SEP 12, 2022
Stan drove slowly into the dusk as the city settled for the evening. The radio crackled an old-time tune, drawing nostalgia. Traffic crawled as he approached the cul-de-sac, though Stan, lost in yearning, barely noticed. In the distance, the blinking lights of a police car drew his attention. Then another, and another, and at the cul-de-sac too. The entrance was thronging with people and policemen, which forced him to park by the curb. He hopped out, befuddled by the ruckus.
“What happened?” he asked the onlookers.
Murmurs. He could neither make heads nor tails of it.
He made his way through the crowd, approaching the officer who was holding the line. “You can’t go in there,” the officer warned him, but Stan, with now a better view, realized that his house was the center of attention.
“I live there,” Stan shouted, “that is my house. What is going on?”
The officer, experienced with trespassers in crime scenes, initially ignored him, but only for a moment, the tune of desperation finally ringing home.
“Are you press?”
“No, I am Stanley Norton, that is my house. Where is my wife?”
“Driver’s license please.”
Stan whipped out his wallet, alarm bells ringing.
“Oh! Mr Norton, please, come with me,” he told Stan. “Jones, take over here, please,” he asked his partner.
Stan, hesitatingly, walked up, ready to be confronted by a scary truth. The body bag, lay on the stretcher. “Georgia,” he let out a soft whimper.
“No, Mr., your wife is OK.”
So who was in the body bag? Shaken, he walked up to the porch.
“Stay here,” the officer instructed as he walked in.
“Stan! Stan!” he heard Rob calling him. He turned to see Rob walking up.
“Georgia is fine, they took her in an ambulance. Cora went with her to the hospital.”
Georgia was fine? So why did she need an ambulance, or worse, need to go to the hospital? He was torn between waiting for the officer and going after Georgia.
“Mr Norton?” the voice called.
Stan turned to face a bespectacled detective.
“Good evening, Mr Norton, my name is Detective Max Weller, I am with the Los Angeles Police Department. Unfortunately, there has been a murder in your property, a postal worker has been killed. Your wife has been rushed to Alameda hospital for observation, we are not sure what happened, but. . .”
Stan’s rationale gave. A postal worker was dead? He needed to find Georgia. He turned and started running towards his truck.
“Hey, wait. . .” the detective called.
“I’ll bring him to the station, but knowing him, he needs to see his wife,” Rob told the detective as he chased after Stan.
Stan slid into the truck, and held the wheel, tears trickling down. He needed to force himself to go, he needed to drive, but he couldn’t.
“Slide over buddy, I’ll drive you”.
Rob jumped in and fired up the truck, and off they sped into the night, in search of their wives.
“She had smoke inhalation, Stan, she was unconscious, but the doctor said she would be fine.”
He heard very little, and sullenly sat, watching the world glide past him. It was a short drive, but to him, it took forever.
The information desk directed them up and along a long walkway, Stan silently followed Rob, fearing the worst. Rob saw Cora, who waved them over. The entered the room. Underneath the oxygen tent, motionless, face ashen, purpled lips, barely breathing, lay the reason Stan lived. Rooted, all he could do was stare. What else could he do? Cora, her face creased with worry, stood behind him.
“The doctor said she will be fine, just smoke inhalation, and I think she was drugged because they tried to wake her up, but they couldn’t,” Cora stated cautiously.
“Drugged? By whom?”
“I don’t know. When they found her and Sandra, she was unconscious.”
“The postal worker, Stan, she was killed with a knife.”
“I… I didn’t know.”
Now he did, Sandra the only other person with answers was currently in the back of an ambulance headed to a city building to reveal the horrific cause of her demise.
Carefully, he walked over, and clasped her hand, feeling her tenderness, and knowing she was alive. That was good enough for now. Stan needed his rationale back, but her soft hand would not allow him to do much else. He pulled the chair and sat there, her tiny hand in his. Behind him, Rob and Cora silently let themselves out. It was what Stan required. His Georgia.
* * *
Georgia ebbed and flowed over the next few days, and when she came to, her ramblings were incoherent. “Slicker,” she kept repeating. Over and over again. He barely left her side, only away long enough to clean himself up and eat. He slept and woke up in that chair, waiting for his Snow White to arise, and their fairy tale to resume. The doctors constantly assured him that she would be fine. He had been threatened with ejection from the hospital, but, his defiance warded them off. The young nurses were chagrined, their romantic selves wishful of the great love that was between Stan and Georgia.
A week after the murder, Georgia sat up and ate. They were tiny morsels, but she ate. A cough roughed her throat, and the doctors assured them that it would pass. Eventually, her rose cheeks blushed, and though she seemed to be on the mend, Georgia’s eyes betrayed her vacuous soul. Underneath her veneer, behind her recovery, she was turbulent. The Georgia that Stan knew was long lost, robbed of her innocence, by the tragedy that had befallen her.
A few days later, Stan appeared before the detective to record his statement, not that he knew much, and had asked the detective to give Georgia time to recover. The detective had called in every second day to follow her progress. Stan had missed the fact that for every visit, the detective would scribble into his pad. He was jubilant with Georgia's progress, though he couldn’t bring himself to tell her that, in the melee, Felton had perished. Cora and Rob called on them every evening, Cora’s crease finally fading when she finally saw Georgia seated up.
In the week before Georgia could go home, Stan busied himself with finding a new house, a few blocks away from their old house, that he moved their things to and prepared for her arrival. Stan did not want Georgia to set foot into '420' ever again. On arriving at their new home, Stan had carried Georgia from the truck, straight into the bedroom, laid her and became her nightingale. Recovery begun. Through it all, Georgia barely said a word.
* * *
The doorbell chimed, surprising them both. Stan cautiously opened the door, to see a suited Detective Weller, accompanied by a uniformed officer.
“Good morning, detective, how may I help you?”
“We need to talk to your wife, she has not yet recorded her statement, and we need to ascertain the events that led to that unfortunate incident.”
“Can’t it wait? My wife is still unwell and…”
“It’s OK Stan,” he heard Georgia’s voice, “let them in.”
Stan, whirled, amazed that Georgia had left the bedroom, standing, with a bit of radiance. Georgia, in the few seconds he had left her side, had bounced back.
Her memory was scant. She recalled herself tidying up, then watching something on the television with a glass of lemonade, after which, she had felt drowsy and dozed off. She recalled the smoke, but couldn’t remember the cause of it. Everything else was blank until she woke up with Stan sleeping on the chair next to her in the hospital bed. Detective Weller jotted his notes slowly, interjecting every so often to verify what she said.
Done with the inquiry, Detective Weller and the uniformed officer stood up to leave, reminding her that she would still need to come to visit the station to have her prints taken for elimination, and to file a formal statement. “We also ask that you do not leave the county until this matter is settled.”
Their ears pricked. “Is there a problem, officer?”
“No, it's all part of the routine, ma’am, nothing to worry about.”
“OK, then officer. I will be there tomorrow.”
He tipped his hat to Georgia, and they drove off. The Nortons were perturbed. Stan less so, as he was still exhilarated with Georgia no longer being catatonic. Georgia, a bit more astute than Stan, realized that the uniformed officer had remained quiet through the questioning. That uneasy feeling Georgia carried was not unfounded and would reveal a fate far deeper and far darker than both of them could anticipate.