Margaret wasn’t feeling entirely well yet, but Benton was up and on his feet and she would be damned if she’d lie still. So, with a groan she wished she could have suppressed, she contracted her back and neck muscles sufficiently to raise herself up on her elbows.
Benton, standing beside her, saw the direction of her attempt and took hold of her shoulders to ease her up into a sitting position. The exertion, however gallantly intended, was a bit more than he could handle physically and no sooner was his new wife sitting up then Benton turned green and tottered. She reached out to steady him without thinking of the toll the sudden movement would take on her.
In a manner bizarrely appropriate for the newly joined couple, they passed out at the same moment: Margaret dropping comfortably back to her pillow and her less fortunate husband crumpling unceremoniously onto the hospital linoleum. The thud of his body hitting the floor stirred to action the nurse who had until now been avoiding any interference in their conversation.
A gurney and a doctor were both summoned, the former arriving somewhat faster than the latter and Benton was soon deposited back in his own room. Both halves of the eager couple were pronounced no worse for the excitement and in need of nothing more than further rest.
In this manner they slept through a singularly uneventful wedding night.
Turnbull, Ovitz and the Justice of the Peace were also held overnight for observation and none of the three of them felt any need for heroics. Upon regaining consciousness they gratefully accepted the ministrations of the medical staff and rested for the rest of the day and the following night.
As they were getting ready to leave, Detective Huey, having heard that some of the consulate staff were now in fit shape to be questioned, arrived to take their statements. The two Canadians were mindful of the Inspector’s orders that the marriage be kept secret.
As for Turnbull, he was fortunate that Detective Huey happened to catch him and Ovitz together, allowing Turnbull to listen while Ovitz told his story. All Turnbull had to do was agree with everything Ovitz said.
When Huey wanted to know why a Justice of the Peace was at the Consulate, Ovitz made up some halfway plausible story. It was a shame he wasn’t able to dream up a wholly plausible story, because the story he came up with persuaded Detective Huey not at all. Neither Ovitz nor Turnbull had seen the young couple that had planted the bomb. The only stranger in the Consulate that they remembered that day was the Justice, which made her a suspect in Huey’s mind.
After getting the secretary’s version of events, heartily confirmed by the Mountie, Huey went to the Justice’s room to see what he could learn from her. Or, more to the point, about her since she was now a suspect.
Although Justice Pear had been asked to keep her reason for being at the Consulate to herself, she had no reason to comply with the request and three very good reasons to cough up the truth when questioned by Huey. First: she was annoyed at being blown up and having to waste a day and a night in the hospital. Second: she was not in the least bit afraid of the Inspector. Third, and most importantly: she sensed from the line of Huey’s questioning that she was an arson suspect and was therefore highly motivated to provide the real reason she had been at the Canadian Consulate that day. So she told Huey she had been there to perform a marriage ceremony and who the bride and groom had been.
Huey couldn’t wait to get back to the 27th to share this juicy piece of gossip with everyone in the squad room.
Ray Vecchio had been on the same stakeout for two days and hadn’t been either to the hospital or to the office during that time. He had been told by radio about the explosion and that Constable Fraser was among those hospitalized. As soon as his suspect was in custody and he was free to go, he sped to the hospital knowing nothing at all about Huey’s news.
Benton had been more-or-less awake for about half an hour, slowly orienting on his surroundings and struggling to recall the events of the preceding day when a nurse came in to his room. The nurse settled into one of the visitor’s chairs and began a list of standard questions.
“Do you know why you’re here?” the nurse began, as formula required.
“Actually, no,” Benton truthfully replied. During the brief period that he had been conscious the day before he had been told there had been an explosion in the consulate but had no evidence in confirmation of that fact. Still disoriented, he reasoned that although he had to admit that was a likely explanation of his present condition, he was certainly not going to present it as fact unless he had definite confirmation.
The nurse noted his response in the appropriate space on the questionnaire on her clipboard and went on with her interview. When she was through, Benton asked a question of his own, after first deferentially asking permission to ask the question. In his state of confusion he forgot that his marriage was a secret.
“How is my wife?” he asked the nurse.
The nurse consulted her clipboard. “You haven’t any next of kin listed. Can you tell me how to contact your wife?”
Foggily, Benton said, “She’s here . . . in the hospital.”
Benton had reached the limit of his ability to hold a coherent conversation. His eyes rolled up and he sank once again into la-la-land.
The nurse reported her finding, that Mister Fraser apparently had a wife on the premises, to the head nurse on their floor. Accordingly, the head nurse, Ms Hunt, made a p.a. announcement to try to locate the poor lady, all the while wondering why she wouldn’t have simply asked at the information desk where her husband might be found.
Mr. Fraser hadn’t told the nurse his wife’s first name before passing out. Although it was a somewhat outdated form of address, Ms Hunt broadcast, “Mrs. Benton Fraser please come to the fifth floor nurses’ station.”
Meanwhile, Ray arrived at the hospital. A quick stop at the information desk got him Benton’s room number: 502 and his condition: good.
Ray had been worried sick and at hearing that his friend was in no danger he needed a release for his tension. The perfect opportunity to demonstrate annoyance came when he heard Ms Hunt’s p.a. announcement. “What the hell?” he demanded to no one in particular and charged towards the elevators.
“Who’s looking for Mrs. Benton Fraser?” Ray demanded of the first nurse he saw as trotted up to at the fifth nurses’ station.
“I am,” replied Ms Hunt. “Do you know where I can find her?”
“What the hell kind of messed up hospital is this?” Ray demanded.
Ms Hunt figured this was a rhetorical question and simply waited with professional calm for Ray to get to the point.
“How do you manage to get two things screwed up in one sentence? First of all, you’ve got Benton Fraser right on this floor and second of all, he’s a Mister not a Missus.”
Ms Hunt only smiled indulgently. “Constable Fraser mentioned that his wife was here in the hospital and I was just trying to locate her. Can you be of any help?”
“Wife? He said he had a wife?”
Ms Hunt nodded.
“Fraser’s not married.”
“He says he is,” Ms Hunt pointed out.
“I’ll talk to him,” Ray declared.
He turned and was about to go off down the hall, but Ms Hunt said, imperiously, “I’m sorry sir, but Mister Fraser isn’t allowed visitors.”
Ray showed his badge. Ms Hunt was unmoved by it. “Are you a relative?”
“I’m his best friend.”
“But you didn’t know that he was married?”
“He’s not married!” Ray insisted, “He must just be confused.”
Ms Hunt didn’t think being married and being confused were mutually exclusive states but she sensed Ray’s concern was genuine. She waved at him to go ahead. “Only please don’t stay long, he needs rest.”
As Ray was going down the corridor scanning the room numbers for 502 he encountered a woman resolutely pushing herself along in a wheelchair. It took him a moment to recognize the Inspector. He wasn’t accustomed to seeing her in this setting, in a wheelchair, wearing a hospital gown and looking disheveled.
“Would you help me, Detective?” Margaret asked as rolled up towards him. As much as she hated to ask for the help, she resolved not to overtax herself for Benton’s sake. “I’m on my way to the nurses’ station.”
“You could have just rung them to come into your room,” Ray pointed out. “I’ll go fetch one for you.”
Margaret hadn’t thought of doing that. When she heard the p.a. announcement she figured that Benton must have taken a turn for the worse somehow. Her automatic reaction was to obey the summons, so she had staggered out of bed and was fortunate to have found an empty wheelchair in the corridor just outside her door.
Ms Hunt picked up the edge of the conversation from a distance and frowned at Ray’s cavalier assumption that her nurses were available to Ray for the fetching. Then she wondered if Miss Thatcher was coming to tell her something about the whereabouts of Mrs. Fraser. She came out from the counter and joined the police officers where they were talking.
“Maybe YOU know something about Mrs. Fraser?” she asked Margaret, but with a brief glance at Ray that, if she had not been so carefully professional in attitude, could have been taken as scornful.
Margaret summoned her courage. “I AM Mrs. Fraser. As of yesterday.”
Ray’s wide-eyed “take” could have come from a slapstick movie. Then he decided she must have just been conked on the head and was hallucinating. “Sure you are,” he said, soothingly.
“I’m telling you, Detective, we’re married. First there was the ceremony at the Consulate yesterday and then there was the explosion.”
Ray marveled, “Is that a Canadian thing to do at weddings?”
Ms Hunt saw an opportunity. “If you’re married then you can sign each other’s admission papers. I think.” she paused, never having encountered such a situation and wondering if in fact it was permissible for patients to admit each other.
“Hold the phone, lady. Inspector, is this for real? Did you two really get married?”
“I have the marriage license at the Consulate,” she told him, “Or, I had. It may be burned up by now.”
Margaret was being too matter-of-fact for Ray to continue thinking she was delusional. His mind reeled. Benny got married? To the Dragon Lady? Without telling me? It took a moment for the idea to sink into his head.
“Well, congratulations I guess,” he said to Margaret, finally. “No wait, you don’t congratulate a bride. You say ‘best wishes’. You congratulate the groom. I better go see Benny and congratulate him. Come on Inspector, I’ll take you.”
Huey burst into the squad room. “Guess who got married? You’ll never believe it!”
Of course everyone within hearing distance gathered around.
“The Mountie! He married his C.O., that Inspector! Yesterday! Just before they blew the Consulate up.”
“Is that a Canadian thing?” Welsh asked, catching the news as he emerged from his office.
“How do you know this?” Elaine demanded.
Huey relayed in detail his conversation with the Justice of the Peace. “And if you can’t trust a Justice of the Peace, who can you trust? Other than a Mountie, I mean,” he wound up.
It was a fair point. The entire squad room started buzzing, except Elaine who quietly went over to her desk and dropped herself onto her chair. Welsh noticed her expression and followed after her.
“You okay?” he asked.
“Why shouldn’t I be?” she snapped back, and then realized she was talking to her boss. “Sorry, sir. I’m just surprised.”
Welsh cast about in his mind for the right thing to say to Elaine. “Um, look. You shouldn’t feel bad. You wouldn’t have had a chance against one of his own kind.”
This was too provocative for Elaine to let pass politely. “His own kind? What is that supposed to mean?”
“Aw come on, you know I don’t mean that. I mean another Canadian. And a fellow Mountie.”
“I guess,” Elaine said, sadly.
“And she’s his commanding officer. Maybe she ordered him. You could never compete with that.”
Elaine folded her arms on her desk and dropped her head into them. Welsh risked a quick pat on her shoulder and then left her to her misery.