This is the next chapter of the novel (or project, as I continue to insist on calling it) that I wrote for NaNoWriMo. It's sat dormant long enough - time for me to take another look at it - and to give you a peek at it as well.
In case you missed something:
Chapter 1: Josh's Table
Chapter 2: The Vista
Chapter 3: Transition
Chapter 4: Brunch
Chapter 5: Ted's Farm
Chapter 6: Helmet Reflections
Chapter 7: The Real World
Chapter 8: Hooligan's
Chapter 9: Joan
Marnie woke up Thanksgiving morning and called Cal before she rolled out of bed. She told him that she was going to the hospital to visit Joan and, no, she didn’t want him to join her. Her reasoning was that if there was legal trouble she was in a much better position to deal with it than he was. She did not state this aloud. She closed by reminding him to pick her up at noon to head for her parents’ house for Thanksgiving dinner. She offered him one last chance to get out of it. He declined and wished her luck with her visit with Joan.
She grabbed Joan’s purse as well as her own and was on her way. As she pulled into the Visitor’s Parking Area she considered how much shorter the ride had seemed in comparison to last night’s wild ride. She walked to the entrance then shuddered. She hated hospitals. She realized that this did not make her in any way unique. She walked through the big automatic doors and walked up to the information desk. The desk was being manned by two elderly women who gave her Joan’s room number, directions to the room, and a wish for a happy Thanksgiving. She wished them the same. She stopped in the gift shop and picked up a large floral arrangement, took a deep breathe, and headed for Joan’s room.
When she found the room and Joan was the only one in it, she breathed a sigh of relief. She had really not wanted to encounter Officer Ormond, but had fully expected him to be in attendance. This was good. Joan appeared to be sleeping. Marnie placed the flowers on her nightstand where she’d be sure to see them. She threw both purses on a visitor’s chair in the corner of the room and sat in the chair closest to Joan’s bed. She gently took her hand.
“Hey, Marnie.” Joan said weakly, opening her eyes and smiling faintly. “What are you doing here?” Speech was clearly difficult for Joan at this point. There were tubes in her throat as well as an IV in her arm. Her face had been scrubbed clean of makeup and her usually teased-to-the-moon hair had been combed into a smooth ponytail. She was quite bruised all over, and Marnie wondered how much of that was a result of her and Cal and Andy throwing her around. Joan had clearly had a rough night.
“Hey, Joan! How ya feelin’ this morning?”
“I’ve…” Joan smacked her lips and grimaced, then made a concentrated effort to swallow. “Can you get me some water?” she said, indicating a small Styrofoam pitcher and a cup with a straw on her bed table.
“Is it ok for you to drink? With the tubes and all?” Marnie asked as she poured a cup.
“It’s ok. I can only handle a little.” She sipped gratefully on the straw. “Thanks, hon.” Marnie just nodded.
“So fill me in! How did I come to be here? Swear to God, Marnie, they keep asking me but I don’t remember a thing. I vaguely remember going to Josh’s. You weren’t there, though… what do you know that I don’t know?”
“When we got there, you were already pretty out of it. What had you taken?”
“I don’t know – that’s the thing. I got these pills from a guy. I was having some problems with Nic and I just wanted to take the edge off, you know?”
Marnie nodded. She knew.
“So I met this guy – I’ve used him before, you know? It wasn’t like some stranger or something. Can you give me a little more water, hon?” All this talking was clearly taking its toll. Joan looked exhausted.
“So you don’t really know…”
“I don’t. What do you know?”
“Like I said, when we got to Josh’s you were already pretty out of it.”
Marnie felt a blush creeping into her cheeks. “Cal. Me and Cal…”
Joan smiled. “’bout time.”
“Well, it’s no big deal. We’re just hanging out. Anyway. When Cal and I showed up you were pretty much out of it. But you were drinking – just a beer – and you did at least a couple lines. Then you just sort of passed out on the table. We couldn’t wake you up, we couldn’t get any response from you. We were all pretty scared.
Josh didn’t want to call a squad because he didn’t want his house associated with an overdose. God knows what all he’s got stashed there, you know? So Andy suggested bringing you down here in his truck. He and Cal carried you out and the three of us brought you here. We kind of dumped you at the ER door…” Marnie looked down at this point, “Joan I’m not sure why we did that. No one was thinking straight. I’m really sorry. Really. But it looks like they’ve taken good care of you.”
Joan nodded and indicated that Marnie should go on.
“We kept your purse. Again, I don’t know why. Seemed like a good idea at the time. I brought it back for you.” She said, pointing at the purse on the chair.
“Aw, thanks hon.”
“Cal and Andy didn’t want me to, but I called your husband.”
“And I’m glad you did.” Marnie turned around quickly at the unexpected voice from behind. “Jerry” he said, extending his hand, “Jerry Ormond.” Marnie took his extended hand to shake it, but he pulled her up and enveloped her in a quite unexpected hug. “It sounds like you saved my girl’s life.”
Marnie wasn’t sure how to react to this. This was not what she expected at all. Jerry was a middle-aged man, balding on the top and thickening in the middle. He looked like he’d been up all night. He released Marnie and went to the other side of the bed where he kissed Joan gently on the forehead. “Mystery solved?” he asked her.
“Not entirely. But I know how I got here, anyway. Oh! And Marnie brought my purse. Oh, I’m sorry Jerry. This is a friend of mine. Marnie. Marnie? I guess you’ve figured out that this is Jerry.”
“Marnie, I don’t know how to thank you enough for all you’ve done for her. Really. How can I repay you?”
“Jerry? Not arresting me, frankly, is payment enough.”
“We’re gonna put her in rehab when she’s released.”
Marnie nodded. “Good. That sounds good. Guess I won’t be seeing you for a while, then.”
“Tell everyone…” she stopped, tears filling her eyes. “I’m sorry, Jerry.” His eyes were full, too.
“I’ll tell everyone what they need to know.”
“Thank Andy and Cal for me, would you?”
“Of course.” Marnie hugged Joan gently, avoiding all of the tubes to which she was attached. “You take care of yourself and get well.” She searched in her purse and produced a business card. “If you want to reach me, call me here. Don’t look for me at Josh’s.
Now I have to get going. Cal is picking me up at noon to go to my parents’ for Thanksgiving dinner. Oy!”
“You kids have fun.” Joan said.
Jerry walked Marnie out into the hallway. “I really am grateful to you. For bringing her here – for calling me – that can’t have been easy.”
Marnie nodded and Jerry continued, “Obviously you’re not in any trouble for this, but that’s only because …” he looked over his shoulder into the room where Joan appeared to already be asleep. “It’s bad what happened to Joan. They had to pump her stomach. They said she would’ve died if you hadn’t brought her here last night.”
Marnie bowed her head and gulped her mind filling with ‘what ifs’ as her eyes filled with tears. “You seem like a good kid. Get out of this scene. Go to rehab yourself if you have to. I can tell that you’re better than this. You’re not in trouble. You saved my Joanie’s life. I’m concentrating on that part. Not on the part where you knew she was risking it and you let her. Not on the part where you risk your own. But you do, you know. This isn’t a game. Joan could’ve died. You could die. You could be arrested. You could end up in jail. I’m thankful to you. I like you. But I couldn’t stop that from happening if you got busted. Straighten up and fly right, kid.”
Jerry patted Marnie on the shoulder and she walked quickly down the hall. He was right, of course. She shouldn’t be doing this. She shouldn’t be hanging out at Josh’s. She was going to straighten up and fly right. She and Cal would straighten up and put it all behind them and move on with a nice shiny life together. Soon. Maybe soon. But probably not just yet. It wasn’t like she was an addict or anything. But then neither was Joan. Shit, partying a couple nights a week and having a little fun just shouldn’t be this hard.