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Bag Man

by Martin Hill Ortiz

About the Author: Martin Hill Ortiz, a native of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a professor of Pharmacology at the Ponce Health Sciences University in Ponce, Puerto Rico where he lives with his wife and son. An award-winning poet, a score of his short stories have appeared in print, anthologies and online journals, including two in Mystery Weekly. He has authored several mystery thrillers, most recently, A Predator's Game (2016, Rook's Page Publishing).


Late October, that sort of L.A. evening that claws at your throat: grit in the air, gritted smiles. Drivers caged in their cars to protect one from the other. Station attendants who would just as soon toss a lighted match in your tank as to fill it with gasoline.

Andy leaned against the meat wagon smoking a stub. A nurse summoned me to the ER phone.

“I’m calling for an ambulance.” Soft-spoken, matter-of-fact, no trace of panic.

“Sir, what’s the nature of your emergency?” I asked.

“I need an ambulance.”


“Fourteen-hundred Tipton Road.”

“My crew’s got to gear up. Can you describe your problem?”

“You get here soon. Name’s Jiffy.”

The line went dead. Even before being called to the phone I had my first clue to the oncoming disaster: he rang up the admissions desk in the emergency room. In times of crisis most folk dial 911. These exchanges are recorded and, in criminal cases, anything the speaker says can and does get used as evidence. The paranoid and the lawbreakers, all those out to game the system, invent dodges around this including contacting lines inside the hospital.

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