Try as I might, I can’t focus on the doctor’s instructions and since it’s my Great Aunt Shirl who’s come to pick me up, I know she isn’t concentrating either. So I’m very happy for the stapled sheets of papers that they put into the plastic bag imprinted with patient’s belongings.
“You’re not looking in the pink,” she says, her nasal voice almost monotone. “But then I always told you if you hung around with that Linc Bergstrom there would not be a happy end to your story.”
Great, just what I needed to hear.
“You know he’s sheriff now?” I ask.
“How ridiculous is that? Anyone can be sheriff these days. Or president. In my day there were fine men like Jack Kennedy. Our sheriff was Hank Presley. I always wanted to know if he was related to Elvis,” says Great Aunt Shirl.
“I don’t know. He did put on a white jumpsuit once for Halloween. I always wanted to see him swivel his hips. You know they wouldn’t show Elvis swivel his hips on tv when he was first starting out,” she says.
“I did not know that,” I say.
The nurse comes in the room with a wheelchair.
“You should let the girl walk. She might get some color in her cheeks,” Great Aunt Shirl says. Her wrinkled hands are wrapped firmly around the black straps of her square leather purse.
The nurse smiles. “It’s policy. Once she gets outside she can skip and dance all she wants.”
“Well, that’s good then.”
“Except her head might not like it,” the nurse says, smiling at me.
Great Aunt Shirl and the nurse exchange talk about how long it’s taking for the resurfacing of Lee Boulevard while I listen vaguely, my thoughts a congealed mess of Linc and Clary and Ry and Rosie and how more people close to me have died in the past three weeks than in my entire life before this. I wonder about those pyromaniac men and when they’ll strike again because I’m sure they will. And I want to know what’s happened to Clary.
And maybe it’s all of this thinking about her that makes me think that I see her in the hospital parking lot standing there, her long blonde hair swirling around her face in the wind, and leaning against an old rusted blue pickup truck. The sun is shining in my eyes. I raise my hand to block it, but then she’s gone, if she ever was there.
Am I being haunted by a ghost or my guilty thoughts? I watch the spot where she was and wish everything was different.