"How much can you really hear?"Janine Hines looked at a doctor while asking the question. She'd come straight from work in a black knee-length dress and heels. Her hair, usually in a mass of natural curls, was straightened and falling to the middle of her back. With such brown skin, her blue eyes were almost a shock to people and always drew their attention. Now her eyes were trained on the hospital bed in front of her. A guy she barely knew was in a hospital bed; in a coma. They'd only met a couple of weeks ago at work, never gone out, but their boss insisted everyone from the office take the time to stop by and take a flower or something. The hospital room wasn't big, but it was clean and the open window had a nice view of the city below. The man in bed still had scars. If Janine remembered correctly, he'd been drunk driving and wrapped his car around a tree trunk.
"Everything," the doctor responded. "Of course ... When they come out of the coma, they may not remember, but they hear you. And sometimes they remember. Usually someone will say a phrase that stuck with them while they were in the coma, and it will jog a small piece of memory." The doctor wouldn't give the co-worker any details. Definitely wouldn't tell her that he wasn't getting any better, but maintained that the man in bed, Maddox Ames, was comfortable.
"Okay ..." Janine took a seat in a nearby chair. She really had no interest in staying long but she felt bad for the guy, "since you watch Game of Thrones ... and you missed the last episode, I'll fill you in." She started to talk, giving him a run down of what happened. When she was finished, she picked up her purse, "good luck," she gently squeezed his hand and left.
Yea. You could really hear things while you were in a coma. Maddox didn't realize that along with hearing her, he could actually feel her if she touched him. It was gentle and seemed far away but she definitely touched him before she left. As soon as the feeling brushed across his subconscious, he dipped further into his coma.
Every day after she left, Maddox had a recurring dream. The bulk of the dream was always the same, but the end of it would be just a little different each time. He and his wife, Janine, were sitting on a back porch. Calming waves rushing the shore not far from the beach house they lived in. He had his hand resting on hers, that she squeezed gently when he touched her. He smiled softly, realizing the voice he'd heard speaking to him in that hospital room belonged to the woman sitting next to him on that porch.
Maddox had been in that bed going on 2 weeks at that point, 3 weeks total. All because of a stupid mistake.The car wreck resulted in the coma, a broken neck and legs. His family was going to kill him, he knew that due to the constant reminders they gave him when visiting. Until then, he'd be milking this coma. It was all he could do at that point anyway.
"I'm thinking I should probably learn how to swim ..." In the dream, Janine was sitting next to him on that porch. She was absently drawing a circle on Maddox's hand with her middle fingertip. "Every time I go a certain distance out to the water, I think I'm going to get knocked over and BOOM ... I'm dead ... Dead in paradise." She glanced at him, catching the side of his face.
"I dont know I believe thats how it would go down. For someone who is as amazing as you are, amazing never dies. I have a feeling that if you died, youd live on by haunting all of us mortals."
Janine inhaled deeply through her teeth and leaned back further in her chair, "I could see myself doing that. My ghost would be decked out in dress made of gold. I'd have big braids piled up high on my head and a gold sheen all over my body. Who wouldn't want to get haunted by that?" She smiled and closed her eyes, "wouldn't you want to? I'd even be extra bitchy to the women you date after my death."
He nodded, "haunt me all you want, get all that gold shit all over my body. I insist. Hell, i wouldnt be mad."
"You're so easy to please."
Inside Maddox's hospital room was his mother, Lynn. The family decided to pull the plug but didn't know when they'd do it. Lynn was a wreck. Doc convinced her that this was better for Maddox than continuing to be a non responsive vegetable for however much longer he had in that bed. "Oh honey ..." Lynn rubbed Maddox's forehead, "I don't know if I'm doing the right thing. You can't be happy like this ... but ..." She'd take care of him. It's not like they were strapped for cash. Lynn started to consider moving Maddox back home and having a room outfitted with the hospital grade equipment. She'd take care of him until he passed away on his own. "You should have gotten married like I told you to," she forced a laugh but it came out strained. After a long silence, Lynn leaned back in the recliner next to the hospital bed, and drifted to sleep.
| Days Later |
"Hey! I said put that down!" Janine walked towards Maddox, who had a butter knife in his hand and walking towards a warm pie. Janine was holding a spoon that had cake batter on it. "It's not ready yet and I told your mother she'd get first crack at it. You cutting a piece will make it look ... Less than stellar."
"Why would you lie to her? You know old people hold grudges. You fucked up.." he continued going for it.
"Don't ... You ..." She watched Maddox get ready to dip a knife into the pie, "I will ..." Then she slung cake batter at him, hitting him in the face, "warned you." She smiled, proud of herself.
"For real? Cake batter on my new fade? Thats really how you feel? You want a whoopin?" He began to remove his belt. At 6'4'', it looked like Maddox was stalking his 5'2'' wife. Janine often thought that Maddox's blonde hair glowed in the sun and his blue eyes sparkled like the ocean. God, was the man good looking. He knew it, and used it to his advantage.
"Don't you take that shit off! You watch too much Narcos," then snatched the pie and walked off.
"Yeah, and in a minute, you're about to be callin me narcos.." Walking behind her and pulling the belt completely out of the loops, Maddox watched her sit the pie down and then snatched her by her wrist, "you could take this standing or over my knee, you choose?"
Janine heaved a sigh and then motioned to the chair for Maddox to sit. When he did, she draped herself over his lap and laughed, "I can't stand you. Cake on your face and you're starting something."
"Yeah, fuck yeah. When you feel whats coming to you, just remember it was your doing." He lifted the long dress she was wearing above her butt and then pulled her panties to her mid thigh, "any last minute requests? "
"Be gentle ... Unless it's with your hand, then I want you to leave a print," she winked at him.
| 1 Week Later |
Jeremiah Tanner was Maddox's best friend growing up. He stood 6'1'' and more brawny than Maddox. With brown hair and brown eyes, Jeremiah was just as handsome but had a much easier smile than Maddox. They hadn't seen each other in a few years but still kept in general contact. He flew into the city on business but stopped by to see him. The nurse was on her way out as he was coming in, "how long will he be like this?"
"Hard to say," she answered. "He's comfortable," she assured him, "but he is paralyzed from the neck down."
"The neck down?!" Jeremiah looked at her in disbelief, then at Maddox, "how the fuck did you do this to yourself?"
"Can I borrow him for a minute?" Jeremiah was hanging on the inside of the doorframe to Maddox and Janine's beach house. He was smiling all slick at Janine and then looked around behind her. Jeremiah was in a simple pair of jeans, Lebron's on his feet, and a clean white t-shirt.