SERIAL NOVEL: The Black Mennonite (Chapter 31) by Daniel Whyte III with Meriqua Whyte

Chapter 31

The Night Visitor

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Although their first night at the hospital was a tough one, both Eva and Jacob fulfilled their duties at Things & Things and at the hardware store the next day. Such was their schedule over the next four days: visit Kezia at the hospital; put in a full day’s work; check in on Kezia; return home to get about three to four hours sleep; return to the hospital for overnight stay.

“I want you to take the next two days off,” Mrs. Rothchild told Eva on the fourth day of Kezia’s stay in the hospital. “And I insist on it. You’re looking very tired and you have lost some weight. You don’t want Kezia to get well and then you fall ill, now do you? I’ll pay you half your wages for those two days.”

“It’s not the money,” Eva said. “I have to keep busy so as not to be preoccupied with Kezia’s illness.”

“I know it’s not the money, but you do need your rest, and not just physically but mentally as well, so I insist on you taking the next two days off,” Mrs. Rothchild said. Switching from her firm but loving tone she said more softly, “You may want to consider staying home tonight instead of spending the night at the hospital. Maybe have a family member sit in for you. The doctors and nurses are quite capable of tending to your daughter. I know they are giving her the utmost care.”

Eva smiled appreciatively.

Kassie listened quietly.

Taking Mrs. Rothchild’s advice, Jacob and Eva arranged for Rebecca to spend the night with Kezia. “I just could not leave her there alone,” Eva said to Jacob as they were getting ready for bed.

The doctor had moved Kezia from the critical room to the recovery room. There were four other babies in the room. Rebecca sat next to Kezia’s bed and read to her from the Bible and children’s books in the dimly lit room. She was allowed to hold Kezia. Rebecca closed her eyes as she gently rocked Kezia in her arms while humming a lullaby. She became oblivious to the entering and exiting of the nurses as they quietly came in and out to check on the infants.

Satisfied that Kezia was in a deep sleep, Rebecca stood and laid her in her bed. She gently patted Kezia after laying her down. As she turned her head slightly to pull the blanket over Kezia’s body she glimpsed out of her peripheral vision a form standing across the room. Turning her head more to get a better view, Rebecca saw a female standing in the shadow of one of the dividing curtains. The woman did not have on the familiar white nurses uniform. For some reason, Rebecca began to feel uncomfortable. How long has she been standing there? Whoever it was, was standing too still for her comfort.

After remaining in position for a few seconds, Rebecca stood to her full height and quickly turned around to hopefully throw this ‘visitor’ off guard and to get a better look at whoever she may be. It was a woman, clothed in a dark dress with her hair wrapped in an equally dark head wrap. Rebecca peered as best she could across the room into the visitor’s face, now convinced that she had been standing in the shadows for a while observing her and Kezia.

“Hi. Are you looking for someone?” Rebecca asked.

Receiving no response, Rebecca said, “May I help you?” She took two quick steps towards the visitor. The visitor turned and hurried out the room allowing the door to swing shut behind her. Rebecca hurried after her. By the time Rebecca stepped out of the room into the hallway, the visitor was already at the end of the hallway about to make the left turn leading to the receptionist’s area. By the time Rebecca reached the receptionist’s desk the visitor was nowhere in sight.

“Hi, did a lady in a dark dress with a head wrap pass by here? She seemed to be in a hurry,” Rebecca asked the receptionist.

“Yes. She came in and out without saying ‘hi’ or ‘bye.’ Is something the matter?” the receptionist asked.

“I’m not for sure. Did you get a good look at her? And if you did, what does she look like?” Rebecca asked.

“To be honest with you, I thought she was acting strangely when she first came in. She held her head down and was wiping her face with a white cloth both times she walked by here. When she first came in, I thought maybe she wasn’t feeling well. I asked her if I could help her, but she did not answer even though she hesitated as she walked by my desk as though unsure of where to go. Anyway, she went on down the hallway. I thought maybe she had her mind on an ill family member or friend, but from your asking and as I think about it now, she may have been hiding her face,” the receptionist said. “But I can tell you this: she is dark skinned.”

“Really?” Rebecca said. “As in Negro?”

“Mmm. She could be. But we also have a few Indians around here. With her head wrapped it’s hard to tell which race she belongs to.”

“She came into the infants’ recovery room and was just standing there watching me and Kezia. I greeted her and tried to get her to talk, but she hurried out of the room without saying a word,” Rebecca shared with the receptionist.

“Mmm. That’s strange. I guess we’d better keep an eye on that room then. Hopefully she just had the wrong room,” the receptionist said. “I’ll alert the other nurses to be on the lookout for her or any other strange individual. Thanks for letting me know.”

Rebecca walked back to the recovery room in deep thought.