Hammurabi’s Code Kat’s day started like many that had preceded it. Her alarm didn’t go off and if it did she hit the snooze button one too many times, forcing her to be late. In a panicked state she rushed to get dressed and quickly snatched a bagel and a diet soda out of the fridge before heading downtown to the hospital where she worked.
She was an unassuming middle aged lady with a heart of gold. She treated each and every one of her patients like family. When they were in pain, she too was in pain. The one thing she despised above all else was the amount of women that came through the door of St. Christopher’s Medical Center that had “fallen down” Or “ran into the wall.”
One woman in particular who went by the street name “princess” was always coming in with a concussion or a broken finger, sometimes her wounds were so bad she needed to stay at the hospital overnight for evaluation. Each time Kat would tend to her wounds and offer advice. In this instance Princess had “fallen down” so hard she gave herself two black eyes, a split lip, three broken ribs and a twisted ankle, not to mention a gash on her head that required 15 stitches.
Kat stared down at the battered and bruised woman lying on the bed. Her normally deep blue eyes were replaced with two red orbs surrounded by mounds of jet black flesh. Her lips were swollen, dried and cracked, more than likely from all the screaming she had done. An I.V. dripped slowly, almost in time with the heart monitor she was hooked to.
“I know it’s none of my business but maybe you should think about moving on. Obviously this relationship you have has run its course.”
Princess rolled her eyes and replied.
“You’re right. It’s none of your fucking business. I fell down O.K. END OF STORY.”
Kat held the woman’s hand and gingerly stroked it. She knew the situation Princess was in. She’d seen it a thousand times before. No matter what acts of depravity the women go through they always stand by their man, even if it means skipping dinner because they already had a knuckle sandwich for lunch.
“Look Princess all I’m saying is that this is the 4th time you’ve been in here this month and it’s only the 13th. When is enough going to be enough?”
Princess looked deep into Kat’s eyes and began to weep.
“You don’t understand. I can’t leave him. He’s all I have. I don’t have no family and all my friends are people he grew up with so I can’t talk to them about it. I am trapped and there’s nothing I can do but strap in and wait until the ride is over.”
This revelation tugged at Kat’s heart strings harder than anything she’d seen in her 35 years as a nurse. She knew what that meant; the woman was attached to this man for life. And the way things seemed to be heating up in their relationship that day would come sooner rather than later. Normally Kat never gets involved because she’s seen situations like this a hundred times before, but this time was different. This woman actually wanted to leave; she just had no way out.
Kat’s keychain dangled in her hand as she reached in to brush the hair out of Princess face.
“Is that mace?” Princess quizzed.
“Actually it’s pepper spray, but it does the same thing. This little can will knock a 300 pound man flat on his ass.” Kat replied.
Princess lightly touched the small device as she ran her fingers down the edge.
“That’s pretty menacing wouldn’t you say.”
Kat held on to the can and started unhooking it from her keychain.
“If you think that’s something you should see the one I carry in my purse. Here you take this one. A girl needs all the protection she can get these days. You can never be too careful, right?”
Kat placed the can into the young woman’s hand and closed it tightly before standing up and exiting the room.
She offered a final piece of advice before leaving.
“There comes a time in each person’s life when you have to take a stand. Where, when and how that happens is entirely up to the individual.”
As she closed the door behind her the shrill blast of the loudspeaker broke the silence.
“ATTENTION NURSE KAT PLEASE REPORT TO ER. YOU ARE NEEDED IMMEDIATELY.”
Wasting no time Kat sped through the hospital en route to the Emergency Room sidestepping carts, patients and other personnel. Upon arrival she was greeted by Dr. Wynne.
“Kat you’re not going to believe this. A man came in today saying he was kidnapped, tortured and beaten. To top it all off someone cut out one of his eyes then jabbed the other with a stick or something. He was almost dead when they brought him in earlier today. It was touch and go for a while there but I think he’ll pull through. He’s stable right now so you can visit him if you want. I know how you like to offer a shoulder in cases like this.”
The nurse shot him a sly glance.
“Why yes. I would love to see the patient. Which room is he in?”
“Down the hall, room 6.”
Kat’s step quickened and her heart beat wildly as she made her way to the patient’s room.
She knocked quietly on the door and waited for a response before going in.
“I’m sorry to bother you sir. I’m Nurse Kat, I take a special interest in cases such as these and I was wondering if there was anything I could do for you?” She politely asked.
The man shook his head from side to side as he spoke.
“No, not really….I mean, yeah….There is one thing. Could you sit by my side and tell me when my girlfriend gets here. I don’t want to miss her, ya know in case I pass out again.”
“Why yes. I would love to.” She exclaimed as she casually sauntered over to his side.
As she neared the man something must have set him off because his heart monitor began beating rapidly.
“That perfume….I’ve smelled it before.” He exclaimed as the beeping of the monitor quickened.
Kat moved in closer and began humming to soothe the man’s nerves.
Moving ever so closer to her "patient" Kat continued to hum as the man began squirming and pulling the blankets up to his face as if to shield himself from something.
“That Song……IT IS YOU….MY GOD….NURSE…DOCTOR…SOMEONE HELP ME……HELP MEEEEEE………….”
Before she could react the man had gone into full cardiac arrest. Several Doctors and nurses rushed to his aid but it was too late. He had expired.
One of the doctors turned to Nurse Kat and with a heavy heart spoke directly to her.
“Sorry Kat. He’s gone. You did the best you could, hell we all did. You win some, you lose some. It’s the sad truth.”
“Yes. You’re right Dr. you can’t win them all but if you made a difference in one person’s life that’s all anyone could ask for?”
At the end of her shift she went back to check on Princess before heading home. She was doing very well according to the other nurses and would more than likely be released tomorrow or the next day.
“Well, guess I have my work cut out for me then huh?” She said with a serious voice.
The other nurses had no idea what the hell she was talking about but assumed it was more of the same. Just as it always was, punch in, punch out. Collect your check at the end of the week then do it all again the next day.
The subway ride home didn’t seem quite as bad as it normally did to Kat. Talking with Princess had made her feel really good about herself. Maybe the young woman would take her advice and make a new life for herself. Then again she would probably just stay with the creep and be back in the E.R. next week, or worse, visiting the morgue.
After a hard days work Kat liked to go down to her basement, sip a glass of chardonnay and unwind. The chardonnay soothed her nerves but what really put her mind at ease was going through her collection, one that had taken many years to acquire. She was very proud of what she had accomplished in life and was even more proud of her collection. You see to most people it was just that, a collection. Nothing more than a few items she had found here and there. But to her it was so much more. It was a ticket to freedom, a chance at a new life.
Kat picked up a jar, one of many that lined the shelves in her basement. She held it up to the light and peered through the glass at the contents. Floating inside was a long piece of string or something of the sort connected to a large round object.
“An eye for an eye, just like it says in The Bible.” She cackled as she sipped the last bit of chardonnay.