Seconds Away Page 51

“Is there anything . . . ?” I tried, but I couldn’t finish. Tears started brimming in my eyes.

Spoon’s mom said, “I don’t understand why you were all at the school so late.”

“It was my fault,” I said through the tears.

Ema was about to add something, but I gave her arm a nudge.

I saw the shadow cross Mrs. Spindel’s face again and then she said something I didn’t expect but completely deserved. “Oh, I know it’s your fault.”

I squeezed my eyes shut, her words landing like punches.

“I never heard of you a week ago. Now you’re all Arthur talks about. He wanted everyone to start calling him Spoon. He said his new friend gave him that nickname.”

My heart crashed to the bottom step, and now a foot with a heavy boot stomped on it.

“You were Arthur’s friend,” she went on. “Maybe the first real one since the fourth grade. You probably don’t get how much you meant to my son. He looked up to you. He worshipped you—and how did you repay him? You used him. You used him to break into some stupid locker and now look.” She turned away in disgust. “I hope whatever was in there was worth it to you.”

I opened my mouth, closed it, tried again. But what could I say?

“I think,” Mrs. Spindel said, “that you should both leave.”


I turned toward the voice and recognized Mr. Spindel, Spoon’s father.

She looked up at her husband and waited.

“Arthur just woke up,” Mr. Spindel said, turning and meeting my eyes. “And he’s insisting that he speak to Mickey.”

Chapter 40

There were tubes and machines and beeping noises. There were curtains and antiseptic smells and monitors with green lights. I saw none of it. All I saw as I entered the room was my friend lying in the middle of all this horrible gadgetry.

Spoon looked so small in that bed. He looked small and as fragile as an injured bird.

Mrs. Spindel’s voice—Oh, I know it’s your fault—still echoed in my ears.

The doctor, a tall woman with her hair pulled back, put a hand on my shoulder. “Normally I would never allow it, but he’s so agitated. I need you to make this short and keep him calm.”

I nodded and slowly walked toward his bed. My legs felt rubbery. I stopped at one point because the tears were starting to come. I turned around, bit down hard on my lip, and gained enough composure. It wouldn’t help Spoon if he saw me hysterical. To keep him calm, I knew that I needed to be calm.

When I got to the bed, I wanted to pick him up and take him home and make it somehow yesterday. It was all so wrong, my friend lying here in this hospital.


Spoon seemed suddenly to be straining to move. He looked distressed. I bent down low, close to him. “I’m right here.”

He lifted his hand and I took it in mine. He was struggling to talk.

“Shh,” I said. “Just get better, okay?”

He shook his head weakly. I bent my ear to be closer to his mouth. It took him a few seconds but eventually he said, “Rachel is still in danger.”

“No, Spoon. You saved us all. It’s over.”

Spoon’s face tightened. “No, it isn’t. You can’t sit here doing nothing. You have to save her. You can’t stop until we find the truth.”

“Calm down, okay? Those two guys shot her. They’re in jail.”

I saw a tear escape his eye. “They didn’t do it.”

“Of course they did.”

“No, listen to me. Get out of here and help her. Promise me.”

Spoon was getting more agitated. The doctor rushed over and said to me, “I think that’s enough. You should go wait in the other room.”

She started to add something into his intravenous tube, a sedative, I guessed. I tried to let go of Spoon’s hand, but his grip grew tighter.

“It’s going to be okay, Spoon.”

Nurses came to the bedside too. They tried to hold him down and pull me away.

“She was shot in her house,” Spoon managed to say.

“I know, Spoon. It’s okay. Calm down.”

But he suddenly had new strength in his arm. He pulled me close, desperate. “You said they asked you which house was Rachel’s. Remember? When you saw them that first time on the street?”

“Right, so?”

The doctor finished injecting the medication. The effect was immediate. Spoon’s grip grew slack. I was about to pull away but now—

That the Caldwell house?

—Scarface’s voice came back to me. Spoon looked up at me and managed to ask me the same question I was suddenly asking myself:

“So if those two guys had already been at the house, why would they ask you where it was?”

Chapter 41

Spoon was right.

I was hustled out of the room. Mr. and Mrs. Spindel were in the corridor. They rushed past me into the room. It took a few minutes, but Spoon was stable again. I thought I heard one of the nurses say something about his legs not moving, but I immediately shut that out. I couldn’t deal with that. Not now.

When I got back to the waiting room, I grabbed Ema and pulled her to the side. We found a quiet corner away from the television.

“What happened?” Ema asked. “Is he okay?”

I quickly explained about what Spoon had said—if Sunglasses and Scarface had already been at Rachel’s house when they killed her mother, why would they ask me which house it was?

“Maybe they were just, I don’t know, playing with you,” Ema said.

I frowned. “Playing with me?”

“Like a prank.”

“‘That the Caldwell house?’” I said, mimicking Scarface. “Does that sound like a prank?”

“I don’t know. Maybe when they came the first time, it was dark.”


“So maybe they weren’t sure where the house was during the day.”

I frowned even harder.

“Lame, right?” she said.

“Very,” I said. “There’s a gate around that house. If you had managed to break in and shoot two people earlier, don’t you think you’d remember where the house was?”

Ema nodded slowly, seeing it now. “And come to think of it, why would you break in and shoot them in the first place? Let’s assume these two guys wanted the gym bag back. Wouldn’t they, I don’t know, try to beat the information out of them? What good would just shooting them do?”

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