... while her weak heart pounded hard and fast like the thirteen door knocks.
opened as she regained consciousness. Her surroundings were blurry, and
she felt disoriented and confused as she laid in bed. Just
then, a young doctor, clipboard
in hand, casually strolled through the unobstructed threshold, into the room. Her eyes
were focusing clearer as her mind registered that she was in a hospital. Dropping his
auburn-topped head to skim his clipped-on form sheet, he sought confirmation of the
"You must be... [pause] 'Lois Dollworth.'"
"Yes, I am; but why am I here," she answered and asked.
"Heart attack," he tersely stated, not even bothering to lift his head from the clipboard
to make eye contact with his new patient. The words
'heart attack' triggered her awful
memory of the traumatic event to surface.
"Did they arrest him???" she spouted.
"Arrest whom," the stoic doctor inquired.
"I'm talking about the man who came in my room!! I was afraid
he was going to kill me,"
Lois responded in a voice tense with anxiety.
"I don't know anything about that, ma'am," he flippantly said with a slight smile and a
faint chuckle. "Excuse me, I've got to go tend to other patients," he stated in a bland tone,
terminating the exchange.
"Wait, wait, wait!!!" Lois cried out as he walked away. But it was to no avail. He
maintained his busy stride, neither turning around nor speaking; instinctively failing to stop
in his tracks to acknowledge her desperate plea, and mentally dismissing his elderly patient
as an insignificant nut case.
Lois's rage rose like an ignited flame. She felt ignored, disrespected, invalidated,
mistreated, and generally frustrated. The widely venerated grand lady was always
accustomed to others taking her words seriously - beginning when she was labeled a 'child
prodigy' as a consequence of her first IQ test and,
thereafter, indulging in the attention
and admiration of her parents, teachers, and peers alike. Experiencing the arrogant,
condenscending attitude to the contrary was like an electric shock to her unprepared ego.
Once in the hallway, the presumptuous doctor halted his steps and jotted 'Delusional' on
the Patient Information
form attached to his clipboard. Then, he resumed his hurried
Lois immediately reached for the ever-convenient Help buzzer and pushed the button.
Promptly entering the room was a vibrant young nurse with a spring in her step. She
embodied the ideal of All American Beauty.
For she was tall, had long wavy golden locks, big
blue warm eyes, smooth tanned skin, delicate features, a supermodel figure, superb
posture, and ivory-white teeth which were gloriously revealed by her radiant smile. These
sublime attributes kindled a brief spark of nostalgia in Lois's psyche upon first impression, and
induced an instantaneous daydream. The patient's mind's eye beheld
an animated rerun of
little Lois Dollworth playing with her beloved Barbie doll, which the glamorous nurse
symbolically represented to her. So many years ago, Lois whispered to
herself in reverie
with the haunted twinkle of bygone days revisiting her weary eyes.
"Can I help you," the Barbie double asked in a southern accented, compassionate
voice. This caused Lois's entranced mind to switch back to present time. And the spark of
in her eyes, which once upon a time had continuously sparkled like a midnight star,
was suddenly extinguished.
"I hope so," Lois replied before inhaling
an abundant supply of oxygen in preparation
for the non-fiction horror story she was about to recount. And she was telling it to a
flesh-and-blood Barbie doll clad in a nurse's uniform.
What else can happen, she thought to
"... ... ... The first thing I remembered when I
awoke here was that monster hovering over
me." Lois concluded her captivating tale to an enthralled listener.
"Now, I know you think I was dreaming
or hallucinating or I'm just plain crazy, and I'm
sure the police would think the same. But if there is some way you could get me a
composite sketch artist, I would be very grateful!"
"Actually, my husband is a professional artist," Barbie Doll exclaimed enthusiastically.
"He's not one of these sketch artists that draws criminals' profiles
for law enforcement, but
he's really great at drawing portraits. You should see the ones he's drawn of me. They look
exactly like me! Would you like to use him?
I'm sure he'd go along with it," she sprightly
Lois wasn't particularly thrilled with the concept. She responded in a pessimistic
tone, "Well, I'm no artist, but I would think that drawing to a visual reference is much
different from drawing to a verbal description! Thanks for offering up your husband,
She abruptly reconsidered her rejection of the plan.
After pausing for a few seconds of contemplation, she committed to the idea: "What
the heck; we'll give it a try! What have we got to lose, anyway?! By the way, I didn't catch
your name, honey."
"My name is Farrah."
"'Farrah'; that's a lovely name. Were you named after Farrah Fawcett, by any chance?"
"Yeah, actually, I was. Farrah Fawcett was my mother's favorite actress because
everyone said she looked like her, except better. They're the same age, as a matter of fact."
"Well, I won't keep you any longer. It was nice meeting you, Farrah."
"Nice meeting you, too, Ms. Dollworth. And interesting, as well!"
Right after Farrah departed the room, Lois picked up the remote and turned on the
TV. To her astonishment, Charlie's Angels was the first thing that flashed on the screen. In
Farrah Fawcett was engaged in an action sequence. The life-long skeptic of the
paranormal, diehard materialist, and staunch opponent of any theory or claim that
countered the official
scientific line suddenly felt a surge of superstition course through
her being. For the first time, she had a feeling shared by millions of others throughout the
ages. It was
a splendid sense that events in the cosmos are synchronized and life is
mysteriously meaningful. Sadly, that wondrously enchanting higher consciousness was long
ago abandoned in favor
of cold, hard logic.
Farrah's husband punctually arrived three days thence to undertake the daunting art
project with the enigmatic patient he'd heard about. Lois found him to be more than
aesthetically fitting for a mate so stunning; Lawrence not only matched, but exceeded,
wife's visual appeal! That's something Lois previously would've considered unattainable and
unimaginable. The young man's dazzling light blue eyes and milky white skin
magnificently with his jet black hair. Furthermore, his arching eyebrows, straight nose, full
lips, square jaw, prominent cheekbones, and strong chin were flawless - seemingly
by divine hands. At 6'2", his stature was ideal. And his broad shouldered, muscular physique
was sculpted like a Roman gladiator. However, in place of a sword and
shield, Lois's warrior
entered the room armed with a pencil box and his sketch pad to battle the arcane villain.
After he cordially introduced himself, they shook hands, exchanged pleasantries,
quickly got down to business.
Lois initially gave Lawrence a basic verbal overview of the audacious intruder's
unsightly visage. He had to keep starting over. Many sheets were ripped out of the pad,
and tossed in, or near, the trash can, which was twelve feet away in the
corner of the room. The ones he missed kept accumulating on the floor.
Eventually, something nearing enough of a resemblence to work with was achieved.
That preliminary rough sketch certainly would have been flattering to the monstrosity had
he seen it.
Lois first instructed Lawrence to fatten up the cheeks. They spent about
thirty minutes on the shape and structure of the head and face. Then, they progressed to
the hair, working
their way down. Lois carefully inspected every minute alteration he
made, and painstakingly ordered further refinement.
The way they worked was,
Lawrence would momentarily halt his drawing to hold it in
front of Lois' face. She would scrutinize it and dictate the appropriate modifications to be
made. Then, he'd resume sketching,
sometimes erasing, always penciling in the changes.
This cycle was continuously repeated. (Drawing, conferring, drawing, conferring, drawing,
conferring, drawing conferring... ) It was
a gradual process of trial and error which
required deep concentration and thoughtful consideration on behalf of both parties
partaking of the challenging endeavor.
After three straight, uninterrupted hours, Lois studied the evolved sketch for possible
touch-ups once again. She couldn't detect any more room for improvement and considered
it a perfect reconstruction.
Following a deep breath and a long exhale, she commented, "That looks exactly like
It was an unintentional compliment; she felt drained and was just glad the grueling
job was over.
Then, in a triumphant voice, she 'officially' proclaimed
that the composite sketch was
"Thank God," Lawrence exclaimed in relief.
Holding the pad up in front of his face, he bluntly emphasized the obvious: "He's one
"That's exactly what [I thought] when I saw him,"
Lois concurred with a chuckle.
"Hey, let's party to celebrate your accomplishment," the young-minded senior proposed.
"OUR accomplishment," Lawrence
Two nights later, Lawrence and an off-duty Farrah showed up for the big celebration
with grocery bags full of snacks: potato chips and dip, cookies, popcorn, pizza slices, and
canned soft drinks.
is the first time I've seen my gorgeous crime-fighting partners together," the
hostess cheerfully remarked after they entered the hospital room.
we'll stay till death do us part," the eternally devoted Farrah directed to
Lawrence as their eyes adoringly met in a fleeting romantic moment.
was less than purely happy for them; she was smitten by the strapping young man
and a tad jealous of Farrah, but only a tad.
"You ready to
party, Lois," Lawrence asked in a manufactured upbeat tone. He was
attempting to lift the old woman's spirits through feigned enthusiasm. But he didn't know
that she was far too
smart for it to work.
"Ready as I'll ever be; less ready than I used to be," she concisely replied. She was
aware of his well disposed intent,
but sympathy was something she'd never desired.
"Yummy, yummy, yummy," said Lois, rubbing her hands together as Lawrence lifted the
out of the plastic bags, placing each item on the bedside table before her eyes.
"I'm sure going to enjoy all this food, but there's no nutritional value in any of it!! My
cholesterol is going to sky-rocket! Are you guys trying to kill me with this stuff or what,"
Lois gruffly exclaimed in a rhetorical manner. "You know it goes against my diet,"
continued to gripe.
"That's why we had to sneak it in," Farrah said, with a sly wink.
Then, Lawrence quipped, "We have no reason to kill you - we're not in your Will!"
Farrah chuckled at the dark joke.
"Yeah you are; I WILL you to find
the creep that caused me to have a heart attack and
wind up in this place," Lois quickly retorted.
"So, how's it coming along, partners," she inquired.
Lawrence reported, "Well, we took my sketch to the police department. But the
chief said that, by law, they couldn't search the
subject's identity because it wasn't an
official investigation. He said that you would have to file a police report, but I know you
don't have much faith in the system. So, I guess
we'll have to conduct [our own]
investigation somehow," he accepted in a rather disheartened tone. For he was both
disppointed by the cops' lack of cooperation and simultaneously dreading
the arduous task
that lay ahead.
"I think the police chief thought we were crazy," speculated Farrah.
"Yeah, did you see the way he looked at us," Lawrence agreed.
"It's almost nine o'clock; time for my favorite
show," Lois enthusiastically announced
while, again, reaching for the remote. She arbitrarily decided to watch it, rather than
democratically requesting consensus. Fortunately, however,
the young couple was regular
viewers of North America's Most Wanted, as well!
"John Washburn is the best," Lois opined as he presented the show in his consistently
professional and charismatic style.
Farrah introduced the delicious buttery popcorn to her mouth, and Lawrence poured
the Pepsi Cola
to the familiar sizzle. It was like sweet music to every Pepsi lover's ears.
Lois was busy digging into the bag of potato chips. As the triad team of amateur detectives
watched the first murder case in exciting reenactment on the screen and
munched on their snacks, they completely forgot about their 'Most Wanted.' Letting loose,
concerns, having fun, and enjoying each others' company made this little
get-together a bona fide party!
Following the last commercial break,
the final feature commenced.
Washburn: "Springmeadow Nursing Center is located in Raleigh, North Carolina." [Lois's
eyes widened and, had she
been a canine, her ears would've perked straight up. "That's MY
resthome," she excitedly proclaimed!] "This particular facility integrates psychiatric
patients with the general population.
It's a highly controversial policy which proved to be a
fatal one on October the 31st of this year, Halloween night. It was then that a 21 year-old
paranoid schizophrenic aimlessly wandered
out of his room, located on the East Wing of the
building. Shamefully, he made his way past staff members who were [supposed to have
been] monitoring the halls. Ralph Oxner eventually
wound up on the West Wing, which is
the senior citizens' section."
VISUAL: An obese, disheveled actor portraying, and closely resembling, Mr. Oxner
cloaked in a white hospital gown. He's lumbering along in the middle of the hall, taking
short, quick steps with swinging hips. It's reminiscent of a toddler learning to walk.
Additional body movements are equally gawky. His arms and hands resemble the purposeless
kinetic expressions of a mime. He's continuously shifting his big head side-to-side. It
occasionally drops down so his myopic eyes can survey his flat feet. He has on heavy, black
framed bifocals. And, behind those thick lenses, his eyes appear wild and crazy. The
actor's mouth stays agape throughout the hallway scene, as if he's on the verge of drooling.
The skilled actor successfully personified a bumbling, zombie-like
character of horror
movie proportions. Although it was solely for theatrical effect, he only slightly exaggerated
the real Mr. Oxner's highly abnormal, spastic mannerisms
and whacked-out facial
Washburn: "At some point, he entered 89 year-old Lois Dollworth's room." [The cops
got your case on North America's Most Wanted," Farrah shrieked!] "Nine patients, all of
whom were sequestered inside their own rooms, informed investigators that they heard
on a door. Yet, incredibly, all attending staff members denied hearing any
VISUAL: The actor is repeatedly pounding on the door and
convulsively bobbing his
head to the loud beat like a gangsta rapper during the improvised fist on door drum solo.
"The next morning, a nurse
went to check on Ms. Dollworth. When she opened the
door, she saw her patient lying face down on the floor by the bed while Ralph Oxner was
sleeping in it."
VISUAL: Middle-aged, haggard looking blonde nurse entering room; she places her
hand over her mouth, then dashes to the actress prone on the carpet and kneels down on
one knee beside her body.
"The shocked nurse checked her pulse, which revealed that Ms. Dollworth was dead."
"'Dead'??!! I'm not
dead," Lois shouted - as if the man inside the tube who had just
announced her demise to 460 million people could hear her words. All three were
dumbfounded that the highest rated
television program in the world could actually
disseminate such an inconceivable factual error to its international audience. Lois glanced
over at her friends and saw their dropped jaws
and shocked eyes staring at the television
screen. Then, she thought that she sensed a subtle shift in the ambiance of the hospital
room. It was as if the density of the solid forms
around her were somehow thinning.
Washburn: "The autopsy report concluded that her death was the result
of a heart
attack. However, there were no external wounds on her body, not even a small bruise.
The coroner theorized that she died of sheer fright. That's right! Evidently,
literally scared the poor woman to death. Again, to reiterate, there is no indication that
Ralph Oxner assaulted Ms. Dollworth. When questioned by investigators at the
Oxner claimed that while he was trick or treating along the halls, a lit Jack O' Lantern
displayed on a window seal in the resthome spoke to
him with an urgent warning.
According to the pumpkin-face, evil spirits were floating around in his room, awaiting his
return so they could possess him. Therefore, he set out to find another
bed to sleep in for
the night. He said that, after opening numerous unlocked doors and failing to find any
uninhabited beds, he attempted to telepathically ask Ms. Dollworth to slide over
room for him in her bed. When she didn't consent to his telepathic request, he lifted her
out of bed and placed her on the floor. Mr. Oxner indicated that he tried to be
gentle with Ms. Dollworth while picking her up and laying her down because he didn't want
to hurt her. Based on the autopsy, there is no doubt that this is true. It should be
that the police do not blame Mr. Oxner for Ms. Dollworth's death. Due to his mental
disability, they do not, and should not, hold him responsible for his actions. However,
blame [should be] placed where blame is due! On that premise, Ms. Dollworth's family
informed the media that they are planning to sue Springmeadow Nursing Center for liability
and negligence in her death." Although no one admitted it and, therefore, it could not be
proved, what happened is that the staff breached the rules by slipping into the dining area
for a Halloween party.
At this point in the show's progress, all three viewers unmistakably noticed the TV set,
and their surroundings
in general, transmuting into translucent structures. And the lifting
of a physical veil to reveal something magnificent beyond the scope of sensory perception
or mental conception seemed
Washburn: "Unfortunately, this is not the end of the tragic story; there's yet another
twist to this bizarre drama. The authorities
at the scene had established that Mr. Oxner
was not of sound mind when he lifted Ms. Dollworth out of her bed. Although there was no
criminal intent or malice involved in the act, they
still had to charge him with second
degree manslaughter. Officer Dayshine Bright ordered Mr. Oxner to turn around and put
his hands behind his back. Mr. Oxner reacted to this command
by lunging forward, tackling
him, and wrapping his hands around Officer Bright's neck. While they were grappling on the
floor, Mr. Oxner managed to take the officer's gun out of its holster.
pistol-whipped his head, finally knocking him unconscious. Then, he ran out of the building
with the gun and into the parking lot where he spotted a female getting out of
She'd come to Springmeadow Nursing Center on a routine trip to visit her grandmother...
but, on this day, it was anything but routine!!! The next thing she knew, she
had a gun
pointed at her head. He took her keys, got in her car, and drove off. He hasn't been seen
VISUAL: Action-packed sequence of events, including assault on the cop and
carjacking, depicted in exciting reenactment.
"She was driving a silver-colored,
2003 Volkswagen Passat, which is still missing. Mr.
Oxner is believed to still be traveling in it, possibly along Interstate 96, heading south. He
has family in Florida, and he might
want to visit them."
VISUAL: Ralph Oxner's sobbing mother pleading with him to turn himself in.
see this man... " [Ralph Oxner's photograph displayed on the screen] "... do
NOT approach him!!! Remember, he is a paranoid schizophrenic, and severely bipolar to
boot! To make matters
even worse, he's off his medication. And if that wasn't enough, he
has a loaded handgun. Needless to say, these multiple factors add up to a cocktail for
VISUAL: Ralph Oxner's psychiatrist, Dr. Krouse, speaking: "As long as that gun is in his
possession, death is inevitable! Either he'll kill... or get killed by the police. Unfortunately,
the latter may be necessary to deter the former. One must take into consideration the
fact that he has a history of violent outbursts. That means that he's prone to expressing his
illness through acts of hostile aggression. Therefore, I seriously doubt that my patient
would simply lay down his gun when confronted by a policeman. Time and time again, he's
demonstrated that he has absolutely no respect for authority figures. The scary thing is
that he has no fear of them either. Remember, instead of submitting to handcuffs, he
viciously attacked the officer. What we're dealing with here is an extremely violent,
antisocial, and irrational individual. My patient is extraordinarily dangerous when he's not
medicated. So, I urge law enforcement personnel to do what they [have to do] to protect
themselves and the citizenry!"
Washburn in summation: "Again, do not approach, or even speak to, this disturbed
man!! His psychiatrist
knows him best! If you spot him, please call 911 immediately. If you
think you know his whereabouts, you can call 1-800-NO-CRIME. Remember, folks: Be safe,
protect the inncocents,
and report the criminals. That's our motto here at North America's
By now, brilliant rays of light were
permeating the room, and everything of a material
nature in it was only faintly visible. Lois was aware that she was in limbo on the other side,
and her diembodied guests now recalled
their fatal car crash. The three ghosts gazed at
each others' transparent bodies with solemn eyes. Their emancipated spirits ascended
toward the vortex of luminous white light engulfing
the astral atmosphere, whilst the
holographic hospital completely vanished from their shared illusion. All were calm.