I had enough sense to warn Momma. I didn’t have any concerns about her play acting – because I knew darn good and well she wouldn’t be play acting. Crystal handled notifying the rest of the building – we didn’t need anyone going solo right now.
Tresmayne called from his apartment. He’d completed his search – if Mycroft or one of his pets had been in the area, they weren’t now. Tresmayne didn’t believe any creatures other than the werecat had been there. He gave me the same route the werecat had described for me – meaning he had correctly followed its track. There was next to no chance that Crystal and I had been observed – Plan A was a go.
The werecat, thoroughly confused, put all the plumbing back the way she’d done it originally. Crystal’s sword was stashed at my parent’s place for the moment. She stayed there – she would let herself out in the confusion later, just in case something decided to come watch in the daylight. The werecat made herself scarce, as commanded. She wasn’t supposed to drop her concealment per Vinnie’s original command so she left still concealed.
Thompkins arrived home and everything went according to script. He ‘alerted’ Momma, called 911, and started throwing open windows that Crystal and I had closed again. I stayed out of the bedroom until he got there, then jumped in bed and ‘passed out’. My head was still anything but okay, so it wasn’t that hard to fake.
I must have gotten a good bit more of the monoxide because I was throwing up soon after the paramedics arrived. They started me on oxygen and threw me into the ambulance. Momma insisted on coming with us – if I hadn’t been so sick, it would have been funny listening to that poor driver losing the fight.
I’d considered faking my death but that would have added way too many wrinkles – plus, we don’t have a budget, let alone a budget for fake funerals.
I knew full well there were holes but Vinnie hadn’t been that thorough thus far so it was worth the risk. Obviously, the hospital records would show I’d been discharged after successful treatment – and my mother’s inquisition. The nice nurse deposited me onto the curb and my brother Tim ‘helped’ me into the car. I thought that was probably unnecessary – they would expect Tresmayne to be about and were probably no where near the hospital But Tim pointed out that if I could have normal, despite being related to me, people helping me out, so could Vinnie.
He was right, of course, even though I doubted Vinnie worked that way. Vinnie struck me as the control freak type – he might not be thorough but he would make sure anything he did throw at me was under his control. Regardless, I played the part of invalid for the public.
Tim and Kevin half carried me up the stoop and into the apartment. An old wheel chair left long ago by Mrs Dawson’s family after her death had been brought up from the basement and cleaned up. I didn’t even try to fight it – acting sick was my stupid idea so I’d best not make too much fuss when the family tried to help.
The cops had already been by the hospital to interview me. They had been all over the neighborhood talking to anyone that would speak to them. Evidently, all they got for their efforts was a lot of wasted time and paper.
I felt a little bad about that – wasting the cops time isn’t a good thing – but I didn’t see a way around it. If we were going to lure Vinnie out, then Vinnie was going to have to believe he’d gotten me out of the way. That part of the drama was yet to be played out. I knew how we were going to do it, but I couldn’t rush it. Oh, I wanted to – but people act in some predictable manners. A young, healthy guy doesn’t get sick and go to a convalescence hospital the same day. The guy’s friends/cohorts don’t move out immediately thereafter. There has to be some time for the adjustments – at least if they are real.
Mine weren’t, but I needed it to look good for Vinnie. I could put up with a wheel chair and my family for a few days – probably.
Mrs. Abernathy proved to be a Godsend. A retired nurse, she knew a lot about the type of recovery I was supposed to be having. She also knew how to make it look good – at a reasonable price. Medical equipment was rented and set up in my bedroom. Mrs Abernathy and a couple girls Crystal knew from college became my ‘nurses’. She let them borrow some of her old scrubs and Tim scrounged up a couple of convincing looking tackle boxes to make them look like home health workers.
Thompkins reviewed the feeds from the cameras. The werecat only showed up when it was in human form and then only when it first walked up to the building. The video showed her buttoning up the coveralls and disappearing. That was some concealment.
It was also Vinnie’s biggest advantage. Five days later, I was thinking about how to neutralize it while Jessica, Monica and I were playing Risk. Jessica and Monica were the pretend nurses and we were just killing time until they were to leave. They weren’t in on most of the details – just that a prank had gone wrong and I wanted to get even.
Monica took a small country on my right flank. It wasn’t the move I expected so I started concentrating on the game a bit more. I should have concentrated a lot more – with that little gambit, she started to decimate my right flank. With Jessica on the left, I couldn’t pull the resources I needed to fend her off – then I realized, too late – that they had planned this squeeze play. It didn’t take them long to finish me.
“How long have you two been planning that?” I asked, conceding the game.
“Since the day before yesterday when you beat us for the fifth time straight.” Monica admitted. “Truth be told, my friend Kagome came up with the plan. She and her cousin play all the time.”
“Kagome?” I’d heard Crystal mention the name, “Oh, from Japan. I remember now. Bring her by sometime if she’d like to play – must be hard, being away from home.”
Monica smiled, “I’ll ask her. but her cousin is here with her – special exchange student.”
Monica shook her head, “No, tech school – I didn’t even know they had exchange programs for tech schools until I met Ayami.”
I kept a straight face – just barely. “Oh, Kagome’s cousin?”
Jessica chipped in, “Yes, they live with Kimberly’s family in Queens while they are going to school. Ayami is planning to go to Korea for an exchange program next year and Kimberly and Kagome are talking about renting a place with Monica and Sally and I then.”
Ayami sure got around. I don’t believe in coincidence. At all. But Crystal had never mentioned a cousin werecat – I felt sure I’d remember that. “What, no room for Crystal?”
“Silly, she has her own room – if things all work out, we’ll rent from her parents. Of course, that won’t be for a few months yet. Ayami doesn’t leave for Korea until January and she’s too young to live with us – legally, I mean.” Jessica frowned, “That sounds all wrong – she’s just sixteen and has to have a guardian, that’s all.”
I nodded, “Sure, I get it – no parent wants their baby girl being chaperoned by a bunch of crazed college students.” I winked, “She’d probably pick up all sorts of bad habits like playing Risk – oh, wait, she has that one already, right?”
Monica tossed a pillow my way, “You!”