One Was a Soldier
smiles.
    Hadley stepped behind Will and his dad. Just before she turned away from the gazebo, ready to present her best do-not-mess-with-me face to the rest of the crowd, she caught a glimpse of Opperman. His genial, satisfied look was gone. Instead, he was staring at the chief. The loathing and contempt in his expression raised goose bumps on Hadley’s arms. Then his face smoothed to a bland calm. Hadley shivered.

 
    TUESDAY, JULY 5
    Russ was amazed to see Clare’s car parked in the chaplain’s spot at the Washington County Hospital that night. He had only had a few minutes with her after the dog-and-pony show at the pavilion. Her face had been tired and pinched with pain, and she had assured him she would let Dr. Anne look at her injuries and then go straight home and rest. If the Fourth of July wasn’t always so crazy busy he would have carried her to the rectory himself.
    Russ got out of his cruiser and released the back door. His passenger slumped sideways. Russ wrapped a hand around the young man’s arm and dragged him across the seat. “Wha?” The kid blinked at the neon EMERGENCY sign. “Wherezzat?”
    Russ got the guy on his feet, held him with one hand locked over his skinny shoulder, and retrieved his backpack. “Come on, buddy. Just a little way further.”
    The kid stumbled, nearly falling, as Russ steered him through the clunky double doors and up the short hall to the intake desk.
    “Heya, Chief.” Alta Brewer, the head ER nurse, came out of her cubicle. “What have you got for us?”
    “A drunk and disorderly call. The kid was weaving his way down Main Street thumping against storefronts.”
    Alta leaned up close and sniffed. “He doesn’t smell like booze.”
    “That’s why I brought him to you.” He shook the backpack with his free hand. “There’s nothing in here, so I couldn’t tell what he’s on. I figured you folks ought to have a look at him.”
    Alta flicked a penlight on and peered into the kid’s enormous pupils. “Good call.” She leaned over the intake counter. “Get me a gurney,” she called to an unseen co-worker.
    “Hey, I saw Reverend Fergusson’s car outside in the chaplain’s spot. Can you tell me what she’s here for?”
    Alta looked up from the blood pressure cuff she was strapping to the kid’s wiry arm. “Reverend Fergusson’s back?”
    “Yeah. She got in last week.” He kept his voice neutral.
    Alta grinned at him as an orderly trundled a bed through the inner ER doors. “Well. I bet you’re right happy about that.”
    So much for his cool outward demeanor. He helped Alta hump the semiboneless kid onto the gurney. “I’ll be right there,” Alta told the orderly as he rolled the guy—who was now making outboard motor noises—away. She wedged herself back behind the intake counter and tilted the computer monitor down. “She can’t be on call again as chaplain yet. I would have heard about it.” She punched a few keys. “Oh. Here it is. By request of the family.” She looked up at Russ. “Patient in for heart failure. Must be one of her parishioners.”
    “Where can I find her?”
    “Third floor, in CIC. I’m sure you remember it from your own stay.”
    “Vaguely. Most of what I saw was the ceiling tiles.”
    She laughed as he headed for the elevator. Upstairs, the doors opened on the central care station. He had spent a lot of time on this floor after he’d made the mistake of stepping in front of a desperate drug dealer two years ago. The shots to his chest and thigh had laid him out for a long time. The big counter looked different from an upright and unmedicated position.
    One of the two nurses manning the monitor screens looked up. “Mr. Van Alstyne?” He recognized her—she had been his night shift nurse, a sturdy woman with a voice like a glass of warm milk. She had hummed sometimes, when she got busy. He had liked it. Now she left the central station, smiling, looking him up and down just a bit, as if she were still assessing

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