Deleted Scene 7: Peeping Ned

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Ned watched from the shadows of the hospital parking deck as the Indian boy walked to his Jeep. He’d intentionally arrived before visiting hours were over so as not to draw attention to himself. A casual stroll past the old man’s room however, revealed the boy inside. So Ned canvassed the parking deck—thank goodness the hospital was small—until he found the boy’s vehicle. Fortunately, he knew exactly what he was looking for since he’d followed this Jeep the previous night.

Yesterday, Ned showed up at the resort where the family was staying hoping to find it empty so he could break in and find the object Manitou wanted. At first he thought he’d lucked out. Only a single car was parked behind the cottage. They were gone. But when he crept onto the deck and sidled up to the sliding glass door, he heard the television. Crouching low, Ned peeked through the glass. Two twenty-something guys occupied the room, eyes glued to whatever program they had on. Tangling with two guys their size would not be a wise move for Ned and would certainly botch his mission.

He swore. With so many people in the same place, the chance of them all being out at the same time was extremely low. He was better off planning to come back in the dead of night.

Already annoyed, he’d returned to the lakeshore only to find an old Indian dude poking around near the cave. With Manitou urging him on, Ned had banged a good sized rock into the guy’s noggin. The satisfaction of watching the body slump to the ground helped alleviate a small portion of his frustration over his failure to retrieve the artifact.

So he bided his time and when he’d returned to the resort late last night, it seemed fate had given him yet another gift. He’d been skulking about the cottage examining the windows and doors while waiting for the family to go to bed when a vehicle approached and parked nearby. Ned watched as the girl’s boyfriend hopped from the car, took a deep breath, and then knocked on the door. With nothing better to do, and the kitchen lit up so he could clearly see the scene inside, he observed the interaction between the couple.

Suddenly the girl dashed from the room and Ned’s eyes stretched wide when she returned and extended her hand toward the boy, offering him something.

The artifact!

The boy took the object and stuffed it in his pocket. Then he stepped close to the girl. Ned rolled his eyes. It didn’t take much imagination to know what would happen next. He headed for his motorcycle. When the boy left, he followed. He had to get that statue.

The stop at the hospital in Bemidji seemed odd, but Ned had no choice but to tail the boy—a challenging feat at such a late hour. Yet he managed to make it to the room in time to see the boy hand the statue over to an older man. Stunned for a moment when he realized the guy in the bed was the dude whose head he banged with a rock, Ned didn’t notice the nurse until it was too late and he was kicked out of the hospital.

So he was back tonight and his plan to blend with the visitors was ruined. All he needed was for the old man to take a walk or go to the bathroom and he would’ve snatched the artifact and beat feet out of there, but no, now he not only had to sneak in after visiting hours, he also would have to wait for the dude to fall asleep.

He walked purposefully through the hospital’s front doors and marched directly toward the elevators without making eye contact with the attendant at the information desk. That was the easy part. Once he was beyond the woman’s peripheral vision, Ned ducked into a corridor. Quickly scanning the signs, he had to turn a corner before he saw what he wanted—a stairwell. He quickly ascended to the second floor, again grateful this was a small hospital. When a brief check through the window of the second floor door showed no one in the hall, he opened the door, listened and then stuck his head out.

Moving furtively toward the old man’s room, Ned passed by with barely a glance through the doorway, confirming the guy was in his bed. He checked other nearby rooms and eventually found a vacant one not too far down the hall. Melted into the shadows of the unlit room, he remained close enough to the doorway to monitor the old man’s room.

It seemed an eternity passed before the room’s bright light winked out and was replaced by the soft, blue glow of a television screen. Ned waited until the night nurse made her rounds and then tiptoed down the hall. He pressed himself to the wall when he heard the bed creak, but then there was a click and the blue glow faded and quickly disappeared.

At the edge of the doorframe, Ned strained to hear any further sound from the room while simultaneously listening for approaching footsteps. After a while, he peeked into the room. The man was turned away from the door. Crap. How could he know if the dude was sleeping or not?

Finally tired of waiting, Ned crept into the room and slipped behind the door to access the closet. Holding his breath, he pulled on the handle of the accordion door, wincing as it released with a snap. He paused. The room remained still. Gently, he worked the guide through the track until the opening was large enough to reach the man’s belongings.

Ned quickly patted down the jacket and shirt on hangers then bent to the duffle bag on the floor.

He nearly missed it.

His hand was making a second pass over the contents of the duffle when he felt something unyielding wrapped in cloth.

Bingo.

The man in the bed stirred and Ned froze, clutching the bundle in one hand. He waited, motionless until he heard the sound of even breathing, then slipped from the room. He hurried to the stairwell. Safely behind the door, Ned paused and pulled the cloth from the object. A smile slowly spread across his face as he took in the horns and painted scales. This was it. Manitou would be pleased.

Once he returned to the cellar, he’d collapse the tunnel as instructed. Then one more trip for supplies, set the charges, and he was on his way to vengeance.