Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Part 9

I rode to town in the back of one of the trucks trying to ignore the looks everyone was giving me.  Lee was sitting beside me and had a grumpy face on that only got worse when that Cochran guy started talking to me.

"You really been in the city this whole time?"


"For real?"

When I caught him popping a pose I had his number.  "Less time working the six pack, more time developing your listening skills."

A couple of the guys in the back end snorted or tried to cover their mouths.

Cochran though only grinned after a brief surprise.  "Dang.  You're like my grandma's chihuahua.  You may be small but you're fearless."

I gave him the look that kind of stupid deserved.  No girl wants to be compared to a dog.  He wasn't near as smooth as he thought he was.  Dad had warned me plenty about guys like that so I decided the best thing to do would be to ignore him the same way I had ignored the men when they had started to try and sweet talk me.

We passed through two checkpoints and I got a good stare each time.  I leaned over and whispered to Lee, "What's with the visual third degree?  Do I have something growing someplace I can't see it?"

He leaned over and answered, "No.  Word got around fast last night that you made it out of the city.  You're the first since they built the wall.  For some people that's enough.  Others want to know how fast the infected are going to follow you out."

"Probably not before winter but maybe in the spring."

I felt Lee stiffen but before he could say something about my comment we pulled up in front of the old walk in clinic near the Little League fields.  I jumped out of the truck but then almost jumped back in it when three people in space suits came out of the clinic doors.  Lee grabbed me and said, "It's ok.  Some folks are just extra stupid and make a big production about the sanitation process."

I didn't like the sound of that.  "Sarge?!  Sarge!"

"Whoa Kid," he said being helped over by a couple of guys from the other truck.  "You charge twelve infecteds but are scared of those three turds?"

"Lee said sanitation!  That's what you called getting rid of the puss brains!"

"Uh ... yeah.  I did.  Hmmm.  Maybe bad choice of words."

Then one of the space suits said, "You'll do as you're told."

Medic Riccardo snapped, "Back off.  This is my clinic and ..."

One of the other suits said, "You were warned Dr. Riccardo.  Now you've been exposed.  We believe that you are no longer objective and that you have been compromised and are incapable ..."

She hissed, "Oh for the love of ..."

Then the first guy makes a grab for me and says, "You're going to exam room one."  I get a good look in the fact mask and can't help myself.

I start laughing.  "Toby Holloway?!"  I look at Lee and asked, "Tokin' Toby?  Seriously?  That's the best medical professional this place has to offer?!"

I'm rolling and Lee makes a face and then starts chuckling.  Then he starts laughing too when the guy in the space suits starts cussing and making so much noise that it comes out sounding like a squawking chicken through the speaker thing he is wearing.

I said loud enough for everyone to hear, "Ain't no way I am letting Tokin' Toby get his nasty hands anywhere near me.  Geez.  He used to spy on the girls in the bathroom at school.  Dad busted his chops twice that I know of and told his father that it didn't matter how many Laundromats he owned, that if he caught Toby lighting up or spying one more time it was off to family court and juvie."

Toby made another grab at me and I clocked him so good in the boy parts with my bat that there was puke on the inside of the plastic mask when he finally stopped rolling around.  "I said I don't want your nasty hands on me.  What part of no did you not understand?"

About that time a man came up and calmly answered, "Most of it apparently."

I looked up and stood straighter. "Sheriff!"

He smiled and said, "Deandra Dawn.  I wish your father could have seen this day.  I see you finally learned to hit what you were swinging at.  That one would have been a home run for sure."

That did it.  No matter how hard I tried I felt my eyes fill up and overflow.  But I wasn't really crying.  "Yes sir.  I ... Did he ..."

"A drunk t-boned his cruiser going 90.  There was no time for anything else.  It happened about two hours after he came on shift that day ... even before we got word of what was happening in the city."

"I knew it had to be something for him to not answer my emergency text.  I knew it.  Dad would have ... would have ..."

The sheriff nodded like he was trying to contain big emotions.  "Yes he would have," he agreed.  "Now I want you to mind Dr. Riccardo here and let her take a look at you.  You know your dad would have wanted to make sure that you were ok.  Lee will go with you so you don't have to be scared.  I'll be waiting to talk to you afterwards and we'll figure out what needs to be done.  But I don't want you worrying about a thing.  Understand young lady?"  He gave me a one armed hug like he wanted to use two arms but worried about pushing some kind of boundary.

I nodded.  What else was I supposed to do?  He was the sheriff, my dad's boss, and his friend.  He looked at Lee and gave him the what for glare that he'd always been good at giving.  Lee said, "I'll stay with her dad."

"See that you do," he said then Dr. Riccardo the long-legged blonde led us into the clinic with Sgt. Watson being pushed in a wheelchair behind her.  I would have thought he'd make a fuss about that until I realized it wasn't the doctor's bouncy ponytail that he was watching.

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