Part 3: Foggerty Family
“I remember this table, you know.” I was sitting at it, with my fingers tracing the semi-paisley pattern, which had largely worn away with time. “I remember this pattern. And that wallpaper over there. I didn’t know I did, but I do.”
She sat on a chair beside me, leaned against me, her hair hanging over her face. “How long has it really been?”
“Fourteen years, I think. Thirteen?”
“It’s in good repair. Considering…”
I let my hand slide across the table towards hers.
Zara laughed, “God, it’s so stupid, I’m so fucking tired, but I can’t imagine sleeping. I can’t imagine ever sleeping again.”
“I’m not even sure I can see straight.”
“Fuck we’re messed up.”
“Do you think she’s sleeping?”
Remembering the girl sobered me a bit. “I guess so. More or less.”
We’d done what we could for her, once we’d gotten inside and gotten something that was vaguely like orientated. There was a layout I semi-sort-of remembered, and following that had taken us to the kitchen-dining area, which I remembered being under the same roof as the dorms.
There were beds, and they were eerily made. As if they were waiting for the next load of children to come rumbling through the door. There was dust, and there was that heavy, empty silence of a place that hasn’t heard voices in a while. But there were beds and bed linen. Bunks. Zara thought it was best to lay a blanket down on the ground so we could take a proper look at the girl. Tamsin. But we didn’t know that yet.
We confirmed what we knew: that she’d beaten and stabbed. Worse, of course. I tried not to see Zara cleaning the blood off her thighs. I willingly escaped to go looking for bandages, I discovered a plastic bowl, that the water was on and even heated. I found something that maybe passed for a first aid cupboard, and we did our best to wrap the bandages around her stomach, before gingerly lifting her onto one of the bunks. She didn’t wake at all as we did all that, she didn’t even murmur any more.
“She’ll be okay,” Zara told me after we’d covered her in a blanket and walked out into the hallway.
“Sure,” I said, because there was nothing to be gained by saying anything different.
And so we sat in a familiar kitchen and listened to the wind running through the darkness. A mixture of too tired and too wired to sleep. It was all just too much to come down from.
“Well, we did it,” I offered.
“We’re the best. We’re team awesome.”
“I carved my initials on a wall around here somewhere.”
“Not just mine. NA 4 HD 4 eva and eva.”
“Well, something beginning with D.”
“Davis, or Davies or something.”
Zara leaned along her forearm; she tilted her face upwards, looking all-of-sudden sly. “Well, what was she like then?”
“Well. I think she had blond hair. I remember that she wore it in long braids, and that she had a lace ribbon plaited into each braid. I wanted to ask her how she did it, but I never quite got around to it.”
“I could show you.”
“It wouldn’t be the same.”
“It’s a childhood, first love kind of thing.”
“First crush at least. Let me have that.”
“She was blond…” Zara prompted.
“And she had dimples, and some freckles, and a couple of missing teeth. I’m not sure if I should tell you this…”
“I used to like wiggling my tongue around in the gap when I kissed her.”
“On the mouth?”
“When you were nine?”
“Nate, dearest, you stud.”
“I did kinda think I was the man,” that memory made me flush. It made me feel warm and red in the middle of the whole shitstorm. As if that sort of embarrassment still had any place in the world.
“What happened to her?”
“You never saw her again?”
“One letter. On honeybee notepaper.”
“You remember the paper?” She slurred her voice into cute innuendo, I think just to watch my face redden again.
“Well, what did it say?”
“That she got home, and her cat was glad to see her. And some stuff about her family that I can’t remember now. And that she wanted to kiss me again next year.”
“And you wrote back?”
“I think so.”
“It was a few years back. And then they closed this place down, and I didn’t go to camp again. And she… I don’t know if she did or didn’t, or where. God, she could be out there anywhere, she could be doing anything.” She could be dead. I tried to keep that thought from flashing through my head, but I wasn’t quick enough. It streaked in there, painting my thoughts a grisly red, letting the cold back in. I looked at Zara: “We still have that bottle of whiskey, right?”
“Right here,” she plonked it down on the table.
“Oh, thank God.”
I guess we did sleep eventually, sitting at that table. And we were woken by the sun. A mixture of concussion, the discomfort of having slept seated, with my forehead on a hard table, the edges of a hangover, were what greeted me along with the sun. I turned my head away, grimacing just a little.
Zara got up. She moved sluggishly, but she tested the oven, found a pot, started making us some porridge. She glanced over at me and offered something I can best describe as a crescent smile. But just that sliver of expression settled into me and made me feel better.
Until the girl appeared in the doorway.
She looked kind of a mess. Her hair was clumped and tangled, there were bloody smudges on her face, and an inkblot of red blood in the left side of her bandages. She stood with her arm rested against the doorway for a moment, taking us in, sizing us up.
Zara reacted first, she moved towards the girl: “I don’t think you should be up yet. I don’t think you should be walking around, okay?”
She spoke awkwardly, as if her mouth was bruised or her jaw damaged. She had to focus on the words. “Where’s… Derek?”
I tried to answer, I really did, but the words dried up in my mouth. I don’t know what words they would been; my head was just as empty.
Zara started to say, “Your friend… he…”
“Dead,” she spoke woodenly, her voice dull.
Silence lapped at our conversation. Neither of us could find words.
“I saw it,” she said, maybe taking pity on us. “I saw it. They dragged him out of the car. They kicked and punched him. He was down… he… stamping… on his face.”
The image of Derek’s half-face, of course, came flying at me out of my memory. There was no possibility of dodging it. Somebody’s boot did that.
“I’m sorry,” I didn’t know what else to say.
“It’s all right,” she said.
“I killed one of them,” it just staggered out. “Maybe two of them.”
She nodded. She murmured, “Good.” She asked me: “How did you do it?”
“I shot him. I beat the other one with the butt of the gun. All the bullets…”
Zara reached uneasily towards her; she just grazed the girl’s arm with her fingers. “You really shouldn’t be walking around. That looks like a stab wound…”
“It is. My knife. He grabbed it out of my hand.”
Zara guided her into a chair, “I don’t know if it’s all that bad. I don’t think it is, but I’m not a doctor. That is… I don’t know what we’ll do if it keeps bleeding, or gets infected or something. So just take it easy, okay? I don’t know if you remember, I’m Zara. This is Nate, he’s my boyfriend.”
“Tamsin,” she murmured.
“You should eat something. I’m making porridge.”
“Only what we brought with us. You were lying on it on the way up here.”
The girl – Tamsin now – smiled a bit at that. “You guys saved me.”
I said, “We weren’t planning to. God knows we weren’t. We couldn’t leave you though, like that… Look, we’re not going to hurt you…”
“Whatever those guys…”
She shook her head, “I know.”
“I don’t know what we’re going to do with this place yet, but it’s home. Sort of. You can stay.” Right, like we own the place, like it’s up to us who gets to stay. “It used to be a summer camp, ten or fifteen years ago. You wouldn’t have… even…”
“Seventeen,” she answered, with a wisp of a smile.
“Yeah, you would have been too young… but… this place: it might work. If you want to stick around.”
“Okay.” Her voice was soft and bruised. I wondered what she must have sounded like before what’d happened last night.
Picture credit/discredit: author's own work.