I woke up face down on a dirt covered road. My entire body ached and bled. I tried to raise my left arm but it only moved inches. Something burned on my forearm like I was branded with a hot iron. No street lights, no lights of any kind. I’m surrounded by the night. Can’t even move my body off the road. Maybe the pain will go away if I die here in the dark.
Bright lights, headlights, moved quickly towards my mangled body. This is how it ends run over by a car in the middle of nowhere. The lights stopped in front of me. Suddenly a female in white illuminated by the headlights (an angel?) walked towards me. “Oh my god!” I heard her say then I passed out again.
I remember being lifted onto a stretcher and the loud, blaring sound of the ambulance. Incoherent voices talked to me. Nothing made sense. Everything was blurry. I fought hard to stay awake. People kept talking around me. “He’s lucky to be alive . . . lost a lot of blood.” ‘I’ve done all I can for him.” ‘The police want to talk to him when he regains consciousness.”
My mind saw Isabella’s cover girl face, the source of my greatest joy and my greatest pain. Her long black hair cascaded over the white pillow case. A pear shaped diamond necklace drew my eyes to her sensuous ebony body. Laughing, happy, she enjoyed the moment with me. Isabella’s soft brown eyes invited me to a world of pleasure.
Isabella screamed! Then the pain began.
I recall being thrown from the bed against the far wall. Gilley stood over me. His menacing six foot frame had a muscular build from his obsession with the weight room. “YOU BASTARD!” He kicked me in the stomach. I gasped for breath. “And robbing me too!” He emptied the briefcase covering me in a sea of fifty and hundred dollar bills.
Isabella ran from the bedroom wrapped in a sheet crying loudly. Taz, Gilley’s henchman a mountain of muscles and tattoos, rushed in. “What happened?”
“Mac was in bed with my wife!”
Taz jammed a silver revolver against my head. “Just say the word Gilley.”
“Not here. Drag his ass behind the house in the woods.” Then Gilley looked at me. “I won’t kill you. But when we’re done with you you’ll be begging for a bullet to your head!”
“She loves me Gilley.” I blurted out.
Taz’s boot smashed into my face. The next few hours I was in and out of consciousness. The beating brought me to a new level of pain throughout my body. I heard Gilley say something about calling Joshua, Gilley’s tattoo guy, “to come over right now. You and Joshua dump his body couple hours from town.”
I woke up on the dirt road and again in a hospital bed. A warm hand in mine. A woman’s voice.”I’m alone in the world since my divorce is final. No reason to hurry home just Checkers my cat waiting for me. I hope you wake soon. There’s so much I want to share with you.”
My eyes tried to focus. A nurse sat next to my hospital bed. I attempted to smile at her instead I moaned. The cute nurse had blondish brown hair, dark, expressive eyes and reacted with a big smile when I opened my eyes.
“Hi. Welcome back.” She greeted me.
“Were you the one who found me, who saved me that night?”
“Yes I did. I take that shortcut to the hospital when I’m running late and I’m always running late. There’s no traffic. It saves me ten minutes every day.” She paused and gripped my hand tighter. “I almost didn’t see you. I could have run you over.” A tear ran down her cheek.
“But you didn’t. I’m alive thanks to you.” I returned her smile even though my face hurt. “How long have I been here?”
“One week tomorrow. You were in a coma for days. I didn’t know if you would come back to me. I sit with you every day on my breaks and after my shift’s over. You have blue eyes. I haven’t seen them till now.”
“I’m sure you have lots of questions for me.”
“You’ve mumbled some names in your sleep like Gilley, Taz, and Isabella many times. I hope you’re not married.”
“I’m not. No kids either. Let me rest. We’ll talk tomorrow. And thanks again for saving my life.” I passed out and didn’t hear her leave.
The next day I spent with doctors and medical tests. Everyone seemed happy that I had returned from the dead. Nobody asked me my opinion to be back among the living. Maybe it would have been better for everyone to have died on that dirt road.
Still, I longed for my dark beauty Isabella, my reason to keep living. Would I ever see her again? The welcome mat will definitely not be out for me if I go back.
My dinner tray arrived. Hunger dominated my thoughts until I saw a bowl of soup, crackers and orange jello. I used the straws for my drinks. Based on my sore jaw I couldn’t chew anything hard. I had my last spoon of jello when she walked in my room. “There you are,” I said. My nurse friend had arrived. She removed my tray and sat next to me.
“We haven’t been introduced. I’m Kate Mathews. No one knows your name. You’re listed as John Doe.” Her hand slipped into mine.
“Everyone calls me Mac.”
“Are you able to answer my questions? The police detective said you couldn’t remember what happened.”
“For you I’ll answer anything.”
“Who beat you up and nearly killed you?”
“That would be Gilley.”
“My brother. A dangerous man. He’s involved in drugs and guns. Not the man to cross.”
“The reason I’m in the hospital. Gilley’s wife. We were gonna run off together with a briefcase full of Gilley’s drug money.”
Kate dropped my hand. “Maybe I have judged you all wrong.”
“I’m not a bad guy. Just got crazy over the wrong woman. The other name you mentioned Taz is a big mean dude. Avoid him at all costs.”
Kate stood and looked at me. “You’ll be able to leave the hospital in a few days. I thought about offering my home to you. I’m not sure. Can you explain your tattoo?”
“What tattoo?” She pulled off the long bandage on my left forearm revealing, DONT COME BACK. “I didn’t ask for that.” I explained.
“You need my help. I’ll take you home on a trial basis. We’ll see how it goes.” She left the room.
The day finally came and I rolled along in the wheelchair to Kate’s waiting car. My legs were gaining their strength from my daily walks down the hospital hallways. My left arm remained weak though.
We ate a quiet meal of meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Soft food helped my jaw the most. I finished my coffee. She walked me to the guest room. “I hung some of my ex-husband’s old clothes in the closet. They should fit you. I’m across the hall. Don’t get any ideas. I’m locking my door.”
I slept soundly and woke to an empty house. Kate left coffee for me. I managed to find the toaster for some breakfast. I showered, dressed and watched tv until I fell asleep in a comfortable chair.
Kate ran into the house. “Mac, a man came looking for you at the hospital. A huge man dressed in black, Taz?”
I jumped to my feet. “Do you have a gun in the house?”
“Yes, but I’ve never used it.” She handed me the pistol and a box of bullets. “He won’t find you here.”
“He might have followed you from the hospital.” Suddenly a bullet shattered the front window. I knocked Kate to the floor. The second bullet slammed into the wall over our heads. The only good news, Taz couldn’t shoot real well. He relied on his brute strength to punish people. I loaded Kate’s gun and crawled to the broken window.
Taz’s size made him a very big target. He ran from the oak tree for a closer shot, his fatal error. I could shoot. I did learn something from my brother Gilley. Both bullets hit his chest knocking him backward to the ground. I hurried outside and watched him struggle and bleed in front of me. My last shot went directly into his large head. I took his gun and fished two more clips out of his pocket. Grabbing his Humvee keys, I found Kate standing behind me.
“You’re not going back there! They beat you to death last time.” Tears welled in her eyes.
“I have to. They nearly killed me twice. I can’t wait for them to come after me again.” She reached for me. I turned away.
“All you care about is that bitch Isabella!”
I didn’t answer. I didn’t look back at Kate. I hopped in the Humvee. If they see Taz’s vehicle, I might be able to drive right in before they notice. Was I going back for revenge on Gilley or for the love of Isabella? Maybe both. Since I had a couple of hours to drive, I thought about Kate. She had feelings for me. It might be better to turn around and make a new life with her. Sure I’ve had my share of other women in my life. But Isabella brought a sensual desire I’ve never known before. Being with her makes the whole world stop. Only the two of us exist in a combination of lust and love. My exotic girl, my reason for living.
Gilley would never understand. He tried to corner the market on beautiful women of every color. Isabella represented his flavor of the month. He would tire of her and send her packing. All I want is one woman, Isabella; he can have the rest for himself.
I crossed into Taver Hts. and knew it would only be twenty more minutes to reach the other side of town and Gilley’s house. I had no plans, running on straight adrenaline. Pulling to the side of the street, I reloaded the clip in my gun. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Taz left a bottle on the floor. I filled my mouth with good Kentucky bourbon. This could be the beginning of my new life or the end of my sorry one. There would be no mercy from Gilley, even for his own brother. I glanced at Joshua’s tattoo – DONT COME BACK. Too late. I’m back right now!
Gilley’s big country house had a large yard until he bought out his neighbors and tore down their houses. Then he owned the whole street. For late night shipments of guns and drugs, no prying eyes wondered what that truck delivered at four in the morning. At any given moment, six of his henchmen worked in the house or in the vast woods behind the house. Most of the men knew me. I’d work for Gilley off and on. He always overpaid me probably felt sorry for me.
I remember the first time I saw Isabella, the African queen of Gilley’s collection of gorgeous, international females. When our eyes met, I knew I had to have her. I started hanging out more at Gilley’s house. Unloading trucks, packing boxes, anything to appear useful, I needed to see her, be around her all the time.
That moment in the kitchen her hand touched mine. I reached for her hand squeezing it tightly. This time our eyes locked together for a brief moment. Talk about dangerous desire, my brother’s wife! We would exchange words in passing throughout the house.
“He won’t let me leave the house ever. I’m like a prisoner here. You know he hits me when he’s drunk.”
“We have to be careful or he’ll kill us both.”
Another time days later she said,”I’ve been putting money aside for us. He’ll never miss it.”
We stepped into an empty bedroom. I hugged Isabella for the first time. We shared a passionate kiss. I unbuttoned the front of her white cotton dress. Then I let my hands move across her black skin and she moaned with desire. I had to have her.
“When?” I whispered.
“Tomorrow afternoon, he’s leaving with Taz for a meeting downtown. It could take hours.”
The next afternoon we planned to take the briefcase of money and leave everything else behind. It didn’t happen that way. We were in the bedroom. We were alone in the house. One kiss led to another. Clothes flew in all directions. The blue quilt joined the clothing on the carpeted floor. Passion made its own plans, its own rules. Her perfumed body, her inviting brown eyes, I never heard Gilley’s voice until he opened the bedroom door.
Now I approached the house in the Humvee. A red Benz left the four car garage. Seeing my arriving Humvee they assumed a returning Taz and kept the garage door open and honked in my direction. At this time of night, probably a food run before the trucks rolled in again. A lucky break for me.The other two cars in the garage included an emerald green Jaguar and the midnight blue Corvette. Gilley loved his cars. As I closed the garage door, I set the house alarm to warn me when they returned. Any opened door of the house or garage would set it off.
I needed to find Gilley before I could save Isabella and live out my dream life. College football blared from the enormous family room tv sound system. No one occupied the black leather furniture. I entered the adjoining kitchen. There Gilley sat on a bar stool with his back to me. He drank the remainder of his Scotch rocks. “That you Taz? You killed Mac for me?”
“Afraid not Gilley.”
He turned to face the pistol I pointed at him. “Don’t do anything stupid Mac. You want money, I’ll give you money.”
“You know what I want, who I want.”
“Isabella? She’s outta your league brother. She loves me for my money. You have nothing to offer her.”
“Is she alright?”
“Outside of that black eye for saying your name, she’s perfectly fine.” I watched his right hand move slowly to a butcher knife laying on the counter. “You won’t leave this house alive. The guys’ll kill you if I don’t.”
“Nice try Gilley. I saw them leave.”
He threw his glass at me and grabbed the large knife. My gun fell to the floor. I managed to kick the knife out of his hand. We scrambled for the gun. He elbowed my nose and it exploded in blood. The gun landed across the floor from us. But Gilley moved faster and inched closer to the gun and killing me.
I didn’t hear her. Isabella stood over Gilley screaming and stabbing him repeatedly with the butcher knife. Lastly, she buried the knife up to the handle in his back.
Gilley was dead.
“We have to leave now.” I pleaded with her. I tossed her a kitchen towel. “Wipe the blood off your hands.”
“I need my purse.” Isabella hurried up the stairs unsteadily as if the reality of the moment finally caught up with her.
We raced to the Humvee. We’ll need different transportation that will blend in soon. I punched in the alarm code and we drove away. With Gilley and Taz both dead we had time to disappear. Isabella sat next to me leaning on my shoulder. Tears of joy and I’m sure regret, streamed down her face. From now on we would live our lives on the run.
By the way, her purse was filled with Gilley’s cash!