William Doonan

I write books and stories.

MedicineLand: Chapter Fifty-Five

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“I need you to get back to the lab,” Julia told Carson.  “The police are going to be here any moment.”

Carson slid the van door open.  Tim Murphy had changed one of the flat tires and filled the other with sealant.

“Will you please not take all of those guns?” Julia asked.  “This is bad enough without you hurting yourself.”

“I’ll be fine.” Carson rose up into the van on the hydraulic wheelchair platform.  He bent forward as the shotgun caught the roof panel, pivoted on the back of the chair, and connected with his behind, lifting him before it tumbled onto the driveway.  “Safety first,” he said.

“You were right,” Julia told him.

Carson made his way to the driver’s seat and turned the key in the ignition.  “About what, Professor?”

“About the X chromosome.”  She walked around the van and reached through the driver’s side window, put her hand on his.  “For all of the strange things we’ve seen and heard over the past couple of weeks, this much we can at least be sure of, there is at least a genetic trigger somewhere on the X chromosome.”

“It’s not fragile either,” he said.  “It would be sturdy, and evolutionarily very old, maybe three million years.”

“I was thinking seven.”

He turned to look at her.  “You know why Millicent Sorrow’s powder didn’t work on me, don’t you?”

She nodded.  “Because you’re genetically different than most men; because you have muscular dystrophy.”

“That’s right.”

“So it’s near the centromere.  Carson, we could finish the whole X chromosome array.  If we worked around the clock, how long would it take us to task Prometheus through the whole X?”

Carson grinned.  “Maybe seven weeks.”

“Too long,” she said.  “Working around the clock?”

“Nine days?”

“What are you, Scotty from Star Trek?  Give me a serious answer?”

He shrugged.  “I don’t know.  I’m tired of guessing, but I’ll get on it as soon as I’m done with the job at hand.”

“No.  You’re not going to go see Ruth Black,” Julia told him.  “Let Rocky take care of this.”

“Fuck Rocky,” Carson blurted out.  “You want me to sit this out, then fuck you too.  I got poisoned and kicked out of my own vehicle.  And you think all I can do is sit behind a computer?  Well I can do more than that.”  He put the car in gear and backed up.

“Please,” Julia called after him.  “I’m sorry, Carson.  That’s not what I meant.  I don’t want you to get hurt.  And you don’t have bullets for any of those guns.  The bullets are locked up in the basement.”

Carson held up the lock picking kit his uncle had given him years back.  “And locked up very well, I might add.”

Julia rushed inside, passing Tim Murphy who was busy tidying up, putting away the remaining weapons and ferrying pieces of Adam’s elaborate still to a plastic bin that would be hidden behind a basement wall.  She found Rocky in the den.  He was standing at the closet leafing through an open file cabinet drawer.  She felt him stiffen when she hugged him.

“Rocky?”  She put her hand on his cheek but he pulled away.

“What?” he asked stiffly.

Julia took a step back and felt the tears come to her eyes.

“I’m sorry,” he said.  “I’m sorry, sweetheart, but this has me on edge.  You know, when you marry someone for better or for worse, it starts out with the assumption that death is the worst.”

Julia nodded, still upset.  “I know.”

“And I can’t do police,” he told her.  “Never could.  I wish you had told me you were going to call the police.”

“It wasn’t something planned, but you know, we had to do something.”

“A little warning,” he said firmly, returning to the file cabinet.  “I have to stay here.  As does Tim.  I have to find the copy of his gun permit.  The police will be asking for that since he shot a man. And then it’s going to be a mess.  And I have to find Billy too, which I can’t very well do right now.”  He slammed the file drawer shut.  “I’ve got three major real estate proposals before the state right now.  The governor will be looking at them this week, so it’s not a good time to be embroiled in a scandal.”

“I’m sorry,” she said.  “I know I brought this on, but it’s not something I saw coming.”

“I’ll be telling the police you weren’t here,” he said.  “So I want you to take the old pickup from the barn, right now, and drive the back road around the rice field.”

She nodded.

“Don’t come back here.  Don’t go to work, and don’t go to the condo in San Francisco either.  The police might want to talk to you.”

“Rocky, I think it’s not just the police we need to be worried about.”

He stared at the computer screen.

“I know you won’t be happy to hear this but I need to find Ruth Black.  I need to find Karen.”

Rocky took a Cite Loana cigar from the humidor, the anniversary cigars.  “I know you do.  And I’m going to help you do that, but I have to get ready for the police first.  So keep in touch with me by phone.  Use only the code numbers.  Wait for this bit to be over and I’ll help you.  If you need to run and hide, hide here.” He took a key ring from the blotter and wrapped her hand around it.

“What is this?”

“Keys.  The house is going to be under too much scrutiny for the next while.  We’ll operate from a new place.”

“Where?”

“Lundt Castle, in Napa.  We flew over it, remember?  We’re trying to buy it from the state.  We’re doing some appraisals, so we have keys.  And it’s unoccupied.  I’ll meet you there tonight.”

“She took the keys.

“You have to go,” he said, kissing her.  “The police are about four minutes out, so you have to go.”

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Written by williamdoonan

August 5, 2013 at 9:19 am

Posted in Fiction, MedicineLand

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