Excerpt from Shadows Of Evil

Shadows Of Evil
A novel
by Carolyn Parks-Williams
Author’s Note:
All scripture is quoted from the New International Reader’s Version (NIRV) of the Bible, unless otherwise noted.

Chapter One

My name is Faith Prescott. I write about the news, or at least what passes for it in our small town of Shoreline, Washington. It was never my intention to become personally involved in a story, let alone find myself at the center of a national media frenzy, but here we are. August 22, 2014 started out like any other hectic work day. Despite my looming deadline, skipping my daily dose of coffee was not an option. If I wanted to compose a coherent column for the Shoreline Sentinel , I needed to be alert . As I entered the small bookstore/ café near my apartment, I was pleased to see that someone was readily available to open the door. Life in a wheelchair is tough enough without having to negotiate tight spaces independently. You know you’re regular when you walk in the door, and they are already assembling your drink.
“Good morning, Josh,” I said to the sleepy man behind the counter, “I will also take an egg salad sandwich to go.”
I rolled up to an empty table to wait , pulling out my tablet computer to maximize the use of my time. Absorbed in my task , I failed to notice the stranger slowly encroaching on my space. Before I knew it , he snatched the mobile device out of my hand and grabbed my purse off of my shoulder, hitting me with it when I feebly attempted to stop him. The movement knocked me on to the floor. The snap of my right humerus bone sent me reeling. In a blink, the thief vanished out a little used side door. There went any hope of completing my article on time, but that turned out to be among the smallest of my worries. Time froze , and after what seemed like hours, I got myself together enough to ask someone else to call 911. Since the perpetrator took my bag containing my phone and everything else essential to my life, I could hardly do it myself. The thought that another person would invade my space in such a way caused my muscles to tighten way more than my Cerebral Palsy usually did. Despite my rage, I managed to breathe a quick prayer of thanks. Possessions can be replaced. My uncle, who served as a cop on the mean streets of Surprise, Arizona, drilled in to me the imperatives of personal safety. Eventually, a uniformed officer showed up to take my initial statement. I shared the information I recalled, but I doubted my vague description would assist in identifying a suspect, let alone capturing and convicting one. Due to my obvious injuries, the paramedics transferred me to the hospital without discussion. After several hours of poking and prodding, the doctors determined that I should stay in the hospital overnight. In addition to the bumps bruises and broken arm, I felt the room spinning wildly. That led to the discovery of yet another symptom, low blood pressure. Diagnosis: arrhythmia. Would the fun ever end?

Chapter Two

Given the traumatic occurrences of the last 24 hours, it was not surprising that fear, anxiety, and depression took up permanent residence with me during my hospital stay. While there were a steady stream of coworkers, church members, and family that came to offer support the visitors did not really help, neither did the mirror. While I never considered myself a great beauty, it was difficult to see my own face without startling. My once creamy pale complexion was now covered in a rainbow of bruises and welts. Seeing my brown eyes impacted by a large fist caused tears to collect until I had no choice but to let them fall, weeping myself into a deep and dreamless sleep.
The sharp wrap on the doorjamb woke me hours later. Somehow, I croaked out a groggy “Come in,” expecting it to be another nurse inquiring about whether I was oriented times four.
I looked up, blinking hard, and gave myself a fierce internal shake to ensure that I was, in fact, alert. Staring down at me were the most intense pair of baby blues I had ever encountered.
“Sorry to disturb you,” The deep voice attached to the those gorgeous orbs intoned, “but there have been developments in your case, so I wanted to come over and check on you. That way, I can get to work. Maybe you can help.”
“My case?” I stammered stupidly.
“Yes. You do remember the robbery yesterday morning, don’t you?” Concern flickered over his features.
“Well, yeah, I do, but what you know about it?”
“Apparently, apologies are in order again. I forgot that when I was here last night you were probably out of it and don’t remember me . My name is Detective Lieutenant Spencer Brighton. The Shoreline Police Department assigned to me to investigate the incident at the book store.” I had met this man before? Dear Lord, I prayed, help me to salvage my dignity. At 25, I had been around my share of attractive members of the other gender, but suddenly I wished fervently for a beverage to loosen my tongue from its permanent position on the roof of my mouth. Then I noticed my soaking palms. Gesturing, I indicated the water glass on the bedside table.
“Will you please call the Patient Care Technician?”
“Why? If you want a drink, I would be happy to help.”
“Okay. That would be terrific. Thanks!” Nodding, he grabs the nearby pitcher, and fills the cup with fresh ice water. Coming over to me, he gently slips the straw into my mouth so I can quench my thirst, and gather my thoughts. Glancing at the heart monitor, I am relieved to see that the slight spike has yet to alarm the nurses. I am convinced, however, that my companion can hear its acceleration from where he sits. Other noises barely register for me over the thundering.
“Now that you know who I am, can we get down to business?”
I shrug, hoping the non verbal communication projects a nonchalant air I don’t even begin to feel, dragging my attention away from the dimple I notice when he smiles.

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Six Things I Wish Everyone Understood about my Journey with Cerebral Palsy

I get really frustrated when people make assumptions based on my diagnosis. Here’s a short list of points to keep in mind.

1. Please stop apologizing for my condition:

For me, Cerebral Palsy is just part of who I am, like my brown hair and eyes. Personally, I believe God created me on purpose for a purpose. I like myself, and while sometimes I might wish for more mobility, when people express regret over my circumstances, it makes me feel like they think I might be a better person if I could walk. We can’t know for sure, but I could very well have become a totally different individual. Also, keep in mind that I am not any more broken than anyone else, some of my short comings might just be more visible than others. I don’t need to be fixed. Having come this far trusting God, I think that He is using me right where I am at. If He chooses to heal me now, fine. If not, I can wait until I get to Heaven.

2. I don’t see myself as particularly brave or inspirational:

I am just a child of God, clinging desperately to the grace of Jesus, falling short like everyone else. Dealing with the hand I have been dealt is a challenge, but I try to do so with positivity. If I do confide in you about my struggles, it is not because I seek attention, it is because I trust you. Sometimes I just need to be real about what is happening in order to keep my sanity. Deep down, I fear causing people to feel annoyed, or burdened by my troubles.

3. I am so happy you found a treatment that works for you:

Feel free to share it with me, but keep in mind that my diagnosis is complicated.
I have a team of specialists I consult with regularly. Ultimately it is my decision whatever course I take with my health, so please respect my choices. Remember that you most likely have no idea what it is like inhabiting my body. I will do the same for you.

4. Words are important:

I am sensitive about this because I am a writer. It is important to me that people use phrases that protect my dignity and also that of others. Don’t refer to my CP unless you have to. It is a component of who I am, but it doesn’t comprise all of me. In my book, the most offensive terms are handicapped and crippled. I understand you might not comprehend the “appropriate” descriptors to utilize. That’s okay, but be prepared to embark on a lengthy discussion on why I am offended, especially if you are the fifth person to call me something I consider derogatory in a given day. Members of my community may call themselves whatever they wish, but able bodied people should avoid using slurs. It isn’t about political correctness, it is about kindness and respect. If you are stuck, my name is Carolyn. I prefer that to anything else. One last note, my wheelchair is not confining, and I do not suffer from my disability. My mobility device gives me freedom, and I gravitate towards verbs like battles, conquers, or lives successfully with.

5. I get that you want to protect me, but if you are close to me, keeping me in the dark on relevant issues will not help:
Yes, I balance a lot of elements every day, but that should show you I can handle tough situations. I am a grown woman, and I want to support you by lightening your load, the same as you do for me. I am smart, resourceful, and might be able to come to your aid. While I lack the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, have you thought about what I do well? There are many areas I excel in. Trust me, if I find out I am the last to discover something vital, my feelings get hurt beyond measure.

6. Suffering is personal and relative:
I REALLY try hard to count my blessings, but if I am having a bad day, I don’t necessarily want someone to remind me that others have bigger challenges. In that moment, I am at the end of my rope, and I just need to acknowledge my unique valley before moving on to a happier place. If you have experienced similar issues, I appreciate your sharing, but make sure it is equivalent. Stubbing your toe in the middle of the night may be devastating to you, but it is light years away from spending 38 years unable to control your muscles. Just consider if you have actually “been there, done that” before you speak.