“Thomas! Thomas! Wake up, honey,” the woman calls from the darkness.
I groggily open my eyes to see the face of the day nurse, Jackie, smiling down at me. In one of her hands is a small paper cup filled with my medication, and in the other is a paper cup full of water.
Bright sunshine comes in through a window covered by a chicken wire mesh screen. The sunlight throws its dotted pattern upon the floor. The light makes the small white room I am in insanely bright.
Noises from the day room drift in through the open door. The sounds of cartoons, laughter, talking, yelling, and screaming.
I remove the covers slowly as I catch a glimpse of the large bald brute of a man standing in the doorway. Todd, the orderly, eyes me suspiciously. I slowly swing my legs over the side as I sit up, dropping my bare feet to the cold linoleum floor.
Nurse Jackie offers me a beneficent smile as she offers me the pill cup. I flash her a toothy grin, which causes her to chuckle as I slowly take the cup from her. I put the cup to my mouth and tip the content out. The pills rest on my tongue as I slowly and graciously accept the water.
I swallow the pills with a loud, theatrical gulp. Jackie quirks an eyebrow at me, telling me to show her. I open my mouth with an “Ahhhh” to show her it’s empty, then I lift my tongue so she can check under there. When she is satisfied, she takes both paper cups back from me.
“Now for some good news, sugar. You are being released today. Dr. Renfrew would like to see you before you go, so get dressed, and Todd will escort you,” she says, gesturing to Todd. She steps past him and out, leaving the two of us alone.
“We aren’t gonna have any trouble, are we?” Todd growls.
I don’t dare look at him. That would only encourage him to do something. The man is a bully.
“No, sir. No trouble at all,” I reply.
“Good! How is the shoulder?” he asks.
When I was first brought in, I had stripped naked and tried to strangle a day nurse. I believed her pen was trying to record my thoughts and take over my mind. In the ensuing chaos between me, Todd, and two other orderlies, my shoulder had been dislocated.
“It’s fine, thank you,” I say.
“Well, get dressed. I am waiting,” Todd says.
As he watches, I get up and dress. He is behind me every step of the way as we make our way down long corridors lined with large windows covered with more safety mesh. We move past patients, nurses and their stations, other doctors, and orderlies. Everything is white, a bright blinding, maddening white. We arrive at Dr. Renfrew’s office, but before I go in, Todd stops me, his grip on my biceps painful. He leans in and whispers in my ear.
“You’ll be back in here, loony tunes. That pretty little redhead you are fucking at the D.A.’s office, and them boys from New York you got on speed dial won’t be able to stop it. Then you, me, and the boys will have a chat in the boiler room.” His voice is low and full of menace as he pushes me to the office door.
I enter with the brute once again on my heels. Renfrew looks up from his desk. He is a balding, bespectacled man with a sharp nose. He gestures for me to take a seat, and I do.
“You can go now, Todd. Thank you,” he says dismissively.
“But, sir,” Todd begins to protest.
“Thank you,” Renfrew says, ending the conversation.
Todd, looking angry, slips off to parts unknown. I know he hasn’t gone too far, he will have to escort me back to my room, but I let a sigh of relief escape my lips.
“Reprehensible man,” Renfrew says with a smile. “Ready to go, Tom?”
“Yes! Oh God, yes, so ready,” I say.
“How is the new medication regiment working out?” he asks.
“Much better, thank you. Fewer hallucinations, fewer voices, less everything,” I say.
“Look, I’ve been your doctor for a good number of years, and I know it wasn’t easy finding your twin brother’s body. The way that Henry took his own life was such a shame. I am really sorry, Tom, but you have got to stay on your meds. Any problems you call me day or night, understand?” Renfrew finishes.
“I understand, thank you, and I will,” I say.
I walk outside under a blue sky on a perfectly beautiful spring day. I am a free man for the first time in a year and a half. I see a hot red mustang with an even hotter redhead standing next to it. Mallory sees me and screams as he rushes for me. She leaps, and I catch her, spinning her around. She loses a sandal but giggles and covers my face in kisses. Our lips lock, and we hold the kiss for what feels like an eternity. She pulls away first and caresses my cheek.
“Hi, baby,” Mallory says, smiling warmly.
“Hiya, doll,” I reply, turning my face to kiss the palm of her hand.
“We got a lot to talk about. Let’s get you home and get you fed,” Mallory says, taking my hand and leading me to the car.
I follow, smiling all the while. I let her lead me, knowing I would do as Gomez Addams would. I would die for her, kill for her, either way, what bliss. The car ride is filled with longing glances and holding hands until we get back to our building. In the elevator, she rests her head on my shoulder, and I breathe in her scent.
“They put the book on hold until you got better, Tommy. They said it was really good and worth the wait,” Mallory says.
“It’s only my fifth book, Mal,” I say.
“Says a Bram Stoker Award winner. So humble,” Mallory says, sticking her tongue out.
We both laugh, and she leans on me. Her smell is intoxicating, and I want to taste her right here, right now, elevator cameras be damned.
“I ordered us a pizza. There is no time to cook. I have too much paperwork,” Mallory says.
“Paperwork?” I ask.
“Yup, the rapper Big Daddy H was arrested in LA. He was charged with multiple counts of pedophilia,” Mallory says.
“Are you sitting first-chair on that one?” I ask.
“No, second. Bill is first, but he wants me to go over the extradition paperwork before we fly to LA and bring him back here to Chicago,” Mallory says as we get off the elevator to our unit.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” I say as I follow her.
There is pizza. It’s Lou Malnati’s, and it is the best damn pizza on the planet. I give her a foot rub as she goes over the paperwork. She thanks me with a smile and a handful of kisses.
“My eyes are killing me. I am going to go hop in the shower,” Mallory says.
She slides off the couch, smiling at me as she pads her way to the shower. She gives me a hair flip and a coy smile over her shoulder as she gets in. I immediately follow.
In the shower, I pull her back against my chest, my arms slipping around her waist. I press close and nibble on her neck as she pants a little in my ear. I can no longer deny my lust for her and maneuver around to her front, my mouth not leaving her neck. She moans a little as my teeth scrape over her pulse.
I push her back against the tile wall. Her eyes are full of hunger, her breathing heavy. Her breasts rise and fall with every breath, the movement hypnotizing. She knows what I am about to do, and I let the anticipation grow. She bites her lip eagerly, and I can no longer ignore my need.
I kiss the soft curves of her breasts and move my mouth down across her belly. I trace my tongue over the silver rose tattoos she has on each hip. She moans with every kiss and touch of my mouth against her skin, her toes curling in pleasure. I love that! As my face sits before my true target, if I were being fancy, I would call it the temple of her womanhood where the sweet nectar lives.
I look up at her, and she emphatically nods her head as her fingers begin to dig into my hair.
I lick my lips and order, “Say my name and be loud about it.” I bury my face between her legs as she pulls my hair. Her toes curl, and my name escapes her lips, echoing like a litany off the tiles.
I hold her close as she sleeps, curled around her as her big spoon. I feel her shift and lift over her to take a kiss before she fully wakes.
“I want ice cream,” she murmurs sleepily.
“Any in the freezer?” I ask.
“No,” she whines.
“I will get dressed and go to the corner store and grab us some,” I say, getting out of bed.
“Money is on the dresser. Chunky Monkey! I left you and your escort service five stars on Yelp. Will fuck again!” she says from the bed. I am laughing as I leave the room.
At the market, I buy two Chunky Monkeys for her and a New York Cherry for me. As I leave, I am seized by two sets of rough hands, and an all too familiar voice speaks up from behind me.
“Hey, loony tunes,” Todd says gleefully.
The back of my head explodes in a white flash of pain as I hear the glass bottle smash in my ears. The bag of ice cream falls from my numbing hands as my knees buckle. I am dragged into the alley, and darkness consumes me as they begin to beat me.