Excerpt from “Patches”

Everyone crept along at a snail’s pace with about five feet in between one another. I was prayin’ with every step that the good Lord would have me find my baby girl alive. She was all I had left. She was my whole reason for livin’ and I couldn’t imagine a God cruel enough to take that away from me. As I stepped over some briers, I heard the sentence that forever changed my life. “Sheriff, I found somethin’ over here!”

I can’t even tell ya who said it. My mind overloaded upon hearin’ it and most everythin’ after that was a blur. I took off runnin’ towards the voice, knockin’ people out of the way and tearin’ down small tree limbs that blocked that path. I saw a group of my neighbors, gathered in a circle, some knelt down and by the look on their faces, I already knew. I wouldn’t admit it, but I already knew.

Mickey tried to stop me. He grabbed me and yelled, “Don’t go ever there, Jimmy!” but I wasn’t haven’t it. I pushed right by our chubby little Sheriff and forced the men in the circle to let me in. As soon as I saw a pair of dirty bare feet and a floral print dress, I knew it was her.

Someone had covered her up with tree limbs and all I could think was that my baby was underneath all that mess. I started slingin’ broken pieces of pine trees to the left and the right. I had to get her out from under there.

When the last piece of debris was removed, I saw my baby’s face and I couldn’t even recognize her. Someone had beaten her so bad her face was just a giant purple and red swollen mess. I picked her up in my arms and I screamed. I screamed until my voice turned hoarse and tears flowed like a river down my face. I wouldn’t let anyone touch either of us. My daughter was dead and my heart was shattered like broken glass. I was in Hell, the star attraction of an exhibit made just for the Devil’s amusement, and I wept, for nothin’ could take this pain away.

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