Jackpot. Chapter 11
José opens his eyes to blinding white light. Slowly, the white gives way and he makes out a blurry figure standing over him.
“He’s waking up!”
“Hang in there, buddy, you’re gonna be alright.”
The doctor rushes in and Leroy steps aside to let her run some tests. Bit by bit, José regains his lucidity and remembers what happened.
“Did… did we win?”
Leroy raises an eyebrow. “Now who’s we here?”
“Ah, I’m just teasing you. We all won!”
“You met the workers’ demands?”
“Of course! I had no idea they were working in such horrible conditions!” he says, tugging at his shirt collar. Truth is, he would have been a lot tougher on ‘em if José hadn’t got shot.
“Good, that’s good…” José’s relieved. If he’s going to die in this hospital, at least his mission was a success.
“Everything looks good, all things considered,” says the doctor. “Let’s give it another day, but you’ll probably be ready to walk on out of here tomorrow morning.”
“Sure, if you’re feeling ready.”
“Wow. You must be a medical genius. I owe you my life.”
The doctor shrugs. “Just doing my job.”
“Sure.” She walks out, yawning.
Leroy clears his throat. “There is some bad news, though.”
José gulps. “Go ahead. I can take it.”
“Your girlfriend, Renée. She’s in jail right now. You really can’t shoot down a helicopter without any consequences.”
José sighs. “I don’t know what she was thinking.”
Leroy scratches the back of his neck. “It ain’t right what they did to you, I know. But seeing as she shot first…”
José’s not impressed.
“Tell you what, there’s a big party I’m going to on Friday. Why don’t you come along?”
“Yeah, up in the hills.”
“At a movie star’s mansion?”
“Well I don’t know about that, but I’m sure there'll be plenty of Hollywood types.”
“Then I must decline. I am a poet of the people, my place is with them.”
Leroy looks around. “What people? I’m the only one here.”
“The Fighting Mambos are with me in spirit, they just don’t fuck with hospitals due to historical—”
Leroy holds his hands up. “My apologies. I didn’t mean any disrespect towards your friends. But face it, José, your poetry’s been selling like flapjacks. You’re practically a celebrity already!” He pulls out a black business card with an address written in gold. “Why don’t you get some rest, give it a think.” He tosses it on the bed.
José picks it up and looks at it. “Maybe.”
Leroy holds up his hands. “Decision’s all yours, amigo.”
José nods. “Thanks for visiting, Leroy.”
Leroy’s smile flattens. “You ain’t got nothing to thank me for.” And with that, he walks out the door.
Soon José’s released from the hospital with a clean bill of health. Before he goes home, he stops by the county jail to visit Renée. In a cold gray room, they stare at each other through teal glass, phones in their hands.
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