Still In The Past
In the Hospital
Jean Claude and I were laughing about an idea involving a buffet for a class reunion where everything would be from their graduation era. So thoughts of putting out potato salad and fried chicken for someone in the Midwest were debated over the eighties and sushi with bad music in the background had us both snickering. Food geeks were pathetic but I was happy to find that Jean Claude was as serious as I was about presentation and quality. He had good color and I thought he was relieved to be discussing something other than his health.
"What are you doing here?" Came from behind me.
I stiffened then saw it was René hurling the question, not Randolph. I was getting a bit paranoid. Thinking Randolph would have tracked me down wasn't even logical.
Dismissively I said, "Ah, it seems like the LA fire season has begun a bit early." Non-answer but these macho men were getting a bit much even for me.
"Woman, you have decidedly appalling luck," René caught on that I hadn't wanted to panic his brother. Under his breath he muttered to me, "We must talk outside."
Standing I bid 'farewell' to Jean Claude casually saying that I'd better find a hotel and settle in for the rest of the evening. I hadn't felt inclined to reveal to him that I was a recent escapee from the hospital's fourth floor. René told Jean Claude he would see me out then pick up a few magazines.
"Do you have your car, Alanna?" he asked once out of Jean Claude's earshot.
"Non," I replied while talking with my earlier pseudo-French accent.
Catching sight of something wicked heading our way I hissed, "Smile big like we belong here."
He said softly, "But I do belong here," with a twinkle in his eyes.
The group of nurses were clustered and heading towards the main desk on the ICU floor. Just my luck one of the ladies was the same nurse who'd forced the sleeping pills into my palm not an hour earlier. René catching my drift slipped into a heavier accent and turning my back towards an approaching nurse while talking.
"Mon Dieu, Claire, how many times must we talk of this, how would you call it? Grunge -- look? Is to be gone. Oui, maman doesn't like these horrid -- how you say -- urchin clothes? Papa would spin in hees grave if en he saw you like this!" René grumbled while gesturing grandly.
Hanging my head like a suitably chastised sister I said, "Oui, René it would be like that."
The moment they left the area René said, "Something you want to tell me?"
Mutely I pulled the sleeve back to expose the hospital bracelet. Shaking his head ruefully he just reached into his pocket. He pulled out a Swiss army knife and gently cut the bracelet off. Handing me the evidence I smiled and tossed it into a garbage can in the lobby as we headed for the door.
"Well, that would explain the bad footwear," he flashed me a wicked grin.
"Newly acquired and paid for I must add. I didn't want to worry Jean Claude," I lamely added.
"Yes, I understand, Alanna, but should you still be here? I mean staying in the hospital?" His voice was very soft.
"I don't really know. I didn't want to be trapped here. And my husband, Randolph, is doing something, I just don't know what. There was no graceful way out of that hospital because they really like folks with good health insurance. I swear it was truly amazing how quickly I was processed. The doctor thought I might suddenly slip into shock, like this is enough to set me off?" Mentally I ran over the list of horrors and laughed. Strange gifts, torched house, blunt force trauma in a parking lot followed by a break in -- just my normal week.
"And how exactly did you expect to flee? Hmm, perhaps 'borrow' a car?" His smile was broad.
"Cabs are easily called," Smugly I responded. Not even sure cabs would show up at dark-o-clock. But it sounded good.
"Oui, but have you also thought that maybe you might be missed by the staff?" René flashed an even larger smile at me and raised his eyebrows.
Looking back at the empty lobby I acknowledged his points saying, "Okay, so it was impulsive. But you don't understand I had to leave."
Making a slight sound shaking his head René bundled me to his car while dragging his jacket over my shoulders. The wind had picked up in the early morning hours and a chill was settling into my bones. René was very considerate.
"I had thought as much. Why do you think I told Jean Claude I would look for his magazines, see here," indicating to his back seat as he helped me into the front seat of his car, "we have all such publications he could wish. Now, where do you desire to go?"
The beautiful sun was breaking over the horizon as I contemplated René and his question. Where did I desire to go? Hell, I wasn't even sure where I was in all honesty. I had so little left of my world. My heart beat as I thought.
"Well, Alanna, where do you want to go?" René repeated.
Blushing I pulled out my wad of cash and said, "Somewhere discrete that doesn't need ID or charge cards."
Mocking me he said, "And how is it you think that I would know such a place?" René's slightly affronted air was impressive.
Instead he drove me to his sister's home. Anna had been called on the drive over and I recalled meeting her the other night in the hospital. She said that she was happy to help René reported after hanging up on her. Once we arrived one of her children gave up his bed and I slept soundly on dinosaur bed sheets while surrounded by posters of larger ones.
By mid-morning I woke refreshed with just a few hours of sleep and had a new plan of attack. Asking Anna if I could use their phone I called my garage and asked them to send over a loner car after promising to pay extra for the distance. I didn't blame them given they knew they had me over a barrel and was good for the cash. Then I called work and discovered I'd just missed Randolph. He'd shown up very early -- just after six -- and per my instructions of the previous night Janice informed him the check would be ready later that afternoon. He left not knowing I'd discovered his attempts at theft. She told me that he'd been quite pleasant and seemed unruffled by the delay. He even stayed to banter with her until she told him she had to get back to work.
Once off the phone I thanked Anna for her hospitality. She'd been kind enough to wash my clothing earlier after lending me a nightgown. And she sweetly had given me the best surprise of all: after laundering my clothing she'd found me a pair of shoes in my size. Coupled with some soft cotton socks, I nearly felt human once dressed. The extra money must have created a nice incentive to the garage because it wasn't an hour later and I was in a car driving down the road. I didn't give much thought to the lack of a driver's license, just made sure I observed the proper speed laws by locals' standards, meaning only fifteen miles over the posted speed limit, not twenty or thirty.
I felt more presentable as I headed out to see Randolph at his mother's home. No way was I going on any trip, and Randolph certainly wasn't going to be allowed to clean out any of my bank accounts, and I wouldn't tolerate any of his subterfuge any longer. Mentally steeling myself for the battle that was sure to ensue I pulled into the estate a short while later.
When I got out of the car I could hear laughter in the side yard beyond the covered garage. Randolph's family had built an enormous greenhouse right next to the carport. On earlier visits I always noticed huge arrays of color and a variety of plants and flowers throughout the house courtesy of the greenhouse. The last visit was the only time there had been a very few floral arrangements. Moving towards the familiar male laughter I skipped the front door trying to avoid another scene with Marge. It definitely sounded like Randolph's laugh. Then I could hear his voice.
The gate made little noise as I opened it. The walkway had been blown clean with the brisk winds so the few leaves there barely crunched beneath my feet. I wasn't deliberately trying to be quiet. But since I didn't call out, my entrance was going unnoticed. Next to the greenhouse was a large potting table. Usually the hardwood surface of the potting table was used by the gardeners to replant or fertilize the delicate orchids and leafy plants that littered the house. Randolph had other uses.
"That stupid cow! Telling me that the check wasn't ready yet. Of all the incompetent little assistants, my wife finds the absolute worst ones!" Randolph said angrily while winding the silk tie I'd bought him for his last birthday around Marge's upraised hands. The blue silk cut into her wrists and I remembered how I had carefully picked it out while worrying he'd never use it.
Astounded I saw his pants were open and he was thrusting into Marge. She was bent forward over the potting table, her skirt flipped up and her lacey white underpants were around her ankles. Using the tie he was pulling her harshly around the top of the table. She was laughing, almost a giggle actually, and moaning his name. He was at an angle from me, his face turned the other way. Marge's eyes were shut and her mouth was moaning in obvious ecstasy. Her moans were punctuated by small hiccoughs of greedy piggy sexual squeals.
"Soon, everything will be mine. That stupid bitch! Why couldn't she just die?" With each exclamation he thrust harder, "Fine," he bit out, "She will be sorry she made me wait."
Then Marge opened her eyes and saw me frozen there. With an evil satisfied smile she just said, "Oh, lover! Harder!" He bit into her shoulder through her hair around the nape of her neck drawing blood and continued slamming into her. Dismissively she shuddered and shut her eyes while announcing, "Oh, here I go!"
I walked back to the car as quietly as I had arrived.
* * *
Still In The Past
From there I went straight to my attorney's office, Clark, Patton and Associates. I spent the day arranging immediate divorce proceedings. Randolph was served with the documents including the standard stay away orders. My attorney, Mr. Clark, did not pry about my reasons since I was adamant about not wishing to fight, but simply wanted a divorce from the man.
I moved into a small, fully furnished, studio apartment near my office and slowly went about reconstructing what was left of my life. The afternoon Randolph was served with the dissolution packaged he tried to reach me at work. My staff was instructed to rebuff his calls and decline any letters that came return receipt on advice of my attorney. Mr. Clark had explained to me that often men tried to reconcile with their wives so later they could demand more money. I found that hard to believe that anyone would change their mind after doing something so final. Besides, I was more worried about Randolph harming me if he found me than wanting to make love to me so he could screw me out of more money in the divorce proceedings.
I had got a new cell phone and didn't show up at the office unless it was after hours and clear of people. Janice had my permission to reject anything suspicious and after I heard about Randolph's calls she had permission to hang up also. He had demanded she tell me to call. I disregarded his demands and all the letters we refused.
Then the flowers started showing up. But notably absent during this time frame were any of the notes from my mysterious correspondent. The flowers made me nervous and I called my attorney. Reluctantly I confided to him about the mishaps and notes and threats before I'd left Randolph. Mr. Clark said he would check into the cases. A day later he called to tell me what he'd found.