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Fields of Innocence
I leaned against the counter in almost complete silence, nothing but the sound of the grandfather clock ticking in the living room filling the house. It was early summer, and my 12-year-old daughter has finally quit bugging me about getting out of school. Complete relief. She was out getting the newspaper from the near by grocery store. As I slowly sipped my coffee, I looked at the pile of newspapers from the past week…every day’s copy. All of their contents, not what I was looking for…waiting for… My mind was waiting for that “certain” issue that I have been waiting for, for 15 years now. Income was low, but I still snuck out one hundred dollars from our check to pay for the newspapers. My husband always asks why I collect them, but I will never tell him…or really anyone who finds my behavior suspicious. I never read the newspapers in front of anyone…only at night, where I can release my relief, and my fury…of course not out loud, in my mind, tossing and turning as I sleep wanting to answers at once. Each night as my eyes nervously scan them for the content I am frightened of seeing…but… at the same time, my blood boils in my veins to know it’s not there. Lori and Dave have sent me to many physiatrists, but I hide the answer to my problems…the key to the cell doors of life and eventually, death…maybe I tip toe slowly on the boundaries of telling. I never do though.
The air grew cold as I watched Lori walk up the long dirt driveway, clouds of orange dust arising at her ankles, leaving a slight residue of dirt on her sneakers. The paper clutched tightly in her hand…the rubber band the printers place around it, missing. As she disappeared out of my sight, I moved my eyes wearily to a photo on the mantle above the fireplace. It was a photo of my very first baby, whom died 15 years ago. Her name was Jessica… We almost lost her during pregnancy, and when she was finally born, 2 months premature, she was still not out of danger. Besides being born at a young age, she had an incurable disease…
We poured almost five hundred thousand dollars into Jessica’s treatment, but it never ever seemed that she was getting any better…her condition would increase a little, and then it would dramatically drop. Day after day, I watched her doctor, Dr. Jon Morrison force drug after drug into her weak body, with no effect, and a smirk across his face. My gut feeling tried to tell me something, but it was muffled, by grief, and full trust in Mr. Morrison. Jessica’s face was pale and heart wrenching, her body lying there without any movement... Pray. That’s all Dave and I could do.
Then…one cold snowy night, her condition skyrocketed, and I, for the first time ever, saw her twinkling blue eyes, and the future. Jessica’s tiny, fragile body fought the best fight it knew how and I could see the tunnel ending…but still, looks are deceiving…
Hundreds of thousands dollars, and rivers of swift flowing tears later…she lost the battle, and the tunnel, locked itself forever, me blindly navigating inside of it, to find an exit…. Jessica was only 6 months old. When they rolled her out of the room, her blanket over her body, my eyes, filled with tears, and regrets, stared into Dr. Morrison’s…It was like he had seen it many, many times before. A strait, emotionless, pit of lies. And I truly knew it at that moment.
After signing papers at the morgue, I over heard Dr. Morrison, on his phone with his wife, a smile on his face, our check…for half a million dollars…greedily clutched in his hand. “Baby, we’re rich!!” he exclaimed…those words will always echo in my dreams. Until. I wanted to be trapped in the eyes of someone elses, believing that this didn’t happen to me. But it did. A stranger deep in me had made its first appearance in my mind. He knew what he had to do that I couldn’t do.
I never filed a police report on Dr. Morrison. The stranger said not to.
As Lori opened the front door, I snapped back to reality, tears beginning to fill my eyes, a choking knot in my throat. I held back as best I could, and it worked. Lori did know the true story about Jessica, but Dave and I told her she died of premature causes. I nodded my head at Jessica’s picture, the one took on the night she first saw the world with open eyes, and a smile on her face.
“Mom, they went up fifty cents on the newspaper but Mr. King let me slip by with out it.” Lori said, handing me the poorly rolled paper. I snatched it from her, my heart fluttering, but my stomach, churning with fear. I lowered my head to look at it and, I looked back at her, her eyes wide. I could hear her heart beating faster and faster, like I knew something she did that she shouldn’t have.
“Lori…” I said my voice, a slightly harsh croak.
“Yes…. mother.” She answered, low and like a dog, with its tail between its legs.
“Did you open the paper?”
“No!” She quickly snapped, her eyes stained with lie.
“You shouldn’t lie, Lori, I won’t be mad at you.”
“Yes you will…”
I unfolded the paper; my eyes still glued on hers…a feeling seeped inside of me from the paper into my gash like wounds. Finally. I looked back down at the paper and the heading stated in big black letters, “Dr. Jon Morrison’s remains found in near by field.” That was it. What I was looking for. Knowing “someone” killed him…knew what pain he has given many families…if only I could meet that person again…but I know I would not. A fact.
Silence remained…except for the grandfather clock, keeping my heart on beat.
“Wasn’t he…Jessica’s doctor?” Lori spoke up, worry in her voice.
“Yes, he was her doctor.” I said thinking about words to slither out of my throat.
“Who do you think…you know…killed him? West Wood is a real small town.” She said.
“I know who killed him.” I answered.
She opened her mouth to speak, but I cut her off.
“I will tell you the story I head.” At this point, my voice was slow, and sly, with a secret…I gently placed the paper onto the kitchen table. “I met him once, and he told me what happened.” I said.
Swallowing hard I began.
“Fifteen years ago, there was a man named Ronald Kendall. Him and Mr. Morrison had some business left between them so…He drove to the hospital, and waited in the pouring rain for Mr. Morrison to leave work…. When he did. Ronald got out of the car and followed him to his, a baseball bat in his hand. If I can remember correctly, he said something to Mr. Morrison, and slugged him in the face when he turned. Mr. Morrison, hit the ground, but he didn’t give up. His own blood blinding him, he tried to get up… Kendall repeated kicked Morrison until he was sure he couldn’t fight back. Then…he loaded the unconscious doctor into the back of his own Porsche that he paid for with others tears, and he drove… He drove it to the far hills at the edge of the town. Ronald Kendall wasn’t a big guy, but he managed to tote Morrison over the large foothills and endless forests with nothing but his a shovel in his hand, and his senses to guide him. He knew where he was heading…He’d been there many times before, trying to relieve the grief the doctor had shoved him into, with no choice. When they reached an abandoned field, Ronald dug a hole, and by this time, the doctor was awake, but clueless. “Please…Please…” he begged to Ronald, praying he’d spare his life. The rain seemed to slow…But that is only what I remember hearing him say. Morrison knew Kendall, and he knew that Kendall knew his secret. In what he knew was his last words, as Kendall raised the shovel, Morrison said, “I’m sorry for your child…””
As I ended my story, Lori was in tears. Silence creped again, and even the grandfather clock seemed to stop its ticking…“Who…wh…who did you hear that from again???”
Saying nothing, I raised my eyes at her, a smirk on my face.