Seconds Away Page 14

’’I\'m very sorry for your loss,’’ Chief Taylor said in a voice that didn\'t sound sorry.

’’Thank you,’’ Rachel said in a voice that didn\'t sound very grateful.

What was going on here?

’’Did you know I was first on the scene?’’ Taylor asked.

’’I didn\'t, no.’’

’’Yep. I called the ambulance for you.’’

Silence.

’’What do you remember about the shooting?’’ Taylor asked.

’’Nothing,’’ Rachel said.

’’You don\'t remember being shot?’’

’’No.’’

’’What do you remember?’’

’’Chief Taylor?’’

’’Yes.’’

Rachel yawned. ’’I\'m not feeling very well right now.’’

’’But you just said you were feeling fine.’’

’’I\'m still on some medications. I\'m feeling very drowsy. Could you come back another time?’’

There was a long pause. Then Chief Taylor said, ’’Of course, Rachel. I understand. Maybe we can talk later.’’

’’Sure.’’

I watched his brown shoes head away from the bed. They stopped at the door. ’’One more thing,’’ he said.

Rachel waited.

’’A homicide investigator named Anne Marie Dunleavy will be coming by to interview you. Don\'t feel obligated to talk to her before we speak again, okay?’’

Huh?

’’If you do talk to her,’’ he continued, ’’well, you just said you don\'t remember anything. It\'s okay to tell her that.’’

Double huh?

Chief Taylor opened the door to head out, but there was a nurse at the door.

’’We need to roll her down for X-rays,’’ the nurse said.

’’I\'ll hold the door for you,’’ Taylor said.

I was trapped.

As the nurse came in, I stayed where I was. So did Chief Taylor. From the bed I could hear the nurse pull a lever and then those sidebars came up.

They were going to wheel her out in this bed.

There was no way I wouldn\'t be exposed.

I looked left and right. Nothing. I could try to commando crawl, but where would I go? Taylor would see me in an instant. The nurse was positioned to roll the bed. Chief Taylor was holding open up the door.

There was nowhere for me to hide.

’’Wait . . . ,’’ Rachel said weakly.

’’For what, dear?’’

’’I\'d like to use the bathroom first.’’

Ah, Rachel! Good thinking.

’’There\'s one where we\'re going,’’ the nurse said in a voice that was not going to be denied. She started to push. ’’It will be easier to go there.’’

’’But ’’

The nurse started pushing the bed. I did the only thing I could. There were bars under the bed. I grabbed them and pulled myself up. I pressed my feet against the underside and lifted my entire body off the floor.

The nurse stopped, probably because of the additional weight. ’’Is the brake still on the wheels?’’

I held on as she checked. Have you ever done that exercise called the plank, the one where you hold your body in an upper push-up until your entire core starts to quiver? Well, that was sort of what I was doing, except upside down. I felt like a bat or something.

I didn\'t know how long I could hang on.

The nurse wheeled the bed right past Chief Taylor\'s shoes.

My fingers were starting to tire. My stomach was turning to jelly.

The nurse started down the corridor. I watched the distance between us and Taylor\'s shoes increase. I wondered whether Rachel had figured out what I was doing and I guessed that maybe she had. When we reached the elevator, I couldn\'t hold on any longer. I let go, collapsing back to the floor.

’’Nurse?’’ Rachel said.

’’Yes?’’

’’Could you get me my stuffed bunny?’’

’’Pardon me?’’

’’I\'m really sorry. Kirbie that\'s my bunny\'s name is in my room. I\'m . . . I\'m scared to go anywhere without her. Please?’’

The nurse sighed.

’’Please?’’ Rachel said again.

’’Okay, dear. Just wait here.’’

As soon as the nurse moved away, I slid out from under the bed. ’’You have a stuffed bunny?’’

’’Of course not. Get out of here before she gets back.’’

’’I want to know ’’

’’Another time, Mickey, okay? Just go.’’

The elevator doors opened beside me. I stepped inside and pressed the button. I watched as the doors started to close. Rachel tried to smile at me, but it wouldn\'t hold. And then, maybe half a second before the doors shut all the way, I saw someone else behind her.

It was Chief Taylor. And he was staring straight at me.

’’Hold that elevator!’’

But I didn\'t let my fast reflexes work this time. The doors closed all the way. There was a small delay, as if the doors might open again and let Chief Taylor in. But they didn\'t.

I headed down to the lobby and walk-sprinted out the door.

Chapter 13

I caught up with Spoon and Ema in the parking lot.

’’Keep moving,’’ I said. ’’Chief Taylor might be on to us.’’

We hurried down the block and back onto Northfield Avenue. There was a dry cleaner located on the corner. We ducked behind the building.

’’Was Rachel in that room?’’ Ema asked.

I nodded and told them everything that had happened.

’’So,’’ Ema said, ’’somehow Abeona is involved in this too?’’

’’Seems so,’’ I said.

Spoon was silent. He looked a little lost. I worried about him. He hadn\'t asked for any of this. True, none of us had, but he seemed a little more like a babe in the woods. Our friendship, if that was what this was, started only a few days ago when he walked up to me in the cafeteria and offered me, well, his spoon. That was how our relationship, not to mention his nickname, started.

’’So what do you think we should do?’’ Ema asked me.

’’I hate to interject,’’ Spoon said, finally speaking, ’’but the Musicals I Love Foundation meeting would definitely be over by now. My parents will be expecting me.’’

’’Musicals I Love Foundation?’’ Ema repeated.

I gave her a don\'t-ask headshake.

When the bus showed up, we hopped on and started back for home. We got off where we had begun, on the corner of Kasselton Avenue and Northfield. I figured that I\'d walk home via Bat Lady\'s house and stop by to see her. But I didn\'t know what to say. I was exhausted and scared and confused.

As we neared Bat Lady\'s street, my cell phone trilled. It was Uncle Myron. I was going to ignore it, but that wouldn\'t do any good. ’’Hello?’’ I said.


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