Winter chill seeped through the double pane glass of every window in the small cabin. Xeroxed copies of the police report were scattered in massive piles all around the room, leaving both the inside and outside of the cabin covered in white. “You must get out of bed. You are safe. You are away. You are alive” rolled the familiar mantra through her head as she willed herself to move from the only space she felt safe, a massive pile of blankets on a rickety twin bed. Ziploc bags of her possessions lay discarded in the corner, old blood staining the inside of the bags and obscuring the items inside. All but the natural light was gone from the room and it threw the whole scene into stark contrast, the white papers on most of the surfaces, the dark walls closing in the cabin. Begging for her life was all she could remember about that night, the vicious attack, and her possible rape; in a manic fit she had printed out sixty-five copies of the police report, hoping each subsequent copy would hold the detail that her clouded brain was missing; hoping her memory would be jogged, and she would understand all the pain her brain and body had suffered through the last three months; hoping she could remember the man who attacked her; hoping beyond all hope that she could figure out why the man did this, why he had been so brutal.
Cynthia remembered leaving the movie theater and walking down the street toward her one-bedroom apartment on the East End; remembered walking up the stairs and putting her key in the lock; remembered a man taking her as she walked in the door, and then the world went black. Dying would have been easier than this mental, and physical, hell that she had been imprisoned in. Everything she had is all it took for her to rise from the bed, walk into the spare bathroom, and empty her dehydrated body of what little urine it had made. For weeks she had gone over the reports every time she could get out of bed, but nothing ever clicked. Gage Martin, the man who the reports indicated, had done this to her, had placed a Chloroform cloth over her mouth, beat her senseless, and threw her on the bed; she had cried and begged for her life as she feebly tried to fight him. Her physical wounds had healed, but she suffered immense pain constantly, her mind was in tatters, and her spirit was completely broken. Indications of extreme bruising covering ninety percent of the body, minor cuts and scrapes, significant open wounds, fractured radius, fractured tibia, fractured skull, fractured occipital bone, evidence of extreme blunt force to multiple ribs and face, rape kit inconclusive; it read like a list of findings from an autopsy, yet she was still here. Just one detail is all it will take, something I have missed. Kind words had been said over her every day at the hospital by all the people who loved her, and they had made a superficial difference in her scabbed over mind, but as soon as the headaches set in again and the nightmares would come all her perceived progress would dissipate like smoke.
Light snow began to fall outside the shanty as another Nor’easter blew in; wind whipped around, gently blowing the curtains with the wind that slipped through the window frame. Making food would help, she thought, as she shambled across the cabin and took a knife from the chopping block; cutting a piece from the stale cake her mother had brought several days back, she placed the knife on the counter and turned away; her hand flattened on top of the blade and pain coursed through her as it sliced her hand.
Noise filled her head, deafening, horrifying noise, and the yelling and screaming were directed at her; her body flew across the room and crashed into her chest of drawers before he was suddenly on top of her, ripping the clothes from her body he yelled: “James sends his love!” Oil bottles flew from the counter as she struggled away from memory; it had all come back; James had someone do this.
“Please stop!” she screamed to no one, as the flashing images of her own ordeal left her in a crumpled heap on the floor, alone in the cabin. Quietly she sobbed into her hands, ignoring the pain that radiated down her back and the blood that ran down her arm. Remembering was worse than she could have imagined, knowing that the man she had once loved had sent another to hurt, maim, and ruin her was worse than the pain she felt every morning getting out of bed.
Several hours went by before she could muster the strength to get off the cold floor and make the phone call that would change everything. Telephone number lists lay next to the phone, helpfully provided by her mother in an attempt to get Cynthia to speak with anyone, but she knew the number by heart, they had talked every day, many times a day for weeks on the hospital phone in the hopes that the case could be solved or at least find a lead. Understanding of her full situation had not brought the relief she had hoped. Instead, it numbed her, and this numbness allowed Cynthia to call her friend and the detective on the case to provide the desperately needed information.
“Veronica, James did this to me.”