"Okay, well thanks for meeting me!" Said Jackie. "Maybe we can do it again soon."
"I'd like that. Stop by anytime dear." Olive got up and made her way to the counter. She talked to Rosie for a minute and waved goodbye to Jackie then left the diner. Jackie ordered another coffee and just hung out watching the people walk up and down the street.
Remington felt light, weightless even. He couldn't open his eyes but knew he was moving. There was no sound, no footsteps that he could hear. He felt the wind rush across his battered face as if he were flying.
This must be what death feels like,
was His last thought before sliding back into the dark abyss.
Jackie had stayed at the diner just people watching for almost another hour after Olive left. She was trying to kill some time before going back home. She needed this today; it felt so good being out and meeting new people. She was greeted with such warmth from everyone that she could see this being her permanent home. She listened to conversations around the diner; she heard a lot of talk about the mysterious men in town. Apparently, they were going door to door with that mans picture. Stopping some people on the street and asking them questions. Everybody seemed to be a little freaked out about it. Probably more excitement than this little town has seen in awhile, but it was clear it made the locals nervous. Jackie left the money for her bill on the table and headed toward the door.
"It was nice to meet you Jackie!" Rosie yelled out from behind the counter. "Come back and see us soon!"
"Nice to meet you too! The apple pie was excellent. I'll definitely be back!" Jackie said. Rosie's smile beamed with pride. They waved goodbye and Jackie headed back to her car.
Jackie wanted to ride around town and get her bearings straight before heading back up the mountain, just to waste a little more time really. She had only been to the grocery, builder supply, hardware store, and now Goodwill and the diner. So she figured she would drive around a bit and see what’s what.
Maybe they have a Y!
She thought with excitement. Jackie loved to swim; back in Cheyenne she would swim three times a week at the local Y. They had a pretty good gym too. She missed days like that; her and Sarah would meet up after work and walk on the treadmill then do some laps in the pool. They would have dinner after at least once a week. Sarah would tease her for ordering steak and a baked potato then washing it down with a glass of red wine after she had spent so much time working out. Jackie didn't mind the teasing, and just to make a point, sometimes she would even order dessert! Jackie didn't work out because she had to; she did it because she enjoyed swimming and spending time with Sarah. As she drove through town, she spotted a florist, a few bars, a couple more restaurants, two banks, a dry cleaners and a lot of small privately owned shops. There were also a few antique stores and a couple fast food joints. She found a park with a huge lake in the middle. There were men sitting on the benches surrounding the water trying their luck at catching the big one, and lots of slides and monkey bars for the kids. She drove by a couple schools and found the local Urgent Care Center. "That’s good to know." Jackie said to herself. She would be using the big saw tomorrow while working on those steps; now she'll know where to go if she cuts off a finger or two.
She'd been circling the town for about an hour; going up and down every street, taking in as much as she could. She got a handle on where most of the businesses were and even drove through a few neighborhoods. Some neighborhoods had streets lined with beautiful red maple trees. She had been away from the house for almost four hours now and it would take another thirty minutes to get home. She never did find a Y; maybe she would ask Olive the next time she came to town. Jackie decided she had seen enough for one day. She rolled her window down, turned up the radio, and headed for home.
It was almost four in the afternoon by the time Jackie pulled in to her driveway. Expecting to see the pile of lumber that was supposed to be delivered earlier, Jackie was surprised there was nothing there. She got out of her car and made her way to the porch when she stepped in something soft. Looking down she saw she was standing in a pile of sawdust. "Well, I must have one hell of a beaver around here!" She laughed at herself. Wondering if maybe they dropped the lumber on the side of the house. She peered around the corner, and there was nothing, so she walked to the other side, still nothing.
What the hell?
She said to no one. She started for the porch and when reaching the steps, they weren’t her steps. Well, they were HER steps, but not the split, creaky, weak, bouncy, steps that if you didn't pay attention when climbing them, could be a real neck breaker. These had been replaced.
Ok, this is starting to freak me the fuck out.
She thought. Then it hit her; Adam, from the supply store. Jackie bet that Adam or whoever made the delivery for him had seen the stairs in such a state of disrepair and just replaced them for her. After all, he knew she was out here alone, maybe just a nice gesture. He was a little flirty earlier when she made the purchase. Calming down a bit, this explanation made perfect sense. Jackie walked up her new and improved porch stairs and made her way in to the house. She wanted to call the Building Supply store before they closed and thank Adam for doing such a nice thing. Jackie grabbed the phone book and looked up the supply store number and dialed.
"Black Creek Builder Supply," a man answered.
"Uh, hi! May I speak with Adam please?"
"This is Adam."
"Hello, this is Jackie. Jackie Brooks? I was in there earlier in the day. I ordered some lumber to be delivered. I live up the mountain on Big Stone Ridge?"
"Yes ma'am, is there a problem with your delivery? Did we miss something? I made that delivery myself." Adam said.
"Oh no, nothing like that. I just wanted to thank you for fixing my stairs; you really didn't have to do that. You must let me pay you something for your trouble."
"Fix you stairs?" Adam asked. "Ma'am, I didn't fix any stairs. I just made the delivery."
Jackie’s stomach started to sink. She wasn't able to say anything for a few seconds.
"Ma'am? Are you ok? Hello?"
"Sorry, yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. My mistake." Jackie hung up the phone and went in to her bedroom and grabbed the shotgun off of her bed and walked back outside. She walked a circle around the entire house. Nothing. She then made her way over to the tool shed and pulled hard on the handle opening the door. Jackie stepped in and flicked the light on. She took a step back and raised the shotgun. There was a man. There was a big man lying on the floor of the shed. He looked like he fell from a fucking plane; he was beat to shit. He looked dead.
"Hey!" Jackie yelled. "Hey asshole! Get up and get the hell off my property!"
The man didn't move a muscle.
Maybe he is dead
she thought. Jackie took another step toward the man and kicked the bottom of his bloodied bare foot. "Hey! Get up!" Nothing, the man just laid there. Tightening her hold on the gun, she knelt down beside him and gently placed two fingers over the pulse on his neck. He wasn't dead. He had a pulse, barely. All of a sudden the man’s arm shot out and he wrapped a huge hand around Jackie’s slender wrist. Shocked, Jackie quickly yanked her hand away and fell backwards still cradling the gun.
"Whoa, whoa! Don't shoot!" The man pleaded; he was still lying down with both arms covering his face.
Jackie jumped to her feet and re-aimed the gun back on the intruder. "Who are you? Why are you in my shed?" Jackie’s voice was trembling; she had never been so scared.
"Shed?" The man asked looking around at his surroundings as if seeing them for the first time. "I'm sorry; I don't know where I am or how I got here." He looked down at himself, noticing his t-shirt was torn and missing a piece from the bottom. The man’s voice was low and soft as if trying to sooth a baby back to sleep. Jackie felt like she had met this man before. There was something so familiar about him.
"Well you're in my shed and if you don't tell me why I'm calling the cops!" Jackie yelled.
"Wait! Wait! Please! No cops. I'm not sure exactly what’s going on or how I got here but I'll go; just give me a minute to clear my head. Please."
The man looked like he'd been through hell. Jackie could see the huge bruises on his face and the gashes up and down both of his legs. She was starting to feel a bit sorry for him.
"What happened to you?" She asked.
"I fell from a cliff into the river; last thing I remember was deep in the woods. I must have passed out because I can't remember anything after that." Remington tried to sit up. His head was spinning and he felt like he would lose his lunch if he had had anything left in his stomach to vomit. "I'm really thirsty, could I have some water?" He asked.
Jackie looked around the shed, no water in here; she'd have to go back to the house. Leaving this stranger unattended didn't seem like such a great idea though.
"Please. I'm not going to hurt you, I swear." He said.
Jackie was always weary of strangers, especially ones that showed up half dead in her tool shed, but for some reason she didn't quite understand, she believed him. Besides, she had the gun and this man didn't look like he was in any shape to fight.
"Can you stand?" Jackie asked.
"I don't think so, not on my own. I think my ankle may be broken." Remington pointed at his right ankle. Jackie looked down and saw the man’s ankle was covered in dark purple and black bruising; she winced.
"Ouch, that doesn't look good." She said. "Does it hurt?"
She thought to herself.
"Yeah, but my whole body is killing me so..."
"Okay," Jackie said looking the man in the eye, "I'm gonna help you up, and over to the house. I need your word you're not going to try anything stupid. I don't want to shoot you, but if I fear for my safety at anytime, that’s exactly what I'm going to do. Are we clear?"
"Crystal" Remington let out a relieved sigh.
Jackie, still holding the gun in one hand, leaned down and wrapped Remington’s right arm over her shoulder. Supporting him as he slowly got to his feet.
guy weights a ton!
She thought. He was big; shit, he was huge. Towering over her five foot five slender frame. He was very muscular with the shoulders of a pro football player. At her size she wasn't much more support than a thin cane but he seemed to appreciate her effort and leaned into her.
Wow, she smells good,
was all Remington could think. He tried to keep most of his weight off of her but it was hard. He was completely drained. She seemed to take it well though; she was stronger than she looked. He leaned his head down just a bit and inhaled. Strawberries.
be her shampoo
. He thought. That scent would be stirring up things he hadn't felt in awhile if this were a different situation. He shook his head and straightened up.
They made their way to the front porch, and half hopping, half tripping up the steps they made it to the front door. Jackie leaned the gun against the house and opened the door. She helped him in to the kitchen and sat him down on one of the dining room chairs. Jackie went back outside and grabbed the rifle.
"You're not going to need that, I promise." Remington said. "I'm not going to try anything stupid." He half smiled.
Damn, even all beat to hell this guy was kind of sexy.
She thought, berating herself.
What is wrong with you?
She went over to the cabinet, pulled out a glass, filled it under the tap, and handed it to him. "I should call you an ambulance." She said.
"No! No please, don't."
"Why not? Your injuries are pretty severe. You need medical attention."
"I'll be okay. Please just give me some time."
"Are you wanted or something? Running from the cops?" Jackie asked, surprised by her own line of questioning.
"I'm not sure.” He said, and his face went slack. "I know this is going to sound way out there, but I was kidnapped, and held against my will for, well, I'm not quite sure for how long. They did things to me." Remington reached up and gently rubbed the stitches on his head, his hair had grown out a bit in the last few days but not enough to cover them.
Jackie watched him intently. "Well we should probably call the cops then, Report it!"
"No, I don't know how far these people can reach, the cops could be in on it. Please. I just need a little time to figure things out." Remington downed the glass of water. "May I have another please?" Jackie refilled the glass and handed it back to him, he downed that one too.