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Yes, yes I can write a novel! Pt. 19

Updated on November 20, 2012

The Just War, Ch. 19

Note: This is chapter nineteen for my novel "The Just War" which I am writing for the NaNoWriMo challenge of producing a 50,000 word rough draft between November 1 and November 30. I hope you enjoy it, but more to the point I hope it inspires you to write something yourself. If I can do it, so can you!

Light, pain. Light causing pain. No, the pain was separate. No, it wasn’t. They were the same, they were one and the same.

“Mr. Lawless?” a strange voice asked. It seemed to float from somewhere up above him, from the painful light that was being shone on him. He wanted to escape it. “Mr. Lawless?” the voice repeated.

“I’m not sure,” Vic responded. “Hard to think.” He tried to raise a hand to shield his eyes but when his right arm moved it hurt like crazy. Moaning, he let his arm drop back to the bed.

He felt his eyelid being pried open and a light being shone in his eye. “I’m Dr. Patel,” the voice said in a Midwestern accent. “And you are not in very good shape.”

“Thank you,” Vic answered. “I wouldn’t have known that if you hadn’t told me.”

“Hey, Vic,” came Tommy’s voice from somewhere else in the room. Vic wanted to look for his friend but any attempt to move his head was an exercise in self torture. His cranium was throbbing.

“Hey Tom,” Vic answered. “Where am I?”

Dr. Patel answered, “You are at IU Saxony sir, and you are not in very good shape.” His words were terse, to the point, and obviously meant to cut off conversation. The repetition was intentional. He was trying to tell Vic to lay still and be quiet.

Raising a hand to his throbbing head, Vic responded weakly, “Thank you, Doctor. I wouldn’t have known that if you hadn’t told me.” He obviously didn’t take the hint well.

“Yes sir,” Dr. Patel answered. He was coming into focus a little better, an Indian man with curly hair and glasses and a mustache. “You have two cracked ribs and a concussion. I think it’s probably a mild concussion, but that means you still need to lie still.” Vic didn’t argue. Dr. Patel held up a finger and moved it back and forth, watching Vic’s eyes as he followed it. When Dr. Patel put his hand down, Vic closed his eyes.

“Please don’t go to sleep,” Patel said to Vic. Then, apparently to Tommy, he said, “Can you help keep him awake?”

“Sure, doc,” Tommy answered.

“Good. We’re still waiting on some x-rays. I’ll be back in a little while. In the meantime, please help him to stay awake.” As Patel was leaving the room, the lights became dimmer. Then Vic heard the television snap on.

“Want to watch anything in particular?” Tommy asked.

“Nothing too mind-bending,” Vic answered. His head hurt. “My head really hurts.”

“So no Gilligan’s Island, huh?” Vic could hear the smile in Tommy’s voice.

“Tom, I hurt way too much to laugh.”

Tommy found the TV Land cable channel and they watched ‘Green Acres’ for a while. It was mindless entertainment but it helped Vic to zone out while still managing not to fall asleep. Arnold the pig was doing something that was way smarter than any of the humans, at least Vic thought he was. He still couldn’t raise his head to look at the screen. He was tired, but it was tough to say whether that was because of his concussion or because of the physical and emotional strain he’d been under. He couldn’t remember much, actually. He vaguely remembered being run off the road and getting kicked, but he didn’t know why he was in the hospital. He didn’t think he’d hit his head in the crash, but he couldn’t be sure of anything.

He realized with a start that his wife wasn’t there, causing his heart to beat harder in his chest. “Where’s Jan?” Vic asked.

It took Tommy a minute to respond, but Vic was too out of it to notice. “Uh, she’s not here, Vic.”

“Why not? What’s going on?” Vic’s head was throbbing. He needed Jan, he needed Barry.

“I really don’t think we should talk about it right now. Let’s let you rest a bit and maybe we’ll talk some more in a little while.”

Again, because Vic was so out of it he didn’t really notice Tommy dodging the question. “No, Tom. Tell me, why isn’t Jan here?” he demanded.

“Vic, don’t get upset.” Tommy was sounding anxious, like he was under orders not to let Vic get too excited and he was afraid of what would happen if he let it happen.

“Don’t tell me not to get upset! Where’s my wife?” Vic started to roll off the bed but only got about a quarter inch before he changed his mind.

“Vic, I don’t think she’s coming. She slammed you in the head with a coffee cup from twenty paces. Don’t you remember that?”

The room was dark but Vic wasn’t sure that was the reason he was having trouble seeing. “No Tommy, I don’t remember that. I just remember that Jen is in trouble and I have to help her.” He tried to focus on Tommy. “Where’s my daughter? What kind of trouble is she in?”

Tommy came over to the bed and put his hands on his friend’s shoulders. “Vic, you heard the doctor, don’t overdo it. Come on, buddy, let’s take it easy.”

“Yeah, okay,” Vic replied. He was in no shape to argue. But what was wrong with Jennifer, and why wasn’t Jan anywhere to be found? Where was Barry? What was going on?

The next thing that Vic could remember was Dr. Patel and a police man standing over him. He didn’t recognize the concerned looking man, but the officer seemed to know Vic. Leaning a little over, he asked, “Are you okay, Mr. Lawless? You looked pretty banged up in the ditch.”

Vic could only look at the officer. Finally he managed to croak out, “Do I know you?” but the officer only looked at him with concern. Vic then looked over at Tommy, trying to make sense of what was going on. Tommy wiped a hand across his shaved head and said, “He doesn’t remember much. He knows why he’s here because Dr. Patel told him, and that’s about all.”

Officer Rogers and Dr. Patel looked at each other, then the doctor motioned for the police man to step out into the hall with him. Vic could hear them talking but he couldn’t make out what they were saying. Whatever they were whispering about, which was obviously him, they were pretty animated about it.

Tommy had left the remote for the television on the bed next to Vic. He picked it up and started flipping around the channels, trying to find something to take his mind off what was going on. “Maybe you shouldn’t do that,” Tommy said, but Vic kept going up the dial. He stopped on the Fox News channel, where they were talking about a girl who had been kidnapped. He stared at it, it didn’t make sense to him. The reporter was talking in front of a building that looked really familiar, but he couldn’t place it.

“Vic, buddy, come on, let’s change the channel,” Tommy said, trying to reach for the remote.

“No, Tom, I want to watch this,” Vic responded, pulling the remote away from Tommy. His head hurt like a bear.

“Seriously, Vic, back to Gilligan’s Island.” Tommy tried again to take the remote out of Vic’s hand.

“No!” Vic yelled, which caused his head to throb and his chest to burn. The monitor he was hooked up to started going crazy, at least to Vic’s ears, and suddenly people were surrounding him. People in different colored scrubs and lab coats, people holding him down and yelling at him and at each other:

Are you okay?

What happened?

Hold him down! Don’t let him move!

BP is one fifty over ninety!

Mr. Lawless, please calm down sir!

Vic tried to lay still and be quiet, but his head was pounding and his chest was burning. Where was Jan? Where was Barry? What was going on with Jen? Oh God, please help me! And then through it all he could hear the words from the television reporter, “At this hour we still have no new developments except that the father has been taken to the emergency room for unexplained reasons. Reporting from IU Saxony Hospital in Fishers, Indiana, for Fox News this is…”

“Jennifer!” came bursting out of Vic’s mouth. “Jennifer!” Suddenly three police men were also in the room, helping to hold Vic down as he thrashed. “Let me up! Let me up! I need to go find my daughter!” Vic was yelling. He pulled his left arm free from someone who was holding it but his right arm hurt so bad he could barely move it.

“Hold him down!” Officer Johnson said, trying to lay on top of Vic’s legs. Vic pulled his right leg free and kicked out, sending Johnson sprawling out in the hall.

“Dr. Patel!” one of the nurses yelled, trying to lean on Vic’s bad arm.

“I’ve got the sedative! Hold him down!” Dr. Patel shouted, holding up a syringe with a dripping needle. Looking over, Vic saw Officer Rogers holding onto his left arm. He tried to get his right arm free but Officer Plastino was holding it down. He tried to get a leg free Johnson had his full weight on top of them and he couldn’t move.

“Jennifer!” Vic shouted. “I love you Jennifer! I’m coming, Baby Girl!” Vic shouted even as he felt the needle going into his arm. It started working quickly and as he was going under, he kept repeating the words, “Forgive me, Baby Girl. Please forgive me, Baby Girl. Please forgive me…”

When he woke up, he heard crying. The room was dark, his head hurt and his chest was burning. His arms and legs had been strapped down so he couldn’t move, like someone thought he might actually get up and leave the hospital. Like he could, even if wanted to. “Who’s there?” he called out. “Tommy? Are you there?”

“No, it’s me,” Jan sobbed out.

“Jan? Jan. I’m sorry Jan, I’m sorry…” Vic started but she her hand on his chest, rubbing it.

“Don’t worry about that now,” she said. “The important thing is that you’re okay.”

“But I’m not okay,” he responded. “And I’m not the important thing.”

“Vic, if you’re a good boy they’re going to send you home. We can worry about everything when we get there.”

Vic tried to think for a moment, but it was too hard. “Jan?”

“Yeah, Vic?”

“What’s the weather like right now?”

Her voice betrayed a little irritation. “Why do you want to know that?”

“I don’t know, it’s just important to know.”

She sucked in her breath, then said, “It’s still raining hard, and it’s still cold.”

copyright (C) 2012 christopher w neal all rights reserved


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