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THE CURE by Bradlee Frazer [Excerpt]

THE CURE by Bradlee Frazer [Excerpt]

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Published by Diversion Books

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Published by: Diversion Books on Mar 23, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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A novel
byBradlee Frazer
Craig Marcus did not enjoy watching people die. The Driver, on the other hand, enjoyedit very much. Marcus mused over this fact as he stared at the surrounding sea of cactus and sandthat blistered in the Arizona sun, mesmerized by the dull thrum of the tires and the sameness of the landscape flowing past his window. His head bobbed, his chin dropped to his chest and hishand twitched, jostling the Coke can in the cup holder."How old is she?" the Driver asked.Marcus’ head snapped up and his gut tightened. He looked at the man driving the car,studied his cold gunmetal eyes and then noticed for the first time that he still wore a “Hello MyName is Walter” sticker on the lapel of his matte black jacket, no doubt a vestige of some socialevent to which he had driven Phillip Porter, and then Porter had made him accompany himinside. "Thirty-one," Marcus said. The Driver did not respond, but Marcus looked at him andwatched his face as the corners of his mouth twitched upward, not quite forming a smile. Marcusgrimaced at the display."Nice," the Driver said.Marcus opened his mouth in protest, a finger extended toward the Driver’s head. “Look Walter,” he said, “you —“The Driver glared, cutting him off. “Only Mr. Porter can call me that,” he said. “Pleasedon’t forget.”Marcus inhaled as if to speak, then withdrew his finger and wilted. He turned away tocontinue watching the parade of desert flora.The Mercedes pulled into a long cobblestone driveway, and Marcus saw the statelyfacades and sun-bleached columns of The Complex’s red brick buildings. Like a college campus,Marcus thought, except for the hundred miles of lifeless desert surrounding the place. The Drivernosed the Benz into a space labeled "Dr. Craig Marcus," and they got out of the car. Marcus feltthe sun’s heat burning his scalp, and he stole an envious glance at the Driver’s thick, short-cropped hair.The security guard at the entrance scanned their lapel badges and said, "Hello, Dr.Marcus," before looking back down to his computer screen. He did not acknowledge the Driver.
Marcus stepped through the metal detector into the lobby and offered silent thanks for airconditioning, then headed toward the elevator, the Driver on his heels.Marcus stabbed the call button twice, then stepped back and looked around. "Where iseveryone?" he said. The Driver shrugged. Marcus inhaled and enjoyed the medicinal tang of Mentholatum and rubbing alcohol, the smell of childhood visits to the doctor’s office. Hisreverie was interrupted when the elevator doors popped open and the Driver grabbed his elbowto pull him into the car.Music was playing, tinny and flat, from a speaker hidden in the elevator's roof. Marcusheard mumbling and looked over at the Driver, who was, despite the elevator’s subdued lighting,sliding on a pair of sunglasses, snake-like and cool. Marcus noticed that the Driver's lips weremoving: " . . . long and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking . . . ." The Driver was singingalong with the Muzak.The elevator doors opened, exposing the third floor lobby, and they stepped out into anempty foyer where the hospital smell was stronger and the air was cold. Marcus shuddered andlooked around, aware of the security cameras trained on him. He saw no nurses' station, only alone sign indicating that rooms 312-320 were down a hallway to the left. It was quiet, except forthe occasional murmuring of conversation coming from the rooms. Marcus tried to make out thewords, but they were muffled and distant, like they were coming from yesterday. "What was theroom number again?" he said, his voice bouncing down the cinderblock corridor.The Driver motioned Marcus to walk in front of him. "Three-one-eight," he said,singsong, "The Girl from Ipanema" still coloring his intonation. Marcus hesitated, then sucked ina breath and headed down the hall.Marcus walked with determination and focus, aware of the Driver right behind him, theirheels clicking in cadence on the polished tile floor, the kind the janitors were always buffing ingrade school. He looked left and right into the rooms as they walked.
Click, click, click.
He couldsee big chrome hospital beds with crisp white linens enclosing thin, pale patients. Most of themwere alone. Some were reading. Others watched television. Almost all of them had no hair.
Click, click, click.
Marcus kept walking and forced himself to keep his eyes straight ahead."Three-one-eight," the Driver said, pointing.Marcus glanced at the nameplate on the door: "Katrine Waters," he said. He peekedinside and saw a woman lying in bed with various plastic bags hooked on poles beside her,potions dripping into her veins. She was reed thin and pale, her skin translucent against herbones. "She looks bad," he whispered to the Driver."Yep," the Driver said as he clapped Marcus on the back. "Good job." A man and a littlegirl were with the woman, and the Driver pointed at them, his left eyebrow raised. "Husband anddaughter," Marcus said.The Driver made a face.

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