Stargazer

All Rights Reserved ©

Section 2 Chapter 14: AwakeningsApril 1999

David remembered reading somewhere once that the first sense that returned to you when you awaken from general anesthesia was hearing. And it was this sense too that never really turned off when you slept at night. For some mammals like cats, their hearing never even tuned down significantly as part of an evolutionary protective mechanism.

For an indeterminate time now, he realized he was hearing things. He would hear patterns of noise and then nothing, blackness. Then again, a conversation, voices, then nothing. Slowly, although how slowly he had no idea, the periods of blackness and nothing grew shorter until eventually, David had a silent but overwhelming epiphany - he was awake, or at the very least conscious.

And he could think in some sort of orderly way. This epiphany came however with some serious drawbacks. Not only did he realize he could hear, he also realized he could do very little else. His eyes felt extraordinarily tight and heavy, he could barely twitch his eyelids. His arms and legs felt like they each weighed a tonne, and appeared glued to the bed. Something was sticking uncomfortably in the middle of his neck and he couldn’t talk. There was something blocking once side of his nose and something sticking out of the side of his neck too.

But all these sensations were mere background noise. If they were the local weather, the pain in his leg was the climate. It was omnipresent, always there, sometimes a dull ache, sometimes much much more. These periods of lucidity came and went in short bursts initially for a length of time David couldn’t possibly grasp other than to know they were happening. His awareness of his self intensified with each waking moment, only to be cut short for reasons unknown to him. In part this was a blessing because of the pain, but in equal measure, it was frustrating as he tried to piece it all together. But David always had patience, it was after all a virtue.

So he did what he could only do. Listen and remember. And day after day, night after night, when opportunity arose and he was awakened, he listened and he remembered, retraining his brain like any other muscle, constantly trying to open his eyes. And on the morning of March 3rd 1999, nearly 3 months to the day after he was run over by a truck, David opened his eyes.
His nurse that day was called Rose and she seems more delighted than him to see his eyes open. Her voice was vaguely familiar to him, she had clearly nursed him before. Now that he was opening his eyes, this it appeared, meant he was capable of ingesting an enormous amount of information. She started with the only basics that he knew already- his name, but after that it was all new. He was in Tampa Bay General Critical Care Unit, he wouldn’t be able to talk because he had a tracheostomy which was hooked up to a breathing machine, it was March 3rd 1999, a Wednesday, and he had been hit by a truck.

At one point in the morning he noticed a team of doctors peering over him, asking him to wiggle his toes or squeeze his hand as if he’d win a prize if he succeeded. They listed out his injuries as if was some sort of macabre shopping list. He had a shattered right leg, resolving ARDS whatever that was, and was recovering from a severe traumatic brain injury. When he failed again and again over the next few days to do all but the most minor of physical tasks, the nurse would tell solemnly he was “profoundly myopathic”; it was around then that the physiotherapist and occupational therapist got their hands on him. This was really the point at which he felt he began to gain some control again mentally, as his life became dominated by a series of simple tasks, such as going from sitting to standing, or raising his arms above his head. Within a week of waking they took away the breathing machine, but it would be another two weeks before his tracheostomy was removed and he could speak again. He was moved to another ward at this point and had a tv in his room. His right lower leg had some sort of frame on it which was removed after another week, and his orthopedic surgeon would proudly display the X-rays of his shattered calf to anyone that was paying attention on rounds. Apparently David was something of a medical miracle for surviving his injuries. His body had survived and was mending, but how had his mind fared?
They say that sometimes a severe brain injury can alter someone’s personality. People have even woken up from comas, fluent in a language they heretofore had never spoken. When those cases are examined, it turns out the person had a close relative or contact who spoke the language around them when they were very young. When David awoke from his coma, he had not experienced any such change that he could notice. And so tonight, the 22nd of April, he stared out his window looking at the cloudless starlit sky seeking solace from what had happened him. The last few months of his life he likened to falling through Jupiter’s atmosphere- a constant maelstrom of freezing gas throwing his body around in 250 mile an hour winds as the planet spun around, the fastest rotating in the universe. It had left his once sturdy frame a wreck, a shadow of his former self.

Who could he blame, surely not his bitch of a mother?. God? Hah. He had read enough books on abiogenesis to scoff at the very notion. Chaos Theory? What particular twisted butterfly had flapped it’s wings and resulted in this mess lying here tonight staring out the window feeling sorry for himself? He moved his gaze to the sink and mirror on the wall opposite.

Whether by design or not, the placement of the mirror here in his hospital room forced patients to look at themselves lying in bed, almost an enforced means of self reflection. Looking at himself, he realized just how much weight he had lost, just how deconditioned he had become. He had been storing the painkillers they gave him rather than using them. Early on after his discharge from the critical care ward, he knew he could be developing a problem. The OxyContin pills gave him more than pain relief, they made him feel euphoric for short periods of time, and this more than an absence of pain was what he had begun to look forward to more than anything else. This addiction was something he did not need in his future.

The pain was manageable but it left him more aware of what he had always known lived within him. A different type of gnawing feeling, eating away at him, not to be ignored, a savagery that he could at best only control. He likened it to his libido, a biological curiosity that humans had evolved to preserve the species. Men would walk about in their daily lives with their libido always in the background, doing mundane tasks as part of their everyday routine. If they did not seek an outlet for this through masturbation or sex though, their libido would float more and more into their consciousness, occupying their thoughts. Where once they saw a woman, now they saw a sexual outlet. Every woman was viewed through a prism of sex until those desires that drive these thoughts were extinguished through an act of sex. He had libido, he masturbated or used prostitutes, he controlled his urges.

But he was fully aware of his other darker compulsion. He called it his fury. He had first been aware of it when he killed a dog in his teens. Just a runaway dog, no one had seen him kill it down by the rail tracks. He had kicked it and kicked it until it stopped coming at him. And then he had kicked it again, as it lay there unsure what to do. He had served his time in the army and had been able to focus his fury. But it always came back. And he always had to service it. It surfaced much more slowly to his consciousness than his libido, but it was just as irresistible. He would notice himself becoming increasingly irritable and withdrawn, that smile he usually wore harder and harder to force. He could distract himself through work and more importantly, as he had always done, through reading and pursuit of knowledge. Two weeks after he had awoken, he’d had his first erection. He was no doubt happy to see it, what man wouldn’t? But it had made him wonder whether his other compulsion would return also.

And this morning he had gotten his answer. Barney, one of the ward orderlies, someone David had gotten to know well and on whom he relied on for getting all of his requested reading material and pornography, had felt the sharp side of David’s mood. Whilst hoisting him up, Barney’s grip had slipped momentarily, forcing David to put all of his weight on his right leg, sending a sharp excruciating jab of pain into his hip from his ankle. And for a split second David lost control. shouting an obscenity at Barney, in a tone that could only be described simply as dark. David glanced at the paper knife he used to cut official work related mail now coming to him redirected from his apartment. He looked again at Barney who had seen him looking at the knife. There was an uncomfortable silence between the two. Barney could read his intent and knew also that intent had passed so he chose to break the silence.

“Mr Rawluc, maybe you need more pills or less, I don’t fuckin’ know. But I grew in a part of town where if someone looks at you like you did just there, you either killed him or moved out the neighborhood.” Barney paused and looked at the knife.

“ You can’t move and I can’t kill you. So I’ll move. But I ain’t forgettin’ this. I catch you lookin’ at me like that again anywhere, I won’t be movin’ again”. Barney finished, staring at David.

Barney wasn’t inviting a reply, he had just grabbed David and roughly placed him down on a sitting position in the bed and walked out. But before he did, he took the knife in his hand and placed it out of David’s reach.

And so now it was clear. David’s brain trauma had damaged some things like his short term memory, had destroyed other things like his entire memory of the last three months of his life.

But it hadn’t destroyed or even damaged his darker compulsions. He knew now he would not be able to feed them like he’d planned this late August coming, with a new site constructed. The physicality required was not a possibility this year. Maybe next perhaps. But this year he’d take on a smaller project. He had been reading an article on his accident in the local rag from a few months back. Jerry Spielheiner. Insufficient evidence to prosecute it said, the local PD had let him go. This would be a project, this would help him focus, this would help him feed.

.........




April 1999 Lima Corrections Institute, Ohio


April 15th 1999 it said on the newspaper. Time was always on his mind. Now he understood it wasn’t a cliche. Time was really all he had now. When he came here first he felt the constant threat, and it consumed him almost. Checking behind him in the limited shared yard time for those on 23/7. Making sure he was never alone with certain prison guards or certain inmates.

An ex cop doing time had to be careful, had to trust no one. A Vietnam Vet he’d pinned once for murdering his wife once said he didn’t fear jail. Said he’d spent nine months in the jungle living day to day and preferred living that day to day like you had to in war. Never knew what might kill you and when it might do it. Focused the mind on what was really important. That described McEvoy’s first months here too. Total distraction was what he needed and preoccupation with surviving this two year stint had covered it adequately.

But now that acute sense of danger had receded and fear didn’t distract him anymore. Lewis had sent him mail recently with some forms about some sociology project he’d heard of being done with Ohio State Uni’s Psychology department. He never replied of course, never despite a couple of requests for visitation from Lewis.

He’d fill out the application, he needed something new now though. Otherwise he thought he really would go crazy. And he knew he wasn’t crazy. Or he could pretend he wasn’t. He had also another possibility to keep his mind occupied. Stargazer, their case was something that always intrigued him. He had gone over the evidence again and again as part of his distraction technique prior to punching the fag in the pub and getting stuck in here. His latest concentration of thoughts on it was something he could rewrite easily because he had written it so many times already. When he had vacated the apartment on bail and put his stuff in storage, he had thrown away all the previous notes, so he’d have to start from scratch. To him, the only way to find the killer was to figure out how he came to choose his victims. There was something all the boys had in common other than being beaten to death with a blunt object. At first he theorized the killer was some sort of youth coach given at least two if not three had been in camps at some stage during the summers they were abducted.

But that failed to explain the two athletes, one a swimmer, one a junior football star. And there was the other aspect the FBI seemed to ignore. There was a distribution of size in each burial site. One small prepubescent boy, one pubescent boy, and one essentially adult boy at each site. The implication was the killer had literally sized them up. How and where and under what cover? He had constantly ruminated on this. How could someone have opportunity to observe the boys without appearing suspicious or someone noticing. He had to blend in somehow in either his work or his personality that co-workers and kids alike considered him utterly harmless or charming.

There were of course lessons for himself in all this. The hard reality of his current situation had provided a shock therapy to him on why his behavior around others could lead others to his past nocturnal activities and his ongoing needs. His drinking had been out of control, not necessary for feeding his desires, but making him careless and carefree.

Now in forced sobriety and captivity, he would learn and adapt. Staring at the cell wall, McEvoy realized he may not be able to afford to ignore Lewis in here or when he got out. His only “friend” in the world could feed him information on the case in here, as well as outside. And so long as McEvoy behaved discreetly, he could provide a veneer of normality; Lewis might be useful. First order of business would be a reverse charges call to him, strictly for the purposes of apologizing. He was intent on embarking on a faux redemption arc, he knew the hunger within him and he knew better now how to control it. Being a good citizen in here would help him feed that monster in time. In a sense, he had spent three months in here having an awakening of sorts.

.........

Lewis got up from his seat at the lecture hall and made his way up the steep steps of the hall to the main exit. A better way to describe it was actually that he had scrambled and slid to fall out of the seat before leaving. Ohio State University catered for mainly one demographic in the services and physical infrastructure they provided. And it clearly wasn’t semi obese men in their mid forties with a belly that could double as a writing desk whilst sitting. Certain lecture hall seats were a little like sports car seats to men like him. Easy to fall in to but a bitch to get back out of again.

He was near the end of his first semester on an evening introductory module in Criminal Psychology as a prequel to potentially a part time evening course. And he was really enjoying it. It had been Marcella’s suggestion to just try a few classes and here he was. There was now it appeared, an added extra bonus. He wasn’t the only 40- something taking the course, June was as well. They had literally bumped into one another at the coffee machine outside and got talking casually. It started to become a regular thing in between the two lectures on Thursday’s and now, almost two weeks into April and 3 months into the course, tonight he was going to ask her out on a date. A bit of old fashioned detective work and some innocent questions had revealed to him that June was a single mom of two teenagers, full time high school teacher and aged 45. Nothing ventured, nothing gained was his new life motto.

He had invested in a cell phone although he had no clue what to with that since no one really called him on it except the office .He’d simply give her his number, and she could choose to call it if she wanted to. Six months ago he had been undergoing a bit of a mid life crisis. Now he was about to get back in the dating game. Six months ago he had questioned what direction if any, that his life was going in. Now he felt renewed. Things could only get better.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.