Dead End Job: A Louisa Hallstrom Novel(67)

By: Ingrid Reinke

I fought him for a moment, but when his words finally entered my conscious and made sense to me, I went limp and my arms fell to my side. My head rolled over to the side, and I could see the carnage that I had somehow miraculously survived. The double glass doors were shattered, and large pieces of thick tempered glass were spread out on the floor everywhere within a ten-foot radius.

Behind the glass and in front of the kitchen lay a large, unmoving mound that was once my friend, covered in blood and glass. Upon closer scrutiny I could make out red hair, and patches of blue shirt under enormous red pools of blood. Martin was gone.

“Looks like the bullet went in and came out, and you’re not bleeding that much. You’re going to be alright,” Rocky said, comforting me. He took my right hand and put it on top of the wound. “Push down here for a minute, I’m going to call you an ambulance,” he continued. I did as I was told, cringing from the pain. He grabbed his radio and efficiently relayed the information to an emergency responder from the Police station. Then he put the radio back in his belt and knelt over me. He replaced my hand with his own, applying a gentle and steady pressure. His other hand circled my waist, and he held me close, breathing softly into my hair.

“Oh Louisa, I’m so sorry,” he said in a husky whisper. “I should have been here, this should never have happened. It’s all my fault. You know I would never let anyone hurt you. I think I’m falling in love with you.”

My mind tried to process everything that was happening, but it couldn’t. I was floored. I tried to respond to him, but all I managed to get out was something that sounded like “oohhhblsalsheh.”

Even through my nonsense sounds, Rocky pretended to know exactly what I was talking about. “I know, Sweetie,” he said. “Does it hurt much?” He stared into my eyes. He looked so kind and concerned, I didn’t want to tell him that the pain I was feeling was similar to someone holding a hot iron on my shoulder for an extended period of time, so I just shook my head slightly and made another gurgling sound.

Chapter 17: Sick Day

I’m pretty sure I had officially experienced just the amount of pain that causes a person to black out, because the next thing I knew I was coming-to in a sterile white room, listening to the quiet but steady beeping of machinery. When I woke up a bit more I realized that the steady beeping noise was intermixed with whispered conversations coming at me from different directions in the room. I cracked my eyelids open and was able to make out a nurse in blue scrubs hovering above me, attending to an IV bag. I lifted my head slightly and saw my mother Marilyn at the foot of my bed, sitting in a very uncomfortable-looking hospital chair next to my stepfather Joe. Alex and Amanda stood to my right, whispering to each other about something.

The moment they realized that I was awake, Alex grabbed Amanda’s arm and squealed. My mother jumped up from her seat and jogged to the side of my bed.

“Oh, Honey, how are you feeling?” she asked, squeezing my hand, probably a bit harder than she intended to. When I tried to answer her my voice would not function. My tongue was drier than I ever thought possible—I felt like I had swallowed a small bag of sand. I tried to clear my throat, hoping some saliva would crystallize magically in my mouth, but all I managed was a croak.

“Water?” I practically dry heaved.

“Oh of course, Honey,” my mother said. “Nurse, can we please get my daughter a glass of water?” My mother’s authoritarian tone was well-practiced from decades in the classroom as a high school teacher, and the nurse nodded and immediately shuffled out of the room. I turned my head and looked at Alex. I was trying to tell her that her hair looked kinda crazy but I all could muster was raising my right arm a couple of inches off the bed, only to find it stuck by a massive and pinching IV line that held my hand captive with tubes and needles.

“Dude, stop. You’re going to hurt yourself,” Alex warned.

“Oh Lu,” Amanda said. “You must feel like shit, I’m so sorry. We’ve been so worried about you, I can’t even begin to tell you.” A tear formed in her eye, and she crouched down to give me a very gentle hug.

“Yeah,” said Alex. “We’ve been here all night waiting for you to wake up. We’re so glad that you’re going to be OK.”

“Thanks,” I mouthed, giving up on speaking until I’d had some hydration.

I turned to look out the window and saw that the sun was just starting to come up. It must’ve been close to six in the morning. The nurse re-entered the room with a large glass of water. She pushed a button with her shoe that raised the top of bed up into the sitting position and instead of giving the glass to me, she handed it over to my mom.