Suddenly, what I'd done was all too real. I'd killed. I'm a murderer. I took a bottle of champagne and beat another man's brains in. Sure, he deserved it. That and much more. He'd pushed Jane as close as anyone can get to dying. She wasn't breathing when I got to her. If I hadn't stopped him... No, she's ok. The nurse just called saying the surgery was going fine. That's it, just stay focused on Jane. I can worry about the blood on my hands later.
I take my time in the bathroom, washing my face, brushing my teeth, trying to get the taste out of my mouth, trying to stop my hands from shaking. It's only when I get my nerves to settle down a little that I leave. Lieutenants Spenser and Hawkins are waiting for me.
"You ok?" Spenser asks.
"Yeah," I answer with a nod. "Let's get this over with."
"Ok," he says, leading me out into the vast main room again. "You'd just told us how you saw the guy when you came in. What happened next?"
I walk over and continue my account, trying not to look at where the body had fallen, where the man died without my notice. My hands start shaking again, so I stuff them in my pockets and focus on trying to keep my voice steady. I try to tell them exactly what happened in detached, emotionless words, but I don't think I did so well.
When I'm finally done, they ask me to walk around the apartment to see if anything is missing. I start in the bedrooms, anything to get away from the living room, but when I walk into my bedroom, I'm shocked.
My gym equipment and all the free weights are gone. The television set, gone. My computer in the corner of the room, gone. When I tell them what's missing, Lt. Hawkins says he'd noticed the scrapes on the floor and thought something heavy'd been moved. He asks me about the gym set, if one person could've moved it on his own. Even disassembled, I don't see how. It'd taken both Rob and I to get the base up the stairs when I bought the damn thing. No, there was someone else here and this is proof.
They tell me to continue through the apartment, and I find other things missing are in the bathroom. All my old prescriptions and even my over-the-counter medications are gone, like someone went through the cabinet and dumped everything into a bag. Also, my stash of condoms is missing. I start to mention that to the detectives, but stop myself. It's none of their business what I had in here.
Jane's room is next. There doesn't seem to be anything missing, but not everything's where it's supposed to be. Her television is on the floor by the door along with her jewelry case. While I'm looking, I notice a big dent on the other side of the door that I'm sure wasn't there before. I mention it to the detectives, and Lt. Spenser tells me in a gentle voice that the crime scene investigators found a few drops of blood there. They think the dent was caused by Jane's body being thrown against the wall.
I know he's trying to be careful of my feelings, but just the thought of Jane trapped with not one but two men trying to beat her to death makes my knees shake and buckle under my weight.
"I should've been here," I say from where I now sit on the floor.
Lt. Spenser kneels down beside me. "Hey, man... Eddie. It's pretty clear this wasn't your fault, but we need your help to find the bastards who did this."
"What can I do?"
His partner, Lt. Hawkins, answers. "Finish looking through the apartment for missing items. Give us any information you have on the stolen goods, sales documentation, serial numbers, anything'll help. Make a list of the people who've been in here over the last month so we can match up fingerprints."
"I can do that."
Hours passed while I did exactly that. After everything else was done, I made as long a list as I could remember, giving it to Lt. Spenser. His partner got a look at it, though, and he's making a few comments about how many women's names are on it when Spenser's cell phone rings. After answering, he hands it to me, saying it's the hospital.
Jane's out of surgery. It went just as they'd expected. No complications. She's in post-op and should be transferred back to her room soon.
"I've gotta go."
"What?" Spenser asks.
"We're done, right? I did everything you asked. Jane's out of surgery, and I have to go back."
"All right," he says with a nod. "We'll get you there."
When I see her, she looks better and worse all at the same time. She's still pale with bruises standing in bright blue and purple relief on her skin, but her cheeks seem redder, more healthy. She still needs help breathing, but there's just an oxygen mask over her mouth and nose, the vivid bruises on her neck covered with bandages over the tracheotomy closure. Her left hand and arm are still swollen and there's two pins poking out by her wrist, but the injury's been stabilized and they can elevate her arm in traction to relieve some of the swelling.
The nurse told me she'd woken up in post-op before they transferred her back to the room, but now she's asleep again. After what she's been through these past few days, she deserves all the rest she can get, so I try to be quiet.
Using the bedside phone, I call Liz, letting her know that Jane's ok. She'll update everyone else, but I strictly instruct her that there are to be no visitors except for herself until at least tomorrow. I don't want anyone upsetting or wearing Jane out. She needs time to recover.
Liz couldn't get off work today because of the magazine's deadline. She'd threatened to quit, but I told her not to. Jane and I are already out of work and we don't need Liz joining us in the unemployment line. Speaking of which, Liz did all the paperwork to get Jane on long-term disability since it'll take so long for her hand to recover, but I need a job. Not now, though. I've got some savings. It'll tide us over for a while. I don't think I could stand to have Jane out of my sight again right now.
Looking up at the woman dominating my thoughts, I notice that Jane's starting to shift on the bed, stopping almost as soon as she starts when her face scrunches up in pain.
"Jane?" I ask as I stand up and move closer to her. "Jane, baby, it's ok. I'll get the doctor right now."
Dr. Roberts wanted to be paged as soon as she wakes up, so I press the nurse's call button and wait for someone to come in. Jane moans and whimpers a few times but she doesn't open her eyes.
"Mr. Alden?" the nurse... um, Kris, asks as she walks into the room.
"I think she's waking up, but it looks like it hurts. Could you get the doctor?"
Kris walks up to Jane's IV and presses a button on it before turning and leaving the room. Whatever she did seems to be helping. Jane's body seems to relax a little bit into the bed.
Her eyelids start fluttering until they're open and her bloodshot, exhausted eyes are looking at me.
I can't keep the smile off my face as I greet her. "Hey."
Her brows knit together in confusion and she purses her lips together like she's trying to swallow, then she says, "Ehh... Ehh-dd... Ed-dee."
"Shh, it's ok. I'm here. You're ok."
Dr. Roberts strolls into the room with a broad grin on his face, saying, "So, how's our patient feeling this afternoon?"
"Well, Kris, let's get this woman some water," Dr. Roberts says, speaking to the nurse that'd followed him in.
After filling up a glass, the nurse moves Jane's oxygen mask and places a straw in between her dry, parted lips. Jane takes a few small sips before stopping, then takes a few more.
"Done?" Kris asks and Jane gives her a tiny, almost imperceptible nod.
Jane then says in a clearer voice, "Hur-ts."
"That's what this is for, Jane," Dr. Roberts says, holding up what looks like some sort of remote control that's attached to the IV tree. "We have you on a steady dose of painkillers, but if you need a little more, just press this button."
He places it in her right hand and she clicks it a few times right away.
"It's programmed to limit your intake," the doctor adds, adjusting it in her hand so she'll stop pressing it for a second. "We don't want you overdosing. You'll be able to get some more in a few minutes."
Then, he walks around the bed to get a closer look at her elevated arm. "Ok, now for the examination. I need you to move your fingers for me."
Jane complies, wincing while she wiggled her fingers.
"Good," the doctor praises, following up with more instructions.
The surgeon's examination took about twenty minutes. It was only after it was over, when Jane had been allowed to comfortably settle in her bed and rest, that she spoke again.
"Ed-die. Whuu-t happ-nd?"