PATIENT - MARK JOSEPH KIEWLAK
We were in a glass elevator going up the side of the building.
“He’s got my daughter in there.”
“You’ve got to do something to help her.”
“I will,” I said.
We were nearing the top floor.
“I just... I thought I could trust him. With him being a doctor...”
“Like you,” I said.
“Yes, dammit. Like me.”
Henderson looked like he was going to pass out. Sweat was pouring out of him. Outside the elevator the night was cold and dark and it was hailing. We reached the top floor.
“I’ll help your daughter,” I said.
The doors opened and there was a body lying facedown in front of us. It was a security guard. I took out my gun and stepped into the corridor.
“Do what I told you,” I said to Henderson. “Go back down to the lobby and send the elevator back up here.”
“He stays where he is,” a voice said. It came from down the hall. Three doors on the left. An office door was open and a pair of legs was sticking out into the hall. They wore the same color pants the security guard was wearing.
“The old man fucking stays,” the voice said.
“That’s Kevin,” Henderson said.
He took a step out of the elevator. I shoved him back. “He’s got my daughter, dammit.”
I kept my eyes trained on the doorway.
“Kevin,” I said.
“Who the fuck are you?” the voice said.
“I’m here for Mindy,” I said.
“I can’t do that,” I said.
“Send the old man in,” he said.
“I can’t do that, either.”
“You’re a fucking cop,” he said.
“I used to be.”
I had my back to Henderson. I felt him pushing against me, trying to get around. The sound of hail against the elevator glass was getting louder.
“He’s got my daughter. I want to see her.”
“Send the old man in,” the voice said.
“I’ll only say this once,” I said to Henderson. “Step back into the elevator. Close the doors. I can’t worry about him and about you at the same time. If I hear those doors open, I’ll turn around and leave and call the cops like I should’ve done in the first place.”
“No police,” Henderson said. “We can’t have the police here.”
“Then do as I say.”
“I’m waiting,” the voice said.
Henderson backed into the elevator. “You take care of my daughter,” he said. “My baby. You take care of her. You kill that prick if you have to. Do whatever you have to. I’ll back you up. I’ll say whatever I need to. You just get my daughter out of there, understood?”
The doors closed behind me. I went down the hall slowly, keeping my gun trained on the doorway.
“Who the fuck is out there?” the voice said.
I stepped into the doorway. Kevin was standing behind his desk pointing a gun in my direction. He had on his white coat and underneath that his surgical scrubs. There was blood and some other kind of fluid all over him.
“Where the fuck is the old man?” Kevin said. “Send him in here.”
“He’s not coming,” I said. “Where’s his daughter?”
Off the main office there was another smaller room. From where I was standing, I could see the corner of a surgical cart. I thought there might be an operating table.
“Is she in there?” I said.
“Kevin,” I said. “I’m here for the girl. If you don't show her to me to prove that she’s alive, I have no reason not to shoot you where you stand.”
“She’s alive,” he said.
“Show me,” I said.
“I’ll goddamn shoot you if I have to.”
He was shorter than me and didn’t look much like a doctor. He looked like an Internet geek. He was wiry and had thick glasses and three days growth of beard. He looked like he drank Cappuccino. His gun hand was shaking.
I glanced down at the body blocking the doorway. It was another security guard. There was a pool of blood beneath the body. “I had to shoot them,” he said. “They were going to stop me.”
“Stop you from what?”
“From helping her. From helping Mindy.”
“Show me,” I said.
“No. I want the old man.”
“Kevin,” I said. “That’s not going to happen. Give it up. Look at your hand. Look at my hand. Whose is shaking?”
“Fuck you, Mr. Tough Guy. Put your fucking gun down.”
“Let’s go in the other room,” I said. I stepped over the security guard into the office. Kevin instinctively stepped back toward the window. “You can keep your gun on me the whole time,” I said. “I just want to see Mindy to make sure she’s safe.”
“Safe? Fucking safe? You’re the one who's putting her in danger, you asshole. You’re the one working for him.”
I kept my gun on Kevin and sidestepped into the adjoining room. Mindy was on an operating table. She was sedated. There was a big canister in the corner with a medical waste symbol on it.
“You can’t fucking help her,” Kevin said. “I was the one who helped her. I was the one willing to do what needed to be done.”
There was blood all over the operating table but the sheet she was wrapped in was clean. There was also a trail of blood leading back to the doorway. And smaller drops I remembered leading to the elevator. I’d assumed it was one of the guards’.
“She came to me dying,” Kevin said. “She was hemorrhaging. She tried to do it herself.”
“To get rid of the baby,” I said.
“Yes,” he said. “She tried to give herself an abortion. She used... oh, God, it’s none of your damn business. Just get the fuck out of here and send in her old man.”
“It’s his baby,” I said.
On the table Mindy began to stir. She was having a nightmare. Her arms and legs were in restraints. She struggled against them.
“There was no one to assist me,” Kevin said. “She was hysterical. She wants to kill herself.” He was out from behind the desk, moving toward me. He still held the gun but he had lowered it a bit.
“Why were the guards trying to stop you?” I said.
“Henderson told them to. He owns the whole fucking building.”
Mindy was thrashing against the restraints. She was feverish and delirious. “No, daddy, no,” she said. “It’s mine. He’s mine. He’s mine.”
“It was a boy,” Kevin said.
“Did he die before of after you --”
“There was no way to tell,” Kevin said. “Everything was crazy at the time. We’d need an autopsy.”
He slid past me, keeping his back to the wall, and went over to Mindy. He tried to calm her. “Her fucking old man,” he said. “Fucking Henderson. I wish he were on this table.”
“You shouldn’t have shot the guards,” I said.
“You’re going to prison,” I said.
“It was worth it,” he said. “I’d do anything to protect Mindy.”
“You and I are going to walk out of here now,” I said.
“I can’t,” he said. “I can’t leave Mindy. She’s stable now but anything could happen. She could start to bleed again. I can’t leave her.”
“Put the gun down,” I said.
He laid the gun on the floor and kicked it over to me. I bent down and put it in my pocket. I put my own gun back in its holster.
“We’ll send someone else up here,” I said. “Other doctors are waiting. The whole staff.”
Kevin leaned over her and wiped the sweat from her brow. He kissed her forehead. “The whole staff doesn’t love her,” he said. “And neither does her fucking old man.”
I went over and took him by the arm. He didn’t resist. “We’ll get somebody else up here,” I said. “It’ll only take a minute.”
Mindy was asleep again. Her hair was long and chestnut colored. She had delicate shoulders and round cheekbones. She looked like somebody’s prom date.
Kevin was crying as I led him from the room. He still resisted a little. “We can’t just leave her,” he said. “Not even for a minute. Someone has to stay with her.”
“I’ll come back,” I said. “I’ll come right back and stay. She’ll get the help she needs.”
“No one can help her,” he said. “Not now. He’ll take her out of the country. No one will ever see her again.”
We stepped over the guards and down the hall to the elevator. I pushed Kevin to the side just as the doors opened. Henderson was there. Alone. Behind him the hail was pounding on the glass.
“Where is she, you prick?” Henderson said to me. “Dammit, where’s my daughter?”
I reached around him and hit the button for the ground floor. I yanked Kevin into view and shoved him into the elevator. He collided with Henderson and knocked him back into the glass. I stepped backward out of the elevator.
Henderson regained himself and stared at Kevin. Then he stared over Kevin’s shoulder at me. “What is this,” he said. “What the hell is this?”
As the doors closed, I saw Kevin reach into his pocket and take out a scalpel. I was glad for the pounding of the hail.
BIO: Since 2008, Mark Joseph Kiewlak's work has appeared in more than two dozen magazines, including Hardboiled, Plots With Guns, Pulp Pusher, Thug Lit, Muzzle Flash, Powder Burn Flash, Clean Sheets, and many others. He was privileged to have served as judge of the 2007 Wild Violet Fiction Contest. He has also written for DC Comics (FLASH 80-PAGE GIANT #2).