Author: ElyseSmith PM
Walton wakes up not knowing who he is or where he came from. He is kept in the hospital before befriending a lonely old man named Carter who later takes him in. Walton makes a new life in Petersen with a new job, new friends and a new love while trying to ignore the possible return of his old memories. When they do catch up with him, though, all hell breaks loose.Rated: Fiction T - English - Suspense/Romance - Chapters: 15 - Words: 19,675 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 12-29-12 - Published: 09-08-12 - id: 3056850
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The drive to the hospital was quiet, me in my own thoughts, Diana in hers. No one else had came. Robert loathed the man and Todd and Julia cared more about getting home on time. I looked over to my daughter, a strange, distant look was on her face, her eyebrows were scrunched together and her mouth was in a worried pout. I felt like I should say something, tell her everything was going to be alright and Walton was fine, but I couldn't. I was tired and worried and felt betrayed though I shouldn't have. Walton had no idea who he was or what was going to happen today, though there was no proof. I didn't need proof. Walton was my friend and had gotten me out of a bad place, if he was a criminal it made no difference, he was still a good man. I wondered if Diana felt the same way, if she knew he was a good man no matter what he'd done in the past.
"This doesn't change anything, you know that," I said.
"It changes everything, Dad," she sighed, turning to the window.
"I mean, he's still our friend. This doesn't change all he's done for us, you know." She didn't say anything. I wondered what was going through her head.
I'd never seen the hospital so busy in all my life. The small patch of parking lot was packed with an assortment of police cars, ambulances, firetrucks, the Johnson's car and many other small cars with people climbing in and out of and hurrying in and out of the hospital. We had to park on the other side of the street to avoid getting in the way of things. Inside the hospital was even worse, every nurse and doctor was running from room to room, answering calls and patching up patients and a million other chores. We walked around for awhile until we found Debra who lead us to Walton's room.
"How's Mr. Johnson?" I asked as we strode down the tiled halls.
"His family just said good bye," she said. We were outside Walton's door when she turned to us. "I wouldn't say anything to Walton. We had to tie him to the bed to keep him from attacking us when we didn't put him in the same room. We were going to, but we figured if Mr. Johnson died when Walton was in the room he'd explode. It's strange to see such a quiet, gentle man turn so violent. He wasn't himself, he was an animal and he wasn't afraid to hurt even me to get to his friend. I'm not sure how sane he is anymore. You know, going through a thing like that can really mess with a man's head. He's safe enough since he's secured, but be careful."
With that Debra opened the door and we walked in. Walton glanced over to us. His face was tired and distant, a glazed over look on his eyes. Walton's thigh was wrapped in gauz and blood was feeding into his arm.
"Walton," Diana said, carfully walking over to him.
"You don't have to be so scared, Diana. I won't hurt you. Just come over here. I want to talk to you guys."
Diana and I walked over to either side of his bed. She crouched so she was at eye level with him and I continued to stand. Debra soon left as she saw we were in no immediate danger.
"Can you tell Luke I'm sorry. In the middle of things, I didn't get the chance and I don't know if I'll get to see him again. Tell him I didn't mean to get his arm shot and I'm sorry for his dad. Tell Mrs. Johnson that I'm terribly sorry for her husband and thank her for the job and the meals and company. Tell them I'm sorry if I can't make it to the funeral and tell Luke's wife she did a great job with getting the ambulance there and I'm sorry for her loss also. If you get a chance, give Mr. Johnson some flowers or something, I'd feel even worse if I didn't attempt to say sorry or good bye. I'll tell Debra I'm sorry but can you tell the cops. I don't know why I acted like that. I don't know whether it was animal instinct or I've toppled over the edge of insanity. Tell -"
"Don't go talking like that. You'll see them all again. You can tell them all yourself," Diana choked. Tears were streaming down all out faces. I was taught that a man never cries but in a time like this I would've felt like less of a man if a few drops had not escaped my eyes.
Walton looked over to Diana, a look of slight disappointment and worry on his face.
"I promised you I'd stay forever but...I'm sorry. Diana, I truly am. If I had not killed men. If I was not guilty of such an ugly crime as taking away human life I would run away right now. I would escape with you two if I'd robbed a bank or stolen cars or taken away or ruined materials. But I have damaged something much more valuable than money or machinery. I deserve to go to jail as any other criminal and if I believe that in my heart of hearts than how can I convince a judge I'm innocent. How could I live knowing I'd taken away two lives and damaged countless others that were effected by those deaths. How could I know I'd done that and know I was being treated like an innocent man. I'm going to jail and there's no use doubting it."
We both tried to convince him of the hopeful but he shut us up. He wanted to say his good byes while he had time and so we listened. Soon Diana got a slip of paper and started to write down all the names and apologies that belonged to them so we wouldn't forget. Walton had so much he wanted to say and do before he left and so we stayed. We stayed beside him until the early hours of the morning and then late into the afternoon the next day. Even after all his requests were voiced and his sorry's were written down we stayed. We didn't want to miss a moment with our dear friend and savoured every opportunity to tell old jokes and share good stories of orchards and picnics and books. I told them both stories of my past like when I met Diana's mother and the day my children were born and my young days in old Petersen. Diana also told her childhood stories and tales of college and love and friends. Walton listened and laughed and told only a few about when he was very young in the big city but then skipped to his life here in Petersen. I supposed he didn't want us to know what he was like between those times. I didn't want to know, I wanted to see my friend as he was now, a laughing, story-telling, harvester from Petersen and I didn't want those images to be polluted by tales of Patrick Sumerlind and I don't think anyone else did either.
It wasn't until Vincent came in to change Walton's bandage that we left for a short while. Robert and Todd were long gone and left us a note that they'd see us again in a year or two. Without a car Diana's decision became final to stay in Petersen. i was extremely happy by this news since without her I'd have no one else in this big house. When we came back Walton was fast asleep so we watched TV until he awoke again. We then left off where we started.
That lasted about five weeks and every day his thigh got better the sadder the visits became. The last week of Walton's time at the hospital I had began to read his favorite books to him since he wasn't sure if they'd have books where he was going. In the middle of "The Hobbit" Walton interupted me and told us that the cops came by yesterday and had been informed of Walton's speedy recovery. He was going to go to a quick trial tomorrow and then off to "his new home", as Diana and I called it because we couldn't bare the thought of this kind, gentle soul going off to a place for criminals. I then offered to stab him in the opposite leg to prolong the hospital visit but Walton seemed to take it as a joke so I pretended it was, too. He then told us to listen to him very carefully and so we huddled over by his bed.
"Carter, I am truly grateful for you. If it weren't for your generousity and hospitality I don't know what would've happened to me. I certainly wouldn't have gotten a job at the orchard or read so many fascinating books. I wouldn't have met Diana and for that I owe you the world. I'm sorry I never repaid my debt to you. Well, I never really could've since I was living with you and worked on keeping my debt every time I slept in my bed. I hope you are happy and have plenty of company for the rest of your days. You were my best friend and I thank you for that."
"Walton, you have repaid your debt. You paid it a long time ago. I don't think you'll ever know how much you've done for me and I thank you for being my best friend," I said.
"Diana, I love you. If I will never love anyone else I'm fine wtih that, but you should find a nice man to be your husband. Carter said you were going to stay in Petersen. This would be a nice place for a home and a family. Whatever you do, don't wait up for me. I'm going to be gone a long time and though I would like for you to visit me as often as possible I don't want those visits to be your life. Just make sure your husband is a good, kind, honest man. I also want you to promise me you'll take good care of everyone you need to take care of. I will hold on to the memories you've given me and no matter what happens to me in the future I'll always have the past to comfort me. I love you, Diana."
They then kissed and embraced and I pretended to look at the posters as to not make the situation uncomfortable.
"Well, I'm curious what happens to Bilbo and I'm not going to leave without hearing the end of this story. We only have all night so let's get on with it," said Walton and so we settled in and read "The Hobbit" all night, a night that seemed to last only a few hours. I wished we could just escape. Well, we could. Walton didn't want to, though, and we weren't going to make Walton do something he didn't want to do. As I read I thought about the difference between Walton Aldridge and Patrick Sumerlind. They looked the same, had the same mannerisms, did the same doings and saw the same seeings. I thought about how much he'd changed. I thought about how different these two people were and how they were the same. I thought about how there are really no bad people. Afterall, no one is born bad or crazy. It exists in every person, evil, just like honesty and joy and anger and regret. In good people the evil is still there, it just coexists. In bad people, the good just coexists. I thought about how sad I was going to be to see my friend leave and how angry and hurt I'd feel once he was gone. I wondered why Walton wouldn't just run away. We could hide him, we'd all be in for it, it'd be plenty easy. I wondered why he couldn't accept that he wasn't the man he was before, that Walton Aldridge wasn't a criminal.
"Walton, just run away," I blurted in the middle of the paragraph I was reading. "I mean, you're not a criminal. You didn't really mean to kill those people. It just happened and it wasn't really your fault. You were a different person when you shot that man and no one can blame you. You shouldn't feel guilty for something you've paid for a thousand times. Let's just go right now. We'll move and change our names. We can hide you, it won't be hard. Walton Aldridge is not a criminal, no matter what you say, and it would be more of a crime to put him behind bars. Come on!" I begged.
"I agree with you Walton Aldridge is not a criminal," he said. "It's Patrick Sumerlind I'm putting behind bars."