Wednesday evening, 14 minutes until sunset . . .
I’m lying down in the center of my bed, and Ricky has already started an IV in my right arm, just below my wrist. He has an electric heating blanket sandwiched between two blankets, and I’m just sitting here, waiting to die. He’s already placed the fast patches on my singed chest.
He’s taken my vitals, and noticed that my body temperature didn’t come to rest at 98.6, like it’s supposed to. He’s scribbling things down in his little notebook, and he says “Ninety-eight-point-nine,” under his breath.
“What?” I asked.
He looks up. “You’re body . . . I think . . . is trying to up-regulate your core body temperature in order to make-up for the repeated drops of core temperature over the last couple of days. Or you might just be getting some infection that I haven’t been able to locate. We probably need to get you in for a full physical tomorrow to make sure we haven’t fucked something important up.”
Bang, bang, bang!
Somebody is pounding on the door.
He and I freeze. We both glance over at the bookshelf safe. I imagine we’re both thinking that the thugs have located us. They’ll want the book and probably won’t be willing to negotiate. Maybe I should drown myself now, to avoid getting the crap kicked out of me. If I’m already dead, how bad could it really be?
Bang, bang, bang!
Ricky, he’s looking around the room for something he can use to club whoever it is that has come to torture us. He’s eying my lamp and I loud whisper, “No!” That’s the only nice thing I have in my apartment.
He slinks his way, super-secret-CIA style, into my kitchen, and grabs the biggest knife he can find. It’s neither dangerously sharp, nor dangerously long, but it gives him peace of mind.
He then signals me to throw the comforter over my head and hide. Like they won’t check the human-shaped form in the middle of the bed.
We’re so getting our asses kicked.
“. . . I know you boys are in dere . . .” Ms. Josephine’s familiar voice says, instantly calming us. “. . . and don’t you tink dat I don’t know what you’s got planned.”
Well, we’re probably not going to get tortured for the whereabouts of the Book of Sighs, but we still might end up getting our asses handed to us. She doesn’t sound too happy.
Ricky relaxes from his ambush-attack stance, lying the knife down on the counter by the sink and heads to the door.
As Ms. Josephine comes in, both of our heads lower. For me, my eyes find some low place on the wall to shamefully stare.
“We were only going to—” Ricky tried.
Ms. Josephine held up her hand, “Shush! I know what you was doin’. Dat’s why I’m ’ere.”
Ricky, his head down, he just kind of slides himself back to the bed, his feet leaving Ricky-trails in the carpet.
And then she made her way, her large purse nearly dragging her down, to the side of my bed. “You can’t do dis wit’out no lifeline. I thought I taught you two better dan dis. We ain’t jokin’ around ’ere, boys.”
And now she’s looking at me, and she’s agitated. I try to explain to her how important this is, and she listens. But she’s plenty angry at us.
“. . . Honesty is all we got. We must be truthful to each other, if nobody else. Da tings we’re doin’, dey’s much more important dan we know. So from now on, we make every effort to be up front and honest.”
Not waiting for an answer, she looks over at the patio door, and then to Ricky, “. . . what time is it, now? We ain’t got no time.”
7:33 pm . . . Ricky said, as the shadows coming in my window were as long as they’ll get before they swallow-up the remaining light.
She nodded, “Get ’im ready, den.” She looked down at me, “You got your necklace on you?”
She nods, “Do your ting, Ricky.”
The sun was falling. Hiding, really.