Apartment Life (The End)

Apartment Life (The End)

(click here to go back to Part Eleven)

“You’ll see her, soon,” Susan said. She looked in her purse and pulled out a blister pack of Nicorette gum. “By the way, kiddo, I found out who your bathroom hero is.” She pushed a piece through the foil backing and tossed it into her mouth.

“Who?”

“He’s a U.S. Marshall. He was assigned to check in on shitface Larry Outhouse, because he used to be some kind of mob guy or something. When he found out from Matt’s mom that we all came to the hospital, he came up here looking for information.”

“So, when he told you he was a student, he was trying to pump you,” Ronnie said.

“Watch it, mister.”

“You made me this way.”

“Yeah, yeah. So, anyway, he just happened to have to pee when he walked in and found you and Outhouse fighting.”

“It wasn’t really a fight, Mom.”

“I know, sweetie.” She reached up and rubbed his neck lightly. “At least you got your ass kicked by a mobster instead of some pansy teenage football player.”

“Again, he sneaked up behind me. Um, Mom?” He was trying to find a good way to put his next point.

“Yes?”

“Can you quit breathing your Nicorette breath on me? It’s pretty bad.”

——-

Ronnie sat on a chair next to Trena’s bed.

“Look, I know you’re probably mad at me right now. I would be.” He turned away and put a hand to his face, but she couldn’t tell whether he was wiping away tears or touching his bandages.

She could tell he was upset. Maybe even crying. She put her hand on his for just a moment before grabbing up the Mont Blanc, then wrote as much as she could at one time.

“I know it was an accident. Don’t worry. Sorry Larry hurt you.” She couldn’t believe it when her mom told her what he had done to Ronnie. “Thanks for being nice. I can’t see you any more.”

He looked confused, then concerned. “Why? Is something wrong. Oh, God, I knew it.”

She raised her hand and waved it back and forth, indicating he had misunderstood. Her arm and hand needed a rest, so she just lay her hand on Ronnie’s again and left it there a few minutes. He didn’t move to make any affectionate gesture, but he didn’t try to take his hand away, either.

She shored up her courage, questioned herself again, and then wrote, “Heard of Witness Protection Program?” If someone caught her telling him that, she would get in big trouble.

“Yeah. Are you in that?”

The pen moved so smoothly across the paper, Trena wondered how much the doctor paid for it. “Got in just before moved here. Larry witnessed something, but also did something.” She knew her writing made her look dumb, but didn’t know how much longer her arm and hand would cooperate. Her words now were more expensive than the pen.

“Did he… kill somebody?” Ronnie asked.

“Don’t know,” she wrote. “Think so. He called old buddies. Mom and me have to move again. Change names.”

Trena’s mom walked in. Ronnie turned his back to her, grabbed the paper, wadded it into a ball, and put it in his mouth. He chewed a few times, then swallowed.

——-

Man, that’s not all it’s cracked up to be, Ronnie thought as the balled up note scratched its way down his throat.

He grimaced. Trena smiled.

“Oh, thank God you don’t have that tube down your throat any more. They told me they had extubated, but I couldn’t believe it until I saw it,” Trena’s mom said.

“Extubated?” Ronnie asked.

He felt a tug on his shirt. Trena was writing something else. “She was a nurse,” it read.

“Sorry, that means they removed the breathing tube,” Ms. Outhouse said. “Maybe soon we’ll hear your voice again, Latrena.”

Ronnie chuckled. You’ve got to be kidding.

Trena wrote, “What’s funny?”

“Your name’s ‘Latrena Outhouse?'”

“Shut up,” she wrote, and then made a mock angry face while squinting one eye.

The Witness Protection Program has a sense of humor.

“Ronnie, could you give us a moment?” Ms. Outhouse asked.

Ronnie walked out to the critical care waiting room. A ceiling-mounted television was tuned to CNN, something he rarely watched. A mugshot of a familiar face appeared onscreen beside the news anchor’s head. It was Larry Outhouse, but that wasn’t the name on the screen.

He read aloud, “‘Lead-head Larry Olivetti.’ Son of a bitch.”

He reached and punched the volume up a few notches.

“… apparent strangulation from behind. Local authorities say it’s the first time the city has seen an indicted prisoner killed in his cell. Officials say approximately 17% of those in the Witness Protection Program return to crime. Asked about Olivetti, a U.S. Marshal who preferred to remain anonymous said, quote, ‘Records show he made a call to his old mob friends, probably because he couldn’t resist the life. Unfortunately for him, that lead to his death,’ unquote. We’ll be back right after this.”

Ronnie smiled, then squinted in pain. He imagined what would have happened had he never walked across the parking lot that night to get Trena. With that one handful of pebbles, he had set in motion a chain of events that still sounded unbelievable. Now, he had a friend he would never see again, who might never walk again, and a face forever changed.

Because he was horny.

The End

Note: Now, click here to go on and read “Apartment Life Returns.”

8 Replies to “Apartment Life (The End)”

  1. Yay! Good writing as always, honey – I really enjoyed this one a lot! Now if you could just write a best selling novel and make us a bunch o’ money!!!

  2. Killed in his cell. I sort of hope he wet himself before going.

    Good ending to the story, Mark. The characters really started to come to life for me, especially Ronnie and Mom. The ‘Outhouse’ name was a bit of a stretch, especially combined with ‘Latrena’ at the end, but it also just makes for a little campy humour.

    Well done!

  3. Simon – The idea of making her full name “Latrena” hit me a few chapters back, and I was actually looking forward to using it. Ronnie’s guess that the Witness Protection Program had a sense of humor was just his own joke to himself. It wasn’t meant to suggest the WPP did that on purpose.

    I became fascinated with the WPP when researching for this story. The program suggests the protected keep their first name and choose a last name that starts with the same letter as their real last name. Go figure.

  4. Very, very good Mark. I’m very impressed by your use of the medical terms and the Mob mentality, the thoughts of a young girl, two mothers, etc, etc. I’m guessing it would be hard to talk about the medical procedures that you did without sounding too technical; you used just the right amount of description without “showing off” in all these areas that I’ve mentioned. There had to be a fine balance there to reach and you did…
    I felt a kinship with Ronnie’s mom, not because of the scenario or having experienced anything like this but because she thought and reacted a lot like I might. Your character development is excellent. Do we get to share a Brandy and a cigar now??? ;-) Curious- do you have a “wrap” ritual that you perform at the end of your stories?

  5. Linda – Thanks, chica. I researched the medical parts and the Witness Protection Program. I read Joe Pistone’s Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia a couple years ago, and it was a fascinating read. It went much deeper than a Mob movie can.

    I actually looked forward to your reading this to see whether Ronnie’s mom came off as real. The question in my mind the whole time was “What would my mom have done,” because she was a single mom to me for a while. But, she never ran to the bottle for comfort, and I’ve never seen her reaction to several of the situations herein.

    I don’t have a “wrap” ritual, but that’s a great idea. I’ll have to think of something. I know my wife’s always glad when a story’s finished.

  6. What’s the opposite of Prologue? Oh wait! Maybe you and Shan can get a sitter and have Epilogue Sex… If you don’t mind travelling, I’m available. For Ben, of course.

    I was a single mom for quite a long time, in fact during the time when my son was Ronnie’s age. He was a breeze to raise, thank goodness. But if you ever want to write about a single mom with a true “problem child” teenage daughter (no one in particular coming to mind… wink)
    I’m your man. I’ll provide you with a virtual cornucopia of material.
    :-)

    Again, I really enjoyed Apartment Life. Thanks and Congrats :-)

  7. Ok, I’ll be the only shmuck to say this story ended WAY too soon. It seems rushed (this last chapter).
    I apologize in advance Mark, but I think you had at least another 2 chapters to go.
    I just don’t think there was enough….. hmm… resolution between Ronnie and Trena. Maybe “closure” is a better term.

    All in all though, a good story. Do some more!! *S*

  8. Dave – I tend to agree, but other things got in the way and I needed to wrap it for now. I feel like I got Ronnie through his and his mother’s main concerns — the girl not dying and Ronnie not getting accused of intentionally hurting her. It’s very open-ended, and I already have some ideas. I like some of these characters and won’t just ditch them.

    Regular Life readers will be the first to know when something new comes down the pike.