Home > Trust(5)

Trust(5)
Author: Kylie Scott

The cop opened his mouth, doubtless to continue on with more of the same. Except John tapped on the inside of the car window. He didn’t smile, didn’t frown; he just looked at me. Blood speckled his face and stained the fresh white bandage around his upper arm. His light-brown shoulder-length hair hung around his face. There were clumps in it too. Out of the five people who’d been in the store, only he and I were left. Besides Chris, of course.

The car engine rumbled to life.

The tapping stopped, and John pressed a bruised and bloodstained palm up to the door window. Maybe it was his way of waving good-bye or signaling glad-you’re-okay. But with the gray-metal handcuffs looped around his wrist, the gesture just made him look lost and alone. His expression didn’t change, haunted eyes looking out from a pale, shell-shocked face. Nothing about this was okay. While I was shrugging off the attentions of Mom and Georgia and the nice ambulance officer, John was being carted off in the back of a police car.

We held each other’s gaze as the vehicle slowly moved forward, more police clearing a way out through the crowd. Cameras and reporters pressed in like a frenzied mob. Once the cruiser was gone, they trained their lenses my way. I turned my blanket into a Jedi-style cape, hiding my face from view.

“Come on, tough girl,” said Bill, ushering me away with a firm hand. “They’ll be taking him to the hospital to get patched up. Same place you need to go.”

The man in the gray suit said nothing, but he didn’t look happy. Made two of us.

Turned out the man in the suit was one Detective Taylor. He, along with a Detective Garcia, questioned me at the hospital Sunday afternoon. It was as soon as the doctors and Mom would allow. My story never changed, no matter how many ways they came at it or how many times they made me repeat the sequence of events that took place Saturday night. Eventually they were satisfied. The good news was that because everything had happened in plain sight, Chris had pled guilty, which meant I wouldn’t have to appear in court as a witness or anything. Suited me just fine. If I went the rest of my life without ever seeing Chris again, that would still be too soon.

An unsmiling Detective Taylor confirmed that John had been released after questioning. That was welcome news. I kept replaying the haunting picture of John in my head, alone and injured, as the police drove him away. At least things had been made okay since then. Chris was behind bars and John was free. That made me feel better. Still not great, but better. Pain meds and careful movement were what the doctored ordered. It was hard to stay still, though, when my head worried that every tall figure walking into the room might be Chris. Shaking and imagining all sorts of crazy shit seemed to be my new normal.

When Georgia came in, she cried all over me. It wasn’t pretty and it also wasn’t comfortable what with my cracked ribs, cuts, and bruises. But it was great to see her.

“I told them we were only there by random fate or whatever,” she said, wiping at her cheeks with the palms of her hands.

“You gave interviews in your unicorn satin pajamas?”

She nodded. “I looked like a total lunatic.”

It hurt, but I couldn’t help but try to laugh. Stabbing pain, so much fun.

“God, Edie. I’m so sorry.”

“For what? None of this is your fault.” I grimaced, trying to get more comfortable among my mountain of hospital pillows.

“But—”

“Don’t. Seriously.”

A heavy sigh.

Looks-wise, Georgia and I were total opposites. She had short dark hair, her body petite. Perfect for the acting career she’d been dreaming of since birth. Our shared sense of bad humor, love of Sephora, and taste in books bound us tight. We’d be friends forever, Georgia and I.

“Your TV debut and your hair is a mess and you don’t even have any makeup on,” I teased. “Catastrophe.”

Hands slapping her cheeks, she fake-gasped. “Can you believe it?”

“Such bad timing.”

“Yeah.” With a small frown, she sobered. “What the hell went on in there? I’ve never been so scared in my life. But you were actually stuck inside there with those people.”

“It was just the one, that meth-head Chris.”

“Are you sure? They led that other kid away in cuffs; I saw them.”

I shook my head, vision wavering and pain stabbing at my brain. Concussions sucked. Careful, they’d said. I needed to be more careful. Groan. “No, John did know the guy, but he tried to help. He actually handed out beers and cigarettes to everyone.”

“What?” Her nose wrinkled in disbelief.

“It’s true. I drank beer at gunpoint.” My attempt at a smile hurt. It twisted into a grimace. That hurt too. “He was trying to keep the asshole calm. It worked . . . for a while.”

“But he definitely knew the robber?”

“Yeah.” Everything had started to hurt. Guess the good stuff was wearing off. “At first I thought they were like best buddies or something. But then he winked at me, and I realized he was just trying to get us all out of there alive.” It was hurting just to talk. I closed my eyes against the pain starting up inside my head. Tiny little people with tiny little pickaxes mining my frontal lobe. God only knew what they were after. “John’s brother and Chris were friends or something.”

“Holy shit. Still, the cops must have had their reasons for hauling him out of there like that,” she pressed, curious, needing to know. Georgia always asked too many questions, used too many words. “Don’t you think? I mean . . .”

I tuned her out, keeping my eyes shut, trying to calm the pain. Just breathing hurt.

Mom had returned from getting coffee or whatever. She mumbled something and the chair Georgia had been slumped in shifted. I heard footsteps and a request for a nurse out in the hallway. Hoped they brought the good drugs.

“More flowers,” said Mom the next day with an almost painfully cheerful smile. It’s a wonder her face didn’t hurt worse than mine. Her determination to remain upbeat was strong.

“The place smells like a funeral parlor.” I sniffed.

“Don’t say that.” Carefully, she moved a couple of vases in order to fit the arrangement on the hospital windowsill. “There. It’s from all the students at your school.”

I coughed out an attempt at a laugh. Yep, ribs still hurt like hell. “Yeah, right.”

In lieu of a response, she picked up her cell phone and settled back into the comfy corner chair.

“You don’t have to stay,” I said. “I know you’ve got other things to do.”

Her brows snapped together. “I’m not leaving you here on your own, honey.”

“Nothing’s going to happen.”

No response.

Oh, well. If Mom was determined to play guard dog, there wasn’t much I could do. She might even have a point. There was a big media storm happening over the whole thing. The standoff had taken long enough for some press to get there. Georgia had said there was even actual footage of Isaac getting shot making the rounds on the internet. Bastards. One overly enthusiastic reporter had already tried to sneak in and grab an exclusive. Like I had anything to say or was even remotely worth photographing. Mom hadn’t been keen on the idea of me talking to the media, but left the final decision up to me. It was a big N-O on my front.

In my dreams, my teeth still clacked against the muzzle of a gun as I stood in a stinking puddle of urine and blood. To relive the holdup again, to tell the story—the thought alone made me want to puke. With stitches holding part of my forehead and right eyebrow together, along with all the swelling and bruising, Frankenstein’s Bride would have been jealous. Why the hell would I want anyone other than the police taking my picture for evidence?

“I take it you’re still pushing to go home this afternoon?” asked Mom.

“Yes.”

She sighed. “Your injuries aren’t nothing, honey.”

“Please,” I begged. “You heard what the doctor said: my concussion is improving and there’s nothing they can do about the cracked ribs. And I’d rest better at home—I know I would. It’d be so much quieter and I’d be in my own bed.”

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