Ghost PainsJuly 29, 2015
The world was graying around the edges and Frank Griffin knew he was dying from blood loss. The gunshot to his gut was singing soprano, but it was mild compared to the raging pain in his leg. The leg they cut off two months ago.
The doctors called it ghost pain, a symptom of permanent nerve damage. Every waking moment it felt like his knee was being crushed by a burning weight, the weight of the pearl blue Cadillac that killed Sarah and left him a partial man.
Frank punched himself in the face, trying not to black out. Mr. Valencio, the drunk driver and owner of the Cadillac, was on the floor in front of him, propped up against his ornate desk. The revolver he used to shoot Frank in the stomach sat next to him but it was useless now; he was too weak to lift it.
Frank sat slumped over his good leg, his stump stretched out to one side. His trousers were soaked in blood, and he could see a crimson circle growing beneath him, spreading on the carpet.
“It won’t be long now Sarah.” He whispered.
Somewhere in the office a phone beeped reminding Frank of his first memory after the accident. It was the beeping of the life support, steady and rhythmic. Like the flash of a lighthouse beam, it guided him back from the darkness. He had opened his eyes and found himself woven into a tangle of tubes and wires, a nurse scribbling something on a clipboard at the foot of the bed. He remembered the agony and how he had screamed until he ruptured his vocal chords.
The doctors told Frank it would take six weeks of therapy before he could leave the hospital, but he did it in three. He was determined. He not only finished his physical therapy, he excelled at it. His therapist said it was a miracle, but Frank knew better. He had a goal that carried him through the long, painful hours. He was going to kill Roger Valencio.
The sound of wheezing pulled Frank from his thoughts. Valencio was trying to raise himself. He gasped, sucked air like a fresh caught fish, and fell back against the desk, a trickle of blood leaking from his chin. He was dying; they both were. All Frank had to do was hang on a little longer. He needed the bastard to go first, for Sarah.
Frank laughed, sending a fresh spurt of blood pouring from the bullet wound. The phrase ghost pain kept running through his mind. ‘How fucking appropriate.’ He thought. After all, he did feel haunted, but it wasn’t the leg. Somewhere deep inside a raw wound throbbed and he knew it would never heal. A wound ripped open when Sarah was taken from him and like his leg, Frank knew he would feel it forever.
A profound weakness began to spread over Frank and his hands grew cold. Valencio was still breathing and time was running out. Frank pulled himself up on his knee and reached out, grabbing the end of the prosthetic leg sticking from Roger Valencio’s chest. With all of his remaining strength, Frank pushed it deeper.
Valencio groaned as his last breath rattled up from his throat. He clutched at the steel rod piercing his lung until his eyes went glassy. Frank leaned in on the prosthetic and stared into the dead man’s face.
It was finally done.
All the anger and blinding focus suddenly drain from Frank and he collapsed on the floor. As the darkness trickled in around his head like cool water, he thought of the days leading up to this moment. He thought about cutting off the plastic foot and using the grinder to give the leg a point. He thought about the red hot vengeance that sustained him and inspired him to make a weapon out of the very thing that symbolized his loss.
Death finally came for Frank Griffin and he embraced it. The pain in his leg faded and for an instant he felt whole again. He could hear Sarah in the back of his mind, whispering to him.
“It’s time Frank.”