Matt was anxiously waiting for seven o’clock. The mention of pizza and video games had him excited enough to be on his best behavior. I sent him through the shower and helped him hang a few of his shirts in the bathroom to steam out the wrinkles. Matt’s toothpaste and hair gel were in the cabinet by the sink, but none of Dave’s usual products. Granted Dave only uses a few items, his razor, bar soap and an all in one shampoo, his cologne but any product Matt or I could want for was there waiting for us. Where was all of Dave’s stuff?
“You know if you leave some of your clothes here, after a few weeks you won’t need to bring anything when you visit. You can just hop on the helicopter and come see me.” Matt seemed unusually quiet to me. The oddness of our situation was starting to affect him.
“Yeah, that would be a lot easier. Do you don’t think anyone will mind if I leave some of my stuff?” Matt asked.
“Not at all. I will always have a place for you wherever I live. I know it’s sudden, maybe a little strange, but this is our second house. We just need to adapt. You’ll see it will be fine.” I set a few towels on the sink and left Matt to shower.
Dave found himself a beer in the fridge and went out on the back deck to drink it. I followed him outside, and we stood together, quietly taking in the scenery. He usually avoided alcohol, any type of it really. Drugs were his problem if you could call what he had a problem. He had a few run-ins with the law as a teenager and worked on a construction crew in his early twenties, there was some recreational drug use going on. He had rehab and meetings, and all the crap that goes along with that. I figure boys will be boys, but he has kept up with his meetings and helped others with their addictions. His addiction was greatly over-exaggerated in my opinion, but I find his effort to help others was noble.
“The mother of the tall gunman is threatening to file a civil suit against us once the criminal investigation is over. She’s waiting to see if it goes to trial first,” Dave explained solemnly.
“On what basis? Her son attacked us, not the other way around,” I protested.
“She can claim that we shouldn’t have killed him. That it was excessive. At least that’s what I have been told.”
“Does Nick think she could actually win? Was the guy even working, isn’t that what they base the suit on, a lifetime of lost wages?”
“I don’t know about all that. Nick has suggested that we do a few things to protect our assets, mainly Matt’s college money, and our retirement fund. He strongly suggests we decide this weekend.”
“Tell me what you need me to do, and I’ll do it. I got us into this huge steaming pile of crap. I’ll do whatever I have to so we can get out.”
“Look we got into this together. I could have yanked that ring off your finger or done any number of things to change the outcome. There’s no use whining now. What’s done is done.” Dave tipped his beer back slowly. I noticed he was using his left hand to hold the bottle. The wound on his right arm must still be bothering him. “Your ring, you’re not wearing it?” Dave pointed at my hand with a confused look.
“Yeah sorry, it was cut off my hand. I need to get it repaired.” I could tell the lack of ring bothered Dave, so I tried to change the subject. “You know, we moved to Cold Falls to help your mother now that she’s in a nursing home she doesn’t need that kind of help. We can sell our house and move you guys closer. There has to be an assisted living home in the area. Maybe a nicer one than the one she is in now. We have to move her too.”
“Yeah, mom has no love for the place she’s in now. She’ll move without a fight. I can handle moving our stuff. It’s just that Nick thinks we should legally separate all of our finances. Have no joint accounts of any kind. If we don’t own anything together, he says he can make it look like we were legally separated before the restaurant thing happened and we may not lose all our assets if we’re sued.”
“That makes sense I guess, they would go after me. I’m the one that pulled the trigger. If Nick is able to do that, then let’s do it. Put everything in just your name. That house isn’t going to sell for much in this economy. I don’t want us stuck in a big mortgage on a new place.”
“Nick has that all figured out too,” Dave replied.
“What else does Nick want you to do?” The path of least opposition was starting to emerge. The effort of bringing all these things together in such a short amount of time was frightening. I could imagine the fallout if I didn’t go along as I was expected to.
“Nick suggested we get a divorce. He said something about it being backdated. I don’t know exactly what he is planning, but I told him I wouldn’t consider it. He suggests stuff that I’ve never even heard of, and it’s no big deal to him. It’s just a normal day at the office to him. These people are deceitful.”
“I have had some dealings with Nick’s boss, I’m sure that’s where Nick gets these wild ideas. Are these the only things he wants you to get me to agree to?”
“Yeah, that pretty much covers it.” Dave looked down at the deck and pushed a loose board back into place with the toe of his boot.
“Nobody needs to know that we’re doing this David. I would keep my name, your name, and no one would be the wiser. We’re not married because a piece of paper says we are.”
“Actually, that’s what our marriage certificate is for sweetie.”
“Legally, but a piece of paper is not what keeps people together. It’s more than just a fling status on our taxes. We are together because we choose to be.”
“I know what you’re getting at, but I am not considering it. It took some work to get you to agree to marry me the first time.” David looked at me and smiled and then little by little his smile faded.
“They sure fixed all your cuts and bruises fast, your hand and your face?” Dave slowly moved closer and brushed my shirt aside to expose my stomach. “Your skin looks fine, how did they do all this so fast? I’m no medical expert, but this isn’t normal.”
“No, it’s not. They have some really advanced stuff going on. Look at the scar on my head. They use some kind of glue to keep the wound closed, it’s amazing.” I turned around and stepped back into the full sunlight giving him a good view of the scar on the back of my head. “Wild isn’t it?”
“Yeah, I’ve never seen anyone heal up as fast as you have.” There was no explaining away my quick recovery; I just had to change the subject again.
“David, if we do what they want, all the legal problems will go away.”
“Sweetie that’s a big gamble. With the trials and the retrials. We could do everything they suggest and still lose everything.”
“I have something they want. I’m ninety-nine percent positive if we do as Nick suggests the legal hassles will vanish. I was told Nick would take care of everything. I cooperate with them, and you let Nick do his part. This will be over soon. We can figure out a way to have a life together after that.”
“It’s too much. I don’t even understand how all this happened.” Dave knocked back the last of the beer in the bottle and stared out across the green field in front of us.
“What’s too much dad?” Matt was standing in the doorway fixing his freshly gelled hair in a small mirror on the kitchen wall.
“Oh, just the view and the whole base, it’s too much to see in three days.” Dave recovered coolly.
“Ms. Calynn is that you back there Ma’am? It’s Misty I’m here for Matt.”
“Yes, it’s me. I’ll come around to the front door.” Misty had arrived fifteen minutes early to collect Matt. She had a few other children with her.
“I wanted to come by early and fill in a few items they missed this morning. Matt this is Crystal and Jaden they are new to the base too. Crystal has the first house right off the dogleg path. She will be walking home with you and Jaden later tonight.”
“I didn’t even know there were more houses over there?” I commented.
“Yes, there is another pod down the path if you follow it all the way out you reach the lowland stables.” Misty pointed toward a low hill in the distance.
“I heard someone mention the horse stable, but I haven’t seen it yet.” Matt wasn’t listening he was obviously distracted by Crystal. She was about Matt’s height and a beautiful little girl with dark red hair. She was a tomboy by looking at her grass stained jeans and the plain black shirt she was wearing. Jaden was a mischievous looking little boy, clean and well kept, maybe two or three years younger than Matt.
“You should all take the morning orientation; it’s more of a walking tour really. It will help orient you to the base, make it easier for you find your way around. You know they forgot to write down your cell number on Matt’s form.”
“Oh, I’m sorry I don’t have one right now. I’ll work on getting a phone number assigned to me.” I explained.
“No problem, do you have a contact number of someone on base. Miss Ann maybe, she never leaves.”
“Really, she never leaves?” It felt like I was gossiping but I was shocked.
Misty looked surprised at my question. “Not that I know of, and I’ve been here five years.”
“She did say she would be here all weekend. Sure, Ann or Doctor Gerald. The medical lab is where I spend most of my time.”
“Good enough. Does Matt have any food allergies or medications he takes? Anything we need to keep an eye on?”
“No allergies, no medications but if he gets out of line just send him home.” I purposely replied loudly enough for Matt to hear me.
“Mom, now why would you go and say that I am a pillar of self-control.” Matt tried to look as mature as possible for his audience. I took him aside to whisper a word of warning.
“Yeah, I know how wobbly that pillar gets. You behave like a gentleman, or I’ll hear about it. This place may look big, but it’s very small when it comes to bad news.”
“Relax Mother.” Matt quickly kissed my cheek and turned to go with Misty. She had a flashlight for each one of the children, it looked like they were off to trick or treat.
“He should be home by midnight.” As I closed the door, Misty was pointing out the color of the light poles. “See how the light poles in this area are green, this indicates a domestic only area. All outside noise is kept to a minimum in these areas. There are three shifts; you never know who is a day sleeper so we have to travel quietly through domestic areas.”
Dave yawned as he walked back in the house. “Do you know that woman, you handed Matt off to her like she was family.”
“Misty, she’s harmless, a very sweet girl. She’ll keep an eye on him. I’m not worried.”
“It’s been a long day. I’m going to head to the shower. I smell like burnt airplane fuel.” Dave tossed his duffle bag onto the bed and pulled out fresh clothes. He took off his shirt and sat on the edge of the bed. The wound on his arm had been weeping. He carefully pulled the gauze and tape off before stretching the injured limb. The wound site looked angry and red.
“Is that infected? It doesn’t look too good. Does it hurt?” I questioned squeamishly.
“This damn thing won’t heal. The hospital gave me a shot and some pills, but so far they haven’t helped. It still hurts like hell when I move it.”
I let my mind clear and felt the familiar tingle on my skin. “David, you had asked me what I do. I can show you if you want.”
“Sure,” Dave looked puzzled, he started to stand up, but I put my hand on his good shoulder to coax him back to the bed. I took my long sleeve shirt off to expose the skin on my arms and sat in front of him on the floor.
“Watch my arm.” As I began to concentrate on his wound and the sick, hot pain from the infected gash. I heard Dave gasp. I could feel my arm rip and felt the uncomfortable throb of the skin around it.
“My God Calynn how can you do that?” Dave questioned in amazement. I finished my parlor trick and the angry looking cut on my arm vanished, but I had an odd taste in my mouth as if I had licked a dirty penny. There was more wrong with him, but I didn’t know what.
“You can fix people? Why are they saying you’re dangerous?” Dave questioned.
“What I can do to help people is easily reversed to harm them. I am dangerous David. I don’t hurt people, but the reality is that I could if I wanted to.”
“No, this isn’t possible; nobody can do this kind of shit.” Dave stood up, grabbed my arm, and rubbed his thumb over my newly repaired skin.
“Careful that’s going to be raw for a few hours. I can taste metal somethings not right. We need to go see the Doctor. There may be more wrong with you than I can see. I need help to do that kind of repair,” I calmly explained.
“What kind of help, what are you talking about Calynn?”
“Energy, I can take it from people and use it to heal myself or somebody else if necessary.”
“Somebody is going to explain to me how the hell all this is possible?” Dave was yelling as he walked out into the living room. I could feel the attention of the man in the tree focusing in on me.
“I don’t know, I swear I don’t know how this happened. Let’s go see if we can get a second opinion.” As I put my shirt on I noticed large red welts on the insides of my arms. “Damn it, I guess I’m allergic to something they gave you. Come on, let’s get you looked at.”
Gerald’s house was dark. I tried not to draw any attention to my interest in it as we walked past. Dave was already on the defensive. The fact that Ivan looks like a well-aged European underwear model was not going to help my situation. We reached the lab, but it was dark. We went around to admitting and found the on-call doctor, but Ivan was not expected back that evening. I told the doctor my name and his tone changed instantly.
“Yes, Ma’am I have been briefed about your situation. What’s the problem?”
“How much has doctor Gerald shared with you?” I asked.
“He is playing poker tonight and does not wish to be disturbed except for his special patients. You always have precedence. I am to call him if you need me to.”
“If you would call him, ask him if he is losing to come help me otherwise let him know I may have come into contact with something I’m allergic to while fixing what looked like an infected cut. Ask him what I should do.”
“May I see the cut?” The young doctor asked.
“Umm well, the cut is actually no longer with me,” I explained
“Then may I ask how you came into contact with anything while dressing a wound?”
I wrinkled my nose. “It’s not that simple. Sorry.”
“All right. Sit here. I’ll be right back.” The young doctor pointed to a row of chairs in the waiting room before heading back inside. Dave and I meandered around the lobby and waited for the doctor to return.
“Matt’s having pizza in that building there, just across the lawn, in case you were wondering where he is.”
Dave stared in the direction of the technology building. “Will Matt be able to do all this too?”
“Anyone can I suppose, but I have no reason to suspect he has any of my abilities. We would have noticed by now. I honestly don’t remember when this extra stuff happened for me.” I heard loud footsteps running down the hallway. Gerald caught sight of me as he passed by the waiting room doors; he stopped abruptly and redirected himself.
“Come on let’s check you out in the lab. I’m Doctor Gerald. Cal has told me so much about you David. It’s nice to finally meet you.” Gerald’s charm was somewhat unexpected; he had a polite, albeit forced bedside manner that I hadn’t seen before. He treated me with a familiarity that bordered on condescension, but Dave was a stranger, and Gerald was professional and pleasant even likable. Dave stuck his hand out automatically to shake Gerald’s waiting hand.
“She hasn’t mentioned you to me at all Doctor, but then I didn’t get to talk to her this week.”
“Yes, I can imagine this week has been difficult for your family. I’m not looking to make it any worse. If there is something medical I can help with, please let me know.” Gerald smiled, and David appeared to warm to him. We reached the back of the lab, and I took my familiar place in the chair by the lab table. I took my long sleeved shirt off and showed Gerald my welts. Dave looked a bit queasy as Gerald pushed and poked what looked to be hives all over my arms and stomach.
“This is an allergic reaction. What did you eat?” Gerald asked puzzled.
“It’s not food. I fixed his arm. The stab wound wasn’t healing right he has had all kinds of problems with it. After fixing the cut, I could taste something metallic. I’m worried.” I explained
“That doesn’t sound too good. What medication have you taken recently Dave?” Gerald asked.
“In the past week, I have had a tetanus shot and penicillin plus some stupid anti-inflammatory pills. They didn’t work, it still hurt before, but it feels fine now.”
“Do you mind giving me a small blood sample? I can tell a lot from what’s in your blood, and we can get a scan of your arm. That would be the logical place to start looking. Did you have any broken ribs or any other cuts no matter how small?”
“Dave rolled up his sleeve and presented his arm for a blood draw. I think I had a few small cuts on my leg and one more on my hand from punching that bastard in the face. He was so thick it was like punching a brick wall. The cuts on my leg are all but gone, and they don’t look red or puffy at all.”
Ivan motioned to Dave for his hand and looked at it under a magnification light. “You know I see a slightly raised spot. See the knuckle is raised and red, but then this spot here doesn’t look quite right either. Did anyone clean this wound before it healed?”
“No, I cleaned up once I got home; the only thing they looked at was my arm. There was so much going on I didn’t give it much thought. It’s just a small cut,” David explained.
“Depending on what type of bacteria entered through that cut you may have all your problems right there. Does it hurt or has it been weeping?”
“Yeah, it’s still tender. The scab keeps popping open. It doesn’t want to stay closed. I keep it covered, and I’ve been putting antibacterial spray on it.”
“Okay let’s get blood work started. I’ll check for infection. We will need to clean that wound out before it will heal properly.”
I turned my head as Ivan poked the butterfly in Dave’s arm. “Ugh can’t I just fix it?”
“Let’s see what it is first. You’re not going to be able to get all the infection out of his blood just yet, but I can send you home with some strong antibiotics that will kill off whatever it is.”
Dave watched Gerald walk out of the room. “That doctor knows what you can do?”
“Yeah, he worked with me before, years ago when I was here the first time,” I explained.
“Before your car wreck, before you moved back to California.” The wheels were turning and Dave was catching on much quicker than I had. “The car wreck was how they wiped your memory wasn’t it?”
“Seems that was the cover story, but I haven’t been in the position to ask any probing questions just yet.”
“That’s for sure. Dave dropped his hand on mine and leaned in to kiss me. I’m sorry for my reaction I didn’t mean to yell at you. Did it hurt you to fix me?”
“No, it felt like a nasty cut when I had it, but there’s no lingering pain.” Dave nodded his head in agreement and listened as I explained, but I could tell he didn’t understand anything I was saying.
“Good news it’s a common, very treatable strain of bacteria, and I have just the thing for it. The bacteria levels suggest that there is still something feeding the infection. I could run a test that takes longer to grow, it would tell us a more, but I’m almost positive there is a foreign particle involved. If there are no objections, let’s clean that cut on your hand and scan your arm to be sure we have it all.”
Ivan took Dave’s hand and sprayed it with a topical painkiller, and we moved over to a small, well-lit table and watched Ivan assemble his tools. He carefully removed the weak scab and looked for debris. I could tell it hurt Dave a bit, as Ivan went exploring in his knuckle but finally, Ivan found a tiny piece of clear acrylic embedded in his hand.
“This looks like dental material. A veneer or a broken implant. I can close it with a couple of stitches, or you can close it up Calynn.”
I put my hand on Dave’s arm and perfect his hand being perfect, without any injury of any kind. The small cut closed quickly, but this time, the injury didn’t transfer to my hand. Dave and Ivan both gasped quietly as they watched the blood and skin return to their proper places.
“That’s faster than I can suture on my best day, we need to call you in for surgeries. I’m going to give you a strong antibiotic Dave, it should clear the infection from your blood, but it will probably make you feel a bit weak for the next twenty-four hours.” A nurse came in from admitting with a pleasant smile on her face and wheelchair for Dave she appeared to be much happier than Carol.
“Rain will take you to get a scan of your arm. While I have you here, I want to make sure they didn’t miss anything else. I must have dug two ounces of damaged tissue out of Calynn’s wounds. I can only assume the hospital treated you with the same poor level of care.”
Dave wheeled out past my view, and I was left alone with Gerald. “I picked up some sunglasses for you while I was out today. We should take a trip this week go into town and have lunch, take a walk around.”
“Yeah that sounds nice, but I doubt I will be allowed off base.”
“You leave that to me. How did David take it when you fixed his arm?” Gerald asked with forced enthusiasm.
“Not too bad. He doesn’t do well with anything remotely supernatural. He is a born-again Christian after some problems as a teenager. He’s not terribly tolerant of the unusual. He took it better than I expected.”
“Your hives have almost gone away, look at your arms.” Gerald ran his hand down the inside of my arm; the red splotches were barely noticeable.
“What do think caused them?”
“Stress would be my guess. You would have only gotten a tiny bit of Dave’s blood, so I’m leaning toward stress. You are going to have to get a handle on that.”
“Sure, I’ll put that on my list right under not siphoning the life out of people.”
“You’re making great progress. Look at what you were able to accomplish tonight.”
“Oh, before I forget I put you down as a contact person in case anything happens to Matt when he is on base. I hope you don’t mind,”
“No, not at all, I would be happy to help. You should bring him by and introduce us.”
“Yeah, I will. Thanks for dropping everything to come help me. Were you winning?” I asked.
“No, I was already down fifty bucks. You probably saved me just as much by calling. I usually do pretty well too, but I was off my game tonight.”
“It’s a full moon, weird things happen.” I could see the large, round moon through the windows at the top of the lab walls. It cast a beautiful blue glow over the loose clouds.
“I’m happy to see there aren’t more people in here tonight.” Gerald looked out over the empty waiting room. Dave made it back into the room just as his scans appeared on Ivan’s computer screen. “Looks like the arms clean there may have been some dead tissue before but Cal must have got it all. Do you guys want to take a cart back?”
“Ah, we will just walk back it’s not all that far. Thanks for your help Doctor. Sorry, we pulled you away from your evening.” Dave and Gerald shook hands before we left. There was an invisible cloud of angry testosterone floating around between them, like a mugger sizing up a victim. David glared at Gerald a bit too long. I may have read too much into the male bonding ritual, but it was odd to watch.
We walked home slowly. Dave admired the clear sky and how well you could see the stars. Once we got back to the cottage, Dave showered and fell asleep watching late night news. I stayed up and waited for Matt to get home.