“I’ve never seen you let a case get this complicated,” Wylie said. He pointed over at Alan the Moon’s bartender whistling a tune and engaging his bar guests.
“What are we having?” Alan asked. He tapped his fingers on the marble bar top. “Welcome, Artemis’ guest.”
“I’ll try a Guinness,” Wylie said. He sat on a solid wooden stool next to Artemis. “This your joint?”
“It’s a good, quiet spot,” Artemis said. “I rarely get hit on, mostly local crowd.”
Alan had turned, he grabbed a branded Guinness pint glass and walked over to start the two-part pour method at the tap.
“I must pour Guinness with great care,” Alan said. He looked back over at Wylie. “It’s a process, you must be patient.”
“He’s serious about that?” Wylie said looking down the bar at Alan. “Understands the process, a good bartender, he’s a Brit?”
“Welsh, he’d correct you. Reason I come in here, remember my mother was Irish, she was an Olympian,” Artemis said. She shifted the half full glass back and forth over the bar top between her open palms. “It’s my home base, a place I can look forward to after a long trip into the unknown.”
After a minute, Wylie watched over the bar as Alan brought a full Guinness over, he set it in front of him and they all enjoyed watching the turbulent contents as if they were waiting for a scuba diver to emerge from being cascaded and surged up through a turbulent brownish-red sea into a calm foam.
“Perfection,” Alan said. He wiped off any foam residue and pointed the harp brand at Wylie. “Enjoy.”
Artemis leaned over and clinked Wylie’s Guinness.
“To good health,” Artemis said. She sat back after taking a healthy gulp. “I have a nasty mission before me. I rarely have other bodies to worry about, this time a child’s at risk, I don’t like it.”
“You’re serious about taking her in?” Wylie asked. He suspiciously looked over at Artemis as he sipped the Guinness. “She does not understand what you’re about.”
“I know,” Artemis said. “Like I said, it’s complicated. The attorney suing the hospital offered to help me out.”
Wylie acknowledge the comment.
“Small town America,” Wylie said. He shrugged. “But you’ve kept everything straight? I don’t have any surprises coming?”
“Good question,” Artemis said. “Thought I had this one figured out. I’d get it on a slow track, burn out his credit limit, get him desperate, plaintiffs beg for money, keep him burning down the road to settle.”
“That would be a good direction to a head,” Wylie said. He looked up at a silent television screen. “What changed?”
“A word,” Artemis said. “After I heard it, I went roaming about the hospital campus. I found what I was looking for, it was right there.”
“You don’t want this in a file?” Wylie asked. “Reason you had me cross Gandy for a Guinness.”
“Remember, I’ve got an FBI agent poking into our hospital,” Artemis said. She gripped the edge of the bar. “I don’t get the feeling Dr. Demetrius has been selling drugs out the back of the hospital, it’s something else.”
Wylie and Artemis quietly sat next to each other for several minutes. They both knew the active medical malpractice claim file down to every grammatical mistake, every misplaced comma. It was also a file seen by higher ups or worse.
“How’s the little girl doing?” Wylie asked.
“I have a tracking device on her,” Artemis said. “Best, I can tell she’s still alive, she doesn’t move around much.”
“You’re crafty,” Wylie said. He sighed. “Let me know if I can help, make a few calls.”
Artemis quickly turned her head over at Wylie. She looked past him over at another bar guest.
“Never considered that much, never done this. But maybe speed up the process?” Artemis said. “Without Jerome finding out, get her under my care and away from a problem.”
“You know something girl,” Wylie said. He stopped talking as he looked forward as what appeared as a restaurant cook approached them. The restaurant management had a seamstress stencil his name on his chef jacket. He was a fit middle-aged man with mischievous hazel eyes, and a white towel draped over his shoulder as he walked over from the bartenders alley. He grinned over at Artemis.
“Graced us with your presence?”
Artemis smiled, she reached over to shake the man’s moist hand. He had sweat dropping along his receding dishwater blond hair.
“You look like you came out of a hot sauna?” Artemis said. “Chef Mikey, this is my direct report Wylie.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Wylie said.
“As well,” Chef Mikey said.
“You sound from across the pond, London?” Wylie said. “Like the happy bartender over there.”
“True, that one’s Welsh, but you sound like,” Chef Mikey said. His cheeks puffed and crows-feet appeared beside his eyes as he grinned. “Not quite redneck? No disrespect.”
“North Carolina,” Wylie said. He winked at Artemis.
“Ah,” Chef Mikey said. “What can I get for ya? Artemis always gets my fish and chips, kinda boring if you ask me. I can make you Vindaloo, spicy if you can man-up?”
“Careful Wylie,” Artemis said. Wylie laughed and lifted his Guinness. “They mean hot.”
“How about giving us a few minutes,” Wylie said. He leaned back on the stool.
“All right then,” Chef Mikey said. He tapped the bar top, as he moved on down the bar checking in on other bar guests.
Artemis waited until he was out of earshot. She made sure the chef distracted the bartender. She whispered over at Wylie.
“We need to settle this file, quietly,” Artemis said. “It could take down the hospital.”
“I see, don’t want this in the file?” Wylie asked. He sipped the Guinness. “That’s good, once you write it down, it lives forever.”
“I know, but Jerome knows the entire town,” Artemis said. “He’ll eventually find out, that’s what I’m thinking.”
“You don’t have any evidence?” Wylie said. “Yet, right?”
“Not something I can easily get,” Artemis said.
“If I heard you,” Wylie said. He looked up at the British West Indies themed décor. “A word, and it was there in plain sight, this some kind of riddle.”
“It’ll make your skin crawl,” Artemis said.
“Ha, I’ve a strong stomach,” Wylie said.
“You ever done much gardening?” Artemis asked. She blankly stared back over at Wylie as new lunch guests came inside walking near the bar area. “Hospital has a strong green initiative.”
Wylie’s expression opened up, as if he’d seen a vision.
“What are you thinking?” Wylie asked. “We might be wise to engage the attorney, get in front of this mess.”
“That’s my thinking,” Artemis said.
“Tell you what,” Wylie said. “I’ll have a talk internally about my authority level, might be a big number?”
“If it gets out,” Artemis said. “I found the mess I need to manage. You’ll help me with Laina?”
“Absolutely,” Wylie said. He tightly gripped Artemis’ left forearm. “I’ll get her on a fast track with a call or two. But you be careful.”
End. Chapter 29.
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