Ghoul is really sick, and he's not getting better. Toto tells Dexter that there's a cure.
“Umm....what’s it now, three nothing?” Jim asks, helping me up. “I’ve still got a shot!” I protest, and I get a head shake from Lindsey and a “No way!” from Grace. I honestly suck at fighting. I sigh dramatically, and take a step forward, to be tripped by Jim.
Lindsey starts laughing.
“Gotcha! Remember, Dexter, you gotta be aware-”
“At all times, thank you very fucking much.”
I’ve started swearing more. It’s the heat and the sun. I don’t like it, and it makes me very cranky. Toto’s been getting crankier lately too. She’s been bringing Mr. Peabody with her when she shows up. Grace loves that dog, even though it’s twice her size.
Toto’s been losing weight, and not her normal skinny either. Toto’s anorexic skinny, skin drawn tightly over cheekbones, so tight it could split. I can see all the bones in her fingers. She’s also started throwing up every morning. Mikey’s screaming at her for it, telling her she’s skinny enough that she doesn’t need it, but Toto keeps puking. Oh, yeah, her mood swings are getting really bad, she’ll be crying one moment, and then the next she’ll be sobbing her eyes out.
Really, I’m lucky I’m stuck with Lindsey, serial killer she is. At least I don’t have to fucking deal with puking and crying and weight loss. Kobra takes the brunt of that. Poor bastard.
Speaking of poor bastards, Ghoul’s in pretty bad shape. He’s got a ton of fluid in his lungs, at least that’s what Jet’s been saying. Jet’s being the resident doctor. Toto wanted to help until she saw how bad Ghoul was.
Yeah, anyway, Frank was dying. He had no air, and blood vessels were clotting and popping under his skin from lack of oxygen. Ghoul ended up with this awful white-green complexion, with dark bruises all over his skin.
Doctor D was moved into the diner because he got worried. When I got there, he was sitting in the main room of the diner reading a book.
“Hey, kiddo. What’s new in the wasteland?” Doctor D asks in his slow easy voice. “Not much. Jim kicked my ass. How’s Gerard’s Brahski?” I respond.
Doctor Death-Defying sucks in a breath. “Not too good, Dex. Ghoul’s been coughing all night, and he’s having a lot of trouble catching his breath. You wanna go talk to him?”
I head down into the basement sliding down the ramp, and Ghoul’s coughing bounces off the cement walls. I cringe. Sounds like the plague.
Ghoul rolls over when he hears my footsteps. “Gerard! Good to see you dude! Tell Jamia I’ll be up for dinner, ‘kay?” Ghoul breaks down into a round of coughing.
I smile, even though I feel awful about it.
“Yeah...I’ll do that.”
“Wait....what about that show? Are you gonna cancel that?”
What? Is he hallucinating? “What show? Frank, do you know where you are?”
“Uh, New Mexico? Shouldn’t have had that Jager.”
I press my hand to his forehead. Hot. Scary hot. Fever red-zone infection hot.
“GERARD! HE’S WORSE!”
Gerard’s down the ramp in land speed record-setting time, closely followed by Kobra Kid, Grace, Jet, and Doctor D.
“What’s wrong? What’d you do?” Gerard spits at me, eyes full of fear.
“He’s got a fever....”
Gerard pushes me out of the way, and starts talking to Frankie, smoothing his hair.
Well, I’m not wanted here.
I leave the basement, and stand in the gloom of the diner.
“You can fix him.”
I jump as Toto unfolds herself from the corner of the diner. I didn’t even know she was there. “What’re you talking about?” I snap at her.
“There’s a cure for what he’s got. My brother caught it.”
“But he died.”
Toto nods. “True. But there’s a cure.”
I humor her. “Where is it?”
“It’s in Zone seven. I told Gerard about it, but he didn’t take me seriously. There’s this thing, see, called the Leap of Faith games. Join up, and if you win, you get whatever you want.”
I doubt it. “Whatever I want, huh?”
“Yeah. Whatever your beautiful mechanical heart desires.”
Toto runs her tongue over her cracked and yellow lips. I cringe away a bit.
“C’mon, Dexter. You’ve been here for what, three months? Nobody respects you. You’re a second-string Killjoy. Jim’s good enough to run with them, fights like a wolverine. You’re Lindsey’s bitch, if nothing else.” Toto says with relish.
That hits a nerve. “I am NOT Lindsey’s bitch!”
Toto’s eyes glitter with black malice. “Then prove it. Get the respect. Zone Seven. Leap of Faith. Can’t miss it,” Toto says, and leaves abruptly, trailing her left index finger over the grey countertop.
I think about it. More accurately, I obsess about it. Make a name for Bulletproof Diva. Get some respect, get Ghoul up and shouting, and upstage Lindsey.
Well, it’s hard to say no to something like that, isn’t it? How’m I gonna get there? Steal the Trans Am? I can’t drive. Walk? Nah, Frankie could be dead by then.
Hell, I’ll work it out later.
Lindsey leaves the motel at ten. Jim’s been asleep for hours. I leave at ten thirty. Run to the Diner. That’s like five freaking miles, so I’m dead by the time I get there. But underneath it all, I’m buzzing on adrenaline and hysteria’s spiraling around through my head. I’m waltzing around the diner, hoping Toto stayed the night, and then I smack into Gerard.
“Well well well. Dexter. What’re you doing up so late?”
I grind my teeth, high gone in a puff of smoke. Fricking Gerard hanging around where he lives!
“None of your damn business. What’re you doing?”
Gerard fidgets. “You ever heard of the Leap of Faith Games?”
“Just to be clear, you never heard of this, right?” I ask.
“No, actually. It can’t be that bad, we’ll probably just have to run an obstacle course or something.” Gerard replies, unlocking the Trans Am.
“So. Quest for Frankie?”
Gerard nods, looking worried. “Quest for Frankie.”