Sam had awoken once again in the hospital… the right hospital this time. She had been in the appropriate room, her right hand bandaged; Kathy had been right there at her bedside and the two of them had talked.
“Why would someone do this,” Kathy had asked, holding Sam’s left hand. “Kill that man, try to hurt you?”
“I think it’s the same man from the church killing,” Sam had replied and that was when the doctor had come in. He had conveyed a very positive outlook— Sam’s extensor tendon had not been severed. The doctor expected Sam to regain full use of her hand but it would take time. Weeks, most likely. In the meantime Sam would be released, with the understanding that she would check back in one week. Sam had been in the process of gathering her things, getting ready to change so Kathy could drive her home, when Detective Barnes arrived. He had asked to speak with Sam privately. Kathy had wanted to know if the conversation could wait but Barnes said it couldn’t. Reluctantly, Kathy had relented.
“Man…” Barnes began. “Close call, huh?”
“Yeah,” Sam answered, sitting huddled on the edge of her bed, feeling exposed in her hospital gown.
“I know you already talked to Gorsky,” Barnes said. “Captain went ahead and gave the case to me though. So I gotta ask what you were doing at Elias’s apartment…”
She knew these questions would be coming. But those thoughts, of damage control, of her own welfare, had seemed inconsequential when compared to the enormity of her lover’s death.
“I had started seeing him,” she said.
“Ah, got it…” Barnes jotted notes in his pad. “How long?”
“Gorsky told me you saw the shooter. Said it was the suspect from the church killing.”
“Probably the same guy that did our other vic,” Barnes said. “You remember our buddy Abe Froman, the guy hanging from that tree, with the limb sticking out his mouth? I told you his I.D. was a fake, turns out I was right… real name was Jeramiah Johansen. An arms dealer. Trafficked everything from hand grenades to armored vests…”
It hit Sam all at once. Kronin had obviously met with the arms dealer, killed him, then took a rifle and who knew how many other weapons… as well as a bullet proof vest. When Sam had shot him at the tenement building, he must have been wearing it. If she had been able to squeeze off one more shot, a head shot, Elias might still be alive.
“Anyway the captain’s gonna talk to you a little more about all this. You know we searched Elias’s place, right? You know he was a suspect for the Acacia Avenue killings?”
“Yeah,” Sam said. “Yeah but I only found out yesterday.” Sam wasn’t entirely comfortable with how much easier it was becoming for her to conceal the truth. “He told me.”
Barnes leaned forward. “So look… it’s obvious you got close to him. If he was up to something, I’m sure you picked up on it. Hell, maybe that’s why you got close to him, I don’t know. It looks to me like our church killer took revenge on Elias for the Acacia Avenue shootings. Whatever the case, if you know anything about any of it, now’s the time to come forward. Let me help you; I’m sure you weren’t involved in what he was mixed up in but you gotta understand that it looks bad.”
For a long moment Sam simply sat there, staring at Barnes. Finally she said “There’s nothing to tell.”
“Come on,” Barnes continued but he was cut off by Kathy’s voice.
“Hey,” she said. “Detective you’ll have to finish this conversation later.” She looked to Sam and went on: “I just went and checked on Uncle Brewin. You won’t believe this, but he’s awake.”
Sam had quickly changed, promised to think about what Barnes had said to her, and headed down one floor to Uncle Brewin’s room.
The old man was ghastly pale, tissue paper-skin clinging to his bones, cracked lips drawn back from his teeth; but his eyes… she hadn’t seen his eyes in so long. Though they were bloodshot, those eyes were lucid and they widened when Sam and Kathy walked in.
“Kathy,” he said in a scratchy, frail voice. “And Sunbeam!” Brewin’s face fell, however, when he spotted the bandage on Sam’s hand.
“You’re hurt…” he said.
“It’s no big—”
“She got shot!” Kathy blurted. Sam sighed.
Brewin’s liver-spotted head plopped back down on his pillow, then moved from side to side. “Oh I’m sorry. I’m so sorry…”
Kathy stood next to the bed. Sam pulled up a chair. The old man put his hand over the side rail and waved it; she grasped his hand with her left. Brewin turned his head and those eyes locked on hers.
“It’s time,” he said. “It’s time I told you… about Eclipse.”