She up and left. She left the hospital, but didn’t take her car home. The staff in the parking garage below the hospital knew Mildred’s car on sight. It was a bright yellow Honda Civic. It was nicknamed “The Yellow Peril”. It was not given this particular nickname because its oriental heritage, or the car itself. Dr. Mildred Shine, graduate of Yale Medical School, who graduated twelfth in her class out a total three hundred and thirty-five people, was simply one the worst drivers in the world. Once Mildred got in the car it was not uncommon to see other people in the garage dive for cover, or hug the walls. During the last strike the personnel who manned the parking garage asked for danger pay due to Mildred’s habit of leaving the car in gear. She had the car for two years, and went through twenty-seven bumpers. Her favorite garage named her customer of the month eleven times, but she never figured out why. Normally she was smart as a whip, but in some cases, such as driving, certain principles went right over her head.
After “Panooksa” passed away, or whatever he did, Mildred vanished. She didn’t go back to her apartment, or care for her cat Quincy. Mail for her slowly piled up inside the apartment door. Dishes went unwashed. Rent went unpaid. Eventually most of her belongings were given to stores that sold second hand goods to those down on their luck. Then Quincy vanished. I always thought the superintendent of her building had “adopted” Quincy, but no such luck. I went to Mildred’s apartment hoping she might re-surface, and to feed Quincy. The super asked me if I had seen her, and told me her “dumb lookin’ cat is gone too”. Slowly all trace of her was gone. She didn’t have any bothers or sisters, so I was listed as an emergency contact.
After a few months had passed the Police gave up looking for her. They had no significant leads. But I kept up my own little search. She wasn’t an employee of the hospital anymore, so I was free to look for her.
There was a sleepy part of town that had some of the most delicious Chinese food. The didn’t charge an arm and a leg for something some restaurant in the city would. In was like going back in time. The price for gas was what it was fifty years ago. I thought those folks were going to lose their shirts, but somehow they managed to keep on going. There was something about Mildred too. She belonged, but at the same time was so out of place. When she got her tablet she didn’t have a clue what to do with it. An orderly in the IT department took pity on her, and gave her lessons. I think he was hoping for something else, but all he got was very polite “Thank You”.
The other day when I was in that really good Chinese restaurant a cat greeted me at the door as I entered. And I swear the fur-ball looked just like Quincy. It even had a tartan colored collar on. After I sat down at a table the marmalade colored critter jumped right into my lap !. When I left it followed me out. Then it quickened its pace, and walked in front of me. I couldn’t help but think that it was leading me somewhere. When we rounded a corner I swear the street lamps were just like they were when I was a kid. And a street cleaner rolled slowly down the street with water gushing out from its sides. We walked toward an old tenement. There was someone sitting on the stoop. Quincy or whatever its name was ran towards the person on the stoop. “Enjoy your Chinese food Doctor ?” the person said. The voice sounded familiar. Then they stood up, and looked at me. It was Mildred !. Every time I asked a question she answered with a question, which drives me up the wall. It was like talking to a walking, talking, fortune cookie. Only I think this particular fortune cookie was a little cracked. Then she did something I’ll never forget. She took me by the hand, brushed my hair with her hand, and lead me to a ramshackle apartment that had definitely seen better days. She showed me a still from an old black and white movie. I looked at the grainy still with amazement for “Panooksa” was in the photo. Somehow he had become unstuck in time, and had journeyed to my present, and his future.
When Mildred watched the DVD of the movie she must have recognized one of the actors as being the man in the hospital. Not all of had him made the journey which accounted for the inability of any medical tests to be done. The discovery so unhinged Mildred she forgot who she was. Dr. Mildred Shine had at last been found. But she wasn’t the same person. Nor was I.