Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Journey - Hospital pt 1.

Because I love you...and I, myself, hate too many cliff hangers in one's another story post just for you. Ending this story is taking more time than I thought - I want it to be perfect. If I run out of pre-schedules, you all may have to wait for Meg to recover with the rest of them. Just sayin'.

 Prologue can still be found here.
Continued from the previous post

    With Captain Mulholland and Meg Addison both in one hospital there were more police officers milling around the waiting areas of the ICU than could be contained. In an effort to free up space and clear the corridors, the hospital’s administration opened up one of the lecture halls for them to use. The cafeteria sent up urns of coffee in electric warmers. Two desk phones were plugged into the unused jacks in the wall.

    When DJ walked in to the makeshift waiting room, he expected the curious glances he received. Voices talking in low volume and the smell of coffee greeted him. He wasn’t the tallest man in the room, thought at first glance, with the stadium seating in the lecture hall it was difficult to tell. DJ was, however, the only one in a desert patterned combat uniform.

    Michael broke away from the cluster of officers he’d been talking with. He was sporting a dozen stitches on his upper arm. The bullet had gone clean through the muscle. His arm was still numb from where they’d anesthetized his skin to put in the stitches. In his back pocket he had a prescription for pain killers that he wouldn’t take. He grinned slightly, letting DJ know that it was good to see him but that his thoughts were elsewhere.

    “You,” Michael began, “were the last person I expected to see walk through that door.”

    DJ scanned the room filled with police officers and a few of their family members. Here was another sort of Army. There wasn’t anything he could do to help, so DJ didn’t bother with the platitudes. “Meg?”

    MIchael winced but kept his gaze and his voice level, “They lost her en-route but got her heart started again. A bunch of guys have given blood. They won't let me because of my injury.”

    “I can’t, either.” DJ scanned the room, “Not for a year after being home. Has there been any new word?”

    “No,” Michael scrubbed his hand over his face, “our parents are up in the surgical waiting room. We get word now and again. We just got word just a bit ago that Mulholland pulled through his surgery and they’ve finally got him in an observation room. He’s missing a kidney now and will have to have more surgery on his shoulder. Three wounds and a shattered scapula. There’s not really been a definite word on Meg. I have to assume that the doctors are concerned to put a name to anything.” Restlessly, he massaged the back of his neck, “Now I know what everyone else was going through when I was in the hospital. When it’s you, the drugs keep you oblivious. On this side of the injury? There’s only the fact that you’ve got to be strong for those around you that keeps you from falling apart. Or that could just be me. Mom’s trying to be the strongest. So we’re all trying to ‘out strong’ her.”

    “Some thing will break,” DJ murmured.

    “Exactly.” Michael looked around the room, “There’s a smaller group at Merril’s and we’ve been talking by phone. The coroner is here, too. He took a bullet to the hip. Then there’s the contingent at City Hall waiting for the press conference. So we’ve been keeping the phones busy. When did you get in?”
    “I got to mom’s and in time to see the news.” DJ considered the time, “I guess this all went down around noon?”

    “Yeah. It’s not been the best of days.” Michael lifted his chin at the older man who approached. “Meg’s partner, Neil Spiro. This is DJ Rediker.”

    Neil nodded his head and considered DJ from heavy eyes and the arm in the sling,  “So you’re Meg’s soldier.”

    “I guess.”

    “No guessing, Sergeant. You either are or you aren’t. She thinks you are.” He held out his hand uninjured hand, “Sorry to finally be meeting you under these circumstances.”

    “Same goes.” DJ took the offered hand, “She writes at least one quote from you in every letter. I think she’s making a book.”

    Spiro grunted but amusement glinted in his eyes even for a moment, “Wisdom should be shared.”

    Knowing it was safest not to argue, DJ accepted Neil’s wisdom and kept quiet. He was accepted into the room, into those standing watch, as part of Meg’s life. He heard it more than once, as introduction were made, he was Meg’s soldier. There was no other explanation needed for his presence. Those closest to her in her work seemed to know who he was without asking. DJ wondered about it but never pressed for more information. Nor did they push at him. He was Meg’s soldier and her friends on the force were willing to leave it at that.

    Keeping himself out of the way, DJ sat where he could watch the room but not be in the way of those that seemed to move with focus. Matthew came in, fatigue lining his face. He poured himself some coffee and scooped up cold pizza before taking a seat next to DJ.

    “Would say welcome home," Matthew began, “but that seems kind of lame. Still mean it. It’s good to see you. Wish it were yesterday.”

    DJ stretched his legs out in front of him, “Do I ask if there’s any news?”

    “I stopped in up there but Uncle Mark said he was coming down. He claims he’s been too cooped up and needs to move around.” Mark bit into his pizza, “So I guess we’ll find out together.”

    “How’d the press conference go?”

    “You heard about that, didja? I watched it on the television.” Matthew shrugged carelessly, “It was politics. ‘This won’t stand against the formidable passion stirred up in our police force.’ And that was a direct quote.”
    Matt’s tone of voice expressed exactly what he didn’t say. It seemed neither one of them appreciated posturing, political or otherwise. Matt focused on his eating and DJ continued to watch the room. Mark Addison came into he room and looked every bit his 55 years. Even though Michael, Matthew and Meg all celebrated Father’s day with him, DJ knew him only as Uncle Mark. He never required his step-children to call him dad. They honored him as such, just as he continued to honor their biological father and his brother by being content with being ‘Uncle Mark’.

    He moved across the room, acknowledging greetings but never stopping until he could shake DJ’s hand. “Glad you're here, son. Very glad.” He looked down at Matthew, “Captain Zuck is on his way over. You’ll stick around?”

    A grunt served as Matthew’s response to the question, “Meg?”

    Mark pulled a chair closer so the were in a cluster when Michael joined them, “It’s not good. They lost her once in the ambulance and once more on the table. Because of that they’re just not going to say what’s going to happen when she wakes up. They just tell us that the next twenty-four hours are critical. They’ve had to remove pieces. Her stomach is just a bit smaller now. She doesn’t have a spleen any more. The bullet that hit her right side went straight through, back to front, and nicked an intestine on its way. They had to reinflate her left lung. They think the bullet that got her thigh was actually a through and through from del Carro who was behind her. There were other things that I'm sure I heard but I think my brain went numb. All I could think of while he was talking was that by all rights, our girl should be dead.”

    Matthew swore under his breath and pushed to his feet, using the action of discarding the paper plate and refilling his coffee to settle his nerves. Michael didn’t take his eyes off the floor.

    “The doctor,” Mark began when Matthew returned, “was blunt when he told me that she’s got a long way to go. They’ve got a nurse in the room with her. I left your mother there.”  Sighing heavily, Mark continued wistfully, “A cop can go years and even retire without a single gun shot wound. It’s been known to happen. Hell, I retired with only two hits, both to my leg. One hit for each leg. Wish it had happened to Meg.”

    “From what I saw on the television, it was a neatly arranged ambush.”

    Lifting an eye-brow, Mark studied DJ, noting the shadows of stubble on his jaw and the dark lines under the sharp eyes,  “Yes, son, it was. When was the last time you slept?”


    “Michael and Matthew are going to need to leave. Will you stay? You’re as much a member of the family as the rest of us. I'm going to need to get Norma away from here, even for a little bit. You can sleep in the chair in Meg’s room.”

    “I’m staying.” They wouldn’t have been able to drag him away. He might sleep and he might not.   

    Mark nodded, “The doctor’s told us that she could very well be out for several days. They’re wanting to wait on her body to settle down before they do anything else.They're worried about brain damage. I know that a fever right now would not be a good thing.”

    “No, I suspect not.” DJ had spent enough time in medical wards to know the routine.

    “No matter what, she’s not going home anytime soon. Someone's going to have to feed her big damn cat.” Matthew pointed toward the door, “Meg’s captain.”

    It only took one look to see that Captain Zuck worked to keep his physical shape in excellent condition. It was a vanity. He had given up on the notion that his hair needed to be black when the white hair outnumbered the dark. His white hair was kept cut short and his gray eyes shimmered under dark lashes. He swept the room with a glance and was immediately in authority. Behind him came Brandon Carroll, immediately recognized from the television. Murmurs rose up as others recognized his personality.

    “Well, now.” Uncle Mark stood to his feet as Joel Zuck crossed the room. His work uniform of business casual dress did not make the man any less imposing. Recognizing that the man wore the rank, not the other way around, DJ felt his spine instinctively stiffen as he rose to his feet.

    Captain Zuck and Uncle Mark exchanged hand shakes and Zuck wanted to know about Meg, “The short list.”

    “Twenty-four hours will be telling.”

    The gray eyes focused on DJ, measuring. “Sergeant, welcome back. When we get through this nightmare, the drinks are on me.”

    “I appreciate it.” Zuck’s handshake was strong.

    “In about five minutes, we’re going to have an impromptu briefing.” Zuck explained to Uncle Mark.

    “Want me to step outside?” DJ wanted to know.

    “Not necessary, son.” Uncle Mark looked toward the others in the room, “We’ll just tell you later, anyway. I need to get some of the wives out of here though.”

    DJ stood against the wall and watched the ebb and flow change the dynamics of the room. Mr. Carroll eyed him over his cup of coffee before refilling it and leaning against the table.

    Once the room was settled, Captain Zuck took charge of the room, “Okay. Listen up. Many of you know Brandon Carroll personally. Hell, most of you probably gave him information for one of his news stories. I'm going to let him talk and then I'm going to tell you what you’re going to do.”

    Brandon didn’t move from his spot on the desk, he barely looked up, “This afternoon, just before the shooting started, I was given an envelope. I didn’t open it right away." He grinned into his coffee but when he looked up his face was humorless, “People think that by watching a personality on the Television they think they know you. It’s not the first time I've been given things. Complaints, love letters, birthday cards, coupons, advice, hair dye, you name it, I’ve gotten it. It wasn’t until after  ... Everything finally calmed down that I remembered the envelope and I opened it.”

    He pressed his fingers to his eyes and the bridge of his nose, “The envelope contained a letter from a group calling themselves T99. In the short letter, this group declared the Police Department to be their enemy and today they declared war. I suppose it’s textbook anarchy but that’s what they claimed. The letter went on to say that today’s demonstration was merely the beginning. The war would continue on until there was an obvious winner. They claim it will be them.”

    Zuck moved, pulling the attention back to himself. Brandon moved away with a grateful slump of his shoulders.

    “After talking to investigative officers on the scene before the attack on our friends, it’s been decided that the Kings were stopped from continuing their drive-by. Pedestrians were hiding and drivers were too busy panicking to realize there was another set of guns on the street. Stopping the van in the middle of the intersection, made barricading the intersection important for us to do our jobs. Now we know why. It is what it is. I'm not going to stand here and look back. We had no clue. Even if Brandon had given Mulholland the letter, we probably would have ignored it. Pranks and threats come at us every day. We can’t deal with each one. What we can do is face this threat and do it now. We can show our city that we stand by our own.

    “Brandon is sitting on this story for the time being. We are not giving T99 air time. We have someone running through the video shot today and isolating the shooters that were caught on film. There has been some luck with the members of T99 that were arrested and we have enough information to do a sweep. T99 wanted a war and we’re going to give them one. SWAT has informed me they are ready." He pointed to Matthew, “Addison, you’re to report to your group as soon as we’re done here. Your commander has already informed me that, short of arresting you, I won’t be able to keep you away, so I'm not going to bother. Gang task force has provided manpower and maps. We're not hitting small houses. We’re looking for the guys in charge. GTF thinks they know who, they just don’t know where. We look tonight. We find them and we end this thing.”

© 2011, Amelia Antwiler/Comfy Denim


Mrs Q said...

I got confused and read the wrong one first in Reader. Never mind...waiting for the next installment....

And don't worry - I don't use the maths curriculum you've picked myself but know of others who do and who think it's fantastic.

Mother Mayhem said...

Trying to wait patiently. :o)

Christa said...

More, please! :)