Room 9: part two

She gives me a blank stare; in the depth of which I felt as alone as she did. We sit on the same bench seat just two feet apart as the Datsun rolls along the road. We could have been worlds apart, we were.  The white lines passed by counting ever second of silence. I break the tension by lighting us both a cigarette.  She takes it in her shaking hand and speaks. “I just don’t know, I drive to the horizon but I’m not sure what’s going to be there. Not fucking sure at all!’ She begins to slam the steering wheel, the car jerks back and forth, as to sway with her anger. I watched her and not the road. If I did I would have probably seen the embankment we were heading for. The Datsun’s left wheel catches pulling the wheel sideways. The car slams into the soily mound, throwing the smell of pine in the air. I wipe my head, no blood. I turn my attention to Tori; she hangs on the steering wheel like a marionette, tangled.  I shake her shoulder, no response, I check her pulse. It was still there at least. I climb over the back seat and open the back driver side door. I open hers, untangle her, and lie her down in the back seat. She whimpers but doesn’t wake. I try to start the car, it doesn’t catch. Again I try, nothing happens. The smell of fuel covers the pine. I pull Tori from the back seat and begin to walk back down the road in which we came. I saw a house, maybe three miles, she was light, but as all things are; they get heavier the longer you carry them.

Sweat pours from every inch of me as I walk up the driveway of the small house. Tori’s body sways with each step, arms dangling. My shoulder burns an unforgettable hate as I move up the wooden stairs to the house. I knock, well to say I kick the door to get an answer, but there isn’t one. I kick again, and the door comes ajar. Startled I take a few steps back, in the back of my head I expected to see a ghost.  I move the door open with my foot and walk inside, the house was furnished but everything was covered with sheets. I call out to see if anyone is home, of course, I receive no answer. The sheets are clean and white, so they were most likely placed recently, I lay Tori on a covered couch and clear the rest of the house. Framed photos of strangers stare at me as I go room to room. I find no one, it appears this house may have been abandon for the summer, but it didn’t matter. I find the kitchen; I try the faucet it shutters but water eventual flows. I fill two glasses and return to Tori on the couch. She’s awake when I enter the room, eyes field with tears as she holds on to her chest. I hurry to her side and roll her on her back, with my fingers I slightly run up her sternum; they feel solid until the third rib. She curses me in Japanese as my fingers make it to the troubled area. I lift her shirt to reveal a purple and black bruise. There’s a reason why they don’t make cars like that anymore.

I moved her to the bedroom, she sits on the small tool in front of an uncovered vanity. I help her remove her shirt as she whimpers in pain. I use the sheet that covered the vanity to wrap her ribs, it’s not the best thing in the world to do, but it was all I had. I wrap it tight and begin to knot it in the back. That is when her tattoo caught my eye again, beautifully done with painstaking detail. I could not help but run my finger across it. Her skin is smooth and warm. I near the bottom of the crow when I discover it’s third leg. I was about to ask when Tori asked if I’m finished.  I say yes and help her to her feet then the bed, I offered to help her put on her shirt once more but she ignores me. She moves to her side, groans then falls asleep. I close the door behind me as I walk out of the room. My device is heavy once more in my pocket I pull it out and dial back home.

I arrive in my house exactly how I left it. I grab some acetaminophen and the rest of the yen I had, it will take a long time to collect it again. I pull my device out, about to dial back- I pause. My finger on the trigger. I find the cigar box in my closet, there she sits, black matte disguising her power, I grab the cold steel, check her chambers, the stamped .38 shines on every round tiny gifts of lead, I flip her close, and place her snugly between my belt and lower back. “For safety.” I thought. I hit my device and return to Tori. I stand in the living room once more, the furniture looks like ghosts. I stretch out on the couch and fall asleep.

I wake up with a pain in my lower back where the .38 special sits. I stand and try to stretch the pain out. I check on Tori, she lies awake staring at the ceiling. I pull the pain relievers from my pocket. She asks me where I got them, I ignore the question and hand her water. “What should we be doing now?” She asks passing the empty glass back to me. “I was going to go check on the car, see if I can get it pulled out. Probabl…” She interrupts me, “I’ll go with you.” She tries to sit up but winces. “You’re in no shape to, I’ll walk and bring the car back here. Now get some more rest.” I said as I left the room. I exit the house to the cool evening air, take a few deep breathes and begun my walk to the Datsun. The forest around me as I walk is filled with sounds of life, though I did not see a single car when I make it to the Datsun. It was left exactly how we left it, I climb into the driver seat, and the door was still ajar. First attempt to start it, nothing. I pull the choke hard and give it another try. Success, the little engine roars to life.  I park it behind the house and walk back inside.

It’s been about two days in this house. Tori is slightly recovering; she aimlessly browses the contents of the house, examining the photos for extended periods. I didn’t notice at first, the tears running down her face. I am at occasions blind to someone’s emotions. I walk behind her with pills in hand and a glass of water. She turns and hugs me, straining my own ribs with her grasp. I return the gesture haphazardly with the glass and pills still in my hands. “I should telled you sooner… I never meant to drag you here, you can leave.” Her words were muffled but came in clear. “What is it? I’m here, so might as well spit it out.” I said while rubbing her head with my closed fist. “My boyfriend and I…” She shutters. “We deal in opium, I mean we did. I wanted to go back home, I never went to university. I just sold drugs, I’m sorry, so sorry.” She finishes and hides her face in my chest. I feel the weight of my device in my pocket, so easy, to just go. I didn’t and maybe I should have. I don’t speak to her as we pack in the car. She lies in the back seat, I tilt the rearview mirror to watch her. A few more miles to the coast, then we’ll be there. Where I wasn’t sure. “Just drive.” I thought.

We close quickly on a small village called Yoroi, quaint and quiet. I pull to the shoulder outside of town and wake Tori. “Is this right?” the sign was hand painted in Japanese. She squints from the dark and nods. I help her to the front seat and set off again.  We drive through the town and arrive at a house right on the coast of the small bay. “Stay put!” she said as she climbs out of the car. I watch her walk to the door then disappear inside. I light a cigarette to pass the time. I was five drags in when Tori appears running from where she disappeared, the cigarette falls and burns me. Another man appears from the half-lit doorway with a rifle. Tori covers her head with her hands, a futile effort when it comes to a weapon like that. The first shot hits the rear driver side window, the glass spider webs. I open my door and pull the .38 from my pants in nearly seamless motion. He’s several feet from the door when the second shot hits his target. Tori collapses in a tumble. In blind stupidity, I raise my weapon and fire. As if time had slowed down for this moment I watch as the man’s head caves then burst. I fire again, it connects with his chest, a flash of red and his body is limp. I run to Tori swooping up her warm wet body, I put her in the front passenger seat through the driver side door. Another man exits the building as I turn. I see the flash and hear the shot but nothing happens. I fire three shots in his general direction,  the gun clicks on the forth. I punch the gas and turn the car around. The back window bursts as they try to stop our escape.

I make it to the end of town when the adrenaline wears down. I pull into an unlit dirt road and park the car. I check Tori, still a pulse. “The wound, I have to find it.” I say out loud to no one. I find the entrance and the exit. I rip my coat off and try to cover both with it.At the same time, high beams shine through the rear window. Out of instinct, I cover her body with mine as the bullets begin to riddle the car. Glass rains on us as they pepper the car with as many rounds as they can fire. “Fuck it!” I say, I pull my device from my pocket set it for two and flip it. We arrive in my kitchen. I kick the phone off the small table where it sits and dial 911.

I sit in the kitchen trying to keep her legs elevated and the blood to stop pouring when the paramedics arrive. The door was locked, but they bust it down without trying. With latex gloves and care they pushed me away from her. They cut the once white t-shirt and wrap from her small torso. A stretcher comes and takes. The ride to the hospital is a panic. They will ask me where I was hurt when she vanishes into surgery, I notice then that I am covered with her blood. I vomit and fall to my knees. The world and its events came crashing onto me. The spin doesn’t stop till my head comes crashing on the white tile floor. I lie for a moment admiring it’s grey speckles when Tori returns to my thoughts. I jump up with nurses around me. “Where is she?!” I scream trying to make way to the double doors. I am pulled back by a million hands.

I sit in the darkened lobby staring at my hands, they have been washed and washed over and over, the blood is still there. A handsome doctor comes through the automated door. She removes her cap slowly. “James?” she asks, I stand. “In all fairness, she’s lucky she came in when she did, any lo…” I interrupt her with a joyful hug. She pats my back twice and pulls away. “Where is she?”  I ask. “She’s in recovery now, we still need paperwork filled out…” I interrupt her once more “Can I see her?” I ask with haste. “Yes, yes she’s this way, papers can wait.” She said as she motions towards the doors in which she came.

I find her on the bed; the EKG gives a friendly beep. I walk to the bed and take her hand, warmth. She grips tight and faintly asks “Where am I?” I brush the hair out of her face and answer “In the future.” She smiles and falls back to sleep. I falsified some medical information and records, jump back and forth in time to create her identity. They release her one week later. As we walk out of the hospital rain pours hard all around us, it blurs shapes and objects. She grips my hand tight, “Is the future always like this?” She asks. I turn and smile “not always”.


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