Georgie got in the car, saying nothing for a few moments after she closed the door.
“What’s the box?” Tia asked.
“Yeah, what?” Jenny asked. “What’s that?”
“Well,” Georgie said after she drew a breath, “Kate was pretty bad when the ambulance got her here. They said that she suffered multiple small traumas and- Aw crap, I suck at stuff like this…”
“So spit it out,” said Jenny.
“What about Tia here? How are you with, uh, bad news?”
“I think I can handle it,” she replied.
“OK: Kate’s gone. She got most of the shot when the bartender fired, and it was ugly. They said she was holding up for maybe a few hours, but they couldn’t move her to a bigger trauma center or find someone who would pay for the move. She was gone pretty quick.”
The car was silent for a few moments.
“OK, now the bad news: They hit me with a few bills for what they did for her, and you owe me this much,” she said as she held her cell to Tia’s face.
“Hey, I went in asked about her, they hit me with the bill, and if I just left that would have looked funny. And they might have chased after me, and that would have been bad.”
“But- but this is crazy!”
“Welcome to America,” said Jenny. “It’s all pay as you go down here.”
“What am I- I-” Tia sputtered before she caught her breath and asked, “So what am I being charged for?”
“Well, resuscitations, plasma substitute, parking her body. And they had to charge me for holding her possessions. Part of the reason it took so long in there was having to bring the bill down; they insisted I settle a few things, and I had to say ‘Screw it!’ and took a few cheap ways out to get out of there with as few questions as possible. Here,” she handed Tia the box.
“What- her possessions?”
“Yeah. Part of the delay was because-” Georgie started to say.
“Why is this so heavy?” Tia asked as she opened the box. “I mean, her purse, her cell, her clothes- What’s this pack and the dust comin- Oh CRAP!”
“Dammit Georige!” screamed Jenny. “You should have said something about that first!”
“God, I told you I suck at this, alright?”
Tia put the packed carbon back in the box with the rest of Kate’s effects and passed it back to Georgie, who put the box at her feet and encouraged the rest of the back seat to scrunch away from it.
“Great! Just f’n’ great!” said Jenny. “We’ve got a compressed corpse in the back and got billed for her too. You just had to come visit someone in Buffalo without next of kin!”
“Hey! How did I know she’d get shot in a bar on my visit?”
“Okay! Okay! Enough! We gotta hit the road, I gotta think, gotta clear my head. I’m gonna drop the rest of you off, get in touch with you all later.”
As Jenny started driving away from the ERC, Tia after a bit spoke up. “I’m sorry. I- It’s my fault Kate’s dead, and that I cost you that. I, I don’t know what to say, or how I can make it up to you.”
Slowly, Georgie put her arm around Tia’s shoulders.
All content Copyright © 2011 James Ryan