Small Cuts (17) James

To find links to all parts of this story, please visit the Small Cuts Page. Here is more about James:

Jessica Dean: Finally tonight on Eyewitness News at 6:00, a follow up on the fatal accident that happened on the Vine Street Expressway last Sunday morning. The crash left one person dead and another in critical condition. There is an added layer of tragedy to the story, however.

Ukee Washington: That’s right, Jessica. It turns out the two drivers knew each other. In fact, the male driver who was killed was the best friend of the female driver’s husband. James McAvoy, thirty-six of Bucks County, was attempting to merge onto the eastbound Vine Street Expressway in heavy traffic when, according to witnesses, the vehicle driven by Genevieve Sinclair, also of Bucks County, suddenly changed lanes and struck the other car on the driver’s side. Mr. McAvoy was pronounced dead at the scene. Mrs. Sinclair remains in a coma and in critical condition.

Jessica Dean: Oliver Sinclair, Genevieve’s husband, had met James McAvoy in college. The two remained close ever since. They had been best man for each other at both of their weddings, the two couples often vacationed together and according to their spouses, had just had dinner together the evening before. Neither James nor Genevieve was supposed to be on that road that day. According to Mr. Sinclair, his wife Genevieve had no plans to be in the city that morning, but must have decided after he left. He could only speculate on her reasons for coming. “She liked to visit the art museum. She often came alone so she could take her time,” he told reporters.

Mrs. Elaine McAvoy told us her husband was supposed to be on his way to a golf outing sponsored by the law firm he works for. Mrs. McAvoy says his detour into the city must have been to stop at his office for some reason. His colleagues at Fletcher, Sunderland and Roth couldn’t shed any light on the matter. It seems fate dealt the two couples a cruel hand. The funeral arrangements for James McAvoy will be held privately, but donations can be made in his name to the Philadelphia Legal Aid Fund —a cause he supported as a lawyer in the city.

Ukee Washington: Mm mm… What a terrible tragedy. Our hearts go out to the families.

***

I have used the real names of the evening news anchors at Philadelphia’s CBS affiliate Channel 3. I have done this without their knowledge or permission. I hope they don’t mind! When and if I publish or submit to another media outlet, names and other existing entities will be changed.

Small Cuts (16) Genevieve

To find links to all parts of this story, please visit the Small Cuts Page. Here is Genevieve:

Dark. Warm. Safe. The dark never frightened but comforted. In nature, being visible is a threat to one’s existence, but invisibility is a defense against predators. They can’t eat you if they can’t find you. In the dark I could be myself, because no one would see anyway. It was a relief. Maybe I should sleep. I was so very tired.

If only the birds would be quiet. Chirp, chirp, chirp.

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie.

The old nursery rhyme went through my head. It reminded me of my Nana. When I was little, Mom and Dad would leave us kids with her when they traveled. I was always afraid to sleep over, even with my older sister and little brother in the same room with me. I’d lay awake for hours, imagining all sorts of terrors. The nightlight Nana left on only made things worse. That little bit of illumination would help the monsters find me. The shadows cast by a dim light are far more sinister than the absolute dark. You can see the monsters just like they can see you. Most nights, I’d run to Nana’s room and crawl in beside her. To try and soothe me to sleep, she would sing. Nursery songs, old church hymns, anything that she knew by heart. Funny how gruesome most of those nursery rhymes were. No wonder we were frightened as children.

When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing—
Wasn’t that a dainty dish
To set before the king?

Dainty. No one used words like that anymore. Language was so crass these days. I suppose it was just a reflection of the world. The harsh, mean, cruel world. What was it I’d seen on the news this morning? Morning. The last thing I remembered: checking the time on TV. Could I have lost time again? The darkness made it seem like night, but I wasn’t sure. Then again, I was so sleepy it must be late. What had happened? Where was I? I tried to reach out, to see if Oliver was next to me, but I couldn’t move my arm, couldn’t feel anything with my fingers. Oliver? Are you there?

The king was in the counting-house
Counting out his money,
The queen was in the parlor
Eating bread and honey,

Oliver had gone somewhere. I needed to find him. It was very, very important that I find him. I just couldn’t remember why. Was Oliver the king? Was I his queen? Was there someone else?

The maid was in the garden
Hanging out the clothes.

Someone else. Someone else. Someone else was in the room with me. I could hear the whispering, murmuring. Blood. Bruises. Broken bones. Brain damage. Whisper, whisper, shhhhh…

Along came a blackbird

The flapping of wings. Thousands and thousands of wings. Monstrous, evil birds. Just like that Hitchcock movie.

And snipped off her nose.

Could they see me? Had they found me? Run! I couldn’t run, couldn’t move, couldn’t see. I could only hear those infernal birds chirping their monotonous song. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Wait, keep still and they can’t find you. Breathe slowly and they won’t hear you. There. The sounds were fading. They were leaving. I was alone again. Safe. Warm. Dark.

Header Image via Google Images. And the nursery rhyme is “Sing a Song of Sixpence” by Mother Goose.

Small Cuts (15) Oliver

To find links to all parts of this story, please visit the Small Cuts Page. Back to Oliver:

Elaine’s hesitation spoke volumes. Still, I had to know. “Lainey, say something.”

She nodded, took a deep breath and… at the very same moment both our phones started to ring. “Don’t answer it,” I said, as she pulled hers from her purse. “If it’s important they’ll leave a message.”

She frowned at the screen and I knew what she thinking. She wanted to answer it, if only to delay a few minutes more. And a delay could only mean one thing: my feelings weren’t returned. The phone stopped ringing and she tucked it back into her bag. I waited. She stared at the ground.

Rubbing my hands over my face, I said, “Just tell me, Elaine. I need you to say it. And we’ll move on. We can pretend I never said a thing…”

The phones which had gone silent both began ringing again. This time Elaine answered. With a muttered curse, I pulled mine out of my pocket and looked at it. It was a number I didn’t recognize, but it was local. Whoever it was had left a voice mail the first time. “Hello,” I said, my frustration bordering on anger.

The caller confirmed my name, told me his, said he was with the Philadelphia Police Department. “Police?” I repeated, my nerves jangling the way they do when you’ve been caught at something. “Is there a problem?”

“Sir, I’m afraid there’s been an accident.”

I was about to ask what kind of accident, when Elaine made a noise —something between a gasp and a shriek. When I glanced over, she looked like she was about to collapse. I reached out a hand to steady her, but she was shaking so badly, I pulled her close. The officer had continued speaking, and I had only caught words and phrases as I tried to comfort Elaine. “…very serious condition …unconscious … lost a lot of blood …Jefferson Hospital ER…”

Accident. Serious. Unconscious. Blood. Hospital. Hospital…

“Sir? Sir?”

I shook my head to clear it. “Yes, I’m sorry. What? Who?”

“Your wife, sir. Genevieve _____.” He paused. “Can you drive? Or can you call a friend to bring you down to the hospital?”

Genevieve. I felt like the temperature dropped by about forty degrees. I said, “I’m in the city. I’ll get a cab. Jefferson, you said?” He said yes. I said, “I’ll be right there.” I disconnected and held a weeping Elaine by her shoulders. “Elaine. I have to go. Gen’s been in a serious accident.” She gave a little cry and covered her mouth. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

“James.” She choked through her tears. “James.”

“What about James? Elaine, I need you to pull yourself together.” That sounded harsh, but I didn’t have time to waste. I tried to be gentle, when I added, “Come on, now, honey, I have to go.“

“He’s been in a crash… here in the city. He’s here in the city. Oliver.” She kept repeating herself over and over. “In the city. In the city.” I gave her a little shake to get her attention.

“Was that him on the phone?” Had he he followed her? Or maybe me after I drove past the house? And he knew. He knew what was going on. My mind whirled. We could deal with it. Make an excuse. Elaine and I getting together alone wasn’t all that unusual. But if he’d seen me at the house… I didn’t have time for this. I repeated my question, “Was that James you were talking to?” She shook her head no. “Ok, who was it then?”

“The police.”

An icy finger of dread crept up my spine. “Ok. What did they say? Where is he? Where is James? Was he hurt? Did he have to go the hospital?” I asked.

“He… he… he,” she sobbed. “He’s gone.They couldn’t save him.”

In that moment, I could not define how I felt. My best friend was dead. My wife severely injured. On the same day. At the same time. What were the chances? And I despised myself for the sickening thought that suddenly now Elaine was free. Who thinks something like that at a time like this? Was I a monster? Go to Genevieve. Right. I could self flagellate later. I had to figure out what the hell to do right now. I couldn’t leave Elaine like this, but I had to go to Gen. “Come with me. Gen is at Jefferson.” I put an arm around her shoulder and began moving toward the main entrance. She stiffened and I thought she was going to resist. “Please, Elaine. Just stay with me.”

“Where are we going?” she asked. “Jefferson?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s where they took James, too.”