Chapter 11: Bad Decisions
“David!? Get off me!” Lenora wriggled from David’s grasp, struggling to her feet.
“What are you doing? Are you crazy?” David shouted over the still playing music, somewhat dulled by the scene around them. “He was going to shoot you!”
“No he wasn’t! He didn’t! He didn’t even fire it!” Lenora protested, turning her back on David and running over to the black coat’s prone form.
She didn’t expect David to understand. She barely did herself – but when she locked eyes with the black coat for that brief second, she saw the blue of them and a long-held memory surged to the surface.
It was him!
She could hear David padding up behind her as she got to her knees and looked him over. There was so much blood here, and she couldn’t tell what was from the body beside him or from the black coat himself. She moved some hair from his face and he let out a groan.
“Lenora, get away from him!” David went to grab her arm and she shook him off, spinning on her knees to face him.
“David, we have to help him!”
“Help him? He just killed like eight people!” David’s eyes were wide with horror.
Lenora could feel the doubt in his eyes – not about the black coat, but about her. He probably thought she was going crazy.
Why shouldn’t he think that? Lenora painfully accepted the logic of the situation. She had to approach this differently. She had to take a breath and calm down.
“David… do you remember how I was … found?”
David flinched but nodded, albeit impatiently. “Yeah, the doctors said you just appeared on their doorstep. Why?”
Lenora looked at the black coat and then back at David. “HE’S the one who found me. He brought me to the hospital.”
David’s mouth dropped open. “How do you…? Are you sure…? But he’s…”
Lenora nodded, and then slowly bent to take up one of the black coat’s arms. “Please, David, Help me. I… I owe him one. Please.”
David shifted his weight from foot to foot, looking longingly at the door and then back to Lenora’s pleading eyes. Lenora could see the indecision there.
“No! He’s crazy!′ David got to his feet, shaking his head wildly.
“Please David I can’t carry him, Please!” Lenora shouted over the music, grabbing hold of his pant leg. Her eyes were wide and she held onto him for dear life, her other hand clenched onto the stranger’s coat.
“Ohhhhh, fine.” David groaned, quickly taking up one arm and together they hoisted the man to his feet. Lenora let out a relieved gasp.
Lenora bit her bottom lip as they half-dragged him towards the entrance. Half way across the floor, they heard the blaring sirens, and past the still bottle-necked front doors they could see the red and blue flashing.
“Shit.” David muttered, looking around for another exit.
Even as they turned to try a back way, the crowd behind them parted and dozens of uniformed men poured in and within moments they were surrounded by police.
Lenora went pale, and she was sure that David would be able to feel her trembling even through the half-conscious body between them.
“Hey, you kids!” A gruff voice froze them in their tracks.
A man came around them – a great gray mustache and beard framing a boxy face with deep set eyes. He looked like he should be part of a biker gang instead of sporting a badge. Lenora gazed at him in wide-eyed fear.
“Where the hell you goin’?” He snapped
Lenora opened her mouth to respond, knowing that anything she said would only come out in stutters and whimpers. However, before an awkward sound could escape her lips, she heard David speaking.
“We were trying to get out and our friend got hit by a stray bullet, sir, we just want to get out of here. The front door was packed and –“
“Well it’s cleared up now. There’s emergency response on their way, but I’d recommend getting a cab or finding a ride. You should hurry up kids, don’t just stand there, he’s bleedin’!” The cop took David’s shoulder and started turning him and therefore the rest of them, towards the door. Meanwhile, his free hand waved several other cops away from them and towards the doors.
As implied, the doors cleared for them. All the while, Lenora expected them to exit the street into an ambush, guns trained on them like criminals with cuffs brandished. She expected people in the crowd to cry out in recognition and run away from them.
But the ambush and accusations never came. Lenora peered about her as dozens of people were pushed to the side by officers to let them pass. Lenora saw several people look at them curiously, or with covered mouths at all the blood – but there were no pointing figures or outcries against the stranger that she and David dragged through the crowd and out into the damp Cellar City air.
She could feel David’s eyes on her, silently begging for an explanation, but Lenora found that she couldn’t give him one. She didn’t know what was going on other then David’s ploy had worked. To these people, the Dark coat was nothing more then a victim in the brutal assault on the club.
As they were released onto the sidewalk, Lenora spared a glance to David over the dark coat’s bowed head. Her friend was scouring the people, no doubt looking for Renee. As she looked however, something else caught her eye; a mark on the back of the man’s neck.
As Lenora peered at it, trying to decipher the word past the damp locks of brown hair, she heard Renee’s approach like the clap of thunder.
“What the hell!” Renee shouted, moving like a freight train of anger in their direction. “Don’t you ever run off like that! What were you both thinking!?”
David and Lenora both gave her matching helpless looks as the man between them groaned as if on queue.
“Shit!” Renee took a step back in alarm, as if noticing the man for the first time. Her eyes went to Lenora, then to David and back again to the man. “Who the hell is he?”
“He got shot.” David replied, the low desperation of a whine in his voice.
“I can see that – where are you going with him? Leave him for the emergency crew.” Renee crossed her arms impatiently, holding her ground among the shifting throngs of people.
“He could die!” Lenora pleaded. “Who knows when the emergency crew will get here!”
“They could get here tomorrow morning for all we know.” David muttered, eyes narrowing at her sister, some hidden meaning shifting beneath the green eyes.
Renee shifted uncomfortably, and glanced out into the street.
Lenora followed her gaze and saw Renee’s junker parked a block down, just past the accumulated cop cars.
Emergency Crews in Cellar City were mostly volunteers. The budget mainly went towards the maintenance of the upper level and the support struts that kept Mid-Level from collapsing on them. With all the gangs and fanatic groups down here they had to keep sharp eyes on them, lest something become dangerously damaged in one of their anti-city tirades.
People willing to put themselves in harms way were hard to come across, and there was a lot of violence to keep track of in Cellar City.
One of the main reasons Cabs had plastic lining on their passenger seats. It was easier to clean after a trip to the hospital.
“Bring him back to my place.” Lenora blurted.
David and Renee both looked at her surprised. Her face flushed with embarrassment and anger. Lenora knew what was going through their minds: She wants to be alone with this guy? What if he hurts her? What if she’s trying too hard to be independent again? Should we stay with her? Should we just take him to the hospital? She’s hysterical; she’ll thank us in the morning…
“Lenora, look, I don’t mind driving him to the hospital.” Renee sighed. “I know how long it takes the EC to get anywhere. But I’m not taking him to your house.”
Lenora felt her face contort angrily. Her eyes narrowed at her friend and the words slipped out before she could stop them. “Stop treating me like a child, Renee! I can take care of this myself!”
Her eyes dropped immediately to her feet as her friends remained silent. She felt David shift his weight uncomfortably, and the man let out a raspy breath. He smelled like blood.
Suddenly Lenora thought she was going to be sick.
Keep it together. Don’t lose it.
“’Nora…” David started. She could barely hear him over the noise behind them.
The old nickname made her flinch. She shouldn’t have snapped.
Lenora raised her eyes again to Renee, who was looking off to the side, jaw set angrily. Her arms were still crossed, and wisps of pink and gold flitted about her strong face. Lenora could see the battle raging in her eyes.
“…I’m first-aid certified because of work.” Lenora began. “I have a kit at my apartment.” She hesitated, chewing her bottom lip for a moment before continuing. “…I will have the police on speed-dial if anything goes wrong –“
“-And you will call us right away, right?” David interjected urgency in his voice.
Lenora looked over at him and smiled, relief smoothing away the angry lines at the corners of her mouth. “Right away.”
David and Lenora both looked over at Renee, who was now tapping her foot. She had closed her eyes to think, brow furrowed. After what seemed like ages of standing there in the street, Renee turned and started stalking to her junker.
David and Lenora exchanged looks and followed as quickly as they could after her. As they walked, Renee finally spoke again.
“Fine. But I want him out of your house after he wakes up.”
“Yes, mom.” Lenora tried to sound playful. David’s lip twitched in a bit of a smile, but Renee didn’t take it as well.
“I’m not your fucking mother.” She spun on them, a finger pointing an inch from Lenora’s nose. “But I am your friend. SO I am going to trust this stupid decision of yours. To a point.”
Lenora was startled by the intensity, and clamped her mouth shut against any retort. Even David was dead silent as they all piled into the dilapidated 2030 Ford Helio four-door.
Half an hour of the most tense silence Lenora had ever experienced passed, the stranger’s legs stretched awkwardly on the seat next to her and his shoulders and head on her lap. David was in the front seat, and spared more then a dozen looks over his shoulder to check on them.
The stranger breathed shallowly, arms and legs dead weight on the seat. With his head turned away, Lenora lifted a trembling hand to brush away some of the hair that was clinging to the back of his neck.