"Bury My Heart in Colorado"

Chapter 1
One Heartbeat From Heaven

By forestport12

I’m drowning. No. Suffocating…

 Muffled sounds float down to me in this deep well. Blurred faces, oblong looks call on me to heave myself out.  I’m birthed into a new world; or have I been resurrected?   
Shadowy figures huddled and loomed over me. One face sharpened into focus. “I’m Dr. Patel. You are in good care. Do not be afraid. You were in a most unfortunate accident.”

 I fought to free my tongue to find words. 

He breathed on me. “Do you know your name?”

“Paul. My…my name is Paul Dixon. Where…where am I?”

“You are in Syracuse hospital.  He’s dressed in white, but he’s not Jesus. “We had to induce a coma for your own safe being.”

 Safety? I’m restrained with leather cuffs!  I arched my back, puffed my chest, and tugged on the restraints. I was at their mercy.

“Please do not fight this. It is for your own good. You have too many internal injuries that can put you in jeopardy,” said Dr. Patel. Other voices echoed his words and nodded.   

The doctor pried wide my eyes and beamed the light into my pupils until they burned like hot pokers. I resisted. Closed my eyes.

Pieces of my puzzled memory form the picture of an accident in Colorado. My fiancé was in her truck with me.  Opening my eyes, I gave the doctor my best fearful glare. “How’d I get here? Where…where’s Kat.? Where’s my fiancé? Is…is she okay?”

Dr. Patel placed a hand on my chest. “Don’t think about her now. You need to save your strength. Not to injure yourself.”

All the muscles in my body tightened and cramped. “Is she alive? Tell me! Where is she? Kat!”

They all looked at me in silence.

 No…No…! I…I need to see her!”

Someone shouted. “Code blue!”

Someone else poked a needle in my thigh. I went limp. I tried to speak, but I mumbled words as if my lips were made from rubber.  Hands pressed me down. My body caved. My eyes folded into the abyss of darkness where nothing matters.


Author Notes Just wanted to see if I can bring life to this storyline, I've had for a few years. It is a love story with a twist.

Chapter 2
Mother Lode

By forestport12

There are voices in my head telling me to wake up, telling me to put my big boy pants on. I say her name. "Katrina, where are you?"

"I'm in your heart, where you can find me." She whispered in my ear. I opened my eyes bathed in a cold sweat. It was the dark hospital room. I had a cast on my foot, stuck in a sling. I bucked and strained to scan the room.

From a thick leather chair in the corner, a shadowy person moves toward me. Is it Kat, or is it a ghost? I squirmed, as she came into focus. Yellow lights from the hall gave her life, illumined her shoulder length raven hair. Her red-stained eyes come into focus. "Mom?"

"How's my baby?"

"I'm okay, mom." I lied. I'm not okay. She looked as if she cried a river with streaks from eye shadow. I wanted to tell her no. I'm stuck in room, several states from my last memory, a fragmented one of an accident in Colorado. And most of all, I don't know where Katrina Is, or if she's alive.

"I can't believe you're here. Thank God your alive," she said. "You lived. You're going to be okay." She looked as if she hadn't slept in days. Worried lines ran across her forehead. She was not okay.

I ignored the pain surging inside me. They must have shot me with morphine. I knew I needed another round. The pain and pressure burn and builds. "I can't believe... I'm alive, either"

She reached for me, clutched me the best she could without toppling over or separating me from the IV and monitor.

"Where's Kat? You know, Mom, my fianc√?¬©."

She shook her head. Tears sprouted. Mouth contorted.

"Is she alive? Is she?"

"She...she didn't make it. I'm so sorry."

Finally, the hammer drops on my heart. It's a crushing blow that will never be the same. I have no reason not to trust her. I wished to fall through a trap door. But how does she know? A few days ago, I was in Colorado, and I've lost time and place. "Why am I alive? If that's true. I shouldn't be alive."

She smothered me with her body and words. "Her father, Mr. Kiosk. He gave you the best care, and they were afraid you would die in Colorado. He had a mercy flight arranged, so you could be here...for me. He paid for everything, despite the shock and horror of his daughter. I'm so, so sorry, son."

I fought for air. She wouldn't let me breathe. I mashed the call button. I looked myself over. I needed to know more about what happened. I can't put all the pieces back together. I closed my eyes until my head throbbed with pain.

There's the noise of twisted, crunching metal. It was her truck. I'm behind the wheel. Stars shine like a billion silver trinkets. The mountains crowd my left side. We ride like a coaster in the dark on rolling hills. T-boned! I hear the sound of breaking glass and crunching metal. I see her face of death. Then blackness. "Dear God: no. What have I done? I killed her! I killed her! "Did I kill her, Mom?"

"I... don't know, son. Please rest. Please, please don't make things worse. Your foot was crushed. For God's sake, don't do this to yourself."

I found the call button. "I need some pain medicine. The pain..." I arched my back until my cast swayed in the sling.

"I love you, Mom. But I think I killed her. I need to know... what really happened!"

"Not now," she pleaded. "Not now. Give it time. You can recover at home."

But this was not my home. I was living in Colorado. I was engaged!

The calvary charged in through the open door. The lights come on like the crack of dawn. A skinny nurse with red hair holds a needle in her hand. I've never been so in love with a needle before should it deliver me from my senses and kill the pain.

My body caved; my mind followed. I fell into the darkness.

Chapter 3
SEE and Saw

By forestport12

Dr. Patel comes in with his groupies, or a better term would be the medical students from Syracuse University across the street. From what I've been told I'm an intriguing case study. I wondered how much they know.

The morphine has seriously blunted the pain radiating from my crushed foot in a sling. Things like how long the catheter stays, or if I will have withdrawals from the morphine take a backseat to the need to address whether my leg will be amputated just below the knee.

During the initial painful conversations with Dr. Patel, It was made clear that before the foot could be repaired, they had to know if it could be saved. Fighting a rampant infection and the foot dying from lack of circulation were obstacles. Old pictures from school days in my head flipped through my mind of the notorious sawing of limbs on the civil war battlefield.

Breathe, just breathe. My foot just can't die. And then it thundered in my head. I might lose part of my leg. But Katrina, my soul mate lost her life. The knots in my stomach tightened.

Dr. Patel and the group of interns all smiled at me. "How have you been since we talked? Resting better? I hope we have managed the pain."

"Yes, but can you save my foot?"

I have good news. There appears to be enough circulation in the foot, and the treatments and medicine are keeping it alive. No need to amputate. But we must prep you for surgery soon before it is too late to do our best to preserve the integrity of your foot."

Relief washed over me to the point of chills. The interns seemed pleased. I'm not sure they wanted to observe my leg getting hacked off either.

My breathing deepened and a sigh heard round the world. "Thanks doctor. But why can't anyone tell me any details about my fiancee?"

"As you know, we are thousands of miles away. I understand you need to know exact details, but you must think of yourself right now. You are still considered in critical but stable condition."

"But it would be easy for someone here to share information from their computer or cell phone. Where's my phone? Colorado? I need to know if she lived after the crash. I...I need to know what became of her."

"Soon," said Patel. Very soon we will give a chance to use a computer. For now, it would be best to have a loved one to help you navigate the details of your most unfortunate accident."

The sound of a buzz saw filled my ears. I strained my neck to see the sparks fly mixed with blood. I told myself it's only a dream.

It's only a dream! Wake up!

I Blinked open my eyes, sweating, inhaling hard. My leg was still there! Despite the darkness. The room reflected the lights from the hallway. And I could see I was still in one piece.

I leaned back in my hospital bed and breathed a sigh. The pain was not as severe, and my leg was not throbbing.

From my darkened room, I watched nurses walk by. Then a patient walked by with his IV on wheels, wearing gown dragging the floor. I envied him. I wondered if I'd ever walk straight again. I sighed.

This cart rolled by then stops. It's a cleaning cart. I saw a nurse in the background, but nothing makes her concerned for me. I realized, he's a night janitor. He backed up. His bald head reflects as he dipped his head inside. My first thought was it must be Mr. Clean from the old commercials. "Hey, you awake, Bub."

"Yes. If you need to come in and clean, by all means.

He brings the housekeeping cart inside the room. Reaches for the light.

"Please don't. The light hurts my eyes."

He smiled. "No worries, Bub." He emptied the trash. I'm not sure I should be telling you this, but from what I heard, a rich dude flew you back to Syracuse, NY from Colorado. He paid for one of those military medic flights or something. That's how you got here. They took you from the airport in a helicopter and landed you on the roof."

"I'm guessing that doesn't happen every day," I said.

"Not around here. It never happens." He seemed more interested in talking to me than cleaning. He did empty the garbage into his cart but then pulled up a plastic chair next to me and leaned toward me.

"Do you know about my fianc√?¬©?"

"I only know what I heard about you. I know you were like a mercy flight to be with your family. Are you telling me that she's not with you? Sorry dude. She okay?"

"No...No she's not okay. They tell me she didn't make it. My Mom told. But I still don't have news or any word from Colorado."

Mr. Clean, which is what I called him, because he never gave me his name, he shook his head and rubbed his chin. "Man, sorry to hear. Did get to hold hands or say goodbye?"

"Goodbyes? Yea right. I couldn't because I'm here. And she's there. I'm not sure what happened in the accident either. I blacked out at some point. I have flashbacks. It's like a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces."

"Man," he said. "You're not going to try to go back there or anything? Sounds like you got some major recovery time."

Mr. Clean stood up and got dangerously close to my leg in a cast and sling. It was like he was intrigued by it, like he might squeeze it.

"Do you mind if I try to get some rest." I looked down at the red call button between us in my bed.

"No problem, Bub." He grabbed his cart and was between me and the door, my exit from this purgatory.

"Hey, wait. You don't happen to have one of those smart phones? Maybe there's local news in Denver on it."

Mr. Clean pulled a phone out of his pants pocket and held it up in the air. Yea, but sometimes in this place cell receptions sketchy." He looked at me. "Say, you don't. I mean, in your condition, you maybe should read about your girlfriend's death?"

Tears pressed in the back of my eyes. I didn't want this guy to see them. "I don't have a tv. It's like I'm shut out from the rest of the world. I don't even know if the Yankees still lead their division. And yea I want to know if I killed my girlfriend. I want to know how long she lived. I want to know if she asked for me. I have the need to know."

He smiled. "Okay, okay, I get it. But you might need to give up on the Yankees, they are in third place. Lately they think it's whiffled ball.

It looked like he was googling something. I was holding my breath. Suddenly my stomach stirred like a thousand needles poking me from inside. I took a deep breath and propped myself up.

He leaned over and put the phone in front of me. "Here you go. There's a picture of what looks like your crash."

I wasn't sure. It looked like the foothills of Colorado near Castle Rock. "How'd you know what information to put in?"

"That's a no brainer. I just put your name in related to an accident in Colorado." He crossed his arms over his chest.

A nurse looked in and caught his eye. She stopped and starred at the janitor and then looked over at me. She had hair brown hair in a bun with those blue smocks. "You okay Mr. Dixon?"

"Yes. He was just showing me something on his phone."

"Okay." She crinkled her brow and then sped away from the door.

I looked at the scene, this red truck was crushed. It looked like an accordion. There was box truck nearby with the cab smashed.

"Looks like according to the article, the other driver lived. It does say they pulled out you and a girl, both in critical condition."

"Wait, my mother made me think, she died at the scene."

He snatched the phone from my hand. "It doesn't say, exactly. But trust your Mom. She must know. I got to go."

"Wait! I said. I was hoping to find more..."

He grabbed his cart and headed through the door. That nurse is hellfire. I could get into trouble, and the VA pays me good when I fill in on the weekends, esp. Sundays."

Before I could say another word, he was gone. But the information he gave me was like a sucker punch to my heart.

Author Notes This is a thriller and a love story.

Chapter 4
Homeward Bound

By forestport12

After several days and bed sores later, I would be discharged from the hospital. They had fitted me with a boot over the cast on my crushed foot in order for me to walk with crutches. That morning I'd been practicing with a skinny blonde nurse. "My armpits are killing me! A wheelchair sounds better every day."

"It's going to be a big adjustment. Easy does it."

Her touch stirred me, but when I closed my eyes in pain, all I could see was my dark-haired blue-eyed Katrina, wanting to feel her warmth again. This girl could hardly hold me up, though I sensed she felt for me and my sad story. It seemed everyone who worked the floor heard of my so-called mercy flight and how I should have died.

Despite the fresh pain that found its way up my leg, the doctor's words and warning registered. "Pain is a very good thing," he would say with his Indian accent. "It means you are very much alive. All things are possible."

Therefore, I grimaced through it with each faulty step. If the boot was designed to be a buffer from come what may, it was effective, but getting used to the added awkward weight on one side was something else. It was akin to having an extra-large, felted snow boot on one side versus the other.

My mother fixed her garage apartment for me. As a single mom, she'd used it in the past to bring in some extra income along with her stay-at-home job on the computer.

Even if when she liked to suffocate me, I had no choice. I couldn't tell her of my desire to go back to Colorado as soon as I was able to drive. She'd been traumatized too, on edge, believing I could die at any moment. She needed me to reassure her that I wasn't leaving anytime soon. My guess was it would be several weeks before I'd be able to maneuver inside a car with the foot pedals. Telling her of my plans to head back to Colorado could wait until I was close to cruising.

Almost every moment of the day I thought of Katrina. What was I supposed to do? You don't just stop loving someone. You don't just forget about your soulmate. Mr. Kiosk, her father was one of the wealthiest men in Colorado. I wasn't just from the wrong side of the tracks; I was from the wrong side of the country. Kiosk owned several warehouses in Denver, including the boxcars that delivered freight across the country. It was a big warehousing and shipping enterprise. What my mom didn't realize or see was that he hated me enough to ship me far, far away. But he must have had an ounce of soul somewhere inside himself. He could have found a way to finish me off from the accident. I suppose one day I should thank him.

The nurse pulled the shades up in my hospital room. The sunshine blinded me at first, but I welcomed the fresh light, despite the view, which was mainly of the AC units on roof from another bland brick building. But I was going home where I could almost smell the summery fresh cut grass of manicured lawns and hear the laughter of kids in the neighborhood. A new lease on life.

My mother bolted through the doorway. "Are you ready to go home sweety?"

"I've been waiting for my boarding pass."

Mom glanced at my boot. Her forehead wrinkled and her nose twitched. "That's how you need to get around?" Before I could say a word, rapid fire words shot from her. "I've remade the garage apartment. Easy access to and from the bathroom. Everything you need on the first level. Easy to get into the door to the kitchen in the house."

"Okay, Mom. I get it. Thanks. Ready."

The skinny nurse left the room, but then a janitor filled the doorway with his cart. "Do you mind if I do some light cleaning. He held a duster in his hand. He was a small man with silver grey thinning hair. Not the guy I ran into from the other night.

"Hey, no problem." I waved from the back of the room. "Say, whatever happened to that big guy who came into clean my room last Sunday? Does he work the weekend?"

The janitor put the duster to his side and looked at me like it was a quiz. "We don't have anyone that comes in on Sundays. They cut back on hours."

"He had a uniform like yours, olive green. I guess my mind is fogged from the medication."

"You say he was a big guy?"

"A good six feet tall. No hair. He reminded me of the old Mr. Clean commercial, only without the gypsy ring."

He almost laughed. "I don't know anyone like that on this floor, and I've been here for three years."

My mother looked back and forth at us with her arms folded, like it was a tennis match. "Maybe he was maintenance?"

The janitor just shook his head and started chasing cobwebs. "Sounds like he'd stick out in a crowd."

"I never got his name," I said. "But he seemed to know a lot about me."

He scurried about. "News travels fast around here."

My mother started packing things and pointing at objects to stuff in the suitcase she brought.

I hobbled over to my mom until more pain rifled through my armpits than the foot. Least I was alive and leaving toward a fresh start.

I didn't care to wait and see if Mr. Clean would make another appearance. He'd only created more questions about the accident in Colorado. I needed to know; I didn't kill my girlfriend.

Author Notes I want to finish this story in part because, I think the conclusion rocks. I like the idea of a mystery thriller that combines the power of love and the focus of redemption

Chapter 5
A Voice from the Grave

By forestport12

Eyes opened, I'm stuck to my bed. Pressed down, weighted, I tried to scream, but squeaked like a toy's last gasp of air.

Black curtains allow a thread of light, enough to see a ghostly silloutte before me. Please God, let this be a dream! The ceiling fan whirred and knifed above. My mother's garage apartment turned into a tomb. My booted foot dangled from the bed. My eyes watered, strained until I saw her. Kat? Was it really her?

My Eyes widened to see her, shifting toward me on all fours, some succubus! But it was her, my love, my Kat. As she climbed over the bed, dirt and flecked off her soiled dress. We'd never made love. We waited. Death stopped our love cold--until now.

She, with racoon eyes, a face of death slipped over me. Had she climbed from the grave? She climbed on top of me. Her tongue darting toward me. She whispered in my ear, "Why'd you kill me, Paul? I loved you. Don't let death get in the way."

The dream lifted, saved me, released me to another place. Then I saw the place, the graveyard in the foothills of Colorado. Majestic mountains loomed above. Virgin snow left a thin blanket on the ground. The caretaker, a black man with a fat cigar in his mouth handed me a pointed shovel. He said, "Go ahead. Do it man! Don't be some slinky white boy, go and get her out before it's too late!"

Jarred from my sleep with an alarm buzzing in my head, I gasped for air.

I smashed the alarm clock with a fist. My psychologist told me it would happen. She'd visited me in the hospital. She'd told me my brain uses sleep to sort out the troubled past. But this dream was vivid, one colorful nightmare.

I took deep breaths to slow my Jabbing heart. Slipping from the side of my bed, it reminded of the weight of my booted foot. I pulled myself up to the student desk in my mother's apartment.

With my laptop on the desk, I had to slip the DVD in once again and play her funeral one more torturous time. I had read the letter from the Kiosk family that was in the manila envelope. Mr. Kiosk claimed he wanted me to have closure. What he really meant to say was, "Don't come back to Colorado. I don't want you here, you've caused enough pain with the death of my daughter."

I looked over the letter again, how he spelled out the shock and grief over the loss of their youngest daughter. He's managed to avoid telling me how much he blamed me for her death. Report said I was the driver. I'm not contesting it. I blamed myself plenty. The kicker was how he bragged about getting me on one of those military medic flights. How he was relieved I survived for my mother's sake. He hated me before the crash.

I inserted the DVD player in. The first time, the other day, I played it. I cringed and my heart dropped into my stomach when I saw her. Yes, my Katrina in the open casket! Bile crept up my throat, as the view came into focus. Her ravine hair perfectly parted. But her face had bruises that no amount of make-up could hide. Her small nose had a smudge or a bruise.

I listened to the sounds of pastor from Grace Lutheran church in the foothills of Castle Rock Colorado. He delivered the eulogy about how she was a shining star passing brilliantly and quickly across a darkened horizon. The camera glimpsed toward her open casket one last time, then it's closed, sealed. A song rang out from an unknown female with a booming voice. "Come thou fount of every blessing, seal thy heart to sing thy tune. Jesus found me when a stranger...wandering from thy folds above..."

I sobbed uncontrollably. I hiccupped, convulsed. Tears mingled with a runny nose. I turned into a snotty nosed kid who couldn't stop his own shakes, traumatized and unable to speak.

I feared my mother would come crashing through my door if she heard me. But it was too late to worry about that. Hot tears fell, as my stomach and chest heaved. I buried myself in the comforter of my bed to muffle the noise. I must have sounded like a wounded animal in the woods with no one to save me.

I looked up at my computer screen and the DVD playing and watched as they lowered the casket to the ground. They showed where Kat was buried beside her mother who died of cancer. They panned over to Mr. Kiosk in his black suit where it appeared his eldest daughter hugged him with a dark veil over her face. He looked defeated, deflated, but no tears. If anything, I saw a flash of his anger while my own tears stained and stung my face. For a moment, it was as if he looked into the camera at me.

Closure. I owed Katrina more than that. Just maybe the dream had been a message, not some cathartic unscrambling of my own grief. I looked down at my big foot. I was determined to get back to Colorado. I figured it would take a few weeks. The doctor recommended four weeks of therapy.

The video was meant for me. It was sent to keep me drowning in my guilt. What evidence on the crash I could find pointed to my guilt as the driver. Was I even driving? Some memories are jigsaw pieces.

I just needed to break it to my mother. She banged on my door. "Son, are you okay?"

I hopped over and unlocked the door as the DVD played out.

Concern bleached her face. "I thought I heard you."

"Mom," I said, "I'm going back to Colorado in a few weeks. I'm going to get my old muscle car out of storage."

She folded her arms. "No. You seriously can't drive it. Look at your foot. Please. No. Why?"

"I just need to say goodbye at Katrina's grave. I need this, Mom."

She looked as if she'd seen the face of death on my blood-drained face.

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