The Widow Maker…the beginning of Part XII…unedited…

Dr. Willie Ryder stepped into the hallway and Lt. Wilkin met him at the nurses’ station.

“What’s the prognosis, doctor?”

“Same as Detective Smith, with a couple of exceptions.”

“Come on, doctor. Don’t keep me guessing.”

“Detective Tate will walk the rest of his life with a waddling gait.”

“What does that mean, doc? Spell it out already!”

“He’ll have an abnormal gait. The waddling gait usually comes from weak quadriceps muscles or hips, but in Tate’s case it’s because someone smashed his ankles in.”

“Both of them?”

“Yes. Someone took something heavy and crushed his bones into splinters.”

“Jesus…”

“I doubt it was Him. Someone else, but as long as we’re talking about the two detectives, I will say this: Of the two cases, Tate’s is the worst of the two. Whatever the offender wanted, he wanted it bad.”

“So, not only did Tate lose his sight, his um manhood, and his tongue, this maniac hobbled him? Am I hearing you right, doc?”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

Lt. Wilkins turned and walked down the hall from the doctor. His partnership with Smith and Tate would do him no good now. Neither of them could help him.

He was alone against this unknown assailant, and he needed to prepare for whatever hunted him.

Outside the hospital, P. Belton and Judith stood next to their car. Wilkins had called for them, and he strode toward them with purpose. Judith watched as he drew near, and she shrank back from his glare.

“You two,” Wilkins snapped. “Get in there and protect Tate. No one should come here to see him. If anyone does, you shoot them until they’re dead, then shoot them again to make sure.”

“How is he?”

Wilkins stared at Judith, and he smirked at her. “He’s not the man he used to be. Not that you were anything more than a one-night stand. You weren’t even memorable.”

Judith blushed under the weight of Wilkin’s scorn. P. Belton said nothing and headed for the door. Judith trailed behind him, too embarrassed to walk beside her partner, her shame collared about her neck, her visage pale and gravely. Was it such a shameful sin to love the wrong man? Surely, she wasn’t the only person to have succumbed to Tate’s charms. Empty though his charms were, he made her feel special.

This was a glorified baby-sitting detail, and after all these years of service, it was insulting for P. Belton to sit in a hallway to protect a scumbag like Tate. In a huff of anger, P. Belton strode through the electric doors of the hospital. They opened with a low whoosh. I should do the world a favor and kill this animal. I could claim I did it in the name of the greater good, but no. This Widow Maker has the right idea. Take from the takers and let them live with the consequences.

P. Belton sat in a black faux leather chair outside of Tate’s room and wondered what the Widow Maker would do to Wilkins. Whatever the scoundrel decided, it would be more merciful than Wilkins deserved.

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