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   Chapter 46 No.46

My Sister's Keeper By Bill Benners Characters: 17654

Updated: 2018-05-28 11:25


IN SPITE OF THE RECENT WARM WEATHER, Scott McGillikin pulled the collar of his wool overcoat up around his ears, hunched forward with his shoulders high, and slunk along the street Martha and Richard had played on as children. As he approached the Baimbridge home, a Saint Bernard across the street reeled off a string of low-pitched barks that sounded more like a car being started with a dying battery than any kind of living creature.

The neighborhood was actually safer now than it had been twenty years earlier. Transplants from the north were buying up all the older homes, restoring them to better-than-original condition, and adding decks, brick walks, outdoor lamps, and herb gardens.

As he turned up the Baimbridge sidewalk, a young girl next door leaned out over a porch railing to get a better look at him. He lowered his chin, mounted the steps, and had raised a gloved hand to knock when the door abruptly swung open.

Before him sat a startled woman in her wheelchair bundled in an overcoat with a scarf around her neck. Shocked at the unexpected sight of a man on the porch, she recoiled and slammed the door. The Saint Bernard across the street again cranked his engine.

Stepping back, Scott called out. "Hello? Is this the Baimbridge home?" The porch light came on. "My name is Scott McGillikin. I'm Richard's attorney. Are you Martha?"

The door opened and Martha spoke through a narrow crack. "I'm sorry. You startled me. Yes, I am."

"I apologize. I should have called first. You're obviously headed out."

"I was just going for a stroll. The night air and the exercise help me sleep."

"I see. Well, mind if I join you?"

"Who is it, Martha?" Pearl called from upstairs.

Martha wheeled around and called back to her. "It's for me, mother."

"All right, darling."

Martha kept one hand on the doorknob. "What's this about, Mr. McGillikin?"

Scott cleared his throat. "Your brother told me that you had some information that might have something to do with his case."

She studied his face wondering if he could be the imposter named Dane Bonner. "It's a fingerprint from that house at the beach that blew up."

"What about it?" he asked.

"It matches one belonging to the man that pushed me off a ledge a few years ago."

"And how does that affect your brother's case?"

"Richie followed a man he spotted in the Matthews house to that beach house."

"So, you think the cases could be related."

"Yes, I think there's a connection. The problem is that the prints the police found have never been identified."

Scott scanned the neighborhood. The girl next door had faded back into the shadows and a dog in the next block now bayed incessantly. "So, basically what you have is a set of matching fingerprints, but you have no idea to whom they belong."

"Right."

"Well, that's interesting, Miss Baimbridge, but not very helpful. However, I do appreciate your sharing that information with me. You never know what might turn out to be important."

"Of course."

"You're close?" he asked, then seeing her confusion added. "Your brother and you?"

"Oh, yes. Very."

"He's lucky to have a sister like you. Thank you. And again I apologize for interrupting your stroll."

"Not a problem. Thanks for stopping by."

"Anytime you have anything you think might be of importance to his case, feel free to call."

"Thank you. I will."

Scott nodded. "Well, good night, Miss Baimbridge."

Martha rolled the chair back. "Good night, Mr. McGillikin."

She watched him step off the porch and waited to see which way he went before closing the door. Knowing that he might be a murderer gave her the creeps. She waited fifteen minutes before opening the door again and looked carefully as she rolled out onto the porch. Seeing no sign of him, she closed the door, took the ramp down, and checked the street before heading toward the abandoned warehouse.

MY EYES ADJUSTED SLOWLY to the low light as I penetrated deeper into the interior of the club. I could make out couples in booths kissing and pawing at one another—men with men, men with women, and women with women. With every step I searched for a bottle or other weapon to grab should chaos suddenly break out. There was a commotion at the front doors and I knew from the shouting and groans that the police had arrived. Beams of light circled into the smoky darkness lighting patrons that hid their faces and cursed.

I crouched, feeling my way along a pathway when a hand hooked the back of my belt and flipped me up into a booth. A woman, nude from the waist up, ripped the front of my shirt open, flipped it off my shoulders, and whispered, "I hate pigs." She thrust her tongue into my mouth, pressed her chest against mine, unzipped my fly, and forced her hand inside my trousers.

With my face against hers, I watched the cops as they shined their lights into every nook and corner and saw that some of the nude statues weren't statues at all, and some of the women weren't women. As one of their lights fell upon me, I closed my eyes and held my breath, the hammering in my chest drowning out the beat of the music. When the light moved away from me, I pulled back and examined the woman fondling me. Her breasts were high and well-formed, and her face c

Sam's cell phone automatically. But the right wheel struck a raised section of cement flipping the chair up on its side, wobbling, threatening to topple over. Martha's reflexes whipped her hand from the pocket to grasp hold, and the phone went tumbling off into the grass.

"Please! Somebody help me!"

Careening toward the busy intersection, Martha twisted to her left, locked an arm around his, and bit down on his sleeve. Failing to get his arm free, Scott smashed his other elbow against the top of her head three, four, five times. Still she held on, her teeth closing through his flesh. Grappling to get loose, Scott fell back dragging the chair to a halt, grabbed the binocular strap wrapped around Martha's neck, and yanked it tight cutting off her air supply.

Panicked and fighting for breath, she lunged over the side of the chair toppling to the ground, writhing to get her fingers under the strap, gasping for oxygen. Twisting the strap tighter, Scott dragged her across the ground until the strap broke and she rolled free, blood spraying from her mouth as she coughed and screamed. "Please! Somebody! Help!"

Martha had never backed down from anyone in her life and as he lifted her off the ground and tossed her back onto the chair, she punched and clawed at his head, digging her nails into his skin. "Scott McGillikin's trying to kill me!"

Exhausted, he slapped a hand over her mouth, circled the chair, and pushed on toward the streaming traffic. And again Martha locked onto his arm. But this time, he wrenched his hand from the glove and punched the side of her head with his bare knuckles.

Capturing his arm again, she sank her teeth into his bare skin ripping a chunk out of his arm. Jerking and twisting to free himself, Scott stumbled to his knees dragging the chair to a stop just before the end of the wall. An eighteen-wheel tractor-trailer rumbled past blasting Martha with a powerful gust of wind.

"Hey!" she screamed waving at oncoming traffic. "Somebody! Help me!" But the traffic was moving too fast and the chair was hidden by the darkness and the wall.

Striking a demobilizing blow to the side of Martha's jaw, he yanked his left arm free. As her head snapped back, her eyes caught the refraction of headlights in the aqua stone of the ring that sailed off his left hand and—for the second time in her life—she saw a blue flash and the letters "N3."

Regaining her senses, she lunged at him grasping the tail of his coat. "It was you!" she cried leaning over the back of the chair. "I found you, you friggin' bastard!"

Falling to the ground, Scott kicked at her face, set his feet against the back of the chair, and in one powerful thrust, launched her off the sidewalk and into the intersection.

For an instant, Martha was back on that ledge, dropping away in slow motion, seeing the gloating in his eyes as she floated off.

The chair bounced over the curb into the path of a red Chevelle that swerved over the curb—its brakes squealing—to avoid hitting her, but the man in the yellow rental truck hauling his shattered life to a storage bin on the other end of town had nowhere to go. He stomped the brakes and turned the wheel, but the truck was too heavy and could not be stopped. The fully-loaded vehicle slammed into her wheelchair and—like Pélé kicking a soccer ball—sent her careening into the third lane where a bus returning alcoholics to the Wilmington Treatment Center from an AA meeting at St. James Episcopal Church struck the wheelchair head on.

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