CURVE BALL

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Chapter Forty-Seven

Billy Dee was never fast. As a kid he was compared to old Sherman Lollar, the White Sox catcher who had to hit the ball to the fence to reach first base. He moved as quickly as he could all the while feeling pain shoot through his side. He was wheezing when he got to the elevator bank and saw the door sliding shut. “Hold it,” he ordered.

Whoever was inside didn’t respond. There was about three feet of space before the door closed. He kicked it. The door stopped. It stayed that way for a few seconds. He kicked once more. The door rolled back. Decision made.

“Hey you could have lost your foot,” said a man wearing grey scrubs. “Dr.” was embroidered next to a name.

Billy Dee gave him a look. “Yeah, I could have,” and punched 7.

The elevator clanged and banged its way upward. Its movement stopped somewhere between floors 6 and 7. The light in the car flickered and for a few seconds went dark all together before sputtering on again.

“Shit,” Billy Dee said, “this happen often?”

The doctor was huddled in the corner. He looked pale. “I…I,” he gulped, “I…”

Sweat trickled down his face. He slowly collapsed to the floor. “Doc, get a hold of yourself. Look, I’m pushing the red button.” Alarm bells went off. “Help is on its way.”

The doctor after much effort looked up. “Last week… I was …an hour…a fuck’n hour… before I got out. Some damn fool…. kicked the door.” He put his head down between his knees and moaned.

Billy Dee turned to study the control panel. “Is there a phone?” The doctor didn’t answer.

“Okay, then.” He took out his mobile and dialed the hospital number. He heard the connection being made. “Hello, hello?” Silence. He glanced at his phone and saw the words ‘No Service’. “Shit.” He stole a look at the doctor. “Hello,” he spoke into the phone. “The elevator is stuck between floors 6 and 7.” He pretended to listen. “Okay,” he said after a minute, “we’ll sit tight until you get here.”

He put the phone in his pocket and took a step toward the doctor. “They’ll be here in a few minutes,” he said, “we just have to wait.”

The doctor didn’t look up. “Liar, you didn’t talk to anyone. Nice try.”

No sense arguing with the man especially when he was right. “How long have you worked here?” Billy Dee asked.

The doctor didn’t answer.

“Look we might as well talk. You might feel better.”

“I doubt it. I freak out when I’m confined.”

“I can see that. What’s your specialty?”

The doctor looked up after several seconds. “I’m interning in emergency medicine. This is my third week.”

Before he could ask another question, he heard a scream and then a loud thump. He looked up at the ceiling. The car shuddered and the light flickered again. The elevator moved. Within seconds the door opened. There was a mass of people in front. Some were shouting, others reached in and pulled him from the car.

“What’s going on?” He asked.

He and the doctor were led to a room near the elevator bank. A large man wearing a badge and a security company patch on his arm talked into a walkie-talkie. “We pulled the two off the car,” he said, “they’re not injured. I don’t know about the other.”

“What other?” Billy Dee asked. He moved toward the security man and flashed his police identification.

The man put his walkie-talkie down. “Come with me.”

They climbed a flight of stairs to the 7th floor. The elevator door was open. Billy Dee peered into the shaft and saw the top of the car he had been in. A body of a man was sprawled on it.

“What the…? What happened?”

The security guard, whose nameplate read McNulty, shrugged and took out a pad from his back pocket. “The nurse on 7 said a cop was up there asking about a patient who had come in with gunshots. She told him the patient was about to go into surgery and he had to wait. She left her post and was gone according to her no more than 5 minutes. Alarm bells went off. She had been down the hall and came running back.” The guard flipped a page from his notes. “She saw the elevator doors were open, but there was no car. She looked down and saw the same thing you just did.”

Billy Dee looked at the body that rested on top of the elevator car. “Holy shit.” He turned away. “Where’s the nurse?”

The walkie-talkie went off. McNulty listened and said, “yeah…yes…uh-huh…” and gave him a look. He put his radio down. “You better call for back-up. We can’t find the patient.”

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