Benny and his three mates were in the hospital. There’d been a bobsled accident. A myriad of minor fractures, pulled tendons and twisted vertebrae. Nothing critical, Benny swore, but everyone was wrapped in casts and bandages, limbs hoisted and stretched by an intricate series of weights and pulleys.
Benny’s assistant, Dinton, was frantic. Those four barely got along anymore under the best of circumstances. He needed to get there and keep a handle on things. And to keep the paparazzi away.
A mile from the hospital, a policeman lumbered in front of a roadblock. “Sorry sir, a blizzard’s closed this road,” said Officer Tate.
Din explained the urgency of situation.
“Didn’t there used to be a trail from here to there?” he asked, pointing to the cross-country skis he had strapped on his 4×4.
“Might work. Sven was out there yesterday. My shift ended before he got back. Lemme check.”
He pulled out his phone and started pressing buttons.
“Can’t you just radio,” Din asked, clearly in a rush.
“Sven’s deaf, gotta text,” said Tate. “Good thing we’re modern. Hmmm … this oughta do it,” he grinned, and showed the message to Dinton.
“Can Din ski the path to ABBA’s traction?”
The knife went in so much easier than I’d expected. A little force to make the initial puncture, an almost indiscernible “pop”, and then it just slid in right to the hilt.
It didn’t hurt at all. I suppose my shock that she actually did it, combined with the nervous system’s natural delayed reaction, blocked any pain. Like when you slice your finger and it doesn’t hurt until you see the first drop of blood.
“I warned you,” she hissed. A ribbon of crimson flew out of my chest and I passed out.
Two days later and I’m in Mercy Hospital, just released from ICU. She punctured my lung, but the surgeon says I’ll be fine. Could have been worse. And the morphine is nice.
She kept saying my snoring was driving her mad. We joked that she was crazy long before she met me, but that was all in the past. She had been a cutter in college. She swore she’d been taking her meds.
I got a note from her yesterday. She’s three floors below me, in the psych ward.
“The girl in the bed next to me doesn’t snore,” she wrote. “I can’t sleep for the silence.”
“Daddy’d let me have one,” Lola whined. “It’s not fair.”
The back of my hand cracked against her cheek before I realised I had wanted to slap her.
“Well Daddy’s not here, is he? And believe you me, he’s more worried about fucking his Portuguese whore than getting you a goddamned iPod. Now march.”
I grabbed her arm and bee-lined out of the mall, ignoring the staring shoppers. It was getting late and the last thing I needed was another ticket for driving with no headlights.
So I probably shouldn’t have clocked her. Especially in public. And now I’d have to make another frickin’ orthodontist appointment to get her headgear unbent.
I passed the whore at the Grand Union the other day, in the spices aisle. She looked me right in the eye, lowered her head and whispered, “pesarosa.”
Like she’s one to call me names. “Right back atcha, bitch,” I said and spit at her.
More stares. Fuck them. They can’t see the bank account he’d emptied to move in with her. Or the eviction notice in my purse. Or the hunting knife that will soon live in her home-wrecking back.
Just wait lady. We’ll see who’s the pesarosa.
A tide of people swells outside the doors leading from immigration. Hired drivers hold signs for otherwise anonymous businessmen. Somebody’s mom clutches 3 Mylar “welcome home” greetings. She keeps looking at her watch, making the balloons bob up and down like buoys.
Stragglers from the last flight drip through the double doors. Those still waiting crane their necks, but nobody recognizes 9-year old Sarah. Her fresh, freckled face belies the last 8 hours alone on a transatlantic flight, pretending to sleep so the flight attendants would stop asking if she’s afraid.
“Do you see him?” her uniformed chaperone asks.
Shaking her head, Sarah’s braids are metronomes counting time across each shoulder. The uniform says, “Maybe he’s waiting over there,” and points to the mini-strip mall of newsagents and Starbucks. “Do you want to walk around?”
She pulls up the zipper on her Hello Kitty jacket. The smell of fresh coffee warms her, but she knows better than to ask for some. She had tried that on the plane, but the flight attendants just laughed. “You’re too young for that,” they said through fake smiles. “How ‘bout some hot chocolate instead?”
Daddy will let her have some coffee.
If he ever shows up.