Chapter 2

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This seemed like a better idea in my head. Nole grunted, lifting the stranger through the dark streets. He was aware the boy was in need of immediate care, so he moved as quickly as possible. Given the situation, he no longer listened for incoming footsteps or stray voices.

Every rational part of his brain questioned his actions. Although he never used weapons on any of his targets, he often left them battered and bleeding just like his cargo. Nole could relate to the boy. However, even if he wasn’t necessarily Nole’s enemy, he certainly wasn’t his friend either. The library is technically on the way, he justified himself.

Nole continued to contemplate his actions up to arriving to his destination; a run-down shed two blocks away from his home. He bypassed the door of the small shack and lightly knocked on the window. The darkness in the sky was fading as a light from inside came on. A pair of squinting, blue, bifocal eyes emerged from the drawn curtains of the window. They analyzed Nole, who jerked his head in the direction of the stranger he was carrying. The eyes widened with surprise after seeing the body on Nole’s back. At almost the same instant, they vanished from the window and the nearby door opened.

“Nole!” exclaimed the old man, his long gray hair in ruffled clumps, “I thought I told you I don’t work nights!”

“Hey, Murphy,” Nole greeted his friend. “Sorry, I don’t really have much of a choice.” Murphy sighed, which Nole took as agreement.

“Go ahead and take him downstairs.”

Nole silently did as he was told and went inside the cramped shack. The ground floor was tiny, with a lackluster kitchen area and a minimally furnished living room. There were two raggedly worn armchairs, one of which Murphy was sleeping in as evidenced by the pillow and blanket draped over the cushion. There was also a coffee table burdened with dozens of file folders and a tiny antenna television.

“You really need a receptionist,” Nole teased, referring to the stacks of documents on the table.

Although it appeared to be a small, single-floored living space, the shack was actually home to Murphy’s underground doctoral business. In fact, the closet led to a large underground extension where he studied his practice. It was the same room Murphy had treated Nole’s gunshot wound when they first met. “A literal underground doctor!” Nole remembered the doctor’s explanation.

After receiving his treatment, Nole immediately made a friend in Murphy; often going to him for advice whenever Caden or Suri fell ill. And despite his shabby living conditions, he never took a dime from Nole. From then on, Nole viewed Murphy as a father figure, in place of the man that abandoned them after Suri was born.

The doctor followed close behind Nole as they made their way down the staircase. When they reached the bottom of the steps, he helped Nole ease the injured boy onto one of the lightly furnished tables that Murphy used as makeshift hospital beds for his patients.

 “What happened to your friend?” Dr. Murphy inquired casually, removing the bloodied jacket from the injury’s surface.

“I found him like that,” Nole stated flatly, which he immediately thought sounded like a lame excuse. He could tell Murphy agreed by the suspicious look he threw him over the rims of his glasses. “And he’s not my friend.”

“Okay, then who is he?” He retrieved his medicinal bag from the cabinet underneath the staircase and recovered a few instruments from inside. He snapped on a pair of rubber gloves and pulled out a bottle of clear liquid.

“Some guy I found.” Nole was aware that it sounded like a sarcastic response, but it was true. Nevertheless, Murphy continued working with swift, precise hands.

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