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The Return of Jack Collier (Chapter Two)

The Return of Jack Collier

A Jack Collier Story

By Brett N. Lashuay



Last week’s entry can be found here.



Chapter Two: The First of Three Former Lovers


            You know what you do most the time in a hospital? Nothing. You just sit there and recuperate. Every once in a while someone comes in and asks how you’re doing, and then in a few days someone else comes in and tells you how to raise your hand by pushing with your fingers and then when you’ve mastered that you can lift your hand without your fingers. Then you work on raising the whole of your arm so that you can wave for help when you get as high as the window. You’ve got your legs as well of course, but you’re not allowed to even think about moving them until you’ve got your arm sorted out.


            I won’t say that I didn’t make progress, but the progress I made was amazingly slow. I also found to my great displeasure that getting tired was also part of the game now. Almost anything could wipe me out and send me to sleep for three to ten hours. A few minutes of conversation was usually enough to do me in for the day, I couldn’t keep it together for very long at any given time, and this made getting any kind of conversing done extremely difficult. I think the record was Debbie and I talking about Saturday’s weather intermittently until about Monday afternoon.


            I was kitten weak, weak and beaten. I couldn’t claim to have been the baddest of the bad in Michigan right now, I couldn’t even be the baddest in this ward because there was that little four-year-old who was letting her displeasure be known with the power of her voice. If Jack the Cat showed up he could totally take me right now, even with the loss of depth perception he suffers from only having one eye. It was likely that the only thing that was saving me right then was a mixture of mutual respect and the fact that cats can’t just walk into hospitals and abuse the patients.


            Of course the drugs didn’t help, but then again, despite what people think, they never do. I would wake up feeling weak and muzzy minded, and I would continue that way until I fell asleep from the sheer exhaustion of trying to keep my eyes focused. I felt like I was living a shadow existence, like I was some sort of shade they were keeping alive for the sheer interest of it. I wasn’t really a person anymore, just a lump in a bed that had to be turned occasionally to prevent bed sores and blood clots.


            I was still very weak, and becoming very despondent, when I had what I would almost call a visitation. I was coming out of the drugged haze, and found my self in a dark room with what I can only assume was a werewolf. Drugs can be a very annoying thing sometimes. Just when you want to be so stoned that your eyes can’t even focus on the horror before you, that’s exactly when the gauze that has been covering your eyes for two months is lifted.


            I could clearly see the furry beast sitting in a corner of the room, its fell head turned away from me so I could see the profile of its maw, filled with glistening teeth. I don’t know how, but I seemed to give it some signal that I was aware of it, because the head turned towards me. The beast stood up, and I could tell that it was coming in for me. This was not an investigation, this was going to be a kill.


            How does a werewolf get into a hospital? Why is it a cat can’t get in to abuse me, but a great damn wolf can? Why did it wait so long? Why was no one coming to help? These were questions that would have to wait until later, at the moment I was trying to work up my strength to lie back quietly and welcome death limply, which was about all I could do at that moment.


            The beast came closer, and I thought I could just about make out a pair of sparkling eyes in the mass of fur that was coming toward me. I looked into those eyes as they drilled holes in me. Then the head descended, no doubt to rip my throat open and spray my life’s blood across the room before supping on my guts. I closed my eyes and licked my lips, no use watching or having dry lips when it started.


            And then the strike came, about six inches higher than I thought it would. The mouth pressed not against my neck, but against my mouth. It wasn’t so much teeth biting in as it was lips pressing against my own. It was around the time that the tongue slid between my lips to investigate my dental work that it occurred to me that this was actually rather pleasant. She was leaned in enough for me to notice that a pair of what made her a she was pressing against my arm as she kissed and I could smell a familiar scent.


            I only know a few people who can afford Clive Christian’s No. 1 Perfume, and they are all women. In a way, I wonder if that’s some sort of indicator of how far I’ve come from my childhood, that I actually know more than one person who can afford the most expensive perfume in the world. The field was narrowed though, because I only know one woman who would spend the money that she had on such an extravagance. She was a woman like me, someone who spent a few years in the metal boxes they call trailers and they actually think people should be able to live in. Someone who came up from nothing to the wealth she had now.


            When the face sucking salutation had completed, the werewolf pulled her head back and I recognized the werewolf for what it was. Char Webber was wearing her huge fur coat, with the fur hat and leather gloves, which made clear the question of her exploitation of the animal world. Not that I mind, but it seems to rub it in a bit when you cover yourself from head to foot in the skins of the vanquished.


            “Oh my beautiful boy,” she said pulling her gloves off and running a finger across my cheek. “What have they done to you?”


            “Do I really look that bad?” I asked.


            “You’ve looked better,” she said and smiled, “I’m sure you’ll bounce back if you want to.”


            “But do I want to?” I asked, looking at this woman who had given me the money to quit Bascom and start my own office, after that whole incident with her niece in the Balkans. “Should I want to get back up and start again?”


            “Yes my dear,” she said pushing my hair away from my brow with her hand. “What have they been giving you to make you so depressed?”


            “Whatever they give you when you’re in here,” I said, and would have shrugged if I wasn’t so weak.


            “Oh,” she said and looked at my withered and wasted body. “Does it help the pain?”


            “Yeah,” I nodded, a motion I could just about manage, “It helps.”


            “Okay,” She nodded back, but I could sort of see the look she had on her face. “You need to keep yourself together. You can’t give up.”


            “I’m trying,” I told her. “It’s hard though. I mean, why am I still here? If narrative forces worked the way they’re supposed to I should have been shunted away to some nether world or something.”


            “Did you get everything done you needed to get done?” she asked.




            “What have you left undone?” she asked, “What wrongs haven’t you set right?”


            “Oh shit,” I said, and I think the depression of the thought must have shown on my face. “You telling me that I’ve got to make all the wrong things in the world right?”


            “Just the things you left undone,” she said leaning down and kissing me again. “You and I have talked about your penchant for leaving things unfinished. You’ve got a bad habit of walking away without having fully finished them.”


            “I finish things,” I sounded defensive, but if I did it was because I knew she was right.


            “You finish some things. Others,” here she sighed, “Others you leave without having really sorted them out. We finished what was between us, but I know that there are women you didn’t sort out. You’ve left a lot of tangled lines behind you.”


            “I’ve got to clear things up huh?”


            “I think so,” she said and gripped my hand. “You’re going to have to get well again, and you’re going to have to tie up all those loose ends you’ve got flapping behind you. You’ve got to either finish with all those girls, or you’ve got to do right by them.”


            “Do right,” I said, and I could feel myself drifting away again.


            “Yes,” she nodded. “Like some other men do.”


            “Make things right,” I slurred my words, “Put things to right.”


            “Are you going to sleep again?” She asked.


            “Hard to help it,” I said as my head lolled around like a baby’s, “I’m still so tired, wears me out just talking.”


            “You should rest then,” she said, and I could feel the coldness sparking between us. “You need to get your strength back so you can put things to rights.”


            “I will Char,” I said and raised my hand the two inches I was able without help. “I can already do this.”


            “Good.” She smiled warmly and took my hand in hers. “I really must tell you my oh so beautiful boy, you can do this. I won’t be around to help you though, you’re going to have to do this on your own. If you need extra help, I can offer you what I gave you the last time.”


            “I think there is money already.”


            “That wasn’t what I gave you,” she said.


            “I think you’ll find it was,” I told her.


            “No.” She shook her head and a lock of graying hair escaped from under her hat. “I gave you a push.”


            “A push?” I asked.


            “You need a push now and then,” she said, “If you really need one, I’ll find a way to give you one.”


            “Okay,” I said, “I’ll let you know.”


            “No you won’t.” She shook her head. “But one of those adorable women you gather around yourself will.”


            “What will you do?” I asked.


            “Something appropriate,” she said.


            “Thanks Char.” I tried to smile, but whatever was in my veins was rapidly taking over.


            “You have a right to rest, just don’t do it forever,” she said and kissed me on the lips again, her tongue slid into my mouth, and at that I passed out.


            When I woke up I was alone, except for the cabinet, but we still weren’t on speaking terms so that didn’t count. I looked at the bag that was feeding me fluids and things and wondering about what kind of cocktail was in there. I wondered if maybe it was something debilitating, and then I sort of realized I didn’t care if it was or not.


            When the nurse came in I waved him over to me as best I could, fortunately he was a nice guy and knew the tiny motion of a finger was my best frantic wave. He came over and looked at me with a bright smile and an expectant face. He was a jovial fellow, I just hoped he would understand what I was about to ask of him.


            “What can I do for you?” he asked.


            “No more morphine,” I said.


            “Not really what we’ve been giving you,” he smiled.


            “No more anything,” I said looking at him, “I don’t want to want it when I don’t need it.”


            “You have addictive personality?” he asked, “I’ll need to report it if you’re prone.”


            “I’ve had a monkey on my back before,” I said, “I don’t want another. Let’s leave it at that.”


            “You know, we usually bring a person down slowly.” He looked at my legs and arms, and a worried look crossed his face. “You drop it now it’ll hurt like hell.”


            “I’ll tell you if it gets bad,” I told him.


            “No you won’t,” he shook his head.


            “You’ll hear me screaming,” I smiled, “I mean it’s not like I can lift my arm high enough to put the pillow in my mouth is it?”


            “Well,” He looked at me, and then at the wall, “I can’t make you take anything.”


            “You’re a sport,” I said leaning back and going back to that wacky new game that was sweeping the nation, trying to get my hand to go higher than three inches off the bed.


            I may have mentioned the air conditioning unit over head, the one that leaks just enough drops of water so that if you weren’t paying attention, or didn’t know me and thus knew what I tough guy I am, you’d think I was crying. Well, it leaked like a siv that night. In fact, it leaked so much that in my frustration I actually managed to work both arms up to my head and pull the pillow over my face so I could scream into it. I made it through the night though, and I made it through the next night too. In fact, I made it the rest of my stay without drugs, so I’ve got that going for me. Maybe with all the money they saved on the drugs they could fix that stupid AC unit.



July 1, 2010 Posted by | Fiction, Jack | | Leave a comment