For Martin, being a RepoMan is a really dangerous job, since he's not taking your possessions, but something much nearer and dearer to you.
It was the dead of night, even the alley cats had given up screwing and gone home. I crept around the bushes, checking for open windows. No security signs, that was good. This was a nice home, lattice trellis lending the back patio romantic ambiance, and also my way up to the second story.
Success, a window unlocked and slid smoothly in the casing. The gas I had pumped into the house two hours ago had them all deeply sleeping. I found Mrs. Langley's room. She was a hefty woman, but I had no fear of waking her husband as I maneuvered her out of their bed. The stairs were tricky, but seeing that she couldn't go out the window with me, I had to drag her down them. I felt no sorrow for the bruises I would leave.
She was the one 6 months behind on her payments. I was paid to collect her.
"You got her? You dog!" cheered my accomplice from the back of the van marked 'Ed's Plumbing'. He helped me load and strap her to the gurney.
"You are the repo king! We been after her for weeks!"
"Just drive to the hospital."
Mercy general was a real hospital. They had real doctors and real nurses and real patients. But the reality of the health care crisis is that money is money and money not paid for services rendered will result in collections.
Mrs. Langley was still asleep when the van backed into the loading bay for the deliveries of food and supplies. Orderlies in scrubs waited inside to receive the patient.
I've been told that the removal of an organ is much quicker when life preservation is not the goal.
My eyes met Danny's. He was the head nurse on duty tonight. He waved me over and handed me my payment. An envelope full of cash, fat, must be twenties, and two vials of Lorivianthine.
I pulled out payment for my driver and sole crewman, stuffing the envelope into my jacket breast pocket.
"Dude, he gave you the stuff didn't he?"
I couldn't slip it past Graham, he had found out I was taking Lore when I forgot to clean out the glove box one day. I didn't respond to him.
"You are gonna have a coronary, man."
Lore was discovered to have medicinal effects similar to marijuana. But it also seemed to fight off aids, cancer, and multiple sclerosis. Herbalists sold the concoction as a wonder drug to decrease muscle stiffness, increase energy and appetite, and prevent cancer to older people with arthritis and family history of cancers.
But it was soon discovered that it created such immense feelings of pleasure that once the FDA got a hold of it, it was pulled from the market.
For a time, the world on Lore did seem more peaceful. The wars had stopped, and the protesters quieted down in general.
Then it was discovered to cause massive and unpredictable heart attacks in otherwise healthy people. Others developed liver failure. Their organs would randomly shut down and hospitals could no longer keep up with demand.
I had found my career. Good organs were hard to come by. If you weren't willing to pay for yours, you didn't deserve it. Someone else was waiting for the same organ with pockets full of money.
I was on assignment, feeling limber and alert, having had a tiny booster dose of Lore before going into work. I climbed the fire escape outside the apartment complex like a world class gymnast. I thought about how it would make my friend in the van curse at me, knowing I was showing off my drug-induced prowess.
Mr. Ostenfeld was waiting at his window. He shot off two rounds that I barely dodged. The breaking glass tinkled and showered in rainbow prisms I had not enough time to admire. I smiled.
"Mr. Ostenfeld," I chided, "Now that's no way to greet a guest."
"I sent my payments!" he growled as he reloaded the rifle.
"They were bad checks, Mr. Ostenfeld. All three of them." I crawled below the window, hoping the brick was not just a facade. "I don't suppose you have less than a full box of bullets in there?"
"I've got three."
"Bullets?" I asked hopefully.
"I don't suppose you'd like to make a payment now?"
Suddenly, pain shot down my left arm and I broke into a cold sweat.
I woke to nurse Danny's face. "I knew one day I'd see you in here."
"You had a heart attack. The fire department got you down, and Mr. Ostenfeld filed a restraining order. He was jailed for threatening the police."
"So, now what, I take some pills for the rest of my life and watch my salt?"
"You know how these things go, Martin. You need a transplant. You shouldn't mess with Lore."
He left me to contemplate my future.
A familiar face poked around the curtain.
"Dude, I thought you were a goner!"
"I guess I should have been."
"So, does this mean I get to go inside, do the dirty work?" his eyes sparkled.
"Hey, I'm not dead yet."
But he was right, I was not the same. I really wanted Lore, to feel that good again, but it would ruin me. I had no choice but to train him while I sat on the sideline.
We started small, using gas, and breaking into back doors or windows. He was actually good at it, having watched me for years. As he got better, I felt more useless. I was pathetic, and took less of the cut.
I knew this day would come.
I had long ago stopped showing up for work, feigning illness, then sinking into depression. I just couldn't work anymore, and the bills were piling up. I wondered how long until I was evicted from this apartment. I stood at my bathroom cabinet, looking at myself in the mirror. The long scar was still pink down my chest. I opened it to take one of my many pills. I grabbed blindly for the bottle, not really caring if I grabbed the right one, or if I took 2 pills or 6.
Something fell out in the sink; a tiny syringe with a few drops of Lore inside.
I held it up before my dazzled eyes. My new heart ached for the pleasure I knew I would feel even from this small dose. Temptation was too great.
I went into work. I felt great.
"Dude, did you meet a lady or something?"
"No. I just feel better, okay?"
"Sure, Man. I told you you would." He smiled, but glanced nervously at me, volunteering to drive for old time's sake.
We drove straight to the hospital, without a body.
"Uh, change of plans, Dude."
Danny came out, looking concerned. "I need you to come with me."
Unsure, I followed, only to be strapped down.
"Dude, I'm so sorry." There were tears in his eyes. "I quit," he whispered.
It was the last thing I heard. I struggled as the mask was put over my face and I fell into eternal blackness.