Home > Tail Spin (FBI Thriller #12)(7)

Tail Spin (FBI Thriller #12)(7)
Catherine Coulter

“Yeah? What do you two want?”

Seems pretty obvious to me, you old coot, she thought, but since Jack was hanging on by a thread, she pushed her hair back from her face and said, “We’ve had an accident. Could we use your phone? We left our friend unconscious in the car. He’s hurt pretty bad.”

“What’d your husband do, missus, drink too much and drive you off the road?”

“Actually, he fell out of the sky at my feet. Please, sir?”

Mr. Gurt huffed, waved them in. Well, this was something. As a kid, she’d been in his house only once, with her mother, to bring Mr. Gurt Christmas cookies.

They stepped into deep shadows and smelled oatmeal and vanilla. She heard a dragging sound that had her heart galloping until she saw a very fat pug trotting toward them, his leash clamped in his mouth, the leather strap dragging along the floor.

“Don’t get yourself in a dither, Marigold, and don’t piddle on the floor. Let’s get the folks on the phone, then I’ll take you out.” He led them into a living room where the smell of fresh lemon wafted in the air. Every surface was covered with old-fashioned lace doilies and antimacassars, yellow with age. He said, “Marigold hates the outdoors, weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. Just doing her business makes her nervous so I gotta be with her. Even Oswald and Ruby scare her.”

“Oswald and Ruby?” Rachael asked.

“Two goats chewing on God-knows-what in the front yard. There’s the phone. I paid the bill no more than six weeks ago so the buggers can’t have turned it off yet. I threatened to get me one of them newfangled cellular phones, but the gal at the phone company laughed, said there might not be a signal here until the middle of the century, aeons after I’m croaked. Don’t do no long distance, all right? Marigold, hold your water, I’m coming.”

Jack took the phone out of her hand. “I’m sorry, but this is priority.” He dialed Savich’s cell.

“Savich here.”

“Savich, it’s Jack.”

There was a brief pause. “Jack, let me say it is very good to hear your voice. You okay?”

“A little banged up, but I’ll live.”

“Dr. MacLean?”

“He’s unconscious, smacked his head good when he fell. He’s got a gash on his chest and I think a couple of broken ribs. We had to leave him in the backseat of Rachael’s car. We’re in Parlow, Kentucky, close to the Virginia border.”

“Who’s Rachael?”

“She watched me bring the plane in, helped me get it together.” He looked over at her as he spoke. She was twisting the skinny braid.

“All right. It turns out Parlow is where we’re heading, that was where they marked your mayday.”

“That’s a helicopter rotor I hear. Where are you?”

“We left Quantico fifteen minutes ago. It’ll take us a couple of hours to get to you. Bobby’s heading to a private airfield owned by a Judge Hardesty just off Route 72, close to Parlow. There’ll be a car waiting for us there so we’ll be able to get around. Now, let me give you over to Sherlock before she rips the phone out of my hand.”

“Jack? It’s Sherlock. Mr. Maitland called us around seven-thirty this morning, said you went down—you bozo, do you swear to me you’re okay?”

Jack smiled. “Oh yeah, an angel saved me, but . . .”

“But what?”

“It’s Timothy. He could be badly hurt. Like I told Savich, he’s lying unconscious in Rachael’s car, which is broken down on the side of the road. We had to leave him there to get help.”

“All right, I’ll make a call, set up getting him medevaced to the closest trauma center. I’ll get back to you. Jack, please tell me there was some sort of mechanical malfunction.”

He was aware that Rachael was studying his face, listening to every word he said. He said only, “Very probably not.”

Savich came back on. “Okay, we’ll figure it out. I’ll call Mr. Maitland. He’ll get an expert out there to take a look at the plane. You need a doctor, don’t you? Wait, Sherlock’s got the medevac people, and they need to know exactly where Dr. MacLean is. Jack, you there?”

Jack felt his brain wafting away, and what was worse, he welcomed it. “Sherlock? I guess you’d best have Rachael tell you.”

Rachael took the phone from Jack and watched him collapse into one of the ancient, nubby gray easy chairs. She listened, then told the woman the location of her car, adding, “I’m very glad you’re coming because Jack needs help. As he told you, my car broke down, so we’re walking. We’ll meet you in whatever medical facility they have in Parlow. He’s got a concussion, he thinks, and his leg was hurt by a piece of debris from the plane. I’ll stay with him until you get here.”

“Thank you very much for helping him. We’re still a couple of hours away. What’s your name?”

But Rachael had hung up. Jack was barely conscious.

SIX

Parlow Clinic

Rosy Bill Avenue

Monday morning

Dr. Post straightened as Nurse Harmon ushered a man and a woman into the small examining room.

Sherlock stood in the doorway, staring at Jack, who was stretched out on his back with a sheet pulled to his waist, his shirt hanging open. A young woman was leaning over him, her long hair hiding her profile, carefully soaping the black off his face. There was a braid hanging down from her side part.

“Jack?” Sherlock took a quick step forward.

“Is that you, Sherlock? You look hot in that black leather jacket. Excuse me, but I’m not really with it,” and his eyes closed.

Dr. Post said, “Don’t worry, he’s asleep again, mostly from the medication. Let’s let him rest, all right?”

Sherlock drew a deep breath, smiled at the doctor. “I’m Agent Sherlock, this is Agent Savich, FBI. And this is Agent Jackson Crowne.”

“I know. He was awake enough to tell me when I found them on my doorstep.”

The woman standing over Jack straightened. “I’m Rachael,” she said. “I’ve been helping Jack.” She didn’t say another word. When Jack had identified himself to Dr. Post, she knew she was cursed. This was all she needed. And now there were three feds, all in the same small room with her.

Sherlock asked Dr. Post, “Tell us exactly what’s wrong with him.”

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