Chapter Thirteen (Part One)
“Wake up, Sunshine,” Mowgli shakes me out of a deep but restless sleep.
“Huh, what?” I mutter, burrowing my head under the pillow. “Shouldn’t you be oblivious or something?”
“Get up,” Mowgli repeats, plucking the pillow off my head. With a reluctant sigh, I heave my body in an upright position. I yawn and rub the sleep from my eyes. I am not a morning person, and I do not like talking to anyone after a job, and I’m hungry, and someone’s trying to kill me. I do not want to get out of bed on this sunny Saturday morning. It feels like it’s the crack of dawn, but a quick peek at my clock tells me it’s almost noon.
“You are disgustingly chipper for a man who’s been shot,” I grumble, standing and stretching. If I were at home, I’d be sleeping in the nude but out of deference to Mowgli’s delicate sensibilities—hah—I had worn a long t-shirt to bed.
“I need help washing,” Mowgli says bluntly.
“Well, how’s a girl supposed to turn down an offer such as that?” I raise an eyebrow and motion for him to follow me to the bathroom. I help him out of his shirt and sling and with a washcloth, sponge him down. The doctor says in a few days, Mowgli can go without the sling if he’s a good boy. Knowing Mowgli as I do, he’ll be out of the sling by tomorrow.
“What about the rest of me?” Mowgli asks. “I’m feeling grimy.”
“Up to you,” I shrug, leaning against the counter. “It won’t bother me any. You ain’t got nothing I haven’t seen.”
“Oh, yeah, I do,” Mowgli banters, grinning. Under his smile, however, is a grimace. He’s in more pain than he cares to admit, but is too proud to say so. I know better than to foist a pill of on him, so I hold my tongue. “Help me out of my pants, will you?” I undo his khakis and slide them off him until he’s standing in front of me in silk boxers. That’s my Mowgli for you—nothing but the best for him.
“Should I?” I gesture to his underwear, but he shakes his head. I wash him as best I can within the limits. “That should keep you from smelling, at least for today.”
“I’m taking a shower tomorrow by hook or by crook,” Mowgli mutters, looking with distaste at his body.
“Well, since I’m of sound body, I’m taking a shower now.” I push him towards the door, but he resists.
“At least help me dress first,” he protests, grabbing me by the arm. After I finish dressing him, I take my shower. Normally, I’m in and out of the shower in seven minutes flat, but today I linger. I figure I’ve earned an extra ten minutes, especially as it’s not on my water bill. The hot water beats against my muscles, working much like a masseuse. Of course, that reminds me of Evelyn Sato who I had met so briefly. It would have been nice to receive a massage from her, but it was not meant to be. I hope she didn’t suffer much during her death. I lather up my hair and give it a quick wash. One nice thing about having short hair is that it’s easy to wash. Once I’m through pampering myself, I step out of the shower ready, if not eager, to face the day.
I go back into the room to change. Mowgli is sitting on his bed, watching the television. There is no ‘breaking news’ about anything concerning our case which is good news, indeed. I relax a fraction at the absence of more trouble. Subconsciously, I was expecting one of the girls to end up on the news, dead. Of course, there would have to be something spectacular about a whore’s death to make the citizens of San Francisco give a damn about it, but I’m sure the assholes could trump something up if need be. By now, it is clear to me that the boys will go to any lengths to make sure that whatever they’ve been doing is covered up. By the same reasoning, it must be really huge if they’re desperate enough to kill three women in cold blood and to set up a fourth woman—me—at the same time. My anger grows at the thought of how expendable women are to guys like this. Not just women, but girls—little girls.
Thinking about little girls reminds me of my hypothesis that these boys are involved in a kiddie-porn ring. I ask Mowgli what he thinks, but he agrees that the stakes would be too high for our boys to get their hands dirty in something like that. As distasteful as it may be, there are many ways for rich, powerful guys to lay their hands on children that aren’t quite as risky. When I point out that frequenting hookers is risky, too, Mowgli rightly counters that so far, it’s only O’Reilly and Peters we’ve been able to peg as visiting the girls. As for going to a strip bar—well, there’s nothing illegal about that. If the mayor is involved and if he is Blanche’s boyfriend, his only real slip up we’ve discovered—legally, not morally—is whatever evidence Blanche had on him.