"Please Jackie. I promise it’s not what it looks like. You've trusted me this far." He looked at her with pleading eyes. Jackie walked slowly back over to the couch, sitting on the far end where she could jump up and run if she had to.
"Okay, I'm going to start from the beginning." He said, waiting for her to look at him. "I told you I was military, that’s true. I'm Navy; I am a member of an elite team called the SWCC. I have been in the service since I was eighteen. I don't have any family. Let me rephrase that, I don't have any family I want any part of, so I just kept re-enlisting. I was ranked one of the best, and there aren't that many of us so that’s saying something. I just got back state side a week ago?"
"Are you asking me or telling me?" Jackie said a little confused.
"Well, I think it was a week ago. I'm not sure how long I was held. What’s the date?"
"Its the eighth of October." She answered.
"I landed in Denver on September twenty-third. Damn, I was in that shit hole longer than I thought.” Remington whispered, his eyes drifting away from Jackie and staring off in to space.
"Sixteen days." She said
Remington brought his head back up and re-focused his attention on Jackie and telling her the crazy story he hoped like hell she believed. "Yeah. Sixteen days." He said. "Anyway, my flight got in around five P.M. I caught a taxi and that’s the last thing I remember. I never made it to my apartment. Whoever grabbed me, they did it in the taxi. Probably gassed me like they did when I woke up from the operation." He said remembering back.
"Operation? The stitches?" Jackie asked.
"Yeah, I'm getting ahead of myself. After the taxi, I woke up in this room. This disgusting room that smelled of every foul thing you could imagine. It was dark. I couldn't see anything. My head was pounding and when I reached up to touch it I realized why." Remington pointed to the stitches on his head. "So I started yelling; after a couple minutes a monitor that was on the wall came on and a man started talking to me. He said "We only use the best, that’s why you’re here" and "We tried to make you better, make you able to do things people only dream about." Then he said something about how disappointed he was, because I had failed. The procedure didn't work on me and they thought I was dead. He said I flat lined on the operating table, and that he was getting ready to call for a "clean up" when he heard me yelling. I assumed that meant get rid of me."
"I need a drink." Jackie said getting up. "You want one?"
"Do you believe me?" He asked feeling nervous.
"I haven’t decided yet, but I’m going to need a drink to get through the rest of it, excuse me." Jackie went to the kitchen and pulled the bottle of wine out of the fridge, grabbed a glass and went back to her seat on the couch. "Okay, continue." She said pouring her glass so full it almost spilled over the rim.
"Okay." Remington said; he wasn't sure how to react to Jackie’s response, so he just kept going. "I told him to let me out, and he said something about them not being animals and the next thing I knew I was on the floor trying to breathe. I woke up in another room. I didn't see any cameras or monitors in this one. There was just a bed, and a bathroom. It had two doors; a wooden one that opened up to a door with bars, like on a jail cell. Some guy came by and gave me a sandwich and told me I was here because they wanted to try again with me." Remington stopped talking and just looked at Jackie, trying to put himself in her shoes. What would he think if someone was telling him this nutty story? He wished he could get inside her head. He watched her down half her glass. "Are you okay?" He asked her.
"Oh! Yeah! I'm great!" She said and took another gulp. "I have a strange, severely injured man in my home and he’s wanted by the police! Now I'm listening to a crazy kidnapping story and really just trying to take it all in you know? Sorry if it's a little hard for me to trust everything you say after only knowing you less than twelve hours!" Jackie was standing now; she looked like she wanted to run, but didn't know which way to go.
"And I appreciate everything you've done for me. I'm telling you the truth Jackie." Remington put his injured leg down on the floor and stood up. "Thanks for patching me up and feeding me. I don't know what I would have done if you didn't find me. I've caused you enough trouble; I'll get out of your way. Remington limped toward the front door.
Jackie watched Remington walk out the door.
Where’s he going to go?
It’s the middle of the freaking night!
"Wait!" She shouted. She went to the front door and opened it, turning on the porch light. Remington was standing on the porch about to descend the stairs. "Wait, I'm sorry. I'm just a little overwhelmed with all that’s been going on around here and now this. Come back in, it’s the middle of the night, where are you gonna go? Come back in and finish your story.” Jackie didn't know why she wasn't just letting him go, why take a chance that this total stranger is telling her the truth? He could just be lying so she'll hide him and when he gets his strength back god knows what he'd do to her. What if the cops find him here and he uses her as a hostage?
What an imagination you have!
She thought to herself.
Get a grip, if he wanted to hurt you he had ample opportunity numerous times, you left the gun in the bedroom hours ago.
"It’s okay, really. You've done enough for me. I've been on my own a long time, I'll manage." He smiled at her.
"Please, I feel like an asshole. Just come back in and tell me the rest of the story. I promise to listen without freaking out. Besides, how are you going to get down the stairs, let alone walk miles to town?" She said giving him a crooked smile.
"Are you sure? I really don't want to put you out anymore than I already have. I understand this is a lot to take in, and I could never think you’re an asshole." Remington winked at her.
"I'm sure, c’mon, it’s chilly out here." Jackie held the door open for Remington, she grabbed his arm and helped him back in the house and got him reseated on the couch. "Let me grab that snack." Jackie made a plate of sliced apples and cheese. She grabbed another wine glass for Remington and went back to the couch, this time not sitting so far away. She set the plate on the cushion between them and poured him a glass of wine.
"Okay, I’m all ears." She said, giving him a serious look.
"Well, after he said they wanted to try again with me, he said Mr. Smith would be back tomorrow to discuss it with me, I'm assuming that was the man over the monitor, he seemed to be the one in charge."
"What was the operation for, and how did you finally escape?" She asked.
Remington started to get nervous, if she wasn't sure she believed his story before, she was going to have a really hard timing believing what he was going to tell her next. "This is going to be really hard to believe, but the operation didn't fail, and I figured this out when I went over to the cell door. I was freaking out a bit and I leaned my head against the door and wrapped my hands around the bars, I just pulled on them out of frustration." Remington was looking at Jackie, trying to figure out how to say what came next, there was no way to sugar coat it, so he just said it. "And they moved."
Jackie stopped chewing the piece of cheese she had in her mouth and swallowed. Tilting her head she stared at him. "Moved? The bars moved?"
"Yes." he said quietly. "I was able to pull them apart enough to squeeze through them. I put pillows in the bed to make it look like I was sleeping. Then I went through the bars and pushed them back together. I made my way to an exit and there was a guard at the door."
"You bent metal bars, with your hands?" She asked not buying it. "I'm sorry, but that’s impossible. They must have been a light aluminum or something."
"They were metal, these were cell doors with real metal bars." He looked at her as if trying to will her to believe him. "The next thing I'm going to tell you may frighten you, please don't let it. I had to do it."
Jackie picked up her wine glass and took a drink. "Just say it."
"On the news it said I was wanted for murder, that’s not entirely true. I did kill someone, but that’s not why they're looking for me. I had to take out the guard that was blocking my escape. We fought, it was him or me, and so I made sure it was him." Remington dropped his eyes and starting picking imaginary lint off the couch cushion. He was waiting for Jackie to freak out again, waiting for her to call him a liar and ask him to leave, and this time let him go. When she didn't say anything he looked up at her, her eyes were wide but she was sitting calmly, watching him, waiting for him to finish. "So after that I found myself in a tunnel of a cave and when I reached the opening to the outside there was a sheer cliff with a river below. I tried to climb up the face of the cliff but lost my footing and fell into the river. That’s how I got so banged up. When I finally made it out of the water I moved as fast and as far as I could. I stopped to rest on this big fallen tree and that’s when I must have passed out. I don't remember anything else until you found me in your shed."
Jackie stared silently at him for what seemed like forever. "Show me." She said resolute.
"Show you?" Remington asked confused.
"Yea, show me how you can bend metal. That’s one hell of a story. That’s one hell of an unbelievable story. If you want me to believe it, show me."
Remington was between a rock and a hard place. Telling her was one thing, showing her was another. What if it freaked her out even more and she called the cops on him? It could lead those crazy fuckers right to him. She would be able to tell them she actually saw him do something no one else could do and that could put her in danger. These weren’t the kind of people that would just let her go and hope she doesn't tell anyone else. This could put her life at stake. If he didn't show her, she would think he made up the whole thing, that he was a nutcase and he would lose what little bit of trust he may have had with her. He made his choice.
"I need you to make me a promise first,” he said to her. "I need you to promise me, if I show you, you wont freak out and call the cops. I know it’s going to be a shock for you, but I need your word."
Jackie looked at him with a smirk. "Okay, I promise. You have my word." She held out her hand.
Remington swallowed hard and shook Jackie’s hand.
That seemed too easy.
Maybe the wine is kicking in.
"Okay." He said. "Lock me outside."
"What, why?" She looked at him puzzled.
Remington laughed. "So I can show you I can get back in. The knob is metal."
"Ohh!" Jackie said feeling a bit foolish. "Okay."
Jackie got up and walked to the front door. Remington followed, though a bit slower. He went outside and closed the door. "Lock the knob!" He shouted through the closed door. She did as he said. "Okay, do your stuff!" Jackie said in an exaggerated tone. Remington knew she didn't believe him.
Remington tried the doorknob to make sure it was locked. Then he tightened his hand around the knob; he could feel his hand start to get warm. His heart was pounding and the adrenaline he began to expect was racing through his body. With not much effort Remington twisted the knob, pulling it right off of the door.
Jackie heard the groan of metal bending, and the next thing she knew there was a hole where her doorknob used to be. She bent down and peered through it. "Are you fucking kidding me?" She said in disbelief. Jackie straightened up and opened the door. Remington was just standing there looking at the knob in his hand. Then he looked up at her with his eyebrows raised like a kid knowing he was about to get reprimanded. "I'm sorry?"
"Your nose is bleeding!" Jackie said her voice full of concern. "C’mon back in, let’s get you cleaned up." She grabbed his hand and led him back into the house. She pushed the door to, but without the knob it didn't want to stay shut, so she locked the deadbolt.
"I'll fix it for you tomorrow." Remington said while Jackie led him to the kitchen sink. She wetted a paper towel and wiped at the blood pouring from his nose.
It filled up quickly so she handed him another. "Hold it here and keep your head back." She said. She dampened a third towel and wiped away the blood that had run down his neck. "That was pretty unreal." She said, her breath heavy. "Does this happen every time? The nose bleeds?"
"So far. This is only the third time I've done it. It gives me a hell of a headache as well."
Jackie took the paper towel out of Remington’s hand and tossed it in the trash. She grabbed another one and dampened it. "It seems to be slowing down now. How do you feel?"
Remington could hear the sincere concern in her voice. It felt good; it put him at ease. "I'm okay. Like I said, it gives me a headache, and I'm a little light headed, but it will pass.”
Jackie wiped the rest of the blood from Remington’s nose and upper lip. "Lets get you back to the couch."
After they sat back down Jackie opened the first aid kit and grabbed the bottles of amoxicillin and the painkillers. She gave him two of each and handed him his glass of wine to wash them down with.
"That’s the only glass you get; mixing prescription meds and alcohol is not a great idea."
"I understand doc." He said smiling that sexy smile of his. "So now you believe me?"
Jackie pushed the tray of food closer to Remington. "Here, eat something." She watched him pop an apple slice into his mouth and then a couple cubes of cheese. "I guess I kinda have to. Yours is the only story I know and that display a few minutes ago was, well, I'm not sure what that was; pretty incredible I guess.
Remington looked at her quizzically. "You said earlier that you thought I looked familiar. Have you seen my picture before? Was it on the new earlier?" He asked.
"No, I didn't see it on the six o'clock news; if I had you probably would have been woken up with a gun against your chest." She said in a serious tone. "I'm not sure about the eleven o'clock news; I had fallen asleep on the couch by then. But if we're seeing it now, it probably was and you can bet it will be on again in the morning. I saw your picture yesterday in town. There were men, they were dressed all in black, passing it around to people and asking questions. I didn't put two and two together earlier when I found you, you don't look much like the picture right now. They were telling people they were army and that you were a deserter. They came into the diner where I was having lunch."
"Shit." Remington whispered. "I guess I can't go into town. I have a buddy I will call tomorrow. Maybe he can help me figure out what to do."
Jackie was surprised that she actually felt a little sad that he was leaving in the morning. She did tell him he could only stay one night, but for some reason she wasn't sure if she wanted him to go. Jackie and Remington ate in silence for the next few minutes, She was trying to digest everything that he had told her and what she saw him do, and he was trying to figure out how he was going to get out of here, where he was going, and who he could trust.
Remington finished eating and looked over at Jackie. "What did you mean when we were outside and you said, you were just overwhelmed by everything that’s been going on around here and now this? What’s been going on around here?" He asked sounding concerned.
Jackie was a little thrown off guard by his question. She didn't realize he'd picked up on that. "Uh, nothing really. Forget I said anything."
Remington reached over and grabbed her hand. Surprised by his own boldness. "If you need to talk about something, I'm a great listener. Sometimes strangers are the best people to talk to." He smiled at her.
"I'm really tired." Jackie smiled back at him with sleepy eyes. "But I'll keep that in mind, thanks. I'm going to bed, feel free to hang out and watch TV if you want. Can I get you anything else before I go?" Jackie pulled her hand out of Remington’s.
"No, thanks though." He said already feeling the loss of her warmth. "I think I'll do the same."
They both got up and Jackie used the remote to turn off the TV. They headed down the hall toward the bedrooms stopping at the guest room door. "Well, goodnight. Just call out if you need anything." Jackie said, and headed for her bedroom.
"Goodnight, sweet dreams." Remington limped into his room and pushed the door to, leaving it open just a crack.
The night outside was black, the moons light blocked by dark clouds traveling slowly across the sky, like they had something to hide and were in no hurry to let the light touch the ground. There was something else outside that was even darker though. Something so black that even on the darkest night it was discernable. It watched from the shadows of the trees that lined the woods. It watched Jackie go outside onto the porch and bring her guest back in. It saw what Remington did to the door knob, and it understood. It let them go back inside, back to what they thought was safety, and it watched. Circling the house, getting closer and closer. It floated up the porch to the hole where the knob used to be, and drifted into the house like a black fog.
Jackie woke up to her favorite smell in the world, frying bacon. Followed by fresh coffee. She sat up and noticed it was already light outside, the sun was shining against the closed curtains in her bedroom like it was pleading to be let in. Jackie got out of bed, walked over to the window and pulled the curtains open wide. This was the first time she had slept in since she moved here, the first time she forgot to set her alarm clock, and it felt wonderful. She stared out the window at the beautiful morning and stretched, reaching her hands high toward the ceiling. She slept great and she felt refreshed. With everything that went on yesterday she must have really needed it. Jackie went to the dresser and pulled out a pair of faded jeans, a bra, and a light blue t-shirt. She quickly dressed and made her way to the bathroom to take care of business. She brushed her teeth and hair, splashed some warm water on her face and went in search of that delicious scent.
When Jackie reached the kitchen she saw Remington standing at the stove with his back to her. All his back to her; he wasn't wearing the shirt he had on yesterday and his sweats were hanging low on his lean hips. Her mouth started to water. She wasn't sure if it was what she was looking at or if it was the smell of the bacon. Who was she kidding; she knew exactly what it was. "Good morning." she said as she walked to the coffee maker.
Remington turned around a bit startled. "Oh! Hey. Good morning." He said, flashing a big smile. "I hope you don't mind. After everything you did for me yesterday, I wanted to do something for you."
Jackie poured her coffee and saw that Remington had a pile of scrambled eggs and toast on a large plate and was just taking the bacon out of the pan. "Not at all. It looks great! That’s the best smell to wake up to." She said pointing at the bacon.
Remington looked down at her standing next to him; she had on faded jeans and a loose, light blue t-shirt that made her eyes a beautiful aquamarine color. It reminded him of the clear blue waters around a tropical island. "It's ONE of the best smells to wake up to." He said with a crooked grin. Jackie could feel the heat rushing to her cheeks and she broke eye contact with him. Was he flirting with her?
Sure feels like it.
She thought. It's been awhile; it's been a long while. Maybe he's just trying to be funny. She didn't want to over think it. She realized she was staring at his chest again and quickly snapped herself out of it. "Well, let’s eat. I'm starving!" She said, and went and sat down at the already set table. Remington followed her with the huge pile of food and his own cup of coffee.
"It looks great." Jackie said scooping eggs onto her plate. “How are you feeling today? Do you need more pain killers?"
Remington was busy loading his own plate. "I'm actually feeling pretty good today! My ankle stopped throbbing and the wounds on my legs have pretty much quit stinging. I'll take a couple more of the amoxicillin if you don’t mind."
"Of course!" Jackie went to the living room and grabbed the bottle from the first aid kit and brought it back to the table. "Here you go, keep them. You should probably be taking them for ten days anyway."
"Thank you." Remington said taking the bottle from her. They started eating; Jackie was keeping her eyes on her plate and off of Remington. She was confused by her own feelings. Here she was with this stranger in her house, this stranger with this outrageously unreal story that she really wanted to believe, but was having such a hard time wrapping her head around it. Then there was what he did to her doorknob last night. She had seen that with her own eyes so she had to believe it. Jackie knew that once he left, she would just go back to being alone, hanging out at home, only making trips to town when she needed something. It was getting pretty boring. Then again, this man was a complete stranger she'd known for one day. She had no idea who he really was or what his life was like.
It was exciting while it lasted.
She thought to herself.
Remington noticed that Jackie hadn't lifted her head up from her plate since she started eating. She looked to be in deep thought, or maybe she was just ignoring him. Maybe she wanted to stop the conversation to get him to finish eating and leave. "I was wondering if you could take me to a pay phone today."
"I have a phone you can use." Jackie said confused.
"Yeah, but if this is military, which I believe it may be, I don't want them tracking me to you. If they know everything about me, they may know my closest friend is Rick. What if they have his phone tapped? I can't take that chance."
Jackie was starting to feel like she was in some kind of spy movie. It was a bit overwhelming and exciting at the same time. "Okay, if you think that’s best."
"I do. I can't go to town; they may still be looking for me there. I need to go farther away. Would it be too much to ask to head toward Denver? If they think I'm still alive and the phone call proves it to them I want them to think I went back home. It will keep them far away from your place."
Jackie thought about it for a minute; she definitely didn't want his fight coming to her door. She was starting to trust him more. He hadn't done anything to make her doubt him. Sure, the story was pretty outrageous, but she saw what he could do and the proof was in the pudding, as her gram would say. For some reason she didn't quite understand, she wanted to help him. Knowing he only had one person in the world he thought he could trust made her feel bad for him, almost protective of him. "That’s a three hour ride, are you sure you're up for that?"
"I'll be fine. I feel a hundred percent better than I did yesterday. If I'm being paranoid and it turns out Rick can help me, you can just drop me off in Denver."