As Pamela’s borrowed car rolls down Hwy 12 toward Slidell, she feels a sense of melancholy. In their world Doctor Randolph and she were in upper level learning together and were inseparable. Now it seems years go by without connecting. As she drives by, the forest reminds her of when they ran through the tree of pearls, their vines adorned with flowers of glowing white flowing then falling to the ground. Doctor Randolph and she would run through the low hanging flowers and a shower of light would swirl and surround them sticking in their manes. As they stopped, she believed she saw a twinkle in his eye seeing the sparkle in her mane. She never felt prettier. The memory is forever etched in her mind and never far, especially at Christmas with the lights that decorate houses and trees. Doctor Randolph and she were close in age and helped each other adjust. Even on the ship, they comforted one another. The loss of friends and family… their lost world. Everything they held dear was gone forever. A bud of romance was always present, but never came to full bloom. When Pamela met Frederick and married, she and Dr. Randolph remained friends. When Frederick died, Doctor Randolph was there. Doctor Randolph had always been her shoulder to cry on, and they had shared so much. Nothing had changed, the glimmer returned but was not meant to be.
Finally, Pamela arrives, gives her keys to the valet, and walks through thick etched glass doors, opened of course by the door man. Art deco lamps, ornate paintings, and sconces adorn the walls in the lobby. If she didn’t know it was a hospital, she’d think she was at the theater. Pamela remembers going to the theater with Doctor Randolph a few years after they arrived in their new world. Both had acquired enough of the English language to communicate, at least enough to buy a ticket. Pamela laughs to herself when she thinks of the many times she and Doctor Randolph were asked what country they were from, and Doctor Randolph would pretend he didn’t understand what they were saying until the curious questioners tired of asking. At times he told the inquisitive, they were Avantans. Pamela would look at him as if he let the cat out of the bag, but his excuse was always, ‘They’ll never find it on the map.’
At the receptionist desk, Pamela says, “I’m here to see Doctor Randolph. He’s expecting me.” Unbeknownst to Pamela, a well-dressed man sitting not 20 feet away peers over the newspaper he pretends to read. He slowly rises, still partially hiding his face, and walks up behind Pamela.
Before the receptionist has a chance to say anything, Doctor Randolph leaning over her shoulder says, “Can I help you, young lady?”
Startled, Pamela jumps, but in a split second she recognizes his voice and turns to hug her life-long friend. The receptionist, who sees Doctor Randolph daily in only his professional capacity, watches speechless with her mouth agape, as Doctor Randolph and Pamela walk arm in arm to his office. At that moment, everyone else is invisible.
A short walk later, and they are in his luxurious office. Please sit, “It’s wonderful to see you.”
Pamela says, “Yes.” She is thrilled to see Scott, Scott being the name he chose from watching movies when they first arrived. He admired the actor Randolph[JM1] Scott and chose Scott Randolph as his new name but reversed it so not to be too obvious. Pamela laughs to herself at the thought, though her heart is heavy with the reason for her visit. Officer Jones found that Nurse Harriet Drew worked at Slidell Community Hospital six months ago, as did Neville Dugat, and their connection needs to be explored. Pamela does not entertain the thought Doctor Randolph has any connection to any wrong doing. Pamela tells Scott, “I want to talk to you.”
“Only if you promise me… we never again go this long without seeing each other.”
“It has been far too long.” Pamela says to herself, ‘Can this get any worse?’ In meditation mode, she wills herself to, ‘Relax, enjoy.’
Doctor Randolph asks, “Is that a promise?”
“Yes, I promise. We didn’t talk much at Neville’s funeral about Neville.”
“We didn’t talk much about anything.”
“No, we didn’t. Officer Jones and Monroe want to learn more about Neville, and I told them I’d talk to you. You knew him better than any of us.”
“And you know me better than them, but I understand. They want to know why Neville was doing what he was doing.”
“And… if anyone else was involved,” Pamela adds.
“Makes sense. I’ve thought about it quite a bit. Neville was very intelligent, and I felt he had a lot to offer. I keep asking myself could I have done something. Well,… First things first…Neville worked here for about nine years, and when he was first hired in the lab, I wasn’t yet Chief of Staff. I had no idea he was an alien. Most who work here are not, and I don’t ask. However, Neville knew I was. I remember one of the first things out of his mouth was, ‘I’m a Draakar.’”
Pamela asks, “Maybe he was proud of it?”
“More than that, I’m afraid. We talked when he was first hired, and Neville was very interested in Doesonear, for example, what a typical dosage might be. He seemed to know I had this knowledge. Like I said, I wasn’t Chief of Staff when Neville was first hired, and we were able to spend quite a bit of time together that we couldn’t afterwards. I wished I’d known at the time what was going on in his head.”
“What did you think he had in mind?”
“Have you been talking to lawyers lately? You sound like one… What I think he had in mind is preserving his species. Neville was, I don’t want to say obsessed, but more concerned or worried you could say, that his kind would be lost, and I felt he was picking my brain. At times I was uncomfortable with his hostility toward Avantans. He was unable to hide it, and I believe, though irrational, he was jealous of our numbers. I certainly didn’t know he would kidnap a woman and experiment on her.”
“What was Neville trying to do?”
“In my opinion… make Draakars. Osteo in his mind was doomed, and it weighed heavily on him. I believe he felt the preservation of other Osteoans was up to him. We both know few Draakars escaped and even fewer doctors so those numbers would lessen as the generations passed. It is a fact of life. The preserving of any of our species, Avantan or Osteoan was the last thing on anyone’s mind when we hurried on board our escape space pod leaving all behind us as our planet was destroyed. Our concern was preserving our lives long enough to escape a doomed world.”
“So,… your opinion is Neville was trying to perpetuate his kind? Nothing more?”
“I do, and I believe it cost him his life.”
“Did Neville talk much about his childhood?”
A pitifully sad expression crosses Doctor Randolph’s face, and he shakes his head. “It was bad. I believe it had such an impact on his later life. That was part of his problem. His mother was either married or divorced, or possibly her husband died. Neville may even have been illegitimate. I’m really not sure. That is one subject that Neville, if he did speak of it, was vague about, but he could not hide his anger. Thomas Dugat eventually adopted Neville, and Thomas had money. I don’t believe Neville had want of anything, but I got the feeling the relationship was less than loving, and the fact that Thomas Dugat was not a Draakar, did not set well with Neville. All of this is speculation… but I can’t help thinking Neville was around Avantans who were proud of their heritage, while the Osteoans he knew, all did nothing but hide who they were as if they were ashamed. There was resentment, no question.”
“Some Avantans only wanted to assimilate. They moved away and kept who they were from everyone.”
“You’re right. I know… But Neville believed all Osteoans did… It’s ironic.”
“Neville wanted to perpetuate his kind… Now there’s one less in the world.”
A mournful look comes over him. Pamela recognizes the look. She’s seen it before. In their world, Scott’s younger sister begged to go visit friends, and Scott finally gave permission for her to go. She was to return in a week, but two days later the critical alert to evacuate was issued. She was never seen again. Scott said he shouldn’t have let her go and still blames himself. His look is one of failure.
“What is it, Scott?”
“Well, it’s such a waste. Neville only wanted to save Osteoans. I feel I missed something with Neville. Maybe I could have helped him, and now he’s dead. I knew he was troubled. I only wish I’d taken him under my wing, talked to him more, maybe I could have saved him.”
“Scott, Do you know Harriet Drew?”
“Can’t say I do.”
“She’s a nurse, an acquaintance.”
“And she works here?”
“I know at one time she did.”
“I’ll find out.” Dr. Randolph picks up the phone and calls his secretary. “Find me any personnel information about a nurse that worked here at one time. Her name is Harriet Drew…. Oh, I see… Yes. Thank you.”
“That’s odd. She was a friend of my secretary. Quit maybe about… six months ago. She thought Harriet left to join her boyfriend. Her boyfriend was Neville Dugat.”
“Girlfriend? Neville Dugat?”
“They must have kept their relationship on the down low. Don’t know what happened to her. Where did you hear of her?”
Pamela looks Scott in the eye. “Oh, Monroe Cane… Harriet Drew put in an application. She had Slidell Community Hospital as a previous workplace. That’s all. I’m shocked knowing she was Neville’s girlfriend.”
Doctor Randolph looks at his watch and says “10:00. Want to go to lunch?”
“That would be nice.”
A two and a half hour lunch later, Pamela passes La Combe heading toward home, excited to share the news about Neville Dugat and Nurse Harriet Drew being an item. Little does she know what is about to happen in Community.