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You’re not far away,” Mr.
Nine said. “You’ll find the young lady in New Haven, Connecticut.
She’s in a physical rehabilitation facility, just transferred there
today after a week’s stay in the hospital following the shooting.
There are police on the premises, too, since her case is under
investigation. But I place little trust in the local cops. Part of
your job will be to protect her in case Simon Scythe, assuming this
is his work, makes a second attempt at fulfilling the contract.
While you’re doing that, dig and see what else you can
learn.”


And what’s the woman’s
story?” Monroe asked.


Angela MacIntyre,” Mr. Nine
began, “age twenty-nine, daughter of wealthy parents, recently
finished her college degree in theatre arts…and yes, I realize
she’s a bit old to be graduating now…it seems she took most of her
twenties off from school to try to succeed as an actress, sans the
formal education. Anyway, she withdrew nearly twenty-five thousand
dollars from her savings, most of which was put there by her
parents and not earned herself, twelve days ago. Then, seven days
ago, she was exiting a café several blocks from the apartment she
began renting not long ago with a roommate, when a shot came from
somewhere across the street and several stories up, and struck her
in the right shoulder. That was a very inaccurate occurrence if it
was indeed the so-called Simon Scythe who pulled the trigger, but
everything else fits. So we’re sticking with the assumption, until
you find out otherwise, that it was indeed him. The victim, of
course, insists that she was indeed a victim and claims to have no
idea why anyone would want to put a bullet in her, lethally or
otherwise. And that is what we have so far.”


But excuse me, sir, “Monroe
said. “Why wouldn’t he take a quick second shot? If he’s normally
so accurate, and he’s always managed to avoid even being seen,
which means he probably has good escape routes worked out well in
advance of a hit, he could easily have shot twice and still made it
out of his nest before the police arrived.”


Monroe, I don’t have an
answer to that,” Mr. Nine admitted.


Fair enough,” Monroe said.
“Now, as for the other obvious question: what’s my cover? Obviously
I won’t be marching in there and saying, ‘Good morning, Miss
MacIntyre, I’m Richard and I’m going to kill the man you hired to
kill you.’ So who am I when I get there and why will this woman
even want to give me the time of day?”


You’ll be her shrink, of
course,” Mr. Nine said. “That would seem to be the best way to get
her to talk to you, wouldn’t it?”


No, sir,” Monroe countered,
“it absolutely would not! That strategy needs to be reversed. The
minute one thinks someone’s there to probe their mind, they shut up
about it, especially if they’ve done something wrong. On the other
hand, if someone’s poking about their body and that makes them
uncomfortable, they’re more likely to resort to thinking, and
perhaps talking, about things of a spiritual or intellectual or
otherwise mental nature. A psychiatrist will get nothing, assuming
this woman has things to hide. I need something that will put me
into physical contact with the patient.”


Fine,” Mr. Nine said. “I
will now text you the address of both the rehabilitation facility
and the post office half a mile away from it. You will reach New
Haven, get a room, and get a few hours’ sleep. In the morning, go
to the post office and pick up a package waiting for you under your
real name. Inside it, you’ll find the credentials to get you into
the place and close to Miss MacIntyre. Good luck,
Monroe.”

 

***

 

Monroe slept well in the
cheap Holiday Inn he found just outside New Haven. Years of
experience had taught him to get some rest no matter what the next
day had in store for him; he knew how to compartmentalize his mind
and shut away anticipation and even fear to let his body slumber
and reenergize.

He woke at eight, dressed in
slacks and shirt but not a complete suit, deciding that a more
casual appearance was called for as he began his mission. He
grabbed coffee and a light breakfast and found the post office,
picked up the package, and waited until he got back into the car to
open it.

He was impressed by Mr.
Nine’s speed in getting the right material to him. Inside the
parcel was a driver’s license for a Richard Madison, his alias for
the day’s work, as well as Madison’s certification as a physical
therapist. There was also a slim medical reference pamphlet
detailing the muscle and skeletal structure of the human shoulder
and arm.

Monroe called up the address
that Mr. Nine had texted to him and found the place easily enough.
The New Haven Center for Physical Rehabilitation was a large brick
building in what looked like a wealthy part of the city. The center
was situated in a large park-like area with tall trees, including
willows, a finely manicured lawn which was green even in autumn.
There was a large parking lot off to one side, neatly divided by a
fence straight down its middle and signs designating separate
parking sections for visitors or medical professionals. Monroe
pulled the Lexus into the latter section and parked in the space
marked 27-B. He took out the medical pamphlet provided for him and
spent forty-five minutes memorizing, as well as he could in such a
short time, the names and functions of the various components of
the upper limbs of the human body.

When he felt ready, he
replaced his real driver’s license with the new one, added the
therapist’s credentials to his wallet’s contents, and reminded
himself several times that he was now Richard
Madison
. He
took his gun out of the shoulder holster and put it in his
suitcase, got out of the car, and made his way to the front
entrance of the clinic.

 

***

 

Monroe signed in at the
front desk and could immediately tell this was no insurance-paid,
public facility. The place was expensively furnished and looked
more like a first-class hotel than a post-hospital treatment
clinic. The parents of the patient, Angela MacIntyre were rich,
Monroe recalled, and must have paid a small fortune for their
daughter to get the best care possible after the
shooting.


We were called an hour ago
and told you’d be arriving, Mr. Madison,” the receptionist said
with an officious smile. “Here is Miss MacIntyre’s file. You’ll
find her on the fourth floor, Room 418. The elevator is that way,
sir.”

Monroe walked slowly to the
elevator and rode up to the fourth floor, glancing over the file as
he went, taking in the details of the patient’s injury. He was no
expert in the medical field, but had the rudimentary knowledge of a
man whose life has been spent in a profession where it behooves him
to learn at least a little something about many subjects. The
bullet, he read, had been a through-and-through shot, ripping into
the muscles of Angela MacIntyre’s shoulder and exiting out the
back, missing the bones and doing no truly permanent damage, but it
would be some time before full strength and mobility of the arm
were restored.

The elevator dinged its
arrival, the metal doors slid open, and Monroe walked out. He saw
no one else in the hallway as he scanned each door number as he
passed, finally arriving in front of 418 and knocking three
times.


Come in.”

He opened the door and
entered. The room looked more like a hotel suite than an infirmary.
The bed was large and looked lusciously soft. The walls were
decorated with paintings that were far from the cheap rubbish you
might see used to cheer up most hospital rooms. The room’s occupant
was staring out the large window, her back to the door. Monroe
could see a slim figure in a light blue robe with long chestnut
brown hair flowing down to well below the shoulders.


Good morning,” Monroe said.
“I’m Rick Madison, your therapist.”

Angela MacIntyre turned
slowly to face him. The pivot revealed a face that almost brought a
flirtatious smirk to Monroe’s face, but he stopped the expression,
reminding himself that he was on the job. She was indeed a beauty.
She must have been a lousy actress, Monroe thought, for it
certainly was not her looks that had kept her from breaking into
the movies. She stared at him for a moment and then took two steps
forward. The robe was tied shut, showing only her face and neck and
left hand. The bulge under the robe and the empty right sleeve
indicated to Monroe that the injured arm was in a sling under the
garment. Her slippers, fluffy ones, matched the blue of the
robe.

Angela semi-smiled, tilted
her head as if sizing up a potential purchase, and said, “I had
requested a female therapist. What are
you
doing
here?”


Well,” Monroe said,
improvising, “the woman who was supposed to be here was delayed on
another case. I suppose you’ll have to make do with me for the time
being.”

Chapter 4:
Leaves-Dropping

 

 


Perhaps you should get
dressed, Miss MacIntyre,” Monroe said.


Why? Are we going
somewhere?” Angela asked.


Well,” Monroe said, “I’m
assuming you’ve been cooped up in this room since you were admitted
yesterday. I thought we might take a walk, get some air, and
discuss your condition before we get started with your treatment.
How does that sound? Have you had breakfast yet?”


Yeah,” Angela answered, “I
ate already. Yes…we can go outside. Is it cold?”


Not terribly,” Monroe said.
“A light jacket should be sufficient. Do you need any help getting
ready?”


I’ll manage.” Angela walked
over to a heap of clothes on the small table off to the side of the
bed, dumped rather than being properly unpacked. She scooped up a
few items with her left hand, carried them by holding them against
her stomach, mumbled, “Excuse me,” and walked into her private
bathroom, kicking the door shut behind her.

Monroe waited, listened. He
could hear the sounds of movement behind the door: the ruffling of
clothing, the clumsy noises of a struggle, and a few choice words,
rising in strength as the attempt at dressing with one useful arm
grew more difficult. “Damn,” then “shit,” and finally a loud
“fuck!”

The door finally opened
again and Angela MacIntyre came out. She was now dressed in sweats
and sneakers, her hair tied back in a ponytail, an impressive feat
for one who can use just a single hand. The sling was now visible
and the hand hung limply against the stomach. A small bulge was
visible under the shirt, at the shoulder, presumably where the
bandages covered a still-healing wound.


Are you all right, Miss
MacIntyre?” Monroe asked.


Call me Angela,” she told
him, “and I could use a hand with my shoelaces.”


Of course,” Monroe said,
and he knelt down to tie her sneakers. He stood and looked around,
saw a jacket hanging on a hook beside the door, grabbed it, held it
while Angela put her good arm into the sleeve, and draped the other
half of the coat over her injured side. He held the door for her.
“Shall we? If you’re sure you’re up to this.”


I hurt my shoulder,” Angela
replied, giving him a dirty look, “which doesn’t affect my ability
to walk. I don’t suppose you have a cigarette, do you?”


I don’t smoke,” Monroe
said. He had in the past, especially if it would have helped his
cover, but not in several years; Genevieve had disliked the smell
of tobacco.


Damn,” Angela said.
“Apparently they frown upon their patients smoking here…but I’m
dying for one.”

They were outside now, just
past the front desk and the large front doors and walking down the
steps to the walkway from which one could go to either the parking
lots or the grounds. Monroe now saw his chance to get the subject
of his assignment to trust him just a bit more than she might
otherwise.


I could smuggle a pack in
for you,” he offered, “when I come back tomorrow. What’s your
brand?”


Newport,” she said, “and
don’t forget the lighter.”


Newport it is
then.”


Thank you, Rick.” She
smiled at him now. “I can call you that, can’t I?”


Yes, Angela, that’s
fine.”

Off the walkway and onto the
grass now, they strolled across the lawn and around several little
islands of trees that decorated the landscape, some still full
despite the autumn while others had tossed aside their summer
attire and stood like naked skeletal sentinels watching over the
property.


Down to business now,”
Monroe said. “How’s the shoulder?”


It still hurts,” Angela
admitted, “though not so sharply now. It’s more a dull ache that
comes and goes as it pleases. And I can hardly feel my hand, my
fingers are useless.”


Well we’ll see if we can
get that fixed soon,” Monroe promised. “And if you don’t mind my
curiosity, can I ask the obvious question?”


Which obvious question
would that be, Rick? Maybe it’s not as obvious as you
think?”


Who shot you, Angela? Your
file did say it was a gunshot wound.”

BOOK: Nobody Dies For Free
4.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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