6 Minutes…

By: Ophelia Pain

Writing Prompt: No

Date: 17th Feb 2022

Everything sounded far away…the beeps and boops of various machines…the whirring and hissing of medical equipment keeping my friend alive. The voices of the nurses asking me questions…I felt like everything in this moment wasn’t real…everything was hazy…foggy…like I was in a dream…

But it wasn’t a dream. I stared blankly out the window at the dark sky, trying my hardest to focus on the rain and how much Walter loved the rain. ‘Good for the flowers’ he’d always say even though he hated flowers. He put up with my love of flowers because I told him they added character to our otherwise drab farm. I sighed heavily…

Missus Pinkston? Did you hear what I said?

I snapped out of my waking coma and looked at the nurse standing in front of me. She was a pretty blond with kind eyes. She moved to sit down in the empty chair next to me…she placed the clipboard she was holding gently down on her lap and took my right hand…

I know this is difficult, but unfortunately Mister Jennings never made you his next of kin…we need to know who to contact…

I…(I swallowed hard)…I think he mentioned a daughter…Denise…something…in Salt Lake City…they haven’t spoken in years…

The nurse looked at me with sorrow in her eyes…

I don’t have a number…

She nodded at me, squeezed my hand before she stood up and left the room, closing the door softly behind her…I scooted my chair closer to the hospital bed and put my head on Walter’s hand and did my best to weep softly…hoping that he would sense my longing for him to wake up, open his eyes, and tell me to quit cryin in his gruff voice that was starting to fade from my memory…

I planted my feet heavily in the rocks, turned sideways, and launched the rock only for it to thud and gulp into the lake. I growled and turned to Walt who was launching the flat rocks across the water like a professional…

What am I doing wrong?!

Patience, princess…you gotta plant your feet, turn your body, and with a flick of the wrist, let the rock do the work…

I took a deep steadying breath, repositioned my feet, turned my body to the side, pulled my arm back, and at the last second let the flat stone leave my hand with a flick of the wrist…

*THUD* *gulp*

Skipping rocks is fucking stupid…

Walter laughed loudly at me which made me want to smile, but I was too angry at the rocks for being stupid and heavy…

Only cuz you’re not any good at it…

I sat down in the rocks, feeling them poke my legs and butt through my leggings. I picked up a stick and started peeling the brown bark from it, revealing a green flexible twig underneath it…Walt sat down in the rocks next to me, wrapping his arms around his knees and looking out at the lake…we sat in silence for a few minutes, listening to the sounds of the leaves in the wind, birds in the distance, swatting away the occasional gnat as it zipped too close to my face…

You ever been married, Walt?

Oh good God yes…two young dumb kids whose interest in each other barely extended past our orgasms…but when we was your age, thats what you did. You got yourself a good job, landed yourself a pretty lady, got married, got a house…

First comes love, then comes marriage…

Then a baby in a baby carriage…

You have kids?

Yeah…one…and she pretends I don’t exist. Moreso now because I went into rehab…

I was taken aback by his response. I know if Walter had been my father, I would have been so proud of his choice to try to kick his addiction. I couldn’t believe that someone could write off their father for choosing a better life for himself and, ultimately, his family as well. My dad spent most of my formative¬†years inside of his secretaries…my mom spent those years with her head in the oven…I just couldn’t imagine what he could have lost in their lives for her to completely write him off and disown him…

His face indicated pain. His jaw was clenched and he was staring at the flat stones still in his hand. I wasn’t sure if he wanted to keep talking or not…

I uhm….I wonder whats for dinner…

Walt turned and looked at me with his head cocked to the side and chuckled.

Well bless your heart, Miss Pain…

What?

You don’t have to tiptoe around my pain, princess…thats why we’re here. I don’t hide from my past or my mistakes. My daughter doesn’t like that I didn’t take the “faith healing” route or that I’m so ashamed of the things I’ve done in life that I checked myself in here. Pretending to be a saint wasn’t going to pay back the college money I lost…or get her mother’s house back…or unbreak my legs twice for borrowing money I couldn’t pay back. It wouldn’t change that she had to pay for her own wedding because dear old dad pissed her nest egg away on a bender in Vegas…

He tossed each stone, one by one, to the ground as he spoke. Shaking his head as he told me his story. He sucked his teeth when he finished talking and looked out at the lake again…the breeze blowing through his short gray hair…

Whats her name?

Denise…firey redhead just like her mother. Prettiest blue eyes you ever saw…I sometimes joked with her mother that I wanted to know who her real father was because there was no way someone that beautiful and sweet came from me…she lives in Utah now…got herself a husband and 2 kids…Nathan and Westley…I send birthday cards every year, I doubt they get ’em…Her husband is a higher up in some church down there…everythings a sin and if it feels good, you have to stop or you’re goin to hell…

Catholics?

Mormons…

Ah okay…

But like I said…she wrote me off when I checked in here…”Why can’t you just stop, dad?! Just stop doin’ it! Pray for the strength and heavenly Father will grant it!”…last thing she said to me was if I embarrass her by goin to rehab, I was dead to her. Haven’t spoken to her since. I don’t think she gets that that strength she wants me to pray for has to be strength I have to have within myself…and to be perfectly honest with ya, I haven’t felt strong in a long long time…

I know what you mean…

We sat in silence for a little while…again listening to the sounds around us…

What about you, Pretty Miss? What’d you have planned as a beautiful blushing bride? Settle down and pop out a few pups…retire from the biz and settle into an alcohol and hate fueled depression?

I laughed loudly at him…

Yeah…somethin like that. I never saw myself as the typical mother or wife though, you know? Hubs and I would kick ass and take names until one of us had a neck injury that took us out of the game…then slowly resent each other as we had to wipe the other’s ass as their caretaker and vice versa…you know…how marriages in the sport typically go…

We both chuckled as I started breaking the twig into smaller and smaller pieces…

I would like to have a family one day…kids are out of the picture so maybe just a band of weirdos that love each other as family. Maybe settle down with a hunk with a twisted sense of humor…tall and handsome…oh! and smart! Gotta be able to handle a conversation…and pretty eyes…couple tattoos…a smile that makes me melt…

Welp, I guess that rules me out…

I laughed raucously at his joke. He stood up and brushed his pants off, then held his hand out to me to help me up. I tossed my twig remnants¬†on the ground, took his hand and brushed the back of my legs and butt off…

I just hope that whoever I end up is someone that is proud of me…

If he ain’t…he’s dumber than a boxa rocks…

The sound of commontion outside the room roused me. I had apparently fallen asleep holding his hand. I turned towards the door as it flew open and was greeted with a look of disgust that rivaled the look one has when they smell garbage sitting in the hot sun…

What is SHE doing here?!

The redheaded splotchy faced woman was glaring at me with glassy blue eyes. She narrowed them at me as the nurses that had been in and out of Walter’s room for the last 24 hours tried to explain that if I hadn’t gotten Walter to the hospital when I did, he probably would have already passed before she had gotten to say goodbye to him. She looked down her nose at me with the most disdain I’d ever seen on one face.

Oh…the sinner…

I stood up still holding Walter’s hand…

I’m Oph-

I know who you are, you jezebel! You get your disease ridden hands off of my father right now!!

If you’ll just listen to me, I’d be happy to-

Why did you bring him here?! He should be in a healthy CHRISTIAN hospital where he is surrounded by God’s loving and healing embrace! Not here in this cesspool of Satan!

I tried to get him a reservation with a faith healer, but he couldn’t see him until Wednesday…

Jokes? You think this is a time for joking and laughing?! How DARE you!!

I tried my best to look intimidating through the fact that I hadn’t slept, eaten, or brushed my hair in almost 48 hours…

You listen to me…I am taking my father out of this place. I want him someplace surrounded by people that care about his afterlife! I want her out! Get this woman out of here!!!

I grabbed my bag and my coat and allowed the nurses to escort me out of the room without incident. I knew Walter wouldn’t want me to cause a scene, especially with his daughter. She tried to have me removed from the hospital completely, but since I wasn’t the one causing a disturbance, the nurses allowed me to sit at the nurse’s station.

Part of me wished they had kicked me out though because I sat and watched in horror as, against the advice of doctor’s, specialists, and nurses begged Denise to reconsider moving Walter, but she was set in her decision. I watched them unhook his machines and switch them to portable units that wouldn’t be able to support his health to the airport, let alone the 4 hours flight from Nashville to Salt Lake. I tried to keep my tears hidden so that I wouldn’t give Denise the satisfaction of knowing she was getting to me with her ridiculous demands…

I walked outside to the van I had brought Walter to the hospital in and lit a cigarette. The tears were streaming down my face silently as I watched the bed holding my best friend was loaded into the back of a medical transport vehicle. The breeze was blowing cold through my hair, but I barely could feel it…I was so numb. I watch the redhead that had come and turned my life and world upside down. She pulled her phone out of her pocket and answered it while the nurses and doctors tried to get her attention.

All of my attention was on Denise until one of the paramedics on the transport came out and was waving for some extra help and hands. It seemed like only seconds that he was in the back of that ambulance before they were unloading him, with one of the nurses doing chest compressions…

————————————

I sat in the driveway looking up at the house…I remembered the night that I brought LC home and Walter was sitting on the front porch in his boxers and a wife beater…I remembered the two of them sitting on the porch mowing down some tacos before I sent Tilly off to spend the summer with Jeffree…all of those memories…I tried so fucking hard to keep it together as I got out of the car, holding the bag of Walt’s personal items. I walked up to the front door and exhaled heavily out of my mouth…No…I can’t fall apart yet…

I opened the door and found all of my family sitting in the living room. Tilly was leaning on Bho, Lewis was sitting on the floor fiddling with a stray thread on the hem of his joggers, and Mohave rocking back and forth saying “No news is good news no news is good news” over and over. I swallowed hard and the four of them looked up at me hopefully…

Lew…I need you to call Miss F and X let them know whats happened and that I’ll be late to Orlando for Blood Money…Bho…get Walt’s black suit and the bolo tie with skull that has turqoise eyes…I need to call Sumner’s and reserve a space for the memorial…

Everyone nodded at me…Tilly gave me a tight hug before she headed upstairs, leaving tear spots on my gray shirt…I headed upstairs to take a shower…as I walked past the kitchen, I noticed that Walter’s mug was stilling sitting on the granite island. No…I can’t afford to fall apart yet…I continued up to the bedroom, stopping by Walter’s room to set the bag of his personal belongings on the foot of his bed that was still unmade…

I walked into our bedroom and kicked my shoes off. I began taking my pants off and turned around to see Bho and Lewis staring at me…

I love you guys, but I really just am not in the mood…

You wanna talk about it?

Talk about what?

Baby…c’mon…

There’s nothing to talk about…the man that has taken better care of me in 5 years than my real father ever did my entire life is gone…and I almost didn’t even get to say goodbye…

Meaning? The last we heard was that they were looking for his daughter to make some decisions…

I nodded and swallowed past the throbbing lump in my throat…No…I can’t fall apart yet…

They found her…and she came…and then she left and now I’m making arrangments…

She just left?

Yup…

Something isn’t clicking here, O…

I stood in front of the two loves of my life, trying my best not to snap because they didn’t deserve it…

6….minutes…

The both looked perplexed…

He was in the ambulance for 6 minutes before he coded. Meanwhile, his daughter was taking a call from her lawyer…before she committed to a 4 hour flight to visit her father on his deathbed, she called a lawyer to see what she was entitled to as far as his estate…her told her to just hop on the plane and he would look into it and let her know…

She decided to try to have him moved to Salt Lake to be closer to her family, but he didn’t even make it out of the parking lot before his heart gave up…and the exact amount of time for his daughter to sign over Next of Kin to me…because Walter had tied up all of his assets with mine so she wasn’t entitled to anything from his estate. So she left…and told me that I could deal with “his mess”…thats what she called it….”his mess”…

I felt my eyes start to burn and well up…No…I can’t fall apart yet…

So now I’m putting together a memorial…he wanted to be cremated. He always said no mortician could ever comb his mustache correctly…

We all chuckled together…and it wasn’t long before the chuckles became sobs.

I can’t hold on any longer…

The waves of grief poured over and out of me. I sobbed and cursed…LC and Bho doing their best to hold me while I fell apart. I wailed and begged them to wake me up. Begged them to make it all better…Begged them to take me out of my misery…Begged them to shoot me up until my eyes closed forever…

I pushed myself away from them and ran to the bathroom. I locked the door behind me and ran to the mirror. I looked at the gaunt, pale, tired face in the mirror…she was smirking at me.

Help me…

Huh?

Please…this hurts too much…I can’t do this by myself…

What about the mister and missus?

They don’t get this…they’re never going to understand you and I…I need you, Murder….please…

Please help me…

I closed my eyes as the sobbing over comes me again. Within a split second the desperate sadness became rage filled glee…the 1000 lb weight on my chest was lifted and replaced with the feeling of freedom…I opened my eyes to the sad bitch staring back at me in the mirror…

I smiled widely at her…

It’s all gonna be okay, babe…Mama’s got you…