Prescription for Peril
Have you seen the original Godfather movie, especially the scene after Don Colrieoni has a massive heart attack, and his son Michael visits him to find the police guard has been removed? Bluemoonie suggested a tale that starts from a similar premise, but goes off into a slightly different direction…
“Our top story again. Mario Bertoni, the alleged head of one of the largest crime syndicates in the area, was rushed to hospital today after suffering a suspected heart attack. The seventy year old businessman has been admitted to Saint Thomas’ Hospital, where he is under police guard. Chief of Police Derek Simmons would only say that his condition was being monitored, and only immediate family were to be allowed to see him.”
The monitor screen was switched off, and Simon Bertoni turned to look at the men assembled around the table. The six major heads of the family groups all had sombre faces.
“Do you think he will talk?”
“No, my father is stronger than that, but I am concerned that he will become too weak to do much about it. When I visited earlier today, I spoke with the doctor and he assured me he should recover. Having said that, I would prefer not to take any chances, either with the police or with our rivals. I am sure you are all in agreement about that?”
The six men nodded.
“Very well then,” Simon said, “I have started to make arrangements for my father to receive very special care and attention, but in the meantime we need to remove him from the hospital to our special facility.”
“And how do you plan to achieve that?”
Simon smiled, and pressed the intercom.
“Cecilia, show in our visitor please.”
The door opened, and a tall elegantly dressed woman walked into the room. All six stood as she crossed the floor and hugged Simon, out of respect both for her as a woman, and for who she was.
“Simon, I am so sorry to hear of your father’s illness. How is he?” Her voice was like smooth rich chocolate as she spoke.
“He is as well as can be expected, under the circumstances. Are you in a position to help?”
“I have already started,” the lady said. “Consider it a returned favour for all the help your father was to me.”
“Thank you, Madame.”
“Gentlemen?” The lady walked briskly out of the room, and the men returned to their seats.
“I did not know you knew her?”
“We used to play together as children. If anyone can help us, Madame X can.”
The private wing of St Thomas’ Hospital was situated on the third floor, and only accessible by one lift. Chief Simmons was taking to Lieutenant Henrietta Harkness, known as HH to her colleagues.
“Are you sure you can trust these four?” he said looking at the female officer sat opposite the lift door.
“With my life,” HH replied, “these are the best the force has to offer at the moment. One here, one at each of the two fire exits, and one outside Bertoni’s door. No-one gets in or out without a security pass.”
Chief Simmons nodded. “Where will you be?”
“Wandering the floor, checking the other rooms, and in constant contact with these four. All the nurses have a panic button as well.”
“All right, I’ll leave you to it.” Simmons hit the lift button and stepped into the waiting elevator. As the doors closed, HH nodded to the officer and walked down the corridor.
Ten minutes later, the lift door opened and four cleaning women came out, dressed in blue overalls and pushing trolleys laden with cleaning equipment.
“Passes,” the officer said, and she checked all four. Seeing nothing wrong with them, she watched as the quartet pushed their trolleys down the corridor.
One looked back, and as the guard sat back down she nodded to her companions. Selecting an empty room, the four quickly pushed the trolleys in and closed the door behind them. Removing the cleaning materials from the top, they lifted the trays and a thin woman dressed in black climbed out from her hiding place.
“Good choice, ladies,” she said, “set things up and we can get to work. I reckon we have an hour before the shift change has to take place and an hour after that before we have the doctor ready to work with us. Our first priority is to replace those guards and let the rest of our team in. Start with the one by the fire exit – and keep them separate.”
As three of the women started to unload clothes bags and supplies from three of the trolleys, the fourth girl wheeled hers out of the room and headed down the corridor, nodding to the nurses as she passed their station. The leader dialled a number on her cell phone.
“Madame? It’s Penelope. Stage 1 is under way, have the team for stage 2 waiting on standby.”
The officer was at the fire exit, wearing regulation uniform and with her dark hair tied in a bun underneath her cap. She watched as the cleaner walked down the corridor, smiled at the officer and pushed her trolley into the room, closing the door behind her. Within a minute, she opened the door hurriedly and motioned to the officer.
“Come quick, please, something is wrong here.”
The officer stood up, drew her gun and ran into the room, only to be felled by a blow to the base of her neck by the cleaner.
“Never fails” she muttered to herself as she took the officer’s handcuffs and secured their hands behind her back. Producing some cable ties, she pinned the prone woman’s elbows together behind her back, and secured her arms and legs together. As she removed her overalls, the cleaner revealed that she also was wearing the regulation uniform for a police officer. Pausing only to push a bandage roll into the original woman’s mouth and secure it in place with medical tape, she picked up the unconscious woman and deposited her in her trolley, covering her with linen from the bed.
“Works every time,” she muttered as she picked up the cap, pushed it over her own hair and sat in the seat outside the room, locking the door behind her as she left.
In a similar manner, the two guards at the other fire exit, and outside the room Bertoni was in, were captured, secured and replaced with other operatives. By the lift, the office remained untouched. HH received a call from the dispatch office.
“HH, we’ve had to recall and replace three of your guards – they’re needed for a situation downtown. Apologies.”
“Roger that, control!”
In the room, Penelope checked over the uniforms and supplies she had before leaving the room. Walking down the corridor, she smiled and nodded both to the nurses at the station and to HH as she walked around until she stopped outside Bertoni’s room.
“Good evening officer” she said and then whispered “How many in the room?”
The officer raised two fingers of a hand before lowering it. Satisfied, Penelope walked back to the room and called in.
“Begin phase 2 – we have five to secure. Also inform ops team to start work.”
The house was a typical suburban detached one, and there were no signs of problems on the well kept street. Inside, a young woman was tossing and turning on her bed, as the open window allowed the cool night air to circulate around her room. It also allowed two women, dressed in black and with stockings over their heads, to slip quietly in and stand by the bed.
The girl opened her eyes, and would have screamed if a gloved hand had not been pressed hard against her lips. The masked woman put a finger to her lips, and the girl watched as the other woman took a pair of panties from her drawer, folded them into a small ball and walked over to where she was lying.
Her mother was woken by a noise. “Sally?” she called out as she reached over to turn on a lamp by the table. The light switched on to show Sally standing by her bed, tape covering her mouth, and with two masked women holding her by the arms of her blue pyjamas. One put her finger to her lips, and Sally’s mother drew the quilt around her in fear.
A gentle knock was heard on the fire exit, and the false officer opened it to allow six women, dressed in overalls, to slip quietly in. Closing the exit door behind her, she sat back down and resumed her vigil.
The six crept down the corridor, and looked round to where the nurse’s station was based. Only one of the nurses was there at that point – a young girl in her early twenties, wearing a white top and slacks and looking at some paperwork.
The lead girl signalled, and two of the arrivals walked quickly down to the desk. As the young nurse looked up, one of them hand gagged her and they frogmarched her down the corridor, the others following, until they found the room Penelope was in and slipped in.
“All right,” Penelope said to the frightened nurse, “I want you to do exactly as you’re told. Do you understand?”
“Good,” Penelope said as she took a bandage and stuffed it into the girl’s mouth. “Put your hands behind your back. Victoria, select an outfit and get yourself ready – you’re taking,” she looked at the girl’s badge, “Emily’s place.”
HH was looking in on Bertoni, while Doctor Marcus was checking him over. The elderly man was asleep in the bed, with the monitors showing no major problems at that time.
“So when do you think he’ll be fit enough to talk, Doctor?”
“Not sure, Detective Harkness. We just have to wait and see.”
There was a knock on the door, and the head nurse looked around.
“Doctor Marcus, there’s a call for you at the desk. It’s your wife.”
“Please, excuse me Detective,” he said as he followed the nurse to the station,
Emily had now returned to the station, and was reading some notes as Doctor Marcus took the telephone.
“Hello, Darling what can I….”
The colour drained from his face as he listened to the other end of the conversation, and then he put the phone down.
“Are you all right, Doctor Marcus,” Emily asked in a concerned voice.
He looked at the young nurse, and then at the head nurse.
“Jacqueline, could you come into Mr Bertoni’s room for a moment please? I have some specific instructions to give.”
The two headed back down the corridor, and the police guard nodded to them as they went into the patient’s room.
“John, what is it? You look like you’ve had a shock.”
“I have – listen to me. That was my wife, but she’s not alone in the house. She just told me that she and my daughter are being held hostage, and unless I do exactly what they say they’ll be killed.”
“Oh come on, John, it has to be some sort of joke.”
“It didn’t sound like a joke – what do you want, officer?”
The two turned to see that the police officer had come into the room.
“I think, Doctor Marcus, you need to have a look at this,” she said as she produced a cell phone and handed it to him.
On the screen were two women, his wife and daughter, sat on their bed and tightly bound and gagged with tape. Genuine fear could be seen in their eyes.
“Oh lord – you’re one of them.”
“Yes, I am, and here’s what you’re going to do. You,” she said looking at the head nurse, “gather your team for a meeting in the lounge near the lift doors. Not Emily – she can man the desk while you’re away. If you or anyone else tries to tell that detective what’s going on, they die. Do you understand?”
“Good – as for you, Doctor, just stay calm. We’ll tell you what to do when the time comes.”
The head nurse looked at the officer, then at Doctor Marcus, before leaving the room and walking down the corridor. At the nurse’s station, the other four duty nurses were standing talking while Emily continued to read the notes. She glanced up and nodded to Jacqueline, but the look in her eyes told the head nurse that she also was one of the gang.
“Ladies” she said to the other nurses, “Can I have a meeting please in one of the side rooms. Emily will man the desk until we get back. Emily, if Detective Harkness asks, we’re in a meeting.”
The young girl nodded as the five women headed down the corridor, and Jacqueline stopped outside a room.
“In here ladies,” she said, and she opened the door.
Inside the room was a situation rather different to the one the other four expected. On the floor, with her back against the wall, was Emily. Her wrists were bound behind her back with medical tape, and her ankles and legs were also bound. A bandage was wrapped around her lower jaw and mouth, and she was mutely trying to call out to them.
“Good evening, ladies,” a voice said, and they turned to see the door being closed behind them by a masked and armed woman. Sitting in chairs were five other women, all dressed in black and with guns on their laps, and to one side were an array of nurse’s uniforms and wigs.
“Let me guess,” Penelope said as she approached Jacqueline, “You’re the head nurse, right?”
Jacqueline was dressed in a set of blue scrubs, while the other nurses were wearing the more traditional white dresses with short sleeves and white black cloth belts.
“And if I am?” she replied.
“Then you get to set an example,” she said motioning to one of the women seated in a chair. She stood and looked over Jacqueline, and the head nurse could not help but notice the similarity in looks and height between them, save that she had fair hair and this woman sizing her up was a redhead.
“No problem,” she said finally, and walking to the other side of the room she selected a similar set of scrubs and a fair wig.
“Now, just stand still,” Penelope said as she took a roll of white medical tape, and moved behind Jacqueline. Pulling her wrists behind her back, she quickly and tightly bound them together with the tape, and then wrapped it around her waist to keep her hands in place.
“Sit down next to your young friend there,” Penelope said, and she helped the head nurse to sit down.
“Are you all right?” she whispered to Emily, who nodded as Penelope crossed and bound her ankles together.
“Why are you going to such trouble?” she asked Penelope.
“Your patient is a very important man, and we want to make sure he stays with those who think most of him,” Penelope replied. “Now, open wide.”
The woman who had stood up now came over, dressed like Jacqueline and adjusting her wig so that, unless you were at close quarters, you could not tell the difference. As her mouth was filled with a bandage, and a further bandage wrapped around, Jacqueline watched another of the armed women stand up, look over one of her nurses, then make her way to the uniforms while that nurse had her wrists bound behind her back by the false Jacqueline.
“Where are the rest of the nurse,” HH asked as she stood at the station.
“Team meeting - they’ll be back in a minute,” Emily said without raising her head.
The six women were sat on the floor, tightly bound and gagged, looking up as their replacements made their way out of the room. Penelope closed the door behind them and called on her cell phone.
“Madame, have the ambulance ready in thirty minutes.”
“Now, Doctor, are you ready to play your part?”
“How many of you are there?”
“Apart from the detective and the officer at the lift, we’re all replacements, and we don’t want anyone to get hurt. So, are you going to do as we ask?”
Doctor Marcus nodded, and drew a dose of the anaesthetic from the bottle. Swabbing the arm of Bertoni, he injected the fluid and watched the monitors carefully.
The alarm sounded at the nurse’s station, and HH turned round in panic.
“What’s going on?” she asked, but no reply was given as the nurses ran towards the only occupied room no the floor.
“Doctor Marcus, what’s happening?” she said as she ran in.
“Hr’s had a massive heart attack – we need to get him to the ITU now.”
The nurses began to disconnect the monitors and two pushed the bed out of the room and down the corridor.
“I’m coming with you,” HH said, and Doctor Marcus looked over to the head nurse, who simply nodded.
“Get that lift door open,” he shouted at the officer, who pressed the button and then held the door open to let the party in.
“Call the precinct, and tell them what’s happening” HH shouted at her as the door closed, but before the officer could radio in she noticed two of the nurses pointing pistols at her, and motioning to her to come with them.
Entering the room, she gasped at the sight of the six real nurses struggling on the floor, followed by one last gasp as she was felled by a blow from Penelope.
“Gather everything up and make your exit,” she said, “and rendezvous in thirty minutes.”
“Hang on; ITU is on one of the upper floors – why are we going down?”
HH looked at Doctor Marcus, who turned and started at her with fright in his eyes.
“I’m sorry, Detective, but they have my wife and daughter hostage, I had to do what they said.”
“What who said,” HH asked, before she realised there had been a pinprick in her arm.
“Enough questions, detective,” the false head nurse said as HH slumped unconscious on the floor. The lift doors opened, and Doctor Marcus helped the other members of the gang to push Bertoni to a waiting ambulance.
“Thank you, Doctor, your family will be safe,” she said as she closed the ambulance doors behind her, and Marcus watched the ambulance set off into the distance.
“Our lead story tonight is the daring removal of Mario Bertoni from St Thomas’ Hospital by persons unknown. Police are refusing to release details of exactly what happened, but it is thought that a number of officers and medical staff were hurt during the incident.”
Simon Bertoni was watching the news, while talking on the telephone.
“Yes, please thank your team for their actions today, Madame. MY father is well and resting in our private clinic now, and he will make a full recovery. He actually said the sleep during the journey was the best he had had for a long time.”
Replacing the receiver, he took a drink from his tumbler. He wasn’t ready to take over as head of the family yet, but when that happened at least it would be on his terms, and not through dispute.