#52weeks52stories “Frozen in Time, Part III”

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#52weeks52stories: Week 47

Word prompt: smack

Word count – 724

Reading time – 2 mins, 14 secs

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Frozen in Time, Part III

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Luci Gwynn yammered on about sanity napkins and belts as Petra huddled in the sofa’s corner clutching a hot water bottle against her stomach.

Neither of them heard Vance enter.

“What’s wrong with her?”

Startled, Luci looked up at her husband then smiled toward her daughter.

“My little girl’s growing up and entering womanhood.”

“Damn. Now I’ve got to keep an eye on her little hot ass, so she doesn’t go whoring around like the rest of the women in your family.”

Luci’s mouth gaped open in surprise and outrage, but she never got to respond.

Propelled forward by hate, disgust, and a new influx of hormones, Petra pounced on her father, hitting, biting, and scratching in a frenzy of rage.

Caught off-guard and stunned at first, Vance swept his arms down his body, knocking Petra to the floor.

She rose to her knees, panting like an animal ready to attack again, but Vance backed away looking at his hands and arms and feeling his face.

Undeterred, Petra tried to advance on him, but Luci wrapped her arms around her from behind, holding her back.

Vance left the room without a word, the only sound being the opening and closing of the front door.

Loosening her grip, Luci spun her daughter around. “What is wrong with you?”

Still shaking while hostility and loathing coursed through her, Petra was defiant.

“I hate him.”

“But what if he doesn’t come back?”

“Good.”

Luci’s anger grew to match her daughter’s.

“Good? What’s good about it? What about me, Petra?”

The teen sneered. “No more beatings and bruises.”

She knew the slap was coming and didn’t flinch.

Horrified by her own actions, Luci yanked her arm back, clutching her hands to her chest.

“Petra, baby, I’m so sorry.”

Petra back away, her sneer replaced by a smile, then giggles.

Luci reached out for her daughter, but Petra stepped back farther. Her giggles grew to roaring laughter.

“Petra… -”

Wrapping her arms around her stomach, Petra doubled over and tried to speak through gasps for air.

“This… is great. Daddy gives you a black eye for… something as dumb as wearing the wrong dress… and you take it. But you have no problem slapping me for standing up to the big bully.”

“Petra, baby… you don’t understand -”

“Shut up! Don’t say that! Don’t tell me I don’t understand.”

Her laughter abated, Petra rose to her full height.

“Me, Arnold and Leonard have tried to understand our entire lives. We sneak into each other’s rooms and cry together. We’ve been to the library, digging through books on domestic violence because we can’t tell anybody. We can’t ask for help, because we’ll be separated, and Arnie and Len are all I have. So, we decided you put up with daddy to protect us.” She scoffed. “But now I know we were wrong, mama. We’ve always been wrong. It’s about you, only you.”

“No, you’re wrong, baby. I do it for you and your brothers.”

“None of us should have ever been born. This isn‘t a family, it‘s a prison camp.”

“Don’t say that! You kids are everything to me.”

She hung her head in shame.

“Yes, your father hits me, but he’s never hit you. He’s never hurt any of you.”

“Hurt me? Did you see him, mama? I’m his daughter… a thirteen-year-old girl. He didn’t hit me—he didn’t fight back, and not because he’s some noble father. That was fear in his eyes. He’s not used to being challenged. Not used to anyone fighting back. You should try it sometime.”

Luci’s face crumpled at the truth of her daughter’s words.

“But you know what, mama? You don‘t have to use fists to hurt someone.”

Her words were heavy and toneless, and her body sagged, the emotional burden taking its toll.

Repeating her father’s movements, Petra backed toward the doorway.

“But he can’t hurt me anymore, mama. And he’ll never hurt me again.”

Reaching the doorway, Petra glared at the woman who’d given her life.

“And neither will you.”

“Petra!”

Ignoring Luci, she turned and left the room, not stopping until she reached the sanctuary of her bedroom.

Petra Gwynn remembered that day, not for the onset of her periods and the first step toward adulthood, but as the day both her parents no longer mattered to her.

 

 

To be continued

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©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories “Frozen in Time, Part II”

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#52weeks52stories: Week 46

Word prompt: smack

Word count – 414

Reading time – 1 mins, 43 secs

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Frozen in Time, Part II

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Vance Gwynn was a mountain of a man who used his bulk to intimidate his wife, Luci.

When his size and words failed, he pummeled her plus-size body with his massive fists.

Luci not only took the beatings, but she’d also always apologize and promise to be a better wife.

She shielded and protected him from law enforcement and concerned neighbors and praised him to their three children.

To no avail.

By the time Petra was eight, she had a deep, soul-wrenching hatred for her father, as did her two older brothers, Arnold and Leonard.

Vance saved the physical abuse for Luci, visiting verbal and psychological tirades on his children instead.

Regardless of how much they grew, the Gwynn children only received new school clothes every other year. Their ill-fitting apparel made Petra and her brothers the targets of abuse and bullying at school. The thrift store items Luci bought to bolster their wardrobe only worsened their plight.

Birthdays and Christmas weren’t recognized, and Vance’s practice of destroying any gifts sent by extended family ceased the flow of gifts… and communication.

The siblings grew closer, bound by their misery, their confusion about their mother’s complacency, and their intense hatred for their father.

At the end of his last year in junior high, Leonard received an engraved plaque for maintaining a perfect 4.0-grade point average—the only one in the district at the junior high level. He was on-track to receive multiple scholarships for college.

He beamed with pride when he presented the award to his mother that evening. Leonard refused to allow her blatant indifference to steal his joy.

Vance took care of that.

Snatching the plaque from Luci’s hands, he banged it against the kitchen sink then dropped it in the trash.

“Stop acting like a girl. It’s just a hunk of wood and means nothing. You’ll still end up cleaning hubcaps down at Remington Car Wash… you and your brother. That’s all you’re good for.”

Standing at just under six-feet-tall, Leonard was bigger than most of the boys in his ninth-grade class, but he was almost a hundred pounds smaller than his father.

Still, his murderous glare that followed Vance as he sauntered from the kitchen both scared and excited Petra.

She didn’t want her brother to get hurt, but had he grabbed a knife from the butcher block and ran after their father, she wouldn’t have stopped him.

Just as she couldn’t stop herself two weeks later.

 

To be continued

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©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories “Frozen in Time”

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It’s week 52 and the last post of 2018!

It’s been quite a writing year for me. I didn’t publish the books I’d planned but I’m good with that because the year was a giant leap forward in finding my writing voice.

Challenges like #52weeks52stories coaxed forced me out of my comfort zone and I haven’t looked back.

My last post is a serial in six parts that I have to complete and post by 11:59 PM Monday.

This should be fun!

Have a great Sunday!

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#52weeks52stories: Week 52

Word prompt: smack

Word count – 429

Reading time – 1 mins, 42 secs

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Frozen in Time, Part 1

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“Please don’t come here again.”

The battered woman trailing police to the front door turned and whispered in a hard voice, “You don’t understand. This was my fault. I shouldn’t have pushed Elliott about coats for the kids.”

Petra Gwynn smirked. “You remind your husband your three children are wearing nylon jackets in freezing temps and he has the right to smack you around?”

Sonia Milan glanced over her shoulder at the cops standing next to their squad cars.

“Elliott’s been through a lot. He lost his mom at a young age… lost friends while serving in the middle-east and got an injury that ended his military career. He has to be handled a certain way.”

“Bullshit! He’s not the first person to lose someone or get injured in combat. Those are excuses, Sonia.” She turned her neighbor toward the hallway mirror. “Look at your face. That’s not how you treat someone you love.”

Sonia’s temper flared, and she whirled around to face her neighbor.

“Don’t you dare judge my husband. You have no idea what it’s like for him. Keep your opinions to yourself and mind your own damn business.”

Petra clenched her fists hanging at her sides.

The freakin’ nerve!

She approached Sonia until their noses were almost touching.

“That’s exactly what I was doing until you banged on my door. You cried out for my help. You begged me to call the police.”

She brushed past her clueless neighbor and stood by the open front door.

“And you are leaving my home… now.”

Kowtowed, Sonia turned for the front door.

Petra thrust her arm out blocking the woman’s path.

“He needs help, Sonia, before something even worse happens. But if you don’t care about yourself or somehow feel you deserve to be his punching bag, think of your children. They see everything and forget nothing. And it’s doing more damage than you can ever imagine.”

Sonia’s jaws tightened, and she pushed past Petra, storming down the walkway.

Closing the door, Petra sagged against it as the anger dissipated from her body.

I shouldn’t have lost my temper. Sonia needs understanding, not my contempt. Elliott has beaten her down so low, she believes she’s to blame for his shortcomings.

Petra slid to the floor, remembering the look of terror in her neighbor’s eyes when she’d first answered the door.

It was the same look she’d seen in her own mother’s eyes for most of her life.

To be continued

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©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories “The Christmas Gift”

The Christmas Gift banner

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“I last posted during week 44 and it’s week 51, which means I have six entries to post.”

One down, five to go! 😉

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#52weeks52stories: Week 45

Word prompt: journal

Word count – 281

Reading time – 1 mins, 10 secs

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“Wake up, sleepyhead! It’s Christmas!”

Gordie Williams bolted upright.

Aw, man. I overslept.

He rolled out of bed, brushing past his older brother.

Not slowing down at the top of the stairs, Gordie took them two at a time.

He raced into the family room and dropped at the foot of the Christmas tree, his eyes searching the piles of boxes and gift bags.

Finding the box with the Tompkins Fine Writing Essentials label-tape, the twelve-year-old’s heart leapt into his throat.

Gordie lifted the box with reverence and leaned back against the sofa.

Removing the top, his fingers caressed the faux leather journals. His lips twitched at the corners as he picked up one of the balanced pens.

No more one-subject notebooks. No more of his father’s cast-off legal pads with the scant few pages left, or dried-up pens from the 99-Cent Store left too long on the shelf.

Gordie fanned the pages of the matching undated planner wondering which story he should write first—the epic pirate adventure or the one about the magician’s son with low self-esteem.

He jumped when his mom knelt next to him, sliding her arm around his shoulder.

“Merry Christmas, baby.”

“Thanks, mom. Merry Christmas.”

Celeste Williams kissed her youngest son’s forehead.

“Mr. Lawrence is a great English teacher, Gordie, but never let anyone tell you your imagination is too broad or unbelievable.”

She reached out, touching the gift box.

“Write your stories, baby. Your way.”

Gordie dropped the writing tools and pulled his mother into a tight hug. It muffled his reply as he buried his face into her neck to hide the tears forming.

“I will, momma. I will.”

And he did.

~~~

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

The Devil You Know, Part XII #52weeks52stories

The #52weeks52stories challenge is supposed to be flash fiction… and today I’m posting the TWELFTH installment of my story!

What am I doing with my life?

The Devil You Know is going on hiatus. No, not sticking it in a drawer. I’ll work on it during July CampNaNoWriMo—tighten up the beginning, clean up errors and discrepancies and bring it to a whizbang finish!  😀

Check back here for updates!

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 22

Word prompt: cake

Word Count: 1226, Reading time – 2 minutes, 1 sec

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

Part VI   |   Part VII   |   Part VIII   |   IX   |   |  XI  |

(All links open new windows.)

Vincent Perreti never played a video game he didn’t want to master or saw a website he didn’t want to hack.

Had it not been for a savvy guidance counselor, the twenty-nine-year-old could have easily ended up on the other side of the law. But tough-love moved the street-wise tech-geek past juvie hall through college and onto the Marbury police force.

“I am amazed at the number of men named Mossford.”

Ending his phone call and turning back to his monitor, Myles Griffin chuckled. “It’s an old-world name from another era.”

“No, it’s a hillbilly name from the back woods.”

“Man, would you quit? What have you found on our guy?” Getting no response, Myles glanced over at his partner.

He knew by the mischievous glint in Perreti’s eyes and mega-watt grin the man had found a gold mine.

“Get this. Mossford Oswald Samuel Sievers was born to Benedict and Gracelyn Sievers 11 February 1921.”

Griffin frowned. “And?”

“Don’t you get it?”

“Get what?”

“Mossford… Oswald… Samuel… Sievers. M-O-S-S. Moss. Who does that? Was it intentional? Were his parents wordsmiths? I love it!”

The thirty-two-year-old Griffin leaned backed in his chair, laughing. “Only you zero in on that kind of stuff. But Marks is coming in here soon and will want to know more than the man’s name was an acronym.”

Perreti smirked. “You never let me have any fun. Fine. Like I said born February 1921; entered the Air Force June 1939; and married Lindy Ellen Piquat August 1939. He was stationed stateside in Dover while that base was being built.” Perreti frowned. “I can’t access his actual service record… yet but looks like he didn’t get deployed until two years later after Pearl Harbor.”

“Do not hack that system. I’m still filing reports from your last data breach. We make the appropriate requests.”

Perreti pounded away on the keyboard, trying to gain access. “Yes, boss.”

“Vince? Don’t start. I’m not your boss, I’m the Forensic data lead, okay?”

“But if you’d taken that job with Google, I’d have the position, right?”

“I didn’t want to work for Google, I like being a cop.”

“Yeah, but you’re breaking your mother’s heart.”

“No need to remind me what a disappointment to my parents I am by being a lowly civil servant.”

“Oh, please. You could have my mom… who’s happy I’m on the outside of the bars.”

Griffin laughed. “Good thing we’re both confident men.”

Perreti feigned tears. “Speak for yourself, I need counseling.”

Both laughed while shaking their heads. Perreti pointed at Griffin’s desk.

“What did you find out?”

“Mossford and his kids were busy… breaking laws. Grifting, cons, scams, they were at it for years. No arrest record for Lindy, though, and nothing on a Gary Sievers.”

Vince opened another browser. “No one is invisible. No one. Even folks who live off the grid left a footprint somewhere.”

The two detectives smirked and spoke at the same time. “Unless they were never on the grid.”

*

“Please eat just a little, mom. It’s been hours since you’ve had anything besides coffee.” Joanie Case held out the deli-style turkey sandwich to her mother.

As though on cue, hunger pains roared to life in Sally Bennett’s stomach.

Joanie smirked, and Sally took the sandwich. She munched without thought, her eyes unable to leave the large double-doors leading to the surgery suites.

Two hours into the procedure, Dr. Weathers came out with an update.

“We’re still cautious, Mrs. Bennett, but it’s looking good. We’ve removed all the bone fragments and there’s no evidence they added to the injury. There’s no intracerebal, or brain bleeding. Swelling has decreased since his MRI, which is a good thing. We’re about to begin the delicate portion of the procedure—draining the fluid.”

Sally clutched her chest. “That sounds serious.”

“I have to be honest with you. No matter how much care and time we take, an ischemic or brain stroke is a possibility.”

He stood and leaned over Sally, squeezing her shoulder.

“He’s strong and a true fighter. Ted and I feel very good about this. Someone will update you again soon.”

The doctor’s words replayed in Sally’s head. “He’s strong and a true fighter.”

She smiled to herself as she crumpled the sandwich wrapper.

“I guess someone was hungry.”

She smirked at her son. “I didn’t think I could keep anything down, but my body took what it needed. I feel better.” She reached over and gripped his hand. “About everything.”

Carolyn returned to the waiting room from the hallway.

“The Red Cross cleared an early release from duty for Cheryl. She’ll change planes a few times but will arrive in Philadelphia tomorrow evening.”

Darrin frowned. “So, I need to meet her at the airport?”

“No, big brother, got it covered. Dave is packing as we speak. He and the kids will meet Cheryl’s plan and head on here.”

“I told Merri not to come. If she hears Dave is here I’m in for it.”

“Same here with Rick,” Joanie added.

Carolyn chuffed. “All of us and seven kids? Now is not the time for a family reunion.”

“It’s the perfect time.”

They all turned to their mother.

“We’re past the point of this disrupting our lives. Better we should all be together so you all don’t have to worry about how your absence is affecting your families. At least for a few days.”

Sally leaned forward in her seat.

“Your father would never admit this, but he loves being surrounded by his children and grandchildren. Having everyone here when he wakes up will be better than any medicine.”

Joanie slipped her arm around her mom’s shoulder. “You believe he’s going to be okay, ma? One hundred percent like before?”

“I’ll take any percentage I can get, but yes, your father’s going to be fine.” Her gaze returned to the double doors. “He has to be.”

*

The five detectives had chairs pulled close to Gavin Marks’ desk as they all listened to Michael Benchley, the current sheriff of Drexler, Delaware on speaker-phone.

“Haven’t heard the Sievers name in quite a while. Thought they were all dead except for Melville.”

Marks perked up. “Where’s he?”

“Vaughn Correctional in Smyrna… for second-degree murder.”

“Can you give us details? Sounds like we’ll be making a road-trip to Smyrna.”

The sheriff chuckled. “I can pull our local files and tell you whatever you want to know. But I have a better idea. Since you’re planning a road trip anyway, come here first. You’ll find out more from my dad than any file will tell you. He was a deputy and the sheriff back in those days and knew Moss Sievers and his family. Dad’s in his nineties but still sharp as they come.”

Gavin wanted to leap from his seat.

“Holland get started on travel vouchers. Gans, find out if you or Hill can go along. Griffin and Perreti, work on getting clearance for us to see Melville Sievers.”

He turned back to the speaker-phone.

“Will you be around this weekend, Sheriff?”

“If I want to keep breathing, I will. My wife’s birthday is Sunday.”

“Well, remember to save us some cake.”

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

The Devil You Know, Part XI #52weeks52stories

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 21

Word prompt: uniform

Word Count: 1557, Reading time – 1 minute, 58 secs

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

Part VI   |   Part VII   |   Part VIII   |   IX   |   |

(All links open new windows.)

Surrounded by cold sandwiches and lukewarm coffee, Marks, Holland, Ganson, and Hill studied their surprised find from the stolen Ford Explorer.

An old Army duffel bag and a beat-up suitcase were found in the backseat and their contents were now laid out on the conference table like puzzle pieces.

Ganson scratched his head. “This is a weird collection of stuff to carry around.”

The treasure trove included bank records, hotel receipts, airline ticket stubs, elementary school report cards, maps, floor plans, and more than two dozen driver’s licenses from several states. The licenses all bore photos of the same four men… all with different names.

The lone license with a woman’s photo was issued over twenty-five years ago by the state of Delaware… to Sarah Elaine Sievers of Drexler, Delaware.

“Look at all these names, ages, and addresses. How do we find out which one is correct… or if any of them are correct?” Ganson raked through the pile. “Benedict, Lilly, Spellman, Montrose, geeze. Do you know how big the search returns will be on all these names?”

Mentally honing his focus, Marks had a plan. “We’ll focus on one name at a time, and since we knew of Sievers first, we’ll stay with that one for now.”

“Lindy Piquat and Mossford Sievers were married August 4, 1939.” Holland waved a yellowed document in the air. “It was the day after her 18th birthday and six months after his.”

Hill whistled low and slow. “1939? They would have to be-”

“Grandparents.”

After logging the info on his notepad, Holland slipped the license into a glassine sheet protector.

“Somebody had mommy-issues.”

The three men turned to Ganson.

He held four faded black and white photographs. The same young girl was in all four photos, and though there were others standing with her, only her body was full of dozens of tiny pinpricks.

Marks couldn’t contain his excitement. “We’ll need Chaney in on this sooner than later for a psych profile.”

“I believe the girl in these photos is a young Sarah Sievers. Matches the Delaware license, only younger. Here she’s a kid with a guy in uniform.” He held it up. “Dad, maybe?”

“This one here has to be her and her mom… they look alike. This is a school photo—maybe high school—and this is probably her with her brothers,” he tilted his head toward the stack of state IDs, “and the guys on all the driver’s licenses.”

Marks clapped his hands together and shouted, “Hallelujah!”

Hill smirked. “Share so we can celebrate too. What’s up?”

Grinning, Gavin Marks picked up one photo. “What have we just learned, gentlemen?” He continued before they could respond. “Mossford Sievers married Lindy Piquat in 1939 when he was eighteen years old. The guy in this photo is military. And at his age… he served in World War II.”

The detectives applauded. “Very good, Marks. You get an ‘A’ today.”

He waved Hill off. “Too bad I didn’t get an ‘A’ in history when it counted.”

He turned to Holland. “Call Perreti and Griffin back in. They’re aces at forensic searches. If we’re lucky, they can find what we need, and I won’t have to reach out to Veteran’s Affairs tomorrow… that’s never fun. Let’s narrow our search for now to any Sievers in Drexler, Delaware. I’ll contact the LEOs in that area tomorrow morning. With all of these fake IDs, someone had to get caught doing something wrong at least once.”

Brian Holland added to his list. “I just had to be a detective. This sure doesn’t feel like a promotion… feels like more work.”

“That’s why we make the big bucks.”

They all shared a laugh as Holland left the room.

Ganson smirked. “Big bucks? Yeah, right. I’m so poor I can’t afford to pay attention.”

“Well, how does your captain feel about overtime?”

Leonard Ganson groaned.

Hill chuckled.

“Hates it with a passion. The brass downtown is always hollering about budget cuts. But I explained the link to your case and possibly the Senior Citizen Rapist, so we’re good for forty-eight hours. If we can’t prove a connection to our case by then, we have to take our toys and go home.”

Marks belly laughed. “Oh, man. I can just hear him saying that.”

He clapped his hands together again, looking over the unusual collection of items.

“Let’s see if we have anything else useful here.”

Before they could get back to their searching, Holland burst back into the room.

“Marks, man, I want to be you when I grow up!”

“Why? What happened?”

“You nailed it. Patrol found Franklin Bennett’s 2016 Chevy Traverse three blocks from where the Ford Explorer was stolen.”

The men all exchanged glances. Gavin paced around the table.

“So, the man we know as Gary Sievers fought with Franklin Bennett in his apartment, took his car, ditched it and stole another vehicle, and ended up at the Ramirez home to attack two women… one of which was Bennett’s wife.”

He scrubbed his hand down his face.

“What was Bennett doing there? How do they know each other…not to mention being almost identical in looks? What did they fight about? And why did Sievers go to the Ramirez home?”

Hill grimaced. “Can we go back to the celebrating part because this sucks.”

“The picture is still blurred, gentlemen. Let’s pull it into focus.”

*

Watching the nurse replenish her husband’s I.V. meds, Sally Bennett’s spirits lifted for the first time in days.

Lab cultures showed Franklin Bennett was in the early stages of a bacterial infection, but Dr. Stanley’s decision to include antibiotics from the beginning of his care was a good one.

Though not gone, the infection was weakening, allowing his blood pressure to rise.

“He’s doing very well, ma’am. Nice strong blood pressure, no fluctuations.”

Sally sat in the chair next to the bed holding her husband’s hand. She was afraid if she let go he’d slip away and be lost to her again. The thought frightened her more than anything else from the past three days.

Sally was grateful to be with Frankie and know he was at least alive, but a raw edginess bristled just beneath her skin which kept her fears and doubts in the front of her mind.

Remembering Dr. Stanley’s words to stay positive, Sally decided to stop stewing in her worries and grab some coffee from across the hall.

Rising from her seat, she gave Frankie’s hand a gentle squeeze as she turned to walk away, and froze.

The hand she was holding was now holding hers!

Her gaze went from their joined hands to his face and Sally’s heart plummeted.

He wasn’t awake.

Involuntary nerve spasms were explained to her earlier and now she understood why.

Another attempt at releasing Franklin’s hand again caused his grip to tighten.

This can’t be a nerve spasm.

Sally reached for the call button to alert the nurse but stopped when Frankie’s grip tightened even more.

Her brows knitted in confusion.

“Frankie? Can you hear me? Frankie? Can you give me any kind of response? Squeeze my hand again, baby. Wiggle a toe. Dammit, I’ll even accept a facial twitch.”

He didn’t respond but Sally knew he’d gripped her hand. She was sure of it.

Frankie’s hand became limp inside Sally’s. She raised it to her face, rubbing it against her cheek.

“It’s okay, baby. You’re going to beat this. Just hang on.”

She planted a light kiss on his hand and laid his arm to rest on the bed.

Sally left the room without looking back, silently cursing muscle spasms.

Crossing the hall, she saw Dr. Stanley approaching with two men casually dressed and close to her age.

“Mrs. Bennett, we were on our way to speak with you. This is Dr. Ted Beamish and Dr. Paul Weathers. They’re the doctors I told you were on call for your husband. He’s been stable for over an hour. It’s time.”

Sally shook each of their offered hands but held on to Paul Weathers’. “He’s been my life for thirty-two years…please…” Her voice broke on the last word.

Paul Weather’s wrapped her hand in both of his. “Ted and I have had many successes with traumatic brain injuries in private practice and the military. I promise you we’ll do everything we can.”

“Where are your children, Mrs. Bennett?”

It took her a few seconds to find her voice. “They all went to find quiet places to call home with an update. They should be back soon.”

Dr. Weathers released her hand. “Good. The procedure can take as little as two hours or as many as six. Just depends on what we find. We’re on our way to scrub up and someone from our team will be here soon to get Mr. Bennett prepped.”

She pressed her hand against her stomach. The churning had returned.

Dr. Stanley tried to lead her into the lounge. “You should sit-”

Sally pulled away.

“I’m sorry, it’s just nerves. I’ll sit with my husband until it’s time.”

Assuring her she would receive status updates during the surgery, the doctors left to prepare.

Sally Bennett took a deep breath, digging deep inside for a reserve of faith and went to kiss her husband for what she hoped wasn’t the last time.

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

The Devil You Know, Part X #52weeks52stories

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 20

Word prompt: mania

Word Count: 1570

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

Part VI   |   Part VII   |   Part VIII   |   IX   |

(All links open new windows.)

Adrenalin and exhaustion warred inside Sally Bennett. She was dead tired. Just a few hours ago she was a patient in this same hospital, making deals with her doctor to escape the confines of her hospital bed and go home.

To face life without her husband; to understand why he’d attacked her and Graciela Ramirez; to understand how he ended up dead on the floor of Graciela’s bedroom.

Now everything had changed.

Frankie wasn’t dead, nor was he her attacker.

But according to this doctor, she could still lose him.

Fighting the mania in her mind, Sally swallowed deeply, pushing the burning bile back into her empty stomach.

“Dr. Stanley, please. What does that mean? How serious are his injuries?” She clutched at her stomach. “How did he get injured?”

“Mrs. Bennett, I cannot say for certain how your husband sustained his injuries. I can tell you from the bruising on his hands and face he was involved in a physical altercation—a fight—and ended up on the floor. As he tried to stand, he was hit with a large, heavy object twice, fracturing his skull.”

Sally swayed and teetered on her feet.

Carolyn screamed out, “Mom!”

All the detectives raced to catch her, but Brian Holland reached her first.

She struggled to stand on her own but found she couldn’t and leaned against the brawny police officer. Tears streamed down her face as she turned to Gavin Marks.

“The man. The man in the morgue. Did he do this to Frankie?”

Wary of admitting how little information they had in the case… now cases, but knew she deserved the truth.

“We don’t know ma’am, but it is the leading theory due to his resemblance to your husband. He must have been trying to switch identities but until we can find out who he is, it’s just a theory.”

She turned back to the doctor. “Take me to him?”

“Of course, just understand his appearance is unsettling.”

He opened the door to the critical care suite behind him and Holland escorted the distraught woman into the room, closely followed by the Bennett children.

Sally froze in her steps at the foot of the bed, covering her face with one hand in horror.

With the head of the bed elevated, Franklin Bennett appeared to be napping, but the large pressure dressing covering half of his head and dipping to just above his right eyebrow told a different story.

Purple bruises near his left eye and on his chin stood out against his ghostly pale complexion.

Officer Holland tried to maneuver Sally around the bed to the only chair in the room, but she pulled free, navigating around humming and beeping medical equipment to get to her husband’s side.

She bit her lip to muffle her sobs as she slid her hand under the snapped sleeve of the hospital gown and pulled it free.

Her chest heaved in a combination of relief and agony seeing the crossed rifles tattoo on his upper arm.

Sally raised her hand, tentative at first, but then smoothed his right brow.

The sebaceous cyst was there.

This was her Frankie… and he didn’t even know she was in the room.

She looked across the bed at Dr. Stanley, her eyes full of sorrow.

“There’s nothing you can do?”

He responded, keeping his tone low and even.

“It is a life-threatening injury, and to be honest with you, Mrs. Bennett, I’m surprised he’s made it this far.”

He motioned to Frankie’s hands and face.

“The coloring of his bruises leads me to believe his injuries were sustained seventy-two to ninety-six hours ago.” He paused. “He… lost a lot of blood. But I believe the position of his body and the cooler seasonal temperatures played a part in keeping him alive. That and he has the heart of a lion.”

She looked down at the love of her life in awe. The heart which almost failed him two years ago was now the only thing keeping him alive.

She reached out to caress his cheek before realizing Dr. Stanley was still speaking.

“Excuse me, Dr.?”

“I said his blood pressure is the issue. It’s far too low for your husband to make it through surgery right-”

“What? Surgery? For what?”

He sighed, glancing over his shoulder at the three detectives standing in the doorway before continuing.

“As far as we can tell, Mr. Bennett’s brain activity is normal and that’s a miracle in and of itself. But bleeding in his brain has caused swelling and pressure. If we don’t get that pressure released soon… there will be brain damage and it will be permanent.”

Sally swayed on her feet and sagged against the bed. Brian Holland was ready this time, having moved the chair to the side of the bed.

Gently gripping Sally by the shoulders, he pulled her backward until he had her in the chair.

Darrin, Carolyn, and Joanie were huddled at the foot of the bed, each with a hand touching their father. The officer got Carolyn’s attention, gesturing for her to take his place with her mother before he stepped away, joining the detectives in the doorway.

Sally didn’t notice the activity around her. With her gaze focused on her husband’s face, she addressed Dr. Stanley again.

“Is he scheduled for surgery?”

“No. We’d lose him on the table.”

She slumped in the chair and suddenly realized Carolyn was at her side. She gripped her daughter’s hand, looking for strength.

“So, what’s going to happen to my husband? He’s just going to die?”

“That’s not going to happen if we can help it, Mrs. Bennett. He’s made it this far because he’s a fighter.” He pointed to the multiple I.V. poles attached to the bed. “We’re giving him fluids, antibiotics, vitamins, and that is his third unit of blood. We have three more on standby. Once we get his blood pressure up and stabilized for one hour, he goes into surgery. The two top brain surgeons in our area have examined him and are just waiting for our call.”

A spec of optimism began to bloom in Sally’s chest.

It wasn’t the end of them… yet.

“Dr., I’d like to donate blood for my dad.” Darrin didn’t bother wiping the tears from his face.

“Yes, all of us will,” Carolyn added after exchanging looks with her sister.

“Of course, I’ll get someone to take you down to the lab for typing and matching.”

He stepped back from the bed and pulled out his phone, but Sally stopped him before he could dial.

“Until then, Dr…. until then what happens?”

“We wait, Mrs. Bennett, and pray for the best.”

She stood. Returning to Frankie’s bedside, she slipped his limp right hand between both of hers and bowed her head. Carolyn moved closer bowing her head too.

Darrin and Joanie joined hands at the foot of the bed and followed suit.

Dr. Stanley brushed past the detectives in the doorway and they followed him into the hallway.

“Doctor, what are Mr. Bennett’s chances?”

He turned to Gavin Marks.

“Det., I really-”

“Just tell us what we’re working with…please.”

The doctor removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes before responding.

“I’m being cautiously optimistic when I say 25-30%, Detective”

“Damn.”

“But he has a lot going for him… no life support needed and he’s not in a coma.”

“What? He’s not?”

“No. Mr. Bennett has responded to testing in every way… except for waking up. I’m encouraged by his strong brain activity and strong heartbeat. But the clock is ticking and the window of opportunity to save him is down to 6-8 hours.”

“Thank you, doctor.”

Brian Holland stepped back down the hall, peering into Franklin Bennett’s room. His family still stood around him with their heads bowed.

Pete Hill scrubbed his hand through his salt and pepper buzz-cut.

Gavin Marks leaned against the wall, hands shoved deep into his pockets. Marks’ head was also bowed, but he was deep in thought.

Ganson finally said what they were all thinking.

“If he doesn’t make it, we may never find the answers we need to solve our cases.”

“It’s time for some good old-fashioned police work, gentlemen.”

The law enforcement officers all exchanged knowing smirks.

“Your trial by fire continues Holland. Tell Lothern to do another search on the name Gary Sievers but include a search for the last name alone too. Ask him to pay special attention to smaller towns and to put names on the info requests… make someone sit up and take notice.”

Holland pulled out his cell and stepped away.

“What are you thinking, Marks?”

“The answers are staring us in the face. I think once we confirm the identity of Sievers or whomever he is, everything will fall into place. We’ll solve our case, your case, and there’s a real chance we could learn the identity of the Senior Citizen Rapist.

Let your captain know we’re working together, Ganson, then we need to pay a visit to your crime scene.”

*

The detectives never got back to the apartment where Franklin Bennett was found that night.

An alert patrolman spotted a late-model Ford reported as stolen abandoned two blocks from the Ramirez home.

A routine retrieval and impound became evidence when an inspection of the vehicle’s contents turned up a name on the priority list.

Sievers.

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

The Devil You Know, Part IX #52weeks52stories

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 19

Word prompt: task

Word Count: 876 (Reading time: 1 min, 55 sec.)

~~~~~

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

Part VI   |   Part VII   |   Part VIII   |

(All links open new windows.)

Apprehension hung in the air as Sally Bennett and her children huddled into the small conference room.

Joanie and Carolyn sat side-by-side at the end, clutching hands and watching their mother.

Det. Marks took a seat at the other end of the table.

Darrin stood behind his mother’s chair, curious why the large uniformed officer was standing so close to her.

“Detective, please, what is all this about? Why did you insist I return to the hospital?” Sally’s voice was hoarse from exhaustion and stress.

“Mrs. Bennett, Dr. Lacey updated his report to rename the man we first believed to be your husband John Doe 417.”

Sally held his gaze. “No, it’s not Frankie.”

“Your husband was adopted as an infant, correct?”

“Yes.”

“And he had no information about his birth mother? Never went looking for her? Anyone ever come looking for him?”

“All he knew was she was an unwed teen, and he was adopted by an older couple from Maine.” She glanced back at her son then addressed the detective again. “But I remember Darrin telling me no record was found of Frankie’s adoption. How is that possible?”

Gavin stared at his clasped hands, choosing his words carefully.

“Ma’am, I wish I had answers for you, But I promise you, we’re exploring every possibility.”

“What does that mean… exploring every possibility, and why did you demand my mom come here.” Darrin stood behind Sally, his hands clenched in anger.

“Mr. Bennett, we-”

“Enough!” He motioned toward his sisters. “Their nerves are frayed, and hearts broken.” Darrin rested his hand on Sally’s shoulder. “Whether or not you find my dad; whether you find the answers to this case… I have to protect my mother and sisters. If you know something we don’t, tell us. Otherwise, I need to get my family as far from here as possible, so they can rest their bodies… and their minds.”

Gavin Marks saw the fear, anger, and defeat in the faces of Sally and her children.

Swallowing his pride and the rest of his questions, the detective stood and walked toward the door.

Though his face was devoid of expression, he narrowed his eyes at Brian Holland as he passed and knew the uniformed officer understood.

Marks paused at the door and turned to Sally.

“Mrs. Bennett, please come with me… your children too.”

Sally and her daughters left their seats, following the detective without question, but Darrin hesitated.

“Mom?”

She paused in the doorway, half-turning to her son.

“What else can we do, Darrin? We need answers.” She left the room with Officer Holland close behind.

Marks stood at a large gray door just down the hall. As the small group caught up to him, he peered through the window and waved his hand. A door release buzzed, and the detective pulled the door open just in time for Carolyn and Joanie to walk through. A glance over her shoulder brought Sally relief when she saw her son was the last person through the door.

A lone nurse sat at the large nurse’s station. She exchanged looks with Det. Marks and placed her hand on a file next to her.

He knew the task was done and motioned for the family follow him again.

Just past the nurse’s station, three men were standing in the hall. Marks stopped when he reached them and turned to Sally.

“Mrs. Bennett, this is detectives Ganson and Hill from Baxter, and this is Dr. Stanley.”

The men all murmured greetings.

Marks nodded for Ganson to continue.

“Ma’am, we answered a call earlier this evening after a lady found her neighbor dead in his apartment.”

Sally gasped, clutching her chest.

Ganson held up his hand. “I apologize for saying it that way but let me finish. The man wasn’t dead but critically wounded. Paramedics got him stabilized enough for transport and due to an emergency at the closest hospital, we ended up here.”

“Detective, what does this have to do with our family?” Carolyn was now showing the same anger as her brother.

“The neighbor and the landlord identified the man as Gary Sievers. Is that name familiar to you?”

Sally glanced at each of her children as they shook their heads, weary and confused. “No, it isn’t, detective. So, what does he have to do with all this?”

Ganson looked to Hill, who spoke up.

“Mrs. Bennett, after the doctors worked on the victim, I went through his clothes looking for a cell phone… business card… anything that could lead us to family or friends. I found a wallet and the driver’s license identified the man as Franklin Bennett.”

His sisters emitted twin screams and Darrin moved to their sides, holding on to them both.

Sally grabbed the detective’s arm. “Where is he? Where is my husband?”

“Mrs. Bennett-”

She cut Gavin Marks off with a glare.

“I want to see him now! You should have told me he was here the second I walked in. Where is he? Tell me now or I’ll check every room on this floor!”

Dr. Stanley stepped in her path.

“Ma’am, you don’t know everything yet.”

“I know he’s alive!”

“Yes… he has a pulse and a heartbeat, but it may not be enough to save him.”

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

The Devil You Know, Part VIII #52weeks52stories

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 18

Word prompt: ranch

Word Count: 1181

~~~~~

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

Part VI   |   Part VII   |

(All links open new windows.)

Darrin Bennett drummed his fingers against the steering wheel. Marbury, Pennsylvania wasn’t a large city or even a business hub. But as one of four cities that shared the interstate exchange, evening traffic was always headache-inducing as suburbans scurried back to their ranch-style homes.
He glanced at his mother in the passenger seat. She’d been quiet since they left the coroner’s office.
“How are you holding up, mom?”
Just like she’d done in Pax Lacey’s office, Sally Bennett sat with her back straight. Her seat belt strained against her as though trying to push her back in the passenger seat.
“Tired. Confused. Pissed off. Scared.” She fingered the small handbag in her lap. “It was horrible enough being attacked in the Ramirez home. But we both lived through that and are so grateful.”
Tears pooled in her eyes.
“Then to see your dad… my husband lying dead on the floor…”
Sally leaned her head back, causing the tears to run down the sides of her face.
“… and now we know the man is not your father. No one knows who he is, or what has happened to my Fran-”
Her voice broke as her husband’s name disappeared inside a deep sob.
With his eyes still on the road, Darrin reached over, gripping his mother’s hand. Exhaustion bore down on him and his nerves were as frayed as Sally’s.
He and Merri should be busy packing up their kids and dropping them off with Merri’s parents before heading to Carolyn’s for a hang-out weekend to plan Sally and Frankie’s thirty-second wedding anniversary dinner.
But instead, he was living out the plot of some bad movie-of-the-week melodrama.
Sally’s deepening sobs synced with the throbbing in Darrin’s head.
He knew she couldn’t take much more. Since the week began, his mom had: sent his dad off on a business trip; been attacked in a client’s home; found out the attacker was her husband… and he was dead; now knew the attacker was not her husband but shared his face.
Darrin needed air, but with one hand on the wheel and the other still holding his mom’s hand, increasing the air conditioning or opening a window would have to wait.
His mania calmed as he passed the Limerick Avenue ext. The next exit would lead to Colon Regional Hospital.
Apprehension tugged his mind. Why was his mother ordered back to the hospital not by her doctor, but by a police detective?
He did not understand what they were walking into, but he would demand full disclosure from the police. They had the right to know. Is mother needed to know. He wouldn’t risk losing her to hysteria again. After this meeting, he would find Sally’s doctor and get her re-admitted… at least for the night.
Darrin flipped on his turn indicator as he approached the exit and glanced in his rear-view mirror to make sure his sisters were still behind him in Joanie’s Ford Escape.
Sally’s sobs had turned into pitiful moans. Darrin gripped her hand tighter, determined to do right by his mother and for his family.

*

Ganson and Hill were incredulous as Marks and Holland recounted the week’s events involving the Bennett family.
Pete Hill whistled long and low while staring through the unit window at the comatose man.
Lennie Ganson rested his hands on his hips.
“Well, you guys have seen both men. What do we have here? Doppelgangers? Twins? A bad remake of The Boys from Brazil?”
Gavin Marks leaned against the wall, his arms folded across his chest.
“I wish I knew, but nothing has added up in this case from the start. Pax confirmed the ID of the body in the morgue fell through before we stumbled upon you guys.” He tilted his head across the hall. “Your guy’s ID says he’s the real Bennett, and his family will be here shortly to confirm, but that still doesn’t tell me who’s lying in the morgue.”
Pete pulled out his notepad.
“The landlord who called 911 and the woman who found this guy gave his name as Gary Sievers. Said he kept to himself, didn’t go out much, but only at night when he did.”
Brian Holland took out his own notepad and copied the details from Hill.
“His injuries were life-threatening so the paramedics were focused on stabilizing him for transport, not searching his pockets.”
Marks addressed Officer Holland.
After we speak with the Bennett family, we’ll need to visit the crime scene and speak with the people who found him,” he grinned at Det. Ganson, “if you don’t mind us visiting your county?”
Ganson threw his hands up.
“With everything I know… and don’t know about our cases we need each other to put the puzzle pieces together. Visit away!”
The men shared a laugh while a young orderly approached them.
“Detectives, we have a small conference room set up for you just past the nurse’s station.”
The small group followed the orderly down the hall. Marks paused before entering the room.
“Holland, the Bennett family should be here soon. Go down and wait for them and get them up here as quickly and quietly as possible… without telling them too much.”
“You don’t think any of them are involved in this do you?”
“Oh, no. They’re as much in the dark about this as we are. But Mrs. Bennett… well, after what she went through the night of the attack and just being discharged from the hospital today, I wanted her seated and calm as possible… and a doctor close by, before we tell her about her husband. Of course, she’ll be glad he’s alive, but his condition isn’t stable and he does require surgery… if he ever gets strong enough.”
Holland’s large frame sagged.
“She gets good news, then bad news, then even worse news.” He grimaced. “Bet a week ago, she never imagined her life taking a turn like this.”

*

Darrin eased into the parking space and cut the engine when he saw he sister take the space next to him.
Still holding his mother’s hand, he gave it a gentle squeeze.
“Ready for this, mom?”
She didn’t respond and he turned toward her, and his heart broke more.
For the first time since Tuesday night, Sally Bennett was asleep without the aid of emotional shock or prescribed medications. It wasn’t a peaceful sleep, however. Her furrowed brow and tight jawline proved her mind was not at ease.
Carolyn tapped on his window and Darrin opened the car door.
“Wish I could just let her sleep.”
“I know. I wish we all were asleep and could wake up from this nightmare.”
“Nothing is ever going to be the same again, is it?”
They both glanced at their baby sister standing near the back of Darrin’s car.
“We’ll get through this, Joanie, one way or another.” Carolyn’s faint smile did little to encourage her sister.
“No, we’ll get through this together.”
They all turned at the sound of Sally’s voice.
“I just hope that includes your father.”

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

It’s time for a Drabble!


Drabbles


Back with another Drabble!

I believe I’m getting the hang of the rhythm.

The difficult part–word usage–is… coming.

Much like any story, writers want readers to be able to empathize with the protagonist (good or bad), and visualize and feel the scene.

Tall order for a hundred words but it is fun!

How did I do?

~~~

C H A N G E S – Drabble #2

Kerri Kennedy sat alone on the swing watching her four former friends play across the schoolyard.

They treated Kerri as though she’d changed.

The accident last winter took her father and left Kerri with mangled legs.

She couldn’t stand up straight and walked with a limp, but she was still the girl who liked pineapple on her pizza.

She wasn’t the one who changed.

A soccer ball bounced against Kerri’s foot. She kicked it back to the girl running toward her.

“Thanks. Wanna play with us?”

“I can’t. My leg.”

“Sure, you can.”

Surprised, Kerri smiled at her new friend.

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved