“I go to see the Yībǎi suì.” Mrs. Chin entered Jon’s room.
Karl and Rudy followed.
“He’s dead you know,” Rudy said, covering his mouth with his hand, to hide his words.
Mrs. Chin waved him off with the dragon stick.
He was there, as they had left him. The calm cold look still on his face, the life gone from his eyes.
Mrs. Chin crossed herself, bowed her head in Christian prayer.
“My friend Jon Magnusson. Tell me good to go home. Good to go to my shop, sell medicine again. My own children not my friends to put me here.” She placed the teak walking stick with its carved dragon’s head onto his chest. She lifted Jon’s dead hand and placed it upon the shaft. Seeing the purple marks on his arm she said, “Gui po.” She bent over close to Jon’s face. “Fuzi,” she said. “The daughter root. To smell like nice chocolate. Help to rest, help to sleep. Too much, not good. Sleep forever.”
“What are you talking about? Fuzzy?” Karl said.
“Belladonna flower, monkshood, wolf’s bane. I know. I sell in my shop for sleeping,” she said.
“Are you saying he ate something poison?”
“Made to tea, sip like water.”
Nurse Shirley stood at the doorway but did not enter the room.
There were five small purple bruises in the crook of Jon’s arm, in a track, as if a spider had probed the skin on a journey for food. But they were not insect bites.
“I’m afraid this poor fellow is dead,” Dr. Hauptman said of the obvious.
Karl, Rudy, Mrs. Chin and Nurse Clara nodded to each other solemnly.
“By the looks of him I’d say he’s been gone for a while. Several hours at least. We might as well wrap him up and take him downstairs. I think I’ve got a space for him until they come to collect him.”
“Shouldn’t there be an autopsy or something?” Karl asked.
“I don’t think so. He’s a pretty old fellow. Looks like he just came to his end and passed on. That’s what happens here, mostly. You get old and then poof, you’re gone.” Dr. Hauptman pointed at Karl. “You and I are on the downside of the hill. Fast approaching the bottom. Him too, I suppose.” He pointed at Rudy. “They’ve got time,” he pointed at Mrs. Chin and Nurse Clara. “The women always outlast us, pace themselves. We just go hell bent, most of us men too dense to know better. You know what they say, the light that shines twice as bright shines half as long. Or something like that.”
Rudy looked at Jon, laying still upon his bed, the dragon stick across his chest. “He shone pretty long.”
“Gui po. Fat lady,” Mrs. Chin said. “Fuzi tea. Poke arm, make hole, see.” She pointed at Jon’s arm. The small purple dots had become clouded into the milky bluish white flesh.
“Looks like someone needs a bit more practice with injections,” Dr. Hauptman said. “Looks like there was trouble finding a vein. Not surprising. Shrinkage as we get older you know, happens to veins too. Mind you if we just drank a bit more water we might keep those little things pumped up. At least enough that we could find them.”
“I’ll have Bruce come,” Nurse Clara said. “What a shame he didn’t make it for his party at least.”
“Usually these older folks get their injections in the belly or some other soft place. The insulin works just the same there,” Dr. Hauptman said.
“Mr. Magnusson wasn’t diabetic,” Nurse Clara said. “Those marks must be something else.”
Karl fingered the syringe he had stuffed into his pocket.
“No, he didn’t take insulin,” Rudy confirmed.
Oddur Gunnerson passed the open door on his way to breakfast. Seeing the crowd around Jon’s bed, he stepped into the room. Dr. Hauptman closed Jon’s eyes.
“Him,” Odd said. “Does that mean there won’t be a party?”
Mrs. Chin took the empty cup from Jon’s bedside table handing it to Dr. Hauptman.
“Fuzi,” she said. “Not good.”
“Chocolate milk,” Dr. Hauptman sniffed the cup.
“Not good to drink,” Mrs. Chin said.
“You think it’s gone bad?”
“No. Put to sleep, long time. Forever. I know.”
“I can send it to the lab, I suppose,” the Doctor said. “But it’s just chocolate milk.” He was skeptical, of course. Old people just pass away they don’t die from chocolate milk.
Karl fished the spent syringe from his pocket and handed it to Dr. Hauptman. “The Night Nurse,” he said. “Insulin maybe.”
“What are you suggesting Mr. Homesman? Surely not that somebody did something to Mr. Magnusson.” Nurse Clara’s jaw was dropped. “Perhaps Detective Klugman will want to hear about this,” she said. “If you think there is something suspicious about Mr. Magnusson’s passing away. I find it hard to believe something like that.”
“I don’t think there is anything foul going on here,” Dr. Hauptman said. “This fellow was a hundred years old. He just passed away. We should all be so lucky to live that long. But go ahead and call that detective if you want. I’ll keep this fellow downstairs for now, in cold storage.” Dr. Hauptman put the syringe into one side pocket of his lab coat and the chocolate drink cup in the other.
“It’s funny how they don’t look real, like that,” Rudy said. “We should go, it’s too creepy to look at Jon when he’s not there.”
“It was her,” Karl whispered to Nurse Clara. “That short nurse. She did something to him, we saw her.” Karl gave a slight tilt of the head towards Nurse Shirley.
Nurse Clara gave a sideways glance towards Nurse Shirley but said nothing.
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