AUTHOR'S NOTE: This Three Word Wednesday story features Vince Mott, a character from Diana's Diary, which is part of my Will and Diana series. You can read more about Vince by following the tag at the bottom of the post.
The knock woke Sara from a dreamless sleep. She fumbled for the lamp but the electricity was out again, so she turned on her solar-charged lantern. There was another tap on the door, and Sara grabbed a robe and padded to the door. Although she knew the pattern of the knock, she gave a few taps and waited for the reply before unlocking.
A young woman slipped inside, dressed in a long black skirt and with a shawl partially obscuring her face. She shook out her corkscrew curls while Sara closed the door. “You knew it was me.”
“Vince would kill me if I quit using the code.” Sara had been under her brother’s protection since their parents died in an epidemic. Nothing would make Vince breach that trust, even though Sara was now an adult and a nurse, exposed every day to the worst this war-torn city could show her. “How many is it this time?”
“Two that look serious and a few minor ones. Mostly gunshot. I took a hit too, but it’s just surface.”
“Did it bleed out good?”
“You can look at it after you do the others. Just get your stuff.”
Sara hurried to her bedroom and slipped into jeans, a sweater, and a dark trench coat. She grabbed the black leather bag that she kept for emergencies and followed Gitana out the door.
They crept down the stairs and out into the night. A bicycle rickshaw waited by the curb and Sara recognized the driver—a hunched, tattered man who asked no questions. She climbed into the narrow seat, wedged so tightly against Gitana she could feel the Glock strapped to the other girl’s hip.
As they bounced their way over the rutted streets, Sara pulled her coat closer. In the pale light of the half-moon, huddled forms slept in doorways by the embers of dying fires. Two dogs ran out from the shell of an old bank, and when one of them menaced the driver, he squirted it in the face with a chili mixture from a dirty plastic bottle.
The headquarters for Vince’s gang was a bullet-scarred shop that had sold greeting cards and jigsaw puzzles before the resource wars and secession. Gitana gave a coded knock at the service entrance and whispered the night’s password. The door opened and a bald, blood-smeared man glared at Gitana. “Took you long enough.”
“It takes as long as it takes. If you weren’t always fucked up on something, you might have a concept of time.”
“And if you weren’t such a bitch—”
Sara left them to their argument and went inside. On what had once been the sales floor, two wounded men lay on canvas tarps while others, less seriously injured, sat nearby passing a bottle of murky liquor back and forth.
A dark-haired man looked up from examining a pad of gauze covering a wounded man’s abdomen. The blue stripe running from his left eye to his jawbone gave him an intimidating appearance, but when he shook his hair out of his eyes and smiled, he looked like a child only playing at being a dangerous gang leader. “Hey, Sis. Thought you'd like a little overtime.”
“’Like’ isn’t quite the word I’d use for it.” Sara squatted by the injured man. “Is this your worst case?”
“Seems to be. There’s so much blood I can’t tell if anything important got hit.”
“Everything in the abdominal cavity is important. Even if his organs were spared, there’s the risk of peritonitis.” She examined the man gingerly, but didn’t remove the pad. “Best thing would be to leave the bandage in place and get him to the hospital.”
Vince gave her a look. “You know how we feel about that sort of thing.”
“Yeah, but I’m not a surgeon and I don’t have what I need to do a transfusion. Take your chances if you want, though.” She fumbled in her bag. “I can at least give him something for the pain.”
After she injected some morphine, she moved to the next man. This one didn’t seem to have any life-threatening injuries, but he had lost a lot of blood and was in shock. She cleaned his wounds, picked a bullet out, and covered him with blankets before moving on to the next patient. It took her nearly two hours, but eventually Sara got everyone patched up as well as she could.
She wiped her hands and got to her feet. “What about you?” She looked at Vince. “Anything you’re not telling me?”
They gazed at each other a long time but it was Vince who turned away first. "Come in my office."
Sara followed him to the cramped and airless manager's office. If he was asking her to treat him in private, it could only mean—
"Bastard got me in the ass. You think—?"
"I've seen both cuter and uglier than yours."
With a sigh of annoyance, Vince dropped his pants.
The wound was impressive, bruised and crusted with blood. Sara tried to get a closer look, but he flinched at her touch. "The good news is there's both an entrance and an exit wound, so I won’t need to dig lead out of your butt."
"And the bad news?"
"I'm going to need to flush it out."
He gasped as she tentatively probed one of the holes. "You'll numb it first, right?"
Sara fumbled in her bag. "Yes, but I want this to drain for a couple days, got it?"
Vince looked at her over his shoulder. "I can't go around with a bandage on my ass."
"Why not?" She uncapped a syringe. "Got plans that don't involve wearing pants?"
"Just clean me up, okay?"
Sara suppressed a smile. For a few days, the city's young women would be spared the attentions of her ladykiller brother. Not bad for a night’s work. With a satisfied air, she jabbed the needle into his buttock.