The Devil You Know, Part VII #52weeks52stories

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 17

Word prompt: cell

Word Count: 1513

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Part I    |     Part II    |    Part III    |   Part IV   | Part V

Part VI   |

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“What? When was she discharged?”

“It’s been at least two hours.”

Gavin Marks hung his head while rubbing his brow in frustration.

“Ma’am, Mrs. Bennett is a victim and a witness in this case. The department was to be informed of her release.”

Donna Marcus was at a loss.

“I know, detective, I know. It’s on the patient chart and in the patient care system, but I just came on duty. I know there were emergencies on the floor in the afternoon and the shift was understaffed. Any number of things could have happened, including one nurse thinking another made the call. I’m sorry.”

Gavin understood how a well-planned day could go south in a matter of moments.

He reached out and shook her hand.

“Thanks for your time. I apologize for my rudeness. This case has stonewalled us, and Mrs. Bennett is our only lead. I hope your shift is an easy one.”

“Thank you, detective.”

Gavin walked away, pulling out his notepad and cell phone. His call to Sally Bennett’s home went unanswered. He swore under his breath when he realized he hadn’t gotten her cell number too.

As he reached the elevator, the doors opened and Brian Holland stepped out.

“Got the message to meet you here but you don’t look happy to see me.”

The detective smirked at the uniformed officer.

“The hospital discharged our only witness over two hours ago. Just called her home… no answer.”

“She’s had a rough couple of days… could be asleep.”

“True. But three of her five children are in town and I doubt they’d drop her off and head back home after finding out their father tried to kill their mother and her client and now he’s dead.”

It was Holland’s turn to smirk. “Good point.”

Gavin pushed the button for the elevator.

“Let’s take a ride over there… see what’s going on. This case is dead in the water. There must be something Mrs. Bennett has forgotten that will point us in the right direction.”

“Sure thing. Let me call Lothern.” The officer reached for his radio.

“Not necessary, dude. I talked to your sergeant and had you re-assigned. Hope you don’t mind, but you’re on my team in four days, anyway.”

The elevator doors opened and the big man grinned as he stepped inside.

“Nope, I don’t mind at all.”

“Welcome to the Special Investigations Unit. Your first case is a real cluster.”

*

It only took a few minutes for Connie Pierce and Walt Stokely to tell the police what they knew about Gary Sievers.

Neighbor Jill Vick had nothing to add. The forty-seven-year-old disabled woman lived right across the hall but spent most of her days wearing headphones or ear-buds.

Noah Lambert lived across the hall from Connie but had been at work all day, then spent the night at his girlfriend’s.

Lead detective Leonard Ganson was pissed.

“Someone tried to commit murder and no one heard anything. That’s just great. That’s just freakin’ fantastic.”

He lit his third cigarette since arriving at the scene.

“Man, calm down and stop acting like it’s the first time we’ve had no witnesses. Pete Hill had been Ganson’s partner for fourteen years.

“And stop smoking like a chimney. If the captain shows up and sees you, it won’t end well.”

“Just once I’d like to have a willing witness or a repentant suspect who fears for his immortal soul and confesses.” He took a long drag on the cigarette before continuing. “It’s gonna be a long night.”

Connie stood in the evening twilight watching the paramedics stabilize Gary Sievers for transport.

Attached to the gurney, a short I.V. pole held twin bags for O positive blood and simple saline. A light compression bandage was wrapped around his forehead “to keep his brains from falling out” she’d heard one paramedic say to the other.

The small case tracking Gary’s vital signs showed they were impossibly low.

Walt slipped an arm around Connie.

“I’m sorry, Pierce. I should have opened the door when you asked me to.”

Surprised by the gruff man’s sincerity, she offered him a sad smile.

“Don’t blame yourself, Walt. We didn’t know. Gary kept to himself so much, not seeing him daily wasn’t a big deal.”

The paramedics lifted the gurney into the back of the ambulance. One jumped inside, administering aid to Gary while the other packed aware their medical gear.

“Will he make it?”

“I can’t say, ma’am. We’ve stabilized him the best we could, but his pulse rate hasn’t improved. If he can last through the ride to Colon Regional, the docs there may be able to improve his odds.”

He closed the back doors of the ambulance and hurried around to the driver’s side. Connie followed.

“Wait. Colon Regional? Trinity Memorial is right down the street.”

He opened the door but paused long enough to respond.

“Yes, ma’am, but their ER is closed down. Some guy rushing his buddy in after an accident lost control of his truck and plowed into the emergency room. They’ve got dozens of injuries to deal with.” He climbed inside the vehicle. “Baxter General is seventeen miles across town through evening rush hour traffic.”

He radioed in his departure time and started the ambulance.

“Colon is in the next county, but it’s only six miles away, a straight shot… and this guy’s best chance.”

The ambulance pulled away with sirens on, and Connie’s tears returned.

*

Seated back in Pax Lacey’s office, Carolyn and Joanie clung to each other, sobbing. Darrin sat next to his mother, exhausted and defeated.

Sally sat perched on the edge of the sofa watching the coroner as he placed first a call to Detective Marks—which went straight to voice-mail—and another to check on the status of the fingerprint search for the man he now knew wasn’t Franklin Bennett. He completed the call and scrubbed a hand over his face.

“Still nothing on the fingerprints.”

“How is that even possible? Everyone is fingerprinted for something these days.”

Anger marred Carolyn’s tear-stained face. “I was fingerprinted for a background check before I could volunteer at my daughter’s school.”

Joanie nodded. “I had to be fingerprinted when I worked at the bank.”

“Don’t forget our driver licenses,” Darrin added while staring at his fingers.

Pax stood and approached the family. “That just means this man has been off the grid for some time. But we’re just getting started We will find out who he is.”

“Please. You have to… soon.” Sally’s voice was shaky and stilted. “Finding out who this man is may be the only way of finding my husband.”

The distraught woman wavered and her son slid closer to support her.

“I can’t make any sense of this but that man isn’t Frankie. And we know Frankie didn’t go with Bill Reynolds. But, he wouldn’t have lied to Bill about me being ill. That means the man lying in that room talked to Bill… and he’s done something to Frankie.”

*

After exiting the elevator, Det. Marks and Officer Holland took the shortcut through the emergency room to reach law enforcement parking.

Marks pulled out his cell phone to check his messages.

“Hey, Marks! How’s it going?”

He stopped and turned to see Leonard Ganson standing in the doorway of an exam room.

“Lennie, hey man, what’s up? Aren’t you in the wrong county?”

The wiry older detective snickered. “Yeah, yeah. I’m on your turf. Gotta follow the case, right? Assault victim found unconscious in his apartment. Trinity’s ER is shut down. Colon was closer.”

“Tough break. Heard about Trinity too. Anything good happen for you today?”

“My wife told me she loved me.”

Marks laughed. “That’s gotta count for something.” He motioned to Holland. “This is Brian Holland. He joins Special Investigations Monday. Brian, this is Leonard Ganson, a senior detective in the Baxter major crimes department.”

The two men shook hands.

“Congrats, Holland. Now you’ll get to work double shifts and drink bad coffee in a suit.”

Brian chuckled. “Thanks, man.”

Pete Hill rushed toward the men panting. “Got an ID on our vic! Franklin Bennett… has a Marbury address.”

Marks and Holland exchanged quick glances. Before either could speak, Holland’s cell phone rang.

“Holland.”

“Yes, I’m with him now.”

“Okay, I’ll let him know. Thanks.”

“That was Lothern. Says the coroner’s trying to reach you.”

But Gavin Marks didn’t hear the officer. He walked past Ganson and Hill into the exam room.

A nurse was washing up the unconscious man lying in the bed.

“I’m sorry, sir. No visitors.”

Gavin opened his jacket to show his shield clipped to his belt.

“Oh, sorry. But like I told the other detectives, he’s still unconscious. We’re prepping him for surgery and hoping his blood pressure rises enough for him to live through it.”

She said more, but he didn’t hear. Standing at the foot of the bed, Gavin just stared at the man.

Holland joined him, his mouth gaping open when he looked at the unconscious man.

“What the hell is going on?”

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

Writer Wednesday | “Family Matters”

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Even though loss shaped Olivia Chandler’s life, she never learned how to deal with it. Thrust into the foster care system as a child, little Livvie Chandler was told to ‘just forget’ and ‘be good.’ And for twenty-eight years, that’s what she did.

In this short snippet, Olivia finds out Willis Benson is terminally ill. The executor of her father’s will has been protector, mentor and surrogate father to the closed-off attorney.

Olivia moved on after her father’s death and her mother was sent away, but this could be the loss that sends her spiraling out of control.

***

“How long has he known?”
“Since July.”
“July?” Thoughts and images raced through Olivia’s mind. She spent time with Willis five or six times in the last four months. And never suspected a thing.
“How-”
“No one knows. Two weeks… two hours. Any answer would be a guess.”
“That’s unacceptable, Ian. His condition must tell them something. Who is this doctor? Maybe we should get a-”
“Olivia, stop.”
She frowned.
“Dad signed a DNR.”
Dizziness and nausea gripped her. Heat enveloped her body as sudden fatigue caught hold and dragged her toward the floor.
Ian was the only reason Olivia didn’t fall. He held on and propped her against the wall.
Ian spoke to her but Olivia heard no words. Her jumbled thoughts were of Willis Benson, the man in the brown suit she met as a ten-year-old. The only constant in her life since that fateful day when everything changed.
Ben Chandler planned well for his daughter’s future. But it was Willis Benson who fought for Olivia… and her mother. He risked his own job future and status in the firm to carry out Ben’s wishes.
When Olivia turned eighteen and took partial control of her inheritance, Willis was at her side. He answered Olivia’s questions and gave mild guidance, but Willis insisted she make her own decisions.
Years later when Olivia refused to visit her mother ever again, Willis accepted it and continued to stand by her.
Now Olivia needed to accept the fact if… no, when Willis suffered another cardiac episode or seizure, no life-saving measures would be taken.
He would die… and leave her.

****

After winning her young client’s custody battle, Olivia Chandler knows she can no longer hide from her own childhood trauma. With support from Bruce Bellamy and his family, she enters counseling. Her therapy will not be easy, and may not be successful unless Olivia can forgive her mother for the years Olivia spent in foster care. But is Sarina Chandler the only one in need of forgiveness?

Bruce introduces Olivia to his adult children. But her continued refusal to visit her mother pulls at the seams of Olivia’s new-found love with Bruce. The unexpected death of her mentor blind-sides Olivia causing her to withdraw back into the darkness of her mind. She pushes everyone away… including Bruce Bellamy.

Defeated, Olivia Chandler believes it her fate to concede to the same trauma-born mental illness that took her mother. But two voices, one from the present and one from the past, will challenge her to fight for the future her father intended for her to have… or succumb to madness.

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Sunday Snippet | “Family Matters”

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Near the end of In the Best Interest of the Child, heroine Olivia Chandler admitted she needed help to overcome her emotional demons and made the giant step forward to enter counseling. But the savvy child advocate attorney is too smart for her own good sometimes and nothing is ever easy with her.

This small snippet is from one of Olivia’s counseling sessions. Psychologist Diane Payton is as tough as her client and doesn’t give Olivia any slack.

***

Without a word, Diane went to her desk and retrieved the lone file from her In basket and returned to her seat.

“You have the right to review your file at anytime, Olivia, so just pretend you made a request and read the highlighted section for me please.” She passed a document to Olivia. “Aloud, please.”

Confused, Olivia found the section and began to read.

“Client is agitated and fidgets. Doesn’t maintain eye contact. Hands/palms appear to be sweaty. Voice tone is raised and speech is rapid. Almost childlike. Client is reliving the experience.”

Olivia read the passage again in silence. She frowned and looked to Diane for explanation.

“That was you as spoke of some of your former foster homes, the physical abuse you suffered, and life without your parents.”

Olivia Chandler couldn’t help but think of how horrible a childhood she had.

“Now read this one.”

Taking the document from her therapist, Olivia did as she was told.

“Client is the most relaxed I’ve seen her to date. Sitting in upright chair, legs crossed, hands clasped around knee. Her speech is animated and eyes are bright. Client appears content. (Happy?)”

“Diane, when was-”

“When you talked about Bruce.”

Olivia shook her head.

“This doesn’t prove anything.”

Her therapist smirked.

“You’re right, it doesn’t.” She leaned toward Olivia. “Or… it does.”

“She scoffed. “Now, you’re being facetious.”

“And you’re in denial.”

****

After winning her young client’s custody battle, Olivia Chandler knows she can no longer hide from her own childhood trauma. With support from Bruce Bellamy and his family, she enters counseling. Her therapy will not be easy, and may not be successful unless Olivia can forgive her mother for the years Olivia spent in foster care. But is Sarina Chandler the only one in need of forgiveness?

Bruce introduces Olivia to his adult children. But her continued refusal to visit her mother pulls at the seams of Olivia’s new-found love with Bruce. The unexpected death of her mentor blind-sides Olivia causing her to withdraw back into the darkness of her mind. She pushes everyone away… including Bruce Bellamy.

Defeated, Olivia Chandler believes it her fate to concede to the same trauma-born mental illness that took her mother. But two voices, one from the present and one from the past, will challenge her to fight for the future her father intended for her to have… or succumb to madness.

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Song Lyric Sunday | “Caravan of Love” – Isley Jasper Isley


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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 “brother/sister”. 

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It was bound to happen – my first song repeat! 😀

It fits this week’s theme, and it’s just one of those songs you can’t hear enough in light of today’s societal issues, AND it’s a great song for Earth Day!

This feel-good song from 1985 went straight to number one on the R & B singles chart and fifty-one on the pop charts.  (British indie band The Housemartins also found success with Caravan of Love in November 1986 with their a capella song version reaching number one in the UK Singles Chart on 16 December 1986.)

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.

Caravan of Love

Isley-Jasper-Isley

Ooh…ooh…ooh..
Ooh…ooh…ooh..
Are you ready for the time of your life
It’s time to stand up and fight
(It’s alright) It’s alright (It’s alright, it’s alright)
Hand in hand we’ll take a caravan
To the motherland
One by one we’re gonna stand with the pride
One that can’t be denied
(Stand up, stand up, stand up, stand up)
From the highest mountain and valley low
We’ll join together with hearts of gold
Now the children of the world can see
There’s a better way for us to be
The place where mankind was born
Is so neglected and torn, torn apart
Every woman, every man
Join the caravan of love (Stand up, stand up, stand up)
Everybody take a stand
Join the caravan of love
I’m your brother
I’m your brother, don’t you know
I’m your brother
I’m your brother, don’t you know
We’ll be living in a world of peace
In a day when everyone is free
We’ll bring the young and the old
Won’t you let your love flow from your heart
Every woman, every man
Join the caravan of love (Stand up, stand up, stand up)
Everybody take a stand
Join the caravan of love
I’m your brother
I’m your brother, don’t you know
I’m your brother
I’m your brother, don’t you know
Now the children of the world can see
There’s a better for us to be
The place where mankind was born
Is so neglected and torn, torn apart
Every woman, every man
Join the caravan of love (Stand up, stand up, stand up)
Everybody take a stand
Join the caravan of love
Are you ready for the time of your life
(Are you ready, are you ready)
Are you ready for the time of your life
(Are you ready, are you ready)
Come go with me
(Are you ready, are you ready)
Come go with me
(Are you ready, are you ready)
Every woman, every man
Join the caravan of love (Are you ready, are you ready)
Everybody take a stand
Join the caravan of love (Are you ready, are you ready)
Every woman, every man
Join the caravan of love (Are you ready, are you ready)
Everybody take a stand
Join the caravan of love (Are you ready, are you ready)
Songwriters: Chris Jasper / Ernest Isley / Ernie Isley / Marvin Isley

The Devil You Know, Part VI #52weeks52stories

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 16

Word prompt: tuna

Word Count: 2167

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Part I    |     Part II    |    Part III    |   Part IV   | Part V

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Connie Pierce stormed across the walkway to her apartment.

Walt Stokely could be such a dumbass!

She fumed as she slammed her front door.

It wasn’t a big deal. All she asked him to do was go into Gary’s apartment and retrieve her laptop.

And he refused, spouting privacy concerns and the probability of getting sued.

Walt has also proposed the idea the laptop may not be in the apartment but with Gary, wherever he was. He needed a better reason to invade the man’s privacy.

Connie wanted to smack the man. He wasn’t worried about privacy when she caught him outside her bedroom window.

Jackass!

She paced around her dining area praying Gary would show up any moment.

Privacy was a major concern… and problem for Connie Pierce.

She was okay with falling behind on blogging and missing out on group chats. But when her boss announced a security breach during the staff meeting this morning, Connie had to school her features when she realized she was the breach.

Or rather, her old laptop was.

The laptop she’d loaned to Gary Sievers.

She knew there was no actual threat to client information as Gary would have no interest in the senior care file database stored on the laptop. All he had to do was turn the laptop on and the access point connected with files in the local Medico office.

Dammit!

Harlan Woods had ranted and railed during the staff meeting about the breach. Hackers and the Dark Web were making billions of dollars selling stolen identities. If an employee of Medico Insurance is found to be engaging in such illegal practices, the result would be hard prison time.

Connie shuddered at the thought of going to jail even though she knew she’d done nothing wrong.

Yes, she should have deleted Medico’s access point from the old laptop, but she didn’t see it as a big deal. The old laptop could serve as a backup… just in case.

Not only had just in case arrived, it bought its ugly sister, you’re-screwed.

Connie had to fix this.

*

Sally Bennett paced around the small seating area in the coroner’s office.

“There has to be some mistake. You’re wrong, Dr. Lacy. The first thing you said was this office made mistakes.”

“Mom, please calm down. We just left the hospital.”

Sally glared at Carolyn but turned her attention back to Pax Lacey. “Tattoos and surgical scars don’t just disappear, doctor. Explain yourself.”

The coroner stood, his head bowed. He tapped the file folder against his thigh, weighing his options. He didn’t know how or why, but the truth of the situation was growing at a rapid pace in his mind. At last, he met Sally’s angry gaze.

“Mrs. Bennett, did your husband ever break any bones? Arms? Legs? Ribs?”

Sally couldn’t have reared back faster if he’d slapped her.

“Never! Up until Frankie’s bypass surgery, he was healthy as a horse. What do broken bones have to do with this?”

“The body you autopsied had multiple past breaks, didn’t it?”

All eyes turned to Darrin.

“How do you know this Darrin?” Sally’s head swiveled back and forth between the coroner and her son. “Someone please tell me what is going on!”

“Your son is correct. The body I examined had suffered multiple breaks in the past. The right arm was broken several times… as many as four. The legs were broken but from the wear and tear, I could tell they weren’t broken at the same time. And the ribs… all the ribs were broken at some point… many times.”

Sally collapsed onto the couch. “You are not listening. My husband… Frankie never broke any bones.”

Darrin approached his mother and knelt at her side. “I think what Dr. Lacey is trying to tell us, mom, is the man he examined… isn’t dad.”

*

Connie massaged her stomach. The tuna-on-rye sandwich she’d called dinner refused to cooperate, churning and bubbling, preparing for a revolt.

She was making herself sick with worry.

Dusk was approaching and there was still no sign of Gary Sievers.

Connie knew she was out of time and options and needed to do whatever it took to save her job.

She grabbed her cell phone, opened a browser and did a search on breaking and entering. She found the credit card method to be the easiest way to bypass a locked door. Probably too easy. She didn’t have that kind of luck. After reading through a handful of results, Connie created her burglary toolkit: screwdriver, ice pick, a spray can of vegetable oil, a dishcloth, and rubber gloves.

Steeling her nerves, Connie opened her door and peeked out for signs of her neighbors or jackass Walt.

Satisfied the coast was clear, Connie grabbed her toolkit, headed for Gary’s.

Before closing her door, she paused, looking at her own lock and door frame.

No way. It cannot be that simple.

She ran back into her apartment and grabbed her wallet. She removed a credit card… thought better of it and took out a supermarket rewards card instead.

Taking her keys, Connie stepped outside her apartment and locked the door. Holding the doorknob, she slipped the plastic card between the door and frame and swiped down.

The door opened!

Oh my god, I’ve so got to move! Is it this easy to break in? So quick and silent?

Focus, Pierce, focus!

She closed her door and took the few steps to Gary’s apartment.

I cannot believe I’m doing this.

Repeating the steps, she’d taken to open her own door, Connie swiped the card downward… and the door opened.

For a fraction of a second, she hesitated feeling guilty.

Then she entered her neighbor’s apartment.

*

Sally stared at her clasped hands laying in her lap. She spoke without raising her head.

“I fell to the floor next to Frankie’s body in Graciela Ramirez’s bedroom. I stared into his face. It made me violently ill to find out the man I loved was the man who tried to kill me. Now you’re telling me I don’t even recognize my husband.”

She raised her head, glaring at Pax Lacey.

“I want to see my husband. Now.”

“Momma!”

Joanie’s anguished cry filled the office.

Sally was unmoved.

“I want to see my husband.”

The coroner went to his desk and made a call, speaking in low hushed tones. He hung up and walked to his office door.

“Follow me, please.”

Sally was behind him in an instant without a backward glance to her children.

She knew she couldn’t handle the looks on their faces.

She followed the coroner down the same hallway, in the opposite direction. Perspiration trickled down the back of her neck.

A tingling sensation raced up her arms to meet the throbbing sensation in her head. Her legs threatened to give out with each step, but she forced herself to keep up with Dr. Lacey.

They stopped in front of a set of double stainless-steel doors.

Sally knew her children had caught up from the sound of Joanie’s soft sobs.

Pax glanced back at Sally, his eyes apologizing for what he was about to do.

He pushed opened the door and stood aside for the family to enter.

Everything in the room was stainless steel, glass and sterile. But the lingering scent of death Sally remembered from the reception area was strong and pungent here. Several empty gurneys lined one wall and stainless-steel drawers filled the rest.

A gurney sat in the center of the room covered by a white sheet. A young African-American woman stood on the other side of the gurney.

Pax Lacey introduced her.

“Mira, this is the Bennett family.”

A silent, respectful nod was her only response.

Sally approached the body, but Darrin jumped in front of her. She squeezed his arm and smiled. “He can’t hurt me anymore, sweetie,” and she stepped around her son.

She stared down at the covered body, then pushed her shoulders back and returned Mira’s silent nod.

The coroner’s assistant folded back the sheet, revealing only the face.

The Bennett family gasped in unison.

Darrin, Carolyn, and Joanie gathered around their mother to stare down at the man who’d given them life… or so they thought.

Sally’s mind somersaulted.

She wasn’t sure what she expected, but it wasn’t a ghostly yellow version of her husband. She looked around for Dr. Lacey.

He approached from a corner desk, having donned a lab coat and gloves.

“Why is he yellow?”

“This man was severely malnourished and jaundiced. Only recently, had he began received adequate nutrition.”

“What?”

All fear and doubt left Sally and she grabbed the sheet, uncovering the right arm and shoulder.

There was no tattoo.

Fortis et Certus. Over a pair of rifles. It meant Brave and True. Frankie got the tattoo after his first deployment.”

“Mrs. Bennett, I don’t even know where to begin with this. There have been mix-ups with bodies before, but only because a tech wasn’t paying attention to body tags and identifying features. We still don’t have a fingerprint match. We began this case based solely on your identification from the crime scene.”

She pulled the sheet down farther. There was no bypass scar, only the remains of the internal examination by the coroner.

Sally dropped the sheet and began to step back but froze and stared at Frankie’s face.

The nose was bigger, and the lips were thinner.

Was that because of death?

She reached out a hand to the face, and Darrin grabbed her arm.

She gave him another motherly smile, and continued on, caressing Frankie’s face and running her fingers through his eyebrow. Her heart leaped into her throat.

“Frankie had a sebaceous cyst on his right brow. His doctor said it was non-cancerous and non-life threatening and best left alone. There is no cyst. No tattoo. No surgical scar. This isn’t… my Frankie.”

She broke on the last word, getting caught by Darrin before she could collapse to the floor.

Sally looked into her son’s face, new tears blurring her vision.

“Who is this man? How did he get my Frankie’s face?” Her tone rose as hysteria threatened to overtake her. “Darrin, where is your father?”

*

Connie flicked on the wall light just inside the door of Gary’s apartment and froze.

The room had been destroyed.

Gary didn’t have much but whatever he did have was broken and overturned.

Someone had a terrible fight in this room.

The apartment was a mirror image of her own, and Connie could see everything but the bedroom.

Watching her step, Connie went to the small bedroom and peered inside.

Her face scrunched up in confusion.

The room was immaculate, the bed unslept in.

She retraced her steps to the front door, wondering what had happened here… and where was Gary Sievers?

The small dining table where Gary used her laptop was upside down near the kitchen counter.

Connie took hesitant steps toward the table, looking over the debris-strewn floor for the laptop.

She reached the table and her heart sunk.

The laptop wasn’t there.

Wherever Gary was, he had the laptop with him.

A wave of clarity hit Connie as she backed toward the door.

She was going to lose her job, and after she reported the state of Gary’s apartment to Walt, she’d be out on the street.

Goodbye, Marbury, Pennsylvania. Hello Cheboygan, Michigan, population, five-thousand. That number included Gladys Pierce, Connie’s overbearing, controlling mother who would be thrilled to see her only child return with her hand out.

Already mentally packing, Connie turned to leave and froze at the sight of a pair of feet sticking out from just beyond the love seat.

Connie panicked.

She wanted to get the hell out of there, but her curiosity won, and she approached the feet. As the body came into view, she could tell it was a man lying face down.

Steeling her nerves, Connie reached down, grabbed the man’s shoulder and rolled him over.

It was Gary.

His face was bruised and swollen from the obvious fight, but it was the large, open gash over his forehead that drew her attention. She knelt next to him.

“Oh, Gary. Who did this to you?”

Her hand rested on his chest as she hung her head, tears flowing for a man she hardly knew.

Connie thought she heard a low moan and raised her head.

She heard the noise again, but this time, Gary’s chest heaved once.

Startled, Connie fell backward.

“Gary?”

She scooted back over to him, replacing her hand on his chest and two fingers on the pulse point in his neck.

Gary’s heartbeat and pulse were faint, but he was still alive.

Patting her pockets, Connie realized she left her cell behind in her own apartment.

“Pierce! What the hell? What’s going on in here?”

Connie said a silent prayer, grateful for once to see her grouchy landlord standing in the doorway.

“Shut up, Walt and call 911! Now!”

 

 

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

Now Available at All Major Online Bookstores!

Free, a Novella 3D cover

Synopsis

Lenore “Lennie” Porter’s life had not gone as she planned.

The marriage she put her heart and soul into failed.

The man she sacrificed so much for abandoned her.

But Lennie refused to be broken. She pushed on, running a successful business and raising her three sons alone.

Through health scares and severe family dysfunction and trauma which forever changed their lives, the Porter family clung to each other to keep from sinking into the darkness.

With her marriage over long ago and her adult sons living their own lives, Lenore Porter decides to sell the cold fortress she worked so hard to make a warm, loving home.

A short, final inspection of her former home turns into a confrontation with ghosts from the past, and decisions and events Lennie felt she’d dealt with and moved on from.

Free, a Novella is a short, clean read recounting one woman’s determination to not be broken by life or lose her identity.

~~~

Excerpt

Anyone who knew Burt and Linda Kelimore knew they were devoted to each other.  More than half a century had passed since the day they each ran into a mechanic’s shop in need of quick repairs. Though they were both on their way to meet other people, a thirty-minute conversation changed their plans for the evening and the rest of their lives.

With their time together dwindling away, the couple did what they had always done… shared each other’s company.

Linda set Burt’s plate aside, and Lennie gathered up the dishes and excused herself.

While putting the food away and loading the dishwasher, Lennie was surprised to see her mother enter the kitchen.

“Everything okay, mo-”

“Yes, yes, sweetie. Leave all this. I’ll get to it later. You can head on home now.”

“Mom, no way do I leave a mess for you to clean up.”

Lennie reached for another dish but Linda caught her hand and held on.

“It’s okay, Lenore. You can go now.”

“But…dad…-”

Linda pulled her daughter into a tight embrace, speaking into her ear barely above a whisper.

“I know. His hospice nurse was here earlier and is returning soon. I talked to your sisters before you got here… and they each spoke to your father.” She pulled back, a pleading look in her eyes.

“I’ve never asked you for anything, honey and I know this is no small thing I’m asking of you now. But… I need this time with him alone. Right now, I’m no one’s mother or grandmother. Lennie, right now, I’m just a wife who has to say goodbye to her husband. Please don’t be angry with me or hate me, but I need to do it alone.”

Hugging her mother close, Lenore allowed the weight of her words to sink in. She did not want to leave. Her father was dying, how could she walk away?

Seeing the pain in Linda’s eyes, Lenore knew she would deny her nothing.

With a simple nod, Lennie returned to the den to say goodbye to her father… just as she did every night.

After a quick kiss on the cheek and a squeeze of his hand, Lennie told Burt she’d see him tomorrow, and turned to leave before she broke down. But her father held on to her hand with a strength Lennie didn’t think he still possessed. Lennie looked from their joined hands to her father’s face when he spoke.

“Very proud… of you, Lenore. Always… have… been. You help everyone… always.”

The weakness of his voice and the shortness of his breath caused Lennie to cringe. She wanted her father to stop talking, to save his strength. But, her own voice was lost to her, blocked by a lump in her throat which refused to move.

“I love you… baby girl.” He kissed her hand and slumped back in his chair, his energy depleted.

“I love you too, daddy.”

Lennie squeezed his hand one last time and rested it across his lap. With one simple nod to her mother, Lennie left the room, her calm belying the anguish ripping her apart inside. She wanted to scream, cry… stop the clock… make him stay.

With her bags in hand, Lenore Porter stood at the front door. Dizziness and nausea rejoined the inner turmoil threatening to break her. She had to leave… knowing she would never see her father alive again.

Instead of reaching for the door knob, Lennie took several steps backward until she could see inside the den.

Linda Kelimore had reclined her husband’s chair and climbed in next to him, cuddled into his side with her hand resting on his chest.

This is what her parents wanted… what they had planned. To spend their remaining time together… together as the couple they had been for fifty years.

With more determination than she felt, Lennie left the house, closing the door quietly behind her.

~~~

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Song Lyric Sunday | “Let’s Stay Together” – Al Green

Song Lyric Sunday banner

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 “stay.”

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Another smooth classic came to mind  based on this week’s theme, Al Green’s 1972 hit, Let’s Stay Together.

The song  spent sixteen weeks on the charts and did reach the top of Billboard’s Hot 100. It  also topped the R&B chart for nine weeks. This timeless classic has been covered by several artists including Tina Turner and Maroon 5. It was ranked the 60th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Let’s Stay Together was selected by the Library of Congress as a 2010 addition to the National Recording Registry, which selects recordings annually that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. The song went on to claim the number-one position on the Billboard Year-End chart as an R&B song for 1972.

The video is a live performance from Al Green. Sorry about the suit.  😀

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.

Let’s Stay Together

by Al Green

Written by Al Jackson, Jr., Willie Mitchell, and Al Green

I’m, I’m so in love with you
Whatever you want to do
Is alright with me
Cause you make me feel, so brand new
And I want to spend my life with you

Let me say that since, baby, since we’ve been together
Loving you forever is what I need
Oh let me be the one you come running to
I’ll never be untrue

Oh baby let’s, let’s stay together
Lovin’ you whether

Whether times are good or bad, happy or sad, oh yeah

Whether times are good or bad, happy or sad

Why somebody
Why people break up, turn around and make up
I just can’t see, you’d never do that to me, would you baby?
Just being around you is all I see, it’s what I want to do

Let’s, we ought to stay together
Lovin’ you whether, whether
Times are good or bad, happy or sad

C’mon, let’s, let’s stay together
I’ll keep on lovin’ you whether, whether
Times are, oh times are good or times are bad

Compiled from Genius Lyrics, YouTube, and Google.