Buried Treasure

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Fever

Spider Monkey’s POV
Silicon Valley Condominium

I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of teeth chattering. Vic was shivering and covered in sweat.

I pulled the covers down; he had soaked through his clothes and into the sheets, and every place I was touching him was sweaty. I put the back of my hand to his forehead; he was burning up. He was still sleeping, but he had the chills, and his shivering had woken me up.

I rolled out of bed, grabbing my phone. It was two in the morning, about twenty hours since Vic was shot twice during their attack on the Sons of Tezcatlipoca building. I opened the door and ran to the guest room, banging on the door. Chase had said to monitor him for a spike in his fever. “Chase,” I said as I heard him moving around. “He’s burning up.”

“Damn.” He opened the door, dressed in scrub bottoms and a white T-shirt. He moved past me to the bedroom, grabbing the thermometer off the bedside table and giving it to me. “Check his temperature, I have to remove the bandages and check the sites.” I held it under his tongue until it beeped. “One hundred and four-point-seven,” I said.

“Too high. Go get any fans you have, and make up a bucket of ice water.” I went out to get the stuff; I filled a five-gallon bucket with ice, then took it into the shower and added cold water before carrying it next to the bed. I only had one fan, a box fan I used in the garage, but I brought that in too. Chase had the bandages off and was checking the thigh wound. It looked red and swollen. “His leg is infected,” he said.

“Can you do something?”

“I have to operate.” He drew a syringe and injected it into his arm, then one more. “It’s a sedative to make sure he stays under, and another round of antibiotics. They might not work, but these are the strongest I have right now.” He reached into his medical bag and pulled some things out, setting them on the bedside table. “I need more light in here, bring in the adjustable light from behind the couch in the living room and shine the lights on his thigh. We’ll also need some towels you don’t care about, and a bowl filled with rubbing alcohol. When you’ve got that ready, wash up to assist.”

“Wait, I’m a hacker, not a nurse,” I said.

“You’re whatever Vic needs you to be right now, Spider. I have to open him back up and clean out the wound before the infection gets out of control. This is no joke; he could lose his leg, even his life from an infection, and I can’t bring him to a human hospital. Just go get the stuff, you’ll be fine.”

I walked out of the room, shaking my head. He didn’t know that I was a wimp when it came to blood. I’d gotten sick at the Fair one year when I watched a veterinarian spay a cat as part of their demonstration.

I brought the light in; it was one of those gooseneck floor standing lamps with three bright lights for reading. I set it near Vic’s feet, moving the lamps out to light up the area. I grabbed a clean metal bowl from the kitchen and poured in the contents of the bottle of rubbing alcohol from under my sink. I had some old beach towels in the hall closet; I brought those in as Chase came out of my bathroom, hands up. “Roll him onto his side and move his leg towards the edge of the bed, then put the towels underneath him from thigh to shin,” he said. I put them in place and then he had me wash up.

When I came out, he had me put a headband-mounted light and his gloves on. He then had me pull out the dirty surgical instruments from the Tupperware box in the bottom of the case and put them into the alcohol. “I don’t have enough clean instruments with me, so I have to reuse these, as much as I hate to,” he said. “Put on gloves, then take the Betadine and some of that gauze, and clean the entry and exit wounds. Start at the edge of the scabbing and work your way in a spiral out six inches.”

I did that as he grabbed a pair of surgical scissors out and cut the stitches holding the skin together. “Carson is pretty sloppy with his stitches,” he said.

“I’m sure he’d do better if he wasn’t in the back of a moving van,” I responded. “Why are you taking those out?”

“I might have missed something, dirt or clothing or a piece of the bullet. I’ll clean it out again and pack it so it can drain. See the yellow stuff? That’s pus building up.”

“Gross.” I stood between him and the table as he opened the skin up again, handing him instruments as he asked for them. He spent about fifteen minutes digging around in there before he was happy; he packed the wound with gauze and left the skin open, covering it with a bandage. “What now?”

“I’ll wipe off the instruments and put them back in my bag, and you can toss the trash and the bloody towels,” he said. With that done, we used the ice water to soak the sheet and turned the fan so it was blowing across him. “The evaporation will cool him better than the ice will,” he said. “We just need to keep him wet.”

“Then what?”

“Then I need to use a phone, one that can’t be traced.” I went to my computer desk, pulling out a burner and returning to give it to him. He sat down on the opposite side of the bed, and I sat with him. I couldn’t believe I’d seen the inside of Vic’s leg and didn’t throw up, but it could still happen. “I need to move him to a real medical facility, Spider. I don’t have the drugs or the equipment here to properly treat him now that he’s fighting off an infection.”

I looked at him, my gut twisting at the words. “You can’t bring him to an Emergency Room with gunshot wounds,” I said.

“I know. I need to get him back home to my Clinic. I’d like you to stay here.”

“No.” I stood up and put my hands on my hips. “We’ve been through this already. I’m staying with Vic, and if that means I need to go to the frozen lakes of Minnesota, then I’ll just have to find my wool socks.” He tried staring at me, but I wasn’t having it. “Get the plane, I’m getting packed.” I turned and grabbed the bag I’d taken to Los Angeles, tossing the dirty clothes in my hamper and going to my closet to get new ones. This time I’d pack warm.

“Hey big bro. He’s running a fever, and I need to get him home quick. Can you send the plane?” He listened for a bit. “Eight in the morning is too late, by the time he refuels and we’re up in the air again it will be past ten. I’m going to try and find another way.” He ended the call as I turned around. “The pilot can’t leave until the airport opens at six. Do you know any private jet services we could use?”

I just laughed. “Yeah, normally when the Steel Ladies pop out for lunch in Beverly Hills, we order up a private jet with half-naked stewards,” I said in a Valley Girl accent. “I’m not rich, Chase. I’ve never flown in a private plane.”

He looked over at Vic. “Come on, you can help me find someone.” We went out to my computer in the living room. “We need to stay away from corporate jet services, what we need is a small charter company that flies out of somewhere close by,” I said. She looked for companies while I made calls; cash could ease the pain of an early wakeup.

We hit pay dirt on the third call; a pilot agreed to meet us at the airfield at six, and he’d be fueled and ready for a flight to Duluth. The cost of the charter was eight thousand dollars, and the six-passenger executive jet was big enough for us and our cargo. We gave him a deposit using one of the reloadable debit cards and Chase started loading up the rental car again.

I met him at the door and handed him my clothes bag and a slightly lighter bag of cash. “You’re bringing this,” he asked.

“I filled up my safe, but I don’t have a secure place big enough to store all this,” I said. “I’d rather keep it with me.”

“All right.” I had put a luggage tag on mine, and when the back was full again, I covered it all up with the blankets. I left the back door of his car open, along with all the doors in between as we went back to the bedroom.

Chase picked him up and carried him out as I locked up behind him. He set his butt on the edge of the seat, and I ran around and helped pull him so he was lying down on his side again. His fever was still high, but he wasn’t shivering. I closed the garage door behind him and jumped in the passenger seat as we drove off to the airfield.

The twin-engine executive jet was waiting, one pilot walking it down while the other one greeted us. “Good morning, sir. I need your names for the flight plan filing.”

“Nick and Grace Johnson, and Charles Anderson,” Chase said. “Thanks for coming through on short notice.”

“It’s no problem, sir. We are in somewhat of a hurry, bad weather is moving into Minnesota, and we only have a short window to arrive before the airports close. Your balance is seven thousand two hundred and eighteen dollars and twenty-eight cents.”

“I’d rather not have this show up on the company accounts, so I hope cash is acceptable?”

His eyes widened. “It’s not our normal practice,” he said.

“Not everything needs to be reported to the government or the auditors,” Chase said. He pulled out a stack of hundreds and handed it over. “That’s nine thousand, the extra is to forget who we are after you land. I don’t need my wife finding out I was at a buddy's bachelor party when I was supposed to be on a business trip. She’s close to divorcing me as it is, and I can’t afford to give her any more ammunition for her lawyer.”

The pilot smiled. “Of course, sir. We’ll get you there safely and quietly.” He took the money and put it in his jacket as he walked away. Vic had woken up, so Chase helped him walk to the plane and up the stairs, setting him into a seat and buckling him up.

The luggage compartment was open, and Chase started loading the bags as the pilots finished their preflight checks and filed the flight plan. When it was all stowed, I drove the rental car into the lot and parked it. Going inside, I approached the young man manning the desk. “This needs to get back to the rental car return at the San Francisco airport,” I told him. “Do you know anyone who could do that for us? I’ll pay for the help.”

“My brothers can do it,” he said. We agreed on a price of a hundred dollars each, and I handed over the keys and rental papers. I walked back out to the plane, where the pilot was waiting for me. As soon as I was inside, he closed the door behind me and went back into the cockpit.

I sat down in the big leather seat across the narrow aisle from Vic; the jet had six seats, we were in the two facing forward. Vic had fallen asleep again; his seat reclined part way. The four behind me faced each other over a small table, and Chase was buckled in behind me. “Pretty damn nice,” I said as we started to move.

“You’re rich now, Spider. We have to be careful about how we use it so we don’t attract attention, but you can afford a few luxuries now.”

I looked out the window as we taxied. “I didn’t do this for the money, Chase. I would give it all back if it meant Vic didn’t get hurt.”

He reached his hand back and took mine. “You’re a good woman, Spider. What we did was righteous, and it prevented war from breaking out between the Brotherhood and the Sons. You’ll never have to buy another drink in any Clubhouse after this.”

“I could buy everyone drinks in every Clubhouse after this,” I said. “I just want to take Vic and spend some time together, someplace warm and private.”

“I know.” He pulled out his phone and made a call. “Doc, it’s Chase. I’m bringing one of my guys in; he’s got an infection after puncture wounds to his thigh and chest. I’ll need transportation from the Duluth Airport, and I need you to bring what you can to treat on the way.” I couldn’t hear the response. “Yeah, we’ll bring him to my clinic. Don’t say anything to them; it’s a surprise. Thanks, Doc, we are expecting to land at twelve-twenty.” He ended the call.

“Who was that?”

“A doctor in the area I trust. He’ll bring more supplies, then take us to my clinic so we can treat Vic properly.”

“I get to stay with Vic?”

“I’m sure Roadkill and Possum will give you a guest room at their place, but you can be with him at the Clinic as much as you want.” We took off, the acceleration like being on a Harley that kept going faster and faster. We lifted off with the rising sun and headed east.

“Get some sleep; I’ll keep a watch on Vic,” he said.

I reclined both our seats until they were more like beds, then took Vic’s hand and fell asleep to the drone of the engines.

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