The Harrow Fiction Match


  A Collaborative Serial Novel

Chapter 16

by Chris Dec

“Hank! Give me my damned phone!” Stacy spun her head around, looking for the bottle of Johnny Walker.

“I am not Hank, Stacy.”

She threw an unseen object at Hank. “Hank,… Finn, hand me the phone now!” An eight year-old Finn clutching a stuffed bear faded in a milky haze.

“I am not Finn, Stacy.”


“Stacy, I am Doctor Penemann. No one else is here. Stacy, you agreed that you would not be allowed use of your cell phone when you came here. It is safe at home with your son. The next couple of days are going to be challenging for you, but we have methods and medicines that will help you. If you ask for a phone, you will not get one. We will be here for you through the entire process, and as frightened and lonely as you may feel right now, I promise you, you will get through this and you will be okay. Try to get some sleep now.”

“Stop telling me what to do, Hank, you asshole… get me my phone! Please get… phone…”

* * *

“Finn… phone. Your dad.” Jethro pressed Finn’s cell inside his clay-like fingers, and set a glass of green juice on his nightstand.

Usually up at six, energetic and ready to go, Finn could not clear his head this morning, and at 9:30, the sun warming his face and the aroma of his favorite Sumatran dark roast in the air, he could barely gather the energy to lift his head to talk.

“Dad…” he muffled into the plastic.

“She’s going to be fine, Finny. She’s in a good facility. He’s going to be fine, too, eventually. Have you eaten breakfast yet? I can pick you up, take you to The Sport and we can get super smoothies… you love those.”

“Mmf. Talk. Later. Dad.”



The horrific events from the weekend were still a blur in Finn’s mind, but his calf still stung where the bullet more than grazed his skin, bringing him back to wakefulness, grounding him in the very real light of day. He felt heavy with emotions, and leaden with exhaustion at the memory of watching his wildly drunk mother pointing a gun at everyone, including her own son. Had she meant to fire… at him? What level of disintegration of her life could have sent her to this hell, and why hadn’t anyone seen it coming… or cared? Why hadn’t he? Life wasn’t being fair to any of them, right now. But then he thought he needed to be stronger than the self pitying child he was acting like, and pulled himself up out of the mountain of blankets, drained his glass of green juice, yanked his clothes off, and sprinted into the shower, where he felt the restoring effects of hot water on his small, fine-muscled body. He winced when the water pulled at the gauze and tape, which came off in the water, pulling his leg hairs and revisiting the small gash in his flesh.

His expertly fitted GAL-9000 hovered, blue-toothed to the podcast of Quincy Jones at the Monterey Jazz Fest, sending the mellow tones to the shower speaker.

He pondered in the soft trumpet infused steam what could have been: a very different outcome. He came out luckier than Cav, who took one shot that pierced his right arm and splitting a muscle nearly in half… and the other, straight through the right femur, shattering it. If Cavanaugh thought his pro squash instruction career was over after he landed in a hot tub, well, that was just a small taste of what life could become. Poor guy would still be doing physical therapy this time next year. But he was alive. In the hot flow of the rainfall shower head, Finn actually shivered, closed his eyes mournfully, then shot them wide open again, shut off the water, and grabbed a towel.

Jethro checked his watch, wondering if it was going to be okay to leave Finn like this. When he saw him, minutes later, refreshed and invigorated by sleep, shower and juice, and some sort of resolve, he was reassured. Finn started getting dressed with purpose.

“There is nothing to do right now, Finn. You can’t see her, or call her. Any arrest, booking of charges, hearing, trial, all that, has to wait until after detox is complete… and that’s not for four more weeks… so what say you and me, you know, go see a movie, or…”

“It’s okay. You can go… I know you have an interview later… be at your best, bro… and Jethro, thanks, buddy. I am fine, really… think I’ll call my Dad back.”

He full body clamped his old friend in a hug and patted both shoulders for luck, like men do. He then propelled Jethro to the door and out into the foyer with a hasty wave. The trumpet wailed softly to a sad minor note and faded.

Finn picked up the phone and punched in the familiar number.

“I’ve got to talk to you, as soon as you have time.”

“ Right now. Let’s do it. What’s up, son? Anything wrong? You did get your mom all set at Pinehurst, and…”

“Uncle Reid, everything’s okay, nothing’s wrong. I just need your help making something happen. You know I still have some shares in Mom’s old company. I want to buy more stock, but not under my name, yet. You can contact some of the holders, can’t you, who will sell to me when the time comes. I want you to help me take over the company. I want majority control of it.”

“Uhmm… okay. Finn, just stop and think… maybe you should give it a little time to, well… have you thought about operations there? I know you know the technical end of that business like the back of your hand, Finny, but since your Mom left there, things changed a lot. There is high-powered stuff going on over there: government contracts, overseas manufacturing and foreign investors. I am afraid that without the right CEO skilled in juggling all that, well, you will drown. You just went through…”

“Uncle Reid, I have to get the company back into the family. Let me know what I have to do to make that happen. Call me. Okay, I have to go now and call my dad.”

Finn punched in another number, reading from a scrap of paper.

“Cav…how are you doing? I know you’re on some heavy-duty meds, guy… but don’t talk, just listen. Cav I want you to think about something while you are there in bed. Consider not pressing further criminal charges or any civil charges against Mom. I can give you money, and soon, a lot of it… plus I will take your students for you and just have them keep writing checks to your name. I’ll deposit them in your account. I can start today… but she cannot go to prison for that long. She won’t make it, Cav. Look, I want to take her away from everything when she’s back, take her on a long vacation, and a rest, all that. I promise you, Cav, I will make it up to you somehow, make it up in full. Are you listening? Hello?”

“The gentleman is nodding, sir. I am the floor nurse. I am going to have to insist you end your conversation now. He needs to rest.”

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.