Hit man has no time to be nursed back to health

(Steve Sedam / For The Times)
Hacienda Heights

Hans awoke to an incessant beeping sound and took a moment to get his bearings. As his vision cleared, he saw that he was in a hospital bed surrounded by machines. He could feel a large bandage on his neck, which hurt like hell.

A nurse was checking the bag connected to his IV, and he felt a slight tug as she adjusted the needle in his arm. “Well, look who’s awake.”

Hans tried to ask a question but all that came out was a cracked, inaudible whisper.

The nurse was adjusting some settings on the beeping monitor. “You’re not going to have a voice for a little while, but when you do, there are some gentlemen outside who’d like to ask you a few questions.”


Hans silently cursed, wondering whether it was the cops or worse. He strained to remember how he got here. The memory of his tussle with Carmen was fresh in his mind, but the last thing he remembered after that was climbing onto his motorcycle.

It had seemed like such an easy job. He never should have let his guard down. He got sloppy, and now he was paying for it.

And Palmieri would make sure he paid even more if he didn’t finish it.

“I’m going to let the doctor know you’re awake. I’ll be back soon.” Hans nodded back at the nurse absent-mindedly and she left the room.


Hans yanked out the IV as soon as the door was shut. As he stood up, the pain in his neck increased exponentially and he started to feel dizzy. He sat down again and took a deep breath. He was going to be out of time soon, and then he was going to be a dead man, so it was time to get his act together.

He stood up, slowly this time, and searched for his clothes. He found them in a plastic bag in a small closet and quickly put on his pants. He tossed his blood-soaked jacket back into the bag, but he decided he’d still have to wear his shirt despite the red stain on the collar.

His knife was nowhere to be found, so he’d have to pick up something along the way to finish the hit. Or maybe he’d just use his hands. He was certainly in the mood, and taking care of Carmen that way might make him feel better.

He looked out the window and saw that he was only on the second floor. Even in his current condition, he thought he could make it down.


Christopher Valin is a high school social studies teacher, writer and artist who has “been writing short stories my entire life and screenplays for about 10 years.”

Chapter 15