Category Archives: Fiction

Project Rainbow: Beginnings (Draft/wip)

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It had been a slow night in the ER, even for a Tuesday. Aside from a few run of the mill heart attacks early in the evening, as the night crept on, ambulance traffic slowed, then came to a halt. The floor settled into an uneasy peace until four o’clock in the morning, when I heard screams approaching the double doors. “Help! Help me, please! My daughter. She isn’t breathing!” The young mother gasped in short bursts, struggling to breathe and pulling at my scrub top as we met at the emergency entrance. “How old is she?” I looked down at what appeared to be a four or five year old child, with cold, blue lips, and no visible injuries. For a moment, I considered the mother may be too hysterical to answer. “She’s Five. The neighbors…their dog was barking. I woke up. Went in to check on Kayla, she was cold. My head…it’s pounding. Oh God, what’s wrong with her?” I checked her pulse for good measure. Nothing. By this time, Cassandra, the night shift CNA, had come to carry the mother off to a waiting area, where she would meet with a doctor who would assure her that we “did everything we could,” and before the realization of loss could weigh in, she would face tough questions from police. I paged a code, and continued CPR on the dead girl while waiting for a team of doctors to arrive. After submitting the night’s paperwork and giving the shortest report in weeks, I would be on my way out at seven.

I first discovered I wanted to be a nurse before it was acceptable for men to be nurses. In Toys R Us, while all the other boys hovered around the electronic toys, picking out monster trucks and remote control cars, I was often over in what was considered the girls’ section, where the nurses’ uniforms and toy medical kits were stocked in neat, inviting rows. I imagined one day using a stethoscope to listen to a dying kid’s heart like I saw paramedics doing on that show Rescue 911. My first experience with a real emergency, and the first time I got to see the dirty work in color came when I was just twelve. My buddy Ryan and I were skateboarding in the U shaped cement outflow of an old, drained pond in our neighborhood when, going out of our way to show off our skills, one of us was bound to get hurt. Ryan crested to the top of our private half pipe on the side opposite me, and for a brief moment, our eyes met, as we laughed and smiled at one another, sharing in the boyish rush of adrenaline and youth. As he descended, a stray rock or stick, or some other debris became tangled in the wheels. A sharp crack and skidding issued from the board, but the cry from Ryan was unmistakable. Terrified to look, I still found myself wanting to see. Besides, no one even knew we were here, so if he couldn’t make it out, I would have to go find help. I turned to look and saw skids in black and red. Tire and blood. I saw Ryan, lying in a heap, his left leg twisted in an impossible shape. Jeans ripped just below the knee opened to reveal the white of protruding bone. I sat for a moment, frozen, not knowing how to respond. I had never seen such an intense injury, I had never seen a part of the body come out from its comfortable hiding place beneath the skin.  “Andy, Andy? Go get my Mom! Please.” Still, I sat there staring as Ryan pleaded. I felt frozen by fear, confusion, but most of all, fascination. I continued to marvel at the streaks of blood on the concrete and the messy break of the bone. I pondered how strange it was that Ryan could still talk to me, while having a part of his body exposed. I wondered what other parts of the body worked that way. What other ways could we be broken and still function as conscious, intelligent beings? “Andy!” I snapped out of it. “Okay Ryan, I’ll be right back.”

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Washed Clean

There were very few reasons I was excited to head back to Georgia. As various outlets continued to report the news of mutilated bodies, all women, and all naked, washing up on the banks of the Satilla River, I suddenly couldn’t wait. I had always been a sucker for the dark and dangerous; and the sordid, wicked tales of verses carved in blood, washed clean in the brackish waters of the lowcountry proved no exception. I generally dreaded the long stays at the overbearing family compound. The seemingly endless week spent at the suffocating homestead I had married into, where foreigners dwelled who deigned to live with perpetually open doors, a land in which knocking was considered too stiff a boundary to observe. In this place of southern Baptist tradition, a set of Calvary Chapel tapes is considered the antidote to all of life’s problems, so long as you’re on enough drugs to listen to them.

When in Camelot, you pretend to be one of the Kennedys. Or something like that. So, on Sunday morning, it’s customary to attend church at the compound’s personal chapel. I sit uncomfortably next to my Father in Law in one of the ancient wooden pews. Sam continuously refuses to respect our family’s position on religion. Of course, he blames me, maybe because I’m openly secular and believe religion is a personal choice, or, as I’ve often considered, perhaps he’s tortured and resents my honesty. Either way, on this particular morning, the message appears to be of the usual fare: Adam was sleeping, the snake tricked Eve, Eve ate the fruit because she’s stupid and gullible, therefore human birth hurts, therefore women are evil. At last we adjourn, knowing full well that the only good woman is a dead woman, plenty of which have been found along the root littered banks of the river recently.

I mull this thought over, even as we eat and I dutifully (and repeatedly) refuse the meat. The verses. What were they? I decide to take a look at the local newspapers. The Bible verses, which were carved into the twelve women’s breasts and buttocks, many of them the same, are listed in The Florida Times-Union. Most seem to refer to virtuous women, or the inherent dangers of affiliating with women who do not “feareth the Lord.” As I sit reading, Sam walks up, and in his usual fashion, finds it necessary to warn me of my impending doom. “That preacher today made a good point, you know it? Evil disguises itself. And if you can’t recognize evil people, you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.” You will learn to be like them and endanger your soul. Proverbs? Horrified, I close the paper and struggle with the realization that Sam has been playing God. All those sins, the many lessons conveyed in the blood of unvirtuous women, were now washed clean by him in the dark, murky waters of the Satilla.

If you like this Flash Fiction piece, please consider giving it a vote at Tipsy Lit’s Blog here: VOTE IN THE COMMENTS HERE! http://wp.me/p3LMOJ-3xL

 

 

A Cup of Tea: in Response to Tipsy Lit’s Tuesday Prompt “Stuck in a Good Book”

Exhausted from a long evening spent answering what seemed to be the same questions repeatedly, Jane returned home from the police station to the imposing, Victorian home she had happily shared with her Husband, Ed, until his death last May. Since Ed died, and especially following the horribly gruesome murders of the Matthews family, a family that Jane barely knew beyond her annual contribution to their children’s school fundraisers, Jane had felt uncomfortable living alone in such a large house. The very life itself seemed to have drained from the house when Ed left, and in its place, an uneasiness settled upon its dried, leaf scattered lawn, and its blank, empty windows. Then the break-ins started. Each week it seemed a new house was targeted for random pillaging, and while nothing much was taken, the close proximity in time to the murders was a coincidence which could not be ignored.

As the police sorted the details and searched for motive in the Matthews’ murders, rumors were rampant. Connections to organized crime, the illegal drug trade, and human trafficking were all investigated as potential motives, especially since the Matthews’ sixteen year old daughter, Lucia, was missing, but presumed dead due to what appeared to be a snuff film anonymously posted to 4Chan the morning after the murders. As Jane tried to clear her thoughts of poor Lucia and the rest of her family, she decided to brew a cup of chamomile tea. Her heart literally ached, and she felt as if she may be sick. As the tea pot loudly screamed in the dim lights of the kitchen, Jane poured a cup and headed upstairs to bed.

Back at the police station, line one rang obnoxiously.
“Jameson.”
“Hello, Officer….?”
“Jameson.”
“Yes, Jameson, Hi, my name is Janet Simpson. I’m calling because I haven’t heard from my Parents in a couple of days, and I was wondering if someone could run over and check in on them and make sure everything’s alright? I would do it, but I’m out of state and it would take me at least 10 hours to get there.”
Officer Jameson took down the address to Jane and Ed Thomson’s house, and, promised to call Janet immediately with any word. The arriving officers found the doors locked, and everything appeared to be in order. Three newspapers were piled neatly beside the front door, and a cat could be heard mewling pitifully from inside. After repeated attempts to rouse the Thomsons, officers made their way in and immediately noticed the stench. Upstairs in the bedroom lay Ed Thomson, a gun in his right hand, and a wound to his temple. Next to him was his wife of 35 years, Jane, dead with an unfinished book across her chest and a blood spattered cup of tea by her side.

Author’s Note: If you like this story, please consider giving it a thumbs up in the comments section of the prompt “Stuck in a Good Book” over at Tipsy Lit, located
here: http://wp.me/p3LMOJ-3×8