The next thought Bev had was the startled sensation that someone was in her home.
Laying in bed, eyes suddenly wide open, getting her bearings, clawing out of the fog of sleep she recognized the sound of the TV coming from the main room and she relaxed as she recalled her illegal guests.
They were illegal – something she would have to deal with sooner or later. And with that thought she wasn’t so relaxed again.
Edmond was sitting up on the couch again. Slouching, really. Eyes sunken, lids heavy. Carly sat beside him, watching Scooby-Doo un-mask an apparent ghoul that looked more lively than Edmond.
“I don’t really know what to say.” Edmond mumbled.
“I don’t think I was.”
“I totally forgot about that bottle when I said you could stay here.”
“That hardly seems appropriate.”
“For taking care of me last night. Generally and specifically.”
“Well I’m sorry.”
“I swear. I’m never going to drink again.” He managed a wry smile.
“Shhhh!” Carly hushed them. The cartoon was approaching its climax.
Edmond and Bev shared a smile. They both knew that as much as he had best intentions, his pattern was not promising. He might be capable of quashing the urge for a long time, but the urge always seemed stronger than he was.
Beverly crossed into the kitchen and dug out the coffee. Scott was going to need it. For his part, he watched the last few minutes of Carly’s TV show and then cleared his throat.
“Look, we should get out of your way. I’ve been thinking. We’re just going to get you in trouble. There’s no reason that the shit I’ve got myself in should be your problem too. No one even need know we were here.”
“Yeah, about that...”
“If I can keep moving for another day or so, the idea of quarantining us – Carly in particular – will be ridiculous. I suspect I’ll be looking at a different small room for a little while at the very least.”
“You can’t go out in your condition. You look like hell. Christ, you’ve got newsprint smeared all over your face.”
“And I’m betting my face is smeared all over news-print.”
“That too. But right now you look like the world’s worst hangover. Any authorities see you like this they aren’t going to think you’re healthy. I’m not saying you can stay long, but you owe me an on-the-record discussion, and you need liquids – internally and externally administered – and probably a nap after you’re totally sobered up. You aren’t in any danger of being found here.”
She made coffee and ran out around the corner to get some bacon and eggs. The entire time she was structuring questions in her head – the whole gamut; how long were Edmond and Shale partners?; how did he and Carly escape from the hospital, presumably unscathed?; where did they go to escape the authorities, before her?; what, if anything, more did he know about Tanya Meyers?
It wasn’t until she got back to her house that she thought about her necessary return to the hospital – to the story as the world saw it. Somehow, having one of the key aspects of the event right in her living room made her forget that she was one step ahead of the story on TV and that until she could bring it to light safely, she still had to have the appearance of being wrapped up in the breaking news.
It was the breaking news on her TV as she walked in her door that brought her back to the present.
“Human rights activists are taking up the case of the quarantined staff and patients in the hospital.”
The report cut directly to a sound bite from a tall albino. “None of these people have exhibited any symptoms. The police officer who went on the rampage went mad after hours. These people’s liberty is being denied due to the paranoia of the scientific establishment.”
Edmond muttered, “Tanya Meyers took a week from when she last saw her husband. He took at least that long too. The scientific establishment has damned good reason to be paranoid, Henry.”
“Henry Visserman’s always good for a quote. Even when he isn’t pithy he’s interesting to watch. He’s so freaky looking. He is good TV.”
“I’m betting City Hall wishes you’d use him less. We sure do in the department.”
“Captain Anderson isn’t afraid to let us know. So hey, I’ve got to call the news director and make like everything is normal – so if I can entreat you two to keep it quiet for a few minutes so I can do some effective lying...”
“You can stay as long as you need,” she shouted from her bedroom. “I’ll be back in about 12 hours or so, things have settled a bit at the hospital and they’ll have the news team into a groove by now. So unless things get really crazy I’ll be on rotation from here out.”
Edmond stepped into her door way. A fleece blanket wrapped around him.
“I’m fine. Really. Except for the... sorry about that.”
“It was stupid of me. But that’s one more way here is safe. You won’t find any more. I’ve got to go. Eat whatever you like. Be prepared when I get back, neither of us is sleeping until we’ve gone at it.” An awkward pause. “I swear that wasn’t Freudian.”
“I understood what you meant.”