I had lost all sense of time. Time to me was just one period of sleep, followed my short periods of wakefulness, punctuated by lot and lots of pain. Then I would slip back into blessed sleep.
One of the times t got woke me up, it was by a person in a set of white scrubs. He asked “Are you Maxine Stone?”
“If this is her room, I guess I am. I sure as hell ain’t been playing musical beds,” I said only about half away. Just awake enough to be a smart ass it seemed.
“Just making sure hon, I don’t want to send the wrong evil bitch to hell.” the person in white whispered. It was at that moment that I knew I was about to be very dead. “Besides the old men wanted you to know it was coming.”
All of a sudden the person in scrubs began to shiver. I knew the signs well. I could only hope that what was about to happen, wouldn’t happen. It didn’t help the person in white collapsed across my broken body. I wanted to scream in pain, but I also wanted James to have a chance to take care of the mess.
“Who the fuck is this,” I asked him as he stood. The person had obviously thought James was sound asleep.
“How would I know? It wasn’t me he was trying to kill,” James said. “He is obviously an amateur. Giving you a warning like that is strictly bush league.”
“It’s nice of you to give a critique of his technique but, what are we going to do with him?” I asked it as I watched James remove the leads to his tazer.
“Your call, we could do a catch and release. If we do anything else, they will probably change your status here to prisoner. I have no idea what that means in this berg,” he said.
“I can’t ask you to kill him, and I obviously can’t do it.” We had waited long enough so that it was a moot point. The nurse came rushing in.
“What is going on,” she asked.
“I think you would agree that we have a situation. You probably want to call your security team.” James said.
“Did I miss something, am I scheduled for surgery this morning.” I could see out the tiny window that it was dark outside.
“Yes first thing, they are going to repair that collar bone. Put a plate in to hold it in place while it heals.” the nurse said. “You probably forgot, but you signed a release last night.”
“So James. is our new friend secure?” I asked.
“As secure as a bundle of wires,” he said showing me the plastic wire tie. “Too bad I don’t have time to chat with him.” Just as those words left his mouth, the hospital’s security guard came in.
“Holy shit, they told me you were here sir, but I didn’t think it was possible for anything to happen here,” he said.
“Do you want to go back to checking doors and let me handle this, or do you want to call the cops,” James asked in that dead cold voice of his.
“Don’t worry sir, the police are on the way,” he said.
“I wasn’t worried,” James said.
“Neither was I,” I added even though no one seemed to care what I thought.
When the officers came, James and I told our stories. They searched the man, who had not said a word up to that point. In his pocket they found a syringe filled with something nasty I’m sure. “Lawyer,” the man the scrubs said.
I looked at him, then I looked a James. I turned to the officer and said, “I think it might have all been a mistake. Why don’t we just forget the whole thing and all go out own way.”
James looked at the man then said, “Hell. I’ll even give you a ride home.” He still didn’t change expressions.
“I changed my mind, no lawyer just get me out of here,” he said.
“Good choice,” I agreed.
After the cops had gone and before the nurse put more dope in my IV James said, “Eastern European, those Russians have long memories.”
“Not a priority at the moment. Wake Jennifer up and get her the fuck over here,” I said as I drifted off to sleep again.
“Max you wanted to see me?” she said waking me from a dreamless and painless sleep.
“Get in touch with Vlad. Tell him he owes me and it’s time to pay up. Then explain what happened.” I suggested half asleep.
“Okay, by the way I am your power of attorney so they called me to ask what to do with the bike.” Jen said.
“Who called you?” I asked.
“The office girl at the Wilcox Towing and Storage yard out at West End. The cops had your bike towed and he got the call. So what do we do with it.”
“How bad is it?” I asked
“According to the old man who runs the storage yard, it is scratched up some and at least one of the wheels is bent. The handlebars are in tact but they are scratched up. He says the frame is scraped up some but it looks okay otherwise. The biggest problem seems to be that the engine is locked up,” she informed me.
“You are kidding me, the reason I was on that bike was to test the new engine the Preacher’s bike shop installed. As a matter of fact my cruiser is parked in their parking lot,” I informed her.
“Shit, don’t tell me I’m going to have to sue God,” Jennifer said with a grin.
“Don’t worry about that now, get the message to Vlad right now,” I said.
“Well I am going to talk to the preacher today regardless of anything else we do,” she informed me.
“Jennifer, I can afford this hospital bill, and I will not take money from the homeless and elderly,” I said.
“Honey, listen to me. That is a business he runs. That and all that construction company does for you. All those companies have to be insured to get licenses. It isn’t money from the homeless or elderly, it is money from some fat cat insurance company.”
“The best insurance you can get for me is to contact Vlad,” I said again.
“I can do both,” she said. “The cops will bust someone for giving the order to do this.”
“Yeah, somebody about three men down the chain. Vlad will send a message for me, where it will do some good.” I looked over to James who still hadn’t changed expressions.
When I looked back at her, I noticed how Jen was dress for the first time. She was in a running suit, which I’m sure cost more than all the clothes in my closet. “Since when did you start running?” I asked changing the subject.
“You know I don’t run, it’s too dangerous out there, but I do belong to the YMCA’s cardio gym,” she said.
“How many times have you been there?” I asked.
“Well I went the day I joined. I am going to start using it more,” she said. then she turned her attention to James. “I’m going to get someone to relieve you, when I get to the office.”
“Not a problem, I can wait for the package,” he said.
“My God James, you aren’t getting crush on Maxine are you?” Jennifer said.
“No, but she did talk to that yahoo Eddie for me. I kind of owe her,” he said.
“Well I’ll have Helen send you two some breakfast.” Jennifer said.
The nurse I recognized came in with two people in scrubs. “Maxine, I know these people. They are going to take you down to surgery. It’s alright.”
“Where the fuck is Doris Day when you need her,” I asked smiling.
“Huh,” the nurse said.
“Whatever will be, will be,” Jen said. When the nurse still didn’t get it, she added “It’s a song but never mind.” She turned her attention to me. “I love you Maxine and if you die in there, I will kill you.”
“It’s a patch job, even a carpenter could do in his sleep,” I suggested. “It ain’t brain surgery.”
“I would feel better, if it were. They couldn’t do much more damage to that.” Jen said with a smile.
When I got to surgery I was still awake. A couple of people slid me from the gurney to the table and it hurt like hell. “You guys do know that if you had long blond hair and wore thigh high black boots, and a swastika, you could make a lot more money for causing this much pain.”
I heard a chuckle from a woman behind a mask. “You mean we can get paid for the things we do after work for fun now?” she asked.
“I do indeed,” I said.
“Sweetie, you aren’t going to feel a thing in about thirty seconds,” she said.
“God I already love you,” I said smiling.
The next thing I remember someone was calling , “Maxine, Maxine how you feeling?”
“Thirsty,” I said.
“I can’t give you water I’m sorry. I can give you a wet cloth, so that you can moisten your lips,” she suggested. I never got it, I fell asleep first.
“Maxine, Maxine, are you awake?” a voice asked.
“I am now,” I replied in a slurred manner.
“Do you recognize me?” the voice asked.
“Eve, is that you?” I asked.
“Of course it is Maxine. You should have known I wouldn’t leave you in danger.” she said.
Even in my drugged state I knew that if she was trying to act all human on me, we were not alone. “I’m glad to see you,” I admitted.
“I’m sure you are,” she said very logically and very unemotional. I realized it was something James, Eve, and I shared. In Eve’s case she probably didn’t know that she was soul dead, but James and I knew that we were.
“Now you need to authorize your friend Jennifer to allow me use of the downtown house,” Eve said getting right down to business. Then without missing a beat, she changed the subject. “I understand there was an incident this morning. Do I need to talk to the hospital security people?”
“No it won’t do any good. Just keep an eye out. Why do you need to use the Downtown House?” I asked.
“I need to make sure there are no surprises,” she said matter of factually.
“Good point, You can review the cams from there,” I suggested.
“You can be so naive,” she said. “I could plant a bomb in there, cameras or not, and you would never know. It is just a matter of it not looking like a bomb, or the person leaving it not looking like a bomber.”
“The kid who throws a McDonald’s bag in the trash near my house. I know what to look for.” I demanded.
“Of course you do,” she said in a patronizing voice.
Her interaction with me was too smooth that morning. Sometimes she was wooden and sometimes she was much more spontaneous. Then in spite of the drug haze, or maybe because of it, or maybe it was the intense pain that sharpened my sense, whatever it was I finally got it. I understood how Eve worked.
She seemed to have multiple personalities, because she did. She was two people at the very least. Eve was a super predator drone. Some real live person, in real time, pulled her strings when they were in contact. If they lost contact with her, she went onto her built in programs. It was the only reasonable explanation for how she worked so well. She could fake human because she was being controlled by humans. When they lost control she would revert to being a wooden robot until they could re establish contact. It was brilliant just fucking brilliant.
Say you need a soldier to walk into an ambush, and to react instantly and with a seals experience and instincts, then you just put a retired seal behind the controls. If she needed to give a blow job to a general, bring in a two dollar hooker off the street.
Okay, that was a bit dramatic, but it had to be how Eve worked. The question then was, do I let them know that I know.