|Of Memories and Nightmares
Author: Ecri PM
Continued from my previous story, Of Beach Houses and Executions. Jack has to take things into his own hands.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Angst - Words: 7,844 - Reviews: 2 - Published: 07-27-04 - id: 1984961
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Of Memories and Nightmares by Ecri
Disclaimer: I do not own the Lyon's Den. I am making no money from this.
NOTE: Episode inspired, but I'm going to run with it.
Jack Turner stared at the ceiling wishing sleep would come as easily as thoughts of conspiracy, murder, and betrayal. The truth was he was more shaken by his talk with Forrestor than he would have cared to admit, even to himself, but here, in his bed, in the dark, his mind refused to consider anything else.
Forrestor had been dead for hours, but his words had taken on a life of their own and even now tormented Jack more than even the condemned man would have dreamed possible.
Thinking about the execution, since he could hardly stop himself, made Jack once again reevaluate uate the death penalty. Having spoken to a man desperate to postpone his own death hadn't affected him at the time. He had been myopically focused on his own agenda and his own need for answers as unlikely as he'd thought it was at the time that a convicted serial killer could possibly know what he'd claimed to know.
Jack had seen executions before and they always made him consider what right they could have to kill a citizen. Lifetime incarceration might appease his own conscience, but which was better for society? Which was better for the criminal? Should they even be concerned about the criminal? Did a killer lose all rights because he had killed? Jack believed Forrestor had a right to live, but he also knew that Forrestor would have killed again. He had to be stopped, and for him at least, the only way to stop him was to kill him.
He shook off such thoughts knowing he was clinging to the familiar debate out of a desperate desire to ignore the bigger question his conversation with Forrestor had raised.
Each time he tried to direct his thoughts away from the things the condemned man had said, they would slip back to the starting point as though on a spring timer or an endless loop.
The truth was, he was half-afraid to fall asleep. Whenever his waking thoughts had drifted towards his mother, his dreams would be sure to follow. It was a place he did not think he had the strength to visit just now.
The thoughts were there, though, and he was unable to deny them. He tried to keep mundane thoughts of trial dates and legal memos forefront in his mind, but he was finding it harder and harder. Truthfully, the more he tried not to think of it, the more his mind would linger over memories and nightmares he'd thought long buried. It was a lot like telling yourself not to watch a scary movie, but all the while, you were peeking through your fingers telling yourself you wouldn't see anything even as the blood, gore, and terror played out before your eyes.
How could Forrestor have known the things he said? He couldn't have simply guessed, for if he had they were the most uncannily accurate guesses Jack had ever heard in his life.
The beach houseno one knew what had happened there...either time, and Jack couldn't be sure which time Forrestor had alluded to or if the man knew both secrets. No one had any ideawell, not no one exactly, but no one who would have told Forrestor anything.
He himself hadn't been to his beach house in longer than he'd cared to remember. He used to go all the time. There was once a time it had been a sure bet that he'd be there every weekend or at least part of every weekend.
Now, like the buzz behind the thoughts he kept in the forefront of his mind, the beach house was always there, but he never allowed himself to acknowledge it. Out of sight, out of mind
Like his mother.
He cursed himself, threw off the blankets, and stalked across the room. Not bothering with a robe to cover his bare chest and pajama bottoms, he walked barefoot across the bedroom.
Tearing open the bedroom door, he walked into the living room and poured himself a shot of Jack Daniels and downed it in one quick gulp. The slow burn of the alcohol brought tears to his eyes. At least he told himself it was the alcohol.
He poured another drink and, rather than drink it right down, he moved to the sofa and sat heavily in the middle.
The drink didn't stop him thinking about his mother, but it did make him relax enough to stop fighting it.
He had grown up as what some called a Mama's Boy, but only those who didn't know his mother would dare call him that. She never would have allowed him to become too dependent on her, though she doted on him as much as he did on her.
She had a strong fiery independent streak, and early on had fostered such a thing in her son. When he had been too young to realize 'father' wasn't a term for any man who drifted in and out of your life with little connection to it, they had been each other's worlds.
Her wit was by turns wicked, when he was old enough to understand such things, and dry. Sometimes, it was so subtle only the two of them would laugh, snort, or otherwise smirk at each other while others would stare at the two as though they'd lost their minds.
Her love for him was something he had never questioned, and he wondered glumly as he sipped his JD if she could say the same.
He threw back his drink to give himself an excuse to rub his eyes.
Morning came quickly for George Riley, and he swore to himself that he would make things up to his kids. Halloween was a lost cause, but he would give them a Saturday. He woke early, even before his wife, which was hard to do. Slipping quietly out of the house, he went to his wife's favorite bakery and bought half a dozen Danish and half a dozen doughnuts, unsure, though loathe to admit it, which everyone would prefer. Though, he did feel the double chocolate doughnuts had been a safe bet.
Feeling the heat through the bag as the still hot pastry began to cool, he drove swiftly home, hoping to make it before his wife woke.
He opened the door so carefully it didn't even creak. Standing stock still, he listened to the sounds of the house trying to determine if everyone still slept. Grinning when he realized things were going as planned, he started the coffee, making her favorite Chocolate Blend instead of his own industrial strength extra dark roast.
Sitting at the table, he waited.
The smell of the coffee soon brought his wife downstairs. She stared at him in disbelief and smiled as he did.
Holding out the bag for her inspection, he breathed a sigh of relief when she laughed and grabbed a cheese Danish and bit into it. He was pouring her coffee as the kids came racing into the kitchen together.
"Eat up, kids! We've got a big day ahead of us!"
Jack was startled out of a deep sleep and sat blinking on the couch in an effort to figure out why he was sitting there instead of lying in bedand why he was holding an empty glass. It all came back to him in a rush. Forrestor, the execution, the beach house, his motherthat's what had wakened him. His heart still pounded as the last vestiges of the dream chased themselves around his head.
Willing them away, he put his glass down on the coffee table, ignoring how his hand shook. Rubbing both hands across his face, Jack considered going in to work, but knew he couldn't face Dan Barrington's office today, whether it was rightfully his own now or not. He imagined finding a trail of pistachio shells leading from office to office like the breadcrumbs Hansel and Gretel had droppedof course, that trail hadn't helped them much, and this one did little except make Jack uneasy.
Standing, Jack stretched. He had hoped his thoughts would be his own today, but the dream had kept them where they'd been the night before. It was as though Forrestor taunted him from beyond the grave even now manipulating Jack's memories as he had manipulated the conversation they'd had. Until Jack had fought back with the only thing the murderer had left to care abouthis reputation.
The dream images faded neither as quickly nor as wholly as Jack would have preferred. He could still recall them quite clearly though the images blended with memory until he couldn't be sure which was which.
His mother had been in the dream. It had been the day his father had told him they would send her away. She wasn't doing well. She wasn't taking her meds. Meds. He'd hated that term. Too clinical. Too much medical jargon. Before ER had been a television perennial, people had said pills or medicine. George Clooney made "meds" cool.
He walked towards his den, and slipped behind the desk, switching on the lamp and blinking at the harsh glare of the bulb. He could have opened the curtains for a softer, more natural light, but he hadn't thought of that until he was sitting down.
He saw the phone number where it always was. Written across his calendar. It had become habit. Every time he turned the page to see the next month, he scribbled the number there as though he might use itas though he used it everyday, when the truth was he usually did his best not to notice it. Still, he couldn't stop writing it, though he'd memorized it long ago, and could dial it with little thought.
He glanced at a picture on his desk. It was his mother and him when he had graduated from college. She had accepted that he wanted to be a lawyer, but believed him when he said it had nothing to do with his father. Not little to do with him but nothing to do with him.
The truth was, his love for the law had come from her, not from his father. He barely knew his father, and had finally gotten over feeling guilty that he preferred it when the man didn't come home at all. His mother's passion for justice had spurred his interest in the law, and she had not been shy about trying to talk him out of it. He had thought she'd be pleased by his choice. He remembered easily the conversation they'd had when he'd announced his intention. He was about to graduate from high school, and told her he intended to enroll in the a pre-law program and eventually go to law school. Her reaction had surprised him.
"Why would you want to do that, Jack? Why? You could be anything! You could be a journalist, a writer, a teacher, an architect, a" she was running out of ideas. "Aa doctor or a pathologist, oror a forensics specialist, oror a pilot"
He shook his head, hurt and confused by her words. "Mom, I don't understand! I thought you loved the law! I thoughtthe way you go on about justice"
"Justice isn't always something the law will bring you. The justice I meant was moreright and wrongmore sort of"
"Karma?" His voice was laced with incredulity.
She laughed. "Maybe. I just wonder at the law and at the penchant people have for twisting it to their own purpose. Too many people get away with the crimes they commit. That's not justice!" She stepped closer to her precious boy, a soft smile and shake of her head telling him she had been more shocked than angry. He saw the regret there in her eyes and knew she would apologize, though he still wasn't sure what had spurred her reaction.
"I'm sorry, Jack. I'm sorry. I love you, and I want you to be happy. If Law School will make you happy–though I can't imagine how it could–I'll send you to the best one you can find." She reached over to him and brushed lightly at his slightly overlong, dark hair moving a stray wisp out of his eyes.
"Just remember that law and justice aren't always the same thing." She sobered again, and though her hand still lingered in his hair, her smile had changed to a frown. "I hope you're not doing this to get your father's attention."
Jack reached up and grasped her hand lightly holding it there to his temple. "I stopped looking for that a long time ago, Mom. I don't need him."
She shook her head sadly and moved her hands to clutch his shoulders as she steered him to sit at the table. "All boys need their fathers"
"I'm eighteen!" He declared cutting off her words.
She laughed at how old he made that sound. "I know! That was going to be my point!"
She moved forward and embraced her son. "Keep your eyes open, Jack." She whispered in his ear, and he felt a tingle down his spine. He had the sudden premonition that these words would be important, but he couldn't guess how. "Keep them open and make sure that what you see is really what you see."
Now, as Jack sat at the desk, he felt the embrace as though his mother had reached through time and hugged the man he had become as he'd remembered the hug she'd given the boy.
Jack realized his mother had been warning him of conspiracies and betrayals, though she couldn't have known anything specific back then. She must have meant it as a general warning.The urge he'd had upon awakening to see her intensified
Picking up the phone he dialed the number slowly, carefully, as though he had never dialed a phone before and was afraid of making a mistake. The truth was, he was afraid not of making a mistake, but that he had made one already.
Doubts hit him in the gut mixing with the whiskey he'd put there the night before. He had never been certain they'd done the right thing by her, and the doubts that came from siding with his father for the first and only time in his life often assailed him. He reminded himself that it had been fear for her that had forced the alliance with the enemy, but that brought little consolation.
The phone rang now, and he waited through three and a half rings before someone answered. "I'm calling to ask about Jacqueline Turner. This is her son." He listened to the brief update, expecting it to be what it usually was whenever he had called in the past, which was admittedly very rarely.
When the admin paused after her usual words and added, "and this morning she became agitated and had to be sedated," Jack felt his mouth go dry. Several seconds slipped by as his brain refused to understand the words. "I'm sorry, she had to be sedated? Why?"
"She became agitated."
Jack forced back his annoyance. Surely, the nurse wasn't being intentionally vague. "Agitated by what?"The admin sighed and Jack heard some pages flipping as though she was checking some notes. "She was talking about her visitors of yesterday evening, and began to repeat some nonsense words over and over again."
Jack didn't know what bothered him more, that she'd had visitors or that the nurse was being patronizing. Deciding it was the latter, he asked, as calmly as he was able. "What nonsense words?"
Again he heard the flipping of pages and a heavy sigh. "Something about staying somewherewhen we asked where she would just repeat 'they won't allow a stay'. She would never spell out where she wasn't allowed to stay. Then she started screaming about danger and cried out the names 'Jack' and 'Dan' a few times before the sedative took effect.
Jack swallowed. A stay? Had she been talking about Forrestor? "I'm supposed to be contacted if there's any change in her condition."
The admin again checked the pages before her. "Yes, I have that here, but her husband was here and insisted he would contact you himself. He said we shouldn't bother."
Jack felt rage and shock warring inside him over possession of him for the day. Rage won out as it usually did when his father was involved. He thanked the admin, and hung up.
He considered calling his father, but knew that he was inviting an argument. Not that he didn't want one, but he thought he should try to find out more information first. He would visit his mother. He was still on the list of approved visitors. His father wouldn't have changed that unless he wanted Jack to go ballistic.
After he saw his mother, he'd check in on father dearest and see just what kind of family affair he could turn this day into.
George Riley laughed as his kids excitedly reviewed the morning's events over their all-American lunch of burgers and fries. They argued over which museum would be next and which had been best so far.
He glanced at his wife surprised to find her staring at him. "What?" He whispered so the kids wouldn't hear it.
"You're amazing." She whispered back and leaned closer to give him a peck on the cheek.
"I don't know what's amazing, but I like the reward I just got." He leaned over towards her to reciprocate the gesture.
She picked up a French Fry and fed it to him. "You're not just making up for last night. You're finally relaxing."
"WellI am making up for last night, but I would have enjoyed last night." He smiled at her. "I want to be a better fathera better husband."
She shook her head. "You aren't a bad father or a bad husband. It's justyour job takes so much of you"
"It's what I do."
"I know. I'm not complaining" They both smiled at that. "Or maybe I am," she admitted.
"But you knowno one was ever heard to say on their death bed that they should have spent more time at work."
He laughed, but the words stung. He hadn't thought he'd let her down so much that she'd have thought such a thing. "I'm not dying."
"Don't misinterpret this."
His smile faded. "How should I interpret this?"
"All I'm saying is more of this and less of yesterday"
He cut her off, but kept his voice low so the kids wouldn't remember this as the day daddy yelled at mommy in public. "That's what I'm trying to do. If you like it say so, but don't tell me I'm not doing enough"
"That's not what I said"
"What are you saying?"
She looked away, trying to keep him from seeing the tear in her eye. "I'm not saying anything. I didn't mean anything. I onlyI wanted"He reached a hand over to her face and tipped her chin back towards him so he could see her face. "What?"
"I wanted you to know thatthis is nice. I wasn't attacking you. I wasn't." She moved away from him breaking contact. Wiping the tear from her eye, she smiled and turned to the kids. "Who needs to use the bathroom before we go?"
He watched as she walked towards the bathrooms with their daughter, leaving their son to him. He wondered if he wasn't being a little too sensitive about what she'd said. He hadn't meant to upset her. His fears that she would leave him surfaced from time to time, and just as he had wondered in college why such a wonderful girl would date him, he wondered why she had ever agreed to marry him.Surely she could have done better.
Even as the thought crossed his mind, he dismissed it. He had dealt with this long ago and he refused to dredge it up again. He loved his wife, and he knew she loved him. Where were his doubts coming from? He sighed in exasperation. He always became a little insecure when he was sleep deprived. Lately, he'd been so sleep deprived that paranoia was becoming the norm.
It was going to change, he vowed as he and his son tossed the lunch related trash into the garbage can. His priorities were here. He wasn't going to jeopardize any of this just for LL&L.
The Riley family headed back out into the Washington tourist attractions feeling more like a family than they had in a long time.
"I'm family. I'm her son. I know I'm on the list, so let me see her." Jack spoke in a calm, low tone, which, if the nurse had been at all familiar with him, she would have recognized it as dangerous.
"I'm sorry, sir. My orders are no visitors today. The attending physician insists she can't see anyone."
Jack fumed silently. He'd been going around with her about this for a while now, and he knew she wasn't just about to see the light, slap her head I-coulda-had-a-V8 style and let him in to see his mother.
Shoving aside his palpable frustration, he put on his best smile. "Was it the attending physician who signed the order?"
The nurse checked her records. "Yes."
"May I see him?"
Jack watched the hesitation in her eyes, and spoke again before she could voice her objections, but he took the time to muster a look of hopeful anticipation. He knew it would only help him achieve his goal. "I just want to ask him about her condition. I want to see that she's all right."
She smiled at him. "I understand. I'll have her paged."
Jack allowed a relieved smile to cross his face and his eyes flushed with gratitude to the nurse and with concern for his mother cemented the young woman's desire to help him. He was a lawyer. He knew how to play a jury.
After several moments, the page was answered. Jack knew immediately the woman heading towards him was the attending physician. He waited politely exhibiting a patience he didn't feel as the nurse explained who he was and why he was there.
It took every ounce of restraint that he could muster to keep silent as the doctor reviewed his mother's chart and finally turned to address him.
"Mr. Turner, I'm Dr. Giardino." She held out her hand and shook it firmly. "Let me assure you that your mother is fine."
"I'd like to see her."
"Please, Doctor" Jack didn't know what else to say. He was surprised he'd managed that much. The raw emotion he hadn't allowed himself to feel when Dan had died, when he'd spoken at the funeralit stuck like a logjam in his throat. "Dr. Giardino, pleaseI have to see her. I'm on the regular list of visitors. I should have been contacted whenever this last incident took place. I'd have come last night if I had known" He stopped speaking unhappy with the way he felt. It was too close to begging and he had learned early on that begging didn't get you anywhere.Abruptly, he turned from the doctor and began to head down the corridor to his mother's room. Faintly, he heard the doctor and nurse telling him to wait and that he couldn't go there, but he wasn't really listening. He was almost to her door when the doctor caught up with him.
"Where do you think you're going?"
Jack spun to face her, his eyes electric with barely contained anger. "I think I'm going to see my mother, and unless you can tell me how that will be detrimental to her condition, I'm not likely to change my mind." Somewhere in the walk down the hall, he'd transformed into the no nonsense lawyer he'd long ago become.
The doctor considered it. "As it happens, she's sedated. You can see her, but you won't be able to speak to her."
Jack's only response was to reach for the door and walk inside. He wasn't surprised when she followed him.
The light was low, and it took a moment for his eyes to adjust. He glanced towards the bed and found his mother's unconscious form. He released a breath he hadn't known he'd been holding. It was as if he'd half-expected she wouldn't be here. Crossing he short distance between the door and the bed, Jack took his mother's limp hand in his own. His features softened, and, had the doctor not been behind him, she would have seen love, concern, pain, and regret spilling from his eyes like water from a broken pitcher.
Gingerly, Jack sat on the edge of the bed. "Mom,' he spoke softly, and the tone of his voice moved the doctor to leave in order to give the man some privacy.
Jack cleared his throat. "MomI'm so sorry" He knew if she were awake and herself, a rare occurrence lately, she would tell him there was nothing he needed to be sorry about, but he knew better. He had been there the day his father had declared he was going to put her in this wretched place. Oh, it was a fine facility, but that's all it was. There wasn't a hint of warmth or optimism anywhere within these walls. The staff was efficient and competent, but there were so many people to be cared for that the personal touch was somewhat lacking. His mind returned again and again to his beach house, but he shied away from the memories, dwelling instead on his father's decision.
"But you can't do that, Dad!" Jack allowed his fury to touch his features and his words. "She deserves better!"
"Jack, you're being overly emotional about this."
Jack snorted, but as usual his father ignored him and continued to speak. "I want your mother to recover. I want her well, and I'm sure you want that, too. This facility can help her. We can't."
"We can't just leave her care to strangers! She needs" Jack hesitated he was going to say 'us', but he realized that he really meant that she needed him. She'd done without her husband for a long, long time. Taking a deep breath, he centered his focus inward at what he wanted to say rather than how he felt. It was a trick his mother had taught him to help him to calm down when he spoke with his father and the inevitable argument start. "Dad, don't do this. She wouldn't want this. You must know that. Let me take care of her. This isn't going to help"
"Jack!" The Senior Turner bellowed. "You're being ridiculous. She needs constant care. Are you going to give up your career to stay by her side?"
Jack was about to give an affirmative answer, but his father didn't wait for it.
"You know she wouldn't want that, either." He glared at his son.
Jack returned the glare, but there was little he could say in return. The truth was his father was right. His mother doted on him and spoke often of his future with pride and love in her eyes. He still wasn't willing to abandon her, however, and that's what this felt like. He was considering his father's words when a change came over the older man's features. "Besides," the Senior Turner bellowed. "I'm her husband. Legally, I make all decisions about her care. You have no say in the matter."
Sorrow and pain hardened in an instant filling Jack's eyes instead with rage and hatred. "Legally? You're quoting law to me now?" He took a menacing step towards his father. "I'm her son! What do you mean I have no say in the matter?"
His father grinned at him, a humorless, predatory, almost feral expression. "Jack, you're a lawyer. You know what I mean. She's my wife. Her long-term care is in my hands. You couldn't look after her properly anyway, and you know it. " He shook his head as though surprised at his son's stupidity. "You'd do well to learn that your emotions are making you weak. You wouldn't last a month. Neither would she."
Jack fumed clenching his fists and willing himself not to lose his temper. Striking his father wouldn't get him anywhere, though, he admitted to himself that it might make him feel better in the short term. His father was a strategist. That was how he'd won so many elections in his lifetime. He knew what buttons to push and was willing to lose a short term goal in favor of the long term.
That Jack couldn't determine whether he was being manipulated, or indeed which way he was being manipulated only angered him further. His mother's care was something he wouldn't jeopardize.
Just as he reached that conclusion, his father placed an arm across his shoulders. "Be reasonable, son. Her long term care will cost a pretty penny. You couldn't afford to care for her like I can."
Jack felt the rage inside him build again. "Money? You're making this about money? Are you saying that if I chose to take care of her, you wouldn't pay for it?" The look in his father's eyes was enough to answer the question. Jack pulled away from his father's touch, and glared at him in disbelief before turning on his heel and leaving.
Jack and his father had never seen eye to eye on anything, and it shouldn't have surprised him that caring for his mother would be just one more in a long line of disagreements. He touched his mother's hand now, wishing he had found a way somehow to do things his way. "I'm so sorry, Mom." He repeated himself unable to find anything else to say.
He didn't know how long he sat there, and his thoughts drifted back and forth tumbling over themselves and leading him off on strange tangents until he felt a slight pressure in his hand. Looking down in disbelief, he saw his mother's fingers tightening around his own.
"Mom" he whispered as his eyes moved to her face. Her own eyes were still closed, but he was certain that that was a tear he saw slipping beneath her eyelashes.He shifted his position and, still clutching her hand in his, he cleared his throat and called to her again. "Mom!"
Her eyes fluttered open, but he saw no recognition in them. In a moment, as he held his breath and willed her to speak to him, her eyes closed again.
Grief took hold of Jack's heart made all the more bitter by that brief flash of hope he'd felt a moment before. "Oh, mom"
"What are you doing here?"
The angry voice stopped Jack's tears, though his face was still wet with them as he carefully, lovingly placed his mother's hand down on the bed before turning to face his father. "I'm visiting my mother. Something I don't need your permission to do."
The Senator's eyes blazed at the tone in his son's voice, but he calmed himself and forced a smile onto his face. "Of course. You can visit anytime."
"Why didn't you call me about the trouble last night?"
"I was going to call"
"Cut the crap, Dad." Jack emphasized the word as he sometimes did to remind his father that he had lacked in the paternal skills. "What's going on that you feel you have to hide from me?"
"Nothing at all, Jack. I was here late last night and by the time I woke up this morning, I figured it would be best to call you later tonight"
Jack waved away the excuses. "Don't waste your breath on tall tales." He turned back to his mother hating that he had to ask his father about her. "How is she?"
"She's doing as well as can be ex"
Jack's humorless laugh cut his father's words again."Are you going to let me finish a sentence today?"
Jack didn't reply. He was surprised when a moment later he felt a warm hand on his shoulder. He turned to see his father looking at him intently, but he couldn't say he saw any warmth there.
"Jack, I was going to call you today. She had a rough night, but she'll be fine." He dropped his hand from his son's shoulder. He said it in a tone so dry, so matter of fact, so bereft of caring, that Jack turned and walked away. Without a word, he stepped into the hallway and sought the doctor again. He saw her standing by the nurse's station going over several charts.
"Dr. Giardino, how is she?"
The doctor turned to face him. "Your mother is stable. I don't know what triggered last night's episode, but before that she'd been well." She flipped the chart closed, and stared at him, exasperation plain. "Frankly, I don't know why the family stopped the treatments. I understand there was a mixup initially, but once we knew what kind of progress she was making, the more prudent course would have been to stick with the new treatment."
Jack's mind reeled as he tried to make sense of this information. "What new treatment?"
"We've been easing her off the meds and trying a new therapy with her. She'd been more cognizant lately." She stopped, clearly puzzled. "Hadn't you been notified about that?"
Jack's ire served him in good stead lending a steely edge to his voice, and a hard glint to his eye, though he was able to remain in control. "No, I wasn't. When did this happen?"
The doctor checked the charts. "It was a few weeks ago. This episode last night was likely brought on by the switch back to the old treatment. I understand any reluctance you might have had"
"Reluctance? Try ignorance. I haven't a clue what you're talking about." He saw his father leaving his mother's room. Under his breath he added, "But I bet I know who does." His long, unhrurried, but purposeful strides back to his father's side were enough for any observers to see what kind of conversation was about to take place.
"Any other surprises, Dad?"
"What are you talking about?"
"I've had enough of this." Jack's eyes searched his father's. He'd long ago accepted the probability that he would never enjoy an easygoing relationship with his father, but now he only needed some hint that this man cared something for his mother. "The doctor says she showed progress before being switched back to this treatment." He thought he saw a telltale flicker of something in his father's eyes. Surprise? No. That wasn't it. Irritation? Certainly, but there was something more.In a flash of insight, Jack recognized it. He had never seen it in his father's eyes before, and that was what had taken him so long to see it. It was fear. His father was afraid, but of what? That his mother was cognizant, or that Jack had learned of it? Filing that question away for later, he kept talking. If he relinquished the upper hand in this conversation, his father would give a half-truth, or a lie, or declare that he had to run and they would talk later.
"What's going on, Dad? Tell me why her treatment was changed. If there's even the slightest chance of improvement"
The Senior Turner cut off the Junior one. "There isn't! Your mother will never recover! All her doctors assured us of that when we placed her here! Whomever you'd been speaking with hasn't got a clue as to your mother's condition." He placed an arm around Jack's shoulders. "Be reasonable, son. She's getting the best of care"
Jack stopped listening. Part of him was furious, but part of him was spent. He didn't have the energy to deal with this now. He'd barely slept the night before, and, even before the execution, sleep had been at a premium since he'd taken the promotion. Too many unanswered questions kept him awake most nights, though he'd yet to find any answers.
Before he knew it, he'd been led outside. He saw his father get into his car and drive–or rather, be driven–away. He stared after the man who shared little else with him but his name. His memory chose to show him myriad images. His mother before the troubles had started, though he realized now, her mental problems had always been there. He'd just been too young to notice.
He saw his mother on a Christmas morning when he'd been about 6 years old. She'd explained why his father couldn't be there, but he'd soon forgotten that familiar disappointment in the face of the gifts, the food, and his mother's incessant shower of affection.He saw his mother teaching him to ride a two wheeler one beautiful summer day while the sun browned their skin and the smell of charcoal promised a respite from the formal dinners the staff would prepare in favor of his mother's impromptu outdoor traditions.
He saw his high school graduation, a day that should have been filled with celebration and pride, but had ended instead when he'd had to call an ambulance for his mother who'd accidentally–he was certain–taken too many of her pills.
He saw his second year as an undergrad when he'd been home for Thanksgiving. He had spent the night eating pizza alone. His father was too bust to come home, and his mother, who'd taken herself off her meds, had locked herself in her room afraid to come down because she believed she would somehow hurt her only son.
He saw the day he'd been accepted to law school. His mother had gotten the letter several days before she'd shown it to him. Again off her meds, she'd accused him of trying to hide something from her, and, no matter how he denied it, she'd insisted that he would leave her just like his father had. It hadn't helped when he'd pointed out that, technically, her husband hadn't left her.
He saw the day at the beach house. He'd been hopeful that his years of patience were about to pay off. She'd spent several years seemingly almost normal, but then one day, something snapped. It was as if the intervening years of normalcy evaporated in a moment. He was left with the woman who believed herself a bad person, a hateful, hurtful person who might, at any moment, hurt him or kill him. The violent images she saw in her head convinced her she was not only a bad mother, but also a bad person. There was no redemption for her. She told him that it was inevitable that one of these days, she would do one of these awful things she saw in her mind. As the day had worn on, she had become convinced that she had done them. Near hysteria, and to prove she hadn't, which hadn't made much sense to him though it was all she could say over and over again, she had picked up a knife from the kitchen drawer and
He had called the ambulance and the police, unsure at the time who would be the most help. He'd had a hard time disarming her, and blood and screams were all he could recall about the incident, though who had bled and who had screamed was sometimes still muddled in his mind.
She'd been here ever since.Even now, sifting through these images, he barely distinguished between memory and nightmare, and, though he'd thought years ago that this meant he would suffer the same condition as his mother, he now realized that when reality was a nightmare, so was memory.
The doctor's words came back to him in a moment of clarity, and he spun on his heel and walked back inside the institution. He found Dr. Giardino speaking to a nurse.
Not waiting for a chance to speak, he just talked, expecting her to hear him and listen. "Let's talk about my mother's treatment."
Mondays were not George Riley's favorite days, but then, when one day was much like the last. Today was different however, and he allowed himself to feel the giddy anticipation. He'd had a heart to heart with his wife, and he had a plan now for repairing his life.
He almost bounded through the corridors to his office as his mind played out what he was about to do. He was supposed to be turning over a new leaf. Today was the day. He was going to call Jack and tell him he needed to take some time off. If he could just take a couple of weeks to spend with his family, he could fix everything. That's all it would take. He was sure of it. A few weeks away from home, away from the officemaybe camping, or Disneylandor that Disney Cruise thing he'd seen on TV. That way the kids would have some distraction while he
He cut off the thought at the unexpected sight of Jack Turner sitting at his desk."Jack?" For some reason he felt his stomach plummet. He hadn't seen that look on his friend's face in a long time. There had been something close to it at Dan Barrington's funeral, but this was different. This was more. Jack's eyes focused on his friend with effort, and Riley got the feeling Jack was tearing himself from some memory.
"Riley, I need a lawyer."
Riley's heart skipped a beat. "You are a lawyer."
Jack nodded and smiled almost ruefully. "Yes, but I can't represent myself in this case."
Slowly, deliberately, Riley put down his briefcase and took off his coat tossing it across the top of the file cabinet and almost toppling the unfiled paperwork he'd left there. "What case?"
"I need you to help me sue for my mother's power of attorney. I have to be the one to make decisions regarding her medical care."
Riley let out a breath. He wanted to say you're kidding' but he knew that wasn't the case. Jack was serious. That's what that look had meant. It was the look Jack wore when he went up against his father, only this time, it had taken on a whole new meaning. Usually, Jack knew he wouldn't win. This time, Riley could see, he had no intention of losing.
To Be Continued