Texas girl in the middle of Kiwiana

Amy Boatman

The Last Good Day - Chapter 8

Disclaimer: The characters and plot of this story are my creative property. Do not reproduce or use them without permission. Any resemblance to anyone real or fictional is entirely coincidental.

Graphic Content Warning: This story is dark and disturbing. It deals with controversial themes such as drug addiction, sexual assault, incest, child abuse, graphic violence, and other topics definitely not suitable for a young or easily upset audience. There is also explicit language and sex between women. If this is going to disturb you, please go find something more suitable to read.

Thank you to everyone who has read and commented on this story thus far, especially Nutty and Elsieaustin. Their advice and suggestions have been invaluable.

Copyright 2007 - Amy Boatman

Charles loomed over me, his face covered in blood. I could see his rotting teeth and smell his fetid breath as he laughed at me. He brought the butt of the pistol down and smashed it across the bridge of my nose. Pain shot across my cheeks, and I felt the sickening crunch of bones breaking. Blood filled my mouth. I tried to spit it out, but I couldn't open my lips. They were taped shut. I tried to bring my hand up to pull off the tape but my arm was trapped by something.

I turned my head to see what held my arm, and saw my hair floating in front of my face. Charles was gone, as was the thing that had held my arm, and I was surrounded by murky green water. Something dark floated near me, but I couldn't make out what it was. My lungs burned for air. I kicked my legs and pulled my arms up, frantically trying to reach the surface. Just as my fingers neared the water's edge, something grabbed my leg and began pulling me back under

I looked down to find Bailey's face staring back at me. She had an impossibly strong grip on my leg and was hauling me deeper and deeper. I heard her voice in my head. “You killed me. It's all your fault. If you had just played along, I would still be alive.” Blood spewed from between her lips. A floating cloud of red haloed her face. She opened her mouth wide and a piercing scream impaled my brain. I put my hands to my ears, trying to block the sound, but it only got louder. The hand released my leg and grabbed my arms, holding me down and pulling my hands from my ears. The scream continued to careen around my brain, taking out chunks of skull as it went. The pain was excruciating! Please, somebody, make it stop! I can't take it, please make it stop!

“I can't make it stop!” I felt air enter my lungs as I tried to scream again. I sucked it in, filling my lungs again and again. Hands were holding my arms at my side. I tried to reach up to my head, but I couldn't move.

“Jordan, it's okay. It's just a nightmare. You're alright. Just breathe. You're going to be alright.” The voice spoke into my right ear, the tone soothing.

The strength left my body, and I fell limp onto the bed. Tears began pouring out of my eyes. “It hurts so much. Bailey, I'm so sorry.” My voice was barely more than a whisper. “Please make it stop,” I begged. “I'll do anything you want, just please make this stop.” My voice faded into choked sobs.

The bed drooped next to me, and I felt arms cradling my head. “Ssshh, it's going to be okay, Jordan. Just try to relax.”

A hand slowly and gently stroked my hair. My sobbing began to subside as I realized the pain was far less than it had been just moments ago. My head still ached. No, actually it throbbed as if it had been burned, as if raw flesh had been cauterized. I wondered if this was how cows felt after being branded. My body felt light as all the pain was lifted from me. This was a feeling I recognized. The morphine had kicked in. I began to float up and away into the ether.

Rufus and I were sat across from one another at the table in the kitchen of the firehouse. He had a big bowl of Froot Loops in front of him, and his nose was buried in the morning's newspaper. All I could see was the top of his wavy brown head bobbing up and down as he ate each spoonful. It was quiet in the station. There was no one else in sight. The faint smell of barbecue wafted through the air on a warm summer breeze flowing through the open window. I looked out and saw kids from the elementary school next door playing soccer. From this distance, they were just little red and white dots running back and forth across the field.

I felt something warm and wet touch my hand. I looked down at the table and saw a puddle of blood gathering around my hands. I looked up in time to see the newspaper floating to the floor as Rufus fell face first into his Froot Loops. Blood poured from his chest and pooled on the table. I leapt to my feet, pushing the table away from me as I did. It knocked Rufus back in his chair, and he landed on his back on the floor. His cereal bowl landed on his chest, spilling milk and colorful puffed Os all over him. The milk became pink as it mingled with the blood. It reminded me of the strawberry milk I drank as a kid. His hand was the last part of him to hit the floor, and the sound of his wedding ring hitting the concrete surface rang through the room.

“What the fuck did you do?!” a voice screamed from behind me. I whirled around to find Rufus' wife Sara standing behind me. Her pretty face was screwed up in anger, and her eyes burned holes in me. She ran up to me and began hitting me in the head and slapping my face. I put my hands up to block the blows.

“You let him die!” A blow landed on my right temple.

“I only ever asked one thing from you! I asked you to watch out for him!” Another fist landed against my left ear, leaving me momentarily deaf on that side.

“That's all I ever wanted you to do!” Her palm made contact with my left cheek and eye.

I fell to the floor with my hands around my head, trying to protect my face. She stopped hitting me and started kicking me in the stomach. “You couldn't do that one simple thing!” A strike landed against my left ribcage. “You let that madman kill my husband!” She stomped her heel into my stomach. “What are my boys supposed to do now?!” Another kick connected with the back of my head. I was helpless against the tirade. She smashed her foot down on my hand, and I felt the bones break.

Suddenly the beating stopped, and a soothing hand rubbed my head.

“Sshh. It's okay Jordan. You're okay now. It's alright, baby. I've got you.”

I felt strong arms encircle me and hold me tight. My entire body was in agony. “Please make it stop,” I pleaded. “It hurts so much. Oh, Bailey, please make it stop.” My voice was barely more than a whisper. Trying to push the words out just hurt too much.

“It's okay, baby. I'm here.”

Every part of me was throbbing. I couldn't tell where one pain left off and another took over. Tears I could not contain flowed from my eyes. I moaned deep in my chest. The vibrations shook my broken ribs, and I let out a strangled yelp of pain. A hand touched my forehead and began gently stroking away the wrinkle between my eyes.

“It's alright, love. I'm here. Just rest. You're safe now.” The familiar voice and warm fingers stroking my head calmed and soothed my battered soul. “Go ahead and hit the button. You need another dose.”

With these words, my consciousness drifted to my hand in which was gripped a little tube with a button on top. A morphine pump. Oh yeah, that was a good idea. I tapped the button and in seconds was asleep again.

I stood in the living room of my father's house. My fingers were gripping a fireplace poker as if it were the only thing keeping me sane. The feel of the cool metal contrasted with the feverish heat of my skin, anchoring me to the real world. The only sound in the room was the steady drip of blood falling from my hands, arms, and face onto the hardwood floor. Each drop echoed through my brain, creating a cadence with my rapidly beating heart.

My father lay on his back on the floor at my feet. His left hand was thrown up over his face as if, even in death, he was trying to protect himself from my wrath. He was naked except for a grayish undershirt. He had entered my room ready to conquer me once again. He had never expected me to fight back. He had not even seen the first blow coming until it was too late. The man who had terrorized me my entire life was now nothing more than a pile of broken bones and bleeding skin.

I felt all powerful. The adrenaline coursing through my veins was intoxicating. A giggle bubbled up out of my lungs and exploded from my mouth. The giggle evolved into a belly laugh. Soon, I was on my knees next to my father's body laughing hysterically. The look of surprise on his face when I hit him just added fuel to my fire. The bastard had never expected his meek and submissive daughter to fight back.

I was doubled over, the laughter burning my stomach muscles, when a hand shot out and grabbed my wrist. I screamed and recoiled from the touch but the grip was strong. I turned my head and looked into the clouded and lifeless eyes of my dead father. He sat up, his head lolling to the side as he rose. The left side of his skull was caved in, exposing gray bits of brain matter. Blood sheeted down his face and soaked into his shirt. I was frozen in horror.

His jaw clicked as he opened it to speak. “You little BITCH! How DARE you defy me! You are NOTHING but a whining, sniveling, useless piece of SHIT!”

The hand gripping my wrist pulled me towards him while he grabbed my neck with the other. I sucked in a final breath of air before his fingers squeezed my windpipe shut. I beat at him with my free hand, but he was just too strong. Starbursts exploded behind my eyes, and my lungs burned. I tore at his fingers but the lack of oxygen was making me weaker. I felt myself fading into blackness, and then the familiar voice spoke. My body relaxed as I realized I could still breathe. Peace settled over me as I drifted back into unconsciousness.

I existed like this for a day, a month, a year. I had no idea. Nightmares would grip me and tear me apart. The soothing familiar voice would bring me back, stroke my hair, kiss my face, and give me some peace. I loved that voice. The nightmares were devastating, but as soon as I heard that voice, I knew they was over. My pain would end. For a while at least.

After a particularly harrowing nightmare involving Charles and my utter helplessness in saving Bailey from his brutal attack, I awoke to the same comforting voice. She wrapped her arms around my body and kissed my forehead.

“It's alright, love. You're safe now.”

“I'll never be safe from my dreams.” My voice in my head sounded weak and scratchy, nothing at all like my normal voice.

“Jordan, are you awake?”

I realized I had said the words aloud. I tried to speak again, but my throat was too dry, and I choked.

“Here, have some water.”

I felt a straw touch my lips, and I accepted it into my mouth, greedily sucking in the water. It was a salve to my burning throat. I had not realized how hot I was until I felt the coldness slide from my mouth, down my throat, and into my stomach. A refreshing cool feeling radiated out from my belly. I released a contented sigh.

“Is that better?”

The voice was directly above my head. I tried to open my eyes, but they seemed to be taped down. I attempted to lift my arms to my face, but they felt as though rubber bands were pulling them back towards the bed.

“Careful. Don't move the bandages.” The voice didn't belong to Bailey as I had thought during my moments of lucidity. I knew the voice, but my drug addled brain could not conjure up a name.

“What happened? Where's Bailey?” My voice was still shaky and weak, but my throat was much less sore. “Why are my eyes bandaged?”

“What's the last thing you remember?” The voice spoke softly while a hand rubbed my arm.

“I remember that bastard shooting Bailey. I remember seeing the muzzle of his gun pointed at my head.” The memories slammed into my brain. The smell of blood and gunpowder filled my nostrils. I could hear the whimpers Bailey made as Charles questioned me, the only sounds she could make with the tape on her mouth. “I remember everything.” This last was followed by a sob as the horrors hit me all over again. My soul was torn in half, and it felt like nothing would ever be right again. I cried until my eyes burned, and the bandages felt wet. I was emotionally spent. That combined with the drugs in my system soon led me back into unconsciousness.

I awoke to the sound of the familiar voice speaking my name.

“Jordan, wake up.” A hand shook my shoulder.

I groaned and reluctantly grasped onto consciousness. I tried to open my eyes, but they were still bandaged. The familiar morphine haze was less pervasive. I thought maybe the doctor had decreased my dosage. The pain was certainly still there. Every part of me ached from the beating I had suffered. I could feel the rough industrial hospital grade sheet under my bare back. It was like lying on sandpaper.

The hand shook my shoulder again. I pulled away from the invasive fingers. “Alright, I'm awake. Stop doing that. It hurts.” I knew I was being cranky, but I didn't care.

“Jordan, the doctor is here and wants to talk to you.”

“Alright, so talk.”

I heard footsteps approach my bed. There was the sound of paper on metal, my chart, I guessed. The smell of cologne danced around my nose. The scent was pleasant. It reminded me of a guy in my paramedic class. If ever I was going to have sex with a man, it would have been him. He was tall with dark wavy hair and coal black eyes. His mother had been Indian, and his father was Scandinavian. His skin was the color of milk chocolate. He was the kindest man I had ever known.

My reverie was interrupted by a masculine voice. “Ms. Jameson, I'm Doctor Gupta. How are you feeling today?” The doctor's voice was deep and reassuring, with a hint of an accent I couldn't quite place. The compassion evident in his tone made me instantly like him.

“I feel like I got hit by a truck followed by a steamroller. Although I imagine it would be worse without all this wonderful morphine you keep giving me.” Always be nice to the man with the drugs. “Where's Bailey? Is she okay? Why are my eyes bandaged? What's wrong with me?”

“Let me answer about your condition first. You got pretty banged up. Actually, you're lucky to be alive. The bullet went in just below your left eye and came out behind your left ear. Amazingly enough, the damage it caused is more cosmetic than anything else. It didn't hit any of the vital areas, although the damage to your left ear remains to be seen. There may be some hearing loss later on down the road. I imagine your hearing is muffled now anyway due to the bandages, so we'll know more about that later when we can take them off. The bones under your left eye were shattered, so we had to repair them with wire and some small plates. It should heal up just fine. I don't anticipate you having any problems with that eye down the road.” I heard the sounds of flipping paper and imagined him going through my chart. “I'm afraid the right eye is a different story. The retina in that eye was detached due to the beating you took on that side of your face. We attempted to reattach it, but it remains to be seen if you will recover your vision in that eye. We really won't know more until it has time to heal.”

I was trying my hardest to focus on his words, but as he said, my hearing was a bit impaired. This combined with the lingering morphine buzz made it difficult for to me fully grasp what he was saying. “Okay, so I'm gonna live. Where's Bailey? I want to see her.”   I reached up and attempted to pull the bandages from my eyes. Strong hands grabbed mine, pinning them to my sides.

“Jordan, calm down. You're going to hurt yourself.”

I tried to pull my hands free, but it was no use. I was too weak after being beaten, shot, and unconscious for who knew how long to fight back effectively. Fortunately, my mouth was still working. “Where the fuck is Bailey?! I want to see her right fucking now! You cannot keep her from me!” I was terrified she was dead. I convinced myself that yelling like this would chase that possibility away. I thrashed around on the bed, heedless of the agony I was feeling. I heard a click next to me. Just before oblivion captured me once again, I realized someone had pushed my morphine button. “Fuck, that's just not fair,” I said as I slipped off into unconsciousness.

The light was unbearably bright. It was all I could see. Little pinpricks of pain shot through my head as I struggled to block out the light with my hand. My arm was stuck at my side. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't seem to lift either one of my arms. I turned my head from side to side trying to get away from the brightness, but it followed in every direction. 

“Jordan, hold still for just a minute.” The familiar voice was about two feet from my right side.

“Turn off that fucking light and I'll be happy to hold still.” 

I heard a giggle off to my right.  “Same old Jordan. I'm glad to hear you haven't lost all your charm.”

“Jordan, I need you to hold still. Can you do that for me?” This voice belonged to the doctor. He was standing on my left side but was leaning over me. His voice came from just above my head. I could feel him tugging at the bandages covering my head.

A giddy thrill shot through me at the sound of his voice and the smell of his cologne. Damn, did getting shot in the head turn me straight? “Yes, I can hold still.”

“Good. Let me tell you what I'm doing. I'm going to remove the bandages from your eyes today. I've already removed the first two layers. That's why it's so bright right now. I'm going to do this in stages to give your eyes time to adjust before I take off the next couple of layers. Do you understand? Can you relax while we do this?”

“Yes, doc. I get it. I can relax if you'll just answer me one thing. I was with a woman who was also shot. She's my girlfriend. Her name is Bailey Lancaster. Please, please tell me how she is. Please tell me she's alive.” The bandages were once again becoming soaked with my tears.

“Alright, but you need to remain calm okay?”

The floodgates opened, and I began sobbing as I imagined the worst. Why would he be so insistent on me staying calm if it was going to be good news? Oh Bailey, this is all my fault. The bed on my right side dipped down, and a hand rubbed my arm. 

“Ms. Lancaster was shot in the chest. She was operated on shortly after arriving in the emergency room. The bullet entered just to the left of her sternum, missing her heart by mere centimeters. However, it lodged in her spine and caused some damage to her spinal cord. She's been in a coma ever since arriving here two weeks ago. We won't know the full extent of her injuries until she wakes up.” 

“But she'll wake up right? That's what you said: ‘Until she wakes up.' That means you think she will.” Thank the gods! The tears soaking the bandages were now tears of happiness.

“We have no reason to believe she won't wake up. Her vital signs are all good, and her CAT scan was negative for brain injury. But right now it's a waiting game. I promise to let you know once I get more information.”

“Thank you, doc. You have no idea how much that means to me.” I noticed the hand had stopped rubbing my arm although I could still feel the heat radiating from the presence next to me. 

“I'm going to remove some more bandages. Are you ready?”

“Yeah, go ahead.”

This process continued for several minutes. He would remove a couple of layers and then wait a few minutes before removing the next layers. The intense brightness began to lessen and with it the sharp pain behind my eyes. Eventually, only one layer of bandages was left.

“Are you ready?” His voice was reassuring. He had been so gentle through this entire process. I really liked this doctor. I had a serious case of hero worship going on.

“Yeah, go ahead.” A sliver of fear knifed through me at the thought that I might not see. Being blind had always been one of my biggest fears. Living in darkness, never knowing exactly where all the dangers lay, filled me with an overwhelming dread.  My breathing quickened and I felt a sheen of sweat on my face.

“Are you sure? You seem to have become awfully anxious.”

“I'm fine, really. Let's get this over with.”

He gingerly removed the last of the bandages and the thick gauze pads resting on my eyelids. “Now don't open your eyes just yet. Let them adjust to the light.”

I did as he said, allowing them to gradually drift open. The hand was rubbing my right arm again. The morphine-induced haze had been gradually lifting during this whole process. I felt mostly coherent for the first time in days.

Finally, my eyes were open, but all I could see was blurry shapes.

“What do you see?” Doctor Gupta asked.

“I can see shapes but it's all so blurry. I can see you standing there but you're just a blob.”

“That's okay. It's to be expected. It'll pass here in a bit. Can you see out of both eyes?”

I concentrated on each eye separately, closing the right one first. The left was fine. I took a deep breath and opened the right eye. I could see the same blurry shapes as on the left. I laughed in relief. “Yes, I can! Thank the gods!”

“Oh Jordan, that's wonderful,” the other voice said from off to my right.

Now that the drugs were no longer affecting my mind, I realized who the voice belonged to. I was filled with dread. I felt like I might throw up. I continued to stare at the fuzzy shape until she gradually came into focus. Her dark brown hair was longer than the last time I had seen her. It fell past her shoulders instead of barely grazing them. Her hazel eyes held concern instead of the scorn and disdain I had last seen in them. She was smiling down at me, her look full of encouragement and compassion. My heart dipped down into my stomach. I could not believe what I was seeing.

“Tricia? What the fuck are you doing here?”

To be continued...