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Title: Internes Can't Take Money Author: Max Brand * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 1500921h.html Language: English Date first posted: Sep 2015 Most recent update: Sep 2015 This eBook was produced by Paul Moulder and Roy Glashan. Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at http://gutenberg.net.au/licence.html To contact Project Gutenberg of Australia go to http://gutenberg.net.au
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JIMMY KILDARE used to get away from the hospital every afternoon and go over to Tom McGuire's saloon on the avenue. He always drank two beers. An interne in the accident room has to have the brains in his fingertips in good order all day long, but two beers don't get very far between a man and himself if he has a bit of head on his shoulders, and Jimmy Kildare had.
McGuire's saloon was comfortable in a dark, dingy way. The sawdust was swept out only once in two days, and the floors were never scrubbed except the evening before Election Day. Just the same, it was a good place. It made Jimmy Kildare think of the barn out on the old farm. The faces of the bums and crooks and yeggs who lined up at the bar were sour, just like the faces of the cows and horses that were lined along the mangers of the barn—long, and all the lines running down except for their arched eyebrows with the fool look of the cows.
When Jimmy Kildare leaned an elbow on the worn varnish of McGuire's saloon, it was always easier for him to think of home. The future to him was a great question mark, and New York was the emptiness inside the loop of the mark. Add a few strokes to the question mark and you get a dollar sign.
Jimmy Kildare used to think about that but he never dared to think very far because, when he began to dream, he always saw himself back on the farm in the frosty stillness of an autumn morning where every fence post and every wet rock said to him, "Jimmy, what are you doing away back here?"
The only times that he escaped entirely from those dreams were when he was working at the operating table, all scrubbed up and masked and draped in white. But even when he was going through the wards and looking into the life or death that brightened or shadowed the eyes of his patients, the old days and the terrible sense that he must return to them used to come over him.
He always wanted more relaxation from his work than those two beers in McGuire's saloon, but he knew that his purse would not stand it. The hospital paid for his laundry. It gave him three meals a day of soggy food. Otherwise, he had to find himself entirely, except for an occasional lift from famous Doctor Henry Fearson. Fearson from his height had noticed Kildare in medical school and had made it possible for him to carry on when home funds ran out.
Perhaps it was pity that moved Fearson to make those loans. Perhaps it was a quiet belief that there was a talent in the youngster. Kildare never could decide what the motive was, but he loved Fearson. During the interneship Fearson's loans became almost negligible, possibly because an absent-minded genius like Fearson forgot that an interne is an unpaid labor slave. A lot of the other lads were the sons of affluent doctors, and they were always going places on days off, but they never took Kildare and he could not afford to take himself. He wasn't a very exciting companion; he wasn't good-looking; he wasn't stylish.
There was only one day at the hospital for him to write down in red, and that was the occasion when he had assisted at a kidney operation. In the blind red murk the scalpel of the operating surgeon made a mistake and a beautiful fountain of blood and life sprang upward. Jimmy Kildare snatched a forceps and grabbed at the source of that explosion. He reached through a horrible boiling red fog and clamped down. The fountain ceased to rise. Afterward the artery was tied off, and a blood transfusion brought the patient back to life.
That day the great Henry Fearson stopped Jimmy in a corridor and gripped him by the shoulder and said, "You've got it, Kildare!"
Jimmy shrugged and hooked a thumb. "That back there? That was just luck," he said.
But Fearson answered: "Surgery is like tennis. There's no luck except bad luck."
Afterward, Jimmy Kildare went to his bare concrete cell and sat for a long time looking at the wall until the wall opened and showed him a brief glimpse of heaven. Then he said: "Henry Fearson—by God!" and a great promise began to live along his blood stream.
Then the trouble started at McGuire's saloon.
The bartender was named Jeff. He had only one eye. Sometimes he wore a leather patch over it; sometimes he wore a watery glass eye that didn't fit. He was, Kildare gathered, a real force in the precinct because he knew by first name practically every voter in the district. This fellow Jeff never looked at Jimmy Kildare. He always had his one eye fixed on the habitués of the place, for McGuire's saloon had long ago ceased being a money-maker. It was merely a political nerve center vital to McGuire's power in the town.
One day a man in a blue suit and green necktie came into McGuire's saloon when Jimmy Kildare was having his beer. He was a big young man with a blunt, rather fleshy face, like a prize fighter out of training. He said, "H'are ya, Jeff? Give me a drink, will you?"
Then he dropped to the floor, with his arms thrown wide. The sleeve pulled up from the right arm and showed Kildare that the forearm was cut clean across, well above the wrist.
Jeff, the bartender, put a hand on the bar and leaped over it. He dropped on his knees and began to cry out: "Hanlon! Hey, Hanlon!"
Jimmy Kildare got out of the saloon and went back to the hospital. An interne who takes supplies out of the hospital is—well, he is a thousand times worse than a burglar, because he is trusted. But Jimmy Kildare took supplies from the hospital. He kept thinking of that young, rather fleshy face, battered, but somehow honest. Not honest enough, of course, or else he would have taken that gaping wound straight to a doctor.
Yet he might not be a criminal who dreaded having a doctor report his case to the police. There were many stories in the precinct of men who died silently, refusing to name their assailants to the officers of the law, and all of those who died in that manner were not thugs. It merely seemed that in McGuire's following and among his enemies there were men who lived according to a new standard of morality about which Kildare knew nothing. And he determined to put from his mind all thought of the letter of the law, remembering only that great silent oath which dwells in the soul of every good doctor—that promise to relieve the suffering ones of this world.
He took from the hospital retractors, sutures, needles, iodine. He went back to McGuire's and found the door locked.
He banged heavily on that door until Jeff looked out at him and said: "What do you want? Get out of here!"
Kildare said: "Unless those cut tendons are sewed together properly, Hanlon won't have a right arm. The forearm will shorten. The hand will turn in. There won't be any power in it."
"Hell!" said Jeff, looking down at him. Then he said: "All right! All right!" He reached out, grabbed Kildare by the shoulder and dragged him into the family room of the saloon.
Somebody said, "He's dead!"
Hanlon lay on two tables that had been put side by side. His feet hung over the end of one table.
Kildare said, "Get out of my way." A big man barred him, arms spread wide. Kildare kicked him violently in the shins. The fellow howled and hopped away on one foot. Kildare shoved his hand over Hanlon's heart and heard Jeff say: "Cut it out. This is a kind of a doc. They got them over in the hospital like this. Maybe he knows something."
Kildare said: "He's only fainted. Be useful, some of you." He began to unwrap the towel, exposing the instruments.
"He's come and brought the stuff," said Jeff. "Who would of thought!"
Kildare began with iodine. Then he made two men hold Hanlon's right arm. They had put a clumsy tourniquet above the elbow. Kildare got to work on the tendons. He made Jeff and another man hold the retractors that kept the wound gaping for his convenience.
Jeff said, "It makes me kind of sick."
The other man said: "Watch what he's doing, you dumb cluck! The kid's got eyes in his fingers. Watch what they do!"
Kildare put the tendons together one by one, matching the ends with care, and then securing them with mattress stitches, using threads of black silk. You could see the zigzag pattern of the little threads against the cordage of the tendons, all frayed at the cut ends.
Someone said, "Who did it?"
Another man said: "Who do you think, dummy? Dennis Innis, of course."
"He'll get Innis yet," said another.
"He ain't gunna have no gun hand to get Innis," said the first speaker. "There won't be no brains in that right hand of his, even when this slick job is finished. The wits is cut out of it."
Kildare told himself that he must not think of the meaning behind that right hand. He kept on matching the severed ends of the tendons and making the stitches. Then Hanlon wakened from his trance and began to curse and struggle.
Jeff said: "You damn fool, this doc is saving your hand. Shut up, will you!"
Hanlon shut up. Suddenly he extended his limp right arm toward Kildare. "Okay," he said, and kept his muscles flaccid. Only the loudness of his breathing told of his pain.
When the wound was closed and Kildare stepped back from his work, Hanlon sat up. Jeff and another man—he who had worked with the retractors—were rubbing the blood from Kildare's hands with painful care. He surrendered his hands to them like tools of infinite value in the trust of friends. A warmth flowed like strong drink through his brain.
Hanlon stared at Kildare, saying, "Who are you?"
"Oh, go to hell!" said Jeff. "This is Doctor Kildare. He's a right guy. Oh, go to hell, will you!"
Hanlon smiled. "Sure," he said. "Sure I'll go." And he looked down at his right hand, which rested on one knee.
FOR two days Jimmy Kildare did not return to McGuire's. Then habit picked him up and shoved him through the front door. There were four men standing at the bar and Jeff, the bartender, was singing an Irish melody in a husky voice. Two or three of the others kept him company. Jeff broke off in the middle of the song. He went to the end of the bar where Kildare stood and focused on the doctor the blue-gray light of his one eye, warmer, suddenly, than sunshine.
"I thought you was passing us up lately, Doc," said Jeff. "What you having? The same?"
"The same," said Kildare.
The four faces turned and stared.
Jeff was filling the tall glass with beer. He said, to the beer: "Yeah. Okay. It's him."
Nobody looked at Kildare any more. They looked, instead, at his image in the mirror behind the bar. Kildare felt their eyes more than ever.
"Go hop on the phone," said Jeff.
Someone left the room. There was silence as Jeff brought the beer to Kildare.
Kildare tasted it. "This seems better than usual, Jeff," he said. He never had used Jeff's name before.
"Yeah, and why the hell wouldn't it be better?" said Jeff. "Beer comes that way. Good and bad. You know, Doc."
One of the men sauntered toward Kildare and said: "I'd like to meet you, Doc. I'm—"
"You back up," said Jeff. "Who d'you wanta meet, anyway?"
The man stopped short and turned away, unoffended. He said: "Okay! Okay!" and went back to his place.
When Kildare had finished his glass of beer, he put the money for it on the bar. "Well, so long," he said. "So long, Jeff."
Jeff shoved the money back toward Kildare. "What's that for?" he demanded, with a fierce light in his one eye. "Now listen, will you? Quit it, will you?... And where's your second beer, anyway?"
Kildare felt giddy. "Why, yes, a second one, please," he said.
The glass was filled for him. Jeff was scowling bitterly. He shoved the second beer onto the bar with a savage shortness of gesture, disdaining the money with a touch of his hand. But Kildare let the silver lie there.
The door creaked open behind him. "Hello, Jeff," said the newcomer, behind Kildare's back.
Jeff, in place of answering, wagged his head toward Kildare.
A big red-faced man with a whisky pungency about him stood beside Kildare at the bar. He wheezed a little as he spoke. His voice was husky but warm.
"I'm McGuire," he said. "Pleased to know you, Doctor Kildare. Damn pleased. Like to know more of you out of the same keg. What're you having, Doctor? Don't mean to say you stick to beer, do you?"
"He's gotta work. You know," said Jeff.
"Yeah, sure. Sure," said McGuire. "This is a pleasure, Doctor Kildare. By the way, a friend of yours asked me to give you a letter. He wants you to open it when you get back home... Make mine small, Jeff. Make it right but make it small. Boys, have something with me!"
The envelope was stuffy and soft and fat. Jimmy Kildare went back to his concrete cell in the hospital and opened it in private. He counted twenty fifty-dollar bills.
He sat down on the edge of his bed. A man doesn't have to space out and span out a thousand dollars. It does for itself. And it meant release from prison to Kildare.
FOR two days Kildare fought himself with all the appetites of his years closing his throat. Then he went back to McGuire's saloon.
Jeff looked at him with brotherly fondness and served him two beers. Kildare put his money on the bar, and Jeff took it, saying: "You don't need to do that, Doc. But thanks, anyhow."
Then Kildare pushed the envelope across the table. It was resealed, but rumpled and finger-soiled. "This is for Mr. McGuire," he said, and went out.
Afterward, he felt empty but he felt stronger, too. Like a man in training for a fight, fasting before the encounter.
He went right back to McGuire's saloon the next day, and there he found McGuire himself at the bar in a brilliant checked suit. He looked at Kildare with trouble in his eye.
"Now, listen, kid—Doc, I mean," said McGuire, without prelude. "What the hell? I mean, I got the double of that in my pocket."
Kildare blushed as he answered: "You see, I'm an interne. Internes can't take anything for their work. It's against the rules. If an interne could take anything, people in the wards would bribe him to get the extra attention."
"Wards? Who's talking about wards?" demanded McGuire. "Hell, I'm talking about a job in my saloon."
"I've never done any jobs outside the hospital," said Kildare, getting redder than ever. "It's not allowed."
"You never did a job in this saloon?" demanded McGuire, with anger.
"No," said Kildare. "I never did anything here."
"My God!" said McGuire. He added, "Gimme a drink, Jeff."
But Jeff remained frozen for a long moment. Only by degrees was he able to thaw out and get into action. Kildare finished his beer and hurried back to the concrete cell, the smell of carbolic acid and the empty loop of the question mark which embraced his future.
IF you work very hard, one day rubs out the other. Kildare worked very hard and for a long time gave up beer and McGuire's, until a telephone call summoned him, weeks later. He went over to McGuire's place and found Pat Hanlon at the bar.
"All right, you two," said Jeff, spreading his hands on the bar like a benevolent father. Hanlon went to Kildare and took his hand. He held it for a long time, while his eyes went over Kildare.
"They certainly take it out of you guys at the hospital," said Hanlon.
"That's just the game," said Kildare.
"Who wants to play a game where he's always 'it'?" asked Hanlon. "Listen, Doc. Have a drink with me, will you?"
Jeff whispered, leaning across the bar: "What's it going to be, Doc?"
Kildare said shortly, "I pay for my own, in here."
"Come on. Aw, quit it," said Jeff.
Hanlon said, "You'll have something with me, brother."
"I don't drink," said Kildare, "unless I can pay for it." A blind anger took hold of him. He was staring at the perfection of Hanlon's clothes.
"Aw, quit it!" said Jeff. "Listen, Hanlon, the kid don't mean it. He don't mean anything; he just don't know."
"The hell he don't!" said Hanlon, and turned his back suddenly on Kildare. He took three steps.
"Are you gunna be a damn fool, Hanlon?" asked Jeff, perspiring with anxiety.
"No," answered Hanlon. He turned to Kildare again. "Why be so damn mean?" he asked. "Look!"
He held out his right hand. He worked the fingers back and forth.
"It's okay, see?" he said. "I been to see a doc. He said what you done was a masterpiece. He said nobody could of done better. Look—there ain't any scar even, hardly. Now, why be high-hat with me? You could have my guts."
Jeff interpreted across the bar: "You hear, Doc? You could have everything he's got. Say something to him."
Kildare said: "I can't have anything to do with you. That goes for the whole bunch. I like you all right. When I can help out any of you, I want to do it as long as you don't ask me to take care of a crook."
"Hanlon ain't a crook!" cried Jeff. "He's the right-hand man of McGuire, Doc. Hanlon's all right."
"I'm glad he is," said Kildare. "But over there at the hospital they watch us all the time. I'm only an interne. I like you all fine. I can't know you!"
Hanlon's eyes dwelt on the middle section of Kildare's body. "All right," he said.
Jeff again leaned over the bar. "Does that go for me, kid?" he asked.
"Ah—I don't know. I'm going back to the hospital," said Kildare.
"Am I a thug?" asked Hanlon.
"I don't know," said Kildare.
"Hanlon!" shouted Jeff.
Hanlon straightened with a quick jerk. "All right," he said, still making that cold survey of Kildare's anatomy.
Kildare got to the door before Jeff said, "Doc, for God's sake!"
Kildare paused. He could feel Hanlon like a levelled gun behind him.
"Listen, Doc," said Jeff. "Hanlon has a wife."
"That's all out," said Hanlon. "Quit it."
"Oh, shut your face, will you, Pat?" demanded Jeff. "His wife's going to have a baby soon, and there's no doc he can get. Income tax. Hanlon's all right. But income tax. They want him. And they've got the girl watched. They're waiting for him to go back to her. Understand? He's gotta get her a doctor he can trust. Listen, Doc, will you take care of her?"
Kildare said, "Well, Hanlon, why didn't you tell me?"
So Kildare went. It was a nice little apartment all done up in French-gray. Everything was simple. A new Pat Hanlon entered the world.
Kildare remained by the bed until the effects of the ether wore away from the mother. She kept saying, "Is it a boy, Doctor?"
"Yes," he would answer, and her eyes would shine at him, only to grow dim again from the effect of the drug.
Then the baby began to cry, and the sound drew the girl back to full consciousness. She held the baby in the hollow of her arm and crooned over it.
Kildare went back to McGuire's, where Pat Hanlon sat in the back room with his head bowed into his hands. He lifted his head and glared at Kildare.
"It's all right," said Kildare. "Your wife is a sweetheart, Hanlon. And now she's got a fine son to keep her company."
Said Hanlon, "And how's my girl, Doc?"
Kildare gripped his two hands hard together. He said, "She's the happiest soul in New York, right now. She wants me to tell you that she loves you."
Hanlon flung a sheaf of bills on the table. "Will you for God's sake take some of it?" he pleaded.
"No," said Kildare.
"Do you despise me that much, Doc?"
Kildare patted the big shoulder. "I don't hate you, Hanlon," he said. "But I'm an interne. I can't take money."
But Kildare's nerves were still shaking when he got back to the hospital, for perhaps the world did not need any more Pat Hanlons. He sat on his bed after he had made his rounds and looked at the tremor of his hands.
Doctor Henry Fearson had passed Kildare in a corridor, and he had stopped to greet his idol. "How's everything, Doctor Fearson?"
"Everything? Things never are right except in patches," said Fearson, and went on.
But the dark of the underworld still clung to Kildare as he sat there. His roommate came in and said: "Only three months before we get out of this lousy hole. Where do you hitch up after that?"
Kildare lifted his head. "Fearson says he wants me in his office," he remarked.
"Fearson? That's a hell of an out for you, brother. Don't you know that?"
Kildare said deliberately, "He's the finest man and the best doctor I know."
"Oh, yeah, oh, yeah! We all know that. But he owes money that he shouldn't."
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know, but they've got him."
"Something about money. We all know Fearson is a saint, but even saints can be framed. Fearson is framed. They're going to cut his head off. He can go work on a farm in about a month!"
And Kildare thought again of the farm on the autumn morning. He thought of the lofty intellectual brow of Fearson, and that gaunt boy in overalls. He kept on thinking, and the next afternoon he needed his beer.
When he got to McGuire's, Hanlon drew him straight into the back room.
Hanlon said, as they sat down to beer: "Now listen, Doc. McGuire wants to talk to you. He says you could vote the precinct."
"I could what?" asked Kildare.
"You don't know what people around here think of you. When you go down the street, does anybody speak? The bums along the pavement, I mean?"
"Yes," said Kildare. "They come over to the accident room, too, and ask for me. Yes, they all seem to know me."
"You been a coupla years around here. You've taken care of a hundred dirty bums, and they've talked about you. You wouldn't take money. You could vote the precinct," said Hanlon. "They all know you're a guy that's done something for nothing. McGuire says: 'Chuck the regular line. Throw in with him.' He can get you five thousand the first year, besides gravy. And then eight thousand, ten thousand and right on up. And twice as much on the side."
"I'm only an interne," said Kildare.
"What are you thinking of, with that dreamy look?" asked Hanlon.
"I'm thinking of an apartment all done in French-gray," said Kildare.
"Aw, hell!" laughed Hanlon. "You could have ten like that. I mean, McGuire wants to cut you in on something rich. By the way, why don't you come see us? My wife gives me a temperature talking about you."
"I'd like to see you both," said Kildare, "but tell McGuire I'm not a politician. I'm an interne."
"You want the stuff but you're afraid to take it. Is that right?" asked Hanlon.
"Maybe," said Kildare.
"What are you afraid of?"
"I'm afraid of dirt that soap and water won't wash off."
"McGuire's got to talk to you himself," said Hanlon. "You certainly are tough. Well, all that's left to me is my own personal angle. I mean, the old girl down there holding the kid and asking what have I done for the doc. Now listen, Doc. Don't be a damn fool. I've got twenty-five hundred dollars—"
"I don't want your money," said Kildare.
"Meaning it's dirty? Meaning I'm dirty, too?" shouted Hanlon.
"You take it any way you please."
Hanlon's fist started. But it was only the flat of his hand that struck heavily across Kildare's face.
Kildare came off his chair swinging. Hanlon caught his arms.
"You sap, I gotta mind to wring your neck—I gotta mind to do you in!" shouted Hanlon. "Get out!"
Kildare got out.
His nose was numb half an hour later, but his hand was steady enough in the operating room.
He was washing up afterward, when he said to his roommate, "Any more about Fearson?"
"Aw, he's sunk."
"How do you know?" Kildare asked.
"My old man's on the inside. He told me. They're going to make a goat of Fearson," said Vincent. "Money. He's got to pay off, and what the hell money has he got to pay off with when he's cleaned to the gills in the market?"
Afterward, Kildare went to see Fearson in his office.
"Are you in bad shape?" asked Kildare.
Fearson looked at him.
"You mean more to me than anybody in the world," said Kildare. "I'd give blood for you. Are they doing you in because you need money?"
"Who's been talking to you?" asked Fearson.
"Somebody. I hope it's a lie. I hope I'm simply making a damned fool of myself."
"You haven't made a damned fool of yourself. It's true," said Fearson. "I played once in my life with crooks. Now they've got me."
"What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to wait for the knife, that's all," said Fearson.
"I've got five hundred dollars," said Kildare. "I can get my hands on that."
"I need four thousand in cold cash by tomorrow night," said Fearson. "Get that for me if you can."
He offered no thanks. Kildare went back to his room. He needed no supper. He needed no sleep. He sat at the window and let the light from the next street lamp show him the dingy world of house fronts across the way. Toward morning, he lay down and slept for an hour. His head was ringing all morning as he went about his work. Noon came and he swallowed a few morsels, but the thought of Fearson choked him.
That afternoon he swallowed his pride and made himself go to McGuire's saloon. Only Jeff was there, reading a paper.
"Where's Hanlon?" asked Kildare.
Jeff said, beneath a scowl, "Hanlon hit you yesterday?"
"That doesn't matter," said Kildare. "There's a friend of mine in trouble."
"Who is he?" asked Jeff.
After a time Kildare murmured: "You don't know him. Fearson is his name."
"Fearson? Why, he—Sure I know him," said Jeff. "Is he a friend of yours?"
"Friend?" said Kildare. "He's the only friend I have." Then he added, smiling, "Outside of you, Jeff."
"Yeah, I know what you think of me," said Jeff. "I know what you think of all of us. Fearson, eh?"
"Where can I find Hanlon? I've got to see him."
"Hanlon's on the booze again," said Jeff. "I don't know where he is. When the news got out what Hanlon done to you, his wife had hysterics. That drove him out of his house. He came here, and McGuire gave him hell. I don't know where Hanlon is. He's been going straight ever since his son was born, but now he's on the loose."
"You don't think I could find him?"
"Nobody could find him. Even McGuire can't find him."
Kildare went back to the hospital.
Doctor Reichmann came up to him after surgery. "What the devil's the matter with you, Kildare?" he asked. "You were all thumbs today!'
"What the hell of it?" said Kildare.
"Are you saying that to me?" demanded Reichmann. "You confounded—"
Kildare walked away. A thing like that was enough to smash a young doctor's career, he knew. The oldsters will take anything rather than impertinence. He was very tired. Nothing mattered.
He got back to his room. Someone announced a telephone call.
He went to the telephone. A deep voice said over the line, in a guarded tone, "Is this Doctor Kildare?"
"There's a man lying here with a bullet through his lungs. Can any doctor in God's world do anything about it?"
"No," said Kildare.
And then he remembered the new work in chest surgery. There was a doctor who had saved the lives of policemen shot down by thugs in line of duty. In the old days they used to give morphine to men shot through the chest. Morphine, and let them die. But the new doctor had showed another way. Kildare knew about it.
"Nothing?" the voice was saying.
"Yes. Maybe," said Kildare. "Why?"
"That's all," said the voice.
Fifteen minutes later, Kildare was called out to the reception room. There were two fellows neatly dressed in brown suits, both wearing bow ties, both with the same hard, casual look.
"You telephoned to me fifteen minutes ago," said Kildare.
"That's right. Will you come try your hand on our friend?"
"Have you reported that accident to the police?" asked Kildare.
The pair looked steadily at him.
"Will you come?" said the first man.
"And compound a felony?" asked Kildare. "And smash my reputation?"
"There's money in it, Doc," said one.
And then Kildare remembered. There was no one in the world from whom he could get money except Pat Hanlon. And Hanlon had disappeared.
"Wait a minute," said Kildare.
He went to Fearson's office. It was late but Fearson opened the door. "All right. Come in!" he said.
"What's the deadline?" asked Kildare.
"Deadline for what?" asked Fearson.
"That four thousand," said Kildare.
"Oh that?" said Fearson. He smiled, his mouth twisting. "They do give me a deadline, like the villains in a book. I have till midnight, Kildare. Now, you go to bed and forget—"
"I've been in jail here for a long time," said Kildare. "You're the only right man I've met among the lot. You've been hope to me, Fearson. And that means life, too. You keep on hoping till midnight comes, will you?"
He went back to the two in brown and said briefly, "I want four thousand dollars for the job."
"Yeah? That ain't what we heard about you. But I know strangers are different," said one of them, and he laughed. "Want to see the money now?"
"No," said Kildare.
They put him into a fast car and shot across town to an obscure side street.
They unlocked the door of a house with a tall, narrow front and ran up the stairs inside ahead of Kildare. He followed them into a bedroom with a single electric globe glaring from the ceiling.
On the bed lay a man with a bloody bandage about his chest. He was thirty, say, and big and lean. His face was evil, and Kildare thought, "If I help this man, I'm sold to the crooks forever."
Where the bandage did not bind the man, the lean of his big arching ribs was visible. He was naked to the waist. He had on trousers and black shoes that no one had thought to take off his feet.
A man rose from beside the bed. "He's passing out," he said. "It's no good. I knew it. Anywhere between the belly and the shoulders, and nothing helps them but morphine to make it easy."
"You talk like a fool, and I don't want fools around me," said Kildare. "Get out of here and heat some water. Somebody, take his shoes off."
He slit the bandage across. The hole was right in the lungs. It wasn't one of those lucky glancing bullets. It had ripped right through the middle.
The hole in front was quite a small puncture, rimmed with dark purple. The hole in the back was bigger. There wasn't much blood. That was the hell of it. The bleeding would be inward.
Kildare, leaning over the bed, began to listen and tap with a steady, hammerlike finger. He tapped all around and located the place where the hemorrhage was forming. When the blood clot had formed a complete stoppage, then the heart would move across to the other side of the body, and after that, only God could keep the victim from dying.
There was no hope—except what that new doctor had indicated. Kildare happened to know about it because Fearson had pointed out the new work to him.
Here the door to the room pushed open. Kildare looked over his shoulder and saw on the threshold Pat Hanlon and Jeff, with guns in their hands.
One of the fellows in brown had gone into the kitchen. The other two men stood quietly against the wall. One of them said: "Here's Hanlon. Shooting Dennis Innis here wasn't enough for him. He wants us all. Watch yourself, boy!"
Hanlon said: "You guys keep your shirts on. Innis had it coming to him, and you know it. Doc, how come you to play with this bunch of louses? Get out!"
Kildare stood up from the bed. He said: "I want two dishes boiled in water. I want plenty of hot water. Listen to me, Hanlon. If Innis dies, you'll burn. You're going to throw in with these fellows and help me. If you do that, I can pull Innis through, I think."
"You can't. He's got it through the lungs," said Hanlon. "The only right thing I ever done. I'm gunna get you out of this dump. Come on, Doc."
Kildare cried out in a voice that was strange to his own ears: "You murdering lot of childish half-wits, give me your guns!... Here, you, come out of the kitchen. There's not going to be any shooting. Hanlon, if we don't fix Innis, it's the electric chair for you."
The man came slowly out of the kitchen, his hands above his head, an automatic dangling from one of them. "I guess I hear it straight," he said.
"On that chair!" shouted Kildare, pointing. "All of 'em."
Five men piled seven guns in a glistening heap.
"It's a new kind of game," mumbled Hanlon. "Only the doc knows the rules."
"Get that hot water in here," said Kildare.
Three of them hurried to the kitchen. Kildare began to swab iodine, and he took a big syringe the moment the dishes and the water were brought to him.
"Look at him," whispered Hanlon. "Stabbing him through the heart."
Kildare was shoving the needle right into the lung, two inches, three inches. That was the start of the new idea.
Jeff grunted: "Back up, you birds. This doc is the only Christian in the world."
Then above the operation leaned hard-breathing shadows, closely grouped, a weight on Kildare's soul. He could feel the cold of sweat on his upper lip. He drew out the plunger of the syringe, and the red of the blood followed and filled the glass cylinder. He squirted it out into the warm dish, with the citrate to prevent clotting. He found a vein in the left arm with the second syringe, and injected the blood back into the arm.
Hanlon said: "I get it! Look, you dummies! He pulls the blood out of the lung so's Innis can't suffocate. Then he shoves the same blood back into his body. A regular blood transfusion. What he loses one place he gets another, and the old lungs don't fill up. Oh, does this doc know damn near everything!"
"Be quiet," said Kildare and went on working.
Jeff said: "When you think what the kid can do! Look, Hanlon! Color is coming back into Innis' face already. Why'd you go and sock lead into this bum, anyway? Even if he knifed you, you could let it go at that, couldn't you?"
"I thought he was too thick with my wife," said Hanlon. "Hell, I see how dumb I was. Quit talking, Jeff, will you?"
"Yeah. All I say is it's a damn good thing you got a buddy like me to keep you in with the brainy birds like the doc here," said Jeff. "You took and socked him the other day, didn't you?"
"All right! All right!" said Hanlon.
THEN it was an hour later, and Kildare was saying: "Innis, stop talking. If you talk, you'll kill yourself. Lie still. I've given you morphine to make you sleep, and you'll sleep. Just lie still, will you?"
Innis whispered, with eyes closed, smiling: "Hanlon always was a damn fool. I never could get near the gal." Then he stopped talking.
"Is it gunna be all right, Doc?" asked Hanlon.
"He has nine chances out of ten," said Kildare. "That's all I can tell you."
"Nine of your chances is better than ninety of the next dirty mug," said Hanlon. "Doc, I wish you would stand up and take a couple of good swipes at me! I'd thank you for it, while you was paying yourself back."
Kildare leaned back in the chair. One of the men brought a cold glass and put it in his hand. It was a stiff Scotch-and-soda. He drank it like beer.
The neatness was gone from Innis' friends. Their brown suits were bunched around the shoulders. They looked at Kildare as one might stare at a being from the other world.
"This'll make you feel better, Doc," said one of them, pulling out a wallet and counting bills from it. "'Here's the four thousand. We make it five for luck."
Kildare leaned forward. And then Jeff stepped between him and the money.
"Buddy," Jeff said, "if you make a mug of all of us by trying to bribe the doc, I'm gunna sock you myself."
"Back up, Jeff," the man said. "He asked for it, didn't he?"
"He was kidding you, you big stiff," said Jeff. "Listen. He's an interne. He can't take anything. He won't take anything. He's too clean for that. He's the only honest man I ever seen. Now, get him out of here, Hanlon."
The money had disappeared while Kildare's hand was still reaching for it. He thought of Fearson and started to protest. But he was helpless when Jeff and Hanlon put hands on him.
They got him quickly down the stairs. Behind them, the man with the money called: "If Innis gets well, we can all [missing word, 'take'? drink'?] the old stuff. We're friends, Hanlon."
Out on the street Jeff said: "Thank God we got the tip and followed you. Don't ever trust yourself with yeggs like that."
"I've got to get back!" cried Kildare. "I've got to get that money."
Hanlon said: "Doc, did you want that dirty money?"
"Fearson—" blurted out Kildare.
Jeff growled: "Quit it, Doc. Fearson is safe. Nobody ain't gonna worry him. Not after the chief knew he was your friend. You know who he owed the money to? McGuire. The dummy of a doctor had tried some gambling, was all."
Kildare stopped short. "You mean it's all fixed?" he asked.
"Listen, McGuire would fix hell if you said the word," declared Hanlon. "Come on, Jeff. The doc needs a drink."
They rushed across town in Hanlon's car to McGuire's saloon. It was shut and empty. Jeff opened it up.
"Whisky?" he said.
"Yes," said Kildare.
Jeff clinked out three glasses on the bar. He brought out a squat bottle and filled the glasses from it.
"Will you have this on me, Doc?" asked Hanlon.
Kildare turned and saw Hanlon's eyes wide open, almost frightened.
Hanlon said, "I'd like to be able to tell the wife that you'd been having a drink with me—"
"Leave him alone, dummy," interrupted Jeff. "He's never taken anything from us yet, has he?"
"Will you have it on me?" pleaded Hanlon. "Or would you like to smash in my dirty face first?"
Kildare, looking through the dim plate-glass window, saw the glare of the night lights over the top of the elevated. "What time is it?" he asked.
"It's eleven-forty-five," said Pat Hanlon, still waiting.
"I've got time for this one," said Kildare, "and there's nobody I'd rather drink it with. Here's to you, Pat."
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