Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Fixer [Interim Title] Chapter 6 Part 2

Chapter 1 Part 1 Chapter 1 Part 2 Chapter 2 Part 1 Chapter 2 Part 2
Chapter 3 Part 1 Chapter 3 Part 2 Chapter 4 Part 1 Chapter 4 Part 2
Chapter 5 Part 1 Chapter 5 Part 2 Chapter 6 Part 1

The receptionist recognized me. "You again. What this time?"

"Cigarette burns. Partial suffocation. Rope burns. Not much this time."

"Kinky. Do we need to call the police?"

"Don't bother. I already did it. You can check if you like." I tossed her Officer Richard Welch's card that he'd given me that morning.

"I'll check. Here, sign in."

She gave me the obligatory clipboard, which I filled out and slid back to her. She directed me to take a seat until the doc-in-a-box could see me.

The doc was a new one this time. They didn't last long here, young interns just out of med school serving penance at the critical care center then moving on as soon as they got a bit of experience under their belt. He gave me an ointment and some dressings for the burns, and warned me that if I didn't take care of it, complete with scrubbing off dead tissue with a gauze pad ("debrieding", he called it), there would be some scarring. "You want to see a real burn specialist for the one on your face," he added. "That'd be a real shame if it scarred."

I think most of the doc-in-a-boxen that I've encountered have had a major crush on me, and this guy didn't seem an exception. Something about them being young, having just spent years of 16+ hour days getting their medical credentials, and being male (usually) and horny (went with the "male" part) seemed to be all it took. It was sort of sweet, actually, but futile. Trust issues, remember? Still, there was no reason to crush the poor child, so I simply said "Thanks. I'll do that," and let him finish up.

When I dropped my folder back at the desk, the receptionist pushed Officer Welch's card back to me. "You ought to get a safer job," she said to me.

"Hey, I'm in real estate. What can be safer than that?"

She shook her head, a bit of a grin on her face. "If you're in real estate, I've got a million dollars."

"Really? Why you working down here, then?"

"I own the place," she ad-libbed.

I smiled and shook my head, and headed out the door.

I was halfway to my car when my cell phone rang. I dug it out of my jeans and flipped it open.

"Hello!" I said cheerfully.

"I'm not in the business of disposing your bodies for you," said Officer Jackson, sounding a bit peeved.

"Not you too! What body?"

"That stiff in West San Jose? The one you blew away?"

"I haven't the foggiest idea what you're talking about," I said. "He was breathing and all when I left. If you'd gotten an ambulance down there in a reasonable time, he should have been fine. It's not my fault you guys operate at the speed of government."

"Breathing with the back of his head blown off? I don't think so."

I took a deep breath. "Look, he had a hole in his leg and a hole in his shoulder when I left, but otherwise he was fine. I don't know anything about his head being blown off, but here's someone who might." I pulled my notebook out of my bag and read him the license plate number and description of the guy in the red BMW who'd been following me that morning, as well as a general description of the car.

"Get down here," he said. "Or I swear, I'll get a warrant for your arrest."

"Okay, okay," I said. "I'll be there in twenty minutes." I swung my Toyota into traffic, and made my way there as fast as the whiney little hamsters under its hood could run in their wheels.

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