William Doonan

I write books and stories.

MedicineLand: Chapter Twenty-Four

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Julia glanced at the clock at the far end of the pool.  She swam fast to make the next lap a quick one.  It was her habit to swim fifty laps a day, usually evenings after work.  Today she felt slow.

She cut her workout short after the next lap when she found Rocky at the edge of the pool with a bottle of wine.

“Hi, sweetheart.”  He uncorked the bottle and sat cross-legged as he poured.  “I had a look at another house today.  Remember Patty Hearst?”

“Yup.”  Julia nodded.  “Brainwashed bank-robbing heiress.”

“Right, so there’s this house on W Street, right by the overpass, where half the Symbionese Liberation Army hid out for almost a year.”

Julia squinted.  “Is it a nice house?”

“No.”  Rocky handed her a towel as she climbed out of the pool and sat next to him.  “Piece of crap, but we could pick it up cheap.  Phil Antiste has the listing.  Remember him, he was at the Christmas party?”

“The one with the mail order bride?”

“Right.”

“Why would you want to buy that house?”

“Why?  We could buy up all of Sacramento’s architectural infamy: the Patty Hearst hideout, the Dorothea Puente murder house, the governor’s mansion.”

Julia sipped her wine.  “Why is the governor’s mansion on a list of infamy?”

“You know who the governor is, don’t you?”

“Yes, but he hasn’t done anything evil yet.”

“Give him time.”

Julia laughed.  “What about the thing I asked you about?”

“You mean about how babies are made?”

“Are you in that much of a hurry?  Can we just give this issue more time?”

“I’m teasing.  I did a property search on that property you asked me to search.  And you were right, there was a surface reality and a subsurface reality, which took some contacts and some favors to get to.”

“I never doubted you.”

Rocky nodded.  “Remember Condor Nyle?”

Julia’s cell phone rang and she let it ring.  “No.  Wait, wasn’t he one of those old time movie actors?  Always played like a butler to the mad scientist?”

“That’s him.  He also did a couple of werewolf movies in the 30s but didn’t do much after that.  He never got any real parts after that so he drank a lot, and found solace in a life of homosexual exploration.  He died around 1970, deeding the little that remained of his fortune to the Ruth Black Foundation.”

“Interesting.  There was a Ruth Black Foundation even back in 1970?”

“Yes.  His estate bequeathed the glorious sum of $11,490 and a rundown residential compound down off of Route 99 called Condor’s Nest.  It had an assessed value of $140,000.”

“So the Ruth Black Foundation took control of the property.”

“It did,” Rocky said, “but the foundation didn’t have the capital to pay the balance of the mortgage, which was about $39,000, so it went to probate.  It would have been sold at auction but several charities and a bakery stepped in and paid the tax bills.”

Julia took a larger sip.  “What charities?”

“You’re more interested in the bakery, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” she said, “but I’m a patient woman.”

“I can’t remember.  I have the paperwork inside, but I’m thinking American Cancer Society, some women’s organization, and I think, South Sacramento Wildlife Fund.”

“South Sacramento Wildlife Fund?”

“There’s a kind of rare badger lives there.”

Julia smiled.  “And the bakery?”

“Fergus Donut and Pie, down in Galt.”

“You’re joking, right?”

“I’m not,” said Rocky.  “I checked into it.  They make donuts and cakes exclusively for the California Department of Corrections.”

“And pies?”

“Apparently they don’t do a lot of pies anymore.  It was a genuine mom and pop bakery, but it was bought out by one of the large flavoring corporations in West Sacramento.  Now it’s huge; they have a division inside Pelican Bay Prison.  Inmates bake cakes and earn credits at the prison store.”

Julia’s phone rang again, this time with the emergency chime.

It was Mom, sounding excited.  “What are you up to tonight, dear?”

“Just hanging around and…”

“Listen, how about you come down here to the hospital?”

“Why Mama?”

“A man died this afternoon.  Apparent drug overdose.”

“How sad.”

“Yes, and he woke up in a freezer about an hour ago.”

“Say again.”

“He woke up.  He got hold of a surgical saw and ran around the morgue trying to attack people.  Then he died again; it looked like an embolism.  He appears to be more dead this time.”

“What exactly does that mean?”  Julia rushed into the house to get dressed.

“I’m not sure.”

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Written by williamdoonan

February 28, 2013 at 9:58 am

Posted in Fiction, MedicineLand

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