The Devil You Know, Part II #52weeks52stories

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 12

Word prompt: assailant

Word Count: 2698

~~~~~

Find Part I here.

Exhausted and annoyed, Sally Bennett wanted answers.

Two hours after fighting a masked attacker for her life, three different detectives approached her three different times asking the same questions.

But no one would answer her questions.

Who was the attacker?

Had he been arrested?

How did he get inside the Ramirez home?

Why did he seem familiar to her?

She understood they had a job to do but it didn’t annoy her any less.

Sally was comforted knowing Graciela was safe.

She interrupted the attack on Graciela before the intruder could do any real harm, but at Sally’s urging, the gutsy senior citizen allowed paramedics to take her to the emergency room at the hospital where Estelle worked.

Her adrenaline rush gone, Sally sat like a leaden weight on neighbor Nina Ahrens sofa wrapped in a blanket.

The kind woman who’d pulled Sally and Graciela inside her home misread Sally’s earlier shivers for cold instead of fear and had been trying to keep her warm ever since.

Two of Sally’s interrogators stood near the door taking furtive glances in her direction as they spoke.

The embers of anger smoldered in Sally’s chest.

This was their job.

They did this every day, but violence in her life was something new to Sally and she didn’t appreciate being treated as though she did something wrong.

She wanted to go home.

No, that wasn’t true. Frankie was away, and she’d be alone with her thoughts at home. She needed her husband, or one of her children, or at least one familiar face who knew her before the worst day of her life began.

A third detective joined the two watching her.

Sally didn’t recognize him, but he also stared at her while trying to act like he wasn’t.

Her jaws tightened as her anger grew.

He walked toward her, taking a pad and pen from his jacket pocket.

“Mrs. Bennett, I’m Det. -”

“No, I didn’t know the man. No, I don’t know how he got in, and no, I didn’t notice anyone watching the house earlier in the evening.”

She smirked at his surprised reaction.

“I guess my detectives have been pretty thorough tonight.”

“Only at asking questions. They suck at giving answers.”

Sally knew she was being rude, but her frazzled nerves were at the breaking point.

“Touché`.”

He sat down on the sofa next to her, resting his elbows on his knees.

“I’m Det. Sgt. Gavin Marks and I do apologize if it’s seemed like my squad is ignoring you, Mrs. Bennett. We’re still trying to sort things out.”

His apology did nothing to calm her.

“Like what?”

“Well, the city’s been on edge ever since the attacks on elderly women began. At first glance, Mrs. Ramirez’s case fits.”

“At first glance?”

“Yes. While the other victims were alone in their homes, they were all senior citizens in poor health or recovering from illness or surgery. This case fits… except for your presence.”

“Me? What’s this got to do with -” She froze, realizing what he meant.

“So, you’re saying the attacker expected Graciela to be alone? But how? I was subbing for another woman from our service. And we were only needed because Estelle Ramirez couldn’t change her shift.”

Det. Marks considered her before continuing.

“That narrows things down even more.”

Sally let the blanket fall from her shoulders as she scrubbed her hands over her face. Confusion wasn’t mixing well with her fatigue.

Then she got it.

Her mouth gaped open at the thought. No, it wasn’t possible.

“Det., you think Graciela was targeted through Angels Assist? That’s crazy.”

“Like I said, we’re still sorting this out, but I’m trying to keep an open mind.”

“But there aren’t many men associated with the agency—no male volunteers, and all the male staff members are up in age too. They work as drivers and deliver meals.”

He made a few quick notes.

“No one’s mentioned that to me tonight. It’s worth looking into.”

Sally bit her lip lost in thought, trying to figure out the connections.

Marks cleared his throat.

“I’m sorry, Det., did you say something?”

“I’m sure you’re exhausted, ma’am, and I promise to get you home soon. But, please, walk with me through this to see if we’re missing anything. Okay?”

She exhaled roughly. “Okay. Fine.”

He glanced at his notes again before beginning.

“Estelle Ramirez made the eye surgery appointment for her mom twelve days ago. She also put in a request for the week off from her job the same day.

Human Resources approved her time off the next day, with the exception of the current shift because the other two charge nurses were already scheduled off. The HR department posted the shift on the hospital extra-duty website for three days, with no takers. Before committing to the rest of the time off, Estelle called the eye clinic to if it was possible to move her mother’s appointment. It couldn’t be done, but one of the nurses there told her about Angels Assist… and that’s where you come into the story.”

“Well, not me exactly.”

Marks frowned, puzzled. “I don’t understand.”

“I work part-time as a services scheduler for the agency. There are two of us. Mona Ingram set up Graciela’s overnight with Kristen, one of our volunteers. After the last attack, her husband insisted she quit. Her call was routed to me yesterday and when I couldn’t find anyone… I took the position.”

Marks was silent for several minutes, adding to his notes before continuing.

“You do that often, Mrs. Bennett… cover appointments?”

Sally shrugged. “Once or twice a month—depends on the workload versus personnel.”

Gavin Marks rubbed his brow, mulling over these new details.

“Is something wrong, Det.?”

“Remember I said this case fits the attacker’s profile at first glance?”

“Yes.”

“Well, it’s a wide glance. After two months, we still haven’t found a connection in the first four attacks… or a lead.” He stood. “But I’ll get my people on this when the city wakes up.”

He signaled to a uniformed officer in the foyer. The large African-American man walked over standing next to Gavin Marks, acknowledging Sally with a nod.

“I know you’ve declined medical treatment, Mrs. Bennett, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea for you to go in and get checked out.”

“I’m fine, Detective, really. He didn’t hurt me. Just rattled my nerves.”

“Then I’ll let you go, but I’ll try to answer some of the questions you asked my detectives.”

Sally frowned.

“Your attacker was carrying no identification, so we don’t know who he is. Crime scene techs found the framing around the dining room window stripped away. He probably used a crowbar or screwdriver. And no ma’am, he hasn’t been arrested because he’s dead.”

Her stomach dropped. The slight buzz humming behind her ears since she ran from the Ramirez home roared. Sally thought she was going to pass out.

“I don’t understand. How? The two neighbor guys who ran into -”

“No ma’am. You fought him with a cane? Mrs. Ramirez’s cane?”

“Y-Yes.”

“This isn’t official yet, but the coroner believes the cane fell to the floor during your struggle. When you ran from the room and he tried to come after you, his foot hit the cane. His body rolled forward and he tried to break his fall, forgetting about the butcher knife in his hand.”

Sally shuddered and pulled the blanket tighter around herself, not for warmth but more as a shield to ward off the panic threatening to consume her.

Marks continued. “He fell on the knife, piercing his aorta. By the time Parley and Fulcrum, the two guys from the neighborhood, entered the house, the guy had bled out.”

The horror of such a violent death rose up in Sally, bringing the metallic bitterness of bile and waves of dizziness.

The detective bent towards her. “Are you okay, Mrs. Bennett?” He and the uniformed officer exchanged concerned glances, unsure if the woman would become ill or pass out.

“Mrs. Bennett?”

Sally couldn’t respond, the buzzing behind her ears blocking everything but thoughts of the man lying dead on the floor of Graciela Ramirez’s bedroom.

The man who tried to hurt them both killed himself.

Her emotions warred with each other as her sense of justice was met head on with heartfelt sympathy.

For the dead man.

The man who tried to kill her.

Parting her lips, Sally slowly drew in air in deep gulps as she tried to calm her racing pulse.

“Mrs. Bennett?”

She looked up into the detective’s face.

“You really should let the EMTs take you in.”

“No… no, I’m okay. It’s just… just finding out the man who tried to kill me killed himself is almost as big a shock as finding him in Graciela’s room.”

“Please. At least allow them to check your vitals in the ambulance… just to be safe. You’ve been through a lot tonight.”

On cue, the churning in her gut quickened, accompanied by a tightness in her chest. Knowing she wasn’t fine, Sally relented. “You’re right, of course. I will let them check my vitals.”

“Good… good.” He gestured toward the uniformed officer. “This is Officer Brian Holland. He’ll take you out to the ambulance. If you’re cleared by them, Officer Holland will escort you next door to get your things. If you can drive, he’ll follow you home. If you can’t, he’ll drive you and arrange to have your car delivered to your home. If you want him to stay with you a while, he will. He might even cook if you ask him.”

Detective and officer shared a short chuckle. Sally glanced back and forth between them, confused but calmed by their easy manner. Marks explained.

“This is Officer Holland’s last week in uniform. He’s earned his detective shield and joins my squad on Monday.”

“Congratulations, Officer Holland. I guess I’m in good hands.”

He tipped his head toward her. “Thank you, ma’am. Just let me know what you need. But, Ma’am… you don’t want me to cook.”

She joined the men’s laughter this time, feeling normal for the first time in hours.

“Someone will contact you by late afternoon, Mrs. Bennett, to come in for a formal statement and signature. Officer Holland will leave his cell number with you and can get you to the station if you’re not up to the drive.”

Sally admonished herself for her earlier anger and annoyance. These people dealt with violence and death on a regular basis, but they were treating her with kindness and compassion.

Detective Marks reached his hand out to Sally and she allowed him to help her up from the sofa.

Caught off guard by stiff joints and a wave of vertigo, Sally stumbled. “Guess I need to get to that ambulance sooner than later.”

Marks watched her with concern as Brian Holland offered her his arm. “Ma’am?”

She gripped his arm with two hands, grateful for the assistance.

Holland led her to the front door, but Sally stopped abruptly, glancing around until she saw Nina Ahrens standing behind Det. Marks.

“Thank you so much for helping us.”

Nina smiled. “You’re welcome. Take care and I hope all of this is cleared up for you soon.”

Sally returned her smile and allowed Officer Holland to lead her from the residence, unsure if it was possible to clear up her night.

 

Sally tried to relax as she sat on the tailgate of the ambulance.

The paramedic who’d introduced herself as Ruby, frowned while taking Sally’s blood pressure.

Sally attempted to lighten the mood. “Will I live?”

Ruby continued to frown.

“Your blood pressure is running low and your pulse is rapid. Not unusual for what you’ve been through, ma’am. But add the nausea, fatigue and enlarged pupils, and I believe you’re suffering from mild shock. You should be seen by a doctor.”

Overwhelmed and on the verge of tears, Sally Bennett pleaded. “I believe you, Ruby and I’m not trying to be difficult, but I just need this night to end. I don’t think I can handle anymore sitting, waiting and endless questions.”

Ruby glanced from Officer Holland to her partner, Mackie and back to Sally. Her face softened. “I understand, ma’am. But you should also know shock can mean blood isn’t reaching your organs the way it should and can trigger a cardiac episode hours or even days after a traumatic event.”

“I understand, but I just want to go home. I promise if I feel worse, I’ll get to the hospital. And even if I don’t, I’ll call my doctor as soon as his office opens.”

Ruby held the clipboard while Sally signed the refusal of transport document, then turned to Holland. “Take care of her and don’t let her drive.”

“No driving. You got it.”

He helped Sally from the tailgate and they approached the Ramirez home. “I’ll find an officer inside to follow us in your car when I take you home.”

Sally didn’t hear him.

Three feet from the front door she froze in her tracks and Officer Holland felt her body trembling.

“You don’t have to do this, Mrs. Bennett. Tell me where your things are, and you can wait with Ruby while I get them.”

Several minutes passed before Sally responded, staring at the front door.

“I’m going in. Graciela and her daughter have to come back here and live. I can go in long enough to get my things.”

Allowing her to set the pace, Officer Holland entered the home behind Sally.

She was floored by all the activity.

Sally had only seen the Ramirez home in the muted and subdued lighting required by Graciela’s vision problems. Now, every room light and lamp appeared to be on. People moved around rooms, drawing on notepads and taking pictures. She entered the hallway, finding it also full of members of law enforcement. However, all eyes focused on Sally and moved to the side, allowing her to pass.

Making sure Officer Holland was right behind her, Sally headed for the guest bedroom.

Sally swiped a hand over her ear as the buzzing returned.

The hallway appeared to stretch out in front of her, making it take twice as long to cover the short distance.

As she passed Graciela’s room, Sally’s stomach rumbled, and she pursed her lips staving off another wave of nausea.

A flash of light from inside Graciela’s bedroom caught her attention and before Sally could stop herself, she turned and looked inside.

Her attacker’s body still laid on the floor at the foot of Graciela’s bed surrounded by the coroner and his staff.

Sally’s view was obscured by the crowd and all she could see was his head.

His face was turned away from her as more photos were taken to identify him.

She looked at the thick, wavy chestnut hair with fine strands of gray and a sense of familiarity returned.

She knew this man.

Sally entered the bedroom, but Officer Holland grabbed her by the hand. “Ma’am, you don’t want to do that.”

She pulled from his grasp. “I have to,” and before anyone could stop her, Sally Bennett pushed her way through the crowd and stared down at the dead man.

The buzzing in her head roared.

She opened her mouth to scream but there was no sound.

Crime scene techs tried to cover the assailant’s face, but it was too late.

Brian Holland strode through the crowd trying to get to his charge, but Sally backed away into the corner.

The boiling bile in her gut would no longer be denied and erupted from her as she turned and faced the wall.

Sally slumped to the floor clawing at her chest and the burn left by the offensive acid.

Officer Holland tried to help her up, but she scooted away… toward the still body.

The small crowd looked on in confusion and horror as Sally stroked the dead man’s hair.

Her voice returned, and mournful, pitiful wails filled the room.

Sally’s mind snapped and surrendered to the comfort of the darkness as she stared into the lifeless eyes of her husband, Frankie Bennett.

 

 

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

Song Lyric Sunday | “Watching You” – Loose Ends

Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

The theme for Song Lyric Sunday this week is “seeing.”

 ~~~~~
The mister suggested this thirty-year-old dance tune. It’s been a favorite of his since the days VH1 wasn’t the hot mess it is now did nothing but played great videos from every genre.
Brits Carl McIntosh, Jane Eugene, and founder Steve Nichol made up the R & B band Loose Ends and took Watching You (Watching Me) went all the way to number two on the U.S. R & B charts in 1988.

 

Enjoy!

See my Song Lyric Sunday selection on Nesie’s Place.

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

Watching You (Watching Me)

by Loose Ends

Written by Carl McIntosh

Tell me something, why’s it oh so cold in my house
I’ve been feelin’ like the whole world’s
Been right on my shoulders

Since you’ve left there’s been black cat sittin’
On my door step
Was I hallucinatin’ cuz I’m sure he spoke to me he said

(Bridge)
Remember the time
(I don’t rememba?)
You drank to much wine
(but I was having so much fun, yeh, yeh)
You’re secret phone calls
(your secret lil’ business, you, you, know)
Some things you can’t hide

()
I’ve been watching
Watching you watching me
Tell me something
Why is o so cold your house
(I’ve been watching you)
*repeat*
(ooo so so cold in your house)

Tell me something why’s it oh so cold in your house
The sun is shining like the wind still whistles through the window
Can’t help thinkin there’s the some things
You’ve done peculiar, baby
Now I’ve been silent
But it’s time for me to say, to ya

(Bridge)
Remember the time
(which time baby?)
You drank to much wine
(but she was just a good friend)
Your secret phone calls
(you know I gotta take care of business)
Some things you can’t hide
(a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do)

()
I’ve been watching
Watching you watching me
Tell me something
Why’s it oh so cold your house
(my house)
*repeat 2 times*
I’ve been watching
(I’ve been watching you)

(Talk)
Grrr you’ve been such a bad boy
(oooo yeah)
You cheated on me and I found out ’bout ya
(oooo yeah)
Such a nastyyy boy
(oooo yeah)
Grrrrrrr
(oooo yeah)
So nastyy
(oooo yeah)

I’ve been watching you
()
I’ve been watching
Watching you watching me
(yehhhhh)
Tell me something why’s it oh so cold
Your house
(my house)
*repeat (till’ fades)*

Compiled from Genius Lyrics, YouTube, and Google.

The Devil You Know, Part I #52weeks52stories

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 11

Word prompt: assailant

Word Count: 3634

~~~~~

“I don’t like leaving you alone with that maniac still on the loose. I’m calling Reynolds to cancel.”

“You’ll do no such thing, Francis Bennett!”

Sally grasped both of her husband’s hands in her own, clutching them to her chest.

“You and Bill have worked hard for this. No one believed a couple of baby boomers could compete in today’s marketing madness of social media. You’ll proving all the naysayers wrong. You two beat out national companies to get this meeting and you will not miss it.”

She kissed his hands.

“And besides, even though the thought of this guy still out there in the shadows unnerves me, I’m more concerned for my clients, the poor dears. I don’t fit his profile.”

The list of women attacked by Marbury’s Senior Citizen rapist now numbered four—all 69 to 89 years of age; all widowed; all in poor health or recuperating from illness.

Francis ‘Frankie’ Bennett pulled his wife into his arms.

“I know, honey, I know. But no one knows what drives these sickos… better safe than sorry.”

“And I promise I will be safe. Now go finish packing. If you miss your flight, you know Bill will have a mental break.”

Husband and wife shared a laugh before Frankie kissed Sally’s forehead and left to pack.

She retook her seat at the breakfast nook. She gave the article about the Senior Citizen Rapist another read before closing the browser on her tablet.

Sally didn’t know Pearl Wright, but her heart went out to the eighty-one-year-old grandmother of twenty-three.

Plagued with heart problems, Pearl was a regular client of Angels Assist, the home-care agency Sally worked part-time for as a services scheduler.

It was Angels Assist volunteer, Leanne Brinkley, scheduled to prepare breakfast and do light housework, who discovered Pearl’s battered and bruised body.

Awed the elderly woman survived the brutal attack, Sally also worried about Leanne.

After calling police, paramedics, and Pearl’s family, the perky volunteer went into mild shock and was hospitalized overnight.

Angels Assist staff and volunteers were all concerned with their safety. Staff was requesting security escorts and volunteers were canceling late evening and early morning assignments. Any more schedule changes and Sally would have to add herself to the schedule. She didn’t mind though. With Frankie away, she liked to keep busy, but there was no way Sally would tell him she may have to do home visits. He’d cancel his trip for sure.

 

After completing her weekly reports, Sally emailed the new schedule to supervisors and Blanche, the owner. She uploaded all the documents to the office server and powered down her tablet, grateful for the technology which allowed her to do most of her job from home.

Pouring another cup of coffee, Sally opened her journal and went to work on their upcoming anniversary banquet plans when the phone rang. The name ‘Kristen’—an agency volunteer—flashed on the caller ID.

“Hey, Kristen. How are you?”

“I’ll be a lot better when I know you don’t hate me.”

Sally’s brow knitted in confusion.

“Hate you? What’s going on, Kristen?”

“I-I… have to cancel my hours of availability.”

Sally’s hand shook as panic gripped her. The thirty-something Kristen was pregnant, expecting her first child after she and her husband tried for years.

“Are you okay, Kristen?”

I’m fine, Sally. Midway through my second trimester without morning sickness or heartburn anywhere in sight.”

She paused.

“It’s just… these attacks on elderly women.”

Grateful mother and child were fine, a hint of annoyance niggled at Sally while Kristen continued.

“I don’t know Mrs. Wright—was never scheduled with her and I only know Leanne as another agency volunteer. But my husband knows Leanne’s family. Her dad was his supervisor years back when he first got hired into the fire department. After he heard what Leanne went through… well, he kinda lost it and insisted I stopped volunteering.”

“Kristen, it’s okay. We’re all unnerved by these attacks and to have one hit so close to home is terrifying.”

“I know, Sally, but – “

“No buts. I hate to even think what could have happened if it had been you instead of Leanne who found Mrs. Wright.”

“That’s what Rory said. We’ve tried so long for this baby, and at my age, the shock alone might – “

“Enough, sweetie. Don’t allow your mind to go there. We’re all grateful Leanne is better and pray for the same for Mrs. Wright.”

“Thanks, Sally. I only had one assignment on this schedule—an overnight tomorrow with a woman recovering from eye procedures for glaucoma. I took it because it was light duty and Rory was scheduled for a four-day shift at the fire station.”

“We’ll get this covered, Kristen, please don’t worry over it.”

Sally pulled up the current schedule.

“This was your only assignment this week. I’ve got next week’s schedule done and you were on for two four-hour respite visits near the end of the week. I’ll have no problem getting those covered. You just concentrate on that sweet baby you’re carrying and putting your hubby’s mind at ease. We’ll all breathe easier when this psycho is caught and behind bars.”

She could hear Kristen exhale over the phone.

“I agree, Sally, and thank you. I’ll be in touch when I can help out again. Take care.”

Sally Bennett smiled as she ended the call. While she hoped the maniac terrorizing the city was caught soon, she doubted Kristen would be volunteering again anytime soon. She’d be a new mom in less than four months, and free time would no longer exist for her.

Sally red-lined the two shifts under Kristen’s name on the new schedule then opened the staff database looking for someone who could cover tomorrow’s overnight assignment on such short notice.

Sally entered the hours of coverage needed, pressed enter, and groaned when no names appeared on the screen.

She’d have to take the assignment.

Sally was good with it, though. She subbed once or twice a month, and Frankie would be away, it would give her time to keep her own caregiver skills sharp.

She was jotting down the address and contact information for Graciela Ramirez when Frankie bounded back into the kitchen.

“I can take you to the airport.”

Frankie Bennett pulled his wife from her seat into his arms. “We are not going to start that again, Sal.” He kissed her forehead. “It’s an hour’s drive one way, parking costs a small fortune, and you can’t go past the security check-in.”

“I know, I know. It just seems as though I’m always telling you goodbye lately.”

“Well, this is the last trip for a while and you know what happens when I get back, right?”

He began to lead her around the kitchen in an exaggerated waltz. “We have an anniversary to celebrate.”

Sally giggled as he spun her around.

“Yes, thirty-two years and we’re still on speaking terms.”

“And don’t forget the fabulous five.”

“As if they’d let us. I know they’re cooking up some big surprise for us. Joanie called, and I could hear it in her voice.”

Frankie laughed. “Five kids and the one who can’t keep a secret is the one who calls the most.”

Sally laughed, but stopped suddenly, running from the kitchen.

When she returned, Frankie was closing a browser on her tablet.

“Doing my job for me, Bennett?”

“No, my sweet sunflower. Just making sure my flight’s on time. Where you run off to?”

She held her hand up, a medicine bottle balanced on her palm. “I knew you forgot these—one bypass surgery is more than enough. We don’t need to go through that again. And what did I tell you about calling me sunflower? Can’t you think of a more feminine flower?”

“Ah, yes, my love. There are more feminine flowers, but they’re also fragile and wilt under pressure.” He stretched his arms toward the ceiling. “But the mighty sunflower is strong and resilient, rising up in the field to provide beauty, shade… and a tasty little snack.”

Giggling, Sally threw the medicine bottle at him.

Frankie caught the bottle of Lipitor. Stashing it in a side pocket of his suitcase, he backed toward the door leading to the garage. “I’d better get out of here while I’m still breathing.”

Sally Bennett grabbed his lapel, kissing him deeply. “Good luck with your meeting. You guys got this. And stay out of trouble.”

He wiggled his eyebrows. “Aw, sweetie. Don’t I always?”

 

Estelle Ramirez showed Sally around the large well-kept home.

“Mom’s vision is still blurred from the surgery, so even though her television is on, she can’t see the screen. She never misses her Spanish-language novellas, though.”

Sally smiled and nodded once as they approached Graciela’s bedroom.

“I made her favorite dinner—albondigas soup—but she didn’t eat much. There’s sliced fruit in the fridge and sweetbreads on the counter.”

“You done all the work, Estelle. What did you leave for me?”

Estelle Ramirez smirked.

“Trust me, Sally. The queen will keep you busy. She’s independent and spirited. My grandmother and great-grandmother lost their sight to glaucoma. Mami knows she is blessed new medical procedures may help her avoid that.”

Reaching for the doorknob, Estelle tilted her head toward Sally. “That doesn’t make her any less grouchy, though.”

She opened the door and Sally followed her into the darkened room. Even with the low lighting, she could tell it was beautifully decorated in golds and reds with a Latin flavor.

The large queen-size bed was empty, but looking past the bed, Sally saw her charge for the evening.

Graciela Ramirez sat in a gold brocade high-back chair. Sally pursed her lips to hide her grin as Estelle’s reference to ‘the queen’ came to mind.

Despite her diminutive size, the senior Ramirez was regal in her appearance. Her iron-gray hair, swept over one shoulder, was long enough to reach her lap. Long, slender fingers rested on the arms of the chair. Already dressed for bed, Graciela’s winter white robe could put some ball gowns to shame.

Sally’s grandson, Mark, would say Graciela Ramirez was large and in charge.

“Mami, this is Sally Bennett, from the home-care agency. She’s going to stay with you tonight.”

“I do not need a babysitter.”

Sally was struck that despite the thick accent, Graciela’s voice was strong, deep, and clear—not frail and wispy like most of their clients in their seventies.

“Do not start, mami. We’ve argued about it enough. This was the only shift I couldn’t switch this week, and I’m not leaving you alone. I’m grateful for places like Angels Assist. You should be too.”

“I don’t need a babysitter.”

Dragging her hand through her short, dark curls, Estelle then gestured at her mother.

“As you can see, she’s stubborn.” Estelle turned her head, speaking in Graciela’s direction. “But I’m sure she will be show all the grace of her name and the manners she instilled in me.”

“I’m sure we’ll be fine, Estelle.” Sally’s voice held a confidence she didn’t feel. Graciela was a force to be reckoned with, even with limited sight.

“Mami is tricksy too with her language. She likes to play poor old Spanish lady and will refuse to speak English. Ignore her until she does.”

Sally covered her mouth too late and her giggles escaped.

An indignant Graciela raised her hand and pointed in Estelle’s direction.

“Oh, mi hija.”

Resting her fists on her hips, Estelle shot back, “Don’t you ‘oh my daughter’ me.”

Estelle went to her mother and knelt at her feet. She cupped Graciela’s cheek while speaking in a low hushed tone. The senior Ramirez smiled and leaned into her daughter’s hand.

Sally could see the love between mother and child. Their banter was part of that love.

Rising, Estelle kissed her mother’s cheek and turned to Sally.

“She’ll be good… for the most part.” The two women shared a laugh as Graciela feigned a look of innocence.

“Her next meds are due at nine and she must take them all.” She picked up two small bottles from the dresser. “Two drops of each in each eye. They sting and blur her vision even more, but the stinging passes quickly.”

Replacing the bottles on the dresser, Estelle reached for another containing pills.

“She also gets two of these… no matter how she feels. Mami doesn’t have a blood pressure problem, but it has been elevated since her procedures. The doctor doesn’t want to risk any break-through pain exacerbating the problem and wants her to take these as prescribed until he sees her on Thursday.”

Graciela crossed her arms, mumbling and pouting like a petulant child.

Estelle threw her hands up. “I’m going to work, she’s all yours. Call me if you need anything.” She headed for the bedroom door but turned before leaving. “Thank you, Sally. You’re a lifesaver.”

Removing her cell from her back pocket, Sally opened the Angels Assist app and entered the names, dosage, and time for Graciela’s meds.

Sally didn’t have to look up to know the senior citizen was staring at her, sizing her up. Closing the app, Sally gazed out the window at the beautiful twilight caused by the setting sun and knew she was in for a long night.

 

Graciela Ramirez did not disappoint.

Between numerous requests for snacks and drinks, Sally had caught the spry old woman stumbling through the house three times.

Saying a silent prayer, Sally was grateful when the hall clock chimed at nine.

A new argument started when Sally sat Graciela on the edge of her bed to put in her eye drops.

The client refused to open her eyes.

Sally snapped at the old woman before she could catch herself.

“Mrs. Ramirez! Didn’t your mother and her mother both lose their sight? Is that what you want to happen to you? It seems to me someone as independent as you would do everything they could to keep their sight. And that includes taking your meds.”

Sally saw the look of shame on Graciela’s face as she opened her eyes.

“I-I… am sorry, Sally Bennett. I’m acting like a sullen child. But the drops do burn, and those pills make me fuzzy in the head. I don’t like not being in control of myself.”

Sally Bennett’s heart broke at the sadness in Graciela’s eyes.

“So many of my friends have passed on. And the one who are still here? They wear diapers and have to be spoon-fed. They use mobile chairs and hospital beds.”

She pointed to the foot of her bed.

“There’s a cane there somewhere near the foot of my bed. I stumbled over my house shoe a few weeks ago and Estelle rushed out and bought it for me. I feel like I’m being rushed to the grave sometimes, and I’m not ready for that.”

“Sounds to me like Estelle doesn’t want that either.”

The older woman squinted, trying to focus on Sally’s face. “How so?”

“I don’t think Estelle bought that cane because she thought you were getting old and frail. I believe she bought it for support—to help you with your balance and keep you from falling and injuring yourself… to keep you here with her longer.”

A lone tear slid down Graciela’s cheek, betrayed by the huge grin on her face.

“You are a wise woman, Sally Bennett. I’ve been so busy arguing with everyone, trying to get my way, I never stopped to consider anyone else’s feelings. Especially my sweet Estelle. Thank you, Sally Bennett.”

Graciela then tipped her head back and waited for the eye drops. After Sally finished, Graciela held out her hand for the pain pills and water, taking her meds without argument.

She crawled up into the center of the large bed and Sally was struck by how much the septuagenarian looked like a child in her parents’ bed.

“If you’ll hand me the remote, Sally Bennett, I’ll listen to my novellas until the pills make my brain thick.”

Laughing, Sally passed her the remote.

“Estelle put me in the guest bedroom two doors away. I’m going to read a while then come check on you. If you need me before then, just call out. I’ll leave the door open.”

“I like you, Sally Bennett. I hope you’ll come visit me when I’m not a client.”

“Is that an invitation?”

“I suppose it is.”

“Then I’ll be here.”

Sally smiled as she made her way to the guest bedroom. Graciela Ramirez was a lot like Carol Jean Munson—Sally’s mother. Strong, proud, and independent, she felt both women saw accepting help as weakness.

Grabbing her reader from the side of her overnight bag, Sally snuggled in the easy chair next to the closet. The muted lighting of the Ramirez home had grown on Sally and she reached over and turned off the lamp, choosing to read by the illuminated light of her ereader.

 

Startled and disoriented, Sally bolted upright. She looked around the dark room, trying to get her bearings.

She laughed at herself after glancing toward the hallway.

Real good, Bennett. What kind of caregiver are you falling asleep on the job?

A swipe of her ereader provided light and the time.

12:50 am.

My word! Has it been almost four hours since I gave Graciela her meds? I’d better see if she’s sleeping or needs them again.

Sally held the reader over the edge of the chair, looking for her overnight bag. She reached for it but froze when she thought she heard a large thump.

What was that noise?

She sat motionless on the edge of the chair listening for the sound again. Hearing nothing, Sally grabbed the bag and tossed it onto the foot of the bed. Reaching for the table-side lamp, she heard the noise again, louder and closer.

No, no! I hope Graciela isn’t up trying to get her own meds. Why didn’t she call out for me? Damn it! Maybe she did, and I was asleep.

Feeling her back pocket for her cell, Sally raced the few steps down the hall to her client’s room.

She froze in the doorway.

A dark figure was on top of Graciela.

Without thinking, Sally charged the bed, launching herself at the assailant. She heard a sharp intake of air as the intruder fell toward the foot of the bed.

Sally took the few precious seconds to drag the small woman from the bed. Not able to tell if Graciela was wounded and too terror-stricken to speak, Sally pushed her toward the bedroom door, screaming one word, “Run!”

With her arms out in front of her, the spry senior bolted for the door, feeling her way down the hall.

Before Sally could follow, she felt a hand grab her arm, pulling her back to the bed. She whirled around, swinging blindly with her free hand. Her punch connected with the intruder, but he didn’t let go. As he pulled her closer, Sally bit the hand clutching her arm. Muttering a curse, he let go and Sally flipped onto her back, kicking her legs wildly.

Her attacker leaned down, grabbing the front of her shirt and flung her from the bed. She crashed into the dresser, slumping to floor.

Praying Graciela had found her way out, Sally knew her time was growing short. Her heart raced as she looked up at the shadowy figure approaching, blocking her path to the door.

His breathing was hard and labored.

Sally froze. Something about him was familiar.

She could see him raising his arm and the hallways light behind him allowed Sally to see he wore a ski mask… and the glint of his knife.

Adrenalin barreled through her body. Sally Bennett would not hand this killer her life.

She kicked out both legs, catching the masked figure in the knee.

As he doubled over in pain, Sally leaped from the floor, throwing herself across the bed and toward the door.

Her assailant recovered quick enough to grab her ankle.

Clawing at the bed, Sally struggle for purchase. As he dragged her across the large bed, Sally grabbed at the low bed railing, but its surface was too smooth to hold on to. Sally still clawed and groped until her fist wrapped around something.

Graciela’s cane!

The middle-aged woman was tiring, but holding tight to the cane, she swung around towards her attacker. The blow made him let go and allowed Sally to turn and get in two more good swings. The intruder stumbled backward to avoid the blows.

Sally launched herself across the bed one last time, this time falling to the floor on the other side.

She popped up, threw the cane toward her assailant and dashed out the bedroom door. She heard the cane clatter to the floor and knew the man was rounding the foot of the bed, but she refused to waste time looking behind her.

Barreling down the hallway, Sally thought she heard the killer stumble and fall, but it was Graciela’s screams that guided Sally to the front door.

Graciela Ramirez had made it out the house and stood in the front yard screaming. Lights came on in several houses, and Sally grabbed her client and headed for the closest one, still not looking behind her.

A woman opened the door and called out to Graciela by name.

It was only then Sally looked behind her… and saw two men from the neighborhood run into the Ramirez home.

She called out to them. “Be careful he has a knife!”

The woman pulled the two women inside and closed and locked her door.

Sally Bennett and Graciela Ramirez stood in the foyer clutching each other tightly, grateful their nightmare was over.

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

Song Lyric Sunday | “Shadow Dancing” – Andy Gibb

Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

The theme for Song Lyric Sunday this week is “shadow.”

~~~~~

Family and long-time friends saw this pick coming a mile away.

I graduated from high school May 26, 1978. It was the time of funk and disco and artists like Kool & the Gang, Parliament, Tavares, Chic, and of course, the queen, Donna Summer, dominated music charts. Already a chart-topping group, movies Saturday Night Fever and the remake of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band made mega-music gods of the amazing Brothers Gibb – the Bee Gees. But, it was their baby brother, Andy, who would take center stage… and the number one spot on music charts for seven weeks in the summer of 1978 with Shadow Dancing!

According to Billboard’s Book Of Number One Hits, Gibb became the first solo artist in the history of the U.S. pop charts to have his first three singles hit the number-one spot. Shadow Dancing remained in the top spot for seven straight weeks from 17 June to 29 July 1978. On 5 August it was replaced by The Rolling Stones with their hit “Miss You.” Additionally, “Shadow Dancing” was listed by Billboard as being the number one single of 1978. In addition the song peaked at number eleven on the soul chart and sold 2.5 million copies in the United States alone.

Sadly, plagued with depression, Andy Gibb was paranoid about his success and the people around him, leading to his cocaine addiction.

After complaining of chest pains, Andy was admitted to the hospital where he died a short time later as a result of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle caused by a recent viral infection,  which was exacerbated by his years of cocaine abuse. It was March 10, 1988–five days after Gibb’s thirtieth birthday.

We’ve lost many young lives far too soon in the recording industry, but fortunately, their music legacy lives on.

 

See my Song Lyric Sunday selection on Nesie’s Place.

~~~~~

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

 Shadow Dancing

by Andy Gibb

Written by Barry, Robin, Maurice, and Andy Gibb
You got me looking at that heaven in your eyes
I was chasing your direction, I was telling you no lies
And I was loving you
When the words are said, baby, I lose my head

And in a world of people, there’s only you and I
There ain’t nothing come between us in the end
How can I hold you when you ain’t even mine?
Only you can see me through
I leave it up to you

Do it light, taking me through the night
Shadow dancing, baby you do it right, uh-huh
Give me more, drag me across the floor
Shadow dancing, all this and nothing more

All that I need is just one moment in your arms
I was chasing your affection, I was doing you no harm
And I was loving you
Make it shine, make it rain, baby I know my way

I need that sweet sensation of living in your love
I can’t breath when you’re away, it pulls me down
You are the question and the answer am I
Only you can see me through
I leave it up to you

Do it light, taking me through the night
Shadow dancing, baby you do it right
Give me more, drag me across the floor
Shadow dancing, all this and nothing more

And in this world of people, there’s only you and I
There ain’t nothing come between us in the end
How can I hold you when you ain’t even mine?
Only you can see me through
I leave it up to you, oh

Do it light, taking me through the night
Shadow dancing, baby you do it right
Give me more, drag me across the floor
Shadow dancing, all this and nothing more

Do it light, taking me through the night
Shadow dancing, baby you do it right
Give me more, drag me across the floor
Shadow dancing, all this and nothing more

Do it light, taking me through the night
Shadow dancing, baby you do it right
Give me more, drag me across the floor
Shadow dancing, all this and nothing more

Do it light, taking me through the night
Shadow dancing, baby you do it right
Give me more, drag me across the floor
Shadow dancing, all this and nothing more

Compiled from Wikipedia, Google, YouTube, and AZLyrics.

Dabbling in Drabbles


Drabbles


“Deja vu” – Drabble #4

His tight squeeze elicited a moan from Vonna as the music faded.

“Wanna get out of here?”

She responded with a kiss before going to update her cousins of her plans.

Smiling as she approached their table, the sight three tables away stole her smile.

Her dance partner grabbed his coat while arguing with a crying woman.

Vonna froze. Who was she?

It didn’t matter.

The look on his face—anger… evil and violent—caused a mixture of déjà vu and premonition to wash over her.

Turning, Vonna bid her cousins goodnight and hurried from the nightclub. Alone.

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Touch #52weeks52stories


Globule


#52weeks52stories Writing Challenge: Week 10

Word prompt:  friend

Word count: 1193

~~~~~~~~~~

“Hey mom, look at my rock.”

Jill Morgan, distracted by dinner preparations, responded without looking at her eight-year-old-son.

“That’s nice, Jeffie.”

“And it’s cool, mom. It changes colors, see?”

Jill glanced over her shoulder to see the glow of the smooth orb in her son’s hands change from green to red.

Potato and peeler fell from her hands to the floor.

“Jeffrey Alan Morgan!” What did your dad and I tell you about messing around near the old rock quarry?”

She rushed over to him.

“They shut that place down and walked away without any notice. We have no idea if there are open shafts or toxic chemicals in that place.”

Grabbing the rock from his hands, Jill’s face went blank. The glow was gone, and she held a plain piece of gray slate. She tilted her head down to her son. “Are you playing a trick on your mom?”

His eyes locked on to the rock, Jeffie shook his head. “No, mom. Honest. It changed colors. You saw it, right?”

“I saw something, I’m just – “

Sizzling pops behind her grabbed Jill’s attention.

“Dang it!” She raced to the overflowing pot but was startled by the ringing land-line phone.

“Oh, for the love of…” Sliding the pot from the burner to the counter, Jill stomped across the kitchen to the phone, tossing the stone back to Jeffie.

“You take this thing back to wherever you found it, Jeffrey Alan, and come right back here for a hot bath, just to be safe.”

Rock and child were forgotten as she answered the phone to get a health update from her husband about his dad. Jill didn’t see the red glow return to the rock cradled in Jeffie’s hands.

Frowning, the eight-year-old walked out the back door and sat on the steps. Why did the colors stop when his mom touched the rock?

Jeffie Morgan needed answers. With a quick glance over his shoulder, he hopped from the porch steps, headed for the far back corner of the backyard—the corner on the side of the garage shrouded in bushes and trees.

He ducked down and crawled under the lowest bush, scooting forward until his body cleared the thick branch. Pushing himself to his knees, Jeffie sat up in the small hollow created by the bushes. The denseness of the foliage kept the pocket cool, allowing enough light to stream through the brush so the child could see clearly.

“I know you’re here, Hypo.”

At first a transparent outline, Hypo faded into corporeal form.

The alien sat in the dirt, his thin lower limbs crossed at each of his two sets of knees.

“Why didn’t the rock work for my mom, Hypo?”

The Hypogean extra-terrestrial extended his upper limb to Jeffie, who placed the rock in his two-digit hand.

The stone flashed a bright yellow, rising into the air. As it hovered, Hypo reached out and touched Jeffie’s arm.

Jeffie Morgan wasn’t afraid. He learned soon after finding Hypo near his favorite tree swing two days ago touch was the only way he and Hypo could communicate and hear each other.

“The globule illuminates only for the one who created it and the one it was created for.”

“But why, Hypo?”

“When we met, you were despondent because you thought your elder was losing his life source. I filled the globule with my energy to help you feel better.”

Arthur Morgan, Jeffie’s grandpa, had a heart attack three days earlier and Jeffie’s dad flew to San Francisco to be with him. Grandpa Art was better and would leave the hospital soon, but Jeffie, afraid he’d never see his grandpa again, had sat in his tree swing and cried.

“When my people experience distress, it disrupts their life force. Sharing our energy helps to calm the disruption. I believe your people would call it a boost.”

“I think I understand, Hypo.”

The globule ceased to spin and lowered back into Hypo’s palm. He gave it back to Jeffie.

“Our life forces are different, and this will serve you well into your later years. But, I must caution you again against sharing the knowledge of it. Your people are impetuous and act before knowing the facts.”

“You haven’t told me how you know so much about us, Hypo.”

“We’ve been watching you for thousands of years, Jeffie. In some ways, your people have made great strides. Your technology, though crude, serves you well, But the minds of humans… your thought processes, still hold you back.”

Hypo’s body, a pale coral in color, morphed to deep, dark red.

“I must go now, Jeffie Morgan. The lunar eclipse approaches and it is the only time we can exit your world undetected.”

“What? No, please. Can’t you stay longer? You can stay in my room so you don’t have to worry about the sun.”

Hypo’s coloring returned to his normal shade.

“No, Jeffie Morgan. Even if we didn’t have to avoid direct sunlight, extended exposure to the atmosphere of Etieran—this place you call Earth—would weaken us over time. The moon has no atmosphere, but still has solar exposure. That is why we live inside it.”

Jeffie hung his head.

“Why does your energy darken, Jeffie Morgan?”

“I liked having a friend.”

“Please explain.”

“We haven’t lived in Southbrook very long. My dad’s job sent him here. In San Francisco I had friends and people didn’t care my mom is black and my dad is white.”

A single tear rolled down his cheek.

“Here, they treat me like I’m the alien.” His face brightened at his joke.

“I understand, Jeffie Morgan. It’s something else we’ve witnessed about your kind that bears no logic. The separation of your species based on how your outer surface appears. The mistreatment and alienation… wars fought and life forces lost. Hypogeans do not have this.” His deep-set emerald eyes blinked sideways. “Nor do we want it.”

“I get it, Hypo. I just have so many questions. There’s so much I want to know.”

Hypo’s coloring flashed to deep purple.

“I must go. Hypogeans are in danger of discovery. That can’t happen.”

“But I know about you, Hypo.”

“Yes, you do, Jeffie Morgan, as do many others. When there’s no sense of danger detected, we interact.”

Hypo’s touch on Jeffie’s hand lightened as he faded from view.

“We will see each other again, Jeffie Morgan, and be encouraged. The elder—your grandpa Art—and your parents will be with you for many years to come.”

Hypo’s departure paused and he gripped Jeffie’s wrist with his two digit-hand.

“Take care… my… friend.”

Jeffie was sad Hypo was gone but happy they’d met.

Spreading a few branches on the ground, he placed the globule on them and covered it with a few more. He would follow Hypo’s instructions and keep it hidden.

Laying on his belly, Jeffie crawled from the dark hollow.

He didn’t need the globule right now anyway. Hypo said grandpa Art was going to be fine and that was enough to make Jeffie happy.

Heading for the back door, Jeffie began to run.

He didn’t even mind having to take a bath.

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Song Lyric Sunday | “We Are Family” – Sister Sledge

Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

The theme for Song Lyric Sunday this week is “unity.”

 ~~~~~

Nothing says unity like family and what family song is more well-known than Sister Sledge’s 1979 hit, We Are family? One of the many songs from the disco era with staying power, We Are Family is still a big request in clubs across the country and has been used in commercials as well as movies like Bridget Jones’ Diary and one of my favorites, The Birdcage.

The song helped make the four sisters from Philly international stars on the music scene and their celebrity continues. The sisters sang for Pope Francis in 2015. Sadly, Joni passed away a year ago yesterday, March 10, 2017, at her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She was only sixty years old.

Kim, Kathy, and Debbie Sledge vow to continue performing as Sister Sledge.

Music videos weren’t a “thing” in 1979 and I didn’t care for the “official” video for this song. Bad lip syncing, bad lighting, what’s up with those outfits, and the sisters move as though they went to the Whitney Houston School of Dance. (You know I still love you madly, Whitney!)

Instead I chose a 2011 live performance from an Oprah show featuring “Women Who Rock.” Near the end of the video you’ll see Stevie Nicks, Sheryl Crow, Pat Benatar (YAAY!), Salt-N-Pepa, Avril Lavigne and Miley Cyrus join in the sing-along!

Enjoy!

See my Song Lyric Sunday selection on Nesie’s Place.

Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

We Are Family

by Sister Sledge

We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev’rybody and sing
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev’rybody and sing
Ev’ryone can see we’re together
As we walk on by
(Hey) and we fly just like birds of a feather
I won’t tell no lie
(ALL!) all of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We’re giving love in a family dose
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev’rybody and sing
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev’rybody and sing
Living life is fun and we’ve just begun
To get our share of the world’s delights
(HIGH!) high hopes we have for the future
And our goal’s in sight
(WE!) no we don’t get depressed
‘Cause here’s what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
You won’t go wrong
This is our family Jewel
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev’rybody and sing
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev’rybody and sing
We are family
We are family
We are family
We are family
We are family
We are family
We are family
Songwriters: Nile Rodgers / Bernard Edwards