and Phil left the police station, headed back to Abraham Sorkin’s apartment.
the phone again.” Phil stopped for a red light.
called them three times in the last ten minutes. They probably—”
shrugged and hit “redial.” After a few seconds, he pressed “end.”
could’ve left us a message….” Ron’s face was hopeful.
right. We’re going to Sorkin’s. But you start thinking of other places where they could be.”
head was buzzing. The police weren’t looking. He was sure of that. “Go home, and wait to hear from us,” they’d said. In a pig’s eye.
Where would they hide two women? Maybe Ron’s wife had talked about some place. The streets were all but deserted as they parked at the curb in front
of Doctor Sorkin’s home.
lights.” Ron peered out his window at the dark apartment.
anyway. Just to be sure.” Phil leaned over the wheel and watched as Ron sprinted up the walk and hammered on the door. He tapped the horn twice as
the other man jiggled the door
handle, then started to walk around back.
it, McKenzie. They aren’t here.”
folded his long frame into the passenger seat. “Just one more option, the way I see it.”
clinic.” Phil shifted out of park and left the curb. As he pulled out into the street, an ancient blue Firebird careened
around the corner nailing the back of Phil’s Tercel. The driver’s door opened and a bearded young man in a gray
sweat suit staggered out.
mayann. Whash you think you doin’? Look a’ my wheels, mayann. My fine wheels.”
Phil tried not to sound desperate. “Just take my information and my insurance will take care of it. I’m in a hurry.”
th’scene of ‘n accident’s ‘gainst th’ law.”
Here.” Phil took out his wallet and opened it. “How much do you think it will cost to fix up your car?”
take no money, man. He ain’t got half there what we’ll get from the lawyers.” The passenger had crawled out and stood leaning against the Firebird.
lawyers? Has it occurred to you two idiots that you’ve been drinking?”
man. Name callin’ ain’t goin’ to get you nowhere. I already called the cops.” He held up a cell phone.
slammed his fist into the side of the Tercel, then got in.
you believe the luck?” Ron said, shaking his head.
sat in the computer chair behind the reception desk, listening to the women talking. Maxine and Macie shared the couch. Paige had staked out a stretch of carpet and
lay sprawled out, her crooked
elbow supporting her head.
pulled her knees up to her chin, folding
her arms around her legs like a ball. Like a frightened little girl. “We can’t just sit here waiting for them
to kill us.”
do you want us to do? They’ve pulled the phone lines. They’re watching us all the time. We could storm them, I guess, but they just knocked the
stuffings out of you. What do
you want to do?” Maxine sounded mad, but Abraham thought she was just frightened and didn’t want them to know. “And you...”
She turned on Paige.
“You, bringing me Danish,
prying information out of me...You’re responsible for this.”
not that hard to get information out of you, Maxine, trust me. It’s harder to get you to shut up. I know a lot of this
is my fault. You don’t have to tell me that. What I don’t know is how to make it right.”
sighed. “If it helps, Mrs. McKenzie, I hold nothing against you. I am to blame for the place to which we have been brought. I alone am responsible
and I, like you, have no way to
bristled. “Penance. To who? For what? Abraham, the life you’ve led is more than enough penance to make up for anything.”
felt a gentle pressure on his arm. Macie stood beside him.
wish I knew how to tell you, Dr. Sorkin. I wish I knew how to make you believe.”
believes in God,” Maxine said.
more than that. It’s a story my Grandma told—”
The Prodigal again….” Paige pulled herself to a sitting position.
When they crucified Jesus, there were two men with him. One was yelling profanities and cursing at everybody. The other one realized who Jesus was and the man
asked Jesus to remember him when he got to heaven.”
voice trembled. Is there a point to this, Macie, because the clock’s ticking here.”
waved her down. “We have nothing else to do at the present, Maxine. We can listen.” He patted Macie’s hand.
“This talk about Jesus. You forget, Macie, I am a Jew.”
“Jesus was a Jew, too. My grandma said he died for the Jews. And the man who was crucified with Jesus—the
one who asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus got to heaven–Jesus told him, that day he would be in Paradise with
Jesus. He didn’t have the chance to do any great works…to make himself worthy…he was just accepted by God
because he believed in Jesus.”
too easy,” Abraham said.
was quiet, except for the sound of the men bickering beyond the doorway. Finally, Abraham spoke.
I can’t believe. For two thousand years my people have waited for Messiah. We have left our prayers and our longing
at the wailing wall. And now you tell me that it has been in vain? That all we had to do was ask God? No. Many Jews will not
even speak the name of God. He is unapproachable. He is…he is God.”
Jesus is his son.”
suddenly saw the men in their striped camp uniforms “No. It cannot be. Where is the suffering? Where is the deserving?”
Sorkin,” Paige said. “If we all get what we deserve, I might as well hang it up right now. Up until a few hours
ago, I was working for those men in there. I believe what Macie is saying. I just…I don’t know. I can’t
get past the feeling I’ve done too much for God to even look at me.” She leaned against the chair, as though exhausted.
back clinic door opened and Macie heard Doman’s voice.
nearly got caught. Cop put his spot on me while I was unlocking the rear church door. I waved and grinned at him. He didn’t
were worried, George.” Soudo’s voice dripped fake concern “We thought perhaps you’d been detained.
But now I see, the Lord goes before his people and prepares a straight way. I am now ready to be offered, and the time of
my departure is at hand.”
Macie heard a rattling, some breaking glass, and then, Austin’s voice. “Here it
is. Nitrous Oxide. They use it
when they do minor surgeries. Laughing gas.”
merry heart doeth a man good like unto medicine.” Soudo laughed. “Did you leave a few ingredients of our ...recipe at the church to tantalize the
mean, did I plant some powder and stuff in that room in the basement? Yeah. They’ll
find it easy...but not too easy...after this place goes up.”
“Excellent. My friends in Miami will meet me at the airport with a dreadlock wig, tattered jeans, a pair of sunglasses;
Leonard Soudo will go into the men’s room, RogerSt. Martin will come out. Visit’in
from d’ island, don’t you see?”
They joked for several minutes. Then the tone turned serious and Doman cleared his throat. “ What if things get hairy for us here?”
you will join me der.” Soudo was still playing the accent. “You
know who to talk to at the hospital if things get...difficult. It will be in their best interest to help you . But it will be easier for Doctor Austin
and his friends to work here, where the
labs are already established. It’s too bad... If Sorkin makes it, we’ll have to deal with him, too. No loose ends left to tie up.”
“I understand,” Austin said. “This would’ve
been so much simpler if he’d just stayed on board with us.”
So, who gets the joy juice?” Doman was ready to move.
all do.” Soudo’s voice was somber, now. “First, set the timer. Then, turn on the gas. We’ll stay to make sure they’re all...comfortable.
When the charge blows, it’ll be just enough to start a small fire. Small, that is, until it hits the gas fumes. If they can find anything afterward,
they’ll assume our friend,
Paige, arranged this little mishap and got caught in it herself. Tragic,
yes? So like that fire in Thornton...or the ones in New Mexico earlier
this year. Same M.O. Why can’t
these pro-life people solve their problems non-violently?”
is Nitrous Oxide?” Paige looked at Macie but it was Maxine who responded.
an anesthetic . Like dentists use. It doesn’t really put you out, but it relaxes you. Gives you a ...a high.”
textbooks say a feeling of euphoria. That’s why they call it laughing gas.”
doesn’t knock you out, but it definitely incapacitates you,” Macie said.
we do, we have to do it before they give us that gas.” Abraham stood and tucked his shirt into his trousers.
sitting around discussing the afterlife. Like we’re all contemplating our deaths or something. That gives me the willies.” Maxine got up, too, and
stepped away from the couch.
“They were waiting for that Doman animal to return. Now that he has, they’ll
probably—Macie, do you have your cell phone?”
would’ve used it by now, Dr. Sorkin. No. I don’t even have my purse. It was gone when I woke up at the church.” The women looked at Paige McKenzie.
ladies. Look, I’m going to create a distraction. When I do, you run for the front door and try to get out of here.”
One, they can handle. What if the two of us kept them busy while Macie and Maxine went for help?” Abraham could see Paige’s eyes shining, even in the
dimly lit waiting room.
not leaving you.” Maxine went to stand beside Abraham. “The girls can go.”
glanced at the men in the other room. “What if we do get out of here, and they kill you ?”
going to kill us anyway. It’s the best we can do, Sweetie. Get your baby out of here.”
Macie looked toward the front door. It seemed miles away. “Please...I don’t know if I can make it.”
two women started toward the door, Abraham kicked over a trash can, and shoved a chair into the wall. Macie lunged for the door, her foot catching in the carpet.
She went down hard. Paige stood frozen, her face pale. From the other room, Abraham heard scuffling, and Maxine yelled loudly.
Abraham started back, to help Maxine in the assault. Glancing at Macie, he saw her get to her knees and grab the door handle,
sliding the lock and pulling herself up. The door swung open onto the dark street beyond.
A single loud pop. Everything went silent. Leonard Soudo stood in the doorway, haloed in the light from the back room, a small
gun in his hand.
Mrs. Stone. This would be so much more pleasant for all of us if you come back in now.”