I had Alice call ahead, and I even got a three car escort to make sure we got to the hospital unmolested. At least the car was unmolested, I sort of had a feeling that as far as my young charge went, unmolested would be a poor choice of words. I had to drive around the back to the emergency room and more or less allow the police to get Jill admitted. Since I was with them though I was more or less regarded as one of them. When the doctor came, a nice reassuring woman who’s name tag informed me that she was Dr. Muffit, I pulled her aside for a chat.
“She’s a kidnapping victim.” I told her.
“Yes.” She nodded. “One of the other officers told me. Is there something else officer?”
“I’m not a cop, I’m a private dick out of Michigan.” I told her. “I got her away from the guy who kidnapped her. I would like to know if there was sexual contact if it was violent.”
“Do you mean that you want to know if she was raped?” She asked, her hazel eyes searching mine, which is a waste because I couldn’t have shown anything if I wanted to, tired as I was.
“Legally if he had sex with her, then it was rape anyway.” I said. “I suppose morally it was too. But yeah. I want to know if he forced her.”
“Does it matter?” She slipped her hand into the pocket of her white coat and leaned back against the counter.
“It does to me.” I told her. “I’ve got a bet going with the index finger of my right hand. It says that I should have let it pull the trigger and save us all a lot of trouble. I maintain that you can’t shoot a man without knowing that you should. Optimally you shouldn’t shoot someone unless they’re actively trying to kill you at that very moment.”
“Was he a friend of yours?”
“No.” I shook my head. “If I believed in shooting people on general principal I’d put him pretty near the front of the list.”
“So you won’t be making any excuses for him?”
“Hell no.” I said. “If he touched her, he deserves to go down for it. I’m just trying to decide how hard and how personal it should be.”
“Okay.” She nodded. “I’ll find out.”
There was a knock at the door and one of the large jovial men that were serving as nurses tonight poked his head in. He had a shaved head, a goatee, and looked exactly like the sort of person I would want to see at this time of night if I was hurt. There was more than sympathy about him, there was that strange assured feeling that male nurses always give me that everything is going to be alright.
“We’re ready Dr. Muffit.”
“Okay, I’ll be there in a moment.” She looked to me after turning away from him. “Are you okay? Do you need anything for nerves or anything?”
“I’m fine.” I shook my head. “Just take care of her.”
“Okay.” She turned away and we both walked out of the room together.
One of the local cops, a well put together looking guy called Belsin approached us. She looked like he’d been sealed in plastic immediately after coming out of an injection molding machine in Flint. If there was a hair out of place on him, I couldn’t see it. I didn’t feel anywhere near as slick and cool as he looked.
“I suppose at some point I need to talk to you about a statement.” Belsin said looking over me. “You want to try to give me?”
“I suppose I could if you could get a stenographer I can give it a try.”
“I’ve got one coming.” He looked at me, and tilted his head as if trying to decide something. “I heard a bit about you.”
“Yeah.” He said. “And then I called a guy I know in Detroit who got me in touch with a guy in Troy named Crammer.”
“Possibly one of my biggest fans.” I said.
“Yeah?” Belsin asked. “What do people who aren’t your fans say about you?”
“That killing me on the side of the road is too good for me.” I told him.
“So that thing a year ago was some people who felt indifferent about you?”
“Actually, one of them really liked me.” I told him, considering Amy Heart. “I have an effect on people.”
“I’ll bet.” He remained impassive and impeccable the whole time. I sort of wanted to rub his hair, just to see if he’d shoot me as a result. However, it’d been a long time since I’d been shot and I had no intention of being shot again. “You want to tell me what happened today then? Just quick before the stenographer gets here? Crammer said you can probably be trusted just about as far as I could fling you with one arm, but no farther.”
“See?” I said, as if that confirmed everything I’d said since my first word. “One of my biggest fans.”
I had nothing to do for a while, at least until Jill was done being examined. I sat down opened the bag and turned it over, reserving only the strange conversation I had with Piper. Something was off about that talk, but I had woken him up at one in the morning so perhaps that was all it was. I told them everything else though, and it was a little depressing if I do say so.
You always kind of think that criminals are going to be some kind of cool master minds, laughing at you from behind their poker faces. What you don’t expect is to ask two questions and stumble over a human trafficking program. He’d been supplying a dozen of Piper’s operations with people, and scamming them all. As far as I could see the only thing that made the story more interesting beyond that night was that Cole had escaped. Otherwise, it looked all sewn up with everyone in the world in trouble except for me. I was getting tired though, and I didn’t care anymore about any of that. I had what I’d come for and I would just as soon have gone home. Still I had to get her back from the hospital and for that I had to talk to Doctor Muffit again.
I sat down with her in the abandoned hospital commissary, looking over what must have been a mug of coffee only because no one actually serves motor oil in hospitals. I was putting enough sugar and cream in it to make toffee, but that’s because I don’t drink coffee much. She grabbed it for me and it seemed rude not to drink it. I’ve found though that if I put enough sugar and cream in it, I can manage.
“Well?” I asked as she sat down with a container of cottage cheese.
“She’s not pregnant, thank god. There is some slight bruising.” She said taking a dainty mouthful. “But I wouldn’t suggest that it’s anything more than enthusiasm of an older man with a girl who is far too young for him. It could be from rape, but it could be inexperience. She said he didn’t rape her, but he scared her so much that I would say a rape charge could easily be leveled. Did you talk to her about it?”
“No.” I shook my head. “There hasn’t been much time. What with one thing and another I’ve hardly said twenty words to her.”
“Really?” She seemed a little surprised at my answer. “I got the idea she’s known you for a while. She thinks you hung the moon and stole fire from the gods. She said she knew you were coming to rescue her.”
“She probably means she knew her father would send someone to get her.” I waved it away. “I’ve honestly never met her before tonight.”
“She’s traumatized.” She said, putting a hand to a tired brow and rubbing at sinuses. “Be careful with her, she may attach significance to you.”
“Does she need any kind of medication or anything?” I asked.
“I could give her a sedative, but probably what she needs is distance from this place and a few good meals.”
“Meals?” I asked.
“She hasn’t been eating right since she was kidnapped.” Muffit stirred her cottage cheese with the metal spoon that was just too cheaply made to steal. I happened to notice the lack of a wedding ring on her finger, but didn’t want to comment on it. “He hasn’t been feeding her much since he got her, and he hasn’t been feeding her the right things. She’ll need to get on a proper diet, and get some exercise.”
“Okay.” I nodded my head, feeling the weariness all at once and sighing deeply. I was about to ask another question, when she jumped up and made a sound that can only be written as Euughah! I jumped and reached for her out of instinct. “What?”
“Spider.” She pointed at something that could have maybe gotten from one edge of a dime to the other with its legs spread out as far as they could go. I took a business card from my pocket and got the spider to walk on it. I then flicked the card away, sending the spider flying.
“Okay?” I asked.
“Yeah.” She said sitting down. “Thank you.”
“So, will she be okay?” I tired asking again.
“I think so.” She nodded. “She’ll need to see a therapist, you probably need to make sure that she sees a real gynecologist as well.”
“I’m not her father.” I told her, and extended my hands. “I’m only the guy who came down here to get her. If you give me as much information as you legally can, I’ll make sure her parents get it and I’ll make sure that they understand their daughter needs to see the right people. As for me though, my job is more or less over when I drop her off.”
“Sorry.” She smiled and blushed a little. “It’s the way she kept talking about you. She really thinks she’s known you for longer than you do.”
“She’s younger.” I told her, while stirring the coffee. “She’s not used to the fact that people come and go yet.”
“Just be careful with her, okay?” She asked. “She might attach more significance to you being nice to her than she does. She’s vulnerable and she’s been through a lot.”
“I’ll take care of her.” I smiled, trying to reassure, wondering why she was hammering this point. “I will treat her like she’s my own kid sister.”
“Okay.” She laughed, finished her cheese and then looked at her watch. “We can probably release her now. Are you taking her home tonight?”
“I’ll probably take her to a hotel first.” I said. “Get some sleep and get going in the morning.”
“That’s probably wise.” She nodded. “Let’s go get her released then.”
It didn’t take as long as it should have to get Jill out of the hospital and away from official eyes. However, probably everyone was tired and wanted to go have a look at their beds and see if it looked like they remembered it. We wheeled Jill out to the car, I helped her into the front seat and we drove away. She didn’t say much beyond thank you and okay a few times. She looked tired, she looked almost done in, and I suppose so did I.
“I think we’ll grab a room and just get some sleep.” I told her.
“Okay.” She said and nodded at me.
There wasn’t any more conversation between us that night, and pretty soon it was clear why. Small snoring sounds came from her a few minutes into the ride. I got a few counties away from where we started and found a hotel to stay at. I didn’t carry her up to the room, but I did help her as she stumbled along. With my two day growth and exhausted face, I probably looked old enough to be her father and I claimed her as my daughter on the form.
It was a simple room, two full beds, a desk and a dresser if we wanted to use it. I put the do not disturb sign on the door, put her in one bed, and lay down myself on the other. I don’t know of anything that happened after that though, because in a rare change of form for me, I dropped off almost on the instant.