I am a big fan of first meetings, or the Meet Cute as they are called in romantic comedies. These often set the tone for the relationship, and tell us a lot about how the couple will interact with one another later in the story. Amos Lowery is a malnourished, homeless man who wakes on the beach one morning with blood on his hands and a crusty knife in his pocket. After going to the police department, he is taken to the hospital, he meets a young doctor, Annabeth Crane.
A quick word with the nurse and a different doctor, a young woman with short black hair and a sassy attitude, came instead.
“Hey there. I heard you and Craig had a problem?” She was very Southern. Amos placed her accent around south Alabama.
“He was rude,” Sarah said, ready to cut loose.
“He thought I was a junkie,” Amos said, shrugging.
“Hmph,” she snorted. “Don’t look like one to me. I’m Annabeth, and I’ll be accosting you with sharp tools. Let me get a clean set up. I’ll be right back.”
The nurse brought a tray instead and stayed to assist while the doctor took a small sample of the welt. The nurse did the blood draw, and the doctor washed her hands before settling on the end of the bed.
“He’s another mystery drug man?” she asked of the room.
“Yes,” Van said. “We were hoping for an update on his labs.”
“I’ll get that. We’ve been monitoring for Dr. Weiss, but someone was supposed to tell you. Probably Craig.” She rolled her eyes. “Don’t take it personally,” she assured Amos. “He’s entitled and superior, because his daddy has money, and he hasn’t had to work for a living. I put myself through school.” She bounced out and got a tablet from a stand near the nurses’ station. When she came back, she sat on the bed next to Amos and accessed his files.
“This is the level when you came in. It was still quite strongly in your system. Honestly, I’m surprised you were able to do much of anything, but lie on the beach and gurgle.”
Amos and the others laughed.
“It’s going down gradually. That’s interesting.” She paused, examining something on the tablet. “It hit a point and started to degrade more quickly. You’ll be glad to know, it’s very nearly gone from your system. Based on this rate, I’d say it should be completely dissipated in a few hours.”
“Do you think I’ll get flashbacks, like with acid?”
“I honestly don’t know, Amos. I’m sorry. You’re the first person to survive this.”
“How did the others die?”
The police and doctor exchanged a look that Amos could easily read. They didn’t want to alarm him.
“Look, I don’t scare easily. I’ve lived on my own for six years, much of it on the street. Before that, I was dodging my old man’s fists, and learning to hold my own with boys twice my size. I’m gonna go out on a limb, and say it was a real ugly death.”
“Yes,” Annabeth said softly. “Very ugly. They mostly committed suicide. Some died as a result of the drug. We don’t know enough about it, to predict what will happen next.” She folded her hands in her lap. “Dr. Weiss believes the reason you survived is because you’re otherwise ridiculously healthy. Despite being malnourished, you’re the healthiest man I’ve ever met. In fact, your blood work is so good, they’re singing your praises in the lab.”
Amos chuckled, ducking his head. “I can’t afford to be bad,” he admitted.
“Clean living, no matter why, is probably what saved your life. You’re obviously not a junkie.”
“What’s-his-dick thought so.”
Annabeth snorted. Her lips were full, her skin a light cafe au lait. Amos suspected there was an interesting mixture of races in her background, which had gathered together to make an elegant woman. Her eyes were so dark brown, they looked like ebony. Her lashes were long and thick. He felt a flush start in his chest and move downward. Closing his eyes, he dearly hoped she wouldn’t notice.
“What’s-his-dick also thought, because I worked my way through med school as a pole dancer, that I’m a whore.”
Amos’ eyes flew open, his mouth firmed up. “How do you stand him?”
“I find myself having to rise above a lot. I clamp my mouth shut and pretend I’m the adult. I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was six. No pompous, pampered prick is going to take that from me.”
Chuckling, Amos nodded. “I like you, Dr. Annabeth.”
“I happen to like you, too, Mr. Lowery.”