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Authors: Scott McElhaney


BOOK: Indentured
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By Scott McElhaney






Present Day






Declan drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, suddenly regretting his decision to hire on some help this time. He checked the dash clock for the umpteenth time, then verified the same exact time on his wristwatch.
Nothing wrong with the clocks, so that could mean only one thing.


I knew it. That should be me in there,” he grumbled to himself, shifting in the seat.


By this time, they should have been halfway to the Sheraton if everything was going according to plan. He checked the rearview mirror, but the back window might as well have been a black sheet for all that he could see. Who was he to complain, though? The streetlight on the corner of Market and Vine was shot out last night apparently by some random street thug. Declan knew better, but that’s the way it looked to…


Go-go-go! Let’s go!” the frantic shouts burst from both sides of the car just as the back doors were slung open.


Even before he heard the doors slam shut, he’d already pressed the gas pedal to the floor and had the tires squealing. An eternity seemed to pass before the tires finally gained purchase on the asphalt and the car started moving. Declan risked a glance into the backseat just in time to see the whole back window implode into a cloud of glass shrapnel.


Who’s shooting at us? The police or the Blackjacks?” Declan screamed, shoving his foot even harder onto the accelerator, “Do we have the money?”


Yeah we got da’ money! Why you think they chasin’ us?” Biggs hollered, “Just get us da’ heck outta here.”


Declan took a hard left at the next intersection, somehow managing to keep the car in the proper lane. This gave him a chance to steal a glance down Vine Street. Whoever had been shooting at them apparently wasn’t driving a car because no headlights could be seen down the dark road. Then he saw two flashes in that darkness followed immediately by the shattering of his side window. The implosion of his window was accompanied immediately by a powerful punch in his shoulder, knocking him almost completely into the passenger seat.


It took him a moment to realize that the pain itself was more than just a punch. He cried out, then instantly regretted the exclamation as it multiplied the pain in his chest. His foot somehow found the brake pedal just as he returned his attention to the road.


How long had he been sprawled in the passenger seat? This thought demanded his attention for only a fraction of a second before the car smashed into the back of a taxi cab, deploying the airbag and relieving Declan of all consciousness.








Ryan, stay in our driveway,” Declan called over to the boy on his bright orange tricycle, “I don’t want you trying to sneak over to Mr. Asher’s driveway anymore.”


If his son heard him, he offered no evidence of it. Ryan simply continued vibrating out those motorcycle sounds from his lips as he raced toward the mailbox and back. Declan never paid any mind to the fact that Ryan loved scooting on over to the neighbor’s driveway, but that was before Mr. Asher’s teenage son started hosting all the downtown riffraff in his own side yard.


Even right now, Declan could see three twitchy,
punks trading something out of the trunk of an old blue Toyota. It was times like these that he wished he could just chase them out of the neighborhood. You didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to know what they were trading.


Ryan, how about we get out of here and go get some ice cream?” he hollered over to his son.


Just then, someone let loose with a barrage of firecrackers. About a half-second later, Declan realized that it wasn’t actually something as relatively harmless as firecrackers after all.




He cracked his eyelids just enough to find himself compressed tightly between the deployed airbag and the car seat. Disco lights of red and blue danced their sparkling beat along the shattered webbing of the windshield.


Where am I? Who was I running from?
These thoughts held him captive for only a moment before he lost consciousness.




. . .




The next time Declan opened his eyes, he was strapped to some kind of hard, uncomfortable board. He turned his head to discover a smashed car
smashed car- crumpled a few feet away from him.


M-my car… Biggs? Where are Biggs and Rebound?” he had to force those words past some unknown pressing chest pain.


The pockmarked face of what appeared to be one of those fake mall cops materialized before him, blocking out everything else.


Where’s the money? How many were with you?” he spewed through clenched teeth, “Where’s. The. Money?”


Declan opened his mouth to reply, but nothing came out. He closed his eyes, drifting off again.




. . .




He took the Aqueduct for almost a million from what I heard.”


You mean that bar downtown? What’s a bar doing with that kind of cash?”


Are you serious? Don’t be stupid.”


Declan could hear them, but he wasn’t sure if he was dreaming or awake. He tried to breathe in, but croaked out a pained cough instead. He forced open his eyes to discover that he somehow made it to the hospital or a medical facility of some sort.


W-where am I?” Declan whispered, trying to move his upper body as little as possible.


Hey there, bud,” a young man in medical scrubs patted his arm, “You’re at the hospital. We’re getting ready to check out your head and your chest.”


Mr. Medical Scrubs smiled at him in that sincere way that can only be found in the world of patient care. An attractive Hispanic woman wearing the same dull green scrubs nudged in next to Mr. Scrubs holding a small syringe.


You’ve got a gunshot wound, but it looks like you didn’t want to keep the bullet. Nice clean exit. And most likely you’ve got a bit of a concussion, but we’re betting that you’re going to pull through nicely,” she added, “And did you really rob the Aqueduct?”


Declan turned to her, then noticed the familiar crater-faced officer leaning on the counter behind her.


No,” he whispered, “They robbed me long ago.”


The police officer chuckled loudly from behind Senorita Scrubs, apparently unsatisfied with the answer. Declan offered her a kind smile at the same moment her expression changed to one of recognition.


Wait a minute… are… are you the Declan Stringfellow from Richland?” she asked, “That martial arts instructor who-”


Who burned down ‘The Riot’ last year,” the officer finished her sentence, sauntering over to the bed, “The same Declan Stringfellow who blew up the yacht in Dawn Harbor last February. But of course, none of this was proven.”


Dude, I saw you on Yahoo News!” Mr. Scrubs said, reaching down and gently shaking Declan’s hand, “They said that you’re single-handedly getting rid of the drug problem in Richland.”


This isn’t a joking matter,” the officer growled, “He’s a dangerous criminal and now we finally have all the proof we need to get this vigilante off the streets for good.”


If Declan hadn’t looked down at his forearm, he wouldn’t have known that Lady Scrubs was already injecting something into him.


Hmm… she’s both pretty
gentle?” Declan muttered, “A man doesn’t even realize he’s getting hurt until after she’s already done the damage. Now that’s a dangerous woman.”


I’m not sure if I should thank you or remand you to police custody,” she replied with a wink.


Oh, you’ll definitely be remanding him to us – there’s no doubt about that,” the officer insisted.


She expertly stuck a bandage to Declan’s forearm using one hand while pointing the empty syringe at the ceiling in her other, making no effort to hide the wicked needle.


What if your three-year old son was killed by the stray bullet from a drug deal gone bad?” Lady Scrubs asked the officer, nodding toward the door, “You might want to leave this room before we turn on the MRI. Guns, badges, and suspiciously fat wallets don’t do well around electromagnets if you know what I mean.”


The police officer gasped, apparently in shock at her blatant disregard for the powers of his uniform. This time, she pointed toward the door with the tip of the syringe. He glared at her for two more seconds before turning toward the door; an effort on his part to pretend it was his own decision to leave the room.


No kidding though, Mr. Stringfellow,” Scrubs Guy said as he took a hold of the bed rail and inched the three of them toward the giant tan donut on the other side of the room, “You are a hero to this city. You’ve probably taken more drugs off the streets in the last year than the whole police force has done in the last decade.”


Declan never really knew how to respond to such accolades. The only thing that ever came to mind at times like this was the horrific image of his son lying in a pool of blood next to his tricycle. And the only response he had to that was always a simple shake of his head. Lady Scrubs lowered the railing of the bed and assisted Scrubs Man in shifting Declan from the bed and onto the cool slab of the MRI.


He allowed himself to be shifted into position, and then glanced upward at the mouth of the machine. He breathed out a sigh of resignation, then closed his eyes.


Yeah, it’s not the favorite hangout for the claustrophobic, but it won’t take long,” Lady Scrubs said with a pat on his hand, “I’m scheduled for an MRI this coming Monday for my migraines, so I’ll finally get to see it from your point of view.”


Thank you,” he turned to her and smiled.


For what?” she asked.


For the ‘fat wallet’ remark,” he stated with a grin.


She took his hand in hers and squeezed it.


Just remember me when you get back to your Karate school. Maybe you’ll give me some free lessons so I can kick that cop around a few times the next time he tries to push around my patients.”


He laughed, then groaned suddenly at the pain it caused him.


Hey, be careful. No laughing until after the surgery,” she reprimanded.


He nodded quickly and closed his eyes again. Maybe he’d get lucky enough to get to sleep through the worst of it.


So, what’s your name anyway?” he asked.


My name?”


I need to know who I’m signing up for free classes next month.”


Oh, Tami Guzman. But my friends call me Taz.”


Taz,” he repeated with a sidelong glance, “Like the devil?”


She simply replied with a wink, then touched a button that brought a subtle vibration from inside the large machine.

BOOK: Indentured
10.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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