You can find the first parts of the story here.
“Hello Alyce,” Lillian said with a sigh, turning over to look at her clock and realising with annoyance that it was 4am. Alyce was Lillian’s sister, a few years older than her and like her other sisters was a man eater. However, unlike her older sisters, Alyce often found herself on the wrong side of the law which she picked the wrong man to take advantage of. It had been over six months since she had heard from her, and Lillian had begun to think that maybe her wild sister had gotten her life back on track. The last time she had spoken to her, Lillian had lent her $500, which Alyce had promised to pay back. Of course Lillian never saw a cent.
“It’s late Alyce, and I need to go to work today, what do you want?” Lillian said, trying to keep the exasperation out of her voice. She knew that her sister was likely to fly off the handle and the last thing she wanted was an argument at 4am.
“I’m at the hospital Lil, I got into a fight at the club and I need to you to come pick me up,” Alyce said quietly. Lillian could hear the noises of the emergency department in the background. She thought for a few seconds, and contemplated leaving Alyce there to fend for herself but she knew that if it got back to their mother that she would have hell to pay. Lillian was 35 years old and was still afraid of what her mother could say or do to her. Even though Alyce was 3 years older than Lillian, she had always been the golden child and her parents often relied on Lillian to take care of her. Her older sisters were spared the burden because there was a 10 year gap between them. Lillian was an ‘oops’ baby and she knew it every time she looked at the way her mother interacted with her sisters. She often tried to console herself with the thought that her parents must have thought she was more mature to take care of Alyce but it never helped when the late night calls came.
Lillian sighed into the phone and told her sister that she would be there soon. She realised that she was still in her clothes from the night before, so walked into the bathroom to straighten up before going to pick Alyce up. She walked past the empty Thai containers on her table and felt a pang in her heart as she remembered the way the night had ended. Lillian grabbed her handbag from it’s usual hanging place on one of the dining chairs, grabbed her keys off the kitchen bench and made her way down to the parking garage below her apartment building.
Living so close to her work and places to eat, Lillian rarely used her car and when she opened the door she was hit with a musty smell. She wrinkled her nose at the smell and opened all of her windows to try and combat it. Lillian reversed out of her park and then made her way out into the street. Her apartment had secure parking so she used her key card to open the gates that cut the car park off from the street outside.
The hospital that Alyce was in was in the next suburb, which was a 20 minute drive away. The streets were nearly empty, with only a couple of taxis passing her by as she made her way to the hospital. Lillian turned the radio up to try and keep herself awake although at this time of the night there wasn’t a great deal to listen to. On the trip to pick her sister up she steeled herself for having to deal with Alyce and her excuses. Alyce was never the one to blame in the trouble that she got herself in, and Lillian had learnt to nod her head and listen rather than try to give Alyce advice. She was a 38 year old woman who still thought she was a 21 year old.
Lillian arrived at the hospital and drove past the emergency entrance. She noticed with annoyance that despite Alyce telling her that she would be waiting outside that she wasn’t. She idled the car in the loading zone for a few minutes thinking that maybe she was in the toilet, but gave up after 5 minutes to go and find somewhere to park.
The car park was surprisingly full for this time of night and it took Lillian several minutes to find a park. She locked up the car and made her way back to the emergency department in search of her sister. Lillian reached the double doors and realised that Alyce still wasn’t sitting outside waiting for her. She sighed and went inside to see if she could find someone who knew where she was. She walked up to the triage counter and asked the nurse of duty if she knew a patient by the name of Alyce. The nurse told her that Alyce was still in triage but she couldn’t go through yet as police were questioning her.
“What has she done now?” Lillian asked herself. She asked the nurse if she knew what was going on but she said that she couldn’t tell her anything but if she took a seat she would let her know when she could go through to see Alyce. Lillian’s imagination ran away with her, but her ingrained thoughts of Alyce doing no wrong won out and she thought that maybe Alyce had been a witness to a crime, rather than being a perpetrator. She looked around the room at the people waiting with her, it seemed busy and there was a myriad of patients, from a small baby with a fever to several drunken people with various bodily injuries.
Lillian had been waiting over an hour when a nurse called her name. She went over to the triage window and the nurse told her that she could go through to see her sister now. The nurse buzzed open the door and Lillian walked through to the triage room. The nurse had told her that Alyce was in bed 3 and Lillian looked around but couldn’t see any numbers on the beds. She walked up to the nearest staff member and asked if they could point her in the right direction. He pointed a room that was off to the side and unlike the other beds it was behind a door rather than a curtain. Lillian took a deep breath and prepared herself for the story that her sister was going to regale her with.
Nothing could have prepared Lillian for what she discovered when she opened the door. Alyce’s long blond hair was a matted blood stained birds nest on top of her head and Lillian noticed that her clothes were bloodstained as well. Her right arm was bandaged and there was a large gash down her left arm. Lillian felt herself gasp and wondered if maybe Alyce had harmed herself and used the tried and true club fight to get her sister here.
Alyce looked at Lillian and tried to smile at her, “I messed up Lil. They say that I killed Ronny, but I don’t remember a thing.” Ronny was Alyce’s on and off again boyfriend. They had a pretty turbulent history and Lillian tried to keep as far away from him as possible. While he’d never been convicted of anything, she was sure that he was usually up to something illegal. She looked at Alyce and realised that although she was a middle aged woman, she looked closer to 50 than 40. Life hadn’t been kind to her, and she coped by drinking lots and taking drugs. Lillian felt sorry for her sister, and the feelings of resentment she had towards her for waking her up started to melt away.
Lillian felt her practical side start to kick in, “Have you called Mum and Dad yet? Are the police going to take you into custody? Have you got money for a lawyer? What the hell happened?” She knew that she was bombarded Alyce with questions but she needed to know the facts before she could help her.
“Woah sis, just slow down a minute, please. I haven’t rung Mum and Dad because I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t want to worry them before anything is certain. You know what they are like.” Alyce said slowly and Lillian could see that she was working hard to form the words.
“How much did you drink? Don’t lie to me because I’ll just ask the nurses.” Lillian quizzed her sister. She waited for her response as she looked around the room at the machines hooked up to Alyce. There was a machine that was pumping some kind of fluid into her, maybe an antibiotic to stop infection on the gash in her arm.
“Ronny and I finished off a bottle of rum between us. He’d had a shit day at work and so we were commiserating. I was trying to cheer him up but he was just in a slump. Then we got into an argument about something and that’s the last thing I remember,” Alyce said before slumping back into the pillows. Lillian could see that the interview with the police and then questions from her had tired her sister out. The nurse who showed her through to triage had told her that Alyce would be ok to leave in a few hours but she wasn’t sure what the police intended to do.
Lillian noticed that Alyce had begun to nod off so she made herself comfortable in one of the chairs that were seated next to the bed. Alyce reached out for Lillian’s hand and she found herself reaching back to hold her hand. Lillian had been close as children and would often be found curled up in the same bed holding hands. She sighed and wondered what had happened to her dear sister, what had gone so wrong that they had grown up so differently.
There was a knock at the door and Lillian looked up to see that there was a man in a suit standing at the door to her sisters hospital room. Her instincts told her that he was a detective, it was in the way that he held himself. There was a slight arrogance in the way he held his head that seemed to be a prerequisite for being a police officer, at least for the ones she had met since working at the law firm.
He put his hand forward and introduced himself as the lead detective on the murder investigation. He wanted to have a word with her sister but Lillian told him that she had just managed to fall asleep and would prefer that she wasn’t disturbed. She asked him if he thought that Alyce had killed Ronny and he told her that at this stage they were unsure of the cause of death, so her sister was a witness. This meant that she was free to go from the hospital when the doctors deemed her well enough.
The detective pressed his business card into Lillian’s hand and told her that she would need to call him when her sister was up to answering some questions. She nodded and watched him as he left the room. Lillian looked down at the card in her hand and read the name to herself, Mark Jackson. She hadn’t heard the name in passing at work so maybe he was new to the area she thought to herself. She looked at the card one more time and then put it into one of the pockets of her handbag, then laid her head on the edge of the bed next to her sisters side.
Lillian woke with a start when she realised her phone was ringing. She looked around and it took several seconds for her to realise where she was. She answered the phone and it was her boss wanting to know where she was. She groaned and looked at her watch. It was 930am and she was an hour late for work. Lillian apologised to her boss and told him that there had been a family emergency but she was on her way now. She heard him grunt down the line and tell her that he would speak with her further about this when she made it into the office. Alyce was still asleep but the nurse had told her she would only be in for a few hours, so she went in search of someone to find out what was happening.
The first doctor that she found told her that they had decided to move Alyce onto a ward due to a head injury and were just waiting for a bed. Lillian realised that she hadn’t known exactly what Alyce’s injuries were and admonished herself for not asking those important questions. She told the doctor that she needed to leave for work and gave him her contact details so they could get in touch with her if anything happened.
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