Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 35

Erin didn't want to remember, she didn't want to think about anything, except maybe humming a nice chorus of "Forever Young" with the morphine playing a smooth bass. She closed her eyes and saw herself hurtling out of the Hummer door, and crashing against the curb. "Am I hurt anywhere else?"

Dr. Arch said, "I haven't had time to check you as thoroughly as I'd like. I'll do that again as soon as we get your back taken care of, but from what I can see, so far you've just got a few bruises and scrapes. You won't even need any sutures."

Her mind was fuzzing over. It felt bizarre and comforting at the same time. She said, "I don't suppose you caught the creeps who did this?"

"Not yet," Bowie said. "Talk, Erin."

". . . I remembered my dad telling me a car on fire was a rolling bomb and believe me, I didn't even pause a nanosecond, I just slammed on the brake and threw myself out the driver's side door. My baby, Bowie, my Hummer exploded maybe three seconds later."

There, it was said. Erin wasn't aware that tears were streaming down her dirty face until she felt Bowie's fingers wiping them away.

"I'm sorry. You'll be okay, you heard Dr. Arch. Damn me for an idiot, I never seriously thought you'd be in danger because we let you get connected to the investigation-"

"I'm fine, Bowie. It's not me, it's my Hummer, she's gone. Someone blew her up. She cruised all over town like a rock star, taking bows at every red light. I'd come out of the dry cleaner's to find guys draped all over her, but she was mine."

"You survived, Ms. Pulaski," Dr. Arch said as he dabbed ointment on her back. "Suck it up."

"You're a dolt, sir. You never saw my Hummer, never rode in her. All the guys in Stone Bridge were jealous of her, Bowie included, he just pretended he wasn't."

"Yeah, yeah, poor me," Dr. Arch said as he did this and that to her back, better not to know, she thought. "Here I am stuck with a plain old three-year-old Ferrari F430, a boring bright racing red, U.S. specs put it zero to sixty in three point six seconds, and I've been too chicken to let it loose on the highway. My son, now, he's chomping at the bit. I told him he had maybe twenty more years to get himself prepared. Hold still now, I'm going to give you some more morphine."

Bowie said, "You're alive, Erin. You'll replace the Hummer. I'll help you find one. Please don't tell me you're really crying for that car."

"Okay, I won't." Erin closed her eyes again, and felt, all of a sudden, that she was floating some six feet above herself, nearly up to those removable tiles in the ceiling, and it was so lovely and calm up there next to the light fixture, where nothing bad could happen to her.

Dr. Arch said thoughtfully, "Come to think of it, if my Ferrari exploded to smithereens, I might shed a couple buckets of tears myself. I take it all back, Ms. Pulaski, you go right ahead and weep." He was working on her shoulder now but she felt only a whisper touch against her skin. She vaguely heard him say to Bowie, "Would you look at that bruise. Well, it's no big deal in the great scheme of things. I don't think anything's broken, but we'll check her out with an X-ray. Say, if someone tried to blow her up, you're a federal cop, why don't you protect her from now on?"

"That's my plan," Bowie said. She felt blessed warmth when he took her hand, but his fingers against her skin brought her right down from above and she didn't know if it was worth it.


Erin usually hated lying on her stomach, but with the lovely morphine, she could have been standing on her head and not felt uncomfortable at all. "It was a light brown sedan, a Mitsubishi, I think, not very old. It looked like one of those rental cars-nondescript, butt-plain. I've always wondered why they even make cars like that. I mean, who'd want to buy one? I couldn't make out the license, they'd dirtied it up."

She'd have some pain for the next couple of days, Dr. Arch had told Bowie, but nothing a bit of Vicodin wouldn't handle. Her hair was still mostly in its thick French braid and they'd washed her face and all the rest of her he could see. She was lying on her stomach, her head to the side, looking like she didn't have a care in the world.

He lightly smoothed back a hank of hair that had fallen across her face and tucked it back into the braid. "That's good, Erin. The tinted windows give us something to work with."

She peered up at him with sudden interest. "It occurs to me that you look sort of cute, Bowie-all sorts of worried and mad."

"What? Oh, well, thank you, but that's the morphine talking."

"Nope, it's me."

He said, "Well, I am worried and mad."

"You wanna know something else?"

"Ah, maybe."

"You've got a really nice smile, nearly as nice as your butt."

"What? My-oh, well, thank you, but again, Erin, that's the morphine talking."

"Hmm. You mean I won't like your finer points when the morphine is no more?"

"I, ah, well, I don't know."

"I might, you know. What are you going to do if I still like those gorgeous white teeth of yours and those big feet?"

"I'll smile at you a whole lot with my bare feet up on the coffee table."

"That was really smooth, Bowie," she said, and closed her eyes. "You're a great dad. Georgie does nothing but brag about you. I keep telling her you're just a plain old garden-variety sort of dad, but she won't have it. That's quite an honor."

"Yes, it is, and nice to hear." He waited just a moment, to see if anything else outrageous would come out of her mouth, but she was still again. "Now, Erin, don't go under again just yet. Try to remember, did you see who was in that car?"

"Nope. Hey, wait a minute. Even though the windshield was darker than usual, I remember I didn't see anyone in the passenger seat, yes, I'm sure of it. There was one guy driving but I didn't see him well at all. Rental cars don't have dark windshields, do they?"

"I doubt it, but we'll soon see." When he punched off his cell a minute later, he said to her, "Agent Cliff will check it out. Okay, now, it's time-"

"Georgie told me you liked Krissy but she wasn't a keeper. Georgie said she didn't think there would be any keepers for you since you really loved her mommy and then she died and your heart broke in two. Is that true?"

"What? Georgie said that?" He was beginning to believe Georgie didn't keep any thought from Erin.

She could see he didn't want to answer her, sensed a deep, longtime resistance, but then he said, "No, it isn't true."

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