Wished away a broken fai.., p.3
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       Wished Away: A Broken Fairy Tale, p.3

           S.P. Cervantes
 
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  “Tomorrow night then, deal?” She holds out her tiny hand, and I shake it firmly back.

  “Deal.”

  My parents come up to us with Charlotte’s overnight bag and a present for me.

  “Happy birthday Davey.” My mom kisses my cheek and hands me the small green gift bag.

  “It was my idea,” my dad ruffs behind her.

  My parents are polar opposites like Jess and me. My dad’s a tall, slim, serious man. He now runs a small construction business, and was once a sheriff in Mantoloking just like me, but that was before he was shot in the line of duty. He’s a man of honor and unwavering pride for family. He’s someone I still look up to. My mom is loving to a fault. She literally smothered me with affection growing up, never letting me clean my own plate, or wash my own clothes. Poor Jess. When we were first married, I thought she was going to kill me with how sloppy I was. Truth is, I never had to lift a finger when I lived at home, my mom did everything.

  I pull out the tissue paper and reach in the bag pulling out a small black jewelry box. I look up at my parents confused and then back at the tiny box wondering what in the world was inside.

  “Open it, open it!” Charlotte cheers me on, not able to contain her excitement.

  I lift the lid revealing a pendant of St. Michael, the patron saint of ultimate protection.

  “I wore this every day on the force, and your grandfather before me did the same. I’ve been meaning to give it to you for a while now, and thought today was as good of a day as any.”

  I smile at my dad knowing how hard it’s for him to part with this. I don’t think I’ve actually ever seen him without it. “Thanks Dad. It means a lot.”

  I close the box and slide it in my pocket before thanking my parents once more and taking Charlotte home for her play date at the beach. Summer is coming to an end, and I’ll be glad when Mantoloking and Point Pleasant slow down to the quiet beach towns I love so much. Every weekend is filled with rowdy out of towners who rent houses at the shore or college kids who come down to let loose on the boardwalk and bars. It seems as each year passes more and more douche bags make their way down here and do nothing but cause trouble making my job a real pain in the ass.

  I pull into the station, already five minutes late to see a group of officers congregating at the side of the tall brick building. The look on Sarg’s face tells me something’s up and it isn’t good. My first thought is there are a bunch of drunk dudes at the beach causing trouble, and I’d have to start my shift dealing with it. I open the box that holds my dad’s present and take the pendant from the box, putting in my pocket instead of on when Sarg begins calling for me.

  “Dave, what the hell man, why haven’t you answered my calls? Where the hell have you been?”

  “I’m here now, what’s up?” I know he didn’t expect an answer.

  “Surprise!”

  I’m instantly assaulted with piles of colorful crazy string and confetti. All my friends are laughing and cheering as they cover me in this sticky, ridiculous mess and I can do nothing but laugh. These guys are like brothers to me. We’re a small tight knit department, and our bond is unbreakable. Yep, life is good.

  Today has been an easy shift considering I’ve only had to patrol Mantoloking and didn’t have to deal with the drunks at the boardwalk.

  The past twenty four hours have been too good to get ruined by some drunk kids having no idea how their actions today will affect the rest of their lives if they’re actually arrested. A lot of these kids have money pouring out of their pores, with their mommies and daddies paying for extravagant houses for them and their friends to destroy for a weekend getaway. Nope, the worst I’ve seen today is an old lady jay walking. I actually think she may have tried to assault me if I gave her a ticket, so I let her off with a warning, telling her it’s my birthday and was my present to her. She kissed my cheek and said that was her present in return.

  All I can think of today is how hot Jess looked last night in that tight red dress that hugged all of her drool worthy curves just the right way. She’s quite literally the sexiest woman I’ve ever met and I sometimes still can’t believe she choose me. I’m no slouch myself, but I don’t have the magnetic personality Jess has. She lights up a room wherever she goes, and I love basking in the glow of her any chance I get. I turn over my arm and look at the tattoo I have etched in script on my forearm. It reads Blessed. I got it the first night of my honeymoon, and Jess has one to match. I always look at it and think of that time with her, and am always amazed how blessed I still feel.

  A call suddenly blasts over my radio breaking me from my thoughts.

  “10-26 at 322 Poppie Street. No communication with residence. Proceed with caution,” the dispatcher’s voice is calm and direct.

  I reach for my radio and call in that I’m on my way. It’s only about a mile from here, and will give me something exciting to do on my last hour on duty. As much as I enjoy a quiet day, I live for this shit. It’s why I’m a cop, it’s why I’m working my way up to detective.

  I love investigating crime scenes, and figuring out what happened by putting together clues. It’s almost as good as sex sometimes. Almost. With my Yale degree behind me, I know my next step in the force isn’t far behind. I’m good, damn good at what I do.

  After Camryn and Mr. Dade were attacked last year and Jake was arrested, I had a lot of pieces to put together from that night and what happened with Camryn. I almost couldn’t believe what I found, and what the Waters family had been able to keep hidden for so long. What I learned in that investigation was unbelievable. Jake suffered years of abuse and torture from his mentally ill mother, keeping the secret even from his father, the state senator. She began physically torturing Jake at a very young age if he disobeyed any of her psychotic requests, and as he grew up, her requests became more and more outrageous. Out of her jealous rages caused by her schizophrenia that none of us knew she suffered from, she forced Jake to rape Camryn when we were only teenagers, and finally ended with her trying to force Jake to kill Camryn. Only he didn’t, he killed his mother instead. It took a lot of work to try and help Holden put together a case against Jake, making sure he would get the psychiatric help he needed rather than just being put in jail for rape and murder. Digging up his twisted past made me realize you never know what goes on behind closed doors.

  I pull up to the enormous estate that sits on the beach side of the street and look for any other back up, but none have arrived yet. The wheels of my patrol car crunch under the stone covered driveway and seem to be announcing my arrival, so I decide to park and walk the rest of the way on foot. I radio back into the station that I’ve arrived on the scene and am going to survey the perimeter and wait for back up before entering.

  Adrenaline shoots through me when I open my door and step onto the stones. This is the shit I live for. I release my gun from its holster and hold it at attention on the rare chance that there actually is an intruder and not just a cat that has set off the alarm, which is the case nine times out of ten. I look back onto route 35, checking to see if there are any other patrol cars approaching before making my entrance into the yard. I know if I enter without back up, Sarg will have my ass, even if it is a cat.

  Suddenly I hear a blood curling scream come from the house in front of me, and a loud unmistakable bang. I reach for my radio, my heart racing with excitement, “10-49. Shots fired,” I say calmly into the speaker, and begin approaching the residence cautiously. Just then I hear the sirens in the distance and know backup will be here in seconds. I run up to the large picture window and flatten my body against the side of the house, waiting to take a glimpse inside. I can hear the faint moaning of a woman and a man yelling at her to shut up. I turn slightly to look in the window and what I see makes my heart stop. A large, stocky man is standing over a woman lying on the floor with blood all over her stomach. But what I see next to her almost makes me jump through the window. There’s a little girl crying hysterically over what I can only as
sume is her mother. Her long blonde hair makes her look like Charlotte. My Charlotte. I see several police cars pull into the driveway, followed by a fire truck, and notice the man with the gun turn to look out the window. He surely sees the droves of police cars that begin filling the area, because he turns and starts waving his gun wildly in the air, and takes the little girl, kicking and screaming in his arms. I don’t think, I act.

  I turn and grab one of the striped lounge chairs on the front porch and hurdle it through the window, causing glass to shatter in every direction. I jump through the window and dive at the stunned murderer, filled with intense rage. The little girl goes flying in the other direction as I throw the man to the ground with all the force I can muster, reaching for his hand holding the gun.

  “Run!” I yell to the girl as I wrestle with this murdering asshole. Who the hell kills a mother in front of her child? I’m going to make sure this man pays for this with his life.

  Droves of officers come barreling through the door as I struggle to wrestle this lunatic to the ground. He must be hopped up on drugs with the amount of strength he is able to use against me, given I’m much bigger than he is. Just as I release the gun from his hand I hear a loud shot and my ears begin ringing painfully. Another shot. Three more. I look down to see blood pouring down the murders face and his body goes slack, rolling off to the side of me. The ringing in my ears is deafening, and I feel almost dizzy from the noise. My fellow officers begin swarming us, and it seems as if everything is moving in slow motion around me. My thoughts drift to Jess and Charlotte and their loving smiles. The thought of Jess’s warm touch is all I try to think of right now. Chaos is ensuing around me, and I’m trying to get up and out of the way but I can’t. Joey’s now standing over me, lifting my head in his lap, saying something to me, but I still can’t hear him because the ringing in my ears is too damn loud. When I look up at him and see the tears in his eyes, I realize something’s very wrong. I struggle to look down where I can feel others pulling and tugging on me, and see that my abdomen is covered in blood. My blood. I look up at my best friend having no idea how I’ve been shot. Only now do I realize what’s happened to me, and I can feel my life slipping away, but I won’t let it.

  I begin chanting Jess and Charlotte’s name to give me strength. I must make it for them. I have to make it for them. My thoughts shoot to the gift my father gave me only hours ago of St. Michael and think if I’d only worn it, maybe my fate would’ve been different.

  I don’t feel physical pain, the pain of being torn away from Jess is too consuming. I look up at Joey, mustering up the strength to speak through the blood that I continue to cough up when I’m lifted on the stretcher. He has my hand in his, so I squeeze it to let him know I have something to say.

  “I’m here man. I got you. I’m not going to let you die. You hear me. You. Are. Not. Going. To. Die.” Joey’s voice is intense and I have no doubt he’ll do anything to keep me alive.

  I nod and try to smile, but don’t know if I’m able to do any of it by the desperate way he’s looking at me. I open my mouth a few times before I’m able to get out the words. “My pocket.”

  Joey searches my pocket and pulls the chain out and holds it up to me. I nod weakly and try to get the words out, but my breath is too short to say all I want to say. “Jess. Give it to her.”

  “Of course man. Anything you want.”

  “Tell…” I swallow hard, flinching at the iron taste of my own blood. “Jess I love her…Charlotte too.” I breathe hard, but am glad the words seemed to have gotten out when a tear drops from Joey’s eye onto my face.

  “You tell them yourself, Motherfucker. We’ll be at the hospital in five minutes and you’ll be fine.”

  We both know that’s not going to happen. With my last breath I say, “Tell her to be strong. Tell her to live.”

  Jess

  An hour late. Dave’s an hour late for his own birthday dinner and hasn’t even bothered to call. He isn’t usually this inconsiderate, but I can’t help but think he snuck away for a quick workout at Crossfit before coming home. I swear he’s freaking addicted, and while I don’t mind the results, I wish he’d have called instead of left Charlotte and me sitting here waiting.

  I go to the kitchen to check that the prime rib I have resting isn’t completely destroyed when the doorbell rings. “Charlotte, will you get it?” I call from the kitchen knowing it’s probably Cam and Holden with the girls. I’d invited them over for some cake for dessert, but had also forgotten to tell them that we haven’t eaten dinner yet. Oh well, I have wine, and plenty of food if they want dinner too. I grab a dish towel and wipe the meat juices off my hands before going to greet my friends. I’ll have to use all my control not to show them how pissed I am at Dave right now. I never like to involve others in our arguments and don’t want to make for an awkward night. After the enjoyment he gave me last night, I think I can probably give him a pass. A devilish smile crosses my face just as I turn the corner to our entryway to see Kat, Joey, and Sarg. Kat is leading Charlotte down the steps and I fall to the ground, knowing what they are here to tell me. I can’t speak. I can’t move. For a moment I just sit there, clutching the damn dinner towel for life staring up at the two men before me. Sarg only comes to an officer’s house unannounced for one reason, and it’s never a good one.

  Joey comes to my side and takes me in his arms. His touch is like acid on my skin and I flinch away. “Don’t you say it Joey. Don’t you fucking say it!” I scream up at him with tears bursting through my words. My insides feel like they’re tearing apart, each nerve splintering in agony.

  “Come with us Jess. You need to come before it’s too late,” Sarg says from above us as Joey tenderly picks me up in his arms.

  “Charlotte. Where’s Charlotte?” I ask frantically looking around.

  “I called Kat from the ambulance and asked her to meet us here. She’s taking Char back to her house and will keep her there tonight so you can be with Dave.” Joey wipes my tear soaked hair from my face. “He’s been shot Jess. It’s not good. Not good at all.”

  I feel like my own life is slipping away with his words. My life is Dave’s. “He can’t die Joey. I can’t live without him.”

  The drive to Brick Memorial is painfully long. Even with the flashing lights of Sarg’s patrol car taking us speedily through the streets, every minute seems an hour. I’m resting up against Joey’s shoulder, staring blankly ahead, praying over and over for him to stay with us. I don’t care if he’s crippled, I don’t care if I have to take care of his every need for the rest of my life, as long as he’s with me, we can make it through anything. He’s always said that, and I believe that more now than ever. Just as my thoughts turn grave, Joey reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small pendant.

  He begins slowly telling me the details of the shooting. How Dave was responding to a house alarm and came upon a murder and hostage situation. The hostage was a little girl. Of course Dave wouldn’t have waited for back up if a little girl was in danger. When trying to save the little girl, the intruder had another gun he didn’t know about and shot him once in the stomach and another time in the side of his head. Joey told me how he was there with Dave after he’d been shot, that he stayed with him the entire ride to the hospital, then came straight for me. The doctors have to get him stabilized before they perform surgery and I can only hope I will get there in time to see him before he is taken back. I’m suffocating with grief thinking of the love of my life fighting for his life alone in a hospital bed right now.

  “Dave asked me to tell you he loves you and Char…” Joey chokes up before he can finish our daughter’s name. He grips me tightly and we both cry together. After a few moments he struggles to speak again. “I have to do this Jess. I promised him.” He takes a deep breath holding on to my shaking hands. “He said he wants you to be strong, to live, and to give you this.”

  I take the necklace and know exactly what it is. I’ve seen it countless times on his father. “Was h
e wearing this?”

  “No, it was in his pocket.”

  Anger pushes through my sadness wondering if he’d only worn the pendant, he might have had a different fate, but I can’t allow myself to question him right now. Dave would’ve always done everything he could to keep safe for me and Charlotte. He doesn’t deserve my questions. I take the pendant and put it on immediately, praying to St. Michael that he’ll protect my husband, that he’ll save him from being taken from us far too soon. I know Dave wanted to protect me, but I would never feel safe without him.

  We pull up to the hospital and Joey leads me inside and I feel like none of this is really happening. How can it be? Just this morning, we were lying in bed together planning out the rest of the weekend, and now he’s being kept alive by a machine. I have to see him. I have to touch him. One. Last. Time.

  We are rushed through the lobby and come upon a small sterile waiting room where Cam and Holden are sitting huddled together in the corner with Dave’s parents. I look up at Joey, “I need to see him now.” I can’t look over at Cam and Holden again, it’ll make me crumble.

  Before Joey can answer me I burst through the doors and am grateful when I hear Cam tell them to let me go. She knows me well enough to know when I need to be alone, and now is definitely one of those times. I need to see Dave and now. I begin walking aimlessly down the hallway looking for his room, praying they haven’t taken him into surgery yet. I fearfully look in every room that I pass, praying with each step that it’s all been a big misunderstanding, and he’ll be sitting up in his bed, drinking some juice with a few bumps and bruises. I’m not sure how many doors I’ve looked in when I come upon Dave. I freeze in the doorway when I see the tell-tale tattoo he has on his forearm that’s hanging lifelessly off the edge of the bed. I instinctively rub mine remembering when we had it permanently etched in our skin, just like we are etched in each other’s soul. I fall to the ground at the sight of my strong husband hooked up to all those machines. The reality of his fate is crushing me.

 
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