I finally realized two things about the whole mess. First, and most embarrassing, was the fact that Casey had read my journal. I talked to him about that. He swears up and down that he only read the last few entries- trying to get a feel for where I might be, what I might of done.
I really hope he didn't read the mindless prattle and ramblings about him. I really do. He's acting like he hasn't- but I don't know. (Reminder- delete prattle.)
Second, and more important, was the Philips case. We had gotten some information on it, but then it wasn't on my update disk from Andrews. Now I had no reports from the police, no idea who had taken over that case, or my brother's cases.
When I talked to Casey about it he just chuckled and shook his head.
"What?" I asked.
He finally got his laughter under control. "Jess-" he said, with a slight laugh in his voice. "You're too much."
"What?" I asked again, this time a little more insistently.
"Jess- most people, after what you've been through would be thinking of something like... Tahiti... you-" He shook his head. "Right back into the middle of it."
I shrugged. It's the way I am. Besides, working on something might take my mind off of my arm.
I started therapy today. Seems I did some damage to the tendons and ligaments. If I want to be able to have full use of my arm and hand- its therapy time.
Let me tell you something I learned today. Squeezing a tennis ball doesn't sound like much work, but it can be. My fingers are still stiff, they're cutting back on the pain killers, which means I'm not quite as loopy, but it also means I feel it a little bit more. (A lot more after therapy)
Nick said his good-byes and headed back to base. Now that the emergency was over, he had to report back in. Sometimes I really wish things had worked out with him- but at least I still have a very dear friend, who'll drop everything and save my hide before riding back out into the sunset.
I overheard what he said to Case: "You take good care of her!"
It kinda felt good to hear that.
More tomorrow- time for good little Jesses to be in bed.
Darringer stopped by again, this time for me to identify a few things they found in Aaron's hotel room. Again, he wasn't allowed to see me without Casey and a lawyer present.
It was an odd collection of things he'd taken from the condo. The folder, some private items- the spare key to my bike. I nodded woodenly as he showed me each item. Then he showed me a few more items. They weren't mine.
He also showed me a picture of a woman it was labeled "Chloe"
That was news to me. Was she a future target, or my predecessor? No one had any idea.
When he finished, he looked at the lawyer and Case, then me.
"Look, Miller," he said. "No hard feelings."
I knew what I was supposed to say, which was nothing- but it was just too much. "I understand your position," I told him.
I waited until he started to relax before I continued. "The surveillance, the wiretap... they were understandable. As for hindering from doing my job, jeopardizing the citizenry- that's something you have to take up with Citywide. And your people owe me a new kit, stocked to my specifications."
It took him a few minutes to calm down about that and finally he nodded. "I can understand that. Glad you understand."
I shook my head. "I'm not done," I told him. I could tell Casey was trying to suppress a smile and was having a hard time of it.
"What else?" he asked. He was preparing to stand his ground when I pulled the rug out from under him.
His eyes bulged at that one. "My resignation!? Now you've gone too far..."
I shook my head slowly. "No- you went too far. I can deal with the wire tap, the bugs, the surveillance, the harassment . I can even deal with some of the scare tactics you used- but when you failed to contact me about the Mistopholes case- when you lied and said I had no complaints.. you perjured yourself and more to the point released my little serial killer. That I believe, is called Criminal Endangerment and is a felony."
"Contact me?" I asked filling in the blanks. "You have a choice- resign, and stay resigned- or face the charges."
He stormed out, leaving the things from Aaron's place in his wake.
Casey let out a 'whoop' once Darringer's elevator headed down.
The lawyer merely shook his head and told me if I ever considered going into trial law to look him up.
I was surprised by how much the whole confrontation took out of me, but I felt oddly free.
Therapy was hell, but that's to be expected. The doctors say I may be able to start out patient therapy Monday, meaning I'm stuck here over the weekend.
I'm sure the nursing staff is overjoyed.
Casey had to report in to work today. I kinda wish he was still here. I really don't like being alone. I feel-- vulnerable, scared.
I guess when I'm alone, I have too much time to think about what happened, about Aaron, about Raz- about mortality.
If there was any doubt in my mind that the boys had gotten on AZT's bad side, my experience with Raz and her friends had erased it. Whenever I think about her, about the ritual she performed, about the whole incident, I find myself rocking back and forth in an almost autistic manner. Guess the experience hit me harder than I thought.
Whatever it was they did, whatever the purpose- I knew it wasn't designed to directly effect me. No, if that were they case there would be no point in killing me afterwards. As a matter of fact, it probably would have defeated the purpose. No, it was definitely something for the boys, otherwise what she did afterwards made no sense.
She wanted to do something, something to hurt the boys. On the bright side it meant the boys were alive, somewhere-- so I guess even that makes it tolerable.
With nothing else to focus on, I turned my attention to the folder. A summary to my final relationship with Aaron. Every phone call, every threat, every attack, all nicely categorized and filed. It was over now-- a memory. Something best forgotten.
Then there was the picture: the mysterious Chloe. Was she like me- Aaron's victim? Past? Present? Future? Had he finished with her, or just begun? Her eyes haunted me as I worked my hand and arm. It helped to think of anything other than the action, and the resulting twinges of pain.
The therapist told me I'd been lucky. I'd done a lot more than just dislocated my shoulder. He joked that it looked like I'd tried to relocated it-- to another state.
I tried napping after the afternoon's torture session with the therapist, but I really didn't want to take more pain killers and it was too much without them. One of the nurses tried to get me to take them.
"Maybe later," I told her. How can I tell her that when I take them, I can't control my dreams, and I end up somewhere I really don't want to be?
What I really want is to sleep in my own bed-- safe in my own home. But do I really have a home. I've got the boy's condo-- Matt's bed... Its where I live, but is it really home? I don't know any more.
Well-- add another therapist to the list of people I'm seeing now. This one's a psych. He keeps telling me its normal to feel this way after what I've been through. Normal. Yeah-- normal people don't wake up with an orderly struggling to finish restraining them before they hurt *another* nurse.
I swear, it almost felt like I was floating above it all, watching myself as I lost it. It wasn't really me. Again that 'disconnected' feeling.
If I thought I was bored and starting in with cabin fever before, I know it now. You think laying in a hospital bed is boring, try staring at the ceiling 'cause you're tied to the bed and all you have to watch is the IV drip. Oh, that's fun.
Of course now the nurses talk to the doctors about me like I can't understand what they're saying. People, I went off the deep end-- I did not drop my language skills.
At least I'm still hooked into this getup enough that I can read through old entries and make new ones.
They say its post traumatic stress-- I'm beginning to think it's the drugs, but trying to get them to listen is another thing entirely. Even when one of the nurses does listen to me, she just nods and pats my hand condescendingly.
I think this is the real reason medics and doctors make lousy patients- they come with a built in second opinion and nobody takes it seriously. And when you know something's wrong and they don't listen-- it gets frustrating.
Of course, they attribute that to post traumatic stress as well. How about plain old fashioned frustration-- it works for me. Still they know better and I'm just having trouble adjusting.
So now I'm considered a hazard and I have to go for counseling and therapy until they figure out what the real problem is. Man I just want to get out of here before they kill me.
For my own good mind you...
After another night of very vivid nightmares- somebody's finally listening to me. Although after last night, I'm not sure they're going to want to let me out of here until they're sure I'm all right. Casey's working on that.
It seems I have an allergy to some of the painkillers they've been using.
Didn't I say that before? Didn't I try and tell them that? 'Course, I'm just the patient with just a little bit of medical knowledge... a hypochondriac don't you know?
Okay- being sarcastic isn't going to get me anywhere, but I'm not really at my best right now. Lack of real sleep does that to me.
I got violent again. They matched that up with yesterday's chart and noticed that about 20 minutes after they gave me the pain killers my blood pressure would skyrocket and then the 'odd behavior would start. Seems the med, a cocaine derivative, can cause violent episodes and hallucinations of nightmarish intensity.
But that's only a mild possibility- less than 1/100 of a percent. Lucky me.
My doctor found it fascinating. I found it annoying.
They want to keep me in for observation, I want to go home. Casey agrees with me. Going to take sometime to see who wins this one.
Its now a little after 11:00. Casey's been arguing with the Doc for almost 10 minutes straight. The doctor warning him that I was still in need of medical attention- him countering with how, "if she gets any more medical attention, it could kill her."
I had never heard that tone in his voice before. He was worried.
When he came back in he smiled at me and gave my shoulder a gentle pat. "We'll get you out here," he promised.
"Thank you," I said, unable to say more.
It took another few hours to get all the paperwork together and signed. There were release forms, warnings, instructions, things to look for, my schedule for PT- more doctor's warnings; prescriptions, payment agreements. On and on for the next hour and half. When it was over I looked at the prescriptions. Painkillers- all of them: one for the day, one for nighttime.
Somehow- I don't think I want to take any more drugs. At least not the ones they're offering here.
Finally everything was signed and I was officially released.
Casey wheeled me out to the car and smiled. "Where do you want to go?"
I thought about it for a little while and realized that the choices were rather limited. The condo was still a mess and the cats were at his place.
"We're going to have clean up the condo before anybody can stay there," I sighed. I really kind of wanted to stay there. At least the surroundings were familiar.
"Jess," he told me gently. "The condo is clean... Mario and a few people got together- straightened it up for you. New door even."
I can't really describe how I felt- relieved? Touched? Happy?
Turns out he'd spent the better part of Sunday straightening the place with Mario and the others. Fixing and replacing the broken things, and making sure the bugs were gone. I'm beginning to think he read more than he admitted.
I just smiled and said. "Then lets go home."
I guess home is really where your friends are.
I had a lot of trouble sleeping last night. Without the IV loaded with painkillers-- there was nothing to override the pain, and whenever I'd get comfortable, my shoulder would cramp up.
I can see why the doctors were worried, but after what happened yesterday... I really don't want the pain killers-- any of them.
Casey's been wonderful. He had planed to sleep on the couch and be there if I needed him. Turns out I needed him enough that he ended up moving a chair into Matt's room.
I finally fell asleep around 5 AM. But it was more of and exhaustion thing than a rest thing. I guess sometimes you take what you can get.
Its around 2 now, and Casey's fixing me something to eat. From the looks of things I'm at least 2 weeks out from being able to ride-- let alone do my job. I checked with the main office. I start working night dispatch Next Monday, after the doctor's have cleared me for very limited duty.
Well, Daniels and Cummings dropped by-- Darringer has decided to retire from law enforcement. Glad to see some things going my way. They stayed until I started to nod off, then made their good-byes and left.
Casey herded me off to bed and is making warm milk and honey for me. I'm really beginning to wonder how much of my journal he *actually* read.
I woke up in the middle of the night last night. I was curled up in a small fetal ball, my shoulder was killing me, and Casey was holding me, trying to wake me up, reassure me.
Definitely not the way I imagined what it would be like to wake up in his arms. He looked almost as panicked as I felt.
Even now I'm not sure what happened or where I was in my nightmare, but we figured out what had caused it. My arm had gotten wrapped up in the sheets and when I rolled over, my arm stayed. It was a combination of that and the resulting pain in my shoulder that did it, and I was too tired to wake up.
It became a part of my dream- taking me back to the steam tunnels... to Raz and then to Aaron. Only this time...
Only this time it was just a dream.
I have to keep telling myself that. Even as I retell it I find myself shivering. They're both gone, and yet somehow, I'm still their captive... and Aaron is still stalking me.
Casey asked me about it. All I could do was shake my head. It wasn't like I didn't want to tell him, it was more like there wasn't really anything to tell. There aren't any words that describe the feeling- the memories. And if there are- they're too broad and general to really convey what I'm feeling.
At least in trying to explain it to him- I found some of the words I needed here. I am still his prisoner. In my mind I know he's gone- that its over, but emotionally, he's still there.
He's right behind me where I can't see him, but I know he's there. I thought about that a lot today. Our 'history' nicely enshrined in a manilla folder- a record of everything that went wrong between us.
Casey was worried about me, especially when I took the folder and headed for the fireplace. I sat on the hearth for a while, before lighting the synth-logs. As the flames settled down I opened the folder, reading it by the fire light.
The first page was the first police report I'd filed: an assault charge. It wasn't exactly an 'assault' it was more of accosting me- trying to restrain me. We had just broken up and he 'needed to talk to me.'
I took the sheet, rolled it up and tossed it into the fire-- watching it light up the room and then vanish from my life in a puff of smoke and ash. I smiled and looked at Casey.
I could see his smile grow as he realized what I was doing. I was finally putting my demon to rest.
One by one the records of our post-relationship relationship were added to the pyre. The stalking charges, the restraining orders, the phone calls... everything until all that was left was the folder and the picture of Chloe. The folder was the last to go.
"Good-bye Aaron- I hope you find the peace you never could find here."
I watched the fire for a very long time, letting its warmth fill me; letting the memories fade to ashes like the fire. Finally I turned back to Casey and smiled. It was over for me- except for finding Chloe and telling her what had happened.
Hopefully she'll find her peace as well.