“We have time for a
couple more questions,” Mitch told the teens as they sat in
the high school gym for Career Day.
He enjoyed talking with the teens, but
keeping the attention of high school kids could be as
difficult as with grade schoolers.
A boy raised his hand and stood. His
jeans hung low on his hips. Only hope kept those jeans from
falling to his ankles, Mitch thought.
“You brought anyone back from the
“A couple.” Mitch couldn’t hide the
grin tugging at his lips.
Mitch didn’t consider himself a ‘Trauma
Junky’, but there was nothing more exhilarating than
bringing a person back from the edge of death. The grateful
faces of patients and their families came in at a distant
Rick, Mitch’s senior partner, smiled.
“Mitch holds the record in our house for snatching the most
people from Death’s grip.”
A girl in the third row with bangs
sweeping over to cover her left eye, asked, “What goes
through your mind when you can’t save one?”
Mitch answered, “I’ve been extremely
fortunate not to have that experience.”
The girl gave Mitch a puzzled look.
“What my partner is not saying,” Rick
told the teen, “is that, besides holding the record of
saving forty-three lives, he hasn’t ever lost a person. But
that doesn’t mean he hasn’t experienced death. Many times
when the call comes in, the patient has already died, and
the caller is in shock or too hysterical to even check for a
Mitch said, “We’d like to thank you for
inviting us to Career Day and…”
“If you know someone is evil, would you
still do everything in your power to save him, Mitch?” A
curt voice from the back asked.
Something about the way she said his
name unnerved Mitch. It took a second to find the girl.
She stood at an angle in the last row, alone. Long black
hair flowed past her waist. She turned to face Mitch
He was accustomed to seeing torn,
bleeding bodies, but wasn’t prepared for this young girl.
The left side of her face was a patchwork of grafted skin.
Her left arm ended with missing fingers and the remaining
fused together in a claw shape. Few of the kids looked
around for the speaker and when they found her, they quickly
averted their gaze to something else, anything else. Mitch
sympathized with those kids; he wanted to avert his eyes
from her. Instead, he looked directly at her.
“We don’t judge.”
“Even if you knew the man you were
about to save killed just for the pleasure of seeing Death
in action? Could you really tell us you’d do everything in
your power to save the monster?”
Mitch recognized her need for someone
to be on her side. From the looks of the other kids, her
friends abandoned her when she needed them the most.
“We don’t judge. We don’t play God.
We don’t decide who deserves to live and die. We have a job
to do and we do it.” Regardless of what we see, Mitch
thought bitterly, remembering the young little boy and girl
with bruises on their arms. Mitch knew their father caused
those bruises. And the only thing he could do was report it
to Social Services.
Mitch saw his fair share of the ugly
side of humanity but he refused to allow it to jade him.
When the day did come, he would quit being a paramedic.
The scarred girl stared at Mitch for a
second before saying, “Maybe you should, a lot of innocent
lives could be saved.”
Any comment from Mitch would have
inflamed the conversation further and he didn’t intend to
exasperate the girl more.
Smoother than any politician, Rick
guided the conversation into a safer direction and told the
kids if they had more questions about becoming paramedics or
wanted to read some of the paramedics stories they could
contact them through their website.
Mitch placed the last of the equipment
in the back of the ambulance and shut the doors. He walked
to the passenger side since his partner insisted on always
driving. The man had control issues.
After shutting the door and sliding the
seatbelt into place, Mitch braced his feet apart within the
footwell; it was the only way to ride with Rick.
“We just got a call,” Rick said, “from
frequent flier, Sheehy. He’s having another heart attack.”
Mitch said to his partner, “It’s the
fourth of the month; his social security check must’ve
arrived. You wanna bet the old man bought a six-pack and a
large pizza?” One day his indigestion really was going to
be a heart attack, Mitch thought.
“It’s the only way to get his family to
visit him,” Rick said while he punched the accelerator and
flipped on the siren.
Mitch speculated. “You’d think with
eight grown kids and a dozen grandchildren, he’d have enough
“Be good to your kids, they pick your
resting home,” Rick said. “At least that is what the wife
continually tells me.”
Mitch spoiled his nieces and nephews so
in his golden years, people that loved him would care for
him, he hoped.
A walkway bisected the front yard of
Mr. Sheehy’s white ranch house, and led to a deep blue
door. A 1978 white Cadillac blocked the side door and
almost the entire length of the house; guarantee all
visitors came to the front.
Mr. Sheehy answered the door wearing a
white undershirt tucked into a pair of wrinkled tan slacks.
His left hand rested on his chest.
“I could be dead by now.” He took a
deep shuttering breath but his hand remained on his chest.
Mitch glanced at his watch. “You
called less than four minutes ago.”
To the right sat the kitchen table,
layered with newspaper and an open box of pizza with two
slices left. Four unopened cans of beer from a six-pack sat
next to the pizza box.
Both pulse and blood pressure were
high, but not alarmingly for the man’s age, obesity, and
lifestyle of excesses.
Mitch said, “Mr. Sheehy, it looks like
you are going to take a trip to the hospital.”
The old man sighed a heavy relief and
dropped his hand from his chest. He shuffled to one of the
stained kitchen chairs and sat. Rick already went to
retrieve the stretcher. There was no reason to ask if he
could walk to the ambulance…he never could.
On their way, the old man’s eyes
drifted shut and the corner of his mouth lifted in
satisfaction when he heard the siren. Mitch rode next to
Mr. Sheehy and kept a vigilant eye on him. Mitch took the
man’s blood pressure and vital signs again before reaching
the hospital. The grayish skin tone worried Mitch, so he
prepared an IV, connected a heart monitor and set an oxygen
tube in place. Rick’s eyes met with Mitch’s in the rearview
mirror. The ambulance rushed through the streets.
At the hospital, Mitch leaned against
the opposite wall from the emergency as the medical staff
took over Mr. Sheehy’s care. The attending physician rolled
his eyes as soon as he saw his patient. The doctor mumbled
‘Frequent Flier’ before attending Mr. Sheehy.
Mitch became annoyed with the doctor’s
attitude. Mitch swallowed strong black coffee from a
Styrofoam cup. The caffeine injection boosted his depleted
energy. His twenty-four hour shift began thirteen hours
ago, without a break for sleep or food. He learned quickly
to sleep and eat when he had the chance; it wasn’t unheard
of going a full shift without either.
Mitch waited for his partner who was
spending a few minutes with his wife. She worked in the
hospital as a physician’s assistant. Their grueling hours
didn’t leave them much time for each other, so they took
what they could get.
He took another sip of the cooling dark
brew, and he could still feel the jolt of energy coursing
through his veins. He closed his eyes in bliss. When he
opened them, the girl from the school stood before him.
Mitch was startled but managed not to show it. She didn’t
hide her scars from him. Her intimidation tricks worked.
He looked away.
The attending doctor kept glancing at
Mr. Sheehy with irritation while he spoke to a nurse.
“If the doctor releases Mr. Sheehy,”
the girl said, “he’ll be dead tomorrow morning.”
The fact that the girl knew Mr. Sheehy
didn’t surprise Mitch as much as her prediction. He forgot
about his discomfort and looked at her while she gazed at
the activity around the emergency room. She had an inner
glow, but it was shadowed by her anger and something else.
It was as if she saw too much of real life, the ugly side of
life. Maybe she had, Mitch thought.
“You don’t know that. The doctor will
make sure his patient is fine before releasing him.”
“Yeah, right. Mr. Sheehy comes in here
every month complaining about chest pains. Within hours he
is released with instructions for a better diet.” She
looked at Mitch. “Dr. Death won’t even give him an EKG.”
The girl was right, often patients fell
through the cracks of the system, but he refused to give
more ammunition for her attitude.
“The doctor will use his experience and
knowledge to determine what is best for the patient.”
“And Mr. Sheehy will pay for it with
his life, for the doctor’s experience and knowledge.” She
shook her head in disgust and walked away.
His radio came to life with the
dispatcher’s raspy voice before Mitch could respond. Renee
had been with the company for five years and before that, he
been a paramedic for three until she got married and had
Just as Renee came to the end of the
description of the five-car pile up, Rick ran toward him,
keys already in his hand. Mitch tossed his cup of coffee in
a trash bin.
“Something’s up,” Mitch said. “They
have almost the entire police force out there.”
“Hmm,” Rick mumbled. His intense
concentration was on the blockage of vehicles ahead.
This was the least appealing aspect of
the job, the unknown. Clements Heights did not have the
trouble an inner city, but it did have small pockets of
Mitch leaned forward, forgetting the
tension when riding with Rick. A mile ahead on the overpass
sat at least six patrol cars at different angles blocking
the entire road. A jack-knifed semi took center stage at
the highest peak of the overpass. Smoke drifted up from
several areas. Two other ambulances and one fire truck were
already on the scene.
Rick slowed to a crawl as he approached
one of the police cars. An officer pointed to the side of
the road. Rick parked and both of them jumped out and ran
to the back to pull out necessary equipment.
Captain Ross from the police department
met them. “Follow me. I’ll give you an escort to the
patient.” The Captain looked at Rick. “I want Mitch to do
the work. His saves are well known, even on the force. I
want this animal alive so he can spend the rest of his days
behind bars.” The Captain stopped a few yards short of the
patient. He said mumbled, “ Death is too good for this
Mitch’s adrenaline spiked for the
preparation for the work ahead. The Captain’s voice faded
with the exception of key words regarding the patient’s
health. Mitch learned the patient wasn’t breathing, no
pulse, and unconscious; all the requirements to use the AED
to shock him back to life. The automatic defibrillator
aided him to bring many people back from the grip of Death.
A circle of police officers separated
to allow the Captain and paramedics through. A police
officer kneeled on the shoulder of the road doing CPR on a
young man. Two other officers looked on. One of the
officers held his revolver in a two-handed grip and pointed
it at the unconscious man on the ground. The scene was
almost comical, if not for the serious circumstances.
Mitch moved forward. “Step back.”
The kneeling police officer stopped his
CPR and stood. The officer with the drawn weapon stood
Mitch crouched next to the man on the
ground and placed his fingers on the man’s neck. “Step.
Back.” He didn’t want the officer to get nervous and pull
“Step down, Sergeant Mak,” Captain Ross
told his officer. “Let them do their job.”
Sergeant Mak lowered his pistol to his
side and took a several steps away, but didn’t holster his
The patient was in his early twenties.
His whitewashed jeans looked new without the rips and tears
the kids currently favored. The red T-shirt was new, but
with a hole from a bullet. The kid looked like a choirboy,
not the typical person you’d find on a wanted poster.
Blood ran weakly from the shallow
wounds. The bullet passed right through his side; nothing
more than a flesh wound, but Mitch didn’t think that was the
cause of the patient being unconscious. Rick cut the
patient’s shirt up the middle and removed it while Mitch
prepared the AED. Suddenly a chill came over Mitch, raising
the hair on his arms and the back of his neck. The air was
calm, nothing stirred. He looked around trying to figure
out what had changed. What was warning him? He didn’t like
to ignore his instincts, but nothing he could do. He had a
job to do.
Rick stepped away while Mitch placed
the electrodes on the man’s body. For safety precaution,
the immediate area was cleared of all people. Mitch
double-checked; making sure, he didn’t touch any part of the
patient. He reached for the shock button after it indicated
the patient was shockable.
Rick screamed, “No.” Mitch depressed
the button a heartbeat before.
Mitch didn’t look up at his partner.
Instead, he kept his eyes on the young man lying on the
ground, expecting him to be conscious--he wasn’t. It was
too late for Mitch.
The worst pain Mitch ever felt coursed
through his body. Every muscle froze in place, as if he
became freeze-dried. The edges of his vision darkened and
tunneled until he only saw the patient. He tried to lift
his hand in front of him, he couldn’t. Panic set in.
Mitch realized only his eyes worked,
but even they were failing fast. In the next few seconds,
he begged for blindness.
He observed scene after scene as the
young man lying on the ground killed a woman as the husband
helplessly watched, before he was also killed. It wasn’t a
quick death for either of them. This killer wanted to
witness their lives slowly drain away like a puddle of
rainwater evaporate from the bright sun.
Mitch wanted to look away but he
couldn’t. The killer was in control and Mitch was dying.
Finally, his vision dimmed and
blackened. Mitch was grateful.
Before opening his eyes, Mitch knew he
was in a hospital. He spent enough time in them to
recognize the smell of antiseptic.
The heart monitor beat rhythmically.
It should have eased his mind, but something bothered Mitch,
besides the mild tingling coursing through his body.
Slowly he opened his eyes to a darken
room. Only a dim overhead lamp gave any light. It took him
a moment to recognize the silhouette sitting in a plastic
chair at the end of the bed with his feet propped up and
holding a magazine. Even with the insufficient light, Mitch
recognized his partner, Rick.
Mitch cleared his throat. Rick’s feet
dropped with a thud and the magazine fluttered to the floor
like an injured bird.
Mitch got a good look at his friend.
Stubble decorated Rick’s face, and dark circles hung under
his eyes. Rick hadn’t slept much and it didn’t bother
Mitch. He wondered why. They’ve been close friends for a
“You look like hell,” Mitch said, his
voice dry and croaking from lack of use.
Rick stood and pointed a finger at
Mitch. “Stay awake!” he almost shouted.
His partner stood in the doorway with
his hands braced on each side of the door jam, stuck his
head out and shouted for a doctor and nurse. After a half a
minute of shouting, he turned and came back into the room.
Mitch became concerned. “What’s
“What’s wrong? I’ll tell you. We lost
you three times… in one hour. You’ve been unconscious for
five days with a very irregular heartbeat.” Rick raked his
fingers through his hair. “The doctors were concerned if
you were going to wake up. They had no explanation for the
strange test results, but they said there’s hope.”
His near-death experience would have
interested him if he remembered. Mitch waited for Rick to
take a breath and then he changed the subject. “What
happened at the scene?” He braced his arms on the side
rails of the bed to push himself up, but never heard Rick’s
Suddenly he felt as if he was in a
rowboat in the middle of an ocean storm. He closed his eyes
until the dizziness passed. When he opened them again, a
nurse with flaming red curly hair was leaning over him
taking his pulse. Her smile made her green eyes sparkle.
“Nice to see those eyes open on their
Mitch couldn’t take his eyes off the
nurse’s snug uniform. He was disgusted with the way she
displayed her body. Her attire was that of a tramp that
gave it away to anyone giving her a second look.
She released his wrist and checked the
IV drip. “Dr. Morton has been paged and should be here in a
few minutes. If you need anything just ask for Jordan. My
shift doesn’t end for six more hours.” She winked at him
and sashayed out of the room.
“Are they hiring prostitutes for
nurses?” He said to Rick. “Did you see how she rubbed up
against me while checking my pulse?”
“I think your IV has hallucinogenic
drugs in it. You were glaring at her as if she’s diseased.
What the heck is wrong with you? Jordan couldn’t get out of
the room fast enough.”
Rick paced from the doorway to the
bed. “Maybe the electrical shock caused more damage than
the doctors thought. They did say they’d do more tests once
Rick stopped at the side of the bed.
“You don’t remember?” When he got no answer, Rick
continued. “Water main break. When I stepped away, I
noticed the unusual soft shoulder of the road. You were
down hill from me; the water could’ve surfaced under the
Mitch vaguely remembered Rick calling
out to him at the scene. “That’s why you yelled out.”
“Half a second sooner, you may not have
ended up here.”
Mitch ran his hand over his face. The
dizziness subsided but not completely. There was something
more than just the dizziness that was bothering him. Mitch
felt a primal sense of foreboding and he wondered if he’d
A volunteer pushing a cart full of
plants, flowers and balloons came into the room. The grey
haired man shuffled to the window with his collection.
Mitch glared at the bent man. “I know
those can’t all be for me. I may have been asleep for a few
days, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t have a baby boy!”
Ignatius Lescoe was imprinted on the
old man’s nametag. He started to laugh so hard, Mitch hoped
he’d pass out from lack of air. Instead, Ignatius slid the
side of his thumb into his mouth and pushed up on his
Rick helped the old man with the
Ignatius held up a small round yellow
vase painted with a happy face on it and said, “This should
cheer you up and if you re-cut the bottom of the stems about
an inch they’ll last longer.”
Mitch scowled at the old man. “They’d
look better dead.”
Mitch’s response startled Ignatius but
then said in a cheery voice, “It appears you have lots of
family and friends.” He quickly turned back to his plants.
“Not for long,” Rick mumbled under his
Rick took the happy face vase by one
of its handles and headed toward the bathroom. The vase
tilted and water spilled out. Rick looked around for
something to wipe it up.
Ignatius waved Rick away. “Don’t worry
about it. I’ll get someone to clean it up.” The old man
weaved his cart around the puddle of water and left the
While Rick cut the stems in the
bathroom, a large pasty white nurse carrying a tray of pills
in little clear plastic cups came into the room. She didn’t
see the water on the floor.
Mitch didn’t bother warning the nurse,
instead he watched in fascination as the woman’s right foot
stepped on the edge of the water, just enough to lose her
footing. Her leg came up so high Mitch heard the seam of
her slacks ripping apart. Her eyes became huge with shock
He knew what would happen next, but it
took forever for her head to slam into the corner of the
door jam. When it finally happened, Mitch savored the
cracking sound. Mitch only had a second or two before Rick
would come out of the bathroom and investigate…not much time
for the blood to flow out from under her head, or enough for
her to bleed to death.
Much to Mitch’s disappointment, the fat
bitch knocked herself unconscious. He wanted her aware
while her blood painted the floor. He leaned slightly over
the rail of his bed to get a better view when at the same
time Rick came running out, with one of the yellow daisies
clutched in his left hand.
Rick took a step toward the fallen
nurse but a doctor appeared in the room and was already
falling on his knees next to the nurse. Rick turned toward
Mitch and noticed him leaning over the rail. He put a
restraining hand on Mitch’s shoulder.
“The doctor is here. Remember, you’re
a patient now. Allow someone else to be the savior, for
today at least.” Rick spoke to him as if he was a child.
Mitch pushed himself away from the rail
and laid his head on the pillow. Dizziness came again and
he closed his eyes until the room stopped spinning.
After three days in bed, boredom and
anxiety set in. Mitch needed to get out of the hospital.
He spent most of those days waiting for tests and results.
None of the staff wanted to explain the need for the tests.
Some of the test showed unusual brain activity in areas that
normally weren’t active. He wanted out of his prison and
threatened to walk out if they didn’t give him a date of
“Hey,” Rick said from the doorway, “you
“Only if I don’t stand up and bend
over.” Mitch tugged the covers up to his chest. He
expected Rick’s wife, Casandra.
It wasn’t Casandra, but someone more
interesting, the girl with the severe burns from the
school. She studied him. Her eyes judged him. Part of
Mitch became annoyed with her behavior and …also challenged.
Scraping chairs across the floor broke
the silence. Rick set one for the girl and one for himself.
“This is Cecilia.” Rick made the
“Most people call me CC.”
Mitch said, “I like Cecilia.”
“I prefer to be called CC.”
The girl’s defiance intrigued Mitch; it
showed her spirit. Regardless of her scars, she showed a
lot of life, more than most. Besides the school, Mitch had
a feeling he knew her from the past, before her burns.
Trying to remember gave him an intense headache and the
dizziness became more acute.
“My wife tells me that CC has a special
Casandra went to a psychic once a
week. She also kept a dream book next to her nightstand to
analyze her dreams every morning. Rick often told stories
to the other paramedics of his wife’s wild dreams.
“I have no need of a psychic.” He knew
the direction of his new life. His time in the hospital
gave him plenty of time to plan.
“I’m not a psychic, but I can tell you
that you’ll die of a bullet in your brain.”
Rick’s foot dropped to the floor as he
turned toward Cecilia. “Psychics never talk about their
clients deaths, ever.”
“Yeah, it’s bad for business,” Mitch
said. Death, not even his own gave him concern. Life and
death were intertwined. He wanted to untie death from life.
Cecilia shrugged. “I’m not a psychic.”
“How do you…”
Mitch interrupted Rick. The last thing
he wanted was his future dissected. “Tell us how you got
burned.” He knew her story would fascinate him.
Cecilia clutched her small green and
brown purse to her stomach.
“Your patient on the overpass caused
the double shock. He was my brother, the person who caused
these burns.” She paused. “I always knew something was
wrong with him. There’s evil inside of him.”
Surprisingly she had no emotions when
she spoke of her brother. Her right hand moved to the top
of the purse, while the left, clawed hand, stayed behind the
right. It looked like it took concentrated effort to move
her left arm.
“As a kid he tortured small bugs by
putting them in glass jars, and using a magnifying glass
under direct sunlight until they slowly burned up. Death
fascinated him. He loved watching life slowly drain away.
By the age of twelve, Mark had killed all our pets. Ours
was the only house on the block that a spider was too afraid
Mitch asked, “If he was so dangerous,
why were you left alone with him?”
“After he hung our collie from a tree
in the backyard, skinned, our parents placed Mark into a
special hospital for several months. When he got out, he
was in counseling for the next five years. We never did get
any more pets, even though my parents thought Mark was cured
from his illness. I knew better but had no proof.”
“Blah, blah, blah. Nice back story,
get to the point.”
Rick leaned forward on his forearms.
“What the hell is wrong with you, Mitch?”
“I want to know how he managed to burn
Cecilia when at least she seemed to be on guard.”
Cecilia stared at Mitch for a moment,
then said, “For someone who proclaims they don’t judge, you
are doing a lot of it. Or maybe your accident has changed
Rick mumbled, “Something sure in hell
“My parents took a business trip
together out of state. Mark stayed at our uncle’s house.
Being ex-military, he knew how to handle my brother. My
parents were due back Friday morning, but their flight was
delayed for several hours. Mark found out about the delay
but didn’t tell my uncle. My uncle brought my brother back
home, thinking that it would only be a few minutes until our
parents showed up.”
Mitch noticed Cecilia’s left hand
twitched, as if subconsciously her body was remembering the
pain. Her forefinger and thumb of her left hand had been
surgically removed and the remaining fingers fused
together. Patches of pink skin were visible on her forearm
where her sleeve of her shirt had risen.
“I awoke to the smell of my candle I
kept on my nightstand. Instantly I knew my brother was home
and in my room. It took me a moment to realize he tied me
to the bed.”
Cecilia screamed, he expected her to,
but the volume startled him for a heartbeat, it was then he
saw the knowledge of death in her eyes. She witnessed her
death in his eyes. He didn’t want to rush it, though. Mark
wanted to watch Death slowly claim her. Mark didn’t have
any ill feelings for Cecelia. She had an abundance of life
and he wanted to watch it drain from her. Nothing was more
beautiful than a life force drifting into a void. He loved
watching all the emotions play on their faces.
As much as Mark wanted to continue to
listen to her scream, he couldn’t take the chance of someone
hearing, that would spoil his pleasure. All of his other
deaths were quick. Only Cecilia’s had he planned.
A small round red ball sat on Cecilia’s
nightstand, kept as a reminder of their pet collie. He
should have taken the dog further into the trees, Mark
thought. He pushed the ball into Cecilia’s mouth and placed
a strip of masking tape across her mouth. Only he heard her
muffled screams. Now he could relax and enjoy.
A belt held her wrist to the bed
frame. The restraints were loose but confining. He wanted
her to have hope.
With lighter fluid, Mark soaked a
washcloth and gently rubbed it on her forearm as the fine
little hairs stood on end. Cecilia struggled like a trapped
wildcat; even the air moving through her mouth sounded like
Mark brought the lit candle to her
arm. The sound of flesh crackling excited him. It ended
all too soon, when Cecilia passed out.
Cecilia’s eyes didn’t blink while she
spoke. “I woke the third time to Mark pulling up the bed
sheet to my chin.”
Cecelia awoke again with Mark’s help.
While he prepared another section of her arm, the automatic
garage door opened. In his haste to look out the window
overlooking the entrance to the garage, he bumped into the
Mitch said, “The lavender candle fell
over onto the bed. You started to thrash around trying to
put out the flame on the sheets, but your arm came too close
to the flame and caught on fire. It took only a couple of
seconds before your hair was burning.”
Cecilia stared at
Mitch. “Mark escaped out the window a few seconds before my
parents entered the room.”
Rick stood and walked to the side of
the bed. “What makes you think, Mitch, the candle fell onto
Mitch shrugged and didn’t respond.
“He doesn’t think,” Cecilia said to
Rick. “He knows for a fact. Don’t you, Mitch?”
When Rick turned to Cecilia, Mitch
grinned. He wanted to provoke her. Everything started
going his way, even the dizziness and headaches were
diminishing. Mitch wondered if Cecilia would stay quiet or
open her mouth. Cecilia knew the truth.
Suddenly, Cecilia leapt from her chair
and paced at the end of the bed. She still clutched her
purse to her chest.
“Don’t you see what has happened,
Rick crossed his arms over his chest.
“No, but something seems to.”
Cecilia stopped at the end of the bed
and glared down at Mitch, then back to Rick.
“When Mitch used the defibrillator,
Mark’s spirit traveled along the electric current through
the water and entered Mitch’s body.”
Mitch burst out laughing, but he
couldn’t help it. His laughter was of joy. Cecilia had
just set him free.
Rick’s shoulders sagged and the corners
of his mouth drooped. He gazed at Cecilia with shock and
Mitch decided that before he killed
Rick he would tell him just how right Cecilia was.
Still clutching her purse tightly, as
if inside were the keys to Fort Knox, Cecilia yelled at
Rick. “Don’t you dare look at me like I’m crazy.” She
pointed at Mitch. “Mark is inside of him and he’s taking
more control as time passes. The EEG even agrees.”
“The EEG?” Rick raised his eyebrow.
“I heard the doctors discussing it in
the elevator. They didn’t use his name but I knew. The
first test showed very high levels of brain activity. Mitch
and Mark are fighting for control. The second EEG shows
lower levels of activity compared to the first. Mark is
gaining control. There’s less of a struggle, but the
headaches and dizziness are still there.”
Rick turned to Mitch but asked
Cecilia. “How do you know he has headaches and dizziness?”
“Whenever he moves, he grabs hold of
the side rails, like he’s doing now. It keeps him from
weaving when he moves.”
Mitch glanced at his fingers wrapped
tightly around the rail. He wasn’t even aware he was doing
it. Cecilia was more observant than a trained paramedic,
Mitch thought. Instinct told him to release the rail, but
it he did he would look guilty.
“And the headaches?” Rick asked.
“See how his brow is creased and how he
Mitch opened his mouth to dispute, but
Rick beat him to it.
“That doesn’t prove anything. He’s
been through a difficult ordeal.”
“You’re forgetting, Rick, my special
talent is to see people’s life auras. Mitch has two. A
small white one and a dominating black aura. It proves Mark
is over coming Mitch.
Mitch snickered. “So you see auras,
eh?” He never suspected anything special about her in the
past, except that she was special, different.
Cecilia became more irritated. Her
movements were jerky. She thought Rick would be easy to
convince because of his wife. “A blind person can see the
changes in him. The nurse, who fell, swore Mitch had an
expectant expression just before the accident.”
Mitch watched Rick run over the facts
from that day, remembering how Mitch never called out for
help. Finally, Rick shook his head.
“CC, I’m sorry, but what you are
suggesting is impossible. A traumatic injury occurred to
Mitch’s body. It’s normal for headaches, dizziness and slow
response, but he’s not possessed by your evil brother. Your
brother is dead. You don’t have to fear him anymore. He’s
dead, he can’t hurt you anymore.”
Cecilia pulled a letter from her
purse. “How does a dead man write a letter?” She handed it
Rick read the letter aloud.
“I always finish what I start. You and
I will have our day of destiny. Your loving brother, Mark.”
Mitch carefully watched Rick’s reaction
the stationary paper. To his relief, Rick only noticed the
Rick still didn’t believe. Cecilia
handed him the envelope.
“Look at the post mark.”
Rick glanced at the envelope and said,
“It’s post marked two days ago.” He handed it back without
She hadn’t convinced Rick.
“The hell with you then. Mark is still
alive within Mitch’s body.” She reached inside her purse.
“This time he dies forever!”
Mitch stared at a Smith & Wesson,
Ladysmith handgun. The short stubby barrel pointed at his
head. He quickly overcame his shock and rolled to the
right, just as she pulled the trigger. Pain radiated from
the side of his head. He felt and smelled the warm blood
running down the back of his neck before his vision turned
Rick asked for the third time in the
past six months, “Doctor, any chance of Mitch recovering?”
“There’s very little brain activity.
Since the shooting, only a half percent of brain activity
increased.” Doctor Morton shook his head. “I’m not holding
out for any hope of a recovery.”
“Is he aware of us, of his
Dr. Morton stroked his beard. “That’s
an interesting question. My colleagues and I discussed that
particular point. It’s highly unlikely he can, but reports
from the staff, Mitch responds sometimes, by turning toward
someone speaking to him.”
“Thanks for the honesty, doctor.” Rick
waited for Doctor Morton to leave before bringing a chair to
the side of Mitch’s bed.
Every since Rick came into the room,
Mitch’s face was turned to the window. Mitch was awake; the
heart monitor told Rick as much.
“I visited CC again in the hospital.
She’s doing well as anyone in a mental institution could.
She could be released early if only she gave up the claim of
her brother still alive in your body.” Rick leaned forward
and lowered his voice. “Not for a moment did I believe CC’s
story, neither did twelve jurors. There are two interesting
findings, though. The letter I assumed she wrote and
mailed, she couldn’t have. CC was in surgery having more
skin graphs. It took me a while to find out who mailed it
for her, but I finally did. Ignatius Lescoe of all people
mailed the letter from here, but the letter didn’t come from
CC, it came from you. The old man probably was delighted to
do something that made you happy, especially after the way
you treated him--he would’ve done about anything for you.”
Rick leaned real close to Mitch’s ear.
“The other finding, I’ve already asked you that day, but it
was the wrong question. I should have asked you, how you
knew it was a lavender candle?”
Mitch slowly turned his head toward
Rick. What he saw should have surprised him, but in all
honesty, it didn’t. The evil grin on Mitch’s face gave Rick