All I Want (Chapters 14 & 15), a short story by jb23hotchner. Date added: 2012-08-16. Times viewed: 605.
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- Intro: Her death is tragic, but not nearly the end of anything. One part of the saga is unveiled... but that is only a catalyst. That's the Life After Death...
CHAPTER 14: Death Doeth Not Part
The only reason she was classified as dead was simply because her heart stopped. At least that’s what Antonio Cruz was told. After vigorous defibliration, however, Heather was back. Well, her heart was back pulsating but the rest of her was pretty much comatose.
‘Now are you going to tell me what the hell happened to my daughter?’ demanded the ambassador, rightfully very cross.
The surgeon, popping the joints in his fingers, sighed, ‘She was stabbed; once in the abdomen and once in the shoulder blade. She got lucky the second stabbing just missed the heart. She was also lucky that she was attacked in a place where junkies go to get high. Thank goodness one of them had the decency to dial 911 before they ran off.’
Antonio was pacing both furiously and tensely at the same time a bit relieved that she was alive. ‘They told me she died,’ he said in an almost nonexistent tone, ‘and now you tell me that she’ll make it?’
‘Your daughter is a fighter, sir. I guess that’s all it takes; that and a bit of luck.’
‘Is she awake? Can I see her?’
He shook his head slowly but spoke in an assuring tone. ‘She’s alive, not awake. Heather’s in surgery as we speak; the damage to her abdomen was catastrophic to say the least. Which brings me to the other reason I came out here. She needs blood. She’s an O-negative and that is just what we don’t have in store here.’
Antonio cursed for the millionth time tonight. He ran his palm over his forehead, pressed his jaws together, and fought hard to hold his tears in. ‘I’m not a match,’ he shook his head. ‘It’s her mother she gets the blood type from.’
‘Where is her mother now?’
‘I don’t know,’ he replied, frustrated. ‘We divorced years ago and haven’t spoken since. She doesn’t even come around to see Heather.’
‘Okay, sir, family politics need to take a back seat and you need to find your ex-wife in the next sixty minutes or Heather’s miracle will be short-lived.’ And he left. Antonio was left rooted to his spot, watching the surgeon’s back retreat into the far corner of the Bethany Medical Center, but he wasn’t really seeing it. In his head, all he could picture was the most beautiful Latin woman he had ever seen, yet also the last person he ever wanted to see. But their daughter’s life depended on it.
He turned around to see one of his bodyguards, whom he instructed to find Holly Acquilla in twenty minutes and have her come down to the hospital. When he left, Antonio made his way to the farthest vending machine in sight and bought himself a Snickers Bar. He dropped to one of the chairs adjacent to the machine, slouched as lazily as he could, but only fondled with the treat.
As he looked around this place of misery, he wondered how many other people had to share his fate… or worse.
It was a crime scene, and no one was allowed to go home. The police gathered everyone, only to pull one out of the crowd and question him/her. The answers they were getting were pretty much the same. “Tell us your account of the incident,” they would ask. “One shot was fired, and then another,” they would hear in response. “No I didn’t see the shooter.” The rest was detail, which was jumbled up.
Dennis, who had just come out of the longest and most pointless of interviews, joined the rest of the party at the swimming pool area. The first person he saw was Christina, who looked as terrified as everyone else. She had even gone so far as to curl herself in Dan’s arm. Where was Heather when Dennis needed her?
However, he hadn’t inched a step closer to them when there was a light tap on his shoulder and a voice followed: ‘Dennis, come with me.’ He turned around, half-expecting it to be a cop. But the voice was too recognizable; too sweet. Without much hesitation, he followed Beyoncé through the crowd, into the unoccupied pool house.
She locked the door. Her face was far too serious for Dennis to even think for a moment of how kinky this looked. On a normal night he would have addressed it. In the pool house, he noticed, it wasn’t only him and Beyoncé. John was there as well, Beyoncé’s new best friend.
‘What’s this about?’ he asked, noticing how grim his company was.
‘Heather isn’t here, did you notice?’ Beyoncé began. He didn’t notice. He knew something was missing, though; just didn’t know what… or who. ‘Doesn’t matter if you did, because I’ve just heard she’s in hospital right now.’
‘What! What happened?’
John, who was seated on the lip of one of the tables, stood up and began making his way to Dennis. ‘Lily happened,’ he said firmly. ‘Apparently Heather was stabbed twice, and we have it on good authority that Lily did it.’
‘What the hell is this? Lily would never do a thing like that.’
Beyoncé spoke up: ‘Dennis, I can tell you with every certainty that Athena talked to me, telling me her diabolical plan with Lily to kill Heather. They think Heather drugged Lily to the extent she became suicidal, and that would qualify as attempted murder. Lily just wants to get even and Athena is so wrapped around her little finger that she’ll do anything for her; that and the fact that she hates Heather to the core. Athena told me everything, Dennis. Everything. I wasn’t here tonight; otherwise I would have found a way to stop it. Athena called me, telling me to get the hell out of here, that Lily was coming and people might get hurt. You’re a smart guy, Dennis. What does that usually equal?’
Dennis took in the words, determined to find a loophole somewhere. However, as hard as he tried, he got nothing. He looked into Beyoncé’s and into John’s eyes. None of them had any reason to lie. For whatever reason, he believed their story more than he would have believed… say, Lily’s.
‘Where would Lily get a gun?’ he asked after the long pause.
‘Lily is a mentally unstable junkie,’ John said rather blatantly, ‘she knows some really shady people.’
‘My God, are you guys even listening to yourselves? Do you realize how crazy you all sound right now? Why would Lily do this? Any of it? Revenge, you say; to get even? Dammit, you two, I know Lily and she would never do anything like this in a million years!’
‘Do you, Dennis?’ asked Beyoncé, ‘know her, I mean? Do you really know Lily; or do you know the pseudo version of herself she’s been feeding everyone?’
‘What do you mean “pseudo version”?’
‘I mean Lily is sick. I mean she was sick long before her suicide attempt. Remember Beth? Lily’s older sister? When she was murdered two months ago, Lily was there. She saw the whole thing and it played with her mind. The trauma was so much her mind created its own world just to shut things out. The name Don Zimmer was in the news so much and so was his girlfriend’s – Kara, who tried to convince people that he was innocent – that Lily immediately passed them as the worst things in her life. Kara is her mother’s name as well, and Lily immediately branded her mother as the drunken, abusive, absentee parent. And on top of everything, she assumed that this Don was her mother’s boyfriend. Don, like her mother, was also an alcohol and substance abuser, and he was a rapist.
‘Every night, Lily drugged herself heavily and woke up battered and bruised; believing that she had been physically and sexually abused by this man. The only trouble, Dennis, was that this abusive Don doesn’t exist, and neither does the abusive mother.’
Again, Dennis let silence linger while he took in the words, paying close attention to each one as it echoed in his mind. It was hard to make sense of any of it, considering he had fallen in love with Lily, and now his friends were telling him that the girl he fell in love with was as unreal as her projections of her miserable life. ‘If there was no rapist/abuser, where did she get these bruises you say she woke up with?’
‘There’s only one explanation, Dennis, and I think you know what that is,’ Beyoncé replied.
Dennis wanted to chuckle at this ridiculous notion, but none of this was funny to say the least. Glancing around the room, he pondered every single possibility of Lily’s injuries. Nothing he thought of quite made sense. Nothing besides the one thing that actually did make sense. The problem with that was it was one more long and thick and rusty nail in this humongous coffin.
Since he didn’t want to say what he was thinking, what everyone else was thinking, John decided to speak for him. ‘She did those things to herself, Dennis. Her body was out cold but her mind very much awake. I don’t know the medical terms for any of this, but think of it like sleepwalking. Without knowing it, Lily beat and hurt herself.’
They found Holly Acquilla, who, coincidentally, just happened to be in Bethany. When the news of her daughter’s ailments reached her, Holly dropped the latte she was having with a friend and was rushed over to the hospital. The doctors made short work of screening her blood and taking as much of it as they could.
As the doctors rushed back to the O.R., Holly looked on, covering her mouth in absolute horror and prayer. In seconds they were gone, leaving her alone in the waiting area with none other than her ex-husband.
‘Thank you,’ Antonio found himself saying. Holly turned around and smiled at him but only out of courtesy. Deep down she was worried about their daughter.
Almost unwillingly, she began moving closer to him, expression on her face changing to the illustrious frown Antonio once loved. ‘What the hell did you do?’ she exclaimed.
‘What did I do?’ the ambassador shot back. ‘Don’t you dare give me any advice in parenting, Holly.’
‘You call this parenting? Our daughter was stabbed twice in one night and you call yourself a parent?’
‘No, Holly, you don’t get to say our daughter! When was the last time you so much as laid eyes on Heather, huh? Do you even know what she looks like?’
‘Screw you, Antonio,’ Holly said, calming down, sneering.
For a moment, Antonio thought he should apologize for being so hostile. That’s what a gentleman would do. But then he thought about all the things Holly had done before, during and after the divorce. When all was said and done, she was the one who needed to apologize to him. He counted to ten and let himself cool down as well. ‘Not that I’m complaining, but what were you doing in town?’
‘Oh, now you’re interested in what I do?’
‘Not really. I just think Heather was awfully lucky that you were so close. Who knows where we would have got a donor with her blood type at this time of night?’
‘I like how you pretend to care about her, Antonio. You and I both know you’re just like me when it comes to Heather,’ Holly said.
‘I’m nothing like you,’ Antonio insisted. Maybe if he said it often enough he could believe it.
‘Whatever,’ Holly smiled for a short moment. ‘Either way, you’re right, Heather is lucky I was in town.’
‘That doesn’t answer the question.’
‘I came for my daughter, Antonio.’
‘No you didn’t.’
‘I did. I have lived the past God-knows-how-many years with the guilt that you planted in me; unfounded guilt. Tell me, Antonio, does Heather know the truth about her father? I mean the real truth; not the crap you feed her.’
‘I have no idea what you’re talking about, Holly.’
‘Yes you do. There are certain things you just can’t afford to let Heather know, right? Things that would do little less damage than two stabbings to her body.’
‘What the hell do you want, Holly?’
‘I want our daughter back,’ she said firmly, jaws squared and everything.
‘Well, you can’t have Heather. Sorry.’
Holly looked around the empty hospital, sneering bitterly and cursing in her mind. ‘Let me rephrase, Antonio. I want our real daughter back.’
CHAPTER 15: A Friend Indeed
‘Hey, baby,’ said Holly, making her way into the room like she and Heather were life long besties. A long awkward moment passed in which Heather did nothing but stare at the banging tan woman in front of her. Holly really was pretty, so pretty in fact, Heather actually felt a little jealous; and she never felt jealous of anyone. But something about her was familiar. Not because Holly was her mother, but because it was somewhat like a mirror. An older but still very attractive mirror.
She looked from Holly to her dad, an expression of confusion stretching across her face. Here, in this very room, stood the woman she had grown up never seeing at home; the woman whom she hated now more than she ever hated anyone. ‘What is she doing here?’
Though she didn’t show it, Holly was somewhat heartbroken. Having come here, she had hoped for a clean slate, hoped that Heather would at least be glad to see her.
‘She saved you, honey,’ Antonio said as he held her hand. ‘Her blood saved you.’
‘A little late for that,’ Heather said to herself. She turned to Holly. ‘And you just happened to be in town?’
‘Yeah,’ Holly said blatantly. ‘Look, Heather, I’m sorry I’ve never really been a mother to you, but that doesn’t mean it always has to be like that.’
‘I think you’ll find I have all I need in Dad.’
Antonio, sitting back, couldn’t help meeting Holly’s gaze and grin. The mature side of him told him that he should tell Heather to at least be polite to her mother, but the resentment she had for Holly was nothing compared to his. So screw it.
‘Okay…’ Heather said in that awkward tone Heather often employed, ‘I’m just going to go now.’
‘You do that,’ Antonio said. When the door was shut, and when the moment of silent seething had passed, Antonio turned to Heather, ‘I think we were a little harsh on her.’ Heather didn’t care, and with that, Antonio excused himself from the room.
Holly had already left the building and was now making her way to her car when Antonio, practically running after her, yelled her name. She didn’t stop. He had to call her twice more for her to decide he was worth her time. ‘What!’ she yelled back. ‘Haven’t you had your fun already, Antonio?’
‘Look, Holly,’ he now caught up, panted, kept his gaze on hers, ‘that was really immature of me, im sorry.’
‘You bet it was.’
‘Can you really blame her, though? A girl needs her mother growing up and you just weren’t there.’
‘Im sorry, Antonio, did you follow me all this way to lecture me? Because I don’t have to stand here and take it.’
‘It’s not a lecture, Holly. It’s simply a statement of the facts. Sure, part of the reason you haven’t been in Heather’s life is my fault_’
‘Part?!’ she repeated furiously. ‘Try “all”, Antonio! Its your fault I got kicked out of my own daughter’s life…’
‘But you never cared about her, Holly! You never cared about anyone but yourself. Why should now be any different?’
She fell silent and pouted. The look on her ex-husband’s face said something totally different to what he was saying but she didn’t care. What had been said had been said. Whether or not he meant it didn’t matter. ‘Fuck you, Antonio,’ Holly said in a low, angry tone, and then walked away.
To someone like Athena, the events of the past few days were nothing to take note of. Besides her missing friend, there was really nothing else bothering her. She used “clearing her mind” as her excuse to go on with her life as usual. Surprisingly, she even found the time to visit her producer and record a song.
Later that day, after school, Dennis, John and Beyonce convened at Dennis’ house. Mrs. Crawley was nowhere to be seen, as usual, so they camped in her study and drank her booze. An hour after they arrived, there came a knock on the door. Dennis was either too distraught or too drunk to move from his seat, so Beyonce did the honors.
She had hoped not to see Mrs. Crawley on the other side of the door and fortunately, her prayer was answered. However, the person she saw wasn’t any better, and Beyonce’s jaw dropped. Athena smiled back at her like everything was fine and dandy. ‘Heard you guys were here,’ she said, pushing past Beyonce and letting herself in.
Silence and awkwardness befell the room as suddenly all eyes were pinned on Athena. She noticed this, but reckoned it wasn’t because of her new gorgeous red hair or lipstick to match. ‘What?’ she asked, looking from Beyonce to Dennis, and then to John.
‘You just don’t seem bothered by anything,’ her boyfriend said. ‘Three days ago this place was shot up, Heather got stabbed – twice – and Lily went missing. Why are you so cheerful like nothing has happened.’
‘First of all,’ she began with a smug grin, ‘I don’t give a damn about Heather. Secondly, no one got hurt in the shoot out, and third, what makes you think Lily’s missing?’
Dennis sat up, showing signs of life for about the third time since he came home. Neither Beyonce nor John really noticed since their expressions had changed as abruptly as his. ‘What are you talking about?’ Dennis asked grimly.
After a seat and a glass of brandy, Athena replied, ‘Things aren’t quite as dull as they seem, loves. I mean, for all you Heather-ass-kissers, she’s the only thing you have to worry about. Lily’s fine.’
‘Where is she?’ Dennis asked, grimmer than before.
‘I don’t know.’
He jumped from his seat, lashing at Athena’s throat in one fell swoop; almost like he defied gravity. ‘WHERE IS SHE?!’ he demanded.
John, throwing himself into the mix like he felt he should, took hold of Dennis’ wrist and said, ‘Let her go, Dennis!’
Dennis looked up, eyes flaring like John had never seen. It looked like he would bite John’s head off at any moment, so long as his hand was on his. ‘John,’ he began surprisingly calmly, ‘you don’t want to cross me right now.’
‘Same here, Dennis, now let go of her.’
Dennis, defiantly, pulled his wrist to himself and brought John closer, only to send him back with a heavy blow from his other hand. Knowing John wouldn’t stay down long, he took Athena’s arm and pulled her out of the seat, before flinging her to the floor. ‘WHERE IS SHE, ATHENA?!’ he demanded again. Beyonce had chosen to stay out of this fight, but she could tell from the look on Dennis’ face, that he wouldn’t hesitate for one moment to hit Athena if it came to that.
Athena didn’t answer, prompting Dennis to lash at her again. However before he could lay a finger on her, John jumped up, punching him in the ribs and then pushing him down to the floor. ‘I don’t want to fight you, Dennis,’ he said, but he was already rolling up his sleeves and balling up his knuckles.
Having taken the time to cool down a little, Dennis got up to his feet. Meanwhile, Beyonce was helping Athena to hers. ‘Sorry man,’ Dennis said. ‘Its Lily… I just… I need to know where she is…’
‘You’re not the only one who cares about her, Dennis,’ John said.
‘Yeah,’ he replied to himself. Everything was quiet and on a knife-edge again. Everyone was staring at each other tensely, seemingly having forgotten the cause of the fracas. Everything seemed to have cooled down until Dennis struck again, using his athletic speed and agility to tackle John, run him into a wall, before planting him onto his mother’s desk. The latter sputtered blood from his nose and mouth, groaned in his pain, so much so the two girls could only scream.
Though John was the bigger and stronger of the pair, Dennis already had the upper hand in this fight. John was out by the time Dennis ran him into the wall again and again. But he didn’t care. He just wanted to get his anger and frustration out on someone besides himself. Again, like it was a battering ram, Dennis kept smashing John’s back into the wall. He didn’t seem to hear the cries for stop coming from both girls. Both were horrified at what Dennis was doing to his supposed best friend.
‘Dennis, stop it!’ Athena screamed. She and Beyonce ran to either side of him and tried to pull him away from John. Nothing doing; he was too strong and heavy for them. But, as he kept inflicting damage on John’s back, something caught his attention. Something made him realize he wasn’t alone in the room. Something made him stop and drop his friend.
Shocked and horrified, Dennis looked down at the battered body. John lay unconscious at the base of the wall; probably bleeding internally – definitely bleeding internally.
Inadvertently, he moved back while still staring at the carnage. Athena and Beyonce might have been in tears – he couldn’t tell. What he could tell was that they crouched by John’s side, worried at what might now be wrong with him.
‘You bastard!’ Athena screamed at Dennis. ‘He’s your friend!’
There was no response from Dennis, just the horror look on his face.
‘If Lily means this much to you then you can have her!’ Athena continued. ‘She’s with her father! Are you happy now?!’
Tentatively yet somehow decisively, Dennis inched farther and farther until he was out of the study and out of the house.
The doorbell needed ring only once for Malory Ceuta to open it and let her eyes widen and her jaw drop. Even then, it was the enormous cleavage and long curvy legs that spoke the volumes. ‘Well, this is certainly not what I was expecting,’ she said, covering as much exposed skin as she could.
‘Its okay, Mal, im not interested in how scantily you dress in your home.’ Holly smiled widely, and so did Mal, and then they embraced each other like the long lost friends they were.
‘Its great to see you girl,’ Mal said, inviting her in, ‘why didn’t you tell me you were coming over? I could have at least dressed.’
‘Then it wouldn’t be a surprise would it? But really, Mal, what’s with the slutty clothes; not getting enough money as a teacher?’
‘You have no idea,’ she said. ‘I was actually going out, but thank God you came. I really needed a reason to cancel.’
‘You’re welcome then, honey,’ Holly replied. She was holdng a bottle of Pinot Noir; a bottle that had seen many generations.
The pair sat down and filled huge wine glasses and caught up. They talked about their lives since last they saw each other. Ms. Ceuta’s life was as dull as expected; teaching English to a bunch of hormonal teenagers was no fun at all. Holly, on the other hand, had one hell of a life traveling from city to city, country to country. Constantly, she bragged about how great her job was and how much it allowed her to see the world, but she refused to tell anyone what it is she did. Perhaps it was illegal, which was as far-fetched as it would be exciting, but Mal didn’t care. Her best friend was back in town.
Speaking of which, she thought, why was Holly back? There was no polite way of asking, so Mal decideded to do it point-blank.
‘Business, Mal,’ she said, ‘haven’t I already told you that?’
‘Come on, Holly, you and I both know what “business” means. Come on, tell me. I won’t tell.’
‘What are we; twelve?’
She grinned, but insisted.
There was no getting out of this, so Holly took one large gulp of her drink and said, ‘Revenge.’
‘Hmm… this interests me,’ Mal smiled cunningly, and sipped. ‘Revenge on who, and for what?’
‘Antonio,’ Holly replied, ‘for stealing my daughter from me. And then, to show just what kind of mother I am, im going to take revenge on Heather. And at the end of everything, I’ll get my daughter and leave this town for good.’
‘By daughter, you don’t mean Heather, do you?’
Holly shook her head. ‘But first things first, how rich do you suppose we could get off Antonio?’
‘Well… very. Why?’
‘Because I have a plan that will blow your mind,’ Holly replied. ‘My version of revenge. What say you, Mal; are you in?’
Mal pretended to think about it. Of course she was in! A teacher should have had a better sense of ethics, but she glanced around her apartment and took note of how cheap everything in here was; though they were nice. It wouldn’t hurt to have millions. It wouldn’t hurt to look the other way and claim a windfall… and then just disappear. Why not? ‘And Heather?’ she asked.
‘Oh, that’s where you come in.’
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