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Bullet Train – Chapter 9.5

Tommy checked into a hotel as they waited for the prescription to be filled. It wasn’t a Brigham International, but it had two beds, hot and cold running water, and a television. Tommy claimed first rights to the bathroom, reminding Brig that he was the one paying for everything. While Tommy made his way to the bathroom, Brig flopped down on one of the beds and picked up the television remote.

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“Don’t use up all the hot water!” Brig pleaded as the bathroom door closed behind Tommy. Brig was finally feeling the buzz from the painkillers. Although a TV remote was not high technology, Brig struggled with turning it on. The characters on the remote were in Chinese and Brig pushed all the buttons to no effect. He removed the back cover and wiggled the batteries. Nothing. He put the remote back down on the side table and leaned back to let the warmth of the opiates consume him as the sound of the shower emanated from the bathroom. At least the shower works, Brig thought.

As the water warmed, Tommy peeled the bandaging from his hand. The wound had started to heal, or at least it had stopped bleeding. The stub was now crusty red but still painful. He took an antibiotic and stepped into the warm cascading water. The water relaxed him, and the tension circled the drain along with the dirt and grime. He moaned in pleasure as he pissed, letting the yellow stream bathe his feet as he considered how wonderful life’s simple pleasures were. A warm shower, a strong piss. It could be worse, Tommy thought, but not by much, and smiled despite his circumstances.

As he rinsed the shampoo from his hair, he heard the ding of a message hitting his phone. He turned the water off, stepped out of the tub, and grabbed one of the two whiteish towels from the rack.  Once he was sufficiently dry, he picked up his phone. The text was from Johnny’s number, but the message wasn’t from Johnny.

“Gambling again. Only this time with other people’s lives. Johnny eventually shared your plans with me, just before I cut his tongue out. And while I appreciate your initiative, it disappoints Happy and I that you chose not to work with us. Return to Hong Kong immediately, with the American, so that nobody else gets hurt. Do not make me chase you. If you come back now, I promise you a quick death. If you continue to run, you should make sure I don’t catch you alive.”

“Fuck!” Tommy yelled out loud.

“What’s that?” Brig shouted from the other room.

Tommy ignored him. Johnny, A-fai, and Glitch were probably dead, and Happy might be in danger. The small group of people he cared about was dwindling. He tapped out a quick message to Tarantino. “When you arrive, exit the terminal. We will watch for you. Chang has learned of our plans and might be on our trail. Be alert.”  

It was approaching noon. Tarantino would arrive at 4:30 p.m. Tommy re-bandaged his finger with clean gauze and applied some ointment he had purchased at the pharmacy. He dressed and exited the bathroom.

“Fucking TV doesn’t work,” Brig slurred, pointing the remote in the general direction of the television and randomly pushing buttons, the painkillers in full effect.

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Tommy looked at the TV and noticed that it was unplugged. Reaching around the back of the television, he plugged it in and looked at Brig as if he were a lower life form. Brig pushed a button and the TV sprung to life, speakers blaring. Brig sat up quickly, pressing all the buttons on the remote to turn the volume down, but only changed the channels. Tommy walked over, seized the remote, and turned the volume down. He tossed the remote disgustedly back at Brig.

Brig laughed. “That was stupid.”

“Yes. It was, and you’re an idiot.”

“Dude. I’m fucked up. What can I say?”

“You’re always fucked up.”

“Jesus, who peed on your dim sum?”

“Take your shower. I need to think.”

“Think about what?” Brig inquired.

Tommy stared coldly back at Brig.

“Alright” Brig said as he stood. “I’m going. Think away.” He grabbed the plastic bag that held his new clothes and entered the bathroom for his turn at the shower.

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