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       Moon Signs, p.3

           Helen Haught Fanick

  “There’s no pulse, and she isn’t breathing,” Andrea said.

  I sat on one of the chairs beside the fireplace and put my head between my legs. I could hear noises and imagined that Andrea was dragging Olga out from under the desk and starting CPR.

  “See if you can find someone—she isn’t breathing, and we need professional help here,” she said between breaths. Andrea has no patience with fainting.

  I moaned and raised my head, and then I stood up tentatively, steadying myself with one hand on the back of the chair. I started down the hall and pounded on the first door I saw. The man who had been lurking behind the ficus tree earlier opened the door and peeked out.

  “There’s a problem with Olga,” I said. “She’s stopped breathing. My sister is giving CPR, but we need help.”

  He pushed past me and started toward the desk. “Get Stefan. Upstairs, first door on the right.”

  I was breathless by the time I reached the top of the stairs. I banged on the door marked 16. A young man pulled the door open.

  “It’s Olga,” I gasped. “We found her at the desk. She isn’t breathing.”

  Stefan raced down the stairs two at a time and disappeared around the corner toward the desk. A padded bench stood against the wall, and I slumped down there and tried to control my breathing. I was shaking all over. I knew I should go back downstairs, but what help I could be there, I couldn’t imagine.

  Finally, I caught my breath and felt that my heart rate was slowing. I stood up and walked with wobbly knees to the stairway. I made my way down slowly, clutching the handrail. When I got to the desk, Stefan had taken over the CPR and Andrea was on the phone, telling someone where we were and what had happened. The man who sent me to Stefan’s room was nowhere in sight.

  I sat down in the chair again and did some deep breathing. Andrea finished her phone call and came and sat down opposite me. “Where do you suppose Maggie is?” she murmured.

  My heart rate zoomed again. “Oh, my God, I forgot all about Maggie. She was supposed to be at the desk.”

  Andrea nodded. “She didn’t give us her room number, so I don’t know how to check and see if she’s in her room.” She got up and went back to the reception desk. “Can I relieve you?” she said.

  “I’m okay,” came from behind the desk.

  I heard a siren in the distance, coming down the highway. The sound faded in front of the hotel, and I heard a car door slam. The man who barged through the door appeared to be a deputy. He was short and scrawny, with an Adam’s apple that bobbled up and down as he talked to Andrea. She directed him to the registration desk, then came and sat beside me.

  We heard more sirens, and more vehicles began showing up. A fireman came in next, followed by an emergency medical technician. Then the door popped open and Maggie rushed in. She grasped the top of a bag of ice in one hand and her purse in the other. She looked around the lobby, and then she came over to us. “Are you two okay?”

  “We’re fine,” Andrea said. “Something happened to Olga. She’s behind the desk. She wasn’t breathing. They’re working with her now.”

  It occurred to me that Maggie’s first thought on seeing the emergency vehicles was that something had happened to one of her elderly aunts. We’re really not that elderly—I’m sixty, Andrea’s sixty-four. But to Maggie’s way of thinking, I suppose we’re ancient.

  “I have to get rid of this ice before it melts.” She walked to an alcove off the lobby and dumped it into the bin of an ice machine.

  “Where have you been?” I asked when she came back.

  “Olga sent me for ice. I had to drive to the store that’s on past the entrance to the park. The ice machine’s out of order, but it hasn’t been a problem since it’s so cold—no one’s wanted ice. Then this evening, someone asked Olga for it, and she took over the desk while I went to get it. She knows how to delegate, big time.” The last was whispered. “Do you have any idea what’s wrong with Olga?”

  “I don’t know,” Andrea said. “She was lying there, not breathing, when we found her. I started CPR, and then the young man took over. I assume he must be Stefan.”

  Maggie looked toward the desk, where Stefan was standing and watching the activity on the floor. “It’s Stefan.”

  Andrea got up and picked up a couple of logs from a huge brass tub beside the fireplace. She put them on the coals, and they flared up immediately when their bark ignited. “Who asked for the ice?”

  “I have no idea. She didn’t say.”

  Someone was taking photos behind the desk, and a tall man in a suit came out through the swinging door. At that moment two other men behind the desk stood up. They held a stretcher between them. Olga was on the stretcher, covered by a blanket. Completely covered. Her shoulder-length hair slid out from under the blanket and off the stretcher. Stefan gripped the edge of the desk, his face white.

  Maggie went to where he was standing. I heard her say, “Olga’s not—”

  He nodded.

  “My God! What happened?” Her voice was shaky.

  “They don’t know yet.” He held onto the desk, looking as if he were completely overwhelmed by the situation.

  Andrea took charge, as usual. “Kathleen, find a kitchen and make some coffee. There must be a kitchen if the owners live here. I have a feeling more officers will be showing up, and they’re going to need coffee. I’d do it myself, but I need to stay here and keep an eye on the ice machine.”

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