“She’s ready to see you now,” said the woman in blue scrubs.
Damon stood up slowly and followed the doctor out of the waiting area and into his wife’s recovery room.
The pale-faced patient looked up and smiled weakly as he entered. “Damon,” she said softly.
Damon walked to her side and grabbed her hand as he kissed her forehead gently. “Tess,” he paused, “sweetheart.” A tear fell from his eye.
“Is it that bad, Damon?” she coughed.
“It’s not good.”
“But there’s still hope, right? I mean, with God anything is possible.”
“Yes, of course,” he agreed slowly, “it’s just that–”
“Do not worry about anything,” she quoted, “instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace.”
“I know, darling. I know.”
“Then you shouldn’t look so concerned. The doctors had said I wouldn’t wake from my coma, right? God’s plans are higher than ours.”
“I don’t know what I would do without you.”
“Should that day come, the LORD will provide a path for you, like He has always done. Even now He is putting things in motion which will provide for your future. Have faith.”
“I do. Yet, I feel as though He may be testing my faith right now and I’m not sure which path He would want me to take.”
“Are you talking about Arthur Flores?”
“Yes,” he said as he bowed his head.
“Can I see?”
Damon looked up questioningly before he brought a finger in front of his face. It lit on fire.
Tess’s eyes grew bright with surprise. “This is most certainly a gift to praise the LORD about.”
“But, don’t you think–”
“I think John the Baptist foretold this very gift, Damon. ‘I baptize you with water, but he who comes after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.’”
“Perhaps you’re right.”
“You know this. This is the Word of God. The real question is, what do you intend to do with this gift?”
“God’s will, of course.”
“He couldn’t have given you such an amazing gift without having some amazing purpose in store for you.”
“That is precisely what vexes me.”
“Don’t worry. I feel confident His plan will be revealed soon.”
“I pray you’re correct.”
“Damon?” Tess asked as her eyes clenched tightly.
“What is it darling? Are you okay?”
One of the machines behind her began beeping and immediately a swarm of blue-clothed individuals ran into the room, shoving Damon out the door.
“What is going on?” he screamed as they pushed him out of the way.
“Sorry, sir. You’re going to have to wait outside.”
“I demand to know what is happening to my wife!” he yelled as they tried closing the door in front of him. He held onto the door and struggled to keep it open until he felt a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
“Reverend,” the man connected to the hand said calmly. “There’s nothing you can do now.”
“You alright there, Buddy?” Maggie asked, looking up from her book and noticing her brother was still staring at the same wall he had been looking at the last time she turned the page. “I know we said we’d have a relaxing night at home, but I didn’t expect you to shut down quite so hard.”
“I was just thinking about something.”
“It’s not that. Well, not exactly. I don’t know. It’s nothing.”
“Are you having more of those memories?” Maggie asked, putting her book down on the coffee table in front of her and sliding down the couch closer to the chair Buddy was sitting on. Buddy was silent. “What’s happening in them now?”
“I don’t even want to think about it,” Buddy said solemnly.
“I’m sorry, Buddy. It can’t be easy to relive the life of a man as crazy as that. Especially considering how he feels about you.”
“It’s not that. At least, not exactly.”
“You want to talk about it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Okay,” Maggie said as she sat back in the couch. “But, if you ever want to talk, you know I’m here, right?”
“Have you told anyone else about it? Alexa maybe?”
“I haven’t even told any of them what happened between me and Damon, much less that I’m currently living his life in fast forward.”
“I don’t know. Just never seemed like the right time. I mean, how do you tell someone that you currently have the memories of one of the scariest men who have ever walked this earth rolling around in your brain? I’m pretty sure I know how I’d react, and it wouldn’t be very accepting.”
“I don’t think you give your friends enough credit.”
“It’s alright to be scared, you know.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re scared that you’re starting to become Damon. Aren’t you? I know I would be.”
“I don’t know. Maybe. There’s really only one thing I know for sure.”
“I want him out.”
Maggie got up from the couch and sat down on the armrest to the chair Buddy was currently perched on. “Can we agree for a second that I know you better than anyone? That, if there was anyone who knew what was going on in your head better than you, it would be me?”
“Sure. I guess so.”
“So, if I were to say that I’m not worried, would that make you feel any better? You haven’t given me any reason to believe you’re anyone except the same old dumb brother you’ve always been.”
“You can still separate the pieces that belong to him and the pieces that belong to you, can’t you?”
“Yeah, I guess, it’s just that–”
“Right, so, as long as you know who you are, there’s nothing Damon can do to change that, whether or not he’s hanging out inside your head.”
“You’re probably right.”
“Of course I am,” Maggie laughed. “And now you know a lot more about what made him who he is, meaning that if he ever does pop back into our lives, you’ll have a better idea of how to deal with him.”
“Maybe I am just getting myself all worked up over nothing.”
“How about this?” Maggie grinned. “If you ever get to the point where you don’t think you can handle it anymore, you let me know. I’ll take care of it.”
“Perfect,” Buddy laughed. “Great to know I’ve always got my big sister to back me up.”
“And don’t you forget it. Now, why don’t you get to bed, you could probably use the rest before work tomorrow.”
“Yeah, about that. I had been meaning to tell you.”
“Oh, no, Buddy. Not again.”
“Yeah. Turns out working as a moving guy isn’t quite as easy as we had thought it would be.”
“Who caused the trouble this time, you or Zero?”
“Well,” Buddy stumbled over his words.
“Look, we got a little over-ambitious. No one was around, so we decided we could probably get things done faster if we, well, you know.”
“Let’s just say that super strength does not always mesh well with priceless pieces of art.”
“I know, I’m sorry. It was completely my fault.”
“That’s the fifth job you guys have lost together now. You need to find some steady work.”
“I know, sis. I’ll get out and find something first thing tomorrow morning.”
“Actually, I might have something for you,” Maggie said as she sat back down on the couch.
“Ever heard of SuperCon?”
“Sounds familiar. One of those nerd conventions, right?”
“Yeah. It’s actually the world’s largest comic book convention and it’s located right here in Sun City. Now that I’m the sister of the world-famous Buddy Hero, I’ve managed to make Maggie’s the official caterer for the event.”
“Okay, sure, maybe no one actually knows you exist, but still, it seemed like a good enough excuse to go after the contract, not that I need any excuses with finances being the way they are. It’s a pretty big deal. I even had to hire on three more people just to handle the crowds.”
“Cool,” Buddy said as his mind trailed off to other things.
“I could definitely use another pair of hands on the line and since you said you’re free tomorrow–”
“What?” Buddy snapped back into focus. “Oh, no, I just remembered. I promised Ryan I’d help him test. . . something.”
“You could have just said no, you know,” Maggie frowned as she stood. “You don’t have to lie to me.”
“No, seriously sis, I’d love to help, but–”
“I’m being honest here. Ryan asked if I could help him test this new upgrade he’s been working on, something he thinks could be useful in, well, something. I don’t remember exactly. I think it had something to do with mirrors.”
“After all those years of watching you drink yourself stupid, I’m happy to see you finally found something that makes you happy, so, don’t misunderstand me. But, you need to find a job. There’s no easier way to say this. We need the money.”
“Well, you know, it would be pretty easy to rob a bank, knowing that–”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. Why don’t we just put that idea under Plan B. Just promise me that if something comes up where you could be getting paid to traipse around in those tights of yours, you’ll jump at the opportunity, okay? Our house is starting to feel a little cramped with you, me, Alexa, and Zero all sitting around the same dinner table. And the food bills aren’t getting any cheaper, either.”
“You know me, sis. The second someone gives me the opportunity to sell out, I’m there.”
“Perfect. Well, I have to be at the convention before the sun comes up tomorrow morning if I hope to have a chance to find a place to park and unload all my stuff. You gonna be up for a bit?”
“Yeah, probably. I was thinking about going out on patrol again to try and clear my mind. You got any clue where Alexa’s gotten off to? Thought she might like to join me.”
“She hasn’t been home at all today. I just assumed she was off doing something with Zero.”
“Those two? Together? Alone? Don’t bet on it. Besides, I think Zero said he was heading off to the library to play some catchup on world history.”
“Great,” Maggie groaned. “Just what I need. Another week filled with him spouting off random bits of celebrity gossip from ten years ago.”
“It could be worse,” Buddy smiled. “Remember when he found out about 9-11? I’d take talking about who is cheating on who over that discussion any day.”
“Did you try calling her?”
“I texted her. That’s usually more than enough.”
“I can check my room and see if she left her phone.”
“Her? Without her phone? I don’t think so.”
“Okay, well I’m going to sleep. If you find Alexa, tell her I need her to be ready to go by 4am.”
“For SuperCon, dummy.”
“I’m serious, Maggie, Ryan asked me if I would–”
Maggie walked out of the room and Buddy was left alone. He sat in place for a moment, eyes returning to the blank wall before he finally stood and walked to the door.
Go to Chapter Four