Lance watches me closely.  Listens to the machines whir and hum around me.  I’m a stranger to him, a pale fragile woman surrounded by foreign tubing and hospital white. The cuts on my face have been butterflied together, but they’re still a brutal reminder of yesterday’s events. The bruises lay heavy on my skin. I know how bad I look and behind closed eyelids I remember yesterday. I hear the door slip open and hear the soft walk of Bad Willie. Come to comfort Lance.  To tell him I’ll be fine, no big deal.  That’s not going to make Lance forget what I did yesterday.  No.  The blood and rage of that is hard to forget.

“This ain’t nothin. She’ll pull through.”

“This looks pretty damn bad to me.”

“I’ve seen her worse off.  Don’t worry about her too much boy.  She’s built of steel and fire this one.”

“She’s so still.  I never realized how much she moved.  How vibrant she is.  Now she’s like a shadow.”

I feel the hand on my shoulder, the slight squeeze. And I open my eyes, the light is still a little to bright, the sounds to sharp.  “Heya Willie.” My voice is thick and raspy.

“Hi yourself Ciara. Hell of a mess.”

My grin splits my lip and I feel the blood start to trickle down my chin. “Go big or go home.”

“Give us a minute Lance.”

“I’m not leaving.”

I sigh as Bad Willie and Lance face off.  “He won’t hear that much more than he saw.”

Willie glares but nods, “Alright. Break it down for me Ghost.  What happened?”

“I was driving. We pulled out from the hotel.  Sitting at the exit, waiting to pull into traffic, saw a guy across the street, tall long hair, he was staring straight at us. Saw him que a throat mike. Gut instinct more than anything. I floored it in reverse and the first round punched through the hood instead of me.  Second round set off the airbags.  Guys came out of the woodwork. Short guy, black hair, mustache, rolled a grenade towards us.  Went off under the front end and flipped us.  They sent three in from each side. Loaded for bear.  Took out two before I took the first hit in the shoulder.  Winged the third and was able to cut myself loose from the seatbelt.  Crawled out. The three from the opposite side split around the car to me.  I was on the ground. One got in a good head kick. Knocked me loopy, when I focused back in two were holding me and one was sighting down a barrel at me.  Gun was gone.  I jerked.  So the shot missed.  It was hand to hand then. Got a knife in my hands and went for arteries and tendons.” I look at Bad Willie. ” I got lucky old man.  I got real lucky.”

“You said they came around the car after you?”


“Willie, they were Irish and they were trained.”


Lance looks from Willie to me and back. “What.  Why is that important?”

I grimace as I shift on the bed.  I hate broken ribs. “My past sins coming back to haunt me.”

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