Read Cowboy Ending - Overdrive: Book One Online

Authors: Adam Knight

Tags: #fiction, #adventure, #murder, #action, #fantasy, #sex, #violence, #canada, #urban, #ending, #cowboy, #knight, #outlaw, #dresden, #lightning, #adam, #jim butcher, #overdrive, #lee child, #winnipeg, #reacher, #joe, #winnipeg jets

Cowboy Ending - Overdrive: Book One (10 page)

 

I rubbed
at my chest, feeling at my scars through the old school
Star Wars
logo emblazoned on my
tee-shirt. Two of the GSW’s were classic TV-style
through-and-throughs, high through my trapezius and lower through
my guts. The third one was more center mass and got caught trying
to exit out the back of my ribcage.

 

Lots of
tissue damage. Blood loss was severe. Over eighty percent of my red
stuff spilled out onto the sidewalk in front of
Cowboy Shotz
. Made quite a mess I was
told.

 

Surgeons called
me lucky. Damage to my guts was bad but repairable. Sure, they had
to remove about a foot of my intestine that was beyond stitching.
That left a pretty scar just below my ribs a good 6 inches long. My
right lung was grazed but not punctured. Two millimeters to the
right and “death by sucking chest wound” would’ve been the opening
line of my obituary.

 

I didn’t feel
lucky. Hospital rehabilitation exercises with nurses and therapists
all around were rather humiliating. So was needing two one-hundred
pound girls to hold my arms as I stood up out of a wheelchair to
take some handrail assisted steps like a ninety year old man.
Thankfully after the first day I was able to walk unassisted.

 

Plus, the TV in
my room didn’t work so I missed the final Jets games of the season.
Though since they missed the playoffs again I probably didn’t miss
that much.

 

Flowers
overflowed the tiny table in my surprisingly private room. Given
the perpetual overcrowding of Winnipeg’s hospitals I figured for
sure I’d be sharing the room with an octogenarian emphysemic who
wheezed into an air mask all night. But I guess being a front page
news gunshot survivor had some perks.

 

A copy of the
Winnipeg Sun sat on my bed. I grimaced re-reading the splash page
headline.

 

BOUNCING
BACK

Nightclub
Security Survives Gangland Shooting

 

There was a
story on the inside flap with lots of pictures from the scene and
more. I couldn’t bring myself to read it.

 

Outside on the
street I could make out a Global TV van and a few other people
hanging around conspicuously holding cameras and chatting. The
hospital had acquiesced to my insistence on privacy, though I’d
been approached directly by one of the Regional Health Authority
vice presidents of the asking me to reconsider.

 

Hey, I was
exceptionally grateful for the hard work and medical expertise of
the personnel responsible for my being able to stand and breathe
without assistance. But I wasn’t a side show freak for people to
take pictures of and gawk at. No matter how crazy the story might
be.

 

I snatched the
paper off the bed and folded it up, tucking it into the gym bag
Mark had brought me from home. A few extra shirts and my toiletries
were already packed in there so it took some jostling.

 

Absently I
pulled out the belt tucked in under my skivvies and started
threading it through the loops on my Old Navy brand jeans, pleased
that I was able to notch it a bit tighter than usual. Turns out
recovering in a hospital is an unknown weight loss method.

 

‘Course I don’t
think Dr. Oz would recommend “intestinal reduction” on his
show.

 

Not without a
significant sponsorship of course.

 

I used the tiny
hospital bathroom and washed my face, trying to shake some cobwebs
from my brain. My knees were bent slightly in order to get myself
in frame as I gave my reflection the once over.

 

My beard was in
serious need of a trim. Despite my deep seated fatigue the bags
under my eyes actually looked smaller than I’d seen in recent
months. Amazing what days of nothing but rest and recovery will do
for you. My arms had the usual bandages at my elbows where tubes
for saline and blood transfusions had done their work. There was
slight bruising underneath those bandages and in various other
spots, specifically on the right side of my chest. I peeled off my
shirt to check on their progress.

 

Compression
bruising from CPR can stick around for weeks according to the
nurses, but already the deep purple just to the left of my sternum
was a faded yellow. The bandages covering my abdominal scar and my
entry wounds had been freshly applied this morning. There were two
matching bandages on my back that I couldn’t see. I was under
strict orders not to get them wet no matter how well the wounds
were healing.

 

I looked leaner
than before. But given the blood loss, surgery and hospital food
doctors weren’t surprised about that. It was a surprise to me
though. Scale said I was down twenty pounds.

 

I shoulda got
shot months ago. Been trying to shed that weight for years.

 

It’s not like I
suddenly had abs or anything but the belly was definitely reduced.
‘Course my arms, back and shoulders were all shrunken as well so
odds are I was in for a long road back to power lifting.

 

My reduced
belly rumbled loudly. I grimaced and stared down at it. The last
two days I had been asking for extra meals to keep up with my
ignorant stomach’s demands. Just couldn’t manage to keep it sated.
Doctors called this a wonderful sign, that my metabolism was
responding well to the therapy and surgery. Trying to speed up the
process of healing.

 

All I knew was
that my granny sized portions of food were not getting the job
done.

 

Ugh.

 

Why couldn’t I
get a pizza delivered?

 

I went
through all the cards that came with the flowers. One from Tamara
that was very sweet, though I had still been unconscious when she
dropped it off. Aaron and the security crew from
Cowboy Shotz
had come in together a
few days back, dropping off a huge bouquet and one of those giant
novelty cards that they had all signed. Aaron had left a personal
note, thanking me for my diligence and sacrifice and wanting me to
take as much time as I needed before coming back.

 

Other
cards and miscellany. Mom’s church. Ones from CTV News, the Free
Press, the Sun. A teeny one liner from
Canada-Pharm
wishing me well; no flowers from
them.

 

Shocker.

 

I packed up all
the cards, folding the giant one in two to get it squished into my
gear bag. Then I eyeballed the flowers carefully, trying to decide
which ones were best to …

 

Someone knocked
on my door.

 

I checked back
over my shoulder and froze.

 

A shade over
five and a half feet tall in flats, taller than that now in her
fashionable heeled boots. Dark slacks with a matching blazer. A
modest purple top with a high neckline that failed to minimize the
significance of her bust. Long brown hair in waves just past her
shoulders. Very professional attire for a very professional
woman.

 

And I was
standing in front of her bare to the waist in my faded blue jeans
and sneakers.

 

Shit.

 

I scrambled to
get my ratty t-shirt back over my head, hoping it hid the sudden
hot flush that scored my cheeks. If she laughed I might’ve crawled
under the hospital bed like a kid and cried.

 

She didn’t
laugh. Her eyes turned away modestly, a slight flush on her lightly
made up cheeks. “I’m sorry, Joe. I didn’t mean to …”

 

“It’s fine!” I
blurted, getting the shirt down over my sagging belly and running
my fingers self-consciously through my disheveled hair. “I just
wasn’t expecting … I mean ….”

 

“I can go, come
back later if you want me to.”

 

“No. No, it’s
fine.”

 

“Really it’s
... I should’ve tried calling, maybe. I …”

 

“It’s fine,
Cathy.” Anything to end the awkward standoff. I took a deep breath,
swallowed my embarrassment and buried it deep where my pride and
dreams made begrudging room for it. “Really. No harm done.”

 

She met my
gaze. I’d forgotten how blue her eyes were. Startling contrast with
her dark hair and complexion.

 

“So you do
remember me?” She smiled slightly, dimples and all. “After the
other night I wasn’t sure.” She paused then, a little concerned. “
Oh I’m sorry. Can you even remember the other night? When you
…”

 

“I remember.” I
shuddered. Aches in my chest, phantom pain mixed with real pain.
The dream catcher tattoo. Flashes. Dad and Donald. Smoke. Blood.
Pain.

 

I shook my
head.

 

“Yeah, I
remember it all.”

 

She crossed her
arms, hugging herself as if getting a chill. I’m told the sight of
me topless does that to women, though not in a good way.

 

“That’s scary.
The whole thing is scary.”

 

What do you say
to that?

 

Silence.

 

We stared at
each other. Then the floor. Back at each other.

 

“So,” I
started, clapping my hands together in front of me and pointing at
her with my index fingers, the small smile in place. “Good to see
you.”

 

“You too.
What’s it been, ten years?”

 

“Almost twelve,
since college.” I turned to fuss with a bag that needed no more
fussing, hoping the small smile on my face wasn’t getting bitter.
“Save for seeing you at the club, yeah. Twelve years.”

 

“That’s weird.
It’s only been ten since we graduated hasn’t it?”

 

I stifled a
sigh, zipped up my gear back firmly and turned back to her.

“So, to what do
I owe the pleasure of CTV’s Weather Specialist Cathy Greenburg?” My
small smile back in place as I crossed the room to where my light
coat was hanging on a hook. “Or do I already owe you for the sunny
weather and you’ve come to collect?”

 

Cathy smiled,
the pink rising in her cheekbones again. “I take payment in cash
and coffee for nice weather.”

 

“Duly noted.”
My scars pulled tight as I slid the jacket over one arm. Manfully I
managed not to wince. I think. “Docs’ say I should lay off the
coffee another few weeks so you’ll have to settle for whatever’s in
my wallet.”

 

“Do I even want
to know what’s in there?”
“Driver’s license. Library card. A bank card that doesn’t work and
maybe thirty-five cents in loose change.”

 

“No
condom?”

 

My voice got
bitter quick. “Hah. Do I look like I get laid a lot?” I flushed.
Damn quick reflexes burning me again. “Sorry. Don’t answer
that.”

 

Cathy walked
across the room, stopping in front of the flower arrangements.
“Don’t worry about it.” She looked over the bouquets, touching a
few of the more intricate ones.

 

Flowers are
such a chick thing. Like jewelry. I’ll never get it the way they
do.

 

“You want
one?”

 

“One what?”

 

“Of my flower …
things?”

 

Cathy smiled
with a raised eyebrow back at me. “Why would I want your
flowers?”

 

I shrugged
slightly, feeling the stitches pulls faintly. “Why would I want
them?”

 

“They’re gifts,
Joe. You should keep them.”

 

I grunted. It
might’ve been in agreement.

 

“Seriously,
Cathy. What are you doing here?”

 

She didn’t look
at me.

 

More
silence.

 

I nodded.

 

“You want an
interview.”

 

Cathy’s face
flushed again, though I could only see the fringes of it from this
angle. “Yes. Well, no actually. My boss wants an interview and he’s
quite perturbed that you won’t grant us one.”
“I ain’t a story. People get shot. Doctors fix people. Put the
doctors on the six o-clock news.”

 

Cathy’s lips
pursed together firmly as she turned to face me. “We did put them
on. And this isn’t like anything else, Joe.”

 

“Sure it is.” I
stepped up next to her, examining the bouquets again. “Doctors
helped me, so let them get the attention. I just got lucky. Well,
unlucky and then lucky I guess.”

 

Cathy’s eyes
were on me intensely. I tried to ignore her gaze. “Joe you were
clinically dead for twenty minutes. No heartbeat. No breathing. You
were two minutes away from being declared DOA.”

 

“Oh.” My mouth
twisted along with my stomach as a chill rank down my back. “I
hadn’t heard that.”

 

“What have you
heard?”

 

I shrugged
again, still examining my flower arrangements. “I got shot. CPR.
Several dudes swapped spit with me. I got the paddles.” The big
arrangement from Aaron and the boys plus the one from the church I
figured. “Should I be weirded out by guys giving me mouth to
mouth?”

 

Cathy placed a
hand on my upper arm. I obliged her motion and turned to face her.
“There’s a lot you should be weirded out about. Everything about
this makes no…” She blinked a few times, taking a second look at
me. My street clothes and my packed back. “Have you been
discharged?”

 

“Not exactly.”
I said, stepping away and over to the bed. I slipped the gym bags’
strap over my left shoulder.

 

Cathy’s eyes
were wide. “Joe, doctors said you should be in the hospital for
weeks. Maybe months.”

 

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