A couple days after visiting the doctor, Drake took Elijah back to Grand Junction. Drake said he was going to have his hands looked at again. Elijah didn’t want anyone else to look at his hands. They were feeling better since he’d been using the heat packs Drake and Madison fixed for him. He didn’t see the point of having someone look at them again. He was so upset he didn’t even bring his 3DS, but kept his hands shoved in his pockets. As they drove, Drake tried to talk to him, but he turned away and looked at the scenery. He remembered walking along this highway with his father. Scrub brush and craggy rocks dotted the landscape. When they got to Grand Junction, Drake drove to a large medical complex. A large hospital dominated the parking lot, but Drake drove to a smaller building to the side of the hospital. The building was all glass and steel with an asymmetrical roof. Before Drake could come around and open the door for him, Elijah hopped out of the van and walked to the front door. Drake followed behind them.
After they checked in, he and Drake sat on a large, plush couch.
“Elijah, it’s going to be okay. They’re going to take pictures of your hands.”
Elijah finally turned and scowled at Drake.
“I know you’re not happy about this, but Madison and I are trying to help you. We need to know what’s wrong with your hands. Maybe, they can be fixed.”
Elijah shook his head. He knew they couldn’t be fixed. His father had told him that they couldn’t. He remembered going to sleep after drinking a soda his father bought him at the machine down the hall from their room. It was the one of the few times he could remember his father getting them a motel room. It wasn’t a very nice motel. The drapes were ripped and barely attached to the curtain rod, and the sheets smelled a little funny when he laid back on the bed. The next thing he remembered was waking up with his hands throbbing. They felt like two giant clubs on the end of his arms. They were bandaged tightly. He sat up on the bed, but quickly lay down again as the room spun in a lazy circle. His father was no where to be found. Sometime later, he had to use the bathroom. He tried sitting up more slowly. This time the room stayed steady even though his legs were wobbly when he stood up. He shuffled over the puke green shag to the small bathroom. Pain lanced up his arm as he reached for the light switch, but he gritted his teeth and turned on the light anyway. His hands were wrapped in white gauze and tape. He tried to wiggle his fingers under the wrapping and a wave of nausea hit him with the excruciating pain and drove him to his knees. He crouched on the grimy tile and looked at his hands. His thumbs were the only thing he could see on his hands. He could move his thumbs even though it hurt the rest of his hand. With a soft groan, he made himself get up and go to the toilet. Fumbling with his jeans, he was able to open the fly enough to go to the bathroom. By the time he was done buttoning his waistband, sweat covered his face. He’d leave the zipper for later. Dizzy again, he made his way back to the bed. Sitting on the bed, he noticed the food and drinks left on the bedside table, enough to last him a couple of days if he were careful. That meant his father was going to be gone a couple of days following the impulse as he called it. Grabbing a warm can of 7-up, Elijah took a sip and then laid back down.
Elijah was startled from his memory by the sound of his first name, but Rhodes was not his last name. It was the same name as the Sheriff and Drake. He looked at Drake again, but Drake was already standing up.
“I’ll go with you, Elijah,” he said with a smile and a gentle touch on Elijah’s shoulder.
Elijah nodded and followed the woman in lavender scrubs through a shiny metal door.
She took Drake and Elijah to a room with white walls and a shiny white tile floor. A metal table stood in the middle of the room with machinery surrounding it.
“Hi, Elijah. My name is Hillary. How are you today?”
Elijah looked at the pretty girl. She had bright red hair pulled into two braids. Her nose was covered in freckles. He nodded at her.
Drake cleared his throat. “Elijah doesn’t speak”
The girl’s smile faltered for a moment, but she recovered and smiled at him again.
“It says here that we’re to X-ray his hands.”
Drake answered, “That’s right.”
Hillary looked at Elijah gain.
“Can you take our hands out of your pocket?”
Slowly, Elijah pulled them out of his pockets. He expected Hillary to gasp or act shocked like most people did when they noticed his hands, but she just looked at them critically. She pulled up the sleeves of his hoodie, so that his wrists were exposed as well.
“Okay, Elijah, let’s have you sit on this stool here.” She rolled a metal stool with a black padded seat up to the table. Elijah sat on the stool. Hillary had Drake put on a weird black apron and had him sit back by the far wall away from the machinery. Hillary put his hands in different positions and then she would go behind another wall and turn the machine on. The machine would whir for a moment. She had him turn his hands in all different directions. It only took a few minutes and then he was done. He had thought it was going to hurt, but it didn’t. Some of the positions were a little awkward and uncomfortable, but nothing he couldn’t handle. Drake and Elijah walked into the sunshine and headed to Drake’s minivan.
“Do you wanna go back to that diner and get more shakes?”
Elijah nodded his head enthusiastically. He wasn’t mad anymore. The X-rays weren’t as bad as he thought they’d be. There was no use being mad at Drake. After lunch, Drake drove Elijah back home. Madison was home when they got there. Elijah was surprised because she usually stayed at work for hours every day.
Drake asked, “Any trouble getting off for the afternoon?”
“No,” Madison said, “Hal and I talked yesterday. We decided it’s better, under the circumstances, if I distance myself from the case. He’s going to be working it and checking in with me every day.”
“That must be hard. I know you want to solve it.”
Madison shot a quick look at Elijah. He looked away and went into his room. He didn’t want to hear about the case. He closed his door and laid down on the bed. He could still hear the murmur of their voices, but he was soon asleep.
It was easier to find information on the Sheriff than he thought. While she didn’t have much information on the internet, her husband, Drake, did. He was some kind of Cybersecurity consultant. The website for his business popped right up as soon as he typed Drake’s name into the search engine. There was no address, but there was a contact form. He had completed the first part of his plan yesterday and today he was back at the Grand Junction library. No one took notice of a man in a plaid shirt and western boots even though the man’s shirts he was borrowing were kind of loud. he wanted to wear his black hoodie and jeans again, but he didn’t want to stand out. Driving around in the red truck with his plaid covered elbow hanging out of the window almost gave him small-town credibility. This morning, as he had driven out of town, one of the Fruita deputies had given him the small town wave—two fingers lifted off the steering wheel. He had reciprocated. He wondered if they were really that blind. Did the just see the plaid shirt and the red truck but not the real man inside? He didn’t know, but he knew he had to move quick. He wouldn’t get away with it too much longer. He typed in the address for Drake’s website. On the home page, he clicked on the link for the contact form. He had decided to use a local computer company as his cover. He used a name from the company’s directory, but he gave the cell phone number of the burner phone he had purchased at Walmart with the money he had stolen from the flower shop. Then he erased the history of the browser he was on and then closed the browser. It didn’t take long for Drake to take the bait. His phone rang fifteen minutes after he submitted the form.
“Drake Rhodes for Richard Lyons, please.”
“This is Richard. How are you, Mr. Rhodes. Thank you for responding so quickly.”
“That’s no problem, Mr. Lyons, and, please call me Drake.”
“Of course, Drake. We’re looking to upgrade our cybersecurity system and I came across your name when I was looking for reputable consultants.”
Drake tried to begin asking technical questions which he could not even pretend to answer. He cut him off and suggested they meet.
“I’d like you to talk with the Director of our IT department. Would it be possible to meet this afternoon?”
“Of course, Mr. Lyons, I am only twenty minutes away from Grand Junction.”
“Good, and call me Richard.”
“Can you be here at 2:00?”
“Of course, I will see you then.”
He smiled as he ended the call and put the phone in his pocket. Putting the truck into drive, he headed over to the computer company to wait for Drake.