Sitting at my sickbed, the Big-Kahuna detective stared at me. Despite the piercing pain in my side, I made an effort to salute- my arm raised, limply, and flopped back down.
Uh-oh was the only thought drifting foggily around in my painkiller-filled head.
"What happened?" he asked curtly. From the way he said it, I knew he'd been briefed; he just wanted to hear it from my own mouth. My gaping, fish-hooked mouth.
(Literally. There was a fish-hook embedded in it- they were going to remove it later, they said.)
"Um..." Just that simple, procrastinatory word sent bright, jagged bolts of agony down my jaw. My nails- bitten down past the quick- stung even more fiercely as I clenched them tighter.
"How?" he repeated, and I knew he was losing patience with me.
"A little girl... stabbed me," I got out. It was ridiculous to be embarrassed in a situation like this- clad in a breezy hospital gown, lying in freshly-pressed sheets- but my cheeks burned anyway.
"A little girl... stabbed you," he repeated, eyes fixed on mine.
Fervently, I wished I would've bled out on that carnival-tent floor, instead of being here, disintegrating under his gaze. "Yes."
Seconds ticked by- long, painful seconds, interspersed with dull throbbing, panicky thoughts, and thoughtful finger-tapping. (On his end, of course.)
"Your fingers work," he said, more calmly than I would've expected.
With the doom-filled feeling of a cornered animal knowing it's being led into a trap, I gave him a short, sharp nod.
Once the starbursts of pain faded, he thrust a notebook and a fountain pen into my hands. "Write," he ordered.
Weakly, I considered calling for the nurse. "How'd you get in here?" I forced out.
A ghost of a smile played around his lips. "Illegally. Now, write, or I'll make you dictate it, instead."
Immediately, I fumbled for the fountain pen, uncapping it with a pop. The lines on the notepad were raised- a good thing, because I was writing blind. Raising my arms wasn't an option.
Leaning over me, he cocked his head. "Write," he said impatiently.
I was taking a break, at 2:08.
"Taking a break," he interrupted. "That never ends well. Continue."
My girlfriend called.
"Girlfriend," he mused, rolling the word around his teeth. "Name?"
Sydney Gottin. That's-
"Go-teen. I know. Don't waste time on pronunciation."
She said a walk-through carnival had been set up... about an hour from here. At the... boardwalk, I think.
Next to Tagalo Beach.
"It's an ugly name, but it's memorable. Continue."
The carnival was full. I was walking through it, with Sydney.
"What booths did you see?"
It was the one with the wooden walkway. There was an escape-room, a fortune-telling tent, and a trickster-shop.
I was walking, with Sydney, and she said we should go down to the beach and take a midnight swim. Skinny-dipping, she said.
"Skinny-dipping," he commented. "That never ends terribly."
We didn't do it, because I said I couldn't break the law. We argued. People stared. We were... in front of an ice-cream booth, I think.
"Are you adding those ellipses for dramatic effect, or because you're trying to make a point?"
She stormed off, and I didn't go after her, because I was angry, and because we didn't carpool.
I went to the ice-cream booth. I got a double-tiered cone, and I was eating it, but then-
"Mmh... anybody acting suspiciously around you?"
Derrick Jones, fifty-two. He lives in Albany, New York. I got his ID through my mobile-scanner.
"We'll bring him in."
I was eating. And, then, she ran right past my booth. I'm sure it was her. I mean, sir, she was wearing the exact same dress, and she-
"Calm down, and write slower. You're getting jumbled up."
She ran past. It was Sofya, sir. Or Maria. It was one of them.
"... I didn't know our department dealt with dead girls walking, but continue."
I sat there, for a minute, and then I followed them. We ran through the carnival- I pushed people out of the way. She ran into a weird, unfinished part. I followed.
"Did you have your gun drawn?"
Not around all those people, no.
"Stupid of you."
I know, sir.
"Well? Keep going, won't you?"
So I followed her, into this abandoned tent, and she looked at me, and she told me that she was lost.
"She told you that she was lost."
Yes, sir. She said... 'Please, Officer, I'm lost. Can you help me?'
"And you told her..?"
I asked her, 'Are you Sofya or Maria Mortiz?' And she just stared at me, and told me she was lost.
"I'm assuming that you did the stupid thing, then."
I got close. I reached my hand out, and she pulled out a knife, and she stabbed me twice. "I might congratulate her. Why in the hell would you get close?"
I don't know, sir. But I took my gun from my belt-
"And shot her, as she left?"
She was gone by then, sir.
"So you... what? Shot at another ghost?"
At the ceiling, sir. The gunshots attracted people. They found me. They called 911-
"You are 911, boy."
And... well, then I woke up here.
"What happened since then?"
Well- I was fighting off exhaustion- you came in, and you gave me this, and you humiliated me.
He studied me through narrowed eyes. "I suppose you're going to tell me that you didn't deserve it?"
"If they make the decisions that you do, then yes."
Am I fired?
"No, but you're going to be discharged from this hospital in sixteen days."
I don't have physical therapy? Or muscle damage?
He stood to leave, stretching luxuriously. "Oh, you do," he said wryly, tapping his callused finger on my forehead. "But me and the nurse- a pretty thing, she is- came to an agreement."
With that, he left, and we both did our respective jobs- he, a detective to the core, went, and terrorized other officers, and I, a man that was soon to be on desk duty, fulfilled my duty as a pilled-up hospital patient and conked out.
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Kate! I think you are a screenplay writer!! Great dialogue and pacing. For prose, maybe a little more exposition. How they sit. Facial tics. Stuff like that. The ellipses comment cracked me up. Let me know if you get picked up to write a tv pilot — I can edit your masterworks! Haha
oh, m o i? masterworks? keep it comin', keep it comin'- no, but, yeah, i did get the screenplay feel from this one. i had to search 'what do you call three dots in writing,' haha! if anything of mine ever gets published, you're definitely going to be my go-to editor. i'm glad you like this series, too- anything you want to see in the next installment? *wiggles eyebrows*
Ooh are you doing a part three? I'd love to see how this story ends! No negative or critical comments. I love your witty, dry humor that you use to, "season" the story. Perfect setup for what I feel will be an interesting, well thought out ending. Keep up the great work!
there will be ~many~ parts. no, but honestly, i'll probably stretch this series out way too far- thanks for the compliments, and for following me. :D. means a lot!
w o w. i guess i'm just productive this week, huh?