The House Across the Street
I bought a house at the end of a short dead-end street. It was wooded back of the house and there was another house across from me set in the woods the same as mine. It was about the same age and style as the one I had just moved into. Beyond us there was a wide place in the street where you could circle your vehicle and return to the highway. Whoever laid out the street sold double lots. These two houses were across from the other and the two empty acres at the end of the street had a common boundary beyond the turn-a-round. Beyond these there were woods and wilderness for miles. I agreed to purchase my property ten days ago and my new house was move-in-ready. I signed the papers two days ago. The day I moved in, there were a large group of people across the street that arrived about three in the afternoon. They were all dressed in church clothes. I guessed they had just returned from a funeral by what they were wearing. I hadn’t met the next door owner thinking the house was empty. Even after keeping an eye on what was going on I couldn’t pick out who lived there.
I saw a nice car arrive and a man carrying a briefcase entered the house. Everyone followed him inside. An hour later he came out, drove around the circle and left. Soon everyone came out at the same time. Two of the men who were the last out of the house stood talking for a few more minutes and then one of them locked the door. They all got into the waiting cars and made the circle with all five cars leaving together.
I set about arranging my furniture and making a home for myself. I had a week to do this before I had to go back to work. I was employed at a factory about three miles away. I was an engineer doing product development for the tool factory. I was pretty much my own boss. How does a man get a job like this? Maybe if two uncles owned the factory it could happen.
A lot of what I did was done from my home office. I considered this was a cushy job for a person at my age of twenty-seven but it was a family business and I did work hard. I had been doing this since I had interned shortly after graduating college. After my internship was finished, I continued working for family owned corporation and never considered working anywhere else. Counting my internship, I was now a six year veteran,
I most often worked at night in my home office. I would go into the factory office early in the morning for three hours to get orders and leave the work I had done the night before. I would be home slightly after ten a.m. and then my time was my own until I finished up my day in the evening. This was working in the laboratory I had put together in the upstairs bedroom. You could say my day was my own except for the three hours in the factory mornings. I could work any five hours before seven the next morning when I wanted to.
I was dedicated to my job and did put in a full day working on whatever the factory was manufacturing. If it was a new product, I might put in sixteen to eighteen hours. Only rarely did I receive a phone call during the day. I usually checked my email or phone for text a few times, but otherwise I worked.
I was satisfied with the interior of my home. It wasn’t new, but it had been updated just before I bought it and I was happy with all that had been done. Carpets had been removed and hardwood had been installed in all the rooms on the first floor. There was laminate in the two rooms on the second level. The bathroom was tiled and all the rooms had fresh paint on the walls. The kitchen wasn’t that large, but for a single person or couple it was compact and easy to clean.
The garage had one large bay and it had enough space beside the car to store whatever tools and toys you might own. There was no window in the garage door, but one in the small door beside it.
The lawn in front was a half-acre in size and I bought a new riding mower to cut the grass. There were various flower beds scattered about the lawn and I set about rejuvenating them. Luckily they weren’t outlined with stones or borders and you could mow close and I didn’t have to worry about edging the grass. Under the flower beds was plastic for weed control covered by mulch and all were easy to care for.
My extra lot went half way around the turnaround circle. It had mature trees on it and there was some heavy underbrush. The acre home lot the house sat on comprised one half acre that had tall brush undergrowth behind the building. I knew if it would grow brush, the soil would support some fruit and nut trees. My first chore on the exterior would be to clear out the brush and plant whatever I thought I would enjoy.
The house across the street had basically the same layout as my own. The lawn hadn’t been mowed this spring and it was going back to the wild. The flower beds contained perennials so they did show a lot of different colors. One late afternoon after I had been here three weeks, I saw a car drive up and park in the driveway. It looked liked the man who had come three weeks before entering the house with a briefcase.
He walked around the house, looking at everything and went into the garage. He was inside that for fifteen minutes and then went inside the house. I’d guess he was inspecting all the utilities and systems. I was getting my dinner when there was a knock on the back door. I opened it and the man stood there. He looked to be about forty.
“Hi, I’m an attorney. My name is George Johnson. I was across the road inspecting the Simmons property. I noticed you have kept your home very nicely. Would you tell me what service you use to keep it in such beautiful shape?” “I don’t use a service, I do the work myself.”
“You don’t work?”
“Yes, I work, but my hours are such that I have time to keep my property looking well.”
“What’s your name? I’m asking if you wouldn’t want to work on the Simmons property across from yours.”
“Name’s Jack Summers. No, I don’t think so. I want to get at clearing out the brush on the remainder of my lot and there is always the spare acre. I am though, curious about who owns the property across the street?”
“It is now owned by a woman, named Angie Simmons. She is in a hospital recovering from a beating that took place a little less than six weeks ago.”
“No, it was her husband.”
“Let him take care of it.”
“He’s dead. My client shot and killed him.”
“I guess I don’t want to get involved then. Maybe that’s why I got this place so cheap if things like that were going on in the neighborhood.”
“It could be. The woman didn’t just up and kill him she was protecting herself from further injuries.”
“I still don’t want to get involved.”
“The woman won’t be around for another couple of months. It would be a shame when she gets out of the hospital to come home and find it in worse shape than it is right now.”
“How bad off is she.”
“Not good and it is a wonder she is still alive. She needs her left knee replaced. Her husband almost tore her leg off at the joint. She has a broken arm to go along with that. The worst damage is to her insides. He kicked her repeatedly and damaged her spleen. They didn’t find two cracked vertebrae for two days after she was in the hospital. It was a good thing the EMT’s followed procedure in transporting her.
“She’ll live, but will never be the same. She has scars on her face that will never fade to go along with the rest of her body. Her life is just about over in every sense of the word. Not only that, she may have to face a manslaughter charge. That hasn’t been determined yet.”
“Why did her husband do that to her?”
“Money is behind it all. She is quite well-to-do. Her husband was a philanderer and adulterer so she asked him for a divorce. He wasn’t going to let that happen. If she was dead, then the money would have come to him. The only problem, there are no witnesses to back up any of this.”
“What are your thoughts on her being charged? I suspect you will defend her. What is your gut feeling about where she is with this.”
“It won’t be me defending her because I’m not that type of lawyer. It is too early for any decision. She hasn’t been indicted yet. I’m almost sure they will determine that it was justified. The gun she used belonged to her father so she didn’t go out and buy one. She thinks her husband thought she was dead because she was knocked out from her injuries. She said he attacked her about ten in the evening and she called the police about four in the morning. This was right after she shot him.
“He evidently had gone to sleep after abusing her. When she woke up, she dragged her self across the room to a small bedside cabinet where the gun was. Think about the injuries she had and what it took to do this? He woke up when she tipped the cabinet toward her that held the gun. He must have heard the noise and came off the bed, reaching for her. She shot him once. She claims she had just enough strength left to reach for her cell that had been on top of the cabinet and fell within her reach.
“I’ve talked to the forensics investigator although I haven’t seen the photos. Between what she said and what I could pry out of the police detectives, I doubt she will be charged. I’m hoping someone will come forward to bolster the evidence that he was the one who smashed her up.
“Why would the husband lie down after beating her up?”
“His alcohol level was four times the level for impairment. He must have been passed out until he heard the cabinet fell on the floor. It would have taken time for him to be awake enough to realize how much danger he was in. This gave her time enough to get the gun from the cabinet drawer.”
“That sounds plausible. She sounds like a strong woman.”
“She is for a small woman. Remember she is only five foot two?”
“You didn’t say.”
“No, I guess I didn’t.” George was watching me put my meal together. I took some mint jelly from the fridge and leaned down to remove a lamb roast from the oven. I put it on a wooden carving board on the top of the stove to rest. I made gravy from the drippings. Potatoes had been boiling and were ready to mash. I took the steamed mixed vegetables from the microwave. Putting everything in serving dishes and sat them on the table.
“You must be hungry ... eat with me. Beer, it goes well with a meal like this.”
“I will. This is better than you get in a first class restaurant.” We ate and I asked George to leave because I had work to do in my office.
He hadn’t let me off the hook about helping her. “So, Jack, do you think you could do a little work for your neighbor?”
“I’ll see. I won’t promise anything.”
“Keep track of your hours. Angie has money and will pay what you ask. When she gets a little better you can go visit her and I’ll introduce you. Plan on that in a couple of weeks.”
“George, was that her family or her husband’s I saw a few works ago after the funeral?”
“Both. She got on well with his family and of course her own. She won’t be seeing much of his family because they live more than half-way across the country. Her folks are three hours away. That’s part of what is holding up her getting out of the hospital. There is no one to look after her.” He paused and continued, “Here, would you take these keys and check out the house every week or so, I won’t be able to get out here that often.
I took them from his hand when he handed them over. “No promises, but I can do that much.”
“Okay, but give me leave to change your mind if I can. She is a fine woman, and it’s just that she is going through a tough time right now. I’ll leave my card in case you want to contact me. She was a beautiful creature and I feel so sad about the way she looks now. I knew both Brian, her husband, and her, but never suspected he was capable of something like this.”
I did work that evening, but I wasn’t too productive. Thoughts of the neighbor, Angie Simmons were in my mind. I didn’t know anything about her. I had learned she was of small stature and pretty badly smashed up. It was going to take her awhile longer to recuperate from her injuries. Even then, when she was healed, she would have to deal with a scarred face. And would she be able to deal with the added burden someday of facing the public over killing her husband?
When I returned from the factory the next morning I went inside the house across the street. It was nice and laid out much like my own. There was the usual kitchen, dining, and living area. What was different was an extra bedroom in the rear on the first level. This I didn’t have. There was still police tape across the closed door to this room. I didn’t disturb it at all. I wondered if the blood had been cleaned up. I went upstairs and looked into the two bedrooms. They were the same size as my own. The clothes in the closet revealed she dressed well. One bed wasn’t made up.
There was a better class of furniture than what I purchased when I bought my own. Now I just had a cheap bed without a headboard and bureau in one. I used my other bedroom for an office and the laboratory.
In the kitchen I could see the dishwasher still had cleaned dishes from the funeral gathering still in it. Probably it was still running when they left. Everything in this house was of much better quality reflecting that the owners had more money than I had to furnish a house. I wasn’t into looks. I bought what was comfortable and what I needed, and strictly utilitarian
There were pictures of a man and woman, together on the bookcase. The woman’s eyes sparkled and he looked to be bored as if not interested in being with his wife. There were also other pictures of Angie ... one of her doing a glam shot on the edge of a pool somewhere. She was beautiful.
I could tell the husband was big man standing many inches taller than she. He was an athlete according to the pictures. He also looked about the same age as her. There were pictures of him in a football uniform and of one on a golf course. There was one of him sitting on a horse. Angie was in some where she was paired with a group of female friends. One of the girls included in the picture of friends looked awfully much like my sister, Samantha. Hard to tell for sure, but I would ask.
I’d call Sammy and ask if she knew anyone from college named Angie. Christ, Sammy went to University in Minnesota. How in hell did this Angie end up living in Virginia? Well, how did I end up living here? My work, of course, or maybe Angie’s husband had a job here. People tended to be a mobile society.
I gave up thinking about this. I opened up her garage and looked at the mower. I checked the oil and found gas in a can. I had to back one car out of the garage so I could drive the lawn mower out. Both the car and mower started immediately. It was slow mowing because the grass was so high. The vacuum unit filled the container on the rear too often and I spent more time empting it than I did mowing. I found the place where the grass was dumped up a path in the woods. Grass had only been dumped once this year.
I did the front of the house and cleaned under the mower deck before returning it to the garage. I put the nice BMW back in its stall. According to the registration in the glove compartment it was two years old. There was a Subaru wagon in front of the BMW.
I called my sister, “Hi, Sis, how is the family?”
“Hey Jack, I was going to call you tonight. The girls are good. News for you. I’m going to have a boy this time. Three kids are enough. I’ll have my tubes tied after he is born. Are you all settled into your new home?”
“Yeah, I’m all settled in, and I love it. It is some different than that old apartment with all the noise from the other tenants and I put together a small laboratory to use in one room. I can see only one neighbor’s house and that is across the street. I haven’t met the owner yet. Actually I won’t meet him. The wife shot and killed him a few days before I moved in.”
“Oh, how awful! You haven’t met her yet, you said? I take it she is in jail, then?”
“No, she is still in the hospital. The husband was drunk and almost beat her to death. She managed to get to a gun and killed him. When I tell you all about her injuries you won’t believe it was possible.”
“Why are you telling me about her?”
“Because you may know her from the university. I was hired by an attorney to do some yard work around the property. I was given the keys to the house and I saw your picture in a photograph with her and a bunch of your friends.”
“What was her name?”
“I didn’t poke around enough to find out her maiden name. Her married name is Angie Simmons.”
“Ah, that would be Angie Driscoll while at Uni. How badly was she hurt?”
I listed her injuries. “The doctors didn’t find two cracked vertebrae for two days. If her back bones had moved out of line, she would be either paralyzed or dead. I’m told she will be horribly scarred too. She’ll have to live with that the rest of her life. That’s what the lawyer who hired me says, anyway.”
“You want me to go visit her, don’t you?”
“Just to tell her about me. I’ll look after her home and when she can be discharged, I can keep my eye on her some during the day. Tell her my hours are flexible and she won’t be too much of a bother. Find out where she works. I hate to bother her lawyer. Also, tell her I think she has a great attorney. I met him and fed him dinner.”
“Why don’t you go see her and tell her all of this?”
“Sammy, how would you feel if your husband had tried to kill you and pretty much wrecked you. Then you killed him before he could finish you off. Then an unknown man shows up to see you in the hospital and you’re laying there helpless. Think about it.”
“Okay, okay, I get the picture. Jack, why are you helping her? Why do you want to help her?”
“Simple, her attorney asked me to.”
“Yeah, right. You’re so full of it.”
“Sammy, I don’t know why, but I have a feeling I should help her. What do you remember about her?”
“She was rich and she was very pretty. If I remember correctly, she was more of a follower than a leader. Quiet, almost to the point of being submissive. That is until someone crossed her and then she could go berserk and put everything aside to defend herself. You’ve got me interested now and I will go see her. I want to see your new home, anyway.”
Sammy lived about thirty miles away from me. She adored her husband, Norm, who worked at the factory with me. I didn’t see him because of my weird hours and he was in a different department. He was a good guy and was totally into his family. We made arrangements to meet next week.
I put in the same hours at my job. I didn’t slack on those at all. I did often work longer at night, though. I finally got the neighbors lawn mowed and pulled some of the weeds out of the flower beds. It was time to mow my own lawn again by the time I finished across the street.
I called George, the attorney, asking whether the crime scene had been released back to the owner. He said he would check. He called me back and said it had been. He then asked me to hire someone to come in and clean up the blood. The next day I took down the police tape and opened the door.
There was much dried blood on the floor over by the bed which had to have come from the husband where he had bled out. There was some across the room where I assumed Angie had lain injured. A big part of the husband’s blood had seeped through a small scatter rug onto the floor. The rug was stuck down. I picked it up, and the floor being smooth, most of the blood came up with it. It had been so long since this had happened, the blood had dried. I found the blood would flake off and could be vacuumed up.
I ran the point of a knife along the seams of the laminated boards and vacuumed again. You couldn’t see any evidence of blood when I finished. I then called a commercial house cleaning crew to clean and disinfect the whole room. This included all the bed clothes because there were a few spots on the coverlet and also the rug that I had rolled up. I told them they might not want to unroll the rug because it was quite messy although dry and to get rid of everything.
Saturday morning I went the thirty miles to see my sister. My oldest niece, four, was my special friend and tickled to see me. The younger one, another girl about fourteen months was fast catching up in becoming aware that I was someone special. Sammy was showing her pregnant condition, very happy that the child she was carrying was going to be a boy.
I played with them until their father got home at 6:30. Sammy had made hamburgers and a salad. Both questioned me about why I was helping putting the house of my neighbor back into a livable condition.
“Look, I haven’t met the woman yet. So her attorney tells me, her family lives in a small town a hundred and fifty miles away. I will say I was pleased to learn that his folks aren’t holding the killing against her. She still has a couple of months in the hospital. She has to have a knee replaced and even then there will be some repair to the joint before this can happen. She has to be immobile for a few weeks more while the two vertebrae heal.
“She is wearing a cast on her left arm. That will be the first injury to be healed. And then they had to do some delicate surgery on her spleen because that was ruptured. Her attorney tells me that it has to be checked often for awhile to make sure the surgery that repaired it stays secure.” I paused for a minute before continuing, “And then there is her face. I understand she will have a scar that can’t be fixed. She’ll have to live with it the rest of her life. I think this is the saddest situation for a woman of her age.
“I wouldn’t think when she comes back she will want to live in her home. If I can keep it up, she should be able to sell it for a fair price. There was a crime committed in it and I suppose the agent will have to disclose what happened to a prospective buyer. I know I was surprised at how reasonable I got my home for, but then I found out what had happened a week before I agreed to buy and put my money down. I should have been informed. I would have bought it anyway, but I should have been told just the same.”
“Jack, you said you want me to visit her?”
“I think it would be nice, I’ll bet she needs a friend by this time. I wouldn’t think her family would travel that distance very often.”
“If you put together a barbeque, I’ll go tomorrow. Girls, we are going to go see Uncle Jack’s new home. Won’t that be fun?”
“Can we go see it today, Mommy?”
“No, not today. We’ll go early tomorrow, sweetheart.”
I didn’t stay long. I finished my second beer and that was my limit so went along home. I did stop at the grocery for steak and hotdogs. I got ice cream and chocolate syrup, too.
For some reason, I didn’t sleep well that night. My thoughts were on Angie. I didn’t know why either. I mean I had never met the woman. Sammy said she was two years older than me.
I was lying on the couch asleep when my sister and family arrived at ten the next morning. “Jack, you look like hell, are you sick?”
“No, I didn’t sleep well.”
“I guess. I can’t get her out of my mind. I just feel so sad for her.”
“How am I going to explain my visit? I mean how did I learn of her mishap and know she was in the hospital so I could visit?”
“Just tell it like it is. Her attorney, George Johnson, asked me to look after her property. I also was asked to go into the house and make sure everything was okay. I recognized you posing with a group of friends in one of the pictures scattered about the house. The picture was on a shelf in the bookcase. That should take care of it. So, I saw your picture and questioned you about her because she is my neighbor.”
“I guess that will work. I’m going to go over to the hospital now. You and Norm watch the girls. Take them for a walk in the woods if they get bored.”
It was nearly one before my sister returned. “Jack, Angie was so pleased to see me. She doesn’t have many visitors because her family lives so far away. She has to be immobilized for two more weeks. Her arm is healing well. They haven’t done much with her knee yet. It was torn up terribly. They have been in and done some repair work on it, but when the rest of her body gets well, they will have to replace the joint.”
“What about her spleen? I’ve looked it up on a health site and that is an important organ.”
“It is, but it has been repaired and seems to be healing well. It is being closely monitored though. Jack, you haven’t asked about her face and what happened to it.”
“Her nose was broken when she was knocked to the floor and one nostril is torn and the small piece was lost. It tore much of the flesh from one cheek at the same time. She did tell me some repairs can be made after everything else has healed. There are so many things damaged, they say it will still be two months before she can get around by herself comfortably. They are putting off the repair to her face beyond that, saying it is only cosmetic.”
“The poor woman. Is she depressed?”
“Of course. She said she wishes she had never woken up after being battered so badly.”
“Did she mention her husband?”
“Yes, but she didn’t dwell on him. I took it she has been battered several times previously. Her heart goes out to her husband’s family. They are not blaming her for what she did to him. I guess she knew her husband’s family since she was a child. She didn’t say, but I deduced he might have been her first lover. Both sets of parents thought it was a good match. It wasn’t until the police contacted them after his death that they found out how miserable her life has been.”
“Was she happy to see you?”
“Very much so. She asked if I had kept up with our mutual friends after college. I told her what I knew of some of them. I’m going to contact one I know who lives not far away and maybe we can give her support. That was such a fun and happy time of our life when we were in school.”
“That’s great of you.”
“Angie mentioned her attorney fairly often. He has told her about asking you to watch her property. She wants to meet you sometime.”
“I guess that’s good. I wouldn’t know how to go visit her on my own. I wouldn’t know what to say.”
“Let her talk. She might shed a few tears and she probably will whine a little about what happened to her. Give her some sympathy. I’d like to see her back like she was when we were in college. I would hate to have her slide into depression deeper than she is now.”
“I’ll take in some of her tea roses. There is a beautiful flowering bush by the end of her house.”
“You’ll figure it out, Jack. That’s a great way to start.”
We put speaking about my neighbor aside for the rest of the day. I loved my sister and her family. Living only thirty miles apart, we could jump into a vehicle, be together within less than an hour and visit. We did this often since I began work at the factory. Sammy made me promise to call her after I visited Angie, which I agreed to.
I went to work at my regular time in the morning, putting in three hours. I came home with a folder with two projects to work on this evening. I went across the road and picked four dark red roses and hunted until I found two white blossoms for contrast. I tied them together with a yellow ribbon. I attached this to a folded piece of white cardboard so it would stand by itself.
I was shown into Angie’s room. The nurse said it was almost lunch time. “We’re very busy and shorthanded today. Would you feed her?”
“I can, but make sure it is okay with her. This is our first meeting.”
“Why are you here to see her?”
“Her attorney engaged me to watch her home so I think she does know my name.”
“Okay, but if she gets upset, please leave. She has had a bad time and you will see she has a long way to go.”
We entered her room. Angie was asleep. The nurse swung the table around over her bed so that when lunch came it could be placed on it. I put the card of roses on it where it would be the first thing she would see when she opened her eyes.
I looked around and finally got up to look out the window. I could look down over what appeared to be the emergency entrance. I watched the attendants rush to open the back of a vehicle and pull a gurney out. The wheels were dropped and two attendants rushed it through the waiting doors. Another person in trouble.
Behind me, Angie spoke, “Hi, the roses are beautiful. Did those come from my bushes?”
“Yes, they did. They began blooming a couple weeks ago. I wanted you to see them before they faded.”
Just then we heard dishes rattle and a server came through the door with Angie’s lunch. “Hi Angie, here’s the stuff you are supposed to eat. No better than yesterday and probably won’t be improved on by tomorrow. We’re short of help today. This gentleman offered to feed you. Wow, pretty flowers. You must rate. No one has given me flowers for years. See you tonight. Have fun.”
“Bye Berta.” The server was gone.
“Okay, let’s see how I can do feeding you. I have all the time in the world so take your time. I see you have hamburger steak and mashed potato. Must be this is your heavy meal of the day. Do you prefer catsup or mustard? There are peas for a vegetable. You have to eat those with a knife. That’s so they can roll off at least twice before they get to your lips. I’ll butter your roll. I see you are a tea drinker. Me. I prefer coffee. I don’t drink much either. A couple of beers now and then and I don’t like hard stuff. Maybe a glass of wine when out to dinner.
“Look today, I’m going to tell you about myself. I can do that because I have a captive audience. Tell me to shut up if you get sick of listening. Let’s see, I moved into my home a month ago. There were a lot of people across the road that day and I didn’t know why. I found out later it was the day of your husband’s funeral. George came by and asked me to look after your property and explained everything and why you are here in the hospital. That was the day I became curious about you. I’ve learned a lot about you and much of it good.”
“Yeah, like I killed my husband.”
“I won’t go there, but listen to me a minute. George told me that both your family and your husband’s parents were together in the group of people I saw walking and talking together. I didn’t see any bitterness or I didn’t hear any recrimination and I was close enough to hear and observe. That tells me that they don’t hold what you did against you. Oh, I know, probably they don’t condone what you did, but it was something necessary.”
My eyes bored into hers. I held a forkful of food before her lips. “Jack, you just answered something I was worried about. I haven’t seen anyone of Brian’s family since before that day. I couldn’t understand why I haven’t. I was as close to them as I was my own. It has hurt me and I just knew they were waiting for me to get out of the hospital and do the same thing to me as I did to Brian.”
“I very much doubt that. I would guess they haven’t come to see you or contact you because they don’t know what to say.”
“What should I do, then?”
“If you were at all close to his mother, send her a note saying you are sorry you took Brian from her. If you know her well enough, ask for her forgiveness. That should be sufficient. Keep it simple.”
“I’ll do that. Luckily I can use my right arm. I feel so useless. I have to have my food cut up into small pieces. All in all it would have been better for me if I hadn’t made it to the hospital.”
“If that had happened you wouldn’t have reconnected with Sammy. She only lives thirty miles from here as she told you.”
“I was so surprised when she came in. She told me that her brother was looking after my house. She tells me you are a pretty good guy for a brother.”
“Yeah, and I love her too. George gave me the keys to your place. I’ve mowed your lawn and perked up the flower beds. I’ve checked out everything in the house. That’s how I found out you and Sammy were friends.”
“The house is a mess isn’t it?”
“Your parents and in-laws put everything away before leaving.”
“I’ll bet there was one room they didn’t go into.”
“No they didn’t. There was a police tape across the door so of course they didn’t.”
“You must have been in the room. The only picture I had of Sammy was in that room.”
“I saw the one in the bookcase first, but I have been in. The police were done with it and George asked me to take care of everything. Do you want me to save the furniture?”
“Get rid of the bed. I’ll get a new one. I’ll probably sell the house furnished. I need to get rid of the memories of my husband.”
“I’ll see that the bed is removed. Now, more about myself. I’m single, but that’s just because I haven’t found anyone to make my life with. I work three hours every morning at a local factory and then I have the day free to do what I want to do. I usually go back to work in my home office from seven till midnight. I get eight hours of work in anyway. If I go out in the evening, I work during the day or work five hours after I get home. The hours are flexible except for the three hours at the factory.”
“Those are weird hours.”
“Yeah, but it works for me. So Angie, tell me about your hurts.”
“You can see my face. I’ll have to wear a mask the rest of my life.”
“I doubt that. What else?”
“My arm is healing nicely and my spleen, so the doctors say, is out of danger. I have to lay here like this for another two weeks. If my broken back hasn’t healed in that time it may be a lot longer. My knee is a mess and they have stabilized it. The knee cap was just hanging when I came in here. They tell me they can’t repair the joint and it will have to be replaced. I have that to look forward to and I’m dreading it. I wish I had died.”
“We don’t always get what we wish for.”
“I know that, but then nobody has a face like mine.”
“You know, a good cosmetic surgeon could fix your looks. A little cartilage from one of your ears for your nose should fix it. Where your cheek has been gouged, they will find some material and skin from your butt to round out what you lost. Then if anyone notices it you can tell them to stop looking at your ass. You’ll have to explain and by the time you finish you will have made a friend. Who knows that friend might be the one to make you happy for the rest of your life. I’m sure you are going to be as beautiful as you were before and maybe even prettier.”
Angie didn’t smile and it looked as if I had gone too far. I guess I had better leave. “Angie, I’m leaving. If you don’t want me to visit again, just leave word at the desk. Before I leave, though, is there anything I can bring you?”
“No, the nurses are good about seeing to me. Jack, thank you for what you are doing for me.”
“I’ll be in again, soon. Take care.”
My face was red when I thought about what I had said to Angie. I wish I had never mentioned cosmetic surgery. I went home and got busy. I put off until tomorrow making a decision whether to face her again.