AUTHOR'S NOTE: This Three Word Wednesday story features Vince Mott and his sister Sara, two of the characters from My New-Found Land. You can read more about Vince by following the tag at the bottom of the post.
It had taken a bit of doing to get the medicines the doctor ordered, but Sara was nothing if not dedicated. She gave up her lunch hour to go to the other floors and scour the cabinets, and even asked at individual offices in her zeal, offering to barter. Now if she hurried, she might still have enough time to go on the roof and eat her sandwich, up high where it was safe and she could look over the wreck of the city and imagine what it must have been like in her parents’ and grandparents’ day.
She stepped into the patient’s room, then stopped with a jolt. A man stood over the unresponsive girl’s bed, his dirty fatigues and gaudy jewelry marking him as a local tough, one of thousands that roamed the streets in loosely organized gangs, looking for quick payoffs. Sara watched him place a fluffy stuffed rabbit in the crook of the child's arm and tie a satin ribbon around her wrist.
“Vince, what are you doing here?”
The man straightened up with a guilty look and shook his black hair out of his eyes. “You’re supposed to be on your lunch break.”
“And you’re supposed to be guarding a gun delivery, looting abandoned houses, or whatever illegal things it is you do.” She motioned him away from the bed so she could check the child’s vitals. “Are you the one that brought the charm bracelet yesterday? And the duck the day before?”
“Maybe.” Vince shoved his hands in his pockets. “Are you one of El Duque’s informants now? Is it a crime to give stuff to a sick kid?”
“No need to get defensive. It’s just kind of funny this girl has been here almost a week and you never told me you knew her.” A sudden suspicion gripped her. “Don’t tell me she’s yours. If I’m an aunt and you’ve been hiding it from me, I swear, I’ll—”
Vince held up a hand. “It’s not like that. Jesus.”
“With all the girls you’ve had, it wouldn’t have surprised me. So how do you know her?”
“Does it matter? I was just trying to do something nice.”
“She’s in a coma. She doesn’t know who’s being nice and who’s not.” She moved the stuffed rabbit and tucked the covers more tightly around the girl’s wasted body.
“Is she going to make it?”
“I don’t know.”
Sara worked in silence, feeling Vince’s gaze upon her.
“Got a few minutes?”
She glanced at her watch, one of the many things he had given her from his lootings over the years. His illegal activities had enabled her to go to nursing school and helped her survive on the meager and unreliable wages of the city hospital.
“Let’s go on the roof.”
Vince knew her well. She waited while he ran a gentle hand across the girl’s hair and murmured encouraging words. Then she took his arm and let him lead her to the staircase and out onto the flat roof of the hospital.
“World kind of sucks,” he said, as they gazed at the decrepit buildings below. “But we have to get what we can out of it.”
Sara thought of the little girl in the room below, dying needlessly. “I guess.”
He fumbled in his pocket and pulled out a flask. “Good stuff. Came all the way from Kentucky.” He pressed it into her hand and made her take it.
“About that girl…”
Vince shook his head. “Let a guy do a good deed now and then, okay?”
“You’re a regular Robin Hood.”
“You have your way, I have mine.”
Sara slipped the flask into one of the deep pockets of her nurse’s smock. It would come in handy when she was home in her small apartment, with night closing in. Vince had always been generous in his strange way.
“You ready to go back downstairs? I’ve got a deal to coordinate for tonight.”
“Sure.” She cast a final look out over the city, trying to imagine what it once was like before the collapse and the wars. Then she let Vince lead her to the door and back downstairs.