Hawkins
The rain slacked off to a misty drizzle. A low cloud deck blanketed the city, bringing with it the dreary weather that was normal for this time of year in London.
The streets and sidewalks were slick with the newly fallen rain. Shoppers were taking back to the streets in-between the afternoon deluges. One of the shoppers on the street this afternoon was trying to navigate with a street map and having very little luck with it. Scott Williams held the map in one hand and his briefcase in the other. Why can't the English design their cities the way we Americans do.
Williams was lost. He had been in London for a week now and still couldn't find his way from his new office to the small flat the company rented for him and back. He was a marine engineer with General Dynamics' Electric Boat Division in Groton, Connecticut. The company had sent him overseas as a consultant to the Royal Navy, to assist in the design and construction of the new "T" class British nuclear attack submarine.
Scott left the cover that the entrance-way awning of a small cafe offered and began walking down the street again. Williams had been in town just long enough to learn that punk music, all the rage over here in the UK, was just as bad to isten to as disco was back in the States. He cared for neither type of music. Williams hoped both of them came to quick, untimely deaths. Untill that happened, and it couldn't come soon enough for Scott, he just hoped his small casstte tape collection didn't wear out before he could find some real music over here.
Williams walked around the corner and past a policeman, a "Bobbie" they called them. Do the English have to do everything in a screwed up fashion? he thought. This line of thinking carried him fiftey feet down the block when he finally saw a sign that made sense to him. Scott looked at his map again and saw the symbol marking the location of the same major subway terminal that he was now looking at. Now he knew where he was at. Williams needed to be acros the street and to take the second streer he came to. That would take him back to his flat.
He stepped out between two parked cars and like any good American, he looked first to the left, then to the right, and then back to his left again as he headed across the street. Only the Brits, in all their infinite wisdom, he thought, would call a subway the Underground. No wonder we beat them in the Revolutionary War.
Lost in that though, Williams didn't hear the Bobbie's warning to cross at the corner. He also didn't see the red double-decker bus that had come around the Bobbie's corner....
* * *
The first two things Williams recognized when he opened his eyes was bright light nearby, and the color white. Or, that is to say, once he got his eyes to stay open. He seemed to be having trouble with them lately Actually, in all truth, it felt like he had a bad hangover. His head felt some gonzo maniacdrummer was pounding on the inside of his skull to beat the band. His temples certianly pulsed in time to a Neil Peart drum solo. The funny thing was, he didn't remember getting drunk since before he'd gotten to... where was he? For some reason he couldn't think of where he was.
He got his eyes to stay open and recognized the color white. He turned to his left and saw white everywhere. Floor. Ceiling. Walls. All white. Everything he was looking at was white.
He tried to turn his head to the right and promptly passed out cold.
Sometime later he woke again, and had no trouble keeping his eyes open. This time around he noticed a curvy white form before him. The mass of white resolved itself into a human form that Williams recognized as a woman. Scott was looking down the lengt of his body at the woman wh was making notes on a metal clipboard. This is a funny position to be looking at a woman from. Why am I like this?
Williams was watching the woman when she glanced up from her notes, and noticed he was awake.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Williams. How are you feeling? she asked, moving around to the left side of his bed.
Scott noticed that she had a pleasant sounding British accent, the kind he had always enjoyed listening to, and not that grating Cockney accent like the secretary in the office. I must be dreaming of a beautiful English nurse he decided. But why would I do that? Then another thought hit him with about the same force as getting hit by a bus: There aren't any secretaries in the Groton office with Cockney accents.
What the Hell is going on here?
"Hungry," he replied, when he realized that the question had been repeated. "And I think I pass out whenever i turn my head to the right."
"Good signs, Mr Williams. Those are bo..."
"Its Scott," he interupted.
The woman took it in stride. It was her buisness to help others recover from traumatic injuries, and she knew her buisness well. If the patient wanted to be called by his first name, if that made him feel more comfortable, then thats what she would do. "Scott. Those are both very good signs that you are on your wy to recovery."
Scott looked up at the woman. She was wearing a pictured ID badge clipped to her collar that read "O'Donnell, K." That picture doesn't do her any justice he thought after looking at her face and comparing it to the ID picture. "Recovery from what? he asked.
Then it all came crashing together and fell into place. The overabundance of white, the metal clipboard, the ID badge on the woman's collar. Something had happened to him. "Where the Hell am I?"
The woman smiled sweetly. "Your in St Thomas hospital, Scott. You were brought in here two days ago unconscious and bleeding."
"What happened? Why am I here?"
The nurse tried to take the sting out of what she was about to tell him. "A policeman on the scene said you had been hit by a Double-decker bus while trying to cross the street several yards down from the corner where you should have crossed at." O'Donnell had heard of this happening before, but this was the first case she'd ever dealt with. It didn't surprise her though. The Americans drove on the wrong side of the road and weren't properly trained how to cross Her Majesty's streets. Everyone know that you look right, then left, and then right again.
Oh my God, thought Williams. Hit by a rolling tourist attraction! The guys back at the office will never let me live this one down.
"How bad off am I? he asked, trying to sit up a bit more. Williams was rewarded for his efforts with an intense burst of pain along his right side from the hip upwards. He tried to hide the pain and discomfort he felt. Scott wasn't one of those he-men who showed no pain, but neither did he want the doctors to prescribe too heavy of a dosage of pain medication. He'd done drugs once at a fraternity party at UCLA while he was in college. Once. Afterwards he swore he'd never do that again. In any way shape or form.
Nurse O'Donnell noticed the pain despite Scott's best efforts to conceal it. "Is the pain too much for you? I can recommend to the Doctor an increase in your pain killers."
"I like pain."
Kimberly O'Donnell shook her head. "Too much pain will hamper your recovery, Scott."
"I like pain."
O'Donnell finished with the medical chart and reattached it to the end of the bed. "Well then, Scott, is there anything else I can do for you?"
He could have asked for any of a million things just then. "Since I'm awake, some music might be nice."
Nurse O'Donnell gave the American a polite goodbye smile from the doorway. "I will so what I can do."
* * *
Scott next awoke to find an older an in a white coat standing at the end of his bed. In his fifties, and with salt and pepper hair where he still had hair, the man wore halfrimmed glasses while reading Williams' chart. This must be the docotr Scott decided.
The man looked up, or rather down, at Scott. "Good morning, Mr Williams. I'm Dr Davis."
Scott was still a little groggy from the drug-induced sleep, and the use of his last name slipped by without his notice. "Morning Doc."
"Hmmm," the older man said, as the door to Williams' room opened and Nure O'Donnell walked in carrying a breakfast tray. "You've had quite an adventure, Mr Williams."
"Its Scott." Both the nurse and the patient said at the same time, causing a slightly bemused grin to slowly spread across the doctor's face.
"How bad am I, Doc?"
Before Davis could speak, Williams held up his left hand, forestalling the doctor's comments. "In English please. Not that medical mumbo-jumbo that no one without four years of medical school can understand."
Davis was well used to dealing with Americans, having spent a year as a combat doctor on an exchange program with the United States Army. most of that year was spent sweltering in the South-East Asian heat patching up American soldiers. It was there that he learned the secret to dealing with Americans: keep them laughing and they can take anything you have to tell them, nomatter how terrible the news is.
This case, fortunately, was not serious at all. The patient was definitely going to survive. Time for his patented sense of humor to take over. "Would that be the Queen's English, or that squawk-talk you Yanks call English?" he asked with a lopsided grin, letting the patient know that he wasn't seriously slandering Williams' native tongue.
"Touche." Scott said, laughing at the Doctor "O.K. How about in layman's terms?"
Nurse O'Donnell helped Williams sit up, and brought his breakfast over to him on arolling table designed to fit over the hospital bed. Scott took one look at his breakfast and decided the menu was a little... lacking. "Does McDonald's deliver over here? he asked hopefully.
Davis smilled at the American laying in the bed. "Araid not. But, I will be sure to suggest it at the next staff meeting."
Wlliams gave a one-armed shrug. "Worth a try."
"Indeed," the Doctor replied. "Now, your injuries, Scott."
The American tore his attention away from the beautiful Nurse O'Donnell, no easy task, and focused on Davis. "O.K., Doc. Lay it on me."
Nurse O'Donnell stuck a thermometer inot Williams' mouth, and slipped a pressure cup around his left arm.
"You took most of the force of the impact on your right arm, Scott, with your hip taking the rest of the impact." Davis looked over the top of his glasses at the patient. "A severe shoulder strain, a bruised hip, possibly a few bruised ribs, and a mild concussion from your head hitting the pavement. Some small cuts and scrapes from the pavement, and you will probably have a small scar on the back of your head from the impact with the pavement. You are a very lucky man."
Williams shook his head. "No, Doc.That just makes me a fortunate man. I'd be a very lucky man if Nurse O'Donnell agreed to go out with me."
O'Donnell, all this time unobtrusively taking Williams' temperature and blood pressure, was brought up short by that remark. She didn't quite know what to say. Of course, this had happened to her before. Many of the male patients around Williams' age, and the younger and older ones as well, asked her for dates when they got out of the hospital. She generally let them down easy by stating that her boyfriend, a dock foreman, might have a problem with it. Granted, while it was a little lie, it usually settled the issue right then and there. But, something about this American intrigued her, in some intangible fashion.
"Dr. Davis, perhaps we should have Neurology re-examine Mr. Williams. I believe his concussion is worse than we first thought," she said lightly, letting a hint of laughter and the beginings of a genuine smile add a playful tone to her voice.
The doctor enjoyed the interplay between the patient and the nurse. "You may be right, Nurse O'Donnell."
This drew a chuckle from Williams. "Oh, I see. Your just avoiding the issue, Nurse." Scott gave both of them a maniacal grin. "So, how about it? Gonna answer my question?"
The doctor finished with Williams' chart and returned it to the hanger on the end of the hospital bed. Davis, to his credit, interjected quickly before O'Donnell could respond. "Well, I can see, Scott, that you will be up and around harassing my nurses in no time at all."
End Chapter One.