Shattered 22

Laney's statement more than satisfied the requirements for Norman's alibi. She had spent half an hour answering questions, stating the facts as plainly as she could, and only briefly mentioning that he had not left her side until early morning, without giving details. She was not so concerned with sounding like a home-wrecker in the eyes of the police- more that it would cause them to further reflect on the quality of Norman's character.

"When I failed to answer my phone, Sandra Chandler, my publicist, sent the police and a security guard around." She volunteered the information without telling them she and Norman were in bed at the time. "They could vouch for his presence in Oakland, too. If that's necessary."

She was offered a cup of coffee while waiting for the transcriptionist to make a written copy of the recording. She'd need to sign it and then could be on her way. Still, she made more then one inquiry throughout that time, as to whether or not Norman had arrived back yet.

Suddenly, there was chaos.

The call came to headquarters that there had been an incident at the Bates house, with the address given in confirmation. Detectives and other personnel were required at the scene immediately- and a well meaning officer foolishly announced all this within hearing of Ms O'Donnell.

"Coroner's en route." someone assured.

Laney froze, and a detective grabbed her for fear she would collapse.

No, no! This can't be happening! Not Norman!

"Get Dr. Darrin in here!" the detective shouted to a passing uniform.

"No, I'm going with you!" she heard herself argue.

"Ms O'Donnell, that isn't possible-" the detective insisted. "It's a crime scene-"

"Then I'll go myself!"

She pulled free of the man's hold, grabbed up her purse and dashed for the door before anyone could stop her. She recited the address in her head, and followed as best she could with the police cars streaming to the same destination.

"God, let it be a mistake! Let them be wrong! Oh God, please- not Norman! Please!" She cried and prayed as she drove, barely managing to keep her car on the road. When she arrived on the street, she pulled into someone's driveway and ran across the lawns in the direction of all the activity. The neighbors were lining up, the police keeping them back- and a stretcher carrying a sealed body bag was being rolled to the coroner's truck.

"God no!" Laney screamed and pushed through the line of uniformed officers. "Norman!"

"Laney?"

A detective seized her before she could reach the stretcher, but it had been the voice that stopped her. Again, a bit shakily, it called.

"Laney?"

The detective tried to pull her away, but she managed to turn, to face the house. Her heart soared, to see Norman, surrounded by paramedics, sitting on the front steps. He pushed aside the helpful hands and tried to rise, but they held him back and continued to tend his injuries. Laney tore free from the well meaning arms that restrained her and ran to drop to her knees in the grass by the steps.

"Oh Norman! You're alright!"

He reached for her with one hand, and they locked fingers while the medical crew tried to work. He was scraped and bloodied, wrapped in nothing but blankets, and smiling broadly despite the pain.

"You came! I knew you'd come!"

She was laughing and crying at the same time, as the technicians tried to ease her back.

"Please, miss." they insisted as politely as possible. "He's been injured- we have to get him to the hospital."

"My God, Norman- what happened?"

The lovers would not be parted; they held fast to each other's hands while the paramedics worked. Soon they were both smiling through tears, and on the way to the hospital in the ambulance together.

Gradually, Laney learned the story.

The dead man was Jason Petrie, with a murderous and unrepentant history that made Norman's past look like child's play. It was Petrie that had killed Mrs. Harrison, as part of a vendetta against Norman and Connie Bates. He'd been waiting in the house for either of this next victims to return, and had attacked Norman in the shower. The irony of this was not lost on most of the investigators.

Norman had been surprised, but not over powered. He had suffered knife wounds and slashes to his arms and side in an effort to defend himself. Fighting for his life gave him the energy to lunge for the weapon, grab his assailant and send them both across the room and crashing into the mirror. Petrie was cut badly, including a deep wound across his neck. It severed an artery, but he would not give up. Meanwhile, a certain female reporter, talking to an officer just outside the front door, heard the noise and breaking glass. Within seconds the police had barged in, to find Norman crouched on hands and knees and a screaming Petrie struggling to find a weapon in the shards. Norman tried to push him away, the pair of them slick with blood and the shower still roaring its steam to mask the horror.

Norman was saved, wrapped in blankets and still able to walk. Petrie, rapidly bleeding out, was easily subdued. He was dead before the call could be sent to headquarters.

Laney sat beside Norman's bed in the emergency room, still holding his hand. The doctor's explained that his wounds were largely superficial, and not life threatening, thankfully. After a few stitches and a night of observation he would be ready to leave at last.

SIX MONTHS LATER

Laney had slept late. It was a luxury she had seldom been able to enjoy for years, and that she still felt wonderfully guilty about. It seemed long nights with Norman encouraged such indulgence. The sun was up, shining brightly through the bedroom windows, and almost sheepishly she slipped into her robe and made her way to the kitchen.

The smell of fresh coffee teased her senses, and a note on the counter by her waiting mug attracted her attention. It was a drawing of a big heart, with two stick figures inside, smiling and holding hands. 'Good morning!' was written across the bottom.

The day's mail lay scattered on the table, with one piece in particular propped up against the sugar bowl. Norman had left it there purposely for her to see. It was from his lawyer, announcing that his divorce was final, and containing certain stipulations forbidding future contact with his former wife and infant son. Laney felt a little sad that the child would never have a chance to know what a wonderful man his father was. However, she supported Norman 100% in his desire to keep that part of his life forever separate and forgotten.

Taking her coffee mug in both hands, Laney stepped to the open sliding door, where she could hear a dog barking. She could see the beach from there, and smiled at the sight of Norman and their dog Roxy chasing sticks- and each other- in the sand. She couldn't have written a happier ending to the story herself. She wandered out onto the deck, and was immediately spotted by her lover. He waved an arm overhead and shouted.

"Hello, sleepyhead!"

Within moments he was bounding up the steps, with Roxy running past and into the house without even a glance. Laney hardly had time to set her coffee down, before Norman swept her up in his arms.

"Good morning, you!" He greeted with an exuberant hug and kisses. She giggled and kissed him back, just like every morning. It still hadn't gotten old, and she hoped it never would. "Did you see my mail?"

"Really, Norman, I don't read your mail." she teased. "But today I couldn't help but noticeā€¦."

"Oh, I love you. And now I'm going to marry you, and prove it!"

"Are you? Without consulting me?"

Norman released her suddenly, dropped to one knee and held her hands in his.

"Laney O'Donnell, will you marry me?"

"Hmmmm. Let me think about it. YES!"

Soon he was embracing her again, standing snug behind her and looking out over the ocean, his head resting on hers.

"I love it here. And I want to stay here forever, with you."

"I think that could be arranged." She smiled as he kissed her hair. "But where ever we are together, it's home."

END