Booth’s Revenge Chapter Eleven

Previously: Just before shooting Lincoln, Booth thinks of the events leading to this moment.Stanton goes to Seward’s house when he hears of the stabbing. Someone tries to shoot Andrew Johnson. Gabby runs away from the basement in the rain.
Gabby scurried down the muddy path to Fifteenth Street and then broke out in a full run through the rain. He tripped over his own feet and fell face first into a muddy puddle, his hat flying off. He stood and without pausing to wipe his face, Gabby started running again, his arms flailing against the raindrops as he reached for the hat. He could not help but moan in terror as he scrambled along. Nothing looked familiar to him. His feet slipped on a wet rock and he fell into another quagmire. He tried to lift himself up but fell again.
“You would think the police would do something about the drunks on the streets.”
Gabby looked up to see two men walk by, glaring at him from under their wide umbrellas. His hands reached toward them.
“Help me!” He stood and stumbled in the direction of the two men who quickened their pace.
“I will send a telegram tomorrow!” one of the men said in a growl. “This is totally unacceptable!”
“No, please. I need help.” Gabby heard the tone of his voice. He sounded crazy. The two men disappeared in the darkness. Realizing his hat was missing again, he went back for it. Bending over, Gabby gasped for air. He had to calm himself down. Cordie was not here anymore to take care of him. He had to take care of himself. Before he put the hat on his head, Gabby turned his face to the dark angry sky. As the rain washed his face clean, Gabby told himself to keep thinking about Cordie and surely something would come to him. Cordie never let him down. Yes, Cordie worked at the hospital. Armory Square Hospital, the private had told him. All he had to do was find Armory Square Hospital.
Walking down Fifteenth Street again, Gabby realized he had to act as if he were in control of himself. People would not talk to anyone on the street they thought was crazy. He straightened the stovepipe hat on his head and brushed the overcoat to make it look presentable. Gabby approached an older man walking by himself.
“Excuse me, sir,” he said in as possessed a voice as he could muster, “could you please point me in the direction of the hospital?”
“What hospital?” the man asked, raising an eyebrow.
Gabby’s mouth gaped as he forgot the name of the hospital. “Ahh….”
“There are plenty of hospitals around here.”
“The one with the soldiers,” Gabby replied in a weak voice.
“They all have soldiers” The man emitted an aggravated grunt and walked away.
Gabby scampered after him with his arm outstretched, “No, please, I need help.” He stopped and after a moment began to cry.
A man and woman walked past, but Gabby did not try to hide his tears. He heard the woman stop and turn.
“That poor man is crying.” She sounded like she cared.
“Can’t you tell he’s mad,” the man replied with a hiss. “He’s obviously stark raving mad. Stark raving madmen on the street in the rain can be very dangerous.”
“I knew you were a coward when you paid to avoid the draft,” Her tone was sharp. “This poor man needs help.”
“No,” the man insisted, pulling on the woman’s arm. “He’s dangerous, I tell you.”
“I won’t hurt anybody.” Gabby wiped tears from his eyes. “I just want to know where the hospital with the soldiers is.”
“All the hospitals have soldiers,” the man retorted.
“John, please.” The woman pulled away and walked to Gabby. “Now, calm down so I can help you.”
“Thank you, ma’am. My sister Cordie used to work at one of the hospitals. She’s dead now, but she said the woman there was real nice and would help us if we ever needed it.”
“Do you remember the woman’s name?” The lady smiled, and it was gentle.
“No…” Gabby’s voice trailed off.
“I am wet and I am hungry.” The man patted his foot in a puddle.
“Dick Livermore,” the woman mumbled, “that’s who I should have married. He is a real man. Fought in the war. Decorated for bravery. No, I had to choose you—“
“Dick, that’s the name,” Gabby interrupted. “I remember now. Dick somebody. No, not Dick, Dicks, or something like that.”
The woman focused on Gabby. “Dorothea Dix?”
“Yes, that’s it.” Gabby jumped a little with joy. “Miss Dix. That’s what Cordie called her. Do you know her?”
“Everybody knows about Dorothea Dix,” she replied with a smile.
“What hospital is she at?”
“Armory Square Hospital.”
“That’s right. That’s what the private said. Armory Square Hospital. Sometimes I get so upset I forget things.”
“For God’s sake can we go now?” the man growled.
“But I don’t know where Armory Square Hospital is.” Gabby was nervous again.
“This is Fifteenth Street,” the woman pronounced in a slow cadence. “See the sign? Fifteenth Street.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
“Keep going down Fifteenth Street. You’ll cross a big iron bridge across the slough at the Mall. Then turn left on Independence Avenue and go past the Smithsonian Museum. It’s the big red stone building. Keep going until you see the hospital. There are signs outside of it. Do you understand?”
“I think so.”
“Tell me back what I said to you,” she instructed in a soft voice.
“Oh for God’s sake,” the man hissed. “If you don’t come with me right now I’m going without you.”
“You better go, ma’am,” Gabby said. “I don’t want you to miss your dinner.”
“Are you sure?”
“He sounds mad. You better go.”
She patted his shoulder and hurried away with her husband. Gabby kept repeating the instructions in his head. He did not want to forget them. He had to find Miss Dix. She would know what to do. He ducked his head down and walked toward the Mall. Go across the iron bridge….
The street began to fill with people running the other way on Fifteenth Street. The low buzzing of the crowd became louder until it was a roar. Gabby stopped a man by the arm.
“Excuse me, sir, but what’s going on?”
“The President has been shot at Ford’s Theater.” He pulled away and continued running back up the street.
Gabby felt the soaked coat he was wearing. The private said it was the president’s coat. He was wearing the coat, but he knew he had not been shot. Maybe they were talking about the other man, the one who had been in the basement with Gabby for two and a half years. That was not fair, Gabby told himself. Life could not be that unfair. His heart pounded in his chest. Gabby gave in to his emotions and started running with the crowd to Ford’s Theater.
After only about a block Gabby stopped. He remembered he needed to find Dorothea Dix. She would know what to do to help him. That poor man who was shot did not need his help now. Turning again down the street Gabby focused on the signs to make sure he was going in the right direction. Out of the darkness loomed the large iron footbridge across the Mall slough. He knew he was on the right track. Next find Independence Avenue and turn left. No matter what those people in the Army told him, Gabby knew he was smart. He could follow orders. The Smithsonian Institution was on his right. Gabby kept going until he saw the sign: Armory Square Hospital.
After he walked inside, Gabby felt awkward. The walls were whitewashed and pristine. The wooden floors were swept and mopped. He, on the other hand, dripped rainwater and mud. The nurses bending over the beds were in crisp clean dresses. Even the wounded soldiers looked freshly bathed. He did not belong there, Gabby told himself. He would make the soldiers sick. Gabby stepped back, about ready to leave the hospital, when a nurse looked over to see him. Even though she smiled, Gabby wanted to leave.
“Sir? May I help you? Please don’t leave.” She was a tall woman with broad shoulders and big hands. “Are you here to see someone? Are you ill?”
She had a sympathetic face so Gabby stopped, his hand on the doorknob. Behind the first nurse came a second, this one almost as old as Cordie with pepper gray hair pulled back in a bun. He stepped toward them and tried to brush the raindrops from his coat.
“Oh, my dear man, you are soaked to the bone.” The first nurse took the stovepipe hat from his head and pulled the drenched coat from his back. She turned to put them in a closet.
The second nurse put her hand to his forehead and muttered, “No fever. You must get out of those clothes. We have a nightgown for you. There’s a changing room in the back.”
“I—I need to see Miss Dix, Dorothea Dix,” Gabby announced as loudly as he could without sounding ungrateful for all the attention he was receiving. “The private told me Dorothea Dix could help me.”
“Of course, of course,” the second nurse murmured as she ran her fingers over his head, straightening his hair. “All in due time. But first you must get out of these wet clothes and into a nice warm bed.”
“Cordie, she said Miss Dix was a good person….”
“And what is going on here?”
Gabby looked up when he heard the shrill, high-pitched voice. He flinched as his eyes beheld a short, thin woman dressed in black with her hair pulled back in such a severe bun that Gabby was sure it gave her a headache.
“This poor soul says he wants to see you, Miss Dix,” the first nurse explained.
Miss Dix, Gabby thought. This woman looked too scary to help anyone. He felt the urge to run out the door into the rain, even without his overcoat. The women firmly held his arms so he could not escape.
“What do you want? Who are you?” Miss Dix’s voice reeked of impatience.
“Cordie said you were a good person. She said you could help me. But you don’t have to. I think I’m in the way here, so I’ll just leave—“
“Cordie?” Miss Dix interrupted him. “Do you mean Cordie Zook?”
“Yes, ma’am. She was my sister, but she’s dead now.”
“Yes, I know. She was a dear soul. You must be Gabby. She talked about you all the time,” Miss Dix softened her tone.
“Cordie always took care of me. Now she’s dead, and I’m all alone. I don’t have anybody to take care of me anymore.”
A gentle smile crossed her thin little face. “Poor man. Don’t worry a bit. We will take care of you now.” She extended her arms and enveloped him. “You won’t be alone again. I promise.”
Dorothea Dix was bony, unlike Cordie who was soft and plump. Gabby decided she would suffice, and gave her a hug. “Thank you, ma’am.”
He burst into tears.

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