The Hardleys, Skippy, and a loopy Pepe arrived at Bay City General Hospital first. The waiting room was empty save for a man in a black trench coat, who eyed them suspiciously from the corner.
“I hope he’s not a flasher,’ Pepe slurred, jerking his head toward the corner.
‘Probably not,’ Joe whispered back. ‘The elementary school’s out for summer.’
They waited for the rest of the group to appear, and soon the waiting room was filled with teenagers, cops, middle-aged men, and a humiliated stockbroker. Ferris Hardy spoke to the head nurse, and she took him and the two officers into another room. A few minutes later, Ferris returned to the waiting room and the cops followed the nurses to the emergency room.
‘She’s in surgery, and not exactly stable,’ Ferris said. ‘ Once she’s out and in a room and slightly conscious, we can talk to her. My officers are guarding her right now. I’m guessing we’ll be waiting for a while, so Sean, Skip, and Pepe, why don’t you go home and we’ll call you when we know anything. We could be here all night.’
They all agreed, and Frank and Sean exchanged phone numbers.
‘We’ll be in touch!’ Frank said, waving them goodbye.
‘Come on, fellas,’ Ferris said.’ Let’s hit the cafeteria. I’m sure the ambience is lovely, and dinner’s on me. Plus I brought my flask.’
‘Smooth move, Mr. H!’ Titus said as the walked down the stairs to the cafeteria. The man in the trench coat followed them down with his eyes.
After a semi-satisfying but much-appreciated meal and several whisky shots apiece, the four men were in better spirits. Ferris leaned back in his chair just as an officer rushed in the room.
‘Oh there you are!’ the officer cried. ‘I’ve been trying to find you. Renee, or- uh- Lisa- is awake and in Room thirteen.’
‘What do you mean?’ Frank asked. ‘Renee? Lisa?’
‘She had two separate drivers licenses,’ the officer said. ‘We don’t know which one, if either, is real. And she’s not in great shape, so I didn’t want to quiz her. She might not have much time, the doc said. At least her brother got to see her.’
‘Her brother?’ Joe cried.
‘Goddamn it, Lopes,’ Ferris said angrily. ‘We were supposed to talk to her first, you inbred twat. Now her testimony could be compromised!’
‘Sorry, Chief,’ Lopes said sheepishly. ‘At least let me take you to her room.’
As they entered the waiting room, Joe spotted the trench coat man running out to the parking lot. ‘Hey!’ he shouted. ‘There goes that creepy guy!’
‘That’s Phil, the brother,’ Lopes said. ‘He seemed very upset. He said he wanted to call the rest of their family.’
‘That is, if he really is her brother,’ Titus said. ‘ And if his name is really Phil.’
‘Oh, and one more thing,’ Lopes said. ‘She isn’t really a redhead.’
‘What?’ Frank cried. ‘You peeked up her gown?’
‘That’s fuckin’ sick, dude,’ Titus grumbled.
‘No, no,’ Lopes said, grinning. ‘She wore a wig. A real nice one. The docs didn’t notice it until they checked the back of her head for wounds. They left it on.’
‘One more nail in the coffin of her alibi,’ Titus said. He closed his eyes and intoned ‘O Fortuna! Why have you forsaken my soul?’
‘Huh?’ Ferris said, confused.
‘It’s just his philosophy shit, Dad,’ Joe said. ‘It gets him focused in stressful situations.’ Titus drew deep breaths as they walked down the hall and into room thirteen. Lisa/Renee was propped up in her hospital bed, with an IV drip in her left arm and an oxygen tube under her nose. She was quite attractive, Joe noted to himself. Pepe will be bummed he missed this.
She opened her eyes, shimmering with hatred. ‘You!’ she croaked, pointing to Joe with her free arm.’ I should have killed you!
‘ Easy, Goldilocks,’ Titus said, looking at the pain medication dripping into her veins. ‘I want some of the shit she’s getting.’
‘What did you do with the stuff you stole?’ Ferris asked her angrily. ‘You probably don’t have much time. You might as well tell us.’
‘’We know what you did,’ Frank added. ‘ You stole our friend’s car. We’ve got the keys you left in it. You seduced Lucas and broke into the Murchison’s’ office. How did you know about the place and the passkey?’
She stirred in her bed. ‘That Wall street dickweed Sean-‘ she muttered. ‘ I could tell he was rich. Just needed to- get him drunk- ask questions…’ Her voice trailed off.
‘So you waited until everyone was asleep so you could clean out the office?’ Joe asked.
Renee nodded, coughing. Blood trickled from the side of her mouth.
‘Where is the stuff?’ Ferris pressed her.
‘Woods,’ she whispered. ‘ You’ll be-too late.’ Her head slumped and her heart monitor started beeping.
‘She’s crashing!’ Ferris yelled. ‘Get the nurses!’
Lopes ran out in the hallway, calling for help. Seconds later, a team of medics appeared with a crash cart. Titus and the Hardleys jumped into the hallway to get out of their way. Ferris followed them as the team began CPR.
‘Dad,’ Frank said. ‘We’ll go search the woods. The stuff has to be near the crash site.’
‘Hopefully we’ll get there before this Phil bastard gets away.’ Joe said. ‘And don’t send the cops right away. We don’t want to scare him off. Or get him to start shooting.
‘Smart, Joe.’ Ferris said. ‘I’ll stay here and monitor our little friend.’
A minute later, the trio was on the road, hoping to find Trench Coat Phil.