In My Bed
Spider Monkey’s POV
I-5 North out of Los Angeles
I let Chase deal with the traffic while I focused on keeping all of us out of jail for the rest of our lives.
I’d had some time with Chase and his brother Sawyer while Carson was ferrying the men to the airport. I liked his big brother, he was calm in a crisis and didn’t mess around. Our little liberation exercise was going exactly as planned until Vic was shot twice. We all were involved in a robbery that resulted in the deaths of seven men, and our car contained millions in cash. We went through everything that could tie us to the crime, one by one.
The first was the U-haul. Traffic cameras were the likely cause, so I hacked the system and froze the cameras during the times we drove from the staging area to the warehouse and back. We talked about extending the blackouts to when we returned the truck to the store. Sawyer thought that would just draw attention to what should have been a routine transaction; since I was the one picking it up, and I didn’t look like I was knocking off a violent motorcycle gang, I should be all right.
“Will the clerk at the rental place remember you,” Sawyer asked.
“Probably, but only because of the stories I told when renting and returning,” I said. “If they don’t have the license plate number to tie to the robbery, it will seem innocent enough. If they look hard at me, my fake identity will crumble. All it would take would be a visit to my ‘apartment’ that doesn’t exist.” They agreed, and I put my alternate identity back into the hidden compartment in my bag.
All of the guys were wearing black clothes, gloves, and hoodies, so even if a camera saw them, they wouldn’t be able to identify them.
That left the blood. “With DNA, won’t they be able to identify Vic,” I’d asked.
“Doubtful,” Sawyer said. “He’s not in the databases because he has a clean record. We need to keep it that way. If he gets arrested and they take a sample, he is going to jail for a long time.”
“What about if they run the blood samples through other databases? I saw some true crime shows where they are using sites like 23&Me to solve cold cases by identifying relatives to people who they have DNA samples of.” I looked at both of them, and they looked at each other. “What about his family?”
“I’m pretty sure they aren’t in the databases, but there isn’t much we can do about it right now. When he’s recovered, he can warn them not to use those services,” Chase said. It didn’t give me a warm fuzzy, but we couldn’t go back and clean up his blood now.
The weapons they had used were packed and on the plane with them, and Sawyer promised he would take care of them. The full-auto weapons would result in a long spell in prison if seized, so they would end up in a very deep lake back home.
As we drove out of town, I took the Mariko’s credit cards back out. Transferring money from reloadable Visa cards, I paid off the balance and closed the accounts. I canceled the insurance on Mariko’s car, and donated it to a local charity. I sent a text to my friend with the apartment; the innocuous-sounding message told him to close out the mailbox and provide the key and title to the charity when they came. Before we hit Burbank, Mariko was a ghost again.
“How long is he going to be out,” I asked Chase as I looked back at Vic lying in the back seat.
“A few more hours,” he said. “We’ll swap drivers and get gas and food when we get away from town a little. I need to check his chest tube and make sure his bleeding is stopped.”
“If he was in a hospital, how long until he could go home?”
“At least a week,” Chase said. “We’ll have to trade off monitoring him, and we still have things to do. We hit the Sons hard today, but we can’t let our boot off their necks.”
“I have more ideas, but I don’t want to use cell data out here. I’ll wait until I get home,” I said. “I have nothing going on, I could drive now if you want to read more of the files,” I said.
“It’s all right. We’ll have plenty of time for research as we’re holed up in your house. Can you take some vacation time, maybe call in sick?”
“I kind of did, I said my mother broke her hip and I was going to be out for a couple weeks,” I said. It was as good an excuse as any for my sudden disappearance.
He reached in his pocket and handed me a digital thermometer. “Can you take his temperature? I need to watch for signs of infection.”
“I bet, the back of a moving van isn’t the most sterile surgical environment.” I took the thermometer and lowered my seat back before unbuckling my belt. We were on a fairly straight section of road, and traffic was finally letting up as we got to the edge of the metro area. I moved our bags behind my seat, then climbed back on top of the bags of money that filled the area between the back and front seats. I climbed between, then laid down on the bags in front of Vic. I wiggled around, moving some of the loose bundles underneath me to make it more comfortable. I felt a little like Huell in Breaking Bad, taking a rest on the money pile.
I looked over at the man who I’d become close to in a very short time. He was such a big guy that his knees were poking the back of the passenger seat, while his head was tight to the door. I adjusted the blanket covering him, then put my hand on his face. He felt a little warm to the touch, and I turned the thermometer on and worked it under his tongue. While I waited, I pushed his salt-and-pepper hair off his temple, tracing the edge of his hair with my finger. I continued down, tracing the scars on his neck and down to his shoulders and chest. His body was scarred heavily, as I’d found in my explorations while I waited for him to recover for the next rounds. When I asked him about it, he was evasive; he said he had fought in several wars, but he didn’t want to talk about it.
I traced the four parallel lines that carved from his left shoulder onto his chest, the raised scar tissue covering his pectoral muscle. So much pain in his life, and now he’d been shot twice. I hoped to God that he would be able to stop all this and settle down now that we had liberated all this money. I wanted to take this beautiful man to a beach, making love in a cabana as the waves roll in. No, better… one of those bungalows built over the water, with a thatch roof and windows open on all sides to the ocean breezes. A big bed, making love on the deck as the sun sets, diving in the waters, yeah, that’s more like it.
The beep of the thermometer broke me out of my daydream. I pulled it from under his tongue and looked at it. “One hundred point four,” I told him.
“Low-grade fever, that’s to be expected,” Chase said. “I need you to monitor his temperature for me. I gave him a dose of antibiotics, but if he spikes, I’ll have to try a different one.”
“Don’t you know?”
“I can’t exactly take him to the hospital, Spider. I have to deal with what I have in my bag for now.”
I hated the thought of it going bad. There was nothing I could do while driving, so I pulled back the blanket from him. “I’m going to lie down with him, that way if he has problems or spikes a fever, I’ll feel it,” I said.
“Just be careful of his chest wound,” he said as he looked in the mirror at me.
“Please, I’m just a tiny thing.” I skooched until I was lying on my back, my legs in front of his and clear of his thigh wound. I pulled the covers back over us as I rested my head on his bicep. I moved his other arm over my waist and relaxed into him.
I fell asleep to the sound of him breathing.
“Spider, wake up,” he said as he stopped the car. I opened my eyes; we were at a gas station. “Go use the restroom and buy some food and drinks for us. I’ll pump gas then switch when you return; I don’t want him alone out here.”
“All right,” I said. I sat up, turning to check Vic’s forehead with the back of my hand. He didn’t feel feverish, but I’d check when I came back. I moved back into the passenger seat, making sure Vic was covered up along with the bags, then got out and stretched. “Where are we?”
“Kettleman Station, we have another couple hours to your place,” he said. He put a reloadable Visa card in the pump and started to fill it up.
“There’s an In-N-Out burger over there, we should just drive through. There are few things in life I trust less than a gas station burrito.” He laughed as started to clean the windshield. “I’ll drive the rest of the way.”
He had picked a gas pump at the far end of the station, not wanting people around, and so I hit the bathroom and picked up some Starbucks and a bag of sunflower seeds. He was just finishing as I got back out, so I got in and adjusted the seat way forward so I could drive it up to the entrance to pick him up. He messed with the bags in back so he could even get in my side, then I drove through and got us some tasty burgers, fries, and he got a big shake.
The drive back was pretty good, traffic picking up as we got closer to home, but we beat the late rush hour. News radio was full of stories about the raids this morning. We were saddened by the loss of the officers, and shocked that the leaders weren't caught. “Can we pull into your garage,” Chase asked.
“I’ll have to move my motorcycle,” she said. It was a double garage, and I parked in front of the door. I got out and unlocked the side door, then moved my Harley in front of my Ford Focus. I went out to his car and soon had it parked inside with the door down. “How do you want to do this?”
“Leave the cash in the car for now; I’ll get it after Vic is resting again. If you can grab my medical bag and open up the doors, I’ll get him out of here.”
“You can’t carry him alone,” I said.
“He’s waking up,” he said. I looked in, and his eyes were blinking open. “Easy, Vic. You’re safe. We’re back at Spider Monkey’s place.”
He opened his eyes, searching for me, then smiling when he saw me. “Baby?”
“Welcome back, Vic. Don’t get shot again, you scared the hell out of me.”
“Sorry,” he said. It took a few minutes for Chase to carefully lift and pull him until he was standing naked on his good leg. I ran ahead, making sure the doors were open and the path was clear.
“Where do you want him,” Chase asked.
“My bedroom, of course,” I said. I ran ahead, turning down the sheets.
“Open the bathroom, I need to change his bandages and check the wounds first,” Chase said.
“Good, because I have to piss like a racehorse on a flat rock,” he said. After he used the toilet, I spread a towel on the vanity for him to sit on, then went back and closed everything back up. When I returned, Vic was grimacing as Chase used alcohol and cotton balls from my medicine cabinet to clean the blood from the gunshot wounds. “Damn that stings,” he said.
“It beats an infection,” Chase said. I handed him his doctor’s bag, and he soon had him bandaged up again with a pair of boxers and a T-shirt on. He gave him more antibiotic pills and painkillers, then we helped him to bed. He was asleep in moments. Chase went back out to get the rest of the bags from the car, while I took a quick shower.
He had them stacked in the spare bedroom when I came out, wearing a Steel Ladies T-shirt and cotton shorts. “Feel better?”
“Much. I’m beat, I’m going to lay down with Vic for a bit, then I’ll start working on the next form of our water torture.”
“I think I’ll take a shower too. I’ll wake you up when it’s time for dinner, I’ll get something delivered.”
“You need me to get you some cash for that,” I teased.
“Funny. No climbing his tree until he’s medically cleared,” he said as he closed the door.