A Fight Worth Fighting

The Night Following Naoise's Death...

I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel as I continued driving through the busy streets. Even past midnight, cars and people flooded the roads.

"What the hell, what the hell, what the hell..." I muttered aloud to myself.

Parking at the curb, I stepped out of the car, and swung open the door roughly and entered the bar. It was pandemonium in there. Everyone was yelling and screaming, lost in their own drunkenness. I stood at the bar, and pounded a fist on the counter.

"Oh, hey, Rex." The barkeep said to me.

"Have you seen Lynn?"

"You lookin' for her?"

"Well, would I be asking if I weren't?" I retorted back.

"Jeez, take it easy." He replied as if he knew what I was going through. "No, I haven't seen her."

I cursed under my breath as I took a quick glance around, skimming each face.

"Somethin' wrong?"

"Never mind." I mumbled, and without waiting for another answer, I strode out absentmindedly.

Stepping out the door, I looked around. The road was in heavy traffic. Rather than getting in the car, I headed down the street toward the office.

Within a few minutes I had reached the building, and into the elevator. I paced about impatiently. I could feel worry burning through my blood. I pressed the button hard, then started to frantically tap on it.

"Come on!" I yelled at it. And as if responding to my angry plea, the elevator doors parted, and I stormed out without hesitation.

The moment I got off the elevator, a sound of crashing glass was heard. On an instinct, I hurried to your office. Bursting through the door, I found you. You were crying on the floor. Broken glass scattered along with you. I could even smell the liquor.

"Rex, what are you doing here?" You made out.

"Oh, my god, Lynn." Was all I could say as I stepped over the glass, and kneeled beside you, taking you in my arms.

"You said you would leave."

"Yeah, and you said you'd go home, and that you'd call me as soon as you walked into your door, Lynn." I replied. "God, I was worried. Your daughter called me."

"Cassie called you?"

"Yeah, she did. She said you hadn't come home yet. So I went over there to make sure everything was okay."

"Are they?"

"They're fine. Have you been here the whole time?"

You nodded weakly. I touched your face. "Come on, let's get you off this freezing floor before you catch cold."

"Rex, what does that matter? I don't care right now."

"Yeah, but I do."

"Rex, I need a drink."

"I think the last thing you need is another drink, Lynn."

I lifted you easily and placed you gently on the leather couch, then sat down next to your shaking figure. Taking off my coat, I wrapped it around you as you cowered into my embrace, your head on my chest.

"Why didn't you go home?" I asked, burying my face in your hair.

You let out a muffled sob, and stuttered, "I didn't want to return tomorrow and find that Naoise was really gone."

"I know, I know." I said slowly as I rocked you in my arms.

"God, Rex. I keep thinking about it so much." You continued. "It could've been me...It should've been me. I was the one who sent -"

"Shhhh...don't say that. Don't ever say that. It wasn't your fault. You didn't know. Nobody knew..."

"Rex..."

"It's alright. Everything's gonna be alright."



Within a few minutes, you were exhausted from crying. Lying down with your cheek in my lap, you fell fast asleep.

I stayed awake thinking, a hand on your hip, and the other arm slung over the arm rest, staring into empty space. I could tell your sleep was fitful. Your breathing was uneven, and once in awhile you would shift in your position, your eyebrows furrowed. It hurt to see you like this. In so much pain and such deep distress.

I glanced at my watch. It read 5:20. I wanted desperately to sleep next to you, but a part of me didn't want to. I just wanted to sit there with you in my arms, and watch the rain falling outside. The rhythmic tapping on the window was peaceful, and at the same time, it drove me crazy. God, I wish the rain could just wash away everything. Everything that ever happened, and maybe I could find a way to make you strong again. I let out a agonized sigh. I looked down at you. Even in your sleep, you appeared tormented by your dreams because I saw a tear slide down your cheek. I touched your face lightly, and wiped it away with my thumb.

I stared at the three-quarter empty glass of liquor on the window sill leftover from you. With my middle finger and thumb, I picked it up, and whisked the liquid, unsettling it. Then, in one gulp, I conveyed it to my mouth. I let my head fall back, and winced as the strong, bitter sting of semi-warm whiskey burned its way down to my empty stomach. I cleared my throat, and set the small glass curtly back on the sill.

I could've drifted off to sleep at that second, but I heard the elevator doors open. High heeled shoes made their way down the hall. I sat up abruptly, half alarmed that someone was here at this time. I looked to the door that began to open. A person stepped in, and stared at me in surprise.

"Randi, what are you doing here?" I spoke.

"I should be asking the same of you, Rex." She replied. "I couldn't sleep, so I figured I'd come here and get some paper work done." She looked at you, then said softly, "She alright?"

I just nodded, and answered slowly, "She will be."

"I thought she went home with you."

"No, she insisted that I left her alone. So I did, telling her to call me when she got home. It was almost one when her daughter phoned me saying she wasn't home yet."

"You checked on the kids?"

"Yeah. They were fine, so I came here to look for her. And sure enough, she was here."

"Why didn't she leave?" Randi asked as she stepped over the glass and sat down on the couch at your feet.

"Couldn't come back tomorrow knowing that Naoise's desk was permanently vacant."

She nodded. "Are you planning to just stay here the whole night?"

"What else is there to do?"

"Take her home."

"But she doesn't want to leave."

"Since when did you simply submit to her will?"

"Since I started sleeping with her." I replied grinning mischievously.

"Take her home, Rex. She really could use some rest. She and Joe have been working so hard on the case against the city police. Just take her home."

"I'm too lazy."

"Are you hinting that I should come along and help?"

"Would you?"

Randi smiled at me kindly. "Of course."

"Problem." I added, closing my eyes, thinking.

"What's that?" She replied as she stood up, and began heading to the door.

"I parked my car a few blocks --"

"We can take mine. It's down in the parking."

"Sounds fine." And with that, I managed to ease you off my lap. I stood, rubbed the back of my neck, and picked you up, walking out the office. Randi closed the door behind us, and she followed me to the elevator.

Down at the parking lot, Randi opened the back door, and I gently placed you across the seat, and rewrapped you in my coat. You didn't wake up. After slamming the door softly, I got into the front seat, and strapped on the safety belt, and Randi started the car.

"So, where we going?" She asked, "Lynn's house?"

"Actually, my place is closer. Let's just go there. I don't want to wake up the kids."

"Good idea."

Within fifteen minutes or so, Randi pulled up to the garage. At the same time, we both got out of the car, and once again I took you in my arms. And all together, we walked up to the door.

"Randi, my keys are in my pocket. Can you get them out?"

"Do I have a choice?" She replied as she reached into my pant pocket, and fished out the keychain. "Which one is it?"

"The silver one."

"They're ALL silver, Rex."

"Okay, the triangle-square looking one."

Picking out the correct key, she opened the door, and walked in. I followed close behind, and she shut the door again. "Where to?"

"The bedroom upstairs." I replied as I began ascending the staircase.

When we reached the bedroom, Randi opened the door, and I stepped in with you. Walking up to the bed, I set you down carefully, and pulled the bed sheets over you. I turned to Randi.

"Can you do me another favor?" I asked.

"What?"

I crossed the room to my closet, and opened up the doors. "Can you just get Lynn out of her clothes and put something else on her?" I pulled one of my work shirts off the hanger.

"And why, may I ask, can't you do it?" She replied.

"I don't know. It's awkward." I said.

"Rex, you have done so many other things to her, why should this, of all things be awkward."

"I've done many things WITH her. WITH her." I corrected with an immature smile on. "It wasn't just me."

Randi shook her head, laughing to herself.

"Come on, Randi. Just help me out with this last thing."

"Fine. I'll do it."

"Thank you." I began to leave, then, "And can I get you something? You want coffee?"

"Sure."

"How do you take it?"

"One sugar's enough. Thanks."

I nodded, and left, closing the door behind me.

Within a little while, Randi and I were seated at the kitchen table, sipping hot coffee, while you continued to sleep upstairs.

"What do you think is going to happen with this whole case?"

"With the ambulance and police department thing?" I replied.

She nodded silently.

"I wish they didn't go through with it."

"I don't think this lawsuit is going to change anything. People in that neighborhood are going to be just as afraid as they ever were."

"I just want to know why she's really doing this."

"She wants to reassure herself, Rex. She wants to know that even though Naiose is gone, she still has herself intact."

"You think so?"

"It's the only thing she feels she has."

"Randi, I don't know what to do." I said hopelessly. "I don't feel like I should talk her out of it."

"You shouldn't."

"But I feel like I should really be doing something."

"There's nothing you CAN do. Just let her go through with it. That's what I'm doing, because with time, she and Joe will both realize it's not worth it."

"I don't know...I don't know what she wants me to do."

"She just wants you to be there. To be strong for her. That's all."

I set my elbows roughly on the table, and buried my face in my hands. I could feel tears welling up at my eyes. I brushed them away, and quickly glanced at the clock on the wall. It was almost 6:30. I hadn't slept at all. Randi took my hand, and gave it a comforting squeeze. She smiled at me, telling me to hang on. I nodded slightly in reply.

"I should go over to her house and check on the kids, and pick up some clothes for today." She said, getting ready to stand up.

"No, I'll go. You need some rest."

"And you don't?"

"I'll be okay."

"No, Rex, you should stay here in case she needs you. Besides, what do you know about women's clothing?"

"It's always two sizes too small." I piped up.

"My point exactly." Randi replied as she headed to the door, pulling on her coat. She took out her car keys. "I'll be back in half an hour or so." And before I could say anything more, she left.

I sat still in the kitchen. I was exhausted, but I didn't feel like sleeping. It wasn't exactly the sleepy kind of tiredness. It was the emotional kind. I took a gulp of my coffee. It was cold, but I finished it quickly anyway. I stood from the table and strode over to the sink. I dumped the last grainy drop, and washed it out, and set it on the counter.

"Rex..." I heard your voice say.

"Yeah, I'm coming." I called back. Walking to the hallway, I went up the stairs by two. I opened the door, and entered to find you in a daze, throwing the blanket aside.

I reached you in another stride, and helped you sit up.

"Rex, where are we?" You said. "Everything seems familiar. This room, the bed, even the bed sheets." You looked around, squinting from sleepiness.

"This bed SHOULD feel familiar." I replied mischievously as I sat down, kissing you on the forehead. You smiled weakly at me.

"What time is it?"

"6:50ish. Randi was here. She went to your house to check on the kids, and pick up some clothes for you."

"God, what kind of excuse of a mother am I?"

"It's alright. I saw Cassie last night, and she understood everything. I offered to stay, but she asked me to look for you."

"Okay." You looked at the clock on the nightstand. "It's almost time to go to the office. Joe and I have a hearing today at nine." You stood up.

"Lynn?"

"Yeah?"

"Why are you doing this?"

"Doing what?"

"Suing the entire city for Naoise's death."

"We're not suing the entire city."

"Close enough."

You fell silent, and looked away.

"Winning this case won't change what has happened, Lynn." I said. "And I don't think Naoise would've wanted you and Joe to do this."

"You don't know that."

"This fight isn't worth fighting."

"I don't believe that."

"But no matter what you do, it won't bring her back. She's gone, Lynn."

You turned and stared at me, tears sliding down your cheek. "Then what am I supposed to do, Rex? What do I do?"

"Nothing. Just let it be."

"I can't do that."

I got up, and made my way to you. "Of course, you can." I took you in my arms, and held you close to me as you cried. "Shhhh...it's alright."

"Rex, hold me..." You sobbed into my chest. "Hold me...and don't ever let go..."

And I did. I did what you wanted. Within a few more minutes, I heard Randi's car pull up to the driveway. She came into the house. "Rex?"

"Yeah, up here." I replied.

Randi came up, and walked in softly, and found me holding you, whispering, "Everything's going to be alright...I promise..."