The Emergency Room doors of Mercy Hospital burst open and twin stretchers were rolled in at top speed.
“What’ve we got?” a doctor demanded as he and a colleague ran up.
“Two more on the way!” the paramedic barked. “First one, male age 36, last name Tork! Multiple gunshot wounds – left arm, left leg, left side!”
The second paramedic spoke from his stretcher. “Male age 32, last name Jones! Multiple gunshot wounds – right shoulder, right leg, right hip, right abdomen! Possible internal bleeding!”
No sooner had those two been ushered into rooms than the second ambulance arrived. A third stretcher burst in and a third paramedic shouted, “Male age 35, last name Nesmith! Multiple gunshot wounds – right bicep, right hand, right thigh, right chest, graze to right side of head!”
The fourth paramedic walked in with the fourth victim – who was walking under his own power and was visibly furious.
The doctor, Cruz by name, walked up. “What have we got here?”
“I’m 33,” the victim interrupted. “Name’s Micky Dolenz. I’ve got a single gunshot graze to my right upper arm. I was behind the drums, and the metal protected me.” He met Cruz’s eyes. “I’m a detective in the Malibu Beach branch of the LAPD. I am armed and my ID is in my back pocket. Tork is my partner, and he is armed as well.”
Cruz nodded. “Tork is in One – go tell Tony he’s a cop so he won’t call the cops when he finds the weapon.” The paramedic nodded and headed into said room. Cruz then smiled at Micky. “Let’s go get you fixed up, huh?”
A nod, and Micky let himself be led back. “They didn’t catch the shooter,” Micky growled. “He got away.”
“I’m sure you’ll catch him soon enough,” Cruz soothed as he cleaned and bandaged the wound.
“You take care of my partners, huh?”
Cruz blinked. “Partners?”
Micky grinned. “Peter’s my official partner, but the others are unofficial. We’ve been roommates and bandmates a lot longer than we’ve been cops.”
Cruz took off to check on the other three, and Micky slid his jacket back on. Quietly, he slid out of the hospital.
I know that man – but I can’t place him, Micky thought as he hailed a cab and headed toward the police station.
I’ll find him, he vowed as he glared out of the window. I’ll find him. And he will pay for this.
I’ll make SURE of it.
Peter groaned as he opened his eyes. His left side was one gigantic burning ache. Stifling a second groan, he looked around.
It took some seconds for his fuzzy brain to process he was lying in a bed in the hospital. It took even longer for him to remember what had happened.
“Shot!” he gasped, struggling to sit up. The call button was frustratingly out of his reach. He needed answers and he needed them now!
So Peter did the one thing he knew would bring the doctor running. With his IV’d right hand, he took hold of the leads attached to his chest. One jerk and they released from the tape.
Alarms began to scream.
When the doctor and nurse raced in and saw Peter sitting up holding disconnected leads, the doctor smiled. “Detective, there are other ways to get our attention.”
Peter smiled painfully. “And you are--?”
“Doctor Mark Anderson. Doctor Roberto Cruz and I are the team that has looked after you four. You’re at Mercy Hospital.”
“My partner – my friends – how are they?”
“We anticipated your question.” He gingerly coaxed Peter back down and reattached the leads. “Your friends are still in surgery.”
Peter frowned. “How long?”
“Five hours. Of the three of you, you were the least injured. Pain management and a little physical therapy and you’ll be okay.”
Peter swallowed. “’The three’ of us?”
“Mister Jones had abdominal injuries and the surgeon found the bullet lodged in his appendix, of all places. They are making sure everything is all right.”
“Ultimately he will be all right. As with you, pain management and physical therapy.”
“And…th-the third one?” His heart was in his throat, terrified to ask about the fourth in their quartet.
Doctor Anderson sighed. “Mister Nesmith took the brunt of the bullets. It almost seems as if he were trying to shield you both.”
Peter smiled despite himself. “Yeah – that’s Michael all right.” The smile faded. “How bad is he?”
“He had mild wounds to his bicep, thigh, and head, all on the right side. The worst of his wounds were to the chest, shoulder and hand.” As Peter paled, Anderson smiled gently. “They closed the chest and should an hour ago. Barring infection, he will be fine.”
“You said he was still in surgery.”
“Yes – they are still working on his hand.”
“Which hand?” If his left hand was hurt too….
“His right hand. The bullet wound has been repaired, but they found some extraneous damage to these fingers –“ His hand brushed his middle, ring, and pinky fingers. “Mostly to the ring finger.”
Peter’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head. “Y-you mean – they’re fixing his hand?”
Anderson nodded. “Prognosis is, with physical therapy, he should regain full function.”
Peter found himself smiling. “Wow – some good came out of this, then – Michael never had full function in that hand since I’ve known him!”
Laughter rang out from the doctor. “Well, you were right, then!”
Peter then chewed on his lower lip. “Doc…there were four of us. M-my partner – Micky Dolenz…”
Anderson nodded. “Detective Dolenz was grazed in the right bicep. He checked himself out AMA about four hours ago.”
Malibu Beach Police Department.
Micky sat at his desk, working on their case even as he filled out the medical leave forms for himself and Peter.
He smiled as he saw Peter had done what he hadn’t had the presence of mind to do – add Davy and Mike to their medical insurance forms! That would be a big help, money-wise!
His phone jangled just as he found the face that matched their shooter. Holding in his gasp of surprise, he answered it. “Vice. Dolenz.”
“You stubbourn ass,” came a welcome voice.
Micky smiled despite himself. “Takes one to know one. How are you, partner? How are--?”
“I’ll be okay. We all need PT. Davy’s having his appendix removed, and Mike’s getting his hand fixed.”
“Mike’s wha--?” Micky laughed genuinely. “Hell, at least something good came outta this!”
“That’s what I said. How come you’re there instead of here, hmm?”
Micky’s voice went grim. “Looking for the idiot who did this. Found him, too.”
“Great! Who’s the perp?”
“One of us.”
Peter was silent for a long moment. “One of what?”
“Bastard’s a cop. Sergeant Scott Porter from Metro!”
The police department records had just been put on computer that year, so Micky began to find Scott Porter’s service file. As he waited for the machine to give him the results, he worked on the last of the medical forms. Dropping them in the interdepartmental mail envelope and into the cart to be picked up, Micky smiled as he headed back to his desk.
The smile of satisfaction grew as he found the information he needed. Address – phone number. Copying it into his case notebook, he picked up the phone and turned the computer off.
“Cap, it’s Dolenz.”
“You still in the hospital?”
Micky smiled. “No, I was just grazed. Look – I got a positive ID on our assailant.”
“Yeah? Who’s our perp?”
“Sergeant Scott Porter from Metro.”
Micky heard a choking sound on the other end of the line. “A cop?”
“I identified him. I can testify in a court of law that he is the one who shot us four.”
There was a pause as Reynolds absorbed this. Then, knowing his detective as well as he did, he snarled, “Dolenz, don’t you be goin’ off half-cocked!”
Micky looked into the receiver, then began to smile. He hissed into the receiver. “Sorry, Cap!” He hissed some more. “….breaking…shhhh…can’t hear you….shhh…bye!”
As he laid the phone into the cradle, Micky could hear Reynolds screaming “Dolenz! …Dolenz!”
Then Micky grabbed his jacket and got out of the station before Reynolds could track him down.
Waking up was like swimming on a block of ice wearing a raincoat. He felt as though he were suffering from cotton mouth. Opening the leaden weights that had replaced his eyes, he looked around.
Hospital, he figured out. His lips moved, and three names formed.
The familiar voice made him smile painfully. “What---“
“You just came out of surgery.” Peter leaned over and brushed the hair from his forehead.
“Don’t wiggle your fingers – you need to rest your hand.”
Peter smiled. “You were shot – we all were shot. Your hand is going to be all right.”
“Like – it was?”
He smiled again and surrendered to the sleep-inducing drugs.
Peter smiled. “Sleep well, Mike.”
Then he limped over to the other bed in the room and lay down.
Soon, he too was asleep.
It took a search of two hospitals, but Porter found them. He bought some flowers and walked to the nurse’s desk. Hello – I’m a colleague of Detectives Tork and Dolenz. I’d like to see them, please?”
She checked her files. “Detective Dolenz is not listed – but Detective Tork is in room 302.”
“Thank you.” Smiling sweetly, Porter got in the elevator and pressed ‘3’.
Not listed – good! That meant he’d put at least one of them in the morgue! Now all he had to do was kill the other three – the surviving detective and the other two who could clearly identify him – and blame it on one of the other pushers who dealt out of the Magic Pear!
He arrived at room 302 – to find it empty! His eyes narrowed in anger for a moment, then he realised Tork must have gone to see about one of the other two.
Good thing he’d looked their names up, he patted himself on the back as he went to the floor nurse’s desk. “Excuse me – I’m looking for a Mister Nesmith or Mister Jones?”
She checked. “Mister Nesmith is in room 306. There are seven Mister Joneses listed – which did you wish?”
Porter smiled. “Never mind – I’ll talk to him later. Thank you.” He turned toward 306.
Micky whistled as he examined Porter’s apartment. There was absolutely no doubt in his mind: Porter was the shooter.
The ledger and drugs Micky found under his bed gave motive. The countdown calendar and receipts for ammo gave means and opportunity.
“But where is he now?” Micky whispered as his eyes fell on the open phone book. He walked over and frowned as he noticed the circled entries.
“Hospitals? But why—“ His eyes widened as the last piece fell into place. “The guys!”
Micky left the apartment at a dead run. The light blue sedan’s tires left skid marks as he peeled away and pointed the car toward Mercy General.
Mike couldn’t repress the grin as he lifted the cover of his lunch and found a tray of surgical supplies instead! Oh, brother, did someone EVER mess up! he chuckled to himself as he set the cover to the side and laid the tray on his good side. He’d inform the nurse when she returned.
Mike closed his eyes to get some rest and heard the door open. When he heard footsteps stop by the bed Peter was conked out on, he decided not to open them. Best to not let a nurse know he was awake.
But the words weren’t that of a nurse! “Thought you could nail me, Tork?” a nasty chuckle said. “Looks like I nailed you instead! Let’s see how lively you are with a pillow over your head….”
Mike’s eyes snapped open and he struggled to move. He couldn’t let the man suffocate Peter!
“Mmmph!” Peter gasped as he woke up as the man began the merciless job. The wounded detective was weak, but he struggled.
“Say goodnight, Tork,” Porter snarled as he pressed harder. Peter’s struggles weakened and his cries grew fainter.
Mike kept a wary eye on the man who was hurting Peter. His left hand groped around until he found the tray that had been mistakenly left.
Finding what he was looking for; Mike pulled himself up onto his injured right side. “Hey,” he tried to shriek, but it came out an inaudible squeak.
Blinking against the pain of his wounds, Mike licked his lips and repositioned his weapon. He took a deep breath.
It had the desired effect – startled by the unexpected shout, the man twisted around, letting up a fraction on the pressure he was putting on the pillow over Peter’s face. Only then did Mike let fly.
The effort made him collapse back onto the bed – barely conscious.
Howling in agony, Porter released the pillow and clutched his bleeding arm. The scalpel had bitten deep into his bicep and was tuck there. He whirled to face the barely-aware man on the next bed. “You son-of-a-“ he roared, unable to finish the oath because of the pain.
Forgetting about Peter, he lunged toward Mike. Porter raised his uninjured fist and brought it down with a loud crunch directly on Mike’s injured right arm.
Mike was sent into immediate unconsciousness.
Porter panted with pain and effort as he pulled the scalpel out of his arm. He smiled cruelly and turned it over in his hand.
Returning to Peter’s bed, he pulled the pillow from the gasping man’s face and straddled him. He aimed the makeshift knife at his throat. “Say good-bye, Detective…” The knife descended.
The gunshot echoed loud in the small hospital room. The scalpel clattered to the floor from suddenly useless fingers. Porter teetered to the side ludicrously as he tried to turn.
A second gunshot rang out and Porter was sent spinning to the ground. He was dead before he hit the floor.
Micky’s hand trembled as he lowered his gun and leaned against the doorjamb. “Pe—“ he began, but his eyes rolled back in his head and he crumpled to the floor.
Instantly, the room was swarmed with medical personnel. Peter was rushed to an examination room. Mike was looked over and rushed back up to surgery to find out the exact extent of damage he and Porter had done to that right shoulder and arm. Porter’s body was removed to the morgue.
Micky was examined, and evidence of an internal injury was present. Micky was rushed into surgery as well.
“Just a graze, my ass,” Peter teased his roommate.
“Will you shut up already?” Micky groaned as he tried to get comfortable.
Peter chuckled as he watched Micky settle in. “Cruz is pretty pissed at you.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Micky sighed, remembering one of the doctors who had been taking care of them all. “He’s already read me the riot act….”
“Uh-huh,” Peter’s grin grew as the door opened and a nurse wheeled Mike in. “And you’re about to get it again!”
Micky opened his eyes and let out another groan. “Aw, hell…”
Mike chuckled as the nurse left the room. “Oh, relax. I’m not gonna rip you a new one. If you’d not done what you did, he might’a got away with killin’ Peter.”
Micky stared at him, then turned to Peter and grinned. “See? I saved your life! Now shut up about it, already!”
Peter and Mike shared a smile, interrupted by the opening of the hospital room door. The same nurse came in, pushing Davy in a second wheelchair. “Hey, about time!” Peter chuckled.
“Yeah,” Davy smiled. “Had to make sure you three were okay! Thanks, Betty – hey, can I have your number?”
“I’d love to,” she smiled at him, “but I don’t think my husband would approve!” She smiled as she left.
”Aw, hell,” Davy sighed as his three friends shared a chuckle. “Oh, well!”
“How’re you doin’, Dave?” Peter asked with a slight frown.
Davy nodded slowly. “A lot better. My side gives me grief every now and then, but—“
“Hell of a way to get appendicitis,” Mike couldn’t resist.
“Hell of a way to get your hand fixed,” Davy shot back with a grin.
Mike just held up his heavily bandaged hand. “Yeah—they say I’ll be able to make a full fist!” He looked up. “Pete?”
“I’m fine,” Peter said. “He just made me a little weak. Rest, and I’ll be okay. Now.” He looked sideways. “What happened to you, Mick?”
Micky sighed and closed his eyes. “Well, I got grazed – and knocked into my set as I did. The impact hurt me inside. I’d been slowly bleedin’ into my belly the whole time.”
Mike’s face was worried. “But you’re okay now?”
“I’m okay now,” Micky confirmed. “And Porter can’t hurt us or anyone again.”
“Why’d he do this in the first place?” Davy growled. “We didn’t do anything to him!”
“No,” Peter sighed. “But he thought we did.” Together, he and Micky explained what they’d found about Porter – his drug-dealing, his paranoia… and how he’d recognised them as cops because an overzealous club manager had put their photograph on an advertising poster. Peter smiled at Mike. “But that’ll never happen again, right?”
“I’ll make sure of it,” Mike growled.
Peter nodded. “Then we’re fine, right, Micky?”
There was no answer.
“Micky?” All eyes turned to Micky, then everyone smiled.
Micky was sleeping again.
“Rest easy, Mick,” Peter said as he closed his own eyes. “And thanks.”
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