Recovery, Relapse, Relationship (part 5)

(Continued from the last post. Click here to catch the whole story from the beginning.)

“Well,” I said as tenderly as I could, “I don’t think he’ll be representing him anymore. And I also think he might be a little too close to handle this particular problem for you. I think he loves you very much, and he may not be able to think clearly because of what’s happened. So if you want legal advice, you should probably talk to someone else. Maybe Ted can recommend someone he trusts.”

She just looked sad and stared at the wall, deep in thought.

“Look,” I said. “There’s another way to approach this.”

Her expression lifted with hope.

“First of all, no matter what you decide to do, it’s going to be hard. I don’t think there’s any easy way through this. I know that’s not what most people want to hear, but I have to level with you. Whether you talk to the police or not, you’re going to have to work through your feelings, because there’s no way to avoid them. But regardless of whether you talk to the police or not, you can probably get through it, as long as you believe in what you’re doing. You have to be able to live with the choice. So why don’t you just tell me what you want to do? Do you have a gut-level instinct on which course you should take?”

She breathed deeply. “I want to talk to the police.”

“Okay.” I nodded.

As I stood, she grabbed my hand. There were tears trickling from her eyes. She said, “Could you tell Ted to stay out there?”

I nodded. “Of course. I’ll take care of it.”

But she didn’t let go. Instead she continued, “And would you stay?”

I sat back down next to her. “I’ll stay here as long as you like,” I reassured her.

I don’t know why I said that. I knew I couldn’t stay forever, and some women in this situation might get attached. They might want me to stay forever. If she had been a friend, that would have been different. I would have visited a friend’s bedside every day for a month. But I hardly knew Clydene, and I knew the dangers of making promises I couldn’t keep.

Still, in my heart, I also knew it was true. I would stay as long as she needed me. Maybe it was pity that made me feel that way. Or maybe it was something more. All I knew for sure is that she needed me, and I needed to be there for her.

“Thanks,” she squeaked. She finally released my hand.

A tall, thin, black policewoman took Clyde’s statement. Dr. Ilic stood by, occasionally asking questions, occasionally making notes on her medical pad. I told Clyde several times that she could take a break anytime she wanted. I reminded her more because I wanted a break than because she needed one. She wept and wailed through every revolting, infuriating, nauseating detail she could remember, sometimes squeezing my hand, sometimes not, sometimes suffering for 10 or 20 seconds before she could get out the next part of the story.

After her story was told, Clyde curled up in a fetal position, facing the window. I stepped out of the room, found a restroom, and once inside, proceeded to vomit up my breakfast. I sat there in the hospital bathroom, on the floor, next to the bowl, for several minutes, weeping.

After I rinsed my mouth and fixed my face, I returned to Clydene’s bedside. The forensic examination went about as well as the interview. Again, Ted waited outside. Again, Clyde asked me to stand next to her. The nurse examiner was sensitive, gentle, and professional. As she took each sample, Clyde squinted and squeezed my hand so hard, I thought she was going to pull it off of my arm. Afterward, I felt another need to use the ladies’ room, but the nurse examiner had beat me to it. I slid down the wall outside the bathroom door, until I was sitting on the floor in the hallway. My stomach started to feel better, but sadness overtook me, sadness bordering on depression. Not professional, I know, but— Oh hell. That’s a myth.

Dr. Ilic discovered me there. She spoke with a twinge of evil in her voice. “At least the bastard got his.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

She looked puzzled. “I mean… Don’t you know. He got beat up pretty bad, resisting arrest or something like that. Not badly enough for all the evil things he did to all those women, if you ask me.”

I stared at her, mortified.

“You can sneak up and see him,” she said. “He’s in room 1404. But I wouldn’t if I were you. Not a pretty sight.”

That thought disgusted me. I hated what he had done to Clydene and all his other victims. But I also hated that he had been brutalized by the police, and so thoroughly that he needed to be hospitalized. And now that his attackers were the ones charged with guarding him. I felt sick to my stomach again. I changed the subject.

(To be continued…)

This story is tangential to The Conscience of Abe’s Turn and takes place in the Abe’s Turn universe. If you enjoy this story, please also check out The Conscience of Abe’s Turn (the novel).

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