“…Dad? It’s me…”
“Jesus… honey, I feared the worst. I’d almost resorted to praying.”
“Ah– ! God… Daddy, don’t make me laugh; it hurts…”
“How bad, Pumpkin? You gonna be okay?”
“Got one in a lung. One in a thigh. Christ, it hurts, Dad…”
“Lorelei. Where are you? Let me come be with you.”
“No. No. You stay put, Dad. I’m gonna be fine; these guys know what they’re doing. I promise.”
“This is my fault. I put my bullshit in your head and now you’re getting bullets yanked out on a goddamned kitchen table or something…”
“Hey. You know I had to do this. I did this. My choice. And I’m not done yet.”
There was no response but the sound of sobbing.
“Dad!! Are you listening to me?? I. Am not. Done. Do you hear me??”
A pause, a choke, then: “…yeah. Yeah.”
“I gotta go. The really good meds are kicking in and I need the rest. I love you, Daddy.”
Lorelei put the phone aside and winced as another stabbing pain shot through her chest. A masked and gowned man hovered over her.
“Lorelei, we have got to get started, please. We don’t know how many more fragments are in there.”
“I know, Geoffrey,” she gasped. Shhhhh-itt…“
“Do you want anything more for the pain, doll?”
“I thought you said there wasn’t time,” she half-whispered. “Let’s just fucking do this…”
Geoffrey’s eyes registered his pain for the woman. He nodded to a couple of bystanders, who moved to help restrain her. One offered a section of dowel, for which Lorelei hastily nodded her acceptance, biting down hard.
By the time Geoffrey’s scalpel had barely broken skin, she was already unconscious.