Dead End Job: A Louisa Hallstrom Novel(68)

By: Ingrid Reinke

“Make sure she drinks this slowly, we don’t want her to be sick or do anything to disturb her wounds,” she said to my mother.

My mom smiled at me, then brought the glass over to my lips slowly and let me take a couple of sips. I drank in the cool water, feeling it rush into my mouth and re-hydrate my sandpapery tongue and mouth.

“That’s enough for now, Dear,” my mom said, taking the glass away. “How are you feeling?”

I had to think about that one for a second. Now that my immediate need of thirst was taken care of, the rest of my situation started to slowly sink in. Although my left shoulder was steadily throbbing and I had a pounding headache, I could tell that I was bandaged and medicated enough to make the pain manageable. I felt a bit out of it as I looked down at my arms, covered with the white patches of bandages, which were covering up multiple cuts from the shattered glass doors, down to my wrists, past the IVs, and noticed that the deep cuts there from Martin’s hack job with the duct tape had also been bandaged. Even through the haze of the meds, I knew I was tired, dizzy and weak from the blood loss and shock, but considering what I had been through, I felt pretty damn lucky.

“I’m fine, Mom,” I finally answered, which was the truth.

“We’re so glad to hear that,” she said, smiling. Joe had stepped over behind her and he was grinning from ear to ear, and Alex and Amanda were also beaming down at me.

“We can’t fucking believe you got shot!” Alex exclaimed. We all stared at each other for a second. Normally my parents would have been mortified by the unabashed swearing, but in the moment everyone found it hilarious. We all just started laughing like a bunch of crazy people. Joe stepped up and gave me a hug and a kiss, Alex patted the top of my head, and my mom hugged me a bit harder than she should’ve, while Amanda snapped pictures on her phone, telling me that even though I looked as ugly as could be, I would appreciate the pictures for posterity later on.

After we had all had a good laugh, my mom stepped up and whispered in my ear, “Honey, there’s a young man outside. He’s been her since before we arrived, and he hasn’t left all night. I think he has been waiting for you to wake up. I think he’s a Police Officer,” she added nervously.

“Oh Mom, that’s fine,” I said, speaking in a tone loud enough for the whole group to hear me. I knew it had to be Rocky, and I knew what I owed him. “Actually, you guys should know, that’s the guy who saved my life.”

“Oh my gosh!” my mother exclaimed. “We had no idea. He didn’t say anything! I’m going to go out there and thank him.” And with that she grabbed Joe by the hand and pulled him out of the room to the hallway. Alex and Amanda stood looking at me.

“We thought that he was probably Rocky,” said Alex. “We were just not sure, and we didn’t want to upset your parents,” she explained.

“It’s OK, guys,” I said. “Trust me, I owe him more than you can imagine.”

My mom returned in a moment, dragging a very exhausted looking Rocky. His face was pale and drawn, and his eyes were surrounded by dark circles. I could see how my parents might have questioned that he was a police officer, because although he was wearing his uniform’s pants, he had removed his navy blue shirt and was wearing just a plain white T-shirt tucked into his slacks. The shirt would have been completely unremarkable, except for the fact that it was soaked with splotches of dark, dried blood. It covered his shirt from just above his belly button, all the way to the collar, and was smeared on his neck all the way up to his strong chin. At first I was shocked, thinking that he had also been injured. It took me a few seconds to realize that the fact that he had been sitting in the hallway unattended by medical staff meant that he was in fact, just fine. Even more shocking was the realization that Rocky was covered with my own blood, and so much of it. He must have been holding me even after I passed out, waiting for the medics to arrive. He approached my bed and looked down at me with concern.

“How are you feeling?” he asked.

“I could ask you the same thing,” I replied, giving him a weak smile. He looked like absolute hell. I hadn’t seen myself in a mirror lately but I could imagine that I must have looked even worse.

I looked around the room at Alex, Amanda, my mother and step-dad, all staring at Rocky and I, and decided that I’d rather not have this conversation with an audience.

“Mom, Dad, Alex, Amanda,” I said, turning to look at each of them. “Do you guys mind giving us a minute?” I asked. Joe, Alex and Amanda nodded and quietly stepped out of the room. My mom looked concerned, and hesitated in the doorway. “It’s OK mom, I’ll be fine,” I assured her.