A few days later, they officially released me from the hospital. My ribs were still sore, but they said there was nothing to do but take pain meds and wait for them to heal. Once the paperwork was finished, I went straight down to see Tony, who, I was surprised to learn, could not speak.
“What do you mean, he can’t talk to me?” I asked his nurse indignantly.
“I mean,” she explained patiently, “His jaw is broken. His mouth is wired shut for the next week. He can write, though.”
I went into Tony’s room, where he was morosely watching the news. When he saw me, his face lit up and he shook my hand, grinning. He grabbed a notepad and a pencil from his bedside table and scribbled down, How r u?
“Not bad,” I replied, “You?”
“Yeah. How’d you break your jaw?”
When it was all over, I fainted and hit my jaw on the front bumper of the truck. Stupid.
“Heh. Survive a fight with an undead creature unscathed and hit your head afterwards. Poor Tony.”
Tony rolled his eyes.
“When they taking the wire out?” I inquired.
Chick nurse says 1 more wk.
“Hm. Hey, did the MCB guys talk to you yet?”
Y. Kinda one-sided.
I laughed. “They told you about all the other monsters in the world, though, right? What did you make of that?”
I’d say they were on pot, but . . .
“Yeah. I know.”
“You get your money?”
Tony nodded enthusiastically.
“What you going to do with it?”
Pay debts, buy car, by more reloading stuff and guns.
“Good to see your priorities are still in line.”
“Uh-huh. Did they tell you about the other vampire in the area?”
His eyes widened, and he tore off a sheet on his notebook and scribbled No on a new page.
“Yeah . . . said it’s the one that made the one we killed.”
“I know . . . they said they’re not even going to kill it yet . . . say they have ‘other priorities.’”
“I’ve got a plan though.”
His eyes widened skeptically and he cocked his head to one side.
“We should kill it ourselves.”
Seeing as what happened last time we tried, that = bad idea.
“No, you don’t understand. I’m already looking up old legends about vampires. You kill them with a stake through the heart, or with silver bullets. With our money we can buy sterling silver and cast our own bullets, maybe even make some silver spears. We can kill this thing, once and for all!”
Tony seemed to be thinking hard.
“So what do you think?” I asked, “Are you in?”
A long pause, and then: Heck yes.
I clapped him on the shoulder. “Good. I’m going to go talk to Ryan and Phil now. Get them in on the plan. Get better quick, and call me when you’re out.”
Can do. Bye.
“Take care,” I said as I got up to leave.
My conversations with Ryan and Phil both went well. They were as enraged as I was about the Feds’ unwillingness to destroy the vampire, and just as eager to go along with my plan. There was one setback, though.
“I, uh, have a confession to make,” Phil said bashfully, “I already spent my money. Did it the day I found out.”
“You what?!” I yelped, shocked. “How the heck do you spend 40k in one day?!”
“I finished off my school bill, some credit card debt, my house payment, and had my brother-in-law take my truck in for repairs.”
“I didn’t spend all of it, though,” Phil said, sounding a little more upbeat.
“How much do you have left?”
“Holy cow, man. I mean, I guess those are good ways to spend your money, but . . . Gosh.”
“Thanks for your support,” Phil grinned. I couldn’t help it, and laughed.
“When do you get out?” I asked.
“Tomorrow,” he replied, “We can meet then, talk about logistics.”
“I’d like that. It might be better, though, if we waited for Tony first. He gets out in about a week, and then we can meet at someone’s place and talk it over.”
“Okay, I can do that. Nice talking to you.”
“Same. See you later.” I walked out of the hospital, my sadness over Josh’s death now replaced by steely resolve. Next time we ran into a vampire, we were going to be ready.