Well here it is finally. The last chapter. Sorry for the delay but RL has been hectic here the past couple of weeks. I hope I have been able to explaining the cast and traction satisfactorily. Of course I am not qualified medical practioner whatsoever so all medical mistakes are mine solely. Thank you to everybody who has read, reviewed or alerted this story.
Piece of Cake
The Frame Up, Missing Scene
Actor shook his head, closing the door on the argument. He knew that once he left they would settle into silence, their tiredness would see to that. His immediate concern was Chief. He needed to be sitting beside Chief's bed before he woke up. He couldn't predict Chief's reaction should he find himself alone in a strange place and in pain when he awoke. He quietly entered the room indicated by Humphreys, acknowledging the doctor's assistance with a nod of his head. Actor paused just inside the door, allowing his eyes to adjust to the dim light of the room. The room looked no different to any other hospital room he had ever seen; a bed, bedside table, a cupboard and a chair but none of those other rooms he had seen contained the man lying motionless in the bed. Chief lay, slightly propped up by pillows, the casted right leg hanging in traction just above the bed. The bed covers only covered him from the waist down and his left leg, with the rest bunched under the broken leg. Hanging from the ceiling and within easy reach of Chief's hands was a metal triangle on a chain that Chief could hang on to, to pull himself up in the bed.
The door opened and a nurse moved silently across the room, checked her patient, made a notation on the chart hanging at the end of the bed and then left just as silently, only acknowledging Actor's presence with a slight smile.
Actor moved quietly across the room; he picked up the chart and read the doctor and nurses comments before replacing it on the footboard of the bed and moving to settle into the chair at the side of the bed. According to the chart, Chief should be regaining consciousness within the hour as the anesthetic wore off. Actor carefully studied Chief. He certainly looked a lot better than he had in France, his complexion was still pale with a just a slight flush to the cheeks but his breathing was deep and regular. Gone was the furrowed frown and restless head tossing indicating the level of pain he had being dealing with. He also noted that the ever present sheen of sweat was gone. Thanks no doubt to the high doses of penicillin he was receiving. Actor glanced at Chief's toes sticking out at the end of the cast, nodding in approval at the healthy pink look of them. In fact, Actor marveled at just how young Chief really looked in this unguarded moment of relaxed sleep.
A soft moan from the bed interrupted Actor's appraisal, bringing the conman to his feet. He leant over the bed, softly calling Chief's name, getting another low moan and a head toss for an answer.
"Come on Chief, it's time to wake up." Actor called louder, aware that the man would need assurances as to his whereabouts before he came fully awake. "It's Actor, we're back in England and you're in the hospital."
There was another moan before the lips parted and formed a single voiceless word.
Actor placed a reassuring hand on Chief's shoulder. "The Warden's fine Chief, he's resting a couple of doors down with Goniff and Casino watching him. Now how about you open those eyes for me?"
Chief was surprised at how easy it was for him to respond to the gentle urging of the Italian conman. A few months ago he would never have put so much trust in the words of another. Eager to respond, Chief shifted towards the voice. His eyes flew open in shock and a gasped grunt escaped his clamped lips as blinding pain shot up his injured leg.
"Easy Chief," Actor ordered, pressing the Indian's shoulders to the bed to stop him from moving further. "You can't move around."
"My…leg?" Chief gasped.
"The bullet was imbedded in the bone, they had to break the bone to remove the bullet."
"Yes but it will heal completely Chief. It's in a cast and traction so you need to stay still. Do you understand me?" Actor asked.
"I'm sure it does. I'll go and find the nurse, tell her you're awake and need pain relief but you have to stay still until I get back. Chief?" Actor prodded when he didn't get a reply.
Chief clenched his jaw against the flaring pain and nodded in understanding. Sweat beaded on his brow and he breathed in short pants as he waited for Actor and the nurse to return.
A short time later, Actor and the nurse who had entered the room earlier returned. Actor stood to the side as the nurse checked Chief and after making several notes on his chart administered a shot of morphine. "There you are love; that should take effect in a couple of minutes. The doctor will be in to see you after his next surgery. In the meantime try and get some more sleep." The nurse nodded to Actor and left the two men alone.
Actor retook his seat by the bed and watched as Chief's breathing evened out. "Feeling better?"
"Yeah, thanks. What about my leg?" Chief asked worriedly as he eyed the heavy cast and traction.
"It will heal completely," Actor smiled, relieving the tension in the Indian, "Provided you follow the doctor's orders."
Chief sighed in relief and closed his eyes for a moment. He could feel the morphine flowing through his system and knew he would be asleep soon. "How long do I have to stay in this thing?" He asked, inclining his head at the traction.
"I don't know Chief. I haven't spoken to your doctor yet. He is in surgery again, but we should know more later today." Actor promised.
"The Warden…really alright?" Chief yarned and blinked at Actor.
"He's fine Chief, a mild concussion, some bruises and exhaustion. He was sleeping when I came in here. Goniff and Casino are watching him."
Chief's eyes slid shut. "Won't…be…asleep for…long."
"Who Chief," Actor queried.
"War…den." Chief sighed as his breathing evened out. "Goniff, Casino…can't keep quite…asleep."
Actor chuckled as Chief's body relaxed into sleep. He certainly had the measure of their two team mates, which raised a problem. If he sat here with Chief, he would be unable to keep an eye on Goniff, Casino and Garrison but Chief also needed watching, at least for the next twenty four hours until he was more cognizant of what was happening around him. Actor stood, he knew Chief would sleep for a few hours now so he had plenty of time to return to Craig's room, and send Goniff back here to sit with Chief. That way he could check on both injured men and keep Goniff and Casino from throttling each other once boredom settled in.
Actor paused outside Garrison's room, listening intently at the door for a few moments. When no sounds were heard from within he carefully opened the door. Goniff looked up from the paper he was reading and placed a finger on his lips indicating that both Garrison and Casino were sleeping. Actor nodded in understanding and then beckoned for the little Englishman to follow him to the corridor.
Goniff dropped the paper and hurried out of the room. "'Is everything alright Actor? Ow's Chiefy?" He asked breathlessly as soon as the door closed behind them.
"Slow down Goniff," Actor cautioned. "Chief is fine, he woke up but he's sleeping now. His leg is in a cast and traction." Actor held up a hand to forestall the questions he could see building in the pickpockets face. "I haven't spoken to his doctor yet so I don't know how long he will be here for but I would imagine it will be a week or two."
"They really broke 'is leg?"
"Yes. Goniff I need you to stay with Chief. I don't want him to wake up alone, at least not until he is more aware of his surroundings."
"Yeah sure thing Actor, just let me get me paper." Goniff slipped in and out of the room as though he was on a caper, paper tucked neatly under his arm. "What room's 'Ee in?"
"Room two. It's just down the corridor." Actor watched as Goniff headed off down the corridor before he quietly re-entered Garrison's room.
"Chief alright?" Garrison whispered as Actor settled into Goniff's vacant chair.
"You should be sleeping," Actor replied in way of answer.
"That's not what I asked." Garrison hissed.
"He is fine Craig, as worried about you as you are about him. They had to break the bone to remove the bullet but he will make a full recovery, it will just take time. The leg is casted and in traction and no I don't know for how long. I haven't spoken to the doctor yet."
Garrison sighed heavily at the news. It wasn't unexpected but still…
"Don't go there again Craig," Actor warned as he watched the mask of guilt drop over Garrison's face. "It wasn't your fault, it could have happened to anyone of us and he will recover."
"Casino going to be alright," Garrison asked, changing the subject.
Actor glanced at the safecracker who was snoring softly in the corner, the injured foot resting on a pillow. "Yes, the foot is just bruised. He'll be up and sneaking out to the pub before you know it."
"That's what I'm afraid of." Garrison muttered with a sigh. "Well, at least with three of us down at the moment there won't be any missions for a few days."
"That is one way of looking at it," agreed Actor. "Why don't you get some more sleep Craig? After all, that is what the doctor ordered and in the mean time I'll go and see if I can speak to Chief's doctor."
Actor waited until Craig's breathing evened out, indicating that he had fallen asleep again before he left the room. He stopped at the nurse's desk and asked for the whereabouts of the doctor who had operated on Chief. After being assured that the doctor would be commencing his rounds in an hour, Actor hurried back to Chief's room. Goniff looked up from his paper as the conman silently closed the door behind him.
"Did you find the doctor, Actor?" Goniff asked in a whisper. "Chiefy's a bit restless. That contraption must be 'urting him." Goniff nodded at the traction holding Chief's leg above the bed.
"The doctor will be starting rounds in an hour. I'll have to wait until then to speak with him." Actor replied as he watched Chief roll his head on the pillow. "He only came out of surgery a couple of hours ago Goniff so he is bound to be in some pain, at least for the next few days." Actor checked his watch and frowned, realizing the morphine shouldn't have been wearing off so soon. He would have to keep an eye on Chief at least until the doctor arrived.
"I'm sorry it's Chiefy, but I'm glad it's not me." Goniff shuddered.
"Why don't you go and get us some coffee Goniff," Actor suggested as he pulled the chart from the end of the bed and re-read the notations. "And another chair." He added as an after thought.
Goniff folded his paper and stood. "I'll drop in and see if Casino wants anything too."
"He and the Warden are both asleep." Actor advised as he settled into Goniff's vacated chair.
Goniff shrugged. "Oh well, I'll get 'im something anyway. Never 'ear the bleeding end of it, I won't if 'Ee misses out, even if it's cold when 'Ee gets it."
Actor rubbed a hand across his face and sighed. It was going to be a long few days with three of the team incapacitated. He had no doubt that Garrison and Casino would be back on their feet with a couple of days rest and then there would only be Chief to worry about. And worry they would, despite the Indian's protests, until he was back on his feet also. The door opened and Actor turned to see who had entered, unsurprised to realize that he had recognized that it wasn't Goniff returning with his coffee. Chief had spent many painstaking hours with each of them, teaching them how to discern each of their unique footsteps. A lifesaving technique that they had all put to use on their missions when stealth and silence was required. The ability to recognize friend from foe saving them all from unfortunate accidents. Of course Actor was not unfamiliar with the technique, priding himself on his ability to discern all of his female acquaintances from the perfumes they wore, before laying eyes on them.
Actor rose from the chair as the white coat clad man closed the door behind him. The doctor studied the tall Italian before him, already aware from his discussion with Humphreys that this was the man to whom he was to speak regarding the injuries to his team mate. "Actor," the doctor stepped forward and held out his hand. "My name is Samuel Jeffries and I operated on Chief."
"Doctor Jeffries," Actor acknowledged, accepting the man's offered hand.
Jeffries walked to the foot of the bed and picked up the chart, reading the last few notations since his surgery before adding several more notes of his own.
"He seems to be in a lot of pain." Actor began.
Jeffries nodded. "Yes that is to be expected at this stage. We had to do some intense debriding of the wound to eradicate the infection, not to mention breaking the bone. He is on a heavy course of penicillin which we will decrease as the infection clears. I have decreased the time between pain relief for the next twenty four hours. We'll see how he is coping then. As to the leg, it should heal without any complications provided he follows my directions."
"How long will he be here for?" Actor asked, relieved at the good prognosis.
"At least two weeks before he can go home. He will need some physiotherapy on the leg to regain strength in it, but that won't happen until the cast is removed in six to eight weeks."
Actor nodded in understating. "How long do you expect him to be out for altogether?"
Jeffries shrugged. "At least three months, maybe more. Each case is different, but he's young and strong and in good health. How long it takes is really going to be up to him. Well unless there are any other questions Actor, I have other patients to see."
Actor held out his hand. "No that will be all for the time being, thank you Doctor Jeffries."
Jeffries nodded, quickly shaking the proffered hand, before hurrying to the door. He stepped back, holding the door open for Goniff who was juggling two cups of coffee and a plate of biscuits, to enter.
"That the doctor?" Goniff asked as the door closed behind him. "What did 'Ee say about Chiefy? 'Ow is he? 'Ow long is 'Ee 'ere for?"
"Slow down Goniff." Actor ordered as he accepted the cup of coffee from the Englishman. "Chief will make a full recovery but it will be at least three months before he will be fit for another mission. He'll be here in the hospital for two weeks at least."
"Ee's not going to like that. Staying 'ere for two weeks or not being able to go on a mission for three months."
"Well there is nothing he can do about it Goniff. Three months is better than losing his leg or dying, which is what could have happened had we not found them in time."
"Blimey," Goniff swallowed. "I suppose you're right."
The door opened again, admitting the same nurse who had ministered to Chief earlier. She smiled at the two men before administering another shot of morphine, noting the chart and then leaving, all without uttering a single word.
"I'm going to go and see Craig and Casino, give them the news. I won't be long."
Goniff sighed as he walked past Actor who was reclining in his favourite chair, pipe and book in hand. "Watch ya reading mate?" he asked as he tossed his pants over the clothes line strung across the room.
"Great Jewel Collections of the World, Volume Two."
"Sounds dull." Goniff muttered.
"On the contrary, it's fascinating." Actor replied, puffing contentedly on his pipe.
Casino was standing at the ornate mirror, whistling quietly as he shaved when the door opened and Garrison walked in.
"Gentlemen, we have a mission…"