Marcus was unloading a shipment that came in when his supervisor called out that he had a phone call.
It was Kate telling him that Valentina was being admitted in the ER and nearly hung up on her to quickly tell his supervisor and rush out.
He hurried toward the ER with his mind racing with worry for her. He found that she was in surgery and now he was stuck in the brightly waiting room with uncomfortable chairs, and with his panic.
He sat down and could barely breathe from the grief that loomed nearby. He prayed that she and the baby would be alright, he’d give anything. He vowed that if God spared her, he would do anything he could to make he happy and his wife.
He was silently begging and bargaining, when someone came into the room. He looked up and saw an attractive redhead in flowing fashionable trouser and blouse in dark blue. Her green eyes peered at him and he could feel her earthiness from across the room, he suddenly head the strongest urge to run into her like a scared child.
She smiled and instantly his anxiety was gone.
She walked over to him.
“You must be Marcus. It’s good to match the voice with a face.” She told him as she embraced him.
He had frequently called Kate’s to speak to Valentina and they would end up chatting, but now he could see what he felt over the phone. He was thankful that Valentina had such a friend.
“I’m glad you called.” he told her looking into her watery green eyes. She nodded.
“She would have wanted you here and we could wait together.”
He guided her to the seats and sat down next to her.
“Have they said anything yet?” she asked him, removing her coat. He shook his head and thought it better not to mention that he saw Valentina for a moment, but just thinking about how small and pale she looked, scared the shit out of him. He didn’t want her to be scared too.
It was many hours before a doctor came out to see them.
He looked to be in his early thirties with unruly curly brown hair and dark eyes. Under his striking white coat, he wore a pink button shirt and gray slacks. A stethoscope stuck out of his deep pocket.
“Are you here for Valentina Hammond?” he asked, looking a bit grim. Marcus held his breath.
“Yes. Is she alright?” Kate asked.
He nodded and they both exhaled in unison.
“Oh, thank God.” she cried against Marcus as he held her in relief.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to save her baby.”
Kate sank into the seat. “Oh no.” she said quietly and clasped her hands in her lap. The doctor sat across from them and leaned forward.
“Does she know?” Marcus asked.
“She knows. Ms. Hammond is stable but is under heavy sedation.” he explained.
“Can we see her?” Kate asked, trying not cry. Her eyes were green gems floating in water. She used a tissue that she had balled up in her sweaty fist to blot them.
“Tomorrow would be better. Do either of you know of any family that we can contact?”
Kate and Marcus shook their heads. He searched his mind and found it to be a funny thing that when it came to Valentina, he remembered everything she said. It just would stick to his mind like fly paper and there it would stay until it changed, never forgotten.
The doctor nodded. “Okay, if you come across any of that information, let me know.” he told them and shook their hands and left.
They sat there until Kate was calm enough to leave. Marcus guided her along as she held onto his arm.
“So, I’ll see you tomorrow then.” she said quietly.
“I’ll be here.” he squeezed her hand. Here eyes were clearing up, the rosy complexion was regaining its strength.
“She’s going to be okay, she’s got us.” he told her and she turned to him.
“That’s true. You know, it’s really great that you’re here, Marcus. Most guys wouldn’t want to get involved.”
He met her eyes.
“I love her, Kate. I’m going to ask her to marry me.” he said and she grinned happily at him.
“That’s wonderful, Marcus.” she hugged him tightly in her warm arms. They were leaving the area when they saw the doctor again leaving an examination room. Kate stopped him suddenly.
“I’m afraid that she’ll wake up and no one will be there. She shouldn’t be alone at a time like this. No one should. I’m going to ask the doctor if I can stay with her. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Marcus nodded and gave her friendly peck on the cheek.
“You’re amazing, Kate. See you tomorrow and tell her I miss her for me.”
She gave him a quick salute. “Will do.” she smiled and walked toward the doctor.
Marcus walked to the elevator and waited.
How could this happen? It was best not to drive himself insane before he got answers from Valentina. It was already going to be a long night.
Peter was sitting in a restaurant waiting for his order when his phone rang. It was Karen.
“I did it. Where do you want to meet for your part?” she asked him.
Peter chuckled. “What part is that?”
She paused for a moment.
“You said that you would get Marcus if I did this. I did it. Now, it’s your turn.” she explained simply and slowly.
Just who did this bitch think she was? Talking to him like he was a fucking moron?
“I’m not going to do that.”
She paused again. “Why the fuck not?”
“Why would I hurt a guy who did nothing but hurt your ego? He doesn’t want to be with you and I don’t blame him.” he told her while he repositioned his fork and knife just so.
“We had a deal !” she screamed.
He sighed wearily. “This conversation is going to get boring real fast if I kep repeating myself. You did this on your own, all we did was have some drinks and talk bullshit. What happened after that is on you.”
“It’s on us, if I go the police and tell them we made a deal.” she was pacing back and forth shivering with cold and rage. He let out a loud laugh that echoed through the line.
“It’s no wonder that this guy left you, you’re a silly bitch. You’re so stupid, you don’t even know that you’ve ruined your life over someone who forgot you the moment he left you. Think about that while you’re rotting in jail.” he told her coldly and hung up with a satisfied smile.
With the impeding problem out of the way, he could refocus on Valentina. As much as he hated to do it, he had to teach her a lesson for this situation. It was true that he threw her out, but when it was time to come home, she refused. Then there was this other guy. How could she go from him to this low life? He gave her a home and whatever she needed and not only does she get herself pregnant, but now she’s fucking dating. He couldn’t enjoy his meal when he thought about her smile was for that prick and not greeting him. The anger was boiling since she said that she was keeping the runt and how close her came to losing control. That didn’t worry him. He was at the top of his game until Valentina was gone. Then he found himself struggling with his temper and the boss started to take notice. The humilation of being called into his superior’s office, like a child to be reprimanded by the principal. He kept his cool when the old bastard told him to make use of some sick days.
“Sort yourself out, Pete.” That’s what the fucker had the gall to tell him. At first, he fumed then he realized that this could be a blessing. He could now put attention on making things right again, then he will be on top again. Better than ever, he thought.
He regained his appetite and dove into his food with relish.
Karen nearly screamed, terrified at the certainty of going to jail. Her mind scrambled to find the next step, but she could not get away from the feeling that the bottom of her life had dropped out and she was sliding down into it. She looked around nervously, biting on a chewed down nail and unsure of what to do. Who could she turn to now? Who would care?
The realization finally showed itself as did the images of a body tumbling down hard and the echo of the slam on the landing.
It was all that she could see and the remorse sat like a stone that was getting heavier with every passing moment. It numbed her until the frantic pace of her mind was replaced with quiet desperation. Then she thought of Marcus. He was the only one who cared about her. He would hate her now and it was with this thought that brought tears to her eyes. Still, she loved him and she was compelled to see him, even if it was for the last time. Her feet were like lead as she headed there.
The February wind blew hard and gave proof that it was the coldest month of the year. The gusts were charged with icy particles that stuck to her skin. The building came into view and with every step, her breath froze in her throat.
She barely noticed the light when she crossed the street, irritable cabbies cursed loudly. She couldn’t hear them. She looked up at his window and saw his light on. She waited until someone came out and quickly slipped inside. She could hear the sounds of neighbors reasonate throughout the lobby, drowning out her footsteps to the elevator.
The creaky doors opened and once inside, she pressed the top floor, number 12. The doors closed and jerked up toward the top. The walls were once painted turqouise , now it was scarce color among graffiti. The grime seemed to attach itself to her as the elevator slowed to a stop and the doors opened to reveal a dim hallway. Silent doors stood as blind witnesses to the dark and the things that hide in the shadows.
Karen stepped out and walked to the stairway leading to the roof. She climbed the filthy, sticky stairs and pushed open the heavy door. She was instantly taken in by the force of the wind. Alone and high above the streets, she exhaled the disconnection she felt in the cold air.
She was filled from head to toe with sorrow and regret. She was a killer and sadly, she realized it the moment she stood up on the ledge. She gazed at the city, gray and black with splashes of white. Winter colors. She knew exactly what that felt like. The vision of what she was about to do, didn’t register. Only stopping the chaos that’s been unleashed, stopping the images that slashed at her over and over until she was empty. She was lost in it’s trance and closed her eyes, swaying with the wind that had put her skin to sleep.
People started looking up and a crowd was beginning to gather, their shouts and gasps could hardly be heard over the howling in the air.
Tenants from nearby buildings started looking out their windows in horror.
Soon police cars parked crooked in the streets and the sirens sounded like a distant foghorn. Karen stood on the cement ledge very close to the edge, fused to it like an ugly gargoyle.
She heard the door open and turned to see an officer in uniform moving toward her with palms in a surrender position. Karen could see his eyes looked compassionate and eager to understand and help. He said all the things they are trained to say, all the while inching closer.
She stepped farther away on the ledge and he stopped.
Turning slightly to him, she told him, where to find Marcus and to go get or she was going to jump. He looked skeptical for a moment until she placed her toes on the very edge and a sudden push of wind almost shoved her off. He backs off and radios in the information through a mess of static. Karen moved away from the edge and sat down on the wet ledge. The cold stabbed through her skin and she breathed it in, she deserves the pain. The door opened again and she turned to see Marcus coming toward her. He had a look of concern that actually made her feel worse, she was ready never to see it again.
“Karen, what’s going on? Please, don’t do this.” he pleaded, coming closer. She put up her hand and he stopped. She could feel that she was running out of time.
“Marcus, I did something horrible, unforgivable. I’m so sorry, I am. I’m sorry.” she cried, the tears glistened on her cheeks.
“It’s okay, sweetheart. Come on, we’ll fix it together. Let me help, please.” he told her and she knew he meant every word. She shook her head hard, her hair whipped her face.
“No, it will never be okay. I killed your new girlfriend, Marcus. I did it because I was hurt when I saw you with her. I was so angry.” she said breathlessly. “I met this guy who told me he was her ex. Peter, he said his name was. He kept telling me things, you know? He kept saying how bad she was, how she tried to trap him with a kid and she was planning to do the same to you. I got so riled up, he told me where to find her and..” he voice cracked, running out of steam and breath. Marcus was too stunned to speak, but recovered quick when he saw her back up toward the edge.
“Karen, please stop. Please!” he called out and tried to get closer. She looked at him sadly.
“I’m sorry, Marcus. Please don’t hate me.” she said and stepped over into the air. He ran to the ledge and helplessly watched her body fall like a heavy doll through the wind and night. As she fell, the crowd split apart and she slammed on to the concrete. Broken and silent.
People screamed, ran and turned away from the loss of life.
He was shaking from the panic and the tragic ending, but the thought of Valentina brought him down. He had to see if she was alright because in his bones, he could feel something was wrong.
Valentina opened her eyes and blinked through the darkness. Her head spun with a kaleidoscope of flashing and twirling lights. It took her a moment to collect her thoughts and it sent her slamming her down hard into the painful reality. She felt that she wasn’t alone and moved her heavy head around and saw Kate, sleeping on a pull out ottoman. She was covered by the standard hospital issue blanket and she was glad to see her friend there, but she still felt empty and alone. Her heart clenched and she felt the tears at her throat. A pain pricked through her thoughts and sent her reeling into unconsciousness.
Meanwhile, Peter finds his way to the Maternity Ward and watches the nurse behind the desk. He slides out a long cord from his pocket and was glad he had the presence of mind to dress in a black clothing and hooded sweatshirt.
The nurse goes into another room and Peter moves closer to the desk, careful to avoid the camera. He hides behind the door and when she returns to the desk, he wraps the cord around her throat and pulls her down to the floor. She struggles against him, her hands flying around his face and his hands that pulled tighter. Her brown eyes became two brown orbs swimming in a sea of blood when she took her last breath.
Not even breathless, he locates Valentina’s room and is surprised to see another woman in the room, sleeping peacefully. He quietly closes the door and walk toward her. A plump white pillow laid on the floor and he picked it up. He quickly held it over her face until her fighting stopped.
He turned to Valentina and watched her sleep serenely, too much for being the cause of so much trouble. He should be angry with her, the inconvience of it annoyed him. He manages to jolt her awake, but places his hand firmly around her throat and looked into her frightened eyes.
“You’re not going to do anything stupid, right?” he asked her as he gave a tight squeeze until her heard her gasp. His dark eyes dared her to refuse and she nodded. She had difficulty sitting up and walking, but she tried to move as quickly as he wanted her to. He threw a coat he found in the closet to her, but her attention was on something else.
She was looking at the pillow that still rested on Kate’s face and the terror went off like a bomb. She began to scream and he took her hard by the hair, his tight grip was ripping out strands that quieted her.
“Not another sound, understand?” he commanded and again, she nodded. He relased her and she moved through the pain to get into the coat and her slippers. She had to pause for a moment when the pain spiked through her.
“Peter, please. I’m in so much pain, I can’t move.” she leaned against the wall for support and to catch her breath. He grabbed her arm and began walking.
“You’ll move your ass when I say and I’ll see if I can get your something. Now, move.” he told her as he led her on. She tried to take light steps but he was pushing and pulling her around. He rushed her through the exit and they were outside in the frigid night. He dragged her down the block and around the corner to his car.