The Woman in Red: 52. The funeral
A week later…
It was a sad day. The funeral was even more overshadowed by the drizzly rain which gave his own accent at the sorrow of all the persons present. Katarina had no tears left. She had cried and mourned the whole week. It shouldn’t have ended this way. Her glance wandered over the oak coffin, spattered with raindrops. Upon the light-brown coffin, there was a bouquet of red roses. Katarina didn’t know why she liked the color red so much. It was the color of blood, the blood that was shed. Nonetheless, she hadn’t chosen for the white lilies like the salesgirl from the flower shop had suggested.
She looked with tired eyes around her. A lot of acquaintances and friends had come to pay their last respects. She knew everybody and would personally thank them for their support. It was the least she could do.
She had organized everything despite the fact that she felt herself balancing on the edge of an emotional breakdown. She had helped to choose the dressing of the deceased person. She had done the necessary to send the death announcements and contacted the priest who would lead the ceremony. Katarina had even chosen the flowers and the coffin. However, she had to admit that she couldn’t have done it all without the help of her sister Cecile. Her twin sister shared her sorrow and supported Katarina wherever she could.
The General was also there. He was in full dress for the opportunity. It was his way to say that he regretted what had happened.
In spite of what the man had prepared, everything had gone wrong. He had foreseen that someone during the operation could get hurt, but he wasn’t able to prevent the worst. Even the emergency services which were practically at the entrance of the place where the shooting took place had arrived too late.
After Jean-Pierre had been shot and after the reanimation attempts from Katarina and the emergency services the gangster had tried to shoot him away outside. He had been forced back in one of the rooms on the first floor. The gangster, whose name seemed to be Vincent Beau, had been hit by a bullet. Afterward, it turned out to be lethal. The coward, however, had still taken another victim in his last minutes of life. Was it intended or a coincidence, but the room he had escaped into appeared to be the one where the Baroness had been held prisoner. With a last physical effort, he had shot the woman through the heart without hesitating before he expended his last breath.
At that moment, Katarina had only eyes for the attempt of the emergency unit to call her friend back from the dead. Eventually, it seemed they felt a heartbeat with Jean-Pierre after the umpteenth attempt to resuscitate him. In critical condition, he had been transported to the nearby hospital where they would be operating him straight away. Katarina had only heard of her mother in the hospital while she waited for the verdict of the specialist who did the operation on Jean-Pierre.
Her world had collapsed. Fortunately, Cecile arrived very quickly and they could support each other a bit. Cecile hadn’t such a good relation with her mother like Katarina, but after all it was her mother too and at that moment the only thing they could do was to support each other.
When Katarina eventually saw the worried face of the specialist, she knew it didn’t predict something very good and she clasped herself at her twin sister while she waited for the explanation from the doctor.
‘Your friend’s condition is still critical. However, we have him stabilized. No vital organs are damaged and that’s the essential. The first 24 hours are very important. We keep him on Intensive care so that we can follow him very close. The first days he will stay in an artificial coma. We do this because in the case of a cardiac arrest the blood circulation has stopped. All the body cells, meaning also the brains, have been a while without blood and therefore without oxygen. As a result, there can be a swelling in the brains. We’ll stop the artificial cooling after 24 hours and then we’ll see what the final verdict will be. You can see him for a few instants, but what he needs most is rest.’
Katarina and Cecile had thanked him. Both she and her sister had given him a hand and afterward they had hurried to the Intensive Care where Jean-Pierre was lying. They had seen him with a crisscross of tubes and wires, devices that beeped now and then and with a pale and sleeping Jean-Pierre. Katarina had kissed him gently on the forehead. Two of her tears had fallen off her face upon his lips.
She thought about all this when she saw the coffin sinking into the earth. If Jean-Pierre hadn’t been there she would have joined her mother in death. He had saved her in danger for his own life. So many feelings raged through her body and a lot of them were connected to the grief caused by the death of her mother. However, one of these feelings she was aware of talked about her love for a man and that’s why she had hope, hope for life.