Disclaimer: Early Edition and its characters and situations are the property of Sony/Tristar and CBS. This fanfic is for entertainment purposes only; no infringement is intended and no profit is being made.
Rating; PG-13 For mild language and violence.
Spoilers: If you haven't seen "The Wall" you might not completely understand this story as it is built somewhat around that episode, but many other episodes are also referrenced too. I guess you could say it is a collection of many different episodes and my wild imagination.
Summary: It is the anniversary of something that happened in the past that Gary would just as soon to forget, memories that haunt him or is it just memories? Gary is in trouble and his friends must help, read the story and find out what happens. ( This is my first attempt at fanfiction, so please be kind.)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Ghosts from the Past
The clock on the bedside table switched on, the announcer came on with " Good morning Chicago it's 6:30AM and chilly 23 degrees with gray skies and chance of snow today," Gary reached out and slapped the button on the clock to silence it, pulling the covers over his head pleading as if to some unseen force, " just 10 more minutes, please?" As if in answer he heard the familar "Thump" and "Meow" at his door, throwing the covers back he sat up on the side of the bed rubbing the back of his neck. He was still tired, it had been late last night when he finally got to bed, the paper had kept him busy for the last couple of weeks, he hoped it would give him a break today.
Getting up going to the door, he opened it to see the cat sitting on the paper looking up at him as it had for the last four years now.
" Morning cat, come on in."
The orange tabby cat quickly ran inside the apartment. Picking up the paper, glancing through it, he could already tell this would be another busy day.
" Hey cat, don't you ever give anyone a day off?" Gary asked the feline as it sat by its bowl awaiting breakfast. As he read through the paper, he thought, glancing at his watch, " no time for breakfast again today, it's gonna be another hectic one." He had to be in Northside in less than half an hour to prevent a 10 year old little girl from being hit by a car as she was crossing the street, then less than an hour later he had to make it to the other side of town to prevent a construction worker from falling to his death, and that was just the morning saves.
Gary quickly dressed in jeans and a sweater, pulling on his black jacket as he raced downstairs. Marissa was sitting at a table having her morning coffee and going over some papers, when she heard Gary bounding down the stairs.
" Good morning Gary, have you got time for a cup of coffee? We've hardly had a chance to talk in days."
"No Marissa, I'm afraid I can't, I've got to be somewhere in less than 30 minutes. The paper, it's been keeping me pretty busy lately," he replied still walking toward the door. Gary paused, turned around and asked, "Are you OK, Marissa, is something wrong you needed to talk to me about?"
" It can wait, Gary. I just haven't seen much of you lately or got to talk to you---go on and do whatever it is you've got to do, we'll talk later." Marissa replied.
" Well okay, I'll try to catch up with you later today if the paper will let me. Well uh, gotta go Marissa, bye." Marissa heard Gary's footsteps as he dashed out the door.
Marissa sat at the table shaking her head after he had gone, thinking, " It's just like Gary to worry about everyone else's well being" while she could hear the exhaustion evident in his voice. She hoped the paper would give him a break soon, she missed talking with Gary and for the last couple of days she had been haunted by and uneasy feeling she couldn't shake. She wanted to make sure everything was alright with Gary, she was worried about him and couldn't explain why. She took a deep breath trying to push the dark thoughts away and concentrate on her work.
Gary managed to get a cab, which was no easy feat at this hour of
the morning, after giving the driver the address, where the little girl was
supposed to be hit, he sat back and let his mind wander to another time a
child was hit by a car, when he first started getting the paper, Amanda Bailey.
He hadn't been able to get there in time to prevent her from getting hit,
but he had got her to the hospital in time and had finally got her the care
and treatment she needed. In the end it had all turned out well because
a plane crash had also been averted because of the series of incidents and
his decisions at the time. Like Marissa was fond of saying "the paper
usually had a reason for sending him wherever."
The cab pulled over to the curb, Gary quickly paid the fare and got out scanning up and down the street for the little girl whose picture was in the paper, he finally saw her walking down the street with her friends, laughing and talking. He went over to her and started talking to her, he kept her talking long enough for the blue Cherokee to speed by the intersection, ignoring the school bus's flashing lights. " That was it" he thought as the vehicle turned the corner, he pulled out the paper to check the story, it had disappeared. He watched as the little girl and her friends crossed the street and got safely on the school bus.
Gary looked at his watch, he had less than an hour to get to the other side of town before the construction worker would fall to his death. Luckily the cab he had came here in was still parked at the curb, he jumped in and gave the driver the address of the construction site. Morning rush hour traffic didn't help, finally arriving at the construction site he knew time was running out, he had to hurry. Finding the foreman and asking for Jerry Jenkins, Gary had to lie to the reluctant foreman why he wanted to see the man, " It's a family emergency, I have to talk to him." Finally, the foreman pointed up and told Gary, " He's on the fourth level, if you want to talk to him you'll have to go up there."
Gary raced up the stairs of the building, finally exiting on the fourth level, pausing to catch his breath, he looked around and saw Jenkins, yelling " Jenkins, watch out!" at the same moment he heard wood splintering and crashing above them. Gary leaped toward the man just as he stepped back to avoid the falling debris, and over the edge of the building. Gary managed to grab hold of Jenkins arm as he was going over the edge, holding onto the man with all his strength as he dangled over the edge of the building. Gary's mind flashed to another time but similar scene, the frightened mans face suddenly was that of Jeremiah Mason, the homeless man he had tried to save but couldn't
Gary shut his eyes tight, willing the images from his mind, he had failed then, but he was not going to fail this time, he was NOT gonna let another man fall to his death. " Can I get some help over here?" using all his strength to hold the man and himself from falling, Gary was sweating even though it was below freezing, and he could feel the muscles in his arms burning from the exertion. Finally he felt someone grab his legs, holding him, help had arrived from some of Jenkins co-workers, and together Gary and the other workers pulled Jenkins up to safety. Jenkins looked at Gary, holding out his hand, " I don't know who you are or what your doing up here but if you hadn't been here I'd be dead right now. Thanks, man." Gary just slightly smiled as he shook Jenkins hand and replied simply " Your welcome, just in the right place at the right time I guess." As more of Jenkins co-workers arrived to check on their friend, Gary slowly stood up and slipped away. Once down he looked up at the fourth floor and shivered, he had always hated heights and even more after what had happened to Jeremiah a few months ago. He thought he had finally accepted what had happened, but sometimes he still had trouble dealing with it, like now, he still got that lump in his throat and stomach when he was reminded of that scene. Shoulders slightly slumped Gary walked away from the construction site, unnoticed.
After several more accidents were prevented, he was finally on his way back to McGinty's, looking forward to thawing out with some hot coffee and food. It had started snowing heavily by the time he arrived at the bar, looking at his watch, he decided he'd have time to eat and talk with Marrissa before he had to go out again. He had one more story in the paper he had to take care of tonight before he could call it a day. But first he was going to find out what was bothering Marissa, he could tell by the tone of her voice this morning that something was on her mind. Gary walked into McGinty's, brushing the snow from his hair and jacket, he saw Marissa sitting at the bar, he walked over and sat down next to her, " Hey, Marissa."
Marissa turned her head slightly toward Gary, listening intently, said " Gary, you sound exhausted. Have you stopped all day for anything to eat?" Gary shaking his head slightly as he kneaded the tight muscles in his neck slowly replied, " No--uh, no there hasn't been time, I just barely made it from one incident to the next. It's been this way the last couple of weeks, and I still have one more to go tonight." Marissa worriedly asked, " Is it something you really have to go for, a phone call couldn't take care of it? You just sound so tired." Gary responded, " I'm afraid I have to do this in person, a nurse who pulls over near the park because of car trouble is going to be attacked." Marissa told Gary, "Before you go anywhere else tonight you've got to eat something, you can't help anyone if you make yourself sick." She called one of the waitresses over and told her to bring Gary some dinner and coffee.
Marissa turned her attention back to Gary, she was quiet for a moment not really knowing how to start, then finally she said, "I want you to promise me you will be extra careful tonight, Gary."
He turned to look at Marissa and saw the worried expression on her face, " Well yeah, sure Marissa but where is this coming from?" Marissa sighed, " Gary, I'm serious, you can call it weird, or woman's intuition or whatever you want, but I've been having this really uneasy feeling the last couple of days, like somethings going to happen but I don't know what, just that it's not good."
Gary looked at Marissa for a moment before saying anything, then slowly replied, trying to sound reassuring, " Marissa, you know I'd be the last one to ever call you weird, I've seen those uncanny feelings of yours come true too often, and I promise you I will be extra careful tonight, so please try not to worry." He was trying to reassure Marissa as best he could but in truth, he had had the same feelings, probably because of the nightmares he had been having the past couple of weeks.
Gary remembered all too well, that three years ago this week the chain of events involving J.T. Marley had started happening, resulting in havoc and almost an end to his life. He still got a cold knot of fear in his throat when he thought about it. Trying to push the dark thoughts from his mind, as he finished his meal. Gary looked at his watch as he stood up to leave, he told Marissa, " I've got to get over to the park. I'll see you in the morning Marissa, okay?" Marissa still had a worried look on her face, but said, "Okay Gary, but please remember what I told you." Gary squeezed her hand and said, " I will Marissa, I promised, remember?" He walked toward the door, paused and looked back at his friend, just in time to see her wipe a tear from her cheek. Marissa hated to cry, she must be really worried about this, he thought. Gary sighed and started back toward Marissa, when the cat appeared at his feet. He pulled out the paper, and thought about what would happen tonight to the nurse if he didn't go to the park. Gary turned around and went out the door into the cold night.
Gary was at the park by 9:30pm, the paper had said the incident would happen a little after 10:00pm, he found a place in the shadows to wait for the late model red BMW the paper described she would be driving. He looked all around the area and it appeared to be deserted except for him, so he settled in to wait. Gary felt uneasy, like the hair on the back of his neck was standing up, that feeling you get when your being watched. Gary glanced around the area again, straining to see anything unusal, 'nothing'. Gary's thoughts were whirling around in his mind about Marissa's warning, his nightmares of the last couple of weeks and the anniversary of Marley's death, all haunting him, making him apprehensive. He tried to shake off the edgy feeling, maybe it was the would-be attacker watching him, if he knew that someone else was in the area he might go away and not harm the woman, Gary rationalized.
Just then Gary's thoughts were interrupted by headlights from an approaching car, and just as the paper predicted it was pulling over, the engine making a strange sputtering sound, then stalling completely. A woman in her 30's got out, walked to the front of the car, raised the hood peering at the car's engine. She was wearing a nurse's uniform. Gary thought to himself ' this is it, that's her' as he was scanning the area for any signs of movement. The woman pulled a cell phone out of her pocket, dialed a number, then abruptly punched it off, mumbling something about " forgetting to recharge the thing." Gary was still scanning the park everywhere for any sign of movement, then he saw him in the bushes about 20 feet behind the stalled car, a man wearing a ski mask. ' That's gotta be him,' Gary thought. Gary started walking out of the shadows where he had been standing across the road towards the woman, " Hey ma'm, do you need some help?"
The woman whirled around toward the voice, looking frightened, then seeing Gary, she slightly smiled, and said " Yes, I believe I do." Gary was in the middle of the street, walking toward her, he was about to say something else to her when a searing white hot pain tore through his left side dropping him to his knees. Clutching his side, he looked from the frightened woman to where the man had been behind her car, he was gone, but where? Gary was confused, he was looking up and down the street but saw no one, the burning pain in his side was intense, he pulled his hand away from his side, it was covered in blood. The woman had started toward Gary seeing that he was hurt. Gary hurriedly told the woman, " Get in your car, lock the doors and try to get it started." The woman looked at Gary saying, " But your hurt, you need help." Gary frantically told her, " Please get in your car and lock the doors, I saw someone over there in the bushes wearing a ski mask. Just try to get your car started and get out of here, I'll be alright." She looked in the direction Gary had pointed, then back at Gary, she started backing toward her car not taking her eyes off Gary the entire time. " Please, just get in your car and try to start it and get out of here quick," Gary pleaded.
The woman quickly turned and jumped in her car, locking the doors, she started trying to get to motor to turn over, finally after several attempts it started. Glancing out her window at Gary still on his knees, clutching his side, he motioned for her to go, she felt guilty leaving him like this but she vowed as soon as she got to a phone she would send help for him. She put the car in gear and sped away.
Gary watched the tailights of the car disappear, thinking " at least she's safe." He then turned his attention to the pain in his side, he pulled his hand away, his shirt and jeans on that side were soaked in blood, he felt dizzy and weak. Feeling panic welling up inside him, he tried to think, he had felt the pain suddenly but had not heard a sound. " My God, he had been shot?" his thoughts were jumbling together as he tried to stand, then something cold and hard connected with the back of his head, and darkness closed over him.
Gary came around to the sound of someone groaning, then realized it was him, his side felt like it was on fire and his head pounded. He was disoriented, he thought he was awake, he could feel his eyes blink but it was pitch black, he couldn't see anything. He was laying on a cold hard floor somewhere that smelled damp and musty. He struggled to sit up, causing the pain in his side and head to worsen, he reached up to rub his temples, only to discover his wrists were handcuffed.
His heart was pounding in his chest, 'what was happening? Who had done this to him and why?' He called out into the darkness, " Can anyone hear me? Is anyone here?" Silence was all he heard. Gary struggled to his feet, leaning against the rough concrete wall, he went around the perimeter of the room feeling along the wall with his hands, ' nothing not even a window.' He finally found a door, he tried to open it but it was locked apparently from the outside. He walked toward the middle of the room slowly with his hands out in front of him, bumping into what appeared to be a table and a couple of chairs, the only other things in the room except him. He pulled out the chair that would allow him to face the door and his captor when he returned.
Gary felt awful, besides the pain in his side and head, he was dizzy, nauseaus, he was perspiring even though he shivered from the cold, his thoughts drifted to Marissa, well he had broken his promise to her, though he hadn't meant too. He moved to place his arms on the table to rest his head, he felt the damp, warm, sticky wetness on his shirt, he remembered the blood at the park. Gary's heart was racing, " had someone shot him, and throwed him in this makeshift dungeon to bleed to death?" Gary was exhausted and weak from the loss of blood, he had dozed off to sleep with his head laying on his arms on the table, when suddenly the door was flung open and bright light flooded the room. Gary had to shut his eyes to let them adjust from the darkness to the sudden light in the room, when he heard someone speak, " Well, Mr. Hobson, you're not looking so good." Gary's heart felt like it stopped, ' Oh my God, no it can't be, he's dead.' he thought. Squinting to see who was speaking, the man before him caused what little color left in his face to drain, he felt himself going numb. Gary could only speak in a whisper when he spoke his captor's name "Marley".
" Well I see you noticed the family resemblance between my brother and myself." sneered his captor. "Brother?" questioned Gary. " Yes, J.T., was my older brother, but everyone said we were very much alike." Marley smiled that same evil smile like his brother when he told Gary, " I've waited two years for this day, and now that it's here I'm going to savor making you pay for my brothers death." Gary couldn't believe he was going through this nightmare again, he replied, " I didn't kill your brother, he brought it on himself." Marley huffed, " Well that may be how you see it, but I see it quite differently, because of you, your friends and that newspaper of yours, my brother is dead." Gary looked shocked, at the mention of his newspaper.
"Oh yes, Mr Hobson, I know all about the newspaper you get a day early,
and the cat who brings it to you. My brother had called me the night
before he died and told me the story, of course we had previously had a
run in with another man who got tomorrows paper. Let's see, I believe
it was in Dallas, some twenty odd years ago, Lucius Snow was his name.
Fortunately for him he didn't have the affect on the outcome of our mission
as you did." Gary was sitting in shock, he couldn't move, couldn't
speak, could only stare at this madman.. " Well, Mr. Hobson, I'll leave
you to absorb what I've told you, while I go upstairs to read your newspaper
and plan what to do next with you." Gary blinked as his last words sunk
in, " What do you mean my newspaper?" Marley turned around to
face Gary with that evil smile and replied, " Well you see, your cat found
you here this morning, just as he always finds you anywhere you are, but he
was reluctant to give up the paper to me, damn cat
scratched me pretty good." Gary saw the scratches on Marley's hands and arms, and asked, "Where's the cat now?" Marley smirked, " Let's just say his nine lives ran out." With that Marley closed the door, Gary heard the lock turn, and the room was again plunged into darkness. Gary sat in the dark room unmoving, he felt an overwhelming sense of guilt and loss, ' the cat didn't deserve to die, it had only been trying to find him'. Gary placed his head down on his arms on the table trying to deal with the pain, the physical and now the emotional pain.
Meanwhile back at McGinty's, Marissa had shown up for work as usual. She went looking for Gary, but no one had seen or heard from him. She went upstairs to check his loft, she knocked but there was no answer. She opened the door, called Gary's name, then walked over to the bed and felt with her hands, it was still made, he had not slept in it last night. Marissa felt panic and fear welling up inside of her for Gary. After she had not heard from him by late afternoon, Marissa had started calling all the hospitals, he was not in any of the hospitals. Frantic by this time, she decided to call Detective Brigatti or Armstrong, hoping maybe they could tell her something or could start looking for him. Brigatti had not seen or heard from Gary, and she told Marissa he would have to be missing for 48 hours before the police could officially do anything, but if she did hear any news she would call Marissa. Marissa hung up the phone thinking' " 48 hours might be too late." Not only had she not seen Gary, but the cat hadn't been around all day, which was unusual. She had to figure out something to do, someone to talk to who could help.
" Crumb" she thought, she picked up the phone and dialed Zeke Crumb's number in Montana, praying he would be home. After three rings a familar gruff sounding voice said " Hello." She spoke in a shaken voice, " Crumb, this is Marissa. I need your help." Crumb recognized the worried voice immediately, " What's wrong Marissa? Is it Hobson?" Marissa started crying as she told him the story. Crumb tried to reassure Marissa as he talked, "Try not to worry Marissa, you know he's pulled stunts like this before and he was alright."
" No Crumb not like this, and I just can't shake this feeling that something is terribly wrong. Maybe it's silly, but I'm really worried about him." Crumb said, " Well I know the cops can't do anything for 48 hours, but I seem to recall you and Hobson talking about some psychic friend of his, how they found a kidnapped baby or something for the parents, now you know I don't believe in all that hocus-pocus, but Hobson seemed to believe she was legit. Why don't you give her a call?" Marissa thought for a moment then said, " Her name was Claire, I think Gary has her card in the office. Do you really think she could help?" Crumb replied, " Well it's worth a try, beats sitting there worrying and feeling powerless, doesn't it?" Crumb knew her well, she thought, " Yeah, your right. At this point I'm willing to try anything." Crumb replied," and Marissa, I'll be on the first flight I can get to Chicago." Marissa was silent for a minute then said, " Oh Crumb I hate to put you to so much trouble---but I would feel so much better if you were here to help. I know you care about Gary, too." Crumb huffed, "It's no trouble, I volunteered didn't I? And besides if the kids alright I'm gonna have a thing or two to tell him about worrying folks. I'll see you soon Marissa." Marissa said softly, "Bye Crumb,---and Thank you."
When Marissa hung up the phone she asked one of the waitresses to go with her to the office to look for Claire's business card, finally finding it the waitress read the number to Marissa as she dialed the phone, praying it would still be the right number and that Claire would be there. After the fourth ring a women's voice said "Hello." Marissa said, " uh, yes, is this Claire?" "Yes it is, may I ask who is calling?" " Claire, my name is Marissa Clark, I'm a friend of Gary Hobson, and also his partner at the bar." Claire was thinking out loud, "um, Gary Hobson, oh yeah, real cute, face like apple pie, always carried a newspaper." Marissa smiled at the familar description, " Yeah, that's him. You and he sort of worked together awhile back to recover that kidnapped baby." Claire responded, " Yes, I remember, so how is Gary doing these days?"
Marissa told Claire the story, " Well that's actually why I'm calling you, Gary has been missing since last night and I'm really worried something has happened to him. I've called the hospitals, everywhere I can think of he might be with no luck. I called the police, but they can't do anything for 48 hours. I was hoping maybe--- do you think you could help find him?" Claire could hear the panic in Marissa's voice, she was really worried, " Whoa, Marissa, try to calm down. I take it Gary isn't in the habit of not checking in with you." Marissa replied, " Well no, but it's not just that, it's hard to explain." Claire replied, " Never mind, it doesn't matter. Just give me your address and I'll come over as soon as I can. I don't know if I'll be able to help, but I'm willing to try, I like Gary." Marissa closed her eyes and said, " Thank you, Claire. I just feel so powerless."
Gary shut his eyes when the bright light flashed on in the room, making his head throb even worse, he heard the lock turn and Marley enter the room. Squinting against the bright light, Gary saw Marley holding a gun, his heart was racing as he thought, ' this must be it', he stiffened in his chair bracing himself for what was coming. Marley walked toward him, "Get up Hobson, we're going for a ride." Gary slowly stood up, the room seemed be spinning around him as he did. Marley unlocked one of the handcuffs that bound Gary's wrists, then roughly pulled his arms behind his back handcuffing him again, the rough movement causing him to groan as his side hurt worse. Gary glanced at Marley, asking in a hoarse voice, " Where are you taking me?"
Marley relied, " I'm just taking you where the paper wanted you to go tonight anyway, but instead of going to help I'm afraid you will be just a witness." Gary looking puzzled at Marley said, " I don't understand." Marley shoved Gary toward the door saying, " You will." Gary was weak and dizzy, he stumbled going up the stairs, Marley grabbed his arm and roughly pulled him to his feet. Once upstairs Gary realized Marley had been holding him in the basement of some abandoned house, where he didn't know. The house was dark, must be night again he thought, he seemed to have lost track of time, while he had been in the dark room, it felt like he had been there forever, though. Marley led him through the house, out the back, to a car, opening the door he shove Gary inside, then slammed the door.
Marley got in the car, started the engine and pulled out onto the street, they rode in silence, before Marley pulled over and parked in an alley, he turned to Gary and asked, " You want to know now why we're here?" Gary nodded but was afraid to hear the answer. Marley said, " Let me explain with the words of your newspaper, ' At around 9:30pm last night two teenagers going home from a high school football game were hit by a drunk driver when he ran a red light and were critically injured.' You see Mr. Hobson you probably could have prevented this tragedy but tonight your going to watch if happen." Gary looked a Marley with shock on his face and asked, " Why let innocent kids get hurt or even killed? They didn't do anything to you."
Marley sneered, " No, Hobson, but you did, you caused the death of my brother, so now you gonna know how it feels to have to sit by and watch, unable to do anything, as I was when he died." Marley had a sick, twisted mind, Gary shook his head slowly, " Marley, please don't let this happen." Marley looking at the intersection replied, " Too late, Hobson, there's the kids car now." Gary saw the headlights of an appproaching car, as it got to the intersection, a pickup truck came speeding out of nowhere, running the red light and crashing into the small car. In Gary's mind everything seemed to be happening in slow motion, glass flying, metal crumpling and the screams. Finally, all motion stopped as the car was pinned between a light post and the pickup truck, then nothing but silence until Marley started the car, pulled out in the street driving away. Gary knew it would be no use but he had to try at least, " Can we at least call some help for them?"
Marley looked at Gary, then back at the road and kept driving. Gary felt horrible, physically as well as emotionally, he could still see flashes of the wreck in his mind, that he should have prevented. He closed his eyes against the burning from the fever he knew he had and the tears that threatened. He sat in silence, wondering what other horrors Marley had in mind, but he didn't have to wait long on the answer, they drove from one incident to the next that was foretold in the paper, while Gary was forced to watch each one happen, unable to help or do anything. Finally they arrived back at the abandoned house, Marley opened Gary's door and pulled him out of the car, shoving him back into the house. Marley grabbed Gary's arm leading him back downstairs to the basement, he shoved Gary in the door and onto the floor. Marley came over to Gary and took the handcuffs off his wrists, which were numb from hours of being bound.
Marley looked at Gary saying, " You don't look like your in much shape to resist or try to escape. I'm going to be leaving you for awhile, but I want to give you one more thing to think about, the incidents tonight involved strangers, and I saw how that made you feel. You see Hobson, that's your weakness, you care about your fellow man, maybe even more than you care about yourself. Now you think about if something happened to say your friend Marissa, Chuck, Crumb, Detective Brigatti or even your parents. How would you feel then?" Gary shivered, he didn't know if it was from the fever or Marley's words, which had been like physical blows to Gary, " Marley, it's me you want, you can do whatever to me, I don't care, just leave my friends and family out of it." Marley just laughed as he closed and locked the door, and turned the light off. Gary rolled over to his back on the cold damp floor, he didn't have the strength left to get up, he felt the wound on his side trickling blood again, but worse than that was the anguish and guilt he felt crushing him. Maybe this is what he deserved but why did Marley have to use innocent kids, and his friends and family to punish him. He couldn't help them, he couldn't even help himself. Marley had won, he had broke Gary's will, he just wanted this nightmare and pain to be over, he closed his eyes and let the darkness take him.
Somewhere in Gary's feverish mind, he heard voices, seemingly out of a mist, calling him, begging him to help them. Then out of the mist, he saw Jeremiah as he was falling, he heard the teenagers screams, and then it was Marissa reaching out for help from him, but he couldn't get to them and then the face and the voice that made his blood run cold, J.T. Marley, " Like a moth to a flame" laughing at him. Gary rolled over on his side, drawing himself up into a ball almost, he just wanted the the voices and ghosts gone, he was too tired to fight anymore, he didn't want too. He closed his eyes again accepting what seemed to be his enevitable fate. Maybe, if Marley came back and found him dead he would have his revenge and leave his friends and family alone, he thought.
Claire had arrived at McGinty's in less than half an hour after talking with Marissa. The two women shook hands as they introduced themselves to each other, Claire realized Marissa was blind, but didn't say anything, she could sense an inner strength and faith in Marissa. Claire immediately liked Marissa, and Marissa was having the samed impression about Claire. Marissa asked, " What do we do first?" Claire had started walking aroung the bar, " Well I just kinda walk around to see if I get any kind of feelings, I'm afraid this thing isn't controlled with a switch, I can't turn it on and off."
Marissa waited silently as Claire did her ' thing' as she called it. Claire sighed, " I'm sorry Marissa I'm not getting anything." Marissa asked, " What if we go up to Gary's loft? There are more of his personal things up there." Claire replied," Well okay, if your sure Gary wouldn't mind." Marissa said, "At this point I'm desperate, I'd be willing to let him yell at me just to know he's alright." They went upstairs to Gary's loft, Marissa opened the door and flipped on the lights. Claire walked past Marissa inside the loft, walking around slowly, touching some of Gary's things randomly, she was about to give up when she picked up his Cubs baseball cap, her mind flashed to see Gary lying on a floor somewhere, alone, cold and wounded. The feelings she was getting wasn't good, it was as though he had stopped fighting to survive. Marissa had been standing silently by the door, she had heard Claire's footsteps stop and her suddenly gasp, then nothing. She had to ask, "Claire did you find somthing?"
Claire turned slowly toward Marissa, " You were right Marissa, he's in real trouble and we don't have much time." Tears streaming down Marissa's face now, she asked, " Could you see where he is?" Claire looked at Marissa, wishing she could tell her more, " I saw flashes of an abandoned house, but not an exact location, but I think I could find it. The feelings are strong, and Marissa,--there's a strong sense of evil there too." Marissa shivered, then she heard a voice call up the stairs, " Miss Clark are you up here?" Marissa recognized the voice and called back, "Yes, Detective Brigatti, we're up here." Brigatti reaching the top of the stairs asking, " Has Hobson shown up?" Then seeing the tears on Marissa's face knew he hadn't. " You still haven't heard from him?" " No Detective Brigatti, I haven't. This is Claire, she is a psychic, I called her to see if she could help." Brigatti looked skeptically at Claire and whispered to Marissa, " Do you really believe in all that mumbo-jumbo?" Marissa wiped the tears from her face and spoke to Brigatti, " All I know is Gary trusted her, they worked together and recovered a kidnapped baby for the parents sometime back, and since the police couldn't help me find him, I turned to someone else who was more willing to help." Brigatti who now felt sufficiently put in her place, said, " Sorry, Marissa, I get your point." Brigatti looked at Claire, " Have you come up with anything?" " Yeah" said Claire, "he's being held by someone in an old abandoned house." Brigatti blinked, " Do you know how many abandoned houses there are in the city of Chicago?" Claire looked at Brigatti and saw the familar skepticism in her eyes but replied, " No, but we only have to find one. Are you gonna help or what?" Brigatti looked at Claire for a moment then said, " Yeah, come on, my car is downstairs."
The group of women had made their way outside to Brigatti's car to leave when a cab came to a screeching halt behind them. Marissa asked, " Who is it? Is it Gary?" Someone touched her arm, "No, Marissa, it's me, Crumb." She hugged the retired detective saying, " I'm so glad your here. We were just about to leave to go look for Gary." Crumb said, "What are we waiting on, let's go" as he opened the door for Marissa. They all got in Brigatti's car, and she asked Claire, " Okay, which way do we go?" Claire told Brigatti, " Go North until I tell you to turn. Brigatti started the engine and headed north as Claire had directed. Claire still had Gary's baseball cap in her hands and she would close her eyes periodically, then tell Brigatti where to turn next, they were in a mostly abandoned area, on the outskirts of Chicago, when Claire suddenly yelled, " Stop, that's the house I saw over there." It was an old colonial house that had probably been very nice years ago but was now neglected and abandoned, no signs of life could be seen in or around the house.
Brigatti asked Crumb, " Do you still have a permit to carry a gun?" Crumb replied, " Yeah, never leave home without it." Brigatti opened the glove compartment and handed Crumb a gun, she then told Marissa and Claire, " You both had better wait in the car until Crumb and I check it out."
Marissa replied, " No, your not leaving me behind." Crumb saw the worry etched in Marissa's face and that determined look she could get, " Brigatti, if someone did bring Hobson here, they could come back, they might be safer with us." Brigatti looked at Crumb and nodded, " Okay, but you two stay behind Crumb and me until we check it out." They all got out of the car, Claire took Marissa's arm to help her as they walked toward the house. Crumb whispered to Brigatti, " I'll go around back, you check the front." Brigatti nodded, then turned to Claire and Marissa, whispering, " Wait here at the bottom of the steps, if something starts happening, hit the ground." They nodded their understanding.
Brigatti went up the steps onto the porch and tried the front door, it was locked, she peered through the window but couldn't see anything. She heard Crumb whistle, and then saw a light come on in the back of the house. Crumb was working his way to the front door, checking the rooms to make sure it was safe, finally he opened the front door saying, " Looks clear, no one here but a few spiders and rats. Come on in ladies." Once inside Claire looked around saying, " Find a door leading to a basement, that's where Gary is being held." Crumb took Marissa's arm guiding her through the house behind Claire and Brigatti. The first door Claire opened was the right one, " Down here"
Brigatti still had her gun drawn and moved in front of Claire going down the stairs, Crumb carefully lead Marissa down the stairs behind them. It was dark on the stairwell, when Claire's hand touched the light switch accidently, the stairwell and the room inside where Gary was being held was flooded with light. Gary groaned at the sudden light, thinking it was Marley coming back, not knowing his friends were there to help him. Marissa had heard the sound though and whispered, " Crumb, he's in there." Brigatti tried the door, it was locked, she ordered, " Everyone step back", she fired at the lock and the door swung open. Brigatti was not prepared for what she saw, she was frozen in place for a second. Crumb called down, " Brigatti, is he in there?" Brigatti looked into Crumb's eyes, "Yeah, and he doesn't look in very good shape." Marissa whispered, " Get me to him, Crumb."
They all rushed over to where Gary was laying on the floor, Crumb placed
Marissa near Gary's head,then felt for a pulse, "He's alive but just barely."
Marissa had placed her hand on Gary's forehead, " Oh my God, he's burning
up with a fever. Gary, can you wake up, it's Marissa."
No response came from Gary. Brigatti had pulled out her cell phone
and was trying to call for an
ambulance, but wasn't having any luck getting out. Claire said, "Let me have your phone, I'll go upstairs, maybe out of this basement I can get a signal." Brigatti handed her the phone, and Claire ran upstairs. Brigatti looked at Gary, he ws so pale, he looked as though he was barely breathing, then she noticed the red stain beside him on the floor, pulling back his black leather jacket, she saw his blood soaked shirt and jeans. Brigatti examined his wound closer, she didn't know much about medical stuff but she knew a gunshot when she saw one. " Crumb, he's been shot." Crumb looked at Brigatti, then down at her hands, " he's lost alot of blood, we have to get him to a hospital fast."
Crumb thinking out loud to himself more or less, said, " Who'd want to shoot the kid?" "Maybe someone who had a score to settle" came the response from a strange voice. Crumb and Brigatti looked toward the door at the man with a gun on them. Brigatti didn't recognize the older man but from the look on Crumb's face he did. Crumb spoke, " Marley?" Marissa heard the name and a chill went through her, " Marley? That can't be J.T. Marley is dead." The man replied, " True, my dear J.T. is dead, but I'm his brother." Crumb huffed, " Striking family resemblance." Marley smiled, " Why thank you, Crumb." Crumb mumbled, " and same irritating qualities, too." Marley continued talking " I want to thank all of you for showing up here together to be with Hobson."
" and why's that?" Crumb inquired. " Well you see I had told Hobson, I wanted him to know how it felt to have someone he cared about killed, and there was nothing he could do to stop it." Marley sneered. Crumb angry now, "So you've been playing head games and torturing him for what, revenge?" Marley smirked, " Yes Crumb, I'm afraid I have, and enjoying it too." " You bastard," Brigatti growled.
Upstairs, Claire had managed to get through to 911, requesting an ambulance and the police to their location. She turned off the cell phone and turned to go back downstairs when she sensed the evil she had felt at Gary's loft, then she got a flash ' a man with a gun on the others'. Claire had been so intent on calling help that she had not realized he had come in, but hopefully he had not seen her either. But what could she do, she didn't have any kind of weapon, though she knew she had to do something or he would shoot the others. She looked around the room and found a piece of board, she picked it up " oh well, it beats nothing" she thought. She took off her shoes and started quietly down the stairs toward the voices in the basement.
Marley still smirking at his prisoners said, " Ah, well, all of you showing up here has made my job much easier. Like my brother used to say, ' Like a moth to a flame'. Hearing those words caused Gary to groan, his eyelids fluttered open, taking in the scene around him. Marley smiled, " Well good, Hobson so nice of you to join our little party. Now you can see your friends die one by one." Gary started trying to move using all his strenth, " No, Marley, please don't hurt them, your quarrel is with me, not them." Gary was still trying to position himself to shield Marissa. Marley was shaking his head, " I told you Hobson the way you care about your friends was your weakness, that's what made it so easy to come up with a plan, but now I'm growing bored with our game, so I think it's time to put an end to it." He pointed his gun toward Crumb, and pulled back the hammer.
Gary yelled, " No, Marley, don't--". The next sound was wood splintering and a 'thud'. Everyone was seemingly frozen in place, then they saw Marley's arm drop to his side and he fell to the floor. A frightened Claire was standing behind him with a broken piece of 2 x 4 in her hand, Crumb exclaimed," Nice hit, Claire. We need to sign you with the Cubs." Brigatti and Crumb searched and handcuffed an unconcious Marley, making sure he was no longer a threat, before they turned their attention back to Gary, who was unconcious again. Marissa said, " I hear sirens, could someone go meet them and tell them to hurry?" Crumb hurried up the stairs to bring the paramedics. Brigatti looked at Gary, he looked even paler now than before if that was possible, she then looked at Claire questioningly. Claire understood the unspoke question, but she could only shrug her shoulders, she didn't know if he would make it or not.
Claire came around and helped Marissa up as the paramedics came in with their equipment and started checking Gary, they placed an oxygen mask on him, started an IV and hooked him to a heart monitor. The paramedics exchanged furtive glances with each other, finally one said " we need to 'load and go' 10:17." Marissa and Claire followed as the paramedics carried Gary out of the basement. Brigatti and Crumb had turned Marley over to other officers to take him to jail, and were on their way back inside as the paramedics were bringing Gary out of the house. Brigatti exchanged a few brief words with the paramedics, then turned to the others and said, " Come on, I know which hospital they're taking him too." They all got in Brigatti's car, she placed her light on top and pulled out behind the ambulance. No one said a word for awhile, finally Crumb said, " Hey, the kid's young and strong, he'll be okay, Marissa." Marissa had been praying and crying silently, said, " I hope so Crumb, but I've never seen him this bad." They rode the rest of the way to the hospital in silence. When they arrived, a nurse showed them to a waiting room and told them the doctor would be out as soon as he could to talk with them.
They took turns pacing and sitting, for almost an hour, finally a man spokefrom the doorway, " Miss Clark, we going to have to stop meeting like this. Marissa recognized the voice, it was the same doctor who had treated Gary when he got hit by the car and met Rachael Greenberg, the little girl who was waiting on a heart transplant. Marissa stood up and asked, " How is Gary, doctor?"
The doctor walked over and took Marissa's hand saying, " Let's sit down, and I'll tell you what we know so far. Gary's in pretty bad shape, we're doing everything we can to stablize him enough so we can send him to surgery to remove the bullet and stop the bleeding. He's already lost a lot of blood so we're giving him transfusions of blood and IV fluids, along with triple antibiotics. He has a high fever and pnuemonia, he's dehydrated and he has a concussion from a blow to the head. I don't want to frighten you any more than you already are Marissa, but if he has any other family, you should call them." The doctor didn't pull any punches, but she wanted the truth. " Can I talk to him now?" she asked. The doctor shook his head saying, " No, I'm afraid not, he's still not awake and there are doctors and nurses all around him, like I said trying to stabilize him, but if he wakes up I'll come and get you." The doctor turned to go and Marissa called out, "Doctor" Stopping and turning around he answered, " Yes, Marissa." She said, " not if he wakes up, when he wakes up."
The doctor nodded, " Okay, Marissa, I'll tell him your waiting." with that he walked back into the ER. Marissa stood up, " Crumb would you help me find a phone? I have to call Gary's parents and Chuck." Crumb took Marissa's arm to guide her down the hallway. After finding the phones, Marissa sighed deeply, " Crumb, I really don't won't to make this call, what do I say to Lois and Bernie Hobson?" Crumb quietly said, " You just tell them their son needs them. I always hated making these kind of calls to families when I was on the force. I never felt like I knew the right thing to say." Marissa nodded, took a deep breath and dialed the number. After a couple of rings, she heard Gary's mother say, " Hello." " Mrs Hobson, this is Marissa Clark--" Lois immediately said,
" Marissa, what's wrong? Has something happened to Gary? I've had this awful feeling all day."
Marissa tried to swallow past the lump in her throat, as she started to tell Lois the story. After she finished she could hear Lois crying on the other end of the phone as she said, " We'll be there just as soon as we can, and Marissa," she paused for a second, " stay with him don't leave him alone." " I'm not going anywhere, Mrs Hobson." Marissa replied. " Thank you, Marissa, we'll see you soon, Bye." Lois said as she hung up the phone. Crumb was still waiting nearby and walked over when Marissa hung up the phone, " You, okay?" he asked. Marissa nodded but tears shined in her eyes, " That was tough telling Gary's parents that kind of news. Their on their way, they'll be here as soon as they can. Now, I have to call Chuck." She picked up the phone again, dialed Chuck's number in California, after a few rings she heard his familar voice, and once again she started relaying the news about Gary to a stunned Chuck. After talking for several minutes Chuck told Marissa he'd be on the first flight to Chicago he could get.
Marissa hung up the phone, turned around and called Crumb's name, no answer. She thought maybe he had went to get coffee or go to the bathroom, she felt like she could find her way back to the waiting room okay, slowly she made her way back the way they had come, until she heard Brigatti's voice and her pacing like a caged cat. Marissa listened for a second at Brigatti raving about ' no one telling anybody anything in this place' and thought " she puts up a tough front but she cares more for Gary than she's willing to admit." As Marissa walked into the waiting room Brigatti asked, " Did you hear anything?" Marissa replied, " No not about Gary's condition but I did get hold of his parents and Chuck and their on their way." Brigattia looked around, " Where's Crumb? Marissa shrugged, " He was with me while I was talking to Gary's parents, but when I got off the phone with Chuck he wasn't there, I thought he might've went to get coffee or something." Brigatti replied anxiously, " I'm going to look for him, see if he's heard anything this waiting is driving me nuts." and she stormed off down the hall.
Claire had been sitting quietly, listening to Marissa and Brigatti, finally she asked, " Marissa, are you okay, is there anything I can get for you?" Marissa smiled slightly, " If you could get me some good news about Gary would be wonderful. I'm really scared for him, Claire. It's taking so long." " I know" Claire replied, " but I'm sure they are taking very good care of him." " Claire, you've done so much already I don't know how to thank you. If if hadn't been for you we never would have found him in time, or we might all have been killed." Marissa said. " I'm just glad I was able to help, Marissa. Listen, if your gonna be alright, I'm going to leave for awhile, but I'll be back later. If there's any news call me, okay?" " Sure Claire, of course I will and thanks again for everything you did." Claire had to get away for awhile to clear her head, she was having an overwhelming sense of sadness, she walked outside and took a deep breath of the cold air.
Brigatti found Crumb standing outside the ER doors of the room where they had Gary.
" Hey, Crumb, they told you anything?" she asked as she approached. Crumb turned toward her with a deadly serious look on his face and replied nodding toward the doors, " No, I haven't talked to anyone but from the looks of the scene in there things aren't going to good with Hobson." Brigatti looked through the windows of the doors, she could see drs and nurses moving quickly around Gary's bed. The doctor who had first talked to them was at the head of the bed, he tilted Gary's head back and picked up an instrument and put it in Gary's mouth and throat, Brigatti almost gagged, the doctor then inserted a tube down Gary's throat, a nurse connected a bag to the tube and started pumping air into Gary's lungs. Another nurse yelled, " he's going into V-fib" as she looked at a monitor bedside the bed. A cart was rolled beside Gary's bed and the doctor grabbed two paddles, placed them on Gary's chest, saying " charge to 200 joules" a shrill alarm sounded, then the doctor said "clear" everyone stepped back slightly, and Gary jerked up off the bed as the electric shock went through his body. The doctor was telling the nurse to" charge to 300" and Gary jerked again. Brigatti felt numb, she had to look away. She couldn't take it anymore, she hated hospitals and especially things like this.
Crumb let out the breath he hadn't realized he was holding, saying, " Looks
like they got him back." Brigatti glanced back in the room things did
appear to be calming down, then the doctor saw them standing outside the
door, he gave the nurses some orders, then headed out the doors. The
doctor looked from Crumb to Brigatti, " You know your really not supposed
to be out here." Crumb said, "Sorry, Doc, but we were worried and
neither of us are very good at waiting around." The doctor nodded,
" I understand, I guess you saw it was touch and go there for a few minutes."
Crumb replied, "Yeah, I'm not up on this medical stuff, but even I could
figure that much out." The doctor said, " We've got him stablized for
now. We're getting ready to take him to surgery to remove the bullet,
ascess the damage it caused and stop the bleeding. I don't know the
whole story about what happened to Gary, but somebody put him through hell.
If you both will excuse me, I want to be in surgery when they take him.
Mr Crumb please explain to Miss Clark for me, I expect the surgery will take
at least a couple of hours and just as soon as it's over, I'll come find you
and update all of you on his condition." Crumb shook the doctors hand
" Thanks doc, we'll be waiting and Gary's parents should be here by then, too." The doctor said," Okay, I'll see you in a couple of hours then."
Brigatti had been standing silently listening to the exchange between Crumb and the doctor but she was hung up on the words the doctor had said about "someone putting Gary through hell," she could feel her anger rising. After the doctor had walked away Crumb asked her, " Are you alright?" Brigatti looked at Crumb, " No, I'm not alright. I feel so damn useless and helpless around here, and all this waiting is driving me nuts. I'm going to the station, Crumb. I'm gonna call in a few favors and find out everything I can about this Marley, --he's going down for what he's done to Gary." Crumb could see the fire in Brigatti's eyes, she was a good cop and he liked her. Maybe she reminded him of himself when he was younger. As Brigatti was leaving, she turned, " Crumb, you'll keep me posted, won't you?" Crumb winked, " Sure, you got it."
Crumb went back to the waiting room and told Marissa what the doctor had told him. They had been waiting just over an hour when Bernie and Lois arrived. Marissa and Crumb, told them Gary was in surgery, and that they should be hearing some news soon on his conditon. Then they started telling Gary's parents what they knew of what had happened. Finally the doctor walked into the waiting room, Marissa introduced him to Gary's parents, after shaking hands with the doctor Bernie asked " How's our son doing?" The doctor replied " Gary came through surgery well, we got the bullet out, and luckily it had not damaged any vital organs, and we also got the bleeding stopped. They will be taking him to ICU in just a few minutes, and once they have him settled you can see him briefly. Gary will still be intubated and on a ventilator, that is a machine that's helping him breathe. He is also receiving blood transfusions, along with some other IV medications. There will be tubes and monitors attached, it all looks a bit intimidating, but don't let it all frighten you when you see him. it all just helps us watch his condition more closely. Hopefully he will improve quickly and in a couple of days we can start getting rid of some of the tubes and such. When you see him if you have any questions, just have the nurse page me." He stood up and shook hands with Bernie and Lois, saying " A nurse will come get you when you can see Gary." They thanked him, and he turned and walked toward the ICU.
A little while later a nurse came to the waiting room, " I'm looking for
Gary Hobson's family." Bernie and Lois stood up, " Yes, we're Gary's
parents." The nurse said, "If you'll come with me I'll take you to his
room." They followed the nurse to Gary's room in ICU, she told them,
"He's still groggy from the anesthetic, so please keep your visit short.
I'll be back in a few
minutes to check on him." They walked into the room and even though the doctor had told them about the tubes and monitors, Lois grabbed Bernie's arm when she saw Gary. She was not prepared to see how pale and still he looked laying in the bed, dark smudges under his eyes. Lois was fighting back tears as they moved closer to the bed. Lois took Gary's hand and squeezed it, saying, " Gary, it's Mom and Dad, everything's gonna be okay." Gary's eyes fluttered and he fought to open them as a soft moan escaped, he tried to speak, but started gagging from the tube in his throat, alarms started going off, he felt like he was choking. The nurse came running in the room, she was talking calmly to him telling him to try and relax that the tube was helping him to breath and that it had to stay in for awhile. Pushing the panic he felt down inside, he forced himself to try to relax and not fight it. He turned his head slightly toward his parents, his mom was crying and his dad looked pale. He gave his mom's hand a squeeze, he hated worrying his parents like this, and a tear slid down his cheek. The nurse told Bernie and Lois she needed to check Gary, if they would wait back in the waiting room. Lois kissed him on the cheek, and Bernie said, " We'll be back in later, son."
Gary drifted back into a foggy sleep, unfortunately it was filled with images of Marley, with his gun pointed at his friends, and making Gary watch as he pulled the trigger one by one. Gary was restless and mumbling in his haunted sleep, he heard a women's voice that sounded like it was far away say, " Mr Hobson I'm giving you something for pain, it should help you rest." Gary thought there's no kind of medicine that's going to help this kind of pain, it's my fault my family and friends have been put into danger, my fault----- But as the nurse injected the medicine in his IV, he almost felt like he was floating, and then nothing, at least for awhile. Then the faces and the voices came back, calling to him to help them, but he couldn't get to them. He woke himself up trying to reach out but he couldn't move his arms, his wrists were tied down, and in his confused state he thought for an instant the man's voice he heard was Marley, but as he became more awake he realized he was in a hospital room, the voice was a doctor talking with a nurse.
The doctor noticed that Gary was awake, " Good morning, Gary. I'm sorry about those restraints on your wrists, but you were rather restless last night and kept trying to pull your tubes and IV's out, so we had to restrain you to keep you from hurting yourself. Do you understand?" Gary nodded weakly. The doctor continued, " We are going to start weening you off the ventilator today, I know your anxious to get that tube out of your throat. Hopefully by tomorrow we'll be able to take it out and get rid of some of this other stuff attached to you." Gary didn't blink, showed no emotion whatsoever. The doctor was puzzled, before when he had treated Gary when he had been hit by the car, Gary couldn't wait to get out of the hospital, this resolve he was getting from Gary bothered him. "Well don't give the nurses a hard time today and I'll check on your later this afternoon."
After the doctor left, Gary fought to stay awake, but he felt so weak and tired, finally the exhaustion of his body won out and he drifted off to sleep again. As he slept, the nightmares returned, he kept seeing faces from the past, haunting him, he saw Earl Camby, the good samaritan who had gone about giving food to the homeless, the one the skylight in an abandoned building fell on, that he was supposed to prevent, but didn't get there in time. Then there was Jeremiah Mason, the homeless man he was supposed to have saved but he ended up falling to his death and now there was the two teenagers from the other night, he could still hear their screams, and as always at the end he saw Marley's face laughing and telling him it was his fault. He woke up in a cold sweat, shaking, he couldn't get the images out of his head. Then there was the memory of Marley holding a gun on Marissa, Crumb and Brigatti, and that too was his fault, he told himself.
A few minutes after Gary woke up a couple of nurses came in to bathe him and change the sheets on his bed, he tried to do everything they asked him to do, though when they were finished he was exhausted and hurting pretty bad. One of the nurses asked, " Do you want me to get you something for the pain? I know all the movement made you hurt." Gary shook his head, "no."
He didn't want to go to sleep, he didn't want to see the nightmares again. Visiting hours were at 10:00am, his parents, Marissa and Crumb came in to see him. He realized that they all had been there all night. He was trying to listen to what they were saying, but his side, chest and head were all throbbing. He motioned for something to write on, Lois gave him a pen and a notebook, he scrawled, " please go get some rest. I'm okay." After a few more minutes they said their goodbyes and left promising to rest and be back later that evening. Gary's pain was intense, he was covered with cold, clammy sweat, when the nurse came in to check him, but he still refused anything for pain. He felt like he could fight the physical pain better than the nightmares, they were tearing him apart. When the nurse came back in to check him, he was restless and mumbling incoherently, his temp had shot up to 103, his heart rate and resps had also increased, the nurse listened to Gary's chest with a stethescope, she frowned when she did and went to page the doctor. When Gary's parents, Marissa, and Crumb got back to the hospital that afternoon to see Gary, they found the doctor and nurse a Gary's bedside. Lois looked at Gary, he looked worse to her, she asked the doctor, " What's happened? He's worse isn't he?" The doctor could hear the fear in her voice, " Let's step outside the room and talk."
Once ouside Gary's room the doctor said, " Gary has delveloped some pneumonia, he spiked a high fever just a little while ago, but we are adjusting his antibiotics to take care of it. We will be keeping him in the ICU longer than I first anticipated though." Lois quietly said, " Can I see my son now?" The doctor nodded, " Of course you can." Bernie and Lois went back into Gary's room to stay with him. Crumb and Marissa were still standing in the hallway with the doctor, he looked puzzled. Crumb asked suspiciously, " Doc, is there something your not telling us about the kid? You've got a funny look on your face." The doctor was silent for a minute then replied, " You both are close friends of Gary's, correct? Marissa nodded, " Yes, almost like family, why?" The doctor asked, " Well do either of you know why Gary wouldn't want to fight to get better?" His statement took them both by surprise, finally Crumb asked, " Why do you say that, Doc?" " Well, before when I treated him, when he was hit by the car, we practically had to tie him down to keep him here overnight for observation, he wanted out of here so bad.-----now I dont' know how to explain it, there's no fire in his eyes, he just seems not to care what happens to him. You two know him better than I do, when you talk to him, just give me your take on this. Maybe it's just me, like I told you earlier Crumb I don't know the full story of what happened, but something has shaken him pretty bad." Crumb and Marissa were both silent. The doctor told them, " Page me if you need me" then walked off down the hall.
Later that afternoon, Brigatti came back to check on Gary, she found Crumb and Marissa in the waiting room. They told her what the doctor had told them about Gary's condition, Brigatti sat down, she was visibly shaken, she had hoped to hear that Gary was doing better. Brigatti looked at Crumb and Marissa and slowly began, " I called in some favors and got all the information I could on this creep Marley. He and his brother, J.T. were apparently terrorists for hire. It didn't matter who or where the job was as long as the money was there. I read your report about what happened with J.T. a few years ago Crumb." Crumb shook his head, " Yeah it still gives me the hibbie-gibbies when I think about it." Brigatti continued, " Well, J.T. was apparently the expert on guns and explosives and was the sharpshooter, his brother we have custody was the expert on extracting information from the enemy and mind control, so there's no telling what kind of head games he did to Gary."
Crumb sighed, " Yeah, your right Brigatti. I hope you make sure there are no loopholes that the creep can slip through, he needs to go to prison for the rest of his miserable life." " Believe me Crumb, I'm making sure allthe t's are crossed and the i's are dotted," Brigatti told him. " I'll be back tomorrow to check on Hobson, if there's any change call me. I'm going back to work now, you can reach me at the station or on my cell phone." Crumb nodded, then said, " Brigatti get some rest, you can't help Hobson if you collapse from exhaustion." She smiled at Crumb, " I'll rest when I make sure the case against Marley is airtight, and he can't hurt anyone else." She turned and headed down the hallway.
Crumb was about to say something to Marissa when he heard someone call their names, " Hey, Marissa, Crumb. How's Gary doing?" He turned to see Chuck Fishman walking toward them. Marissa stood up and Chuck walked up to her and gave her a hug, then reached out to shake Crumb's hand. " So how's he doing Marissa? I tried to get here sooner, but couldn't get a flight." Chuck sat down beside Marissa still holding her hand. Marissa sighed, " There wasn't anything you could have done anyway Chuck except worry with the rest of us. The doctor told us a while ago that Gary has spiked a fever and has pneumonia on top of everything else," she paused for a moment before continuing, " and Chuck the doctor is concerned that Gary is not trying to fight this."
Chuck looked at Marissa and saw the tears in her eyes, then said, " Knowing Gar, he's probably blaming himself for all this, even though it's not his fault. He has always worried about everyone else except himself." he finished almost angrily. Crumb had never liked Chuck that well, but he had to say he knew Gary well, and anytime Gary had been in trouble Chuck would drop everything and show up. He knew they had been friends since they were kids, though he never understood it, they were totally different.
Back in Gary's room Lois was getting more worried about Gary, he
was restless and mumbling, and she could tell by the flush
in his face his fever was going back up, she told Bernie to go find his nurse as she was sponging Gary's face with a washcloth. The nurse quickly came in to check Gary, his temperature had indeed started going back up, she told Lois and Bernie, " Why don't you take a break and get something to eat, while we work on getting his fever back down."
Lois was reluctant to leave but Bernie finally convinced her to get something to eat, then come back.
They walked out to the waiting room, and told Chuck, Marissa and Crumb what was going on with Gary. They all went to the cafeteria, and came back about an hour later to check on Gary. Bernie and Lois went into the ICU to see Gary, his nurse told them his fever was coming down but he needed his rest. They went into Gary's room, he was awake and smiled slightly at them and waved.
Lois walked over pushing his hair back from his forehead and gave him a kiss. His eyes looked glazed from the fever, she was still very worried about her son, but tried not to let it show. Bernie had walked up beside her saying, " Your looking better son. The nurse told us not to stay too long, that you needed to rest. We just wanted to tell you Goodnight and we'll be back first thing in the morning." Gary nodded, he was fighting to stay awake, but he could tell he was losing, as his parents left he closed his eyes, slilently praying, " please don't let the dreams come." But it was not to be, the dreams came again with the same faces and voices, and pleas for him to help them, but he couldn't get to them in time, and as always Marley laughing at him. Gary always awoke feeling exhausted, like he had run a race, and in his dreams he had, only to always lose. He couldn't keep this up, he was tired, he just wanted it over with, somehow...........
It was Gary's third day in ICU before his fever stayed down and his doctor finally removed the tube from his throat and told him if he kept improving they would move him to a private room later that evening. Gary couldn't say he felt that much better, but he would be thankful to get away from all those monitors and have a little more freedom. The nurses were just finishing with his bath and changing his bed when Crumb, Marissa and Chuck showed up.
" Hey Gar, buddy, how ya feeling?" Chuck said walking over to Gary's bed. " Chuck, when did you get here?" Gary asked surprised. " I got here a couple of days ago, but you've been kinda out of it, so they were only letting you parents in to see you until today. I got on the first flight here when Marissa called me and told me what happened." replied Chuck.
Marissa had walked to the other side of the bed and took Gary's hand saying, " How are you? I noticed they took the tube out or you couldn't be talking to us." " Yeah, this morning" Gary replied " my throat is sore and my voice is hoarse, but I'm okay." Marissa said, " You gave us a scare." Gary glanced downward saying, " Yeah, I know, I'm sorry. I'm really good at worrying everyone, aren't I?" Crumb was standing at the foot of the bed watching the exchange between the friends, he saw the depressed, guilty look that passed over the kid's face and heard the dejected tone in his voice, he spoke up telling Gary, " It wasn't your fault that maniac kidnapped you; you have nothing to be sorry about."
Marissa said, " That's right Gary, don't blame yourself for any of this." Though Marissa couldn't see it, Chuck and Crumb both did, the despondent look that came into Gary's eyes, he looked away for a minute then changed the subject. " So tell me how you guys found me and what happened, I afraid my memory has lapses in it" Gary said. Marissa and Crumb started from her phone call to him and filled in the gaps in the story for Gary. A few minutes later a nurse came in to check Gary, and told him they would be moving him to a private room, she gave his visitors the new room number and told them they could wait for him there. After moving him to his new room and settling him in bed, the ICU nurses told him bye and get well soon, then left. Gary was quiet, finally he said, " Crumb would you do me a favor and go downstairs and meet my parents, tell them I'm in this room now. They'll probably go to the ICU looking for me."
Crumb realized Gary wanted to talk to Chuck and Marissa alone, he just said, " Sure kid, no problem." and left them to talk. Gary was quiet, he couldn't bring himself to say anything, but Marissa sensed something, " Gary, what is it, what's wrong?" Chuck thinking Gary was worried about the paper, since he had asked Crumb to leave asked, " Is it something to do with the paper Gary?" When Gary looked up tears shined in his eyes, he quietly said, " I can't do this anymore, before it was just me taking the risks," he paused before he could continue, swallowing loudly, " but this time because of me, the paper and past events, my family and friends were put in danger, and if something were to happen to any of you because of me I couldn't deal with it." Chuck looked at Marissa waiting for her to say something since she was much better at this sort of thing than he was.
Finally, Marissa said, " Gary, none of this is your fault or the papers, it's Marley's." " But if it hadn't been for the paper and me and what happened a couple of years ago he wouldn't have come here. I don't want it anymore, it's not worth it, putting people I care for in danger, and the ones I did manage to help could care less." replied Gary. Chuck quietly asked, " Gary, where is the paper? Has it been coming since all this happened?" Gary shook his head, " Not that I know of, the last paper I saw was the morning after Marley kidnapped me, the cat showed up as usual outside the door where he was holding me, a few minutes later Marley came in the room with the paper, saying something about 'the cat using all of its nine lives' so I assume he killed it to get the paper. He proceeded then to drive to the different places that were told about in the paper, and made me watch the accidents happen that I should have stopped." Gary couldn't continue for several minutes.
Marissa squeezed his hand, " Oh how awful, you must've felt so helpless."
Chuck mumbled, " That bastard." Marissa said,
" Gary, that's why if the paper keeps coming you couldn't ignore it, if it was something you could prevent, because your you, the guilt you would feel would eat you up inside." Gary shook his head and sighed, " I understand now why Lucius Snow was called a recluse, a loner and a crackpot. He probably realized it was too dangerous getting the paper to let anyone close. Maybe it just won't show up anymore, if the cat's gone, maybe the paper is too." There was a knock on the door, Crumb opened the door, followed by Lois and Bernie, they all walked over and started talking to Gary. Chuck quietly eased around and touched Marissa's arm whispering, " Let's go ouside, I want to talk to you." Marissa nodded. Chuck said, " Hey Gar, we're gonna go find some coffee, be back shortly."
Once outside in the empty waiting room, Chuck turned to Marissa and said, " Gary's worrying me here, Marissa, I've never seen him like this, it's scaring me. It's like he's given up."
Marissa said, " I know, I can hear the despair in his voice, almost like
when he lost that homeless man. He shut down, withdrew from everyone."
Chuck asked, " Well, what are we gonna do to help him? Should we talk
to his doctor, his parents, what?" Marissa replied, " I think we should
ta--" she stopped as she heard footsteps. Crumb walked up to them, "
Hey, you guys notice anything different about Hobson? I think I know
what his doctor was talking about now." Marissa replied, " Yeah, Crumb
we noticed it too, I think we should talk to his doctor." Before their
conversation could continue, they heard footsteps behind them. They
turned to see Detectives Brigatti, Armstrong, and 2 uniformed officers walking
toward them. Crumb mumbled, " Uh oh, something's up." Crumb had
been a cop too long not to know by the looks of their faces something
was wrong. " Hey, Brigatti, Armstrong, what's up? Why are the uniforms here?" Crumb asked.
Brigatti and Armstrong looked at each other finally Brigatti said, " Marley escaped this morning."
Crumb exclaimed, " For the love of -----. What the hell happened?" Chuck heard Marissa gasp at the news and put his arm around her, she was trembling. Brigatti continued, " The feds got involved when they learned we had him in custody and wanted him moved to a federal facility. Somehow he got the drop on the officers that were transferring him, and got away." Armstrong spoke up, " We thought since he had come after Hobson and threatened all of you, we would arrange police protection. The uniformed officers will be stationed outside Hobson's door to his room. I'm here to take the rest of you to a safe house for round the clock protection." Crumb looked at Armstrong and replied, " I'm not going to any safe house, I ain't never run from a fight and I'm not about to start now." Brigatti looked at Armstrong, then said, " Crumb since your an ex-cop and worked on the case about Hobson and Marley a couple of years ago we could use your help, but I have to insisit that the rest of you, including Gary's parents go to the safe house until we can catch this maniac. Crumb, would you go get Mr & Mrs Hobson, and show the officers where Gary's room is please?"
Crumb nodded and motioned for the officers to follow him. Marissa had been silent until now, she asked, " Brigatti, do you know what this news if going to do to Gary? I don't know how much more he can take." Brigatti replied softly, " I know Marissa, but are you suggesting that I not tell him?"
Marissa thought for a moment, then said, " No he'd know something was
wrong, you'll have to tell him, but just careful how you break the news to
him." Crumb returned with Gary's parents, Brigatti and Armstrong told
them what was happening, and after much discussion, he escorted them, Chuck
and Marissa from the hospital to a safe house. Brigatti looked at Crumb,
" Well I guess I had better get this over with, let's go tell Gary."
After giving the officers outside Gary's door final instructions,
Brigatti and Crumb quietly walked into Gary's room. Gary's eyes were closed, he still looked pale and weak, he looked like a little boy laying there, Brigatti thought, she wished she didn't have to tell him about the escape. Sensing someone was in the room, Gary opened his eyes, and looked at her,
" Hey Brigatti" he greeted in a hoarse voice. Brigatti tried to
smile, saying, " How are you feeling Hobson?" " They tell me better,
but I'm still kinda tired" he softly replied. Brigatti looked
into those haunted eyes of his, wishing she didn't have to do this, she took
a deep breath and said, " Gary, I've got to tell you something and I'm afraid
it's not good." He felt a cold chill pass through him as he waited
for her to continue. " Marley was being transferred this morning, and
managed to escape,"
was all Gary heard of what Brigatti was saying, something about " massive manhunt" and catching him very soon" but her words weren't registering. Crumb saw Gary pale, as he closed his eyes, then they flew open as he tried to sit up, asking, " Where are my parents, and Marissa and Chuck?"
Brigatti explained about the safe house and the round the clock police protection for them and him at the hospital. Gary pushed the nurse call button and looked at Brigatti saying, " No!" Puzzled, Brigatti asked, " What do you mean, no?" The nurse came in the room and Gary told her, " I need to see my doctor right away, would you page him please?" The nurse left to do as Gary had requested. Gary started getting up out of bed. Crumb stepped up and put a hand on his shoulder saying, " Whoa, kid. What do you think your doing?"
Gary looked at Crumb, " I'm going home, if Marley is going to come after me again, he's not going to do it where there are so many innocent people to get hurt or killed. I don't want that on my conscious too." Crumb trying to keep Gary from getting up, said, " Kid, I don't think your able to be going anywhere." " Able or not, I'm going," replied a determined Gary. The doctor walked into the room, " Just what do you think your doing Mr Hobson? Are you trying to rip open your stitches?" Gary looked at the doctor with pleading eyes, " No, but I'm going home with your help or I'll sign out AMA but I'm leaving before someone else gets hurt." The Doctor looked at Crumb and Brigatti, " What is he talking about?"
They explained the situation to the doctor, reluctantly he signed Gary's discharge papers, only after Gary had promised to let Crumb stay with him.
Within an hour they arrived at McGinty's. Brigatti and other officers went in first to make sure it was safe, before she and Crumb helped Gary, up the stairs to the loft. Crumb insisted Gary go straight to bed, and though Gary didn't tell them he felt like his knees would buckle any minute and his side was hurting almost as bad as when he had been shot, he fell in bed saying " Crumb, your going to be worse than my mother." Crumb chuckled, " Yeah, kid, don't give me any trouble." But he was asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow. Crumb and Brigatti stepped just outside the door to talk, " I'm leaving officers stationed at the front and back, Crumb, and I'll check in with you every couple of hours." Crumb nodded, " okay, and I'm going to start calling the staff and tell them we're closed for renovations until further notice." replied Crumb.
After Brigatti left, Crumb settled in to start making phone calls to the staff to tell them to stay home, the fewer people around the better. It took him a couple of hours to finally contact everyone. Crumb looked over at Gary sleeping, the trip must have really exhausted him, though he would mumble something every now and then that Crumb couldn't understand. Crumb knew the kid was still too weak to leave the hospital but when he got something set in his mind he would have found a way to leave with or without help. Crumb figured it would be better to help so he could keep an eye on him, but looking at him now, still pale and exhausted from his ordeal, he wondered if he had been too hasty helping him leave the hospital.
' Oh well, what's done is done' he thought to himself, he would just have to keep a close watch on him. Crumb watched the news on TV, nothing new about Marley, he decided he would go downstairs and fix Gary and himself something to eat. He checked all the windows in the loft to make sure they were secure, and locked the door on his way out, downstairs he checked the office, and the bar, satisfied everything was secure, he proceeded to the kitchen, and made some soup and sandwiches placing everything on a tray to carry upstairs. He quietly unlocked the door, walked in with the tray, looking over at Gary who was still sleeping. Crumb sat the tray on the coffee table and walked over to the bed, gently shaking Gary's shoulder, saying, " Come on Hobson, wake up. You need to eat something." Gary bolted straight up in bed, immediately regretting the sudden movement as pain shot through his side, he looked around wildly for a moment before he realized he was in his own loft and it was Crumb shaking him. He swung his legs off the bed and sat up, holding his left side, looking at Crumb, asked, " How long have I been asleep?" Crumb looked at his watch, " Just over four hours now. Guess the trip home wiped you out." Gary ran his fingers through his hair and nodded, " guess so. Has there been any news yet?"
Crumb replied, " Nope, everything has been quiet. Brigatti checked
in about half an hour ago from the safe house, and everything's fine over
there, except Fishman is driving everyone nuts." Gary said, " That's
Chuck, he hates to be cooped up." Crumb replied, " Fishman is Armstrong's
problem, but right now getting some nourishment in you is mine." Setting
the tray of food in front of Gary, Crumb said , " It's not your mom's cooking
but it's gotta be better that that hospital food and it'll help you get some
strength back." Gary managed to eat a few bites of the soup, then pushed
it back, " Sorry, Crumb, I just don't have much appetite yet." Crumb
looked at the tray, saying, " Kid, you gonna bring your mom's wrath down on
me. I promised her to make sure you ate. Well anyway it's time
for your medicine." Crumb handed Gary the antibiotics the doctor had
prescribed to swallow, after doing so with much difficulty because his throat
was still sore, Gary lay back on his bed and was soon asleep again.
Crumb cleared away the dishes, found himself a pillow and blanket and settled
in on the sofa. Gary woke
Crumb several times during the night mumbling in his sleep, and restless. Crumb wondered if he was reliving the kidnapping. Neither of them slept very well that night. Brigatti arrived early the next morning with breakfast, but she had nothing new to report, there had been no sightings of Marley.
Crumb said, " The jerk's probably out of the country by now." " Maybe, but I'm not willing just yet to bet on that, the plans stay in place for now." replied Brigatti. Gary had been sipping his coffee, listening to Crumb and Brigatti's conversation, but something didn't feel right to him, he felt out of place somehow. Then he glanced at his watch, 7:30am, " the Cat" he thought. He realized then what was wrong, he hadn't heard the familar 'meow' and the thump of a newspaper at his door. The feelings of guilt and sadness hit him full force now. He got up from his chair abruptly, saying, " I'm going to take a shower" to Crumb and Brigatti. They watched as he left the room, and Brigatti asked, " How's he really doing, Crumb?" Crumb sighed, shaking his head, " Not so good, in my opinion. He tossed and turned all night, mumbling in his sleep. He's barely eating, and he has this haunted look in his eyes. I'm worried about him." " Well maybe when we get Marley, he'll relax and feel better" said Brigatti.
" I don't know, somehow I think there's more to this than just Marley." stated Crumb. Brigatti stood, " I've got to get to work, I'll check back later, if you need anything just give me a call." Crumb walked Brigatti to the door, then locked it after her.
Gary had managed to shower, shave, re-bandage his side, and get dressed, but the activity had drained him, his side and head were throbbing, but he still wouldn't take the pain pills the doctor had given him. He made it from the bathroom to the sofa before his legs gave out, he plopped down on the sofa. Crumb looked up from his newspaper, " Are you okay, Hobson?"
Gary said, " Yeah, just a little tired." he realized Crumb had a newspaper, " Where'd you get that paper? he asked anxiously. " Oh, Brigatti brought it by with breakfast, said she knew how you liked to read the paper. Here, you want it?" Gary replied in a deflated voice, " No, you go ahead and read it." with that he stretched out on the sofa and within minutes he was asleep.
Crumb was really worried now, he couldn't ever remember seeing Gary in the past without a newspaper in his hands. Crumb finished reading the paper and decided to go downstairs to find something to fix for lunch, while Gary was sleeping. He was looking in the refridgerator, when suddenly the hair on the back of his neck stood up, he turned around slowly, and there was Marley, smiling, with a gun in his hand. Crumb started stepping backwards, trying to think of something to say to distract him, " I thought you were smarter than this, Marley. I figured you would have been out of the country by now."
Marley sneered, " I always finish what I start Crumb" he aimed and fired. The force of the bullet hitting Crumb in the chest, knocked him backwards into shelves holding pots and pans that went clattering on the floor around Crumb's still form.
The noise downstairs abruptly awoke Gary, before thinking, he was on his feet, running out the door,down the stairs, yelling, " Crumb----Crumb, are you alright?" Running in the kitchen, Gary saw Crumb lying face down on the floor, his legs felt like they would collapse as he took a step toward him, when he heard the familar voice say, " Like a moth to a flame." Gary's blood ran cold, as he turned around to face Marley. Marley motioned him toward the bar with the gun he held, saying, " Let's step out here, I do so hate messes." Gary slowly backed through the doors into the bar. Marley smiling sadistically now, said, " You should have known I'd be back for you." Gary quietly replied, " I knew. I just didn't want anyone else getting hurt because of me."
Marley said, " You and Crumb were the ones who had a part in my brothers
death, the others really didn't, they were just a way of getting to you.
Once I've finished my business with you I'll be leaving the country.Gary
breathed a sigh of relief, then looked at Marley and said, " Then go ahead
and do what you've come to do." Marley sneered, " What is it Mr Hobson,
you in a hurry to die?" Gary looked Marley in the eyes and smiled slightly,
" Your doing me a favor, my life is not exactly a bed of roses anyway?"
Marley looked hard at Gary, who didn't even blink, when he aimed his gun at
him, but instead of shooting he punched Gary, hard, in his already injuried
side, knocking the breath out of him as he went to his knees, clutching his
Brigatti had decided to get an early lunch and go by to check on Crumb and Gary, but when she opened the front door and heard voices, she realized one of those voices was Marley. She drew her gun, Marley had not detected her entrance, all his attention was focused on Gary. She managed to get in a position for a clear shot if she had to take it, when she saw Marley punch Gary, he moved to strike him again, but Brigatti yelled, " Don't move Marley, drop your gun." Gary was looking up into the barrel of Marley's gun, still trying to catch his breath, when Marley said, " Well, Hobson, looks like we're both gonna die today." Brigatti saw Marley's finger on the trigger begin to move, she aimed and fired, a second shot sounded. She saw Gary fall over on his side and Marley fall beside him. Then she saw Crumb in the kitchen doorway with his gun drawn. They raced to Gary, who was struggling to sit up. Crumb asked, " Hobson, are you hit anywhere?" But Gary didn't answer at first, he was staring at Marley's open, unseeing eyes, he was dead.
Gary realized why Crumb thought he had been shot, he was covered in blood but it was Marley's not his, finally he said, No, no, uh I'm not hit, but Crumb I thought you were d----," his voice trailed off. Crumb smiled at Brigatti replying " I would've been dead if Brigatti here hadn't insisted on this bullet proof vest, as it is I just feel like I've been kicked by a horse." Brigatti said, " Come on Gary, let's get you up, can you stand?" Gary nodded but they had to help him, he was still unsteady. Gary looked down at Marley, dead, on the floor.
Brigatti said, " It's over Gary." Gary was silent, he looked at the blood on his hands and arms and quietly said, " I'm going upstairs." Gary slowly made his way up the stairs to his loft, opening the door and going inside, he then locked the door and went into the bathroom. He turned on the water and started scrubbing his hands, he looked at his reflection in the mirror, thinking ' great job Hobson, you've got the death of another person on your hands, and the blood to prove it.' He scrubbed his hands until they were raw and burning, but he couldn't wash away the guilt he felt. Finally he walked into the dark living room and sat down, he was exhausted, his head and side were aching, but he just felt dead inside.
Crumb knocked on the door, asking, " Hobson, are you okay? Open the door, and we'll talk." Gary answered, " I'm okay, Crumb. I just want to rest." But Gary knew he wouldn't rest, he couldn't get the image of Marley's dead face out of his mind. Crumb called back, " Marissa, Chuck and your folks will be here shortly, we've about wrapped things up downstairs." Gary's only reply was "alright". Crumb went back downstairs, meeting Brigatti coming up, " Is he alright?" she inquired. Crumb shook his head, " He says he is, but he's sitting up there in the dark, with the door locked and he doesn't sound alright to me." Gary's parents and friends arrived after the police had finished their investigation, and were told what happened by Crumb and Brigatti. Bernie and Lois Hobson went upstairs to check on Gary, while Marissa and Chuck stayed to talk to Crumb.
Marissa asked, " Okay, Crumb, what are you not saying, I could hear something more in your voice." Marissa amazed Crumb with her 'people skills' as he referred to them, " Marissa, you'd make a good detective. I went up awhile ago to check on Hobson, but the door was locked and it was dark, his whole conversation consisted of about 3 words. He said he was alright, but he didn't sound alright to me, he sounded, I don't know, like he had shut down, if you know what I mean." Chuck gave Marissa a knowing glance, as he said, " I was afraid something like this might happen. Gary takes everything to heart, knowing him he's probably blaming himself for all this." Marissa agreed, " Gary's had to deal with alot the last few months and now this. I'm worried about him." Bernie and Lois had came back downstairs unnoticed, when Lois said, " I agree Marissa. He says he's fine, just tired and wants to get some sleep but he refuses to let anyone stay with him. He was saying all the right things for us I think, not because he's really alright."
For the next several days Gary couldn't eat, was restless, he would fight sleep because of the nightmares, but when exhaustion would overtake him, and he'd sleep, the nightmares did come, haunting him. He withdrew even farther inside himself. Bernie and Lois were talking about calling a psychatrist, they had tried everything to get him to talk. Chuck told Marissa, " Let's go in the office, I have an idea I want to talk over with you." After hearing Chuck's idea, Marissa agreed with him, she thought it might help. "I'll get busy working on it now, Chuck." replied Marissa. Chuck could hardly believe Marissa was agreeing with him on something, but it was a good idea and it might help.
The next morning Chuck arrived early at McGinty's to check on Gary, hoping to persuade him to go to breakfast with him and talk. As Chuck's cab was pulling up he saw Gary leaving, he jumped out and yelled to Gary, but he didn't seem to hear Chuck. Chuck was puzzled, thinking to himself, ' he's not even suppose to be out and about much yet. Where is he going? Maybe it's the paper, it might've came back.' but looking closely at Gary, Chuck could see no sign of a newspaper. He decided to hang back and follow Gary to see where he was going so early.
They walked for several blocks, Chuck noticed Gary was looking tired and
he would occasionally hold his side as he walked,
Gary finally stopped outside an apartment building, looking up toward the roof before he went inside. Chuck had no idea what he was doing here, he hurried inside the building, the elevator doors were just closing, Chuck punched the button for the other elevator and watched to see what floor the one Gary was on stopped. The doors opened and Chuck jumped inside pushing the button for the fifth floor, as he got off looking around, no sign of Gary, then he heard a door close, it was the door to the stairwell leading to the roof. He raced up the stairs coming out on the rooftop, he looked around and saw Gary standing by the edge. Chuck froze for a second, then reached in his pocket and pulled out his cell phone dialing Marissa, " Marissa, has Jim Mathews got there yet?"
Marissa telling Chuck he had, Chuck responded, " Give him this address and tell him to meet me on the roof, I don't have time to explain right now, just tell him to hurry." He put his phone back in his pocket and slowly walked toward Gary, " Hey, Gar". Gary's back stiffened as he heard Chuck's voice, he stood motionless for a moment before he spoke, " Chuck, what are you doing here?"
Chuck replied, " I was just gonna ask you the same thing. I came over to invite you to breakfast when I saw you leaving." " So you followed me?" Gary asked quietly, still looking over the edge of the building. Chuck watching Gary cautiously answered, " Well, yeah, but Gar, what are we doing on this roof?" Gary was silent for a minute, then in a quiet voice, said, " This is where it happened, this is where I let a man die. Jeremiah Mason fell to his death from this spot, because of me." Gary had a strange tone in his voice, and a defeated look in his eyes, Chuck was scared for him, really scared, but he knew he had to keep him talking, " Gary, I know you, and I know you tried everything you could to save that guy. Sometimes, Gary, things are just meant to be, and it doesn't matter what anybody does, the outcome is still the same." Gary finally looked at Chuck, the hurt he saw in Gary's eyes was undeniable. Gary quietly said, " I know that better than anyone, but it doesn't take away the guilt and the sadness or the nightmares that haunt me every night.----Chuck, you need to go now." Chuck stubbornly replied, " I will if you come with me."
Gary was shaking his head, when he heard another voice behind him, " Gary, I know what your thinking and it's not worth it." Gary glanced around to see Jim Mathews. " Gary, remember a couple of years ago, I was determined to kill myself, cause I didn't think I deserved my life, because of the guilt I had carried around from years in the past, but this guy, who seemed to be my shadow, kept turning up, preventing me from doing it. Remember Gary, that guy was you. That's why I'm here now, to thank you for giving me my life back, and to keep you from making the same mistake I almost made." Gary was shaking his head, " You don't understand, people died because of me, because of the choices I made and just recently, it was almost my parents and best friends---I can't deal with it anymore. The voices calling for help and I can't get there---the guilt and feeling of failure. Gary closed his eyes, he was weak, dizzy and confused. " Gary I know what your feeling, it was a choice I made years ago that haunted me, but you can't let one bad choice overrule all the good ones." Gary looked out from the rooftop, everything was spinning now, he stumbled, then two pairs of hands grabbed him. Chuck and Jim helped him downstairs, and they got in a cab, riding in silence back to McGinty's.
When they arrived at McGinty's, Chuck opened the door to the bar, Gary was shocked to see the bar crowded with people, they weren't planning on reopening for a couple more days he thought. Chuck seeing Gary's expression, quietly said, " Look around Gary, count the living not the dead." Gary looked at Chuck, he had heard almost those same words a few months earlier from Lucius Snow, when he thought he was going to die then. As Gary slowly looked at the faces in the crowd, he recognized the familar faces, these were all people he had helped in the past. Gary slowly started walking through the crowd, everyone was shaking his hand or giving him hugs and thanking him. Mr Lee and his family and Saul, the two storeowners who had been feuding during a power blackout, were there and seemed to be best friends now.
Charles Mourning, the man who had received a heart transplant after Earl
Camby's death shook hands with Gary saying, " You and Earl gave me a second
chance in life, and I promised you I would change and I have, I'm continuing
Earl's work, getting food and help to the homeless, and it's a great feeling
to help others, I'm a much happier man these days than I used to be, and I
have you and Earl to thank for that." Gary was suprised at what he was
hearing, " I'm happy for you Mr Mourning." Moving on through the crowd,
Rachael Greenberg, stepped up to Gary giving him a big hug. Rachael
had also had a heart transplant, a few years ago, she was smiling happily
and looked radiant and healthy. She whispered to Gary, " I told you,
Gary, you gotta have faith everything will work out." Gary hugged Rachael
again, then turned around to see little Amanda Bailey with her parents, her
father shook Gary's hand and said, " Amanda and the doctor told us what you
did for her that day. We didn't get a chance to thank you at the hospital,
we looked for you but you had disappeared, so when we got this opportunity
today, we had to come to tell you how much we appreciate what you did for
us. We don't like to think about what might have happened if you hadn't been
there. Oh, I don't know if you know this but because they had to postpone
my flight they found a problem with the plane, if we had taken off that day
as scheduled we could have crashed, so really you saved not only Amanda but
a whole plane load of people that day." Gary's mind was flooded with
memories, he did know about the plane of course, because of the paper.
He remembered the anxiety he felt, torn between helping Amanda and the people
on the plane, but in the end he had made the right decision, saving both.
Gary quietly said, " Thank you for coming today, it means alot to me to know
everything worked out and Amanda is doing so well. And as for you young
lady" Gary teased as he hugged the little girl,
" you just keep getting prettier." Amanda giggled and smiled up at Gary.
Someone tapped him on the shoulder, he turned around to see Claire, she gave him a hug saying, " Guess we're even now, you saved my bacon when that gas leaked in my building, and I helped save yours, I'm still willing to take you on as my business partner though." Gary smiled slightly at her saying, " I'll think about it, and Claire, thank you for what you did." She smiled and winked. Gary continued making his way toward the front of the bar, greeting and talking with people along the way, when he turned around and came face to face with a middle age woman, he recognized her from Jeremiah's funeral, she was his sister. She stepped forward and hugged Gary whispering, " I know you tried to help Jeremiah that day, most people wouldn't even have tried, and I thank you for that. I don't blame you for anything, and I know my brother wouldn't blame you either. Now, you have to forgive yourself."
Gary's eyes stung with tears as she walked away, he looked at Chuck and Marissa who had been standing nearby, walking over to them. Marissa quietly asked, " Gary, are you okay." Gary looked at his friends and said, " Yeah, I think maybe now I will be, it feels like a weight has been lifted from my heart. Thanks, you guys." Gary hugged Marissa, " It was Chucks idea I just helped calling everyone." Gary hugged Chuck, then he heard it, a familar 'Meow'. He turned toward the bar and sitting there twitching its tail was Cat. Gary couldn't believe his eyes. He walked over and picked it up looking into it's eyes and an understanding seem to pass between them at that moment. He turned around with the cat tucked under his arm, scratching it behind the ears, and as he looked at all the people talking and laughing together, he said to the cat, " I guess we do make a difference, don't we?" It was then the true meaning of Lucius Snow's words hit Gary, " if you want to continue, you have to accept the loss and go on, the decision is yours, always has been."
That night Gary slept well, no nightmares haunted him, he woke feeling
better than he had in a very long time. He turned off his alarm, sitting
up in bed listening, then came the familar ' thump' and " Meow " at his door.
He got out of bed, opened the door to the cat and tomorrow's newspaper, the
cat sat still on top of the paper, just looking at him. Gary bent down
to get the paper
saying " Well, come on in Cat and have some breakfast, I missed ya."
Hope you liked the story, I'd like to hear your comments or suggestions.
Email the author: email@example.com