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