Chapter Two: A Necessary Evil

Chapter Two: A Necessary Evil

“Nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer; nothing is more difficult than to understand him.”
– Fyodor Dostoevsky

His rage was fueled by love, stuttered with grief and loss. Behind him, his beautiful four-year-old Molly, the light of his life. She lay crumpled and torn, tiny arm extended to him, her baby-fine, flyaway blonde hair now stained crimson with the life that had drained from her precious body. Before him, the man


that had terrorized and murdered her.

He stumbled upright and moved on shaking legs toward the monster, snatching a jagged piece of the wrecked car’s bumper on his way. As he fell to his knees, straddling the prone figure, he transferred the metal from his left hand to his right, and in one smooth motion brought the knife to the monster’s throat. Distantly, he heard shouts of Police! and Drop the weapon or we’ll be forced…and NOW! but these voices came from somewhere else, somewhere outside the bounds of his reality, and had no meaning for him. He looked into the eyes of his daughter’s killer, searching for any sign of humanity, of regret. The monster’s eyes were wild with fear and pain and desperation, but revealed no remorse for his part in Molly’s death; only the knowledge that he was about to suffer the consequences of his actions was in evidence, spurring Adam to action.

He bore down on the monster’s neck with the sharp, twisted metal, transferring his weight from his knees to his arm, and slit the bastard’s neck from side to side. He felt the warmth of arterial blood on his face, stared into the monster’s eyes and watched the light disappear from them forever, and then the punch of a bullet like a two-by-four to the back of the head. His rage spent and suddenly weak, Adam fell to the ground, numb and exhausted.

As he died, Adam heard, faintly, as if through a tunnel, “I’ve got a pulse on the little girl…”

Colorful blurs of memory, like a home movie stuck in fast forward, and a panicked feeling that something was wrong…

…Making Molly her favorite peanut butter and honey sandwiches, spreading the honey first because she liked the crunchy-wet texture of the bread after the honey had soaked in…

…Molly, his budding poet, giggling as she told him that honey tasted “sunny” and grass tasted “green”…

…Tears making warm, wet tracks on his cheeks when he promised his wife Mary, as she succumbed to Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, that he would always take care of their little girl…

…Buying Molly an ice cream on Main Street, Disneyworld, and turning to find her gone, her fuschia plaid floppy Gap sunhat lying abandoned on the ground…

…Seeing a little girl wearing hot pink Mary Jane crocs, just like Molly’s, asleep in a stroller pushed by a nervous, sweaty man…

…Yanking a man out of his car and chasing the monster that had taken Molly from the park…

…The screech of metal against concrete as the kidnapper’s car hit a pylon…

…Warm wetness and a punch in the head…”I’ve got a pulse on the –”“

“NO! Molly!”

The shout was ragged and hoarse, grinding like broken glass in his throat. Adam thrashed awake, clawing his way out of the nightmare. The movement set off a blinding pain in his head. As the pain receded, the fragments of his nightmare dissipated like smoke, leaving him only with a sense of unease. Keeping his head still and moving only his eyes, he sought the comforting surroundings of his bedroom. Instead, he was assaulted by the unfamiliar: a single, railed bed with stiff, white sheets in place of his California King with its tan Egyptian cotton linens; the smells of vomit and medicine masked by disinfectant; the fast beep-beep-beep of a machine, wires snaking from its ports to his finger and chest; the chatter of strange voices just outside of the bare, utilitarian room in which he found himself. He reached up to his forehead, and felt stubble, the cottony roughness of a bandage, and a narrow, flexible tube snaking out of his head and beyond his reach. What was he doing in a hospital? Oh God – Molly. Where was she? Was she hurt?

Alerted by the noise from his room, a nurse hurried in. Seeing that he was awake, she left before he could he could vocalize any of his questions, returning in a moment with a doctor. He frowned as he looked at Adam. Adam immediately asked the most important question in his mind, throat clenching with the effort, his voice barely above a whisper: “What happened? Where’s my daughter? ”

“Mr. Shepard, I’m Dr. Jared. I’ll answer your questions to the best of my ability but please, take it easy. Your throat hurts because you were intubated in the ambulance. The tube was removed shortly after surgery; the pain will go away soon. Your body is recovering from an extreme trauma. You sustained a gunshot wound to the head. The bullet was deflected by the bone, and did not penetrate your skull, but it did result in a fracture. Some bone fragments penetrated the right temporal lobe, but we succeeded in removing them and debriding the resulting epidural hematoma with no further trauma to the brain. We have given you Decadion and Mannitol to shrink any swelling, as well as antibiotics to prevent infection.

“You’re fortunate to be alive; with ambulance transfer time, only 18 percent of patients with penetrating craniocerebral gunshot wounds survive long enough to reach a neurosurgeon, and of those, only 7 percent of patients that are unconscious upon admission pull through. We’ll discuss your recovery later, after you’ve had some rest.”

Adam looked at the doctor incredulously, his tortured voice rising as he fired questions at an increasing rate of speed. “A gunshot wound? What happened? What about my daughter? Where is she? Is she OK? Can I see her? I have to see – ”

“Mr. Shepard.” The whiplash tone in Dr. Jared’s voice stopped Adam in mid-sentence. The doctor softened his tone, and his eyes turned sympathetic. “I don’t have all the details, but your daughter was injured in a car accident. I’m sorry, but she didn’t make it. The head wound she sustained in the crash was life threatening, even if treated immediately. Every effort was made to reverse the damage, but due to the delay in her arrival at the hospital, we were unable to save her. I’m very sorry for your loss, Mr. Shepard. We did our best. If she had just been brought in a little sooner, we may have been able to…”

The doctor trailed off, looking critically at his patient. Adam’s face, already tinged with the unhealthy pallor of his recent experience, had turned chalk-white. Dr. Jared continued, “I need you to rest now. The nurse is going to give you something to help you sleep.” Dr. Jared glanced at the door, then back at Adam. “There are some officers outside who are waiting to talk to you, but I told them that because of the severity of the trauma you just suffered and the nature of the reparative surgery, they would have to wait until you are sufficiently rested. Get some sleep, now.” With a last, not-unkindly look at Adam and a quiet, “I’m very sorry,” the doctor left the room. The nurse stepped forward with a syringe in hand. As she approached him, Adam closed his eyes, desiring only oblivion and death. He felt the prick of the needle, and began falling, the world and everything he had ever cared about spinning away from him, until he felt nothing more.

About the Author

Crystal Jag administrator

Crystal lives in Florida with her husband, children, a dog, a cat, and two fish. She spends her days writing and wrangling kids, with a bit of laundry and housework thrown in to prevent aforementioned husband, kids, dog, cat, and fish from being buried naked in a landfill.

3 Comments so far

susie brownPosted on12:30 pm - Jul 24, 2007


AnonymousPosted on9:39 am - Jul 26, 2007


Crystal JagPosted on3:07 pm - Jul 26, 2007

Thanks so much! I’m working on a new post, and should have something soon – don’t give up on me! =)

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