Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother, Abel?”
“I don’t know,” Cain replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The Lord said, “What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.”
A rolling gurney emerged from the house escorted by two African American paramedics. The patient—Evan Hall, 65-years-old, originally from Montgomery, Alabama—wore an oxygen mask over his face that clouded with each irregular exhalation. His eyes opened wide with fear.
“Don’t worry, Mr. Hall,” Kevin, the younger of the two paramedics, said as they rolled down the driveway. “You’ve had a mild heart attack. We’ll have you at the hospital in no time.”
The back door swung open and the two men lifted the gurney into the waiting vehicle. The car was long and white, more of a hearse than an ambulance, but it served both purposes. The side panel advertised, “Ernie’s Ambulance and Funeral Services.”
Ernie drove while Kevin attended to Mr. Hall. Ernie popped the stub of a cigar into his mouth. “So how old is this dude?”
“I don’t know,” Kevin said. “Sixty. Maybe Sixty-five.”
“Might as well take the scenic route.”
Kevin adjusted the patient’s oxygen mask. “He’s only kidding, sir.”
“I ain’t joking, Mother Fucker,” Ernie said. “And stop wasting all that oxygen. That man is breathing fine on his own.”
Kevin shrugged, removed the oxygen mask. As he turned to store the gear, Mr. Hall reached up weakly, his labored breathing audible.
“I think he has asthma,” Kevin said.
“Stop thinking and start using your head,” Ernie said. He rolled down the window part of the way and spat out a few loose bits of tobacco. “What’s the question you should be asking?”
“This is Mr. Hall, Man,” Kevin said. “He used to give me candy outside the drug store when I was a kid.”
Ernie glared into the rearview mirror. “He’s probably a child molester. What’s the question you should be asking?”
Kevin sighed and then replied in a monotone voice, “Is he worth more to us dead or alive?”
“That man is seventy years old,” Ernie said. “He had a good run, didn’t he?”
“I guess so,” Kevin said.
“It’d be a shame to see his family struggle with all those doctor bills.”
“And he’s got life insurance, does he not?”
“I don’t know. Probably.”
“I know he’s got the money to pay for a funeral service because he’s already paid it. His wife came to the shop not three years ago.” Ernie adjusted the mirror. “It looks to me like Mr. Hall is turning blue. Even if he does survive, he ain’t gonna be worth much more than a plate of Brussel sprouts.”
“He does look blue,” Kevin admitted.
“If you think about it, we’d be doing him a pretty big favor,” Ernie said.
“He was a good man,” said Kevin. “I would like to help out his family.”
“I bet they would appreciate it.”
Kevin reached behind Mr. Hall’s head and removed his pillow.
Mr. Hall tried to lift his trembling arms, but they fell to his sides. A small cry escaped his lips, just before the pillow came down on his face and smothered him.
Go to Chapter 2
Go to Chapter 2