“Karen, channel 9 news, quick.”
I fumbled for the remote and tuned Jim’s 60” flat screen to channel 9.
“ . . . again, LAPD has quarantined skidrow. All traffic has been halted into and out of anywhere east and south of Main and 3rd and west and north of Alameda and 7th street. CDC has been called in. There are reports of vicious attacks and acts of cannibalism coming in. LA County Sheriff, LAPD, LA Fire department and other organizations have mobile units in front of City Hall. There’s talk about bringing in the National Guard . . ..”
I turned the TV off.
I told Cortez, “I’m on it.”
He said, “Be safe. Out.”
Mary was looking at me wide eyed. She was scared. “Is this real?”
I nodded. “I gotta go.”
She grabbed me, “Please no Karen. This shit scares me.”
“Mary, look, this is what I do. I put myself in harm’s way. I have to assess the situation first hand.”
She stared at me for a long time. She had the same look she did on the airplane. Then she wiped her eyes and said, “I’m coming with you.”
“The hell you are!”
“Karen, I will not stay here by myself, and I gotta know. You seem to be one of the few people who are in the know. I flew shotgun with you for God’s sake.”
“Mary, please think this through. Most likely all the action is in Skid Row and not here.”
“I don’t care. I wan . . . no, need to be near you. I can help too.”
I stared at her.
She stared back. “Karen, please.”
I pointed out the window. “There are people eating people out there.”
“I ate you didn’t I?!?”
Well, that knocked the wind out of my sails. I softened my tone, “Ummm, that’s different.”
“Eating is eating.” And she dared me to answer back.
Instead I kissed her. “Have you ever fired a pistol?”
“My sister taught me. Nine, ten, forty-five, three-fifty-seven, shotgun, M16-A2, a handful of rifles.”
Okay I was convinced. “Seriously, this is worse than real. You saw how the guy was on the plane.”
She answered, “Headshot, end of rage.”
I nodded and got my medium bag. The large one had my clothes. This one was work related. I plopped it on the bed. I had a special lock on the bag. It had the UN seal and my agent number. I unlocked it. Mary’s eyes went wide when I opened it.
“They let you travel with that type of arsenal?”
“Yeah, neat, huh?”
She reached in and pulled out my M4A1. “I’ll take this one.”
I laughed. “Not this?” I pulled out a Kahr Limited Edition Pink Pistol.
“And that too! It’s so cute. That’s my backup gun.”
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