Thursday, February 26, 2015

Chapter 10


Poor kid.  She’s shook up pretty bad.  Roland is too now that he has pulled his head out of his hormones.  Hell, for that matter we all are, those of us that know.  Puts a whole new spin on things … like who to trust and how far.   

Caught Georgie wandering in Potter’s Field again.  Damnedest conversation I’ve ever had.  Finally told her I wasn’t a priest and if she wanted answers she was more likely to get them by talking to God directly.  Gave me a funny look but at least she stopped looking like she has ghosts on the brain. 

********** 

“Kid, that wheelchair don’t mean nothin’ to me.  You just used up your quota of grace for being an ass.  You mouth off like that again I’m gonna jack your jaw and damn the consequences.  There was no reason to talk to Georgie like that, especially after I done told you I saw it with my own eyes.  Can’t you see how messed up she is?” 

“We’ve never made excuses for each other; she doesn’t get any slack for keeping secrets.” 

“She didn’t keep secrets.  She told someone that would listen.” 

“She’s supposed to tell me first then I decide where it goes from there.” 

“Day-um Kid.  Who died and made you the Emperor of Pickering?  That nurse that raised you?  Or did she expect you and Georgie to be equal and in it together?” 

“Whatever you think she still should have come to me.” 

“And tell me how the hell she was supposed to do that?  You refused to listen to her ‘cause you and Nela are too busy thinking about sex, having sex, and whatever else you two get up to on your long walks and private talks.” 

Nela took exception to Johnson’s tone.  “Now just a damn minute LT …” 

“Don’t get in my face Nela ‘cause I ain’t in the mood.  You got more experience than he does and should have kept your head even if he didn’t.” 

To both of them Johnson said, “I’ve stayed out of it up to now because what you were doing was none ‘o my business.  But you have now made it my business by creating a situation … a situation that could turn dangerous for one or more of us.  You can go at it like bunnies for all I care but not to the exclusion of commonsense.” 

Nela said, “We aren’t soldiers anymore Johnson, no matter what you want to think.  We got a right to make our own happiness.  Nobody wants us or cares so stop turning this into some big drama.” 

“About the only thing you got right is nobody wants us.  That means we are in a damn precarious position here.  We could just as easily get disappeared as that guy that complained and drew attention to himself.  Hell, easier cause we’ve already fallen off the radar.  Anyone seen the Colonel or any other troop rep lately?  I sure as hell haven’t.  Which means at the end of the day we don’t have no one to cover our asses but each other.  You two have bigger responsibilities than getting your rocks off.  Your priority is to not bring the wrong kind of attention to bare on us.  Your primary duty is to care for those of us who cannot do it for themselves.” 

Stubbornly Roland repeated, “She should have told me.” 

“Boy, you’re not listening any better than you listened to Georgie.  You … were … unavailable.  Here’s a question.  Why didn’t you seek her out and ask her what she’d seen?  Why did she hat to only ever come to you?” 

“I did ask her.” 

“When?” 

“I … uh …” 

“Yeah.  That’s what I thought.” 

Nela could see where things were going and said, “Okay LT, we get it.” 

“I sure as hell hope you do ‘cause in case you two love birds don’t get it, there’s a sixteen year old girl putting herself in harm’s way so you don’t have to.  And in the process she is falling apart physically and mentally.  What’s more she does it without being asked or told.  She does it without regard to her personal cost.  She’s got some weird ass idea that since she’s stuck here at Pickering she’s made some unbreakable oath and the only value she has to the group is as a martyr, a damn martyr.  Now since you two seem to know all the answers, tell me … what would happen in Georgie disappeared?  Who will take her place?  You two?  You prepared to step up and be on the line and take the same chances?  You got the knowledge and training to duplicate the doctoring she gives us?  Determine what can be harvest in the woods and when?  What about you Roland?  Or you gonna hide behind them wheels and what you can’t do?” 

Roland was angry but it was anger borne out of realizing he’d been wrong.  He was angry because his dream bubble had burst. 

“Where’s Georgie?  I need to talk to her.” 

Johnson looked out the window in irritation.  “I’m afraid I know.  Out in that damn graveyard again.” 

“She knows I can’t go out there, there’s no level trails.  She’s doing it on purpose.” 

Johnson snorted at Roland’s exhibition of ego.  “It don’t have nothing to do with you boy.  You ain’t the damn center of the universe.” 

Johnson stomped off to track Georgie down and lecture her once again about wandering around on her own.  When he found her exactly where he suspected she’d be he snapped, “Dammit girl, are you trying to make me angry?” 

Georgie was tired to her soul and looked it.  “I need quiet.  I can’t find any anywhere.” 

“Well you sure as hell aren’t gonna find any out here digging up bones.” 

The phrase was one Georgie had never heard.  “I’m not …” 

Johnson snorted.  “Not real ones Miss Gullible.  I mean you’re out here wanting answers from ghosts.  Answers these bones and ashes can’t give you.  Stop trying to make ‘em.  You’re only causing yourself grief.” 

“You don’t understand.” 

“Try me.” 

Almost embarrassed to say it aloud Georgie finally asked, “How do I know these graves are real?  What if they’re empty and just for show?” 

“Kid, that’s about all graves are … for show.” 

“Huh?” 

“When we die the part that makes us who we are vacates the premises.  I’ve looked into the eyes of too many of the death and dying not to know that for a fact.  One breath they’re there, the next it’s just a husk … as empty as a hollow log.” 

“Where do they go?” 

“Judgment is what I was told as a kid.  Some people say we get born into a new body so we can fix what we screwed up the first time around.  Some people say we just don’t exist at all anymore.  I’ve heard plenty of theories but don’t have no actual experience myself.  Figure everyone will find out soon enough.” 

“But I need to know now.” 

“Why?  You ain’t thing to …” 

“Thinking to what?” 

“Never mind.  Just why do you need to ask all these questions?” 

“Because.  What do you think happens to us when we go to Lockdown?” 

“Damn.” 

“You didn’t think I would put two and two together?” 

Johnson scratched his head.  “You ask the damnedest impossible questions.  I just hope you’ve got the sense to be careful who you ask them to.” 

“I’m asking you.  You’re from Outside.” 

“And somehow that means I got the answers?  Kid I’m about as far from being a priest as you can get and I sure as hell don’t have no direct comm link to the Man Upstairs.  You want answers why don’t you trying opening your own comm link.  Last thing you need is someone like me taking a wild ass guess about stuff like that and screwing up your head more than it already is.” 

For about two second Georgie considered pushing Johnson backwards into a cluster of dried brambleberry canes.  But the moment passed and she didn’t because her next thought was an admission that she couldn’t fault him for being honest. 

Almost to herself she asked, “But what happens?  How did Victor wind up in that ward?  And DW too?” 

“Well the hag did have a stroke according to your intel.  Maybe she was just ready to kick off.” 

“That doesn’t sound like her.  She was scared of dying … and scared of Lockdown even though she didn’t know I could tell.  Besides all the commercials on Tri-B say that people that go to a Euthanist can’t be donors because of the drugs involved.” 

“Yeah and the commercials also say you can’t be triaged to be a donor yet two people we knew were full-triage were on that ward.  And not to hurt your feelings but that Victor was a defective and you know that should have made him ineligible.” 

“you mean that it isn’t a harvest hub?” 

“No.  That’s exactly what it is.  But my guess is that it isn’t a strictly legal one.  Probably black market since they were talking about developing a market.  There’s big money to be had.  I was stationed overseas and there were places we had to travel in large groups or risk going out on the town on to wake up the next morning missing a kidney, an eye, teeth, hair, strips of skin … you name it.  I had a buddy abducted by a harvester gang and by the time he was found there was barely enough left to identify.  We rescued other abductees and they say he was kept alive until the very end.” 

Georgie shuddered.  “Poor Victor … poor …” 

“Damn my big mouth anyway.  Look at me girl.  Even if this is a black market operation, it is still a hospital setting.  They’re comatose … they don’t feel a thing.” 

“How do you know?!” 

“I … look sometimes you just have to have faith.” 

“Faith?  How do I do that?” 

“Don’t know but …” 

“But?” 

“You laugh at me Georgie and I swear …” 

“I won’t,” the girl promised. 

“For me it was losing my old life, nearly even losing my life, then losing what little I had left after that when they drop me off at Pickering.  I had nothing and was nothing.  It was like growing up in the group homes as a kid except back then I knew I would eventually get out and realize my goal of being a soldier.” 

“And that gave you faith?” 

“No.  That just got all the crap my life was out of the way.” 

“I don’t understand.” 

“I was an angry, depressed man even before I got here.  Being here just made it worse.  Then I got to know you kids.  I can’t explain it.  Whether you meant to or not you healed me.  Oh I still got issues.  The dreams are gonna be the death of me.  But what life I do have left is worth more to me than it has ever been.  You’ve given me more purpose than I’ve ever had.” 

Georgie patted Johnson’s arm.  “You’re a good friend to us.  You’ve always told me the truth.”  Resolutely she nodded.  “I’ll chose to have faith in your faith … maybe it will help me to find some of my own.”

2 comments:

  1. Kathy thanks for the story I have read straight through to hear. I am having a hard time stopping.
    Wayne

    ReplyDelete