Chapter 24 – The Cold Room

The Cold Room

The door was open just a crack. A short man in a white smock leaned over Mrs. Kyvonis, a very bright LED light strapped around his mostly bald head and a pair of glasses so thick that giant eyeballs filled the lenses. Dr. Hauptman.

Jon poked his head through the small opening and knocked. He didn’t want to startle the doctor, especially down in this cold somber chamber where zombies or other death angels might break out of the walls.

“Hello,” Jon whispered in a shaky voice. He wiped perspiration from his brow, still trembling from the ordeal of his reluctant ride down the service elevator.

Dr. Hauptman looked up, pleasantly surprised to see that he had company. His work could have long periods of isolation, which did not suit his gregarious nature.

“Hello,” Dr. Hauptman replied.  “Come in, close the door. We don’t want anyone to get loose.” He chuckled.

Jon wobbled slowly into the room, tilting this way and that on his walking stick.

“You alright?” Dr Hauptman saw Jon teeter, tilting sideways. “You better sit down.”

“The elevator” Jon said. “It’s like a coffin. I don’t like those things. I think I might have fainted a little bit but I’m okay now.”

“Claustrophobic?”

“No, not at all. I just don’t like small spaces.”

“Oh, I see. Well you should sit down anyway.”

“Thank you,” Jon said. “I’m Jon Magnusson.”

“Are you a doctor?”

Jon thought for a second. “Yes, actually, I suppose I am, though not in the way you probably mean. I am a PhD. History.”

“We’re all good at something, aren’t we,” Dr. Hauptman said. “Come in if you like. I’m just finishing up; these people won’t bother you.”

The room was cold, Jon thought he could see his breath in the air. He tip toed, creeping his way to the gurney where Dr. Hauptman attended Mrs. Kyvonis.

“Do you know this lady?” Dr. Hauptman asked.

Jon reluctantly looked at his recently deceased neibour.

“Mrs. Kyvonis. I didn’t know her well. She sat near me at mealtimes with the same three friends.” Jon bent for a closer look. “Her nose seems to be smaller than I remember.”

“It’s the light,” Dr. Hauptman said.

“She’s better looking than I remember,” Jon added.

“The light.”

Jon straightened himself. “She kind of looks like Gudrun.”

“Who?”

“Gudrun, our second wife?”

“This lady was your wife?”

“What? No, just someone from upstairs. I hardly knew her. I’ve only been here a few days.” Jon looked at Mrs. Kyvonis’ face as close as he dared. “How can you tell if she was murdered?”

“Murdered? No, I don’t think so. This woman looks like she just went to sleep and peacefully drifted away.”

“Shouldn’t you cut her open and check for signs of foul play?”

“That’s not necessary. She just died a restful death in her sleep.”

“She does look peaceful. What about that other one?”

There was one other sheet covered gurney in the room.

“No, I’ve already checked that one. Same.” Dr. Hauptman sat down on a three legged stool at a small desk in the corner of the room. He turned on a small desk lamp that cast a dim yellow glow onto the desktop. He took two sheets of paper from a very old soft leather briefcase and began to write.

“I have a suspicion that there is a crazy man from the second floor purposely doing in people on my floor.”

Dr. Hauptman stopped writing. “Now why would anyone do something like that?”

“Room. He wants a room up on three because he thinks it is his due. Just because he’s an old guy. I don’t see why he should have a room, they already let him come and go as he pleases. He needs to go before the Lawspeaker.” Jon covered his mouth. It seemed to be warming in the cold room.

“Lawspeaker? Do you mean a judge?” Dr. Hauptman shook his head. “I’ll just fill out these forms here and these folks can be on their way for their celebration.”

‘Celebration’, Jon thought. ‘Like the Althing’. Jon’s mind drifted to Snorri.

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