Chapter 9: Them Screamin' Psych Ward Blues "Don't shoot It," Cole said in a weakening voice. "It's just a kid now." He collapsed onto his side and he was still again. Woods now cared whether the kid got some medical attention quickly. He saw It, too. Woods climbed back through the rubble into his bedroom and grabbed his walkie-talkie off the entertainment center that had been sideswiped by the right front fender of the Prelude. He switched to the appropriate station. "What the hell are you guys doing?!" he screamed into the radio. "Get your asses down to my house. We have an emergency situation. We have one critically injured. We need an ambulance. Hustle hustle hustle!" Tommy tossed the walkie-talkie aside into the rubble dismissively and laid the .380 on the hooker's pillow. He sat down wearily on the stained matress and put his head in his hands. He let out a long, deep sigh and took a good breath. "I think I'll wait inside," he said, just for himself to hear. Woods heard two of the police cars veer around that same blind corner and park haphazardly in the street in front of his house. One hustled out and began putting up yellow tape around the scene to close the street down as well as he could. The other hurried over and knelt beside Cole, checking his pulse. "He's alive, for fuck's sake!" Tommy yelled. "Just get an ambulance here pronto or you'll be making me a liar!" The cop nodded, chastised. He dashed back to his waiting car and sent the call out for an ambulance. He yelled to Woods that the ambulance would be here in three minutes. Woods laid back on the bed and lit up a Marlboro. "It's about fucking time," he whispered, staring up at the ceiling and watching smoke rings form into ghostly fanged mouths as they spiraled towards the ceiling in beautiful arcs. "About fucking time, indeed." -----------------Two Days Later---------- ------------------In The Hospital--------- Cole opened his eyes for the first time since the accident. He saw the face of Tommy Woods and closed his eyes, muttering a muffled curse through his precautionary oxygen mask. He supposed the shit had really hit the fan then. "Hey, you little bastard," Woods said cheerfully as he laid aside a copy of Playboy and a cup of coffee. He leaned forward so that he could better see Cole -- or maybe so Cole could better see him -- and smiled. It was time to get down to business. "Do you know how much money it costs to repair a bedroom wall and the furnishings for a bedroom?" Tommy asked, retaining that forcefully cheerful tone. Tommy had perfected that tone. He called it the 'shut the fuck up or I will beat you within an inch of your life' tone. He called it the 'who's your daddy?' tone. It worked wonders with whores and junkies. Tommy thought with a homophobic sneer that Cole was probably both. "No, but I---" Cole started to say. "You got the wrong idea here," Woods replied happily. "This isn't a discussion. This is a lecture. My questions are rhetorical, you scum-sucking worm." Cole sighed and nodded to show that he understood. The movement hurt his injured neck and he grunted. Tommy smirked again at the sight. "You could be looking at years of jail time and no money to pay to take care of your fucked-up face," Woods said with a touch of glee in his voice. "All I have to do is say the word." Woods grinned widely. It was the only time he was truly happened. He was a power-hungry little bastard. He had Napoleon's syndrome. He had to have that power because he was compensating for something. He was on a power trip, like all cops. Like all cops, he was stupid. Like all cops, he was pathetically vulnerable to Cole's quick yet tortured mind. "But you won't," Cole whispered with a sardonic grin. "You need me. You need me to retain your hold over your sanity." "What?" Woods whispered. He had dropped the power-hungry tone and he was down to a little kid's whisper. He was terrified of what Cole might mean. Was he going crazy? Cole was crazy. Did that mean Tommy was crazy? Good gosh, he hoped not. "I saw them, too," Cole whispered in a songtone tone, and began laughing. "I saw the kid. Have you seen my other car?" He began giggling. "I saw it, too!" he screamed. "Calm down!" Woods said, almost pleading. "I just need to get the police report and go home before someone steals something. I have to get home before someone robs me through the MASSIVE FUCKING HOLE YOU RIPPED IN MY HOUSE." "Look who's telling who to calm down!" Cole spat contemptuously. "I'm a fucking veteran at this. You're not mentally strong enough to weather the early storm, you little fucking midget!" He actually spat now. It was a big loogie. It landed right below Tommy's left eye and dribbled down into his mustache as the two stared daggers at each other. "You little fat fucking pig!" Cole shrieked. Tommy stood up fast, sending the little plastic chair skittering across the room. A nurse passing the room caught a glimpse of this through the open door and froze with her mouth agape. Tommy aimed a shaking finger no more than three inches away from Cole's face. "Give the police report to my deputy, get your shit fixed up with your insurance and you come and see me when you get out!" he ordered. He turned to leave, and looked back over his shoulder as he pulled out a handkerchief. He wiped the spittle away. "You come and see me or I'll come and see you!" he warned darkly. He left, shouldering past the nurse and leaving both the nurse and Cole staring after him with mixed emotions. The nurse stepped inside the room hesitantly, looking both ways like she was worried there were horrible things waiting for her. Maybe Cole and Woods just exuded that feeling now. "What was that all about?" she asked shyly. She was a pretty young girl, probably around twenty-three. Cole briefly wondered why she was a nurse but as he adjusted his weight, he felt the pain in his face and let out a loud shout of agony. The nurse hurried over and asked him if he needed help. He grunted and laid back in a more comfortable position and shook his head no. She smiled down at him and he found himself smiling back. "I've had a rough week," Cole blurted out hoarsely. They both started laughing at the understatement. The nurse turned and left and as soon as the door slid shut behind her, the world changed. That tinkling fucking tune was back. "There can't be any fucking ice cream trucks in the FUCKING HOSPITAL!" Cole screamed. It didn't start as a scream but it sure got there fast enough. The door opened up and the nurse peaked in. The tune disappeared. She gave him a strange look as if she was wondering whether he was in the wrong ward. She looked like she thought he belonged in the psych ward. "Maybe I do," Cole murmured to himself. "Excuse me," the nurse asked and her tone was no longer friendly. It was back to business."What did you say?" "I said "I'd like some more food"," Cole replied in a derisive version of Tom Woods's 'who's your daddy' tone. "And make it snappy." "Would you like some ice cream?" the nurse asked. Cole raised an eyebrow, and there was a sort of sick distaste in his eyes as he said, "No. Are you fucking crazy or something?"