I KILL RICH PEOPLE 2, page 24
Stocky grabbed Spencer’s arm with one hand and wrenched upward, straining against the socket, then gripped his thick fist around the plywood triangle. He pressed one point into Spencer’s armpit, slowly ripping into the flesh until a long gash reached nearly to the elbow. He kept holding the arm tightly as the wound filled with blood that spilled into the cup and then continued down beneath Spencer’s brown prison shirt.
“You think you can get one over on me, you be wrong, mofo. I own you. I know what you’re thinking before you can think it.” One of his open bear paws followed with a cracking slap to punctuate the message.
Spencer was relieved to see that his urine was clear. That was all his immediate concern. No blood, no serious damage to his one kidney.
His body was mending, but the legs? It would make no sense to hold him in a medical facility once the casts came off. He would be transferred. For now, he was a cripple. There would be a whole new set of variables and they would be handling him a lot differently.
The idea of months in a concrete tomb turning into years… better to die trying than to live like that.
No working camera in the exam room. How much time would that buy him? He once could cover a mile over tough terrain inside twenty minutes. No mud on any of their shoes. Not ever. He was counting on that. Urban. Hard surfaces, no tracks.
Lord, let them be white, he wished. He needed to fit in. Blend. Any other race…Jesus.
He needed shoes, clothing, matches.
Public transportation. Honor system or currency? Surveillance? Buses, trams, subway systems meant cameras. Would they tell local PD? Could they tap the local systems fast without telling?
The probability of a successful outcome was pathetically low.
Fuck it. I’m done being caged.
“Let’s get these casts off and get a look at these legs of yours.” The doctor was already wearing a cap with his greens. He had a facemask hanging under his chin. Goggles and a foot-long rotary saw with a two-inch circular blade were on the portable table next to the ketamine syringe. A long vacuum tube trailed behind the butt of the saw down to a plastic collection container. Spencer was counting on sound staying inside the room. If they heard out in the hallway, it would be all over.
“This won’t hurt, but it won’t be pretty, either. I’m sure you expect there will be scarring, but after months in casts, be prepared. You’re not going to recognize your own legs. Your skin may appear translucent. Muscle mass has atrophied and what is there besides bones will have no tone whatsoever.
“I’m not saying this to scare you. We need to set realistic expectations. Do you get this?”
It was hard to know if the doctor really even remembered seeing him before. It felt like he could just glance at a chart and go into doctor-patient mode: pleasant, patient, clear and trustworthy, sympathetic without really engaging.
“These are the third casts,” Spencer reminded him.
“Just be prepared. You’ve had two compound fractures, including both femur and fibula on the one side,” the doc said.
Spencer nodded. Thinking the doctor was on autopilot made it easier. He reviewed every movement just as he had imagined from inside the cell. He had practiced twisting and reaching high along the wall until he had himself trained to snatch his left hand five feet upward. If Stocky was curious about that “tell,” he never showed it as Spencer practiced again and again until the movement was rattlesnake-fast. All of his spring, popping up to strike, had to drive through his right elbow. Slim was standing along the left bed rail. His right wrist was zip-tied to the rail closest to the doctor, less than a foot away from the syringe.
He shifted against the zip tie and felt to confirm that the elbow could plant. He had enough slack. But the plywood platform was rigid. Until that moment he hadn’t considered that he would be on the cushioned gurney pad. The cushion would absorb pressure and reduce his strike speed.
“Every person and every fracture is different,” the doctor droned on, “but our rule of thumb is to plan for two months of intensive therapy for every month of immobilization. Most of this coming year will be a process for you. Baby steps. Stretching to recover flexibility, rebuilding muscle mass, retraining mind-body connections that support balance until standing becomes effortless, then taking steps along the parallel bars, getting accustomed to using a walker, and regaining unencumbered mobility one day. Someday you may be able to jog, possibly run even. Give it time. Time is your best ally.”
Spencer held both rails like a bull rider in the shoot. Shut the fuck up. Get it done! When he nodded at the doctor, he wanted the gate opened.
The doctor lifted and dropped the right rail, forcing Spencer’s right wrist to slide forward and drop to rest on the cushion. As he pulled on his facemask and put on safety goggles, he motioned for Slim to drop the left rail. Spencer closed his eyes as a high-pitched hum came from the saw. The shift had taken away all of his spring; his arm was outstretched, with the zip tie making it impossible to flex at the elbow.
You can wait; approach it again from after they started physical therapy.
No, he decided. His only edge was surprise. They wouldn’t underestimate him, not after he was walking. He flexed the toes, rolled the balls of each foot, tightened foot muscles, ankles, calves, knees, thighs, hams, glutes.
Get the blade. Cut the zip tie.
The saw blade passed down the outside of the cast, quickly cutting in one long action all the way from his right hip down to the toes. The doctor shifted the right leg outward fifteen degrees, asking the guard to help make the same motion with the left. Spencer recoiled involuntarily as the saw blade pressed next to his groin.
“Hang in there. I haven’t castrated anyone in months,” the doctor said lightly.
Spencer looked at the thin gold chain around the doctor’s neck as he leaned in to cut from his crotch down his inner thigh all the way to the toes. He tested the upper half to confirm that it was shucked cleanly then considered his plan and walked the saw and vacuum line around the foot of the bed. “Let’s wait and open them both at the same time.”
Another error. Dumb! The doctor wasn’t on his right at all. Of course he had to move to the other side. How could he saw the outside of the left leg from the right side of the bed? But there was an upside. The ketamine was left unobstructed; the syringe remained on the portable table, shoulder-high and just off Spencer’s zip-tied right hand. Spencer raised his head, trying to get a measure for the vacuum hose stretching over his legs. He hoped there was enough slack.
Slim stepped back behind the doctor, but when Spencer started shaking, the legs spasms drew him around to the foot of the bed right on cue. After his hand wrapped around Spencer’s ankle, Slim lifted and straightened the top half of the right cast where it had fallen in against the leg on the inside edge.
As the blade made the final inside cut down the left leg, his moment was approaching quickly. Spencer visualized every movement. Slim first, then the doctor. Stocky outside. The doc’s reaction time was everything. Had he measured the doctor correctly?
He’s sure the legs are wasted. He had to count on that extra step; the processing delay between disbelief and realty.
Six inches more. Slim’s fingers pressed gently against the cast just above the right ankle. Spencer sucked in a deep breath under the sawing noise and bucked in more violent spasms, forcing Slim to lean forward over the doctor to steady both legs while doctor completed the cut.
Spencer had purposely spread his legs wide, causing Slim to fall between them when he opened his legs like scissors. Spencer jabbed two hard, straight-fingered left stabs into Slim’s windpipe, cracking through cartilage. Slim’s eyes bugged.
Spencer knew the precise spot where the ketamine syringe was set onto the rolling tray. He stretched across his bo
The doctor stood frozen, his mouth dropped open in disbelief. Before he could react, Spencer crushed his backhand across the bridge of the doctor’s nose, then snapped down against the collar of his hospital greens and quickly landed three popping left hooks onto the doc’s jaw in sharp succession. The doctor’s head fell forward. His shoulder clipped the metal tray, sending it crashing noisily onto the floor, sounding like cymbals in a marching band.
Spencer kicked his legs out of the casts and scissor-wrapped them around the guard’s thrashing torso as Slim struggled for air and watched the door, expecting Stocky to barrel in. He panicked momentarily, stretching and pulling against the zip tie locked around his wrist, trying to get to Slim’s belt before he realized that Slim didn’t carry the Taser.
Within three seconds the struggling subsided. The hallway door hadn’t budged.
Using the cast saw, Spencer cut instantly through the zip tie. He let Slim flop onto the floor then took more time injecting the remaining ketamine into the doctor, who was already lying across Spencer’s torso, out cold.
Spencer held onto the doctor’s hospital greens to ease his fall and then shifted both his legs off the gurney. He reached out around the doctor’s collapsed form with his toes and gripped tightly onto the gurney as he stood for the first time in months.
The room started spinning as the blood shifted in his head. He had to balance himself to stand, to bend and get back up. To walk.
The knees and ankles burned and shivered, nearly collapsing. The pigment-less flesh looked like it should have been attached to a corpse pulled off some lake bottom. But he had no choice. They’ll work or they won’t. Let go of the gurney.
He held the syringe up against the fluorescent light. The vial remained on the table at the far side of the gurney. Empty.
Spencer stepped around the prostrate figures, put his feet together and tried to raise himself up onto his toes. Nothing. He tried to lift a foot and shift it forward. Nothing. So he shuffled. At least he was moving. So long as the soles of both feet stayed on the ground, the legs could hold him.
There was no time to savor being upright. Plan B.
He patted Slim’s butt, feeling for the zip ties, and quickly threaded them into one long daisy chain, working them to form into a wide snare. He held the tail end in his right hand, imagining the downward motion of snapping it tight.
Too much weight. He needed to brace himself; the legs alone would give out.
Spencer moved behind the door and practiced each separate motion, the right foot, the left, bracing with the left hand. The garrote was extended in his right, the wide plastic loop held between sixty-five and seventy inches from the floor. Stocky always bent his body forward into the direction he was moving.
Three quick bangs brought Stocky rushing inside, his shoulders lowered like a charging bull. Spencer wrapped his left hand around the door edge and gripped as Stocky’s head went inside the noose. Before Stocky saw the snare, Spencer cracked down and back like he was snapping a wet towel, zipping through the plastic teeth and setting the hook.
The giant fish turned as he realized that he was caught. Stocky spun toward Spencer. His angry eyes fixed onto Spencer’s face. He raised both fists and managed two steps forward before his knees buckled and he went down hard. Lying sideways on the cold floor, his red neck bulged while he struggled, digging his fingers at the plastic lines.
Then he was up again.
The big man lowered his head and charged at Spencer like some crazed wounded buffalo. Spencer braced for the blow, only Stocky fell face-down, rolled once, and his legs kicked akimbo. The eyes remained open wide, blankly fixed at the ceiling.
From beginning to end, Spencer had taken down three able-bodied men in less than ninety seconds.
Spencer remembered how Stocky poured his eye full of piss. He could map every elbow drop, and every rabbit punch and dirty shot the MP had delivered.
Spencer braced himself with one hand and used the other to unclip the security pass before stripping off the doctor’s greens, shoes, facemask, and the surgical cap the doctor had been wearing to keep plaster dust off his hair. As the pants clacked onto the linoleum floor, something inside the pockets made a distinct sound.
He had to lift his own legs one by one from under the thigh to get each foot above the pant legs before pulling up the loose greens and tying them at the waist. He passed on attempting to untie the track shoes, pushing his bare feet inside the shoes and booties both. Shirt, mask, and cap followed.
Spencer was shuffling toward the doorway when he felt inside the pants pocket. A key ring, Prius, along with a car fob and more keys. Where the hell is this? A Prius?
He very nearly fell getting out the door, passing into the long windowless hallway, seeing it for the first time, all reinforced doors on both sides. He didn’t bother counting. Cameras blinking green. He saw the elevator and pressed off the wall to get to the other side of the hallway, where he swiped the doctor’s card. Nothing. He glanced up at the blinking camera above the elevator doorway, flipped the card and swiped again. Nothing. Every door was locked securely. No exit signs, no evident stairwells.
Spencer lurched back into the exam room and patted down Stocky’s warm corpse, coming back with a bar-coded and magnetic-stripped ID. He swiped it. Nothing. He reversed and swiped again. The one button lit yellow: a deep bass rumbled, followed by a familiar thump and hum. He had been hearing that sound through the wall for months.
No alarms, but what did that prove? Ten guards would probably pour out of the elevator. Spencer prepared to strike. Take two or three. Even that seemed ambitious from the swaying bamboo stilts that were his legs.
Spencer stiffened, centered his power, and readied to strike as the inner elevator stopped with a click and airy brake noise. The doors opened. Empty. It wasn’t until he stepped inside and looked over the bank of floor buttons that he realized that this was the lowest floor, the end of the line. The button marked “G” was eight stories above. There were twelve more floors above ground. Above the floor buttons hung an inspection certificate inside an Otis Elevator frame. Fairfax County. USA. Inspection approved by L. Johnson, Fire Marshall.
WTF? He had no time to get his mind around that. The elevator stopped. B2. A woman, tall, black, mid-30s, stepped inside, her face focused downward, reading email on her iPhone. She glanced up, pressed 3, and returned her eyes to the screen.
Spencer shuffled out at the ground floor before the doors closed on him. Daylight, natural light, shined like God through glass doors at both ends of the hallway. He was blinded by it.
Voices. People talking and moving briskly in both directions. Colors, noise. Everything amplified into an overwhelming cacophony. Heels clicked off the flooring sounding like thumping bass drums. He stretched out his arm to steady himself, suddenly dizzy with shock.
He squinted and forced himself forward, one shuffling step at a time, until he collapsed onto a wooden bench with movement all around him. He had to rest. No choice. His left hand wrapped discretely around his right wrist to take a pulse rate. He couldn’t trust his instinctive measures.
A clock ticked above the doors to the outside; he tried, but he still couldn’t hold focus on the thin line of the second hand. Seventy-five feet to the light.
Just inside the doors there was a kiosk window, some kind of little store or snack shop. A whole normal world, eight floors above—all those months…eight floors.
He was inside the Beltway? The fuckers were waterboarding him in Washington, D.C. They fucking did this to him in sight of the Capitol Dome! Spencer wanted to find a cop and turn them in.
Hanging straight across fro
Like a colt standing up for the first time, Spencer’s uncertain legs carefully covered the distance to the outside doors. He felt conspicuous, but the wave of humanity moved along with perfect political correctness, showing no special attention to the palsied employee. People on both sides politely opened the double doors to help him pass through.
The parking structure rose up six floors. Spencer pressed ahead, walking his hands along the car trunks until he reached the center of the ground floor, then he took out the fob and pressed, listening for a responding chirp. He moved further along and pressed again, hearing a high-pitched chirp, and repeated the action intermittently as he followed the noise. Minutes later, he was backing out of a stall inside a black Toyota Prius, lurching awkwardly to brake and lunging ahead again each time he touched the accelerator. His knees and ankles were on a crash course straight from a new infancy.
Ahead of him, an attendant stood inside a guardhouse with the gate arm down. Another car moved up directly behind. Spencer flashed the ID card from fifteen feet out. The guard nodded and raised the gate without Spencer ever needing to stop.
He looked in the rearview mirror. Nobody was following him. There was no commotion.
He was driving on the streets of Washington, D.C. He had no more time to process than a person caught in a tidal wave. The best he could hope for was to survive.