He stood in the kitchen, staring out the window at the beach feeling lost. Jojo had come home from the hospital weeks ago and has fallen into a deep depression. He understood why she was depressed. Jojo having to call the dance company in New York to tell them that she couldn’t take the job was more than just hard for her, he saw a piece of that spark he loved so much disappear. But when they went to her mom’s funeral… she just shut down. Frank has been coming over and trying to talk to her, and Jagger too. Vivi has brought her books and a new iPad to help get her out of the funk she had been in, but nothing worked so far.
With a shake of his head, he finished the salad and went to the fridge to get a ginger ale and then placed it on the tray. He couldn’t help but wonder if Jojo would eat today. She had lost at least ten pounds, and her already thin frame was now looking fragile and almost sickly. His hands grabbed onto the edge of the countertop and leaned over, staring at the floor, trying to get his emotions in check before he went into their bedroom. After a minute, he picked up the tray, and walked into the back rooms mentally preparing himself, but made sure he had a grin on his face.
When he walked into their bedroom, Jojo was on the window seat with little Buddy sleeping on her lap. The window was open, letting the ocean wind in, along with the chilly air. He put the tray on the dresser and walked over to where she sat. Buddy popped up, wagging his tail, and started barking, making Jojo realize she wasn’t alone. “Princess, you’re going to get sick if you just sit there like that.” He explained, closing the window looking down at her. She didn’t say a word, didn’t even glance up at him. He knew what he was seeing, and it scared the shit out of him and pissed him off at the same time… she was giving up. “Damn it, Jojo!” He growled, picking her up and placing her on the bed. He went over and got her lunch and put it over her lap.
“I’m not hungry.” She whispered.
“Yes, you are. You haven’t really eaten in days!” He growled.
“Don’t tell me if I’m hungry or not!” She hissed back.
His hands went over his face, pissed at himself for snapping at her. He knew that was the last thing that was going to get through, but damn it, seeing her looking the way she did made it hard not to. With a nod, he let out the breath he held and sat on the bed next to her. “Doctor Moshard called, and he wanted to know why you haven’t made an appointment to be fitted for your leg.” He asked, but didn’t get and answer. “Princess, why haven’t you made an appointment?”
“I don’t know… I guess I just haven’t felt like it.” She mumbled.
“Well, I told him that we would be there Tuesday.”
She sat up, her hand turning into a little fist. “Why did you do that?” She growled. “I didn’t ask you to do that!”
“I know, but you can’t just sit here and rot away either.” He answered, trying like hell not to growl back.
Jojo didn’t say anything to that, just turned her head and continued to stare back out the window from where she now was. He stood there waiting for her to say more but didn’t. Then he shook his head, not wanting to fight, but could feel one coming on when he heard Jagger call out to them. “Hey, anybody home. Mr. Amazing is here to grace you with his presence.”
Buddy ran down the hall with little yips at the sound of someone new in the house, and he ran his hand through his hair. “This is far from over, princess.” He told her and then followed the dog to have a talk with his best friend over his little sister. Jagger was already at the fridge drinking some orange juice from the carton when he walked into the kitchen. “Man, I’m really happy you’re here.”
“What the fuck is up with you? You look like shit, brother.” Jagger stated, wiping his mouth off with the back of his hand.
Owen pulled out a chair from the table and fell into it. “It’s your sister. She won’t get up; she won’t make an appointment to get the fitting for the prosthetic leg. Hell, she won’t do anything but stare out the damn window all day… she won’t even talk to me!”
Jagger leaned back against the counter and crossed his arms. “I knew she was in a funk, but I didn’t realize it was that bad.”
“It’s more than bad.” He said and then shook her head. “I’m afraid she might do something… to herself.” He said, finally admitting out loud what was really frightening him.
Jagger’s eyes went wide. “You don’t really think that, do you?”
“I’ve tried everything I can think of to bring her back to me,” Owen said, running his hands over his face. He was going to ask Jagger to go have a talk with her to see what he thought about her mental state when the cell phone went off on the counter. He got up and picked it up, not recognizing the number. “Yeah.”
“Is this Mr. English?” The woman’s voice asked.
“Yeah, that’s me. Can I help you with something?”
“Yes, I’m detective Lombardi, and I just had a couple questions for you.”
“Ah, yeah, sure.” He answered, glancing over at Jagger and pointing to the phone.
“First, do you know a woman named Maria Lopez?”
“Yeah, Maria is my ex-girlfriend. Why?”
“Thank you.” Then the line was quiet for a minute, and he could hear typing on a keyboard. “So, this Maria Lopez, she knew your wife Josephine as well?”
“Well, she didn’t really know her. But she knew I had just gotten married…” He stated but had a bad feeling in the pit of his gut. “Can I ask what this is all this about?”
“I’m really sorry to have to inform you of this but, we found footage of the vehicle that had hit your wife from a gas station from across the street. The car belonged to someone named Eduardo Costa,”
“But the video showed a woman driving the car. When we asked Eduardo about the video, he said that his girlfriend had been borrowing the car that night, and then gave us her name.” The detective explained.
“And he gave you Maria’s,” It wasn’t a question. He was coming to the realization that it was his ex-girlfriend that tried to kill his wife, and even though she didn’t manage that physically… she just might have pulled it off mentally by taking away Jojo’s career and dreams.
“I just wanted to let you know that we have her in custody and that she has been charged with manslaughter.” The detective told him. “We were told by Derik English that you and Miss. Lopez got into a confrontation the night of the incident and that she had threatened you. Is that correct?”
“Ah, yeah, she did. But she threatened me, not my wife.”
“Well, it seems that your wife was the intended target with the evidence that we’ve compiled.” The detective said. “Do you think you could come in around two to the station and give a statement about what happened with you and Miss. Lopez, before the accident took place?”
“Yeah, I guess I could.”
“Great. Oh, and do you think your wife would mind coming in to see if she recognized her from the car.”
“You want Jojo to come in with me?”
“Yes, we want to show her a photo and see if your wife got a look at Miss. Lopez before she was hit. That would make the case even stronger for us.”
“Ah, yeah, that’s fine. We’ll be there at two.” He said before hanging up. He stood there in shock. Maria had tried to kill Jojo… “Holy fucking shit!” He murmured to the floor.
“What the fuck is going on?” Jagger asked. “And who was that on the phone?”
“The cops. They just arrested Maria for hitting Jojo.” And even though that sentence came from Owen’s mouth, he still couldn’t believe it. “What am I going to tell Jojo? How in the hell am I going to tell her that my ex-crazy-ass-girlfriend tried to run her down and to kill her and instead took away her dancing career? Not only that, they want both of us to come into the station so I can give a statement and show Jo a photo of Maria to see if she remembers seeing her in the car.”
“I always knew that bitch was crazy!” Jagger growled.
“Shit, I’m already freaking the fuck out, thinking Jojo might hurt herself, and now this!”
Jagger walked over to the hallway and then came back into the kitchen. “Does Jojo know who Maria is?”
“No, I don’t think she does. I mean, she might have seen her once or twice, but never has met Maria.”
“Well, maybe you shouldn’t tell her. Just give your statement and be done with it.”
Owen shook his head. “Damn it, I wish I could do that. But what if they say something to me when Jojo’s there? She probably won’t know her by name, but if they show her a photo, or say that she’s my ex… no, I think that’s a bad idea.”
“Well, let me go talk to her. See if I can get her out of this funk she’s gotten herself into.” Jagger offered.
“Don’t say anything about the cops calling about who hit her. It has to be me that tells her.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t say anything about that. I’m just going to try to get her to want to get out of the house again.”
All Owen could do was nod, and then Jagger left and started to walk down the hall to go see Jojo. He collapsed back into the chair with his elbows digging into his knees and hands gripping into his hair. The words that Maria had said to him that night kept repeating over and over in his head.
He never thought Maria was capable of something like this, but then he should’ve known better. She did get one of her boyfriends to beat the shit out of him and put his ass in the hospital. He didn’t care if Maria had been screwing around on his ass. It made it easier when he screwed around on her. She was an easy lay with a body that was made for fucking. “Stupid, stupid, stupid, mother fucker, that’s what you are!” He grumbled, slouching back in the seat. Buddy was at his feet, wagging his tail, and he reached down to give him a pet and then put him in the back yard to go play. When he sat back down, Jagger came around the corner, looking white as a sheet. “That was quick.”
“I didn’t know she was that bad,” Jag said, taking a seat next to him.
“Yeah, she is. Any ideas on how to make her better?”
“I’m not sure. Are you thinking like a hospital or something?”
“What? Fuck no, I’m not putting her into a fucking psych ward!” He growled, but then that thought had never really come to him before. But now that it was there… that was the last thing he wanted.
“Well, obviously, whatever your doing isn’t working so, why don’t you do the opposite of that.” Jagger shrugged.
“What, like tough love or some shit?”
“I guess. I mean, at this point, what do you have to lose?”
“I could lose my wife.”
“Yeah, and I could lose my sister,” Jagger said with a shake of his head. “But sometimes going easy on a person isn’t what they need. They need to get pissed, throw a fit, get mad at what happened to them so they can start to get better.”
“You sound like you’ve done this before.”
Jagger sat back and laughed, but it wasn’t a happy kind of laugh. “It wasn’t me; it was dad. He had to do that with my mom when she found out she had cancer. My mom sat in the front room and didn’t talk to anybody. Her friends would call wanting to go out, get something to eat, go take an art class, or some shit. But she would just sit in her chair. She didn’t even call Jojo to tell her what was going on. That’s when my dad, who up until that point had been understanding and patient with her, went off the deep end. He started to yell at her, told her to get up off her ass and start fighting, or she might as well just die right now.” He said, then glanced over at Owen. “I remember being so pissed at him, yelling at her that way. There was a point I wanted to fucking hit him for making her cry. But then, the next day, she got back on her treadmill. She called aunt Rachelle and planned to go see a movie, and joined a book club so she would have something to read during chemo.”
“Frank yelled at Charlotte?” He asked.
“Yeah, and it was harsh.”
“Was your mom mad?”
“I’d never seen her so pissed in my life. But that was what she needed. I’m not saying it will work with Jojo, but it might be what she needs to hear.” Jagger offered.
Owen’s hand went over his mouth, thinking about what Jagger said and wondered if that would work or make it worse. But at that point, he didn’t know what else to do. “Thanks for coming over. I’ll give you a call later.” He said, getting up from his seat.
Jagger nodded, then got up from his seat and headed out of the kitchen, but stopped and turned around. “Are you going to tell her about Maria?”
“I’m not sure yet. I’ll have to see how it goes… but I’m going to have to do it sooner or later.”
“Okay, and I’ll tell dad not to come over today.”
Jagger didn’t say anything else and left. When the front door shut, Owen stood in the hallway thinking of what he should do. A part of him wanted to go over and pull Jojo into his arms and kiss her tell her that everything was going to be alright. But since the accident she had been pushing him away… including wanting to be touched by him. Instead, he tried to get in his head what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it. But in the end, he didn’t know what he was going to say, so he was going to tell her the truth and let the chips fall where they may.
His hands pushed back his hair from his face as he walked down the hall and looked into the bedroom. Jojo was still sitting on the bed, her lunch not touched, staring out the damn window. “Hey, I have to tell you something.” He started, but she didn’t even turn her head. “Josephine, did you hear me?” He growled, finally getting her to look his way. “I got a call from the police a couple minutes ago, and they found the person who hit you.” He said not believing he was going this route but continued anyway. “They’ve made an arrest.”
“So,” She said in a dead voice.
He was going to continue but stopped. “What do you mean so?”
“I can’t dance anymore, so what does it matter now if they caught who hit me.” Was all she said before turning back to stare out the window.
He could’ve walked over there and shaken her; he was so pissed. “Damn it, woman, you need to get your ass up out of that bed and start living again!” He yelled, but it didn’t bring him the satisfaction that he was hoping for because she didn’t even blink an eye. “Josephine, that’s it, I’ve had it!” He growled, starting to walk away.
“Are you leaving me?” She asked, not even bothering to look at him, which pissed him off even more than he thought possible.
“No, I’m not leaving you. I’m calling to make you an appointment to get your fucking prosthetic, then some appointments for your rehabilitation.” He fumed.
“No!” She snapped, sitting up from the bed. “I can do that for myself!”
“Well, since you’re not doing it, I’m going to do it for you!” He snapped back.
“Why can’t you just leave me alone and let me deal with this in my own way?” She asked.
“Sitting in bed all damn day, not eating, not moving from the bedroom, and feeling sorry for yourself is not what I call dealing with it… I’d call it giving up!” He growled.
“Feeling sorry for myself?” She gasped like he had just slapped her. “I’m missing my fucking leg! How am I supposed to dance without a leg, Owen, how!”
His hands went over his face before they fell to his sides and went to sit next to her. “I don’t know, princess, but you’re never going to figure it out just laying here.”
She turned her head when the tears started to well up in her eyes again. He had seen her cry so much in the last four weeks, he didn’t think his heart could take another tear. But at least she was showing some kind of emotion, even swore at him. That was the first time he had ever heard Jojo swear. “I don’t want to get up, I don’t want to move… I just don’t give a shit about figuring it out!”
“That’s it, we getting in the damn car and you’re coming with me to the police station. They want me to come in and give a statement, and your ass is coming with me.” He growled, turning to pick her up from her spot.
Jojo wiggled from his grasp, but he had almost picked her up when she asked the dreaded question; he had been hoping she wouldn’t. “Why do they want you to give a statement? You told me you didn’t see anything.”
He put her back on the bed and looked into those blue eyes that were now red-rimmed and swollen. “Well, because, you see.” He stammered, running his hand through his hair, trying to get the words out. “I got into a fight with the person who hit you that night.”
“When, where? I didn’t see you get into a fight.” She asked.
“Ah yeah, that’s because it happened in the bathroom.” He answered and stopped.
Her eyes widened. “The bathroom? You were attacked in the bathroom?”
“Shit princess, it wasn’t someone… it was my ex-girlfriend, Maria.”
They stared at each other, and he could see she was putting two and two together. “Are you telling me that your ex-girlfriend hit me?” She asked very slowly.
Owen took a deep breath before answering that question. “Yeah, princess, that’s what I’m saying.” Jojo was quiet, very quiet, then laid down, wrapped her pillow in her arms, and turned from him. “Look at me, princess. Please.” But she wouldn’t. He knew he had to tell her what happened that night so she would understand, at least he prayed she would. “Maria came in that night and made a pass at me, I told her to fuck off, that I loved you and wanted nothing to do with her. Derik came in and saw what was going on and threw her out of the club… I swear to everything that’s holy I didn’t do a damn thing with that woman! When she said she was going to get me back, I thought she would have me beaten up again. I never would have thought she’d come after you!”
Jojo didn’t budge; it looked like she was barely breathing. But then reached down and pulled a blanket up over herself. “Why don’t you go to the police station by yourself, they don’t need me, and if they do just tell them, I didn’t see anything.” She mumbled.
Owen put his hand on her shoulder, and his heart broke when she shook it off. He got up from the bed and moved her tray of food closer to the bed on the dresser. “I’ll call the detective and tell her that she’s going to have to come over to get a statement. Then I think we should talk more about getting yourself up and making some appointments.”
“I’ll do it myself when I’m ready.” She hissed.
He nodded, knowing that he wasn’t going to let that stand. After he got off the phone with the detective, he was making those appointments with the doctors. After that, he was going to make his little wife go if he dragged her ass out of the door, kicking and screaming… and he had a feeling that was what she was going to do! “Fucking son of a bitch!”