It must have been the absence of the tube from my stomach, which allowed me to sleep through the night. It was the only thing different about that night from the one before. At least that was my thinking at the time.
I slept all night, something I couldn’t even manage at home. Of course at home I didn’t have a catheter in my bladder either. I didn’t care for the feeling of it, but it did make life easier. I could only imagine how interesting it wold be to have one of those while I drank beer in a bar.
When I awoke that next morning, I was rested for the first time since I arrived at the hospital. I was also ravenous. Sometime during the night several of the bags of fluid had been removed. I tried to wait patently for something to happen. Hell I forced myself to wait for anything at all to happen. I get bored easily and the hospital was absolutely boring once I began to recover, and got off the heavy drugs. I was probably still being dosed with a mild sedative, but it wasn’t the same feeling as the narcotics. I had surely been getting those for the pain up until that point. I knew how much they screwed up my mind from my time in the hospitals after my Afghan accident, as I liked to think of it.
The day nurse came to change my bags and to read my monitors. I knew that the remaining bags would soon to be removed, just as the morphie drip bag had been. I felt pretty lucid that morning. If for no other reason than that bag was gone. After making her notes the nurse smiled at me and said, “You look as though you are feeling better.”
“I look as though you discontinued the morphine drip or whatever it was you were giving me. I feel a lot more with it now.”
“Good, we were beginning to worry about all those off color comments,” she informed me. “We thought you might be delusional from the wound. or maybe it was Turrets.”
“I’m sorry did I hit on you? When I’m drunk, I flirt with everyone. I do apologize.” I knew that I had a couple of more days in the hospital and needed to get along.
“Oh it’s alright. We get lots of mild flirtation around here. It’s an occupational hazard. I guess it’s just the fact that you are a woman, that made most of us a little nervous.”
“Oh which one didn’t it make nervous?” I said with a weak laugh. “I’m just kidding.”
“There was more than one,” she said with a laugh of her own. “Curiosity, mostly, I’m sure..”
“Just to change the subject, When can I get into the shower. It has been three days and I know I must smell.”
“Bath for you is in a plastic pan for a day or two more. We don’t want you to get that incision wet, and there is no way for you not to do so in a shower.” she informed me. “I will have the aide bring in some warm water and soap. It isn’t sweet smelling, but it will get you clean.”
“You are a tough old bird,” I said with a laugh.
“I’m not that much older than you, and from what I hear you do alright for yourself.”
“Don’t believe my press clippings. It’s all smoke and mirrors.” I said to her back. When she finished her notes, she had just left. She really was a tough old bird.
A much younger woman brought my breakfast. It was scrambled eggs and grits. Not my favorite things, but I was starved, so I managed to get the grits down.
Lucas arrived a half hour later just after my pan bath. It seemed that I was taking a lot of those lately. I was likely to take a least one more. “That is one heavy watch,” Lucas said handing me the red jewelry case.
“Yes it is,” I said. He didn’t sound as though he had looked inside, so I didn’t elaborate. I put the box in my beside table without looking inside. I knew what was in the box, so I didn’t need to look. The weight told me everything was as it should be.
“So how are you feeling today?” Lucas asked.
“I’m fine Lucas. I’m reasonably clear headed. If there is something you wish to discuss with me, now is a good time.”
“What makes you think I have anything I need to tell you?” he asked.
“Well you didn’t show up for work on Monday, and you didn’t call. I have to assume something is going on in your world.”
“It can wait,” he replied.
“If you don’t tell me, it will just make me crazy worrying.” I admitted.
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“Yes, I’m sure. Let’s get it over with.”
“Okay, I guess first I should say I love Gwen.”
“Good for you, does she love you as well?” I asked.
“Yes she does. She is a few years older, but she does love me.”
“So, you are going back to Boston with her?” I asked.
“That depends on you. If the show is a hit, will you allow them to continue?”
“What you are telling me is that you will follow Gwen around. If I say no more, then you are off to Boston with Gwen?”
“Something like that yes,” he admitted. I noted that he couldn’t look me in the eye.
“So what are you going to do in Boston?” I asked.
“I can apply to the Boston PD. I’m 21 now.” he admitted.
“If I agree to let the Pros from Dover, stay?” I asked.
“Then I stay here. I’m pretty sure we are finished. Aren’t we?” he asked.
“Yeah, I think so.” I admitted sadly.
“Because I questioned you?” he asked.
“No, that’s what Ed thinks, but no. Like you said, you are 21 now. You can join the local PD or move on to the Boston PD. Either one is a better move for you than this little company. This just makes it a little easier to tell you that you are wasting your time with me.”
“Oh it wasn’t a waste of time by any means. I learned a lot from you. Things not to do mostly,” he replied.
“Good, Gwen and Mike will be here two more weeks. Would you stay that long for me. I’m not going to be able to take care of the customers like this.”
“Sure, I just want to leave town when Gwen does, if you are really finished with them. She can even wait a week or so, if you need me. If you agree to more episodes, I will hang around town till we know what the show is going to do.”
‘Fair enough,” I replied. “I’m pretty sure it’s finished for me one way or another.” I didn’t tell him the business was going to change yet again when I got out of the hospital.
“Then I better get back to work,” Lucas added
He was at the door when I stopped him. “Lucas keep good records of what you do. You get the full fee for this. If you don’t have room to take the bike, I will buy if from you at full price. Those two should give you a little traveling money.” I didn’t tell him there would be a separation bonus as well. He had been with me over a year and done a hell of a job. I owed him. He was leaving because he was in love. I don’t know how many times I would have left the Air Force, if it had been as easy as leaving me.
After he left and things got quiet, I opened the red box. I lifted the ugly looking weapon from it. Almost all my weapons are antiques and collectible. However, some are just old, such was the case with the .410 gauge, shotgun shell firing, single shot derringer. I picked it up at a yard sale. I didn’t even trust it to fire when I bought it. I was just a collector, not an armorer, but I know where to find one. I carried it to a Technical Sergeant on the base, where I was stationed at the time.
“I can’t find any marks on it Max. It might have been chromed after it had been in use a while. This thing has been in a lot of pockets. The marks might have worn off it and then one of it’s former owners had it plated. That’s just a guess, it is a total mystery to me. Do you want me to test fire it to save you the trouble? I have the bench vise out on the range for damaged and questionable weapon test firings.”
“That would be great. I brought along a box of .410 shells just in case you agreed.” I handed him the box of ten shells all slugs.
“Did you know that they make a .45 cartridge that you can fire in this thing as well. Even that won’t add anything to the weapons performance though. The .410 will pack the same punch, and they are easier to find.”
The tiny pistol fired flawlessly in the vise. He fired it twice just to be sure, then he let me hold it to fire. It had a sharp, but not bone breaking recoil. Since there was no second shot, it made no deference that the recoil knocked my sight picture all to hell.
The tiny pistol might look like a toy but it wasn’t. The forty five caliber slug would stop most anything one might encounter in any urban situation. It might not stop a moving car, A man, standing in my hospital room doorway, would for sure find his intestines laying on the terrazzo floor. The toy went under my leg. It was a single action piece with a strong spring, so there was no chance of an accidental discharge.
Hospital TV is pretty awful, so it didn’t keep my attention long. I really wanted my laptop from the cruiser. I would have to remember to see what Blevins or Lucas could do about that. I figured I might as well get what I could from Lucas, while he was still with me.
Someone had slipped my cell phone into the night stand while I slept. That was a good thing. At least I could call and whine at people. I was just about to give Blevins a call, when Jen walked into the room.
“It’s about time,” I said in a voice I could not have managed the day before.
“Is that the thanks I get for getting that half assed truck from the impound for you?” Jen asked.
“The Cruiser is not a truck,” I replied. “Thanks for getting it. I was about to start calling in favors.”
“I have no idea what it is. Especially since you have no back seat, and you are welcome.”
“It’s a delivery van, sort of. Is that my laptop?” I knew it was. She just nodded. “I had just been thinking that I needed some grunt to pull it out of the cruiser for me. Thanks grunt.”
“Grunt is it. I had planned to offer you my house to recover. It is as good a place as any after you get released from this awful place.”
“Thanks Jen, I figured I might have to finesse them a little. Most likely they won’t release me to go home alone. A day or two somewhere else would satisfy them and it might be a good idea in general.”
“Isn’t that what I just said. Only not just a day or two. Next week is Thanksgiving. If you are still hot to go after Thanksgiving, then so be it.”
“Just do one thing for me. Take the cruiser to the office, don’t leave it parked at your house. There might be more thugs looking for me. I would rather they no know where to find me.”
“Can do and We will talk more once I am sprung from this joint,” I replied.
“Just to change the subject, what is the latest on Julie?” I asked.
“Ah the diary of a teenage slut continues. The Tryon police pulled her ass out of there, when they picked up Davenport. I think she was already disillusioned by the hard work, but when they told her Davenport tried to have you killed, she used that as an excuse to do her ‘Julie go home’ act. Since she is still under the courts jurisdiction, for that prostitution thing, we had a hearing. I represented her and Julie found her young ass in front of the same Judge. He must not have gotten any the night before, because she is in Juvie for a while. Sentence is till she clears counseling, or turns eighteen which ever comes first. In other words two weeks, to what she feels is life.
“Well it’s better than being in the freak show where she was, I guess.” I replied.
“Yeah, so we have an agreement on what you are going to do when they spring ya ho?”
“Spring ya ho,” I laughed then said, “I just love it when you try to talk ‘gangsta’ in your lil power suit. But yeah, I know what to tell them shyster.” I did manage a grin when I said it. I knew I was still weak, because I was ready for more sleep when she left.