Twenty-four hour guards watch over me now, the FBI’s finest. That’s a joke, an oxymoron. If they’d been doing their job I wouldn’t be here in the first place. I’d still be put up in a suite at the Hilton, waiting to testify. The doc says I’ll get to leave tomorrow if all the tests are good. After I testify they’ll put me into witness protection, someplace shitty is my guess.
I felt the shots hit me, every last one of them. 15 hours in surgery, five slugs were dug outta me. My mid-section is carved up like a Christmas ham, a ragged patchwork quilt of stitches. I lost my spleen, have a broken collar bone and a punctured lung, but they are the least of my concerns.
I hear the guards outside sometimes. They call me Mickey the Rat. That’s ok, I guess that’s what I am now a rat. A rat will do anything to survive, chew off their own leg, cannibalize their own kind, that’s what I am a survivor.
I’m fucking gold to them. I know things, things that will bring down Victor Carboni. Putting away Carboni is easy. He killed my best friend, I watched him die. There was no reason to kill him, he didn’t do anything wrong. Carbonni got pissed and shot the closest person to him. It could have been me.
‘Could I get some real fucking food? This hospital shit sucks.’
‘I’ll see what I can do Mr. Petronni,’ said one of the agents assigned to the door.
Mr. Petronni, I like that. I’ve never been Mr. Petroni. For as long as I can remember I’ve been Little Mickey. I hate that fucking name. Little Mickey, it sounds like a kids name. It’s fucking humiliating.
‘Get some pizza from Anthony’s on 27th,’ I said.
Inspector Morgan walked in looking grim. He whispered something to the agent in the room and nodded towards the nurse, for privacy. The nurse left and the agent stood straight as a rail, full alert.
‘Mick I have some bad news,’ he said.’ Words out that Carbonni hired a heavy hitter. A guy called The Doctor. He’s a specialist who’s supposed to be able to get to anyone.’
‘I’ve heard of him, he’s good, precise, like a surgeon, that's how he got the name. He’s the best, thorough and patient,' I said and then asked the important question. 'What are you doing about it?’
‘We’re doubling up on everything, guards, surveillance, everything, you name it. And we’re moving you out of the Hilton and to our own safe house, against your demands, but keeping you alive is priority number one.'
'I guess I should feel good about the fact that you already let one of his men shoot me five times and get away. And I’m in a hospital with a guy called the doctor trying to kill me. Don't you see the fucking irony in that?'
'Don't worry. We're taking the highest precautions.'
‘Don’t worry? That’s easy for you to say. You’re not the one with a big fucking target on your back.’
The day passed without incident, thank god. A young nurse walked in, she was a looker. I’d seen her before. She worked the evening shift and always brought my meds around eight. She was a nice girl and didn’t treat me differently. To her I was just another patient.
‘How are you feeling today Mr. Petronni?’ she asked.
‘Sore,’ I replied.
'That's to be expected. You're lucky to be alive after being shot five times.'
There was commotion in the hall. I heard a crashing sound and a shuffling of footsteps. The bedside agent scrambled through the door and into the hall. Self-preservation setting in I grabbed the nurse with my good arm and held her between the door and myself. I was not getting shot again.
‘Relax,’ she said gently, ‘someone just dropped a tray.'
'Sorry,' I said releasing her, 'just tense.'
'When are they releasing you?’
‘Tomorrow, as long as everything checks out.’
I smiled weakly at her and she smiled back. She injected a sedative into my IV. I felt lightheaded as it began to kick-in. I laid my head back and took in the euphoric feeling.
‘Why’d you do it,’ she asked in a whisper, leaning in close to me.
Holding my eyes open became difficult.
‘Why would you put your life in jeopardy? Witness protection is no way to live, and what for, revenge, to get even? You should have just let it go. It was business, it wasn’t personal. Just like this. Go to sleep it’ll all be over soon.’
My heart trip hammered in my chest and my vision blurred. I felt as if my blood were boiling.
'The doctor says you're going to be fine,' she whispered. 'He's way too optimistic.''
An alarm went off. I looked at her struggling to focus and saw her smile. I heard her shout, 'Code Blue,’ just before the world went black.