I’m sitting alone on the floor.
Gary’s hockey stick is just to my right; I can feel it if I reach out. The whole room smells like him, enough like him that it almost fools me into thinking he could walk through the door any minute.
Why? Why, God? Out of all the people that stray bullet could have hit, why Gary — why my Gary? It seems so cruel that he should be struck down just when he thought he had succeeded. He’d defused a hostage situation, saved the lives of six people. He was walking away when it happened. Oh, God, he was walking away …
I remember the way Brigatti’s voice sounded when she called. For once, she didn’t make any wisecracks about Gary. She spoke quietly, and when she finished she said softly, “I’m sorry, Marissa.” I couldn’t even get myself together enough to tell her that I hate that word, “sorry”.
And now, two weeks later, I’m sitting here in the silence with the ghost of all that is Gary Hobson. There are no newspapers in front of the door, and I haven’t seen the cat since that day. In a way, I almost wish Cat would show up; I am so alone.
“Where are You, God?” I whisper into the empty stillness that surrounds me. “I’ve prayed, and all I hear is silence. Where are You? Do You hear any more? Do You care any more?”
I am holding Gary’s jacket in my lap; not the black one, he was wearing that one when he got shot. I’m holding the brown one; at least, I’ve been told it is brown. I have a very limited concept of what brown is, but I know how it feels. Soft and smooth and warm. Like Gary’s voice. I miss his voice terribly.
If only that crazed gunman hadn’t gotten loose for the brief moment it took to struggle with a policeman. If only he hadn’t pulled the policeman’s gun from its holster and squeezed off a single shot before being subdued. If only that single bullet hadn’t found its way to the black-leather-jacketed back of the man walking away …
Chuck came from LA — how could he not come? — and found out from Crumb, who found out from a police buddy, that Gary collapsed into Brigatti’s arms when he was shot, that the tough Italian detective actually cried at the scene. Brigatti is human after all. Gary would be glad to know that; he always liked her, even though he never wanted to admit it.
It is getting cold in here, bone-chilling cold, and God still hasn’t answered. I am holding tightly to Gary’s jacket, as if, by clinging to it, I am also clinging to Gary.
The phone rings. I know it must be for me, because everyone knows by now not to call here for Gary. I let it ring four times because I don’t want to exert the energy it takes to get up.
Finally I stand up, drop Gary’s brown leather jacket onto the floor, feel my way to the telephone. “Hello?”
“Marissa, I thought you’d never answer.” It’s Chuck. He sounds out of breath. “He did it! They said he never would, but damn it, he proved them wrong. He did it, Marissa!”
I hear Chuck rambling on and on at the other end, almost delirious, but I can’t make myself say anything. I slide down until I am sitting on the floor with my head between my knees, crying.
Gary Hobson has come out of the coma he was never supposed to awaken from, and God still hears my prayers.
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