A Sort of Homecoming
The Coff's Harbour Base Hospital turned him away when he arrived.
“You will have to come back in the morning Mr. Braddock. It is well past visiting hours and no one is allowed in to see your wife; until cleared by Doctor Nichols.” The woman looked sorry when she said the words. The context remained the same.
Lights had begun to hurt his eyes and every noise seemed amplified a thousand fold. He rubbed his eyes but they remained bleary. He knew he needed sleep. He hadn't been able to sleep on the plane. How many hours had it been since Mark had shown up at Jeanette's Gym? Ian had picked him up at the airport and driven him both to the hospital and back to the Glen, where he had asked to be left off in town.
The moon above was full and had an orange hue. He wanted to walk. Clear his mind… or empty it. There is a point when a man performs a repetitive physical activity and it become automatic…there is no longer thought behind the movement just the movement itself. He had experienced that before. So many mornings he had walked miles to the docks looking for work, done his miles during training or even while unloading a truck.
Thoughts continued to crowd his mind tonight. The woman at the hospital informed him that there were guards in Ivy’s ward at the hospital. The police considered her a victim of attempted murder. “Attempted Murder”…he murmured unable to wrap his mind around it. Rounding the bend in the road he saw the silhouette of the house. His house. The one he built for Ivy. It seemed stark against the back drop of the full moon. Walking closer he noticed the light was on in the kitchen. The door opened as he reached for the handle.
“Jim?” Melanie was startled to see his appearance. He was obviously exhausted. There were dark circles under his eyes, five o clock shadow on his cheeks and a troubled air about him. She quickly moved out of the doorway to allow him to enter. “I thought I heard someone out there.” She closed the door behind him and locked it before turning around. He was standing next to the table looking around. Seemingly searching for something. “Can I get you anything?” she asked him. He didn’t seem to hear her. She touched his arm and he jumped and looked at her. “Is there anything I can do for you Jim?”
His head hurt worse than before. Everything seemed wrong; in the right place but wholly wrong. Her touch seemed to hurt. He rubbed his arm as he tried to focus his eyes. What was she saying? He shook his head and managed to mumble… “I need to get some sleep.”
Nodding her understanding. Melanie gathered the book she had been reading from the table and began to go to her room. Just before leaving the kitchen she turned back and looked at him. “ It is good to have you home Jim. Good Night.”
He waved as his response; too tired to respond otherwise. Instead of going upstairs he went into the library and collapsed on the couch; falling asleep almost as soon as he made contact with the upholstery. He slept the sleep of the physically and emotionally exhausted, dreamless.
Melanie lay in bed hoping to hear his footfall on the stairs. After thirty minutes she went back downstairs to investigate and found Jim sleeping on the library couch. “He didn’t even take his shoes off” she thought to herself. After removing his shoes she placed an afghan over him before going back upstairs. When Melanie drifted off to sleep she thought only of Jim Braddock.