Apartment Life (Part Eight)

Apartment Life (Part Eight)

(Click here to go back and read Part Seven)

“I gotta go to the head,” Ronnie said. It was one of the nautical terms he had picked up from his dad’s sailing hobby.

“You okay?” Susan asked.

“Yeah, but I really need to go. I’ve needed to since before… well, since earlier tonight.”

He plodded off toward the restroom.

Maybe coming here wasn’t such a good idea, Susan thought.

She wanted to know how far she needed to go to protect Ronnie. In the car on the way to the hospital, she had convinced herself she did not believe her boy could be one of those sicko men who preyed on girls. He and Trena weren’t really that far apart in age, and he had showed restraint.

She couldn’t count on the majority’s view to fit her own. Will she say he tried to push her? Will she tell what he did before that? Everything hinged on Trena.

A stranger interrupted her thoughts.

“Excuse me. You gotta light? We rushed down here and I didn’t get my lighter.”

The man was about 6’4″ with very thick, long, gray hair pulled back in a ponytail. Broad-shouldered and thin except for his pot belly, he wore a hoop earring in his left ear and each elbow seemed to have half of a large marble just under the surface of the skin.

“No, sorry, I quit smoking and I don’t keep anything on me,” Susan said.

He looked her up and down. “No, you don’t keep much on you at all, do you?”

You’ve got to be kidding me.

“Are you hitting on me in the ER?”

His head snapped back a bit. “No, I just needed a light.”

“I have something going on here, okay?”

“Yeah, baby, you sure do.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m sorry. I’m really bad at this,” he said, his voice shaky now.

“No kidding. You should go to a bar or something.”

“No, I’m, uh, my questions and responses are part of my research on being a single mom in today’s world. Dating is one of the topics I’m covering. I couldn’t help noticing you’re here with a teenage boy, and you’re not wearing a wedding ring.”

“None of that’s any of your business. Who are you?”

“Sorry, I’m Glenn Akers. I’m a student — non-traditional student, I guess you’d say. I’m working on my master’s degree in sociology.”

It was strange to see such a large man, obviously her senior, nervously talking his way out of an awkward situation. She still wasn’t sure she believed his story.

“That’s nice. I’m here for my son.”

“Oh, that’s good. May I use that?”


“I’m also including the single mother’s struggle to pay for rising healthcare costs. Can you expand on why you and your son are here?”

“No, but I’d do anything for him, and allowing a guy to pick me up, or whatever the hell you’re doing, when my son needs me, is not on my list. You can use that. Now please leave us alone.”



Trena saw her mom standing to her left holding her hand. Her mom’s husband was opposite her, holding her right hand.

Let go of me, you asshole.

“She’s opening her eyes,” her mom said.

Mom, tell him to let go of my hand, please.

It was no use. Her mom couldn’t read her mind, and she still had no way of communicating. She had to just lie there, the feeling of —

Oh my God! I can’t feel them holding my hands. What’s wrong with me?

A man in a white coat walked up and stood at Trena’s feet. Her mom and stepdad stared at him, their eyes longing for answers. Neither of them spoke as he looked right past them and into Trena’s eyes.

“You appear to be experiencing spinal shock. Sometimes when the spine is injured, perfectly healthy cells in the spine simply stop functioning. Usually this isn’t a permanent condition, but it can last several weeks.”

“Oh, thank God,” her mom said.

Weeks? Injury? What about the injury?

“You said there was an injury, though, right?” her stepdad said.

The jerk manages to help me for once.

He gave them a glance while talking, but still focused mainly on Trena. “We didn’t see any signs of a break or a rupture. With proper care and bedrest, a girl your age should enjoy a full recovery.”

Her mom started crying and Trena thought she felt a squeezing sensation in her left hand.

“Oh, my baby’s going to be okay,” she said.

Please, mom, don’t cry. I never wanted to be the one to make you cry. She looked at her stepdad.

“This will take a lot of patience from you two, and a lot of work from you, young lady.” He winked.

Thank you, doctor. Can I take you and the ambulance guy home with me?

“Honey, I gotta go to the can,” her stepdad said.

“Okay. I’ll stay here with my sweet baby girl.”


Ronnie leaned over to turn on the faucet and splash cold water on his face.

A hand grabbed the back of his head and rammed his face into the porcelain. His nose made a horrible crunch sound. He smelled and tasted blood.

The faucet squeaked and brought the water rushing out, quickly covering his nose. A hand smashed onto his back, trapping him under a great weight. As the water touched his lips, he spread them wide, trying to suck air in from the corners.

(continue to Part Nine)

9 Replies to “Apartment Life (Part Eight)”

  1. Mark, I hope you’re going to do something REALLY mean to Mr. Outhouse by the time this is all done. Please. Right now I’m just waiting for the revelation that he’s been abusing his own stepdaughter and he’s jealous of some punk kid trespassing on what he considers to be his ‘turf’. Ass.

  2. Oh, he’s a dastardly dude, alright, and I’m thinking it’s about time I give one of my bad guys his comeuppance.

    I already have something in mind. Keep reading.

  3. In a final fit of altruistic intent, Long Man Lallo ambles into the bathroom, sees the goings-on and gives Outhouse a big ol’ “Swirlie” followed up by the beating of his life?

    What… it could happen.

  4. Too funny that you mentioned that, because the same thing struck me just about five minutes before I read this comment.

    As you can see, I’m taking a day off of vacationy stuff to “vedge.”

  5. Mark,
    Ditto what Simon said in his first comment.
    The last scene, in the restroom actually made me cringe.
    Good character descrip of the Akers dude.
    It’s freaky how you and Si share the same brain.

  6. Linda – Oh, good. It probably would have made me cringe had I been reading it somewhere else. Somehow, when writing a scene, I become detached. That leaves me largely in the dark on the actual impact it will have.

    Funny how characters can be loosely based on real people, but the reader has no idea. Oh. Oops. ;-)

  7. The Glenn Akers character… but I can’t tell you on whom he’s based, because it’s in physical appearance only. The other stuff about him is all made up.