An Unexpected Meeting
Charlotte Bradley sat nervously awaiting the results of the operation on her close friend Julia Gibbs. Gathered in bunches throughout the crowded waiting room of the Owen Sound Hospital were police and news reporters. She remembered a time five years ago when she waited at the very same location for a different person. Kill any sonofabitch that gets between you and freedom. Juarez’s words rushed into her memories like an out-of-control freight train. She stood and went to the vending machine, inserted the necessary change, and returned with a ham sandwich. More images flooded her mind. Janet tightening her grip on the Glock, the tarp that concealed them being removed, and Janet firing at the man until her gun emptied. Chaos surrounded them. Automatic weapons sprayed the cab of the truck they were hidden in. Beads of sweat formed on her brow; extra saliva with a slight alkaline taste began to fill her mouth. She reached into the driver’s side of the cab and searched for a pulse in his neck. “Help! Please help!” Andres was covered in blood. The unwrapped sandwich fell to the floor when she rose and began to push frantically through the crowded waiting room to the washroom.
When Charlotte returned, the waiting room had emptied out. Two wrapped ham sandwiches were in the middle of her seat and under them was a folded sheet of paper. She glanced around the room. Other than a few nurses who scurried by there were no familiar faces. She unfolded the paper. On it was written, Come to Room 205 now and bring the sandwiches.
Gurneys lined either side of the corridor she walked along. The first three rooms she passed were completely empty and she began to wonder if she had been misdirected at the nurses’ station. When she arrived at 205 at the end of the hall, the door was closed. She drew in a deep breath and knocked. When the door opened, a tall, lean and pleasant-looking gentleman opened it. Her jaw dropped. “Leonard…Leonard Palladin. What a surprise! You’re the last person I expected to see.”
“Pleased to meet you again, Charlotte. I only recently learned that you and Edward Slocum married. May I extend my congratulations. What’s it been, five years since we last met? How’s Janet doing?”
“Crusty as ever. Otherwise doing well. I flew out of Ottawa ahead of her. She and Edward are scheduled to arrive early this evening. How’s Chuck, I mean Premier Blackwell?”
“Why don’t you ask him yourself.” Extending his arm, Leonard stepped aside.
Premier Blackwell excused himself from the circle of people he was talking to and approached her. “Welcome back.” For a moment he stared at her without saying a word. “Ottawa treating you and Janet well?”
Charles “Chuck” Blackwell was a tall slender man with greying, sandy-brown hair.
I’m surprised to see the youthfulness has been drained from his face. “As well as can be expected for a couple of gophers,” Charlotte replied.
He smiled. “From what I understand, you two are much more than a couple of gophers.” He peered over her shoulder. “Where’s Ed...