The Angel of San Diego

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Chapter 32 - Epiphany

Robin woke up in a hospital bed. As his eyes began to focus, he could see that he was hooked up to a lot of machinery. Focusing hard, he read the I.V. bag. The sticker said: “Robin Oracle.” He closed his eyes again.

Oh, my God. It was all a dream! I’m just Robin the homeless cadaver; Dr. Noah’s experiment with no powers, no Nancy and worst of all, no Malissa.

“Robin! You’re awake! Thank God!”

He opened his eyes again. There above him appeared the Auburn Angel.

“Hello, dream girl, come to say goodbye?”

“No, silly, I’ve been waiting for you to wake up,” there were tears in her eyes.

“But if I wake up, you’ll be gone and…”

“Is this the way it’s going to be all our lives, Robin?”

“What do you mean?”

“You always seem to wake up thinking that your life is a dream.”

Robin’s head cleared. He knew he was awake. The Auburn Angel was leaning over him with her face close to his. He tried to reach up with his left arm and pull her closer to him so he could kiss her and a searing pain shot through his chest. It was then he remembered the explosion.

“Oh, No, I’ve ruined Nancy’s car!”

“What are you talking about?”

“I left it idling while I went to get a newspaper and it must have overheated or something because it exploded.”

Malissa kissed him. When she pulled back, there were more tears in her eyes.

“You don’t understand – she loves that car. Now what is she going to drive in the rally next month?”

“It’s all right, Robin,” said Nancy. “The rally isn’t for another six weeks. Besides, I’ve already decided to be Hawk’s copilot. We’ll be using his car.”

“But you loved Betsy, and I destroyed it.”

“No, Robin…” she began seriously.

“It didn’t overheat,” said a familiar gruff voice, “somebody put a bomb in it.”

Robin looked up at Lt. Hawk who had appeared at Nancy’s side.

“I beg your pardon?”

“You lost a lot of blood, son. A twenty-eight-inch piece of Nancy’s car went into your back and stuck out the front. Fortunately, it missed your heart, but it did puncture your lung. That pump you hear is keeping your lung inflated until the wound heals,” Lt. Hawk said.

“We’ve been worried about you, dear,” Nancy choked up and had to turn away.

“So that’s what this annoying rubber tube in my side is for,” Robin said.

Lt. Hawk managed a weak smile.

“Yeah, The upside is that it means you get to spend a lot of time on your back,” he paused for a moment and said seriously, “I’m glad you’re staying with us a while longer, Robin. We weren’t sure you were going to make it.”

Robin looked at Malissa’s tear streamed face and said, “Hey! There’s no way I’m leaving Malissa – she’s the best dream I have ever had.”

“There he goes again,” Lt. Hawk raised his hands and quickly dropped them again, “Next thing you know he’ll be dancing around the room.”

“Or the room will dance around him,” said Nancy.

Lt. Hawk gave her an annoyed look.

“Well, you never know, Hawk,” she teased.

“Wait a minute. Did you say bomb? Do you mean somebody tried to kill me? – Of course! Jake!”

Lt. Hawk explained, “We believe it was him. There’s not much left of the car that can tell us anything, but we’re sure it wasn’t someone who has it in for Pacers.”

“We were afraid something was going to happen,” Malissa was still trying not to lose control over her emotions, “but we never thought it would be a bomb.”

“You stole one of his toys, so he’s not too happy with you. Those newspapers tagged you and he wants revenge. Fortunately for you, he used a timer device,” Lt. Hawk said.

“How would he know what time I would be driving?”

“He didn’t. He used a timer that is only activated when the ignition is on. That kind of thing is handy when the bomber doesn’t want anyone to know when or where the bomb was placed because it could link him to the deed.”

Malissa added, “You left the car running when you stopped to get a newspaper – it saved your life.”

“So, if I hadn’t left the car running when I went for the paper I’d…”

He looked at the Lieutenant’s serious expression. Hawk finished Robin’s sentence, “You’d be dead.”

There was a short silence in the room except for a vacuum pump running under his bed. Robin didn’t think to ask about it because he was digesting Lt. Hawk’s last statement.

“Don’t you mean dead again?” Noticing that no one laughed he sighed, “Maybe I should give up trying to be a psychic. I didn’t see it coming.”

You were wearing your gloves,” Nancy explained.

“You had no physical contact with the car. If you had, you would have known about the bomb,” said Malissa.

“Besides,” Nancy continued, “You did have the feeling of urgency to stop for a newspaper and leave the car running, so, something was working in your favor.”

“Yeah, they call it, ‘dumb luck’,” Robin said.

“You know,” Lt. Hawk began, “It wasn’t too long ago that I would have believed that and thought you three were just lunatics. Today, however, I’d bet on Nancy’s explanation as a sure thing.”

Nancy looked at the Lieutenant, “Thank you, Hawk. What a nice thing to say.”

“Just don’t tell anyone I said that or I’ll be headed for the rubber room.”

They all laughed. Robin gasped in pain. It hurt to laugh.

“Oh, my God…!” Robin exclaimed.

Malissa looked worried, “What’s wrong, Robin?”

“Carter. Jimmy Carter. He came to the office asking me a lot of questions.”

“The President came to see you?” Malissa asked.

“No. Not him, the funeral guy. You know, Ichabod Crane from the gravesite.”

That Jimmy Carter,” Lt. Hawk said sarcastically, “What kind of questions?”

“All about the investigation… It was his idea for me to touch the evidence from the crypt.”

“A good idea too, I wish I had…”

“No,” Robin interrupted. “He wasn’t trying to help us; he wanted to know if we knew about him!”

“What do you mean, Robin?” Nancy asked.

“His name may be Carter now, but it used to be Cartier. That torture chamber is in his family crypt.”

“Anybody got a phone?” asked the Lieutenant.

Malissa handed him hers, “When are you going to break down and get your own cell phone, Hawk?”

“It’s on order,” he said as he dialed his office.

“I thought you weren’t supposed to use those things in a hospital, Hawk,” Robin said casually.

“So, write me a ticket. Tinker…? It’s Hawk. We need to bring James Carter in for questioning. Yes, the funeral guy. I’m on my way over to the funeral home now. Meet me.”

The Lieutenant ended the call and gave it back to Malissa. “Thanks. I’ve got to go check this out. I’ll be back later.”

“Bring me one of the surgical instruments or a door handle from the inner crypt – or better yet, both.”

“Are you sure that’s wise? You need to build up strength. The last time…”

“The last time,” Robin interrupted, “Malissa wasn’t around to help me control myself. It’ll be okay this time.”

Lt. Hawk looked at Malissa and she nodded, “It’s okay, Hawk.”

“All right, I’ll bring them by tomorrow. Maybe we can solve this case at last. Did you get any feelings on whether or not this Carter is the second man?”

“I was so creeped out by his appearance that I refused to shake his hand or touch anything he had handled in the office. I even put my gloves on to avoid the door knob’s imprints.”

“Too bad, it might have saved Nancy’s car,” Lt. Hawk said.

“Okay, rub it in, but how would you like to shake hands with a mortician with my gifts; especially one who looks more like one of his customers than the undertaker?”

Lt. Hawk shuddered, “I wouldn’t.” With that, he left the room. As the door began to close, Robin noticed they had posted a guard at his door.

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