13

His first awareness was of Judith's perfume. Even before he could open his eyes, he knew she was there. He was smothered in a dense drugged fog, but he could relate to that fragrance.

His moan brought her kiss.

"You are Black Jack Cagle and I am the Angel of Love," she said into his ear.

He opened his eyes and there she was. In a hospital room. He could smell that too. The room was in shadows from a single bedside lamp. His body lay so heavily sedated, he could barely feel its existence. He moved to touch her but couldn't make it. She took his hand in hers, kissed it. He remembered fists to his face, his body. He could never forget those fists, like explosions in his brain.

"Where am I?" he asked.

"St. Louis Barnes Hospital." She explained the rest of it. "They found you yesterday morning in the back seat of your car. You've been out of it, baby. And I can tell you, the whole world has been put on hold."

He remembered the guy in his car, the gun to his ear. He'd been talking to her on the phone. It pleased him to remember.

"Yeah. Must've been twenty of them," he tried to make jokes. "Came at me with clubs, chains, attack dogs."

"Dogs! That's not fair."

"I was always nice to dogs."

"Well, you're going to be fine, baby."

-92-

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