His hands trembled as he entered the number. He told himself it was the cold, but it wasn’t. It was the dead man who lay on the table in Trauma One, an unfortunate soul who had suffered from a dopamine-glutamate imbalance in his brain since the age of twenty-five. Michael Smith had trusted Brian Steinberg, and to gain the trust of a paranoid schizophrenic was no small feat. But Steinberg had abused that trust, and now Michael Smith’s blood was on his hands as surely as it was on the hands of the surgeon who stole Smith’s kidney, and on the hands of the depraved piece of shit who forced that surgeon to desecrate another man’s body. He pushed the send button.
A tired voice answered. “What did you find out?”
“The chief resident suspects it was internal bleeding from a recent kidney operation. They opened his chest in the ER and tried to resuscitate him but were unsuccessful.”
“Did they call the medical examiner?”
“The resident told an intern to do it.”
The thrum of traffic over on the FDR seemed to be building ahead of the morning rush hour.
A siren signaled the arrival of another ambulance.
Then, “Anything else I need to know?”
“No,” Steinberg replied.
The phone went dead.
Steinberg lit the cigarette, pulled the tar and nicotine into the deepest alveoli of his lungs, and prayed for the day when his obligation would be met and he’d be finished with all this.
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