Life with the Davises
was a nightmare for Richie. What had started out as a great
home had shattered into a thousand broken pieces, and no
matter what Sherri or Richie did or said, they couldn't
One night in late March, Richie came home from the club
and met Sherri in the driveway. Grant's car was parked on
the street, but he should still be at work. They walked
into the house cautiously.
Closing the door behind them, Sherri gasped and Richie pulled
up short at the sight in front of them.
Grant sat on the couch, leaning over the table. A thin line
of white powder was atop a small mirror, and traces of the
powder were on Grant's nose. He looked up at them more in
anger than surprise. His eyes were bloodshot, and he wiped
his nose as he stared at his wife.
"Guess what, hon?" he asked in a high-pitched
voice. "I lost my job today. Can you imagine? I used
to be a software genius, and yet these imbeciles fire me
from scanning groceries."
Sherri's eyes were open wide, and she stood frozen to her
spot. Richie moved to stand near the table and looked down
"Oh man, don't do this," he said in a pleading
voice. "Don't do this anymore."
"He won't," Sherri said in the coldest voice Richie
had ever heard from her. "Not here. Not in our home."
She walked around the other side of the table and snatched
the mirror away from Grant, dumping its contents on the
floor as she raised her arm back and flung it against the
wall. Richie jumped in surprise as the glass fell to the
floor. He watched as Sherri spotted a plastic baggie of
more cocaine on the couch and grabbed that, too. Backing
away, she shook her head, her face a mask of misery.
"No more, Grant. No more. Either tell me you'll quit
or leave here now. I Grant stood up and pushed past Richie.
He stopped a few feet away from his wife.
"Give me the bag," he said.
"Richie, go pack your things," Sherri said without
taking her eyes off of her husband. "We're leaving."
Richie stood there for a minute, weighing his options. If
he left the room, Grant might do something crazy. The best
thing would be for Sherri to hand over the drugs, and then
they could leave.
"Sherri, just give him what he wants and we'll get
out of here."
"No. He doesn't get them until we're on our way out
the door," she said, looking at Richie for a moment
before fixing a determined gaze on her husband. "Grant,
I don't trust you. Not when you're high. You just stay back
until we're ready to leave."
Grant lunged at her, shoving her into the wall. Her scream
was cut short when her head smacked into the hard surface
"Give them to me!" Grant screamed as Sherri somehow
kept her grip on the plastic bag, even though he was using
one hand to try to rip it away. With the other hand, he
held her jaw in a vise-like grip.
Richie used all of his energy to pry Grant off of Sherri,
but Grant was too strong. The older man released his grip
on the bag and threw his elbow back into Richie's face.
The elbow connected solidly with Richie's jaw, and the impact
stunned him and sent him reeling back. He fell awkwardly
onto the ground and half laid there, shaking his head to
regain his senses and watching the scene before him unfold
as if in slow motion.
Sherri screamed Richie's name and kneed Grant in the groin.
She twisted her body and used her free hand to try to pull
Grant's hand from her jaw, but he didn't let go.
Richie tried to get up, but he couldn't keep his balance
and fell back down. "Leave her alone!" he yelled.
Sherri wrenched her head to the left, and Grant jerked it
back. The combination of the drugs and his brute strength
proved deadly. Richie heard the sickening sound of Sherri's
neck snapping. He watched as Grant released her and she
slumped to the floor, her eyes still open.
The world stopped for Richie. He saw Sherri dead on the
floor, and all of the anger and pain from years past rushed
in on him. Foster home after foster home had been a failure,
but for a little while, this one had seemed like it might
actually work out. He heard Sherri's words again: "You
can have a normal life. We'll give you a normal life."
But this wasn't a normal life. It was a sick joke. And not
a very funny one.
The anger burned inside him with a force that was overwhelming.
Richie's jaw clenched, and his eyes narrowed. A bitter need
for revenge rose up inside of him. Revenge for everything
that had gone wrong in his life, but mostly revenge for
Grant killing Sherri. Whether the man had meant to do it
or not didn't matter to Richie.
As the world resumed its normal march of time, Richie let
out a scream of animal rage. Adrenaline pumping, he threw
himself against Grant. They crashed into a bookcase and
toppled back on the floor. Richie was pinned underneath
Grant, but a fist into the older man's windpipe was enough
to make Grant roll off for a moment to regain his breath.
Richie staggered up and looked around wildly for something
to knock the man out with.
His eyes landed on a vase that held a bouquet of flowers
he'd bought Sherri a few days ago. Calla lilies and iris.
He'd picked them up on a whim. They were dying now, his
mind registered. *So what?* he asked himself. *She's dead
anyways.* Richie reached for the vase, but was stopped when
a fist landed squarely in his back, driving the breath from
him and sending him to the floor in front of the table.
He rolled over, gasping, and couldn't avoid the punch that
landed on his jaw and nearly rendered him unconscious.
Grant hauled Richie up by his t-shirt, and the pain was
unbearable. It was all he could do to stay awake as the
room went in and out of focus.
Richie used his waning strength to drive his body into Grant's.
They slammed against the wall, and Grant moved to throw
Richie off of him, but his foot caught on Sherri's hand.
Looking down, he let go of Richie and bent over his dead
wife. Richie saw Grant's eyes clear, as if he were suddenly
sober, and the man stroked his wife's cheek.
"What have I done?" Grant cried in a voice drenched
Richie watched in confusion, trying to reconcile the man
so high on drugs that he'd killed his wife with the man
before him now: a man broken and contrite. But he couldn't.
Unable to stand the sight before him or his own grief, he
staggered to the door, threw it open, and ran out into the
street. His head ached, and his thoughts were a twisted
tangle of heartache and anger. He never heard the car that
roared down the street. The driver couldn't stop in time,
and the front end of the vehicle slammed into Richie's body.
Richie felt himself heaved up into the air, and was dimly
aware of landing somewhere. Somewhere very dark and cold
When he woke up, the pain made him wish he was dead. Every
part of his body ached. He didn't even attempt to move,
but stared at the ceiling above him, trying to remember
what had happened, and where he was.
"Richie?" a young woman's voice asked.
Richie turned his head toward it, expecting to see Sherri.
But it was a woman in a white uniform. A nurse's uniform.
Richie groaned as pain lanced up his body, and the woman
reached to the side of the bed and pressed a button.
"Just take it easy, Richie. The doctor will be here
soon, and he'll be very glad to see you're awake."
Richie tried to speak, but nothing came out. His throat
was too dry. The nurse saw his discomfort, disappeared from
his vision, and came back with an ice chip. She put in his
mouth and he let it dissolve, grateful for the moisture.
"What happened?" he asked, still unsure of why
he was in the hospital. He remembered some kind of fight
at home with Grant, and Sherri was there, too, but it was
all so fuzzy.
"Just wait for the doctor," she said.
The pain was so excruciating, Richie would have cried if
he wasn't so tired. As it was, he carefully moved his head
to take in as much of the room as he could. An IV stuck
out of his left arm in the crook of the elbow. His right
arm was in a cast. Machines beeped to his left.
As Richie tried to recall the events of the fight, he heard
the door open. A thin man in a doctor's uniform approached
"Well hello Mr. Ryan," the man greeted him and
bent down. As he flashed a light into Richie's eyes, he
introduced himself as Dr. Whiting.
"You're a lucky young man," the doctor said. "We
didn't know if you'd make it. You've been in a coma for
almost a week."
"A week?" Richie repeated weakly. He closed his
eyes and opened them again. "What happened? Why am
Richie saw the doctor exchange a nervous glance with the
nurse before pulling up a chair next to his bed. "You
don't remember anything?"
"I remember there was a fight," Richie said slowly.
"Sherri was crying. I was hitting Grant. I don't remember
Dr. Whiting paused before speaking. "Richie, you ran
out into the street after the fight and got hit by a car.
You were seriously injured. You sustained a concussion,
broken arm, sprained ankle, four broken ribs and internal
bleeding. You almost died on the operating table."
Richie was stunned into silence. Almost died? A car had
hit him? An image of him running outside of the house flashed
through his mind. He'd been upset, but why?
Then he heard Sherri's voice.
"Grant, I don't trust you. Not when you're high. You
just stay back until we're ready to leave."
He remembered everything. The drugs. The fight. Grant killing
Sherri. Everything came back at him in an overwhelming flood
of emotions. The intense grief over Sherri's death. The
murderous rage toward Grant for taking her away. His bewilderment
at watching Grant cry over his dead wife. The tears rolled
down his face, and his upper body shook. The movement jarred
his tender ribs, but that pain didn't hurt nearly as much
as the pain in his heart.
"She's dead, isn't she?" he managed, hoping it
was all a dream, but knowing it wasn't.
Richie wanted to talk to the man, although he didn't know
what he'd say. Part of him wanted the old Grant back, the
one who was happy and had a job and didn't take drugs. He
wanted to ask him why; why did he wreck his own life and
take Sherri down with him?
Another part of Richie hoped that Grant was suffering for
what he'd done to his wife.
"Mr. Davis passed away," the doctor said quietly.
"Passed away? As in dead?" Richie asked in astonishment.
Grant was fine when Richie left.
"He overdosed. He died on the way to the hospital."
Richie stared. Sherri and Grant dead, and him alone. Again.
And what now? What would happen when he was well enough
to get out of this place? Would he get stuck in another
He couldn't do it. He'd rather live on the streets. Richie
had had enough of getting stuck with foster families who
left him feeling like he'd been run through a meat grinder.
Before he slipped into a restless sleep, his last thought
was of Sherri and how he hadn't been able to save her.
A few days later, the nurses unhooked Richie from the machines
and dumped him in a room with a man who'd just had a colostomy.
Richie spent most of his time looking out of the window
at the April sunshine, reliving that night over and over
again. Sometimes his roommate's moans interrupted his thoughts.
George was getting on Richie's nerves. The man was not adjusting
well to life with a colostomy bag. Every time the bag filled
up, he'd start whining that it took the nurse too long to
come in and empty it.
As much as George irritated him, Richie agreed with the
man that the service around here sucked. Richie would tick
off the hours until his next pain killer, but it always
arrived late. The nurses seemed to have a lot of patients
to watch, but Richie didn't care. McDonald's this wasn't,
but he still figured the wait time should be less. He was
miserable physically and mentally, and cranky from the sharp
pain of his injuries.
One thing that added to his aggravation was the food. Richie
had never been accused of having a lack of appetite, and
his hunger constantly gnawed at his stomach. When the nurses
stopped dripping the liquid diet crap into his arm he thought
he was home free.
*Solid food, look out. Richie's back,* he'd said to himself.
The food was solid, but soggy. Actually, Richie wasn't sure
it was food. A glop of some mystery meat even fouler-smelling
than Spam, a stale dinner roll and putrid green jello with
funky fruit floating in it was the normal lunch and dinner.
Breakfast was always the same tasteless oatmeal and clumpy
orange juice. Just the smell of it all made him want to
Richie asked for a menu change, but the nurses acted like
he'd requested that Kim Basinger show up and do a free striptease.
The food stayed the same, and Richie only nibbled at it.
He knew he was losing weight and found this ironic, since
hospitals were supposed to make you better.
The worst part of his stay was how helpless he felt. He
could barely get out of bed or walk around his room without
a nurse nearby. Usually it was Nurse Fielder, who'd been
there when he'd emerged from the coma. She was also the
one who changed his bedpan, a humiliating event Richie dreaded
almost as much as mealtime. He hated being weak in front
End of Part 3