The Favor

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Chapter 22

A woman at the information desk in the emergency room directed Simon and Jane to the fourth-floor surgery waiting room. Unlike the hum of activity in the emergency room, the long hallway to the bank of elevators in the main building was eerily silent. When Jane and Simon exited the elevator, she spotted two men—one in uniform—in an alcove to the right. She nodded in their direction. “I don’t see a sign, but my guess is that the waiting area is to the right.”

Simon said, “The man on the left is Agent Ryan Chaffee. I haven’t met the police officer.”

“He looks familiar. Unless I’m mistaken, he visited the club on more than one occasion.” The thought made Jane uneasy. Would he recognize her, or would he call her out as an impostor?

Agent Chaffee stood when he recognized Simon. “Simon, sorry to bring you out this early in the morning.” He motioned to the officer. “Officer Alekos Castellanos is one of the officers assigned to Springer’s case. If Duffy survives, he, or another officer will remain at the hospital until we separate fact from fiction about the warehouse shooting.”

The officer said, “I’m not a formal kind of guy. Call me Al.”

Simon shook Al’s hand. “Al. I’m happy to see the police involved. Do either of you know how serious Duffy’s injury is?”

Ryan responded. “The EMT s didn’t expect him to make it to the hospital. He’s damn lucky one of the hospitals most experienced trauma doctors happened to be at the hospital at two in the morning checking on one of his patients.”

Jane felt light-headed. The tension of the last few days had finally caught up with her.

Simon noticed. “Why don’t you have a seat Jane? After I ask Ryan a few questions, I’ll see if I can find a coffee machine.”

She nodded and took a seat facing Ryan and Al.

“As I’m sure you have guessed, the young woman with me is Kathryn Owens. She’s been through a hell of a lot, so show her some respect while she’s grieving. Duffy’s wife and daughter are deceased. Kathryn is the closest thing to family he has.”

Castellanos snapped, "What are trying to pull Enright. That woman isn’t Kathryn Owens. I spent time undercover trying to collect enough evidence to slap Springer with corruption, bribery and blackmail charges. Kathryn Owens was the manager of the club. The real Kathryn was painfully thin, blond and blue-eyed.”

Simon said, “It’s amazing what a make-over can do. I’ve known Kathryn since we were toddlers, Al. I assure you that woman with me is Kathryn Owens.”

Kathryn said, “I’ll be happy to remove my tinted contacts if you want proof, Officer Castellanos.”

Al stared at her. “I suppose I will have to take your word for it, but man I could swear that I’ve never seen this woman in my life.”

“That was the purpose of my makeover. I didn’t want to be recognized, especially by Springer or his cohorts.”

He cleared his throat. “This damn case is getting under everyone’s skin. I would have sworn on a stack of bibles that Duffy wasn’t violent. I grew up going to Duffy’s deli with my dad. The man’s a legend in the neighborhood. Since his disappearance, the officers who know him have put in hours trying to locate him. It’s a damn shame that we didn’t put that SOB Springer behind bars before Duffy decided to mete out his own form of justice.”

Ryan said. “We don’t know what happened in the warehouse, Al.”

“Whatever happened wasn’t good.” He sighed. “I need to take a break. How do you take your coffee, Kathryn?”

“Black.”

“Ryan? Simon?”

They both shook their heads.”

No one spoke until Al stepped into the elevator, then Ryan defended him. “Al has been pushing for the department to bring Springer in for questioning for months. Because of the way Springer’s murder went down, there will be unanswered questions about the number of his associates alive and dead. Al doesn’t like loose ends. His frustration is making him edgy.”

Simon countered, “Springer outsmarted the brightest of the Bureau and NYPD.”

Ryan ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. “I can’t argue with you.”

“Why don’t we concentrate on what’s important. The text sent to Jim was brief. Is there anything else Kathryn and I should know?”

“You know as much as we know. If Cooper and I had followed Sprinter and Garcia into the warehouse, we could testify to what happened.” He paused before adding, “Another costly mistake.”

“It could have turned into a bigger tragedy. Both of you could be dead.”

When Kathryn realized that Agent Chaffee couldn’t couldn’t add anything to what she and Simon already knew, she zoned out of their conversation. She wasn’t interested in speculation or playing the blame game. When someone could give her the facts, she would listen. Her time was better spent praying for Duffy’s recovery. She didn’t surface until Al handed her a Styrofoam cup of coffee.

“All forgiven?”

She shrugged. “There’s nothing to forgive, Al. As long as you don’t say something deliberately hurtful, you have the right to say what you think, and I have the right to disagree.”

“Well said.” He shuffled across the room and eased down in the chair he had vacated.

Kathryn had taken a few sips of the coffee when a man wearing a lab coat entered the waiting room. Before speaking, his gaze scanned the room and then settled on Al. “I was told that Mr. Duffy is a suspect in a murder case. Is that correct Officer.”

“Yes, I’m here in an official capacity and so is Agent Chaffee.” He gestured toward Ryan.

“Let me assure the two of you that Mr. Duffy is not a danger to anyone. He is unconscious and will be for hours.”

“What about Mr. Duffy. Can you guarantee that a visitor won’t try to end his life? I’m here to protect the hospital and Mr. Duffy.”

“Visitors will be restricted, but as a precaution the nurses in ICU will accommodate your needs if you choose to monitor his room.” He zeroed in on Kathryn. “My name is Dr. Axel Schneider. Are you related to Mr. Duffy?”

“No, Dr. Schneider. He is my mentor and friend. To my knowledge, he has no living relatives.

“Simon Enright, the gentleman on my left, is a security consultant.”

“And your name?”

“Kathryn Owens.”

His expression wasn’t encouraging. “Ms. Owens, gunshot injuries can be difficult to treat. Mr. Duffy was not an exception. His blood loss, tissue damage and collapsed lung added to the difficulties our trauma team encountered. My major concern is his heart. We had to restart his heart during surgery, so it’s possible that his heart may not be strong enough to sustain the battle ahead. There is also the possibility of infection. The next few hours are critical. He will be closely observed.

“He is being moved to ICU at this time. When he is settled, one of the nurses will let you know.”

Kathryn said, “Thank you Dr. Schneider. Am I permitted to stay in his room tonight?”

“At best, it will be several hours before he regains consciousness.”

“It doesn’t matter. I still want to be with him.”

“Are you prepared to see him tethered to an IV, connected to monitors and attached to breathing equipment?”

Kathryn fought to keep her voice steady. “I am.”

“One of the nurses will give you a pillow and blanket. If you you can’t deal with his present condition, you will be asked to leave.”

“Understood.”

“Now, unless you have further questions, I need to call it a day.”

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