Apparently, I'd been asleep for the last day and a half. Also, everyone had been placing bets on how long I'd stay asleep. Leah had bet on only 12 hours, Mercedes a day, Lacey 2 days, and Johnny a day and a half.
Johnny won fifty bucks from that bet.
Leah's sister had had a baby in the same hospital. He wasn't in the same ward, of course, and Leah (being the infant-fanatic that she is) spent nearly half of each day with her sister.
The police came by and questioned me about Jetty, but they had (surprisingly) came to the decision that I'd only shot him in self-defense. Even more surprising was that I didn't even get charged for manslaughter.
The legal system in this town is all screwy, but who am I to complain?
After about three more days in the hospital, we were all permitted to leave. Good thing, too.
I was starting to get a little stir-crazy.
"Oh, yeah, I almost forgot to mention," mentioned Mercedes. "But Thorton owns that hospital."
I nearly chocked on my strawberry Fiz-Whiz.
"That explains a lot," stated Johnny. "He had pretty much the entire hospital right there under his thumb."
It'd been two months since the whole 'Jetty Incident'. Mercedes had started going to the same school as me as soon as her wound was fully healed, meaning she also pretty much wound up living with me.
Eh, Thorton helped us find a good new apartment to live in, so why am I complaining?
Lacey and Leah had headed back east after about a week of being out of the hospital. We had some good-quality down-time.
Though Lacey wouldn't leave until she had a little talk with Johnny. I can only vaguely imagine what about because neither one of them told me what they talked about. But Lacey did give Johnny a death glare that said 'she gets hurt and I kill you. Maybe' before she left.
"It does explain a lot...like how he knew immediately about Sadee being hospitalized," I added. "But hey, you still haven't told me how he got so damn rich to begin with!"
Sadee's face split into a wide, evil-ish grin. "Oh, that?" she said. "Oh, Thorton's just an ex Mafia Lord."
Johnny and I stared at her. "What?" we said. She chuckled. "Yeah, he used to be really up thar in all the super-underground crime bid-ness," she continued nonchalantly. "Then pretty much all of his immediate family (and a few others) were wiped out in some sort of secret war. He's mostly pulled out of all the illegal stuff, but he still has his connections from way up in that. How do you think you got away with the whole Jetty thing?"
I frowned at her. I still wasn't comfortable with what had happened back there. I don't think I ever will be.
"I guess I'll have to thank him sometime," I mumbled.
We sat there quietly for a bit. It was starting to get warm finally, but I was still wearing my tent of an orange sweater. Only, it wasn't quite as orange as it used to be...
"You ever gonna get rid of that old thing?" Asked Sadee. "It's got my blood all over it. Doesn't that bug you at all?"
I shrugged. "I wouldn't get rid of it if it were only a rag. It's got loads of memories stitched into it," I replied. "Plus, it helped to saved the life of one of my best friends; it's got to be my luckiest piece of clothing I have."
"And the looks you get from passerby are priceless," added Johnny. I laughed. "Yeah, that lady with the whole 'is that ketchup?' thing; that was amusing." Then I poked him. "Are you ever gonna tell us what you and Lace talked about? She didn't scare or scar you into silence, did she?"
He shook his head. "Hardly. But that's something I'd rather not talk about; at least not now. Maybe some other time..."
I crossed my arms and scowled. "You always say that, though..." Mercedes laughed at me. "Jeez, Laura, don't be such a kid." Being the incredibly mature person that I am, I stuck my tongue out at her.
For the next few hours we just chatted, going back and forth with random thoughts half-formed, weird little bantery remarks, and all around just shooting the breeze.
"...and then he said 'well, you'll have to cut my head off first,'" Mercedes was saying, talking about a dream she'd had the previous night. "And ya know what? I did! But all of a sudden, Madonna and Ozzy Osbourne come springin' outta his neck and start slow-dancing together! It was awesome!" We all broke down laughing. Wiping some happy tears from my eyes, I noticed the clock for the first time in about half a day. "Hey, Nny, you should prolly head out soon," I said. "It's 11:30; Sadee and I have classes tomorrow."
He shrugged and stood up to go. "Are you two still planning on coming over afterwards?" He asked. "I'll probably finish the painting long before you guys get out of 'The God-Forsaken Hell-Hole'."
We both nodded. "I can't wait to finally get a proper look at it," I said. Then he left and Mercedes and I had an argument before going to bed.
Just another night in this little old life of ours.
A touch more of blue here.
A trace of silver over there.
No noise from Meat anymore.
Johnny could finally block him out. He still felt itchy in his skin, he still felt those murderous urges every now and then, but he very, very rarely acted upon them. Maybe it was because of that question she asked...
"Does doing what I did...make me a bad person?"
It was such a silly little question, something a kid would ask if they stole marbles from school or something.
But Laura more or less was a child. Maybe not in body or even in mind, but most definitely at heart.
He shrugged and went back to the painting. There was something missing from it...Johnny couldn't quite place what it was....
"Crap..." he muttered. "I know it's missing something...what the hell is it, though...?"
Then he saw it. He chuckled and shook his head. "Ah, shit. Wow, that was obvious..."
Then he painted a small, dark line on the canvas.
He stepped back and took a look at his now completed painting. A surreal Laura was staring over her shoulder back at him, a newly painted smirk on her face.
"Now it's done."