My migraines continued for approximately a week. They varied in the degree of pain which they caused, but they stayed a consistent part of my day-to-day. As I woke up from another fitful sleep (carefully so as not to set off another painful migraine), I noticed that the throbbing in my skull had subsided into more pinpricks near the base of my skull. I moved to go about my morning when I noticed bloodstains on my person and my pillows and sheets. I hurriedly got up and went to my mirror, my head protesting. I checked the mirror and saw that I had dried blood under my nose. Apparently, my nose had bled while I slept. As I cleaned up the bloodstains, I thought to myself how strange it was. I had never had a nosebleed naturally before, the only times I had ever gotten a nosebleed was as a young lad. And even then, they were caused by outside influence. Then again, I was suffering from migraines. It could be entirely possible that my headaches had transferred into a more physical presence. I tried to shake it off and continued with my day.
I carefully got dressed, remembering that I still had an appointment to refill my prescription. As I walked out into the light, the newspaper seller thrust his grubby hand into my face. In it was the day's paper. Wordlessly, I begrudgingly paid the man and walked out onto the already crowded street. I made my way to my physicians office without any more disturbances or debilitating headaches. I walked in and asked a nearby nurse whether or not the doctor was available. She told me that he had gotten a late night call to a bar nearby so he would be caught up with him until midday but that I was welcome to wait. I sighed and sat down on one of the many chairs groaning when my head pulsed a painful rhythm. I spread open the newspaper on my lap and was astonished to see that there was no news with murder in the title. I couldn't believe my eyes, I was about to smile when another bout of sudden pain ripped through my brain. At this point the doctor had finished with his previous patient and came out to see me clutching my head and in pain.
"Mr. Graves, good morning. As I can clearly see, you have some malady in you head. What seems to be the problem good sir?" my physician, Dr. Archibald Stanley, asked as I got up slowly and staggered my way to him. Seeing the state I was in, Dr. Stanley closed the distance and helped me back into the chair I had risen from.
"My problem, doctor," I said, gritting my teeth, "is that my head has been paining me for the past week or so. Just this morning I woke up to a nosebleed. I never get nosebleeds!"
"For the entire week? Why didn't you come sooner?!" Dr. Stanley exclaimed. "Have you been taking any prescription medicines or over-the-counter drugs that you shouldn't be, Mr. Graves?"
I shook my head, "The only drug that I have been taking is the cocaine that you prescribed me. I take it before going out to work everyday." I managed to squeeze this out before I promptly fell unconscious. As my world faded to black, I saw Dr. Stanley give me a strange look before ordering for somebody to help him move me to an available bed. I slipped in and out of consciousness, for how long I cannot say. During the few lucid moments that I had, I saw and heard Dr. Stanley speaking in hushed tones to somebody I could not identify.
When I woke up, I was propped up on a bed and a nurse was watching me. She saw me start to rise and moved to stop me before going out into the hall and calling for the good doctor. The doctor walked in and he was not one that I recognized. He saw my confusion and rushed to explain.
"Ah, Mr. Graves. I am Lance Bertram and you are currently residing in my hospital. A Dr. Stanley brought you here to this clinic as he felt that he simply did not have the facilities to help you recover from you condition."
This last word was said after some hesitation, making me lift my gaze from my hands to the doctor. It looked like he was sizing me up, analyzing me as though I was a mystery and he was Sherlock Holmes.
"So Mr. Graves," Dr. Bertram began, "I understand that you are suffering from numerous migraines. Is that correct?"
"Yes, that is true. As I told Dr. Stanley, I have been suffering for the majority of the week and there is no indication that they will stop."
"Interesting." said Dr. Bertram, scribbling down notes in a pad he had pulled out from his coat. "I hope you don't mind if I do a few tests before letting you go?"
"No, I don't mind at all. By all means, I trust you completely." I replied. I tried to smile to show that I was comfortable but I could only muster a grimace. Dr. Bertram smiled, assuring me that I'd be fine.
"It'll be alright, no need to panic. Now then, shall we begin?"
. . .
Dr. Bertram ran his tests with little issue. After we had finished, he told me that he would have the results for me the next day and warned against any drug that wasn't prescribed to me. Naturally I assured him that I would abide by this. I should mention that this warning did confuse me, as I only ever took the coco leaf prescribed by Dr. Stanley. I decided to go back to Dr. Stanley's clinic and ask him what exactly he had told Dr. Bertram and whether or not he had been the stranger that he had been talking to.
After walking for about and hour or so (and getting lost for more than half of that time), I managed to find Dr. Stanley's clinic. I pushed open the doors hoping and walked towards his office. Without warning, a giant of a man leapt out of bed and - after grabbing my hand - began pleading for forgiveness from me. I was taken aback. Even though this man was kneeling, he still came up to my shoulder. I pulled my hand away from the deranged giant with one swift pull upwards and away from him. The moment my hand was above his head, his eyes widened and he began to cry and plead with me for his life. His hands flew up, palms open, as if warding off attacks.
"I'm sorry guv'nor! I dinna mean anyfink by wot I said! Please don hurt me!" the giant cried, voice on the verge of hysteria. Tears were pouring down his face, his nose was running, but the most unsettling part of the whole thing was how genuine the apology was and just how frightened he was. All of the other patients around us had stopped and looked at this strange show. One of the patients got a hold of one of the nurses, who rushed towards the giant. The nurse began to shush the man, before gently leading him away back to his bed.
"I am so sorry about that." the nurse said. apologetically, "This man had quite a frightening ordeal and isn't quite right in the head."
I was still slightly uneasy, but her last comment piqued my interest. "What exactly happened to this man to drive him over the edge so? If you don't mind my asking."
"Oh! Well, this man arrived at our clinic last night. We were told that there had been a fight and that we were needed at the scene immediately. I must say, the scene was one of the most horrid that I have seen in all my time as a medical practitioner." She looked about, making sure that we were away from prying ears. "We arrived - the good doctor, a stretcher, a small bag of equipment and medicines, me and one other nurse - and it was most gruesome. There he lay, every limb broken save for his right hand completely shattered. The floor was slick with blood and drink. I mean, looking at the sheer size of this fellow and knowing his history of violence is enough to make you shudder, but what kind of a monster could take him on and succeed?"
We both stood there for some time in silence, no doubt imagining the victor of the bout. I do not know what she imagined but I can say that I imagined somebody more or less like myself. Well, that is not entirely true - the image was forced onto me, in a way. I tried to imagine what kind of man could possibly pummel such a behemoth when a man - as I said, much like myself - appeared before me. Unlike me, he was covered in blood but was somehow smiling. Next thing I knew, I was staring at the ceiling and the nurse was shaking me awake in a panic. Confused as to what happened, I asked her what was wrong.
"I don't quite rightly know, sir, but I do believe that you lost consciousness for a while." the nurse replied, sighing with relief, "I must say, you gave me quite a fright. One second we were standing shoulder to shoulder, the next you were on the floor moaning."
I apologized to her, nursing the small knot forming on the back of my head, and left the clinic. I carefully made my way back to my home. Halfway there, I kicked myself as I had completely forgotten to find the doctor and ask him. I was still mentally kicking myself wen I arrived home only to be greeted with the sight of Frederick pacing back on forth on my doorstep.
"Ephraim!" Frederick exclaimed as he saw me approach, "I became quite worried when you didn't show up! Are you quite alright?"
"Yes, Frederick I am fine. Please, do not worry. I have been to the clinic - well, two to be exact - and I have been given a clean bill of health." I said, doing my best to adopt a comforting smile (although I doubt it looked very comforting). This didn't stop Frederick's pacing, and I was forced to grab him by the shoulders and ask him if everything was well.
"I'm afraid not Ephraim. You remember the brothel case that we had been assigned?" Frederick asked, avoiding eye contact. I nodded.
"Of course I remember Frederick. Why?"
"Oh come now. Out with it man!"
"I may have butchered the sentencing..."
I turned in alarm. "How?!" I demanded.
"I, uh, changed the severity of the sentence. From the maximum to about the in-between."
"Yes... in-between light fine and imprisonment."
"So, a heavy fine?"
"No... a lighter than that."
I looked at Frederick with an expression of incredulity. Frederick twiddled his thumbs, occasionally glancing at me from the corners of his eyes. I burst out laughing. This laughter continued, turning into full-bellied guffaws. It was Frederick's turn to be in disbelief.
"What is it Ephraim?! Are you sure you are fit to be at home?!" Frederick cried, his concern visible in his eyes. This promptly made me laugh harder, only making Frederick more bewildered. Clutching my stomach and wiping a tear from my eye, I managed to pull myself together and explain.
"My apologies Frederick. My laughter stems from the hilarity of the entire thing. The reason you were unhappy was because of some inane case being closed with a light sentence?"
Frederick blinked for a few moments, confused at how the situation had progressed. "So, you harbor no ill will against me? Y-You're not upset at all?"
"Of course not! Look, I am sure that you did your best under the circumstances that I forced upon you. If anything, I should the one apologizing to you! The migraines that I suffer from put me out of commission and forced you to take on twice the workload and for that I am truly sorry, friend."
This flabbergasted Frederick further and he struggled to formulate a cohesive response. The face he made only added to the hilarity of it all and making burst out with more laughter. Laughter that was abruptly ended by another splitting headache. Seeing the look of anguish on my face, Frederick moved to assist me, opening my front door and helping my into my living room. He tried to stammer something to me but I waved him away, blatantly ignoring what he was saying and assuring him that I would try my best to be at work tomorrow or the next day. Frederick reluctantly complied, his own words and hands forcibly blocked by mine.