THE SAVE (Chapter 11)

 

CHAPTER 11

 

Timber and Remy’s spirit of detente lasted exactly twenty-two minutes.

 

To show her commitment, Timber chugged down the pureed poop shake – at least that’s the way she thought about it – while Remy stood by annoying her by how pleased he suddenly looked. There was a moment after she had it down that Timber thought it was going to come right back up, but she took a deep breath and eventually the urge to hurl subsided.

 

As soon as Remy brought the disposable razor, Timber ran to the bathroom, made sure the door was locked, and sat down on the toilet just in time to lose everything to an attack of diarrhea. The physical discomfort however, was not her biggest problem. Remy had told her Puck would be coming up soon with some toiletries for her, and there is no woman on the planet who wants a handsome, single guy anywhere near the place she is that kind of indisposed, let alone the New York Yankees’ most popular outfielder, who is by nature lude and crude, and would not hesitate to joke about her private body functions with friends and strangers alike.

 

Head bent over her knees, Timber looked up at the wall switches and considered turning on the ceiling fan. Was it better to dissipate the stench, or better to hear him coming? Timber decided the hop to the fan switch was not an option right then anyway, kept flushing the toilet every time the tank refilled and prayed for Puck to fall into a pothole on his way to the apartment.

 

The second wave of diarrhea hit at the same time the poop shake decided to come back up. Timber looked around, panicked for something to throw up into, yanked open the cupboard next to her to find white towels. Nice ones too, and even in her moment of distress she wondered if Dr. Samantha Heckert had chosen them. Why white lady? Men were supposed to have brown towels or maybe navy blue to hide their inevitable skid marks. If she puked on the white towel it was going to stain and Samantha Heckert would no doubt discover it, and tattle to Remy. And then it was too late, the saliva was spilling into her mouth like Niagara Falls and just before the second coming of the poop shake, Timber stretched out the tail of her t-shirt and threw up into it.

 

The nausea hit her hard, and Timber spewed brown bile into her shirt, losing some of it over the edges and onto her pajama pants which were down around her knees, and after the third round, onto the floor. There was nothing she could do but sit there waiting for the misery to subside at both ends, holding up her vomit loaded shirt, head turned away from the stench, a situation that left the all important middle section of her body naked and undefended. It was at the moment Puck knocked on the bathroom door.

“Timber?” He called through the door. “Timber you in there?”

 

Timber considered her options. If she didn’t answer, he might try to come in.

 

“No.” Timber called back.

 

“Timber.” Puck seemed determined not to take the hint. “I got a bag of stuff here for you from Walgreens.”

 

“Ok.” Timber called as a big glob of something vile splashed on her foot. Timber peeked over the side to survey the damage, noticing for the first time there was an Ace bandage and an unravelling wad of gauze on her left foot, both now well spotted with vomit.

 

“Timber,” Puck knocked again.

 

“Ok.” Timber called, the added a belated “Thank you.”

 

There was silence for a moment while what Timber really hoped to be hearing were his departing footsteps.

 

“Timber!” Puck shouted again. “I’m going out to get you something to wear, you want to take a look at this Walgreen’s shit to see if there’s anything else you need while I’m out.”

 

“I’m sure it’s fine.” Timber answered.

 

“Well I need to get your sizes.” Puck called.

 

“Puck! Timber shouted at the top of her lungs. “I’m on the fucking toilet, now go away.”

 

Silence for a moment. No footsteps.

 

“Oh, you’re taking  crap,” he worked it out. “That mean your mouth don’t work? I just need a size. We’re on a schedule here.”

 

“Jesus Freeping Christ, Puck!” Timber ranted. “I am a woman. Women do not hold conversations while they are on the toilet. Maybe if there’s no toilet paper, we might ask a stranger in the next stall to pass us some, but that’s it, and that is an emergency situation so it does not count! It is only men who think their bodily functions can be a fun interactive community activity. Now go away.”

 

“You don’t need to be a bitch about it,” Puck groused. “I just need a shoe size.”

 

It was at that point a second Niagara Falls began in her mouth and Timber lost it. “Puck get out of my room. I don’t care what size clothes you freeping buy. If you forgot something at Walgreens I will do without. Now get out! Get out! Get out!”

 

“Timber,” Puck had the nerve to try again. ”I’m kind of pressed for….”

 

“Out! Out! Out!” Timber screamed losing at least a half cup of puke from her shirt due to her anger inspired body movements.

 

Finally she recognized the sound of footsteps receding. With seconds to spare, Timber stood up, emptied what she could of her shirt’s contents into – and unfortunately around – the toilet and as the smell of poop shake hit her, followed it up by another round of retching. At least this round she hit porcelain.

 

It took a good ten minutes for the nausea to begin to subside. No footsteps outside. So far so good. She flushed twice, then carefully folded her shirt tail up toward the neck of the shirt and stuck the slimed surfaces together. She held her breath as she stretched open the neck and slid it off, trying to keep the vomit out of her hair.

 

Timber stepped over to the sink, turned on the cold water full force, cupped her hands under the stream; drank and spit, drank and spit, drank and spit, until the taste of regurgitated poop shake began to subside. Then spent, she melted onto the cool bathroom tiles, pulled up her pajama bottoms, puke stains be damned, and tried to hold very still so that she would not again come to the notice of the hangover gods.

 

Footsteps approaching made her want to cry.

 

“Timber.” It was Puck, and this time he seemed annoyed. “Timberlain! Aren’t you done yet?”

 

Timber willed him to go away, thinking this kind of situation was exactly how people who keep guns in their homes come to snap and kill one another.

 

“Timber.” Puck pounded on the door, which echoed through her throbbing head and rekindled the nausea.

 

“Timber, I got you some clothes out here and you need to get your ass in gear right now. The physical therapist is downstairs waiting on you and you haven’t even had breakfast yet. We’re way behind.”

 

Timber groaned at the thought of breakfast but said nothing. After a short time she heard the sound of a bag rustling, and Puck returned, banging harder on the door.

 

“What the hell Timber,” he yelled. “All your shit is still here. You haven’t even brushed your teeth yet.”

 

Timber struggled for something to say and the strength to say it. “I’ll be right out,” she finally managed.

 

Suddenly there was a metallic scraping noise at the doorknob, which rattled back and forth and then the door flew open.

 

“Get out of here! Get out of here!” Timber screamed at Puck, incensed, arms crossing over her exposed breasts.

 

“Jesus!” Puck boomed as the stench hit him, and he hit the ceiling fan switch. “Ok.” He steadied himself. “Ok. Let’s just get you up off the ground.” Puck reached down to lift her, but his hands on her bare skin caused her to scream “Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me!” and the jerking movement to avoid him triggered another round of nausea and Timber vomited again, more watery yellow than milkshake brown now, this time managing to do severe damage to the cuffs of Puck’s pants and his white Adidas, which looked brand new.

 

“Goddamit!” Puck exploded. “Goddamit to fucking hell!” He ripped off his tear away pants under which he wore a pair of navy Nike workout shorts on legs like tree trunks, removed his shoes and socks, then marched determinedly to Timber and began to sit her up. Timber went fetal, screaming at the top of her lungs for Remy.

 

“Shut the fuck up Timmie!” He barked. “I’ve seen your tits before. Now let’s get you into the fucking shower.”

 

Remy did not appear, but Timber’s screams drew Scott to the scene, who asked no questions before he violently accosted Puck, pushing him out of the bathroom and up against the wall in the bedroom. Timber could hear them shouting at one another, but did not follow the dialogue as she curled up against the cupboard with the clean white – possibly Samantha Heckert chosen – towels, with her hands over her breasts and her chin on her knees and cried at the absurdity of it all.  

 

The bedroom grew suddenly quiet. A door slammed downstairs, and then Scott, dressed in his own gray workout shorts and a Lakers tee, was in the doorway, triaging the scene.

 

“It’s ok Timmie.” He soothed her. “I’m not looking. I’m not looking.” Scott stripped off the shirt he wore and put it over Timber’s head. “There. You’re covered. You’re all covered,” he pulled the shirt down over her. “Now put your arms up here through the sleeves. There we go. There we go.”

 

Scott kicked off his shoes, pulled off his socks, stepped into the shower and turned on the water.

 

“It’s all right Timmie, Remy’s not here, he had to go to the airport to meet someone, but you’ve got me, and we both know I’ve always been your favorite, so let’s just get you cleaned up.” Scott managed to get Timber to her feet. “Now we have to get you out of these puke pants,” he said, “But look, my shirt goes down past your knees, so you’re all covered. No worries.” Timber never even felt him undo the drawstring on her pajama bottoms, but they fell to the floor around her feet, one of which was still wrapped in the unexplained bandage.

 

Scott supported Timber into the shower.

 

“Pretty cool shower, isn’t it?” He chatted conversationally. “I’ve stayed here a couple times after we went clubbing. It has shower heads on all four walls, but I think we’ll just use this hand held one today. In your current condition, all four might power wash you right down the drain.”

 

Scott maneuvered Timber to the spot he wanted. “Another thing about this shower is it has this little seat molded right into it, so you can sit down right here. I’ve been thinking about getting one myself. Be good to have a seat for some shower action, ya know?” All the fight had gone out of Timber and she simply sat where he told her, let him wash her hair, and then shave her legs without a single woolly mammoth joke.

 

“Ok. Timber.” He smiled at her like nothing out of the ordinary was happening. “You feel like you can do the rest yourself?”

 

Timber nodded. “Damn.” Scott teased. “I was kinda of hoping you’d say ‘no.’ He helped her stand, making sure in his own mind she wasn’t going to keel over, and didn’t like the odds. “Let’s get these off you,” he mumbled and a moment later her panties were down around her ankles. Scott then eased her back onto the seat careful not to tuck any of his shirt under her so that she could get it off without standing.

 

“All set Timber. Now I’m going to step out and you take off my shirt and wash yourself. You’ll want to stand up to wash your backside because that monster sore of yours is going to be getting some scrutiny today, so If you feel faint, I want you to sit down and call for me, OK? I’ll be right outside cleaning up the puke.”

 

“No.” Timber spoke for the first time. “I’ll clean it.”

“Can’t happen,” Scott replied. “Because I am in charge of medical. And unfortunately for me, puke falls under my medical auspices.”

 

“What do you mean you are in charge of medical?” Timber pried worriedly. “I thought you had a brother who is an actual doctor.”

 

“I do. My twin brother Miguel. He’s the smart one. I’m the handsome one. We’re seeing him at noon. What I mean is we divided you up and I got all the good parts.”

 

“You divided me up?”

 

“Yep. Remy got your head. Coop got your stomach, and now that I’m thinking about it, I should make him clean the barf. But he’s baking. I’m not sure what, but it smells awesome. Don’t tell him I said that though. So you shower. I will clean. And you can make it up to me at a later date. I’m babysitting you tomorrow night. Maybe we’ll take your temperature. Or do a pap smear.”

 

“I’m going home tomorrow.” Timber told him.

 

“Yeah. You’re going to change your mind on that,” he predicted.

 

“I don’t think so Scotty.” she told him firmly.

 

“Of course you will Timmie.” He smiled. “You may have forgotten for the moment, but deep down inside, you love us too much to let us down.”

 

The bathroom smelled like Lysol when Timber emerged from the shower, and the only sign left of her misery were Puck’s Adidas and nylon pants lying in heap in a corner. Timber’s puke clothes were gone.

 

Scott had arranged the contents of the Walgreens bag on the counter and she brushed her teeth and smeared Oil of Olay over her face. For some reason Puck had included an extra large jar of Vaseline and she tried not to think about what his train of thought might have been on that purchase. No hair brush. Just an Ace pocket comb to get through her mop of hair. Still, he had gone to some trouble on her account and she had treated him rather rudely, so Timber picked up his shoes and pants meaning to wash her vomit off them when a wad of twenties wrapped inside an ATM receipt fell onto the floor.

 

Timber stared at it, tempted. A thousand dollars, the receipt said. Her mind was racing. Could she get back home on $1000? She was about to be given some clothes and shoes. She could buy a cell. Call the credit card company, get them to messenger her a card somewhere… Damn, no license. No way to get on a plane or rent a car, and then there was that more important hard to answer question, did she want to go back home? She had wanted them to come; wanted them to help her, but ending up in New York away from the pool house had never been the plan. So do I want to run?” Timber asked herself staring at the money. A question that her heart answered yes, but her head answered no.

 

“Timber!” Scott called from the bedroom. “Come on Timberlain, let’s put a move on.”

 

Timber helped herself to a handful of twenties, stuck them in the pocket of the borrowed robe she had on and kicked Puck’s pants back where she had found them. “All set,” she told Scott emerging from the bathroom.

 

“Looking almost human there Lilley,” Scott smiled. “Come pick something out to wear, we have to get you down to the gym.”

 

It turned out the Vaseline was the high point of Puck’s shopping skills. On the bed were three choices. A royal blue Mets nylon track suit, with pants and a jacket but no shirt. A bright orange Anaheim Ducks fleece sweat suit. And a pair of Under Armor stealth gray Swacket pants and a hoodie with “Harvard” on the sleeves, all women’s size small. No underwear. No bra. No socks. There was however, a shiny metallic purple Reebok Faves outdoor jacket, and a box of Nike Roshe One woman’s trainers that were actually very nice except for the fact they were a size too big.

 

“I can’t wear any of that!” Timber wailed plaintively.  

 

“Sure you can,” Scott encouraged her. “How about the Mets suit?

 

“The Mets Scotty? It’s an insult to send a Yankee wife a Mets item. This is Puck telling me he’s pissed at me. Plus, it’s nylon Scotty. It’s winter. And I have no underpants.” Timber grumbled the word at him in a way that warned him she was not a happy camper.

 

“The seats in my car heat up,” Scott actually seemed to think this was a valid solution and Timber gave him a look that shut him down. “Please don’t look at me like that Timmie, I always worry I’m going to spontaneously combust. How about the Ducks suit then, that’s fleece. You can go commando in fleece. I do it all the time.”

 

“It’s orange! I’ll look like a freeping convict!” She cried as if she couldn’t believe he didn’t see the problem.

 

“Look Timber,” Scott pleaded. “Remy left us a schedule, and so far we are half an hour behind. We can’t be worried about what’s on your color pallette. How about the Swacket pants and the hoodie? They’re nice and warm.”

 

“It says Harvard!” Timber complained.

 

“People who never went to Harvard wear Harvard stuff all the time,” Scott wasn’t following.

 

“I went to Yale!” She railed. “I went to Yale! People who go to Yale do not wear clothes that say Harvard! We do not even wear the color red except on Christmas and occasionally Valentine’s Day if our boyfriends give us slutty underwear, and even then we put a note in our underwear that says our wearing of the color red should not be taken as en endorsement to HARVARD!.”

 

Scott let out a big sigh. “This is what’s wrong with college, it makes you educated people hostile towards one another.”

 

“You went to Florida State,” she reminded him.

 

“Yes,” he admitted, “But thank God it didn’t take. Ok, executive decision here, we’re going with the Swacket pants and the Ducks shirt. Not too much orange that way. And you like ducks. I see a duck anywhere, I always think of you Timmie.”

 

Scott held out the Duck’s shirt with his best come hither smile. “Come on Timmie, nobody’s going to be evaluating your fashion sense when the rest of you is so messed up, and by the time Miguel sees you, you’re going to be in one of those gowns with your ass hanging out anyway, so we’re good.”

 

Timber never could resist Scott when he turned on the charm. “Oh, quack quack”, she capitulated, took the clothes he offered turned her back on him, untied the robe, and in exactly six seconds was completely dressed. The Swacket pants, which are supposed to hug the body, bagged on her but the Duck’s jersey ended mid thigh, so it hid a lot of the extra material.

 

“You look great.” Scott encouraged her, lacing up a shoe from the box. “Come on sit down, I’ll show you how I play Cinderella. Of course, usually when I play it, I’m naked.”

 

“You are such a sick man, Scott. You should be the one going to the shrink. And these shoes are a size seven,” Timber grumbled as she slid her foot in sans socks.  “I wear a six.”

 

“Well that’s my fault,” Scott took the blame. “I told Puck to get a size seven because it’s the universal shoe size for women.”

 

“The what?” Timber made her “I can’t believe what I’m hearing” face.

 

“The universal shoe size for women. Size 7.” Scott repeated, as if it were an indisputable fact.

 

“Scott,” Timber tried to be patient. “Women do not have a default shoe size. We all have different size feet.”

 

“Of course you do,” Scott smiled. “I am a great fan of women’s different sized feet. But there’s always a shoe size that most women can wear in a pinch. Might be a little tight, or a little loose, but they’ll work in an emergency.”

 

“I see,” Timber answered, wondering not for the first time where Scott came by these theories of his. “And is there a universal men’s shoe size?” she asked.

 

“Absolutely.” He nodded “Ten and half.” Now come on Timber. No one cares what you’re wearing and we will sort out the whole clothes issue tonight.”

 

“We will not need to sort it out tonight, because I will be on my way home tomorrow,” she reminded him.

 

“Well now you are just lashing out. So unbecoming.” Scott pretended to shake his head in disappointment.

 

“Can you at least raid Remy’s drawers for socks and underwear? Anything in the bikini genre. No boxer briefs.”

 

“No can do, Kiddo. Remy locked up his room in case you felt like ordering a new drug supply off the Internet. But I can tell you what I will do. I’ll bring you some panties from my collection tomorrow.”

 

“I’m not going to be here tomorrow Scott. And besides, girls wear those things before they throw them at you, you know.” Timber complained.

 

“I’ll sniff them first and wash any that seem suspect.” He promised. “And by the way, I never jack off in them. That is just a vicious rumor.”  

 

Shoes on and tied, Scott pulled Timber to her feet. “Perfection.” He told her. “Let’s go meet your PT.”

 

“He’s not my PT, he is a PT, and I will blow you every night for a week if you let me skip it and go back to bed for an hour. Really I’m not feeling so hot Scotty.”
“Every night for a week huh?” He raised his eyebrows at her cartoon villain style. Then he whispered in her ear. “See, I knew you wanted to stay,” picked her up in a  fireman’s carry on his good shoulder, and checking his watch, double timed it to down to Remy’s home gym while Timber complained loudly, but with at least one giggle, that she was not a sack of Christmas toys.

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THE SAVE (Chapter 10)

CHAPTER 10

 

Timberlain Lilley reluctantly opened her eyes to find Remy standing above her with a glass of something she thought looked like pureed poop and smelled just as bad.

 

“Wakey, wakey, Timberlain,” Remy crooned. “The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and it’s snowing here in New York City.” Remy thought he could actually see Timber’s brain begin to process incoming information, and her eyes opened wide when she realized the import of Remy’s words.

 

“Nooo!” She croaked in disbelief, and ran to the nearest window where she confirmed outside was unmistakably downtown Manhattan.

 

“What am I doing here? Where is this place?” Timber’s distress level was on the rise.

 

“This is my new apartment.” Remy said innocently. “About time you got your ass here to see it. Kind of pricey, but an excellent location. And wait til you see the home gym.”

“This is sooooo wrong, Remy. “You took advantage of me when I obviously had too much to drink. This is NOT a funny joke. This has Scotty written all over it. I have to get home.” Timber insisted.

 

Remy sat down on the edge of the bed, noticing Timber had bled through her pajama pant leg onto the sheets. “Come on Timmie. sit down here and talk to me.”

 

Timber hesitated, looking around the room and Remy saw fear bloom in her eyes.

 

“This is not a dream.” She said plaintively. “I’m really here.”

 

Remy patted a spot on the mattress next to him. “Come sit down, let’s talk about the different ways you can get yourself home.”

 

Timber, now wary of what might be happening, walked hesitantly back to the bed and sat.

 

“Are you cold?” Remy asked, noticing she was shaking, and Timber shook her head no. Remy pulled the blanket off the bed and put it around her shoulders anyway.

 

“Timber, this is truth day, so I’m just going to say what’s in my heart and on my mind. When I saw you yesterday, I wanted to cry. All of us, Coop and Scotty, even Puck, we were all shocked, and I don’t know about the others, but I’m scared out of my mind for you. So scared I brought you here in the hopes of persuading you to let us help you get well.”

 

Timber put her head down, hands over her eyes and sniffed back tears.

 

“Don’t hide your eyes from me, we’re having an conversation here.” Remy told her. “Look. I want you to look at this,” he said sternly. Timber reluctantly took her hand away from her face to find herself staring at a picture in Remy’s phone.

 

“Do you recognize that woman?” A sob escaped from Timber and she hugged the blanket around her. “That’s you Timber. That’s you, what? Five years ago? You sent me this picture. Look at you in your cap and gown. How regal you look. You have the gold little pointy thing and all those other suckers on the stage only have white.”

 

“That’s a V-Stole. The pointy thing.” Timber sniffed.

 

“A V-stole? See, I didn’t even know that. You’re always teaching me something new. Where was that picture taken Timber?” Remy waited for an answer.

 

“London.” She finally sniffed.

 

“London. That’s right. This is from the London School of Economics. And what are you doing there?”

 

“Getting an honorary degree.” She sniffed.

 

“That’s right Timber, the London School of Economics gave you an honorary doctorate just to get you to come talk to them about your Community Capitalism idea. Twenty-five years old. You didn’t even have your real doctorate yet, and all these brilliant economists came to honor you and ask you about your theory. Pretty heady stuff. Pretty damn impressive don’t you think?”

 

Timber’s only answer was a sob.

 

“You know how proud he was of you that day Timber?”

 

“Not proud enough to come.” She snapped.

 

“No, no, he was working. We had a game and he had to be there.” Remy told her.

 

“He wasn’t pitching. He sat with his butt on the bench eating sunflower seeds. He could have come.” She argued.

 

“That’s not the way it works Timmie, you know that. He had a contract, he had to be there.”

 

“He wouldn’t even ask.”

 

“He couldn’t Timber. He knew his fiancee’s honorary doctorate was not something they were going let him take a game day off for even if it had been local. But he was so proud of you. He put a nameplate on his locker that said Future Mr. Dr. Timberlain Lilley. He used to say Lopez’ wife might have the biggest boobs but you had the biggest IQ.”

 

Remy thumbed to another picture. “Look, look at this one, Timber.”

 

“Timber glanced briefly and then scrunched up her face as if it hurt to look at it. “That’s you with that crazy short haircut you got right after you moved into the Lilley Pond. Look at your face Timmie.” Remy pressed the phone closer to her to make sure she had a good view. “Look at how beautiful you are there.”

 

Timber turned away and started to cry. Remy took her hand. “I want you to look at these Timber. I want you to remember how lovely you were. “Look at your skin. Look how your eyes sparkle. I can practically see the mischief in them. You know you are a Yankee legend. Hardly a game would go by when someone didn’t bring up what Lilley’s crazy wife had done to some poor sucker on the team. Usually Scott,” Remy added, which got a tiny snort that passed for a laugh out of Timber.

 

“I’ll never forget the time Scott dropped that pretzel on the floor and you picked on him until he vacuumed your entire house because some salt might have fallen off it it.”

 

“Salt is a very abrasive substance,” Timber sniffed. “And it has been known to travel.”

 

“See, you still have your sense of humor.” Remy gave her a little push, shoulder to shoulder. “That’s good to know.

 

“The guys never let Scotty live that one down, you know. Every so often someone would leave an apron on his locker, and whenever anyone from another team wanted to trash talk him they’d say, ‘Oh yeah Avila, go Hoover something.’ But I’ll tell you a secret, Timmie, all the guys, they’d rag mercilessly on whatever poor guy you were picking on, but everyone wanted to be that guy because you made life fun for us. You certainly kept us all humble, and that was good for us too.”

 

Remy used his thumb to flip to another picture. “You see this one? Come on, look. You know what this was?”

 

“Yankee wives baseball game.” Timber croaked.

 

“That’s right. And that’s you on first base. Look at you in your little short shorts. You’ve got your pony tail coming through your cap like all the cool kids do it. And you must have had a hit, because most of you ladies sucked so bad we didn’t let you walk one another because we’d never get out of the top of the first. And that’s me, first base coach. I look good there don’t I?  Come on, Timmie look. Look at yourself. I want you to really look. You’ve got it coming and going. Little round butt. Little round breasts. Little cheerleader legs crouching there in your leadoff stance. When you walked through a room every head turned to watch you Timmie.”

 

Timber cried openly now and Remy stood, still holding her by the hand and led her to the mirror. Timber screwed her eyes shut, but Remy stood behind her, holding her by her shoulders. “No, don’t close your eyes Timber. This is truth day. Look at that person in the mirror. Who do you see there?”

 

Timber sobbed, shaking pathetically, hands covering her eyes so she wouldn’t have to see what she had come to. Remy led her back to the bed, handed her a box of Kleenex and sat down next to her.

 

“So here’s my offer, Timber.” He told her as she mopped her face. “If you want to leave, there’s the door. I have to warn you, you have no clothes but the pjs you’re wearing, no ID to get on a plane, no cash, no credit cards, no phone and no one here is going to help you get any of those things. I suppose you can call the police or maybe you can find someone you used to know here who will take you in, but if you walk out the door right now I can’t care what happens to you, because it will break my heart.

 

“Now if you would like me to help you get back home, then I want you to give me the day.” Remy told her. If you cooperate with me today to try to find some answers as to what we can do to bring back the beautiful woman – the smart, successful, awesome woman you were – then at the end of today, I will present our plan to get you back to being that woman. If you don’t want to stay and fight, I will help you get home. But I want today Timmie. And it won’t work if you don’t cooperate. If you don’t participate.”

 

The room was quiet for what seemed like a long time except for Timber’s sobs while Remy waited her out “What would I have to do?” she finally asked.

 

“Good question.” Remy sounded heartened. “An excellent question. And I am going to tell you everything, so there are no surprises. First, you are going to drink that protein shake I just brought you…”

 

“Ooh Remy,” Timber shook her head. “My stomach is not…”

 

“These things are not negotiable. If you puke it up, I will make you another one. After you have your shake, you will take a shower. There is shampoo and conditioner and body wash in the shower. There are towels under the sink and a bathrobe on the back of the door. By the time you are finished, Puck should be here with a toothbrush and other drug store shit for you.”

 

“Pete?” Her head shot up. “Why Pete?”

 

“He volunteered.” Remy answered. “When you are done with your shower, you will come down to breakfast, which Coop will be making. The Foot Locker across the street opens at 9:00 and we will get you something to wear for the day. You’ll get dressed, come down to the gym and meet a friend of mine who is a PT – a physical therapist – and he is going to do an evaluation of your hands.

 

You will then have a delicious high calorie snack and then you and Scott are going to visit his brother Miguel, who is a big shot doctor, and who has agreed to see you over his lunch break.”

 

“Scott has a brother named Miguel?” Timber asked. “What kind of woman names one kid Scott and the other Miguel?”

 

“Your job Timber,” Remy refused to be sidetracked, “is to cooperate with him. You have to answer all his questions truthfully. No lies. If there is a question you feel you are going to lie about, I want you to decline to answer rather than lie.

 

“After your appointment with Dr. Avila, Scott is going to get you some lunch, and drive you to meet me at Dr. Chen’s office.” Remy pushed on.

 

“And what kind of doctor is Dr. Chen?” Timber asked. “As if I didn’t know.”

 

“Yes. He’s a psychiatrist. He specializes in grief counseling and he works with the families of police officer killed in the line of duty.”

 

“Grief counseling.” She repeated.

 

“Right. He’s a nice guy, I’ve met him.” Remy assured her.

 

“So basically he’s someone who passes judgement on other people’s pain? Are they doing the steps right? Are they staying too long in bargaining? Shouldn’t they be moving along to guilt? Know what I think? I think he’s probably a Star Trek alien who thrives on the pain of others.”

 

“Well I’ll set my phaser to stun,” Remy assured her.

 

“You mean to kill don’t you? Stun isn’t going to help against a Pain Sucking Alien.”

 

“A valid point. I will bring my light saber just in case.” Remy promised, and then, recognizing her teasing was an attempt to hide her nervousness, promised in the most sincere voice he could muster, “I’ll be right there with you, Timmie. Every minute. I’m not going to leave you all alone again.”

 

Timber nodded three times but said nothing.

 

“Now I repeat.” Remy told her. “You will be cooperative. You will be truthful. And you will behave yourself. You will also give Dr. Chen permission to talk to me about his evaluation, and you need to do the same for Scott and Dr. Avila.

 

“After we are done, I will bring you back here, where you will have a delicious high calorie snack of no nutritional value whatsoever as a reward, and you can hang out while the guys and I discuss what we think we can do to help you get back to being that beautiful woman in those photos. After we present our plan, you will have some time to think your options over, and then I expect you to commit to stay here and follow the program we design for you for the whole six weeks until spring training starts. No. ‘I’ll try it out and see if it’s too hard’. And I hope to God you stay Timber. I pray to God you stay. But if you decide you want to go home, I’ll see that you get there, and then we are done. Because I will not watch you do this to yourself.

 

“So what will it be?” Remy demanded. “Will you give me the day? One day?”

 

Timber sat sniffling, head resting on her hands, which covered her eyes again, but made no reply.

 

“Come on Timmie.” Remy encouraged her. “You can do this. I promise I will not let you down this time. You can count on me, but I can’t do it for you. I need you to fight for yourself.”

 

Remy put his arm around Timber and drew her into his side. “Timmie, remember in the hospital, when you’d been pushing for hours and you decided it was too hard and you told the doctors they could all go epidural themselves, you were done? The doctors were getting ready to do a C-Section because you gave up on yourself. Do you remember what I told you?”

 

There was another sound out of Timber that might have been an attempt at a laugh. “You told me to ‘man up.’”

 

“That’s right,” Remy squeezed her. “I told you to ‘man up’. And then what happened?”

 

“I bit your thumb.” Timber said promptly and Remy snorted at a memory he had all but forgotten.

 

“That’s true, I still have the scar, see?” He showed her his hand. “But you know what I’m talking about. What happened after you decided to not to give up?”

 

“I pushed her out.” Timber sobbed.

 

“That’s right. Three big pushes later she squished right out.” Remy smiled. “And I was in awe of you that day, Timmie. No shit. Genuine awe. And I need you to find that kind of brave again. I need you to man up. Help me Timber. Help me make you well again. You are 29 years old. You are so so smart. You can do such great things. Me and Coop and Scotty, we play a game where you hit a ball with a stick; we don’t add anything of real value to the world. You have helped so many people lead better lives because of your Community Capitalism. And Timber, if you don’t give up on yourself, who knows what other great things that big brain of your is going to come up with in the future? Please don’t let me down now Timber. One day. Can’t you give me one day?”

 

Timber heaved one last sob, was still for a moment and then took a deep breath. “If I’m going to the doctor I need a razor,” she croaked. “I haven’t shaved my legs in a month. And don’t repeat that to Scott because he will make woolly mammoth jokes all day.”

 

“I have a razor you can use.” Remy promised.

 

“And not the one you use to carve lightning bolts into your woman’s public private zone.”

 

“No, ma’am. Remy smiled. “I keep that one under lock and key.”

 

Timber sat up straight and met Remy’s eyes. “OK Then. One day.”

 

Remy wrapped her up in a bear hug. “That’s my girl.” He said. “Thank you. Thank you.” He kissed the top of her head. “Thank you for a second chance to do this right. I am not going to let you down this time Timber.

 

“Just hang on to me.”

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THE SAVE (Chapter 9)

CHAPTER 9

 

No one slept on the two hour flight back to New York but Timber. Remy, Coop and Scott huddled together, Remy making notes on a piece of stationary he found with the air charter service’s logo, brainstorming on what they could do to help Timber. Puck sat alone, but within listening distance.

 

The three men who had been Jordan Lilley’s best friends began to unite around a plan to devote the six weeks between New Year’s and February 15, when pitchers and catchers report for spring training, to bringing their friend’s widow back to her old self, or at least make substantial, irreversible progress in that direction.

 

Scott was designated in charge of all things medical, since his physician brother would give them access to medical information and assistance at all times. Remy took charge of Timber’s psychological welfare, putting himself in charge of taking her to her appointments with Sam Chen, or whoever he referred them to, and following up on his advice. Coop volunteered to take care of food, finding a nutritionist who worked with vegetarians, and making sure there was always nutritious high calorie food available and if necessary, that Timber put it in her mouth, chewed and swallowed.

 

The physical conditioning they agreed to share, beginning with strength training each morning and cardio each afternoon. Each man volunteered to train her on one piece of equipment, Remy, free weights, Scott, the treadmill, and Coop, who was a big Soulcycle fan, the stationary bike. Remy had an idea to ask one of the trainers at his gym who was a licensed physical therapist if he could take a look at Timber’s hands. Beyond that they would wait and see what the doctors suggested.

 

As the plane came in for a landing at JFK, the discussion became centered around how to get an unconscious Timber into Remy’s apartment without ending up in the New York Post. It was Puck, who had been mostly silent up until then, who came up with a solution. He located the plane’s emergency medical box, helped himself to an ace bandage and a roll of gauze and taped up Timber’s bare left foot.

 

“If your girlfriend sprains her ankle, the gentlemanly thing to do is carry her, right?” Puck asked. His teammates looked at one another for a reason to reject the idea, but had to admit it was the best one they had. Being a member of the New York Yankees had its perks, but it also meant their faces could bring unwanted publicity.

 

“I’ll take buying her things.” Puck added as the plane taxied to a stop.

 

“Buying her thing?” Repeated Remy not following his line of thought.

 

“Yeah. You brought her here with nothing, she’s going to need clothes and a toothbrush and lady shit. I’ll get whatever she needs or accompany her to the store to pick it out herself. And I’ll take the rowing machine.”

 

“You want to help? Remy asked skeptically.

 

“That surprise you Robicheaux? Yeah. I want to help. And since these guys,” he indicated Coop and Scotty, “are going to be gone from Christmas to New Year’s, you’re going to need someone around.”

 

That was a hard argument to dispute, and though his mind flashed danger signs at the idea of Puck Puckett, who Jordie never liked, around a vulnerable Timber, as a practical matter he needed the backup. Remy looked at Scott, who rolled his eyes and then shrugged his reluctant agreement, and then at Coop, who gave a nod of assent.

 

“Ok,” Remy gave in. “Be at my place at 8:00 tomorrow morning. She’s going to need clothes and shoes and toiletries so we can get her to Scott’s brother by noon. There’s a Foot Locker across the street and a 24 hour Walgreens on the corner. We’ll get her a couple of sweatsuits and a jacket for now and worry about the rest later.”

 

“I’ll see you then.” Puck promised. I’ll pick up the drug store stuff on my way, and run out for the clothes after I get her sizes.”

 

“Sounds like a plan.” Remy agreed.

 

“I’ll see you in the morning then.” Puck said, and stuck out his hand. Surprise registered on Remy’s face for a moment, but he offered his in return and the two teammates shook.

 

“We all care about her.” Puck said, the remark meant to encompass not just himself and Remy, but Scott and Coop too. “We have that in common.”

 

“Understood.” Remy answered. “But just so we are clear, no one touches her.”

 

“Not to worry Robicheaux.” Puck told him. “In case you missed it, she’s now totally unfuckable.”

 

And with that he made his way to the exit and headed for the parking lot while Jordie’s three best buddies carried his widow off the plane and into her new reality.

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The Rescue (Chapter 8)

Chapter 8

The three friends returned to the house to find Timber asleep in a wing back chair she had pulled to the back window wall to look out over the lake, the bottle of Black Label in the corner of the chair now with a serious dent in it and Puck eating pizza in the kitchen. Remy tried to rouse Timber, but other than a whine and a kick to his bad knee, Timber was down for the count.

“Good work there Puck.” Scott goaded him. “Really stellar.”

“Bite me Avila.” Puck snapped back. “It’s guys like you who make women like that.”

“Women like what? Multi-millionaire PhDs?”

“No, multi-millionaire PhDs who believe they don’t deserve to be loved.”

“Jordie loved her, Puck.” Scott’s voice rose. “She was the only woman he ever gave a fuck about.”

“Well maybe he did, but he sure as hell didn’t respect her, did he? And you guys were all enablers. Now you’re going to help her? Give me a break.”

“We don’t have time for this!” Remy got between them. “I’m going to stay here,” he informed the group. “We have that pilot waiting, and I’m sure he’d like to get home to his family, so you guys should get going.”

“Why you, Robicheaux,?” Puck demanded. Remy pushed open the swinging kitchen door and pointed to Timber passed out in the chair. “How about this for reason one?”

Coop, never one to involve himself in trash talk or tit for tat arguments ignored the sniping.

“Remy,” he pleaded. “I know you think you are doing the right thing here, but you have to think about this. If you take her into the ER and they suspect abuse, they are legally bound to report it, and you are going to be suspect number one.”

“I’m a big boy,” Remy said, “And I can stand a hard look.”

“Maybe, but trying to change things by staying here won’t work either. Visualize this Remy. What are you going to do, tear down her pool house bed and demand she sleep upstairs where she and Jordie slept? Pack away all his things while she begs you not to? Force feed her? And we still don’t know anything about this Jack. Is jealousy his trigger? If he finds you here, he might kill you, or Timber or both.”

“Then what?” Remy demanded obviously frustrated.

“I think we need to get her away from here,” Coop suggested. “That’s part of the reason rehabs work. They get the person out of their normal environment. I think we should take her back with us. We can put her up in a hotel, and tomorrow, we can ask Sam Chen if he’ll see her. This is over our heads Remy. But maybe Chen will have an idea of what we should do.”

“You think he’d see her?” Remy asked Coop.

“I do. At least for an evaluation. We’ve done lots of favors for him and the families he counsels. Tickets and jackets. We had that kid whose dad was shot on the ferry down in the locker room, plus he knew Jordie. Yeah, I think he’d do us a favor.”

“My brother’s a doctor.” Scott volunteered. “An internist. He’s got a practice on the East Side.”

“Would he see her tomorrow?” Remy inquired, a plan beginning to coalesce in his mind.

“I think he would. Do you want me to call him?”

Remy thought about it for a few seconds. “Yes. Call him. And Coop, see if you can get hold of Dr. Chen. We’ll take her back with us. But not a hotel. No more leaving her alone. One of us has to be with her at all times. She can stay in my guest room.”

“Uh Remy,” Scott reminded him. “You have Samantha coming in town tomorrow.”

“So let her come.” Remy snapped. “Samantha doesn’t stay in the guest room, so I don’t see a problem.”

“Well let me know when you plan on telling her Remy, because I would prefer to be out of the fallout zone.” Scott told him.

“I let Timber down Scott. I let Jordie down. I have to fix this. Samantha can’t be a consideration.”

“Is kidnapping across state lines a consideration?” Puck spoke up. “Because I believe it’s a 20 year stretch in a federal prison.”

“If YOU took her home it might be kidnapping, Puck.” Remy dismissed him. “We’re just taking our sick friend to the best doctor we know. She’ll be free to leave if that’s what she wants, but I am fairly sure I’ll be able to talk her into staying.”

Remy turned to Coop. “Are you down with bringing Timber to New York?”

“Absolutely” Coop answered. “I’ll do whatever I can to help Remy. I think it’s our best shot.”

“Scotty?” Remy asked. “Have any thoughts?”

“Yeah. I do.” He replied. “I know you guys aren’t into this sort of shit, but I’ve been thinking about this ever since we found Timber asleep back there. How weird this all is. We get these strange emails. Not the whole team, just us, and it’s for a date we’d never normally consider, yet we came, we stole a car, and we found her like this. I think this is Jordie. I think he somehow sent us here to help his woman. So yeah, I’m in. I’ll take her to see my brother myself.”

“Then let’s do it.” Remy decided.

“So should we get her dressed? Should we pack some clothes for her? Try to find her purse?” Scott asked.

“No. Remy answered. “This is an emergency, so I think we wrap her in a blanket and take her as is. It will be much harder to run back home if she has no ID, no money, and no shoes. We’ll buy her whatever she needs.”

“What about these drugs, should we take them to show Chen?”

“No” Remy decided. “Trash them, but get photos of them first, and of the poolhouse bedroom too. And make sure to take her phone. We still need to find out who this Jack is. Puck, why don’t you see if you can find a couple of blankets and a pillow?”

“Because I’m not going to let you do this.” Puck brought them all up short.

“You don’t think she needs help, Puck?” Remy spun the chair Timber was sleeping in so it no longer faced the window but gave all of them a close up view of what had become of Timberlain Lilley.

“Of course she needs help,” Puck agreed, “But maybe not your help.” She’s a person Remy. She’s not just Jordan Lilley’s wife. You can’t just decide her life for her because you don’t like the way she’s handling it. If you want to take her back to New York with us, get her to say it’s ok with her. That’s the only way I’m going to go along with it.”

“Why are you such an asshole Puck?” Scott was immediately in his face, but Remy flagged him down.

“No. When he’s right he’s right.” Remy told Scott. “I’ll get Timber to say yes. Get your video camera ready and when I give you the high sign, start taping.”

“Remy, she just threw us out of her house man, she is not going to agree to come back with us.”

“Sure she is.” Remy insisted, pausing to do his best Brando as Godfather impression. “I’m going to make her an offer she can’t refuse.”

“Seriously Remy?” Scott was still skeptical. “Timber can be stubborn even when she’s in a good mood.

“Seriously? I’m going to bully her into it.” Remy answered.

“You’re going to bully her?” Scott repeated.

“I am,” Remy confirmed as he swung Timber around in the chair to face him, twisting her so that she sat up at least marginally straighter and her feet dangled toward the floor. Remy stood up and addressed his friends over Timber’s sleeping form.

“First time I met Timber was at a ski weekend. “The girl I was with was “bunny hill” followed by hot toddies in the hot tub, but Timber was a pretty decent skier, not Jordie’s league, but better than Intermediate. So at the end of the first day Jordie convinces Timber she’s ready to come up with us and ski her first Black Diamond run. They’d only been dating a couple of months at the time, Timber was still a little star struck by the whole Yankee thing, and you could see she was trying to impress him, so she says she’s up for it.

“We get off the ski lift, and someone has let it out that Jordan Lilley is there, and he gets mobbed up at the top with autograph seekers, most of them of the ski bunny persuasion, and because he always thought that it was a funny thing to do, every autograph Jordie signs he points at me and says, “Do you know my catcher. That’s him right there, Remy Robicheaux, you should get his autograph too.

“Timber never liked standing around watching Jordie interact with his fans of the female variety, so she starts down without him. And I managed to find a hole in the crowd to slip through and start down a couple minutes later. I get halfway down the run, just above where the moguls begin and there’s Timber, sitting on the ground in a yard sale with her skis planted in the snow next to her and her poles and hat and her goggles and gloves laying all around, and she’s crying.

“So I ski up and ask her if she’s hurt, and she’s all “He shouldn’t have made me do this. I’ve never done a mogul run before and he said we’d practice first and we never did. I’m scared. I’m scared. I’m scared.’ So I collect her equipment and spend the next five minutes trying to convince her the moguls look scarier than they are and that she can do it, I’ve been watching her ski all day and I am sure she has what it takes, but it just seems to make her cry harder.

“Then finally, up skis Jordie, and he’s not showing any sympathy at all. He says, ‘Whatcha doin’ down there Timber?’ And she starts in with the ‘You shouldn’t have made me do this run, I’m not ready for a Black Diamond’ and turns on the water faucets.

So Jordie pulls her skis out of the snow and puts them down next to her, picks her up one handed by the back of her jacket. puts her on her feet, and tells her to step in, but she’s still crying. So he gets right in her face and says real quietly, ‘Timberlain. I love you, and I would never put you on a hill you weren’t safe on. Now click in.’ And she does. Then he hands her her hat and gloves and tells her ‘put you equipment on’ and when she’s done with that he hands her her poles, and she’s trying to stop sniffling but she gives it one last, “Please Jordie I can’t do this.”

Then Jordie, in that same quiet tone says, “Here are your choices Timber. I will find you a line through the moguls, and you can follow me down, or you can sit up here and cry and I will send the ski patrol up for you when I get down, in which case I will be the guy waiting for you at the bottom with a mug of beer, laughing my ass off. But I am not going to let you embarrass me or my friend Remy by sidestepping you down the mountain while every yahoo with a cell phone records us. Your choice darlin’.

“Then Remy pulls his goggles back down and tells her in a normal voice, ‘Keep your knees bent, keep your butt parallel to the ground, look down the mountain not at your skis and follow my line.’ And he skis away.

“So I figure now I’m going to have to not only walk his crying woman down the mountain, I’m going to be driving her to the airport that night when she leaves the s.o.b. But then I look at her, and she’s breathing fire. She’s screaming down the mountain at his back, ‘You freeping cockolorum dustbag’ – first time I ever heard Timber Trash by the way – but then she realizes he can’t hear her, so she looks at me, and I swear her eyes left burn marks on my ski jacket and she growls, ‘I am going to bury that arrogant mighty python balker’ – whatever that means – pulls the goggles down and off she goes on a line straight down the mountain and God help any tree that might get in her way.

“So Timber ignores Jordie’s line and goes straight down the mogul run, and she’s looking like Hannah Kearney, boom, boom, boom, boom, and it seems like she’s airborne more than she’s on the snow, and when she gets to the bottom steep, she spies Jordie, who was taking his time, snowplowing, waiting to see if Timber was going to try to come down.

“So I come through the moguls just in time to see Timber change her line, and now she is headed directly for Jordie, down in a tight little tuck so low her bottom kept dipping into the snow, and her poles are tucked up under her pits, and at the last second, he sees her coming, and tries to change course, and I thought for a minute, oh my god I’m watching a murder suicide in progress. But just before she would have hit him, she pulls up, turns sideways, and buries him in the snow coming off her skis. They must have traveled a good 30 feet with him trying to stay on his feet while she sprayed him til he finally fell. The ski patrol banned her from the hill for the weekend and she and Jordie had to drive over to Deer Valley to ski the next day.

“I still thought I’d be driving her to the airport that night, but when I saw them that evening she was all smiles, telling everyone about her first Black Diamond run with no mention of her crisis of confidence in the middle. So I asked Jordie about the whole drama, and he told me Timber has a character flaw. She’s a quitter. For some reason she’ll get to the goal line and fold, and you can’t sweet talk her, you have to kick her butt. So that’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to kick her butt, I’ve had to do it before, and it works.”

Puck looked ready to jump Remy. “She’s a quitter so you have to bully her? That is such utter bullshit! But I suppose that is what I should expect from you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean Puck?” Remy demanded.

“It means that I heard a different version of that story, the one Timber told to Dana Metzger. Crisis of confidence. What bullshit. And they didn’t go to Deer Valley because she got thrown off the mountain. They went because she threatened to leave him, and Jordie was working his way back into her good graces by taking her somewhere he promised no one would recognize him and need their butt massaged. Because that’s what happened up top. Timber took off because Jordie was whispering in the ear of some autograph seeker while his hand was squeezing her ass. Crisis of confidence bullshit! She sat down and cried because he humiliated her with the ski bunny, he didn’t live up to his promise to take her down her first Black Diamond, and then he sent you down to fix it.”

“He didn’t send me down.” Remy objected.

“No?” Puck sneered, “I suppose he didn’t have to. That was just a natural thing for you wasn’t it, taking up Jordie’s slack. You just said YOU were going to have to drive her to the airport. She was his date. Why would YOU be involved, Robicheaux? Whenever he fucked up, you were the fixer. Hell, you cut his baby’s cord, and to this day she thinks Jordie was some American hero, off serving his country flying jets for his National Guard weekend when that baby was born, and everybody in this room knows that isn’t true. Everybody but Timber.”

“That’s right Puck,” Remy growled. “She doesn’t know, and she’s never going to know, the only thing that information does now is hurt her more than she already is. Is that what you want?”

Coop stepped into the fray. “She’s sitting right there,” he warned them, “so why don’t you both shut the fuck up before you wake her?”

Puck stuck his hands in his pockets and walked back toward the kitchen kicking the swinging door angrily in front of him hard enough for it to bang against the wall and make Timber jump in her sleep.

Remy took a calming breath, got down on his knees in front of her and raised her chin.

“Timberlain.” He took a stern tone. “Timberlain wake up. Come on, wake up, I need to talk to you.”

Timber whined in her sleep, attempting to adjust to a more comfortable position, but Remy held her chin up until she opened her eyes, and then closed them again. “Come on Timber, wake up. I have to ask you a question and you can go right back to sleep.”

“Mmmmm” Timber growled shaking her head to rid herself of Remy’s hand that gripped her chin.

“Timberlain. Open your eyes and look at me and I’ll let go.” Remy tried again, but Timber only growled more insistently, trying to shake off the hand that was annoying her. Remy let her escape, put his hands under her armpits, lifted her until she sat up straighter. Timber grunted when her cheek with the sore hit the chair and her eyes opened. “Whaaaaat?” she whined “I want… sleep.”

“You can go back to sleep as soon as you answer a question for me Timber, I have to know what you want to do.”

“Whaaaat?” Timber whined again and Remy nodded at Scott to start taping.

“Timber. This is Remy.” he began, are you listening?

“Hmmph” answered Timber but her eyes were still open, six inches from Remy’s own. “Who am I Timber? Who are you talking to?”

“Ummmph Remy.” Timber repeated, though none too happily.

“That’s right Timber, it’s Remy, and I have to leave now to go back to New York.”

“New York,” Timber said nodding as if that made sense to her.

“That’s right Timber, I have to go back to New York, but I can’t leave you here alone…”

“Yes!” Timber whined beginning to show some distress.

“No Timber, you can’t stay here. That is not on the menu. But I need you to tell me what you want to do. I can call EMS and have them come here to the house…”

“No,” her eyes opened wider and her hand came up to push his face away, but Remy caught it.

“Ok then, if you don’t want EMS I won’t call them. I won’t call them ok?” Remy’s promised. “But that means I either have to take you to the hospital now here in Michigan, or I can take you home with me and I will take care of you.”

Timber started crying but didn’t respond.

“Come on Timber, I need an answer. Do you want to go to the hospital or home with me?”

Remy raised her chin again so that the two of them were nose to nose and softened his tone. “Timber, we’re either going to the hospital, or we’re going home to New York, what do you want to do?”

Nothing from Timber.

“Timber” Remy tried again. “Hospital or home with Remy?”

And this time Timber very clearly answered “Remy.”

Remy gave the cut sign to Scott who clicked off his cell.

“I would say we have consent.” Coop said quietly. “Let’s take our girl home. I’ll get Puck and warm up the car and let the pilot know we’re on our way.”

Scott found a thermal blanket and a thick patchwork quilt in the linen closet and laid them out of the sofa, then told Remy he’d do a check of the doors and windows and meet him outside. Remy lifted Timber and gently laid her on the blankets, wrapping her up for the trip.

“Remy?” Timber’s eyes were open.

“Shh. I’m just taking you home Sweetie, go back to sleep and next time you open your eyes you’ll be in New York with me.”

To his surprise, Timber had an intelligible response, and her eyes he saw comprehension. “It’s too late,” she whispered.

“What’s too late Timber?” He whispered back.

“I’m in a deep black hole Remy.” Timber told him with eyes filled with tears. “A deep deep black hole and the water keeps rushing in and I can’t breathe anymore, so I’m just breathing in the water waiting to drown.”

“No, Timber, no. I’m not going to let you drown. I didn’t know you were in the black hole, Timmie. I should have known, but I didn’t and that’s my fault. That’s all my fault. But I’ve found you now. And Scotty and Coop are here too, and we’re going to throw you down a rope, and all you have to do is hang on.”

With a wan smile Timber held out her hands. “It’s too late Remy. I can’t hold onto the rope anymore.”

Remy took her hands in his and kissed the knuckles on each of them. “Then I’ll come down and get you Timmie. And I’ll hold you tight, tight, tight while Scott and Coop pull us both up. We’re family Timber. We’re going to fix you. We’re going to make things right. Now just go to sleep Sweetie, and dream sweet dreams.”

“Sweet dreams.” Timber smiled, and closed her eyes.

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The Rescue (Chapter 7)

CHAPTER 7

Scott, Coop and Remy worked methodically in the pool house, starting with the row of boxes that surrounded the cot they had found Timber sleeping on, each man working his way down a different crowded aisle. Scott worked back toward the kitchenette, Coop worked forward toward the front door, and Remy took the aisle that ran across the center of the pool house from the bed to the door that led to the bathroom where Coop had found Timber’s clothes. They made no attempt to rebuild the aisles after they searched each box, instead they stacked them outside on the deck, and after fifteen minutes they had opened up enough space to stack them against a wall inside.

So far, all of the boxes had been filled with clothing, as if Timber was using them for dresser drawers. As they worked they discussed what options they had dealing with Timber.

“So do we have a consensus here,” Remy asked his friends. “We have to do something. We can’t leave here with things as they are?”

“Yes,” Coop agreed. “But I think we should think hard about the “what.”

“First thing, we need to get her to a doctor.” Remy replied.

“Agreed.” Coop nodded.

“And a shrink.” Scott put in. “I’ve seen some glimpses, so I know she’s in there, but half the time, she’s not even lucid.”

“Not just a psychiatrist.” Coop answered as he tossed a box of tennis clothes toward the pile they were building. “I think maybe she needs someone like Sam Chen. Someone who specializes in grief counseling.”

“Maybe he could recommend someone here.” Remy warmed to the idea.

“And then who makes her go?” Coop wondered.

“I guess I do.” Remy answered. “Someone’s got to stay. We can’t leave her here alone. I think I can get her to see a doctor and a counselor. Then we get their recommendation for what to do.”

“Ok, let’s think about how that would work. First of all, the doctors can’t talk to us about what Timber needs unless she gives permission. We aren’t family. And suppose he says she needs to be hospitalized. She’s never going to sign herself in. That means involuntary commitment, which she surely will fight with all the high power attorneys she can hire. If she wins, she will never forgive any of us. But let’s say she loses. Who takes charge of her? The sister in England?”

“I suppose the court would appoint someone to watch out for best interests.” Remy said thoughtfully.

“So let’s say they appoint some independent lawyer who doesn’t know Timber, but sincerely wants to do right by her. Timber has money. So the court will pay that law firm from her funds. Let’s say that’s a thou a month. The law firm then puts her in a private hospital, which has to be at least six or seven grand a month, maybe double that for a high end place. Then they hire a top notch shrink at say $500 bucks an hour, and he sees her five days a week. That’s another ten grand a month. Then they’ll hire an occupational therapist and a physical therapist and a private nurse. So every month she’s shelling out upwards of thirty grand, and all the incentive is to keep her in the program. And that’s if the court appoints someone responsible. If they name someone who wants to plunder her funds, he can hire new age gurus and crackpots who want her to wear crystals and sleep under a pyramid. If she’s cured, everybody who is responsible for her so-called recovery loses money.

So who advocates for her, Remy? Who makes sure she’s getting better? We have no standing.”“Before Remy could respond, Scott interrupted with a shout of, “Come look at this.”

Scott had made his way behind the counter and into the kitchenette and had just opened the lid on a box full of mailing envelopes and boxes sent to Timber at her lake house address. Scott pulled one open and found a packing slip and a vial of pills. “Is this a substance abuse thing?” He wondered aloud.

Coop and Remy began inspecting the envelopes while Scott turned to see what else he might find in the row of boxes the pills had sat atop. The next box down clanked when he moved it. “Booze.” He informed the others. We got 12 bottles of different high end liquor here. All of them look like they’re missing a shot or two.”

“Same with these pills,” Remy observed. The packing slip says there should be 60 pills. I count 58.”

Curious, Coop spilled out the pill vial he was holding on the counter and swept them back in two at a time. “29 out of 30.” He confirmed. “Looks like these are all from Internet companies. Most of them in Mexico. I don’t recognize any of the drug names. Elavil? That sounds familiar. Is she sick?” Coop wondered again. “Is she trying to treat herself?”

“What about the booze?” Scott asked. “There are three boxes of bottles here none of them less than half full. Is this a substance abuse thing? Maybe what we need is to get her in a rehab. I think she’d get to stay in charge of her own finances while she was in rehab.”

“Substance abusers take the drugs. They don’t leave liquor around; they drink it til it’s gone.” Coop argued.

“Look at these bags,” Remy brought the others attention back to the box of pills. “That’s Timber’s writing on all of them. ‘No good. Do not reorder.’ ‘Doesn’t work. .Do not reorder.’ Makes me sick. Do not reorder.”

“Here’s an interesting one.” Coop showed Remy an envelope that read. “Maybe. Try with Jack.”

“Jack!” Scott repeated. “Well, I guess we have a name.”

“Let’s find that phone,” Remy urged them, and returned to searching Timber’s wardrobe boxes.

It was Coop who finally found the IPhone, in a box with expensive dress shoes he would bet Timber hadn’t worn in years. There was no charger in the box, so they couldn’t immediately search for a “Jack” in her address book, so they moved all the boxes they’d stacked on the deck back inside, and Coop and Scott carried the open boxes of liquor and pharmaceuticals back to the house. Remy made one stop first before he followed them, lifting the pillow on the cot to see what the items were that Timber had placed there. He lifted the blue mens dress shirt that he had slid off Timber’s face when he had awakened her, and as he suspected, lying underneath was an infant’s pink kimono. Size 0.
“Aw Timber.” He sighed to the walls, before replacing Megyn’s newborn baby clothes and Jordan’s blue shirt back under the pillow.

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The Rescue (Chapter 6)

CHAPTER 6

Puck let Timber’s sobs diminish before he moved, making a search of the kitchen drawers until he found the one with the kitchen towels. He turned on the cold water, drenched the terry cloth and then wrung it out before approaching Timber.

“Come on Timberlain,” he ordered quietly, sit up. Sit up.” Timber reluctantly raised her head and looked around the room.

“They’re gone,” Puck assured her. “It’s just us. Here, wipe the snot off your face.” He put the towel in front of her, but Timber made no move to reach for it. Puck sighed, sat down on the stool Coop had just vacated and began to gently wipe the tears off Timber’s face.”

“Why is it every time I see you you’re crying Timber?” Puck asked as he wiped.

“You used to tell me I was beautiful when I was crying.” Timer spoke up. “Guess that’s changed, hasn’t it?” She croaked, ending that question with another sob.

“You’re still beautiful to me, Timber.” Puck told her. “You will always be beautiful to me. But something stinks here. Something is seriously out of whack, and do you know what I think? I think you know it. I think you went over to the darkside and now you can’t find your way back. I think you know this guy doesn’t treat you right, just like Jordie didn’t treat you right.”

“Don’t say his name!” Timber barked at Puck.

Puck sighed, folding and refolding the towel. “Know what I think Timber? I think you sent that email. I think you looked in the mirror and realized things were fucked up, but that you were too scared to leave this guy, just like you were too scared to leave…your husband, because for some freakish, inscrutable reason, you think you aren’t worthy of being loved the way you should be.”

“Well thank you Dr. Phil.” Timber snapped.

“You know Timber,” Puck continued, “I’ve been thinking about that email. World Wonders must have had the contact information for everyone on the team. So why us four? Why his three best buddies and me? I think you sent it Timber, because you want help getting free of this guy. And here we are. Here we all are. Five days before Christmas and here we are.  Scott Avila is supposed to be skiing Whistler right now. He paid for the trip for his extended family, aunts, uncles cousins. Dylan Cooper was supposed to leave for Turks and Caicos the Caribbean with a supermodel yesterday and he told her he’d have to meet her there Wednesday. My wife told me if I went to Flint instead of her family Christmas party, I could forget spending the holidays with her and my 3-year-old son. Three years old, Timber. That’s like the best Christmas there is, and he’ll be i North Carolina instead of with me. And you know when Samantha finds out Remy is here, she is going to cut off his balls and send them to the Red Sox for batting practice. But we all came. We’re right here. So now you just throw us out?

“This is a pattern with you Timber. You let your husband treat you like dirt and now you have some new guy who treats you even worse. And every time you get geared up and ready to break the pattern you chicken out. Well this time I am not going to let you chicken out. I’m here and I am not leaving until I know this asshole is out of your life, preferably behind bars, but six feet under works for me too.”

“Pete, just stop!” Timber screamed at him. “All those things you are talking about? I don’t care about them anymore. Perhaps you haven’t heard but my baby died Pete. She isn’t off having her very best Christmas apart from me. A piece of metal smashed into her sweet little pink skull and killed her dead. And here’s some news for you Pete, when that happens to your child, you don’t care about being cheated on. You don’t care if he gave you the clap or if the rumor is true that  he got some 19 year old pregnant and held her hand while she had an abortion.  And you know Pete, I think if there was someone who was beating me senseless, I wouldn’t care about that either. I’d say, wail on dude. Punch me harder, because if I’m thinking about how much the punching hurts, I’m not thinking about how I will never hold her in my arms again”

“Then why are we here, Timmie? Why’d you send that email? Just to say hey?”

For a minute Puck thought she wasn’t going to answer. She stood, retrieved the bottle of Johnny Walker with a trembling hand and walked toward the kitchen door. Puck’s fists balled in frustration when he noticed the blood stain on her pajama bottoms from what he was sure was a rug burn. In his mind he saw someone dragging Timber across the room by her hair and wanted to pound something.

Timber stopped when she got to the door and turned back to look him in the eye. “Hey Pete.” she said quietly. And with that she left him standing in frustration, wanting to help, and not knowing how.
That was a pattern with her too.

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The Rescue (Chapter 5)

Chapter 5

Timber headed for the kitchen and was examining the empty fridge when her visitors entered behind her. “No luck.” She said disappointed, staring into the refrigerator as if it might suddenly grow food. “Sometimes there’s food,” she told them enigmatically.

“No problem,” Remy assured her. “Coop is with us and he just went to get a pie.”

That news seemed to cheer Timber and her smile appeared. “Coop! Oh, this is a good dream! I haven’t seen Coop since…” she paused, the smile gone. “You know, for a long time.”

Both Remy and Scott did know. Since the funeral.

“Puck Puckett is here too,” Remy informed her. “Do you know him Timber? He seems to think you have a relationship.”

“Pete’s here?” Her face fell. “Why would Pete be here? I would never dream Pete.”

“You do know him then?” Remy pressed.

“My roommate from college married Jay Metzger; remember Jay? And he and Pete were tight, so I’d see him once in awhile. I know him some.”

“Ok. As long as you know him,” Remy said. “You do know he and Jordie didn’t get along?”

Timber was off her stool as if she’d been shot. “No!” She scolded Remy. “Don’t say his name. I can’t hear their names.” She was visibly distressed. “Please Remy. I can’t hear their names. This is why I don’t call you. I don’t say their names here.”

Remy’s arms went around Timber and he pressed her head into his chest.

“I’m sorry, Timber.” He soothed her. “I’m so sorry.”

She sobbed for a minute before she got control of herself pushing away from him to shuffle to the sink and wash her tear stained face with a wet paper towel before turning back to face her friends.

“I’m sorry.” She apologized. “Sometimes it still sneaks up on me, you know?”

“It’s Ok” Scott mumbled at the same time Remy muttered, “Really, don’t worry about it Timber.’

“So come tell us what you’ve been up to,” Remy sat down on one of the six stools that surrounded the kitchen’s island, three on each side. He patted the one next to him suggesting Timber take it, while Scott took a stool on the other side. Timber brought glasses and put ice in a crystal bowl and the bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label by her elbow, and perched her right butt cheek precariously on the edge of the stool.

“It seems like you fell off the face of the Earth.” Remy told her.

“Well,” she began hesitantly. “I’ve been travelling.”

“Travelling!” Remy smiled. “That sounds wonderful. “Where have you been?”

“Oh, Alaska. And Australia.”

“Wow!” Scott interjected. “Two places I’ve always wanted to go. So what was Australia like?”

“It was hot. And… pretty.” Timber seemed to struggle for something further to say, and the guys exchanged a look that confirmed they suspected that Timber was, for some reason, lying her ass off.

“I suppose Alaska was cold and pretty, huh?” Scott said.

Timber gave him hard look, but decided to ignore him, dropping three ice cubes in one of the glasses with a hand so shaky she had to put down the bottle when she tried to pour from it.

“Here, let me.” Remy came to the rescue, pouring two fingers of the Black Label into each of the glasses, adding a substantial amount of ice and sliding one across to Scott.

“To old friends,” Remy raised his glass in a toast.

“Old friends,” Scott seconded, holding out his drink across the counter expecting to clink glasses.

“Old friends,” Timber said through eyes once again filled with tears, but raised her glass only a few inches in front of her with a hand that shook so badly a few drops spilled on her shirt. Timber seemed to sense the men’s eyes on her, and squirmed on the stool, trying to get comfortable.

“So you have any Christmas plans Timber?” Scott asked setting his glass down.

Timber finished her drink set her glass on the counter and pushed it toward Remy, who refilled it without comment.

“I’m going to Aspen,” Timber answered in what was clearly another falsehood.

“Aspen!” Remy repeated. “That sounds like fun. Who you going with?”

“You know, some friends from work.”

“From work eh?” Remy said. “Alaska, Australia and Aspen. All the A places, eh? And not a single post card for me?”

“Oh well, I plan to send you one when I get to Zaire.” She joked and the guys laughed politely.

“Well, as long as you haven’t forgotten me,” Remy told her.

“Of course not.” Timber assured him. “I think about you all the time. Are you still seeing that Dr. Hatchet?”

“Dr. Heckert, and yes, Samantha and I are still an item.”

“I figured you’d have sent an invitation if you got married.”

“Of course I would have, but we are not contemplating that at this time.” Remy informed her.

“I don’t know Remy,” Timber teased him. “You aren’t getting any younger, you ought to put a ring on it before your looks go.”

Scott pulled on his drink struck by the irony in that statement.

“What about you, Scotty?” Timber asked. “Have you found the woman of your dreams yet?”

“Still searching. But old Coop is hooking up with a Supermodel.”

“Oh dish!” Timber grinned at the news their introverted friend had hit the dating jackpot. “Which one?”

“Carolina” Scott informed her.

“Oh, I know who she is!” Timber squealed. “She’s gorgeous. And way out of his league.”

“Exactly.” Scott agreed. “But she has a swim suit modeling job down in Turks and Caicos and he’s meeting her down there for Christmas.”

“We need to hire ourselves a paparazzo to dog his ass all over the island,” Timber ventured, and for a moment she was the Timber of old, planning capers.

The sound of the front door opening and Coop’s voice calling “Pizza!” broke the train of the conversation and Timber fled the stool, scampered out of the kitchen and threw herself into Dylan Cooper’s arms so insistently Puck had to rescue the pizzas Coop was carrying. Left alone staring at one another over the kitchen island, Remy and Coop both registered their shock at the condition they found their buddy’s widow.

“Dude, we have to do something,” Scott whispered to a pensive Remy.

“What?” Remy asked.

“I don’t know, but something. Call somebody? Doesn’t she have some family?” Scott asked.

“A sister in London who takes care of their mother with Alzheimer’s.” Remy told him. “And Jordan’s parents moved to Florida after he died.”

“Well the state must have some mental health department,” Scott suggested. “She is not all right.”

“We can’t do that to her.” Remy argued. “Abandon her to the state and go home for Christmas? This is Timber, Scott.”

“It used to be Timber.” Scott muttered.

In the entryway, Timber clung to Dylan Cooper.

“Timber! They found you!” Coop whooped and returned her embrace, holding her until she finally broke it off.

Timber turned away from Coop and greeted Puck who now had pizzas in one hand and a 12 pack of Pepsi in the other. “Hello Pete, she brushed his cheek with a kiss. “Welcome to the Lilley Pond.”

“Yeah, nice place you have here Timber.” Puck offered. “It’s good to see you.”

“He’s not here, you know.” Timber told him, her face serious, her eyes hard.

“What?” Puck asked, confused.

“He’s not here. I didn’t know if you’d heard. He’s not here anymore.”

“Of course I know, Timber.” Puck said quietly. “I guess you mean why wasn’t I at the funeral. And it just didn’t seem appropriate, you know?”

Timber nodded twice, but made no comment, took the pizza boxes from him and walked back toward the kitchen. “Pizza!” she smiled at Remy and Scott who broke off their hushed conversation when she entered and shared a  “what the hell has happened” look with Dylan Cooper behind her back as he and Pete Puckett followed Timber in.

Timber opened the top pizza box, exclaiming with delight that it was mushroom, onion, green peppers, her favorite. “I almost never have pizza anymore,” she told them, helping herself to a slice and nibbling off the corner. “You know a whole pie for one person… “ Almost immediately she made a face as if it were too hot, or not tasty, and put it down on the open lid of the box.

“Oh, shoot. I’ve been living alone for so long I’ve forgotten the amenities. Plates. I have plates,” and with that announcement she stepped to a cupboard over a very fancy looking espresso machine, standing on tiptoe to reach the second shelf where the stack of plates was stored.

“Let me help you with that,” Remy offered coming up behind her, and as he was about to reach for the plates, Timber’s sweater and shirt rode up revealing a strip of skin, all of it black and blue and green and yellow.

Before he even fully realized what he was doing, Remy seized Timber around the waist, turned her so that her head was buried under his arm and yanked up the shirt. Her entire back was black and blue.

Coop, Scott and Puck were frozen in place staring in disbelief at what they were seeing. Timber squirmed, trying to free herself, causing her pajama pants to slip enough to reveal the top of what looked to be an open sore. Shocked, Remy yanked down the left side of her pjs, to reveal what looked to be a 6 inch rug burn.

Coop let out a noise approximating a groan, but no one made a comment. Scott Avila was frozen with a piece of pizza halfway to his mouth.

“Remy! Remy! REMY!” Timber screamed at him, until he finally let her escape, angrily yanking up on her pajamas and down on her shirt to hide her injuries.

Timber looked at the faces of the four men and held out a deformed hand in a “stop” gesture.

“This isn’t what you think,” she told them in a gathering panic. “This is not what you think.”

It was Puck who spoke first, his voice calm. “I’ll tell you what I think, Timberlain. I think someone put his hands on you, and now you are going to give me his name and I am going to go put the top of his head on the cement and pound on the bottom of his shoes until they are level with the ground.” Puck’s voice suddenly rose a notch, “And them I’m going to piss in the goddamn hole. What the fuck is wrong with you Timber? Do you have some need to be with men who treat you like shit?”

Puck’s shouting sent Timber into a teary panic. “You aren’t listening to me,” she searched the faces of Scott and Coop but found no sympathetic eyes, just shock and horror that Timber read as disgust. Though it was Remy who had outed her so embarrassingly, she turned to him now as her only hope of an ally.

“Remy. Remy,” she pleaded. “Remy, nobody hurt me,” Timber insisted, but could see only signs of disbelief on his face; on all the men’s faces. “I’m not even hurt, really. Please, just let me explain.”

“All right Timber. We’re listening. Remy said quietly.

“Ok. Ok.” Timber took a deep breath and swiped at the tears in her eyes, tugging again at her sweater to be sure it covered her back. “Just let me explain. “I know this looks bad to you.”

“Ya think?” Puck interjected.

Remy gave him a look and told him to “let her talk.”

“This looks bad,” Timber tried again. “But really it’s not. It’s like a blister. You know? Like when a pitcher is having a good day and they can’t catch up with his fastball and they’re waving at his curveball and he’s in the groove. And then around the fifth inning he starts to get a blister. And you think the blister is going to be a bad thing that will throw off his game, and it hurts, and it looks bad, so bad the umpire might be called out to take a look at it. But the thing is, the blister makes the splitter drop off the table. And they’re up there golfing at it. They’re golfing t it! He’s striking out the side and the blister is helping him. And that’s what this is, it’s like the blister. It looks bad, but if you knew, you’d see it was a good thing. It doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t hurt and it makes me so happy. If you could see that you’d understand. I’m happy now, and I haven’t felt that way for so long.”

Timber searched the faces of her friends and found no likely ally.

“Timber.” Remy reached for one of her buried hands. “Sit down here baby.”

Timber allowed him to lead her to a stool and sat carefully, leaving her left cheek off the seat. Remy put the piece of pizza she had nibbled on in front of her and asked Scott to pour her a glass of Pepsi, indicating with his head for Coop to sit down across from Timber. Scott brought the cola and sat down next to Coop. Puck remained standing, leaning against the kitchen sink.

“Timber,” Remy began gently. “Every year they send someone around to talk to us about domestic abuse, and I admit, I don’t understand it, but I know for some reason women feel they need to protect their abuser.”

Timber sighed, pushed the pizza away and lay her head in her arms on the counter.

Remy pressed on, rubbing the back of her neck. “Timber, every one of us in this room wants right now to go do the kind of violence to this guy that he did to you, but we’re not going to do that, ok? We’re not going to go hurt him. Ok? Remy asked again when Timber made no reply. “Ok?”

Timber looked up at him. “So you’ll drop this?”

“No Timber,” Remy said sadly with a shake of his head. “Someone hurt you sweetheart, and we can’t just let that go. Is that why you’re hiding back in the pool house Timmie? Is that why you have a loaded gun? Are you afraid of this guy?”

“No.” Timber insisted. “There is no guy. No one is hurting me. Why won’t you believe me?” she whined, and again hid her face in her arms.

“Why don’t we believe you Timmie? Maybe because ever since we came here you’ve been lying your ass off to us. You’re traveling in Australia, the glass man’s coming, the gun’s not loaded, you’re telling lies you don’t need to tell. That makes me wonder what the hell the truth is Timber. And we all saw with our own eyes what the truth is.”

“What you THINK the truth is. What you THINK the truth is.” Timber cried back. “Listen to me. No one is hurting me. I’m ok. I was’t for a while, but I am now, and you are going to screw it up. You are going to screw everything up.”

“OK Timmie,” Scott spoke up. “If no one is hitting you, tell us how you got those bruises on your back? Did you have a mountain climbing accident in Alaska? Did a Kangaroo jump up and down on you back in Australia? How did you get that rug burn on your butt? You didn’t just wake up like this, Timmie.”

“Yes! Yes I did! Not one morning, not a single morning, but yes, this just happened. It just happened, but it’s not something you need to worry about. The bruises don’t hurt. They don’t hurt at all. And the sores hurt a little but I’m doing ok. I’m happy. I’m very happy.”

There was silence in the kitchen with all eyes on Timber who sat head down sniffing. After a long thirty seconds, Coop stood up, rounded the kitchen island and sat down next to Timber

“Are you sick Sweetheart? Is that why you’re so thin? Is that what’s happened to your hands?”

At the mention of her hands Timber crossed her arms over her chest and hid them from view but made no attempt to answer Coop’s question. “Timber.” He tried again. “If you want us to believe no one is hurting you, then I think you owe us an explanation.”

That seemed to rouse Timber’s anger. “Do I Coop? I owe you an explanation? I haven’t seen you in two years Coop. I haven’t seen you in two years Scotty. I haven’t seen you in a year and a half Remy. You are just three guys who used to be friends with my husband and excuse me if I don’t think I owe you anything. Now I didn’t ask you here. I don’t want you here, and I am asking you to please leave. In fact, I am not even sure you’re really here at all. I think this is just a nightmare. It was Christmastime, and I was thinking about you, and you sneaked into my dream, and when I wake up you’ll be gone.”

“Timber.” Remy told her, “If you want us to go, we’ll go. But we cannot leave you here unless we know this guy won’t hurt you again. If we go, we’re going to the police and we are going to tell them what’s happening here.”

“No!” Timber exploded. “No! They’ll lock me up, and they will take all my money and I will never get out.”

“Timber, that’s crazy. Is that what this guy is telling you? Has he brainwashed you into believing the police are out to get you?” Scott demanded.

“Timber,” Coop asked. “Does this guy have access to your money?”

“THERE IS NO GUY!” Timber shouted.

“OK” Remy walked over to the wall phone and picked up the receiver. “911 it is Timber. EMS and police.”

“No!” She shouted again, “No! So help me Remy, if you call the police, I will tell them you raped me. I will tell them all four of you have been holding me prisoner in the pool house, and that you gang bang me ten times a day, and it doesn’t matter if it’s not true because they will have to investigate, and your famous faces will be in the press, associated with a rape charge, and I can tell you from personal experience that even when it’s a false claim, it will hurt you. Now get out my house and leave us in peace.”

Remy hung up the receiver. “Us Timber? Who’s ‘us’? You and this guy who is beating the crap out of you?” He took out his cellphone and laid it on the counter. “You want to cry rape Timmie?” Here’s my phone. 911. Call the number. Because that call ends with you getting some help. That call ends with this asshole facing assault charges and a restraining order. That call ends with you not looking like an Auschwitz survivor, and if I have to face a rape charge, have at it, that’s a price I’m willing to pay.”

The only sound in the kitchen was Timber’s anguished sniffling. Finally Coop stood up, fished his cell phone out of his pocket and laid it next to Remy’s. “Me too, Timmie. Do your best darlin’ because I am not walking away from this.”

A third phone landed on the counter as Scott added his saying, “Page Six here I come.”

Timber continued to sob uncontrollably but made no move to reach for the cells. The sight of the phones however, gave Remy an idea. “Her cell phone.” He told Scott and Coop. “This guy’s name will be in her cell.”

Scott looked from Remy to Coop. “She said she was trying to sleep and it kept beeping so she put the phone in a box. So I guess we start with the boxes closest to the bed and work our way outward.”

“Let’s do it.” Coop agreed and the three friends headed out to the pool house, leaving Timber crying at the kitchen counter with Puck to stand guard.

 

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