Retired schoolteacher Fran Valentine entered the hospital room at the same moment that a young blond woman in a white lab coat–her nametag said DR. T. FISHER–was coming out. They nodded to each other as they passed.
Margaret Prescott and her five-year-old son Charlie were seated in the room. Her teenaged son Derek lay sprawled in the bed with a cast on his leg.
“Ms. Valentine,” Margaret said. “What a nice surprise.”
“How’s the patient?” Fran asked, looking at Derek.
“Okay,” he said, blushing. “If Dad lets me keep my motorcycle.”
“Good luck with that.” Fran turned to his little brother. “Nice to see you here, Charlie–sometimes the hospital’s picky about letting younger kids visit.”
Margaret said, “Dr. Fisher told us it was okay.”
“I passed her on my way in,” Fran said. “Never saw her before.”
“She’s a knockout,” Derek said, wiggling his eyebrows.
“You know what I mean,” he said. They both grinned.
“Calm down, young man,” his mother said. “She was wearing a wedding ring.”
“I didn’t see one.”
“That’s because you were staring at her blue eyes. I noticed it when she stuck you and was drawing your blood.”
“More tests?” Fran asked.
Margaret nodded. “We’re told they’ll probably release him tomorrow.”
“I thought nurses usually do that kind of thing–shots, bloodwork, and such.”
“Dr. Fisher said she does it herself. She’s been alone both times we’ve seen her.”
Fran scratched her chin, thinking. “Tell me more about this doc.”
A shrug. “Don’t know anything more. Seems nice enough.”
“She can’t hear good, though,” little Charlie said.
Fran blinked. “What?”
“She was standing on my bear. I called her name but she didn’t hear me. I had to wait till she left, to execute him.”
“Rescue him,” his mother corrected.
Fran leaned over and studied the stuffed bear he was holding. “Is he okay now?”
Charlie nodded solemnly. “Yes ma’am. Just a little squashed. He has superpowers.”
“I figured that.” Fran ruffled Charlie’s hair, straightened up, and excused herself. Once outside, she took out her cell phone and called her daughter Lucy, who was also the county sheriff.
Lucy arrived fifteen minutes later. “Sorry to barge in, folks. How’s the leg, Derek?”
“Pretty good, Sheriff.”
“Mother, could I see you a minute?” Outside in the corridor, Lucy asked her, “Are you sure about what you told me on the phone?”
“Sure enough that we ought to check it out,” Fran said. “I guess the first stop’s the nurses’ station.”
Together they spoke with the floor nurse and were then directed to the personnel office, where they were shown a photo of Dr. Terri Fisher. The woman in the picture looked middle-aged, with dark hair and dark eyes. Ten minutes later, patrolling the halls, they spotted the blond doctor Fran had seen before. They cornered and questioned her, and within minutes the truth was revealed.
While Sheriff Valentine led the blond woman away, Fran went back to the room, where she broke the news to the Prescotts.
“She’s an impostor?” Margaret gasped.
“Actually she’s a patient here, in the psychiatric ward,” Fran said. “She confessed to the sheriff that she’d always wanted to be a doctor.”
“Isn’t it a crime to impersonate a physician? How’d she manage to fool everyone?”
“Well, the real Dr. Fisher is new, and on vacation at the moment. The woman you met told us she snuck away from her floor and found Fisher’s lab coat in a staff locker. After that, she just walked around acting like she knew what she was doing.” Fran looked at Derek. “Did it hurt when she stuck you?”
“Darn right,” he said.
“But–how did you know?” Margaret asked Fran.
“I wasn’t sure, at first. Part of it was what Charlie said. About her not reacting to her name being called. The reason, of course, was that it wasn’t her name.”
“So I helped catch her?” Charlie asked.
“Well,” Fran said, “do you know what ‘confirming a suspicion’ means?”
“It means, yes, you helped catch her.”
Margaret, who was frowning in thought, spoke up: “You said that was ‘part of it.’ Why’d you suspect her in the first place?”
“Because you said you saw a wedding ring when Derek’s blood was being drawn. A real doctor–or nurse–would’ve worn disposable gloves.”
Margaret nodded slowly. “You’re right,” she said. “That’s pretty clever, Ms. Valentine.”
Fran winked at Charlie. “Your bear’s not the only one with superpowers.”
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