The “Gabriel Writer” has printed the 3rd installment of “Chapter Play.” You can catch up on the whole story here: Chapter Play
I hope you enjoy it
ChapterIII: In which the hero is betrayed.
“St. David’s hospital.” The nurse smiles. She’s attractive in a 1940’s way. Her long brown hair is pulled back into a bun and she has sharp blue eyes. “The firemen pulled you out just in time. Do you remember?”
“A little.” He wheezes and starts coughing.
“Easy, you sucked down a lot of smoke.” She pats his back. “You’ve also got a minor fracture in your left ulna, a pretty bad gash on your head, and a 2nd degree burn on your leg.”
“What about my house?” Carl examines the cast on his left arm. It hurts but he can bear it.
“They said over half of it was destroyed before the fire could be put out. I’m so sorry.” She rubs his shoulder.
“Half a home is no home at all.” Carl grumbles.
“My father used to say the same thing. But I think he had something else in mind.” She smiles. Her kind eyes take him by surprise and he smiles in spite of himself.
“Carl McGavin, it’s been a while.” Carl looks up and sees two police officers standing by the door. The older one, Carl recognizes, but his partner looks like a rookie. “It’s Matt Richards, and this is officer Burke. How ya doin there?”
“I’ve been better.”
“You’ve looked better, but not by much,” Richards smiles.
“I’ll leave you guys alone.” The nurse excuses herself. “Make it quick, he’s still weak.” She says to Burke on her way out. He ignores her.
“Mr. McGavin, we need to discuss the events surrounding July 2nd and the fire at 2005 Maize Bend Drive. Your home, correct?” Officer Burke says, reading from his notebook.
“Vincent’s very professional. He means, what happened yesterday, Carl?” Richards nudges his young partner.
“It’s Officer Burke,” Vincent glares at Richards. “We just need the facts, Mr. McGavin.”
“I don’t remember much. One minute I was working in my office. The next, I was lying on my kitchen floor, bleeding. There was an explosion. Maybe a gas main.” Carl coughs again.
“So, you were alone then? No one else in the house?” Vincent rechecks his notes.
“I live alone, officer Burke.” Carl says frankly.
“That’s not what I asked, sir.”
“Now Vincent, Carl’s one of us – or was. He knows what you’re asking and his word is good.” Vincent starts to object but Richards cuts him off. “You’ve been through a lot there, Carl. We’ll check in on you later. After you’ve had a chance to clear your head. You get better now.” Richards pushes Vincent out of the room.
Carl is surprised. That was too easy. Clearly, they suspect something but he’s not ready to tell them about the Ellington woman yet. Someone killed her. They tried to kill him. He needs time to think before the police butt in and make a mess.
The nurse comes back with a cup of ice water and some medication. “So, do they know what happened?”
“Not yet. But that rookie’s pretty worked up.”
“Don’t mind Vincent, he’s a bit of a hot head,” the nurse says dismissively. “And he doesn’t much like his partner.”
“You know him?” Carl takes the pills from her.
“I never introduced myself did I? My name’s Margo Burke. Vincent is my brother.”
“Small world.” Carl is distant. He washes down the meds with a swallow of ice water. It burns his injured throat.
“Don’t worry, Mr. McGavin. Vincent may be a rookie and a little gruff but he’s a good cop. He’ll find out what happened.”
“I’m sure he will.”
Carl tosses and turns all that night, too many questions. Did Igor kill the Ellington woman? Why didn’t Katarina contact him directly? Does he really have a daughter? And where does he start looking for answers? By morning, he is bleary-eyed from lack of sleep. Around noon, Margo brings his lunch and sets it on the bedside table in front of him. She checks his IV. “The doctor says you’re looking good. You’ll be out of here in no time.”
“If this stuff doesn’t kill me first.” Carl eyes his lunch suspiciously. Margo laughs. On her way out, she almost runs into officer Richards. He whisperers something in her ear and Margo give’s Carl a sideway glance before leaving.
“I’m not happy, Carl.” Richards stands at the foot of the bed, his hands in his pockets. “The forensics boys found human remains in your house. You lied to us old friend.” Carl is quiet. They were never friends but he doesn’t have much choice now but to confide in Richards.
“You were a rookie when I transferred to Austin, Matt, but I’m sure you heard the rumors about why I left New Orleans.”
“I never cared for hearsay.” Richards smirks.
“For the most part, the rumors are true. I did get involved with a witness. Her name was Katarina Sereda. Things went south, I got shot up, and Katarina left town. I never saw her again. Then, yesterday, a woman named Martha Ellington showed up at my door. She claimed I have a daughter and Katarina is the mother. But someone must have planted a bomb in her purse to keep her quiet because she blew up right in front of me. Those are the remains you found. It was probably the same guy who shot me in New Orleans. Katarina’s husband, Igor Sereda.” Carl is winded. This is too much talk for his condition.
“That’s one hell of a story there, Carl.” Richards rubs his back with his right hand. “You don’t have anything else on this Ellington chick?” Carl shakes his head. “Then, it’s a dead end? So to speak.”
“For now, but I’m going to find out who did this.”
“Now Carl, that’s how you got in trouble last time. Let us handle this.”
“I’m not going rogue again, Matt. I just want to be involved. I might have a daughter out there. I can’t ignore that.”
A hospital tech barges in and closes the door behind her. “Officer Richards, I have a message for you.” Before she can take another step, Richards draws his right hand from behind his back. He holds a Walther PPK pistol with a silencer and shoots the Tech in her head. She falls without a sound. Richards pulls a second gun with his left, a police issued 9mm Smith & Wesson, and aims it at Carl.
“You never knew when to let things go.” Officer Richards fires the revolver.