Café Chocolaté

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Chapter XXXIV

Chapter XXXIV – Timothy Teller

Chaos erupted in the form of Mary Dill’s panic. Instinct kicked in much faster than it had the last time and Timothy bolted from Eddie to Fabian, where Adrian already began turning the man over.

Fabian showed no sign of consciousness. Blood trickled from where his nose had roughly been introduced to the floor. Timothy reached to find a pulse.

Adrian watched him anxiously and Timothy only nodded once he felt the steady thrum of a heartbeat. He started undoing Fabian’s tie and collar. He tried to speak, but his voice got buried in Mary’s noise.

Adrian leapt to his feet, but Xavier beat him to speaking.

“Miss Dill. I need you to control yourself. It may be difficult to help the man if we cannot not hear each other to communicate!”

Mary dropped her voice to a whimper. Timothy could not see her face to know the rest of her reaction, as he looked Fabian over for injury and made sure the man could breath.

“There’s no sign of harm on him.” Timothy glanced up as Adrian bent down again. “I don’t think anyone stabbed or attacked him.”

“He seemed fine one moment, then he just keeled over the next.” Kimberly shook her head. “No one touched him. We would have seen it.”

“I think…” Anna paused when everyone turned toward her. “I think that I overheard him mention to someone about problems with his blood sugar once.”

Timothy barely saw Ginger nod, before he began searching Fabian’s pockets. The man did not wear a medical bracelet.

“He did mention that once.” Ginger’s voice sounded oddly quiet for her. “As a joke.”

One side of Fabian’s coat had a sheaf of papers. Timothy only glanced at enough to realize it certainly had nothing to do with a medical condition. He pushed them back, checking the other pocket. Pulling out a narrow red box, he grimaced. Glucagon.

“What is that for?” Kimberly probably asked the question for several of them.

“We need to use it to give him an injection just as quickly as we can.” Xavier reached over Adrian’s shoulder for the box. Timothy relinquished it and Adrian stood out of his cousin’s way.

“Do you know how?”

Xavier already had the box open. “Yes.” He nodded toward Fabian. “Get his coat off and his sleeve rolled all the way up. Or cut if off if you have to.”

Timothy and Adrian worked together with some assistance from Kimberly to do as he said. Fabian’s dead weight made it difficult, but not impossible. By the time they had his sleeve rolled all the way up, Xavier had finished preparing.

Timothy watched the injection being administered, then helped Xavier roll Fabian onto his side. Xavier checked his watch and the room collectively held their breath. Timothy watched for a sign of returning consciousness in Fabian’s face, but could see none.

Lord, please let the injection work. Don’t let there be another one gone. He pushed away the mental picture of failing, once again, to save a life. Please, Lord.

Hours seemed to tick by, but it could really have been a very few minutes. At last, with a choke and coughing sound, Fabian spluttered to life, and Timothy sagged in relief with the rest of the room.

When he seemed able, Xavier and Timothy helped him to a sitting position, leaning against one of the tables. The man looked pale and didn’t try to speak, but he seemed coherent.

“His blood sugar could drop again and fast.” Xavier glanced toward the café counter. “As soon as he thinks he can swallow it, he needs food.”

Timothy nodded, while Kimberly and Anna both went for the counter. Xavier gave them an idea of what to get the man to eat, then looked back at Timothy with a sigh.

“How did you know what to do with the injection? You didn’t even read the directions.”

Xavier sighed again with a shake of his head. “My wife’s youngest sister has diabetes. She wanted all of us to know how to administer it, if needed.” He glanced toward Fabian. “And I’ve done it before.”

Anna brought the food over and Fabian attempted to eat. Slow at first, he began to regain color and movement. He did look worn out, however, and Timothy planned to keep an eye on him.

“You need to keep a better watch on your blood sugar while we’re in here. We can’t get you outside help if it happens again, you know.”

Fabian nodded, leaning his head back against the table. “It shouldn’t have dropped so fast. I keep the Glucagon for emergencies, but there shouldn’t have been an emergency. My dietary changes have been working.”

Timothy shook his head as he stood up. “These things don’t go as we expect sometimes.”

Fabian didn’t argue, but took another bite of his food instead.

Timothy moved back toward Eddie, feeling very tired and very imprisoned. Ginger looked up at him, her eyes wide with concern.

“Should he have such a high fever?”

Timothy reached to gauge Eddie’s temperature without speaking. He bit back a sigh. He is getting hot. He switched to checking the man’s pulse.

Ginger didn’t ask again, but watched his face as if she could read it like a book.

Creepy thought, if she could.

Eddie didn’t open his eyes or move. Timothy couldn’t imagine how the poor man would survive without proper treatment and he shuddered at the thought of the alternative.

I can’t stitch him up or give him more blood, if he needs it. I can barely tell how far his injury goes.

The silence in the room had grown tense. It made Timothy feel almost claustrophobic. It seemed everyone could feel it.

Renee laughed nervously, possibly trying to break the tension. “Who could have expected that low blood sugar would be such a relief? I was afraid he’d been targeted by the killer!”

“Who says that he wasn’t?” Kimberly handed Fabian a glass of water, as he grimaced at his food. She returned to her chair.

“You don’t force a man to have low blood sugar, Kimberly.” Anna frowned deeply from where she stood near Renee.

“My brother used to, when he wanted to get out of trouble.” Kimberly crossed her arms with a shrug. “He’d give himself enough insulin to drop his blood sugar to where he’d get sick, so people would get so busy taking care of him that they’d forget what he did to get into trouble.”

“That’s dangerous.” Timothy could only imagine the long-term ramifications of such stupidity.

Kimberly looked at him. “It killed him. My point is though, it can be done.”

“That doesn’t mean that it was done.” Anna put force into her words.

Kimberly shrugged, dropping her hands to her lap. “Someone has been using a syringe.”

Timothy wished he could read guilt or lack thereof in the exchanged looks of everyone in the room.

“What makes you think that someone has been using a syringe?” Xavier stood near the booth where the little girl and his cousin sat.

“Because it’s on the floor a few feet behind Timothy like someone threw it there.”

All eyes turned in that direction as if on cue. Timothy saw nothing at first, but after several seconds, he noticed the syringe lying in the shadow of the dark counter. Xavier crossed to retrieve it, picking up the syringe with a paper napkin. He held it up to the gray light of the window with an unreadable expression.

“Fabian would have noticed a needle stuck into his arm.”

“Not necessarily.” Fabian’s voice sounded stronger than before. “I rarely feel a needle. I never have.”

Xavier only looked at him.

The tension of before only seemed to deepen.

“Surely you’d feel something or notice someone that close to you.” Anna’s voice faltered, despite her emphasis.

“I’ve stood beside just about everyone in this room several times today. I wasn’t expecting a needle in my arm. As to feeling something…” He nodded barely. “Sure. An itch similar to a mosquito bite about ten minutes later.”

The unasked question flitted through the room.

Fabian fumbled with his other sleeve to show a red mark on his arm. “Which I did have.”

No one spoke or even seemed to breath for a full minute. Then, Timothy jumped violently as Mary’s scream rent the air. Kimberly vaulted from her chair and slapped the woman across the face.

Stunned, Mary stumbled backward toward the counter, eyes wide and mouth open. Kimberly would have none of it.

“Close your mouth and be quiet, woman! We’ve had enough of your noise and don’t care one iota about your histrionics!”

Anna had stepped forward and Xavier pulled Kimberly back. No one else moved.

Even from his vantage point, Timothy could see Mary’s chin quiver. “Someone tried to kill him! It could be any of you!” Kimberly made as if to go at her again, but Mary flinched. “Don’t touch me!” Her words ended in a wail.

“Do you have diabetes?” Kimberly rolled her eyes at Mary’s head shake. “Then you have nothing to worry about!”

“That’s not how that works…” Timothy regretted the words as soon as he spoke them.

Mary’s wild eyes turned toward him. “What do you mean?”

“He means that insulin will drop your blood sugar, whether you’re a diabetic or not.” Xavier’s face still could not be read.

“But someone without diabetes isn’t likely to be carrying around the magic injection to fix it.” Kimberly shrugged. “Could be a problem.”

“You mean that someone tried to kill him – and might succeed next time?” Mary’s shriek should have shattered the windows. Unfortunately, it didn’t even crack them.

“He could have done it to himself.” Anna narrowed her eyes in Fabian’s direction. “Knowing we could save him.”

“He could hardly bank on us knowing what to do!” Ginger turned from Eddie for a moment. “Don’t be silly. None of us know him well enough and what would be the point?”

“To divert suspicion!” Mary shrieked the last word again. If Xavier hadn’t remained nearby, Kimberly might have slapped her again. Or throttled her.

“He didn’t have insulin on him.” Adrian raised his voice above the growing noise.

“He might have taken it from anyone who did. Or brought along a single dose for this very purpose.”

Timothy didn’t know which woman made the suggestion, but her voice shook. He’d looked down at Eddie again, who lay still with his eyes closed, though Timothy noted a fleeting expression that seemed to suggest he heard everything that went on around him.

“Does anyone have insulin with them for any reason?” Xavier still stood near Mary and Kimberly.

Timothy looked up in time to see Renee shudder. “I have insulin in my purse. The doctor prescribed it for my gestational diabetes.”

“Where is your purse, Mrs. Allen?” Xavier preempted Mary’s obvious question.

She nodded toward the floor. “It’s under the table.”

Xavier retrieved the purse, before turning back toward Renee. “May I?”

She nodded.

Timothy watched the search of the purse, Xavier’s brow furrowing ever deeper. At last, he shook his head, raising his eyes toward Renee again. He watched her in silence for a moment and the woman shifted in her seat. No one else spoke.

“Mrs. Allen, there is no insulin or syringes in your purse.”

Her eyebrows shot up, but he clearly hadn’t finished. He held up a piece of paper. “I have to ask you, however… Why do you have a photograph of Gary Bradshaw in your purse?”

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