P.S.I. Part III -- Without Betsy . . .And Others

Chapter 7 -- Heartbreak Hotel

Chapter 1 -- Stomping, Snorting Buck
Chapter 2 -- Pele or Meowzie?
Chapter 3 -- "High Tide"
Chapter 4 -- Three Phone Calls
Chapter 5 -- The Fire Pole
Chapter 6 -- "She's Got You Spoiled, Doesn't She?"
Chapter 7 -- Heartbreak Hotel
Chapter 8 -- Kentucky Christmas
Chapter 9 -- Betsy's Estate
Chapter 10 -- Alone With a Madwoman
Chapter 11 -- "Why, Ettie, why?"
Chapter 12 -- Three Starbursts
Chapter 13 -- Weep No More, My Lady
Chapter 14 -- 'Betsy's Revenge'
Chapter 15 -- The Geoff Papers
Chapter 16 -- The "Wedding Portrait"
Chapter 17 -- Silence Requested

Mike's stretch of four days off came at just the right time.  Now, he could concentrate on the house.  As he walked from the hallway and past the stairs, Without You came on the radio.  In his own weird episode of "body memory," Mike went through the motions from the dream.  When he curled up in the open area, he saw the racing oval of Morgan Park, and Dixie standing before him.  Tell Kel I love him, he distinctly heard within him.

Then he noticed the phone was ringing.  Dr. Morton.

"Can you get over here?" he asked.

Mike heard hysteria in the background.  "Oh, don't tell me. . ."

"Yeah," said Dr. Morton.  He tried talking but couldn't.

"I'll be over there as soon as I can."

After hanging up with Dr. Morton, Mike called Johnny.  No answer.  Perhaps he was already at the hospital.

Mike wept the entire route to the hospital.  In the few seconds he listened over the phone, he knew he'd be walking into mass hysteria.  He still couldn't comprehend that Dixie was no longer with them.  He knew he had to pull himself together before arrival, though, since he knew he'd be Dr. Brackett's support once he got there.  Misery loves company, especially when company has the same misery.
Now he and the doctor were on an even playing ground.  Dixie had lapsed into a coma after he proposed to her, and she never woke up.  Therefore, they never married before she died.  More unfufilled dreams.

Out of habit, Mike entered through the ambulance entrance.  The scene was worse than he feared.  The staff being upset had translated to the patients, who were almost panicking for no good reason.  The receptionist was overwhelmed.

"Everything's okay!" Mike yelled as he raised his arms.  Everyone seemed to calm down.  He looked to the receptionist.  "Who's on call today?"
"Dr. Morton," she said.
"Where is he?"
The receptionist pointed at Dr. Brackett's office.  The door opened and Dr. Morton looked out.
"Doc," Mike started, "I realize it's pandemoneum around here, but . . ." he said and pointed at the waiting room with upturned palm.
"You take over in here," he said.  "I'll handle the rest."
Mike walked into Dr. Brackett's office, and instantly decided the place for the physician was back at his house overlooking the ocean.   Since Dixie had left directives in the event of her death, the hospital was working with the funeral home in taking care of the arrangements.

Dr. Brackett did nothing but cry for the entire time he was at Mike's.  Dr. Early stayed with his colleague at the latter's own apartment the day before the funeral.  Mike was grateful--he was drained.  So much for getting the house in order.
The morning of Dixie's funeral, Meowzie woke him up with a lot of hissing.


A teenaged girl stood in the corner of Mike's room, looking like she wanted him to help her somehow.  Her long, brown hair was dissheveled, and her jeans and t-shirt torn and bloody.  He felt a shock go through his heart as he was plastered against the wall.  How'd she get in here? he wondered.  After his heart seemed to return to his chest from his throat, he ventured the questions Who are you? and What do you want of me?
The girl lowered her head and brought her hands to her face.  She started weeping softly, and faded away slowly.
If that wasn't enough, he now heard a man's wailing in the kitchen area which sent his heart jumping, again.  Mike grabbed his housecoat, and as he did so, heard the man calling the names of 'Olga' and 'Vicksa.'  He knew that voice, even if it was slightly distorted--the previous owner of the house.
When Mike rounded the corner, he saw Mr. Tanner sitting at the kitchen bar, leaned over and crying into his arms.  Mike thought the man had relinquished all the keys to him at the closing.
"Mr. Tanner!" Mike yelled, then put a hand on what he thought was the man's shoulder.  Mike's own hand hit the counter.
The front door crashed open, and an older, plump woman with frizzled-looking dark hair and blood-stained dress stormed in.  "Did you see what he did to me!?" she demanded.  "Did you see what he did to me!?"  She reached out for Mr. Tanner.  "Adolfus!" she said and disappeared from view.  Only then did Mike realize that her throat had been slit.
A girl's wailing came from the hallway.  "Mama!  Mama!"
He'd been with County Fire for how long now?  Nothing had prepared him for this!  He thought of Betsy, and was filled with peace.  Then he sat on the stairs next to her picture.
What was it Ham had said about the previous owners?  Older man's wife had been murdered, and his daughter died in an automobile accident.  But why all the fireworks now?

Everything was over as quickly as it had started.  The front door, however, was, indeed, open, so he trotted over to shut and lock it.  He turned around and surveyed the house.  Nothing out of the ordinary now.  Man, what a morning.
The phone rang.  Mrs. Harp.
"Ham wanted me to call and let you know that Mr. Tanner died this morning of an apparent heart attack."
"My condolences," Mike said blankly, somewhat stunned by the news.  "Please let me know the funeral details when you know them."

Ah, great, another funeral.   At the rate everything was going, perhaps he should make plans for his own.  He chuckled.  Would be nice to see Betsy and be with her forever.
Dixie's well-attended funeral was held in Griffith Park.  Since most of Los Angeles was prone to liquifaction during an earthquake, Dixie had directed that she be cremated, and that her ashes be scattered over Rampart.  Mike could understand the first part of the request, but the second?   Most everyone felt the same way.  Dr. Brackett was flabbergasted when he heard her wishes, but warmed to the idea.
But, now the holidays were approaching, and raw nerves were going to feel as if someone had rubbed salt on them.   Since Cap was still tight-lipped about his home situation, Mike decided to take Betsy's parents up on their invitation.  He couldn't get off on Thanksgiving, but put himself into "debt" with other engineers so he could maximize his Christmas vacation.

Quite the Christmas gift. . .