Who’d have imagined Herman Harrison would die in my wonton soup?
But when Herman crashed face-first onto my table at Madam Woo’s Chinese Restaurant, he was indeed very dead. As I knelt over him, attempting to find a pulse, his sweaty face was the color of putty. There was a tinge of blue around his lips, and he wasn’t breathing.
Royce immediately called 911, but it was too late for Herman. On the off chance he could be revived, I performed chest compressions for a backbreaking twenty-three minutes before the paramedics arrived from Dallas. Unfortunately, even with a few jolts from an AED, Herman was pronounced dead at the scene.
Covered in perspiration with my fatigued muscles trembling, I watched as the EMTs packed up their equipment. The staff stood in a huddle, whispering furiously as the corpse was carried from the restaurant. It all felt very surreal. Broken china and silver cutlery littered the floor, yet the serene music of a guzheng instrument played classical tunes overhead.
Royce joined me, looking shell-shocked. “What the hell happened to him?” He raked a hand through his hair, glancing around at the now empty restaurant.
“I don’t know,” I admitted. It was impossible not to feel a little nudge of guilt. Herman had come to see me yesterday, feeling ill. I’d taken blood and ordered tests, but I’d never have guessed he was on the verge of death. Why had he deteriorated so rapidly in the space of a day?
“I can’t believe he just dropped dead.”
“What was he, thirty at most?”
“Yes.” I cleared my throat and said softly, “He was too young.”
Royce sighed. “Agreed. It’s a tragedy.”
He didn’t seem to grasp my inference, so I added, “No… I mean, he was too young to die of a heart attack.”
His gaze sharpened. “Meaning what?”
I grimaced. “When I examined him yesterday, he was definitely ill. But he had no history of heart disease in his family. I really didn’t think anything was wrong with his heart. I’m still not sure there was.”
“What are you saying, Max?”
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