The Month Everything changed

Submitted into Contest #89 in response to: Write a story that spans a month during which everything changes.... view prompt


Coming of Age Drama Creative Nonfiction

April of 1988, Kelly had fallen into a mine shaft, fracturing both of her legs, and received a traumatic head injury. Her boyfriend Able was able to haul her out of the shaft and get her back to a hospital after a harrowing 30-minute drive on a rugged desert road. As she laid across the truck's bucket seat during the ride, she was going in and out of consciousness.

Once Able got into town, he did not slow down. His erratic driving happened to catch the eye of a patrol unit as he blasted through a stop sign. The patrolman flipped on his siren and lights and was tailing Able’s truck in an instant. Able heard the siren and saw the cop car in his mirror, “I ain’t got time for your shit, officer,” and he continued to plow through a couple more intersections. A thought came to him to stop and get the officer to be his point guard since it was still some distance to the hospital before he ended up killing him and Kelly both before even getting there.

Able stopped in the street, just pulling off to the side enough so that when he jumped out of the truck, he would not land into incoming traffic. He was out of the car at a frantic pace and started toward the patrol car.

Officer Barringer saw a teenage kid jump out of the pickup he was pursuing and begin charging towards his car, waving his hands around. Officer Barringer was at first alarmed and unlatched his seatbelt, pulling out his Colt .38 revolver while exiting his patrol car all in one smooth action. He had his pistol drawn in a crouch position, “Stop right there!”

“Officer Help, Please help!” Able yelled in a panic, but he kept running toward the officer.

Officer Berringer had been on the force for about a year. He witnessed what was happening on the streets with this new crack drug going around. “Christ, kid, why don’t you stop!” Berringer said to himself as he fired off a shot.

Able felt an invisible force strike him in his left shoulder, and it was powerful enough to send him flying backward, landing him on the pavement in searing pain. He lay on his back feeling like his shoulder was on fire and unable to move his left arm. He reached over with his right hand to grab at the pain, then looked over to see blood covering his hand and pouring from his shoulder. He felt dizzy and sick to his stomach, then passed out just as he saw a cop looming over him with a pistol pointed at his face. The cop was yelling something, but the words were indistinguishable as Able faded into darkness.

Able opened his eyes and was staring into a bright light overhead. The ceiling was utterly white. As he glanced around, he noticed that everything looked like it was white except for silvery metallic rails on instruments and immediately knew he was in a hospital room. He saw the door to the room swing open as a nurse followed by his mother and father came in. The nurse gave a quick “Hello there, glad your back with us,” then began checking his monitors and IV. His mother was sat next to him while his father stood at the edge of the bed.

“Oh sweetheart, how do you feel?” she quivered over him, nearly in tears as she ran her hand over his face and kissing his forehead.

“I…I think I’m ok. My shoulder feels like it’s pounding, though,” Able replied.

“It’ll hurt a lot more in a few hours as the morphine wears off. Don’t worry. We’ll keep you fixed up,” the nurse interceded with a happy smile across her face.

“Hey bud, sure glad you are ok. Don’t you worry son. I’m going to talk to Andy, and we’ll make sure that cop isn’t a cop for long. What a maniac!” his dad chimed in, standing at the foot of his bed.

Able thought about the incident for a moment remembering running toward a cop car then being on the ground. His concern for Kelly soon overtook that memory.

“Kelly! Where is Kelly? Is she alright?” he began demanding.

He saw a worried look appear on his mother’s face, and his dad lowered his head, looking at the floor. Seeing how his parents were reacting, the nurse decided to give Able the news. She bent over, looking Able in the eyes. “Kelly had some very dramatic injuries, and she took a hard-knocking to the head. She is still with us down the hall, but she is in an induced coma, so the doctors can get her in for some scans and mend her broken legs. I know it sounds terrible, but she is alive thanks to you, so be brave for her.”

Able got agitated, “Alive because of me! Because of me, she is in that condition! Stupid fuckin joke.”

“Honey, don’t be so hard on yourself. What do you mean because of you?” Able’s mother asked.

“Aww, I got this idea about playing an April fools joke on her when we were up at the mine and I scared her in the mine tunnel and she took off running and that’s..that’s when she fell…” Able began crying.

“Heyyy, don’t go blaming yourself. It was a bad accident. You kids play pranks on each other all the time; this one turned out wrong. Nothing more than me and your mother used to do at your age. Don’t go blaming yourself sport. You got to stay positive for her sake,” his father replied while patting Able’s leg.

Able was released from the hospital a few days later. His shoulder still hurt, and he was prescribed antibiotics for the next month and given a pamphlet of instructions about how to strengthen his shoulder doing self physical therapy. At least he had a cool scar to show, he thought, trying to give a silver lining to the incident. His real problem came with the mental anguish over Kelly. He was able to get up and visit her after his second day in the hospital.

Kelly’s family were in her room whenever possible. Throughout the day, the doctors would be examing her and running tests. It was at night that most visiting by nonmedical staff could occur. Able was terrified entering the room with Kelly’s family there, but after crying with her mother and father and them not blaming him made things easier.

He got to spend some time with her alone the second evening. Kelly’s mother thought it would be a good idea and that if she could hear her high school sweetheart speaking to her. Able sat beside Kelly in the calm darkness with the sound of medical apparatus operating all around her. A breathing tube stuck into her throat, an EKG monitor beeping to the beat of her heart, and the glow of electronic machinery made her seem like an astronaut visiting another world.

“Kelly, I’m..I…sooo sorry. It’s my fault you are here, but I want you to stay with me… with us. Me, your family, and my family. Stay with us, Kell. Please.”

He reached up and held her hand and began to cry on her chest. He felt motion on the top of his head, a light touch through his dark curly hair. It was Kelly’s forefinger lightly drawing through his thick hair. He loved the feeling but jerked his self upright in excitement.

“Kelly! Kelly, are you there?” He looked at her face and could see that one eye was partially open. Able jumped up and ran to the door. Just outside the door stood Kelly’s mother talking to a nurse. Able grabbed onto Kelly’s mother in a thrill of excitement, “It’s Kelly! I think she’s waking up!” They all rushed into the room to Kelly’s bedside. The nurse began peering into Kelly’s eyes with her light pen while her mother grasped onto Able.

Kelly did come out of a comatose state into a different form of existence. She didn’t become fully conscious. She would go in and out of a sleeplike state, eyes partially open. She would thrash about and murmur gibberish. By the second week of this stage, the gibberish started becoming pieces of sentences.

“Right way…path to free…We will build Imperious” were some of the things Kelly would say. Her babbling fixed on some religious dogma that no one visiting was familiar with. During one of Able’s visits, his father Greg stopped into the room to speak to him. Just as Greg was speaking to Able, Kelly began mumbling something about the right way. Greg looked dumbfounded.

“Did she just say what I think she said?”

Able quickly asked, “What dad? Do you know what she’s talking about? She’s been going on like that for days.”

Greg answered, “Not completely, but I know someone who might. You met Jenny. She goes to this church…I guess you call it a church. Anyway, this group of people is like Christians, but they always talk about this right way stuff. I went with her once, not really my kind of thing, but what us guys do for a piece of ass, right?”

“Nice dad. I think I saw a pamphlet in your truck bed workbox. Do you think Jenny might know something about this?”

“Well sport, if it will help things out, maybe I could bring her by tomorrow, I was going to be hooking up with her for dinner, and I’m sure she was going to drag me off to her little cult. I’ll get her to come by here first. Does Kelly do this often?”

“Every day. That would be great if you brought her by. Kelly will start into this chanting at least every hour or so for like 10 minutes. It might help out. Everyone here has no idea what she’s going on about.”

“Ok, sport. I’ll drop by around 4 or so. I’ll peek up Jenny’s interest by telling her how Kelly is jabbering about this right way stuff in a bizarre coma-like state. That’ll really get her hot, probably get me some browny points with her too.”

“You’re impossible dad, but thanks. Be nice to get some idea of what’s up. These doctors don’t have a clue. See you tomorrow.”

Greg left after listening to Kelly for a couple more minutes while shaking his head in part disbelief and part fear. The next day Greg and Jenny arrived at the hospital at 3:45 pm. Able and Kelly’s mom were in Kelly’s room when they walked in. Mrs. Eaton (Kelly’s mom) got up and greeted Jenny, a slim but beautiful woman with long brunette hair and large glasses that gave her a cute nerdy look.

“Hi Jenny, I’m Barb Eaton, Kelly’s mother. Able was telling me about you and that you attend a church that talks about things like my Kelly keeps been talking about.”

“Hello, Barb. Yes, I meet with the Path of the Right Way. We are not officially a church but a group that meets to discuss the path to a better way through the Lord and God. Greg told me some of the things that your daughter was saying yesterday, and I am very intrigued and was excited about getting here today to hear myself. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to sound crude, but if she is speaking of the Right Way while in a coma state, why it must be a divine influence.”

Barb looked at Jenny with a fake smile. She wasn’t so hot on some religious nutty being involved with this situation, but if it could provide some insight into her daughter’s condition, she wasn’t about to turn the woman away. They gathered around Kelly’s bedside and looked at her lying there, still hooked to monitors, catheter, and an IV, but the breathing tube had been removed. They watched and whispered to each other for about 15 minutes before Kelly began to go into her ramblings.

“It’s the Right Way…one will come…a new age…freedom..” Kelly went on for about 5 minutes, repeating similar messages with a few emissions of ordinary topics, such as feeling tired or the condition she was in. Jenny sat listening and staring in amazement with her mouth agape until Kelly went quiet.

“This is incredible. I am going to get to the payphone in the lobby and call James. He is our minister at the Path. He must come and hear this! So Barb, you had never heard Kelly speak of the Right Way or anything like that before she was in this condition?”

“No, we aren’t really church-going people. I mean, she knows about God and stuff, but I’ve never heard her talking about anything such as this. I really don’t want all that, but if this James can provide some insight that would help us understand, please do have him come by,” Barb told Jenny as Jenny was getting up to head for the lobby.

Jenny got to a payphone and called James.

“This is James, speak truth, and I will listen.”

“James, it’s Jenny. Remember I told you about the girl I was coming to see today? You have to get here.” Jenny went on describing what she had seen and heard from the visit.

“I’m intrigued. I’ll be there in about 15 minutes,” James informed her.

James had an odd personality, but with his dusty blonde shoulder-length curly hair, overly large framed glasses, and thin, lanky body, he competently carried himself. When you spoke to James, you felt a certain charisma and confidence emanating from him that transferred over to whomever he spoke to. It was no wonder that at the age of 30, he had become this minister or guru of the Right Way faith.

He had apparently learned and cultivated this belief or way of being during a sort of gypsy existence part of his life. James had run away from home at 16. He spent 5 years in southern California in many of the beach communities between L.A. and San Diego, then another 3 years in San Francisco, living a very libertine lifestyle. He then spent 3 more years traveling across the country, living on the road before becoming more serious about his beliefs and getting comfortable with powerful people along the east coast. He had returned to Arizona just a couple of years ago and started his ministry in Tucson along with being politically active in local government.

Once James arrived and stood next to Kelly in her hospital bed, a strange connection occurred. James’s demeanor changed as soon as he got in the room, and Kelly began to move about and speaking as soon as he came near. Her voice was more forceful, and she even opened her eyes as she spoke. She didn’t seem to notice anyone in the room just stared out straight ahead with fierce-looking eyes.

After that first arrival of James, everything changed. Within days Kelly was out of her coma state appearing to be back to normal. Whenever James visited, both of them would go into discussions about the Right Way, truth, and power. It was exhausting to be in the room with them, and James usually preferred that he and Kelly had the room to themselves at least for an hour or two during each meeting.

Barb was concerned about the changes but having her daughter back was all she needed to be won over. Her father wasn’t so sold on this newfound belief but accepted it after having time to discuss it between just himself and Kelly.

“Don’t worry Dad. I am fine, and I am still your little girl. But I’m not so little anymore. Besides, this makes me feel good, and I want to pursue it and see where it leads,” she had told him.

Within another week, Kelly was released from the hospital with the doctors still being perplexed about what had happened and how she came out of it. The lead neurologist told Kelly’s parents on her last day in the hospital, “The brain is a powerful organ, and it can do some amazing things. I wouldn’t worry about the whole religion thing. It is something her mind grasped onto and gave her strength to pull out of her stasis. She’s young and will probably go through this phase pretty quickly then be back to causing you normal parental fears in no time.”

Within a month, Kelly had fallen into a mine shaft, been hospitalized in a coma-like state, discovered God, and then met a powerful guru at the head of a growing ministry. Within weeks, she would be at James’s side during his sermons sharing her story and becoming a major influence within the Right Way ministry. 

April 14, 2021 09:41

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