Patrick McLanahan #04 - Day of the Cheetah by Dale Brown

Patrick McLanahan #04 - Day of the Cheetah by Dale Brown

Author:Dale Brown [Brown, Dale]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Fiction, Technological
ISBN: 9780007304943
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Limited
Published: 2008-10-01T04:00:00+00:00

You got a marriage certificate? We weren't invited to any wedding .

"Joe, please .

"The last we heard, you two weren't hitting it off all that well. You know what I think? I think you didn't marry my daughter. I think you're saying you're married so we can't sue the damned Air Force for the accident. The spouse of a military member can't sue the government, right?"

Betty Tork was staring at her husband.

"This is a rip-off. I was in the Marine Corps for six years, I know about this crap." Joe Tork moved closer and wrapped his 252 DALE BROWN

big hands around the lapel of McLanahan's flight suit. "Answer me, you lying sack of mick shit. Answer me .

Patrick held Joe's wrists gently as he could. The big ex-Manine could have taken his frustrations out on Patrick, and for a moment it looked like he might actually swing on him. But at the very moment Patrick thought he might do it, Tork's big shoulders began to shake. His narrow, angry eyes closed, and his grip began to loosen.

"Damn it, goddamn it all to hell . . . Wendy . . . she's been so all-fired independent ever since she was a kid. I'd get letters from Betty when I was in Vietnam telling me how smart and grown up she was. When I got back she wasn't a kid any more.

I never saw her that way . . . Now she's lying there helpless as a baby and I still can't do anything for her .

Patrick, feeling the same sense of anger and helplessness, could say nothing. It was Betty who broke the silence. "Patrick, when were you married? "

"What? Oh, the day before yesterday." He looked up. "Did they bring in Wendy's things?"

"In the closet.

He went to the closet and retrieved a cardboard box, took something from the box and returned to Wendy's bedside.

:'We're not allowed to wear rings on the flight line," he said.

'Too dangerous, they say. So we started keeping each other's ring until we saw each other again." He opened his hand and I i

revealed a tiny purple velvet bag, loosened a thin gold draw- i string, dropped a hammered gold band into his palm, then slipped the ring on his left ring-finger. He then got an identical bag from a flight-suit pocket and took out another hammered-gold band, this one with a gold engagement ring fused to it. He slipped it i on Wendy's finger. I I

The three were silent for a while. The ICU nurse came by, checked and recorded the monitor readings and left. Finally, Joe said, "Patrick, I have to know what happened out there? Can't you tell us anything?"

"Joe, you know I can't."

'But I'm a vet. I wouldn't tell anyone .

:,I know, but I still can't."

Tork ran his hands through what little hair was left on his head. "All right. But tell me this, just this one thing, because DAY OF THE CHEETAH 253

I'm Wendy's father. Just promise me you're going to nail whoever's responsible for doing this to my daughter.



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