Lost and found chapter 7
Nobody likes Fred Garagan. He's way overweight with a large head and sagging pendulous jowls and a hangdog look that belies just how cruel he can be. Rosie hates him.
My dad didn't much like him either but there are times, times when you really need to know things, when you gotta use someone like Fred. I met him in the middle of my office, frankly not wanting him to sit in one of the chairs. It's like he leaves some weird sort of residue, a lingering sense of him.
He didn't try to shake hands; he seems to know that no one will want to touch him.
"You heard about the accident my boyfriend was involved in?" He didn't actually smirk, not at least that you could see, it was more something that I could feel.
"James Parthing...........here's his name, address, etcetera. I want everything but Fred............hurt no one!" He seemed disappointed.
He shifted his bulk from one leg to the other. "How deep you want me to go?"
Fred grinned. Not a pretty sight. "Can I ask why you think that he might have done something"
I decided to lie rather than explain. "No, there's nothing to tell, at least as far as I know but if I'm missing something I want you to find it."
"And if I find something?" A sickening grin.
"If you find something bring it to me. Again...............hurt no one!" Strangely enough Fred is obedient. I've never known him to go against my dad's wishes or mine.
Fred waddled out of my office and Rosie edged in as soon as the elevator door closed on Fred. "Boss, you makin a mistake usin that man. He's some kind of a piece of work. Why you use him? I coulda gotten you all the info you need on the guy that hit Michael."
"I know, Rosie, I know that you can." But, of course, she couldn't, not all the info. I walk over to her and wrapped my arms around her and laid my head on her shoulder. "I heard something at the police station, something that was out of place. When I was talking to the Chief there was something that I heard in the background, something that one of the cops said and for the life of me I can't remember it. All that I could think of was getting back to Michael and now it's gone. But it was something about James Parthing something that didn't sound right, that was out of place."
I let go of Rosie and start cramming papers into a briefcase. "I'm going to the hospital, I'll take the limo." I was so tired, tired on to death, the thought of any kind of physical exertion seemed odious. As I was walking out of the office I turned to Rosie and lifted my hand to my forehead. "Rosie, maybe we better............."
She beat me to it. "I already done it boss! Security at the hospital and the house."
I stare at her. "Am I being nuts, is this too much?"
"The thing is, Boss..............we don't know, let's hope so." She walked over and touched my arm. "You need to spend some time with Michael. He shouldn't be alone now."
We almost never need security. Well, maybe like once a year or so some nutjob will call us with a threat and fortunately we have a really good little security company in our area, mostly a bunch of retired cops and FBI guys. Since they're the only high-end security company in the area everyone who needs security uses them. They own their market.
There was one guy in the lobby watching people and another standing next to the door to Michael's room. The guy in front of the room was wearing a stethoscope around his neck but I recognized him from a job he did for us the year before.
I walked up to him. "Hi Tommy. You look like a doc."
"Oh hi, Mr. Palmer. That's the general idea, blend in." He didn't really blend in but then how could he, he looked like a retire cop. He would have blended in at a retired cop convention.
"Tommy, everything that we know about this says that it was an accident and that Michael is in no danger whatever." I stared into his gray eyes for a moment. "But something is nagging at me, my instincts tell me that there's more goin on here, that there's something we don't know." His stocky body shifted. "This takes priority over everything, Tommy. If you need more men call em in. I don't care if it takes a fucking army but I want Michael protected." I didn't tell him about what I couldn't remember hearing at the police station.
Tommy shoved his hands in his pockets. "You think somebody's after him, that they'd try to get him here?"
I stared at the floor for a moment and then looked up at him. "Yeah. I'm not sure..................they may be trying to get at me through him..............or who the fuck knows. I just want coverage."
"Well," Tommy said, "if you really want coverage we should have a guy outside and a guy near the main nurses station on this floor."
"Do it." I turned towards the door to Michael's room and then turned back to Tommy. "How is he?"
Tommy smiled. "Mad.............mad that it happened, mad that he feels like shit, mad that they won't let him work...............just fucking mad."
I grinned at him. "He pissed at me?"
"He's been wondering where you were at." That could mean anything.
How could I explain that I was afraid, not afraid for my safety or anything like that but afraid that I might lose him? That he might die and I wouldn't be able to stop it.
I grunted and pushed open the door to Michael's room.
Michael was sitting up in bed and turned his head towards me as I opened the door.
"Where the fuck have you been?" His left arm had a cast on it and there were some bandages on his neck. Nobody had bothered to comb his hair.
He looked so battered. I walked slowly over to the side of his bed. I reached out and touched his face with the back of my knuckles. "There was stuff, stuff about the accident that had to be taken care of." His look softened. "I shoulda called you but it's not like you were, well...............alert." I bent down and slowly pressed my mouth to his. After a moment I could feel something inside of him give way and he parted his lips and let my tongue inside. He made a little sound at that back of his throat.
I pulled away and looked into his eyes. "Don't fucking cry! If you start I'll start and I might not fucking stop."
Michael lay back in bed, blinked and smiled up at me. "Nice to know that that sensitive exterior is backed up by a sloppy soft interior." He was holding my hand.
I held his hand but had to look away for a moment. "Oh fuck! You scared me so fucking bad."
"I didn't mean to, Jeff."
"No...........I know." I lifted up the covers and then slowly lifted the side of his gown and looked at his body. "Jesus!" I know, it was a gasp but I couldn't help it, he was one big dark ugly bruise.
Michael grabbed the edge my jacket with his broken arm and tugged at it until I sat on the bed. His voice was soft. "It's not as bad as it looks, Jeff." I wanted to wrap him up in my arms and just hold him but he was so battered that I was afraid to touch him.
"Oh no..............I'm sure you're feeling just great!" I put the heels of my hands to my eyes and rubbed them and then turned back to Michael.
"This guy that hit you...............you think that he meant to?"
"Jeff, why the hell would anyone want to smash their car into me.............or into anything?"
"No...............I don't suppose anyone would."
"Besides, Jeff, it really was the fault of the guy in front of me, he's the one that stopped short."
There was a quiet knocking on the door and I walked over and pulled the door open.
"Ralph! What are you doing here?"
"Mr. Palmer, Rosie thought that you and Mr. Worthington might enjoy having dinner together this evening and I'm certain that the food in the hospital can't be all that good."
He was walking slowly into the room carrying a large picnic basket. I wondered that they would let him in with food but then Ralph was a man of immense dignity and would only get stopped by the bravest nurse or doctor.
"Ralph how'd you get in with the food?"
He laughed quietly. "Sir, you always have to remember to factor in Rosie. Most institutions have found that it's much easier just to say yes to her." He walked over to the side of Michael's bed.
Looking down at Michael he said. "Sir, I hope that you like roast duck." There were tears forming in the corners of Michael's eyes.
Ralph reached out slowly and touched his arm. "Now, Sir, don't you worry about anything. You need to save your strength for getting well and you're gonna have a lotta folks helping you."
Dinner started with a pecan and Rocquefort salad and was followed by crispy roast duck with sweet potato's that had been mashed and mixed with caramelized onions and bacon. For something green there was also steamed and sauteed haricots verts.
Ralph said. "This, of course, should have a wine with it but I thought that I might be pushing my luck."
Michael looked at Ralph with tears still in his eyes and his mouth full. "It's wonderful, Ralph. This is the best meal I've ever eaten." He was pathetic, eating with one hand and constantly wincing.
I heard Rosie when she was probably still fifty feet away. All that I heard was, "You ain't telling me what I can do. Don't you EVEN try to go there!"
She banged through the door and made straight for Michael. "My Lord! They makin you try and eat with your one good arm?" She shot me a dirty look.
It took her less than a minute to get things organized to her liking and Michael was really eating without having to lift anything. Rosie never stopped talking.
"You scared the crap outta him you know. Not that he don't deserve it. Probably takes you for granted. Don't have to tell me, I know the name of that tune. He'd have me working twenty-four hours a day I givem the chance. Not that he don't have his good side cause he does, though sometimes yall gotta strain to see it. Anyway, he was plenty worried...........plenty."
Michael was chewing, swallowing and looking up at Rosie. Once she got her rhythm going he couldn't have talked if he had to.
I walked over and stood next to her. "Rosie, I was thinking.................."
"I already took care of it, Boss. When yall are done eating they gonna move you to a private suite upstairs. You'll be able to stay too. I already had fresh clothes put up there for you."
"What about going.........................................?"
"Tomorrow, as long as he keeps getting better. I already arranged for nurses to come to the house. But you can't be fussin with him too much tonight cause they wantin him all rested before they gonna let em go."
I smiled at Michael and winked. "Hear that, no fussin! You know how you get."
Then it dawned on me what Michael had said earlier.