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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 16

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  1. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 1
  2. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 10
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 11
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 12
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 13
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 14
  7. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 15
  8. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 2
  9. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 3

and held open with a metal spreader so that she could be made,

literally, heartlessand this was not what terrified me the most.

No, what scared me to death was the idea of cellular memory.

Dr. Wu had said that there was no scientific evidence that the

personality traits of heart donors transferred to their recipients.

But science could only go so far, I figured. I'd read the books and

done the research, and I didn't see why it was such a stretch to

think that living tissue might have the ability to remember. After

all, how many of us had tried to forget something traumatic...

only to find it printed on the back of our eyelids, tattooed on our

tongues?

There were dozens of cases. The baby with a clubfoot who

drowned and gave his heart to another infant, who began to drag

her left leg. The rapper who started playing classical music, and

then learned his donor had died clutching a violin case. The cattle

rancher who received the heart of a sixteen-year-old vegetarian,

and could not eat meat again without getting violently ill.

Then there was the twenty-year-old organ donor who wrote

music in his spare time. A year after he died, his parents found a

CD of a love song he'd recorded, about losing his heart to a girl

named Andi. His recipient, a twenty-year-old girl, was named

Andrea. When the boy's parents played the song for her, she could

complete the chorus, without ever having heard it.

Most of these stories were benigna strange coincidence, an

intriguing twist. Except for one: a little boy received the heart of

another boy who'd been murdered. He began to have nightmares

about the man who killed his donorwith details about the clothing

the man wore, how he'd abducted the boy, where the murder

weapon had been stashed. Using this evidence, the police caught

the killer.

If Claire received Shay Bourne's heart, it would be bad enough

if she were to harbor thoughts of murder. But what would absolutely

wreck me was if, with that heart in her, she had to feel her

own father and sister being killed.

In that case, better to have no heart at all.

 

Maggie

Today, I decided, I was going to do everything right. It was Sunday, and I

didn't have to go to work. Instead, I got up and unearthed my One Minute



Workout video (which was not nearly as slacker as it soundsyou could

add minutes to your own liking, and no one was here to notice if I chose

the four-minute option over the more grueling eight-minute one). I

picked Focus on Abs, instead of the easier Upper Arm. I sorted my recyclables

and flossed and shaved my legs in the shower. Downstairs, I

cleaned Olivers cage and let him have the run of the living room while I

made myself scrambled egg whites for breakfast.

With wheat germ.

Well. I lasted forty-seven minutes, anyway, before I had to break out

the Oreos that I hid in the box with my skinny jeans, a last-ditch attempt

at utter guilt before I ripped open the package and indulged.

I gave Oliver an Oreo, too, and was starting my third cookie when

the doorbell rang.

As soon as I saw the bright pink T-shirt of the man standing on the

porch, with the words JOYOUS FOR JESUS printed boldly across it, I knew

this was my punishment for falling off the wagon into the snack foods.

"If you're not gone in the next ten seconds, I'm calling 911," I said.



He grinned at me, a big platinum orthodontically enhanced grin.

"I'm not a stranger," he said. "I'm a friend you haven't met yet."

I rolled my eyes. "Why don't we just cut to the chaseyou give me

the pamphlets, I politely refuse to talk to you, and then I close the door

and throw them in the trash."

He held out his hand. "I'm Tom."

"You're leaving," I corrected.

"I used to be bitter, too. I'd go to work in the mornings and come

home to an empty house and eat half a can of soup and wonder why I

had even been put on this earth. I thought I had no one, but myself"

"And then you offered Jesus the rest of your soup," I finished. "Look,

I'm an atheist."

"It's not too late to find your faith."

"What you really mean is that it's not too late for me to find your faith,"

I answered, scooping up Oliver as he made a mad dash for the open door.

"You know what I believe? That religion served its historical purposeit

was a set of laws to live by, before we had a justice system. But even when it

starts out with the best of intentions, things get screwed up, don't they? A

group bands together because they believe the same things, and then somehow

that gets perverted so that anyone who doesn't believe those things is

wrong. Honestly, even if there was a religion founded on the principle of

doing good for other people, or helping them with their personal rights,

like I do every day, I wouldn't join . . . because it would still be a religion"

I had rendered Tom speechless. This was probably the most heated

debate he'd had in months; mostly, he'd have doors closed in his face.

Inside my house, the phone began to ring.

Tom pushed a pamphlet into my hand and beat a hasty retreat off my

porch. As I closed the door behind him I glanced down at the cover.

GOD + YOU = oo

"If there's any math to religion," I muttered, "it's division." I slipped

the pamphlet onto the liner of newspaper beneath Oliver's cage as I hurried

to the phone, which was on the verge of rolling over to the answering

machine. "Hello?"

The voice was unfamiliar, halting. "Is Maggie Bloom there?"

"Speaking." I geared up for a zinger to put a telemarketer in her place

for disturbing me on a Sunday morning.

As it turned out, she wasn't a telemarketer. She was a nurse at Concord

Hospital, and she was calling because I had been listed as Shay

Bourne's emergency contact, and an emergency had occurred.

 

Lucius

You would not have believed it possible, but when CO Smythe came back

to life, things actually got worse.

The remaining officers had to give statements to the warden about the

stabbing. We were kept in lockdown, and the next day a team of officers

who did not normally work on I-tier were brought in on duty. They started

our one-hour rotations on the exercise yard and the shower, and Pogie was

the first to go.

I hadn't showered since the stabbing, although the COs had given both

Shay and me a fresh set of scrubs. We had gotten Smythe's blood on us, and a

quick wash in our cell basins didn't go very far to making me feel clean. While

we were waiting for our turns in the shower, Alma showed up to give us both

blood tests. They tested anyone who came in contact with an inmate's blood,

and since that included CO Smythe, his blood apparently was only one step removed

from questionable. Shay was moved in handcuffs, ankle cuffs, and a

belly chain to a holding room outside the tier, where Alma was waiting.

In the middle of all this, Pogie slipped in the shower. He lay there,

moaning about his back. Two more COs dragged in the backboard and

handcuffed Pogie to it, then carried him to a gurney so he could be transported

all the way to Medical. But because they were not used to I-tier,

and because COs are supposed to follow us, not lead, they did not realize

that Shay was already being brought back to the tier at the same time

Pogie was going out.

Tragedies happen in a split second in prison; that's all it took for Pogie to

use the handcuff key he'd hidden to free himself, jump off the backboard, grab

it, and slam it into Shay's skull, so that he flew face-first into the brick wall.

"Weiss machtr Pogie yelled White pridelwhich was how I realized

Crash-from where he was still being kept in solitary-had used his connections

to order a hit on Shay in retaliation for ratting him out and giving his

hype kit to the COs. Sully's attack on CO Smythe had just been collateral

damage, meant to shake up the staffing on our tier so that part two of the

plan could be carried out. And Pogiea probatehad jumped at the chance to

earn his bones by carrying out a murder sanctioned by the Aryan Brotherhood.

Six hours after this fiasco, Alma returned to finish drawing my blood. I

was taken to the holding cell and found her still shaken by what had happened,

although she would not tell me anything-except that Shay had

been taken to the hospital.

When I saw something silver winking at me, I waited until Alma drew

the needle from my arm. Then I put my head down between my knees.

"You all right, sugar?" Alma asked.

"Just feeling a little dizzy." I let my fingers trail along the floor.

If magicians are the best at sleight of hand, then inmates have to be a

close second. As soon as I was back in my cell, I pulled my booty out of the

seam in my scrubs where I'd hidden it. Pogie's handcuff key was tiny, shiny,

formed from the fastener of a manila envelope.

I crawled beneath my bunk and wriggled the loose brick that concealed

my prized possessions. In a small cardboard box were my bottles of

paint and my Q-tip brushes. There were packets of candy, too, that I

planned to extract pigment from in the future-a half-empty pack of

M&M's, a roll of LifeSavers, a few loose Starbursts. I unwrapped one of the

Starbursts, the orange one that tasted like St. Joseph children's aspirin, and

kneaded the square with my thumbs until the taffy became pliable. I

pressed the handcuff key into the center, then reshaped a careful square

and folded it into its original wrapping.

I did not like the thought of profiting in some way from an incident

that had hurt Shay so badly, but I was also a realist. When Shay ran out of

his nine lives and I was left alone, I would need all the help I could get.

Maggie

Even if I hadn't been listed as Shay Bourne's emergency contact, I would have

found him quickly enough at the hospital: he was the only patient with

armed guards standing outside his door. I glanced at the officers, then turned

my attention to the nurse at the desk. "Is he all right? What happened?"

Father Michael had called me after the attack on CO Smythe and told

me Shay hadn't been hurt. Somewhere between now and then, however,

something must have gone drastically wrong. I had tried calling the priest

now, but he wasn't answering his cellI assumed he was on his way, that

he'd been called, too.

If Shay hadn't been treated at the prison hospital, whatever had happened

must've been pretty awful. Inmates weren't moved off-site unless

absolutely necessary, because of cost and security. With the hoopla Shay

had generated outside the prison walls, it must have been a matter of life

or death.

Then again, maybe everything was when it came to Shay. Here I was

literally shaking over the news that he'd been seriously injured, when I

had spent yesterday filing motions that would streamline his execution.

The nurse looked up at me. "He's just come back from surgery."

"Surgery?"

"Yes," said a clipped British voice behind me. "And no, it wasn't an

appendectomy."

When I turned around, Dr. Gallagher was standing there.

"Are you the only doctor who works here?"

"It certainly feels that way sometimes. I'm happy to answer your

questions. Mr. Bourne is my patient."

"He's my client."

Dr. Gallagher glanced at the nurse and at the armed officers. "Why

don't we go somewhere to talk?"

I followed him down the hall to a small family waiting lounge that

was empty. When the doctor gestured for me to take a seat, my heart

sank. Doctors only made you sit down when they delivered bad

news.

"Mr. Bourne is going to be fine," Dr. Gallagher said. "At least in terms

of this injury."

"What injury?"

"I'm sorry, I thought you knewapparently, it was an inmate fight.

Mr. Bourne sustained a severe blow to the maxillary sinus."

I waited for him to translate.

"His maxilla's broken," Dr. Gallagher said, and he leaned forward,

touching my face. His fingers brushed over the bone below my eye

socket, tracing toward my mouth. "Here," he said, and I absolutely, positively

stopped breathing. "There was a bit of a trauma during the operation.

As soon as we saw the injuries we knew that the anesthesia would

be intravenous, instead of inhalational. Needless to say, when Mr. Bourne

heard the anesthesiologist say that she'd begun Sodium Pentothal drip,

he grew quite agitated." The doctor looked up at me. "He asked if this

was a dry run for the real thing."

I tried to imagine how it would feel to be Shayhurt, aching, and

confusedwhisked away to an unfamiliar place for what seemed to be a

prelude to his own execution. "I want to see him."

"If you can tell him, Ms. Bloom, that if I'd realized who he was

what his circumstances are, I meanwell, I would never have allowed

the anesthesiologist to use that drug, much less an IV tube. I'm deeply

sorry for putting him through that."

I nodded and stood up.

"One more thing," Dr. Gallagher said. "I really admire you. For doing

this sort of thing."

I was halfway to Shay's room when I realized that Dr. Gallagher had

remembered my name.

It took several cell phone calls to the prison before I was allowed in to see

Shay, and even then, the warden insisted that the officer inside the room

would have to stay. I walked inside, acknowledged the CO, and sat down

on the edge of Shay's bed. His eyes were blackened, his face bandaged.

He was asleep, and it made him look younger.

Part of what I did for a living meant championing the causes of

my clients. I was the strong arm, fighting on their behalf, the bullhorn

broadcasting their voices. I could feel the angry discomfort of the

Abenaki boy whose school team was called the Redskins; I could

identity with the passion of the teacher who'd been fired for being

Wiccan. Shay, though, had sent me reeling. Although this was arguably

the most important case I would ever bring to court, and

althoughas my father pointed outI hadn't been this motivated in

my career in ages, there was an inherent paradox. The more I got to

know him, the better chance I had of winning his organ donation

case. But the more I got to know him, the harder it would be for me

to see him executed.

I dragged my cell phone out of my purse. The officer's eyes flicked

toward me. "You're not supposed to use that in here"

"Oh, piss off," I snapped, and for the hundredth time I dialed Father

Michael, and reached his voice mail. "I don't know where you are," I said,

"but call me back immediately."

I had left the emotional component of Shay Bourne's welfare to

Father Michael, figuring (a) my talents were better put to use in a courtroom,

and (b) my interpersonal relationship skills had grown so rusty I

needed WD-40 before employing them. But now, Father Michael was

MIA, Shay was hospitalized, and I was here, for better or for worse.

I stared at Shay's hands. They were cuffed at the wrist to the metal

bars of the hospital gurney. The nails were clean and clipped, the tendons

ropy It was hard to imagine the fingers curled around a pistol, pulling a

trigger twice. And yet, twelve jurors had been able to picture it.

Very slowly, I reached across the knobby cotton blanket. I threaded

my fingers with Shay's, surprised at how warm his skin was. But when I

was about to pull away, his grip tightened. His eyes slitted open, another

shade of blue amid the bruising. "Grade," he said, in a voice that sounded

like cotton caught on thorns. "You came."

I did not know who he thought I was. "Of course I came," I said,

squeezing his hand. I smiled at Shay Bourne and pretended that I was the

person he needed me to be.

 


: 2015-09-13; : 21;


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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 15 | M I C H A E L
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