By Cindy and Walt
Rita kept after me about sexual details until I had reached my limit with her. “So Rita how long you planning to hang out with us?” I asked.
“I want to get the US attorney to give me their word that they are not going to charge you. When he does that you will be able to get back into your house,” she said.
“How long with that take,” I asked.
“Probably tomorrow or the next day. I’ve got that cute burner phone number so why don’t you just carry on with the factory thing?” she asked.
“Because I don’t have the license yet,” I said.
“I see, well let me see what I can do about speeding that up,” she said walking away from me. That just pissed me off even worse.
“I know you are fucking her Buddy, but if she dismisses me one more time, I’m going stick a pencil in her eye,” I said.
“Calm down she is trying to help. See what she has to say then if it isn’t all you want to hear then go visit your friend Jeff. You know he would be happy to have you. Besides he could probably calm you down,” Buddy said.
I knew that Buddy wanted me gone so that he and Rita could run around naked, I supposed. The day had gone by quickly with the interview taking most of the morning. After which Buddy and Rita sent me off to find Miss Sadie’s nephew to pay him. They most likely wanted to have sex again.
It had been my experience, even though I was younger than either of them, that once was never enough. Anyway I found the kid and paid him a hundred bucks to cover us through Thursday night. If I didn’t get into my place by then I was out of a place to stay.
When I got back, I found Rita looking like she had just been laid. “I called Andrew and he has the application complete and the Legal Drug Control Board is going to issue you a temporary permit to set up the business. After they inspect it you will be golden. Don’t worry I’m on your side. Now get your ass out of town. I want you hard to find until the US attorney makes a decision.
I left the next morning after my walk. I was tempted to swing into Georgia to see Jeff, but instead I went to the mountains where I had lived previously. I wanted to be out of reach, but not appear to be in hiding.
I arrived in medium sized town of College Hill in the middle of the afternoon. Since my house had been sold and even the cabins where I worked were gone, I checked into a Bed and Breakfast in a small farm community like Farmer’s Grove had once been. The B&B was a few miles farther down the mountain.
I made a call to Carlos’s home, where I spoke with his wife. “Nita this is Rose, how are you and the kids?” I asked.
“We are very well thank you Senorita. Do you wish to speak with Carlos?” It was obvious she still had hard feelings. Well screw her very much, I thought.
“Sure, is he around?” I asked.
“No, he is at the village,” she said.
“He and Juan are still working there?” I was surprised it had been two years and they still had things to do there.
“Yes,” she said simply.
“Very well, I’ll stop by there,” I said. It was getting on toward quitting time but I decided to stop by anyway. When I did get to the work site, I found Carlos and his brother working on a large metal building. It looked like a child’s giant toy, or maybe a jigsaw puzzle.
I wasn’t really dressed for job site work, but I jumped in running up and down the ladder to the scaffold where they worked. I carried tools and parts up to them. We talked while we worked.
“Have you been ill?” Carlos asked cautiously.
“A little,” I replied.
“It looks like more than a little,” Juan said.
“A little more than a little,” I laughed.
I found wrestling with the heavy metal pieces of the building wore me out. When I got tired, I got clumsy. I was climbing a ladder with a couple of angle braces when Luis appeared out of no where to distract me.
I missed a step on the ladder and took a hell of a fall. I tried to hold onto the ladder which led up to a scaffold. It was just by accident that the ladder slid from the edge of the scaffold without damaging it.
I found my skinny ass laying on the ground with two angle braces and a wooden ladder on top of me. I couldn’t move, but I felt pain everywhere. Even I knew that the pain was a good sign. I knew I was injured and I knew I was bleeding. I have over estimated my abilities to work, and it might have cost me dearly, I thought.
“Help me Juan,” I heard Carlos say as they began to lift the ladder which covered me. “Are you alright Senorita Rose?” he asked me.
“I think so,” I said. The corner braces had cut me in a couple of places but they didn’t seem too bad. The blood was seeping but it wasn’t spurting.
“Juan get a towel from my truck,” Carlos shouted.
My jeans were ripped as was the calf muscle under the jeans. Carlos was on the phone calling the Foothills Emergency Clinic. The Clinic in turned called an ambulance for me. I drifted in and out of consciousness for about ten minutes before I heard the ambulance’s siren.
I didn’t bother leaving any final messages because I had no doubt I would make it. I also didn’t have anyone who would care if I didn’t. The medic clamped the gash in my calf muscle and then packed it with some kind of gel. The needles came out and then I went out.
I did not wake up again until I was on a gurney in the rural Emergency Clinic. They knocked my ass out while they worked on me. When next I awoke I was in the Community Hospital located in College Hill. The Emergency Room Doctors at the Foothills Emergency Clinic had stopped the bleeding then sent me on to the hospital where there were real surgeons.
The system could operate efficiently in the case of emergencies, but was lousy in ordinary care. I knew that if I required long term, or specialized care, I was going to be looking at months of fighting the system. I really didn’t like that possibility. I could only hope the damage had been corrected before I woke up.
I knew I could expect a drain on my finances right when I was planning the new venture. I knew that it was going to be fucked up but I also knew that I would stick with it. Since I didn’t feel any pain I assumed I was pretty doped up.
“There is a man outside to see you,” the nurse said. “Do you feel up to it.”
“Why not?” I said. Even I noticed that my speech was slurred. “You know you probably should name a wing of the hospital for me. I’m here so much.”
“Senorita Rose, how are you?” Carlos asked.
“I’m going to be fine Carlos don’t worry. I am harder to kill than this,” I suggested just before I fell asleep. I was barely able to add, “Don’t worry this is not your fault. It’s all on me.”
The next time I woke up Buddy was in the room. “How the fuck did you know I was here” I asked. I was beginning to sound like the people I spent so much time around.
“They found Sylvia’s name in your wallet. She called the hospital, then called me. Rita dropped me here on her way home,” Buddy said.
“Ah is Rita still here?” I asked.
“No she is back with her hubby at the coast. They have had you out for a couple of days,” Buddy explained.
“Not totally out. I can remember them coming in to ask how I planned to pay for the treatment,” I said with a smile.
“That shouldn’t even enter your mind,” Buddy said.
“It doesn’t but it was on their minds. Seems this National Health Care isn’t any better than the old insurance was. It’s all about the money,” I said.
“Well the emergency care is still the best in the world. After that it gets a little dicey,” Buddy said.
“That’s what they tell me. So has the doctor told you anything?” I asked.
“Not a thing, but they are planning to come in shortly to talk,” he explained.
“Okay,” I said groggily.
“One bit of good news came yesterday. The U.S. Attorney called. You are in the clear on the shooting. You can move back home when you leave here,” he informed me. The wheels in my head moved slowly.
“Take my keys and move in there,” I said. “There is nothing you can do here. Better still why not bring the truck here and go visit Rita?”
“What you don’t want me to visit you everyday?” he asked.
“Why would I want that? There is nothing you can do for me,” I replied.
“I don’t see it that way you evil bitch,” he replied with a wide smile.
“Okay if nothing else, I’d rather you find a cleaning service to get the apartment back to normal,” I said.
“I’m staying at Church Camp for a day or two longer. I’m sure Andrew can recommend a cleaning service to go down and take care of it,” he said.
“Then take my truck to use till I get home,” I suggested.
“Let’s see what the doctor says,” he suggested.
Buddy sat quietly in the corner for a while then stepped out to make a few calls. I’m sure he would have rather waited for the doctor, but he left anyway.
A short time later, Buddy led a man into the room. The man wore a white coat so I assumed he was a doctor. “Well they tell me you are a notorious spy or something like that. I’m supposed to take good care of you or this gentleman is going to break me in half, I fear.” He said it in good humor, but I didn’t think he was exaggerating too much.
“Don’t worry about him. He is a big ol teddy bear,” I said. “So what’s the damage?” I was bracing myself for the bad news, which I knew was coming. Since Buddy had said they had kept me more or less under for two days, it couldn’t be good.
“I assume you want it without the sugar coating?” the doctor asked.
“Right now I would just like it before I fall asleep again,” I said. I knew I sounded snippy, but that was how I felt.
“Till we get you up, we won’t know all your injuries. So far we know you have no lasting spinal injuries and that’s the good news. You may have some disk injuries, but we won’t know for sure till you are up and walking.”
“Which brings us to your right calf. It was pretty well chopped up by a piece of steel that fell on your leg and then bounced once or twice before settling. They did some surgery to save your life in the ER clinic. We did some more here and saved about 60% of the muscle mass. How much it regenerates is debatable. It went a long time in trauma mode. The absolute best you can hope for is to have a limp all the time and it will be worse when you over exert yourself.”
“It could also been much worse. You obviously sustained some damage. I think it is minimal all things considered. It was obviously quite a fall.”
“Actually it wasn’t. I fell only about six feet,” I said. I stopped and thought a minute, then asked, “So are you through doing surgery on the leg?”
“For now yes, you may decide to have some additional surgery done later,” the doctor, who I suddenly noticed looked remarkably like a ferret, said.
That is some good dope, I thought. “So when can I leave?” I asked again.
“You can leave right now, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it. You need to have that leg constantly checked for infection, then some rehab would be helpful,” he said.
“How long then?” I asked.
“Four more days is the amount called for in the protocol,” he said. “Then a transfer to a rehab facility.”
“Well I can probably justify a few more days, so let’s play it by ear on the rehab,” I suggested.
“You heard him Buddy. I’m going to be here and there is nothing more you can do for me. So please go back to Mossberg, take my truck and go back there and get the place cleaned.”
“Okay, but then I’m coming back. By the way your preliminary license to manufacture arrived. We are ready to go.”
“Call the Realtor whose name is on that sign on the building across the street. You can tell her we will be ready to make the move within a week,” I demanded.
“Yes Ma’am,” Buddy said.
“I know I’m being an awful bitch, but I’m just not a good patient,” I said. “Try to overlook me please. I really am appreciative of what you are doing. You do know when it gets too much for you, that you can leave with no hard feelings.”
“I’m staying. It is either with you, or I buy that key shop next door. You needed me once and I wasn’t there. That ain’t gonna happen this time.
One more thing, before he came in to see you, the doctor asked me how long you had an eating disorder. I had to explain about the vacation in paradise as you call it. He more or less said to fuck the hospital food, so is there anything you want to eat?”
“Yeah, I want a Big Mac, French Fries, a vanilla milk shake, and a fried cherry pie,” I said about half asleep.
“Go back to sleep. When you come around, I will have your heart attack in a white bag all ready for you,” Buddy said.
I left the hospital room and placed a call to The Swamp. Yes I bypassed Andrew. He just didn’t have what I wanted. “Sylvia it’s Buddy.”
“How is she,” Sylvia asked.
“I wish I could say she is fine, but she isn’t. Her leg is all fucked up and she may have some disk problems,” I informed her. “They also say she is too damn thin. Did you know she had two rounds of treatment for parasites?” I asked.
“Yeah, the last time they gave her a dose of arsenic, I think,” Sylvia replied. “So what can I do?”
“She needs a professional crime scene cleaner. That place probably smells like a death house. I’m sure there is blood and guts everywhere,” I said.
“I can send somebody, what else?” she asked.
“She is going to have a hell of a medical bill. We don’t want her in that government hole,” I said.
“Dovecheck is going to pay this bill. She fell off that ladder because she has no stamina. It all part of the fucking cruise job,” Sylvia said.
“It’s been a while. He might not see it that way,” I replied.
“He said anything she ever needs, and I’m going to make sure he meant it,” Porter replied. “What else?”
“I want Intel on the prick who got away,” I said.
“We have had two days Baker. Do you think we sat around with our fingers up our asses? She was right they are Romani from a band in east Texas. They own a few acres and call it a ranch. There are about ten families who live on the ranch. There are maybe twenty five soldiers and their wives. You need to consider the wives and kids soldiers as well. I wouldn’t even turn my back on the dogs were I you,” Sylvia said.
“Yeah, I have dealt with them in Europe. Mostly it’s petty theft and general thuggery from them. I doubt they are prepared for war,” I said.
“Baker, let me make this perfectly clear. I make the plan, I provide the men and I will tell you who, if anyone dies. Is that clear?” she asked.
“It’s clear that we are the only ones who can stop this vendetta,” I said meaning it. “It’s clear than I will go along, but is it clear to you that I no longer work for you?”
“It’s clear that I can trust you regardless of who is paying you. You stupid Frenchmen never forget,” Sylvia said before she broke the connection.
I got into Rose’s truck, then drove it to the closest McDonalds. Since I knew I would have to wake her to eat there was no rush. I had my grease inside the restaurant.
“Wake up Rose,” Buddy said once he had the food laid out on the rolling table. “Your food has arrived.”
I took one look and wanted to heave, but I knew better than to not eat. The nurse would make sure I was eating, drinking, urinating, and defecating before I was released. I intended to do all those things. “God that’s a lot of food,” I said.
“Just eat what you can, I can find a disposal area somewhere in the place,” he said.
I managed to get two bites of the burger and about ten fries down. The milk shake was slow work, but I got it down completely. “Can you roll this thing away?” I asked.
“Not great, but you didn’t do bad for the first real meal,” Buddy said.
“So who were they?” I asked feeling a little less drugged.
It took him a second to decide what to tell me. “A Romani clan from East Texas outside of Galveston,” Baker said.
“Okay, let it go till I’m out of here. Then we will have to pay them a visit. If it’s a vendetta thing, it won’t end till it is ended,” I said.
“Not possible,” Baker said.
“Oh why not?” I asked.
“Sylvia took over,” Baker replied.
“You did tell her I fell and no matter what I’m out,” I said.
“She knows all that, but she isn’t backing down,” Baker said.
“So what is she planning?” I asked.
“She told me she would work out something and for me to stay with you. At least until it was laid on,” Buddy explained.
Two days later I had been up walking in the morning. It was only the three steps to the bathroom. Even then I was standing inside a rolling metal frame. After that trip, I realized that I at least have some bruised ribs. The walker was feeling a lot more like something from a medieval dungeon, than a medical device. I had a feeling there were worse days coming.
I waited but Buddy didn’t show up so I ate hospital food. It wasn’t bad once I convinced the nurse to sneak me some salt and pepper into the room. I couldn’t convince her to bring Texas Pete hot sauce though. I could have convinced Buddy to do it, I thought. Then I wondered where the hell he was.
The next day it was late afternoon before Buddy showed up. “Miss me?” he asked all full of grins and good cheer.
“Of course I missed you. Did you go visit Rita?” I asked.
“No, I should have. It would have been a lot more exciting. Your friends down east had a little get together and invited me. It was kind of a flash mob experience. We all came together down in Texas. I haven’t had much sleep to be honest with you.”
“There weren’t any accidents were there,” I asked. I figured I needed to know what was done in my name.
“Small ones maybe, nothing requiring medical attention,” he said. “You know how it is with a flash mob. Get a hundred or so unruly people together someone is bound to fall down.”
“So how was the dance?” I asked.
“It went real well. The boss convinced everyone to cooperate. The guest of honor didn’t seem to enjoy it so much, but it all worked out. We even took a souvenir since it was so much fun. We should have taken pictures, but it was just so dark. Then there were the ski masks,” Buddy said with a grin.
“So are they going to do another one?” I asked.
“One never knows, but if anything happens again the owner of the campground knows to expect another noisier visit,” Baker said it all pleased with himself.
“Never a dull moment with the people from down east involved. We could have handled it,” I said.
“Not right now, and the boss didn’t want it to fester,” Baker said.
Two days later the Ferret faced doctor came into my hospital room. “So you two ready to get the hell out of my hospital.”
“You have no idea how ready,” I said.
“Before I sign off on it there are some rules. Number one, you make a call to this doctor when you get home. You schedule a follow up visit with him. Number two, you do not try to ‘tough it out’ any severe pain you go to the Emergency Clinic nearest to you. Number three, you do not climb any stairs. If you do any more than lift a spoon, you are going to be back in here. Let Mr. Baker here be your legs for a while.”
“All right, I would agree to anything,” I said. I didn’t make a blow job joke. I didn’t feel that good about going home.
Buddy loaded me into the truck for the four hour drive home. I had a bottle of water and a bottle of pain killers so I was ready. I was also ready to scream before the drive was complete. I was even ready to ride in the back of the truck my leg hurt so badly.
When I got to Mossberg, I took the pain killer an hour early and lay on the sofa bed which someone had moved down the steep open stairway for me. I noticed the smell of orange in the building. I didn’t comment I just went to sleep.
Time got all fucked up that first day. When I woke up the sun was gone and Buddy was sitting in my office chair. He shoved another pill at me and I went back to sleep.
The next morning I went into the half bath. On that visit I noticed that there was a pull up bar by the toilet. I wasn’t sure if it had been there the night before but I knew it hadn’t been there before the accident. Buddy it seemed had been a busy boy. I found a way to lift myself off the toilet and was even able to stand on my left leg and look in the mirror over the small sink that had replaced the fish washing sink. The mirror revealed that I looked like hell.
“Hey you alright in there?” Buddy asked.