Jay woke up bathing in the florescent glow of hospital lights feeling like he had been hit by a truck. There was a cast around his mid-section and his entire right leg was bandaged and it felt like someone had been digging around in every last inch of it. There was an IV bag hooked up to him and when he went to make the first waking move he almost ripped it out.
There was a big man sitting in one of the hospital room chairs staring at Jay like they were old friends, but Jay barely knew who Detective Theodore Wade was. He had been the detective that didn’t seem to mind if the kidnapper pulled a suicide by cop or not.
“Good morning, Mr. Branch.” And with that the deep booming voice brought it back to Jay.
“Good morning, detective.” Jay’s voice came out scratchy forcing him to realize he needed a massive influx of liquid quickly.
“My daughter?” He managed.
“Grace will be back in a minute, she and that Susan girl went to get more coffee from the Starbucks around the corner, and I think those girls might need to speak to an addiction specialist.”
A nurse came in and poured water from a tan plastic pitcher into a tan plastic cup and handed it to Jay. The water hurt going down Jay’s throat like it was going down a sandpaper roughed surface.
“That’ll probably be sore for a bit you had a tube in there for a few days.”
“How long have I been in here?”
“And why are you here?” Jay sweated on the inside wondering if the cop was here to take him in. After all he did kill a man and no matter what Sam Dantello had said, Jay had heard a dozen stories where stupid irrational people where concerned with the rights of pyschopaths.
“Well, first I came to thank you for what you did. Then I had a couple of professional questions.” Wade stood up and adjusted his waistband and walked over to the window and stared out at the parking lot of the hospital.
“For some reason when they started processing all of the weapons on this case, they decided that the Glock that you unloaded into John Grant’s face was the first one that they would run. Interestingly enough they found that that gun was a match for one that shot a gas station clerk in Macon, Georgia in 2010. From everything we have found so far, John William Grant has never even been East of Texas.” He looked at Jay through squinted eyes with a deep concern on his face “Now the question I have” He stared directly into Jay’s eyes as if he was applying a lie detector to his soul “You don’t have anything to do with that, do you Jay?”
“No, absolutely not” Jay’s answer was confidant and quick. He had no idea where the gun was until a little under a week ago and before that he was sure that the thing had been traded between drug addicts and drug dealers for years before it came to him.
Detective Wade smiled and Jay could see the wave of relief wash over him. He didn’t want Jay to know anything about the robbery. He was sure that Jay Branch was a good man and if the gun was his in any way it was a recent acquisition.
“Good, I told the chief there was no way it was your gun anyway. He knew that I had gone through your Bronco when it was in the parking lot, while you and your daughter were giving your statements. It was a shitty thing to do but I was a little curious about the man that tracked his daughter across the country to the exact spot the asshole was that I had been searching for for weeks.” Jay thought back to the plastic console and the denim wrapped artillery underneath and how at first glance the detective could have missed them in a hurried search.
“There was also a small silver pistol found at Betty Price’s house that she as well as your daughter and her friend all claim to have no knowledge of. Strange for a psycho like Grant to just leave a gun at the scene like that but maybe when you pulled up, it surprised the guy.” Wade smiled a knowing smile.
“Daddy your up!” exclaimed Grace as she hit the door.
“As close as I can get to it at least” She threw her arms around him giving him a double hard version of the one armed squeeze. Pain shot through his entire body but he didn’t complain. His little girl was okay and in his arms and that was all that mattered.
Wade smiled. He knew that this was another victory that would have to keep him in the job for at least another couple of years.
“Grace, if you don’t mind could you give me one more second with your dad? I just need to finish up real quick and then he will be all yours.”
“Sure thing Detective Teddy.” Grace giggled and then turned and headed for the door.
“It looks like you’ve been here for more than a little while.” Jay was happy that the cop had kept an eye on Grace while he was out and hoped he could tell.
“I have been. I wanted to make sure that everybody’s stories matched up so you two wouldn’t have any trouble getting home.” Wade stepped closer to the hospital bed and leaned a little toward Jay’s head and said it a quiet voice.
“I couldn’t be happier that you emptied your clip into that piece of shit’s face but some people would be concerned that you used a gun that was filed clean. That is a felony, but since it was obviously Grant’s gun and he is very dead now and won’t say otherwise you are off the hook for that. Especially, if you don’t start shooting your mouth off when you get back to Georgia or when any reporters ask you for your side of the story.”
“All I know is that a gun was on the street when I fell out of my truck and I grabbed it, I didn’t see where it came from. I just started pulling the trigger until it stopped working.” Jay looked up to the detective to make sure that the story was good enough.
“We won’t mention that the impact of the Jeep was so hard that it threw a small box of bullets that fit the gun all the way into the back of your Bronco either. We wouldn’t want that to confuse anyone.”
“Wow, yeah it did hit me pretty hard.” Jay smirked as he tried to hold back his emotions.
“So all you had on you was a machete, a bat and a couple of knives. If I was you, I wouldn’t do too much talking when the reporters start hammering you, keep it as basic as you can. Everything we went over at the station is in my report and I’ll have a copy of that and my final copy of what we’ve talked about here today by the end of the day for you.”
“Yeah, I don’t think I want to talk to any reporters.”
“I don’t think that will be much of an option. If you don’t talk to them, they will just stick to you like flies on shit till you slip up and say something you shouldn’t then they’ll circle your carcass like buzzards till there’s nothing left. I’ve seen it a dozen times, the best thing for you to do is grab one that can be trusted and give them an exclusive. That kills all the ones hoping to be the first reporter to get the scoop and should make it bearable for you. After a few months it will die down completely especially if one of those Kardashians gets a DUI or something that distracts the media.” They both laughed and shook their heads in unison at that. Jay Branch barely knew the detective but he had a feeling he would keep in touch with Ted Wade for a very long time.