Shuttered Pt. 3

Home of Hondo Harrelson – Midnight –

Hondo turned the key and pushed the door open; he was exhausted. Seeing his mother earlier worried him, and he felt guilty for being furious that she hadn’t told him that she was sick. She did what she always did; she minimized it as nothing more than a bad cold, insisting that she’d be fine in a few days.  Hondo wasn’t so sure, and he wouldn’t allow himself to think what it would be like to lose his mother. She was the one that took care of everyone including him and so the next day or so would be excruciating while they waited for her test results to come back.

The light was on in the kitchen and he could hear the light shuffling of feet; he was hoping that by now everyone would be in bed. He was wrong.

“Hey son, long day?”

“More like long night.”

“I couldn’t sleep thought I’d make a cup of tea. You want some?”

“No, thanks. Hey, have you talked to Ma today?”

“Yeah, I talked to her this morning…sounded a little off…”

“I went by to check on her since she hadn’t answered my calls today; that’s not like her.”

“She’s probably busy, you know how she’s been doing all that volunteer work.”

“Nah, she’s sick Pops.”

“What? I asked her if she was okay and she said she was fine; I made her promise to tell me if she wasn’t.”

“Well she isn’t and she didn’t tell me either.”

Daniel grabbed his keys and headed toward the front door in a hurry.

“Hey, where are you going?”

“Going to check on your mother!”

Hondo rushed after him barely beating him to the front door and blocked him from leaving.

“No, you’re not!”

“Why? She’s sick and I’m going to see about her?”

“What you gonna do, huh Pops? Tell me!”

Daniel huffed and surrendered as he flopped against the wall. What was he going to do? What could he do or better yet, what would Charice allow him to do for her; she was the most stubborn, independent woman he’d ever known. He could blame himself for that and now he wanted to play hero as if it would erase decades of neglect and abandonment.

“Damn it, Hondo!”

“Pops, I don’t know what’s going on between you and my mother and right now, I ain’t trying to figure it out. What I do know is that you can’t leave this house to go over there.”

“Is there something you’re not telling me? Does she have…”

“She doesn’t know but she went and got tested today, so we should know something in a day or two. I need to know you won’t do anything stupid!”

“Fine, but don’t ask me to like it!”

SWAT Headquarters – Morning –

“We have several lists of names; each represents groups, agencies, anyone that would have access to people who’ve tested positive for the virus and those who have died.” Hicks began.

“There are hundreds of names here. This will take too long!” Hondo commented.

“Well unless you have a better idea, I suggest we split up and each person take a list.” Hicks continued.

“Hospitals…”

“What?”

“It has to be someone that works in the hospitals. Think about it; hospital staff are the first to know when someone dies. These robberies are happening literally within hours of these deaths.”

“You’re right Hondo, it has to be part of the hospitals’ staff.”

“Yeah but the victims were patients at different hospitals; are we sure it’s hospital staff?” Chris asked.

“Just keep looking!” Hicks ordered. “Our suspect is on one of these lists!”

Tan began running another search and quickly found a name that could be a possible lead.

“Hondo, I think I may have something!”

Community General –

Sylvia Sanchez was happy to see the nurse come into her room.  She’d had a restless night and her body was in need of pain medication.  Lourdes, her nurse saw the grimace before the young woman had a chance to say a word.

“Good morning, Miss Sanchez, you look a little uncomfortable.”

“Yes, I’m having a lot of pain.”

“Well, my name is Lourdes and I’m your nurse today. I already have an order for pain medication, so I’ll get you something to make you feel better; sound good?”

“Yes, thank you.”

Lourdes studied the chart and made a few notes. Just as she was about to leave, Dr. Kennedy walked in.

“Good morning, how’s our patient this morning?”

“I’m just getting ready to get her something for pain.”

Sylvia noticed his name tag, Marcus Kennedy, MD. There was something familiar about the name, but she didn’t know why.  Things were still a little fuzzy from the night before, so she was sure it was nothing important.

“Miss Sanchez, I just wanted to come in to see how you were doing. I was here when they brought you in last night; I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you, doctor.”

“I’m on call so if you need anything Lourdes knows how to reach me.”

“Okay.”

Sylvia watched as he turned and walked out of the room.  Marcus Kennedy, why did that name sound familiar?

Home of Hondo Harrelson – Afternoon –

Daniel had gotten busy shortly after his son had left the house. Now the house was filled with the smells of homemade chicken soup, and cornbread.  He’d become quite the chef over the years and so now was his chance to put his skills to good use.

He didn’t give a damn what Hondo had told him; he knew what he was going to do in spite of his warnings to stay home. He was worried about Charice; she hadn’t kept her promise to let him know if she was sick. He was furious with her and with himself; so much time had been wasted and he had no one to blame but himself.

Home of Charice Harrelson –

She wasn’t feeling much better than the day before but at least she was still on her feet and still able to move around. So many of her colleagues and friends had gotten sick or had family who’d gotten sick and she tried hard not to think about becoming one of the growing numbers in the city. Los Angeles had the largest number of cases and deaths in the state and there seemed no end in sight, still no treatment and no cure.

Charice smiled down at her phone; he was persistent she thought.  She hadn’t spoken to him since yesterday morning and no doubt Hondo had told him that she was sick. She didn’t want to be chastised after all she was a grown woman.

“If you’re calling to fuss, I’m not in the mood!”

“Come to the window.”

“What?”

“I said, come to the window.”

“What are you up to? You better not be up to no good!”

“Woman, I swear you are the most stubborn…just come to the window, please!”

“Okay, fine I’m coming.”

There he was still handsome after all these years.  She chuckled and waved as he waved and smiled back at her.  She watched him as he placed a large bag on the porch and backed away.  She never took her eyes off of him.  For a brief moment she allowed her mind to go back to the days when him showing up unexpectedly was the norm.  She loved him then; they were supposed to be together forever. But then things changed.

“Hondo said you weren’t feeling well. I just wanted to bring something by.”

His words pulled her from her thoughts of the past and her smile was now accompanied by a nod as she pocketed her phone.

“Thank you!”

“You’re in trouble, woman but I’ll deal with that later!”

The two locked gazes silently watching each other and remembering. No words were needed and no questions of why, or accusations of guilt.  In that moment they would agree that the past would not be invited into their present and if they had not learned anything over the last several months of his illness and now the pandemic was that life was short; too short for anger and regret.

“Feel better, you owe me breakfast and I always collect on my debts.”

Then as quickly as he had appeared, he waved, smiled and blew her a kiss and then almost as if by magic, he disappeared out of sight. Charice stood there for a moment longer not realizing that even though he was long gone her smile remained and something else was now there to keep her company; it was hope.

SWAT Headquarters –

“Marcus Kennedy, MD!”

The head shot of the man appeared on the monitor.  He’d been in the thick of things since the beginning of the pandemic and the city’s lock down.  To most observers, he was a hero doing double shifts and then picking up extra shifts with other hospitals as part of a medical registry. He was in a prime position to know who was coming, going and dying.

“Son-of-a-bitch!” Hondo blurted out.

“A sheep in wolf’s clothing.” Added Deacon.

“Well, let’s go catch a wolf!”

FLASHBACK…

The loud bang sent her running toward the front of the house. She’d heard the sound before but never this close.  Then the voices; men arguing but it was too late for her to hide. The blood drew her eyes to her father’s still body on the floor and her muffled screams drew the men to her.

The sharp pain knocked her to the ground as the bullet pierced her body.  She wanted to run and to scream again but she couldn’t.

“Father! Father!” She knew he couldn’t hear her and even if he could there was no sound attached to her pleas for him.

“Damn it! Marcus said they weren’t going to be home! They weren’t supposed to be home!”

“Shut up! Shoot her!”

“What? I didn’t sign up for murder!”

“It’s a little too late for that now! Shoot her!”

She pleaded silently now for mercy as the shaky hand pulled the gun up and aimed it toward her. The older of the two suddenly pushed the other out of the way aiming his gun now at her.

“No witnesses, remember?”

Then he fired another bullet striking her body. Confident that he had eliminated a potential problem he turned away from her as did the other.  She could hear them rummaging through drawers and closets; they were in a hurry now.

“What’s the doc going to say when he finds out?”

“I don’t care! We’re the ones doing all the dirty work! I’m not going to jail for him or anyone else, got me?”

“Y-yeah, I got you.”

“Now, let’s get out of here!”

She felt her body growing weaker and she knew she’d die on the floor of her parent’s home. If she could console herself at all it would be that she and her father would be reunited with her mother again. Then just before the two men left the house the older one who seemed to be the leader of this duo turned to face his victims and snidely uttered the words that would haunt her as she took her last breath.

“Dr. Kennedy, paging doctor Kennedy…mission accomplished!”

Sylvia jerked; the pain and the dream forcing her eyes open.  She gasped at the sight of the doctor standing over her; again, her eyes fell on his name tag that now looked like a bright neon sign.

“It’s you!” She said softly.

“Yes, remember we met this morning?”

“No, no, the men…last night…they said your name…Marcus Kennedy…they…”

She watched him pull the syringe from his pocket slowly inching his way toward her bed.

“Now, now just relax…you won’t feel a thing.”