Get social on social media

Friday, August 31, 2018

Operation Wormwood: We must be vigilant when it comes to stopping the sexual abuse of children


I find it frustrating that celebrities who know nothing about the culture of
Newfoundland and Labrador, will come here to sit on an ice flow and save the seals … and of course, get their pictures taken by the media.

But ask a celebrity to be the face of the sexual torture of children, and the answer is most times… No. That would not be good for their careers to be associated with something so dark.

The #metoo movement is finally shining a light on it. Or I should say, ‘at it’, not ‘on it.’ In my opinion the #metoo movement started out as a good thing but the light quickly faded as those who claimed to be victims also had accusations of sexual misconduct against them. Then those who were raped became over shadowed by those who were whistled at. Then the conversation about sexual assault became old very fast. 

Since Operation Wormwood has been released, I have a conversation regarding child sexual abuse almost ever day. We need to get this out of the dark corners of life and shine a light on it.

The sexual abuse and torture of children is not a thing of the past. Everyday there is a story in the media about someone charged with child pornography, child luring, and/or the sexual assault of a child. It seems like it is getting worse, not better.

The internet has brought strangers into our homes, and into the bedrooms of our children. Read the media stories from our own country about children dying by suicide because they were lured into giving sexually explicit pictures of themselves to a stranger they met on line, who then blackmailed them.
We do not have the luxury of thinking, “It can’t happen to me.”

I believe the reasons you are hearing about it more is because children are being educated in schools about ‘good touch – bad touch’. Police Officers are given the tools they need to hunt down the “on line” predators.  Adults and parents are more vigilant; victims are not afraid to speak out and families are no longer willing to protect the pedophile.

This is a good thing.

I was recently at a book signing and a lady I did not know walked up to me and said, “I read your book. Please tell me Wormwood is real.”

I answered, “I wish I could.” She thanked me for bringing the subject matter to the forefront. I wrote this book to give vengeance to victims and create paranoia among pedophiles. I truly hope it gives victims of sexual abuse some type of closure and I hope it puts the fear of God in abusers.

At another signing, a young lady gave me her book to sign. I could tell from the way she was looking at me that she wanted to say something. I asked her what she had heard about the book and we had a brief discussion. There was a line up of people behind her waiting to have their book signed. Although I wanted to ask her what was on her mind, I didn’t want to encourage her to talk about it in front of strangers. She slowly walked away with the book in her hand. I can’t stop thinking about her.

I realize that this book will have some triggers for those who suffered abuse. I’ve had a few police officers tell me there were triggers for them in Operation Wormwood as well. I was very careful not to sensationalize the sexual abuse of children in this book, and I do not go into detail. But there was no way to tell the story without vaguely eluding to it.

The idea for Operation Wormwood came about as I struggled with a deep theological question myself: Why does evil against the most vulnerable go unpunished by a loving, all powerful God?

Every Saturday, I would sit in church praising God, then Monday morning I would sit at my desk as the RCMP’s senior communications strategist in NL, reading reports that proved he did not exist.

So, to answer the question I get the most: Is Wormwood a real disease? I only wish it was.

For those who have suffered through child abuse, or any type of abuse, I ask that you please take care of yourself and reach out for help. Here is a list of available help for you.

Canadian Mental Health Association https://cmha.ca/
Mental Health Crisis Line NL (709) 737-4668
THINKING ABOUT SUICIDE? There are many crisis centres available 24 hours a day to talk to you. https://suicideprevention.ca/need-help/
Find a Psychology Provider http://www.apnl.ca
NL SEXUAL ASSAULT CRISIS & PREVENTION CENTRE http://nlsacpc.com/ 1-800-726-2743

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Whoever is telling service workers to speak Newfieneeze, please stop it!


Have you noticed that people who work in service industries are speaking with
an uncommon amount of Newfoundland colloquialisms lately?

I went through a drive thru two days ago and drove up to the speaker/ menu board. A gentleman with a foreign accent came over the staticky speaker, welcomed me and asked for my order.

I ordered my, “Medium with two cream and two sweeteners please.” He came back with “Would you like a donut or muffin with that my love?”

I answered, “No thank you.” To which he responded with “Drive ahead (static and feedback from the speaker) my cock.”

Wait! What! What did I just hear? I gave the speaker/ menu board a startled look. Followed by, “What did you just say?”

His smiling voice came back over the speaker. “Drive ahead on me old cock.”
He didn’t just say that to me? I thought to myself. I pulled ahead to the window ready to take a piece out of this guy.

He smiled through the small window opening, which I determined was too small to pull him through, holding the debit machine.

“What did you say to me when I was at the speaker?” I figured I give him a chance to explain.

In a thick accent he answered, “I asked if you wanted a donut or muffin?” He stared blankly at me.

“No, after that?”

He thought for a second, “Oh,” he pipped up and smiled, “Drive ahead me old cock.”

Then I realized what was going on. Someone was having fun with Newfoundland sayings at this guys expense. I quickly explained that he shouldn’t say that again to customers because although it’s an excepted Newfoundland colloquialism, it could cause him some problems. (Not to mention a sexual harassment complaint.)

The weird thing is, this is not the first time I’ve encountered this. At the beginning of the summer I was at another drive thru, (Yes, I know I drink a lot of coffee), and ran into a similar thing. I ordered my usual coffee and the teenaged girl taking my order responded with, “Yes me ducky. Would you like anything else me love?”

As a born and bred Newfoundlander, I wouldn’t take notice of a response like that normally. I mean, it’s not like she said, ‘some arse on dat!’

Oh, me nerves!

Now, Cindy at the Tim’s on Military Road will call me, my ducky, my sweetie, my love and even once my dolly ducer. Whatever the hell that is. I am perfectly fine with it. Thirty seconds at the drive thru with Cindy and I feel obligated to put her on my Christmas card list, or even in my Will. Sometimes I don’t even want coffee, I drive thru when I know Cindy is working because I need a self esteem boost.

The difference is, Cindy has a thick Newfoundland accent, the teenager girl who served me was definitely a townie. Saying, ‘me ducky’ and ‘me love’ sounded as strange as my teenaged daughter asking for a loan of my Spanx. It just doesn’t fit.

Then I went through a hamburger drive thru and the young man who took my order also greeted me with ‘yes me ducky,’ and ‘pull ahead me love’ followed by ‘what are ya at?’ when I got to the window.
It sounded just as strange as it did coming from the guy who said, ‘yes me old cock.’ 

I notice more and more that whenever I am dealing with someone who works in service, they are using the old Newfoundland colloquialisms in a forced, creepy, tourism ad, type of way. Just like the TV Tourism ad that ends with “Call Rose for more information about visiting Newfoundland and Labrador” when we all know Rose is really some guy named Babar at a call center on the other side of the world.

All except for Cindy who sounds like she will hug you tight if you need it.
Now I am wondering, are we all bit actors in some type of weird Twilight Zone tourism ad?

Did someone go around on May 1st yelling, “The tourists are coming! The tourists are coming!”

Did I not get the memo?

Should I be wearing my rubber boots on the wrong feet and my sou’wester backwards?

Do we all go back to normal on October 1st when we think the mainlanders have gone home?

In the Fall, I will be making a point of going back to that drive through when I know my cocky friend is on and ordering my coffee. If he tells me to drive ahead with out asking for oral sex it will confirm that there’s a tourism conspiracy afoot!

It’s like someone went to see “Come From Away” on Broadway and came back with this great idea that “Everyone will play a roll!”

What makes the Newfoundland accent so enduring, is it is spoken with true sincerity and friendship.  When Cindy says, ‘drive ahead me love,’ I know she doesn’t truly love me, but I know she really would hug me if I asked.

Now if I asked the young man at the hamburger drive thru to hug me, I am pretty sure I would be ‘the creepy cougar who tried to feel him up.’

See, big difference. The arse would come right out of ‘er.

So, the lard tunderin’ Jaysus b’y. Don’t be so crooked. Let’s drop the fake accents.  

The next time you hear someone spoutin’ forced Newfoundland sayings out of their big gob, look them right in the kisser and say, ‘What’s that in your mouth, me old cock? You’re still just a Newfie in a Calgary hat.’
Let’s see how their big jib draws then!


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Media release: A Newfoundland and Labrador Crime Thriller!



Contact: Cassandra Aucoin                                                 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tel: 709-739-4477 ext. 24
Toll-free: 1-866-739-4420 ext. 24
Email: caucoin@flankerpress.com

A Newfoundland and Labrador Crime Thriller!

Operation Wormwood
By Helen C. Escott
Paperback: ISBN 978-1-77117-707-8, $19.95
(Ebook) 978-1-77117-710-8/ (ePub) 978-1-77117-708-5/ (Kindle) 978-1-77117-709-2, $11.95

Available right now at Chapters, Coles Bookstores, Costco, Downhomer, Water Street and on line at indigo.com 

An elderly man is carried into the emergency department of the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s, the first of many victims suffering from severe nosebleeds and excruciating pain. Dr. Luke Gillespie and Nurse Agatha Catania are unable to diagnose their symptoms.

Dr. Gillespie and Sgt. Nicholas Myra, an investigator with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, join forces to solve this twisted mystery. But the story takes a critical turn when Sister Pius, a nun from Mercy Convent, informs them about Wormwood: a disease she believes is created by God to kill perpetrators of the most heinous crimes. Is God truly punishing these criminals, or is a serial killer targeting them?

Helen C. Escott is a retired civilian member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). She served as the senior communications strategist for Newfoundland and Labrador and was the communications lead on high-profile cases, including the RCMP’s response on September 11. Before joining the RCMP, she worked in the media for thirteen years in various capacities, including reporter, on-air personality, and marketing and promotions representative.

Helen C. Escott is the author of the widely read humour blog-turned-book I am Funny Like That. In her first crime novel, Operation Wormwood, she taps into her darker side and takes readers on a thrill ride through the historic city of St. John’s.

Operation Wormwood will be launched on Wednesday, August 15th, at 7:00 pm at Chapters
(70 Kenmount Road, St. John’s).

If you’d like more information about Operation Wormwood or to arrange an interview with Helen Escott, please contact Cassandra Aucoin at 709-739-4477 ext. 24 (toll-free 1-866-739-4420 ext. 24) or caucoin@flankerpress.com

PO Box 2522, Station C, St. John’s, NL  A1C 6K1
Phone: 709-739-4477     Toll-free: 1-866-739-4420     Fax: 709-739-4420
Email: info@flankerpress.com     Website: www.flankerpress.com

Monday, July 23, 2018

Operation Wormwood is now available for presale


Operation Wormwood is now available for presale at Chapters/ Coles
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/operation-wormwood/9781771177078-item.html?ikwid=Wormwood&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0

Helen C. Escott takes you on a thrill ride through the oldest city in North America. Where historical landmarks become clues and every name has two meanings. It’s an interactive crime thriller that will have you researching what’s real and what’s not. Never take a chapter at face value. You’ll have to read Operation Wormwood twice - once to get the story, and again to uncover the hidden secrets in each chapter.

An elderly man is carried into the Emergency Department setting off a chain of events that leave you guessing until the end. He is the first of many victims suffering from severe nose bleeds and excruciating pain. Dr. Luke Gillespie and nurse, Agatha Catania investigate their symptoms but are unable to diagnose them.

The only thing they have in common is, Sergeant Nicholas Myra, an investigator with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

Gillespie and Myra join forces to solve this twisted mystery. The story takes a critical turn when Sister Pius, a Nun from Mercy Convent, informs them about Wormwood: a disease she believes is created by God to kill pedophiles.
Wormwood becomes an international storm when parish priest, Father Peter Cooke, holds a news conference on the steps of the Basilica of St. John the Baptist announcing that “God has unleashed a plague upon the earth.”

Is God truly unleashing his wrath on child molesters or is a serial killer targeting them? Dr. Gillespie and Sgt. Myra race to find answers as the Catholic hierarchy cashes in on the miracle that is bringing people back to the church in droves.
Just when you think you know who the killer is, this fast paced, intelligent thriller will shock you when you reach the unpredictable stunning conclusion.

Reviews:
At the heart of this gut wrenching, savagely real-life novel is a deep theological struggle: why does evil against the most vulnerable go unpunished by a loving, all powerful God? Escott combines first hand police experience, superb story-telling and deep faith in this Dan Brown style epic.

Rev. Robert Cooke, Rector of The Parish of St. Mark the Evangelist and Adjunct Professor Queen’s College Faculty of Theology.

"Brilliant! Absolutely Brilliant!
With skilled detective like precision Escott kept me at the edge of my seat throughout this well told story of hurt and faith.

Filled with a literal ton of well researched facts and figures regarding NL's history, criminal investigative processes and relevant political complications this novel fills the readers need for action, suspense and emotion.

This book will make every Newfoundlander and Labradorian reflect on their complicated history and fully intrigue those who come from away.

Operation Wormwood is 'wicked...simply wicked' in every definition of the word."
E.B. Merrill, S/Sgt. (Rtd.)
Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Operation Wormwood - Chapter 1 pre-sale now on




“It may only be a matter of time before God unleashes a plague upon the earth.”
          Sister Mary Pius

Chapter 1

The Emergency Department at the Health Science Centre was alive with activity. Charles Horan struggled to carry Patrick Keating through the front doors. of the hospital. The elderly Keating was barely able to stand and continuously passed in and out of consciousness. Horan wanted to call an ambulance, but Keating did not want the attention the lights and sirens would have caused. The two men could have easily been mistaken for father and son.

The waiting room was standing room only. The thirty-year-old hospital had hardly kept up with the growing population of the province. The once state of the art Emergency Department was in dire need of simple things like an updated seating area, a lick of paint and more space. The sniffles and groans of sick people filled the area. The sign on the wall said, Estimated wait time: 4 hours. There were three wickets at the front of the room, each with nurses taking basic medical information from patients and determining their level of priority.

Keating’s right arm was draped across Horan’s shoulders.  Horan held the elderly Keating tight around the waist to keep him from falling as he carefully helped him sit in front of a wicket. Keating’s body melted into the chair. The perspiration on his brow was visible and his mouth sagged as if he was having a stroke.  Horan quickly explained that Keating had been sick on and off for over a year. He had a flu that he could not get rid of. He told the nurse he begged the elderly man to go to the doctor, but Keating refused. His symptoms became worse over the past few months. He had an unquenchable thirst but found water bitter and turned his stomach. The thirst was followed by unstoppable nose bleeds. He had lost a considerable amount of weight but attributed this to stress and being over worked. He also had torturous pain throughout his body.

The nurse noted the symptoms and placed a hospital bracelet around Keating's wrist. She prioritized him as ‘urgent but not life threatening’. She brought out a wheel chair and with Horan’s help, lifted Keating on to the padded seat. By this time, Keating was starting to come to and began talking nonsensical. He was unaware of his surroundings and his speech slurred as he grabbed Horan by the collar and pulled him closer, whispering, "Don't tell them who I am. I don't want the media to get wind of this. I don't want any rumours or panic." Keating was winded and couldn't focus his eyes.

"No Patrick, don't worry about things like that now. You'll see a doctor soon and you'll be fine." Keating's head fell forward, and he passed out again.

Agatha Catania, the Emergency Department nursing supervisor, didn't care who he was. She was more interested in getting him into triage and assessed. With expert precision from years of crisis medical experience, she took Keating’s vital signs. His temperature was 101, his pulse was racing, his respiratory rate was laboured and his blood pressure was 180 over 95.

She wheeled him into an examination room and two more nurses assisted her, lifting him onto a bed. "We have to get him into a gown to be examined," she said, and started to unbutton his shirt.

"No, I'll do it.”  Horan pushed her hands away from Keating’s chest. She shoved his hands back

"I am a nurse sir."

Horan decided to divulge their secret. "He's the Roman Catholic Archbishop for the province and I’m his assistant. We're both priests. Please, let me do it." Agatha felt like he was expecting her to bow her head and genuflect at the mention of his title.

Agatha was the first person in her Conception Bay family to get a university degree. Her father, a weathered fisherman, broke his back to ensure his only daughter received a good education. He never wanted her to work on the water. Her family had Italian and English roots but centuries of blending their accent with the local Irish dialect spoken throughout this island in the cold North Atlantic left its people with a distinctly townie or bayman accent. She was a bayman and a proud Protestant raised in the Church of England but often mistaken for Irish Catholic due to her thick bayman pronunciation of certain words. Four years of university and ten years of working at the biggest hospital in the province could not take the bay out of the girl. Father Horan’s assumption that she was a good Catholic girl was more than justified by her words and actions.

Putting this old man into a Johnny-coat was one less thing she had to do during this busy shift. She moved back to allow Horan to unbutton the shirt. "I am sorry, go ahead. The doctor will be in shortly." She walked out of the room allowing the two men their privacy.

By the time Dr. Luke Gillespie entered the examination room, Horan had the Archbishop in his hospital gown and a blanket pulled up to his chest. He was mopping his supervisor's brow with a cold facecloth.

"Your friend has a nasty flu from the looks of this," he surmised while reading the vitals from a clipboard.

"For some time now," Horan informed him.

"Let’s have a look." Gillespie took his stethoscope from around his neck and began to listen to Keating's heart and lungs.

"How long has he been sick?" he asked as he took the stethoscope out of his ears.

"He’s had the flu on and off for a little over a year. He just can't shake it.” Horan informed him. "It started getting worse a couple of months ago. He was tired all the time, he has lost a considerable amount of weight, maybe 20 to 25 pounds in a short period. He has fevers on and off and diarrhea.”

Gillespie folded his arms and pondered his patient’s predicament. "How old is he?" 

"He'll be 60 in a month. One more thing," Horan added. "He has this incredible thirst for water, but every time he drinks it, he throws it up saying it's bitter and vile.” Horan’s face showed concern and fear. “He also has uncontrollable nose bleeds. He can bleed for hours. I've never seen anything like it and he complains of constantly being in pain. Sometimes the pain is so bad he cries, which is unlike him."

The doctor could sense his attachment to this man.

Gillespie tilted the Archbishop's head back until his mouth opened and placed a tongue-depressor inside. He shone a small pen light into his patient’s mouth. He was alarmed to see white spots and a thick coating on his tongue. He threw the tongue depressor in the garbage and felt Keating’s lymph nodes in his neck and armpits. They were enlarged.

The Archbishop began to come to and broke into a heavy cough. His throat was dry, he could not get his breath and his head fell forward. Horan put his arm under his Archbishop's shoulders and lifted him to open his airways. Without notice he broke into a harder cough that came from the pit of his belly. Suddenly blood spewed from his nose, splattering his chest. He coughed again, and the blood flew through the air. Gillespie instinctively jumped back but the projectile blood splatter reached him, dotting the top of his scrubs. Keating slid back into a trance. The front of his hospital gown was soaked in his blood. Horan propped up the pillows as the doctor laid him back down.

“I keep him elevated when he is like this, so he doesn’t choke on his own blood.” He stared at the doctor as if hoping for an answer.

Nurse Catania followed by two other nurses ran into the room ready to take direction. "I want everyone who comes in here to be wearing latex gloves, masks and gowns,” ordered Dr. Gillespie. “He is quarantined as of right now." The three nurses left and headed toward the supply cabinet to get suited up.

Father Horan was shaking, “Does he really need to be quarantined?”

"It's standard procedure when staff is exposed to blood. You'll have to go to the waiting area." The doctor pointed toward the door.

"Is he going to be alright? I have to notify some people of his situation." He took note of the concern on Gillespie’s face.

“Call whoever you need. We're going to run some tests now."

Dr. Gillespie felt a sense of panic come over him. He quickly scrubbed the blood off his hands and checked in the mirror to see if any landed on his face. It was clean. "Thank God for that," he whispered to himself.

Nurse Catania returned, covered in a mask and gown "Are you alright? What is it?" The look on his face stopped her in her tracks.

Gillespie hesitated.  "I am ok. I am thinking of a few possible causes. I can't be sure till I get the tests back."

He looked at his patient unconscious in the bed. " I’ll write up a requisition for blood and urinalysis. Make sure no one else comes into this room and keep yourself covered."

"Do you think it's another wave of something like SARs?" Agatha knew she had a mountain of paperwork if it was.

Several causes were running through his head. "I am not sure, but I think it's more serious than the flu."

Gillespie looked at the chart again "Who is he? His name and face are familiar."

"Are you Catholic?" Agatha asked. He looked at her like he didn't understand what language she was speaking.

"I was born Catholic, but I haven't practiced in a long time."

"He is the Catholic Archbishop for the province. The other gentleman is his assistant."

"I haven't been to church in a long time. He wouldn't be familiar to me. Maybe my Mother," he added as an afterthought.

Gillespie shrugged "I don't care who he is. He's a patient to me. Money and power are no good to anyone in a hospital bed."

                                                            *******
It took a few hours to get the x-rays back. Dr. Gillespie stood in the Emergency Room office, examining the test results and looking at the Archbishop’s x-rays displayed upon the wall when Nurse Catania approached him.

"What does it show?” She stood next to him looking at the screen.

Gillespie shook his head. "I don't know. I've never seen anything like this before."

Nurse Catania picked up the paperwork from his desk and read the results. "He has an infection. That's obvious."

"My gut told me to test for AIDS or HIV," he confessed.

Agatha looked at him with a smirk on her face "Really?"

He looked away from the x-rays. "The white spots on his tongue and the swollen lymph nodes in his neck and armpits gave me concern. I have to go with my gut."

Agatha laid the paperwork down on the desk "What about a disease similar to SARS?"

"No. Tests are clean for that too. As a matter of fact, according to all these tests, he is as healthy as a horse."

"I thought for sure it was going to be Tuberculosis, but his lung x-rays are clear," Luke was thinking out loud, "I am at a loss. I am really at a loss."

"I just checked on him before coming in here, he's still unconscious and he hasn't had another bleeding episode yet," she informed him. "So, what now?"

Gillespie was running symptoms and diseases through this mind like a computer searching for information. "He's not fitting into any one disease. It seems like he has bits and pieces of several diseases." A thought popped in his head. "Does his chart say anything about him being a hemophiliac?"

"I don't think so. I'll check." Catania left the room and returned a few minutes later with the Archbishop's chart. "No. Nothing about any type of bleeding disorder. Do you want me to test him?"

"Yes. Maybe we'll find a clue there."

Agatha returned to the main nursing station, retrieved the needle and rubber tourniquet to take blood from the Archbishop. The nurse at the counter informed her that Father Charles Horan was in the waiting room and wanted to speak to someone.

She put her supplies in her uniform pocket and headed to the waiting area. Horan was pacing in the hallway with a cell phone to his ear, speaking to someone about the Archbishop's situation.  He said good-bye when he saw Nurse Catania coming towards him.

"Any news?" he was anxious, and his hands were shaking as he tried to put the cell phone into the holster on his belt.

"Not yet," she answered. "We are running tests. Can you think of anything that maybe causing this?”

Horan shook his head. "He was always healthy and active up until a little over a year ago. He caught the flu and couldn't shake it. He would often complain of pain saying he thought every nerve in his body was on fire." He shoved his hands in his pants pocket and looked worriedly toward the ceiling.

Nurse Catania wasn't sure if he was looking for answers or divine intervention.  She noticed how young this priest was - he couldn’t be more than twenty-five. Yet the lines around his eyes made him look much older. He seemed too young to have the responsibility of caring for the head of the Church in this province.

"I have seen similar symptoms in a few other priests but not as severe as the Archbishops," Horan confessed.

"You told us when you came in that no one else around him had these symptoms," the nurse reminded him.

"Not as severe as his. The rectory is old. It's not unusual to hear people complaining about the cold and dampness in the rooms. It's easy to catch a flu there but no one has been as violently ill as the Archbishop."

Father Horan loved the historical structure of the rectory but knew it had to be brought up to code in many areas. The rectory was built behind the Basilica of St. John the Baptist. Its construction began after the Basilica was finished around 1855. The entire Catholic compound was constructed using limestone and granite imported from Galway and Dublin, Ireland, as well as bricks from Hamburg, and local sandstone quarried from St. John's and Kelly's Island in Conception Bay, giving the buildings their characteristic grey colour.  The buildings are located on the highest ridge overlooking the city of St. John's facing toward the narrows surrounding St. John's harbour. They were purposely built that way to greet fishing vessels entering through the narrows. The first thing the sailors would see was the largest church buildings in North America at that time. Much of the church and rectory remained the same as when it was built except for the wiring. The cost of upkeep was staggering. The heat alone cost a king’s ransom. Declared heritage buildings, they had to stay true to their history thus drafty windows and cold stone walls kept their residents in a constant state of freezing temperatures even when it was hot outside.

"What about you? Do you spend a lot of time with him?" she queried.

"I've known him forever. He was the priest at my orphanage when I was a boy.”  He turned to face her.  “He's the reason I became a priest. After I was ordained I transferred back to his office to work with him. When he became Archbishop, he chose me as his assistant,” he ended, proudly.  

"So, you're like father and son?" The question came out of her mouth before she could stop it. She never understood the Catholic hierarchy but knew it was inappropriate as soon as she asked it.

Father Charles Horan’s face took on a look of smug authority.  "I am his assistant. This is not a father-son relationship. We are priests."

Nurse Catania had a feeling that he had answered this question before, maybe many times. She tried to cover her embarrassment by saying, "I need to know his next of kin for his record. He has your name listed, but does he have family who should be making decisions for him?"

“He doesn’t have family other than the church.”  Agatha knew he was lying but didn’t know why.

“Ok, well he has you listed so I will let you know if anything changes.”

She turned and walked back into the emergency unit. She never looked back at Father Horan but could feel he was watching her. She felt like a school girl who had just been disciplined for talking back. Suddenly the hair on the back of her neck stood up and goose bumps formed on her arms. She felt cold and decided that Father Horan may be a man of God, but he gave her the creeps.
                                                            *******

Archbishop Patrick Keating was peaceful in his bed when she entered his room.  Agatha turned his arm over, tied the rubber tourniquet around his forearm, inserted a needle into his vein and proceeded to draw blood. She had just finished when he opened his eyes and looked up at her. "I’m taking your blood, so we can run some tests to find out what is wrong with you." Her voice was soothing. She was used to calming people down in the Emergency area.

"I am so thirsty." His lips were pasty and stuck together. He could barely get the words out.

"I can't give you any water just yet, but I'll get some ice chips. They will give you some relief." Agatha called out to a nurse who was walking by and asked her to bring ice chips for the Archbishop. She returned with a Styrofoam cup full and a small stick with a sponge on the end to help wet his lips.

Agatha wet the sponge and rubbed it along the Archbishop's lips until they were moistened. At first, he seemed relieved, then he licked his lips and began to gag.

"You've put vinegar on my lips!" He tried to spit the water out and wiped his lips with his sleeve. "You cursed woman, where is Charles?" He changed from peaceful to difficult in a matter of seconds. Agatha felt the same air of superiority that Horan had exuded.  

They're certainly cut from the same cloth she thought. "It's ice chips. They'll make you feel better." She tried to calm him down.

"It tastes bitter like vinegar." She felt like a servant who had done wrong,

"Here, try the sponge yourself. It's soaked in cold water. You can suck on it like a lollypop." She took the sponge out of the cup and handed it to him.

He put it between his lips, spat it out, coughing and sputtering. "It's vile woman. Get me some water," he ordered her.

"This is water." She wasn't afraid to talk back to him.

He hit her hand and the cup full of ice landed on the floor. "Get me Charles."


She stood back from the bed, collected her blood vials and turned to walk away. When she got to the door she turned towards him, "You’re quarantined. No visitors." She placed the vials in the collection tray she thought to herself, “I’m not Catholic, he can go to hell for all I care.”