October 23, 1973 – It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me

Do lizards have good night vision?  I wouldn’t think so.  They need the sun to move around right?  At night they’re just sitting around waiting for the sun, so why would they need good night vision?  Seems like all the other nocturnal animals would eat them while they were powered down.  Do bats eat lizards?  I wonder how that works.  Fish probably have good night vision.  It’s dark underwater right?  But how well do they see on land?  Martialla’s eyes are white like those blind cave animals on PBS.  But her vision seems pretty sharp.  Except when it comes to her wardrobe.  In that case she’s blind as a lizard at night.

Madripoor never gets very dark, even in the low city where things sometime seem like cowboy times, there are houselights all over the place.  There was enough darkness that I didn’t see anything though.  My first indication of trouble was when Blue and Martialla started shooting into the shadows.  That could have just been them shooting for fun though, what really convinced me that something was amiss was when I saw Elvis clutching his stomach and noticed that he was covered with blood.   That set off some alarm bells.

I’d never really been in a fight before.  Not like that.  Back home nothing like this ever happened obviously.  And the scrapes I’ve gotten into here so far have been quick reactions to someone trying to kill me personally – a couple seconds of fight and then time for flight.  I didn’t freeze exactly, but clearly I was the one of us that wasn’t used to this kind of thing.  Blue and Martialla were shooting and moving from cover to cover and making hand signals at each other and doing all kinds of shit.  LBK frog-leaped off one guy, slamming his head into the ground with his feet (it sounded like when you drop a bowling ball) to jump-kick another guy while executing a front flip onto a building roof where he jumped down on two other guys.  This was while I was still figuring out what was going on. 

A guy with a knife charged at me and I put my hand out reflexively to shove him away like a football player.  I’m sure anyone trained in fighting would tell me that was the worst thing I could do in that situation.  It worked out fine though on account of my hand caving in his chest like it was made of papier-mâché.  Which is was not.  It was made of flesh and bone and stuff.  I’m very strong you see.  The knife flew out of his hand and hit me on the ear like a punch to the side of the head.  It made me wonder what happened to the earrings I had on when I was blown up back home.  My grandmother gave me those.  Are they sitting in a pile of rubble or did some NFFA asshole give them to his girlfriend as a present?  How would she feel to know she’s wearing stolen earrings? 

I picked up Elvis and ran out of what I thought was the field of fire – I would later learn none of our attackers even had guns, all the shooting was being done by Martialla and Blue.  I tried to carry him as gently as possible, but if there’s a good way to run with someone in your arms without jostling them, I don’t know it.  With every step I took, he made gulping noises like he was being kicked in the gut.  Once we were “safe” I asked him where the nearest hospital was.  He managed to laugh, sort of, at the idea of a Madripoor hospital. 

“There have to be some hospitals here man, you can’t have a city of millions without any medical care!” 

“They’re all up the hill, they won’t care.” 

“They’ll care after I threaten to crush their heads in my palm.” 

Elvis managed a smile but before he could work his way into saying anything, Blue came up holding his rifle at a jaunty angle, barrel still smoking “Clear of hostiles.” 

“Already?!  That was like thirty seconds.” 

He flicked out his lizard-tongue “That’s what happens when you bring knives to a gun fight.  What happened to our boy?” 

Martialla appeared at his shoulder — well, under his shoulder I guess “Throwing knife, I saw it.  Must have been ten meters away, it was a hell of a toss.  Too bad for the thrower, you shot him three times in the chest a second later.  Nice grouping big man.” 

They touched elbows in some kind of weird military high five “This is what I do little darlin’.” 

I was annoyed they were congratulating each other while Elvis was bleeding out, but before I could lay into them, LBK drifted down like a leaf in the wind “Is anyone else hurt?  I know a place nearby.” 

With all the shooting and stabbing and super-brawling that goes on around here, I knew there had to be someplace for people to get patched up who weren’t among the elite.  I carried Elvis to a house a few blocks away that was set up with beds and beeping machines and all that stuff.  It was nicer than some of the clinics in rural areas back home.  The not-doctor looked more like a model than a medical professional – I’ve seen some good-looking blokes in my day and I’m telling you, this guy was gorgeous.  Granted, I have a thing for men from the Caribbean States but even so.  Yum.   

Those feelings were dashed when he made it clear that he wasn’t going to do shit without the promise of payment.  Somehow he divined that a lizard, a fish, and a woman in ratty ill-fitting, blood-splattered clothes were unlikely to have a lot of cash on hand.  My first instinct was to threaten him, like I planned to do at the actual hospital, but anyone who provides medical care to criminals probably has measures in place that makes bald-faced intimidation a bad idea.  I asked Martialla how much money was left from the casino “heist”.  She said we spent most of it on drinks.  I guess it wasn’t that much money.  I still haven’t figured out the conversion rate to CS dollars. 

Blue and Martialla turned over their guns which was enough to get doctor handsome and his much less attractive nurses in gear.  Elvis was stabilized and “resting comfortably” in short order.  Dr. Handsome knew his way around a knife-hole in the gut for sure.  I suppose there’s not much better trauma training you can get than operating an unlicensed clinic in Madripoor.  Maybe the CS should set up some kind of program where residents or interns or whatever can come over here for a year and learn how to patch people up, there’s no substitute for experience.  The ones that don’t get killed themselves will be great ER docs when they get back.

Once he was cleaned up, he handsomely came to discuss payment options. 

“A couple of used guns doesn’t cover much medical care I’m afraid.  Your friend was badly injured, a perforated bowel requires a lot of work.” 

“How much will you knock off the bill if I sleep with you?” 

He looked down his nose at me (figuratively, we were eye to eye) “You?” 

“Hey, I’ve had a rough day, I just need to shower and run a comb through my hair.  With that and some clean clothes . . .” 

He made an impatient gesture “I’m a professional madam, don’t waste my time with jokes.  Unless you have a real way to pay me, your friend has about four hours here based on what you’ve already given me.” 

“Don’t worry, you’ll get your money.  I’ll stay here as collateral and my friends will go get it.” 

“How do I know they won’t abandon you?” 

“Because I said so.” 

That’s when I heard a booming robot voice with a ridiculous Australian accent “Halt evildoers!”