Cassie was sitting at the bus stop waiting for the 8:15 AM to take her to Los Robles Hospital, where her shift started at 9:00 AM.
She checked her watch and sighed. If she arrived late one more time, Mr. Jones would surely fire her. At least, that was his threat when she was ten minutes late last week.
Being a nurse was not an easy job because of the long shifts, but she loved every minute of it.
Another glance at her watch and the time showed 8:20 AM and no sign of her bus. She considered walking, but she’ll never make it on time.
‘What if the bus was early on its schedule?’ She considered, since she was alone at the bus stop.
Cassie looked at again at the road, and instead of a bus, a white van was coming on her direction. When it reached Cassie, the van’s stopped and opened the passenger window.
“Do you need a ride?” The driver asked.
She couldn’t see his face that was half hidden by his cap and sunglasses.
Cassie debated what to do next. Her mother’s words banging in her head since she was a kid. ‘Don’t talk to strangers! Don’t talk to strangers! Don’t talk to strangers!’
Then, she remembered Mr. Jones’s threats.
‘Oh, what the hell!’ she thought.
“Yes! I’m going to Los Robles hospital.”
“Cool! It’s on my way. Get in.”
Cassie hesitated for a second and got into the van. The interior was filthy and cluttered, and she was struggling to cope with the stench.
“Thanks! I’m late for work and thought I wouldn’t make it.”
“No problem.” He looked at her and smiled.
She could see his face now. His smile was genuine. He had perfect even white teeth. Cassie relaxed and smiled back.
She wished she could see his eyes.
“So, what do you do for a living?” She asked.
“I’m a dog trainer.”
“Wow!” That explains the stench, she thought.
“Yep! You don’t need to be polite. I know my car stinks, and I’m sorry. You can open the window if you'd like.” He laughed.
“No! Well, maybe just a bit.” She smiled.
He pulled into the traffic.
“I’m Jake, by the way.”
“Nice to meet you, Jake! I’m Cassie.”
“Cassie. Short for Cassandra?”
“Yes.” She held a sigh at the sight of the approaching traffic jam.
“So, you work at the hospital. What do you do? Are you a doctor?”
“No. I’m a nurse.”
“Do you like your job?”
“I love it!” She sighed now in relief as they’ve turned right into the Ave de las Flores.
“How about dogs? Do you like them?”
“Yes! I had a terrier when I was a kid. His name was Thunder.”
“Yes. It was raining when my parents gave him to me. When I was trying to find a name for him, it thundered. So, that it was.”
“Well, if would like to visit my kennel you could see the puppies before they are adopted.”
“Aww, I would love to!”
“What time does your shift end?”
“At 9:00 PM.”
“I can pick you up, we grab a pizza and go see the puppies. What do you think?” He asked as they’ve entered Lynn Rd.
“OK. I’d like that.”
The van stopped. Cassie looked at the window and they are at Los Robles Hospital entrance. She turned to Jake, and he was smiling again. He took off his sunglasses, and she saw his eyes. His light blue eyes. His trusting eyes.
“Bye! See you tonight.”
She got off the van and walked at a fast pace to clock in her shift. She exhaled in relief; there were five minutes to spare.
She put on her uniform and rushed to room 645. The old lady, Mrs. Meyer, was still asleep. The doctor told Cassie yesterday that Mrs. Meyer would probably be released in a couple of days, since she recovered faster than expected from her heart attack.
Cassie watched her sleep and grinned. She then took a pillow from the closet and pressed it against Mrs. Meyer’s face.