As a kid, I always wanted to be a superhero. Now, at 23, I guess I sort of am… if you're one of those people that drown your problems in alcohol. Yeah, I'm a bartender. I don't get a super cool uniform, or any amazing powers, except for remembering how to make countless drinks with strange names. My name is Joseph Jetter--Jett to most, but Joey to my mother, she was the only person that I ever allowed to call me that. Now that she was gone, I was just plain Jett.
On nights that I don't work, I go on a run at about 9:30. Downtown St. Louis isn't the best running spot, but I make do with what I've got. My favorite part of running is passing Busch Stadium and listening to roar of the night game crowd. It was a baseball city through and through, and I knew I could never be happy anywhere else.
One warm, sticky night in mid-June I was taking a jog. An old, pitiful-looking panhandler stopped me.
"You look like you got a buck or two to spare, kid," he said in a voice raspy from too many cigarettes.
I smiled, brushing my sweat-dampened brown hair out of my eyes. He was right; I had plenty of money to go around. My parents had died in a car accident last fall and left me a handsome inheritance. They'd been wealthy, generous people. I donated often, because I knew that was the way they would've wanted it.
"Sure man, just give me a second," I said, rummaging through my pockets. I found a 10 dollar bill and handed it to him. "Have a good day."
"Thanks, kid," he said. "Hey, I don't know exactly what to do about this, but there's a girl back in that ally, I think she's pretty messed up. I've been waitin' for someone who looks halfway decent to come along to check 'er out. You wanna give it a look?"
The last thing I wanted to deal with was some drugged-up hooker. "I'm no doctor."
"Well, you can at least go back and take a look. You can call an ambulance or somethin' for her."
I sighed. "Yeah, all right." I followed the guy into an ally and he nodded towards the girly lying on the ground. In the light given off by the streetlamp I could tell that she was not what I'd expected. She was small, clad only in a tank top that read Abercrombie across the front and a pair of thong panties. She had delicate features and long, chestnut hair. Her face had been untouched, except for a tiny cut above her eyebrow, but the rest of her was a different story. There was a small rip in her shirt and she was covered in bruises.
"She's unconscious, dude! Why didn't you get someone sooner?" I cried. "How long has she been back here?"
"Only about thirty minutes. She wasn't bleedin' bad or nothing, so I figured she was okay to wait. I just didn't want no weird motherfucker to get a hold of her."
"Too late for that," I muttered, kneeling beside her to check her pulse. It was steady and strong. "She's all right, I think." I tossed him my cell phone. "Call 911 while I get her up off the ground."
I lifted her limp body gently, surprised by how light she was. When I studied her more carefully I could see that she was skin and bones. It made me wonder what the girl had been through, and if this was the first time she'd been left for dead in an ally.
I sat on the ground, holding her carefully, as if she might break. I felt an odd connection to her; maybe it was just because it was so apparent that she lived a really shitty life. The paramedics arrived fairly quickly, and didn't waste a lot of time loading her into the ambulance, since there wasn't much they could do for her outside of a hospital. I got in with her and one of the medics gave me a stern look.
"Her husband," I said easily. I was a hell of a good liar, something I prided myself on.
"You do this to her?"
I shook my head. "God no! She went out on a run about an hour ago, and when she didn't come home I got worried. This is where she always runs, so I came out to look for her. I found her in that ally…" I clenched my fists for dramatic effect. "When I find the sonofabitch that did this to her… I'll…" I let my voice trail off.
"All right," he drawled. "You can ride along. Just stay outta the way, huh?"
I was silent unless spoken to, trying to look like a concerned husband instead of some stranger who was clueless as to why he was riding with a girl he'd never met in an ambulance. It would've been a lot easier just to let them take her away.
"What's her name, sir?"
"Your wife. What's her name?"
"Oh. Gertrude Jetter."
Both of the paramedics gave me a strange look. I almost smiled. Gertrude had been my grandmother's name, and it'd been the first thing that'd popped into my head.
"Hey, don't look at me like that!" I snapped. "It's not like she picked her name! We call her Trudy. I think it's cute."
"Who asked you, anyway?" I muttered, patting "Trudy's" shoulder.
I sat in the friggin' waiting room for what seemed like an eternity. I'd read three old issues of Sport's Illustrated and drank four Mountain Dews. Now I needed to pee, but I had a problem with public bathrooms, I know that's a girly thing, but I couldn't help it.
I waited around for about thirty more minutes, then I started to get irritated. I snagged a nurse as she bustled past.
"Excuse me, ma'am, but is someone going to come out and talk to me about my wife?"
"I'm really not sure. I'll see what I can find out. What's her name?"
"Jetter. Gertrude Jetter."
"Gertrude… All righty. Well, if I run into one of her doctors, I'll send him out to you."
"Thanks," I said, sitting back down.
Fifteen minutes later, I was still sitting around twiddling my thumbs. I know that long waits are to be expected in hospitals, but I'm not a real patient guy. I approached the receptionist.
"Pardon me, Miss… I looked at her nameplate. "Miss North, but I need information on my wife."
"What do you want me to do about it?" she asked in a bored tone.
"Well, I'd like for you to find someone for me to talk to."
"Look, kid, you'll just have to wait your turn like everyone else."
"Do you see anyone else up here complaining? A doctor will come and speak to you when he has time. Until then, you'll just have to wait."
I sighed dramatically. "Can you help me out, pretty please?" I gave her my most charming smile. I could melt polar icecaps with my most charming smile. She looked unfazed.
"You think you're real cute, don'tcha?"
"Well… I might think I'm mildly adorable."
"Well, I'll have to disagree. Sit down."
I stalked back to my seat, dejected. I vowed never, ever to get injured in this city. Hospitals sucked.
I was starting to drift off when a voice asked, "Mr. Jetter?"
I opened my eyes slowly. "Uh-huh."
"I'm Dr. Jason Reynolds."
"Pleasure. Is my wife all right?"
"Well, she was drugged, but we expect her to wake up before too long. When she does, we'll ask her to consent to a rape kit, although it's merely for evidentiary purposes. It's fairly obvious she's been raped, with the location of most of the bruising and such."
"So she's going to be okay?" I asked.
He nodded. "I'm sure her emotional injuries will far surpass her physical ones."
I frowned. Poor little thing would probably be scarred for life. "Will someone let me know when she wakes up? I guess I'll just crash here so that I can be here for her."
"I'll send a nurse out to get you."
"Thank you," I said, forcing a polite smile.
I just sat there for a while, staring at the dirty ceiling. What could possess someone to hurt such an exquisite creature? Even battered she had been a knock-out. I ran my hand over my face and then went outside to call my best friend, Zach Wissman.
"Hey buddy," he answered.
"Can you take Cooper to your place?" I asked. "I won't be home tonight."
Cooper was my one-year-old German Shepherd, and he when he was left alone all night, he had a tendency to eat furniture… lots of furniture. It was an expensive nervous habit. Aside from that little problem, he was perfectly trained and smart as hell.
"Ooh. Find a lady friend?"
"Found a wife."
"What!? Joseph Jetter, antichrist of commitment?"
"Wasn't being serious, man. I found a girl in an ally, and I'm at the hospital with her."
"I… I have no idea. Just take Coop, will ya?"
"Sure, dude. No problem. You workin' tomorrow night?"
"As long as everything goes all right here. I'll let ya know more later on. Thanks for watching the dog."
"You bet. See ya around."
I went back inside and tried to get comfortable in my chair. I wasn't successful. Luckily, I'd slept in worse places, so it didn't take me too long to pass out. It seemed like I'd only been asleep for a minute when I was nudged awake by a nurse.
"Mr. Jetter, your wife is awake."
I rubbed my eyes and got out of the chair. I stretched and my back screamed in pain. I strung together a creative string of curses and followed the nurse to "my wife's" room.
She was propped up on a few pillows, looking confused and frightened. She was so damn pretty, even in the unflattering florescent lights. She had the bluest eyes that I had ever seen. Her gaze met mine and she tensed.
"Hi honey," I said gently. "How are you feeling?"
She said nothing, just stared.
She drew her eyebrows together, puzzled.
"It may take a while for her mind to clear," the nurse whispered to me. "I'll give you two some time alone." She slipped out of the room and I came closer to the woman's bed.
"I'm not Trudy," she said, her voice so soft that it was barely audible. "I think you have me confused with someone else."
"I know you're not. I also know that you haven't the slightest idea who I am. That's okay, 'cause I dunno who you are either. Let's start with introductions. I'm Joseph Jetter, Jett. You are?"
"Doesn't really matter," she said.
I guess I couldn't really blame her for not trusting me. She'd just been attacked, after all, and for all she knew, I could've done it.
"Okay, well, lemme tell you what happened. Would you like that?"
She nodded slightly.
"Well, some guy found you in an ally, and he had me come back to take a look. You'd been drugged, so you were unconscious, so we called an ambulance. I rode with you, claiming to be your husband, so I could make sure you were all right."
"Why would you come with me? You don't even know me."
"To be honest, sweetheart, I don't know… I just wanted a chance to talk to you."
She looked suspicious. "Not to seem blunt, but that's a little strange."
"I agree with you there. I'm kinda impulsive, is all. I don't really think before I act. I kinda just hopped into the ambulance… and here I am. So you can either talk to me, or I can leave."
She said nothing.
"Do you know who did this to you?"
"Are you going to press charges?"
"Who was it?"
Her eyes brimmed with tears. With a deep breath, she opened her mouth to speak.
New Story. Way different than my usual stuff, so lemme know what you think, and if you think I should continue! I think it's starting out pretty okay, but what do I know, I'm the writer!
Please, please, please review, because I'm really interested to know if something different will work for me!