| My wedding day is finally here. I am dressed in a pair of white jeans and a white button down shirt. Ben and I stand before the Justice of the Peace, on the beach, and as the sun is setting we exchange our vows. We pledge ourselves to one another. Then we gently kiss to seal the vows. Now we are man and wife as the sun sets below the horizon.
We are back in the condo. Ben is in the kitchen with a few of his detective friends. Tom is sitting on the couch talking to Dakota Parks, my EMT partner, and they look like they are having a decent conversation. John is standing by the sliding door with some of his police and detective friends. I am standing by the stairs taking in everything. At the moment I am feeling proud and excited.
Everything goes quiet and a woman screams. Gwen is standing about five feet from me and she has a gun drawn. John and his friends go into defense mode and draw their weapons. Gwen spots Tom immediately and she aims her gun in his direction. Gwen yells at the top of her lungs for me and my response is ‘I am right here or did you not see me?’ Gwen looks startled for a moment as I step away from the stairs. I see Ben and two of his friends step behind Gwen and Ben takes careful aim. Yet before Ben can fire, Gwen presses her trigger, and to my horror her bullet strikes Tom right between the eyes.
Tom did not even have time to cry out. I sprint to Tom’s side with tears streaming from my eyes. Ben fires his gun and Gwen topples to the ground. Half of Gwen’s head has exploded and there is blood and brain matter every place you looked. Dakota pulls me away from Tom and I am trembling and I fight back slightly. Tom needs me, I cry, and Dakota pulls me away stating that Tom is dead. The back of Tom’s head has been blown apart by the exit of the bullet from Gwen’s gun.
Ben is beside me as well and Ben and Dakota lead me outside to the patio. Ben commands Dakota to stay with me and stand guard. Dakota stands beside me and places an arm around my shoulders. Ben reenters the condo to talk to John and make decisions on what to do from here. I turn to Dakota and begin sobbing and Dakota holds me tightly against his athletic body. Tom is dead? No, he cannot be. What the hell is happening here? Dakota is on edge but his main concern right at the moment is me. I almost collapse and Dakota has me sit at the picnic table before I really do fall over.
Ben emerges from the condo about an hour later and I jump to my feet. I just cannot sit anymore. I have to do something, anything. Ben has me sit down again and he says to Dakota that he can go back into the condo for the police have a few questions for him. Dakota nods and he disappears back into the condo. Ben sits beside me and he holds my hand. Ben says he has told the police everything and he has shielded me from any questions for the time being. I am grateful that I do not have to answer to any officer right now for I am not up for it at all.
Ben says, “I told the police that you want the city to take care of Gwen for you do not want to claim her. Was I right?”
I nod, “You’re right.”
Ben says, “I am really sorry about Tom.”
I say, “He isn’t really dead.”
Ben sadly says with tears in his intense blue eyes, “Honey, Tom is dead, I swear on my life.”
I beg, “He can’t be.”
Ben replies, “The coroner just came in and took him to the morgue along with Gwen.”
I start to cry again, “No …”
Ben pulls me closer to him, “I’m really very sorry honey.”
I sob, “I can’t deal with this right now.”
Ben holds me, “I know honey but I am here for you and I always will be.”
John comes out to the patio and gives Ben and I each a bottle of water which I quickly drink. John says that everybody is gone and that the cleaning crew is here. The cleaning crew will clean up all the blood and brain matter from the walls, the rug, the floor, and do the best that they can with the couch. I am sure I will have to purchase a new couch. Actually I am sure I will have to purchase that new couch but that is not a concern of mine at the moment. My heart is extremely heavy, my chest hurts from the heartache I am feeling, and I feel a panic attack coming on.
John tells Ben to go upstairs and pack a couple of bags for Ben and I will be staying with him for a few days. I try to object this idea but John will not hear about it. Ben does as John says and I remain on the patio. John does not want me to enter the condo right at the moment for everything that has just happened might trigger me all over again. I know John is right but I want to pack my own stuff I say and John says that it is not possible right now and he is confident that Ben can take care of my clothes.
I ask, “Why did Gwen do this?”
John says, “Max there is no answer for that because we cannot ask her why.”
I say, “Gwen didn’t have to do this John, she could have left us alone, and she chose not to.”
John says, “I know honey.”
I say, “I cannot stand this right now. I just want to lie down and sleep this away.”
John says, “I know the feeling Max but you cannot do that either. You have to face this whole thing head on.”
I say, “I know but I am just gonna rest for a few days.”
John says, “Max, take tomorrow and check out, but we have to plan Tom’s wake and funeral. We need to know what he would have wanted.”
I am instantly angry, “Tom would not want to be dead!”
John touches my shoulder and I shy away, “You know what I mean Max.”
I am still angry but I am more hurt than anything else, “I can’t think about this right now.”
John’s eyes are watery, “And you don’t have to. Like I said take a little time to let all of this sink in.”