At the bar
A time when one situation seems brutal, it causes profound happiness in the end. How can some things end up wonderful and others so horrible? Well maybe that’s just life’s way of telling you that not everything is happily ever after endings. Not all life is a bowl of cherries. Some times heroes do so well that they end up hating what they have done.
Gary smacked the clock hard enough to turn it off. His eyes opened straight away. He stumbled towards the door, half unconscious. He remembered the chair that was left in the doorway and seemed to push it as if without thinking. Gary opened the door slowly. There was a golden retriever sitting on his paper.
Gary signalled the dog to go inside though he made no real eye contact. You see, when you have gotten the paper as long as Gary well…you expect certain things; like the orange cat for instance. Gary stumbled around, feeling the cold floor for the paper. He finally found it and picked it up. Gary rubbed his eyes softly and gave out a yawn. He scanned the newspaper. Gary heard a bark and looked up. There was an animal that he hadn’t seen come to his door. “Where’s the cat?” Gary asked the dog. The dog barked.
Something caught Gary’s eye, the headline changed almost as if by magic. Sure, a headline changed fast when you had the paper. However, Gary never saw it happen first thing in the morning. Before it talked about a man that was killed. Now it had changed to a whole different story. Gary read the story over again. He wondered what he could do about it.
He scratched his head. The dog growled at Gary. He seemed to tell him something. Gary went up to him and pet the dog. The dog almost bit him right then and there. Gary smiled though he didn’t like this dog’s attitude. He was more vicious than the cat. Maybe he was sent to get the point across to the hero. Who knew why this dog was here…maybe it was for no reason at all.
“What you want to hear the story? Fine just don’t bite me again,” Gary commented. He took a deep breath and began to read, “Bank robber killed in national bank. A 22-year-old male, who has now been acknowledged as Jonathan Lemur, died while attempting to escape from a bank robbery at 10:30AM. Lemur was thought to work for the crime boss who still wasn’t found. The man was shot in various places as he continued to escape from the bank. Lemur was 5’7 with dark brown hair and blue eyes. Police are still investigating what lead up to the robbery.” Gary knew John quite well; he was an old friend that used to work in financial management. But why would he rob a bank? “Why did he do it Dog?” The dog barked.
Gary walked down the stairs with the dog. He stretched his arms out far and looked out the door. The streets were still quiet—well for Chicago. He rubbed his eyes and turned around. “Where’s the cat?” A familiar voice asked. Gary looked at the man sitting drinking a coffee.
“Chuck?” Gary questioned.
“Yeah, that’s me.”
“What are you doing here?”
“I came for a visit. Aren’t you happy to see me?”
“Drinking my coffee like you own the place, typical. I thought I told you that Marissa and I were partners.”
“I am not here about McGinty’s okay?”
“Alright, just making sure. I remember last time you got me in trouble.”
“Oh come on! Gar that was last time. You know I wouldn’t do anything to hurt you.” The dog barked.
“Uh huh I am with you all the way pooch.” Gary sat down on the stool and perched his feet.
“Where’s the cat?”
“Well how would I know? I wake up and I find this dog. I have never had a dog in my house…only the orange feline who can’t keep his eyes off of me. The one who has persuaded me to take this paper every morning is this cat and he’s not here.” Chuck was sure that Gary was loosing his mind…either that or he was in a hurry.
“Well the dog must be his replacement or something.” Gary grabbed his coat and began to tie up his shoes. He looked around the room wondering if Marissa was there as well.
“No Marissa yet…I figured she’d want to see me before I went off on another wild adventure. She’s usually around at this time.”
“Wild is right. You get yourself into too much trouble. One of these days the paper is going to kill you. I will loose my best friend and that cat will finally stick his nose up at you.” Gary rolled his eyes softly. He looked at Chuck and soon remembered the paper article again.
“Whatever you say Chuck—I have a world to save so if you don’t mind…”
“Sure…I will watch the mutt as long as you agree to slow down, that paper can be murder.”
“I am not slowing down.”
“You are such a mule.”
“Maybe so but I was given this paper to do good deeds with it. I didn’t get it to ignore it.”
“Maybe me being here is a sign to put it down for one day.”
“No Chuck, it’s a sign you’re going to help Marissa today…they could use the help don’t you know?”
“Don’t expect me to do it for free.” Gary walked out the door, leaving the dog with Chuck. The dog barked. Obviously, the cat was nowhere to be found. “Who are you?” The dog barked again. “Is my orange friend taking a day off?”
At the bank, 10:25 AM
John stood there pacing back and forth. The only thought on his mind was about the crime boss putting a hole in his back. John was just about put on his mask. “Yo, Johnny,” Gary exclaimed. John looked back to see a friendly face.
“Hobson? You look the same way I remember,” John yelled back. He gave his friend a big hug.
“Hey let’s go get a coffee or something.” John looked at the bank he was going to rob. He thought about holding the cash in one hand and the cold gun in the other. John kept thinking about the praise he would get if he did the job right. His boss would kill him if he only did half a job. But John had to go with Gary. He didn’t know why at the time. Something pushed in his brain making him not only want to go but have to go.
Gary brought him through the back way of the bar so he wouldn’t be seen. This was out of Johnny’s request. A lot of it was people at the bar. McGinty’s was a place where many people would meet. It was a place where under cover police officers would meet. But it was also a place in which crime bosses would assemble. Why both picked this place was Beyond Johnny but he wouldn’t tell Gary that for anything. Gary made him a cup of tea.
“Yeah,”-John took a sip of his mint tea-“I was financially stable but when I came to Chicago. Everything that happened was falling through the cracks. I lost my job, I lost my house. Soon after, I didn’t like who I was. I got a job selling ice cream. With that money I would go on drinking sprees. I would drink the cheapest alcohol because that’s all I can afford.” John’s eyes widened. He couldn’t believe he was telling Gary all of this. He hadn’t talked to Gary in years.
“You kept eyeing the bank John.”
“Habit I guess. When you don’t have anything you want everything. When you have everything it’s almost like you have nothing. I remember…“—John took another sip of his tea—“Spending money like it was nothing at all. Now, I don’t have enough money to buy new shoe laces. That’s why I took this new job. I don’t get paid yet though.”
“If you need money, I can spare some.”
“What made you think about robbing a bank?”
“Everything. I’m just in a mess right now.” Gary looked at the paper, the headline was still there but the time had changed. “Promise me; promise that you won’t go back to the bank.” Gary couldn’t make it out yet.
“Johnny, if you go back there you could be killed. Don’t ask me how I know, I just do. Please, don’t be a fool.”
“I promise.” Gary escorted John out the back entrance. John smiled at Gary. “See ya Gar.”
Gary looked at the newspaper once again. “Detective killed while on secret mission.” Gary was stunned. “Detective Toni Bragotti was found dead after being shot seven times with a machine gun.” Gary stopped reading; he sat down on the back step. “The event happened by a disagreement on money payment for drugs. Bragotti was shot at 7:00 PM in Elm Wood Park.” There was the dog at his feet. He looked at it and wondered how he’d get Toni out of it.
On the other side of town
John walked into an office building and swallowed hard. That bank mess up was going to cost him big time. He knew it as well as any other. No crime boss was willing to let such a man off the hook.
“Look boss, I’m sorry, I can’t go rob the bank. I made a promise and my word is my bond,” John replied.
“Gee, isn’t that sweet.” The boss took out the knife. John closed his eyes tightly. A man opened the door, which startled the crime boss.
“Boss, someone’s offering us 10 grand for our drugs,” The man stated.
“You’ll deliver the drugs Johnny and this time you won’t mess up. You know the price on your head is large this time. You old booze hound,” The boss stated.
“Thank you sir,” John exclaimed.
“Elm Wood Park.”
“Gottcha.” John walked out of there and looked up into the clouds. He took a deep breath. “When will I learn?”
Toni was getting ready for a big drug bust. She was prepared with the money, 10 million dollars. The suitcase was attached to her. Toni “Hey Toni,” Armstrong stated.
“Yes?” Bragotti replied.
“What’s up with you lately? Are you sure you can handle a case like this or do you need me to tag along?”
“Hey, I am good with this stuff rookie…better than you have ever been.”
Toni sat down at the island of the bar in McGinty’s. Chuck was the server today. “Hi there, I’m Charles, I’ll be your server today,” Chuck stated.
“Stop messing around! Get me chocolate milk before I blow your legs off!” Bragotti ordered.
“Yes ma’am.” Marissa sat down.
“Chuck you’d better not mouth off the customers,” Marissa stated.
“This woman’s impossible,” Chuck mumbled.
“I heard that buddy!” Toni exclaimed.
“Hey Detective,” Marissa stated.
“He’s out helping people.” Toni looked at the dark woman wondering what in the world she was talking about. But then she thought about how strange Gary was and shrugged it off. She knew how he worked. Well not really. Not even Zeke Crumb could figure that kid out. He was one strange guy. She got a signal from her radio to come out.
“Hey I got to go, say hi to Hobson for me. And tell him to stay out of trouble, for his sake.”
“No problems there.” Bragotti walked out of McGintity’s.
Gary walked into McGintity’s and looked at Chuck. “Hey pal, what’s wrong?” Chuck asked.
“I have to make a choice that could possibly kill me,” Gary replied. Chuck looked at his confused friend. He knew that Gary was just foolish enough to do something like this. Chuck didn’t like it one bit. It was hard to believe that Gary would always jeopardize everything. Chuck wanted to put on the sad face. He was sick if Gary always jumping in front of things. They didn’t understand.
“Then don’t do it.”
“Chuck…this woman, she’s very special to me.”
“If she was anything like the woman I met today I wouldn’t even go for her. Man alive that woman was weird, I mean too weird. You should’ve seen her. She was in such a hurry; gave me one lousy tip that’s for sure.”
“How lousy is a lousy tip?”
“A whole buck, I’m a good guy right? I serve her the drink; I gave love and a complement.”
“Did she have dark hair, brown eyes?”
“Bragotti!” Chuck looked at him in astonishment. He didn’t understand why a man like Gary could get messed up with a girl like that.
“Gary, you have a way of having the worst luck with women.”
“Did anyone here recognize her?”
“Marissa seemed to know her.”
“This woman’s to die tonight unless I help her.”
“You’re in love with her?!”
“No! She’s just special to me alright!”
“You like her.”
“I don’t like her nor will I ever like her.”
“That’s what’s called a love hate relationship.” Gary looked at Chuck and knew he wouldn’t get anywhere with him. That’s just the way Chuck Fisher worked.
“In the office ordering something, what else would she be doing? Just running a business like she was meant to do; you know Marissa.” Gary got up and looked through the office window. Gary knocked at the door. Marissa signalled Gary to come in. She hung up the phone.
“Gary is that you?” Marissa asked as she stood up.
“How’d you know?”
“The way you walk.”
“Marissa, I can’t make a choice. This paper is driving me up the wall. Bragotti might be killed tonight. The only way to save her is to push her out of the way of the bullet. I don’t know what to do exactly.”
“Gary, you can’t…”
“I can’t but I should.”
“You could be killed or worse.”
“What’s worse then being killed?” Marissa wiped a tear from her eye. She wasn’t prepared for one of her best friends to breathe his last breath. Gary had been more than a friend to her. He was a brother.
“You do what you have to do.”
“Alright.” Gary walked out of the room. He ran out of the door and of course got in the mini-van. He was going to do this, even if it meant killing himself.
Gary heard a meow. He jumped, startled by the orange cat. “Where were you this morning when I needed you?” The cat meowed again. “Right, off to make the biggest mistake of my life.”
6:45 PM, Elm Park…
“Subject approaching,” Bragotti whispered. John walked nervously to Toni. He didn’t want to do this but it seemed he had no choice. There was something about this woman that didn’t seem right. That feeling in his gut was urging him to back off. But John remembered the red wrath in his eyes. The crime boss practically would breathe firer.
“I brought the goods; did you keep up with your end?” Johnny asked.
“Ten mill. I never lie; this is just like I promised.” Johnny opens the suitcase and goes through each roll of money. He sees that everything is in order. Toni took out her badge. “Police, I’ve got you now.” He tried to run but failed in the process. Toni put a gun to the man’s neck but was suddenly over taken by the strong willed man. He backed away from Bragotti, holding the firearm straight out.
“Don’t move lady.” Just as Bragotti came closer, Gary jumped on his friend’s back.
“Run Bragotti!” Gary screamed. Out of the blue, there was gunshot that hit Toni in the arm. Though the young woman was stunned, she kept going. Gary kept a good hold on him.
“You have no business in this,” John stated as he threw him on.
“John?” John realized that Gary could pick him out of a line up if he had the chance. John took out his handgun and shot Gary over and over. But not in places that would kill him. John ran away leaving Gary out for the count, bleeding on the ground.
Bragotti ran back to her friend. She saw Gary lying on the ground and came to a halt. Tears ran down her face as she began to shake. “Officer and pedestrian down, do you copy, this is code name foxy lady, pedestrian and officer down. We need a wagon. Repeat, officer and pedestrian down,” Bragotti stated.
“This is code name Charlie, how bad is the subject over?” The voice on the receiver replied.
“Bleeding badly sir; uncontrollably, over.”
“Sending a wagon foxy lady; this is Charlie over and out.”
“Hold on Hobson, hold on.”
Since Bernie and Lois were on vacation, Gary’s only two medical links were Marissa and Chuck. The phone rang and of course Chuck answered, “Hello, this is McGinty’s, Chuck speaking.”
“Hello, is there a Charles Fisher or a Marissa Clark around?” the nurse asked.
“Yeah, I’m Chuck.”
“Gary Hobson has been in caught in a shooting. He was wounded very badly. We need his emergency contacts to make a few medical decisions for him.”
“Slow down! Have you checked with his parents?”
“Yes, they aren’t home.”
“Okay, we’ll be down as soon as we can.” Chuck hung up the phone. He put his hands on his head and pulled his hair back. Chuck couldn’t believe that he did it. He couldn’t believe that Gary got wounded for that woman. Marissa came towards Chuck.
“Who was that?” She asked.
“Gary’s in the hospital.”
“Just a while ago. He saved that off the wall woman, what’s her name?”
“Bragotti,” Marissa whispered.
“I’ll get your coat; we’ll close down for the day.”
In the hospital
Marissa and Chuck were waiting in terror for information about their friend. Gary was in surgery. He had numerous injuries to the back and chest. They said that he could die. But Marissa knew better than that. She knew that Gary was a tough person that was able to withstand anything.
Toni was okay pretty much. A deep arm wound caused her to have a brand new broken shoulder. After Bragotti was all checked out, she went up to Hobson’s unit. As she got there, Toni noticed Chuck Fishman just sitting there. “You again,” Toni said. She sat beside Chuck giving him an evil glare.
“Just think of myself as one of Gary’s best friends,” Chuck replied.
“I can’t believe that.”
“What can’t you believe?”
“That you, Chuckles, could possibly be Gary’s best friend; it’s weird.”
“Oh yeah well try eating ice cream up side down with out spilling any. That’s what I call weird.”
“Yeah, I guess it is weird.” Toni then began to cry softly to herself. Of course Toni wouldn’t let anyone know that she loved Hobson. But then again, neither would Gary. Those two had a passion like no other. Two opposites attract every easily. These two were no exception.
The doctor came out. Chuck recognized his face immediately. “Hello Charles, Marissa,” The doctor stated.
“Hello you, doctor Swartz. Tell me, how’s my buddy doing?” Chuck exclaimed. The doctor looked at the young man. Marissa was calm though still.
“Gary has lost a lot of blood. We had to save his life before anything else.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I mean that he may be paralysed from the waist down.”
“May? You mean you’re not sure?”-Chuck’s voice was raising- “This is perfect! I want answers. My friend is full of holes! And you can’t tell me anything. The only information you’re giving me is he might die. Might never walk again, well this isn’t what I need to hear. And honestly, neither does anyone else in here.” Chuck was giving the doctor a headache.
“I know this isn’t easy for you to understand right now, but you’ll have to try. We’re doctors, we can’t perform miracles.”
“Typical doctor speech you guys don’t impress me at all. You, with all your fancy mumbo jumbo, can’t explain why an elephant has a tail. You can’t even cure a cold. You would think that with all this stuff you had you could at least cure a cold in less than three doses. Can I see my friend all ready?”
“Yes.” The doctor led them into a room and saw a bandaged up man. He was in a body cast. He had three IV’s in him. Everyone’s eyes grew spacious and their minds heavy with guilt. All around him hovered over the man. “That’s not Gary.” There was a sigh of relief. The doctor opened the curtain to reveal Gary. He was in a comma, broken arm and hand. Gary had gauze wrapped from the middle of his chest to his hips. The bandages were piled up so high there was no room for a shirt. There were tubes going straight down him.
“How bad is he Chuck and don’t lie to me?” Marissa shouted.
“He’s bad. I can’t even think of a lie to tell you right now. I can only say that he will make it. Gary’s a strong willed guy and all. He’s just got to live.” Marissa tightens up her grip on Chuck’s hand.
That night, they slept there. Chuck took a chair on the right side of Gary and Marissa took one by the foot of his bed. Chuck couldn’t really sleep that night. He stared at Gary wondering what was going to happen. No one knew what to do. Toni kept her distance. Not leaving Gary’s side for a moment. They wouldn’t dream of it. Though he wouldn’t get the recognition he deserved, at least he had his friends. Gary was holding on. Even if it was by a small thread, there he was.
Chuck woke up to the sound of a meow in the morning. He was ready to kill the cat. “You killed my best friend!” Chuck shrieked. Marissa heard the cat as well. She stood up and walked towards Chuck’s voice. She put a hand on Chuck’s shoulder.
“Chuck, it wasn’t the cat’s choice it was Gary’s. You can yell at the cat as much as you want but it isn’t going to solve anything,” Marissa told him.
“I know. I am just so mad. Why did he let that paper ruin his life?”
“I don’t know. You can help Gary out. Though I don’t know if he’d trust you to do this.”
“The paper.” Marissa held up an object that Gary had used thousands of times to get him in trouble.
“Oh no! I’ll end up like this, in a bed right beside Gary’s, there’s no way.”
“He’d be proud of you.” Chuck thought for a moment, she was right. He was a millionaire and didn’t need the paper for financial use anymore. So Marissa knew he wouldn’t go for that.
“Okay, I’ll do it. But it’s only until we can find someone better for the job like Gary.”
“I’ll stay with him, don’t worry Chuck, he’ll see this familiar face if he wakes up.”
“You mean as soon as he wakes up don’t you?”
“I don’t know, with how the doctor described it to us again last night, I’m not even sure of what to think.”
“Oh no you don’t Marissa, giving up is for losers and Gary is not prepared to go out and run a marathon without the ability to do so. Just like when I was in the hospital and they said I might die. Now did I die?”
“Will Gary die?” Marissa began to cry. Chuck put an arm around her and cradled her slowly. “Hey, you’ll be okay, he’ll be okay.”
“I hope so Chuck. Now get out of here, you need to help the world.”
“Chuck on the job.” He began to read the paper. Glancing at the more minor things and realizing he had a light work load. Besides a tree branch that fell causing a child to die. He ran out of the room.
At the crime boss’ place
Jonathan walked back shaking. He had not returned to the crime boss right away for fear of what he might say. “You are unbelievable! You were asked to do a simple job and now you’re telling me that man you shot didn’t die?” The crime boss screamed.
“Look, I didn’t mean for this guy to get involved. He was a friend of mine and…” John began.
“No excuses buddy. You got the money now you have to kill the witness.”
“I won’t kill him.”
“Then get out of here and leave your money. I don’t ever want to see you here again. You have disgraced our name long enough!” As Jonathan walked out, he was ready to kill him at first sight. Hobson was going to have to be killed. But not until the heat died down, it was too dangerous.
Jonathan was so angry. The rage built inside him like a thousand forest fires. He wasn’t willing to give that rage up. John knew that friendship was a blessing. But he also knew that Gary ruined two jobs for him. Not one but two. Nothing Gary could to could change that thought in Gary’s mind.
Jonathan ran out of money the day he was fired from his job. He was going to go back and live with his parents but John just didn’t want them to think he was wrong. It was bad enough that Gary knew who he was and what was going on but now this?
What was he going to do? Gary was the only one that ever wanted to help him. He was always there in good or in bad. When Gary had a job and John didn’t, Gary would share his apartment with him.
He couldn’t do it. Or could he? Could John ignore all the good his friend did for him? Could John ever understand what was going on? Maybe the fiasco was just what John needed to turn his life again. But still, anxiety took over.
Chuck walked into the hospital room limping. “Hi chuck, how was your day?” Marissa asked.
“How was my day? Let’s see, I was run over by a truck. A little kid decided my nose was a chew toy. The cat from the tree wasn’t really a cat. It was part demon it scratched my chin so hard I had to get stitches. And not to mention the old woman that chased me down the street for beating up the robber after he stole her purse,” Chuck stated.
Marissa had to laugh. “It’s a wonder how Gary can do this everyday huh?”
“No, it’s a wonder he lives through the people he saves! I thought I’d at least get a pat on the back from someone.”
“Well you need a nice rest in a hospital chair.”
“Well, Gary needs to get better so I can give him his paper back and show the world how smart I am.” Gary’s head began to move. Chuck barley saw it out of the corner of his eye. “Gary?”
“What about Gary?”
“He was moving his head.”
“Gary wake up!” Gary’s eyes fluttered open. He looked at Marissa and then Chuck.
“What happened to you?” Gary whispered.
“Let’s see, my foot was over by a truck. A little kid decided my nose was a chew toy. The cat from the tree wasn’t really a cat. It scratched my chin so hard I had to get stitches. And not to mention the old woman that chased me down the street for beating up the robber after he stole her purse,” Chuck stated.
“You let him have the paper?”
“No, I took it and used it responsibly.”
“Where am I anyway?”
“No, though sometimes I wish she was dead with that mouth of hers. That woman’s got an attitude like no other.”
“Sounds like Toni.”
“I hurt all over. I can’t believe I did what I did. I would do it again. Somehow I have a feeling I would.”
“Hey! Wait a minute. Can you move your toes?” Gary began to sit up, suddenly feeling pain and fainted once again. “No!”
“What happened Chuck?” Marissa asked.
“He’s out again.”
“It was so nice to hear him talk.”
“I know. But we got to keep on hoping he gets better, for his sake and ours. What would lives be like without Gary Hobson and his paper?”
“Well—I don’t know--let’s see normal?”
“Well let me rephrase that. What would our lives be without Gary or the paper?”
“Empty and sorrowful, you wouldn’t have gotten half the stuff you have.”
“I wouldn’t have had McGintity’s as a starting point that’s for sure.”
“That paper has done us a lot of joy.” Chuck Looked at Gary. He couldn’t believe how pale he was. “Chuck? You okay?”
“Yeah, I was just wondering…did it do as much joy as pain for Gary?”
“I’m sure it did.”
John’s time was running out. John knew he needed life. And if he had to kill his best friend in the process—maybe his thoughts weren’t clear. In one case, John could run for the rest of his life just to save a friend. In another direction, Hobson could die and he would be safe, but not his conscious mind. He could never live without Gary’s friendship he would’ve been dead that day. John knew it too.
But still that voice echoed through his head of what the Boss told him, “Either you kill him or I will. Then I kill you. And I know that they won’t find your body under that deep blue ocean.” John couldn’t do it. He wasn’t going to steep to his level. Though the thoughts pushed through his brain faster than a bullet through glass, John knew that this would be the toughest decision of his life.
He finally came to the conclusion that he couldn’t do it. He stuck a pistol to his mouth and wondered if this would save Gary. Suddenly a ragging man came in and grabbed the gun out of his hands. “No you don’t,” Chuck commented.
“Let me die. I shot my best friend,” John mumbled. Chuck thought about who he could have shot. It said nothing about it in the paper since had read it.
“Who is this best friend of yours?” Suddenly it occurred to him. “Gary…you’re the one that shot Gary.”
“Oh no, now you know who I am too. I didn’t want to shoot him. I was just so scared. I knew the police officer and Gary were friends. I didn’t know what else to do. He could identify me.”
“Okay, so you shot him? Why don’t you turn yourself in?”
“If I do, Hobson will be in even more trouble than before. If I do he will both he and I will be shot. I will tell you who this boss is but you will end up being killed yourself.”
“Why would I be killed?” John must’ve talked to Chuck for three hours. He told him about all the things the crime boss, Pete Livingston had done. From murders to crimes that others were forced to do. Chuck looked at him with the deepest sorrow.
“Well I am going now.”
“To turn yourself in…John, is that what you’re going to do?”
“In a sense that’s what I am going to do.” John walked towards the door like he was going to go and turn himself in. John’s eyes began to cloud up with tears. He stuck the gun back in his mouth and before Chuck could do anything, the man pulled the trigger. Chuck turned away from John and sobbed. He could have lived. Chuck knew there was nothing he could do.
He looked through the paper and saw another deed he had to do. Save a loving mother from an attacking husband. “This just is going to be one of those days.” Chuck walked out of the room and headed to the bar. He took a long shower and put on some fresh clothes. He then walked over to the place that poor young Mary was being attacked by her abusive husband…Pete.
“I will have no more of this woman! I have given you everything…jewels, diamonds everything your heart desires. This is how you repay me?” Pete asked. His wife spit in his face and walked away. He grabbed her by the arm and Chuck grabbed him by the shirt turning Pete around. He punished Pete hard. Mary ran away safe and sound.
“That’ll teach you not to beat your wife,” Chuck exclaimed. He walked away leaving the man on the ground unconscious. He rubbed his hands together a couple of times going back and forth in a steady motion. Chuck just wanted to go back to the hospital. He suddenly saw that golden retriever once again. “Are you supposed to be for me or for Gary?” The dog barked three times and put his nose on the paper. Chuck opened it and looked through it. Another article caught his eye. “Wife killed in suspicious car accident? Woman known as Mary Livingston was found dead in a suspicious car accident. Her break line had been cut. Police say that it wasn’t an accident and will investigate the trial further. Livingston’s car was at Don’s Garage for tune-ups. Staff of the Garage are the main people in question.” The dog barked again. “I am going…I just wish I understood how Livingston could be in so much trouble…Pete Livingston is the one I beat up for hitting his wife…he’s the one that ordered Gary shot. I think we should save Mrs. Livingston and have someone like Crumb talk to her…or maybe that Bragotti chick.”
Chuck went on his way to the garage. He saw the woman he’d saved that morning. She turned to see his face. “Why are you following me?” Mary asked. Chuck looked at her. Mary was afraid…he could see it in her eyes.
“If you go in that car you will die.”
“You can ask anyone of these mechanics if you don’t believe me. Your break line is cut right through with a knife.”
“I won’t ask a mechanic. They were probably paid to do this job…I didn’t think he would sink this low.”
“Pete…my husband either wants me beside him in his empire or he wants me dead. Don’t worry about this though. I am sure I will find another way out of Chicago without my car. I suppose then he would attach a bomb to my car.”
“Ma’am…you could help us put your husband behind bars.”
“Are you a cop?”
“No I am not a police officer. I would never want to be one either. Those guys get killed faster than you can say Bob’s your uncle’s pet monkey.”
“Why do you want my husband?”
“Simple…he was responsible for what happened to my best friend. He’s lying there right now. I want you to meet him…if he’s awake again. Would you come with me?”
“I see no reason for you to kill me. So why not…I will come with you.” Mary accompanied Chuck on what would be an interesting experience. He just hoped that by meeting Gary, Mary would be convinced to tell the police what she knew. Otherwise it would be up to Chuck to get this vile person behind bars. He wondered if that would mean death for him. If John was right, Chuck could be dead within minutes of testifying.
Gary was awake once again. He held onto Marisa’s hand and looked at her carefully. She was sleeping. Marisa must’ve been up all night and he knew it. Since he had been up, three nurses had checked on him. He had medicine pushed into the IV. Gary felt like he was a drugstore. Chuck came in and looked at Gary and waved. Mary walked in slowly. “Who is this?” Gary whispered. He started to sit up again when Chuck stopped him.
“Hey Gary, you’re not doing that to yourself again,” Chuck commented.
“She’s too old for you Chuck.” Mary chuckled.
“I am not with him Mr. Hobson. I am here to talk to you. Chuck said it would convince me to testify against my husband,” Mary said.
“Oh…well I am glad you’re here…I don’t know who your husband is exactly but I know from experience that testifying can be a good thing. I know from experience that people appreciate it more when you’re cooperative with them,” Gary mumbled.
“Gary…my husband is the one that sent the man to give the drugs to the police officer friend.”
“John…he must feel awful about shooting me…Chuck you have to find him.” Chuck’s head lowered. “I knew he would if he was left alone. I know you probably tried to stop him. Ma’am, for your own safety you need to talk to a police officer. I know just the one that could help you. He’s a detective. I saved his wife last year. His name is Armstrong.”
“Well…maybe I should. You two are both heroes…I almost died twice and your friend here saved me. I can’t believe he went against Pete.”
“Chuck? You are crazy…I hope you’re okay.”
“Nothing I can’t handle. Why are you worrying about everyone but yourself again? You’re the one in the hospital bed,” Chuck said Gary let out a hacking cough. He made his way up. It took a little bit to get up though Gary wouldn’t admit it.
“Chuck…you’re my friend. Now get her to Armstrong.”
“Okay…who is he?”
“I have his number in my little black book at McGinty’s okay?”
“Alright Gary, I’ll get her there.”
“Take Marisa home…she needs to sleep in her bed and not in a hard chair. I am okay…no one has to worry.”
“You can say that all you want Gary Hobson but I am still worried. Until you’re out of here I won’t stop,” Marisa stated. Gary laughed. With that the two were out of there. With three visitors gone another two came in. In the hospital you get lots of rest. Toni walked in with her shoulder up in a bandage. Crumb walked in and looked at Gary laying there.
“Oh I knew one of these days you were gonna end up in a hospital and yet you never listen to me,” Crumb said. Gary began to laugh and went into a sudden cough. He couldn’t seem to stop coughing. His chest became tight. Crumb pushed to the call bell. His lips pressed together. “Oh come on Hobson. You can’t so this.” The nurses came in and automatically called in a code blue. Crumb was pushed out into the hallway. Everyone hoped that Hobson would be okay.
“What’s going on?” Marissa asked. Crumb looked at her with eyes of despair. “You’re not telling me something.”
“He’s—he’s…” The doctor walked out and took his gloves out. They all walked towards him, waiting for news about their friend.
Everyone was dressed in their best. They looked pretty good. Marissa straightened her pants suite. She took Spike’s harness and began to walk out of her office. She stopped for a moment, frozen in thought. She felt the doors of the place she worked in. Marissa shook her head. She walked a little further and sighed. Marissa had tears in her eyes. She could hear Chuck’s light breathing. Marissa wanted to look happy for her friend. She looked up at Chuck and smiled. “Are you okay?” Chuck asked.
“Life sure has been different since that day,” Marissa replied. Chuck sighed. “You know, I am pretty good with change but this just isn’t the same.”
“No one said it would be. I guess we all have to take it one step at a time.” Toni walked into McGinty’s restaurant and bar. She looked out into the evening sky before closing the door. She smiled softly at Marissa. “Hey Toni, it’s good to see ya again after so long.” Tony looked at Chuck smugly.
“Yeah—good to see you too Chuckles,” Toni replied jokingly.
“Why do you always call me that?” Toni shrugged.
“Well, we’re wasting time and I am sure we shouldn’t do that today, we might as well make the best of this situation.”
“Did you guys get everything arranged?” Marissa asked.
“Sure, Armstrong made sure everything was in order. You know, he’s quite good at what he does. The wood looks beautiful. I am sure Gary would want it that way,” Chuck commented.
“What about the metal handles?”
“Well they’re close and are nicely fastened.” Chuck sighed. “It hasn’t been the same without him.” Everyone nodded slowly. They didn’t know what to do. The people in the bar looked at each other. Their stomachs were all filled with butterflies. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to look at Gary inside that thing.”
“Oh Chuck, don’t say that. Everything’s going to be alright. You’ll see.”
“I don’t like it Marissa, I don’t like it one bit. What will happen to the bar?”
“I run it anyway. You know how Gary was. He always was there helping people.”
“He never stopped to think about himself,” Tony added.
“Marissa, what about the paper and the cat?” Chuck whispered.
“That’s what you’re here for. I know this is hard for you. Chuck, you’re a good man. You have been doing the paper for a while now and I know that you can keep doing it,” Marissa answered.
“Thanks Marissa.” Chuck sighed once again. He looked at the stairs that lead to Gary’s room.
“I think Chuckles has lost it,” Tony said with a weak grin.
“It’s all been hectic since that day. I know he’ll be alright,” Marissa answered.
“Don’t talk about me like I am not here! Gary’s stuck in that thing and there’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t sit there and change the past. I can’t go back and stop it from happening! Why did he make such a stupid choice?” Chuck ranted. He banged his fist on the counter and looked at the picture of Gary, Marissa and himself on the counter. They all had towels on their shoulders. Gary had the biggest smile on his face. “It just isn’t fair.”
“I know it isn’t Charles. I wish it would have been me. I wish I could change what happened but I can’t. Now Bernie and Lois are coming back soon. They don’t need to hear us like this,” Tony snapped. The front door was opened. A wheelchair began to roll in with someone guiding it. Everyone smiled. Bernie walked in front of the wheelchair and looked inside.
“Oh it looks really good in here Lois, I am glad we came,” Bernie announced. Lois rolled her eyes as she continued to push the wheelchair. “Oh woman, don’t be that way.” A familiar face stared at the place, fixing his eyes on at every wall and every person. “See? All your friends are here. I know it’s going to be hard for a while but you’ll get used to it soon. All wounds heal with time.”
“I know Dad, you must have given me this speech 100 times or more,” Gary said.
“Welcome home Gary,” Marissa cried out. Gary looked up from the wheelchair and laughed.
“So the bathroom is all set up?”
“Yeah, we were just talking about it,” Chuck answered. Armstrong walked down the stairs and wiped the sweat off his brow. He waved at the group. “The best part is all of it will be removed once you get better.” Gary looked up at the banner it read, “Welcome home Gary.” He shook his head slowly.
“You know, I am not going to be the same for a while. The doctor said one day at a time.” Chuck’s eyes filled with tears. He got down to Gary’s level.
“Well its okay, the cat and I have an agreement. We’re friends—for the time being. I am not leaving until you can take the paper again,” Chuck whispered.
“Why are we treating this like a funeral?” Bernie asked. He turned on some music and grabbed his wife. He held her close and kissed her hard. The couple began to dance. Chuck grabbed Marissa in his arms and began to dance with her. He stepped on her toes at least three times or more. Tony went to Gary’s level.
“Hobson, you shouldn’t have done what you did. I would have been fine. I am a cop, I can handle myself,” Tony snarled. Gary shook his head no. He looked at her beautiful eyes and touched her face.
“If that’s your way of saying thank you, then you’re welcome,” Gary replied.
“Just don’t get hurt again.”
“Shut up and dance with me.” Tony grabbed on to the handles of his chair and began swinging it around like they were dancing. Gary’s loving choice brought Tony closer to him. Although they won’t admit it, they will always have feelings for each other. Maybe someday they’ll work together. With the way things work with Gary, it’s a possibility.
Email the author: firstname.lastname@example.org