Roger slipped through the door and gazed at the mummy like figure lying on the bed, its limbs wrapped in gauze and tape. It was hard to reconcile that he was ditching his principles for mere money, but the reality was that he needed the job to survive and he felt a tinge of pride that he was about to accomplish the impossible. In the dim light radiating from the lcd screens monitoring her vitals, Roger could see that her breathing was shallow, must be asleep and beeping resonated in the room from the monitors displaying varying wave forms, alongside an intracranial pressure monitor, and a transducer all surrounding the bed.
As Roger approached, he couldn’t help but focus on tiny body outlined, resting on its back, bury your dead but don’t leave a trace tubes protruding from several unidentifiable orifices. The light emitting from the screens and the moon glow from the nearby window made her look pixyish, an innocent sleeping sprite. Roger reflected on the last time he had seen her, more banshee in her fury over the story involving her sister’s death. Then he had only been a bystander, in the lawyer’s office, but he felt both her and her mother’s searing gaze fall upon him, unforgiving and vengeful. The tabloid had taken an interest in her, after she gave the finger to a traffic judge in Orange County courtroom, hate your next door neighbor but don’t forget to say grace and had portrayed her as a cold hearted vixen flitting from one watering hole to another. In the tabloid photos, she had always appeared washed out and whorish. That’s showbiz! But here, he could see her intrinsic beauty that had captured the eye of a generation of girl power junkies, who had followed her every move and emulated her fashion sense.
With a sense of guilt and revulsion, Roger pulled his android phone from its belt loop holster; hesitated for a moment, no job is worth this and debated. A shot that would be plastered on the front page, haven’t I done enough to this girl along with her more harrowing escapades. There was barely enough light from the outside and he didn’t dare turn one on, his best hope was to get a grainy shot, exactly what SCAB! was in the market for. To think from the youngest and brightest in journalism to this lowest of lows. He quickly took several shots from different angles, cringing with each click. Time was of the essence, the cop would be back any second.
A twinge in the beginning was a twinge of purpose resurfaced, as Roger finished the job, and a thought pushed its way into his consciousness. He sensed another presence an outline of the old man overtake his mind and for a moment he felt outside of himself looking in. Moving a strand of hair past her ear, he bent and heard himself whisper, “Such a pretty little dove,” Roger felt a tear release from his eye, “to be so marred. I feel reluctant to wake you, Precious, but I need to know what you saw.”
Yes, my lord, Roger noted a smile cross her face, but you were with me, you saved me. Suddenly, Roger was awash within her raw fear and trepidation. Who are you!? her eyes widened within the morphine induced fog. What are you doing here?! the fury in her voice made his head pound and left him with no kind of retort. OMG it’s you!!!
“No please, it’s not like that,” abruptly Roger was himself again, “It happened right below my apartment. I had to see you…make sure you were alright.”
Do I fuckin look alright! Roger’s head felt like it might explode. You’re the one that wrote about my sister trying to fucking destroy my life, OMG you’re taking pics! Roger noticed the phone still hovering before her eyes and quickly reholstered it.
He saw a plastic pan on the tray, filled with water and a towel lying beside; the nurse must have been about to wash her brow when the code blue was announced. Now Roger picked up the towel and dipped it in the water. “I’m glad you’re awake,” he brought the towel and placed it on her brow. “I need to know what you saw.” Her eyes softened as the coolness of the towel brought her some relief. “Did you see who did this to you?”
Fuck off! Cassandra willed him to go away, pushed the button on the morphine drip, but he remained. Roger grabbed for his throbbing temple.
“Did he say anything to you before he caught on fire?” her gaze softened.
He said he had found me at last, her eyes glowed, so expressive.
“So, he was looking for you?” Roger dabbed her brow once again. “Did he say why a bum would be looking for you?” Oh please say long lost father.
He wasn’t a bum, Roger spied a bit of flesh at her collarbone, red and bubbled, felt for his own lasting memory of the bum from that morning. Eyes looked through the bum, a face appeared, a beautiful face. A tear streaked from the corner of her eye. He asked for my help. Roger dabbed at it, feeling shittier than ever about the pictures.
He said I must help save her, Roger’s head began to ache once again, the pressure behind his eyes exaggerated, that he lost his vessel. The nausea was coming back; perhaps this was what a migraine felt like; he wondered if her story would change once the narcotics began wearing off.
“Who did he say you had to save?” Roger daubed her temple once again. He never got the chance, that’s when he caught fire. He saved my life. As Roger placed the towel back on the tray, his body twitched involuntarily, sending a paralysis throughout his limbs. He shook his head; precious seconds were running out, if he were to get out of the room. “Look you’ve been through hell.”
Very funny! Roger reluctantly grabbed the towel and daubed her brow once more. “And I have to leave right now. But you hang in there. I’m sure…”
I’m not crazy, she moved her head slightly. There was someone else there, her eyes showed fierceness, inside the bum. Roger turned to go, and then turned back around. “My name is Roger Miller, if you want to talk about it sometime,” I know your fucking name!!! He placed his card on her tray then thinking twice, took up the card, tore the SCAB! logo off, and then slipped the card under her pillow.
“I pray you get better.” He was approaching the door, when he heard the scraping of a chair outside. Roger heard the door key enter the slot caught like a rat in a trap and ducked into the bathroom, just as the nurse came back in twittering about what a hunk the officer was. He attached the pictures to Frank’s email, prepared to hit send and you say over and over and over again my friend but kept his thumb from sending, deciding that he would wait until he was inevitably arrested. He listened, as the nurse prattled on, daubing her forehead with the towel. Peeking through the crack in the door, Roger watched as the nurse opened the curtains damn! to the view of the hallway before going back to her station. It was going to be you don’t believe in the eve of destruction a long night.