"Oh, God, no. No, no, no. Oh please, no."
The phone slipped from Martin Riggs's fingers and clattered against the coffee table. The room seemed to press around the man as he fell to his knees, tears streaming down his face. The sobs exploded from his chest, his cheek pressed against the rough carpet. He choked on air as the sobs racked his body, his blood pounding in his head and roaring in his ears. The world around him seemed to have stopped. He couldn't hear his dog, Sam, barking outside, wanting to be let in to comfort his master. The radio music became inaudible to him. All he could hear was the words over the phone.
"I'm sorry, Detective Riggs, but your wife was in a car accident…she didn't make it."
He was losing it. Riggs closed his eyes, the tears falling with renewed energy. All he could think was, I'm losing it. I'm losing it. His heart felt like it had been ripped out, smashed into bits, and thrown back into his chest, the jagged pieces cutting into him inwardly. He was shaking, shaking like a person in a seizure.
I'm losing it. I'm losing it.
Pain. Pain all throughout his body, through his mind. He gasped for air, his voice gurgling in his throat, only to let out another sob. He opened his eyes. Under the couch was a gold pen—the gold pen he had lost two months before. His wife had never really been a good housekeeper. He reached forward and grasped the pen in his hand, his fingers weak. His sobs quieted, and he heard a voice go off in his mind.
GET UP, NOW!
Riggs reluctantly stood to his feet, swaying with grief, the pen still gripped in his right hand. Using his left hand, he wiped away the tears and tried to take a few steadying breaths. His lungs screamed at him, wanting the air and yet rejecting it as it burned his throat. His eyes were red from the tears, creating a stark contrast against his vivid blue eyes. He ran a hand through his curly brown hair, his blood still pounding insistently in his skull. He picked up the phone from the floor and placed it back in its cradle, his hand shaking.
He left the motor home and hoisted himself up into his truck. It took him a minute to gather up the strength to put the keys in the ignition and start the truck. The rumbling of the engine bothered him and reminded him of how and why his wife had died. Riggs started to shake again. He shuddered and forced himself to put the car in drive. He drove off the beach and headed down the hallway, heading towards the hospital. His muscles worked instinctively, though he himself didn't want to do anything. The light of the hospital were unusually bright, almost blinding. People stared as Riggs walked by, no doubt noticing the wild, grief-stricken look in his eyes. His hair was wild, the brown curls framing his face like thorns. If someone looked close enough, they could see the remains of the tears.
Entering the morgue, Riggs shivered. The air was oddly stale, with only a slightly noticeable odor of death. The room was dark, chilling, and dank. A body lay on a gurney in the corner, a blanket draped over it. A woman approached Riggs, the hesitant fear in her brown eyes.
"Can I help you?" she asked quietly.
Swallowing, it took Riggs a moment to speak. When he did, his voice was hoarse. "My wife…died in a car accident. Her name is Victoria Lynn Riggs."
"You are here to identify the body?"
Riggs could only nod. He followed the woman to the body lying on the gurney in the corner, and his breathing gradually became labored as the woman pulled back the blanket. Wet, dirty-blonde, blood-stained hair framed a white face. The eyes stared up at Riggs, and he knew without a doubt—she was long gone from this world. Tears threatened to well up again, but he forced himself to calm down and finish what he had come to do. He reached for one of Vicky's hands and gently held it, the skin cold to his touch. With his other hand, he closed her eyelids over her lifeless eyes.
"This is my wife," he confirmed, his voice quavering slightly.
"Can you sign her out here?" the woman asked, handing him a clipboard and pointing to a signature line at the bottom.
Removing the gold pen from his pocket, Riggs signed his wife's name out and drove on home, plans for a funeral somewhat light in his mind. He killed the engine and stepped out of the car, heading on into his home. Sam joined him, the dog unusually quiet. Sam entered the house after Riggs and followed him to the refrigerator, where Riggs took out a bottle of Coors beer. He popped off the top and took a long swig from it, the dog glancing up at him with mournful, almost understanding eyes. Riggs reached down and scratched the dog behind the ears, the collie dog yielding to the touch.
In the hour to follow, Riggs emptied two other beer bottles. By that time, he was drenched in tears again, sobs coming from the bottom of his heart. Sam propped his head on Riggs's knee and whined as his owner continued to cry his soul out. Riggs tossed the glass bottles away from him, the picture of his wife in his lap. The bottles shattered against the kitchen counters, and Riggs stumbled to his feet, swaying dangerously. He tripped and flung himself on his bed, finding himself yet again gasping for air. Sam jumped onto the bed as well and settled himself beside Riggs, his voice a quiet whine of sympathy.
"Oh, Vicky, why?" Riggs stared through his blurry eyes at the picture beside the bed. "Why? Oh, God, why?"
Whispering her name over and over again, Riggs slowly slipped away into unconsciousness.