I reluctantly leave Langly. He appears to be in good hands, but I worry that we may have been exposed in our latest 'adventure.' God knows what would happen.
Still, I need to check up on Byers.
Time to bribe the security people.
Locating them is not difficult. They're armed here. This is a university teaching hospital, thus, they take everyone and anyone, from criminals to kings.
I confront one that is roughly a foot taller and twice as wide as I am. Looks a lot like one of the security guards we had an 'encounter' with in Vegas.
"Excuse me." I approach him, trying to make my bearing like that of Napoleon.
"There a problem?" His voice is very just-the-facts-sir. Not friendly. Not unfriendly. Just there.
"Not at the moment. And I don't want one to develop."
He eyes me hard. "I've seen you before."
"I don't think so." I don't like being recognized, even if I do have the suspicion that he is in fact the same person. Still, Las Vegas is a long way from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
"No, I know you. Seen you somewhere." He keeps frowning, staring me down. Eyes that don't blink.
The sort of person you want on your side in a dark alley.
He gives first. Damned if I will.
"You were in Vegas. Yeah, I know you were in Vegas. At the Monte Carlo. Spring 99. Defcon."
Shit. The alarm must be present on my face, because he immediately puts up his hand in a conciliatory gesture.
"Hey, hey, take it easy, I got no gripe with you dudes. Feel sorry for ugly guys who dress bad."
Oh, thanks a lot!
"What are you doing here in the middle of Bumfuck, Pennsylvania?" I ask him, not really expecting an answer.
He shrugs. "My mama got sick. The Alzheimers. Real bad. I gotta take care of her."
"I'm sorry to hear that." Alzheimers. A terrible way to go. I nursed my own mother through it. It sounds cold, but it was a blessing when she passed on.
He shakes his head. "My job. You live round here?"
"What makes you think we live around here?"
"Well, you sure as hell don't live in Vegas." Still hasn't cracked a smile.
"No. We don't."
My tone indicates that I don't really care to discuss our residence.
"I'm very sorry about your mother," I say again. "My own mother suffered the same fate."
"Tough as it comes," the big man shrugs again.
I sense I can trust this person. We do have some history, however minimal, and some commonality.
"I was wondering if you could help me out," I begin the approach tentatively.
He turns suspicious. A man after my own heart. "What way?"
"One of my...friends is a patient here."
"Which one, suit or the hippie?"
He does have a good memory, I'll give him that.
"What happened to the suit?"
"He's not here." And I refuse to give up his whereabouts. We can't be too careful right now.
"He get sick?"
He grows untrusting again. Some people are like that, I guess.
Then he rolls his eyes. "I'd ask you how it happened, but somehow, I'm guessing I don't wanna know."
"Would you mind keeping an eye on him? I need to leave for a little while. He's with...one of the doctors here-"
"With one of the doctors? Or with one of the doctors?"
As in the Biblical sense.
"A little bit of both. He seems to have taken a fancy to her. She to him, too. Still, I don't know her well-"
"What do I get in return?" He demands.
"What do you want?"
He thinks about that. Shit. I hope I have enough in my checking account to take care of this.
"Fifth of Glenfiddich would do me good."
"Ah, a man of distinction."
"Like good Scotch whiskey, but can't afford it on my paycheck."
"I'll be back later."
As I make my way down the corridor, a song pops into my head.
Unfortunately for me, the song is, "It's a Small World."
Bad music does indeed stay with you, alas.
But good people pop up in the most unlikely places.
Byers has given me the address of a Motel 6 out on Route 83. The snow seems to have temporarily stopped, but the price of it is bitter cold setting in.
Next time I'll have to remember the gloves with the fingers.
Where's the paper with the room number on it? I've got so much crap in my wallet it's not funny.
I find it.
I'm about to knock on the door, but listen first, just to make certain I don't hear anything out of the ordinary.
I decide against knocking at the door.
I also decide that the security guard I'm bribing isn't the only one that deserves to be warm tonight.
At the state store (liquor stores are state-controlled in Pennsylvania), I grab two fifths of Glenfiddich single malt whiskey. My usual choice is J&B, but seeing as everyone in the world is having sex but me, I decide that I need to indulge at least one of my vices.
Before I step back into the van, I decide to call Byers, just in case my ears deceived me at the 6.
"Byers, you all right?"
"I’m fine. But how is Langly?"
"He’s doing all right."
"Are you with him?"
"Not at the moment. He seems to have found someone to watch over him."
Byers lets that one drop. "Thanks for letting me know, Frohike."
Might as well let him enjoy himself now.
Somehow, I don't think Mata Hari's a keeper.
I arrive back at the hospital to find my friend the guard standing outside Langly's door.
"Aren't you supposed to be patrolling?" I ask him, handing him the brown paper bag.
"Got off shift half an hour ago," he says, not blinking.
"You can go now, if you'd like."
He glares at me as if I'm the ultimate idiot. Which maybe I am, but don't need to be reminded.
"What, you think I'm gonna let your sorry asses alone? I seen what kind of trouble you dudes get yourself into."
"So you're gonna stand here all night?" I ask him.
"Unless you get me a chair."
I do better than that. I find me a chair too. It took some ingenuity but I doubt the guy with his leg in traction will get very far if he decides to chase me down.
I hand him one of the brown paper bags.
"Not allowed to drink on the job," he says, shaking his head.
"Well, I'm your employer now, and I mandate drinking on the job." If I ever needed a good drunk, it's now.
Before I break the seal on the beautiful golden liquid, I check in on my boy.
He seems to be resting comfortably. Very comfortably, I might add, considering that Dr. Saint John's head is nestled against his uninjured arm.
I reach over to stroke his hair.
He stirs a little. "Will you still respect me in the morning?" he mumbles sleepily.
"Langly, I didn't respect you before. Why would I do it in the morning?"
"Oh, it's you." He barely opens his eyes.
"Oh, you're welcome," I snap at him.
"Uh-huh." His eyes are completely shut again. He's off in the world of morphine dreams and sexual fantasies.
If I were any more of a pervert, I'd check to see if he's got a boner, but that is definitely more information than I need right now.
I go back to the hallway. "You ready?" I ask the guard.
"You're the boss."
I awaken with a start at the sound of someone entering the room.
"What time's it?" I ask the nurse who enters. I recognize her as Alison, one of the nurses on this floor. She used to work in emergency but like lots of ER nurses, she got burnt to a crisp.
"Six a.m.," her gentle British accent is like a caress. "What're you doing here, doctor?"
"He's...a friend of mine."
She gives me the once over. "I should say so."
I then realize my hand is laying on his hip, perilously close to one of his...erogenous zones.
He may be asleep, but he knows it's there. That much is obvious.
Alison smiles at me. "You seem to be restoring him to health, doctor."
"Telephone, Mr. Frohike."
Would someone please stop that noise? It's pounding in my head like a jackhammer.
"Not now," I groan.
"It's a Mr. Byers, and he says it's urgent."
Those words shake me out of my alcohol-induced stupor. Shit, I can't even enjoy having a hangover and feeling sorry for myself anymore.
I stagger to the nurses's station. "Yeah?"
"Frohike, she's gone."
"I'm sorry?" Something's not registering here.
"She's gone. Was gone when I woke up."
My heart sinks. I was hoping I'd be wrong.
Shit. This is not going to be a good day.
I spend the rest of the day with him. We talk and nap and talk some more.
As the day moves far too rapidly towards 7 p.m., the time I go back on shift, I begin to feel terribly sad.
I will probably never see him again.
He doesn't speak of the future, and neither do I. Which is just as well.
I tell myself I'm being silly. I just met this man.
And he will probably forget me just as soon as he is released, which, if he continues to improve as he has been, will be tomorrow morning.
It's 6:30 p.m.
"I have to go soon," I say, trying to stave off the inevitable.
"Why?" he sounds like a pouty child.
"I have to work."
"You can take care of me," he smiles.
Oh God, would I love to take care of him...on a long-term basis.
Finally, I can no longer delay. As is, I probably won't have enough time to do chart review before I step on the floor.
"Bye Langly," I whisper to him.
He doesn't say anything, just draws me close to him.
And we share a long, soft, wonderful kiss.
I don't want that kiss to ever end.
Just in case it's the last one I ever get