The young woman glanced down at the distinguished, gray haired gentleman propped up on pillows as she hung the bag of potassium from the IV pole at the head of the bed.
He was more handsome in person than he appeared on TV, she decided.
“This might burn going in,” she murmured. “The computer says your level was a smidge too low.” They were piloting a new AI program that made treatment decisions instead of doctors. It was said to be more effective and more reliable, better outcomes.
The patient looked up at her from his newspaper and nodded, winking. “Thanks for the heads up.” A great wracking cough rattled through his chest at that moment, leaving him gasping for breath. He sat down the paper. There was his face on the front page in an article talking about his admission to this very hospital for pneumonia.
“That sounds… better?” It was a statement and a question. She looked at him hopefully.
“Oh, believe me, I do feel better than I did yesterday.” He spit out the great glob of yellow phlegm that had caught in his throat, then wiped his mouth.
“On the mend, then!” She smiled down at her VIP patient. Her shift was approaching its end and she felt some degree of melancholia about that. Rubbing elbows with the rich and famous was quite fun.
Illness was the great leveler, after all.
She couldn’t wait to tell her fiancé!
And her mom.
And her best friend.
Technically she was not supposed to tell anyone about this fellow, privacy laws and all that, but how could she be expected to keep a secret like this? She had really met him, spoken to him, touched him. The part she would not tell anyone about was the number in her pocket. He had slipped it to her after telling her she was beautiful and that he would like to hook up sometime. She patted her scrubs absently to make sure the paper was still there. Not that she would ever take him up on it, mind you.
Power was sexy…. but phlegm? Not so much.
She walked out of the room and back to the nurses station where she charted her activities of the past hour or so in the EHR. She caught sight of the man’s wife getting off an elevator and she found herself watching with envy. The woman was beautiful in a way she herself could never hope to be. His wife walked purposefully, a blue coat draped elegantly over her arm, a slight smile curled on her lips. No one at the hospital had ever seen her smile before. They were all warned to stay out of her way.
He must have called to tell her he was feeling better.
The nurse glanced back at the computer screen. There was a new order for another six bags of potassium for the fellow in room 432.
A quick check of the blood test results reassured her. His potassium level was indeed very low.
She checked her watch. It would be another 30 minutes before she could hang the next one. The next shift would be kept busy, that was for sure.
The papers and news stations all shouted about his death. Across every front page. Leading every news program.
He was dead.
She couldn’t believe it. How? He was getting better.
Did she do something wrong?
The voice on the other line spoke a greeting in Russian.
“It is done?” she asked.
“Da,” the voice said gruffly then hung up.
She smiled to herself as she dropped the burner phone into the crackling fire and poured herself a glass of champagne.
Yes. Of course it was done. A simple hacking right under their noses and no one would ever know. Cardiac arrest from a potassium overdose. In the hospital. They would do everything possible to keep it hidden if it were discovered. No one wants to be the hospital that killed someone like him…
It was a beautiful, elegant thing.
There would be no other women.