The emergency room at the county hospital seemed a bit too busy for a Tuesday morning. Tucked in every corner sat screaming babies with frantic mothers, homeless suffering from the heat, foreigners nursing hangovers, and Cindy with a gunshot in her arm.
She sat in the middle of a bed pushed into the hallway with her legs dangling over the edge. A gauze pad with a red circle of blood covered her arm. This part of the adventure she could have done without.
“All I found was cranberry juice,” Wallace said. He snuck up on Cindy as if she might hit him.
“Thanks.” Cindy refused to look at him. She put the bottle on her head and let the cold penetrate her headache. Wallace placed a towel on her neck.
Wallace felt sick. The shootout left a man dead, a hurt friend, and most of all, the end of a good place to stop for breakfast. Moreover, this girl almost died. So close to the age of his youngest daughter. What a mess.
“It will be just a moment more,” a nurse said. “Can I get you anything?”
Cindy opened the bottle and took a sip.
“Just let me go.”
“In due time, dear,” said the nurse.
“I just don’t understand how you could do it,” Cindy said. The nurse spun to answer and Wallace waved her on.
“You just gave it to him.”
Wallace nodded. He had handed over the book. After everything, it seemed prudent.
“You live through enough of these shootouts and you learn to live another day,” Wallace said.
The answer felt stupid and Cindy did not like it. The stranger probably would have killed her. Then again, he might have walked away. Either way, it all stunk.
“It’s just,” Cindy tailed off.
Her true nature showed through the facade of a strong girl. Deep down she feared the future. Her aunt in Salt Lake was all she had left. Her father shot dead. Her mother dead of a broken heart. She yearned to secure a better history. She wanted their lives to stand for something. She broke down and cried. Wallace wrapped his big hand on her good shoulder. Cindy rested on it.
“My dad always looked out for me.” Cindy wiped her eyes. “Even when we had nothing, he made sure to take care of me.”
Cindy held back tears. Wallace patted her shoulder.
“The last thing he said was find Todd Loudin,” Cindy said. “But I was eight and my mother couldn’t handle it. She fell apart. Our whole family died that day.”
The nurse rounded the corner. She stopped at Cindy’s bed and began unlocking the wheels.
“We’re going to head over to x-ray and then a few stitches,” she said. “You can stay here. Won’t be too long.”
The nurse pointed Wallace to the waiting room. She wheeled Cindy through the doors and they disappeared around the corner.
To find Todd, Wallace did not need the book. He already knew how to call the man.
He wondered what Cindy planned to do. Was she looking for a job? If she planned to dance at the strip club, she already missed that boat. The Glitter Gulch needed months of repair. Did Todd have something that belonged to her dad?
He pondered the situation. Cindy let on she needed to talk to Todd about her dad. Did she want revenge? It seemed one possibility. It did not seem like she could pull it off.
He reached into his jacket for his phone. A wad of bills, a pen, and a couple receipts fell out. He stuffed them back in his pocket. He dialed a number and waited.
“Sam, in two hours meet me at the neon boneyard,” Wallace told his associate.
He snapped the phone shut as Cindy rode out into the waiting area.
“Sorry it took so long,” said the nurse. “She’s all sewed up and ready to go. You’ll need to rest dear.”
Cindy nodded and managed to smile.
“Thank you for waiting,” Cindy said. “I guess you can drop me off.”
“Where will you go?”
“The bus station,” she said. “I’m off to my aunt in Utah. I don’t like it here.”
“Do you have to go right away?” Cindy wondered why Wallace wanted to keep her in Las Vegas.
“I can arrange a meeting with Mr. Loudin.”
Cindy sat in the wheelchair and cried. She then jumped out of the chair and hugged Wallace on the neck. He touched her arm and she starting to cry again.
Wallace brushed away a tear as a flash of light bounced off the doorway. Cindy stared at the light as Wallace put away his handkerchief.
© 2018, Michael Shawn Sommermeyer. All rights reserved.
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