“What are you doing in this town?”
“Why am I tied up?”
“We ask the questions. What are you doing in this town?”
“I need a hospital. I’m dying.”
His face hurt. His mouth blossomed in a bruise. Had he tried to fight them once off the bus?
The room was small. He was in the corner tied to the chair. The same two cops sat, one on a desk, one in a chair.
“You don’t really have to answer the questions. We already know you did it. This is just procedure is all.”
“The bus driver told us how he found you. And how he took your gun away. He was very helpful. Brought you right to us.”
“He was taking me to a hospital. I need to see a doctor.”
“Hospital? We don’t have any hospitals. Not around here.”
“How did you get shot?”
“I was shot?”
“I don’t know. It just happened. I was walking down the street and…”
“I don’t know. I don’t remember the name.”
“Listen. I’ve never been here before. I was working a case, followed some man’s runaway wife here. And now all of this shit.”
“License is in my wallet.”
“Who’s the man?”
“Name of Hollinger. Can I get a smoke?”
One of the cops puts places a cigarette between his lips and lights it. He takes a couple pulls then the cop takes it back.
“Funny that. He’s the one you killed.”
“I didn’t kill anyone. Besides, Hollinger lives back East.”
“Yeah? The dame on the bus identified him for us. Her husband. Said you followed her home, killed her husband and forced yourself on her. She shot you. Then you tried to make your escape with her in tow.”
“That’s not how it happened.”
“Right. Like we’re supposed to believe a hole magically appeared while you were walking down the street.”
“It’s the truth.”
A fist hits him in the jaw. He can feel it shatter like fine china. All goes black.
A set up. It has to be. Nothing else makes sense. He’s just some patsy some woman fingered on a bus so she could make her escape. You can never trust a woman. Especially one who doesn’t mind the sight of blood.
“So you were telling the truth after all. The dead man- not Hollinger. Just some rich man passing through.”
He can finally feel his hands again. They still haven’t untied his feet.
“Glad to see good honest police work at its best.”
“Don’t be smart.”
“You letting me go?”
“Yeah, just sign the paper work, collect your belongings and you’re free to go.”
“Any chance on getting a ride to the hospital? I’m still bleeding here.”
“About that. We were telling you the truth- no hospitals around here. Better luck next time, eh?”
He signs the papers without bothering to read them. Takes the envelope from the front desk holding his wallet, some loose change and his cigarettes.
The sun is shining as he leaves the precinct. It must be tomorrow. He lights a cigarette, takes a deep pull, coughs and spits out some blood.
He looks down, he’s not bleeding as much as he was. The hole looks nastier though.
Better luck next time, eh?
He sits down on the concrete steps. The cigarette burning freely between his fingers.
“Oh, excuse me.”
A honeyed voice. A white handkerchief falls on the step next to his foot.
“Can you pass me that? It fell out of my purse while I was looking for my lighter.”
He looks up at her.
“That hole doesn’t look so good. Want a lift to the hospital?
She laughs- cold, metallic. It cuts straight to his heart.
“I was of the impression that there were no hospitals around here.”
“Don’t be silly. They’re on all the post cards. Get in.”
He follows her down the steps to her car. He watches the buildings pass in a blur. She drives without speaks. He closes his eyes, the pain from his stomach crawling to the rest of his body. He sighs and lets himself drift and be driven away.