Bus Stop


One tube fed saline into my right hand and another fed O2 into my nose. My shirt was missing, so were my shoes. My neck was bandaged and it hurt like hell. Aw dammit!

I remembered two things: the flash as his tiny pistol fired and the burn as the bullet passed through my neck. Dammit!

A tweed cloud eclipsed the overhead lighting. Must be Detective Sergeant Linihan, Irish tweed even in 90 degree weather.

“My, my, what has happened to my favorite nosey PI?”

“Fuck off, Linihan, unless you brought flowers,” I said in a sandpaper voice.

“I’ll go get some in a minute.”

“Bastard shot me for no reason.”

“They said you were brought in around 10 AM with a gunshot wound to your neck. The bullet entered your neck in the front about an inch from the side and exited at the back, passing under your carotid artery. Sounds like the artery dodges better than you do.”

“Real funny.”

“If that bullet had done its job, idiot, you and I wouldn’t be talking now. You’re stable, in no danger. Best case, you’ll be out of here in a couple days. So, who shot you, Sammy?”

“Street name Jimmi,” I said. “I was in Mickey’s pawnshop to get some papers notarized when Jimmi came in to do his shoplifting thing. We’ve clashed before. Must’ve thought I was there after him and he panicked.”

“Where can I find him?”

“Other than somewhere around Mickey’s, I dunno.” But I had an idea where I might find him.

“We’ll talk later. You be ok?”

“Up and around before you know it, Stew.”

No one was around; an emergency case down the hall was attracting all the attention. I settled back and fantasized on nasty ways to get even with Jimmi.

I sat up to look for a blanket that was warmer than my sheet. Nothing, just white tile and antiseptic everything. A mirror was screwed to the wall; let’s go see what I look like.

I swung my legs over the side of the gurney. The meds made the room spin for a second. I grabbed the IV hat-stand and shuffled to the mirror. White bandages around my neck like a formal collar, swollen like the mumps, only lower. A little bruise starting to show and maybe a black eye later. I’d had worse in the Army, minus the gunshot.

I found a summer weight cotton blanket in a cabinet, white with blue highlights, and wrapped it around my shoulders. I removed the oxygen hose and placed it on the gurney and went to the door of my room. I needed a real bathroom, not the pee bottle.

The ER was a U shape with treatment rooms along the U and a nurse’s station in the middle. At the far right end, closer to the ambulance dock, I could see Intensive Care. Apparently, the crisis that had made all the commotion was over. Me and my hat stand shuffled quietly down the hall to get a better look. PI’s are excessively curious.

It looked like the ER medical staff was elsewhere. Some guy was still on the big ER table, hooked up, plugged in and bandaged, but the big round overhead light and all the monitors were off, and no one was attending to him.

Cancel Christmas, this guy was cooling to room temperature.

I shuffled closer. Under all the medical ornaments, I recognized this guy.

I bent over to examine the end result of a bad accident. His head was smashed and dried blood was everywhere.

“Hello, Jimmi. Stop a bus?”

Jimmi had been whacked pretty hard. I tried to feel sorry for him, but I couldn’t. He was an aggressive street beggar and was several genes short of human. And, remember, he had just tried to kill me.

“Sorry I wasn’t here earlier, Jimmi. I’d liked to have stood on your oxygen hose for a while. Well, timing is everything, isn’t it?”

“What are you doing here? Get back to your room so I can prep you for the CT.”

“Never mind the wheelchair, nurse; I’m feeling better already.”

~ fin ~

Michael Chandos is the pseudonym of a retired engineer who spent 42 years in space operations and engineering, and intelligence, the last at Air Force Space Command in Colorado. He's published in military history (see Psywar on Amazon) and in government documents that no one will ever see. He's active in independent films and volunteers with the Colorado Springs Police Department. He's a member of MWA, RWA/KoD and SinC, and has at least two stories out at any one time. This is his second story for Shotgun Honey.