The lights in his eyes were unexpected. One light in his left eye and then the right. Someone was holding his eye lids. He was moving, lights on the ceiling sped by. The pain was excruciating. The pain was coming from his head and chest. He knew it wasn’t a dream because of the pain. You can’t feel pain in a dream, he thought.

  Or could you?

  “His eyes are red, get him into Surgery! We don’t have much time. His heart rate is dropping.”

  He was still moving but all he could see was a head pop into his line of vision for a second. He couldn’t move, he was paralyzed or either strapped down tightly. That much he knew. He also knew he was in a hospital on a gurney being pushed down the hallway.

   More voices.

  “How many times has he been shot?” The voice asked. It was a woman’s voice and then suddenly he felt a pinch in his left arm.

  The lights were slowing down on the ceiling.

  “Four times. One bullet is still lodged an inch next to the heart. One bullet hit the left side of his temple, but never entered the brain.” A man’s voice and now a face standing over him. He could make out blue eyes and a stethoscope. And then the face of the woman. She spoke when she saw his eyes move.

  “Agent Ricter, can you talk?”

  He tried, but nothing came out.

  She glanced over at the man. “The room is ready, let’s scrub-up.”


  The room was so pink, but that was the color Emily wanted. She had even painted the room herself, decorated it with a few framed posters of unicorns and white horses. He stood at the door, leaning against the door-jam looking at the finished product.

  Emily Ricter had loved unicorns ever since she was four when her mother told her a story about the magical creature granted wishes. And now she had posters and stuffed unicorns all around her room.

  She was on her way home from school. Her mother, Heather was picking her up so she could get home quicker to eat dinner as a family before he left to go out on surveillance. He could be gone for more than a week, so he wanted to spend three hours with them.

  He heard the car doors shut on the Buick that had been Heathers mothers’ car before she had to go into the nursing home. He moved away from the room and walked into the kitchen and poured another cup of coffee.

  Dinner was in the stove: pork chops and potatoes. The stove was keeping them warm until his girls were ready to eat. He watched from the kitchen window as Emily stopped to pet Max, their German Sheppard who had been outside stalking a cat that had mistakenly walked into the yard. He smiled as she bent down to give the dog a hug.

  Heather walked in first and set her pocketbook down on a table beside the backdoor. She smiled when she saw him standing, leaning against the sink. And he smiled back.

  “How did you sleep?” She asked walking over, giving him a quick kiss.

  “Good. I was really tired so it wasn’t hard to sleep last night.

  She walked away toward the bedroom.

  Emily walked in and dropped her book bag down next to the kitchen table and gave her dad a hug, wrapping her arms around his waist. He kissed the top of her head.

  “Do you really have to go to work tonight?”

  “I’m afraid so, sweetie. But I’ll be back in a few days and then we can go on a vacation.”

  “She looked up. “You promise?”

   He nodded. “I promise.”

  Heather walked back into the kitchen and started getting plates out of the cabinet. He watched as Emily picked up her book bag and went into her room. She placed the plates down and then grabbed some forks and knives from the drawer and placed them beside the plates.

  “After this case, I’ll be working behind a desk,” he said with a smile. He was getting a promotion. One she had no idea about. “I already have the name plate. Agent Darius Ricter in my locker.” He grinned. “I wanted to tell you earlier, but I wanted to make sure it was official.”

  She stopped what she was doing and looked up with a curious grin. “Are you serious?”

  He finished his coffee and placed the cup in the sink. “Yes. I will be a supervisor now.”

  She came around the table and gave him an embrace. “Does that mean you will be home more often?”

  He smiled. “Yes.”

  She gave him a long passionate kiss just as Emily walked back into the kitchen snickering. “Leave you two alone for one minute…”

  “Your father just got a promotion.”

  “Wow, that’s cool…..”


   Blurred vision and a headache. He reached up with his right hand to feel his head, and that’s when he noticed the IV cord. The room already had flowers and balloons. He figured they were from Emily and Heather. The room was empty, but the door was cracked. Once his eyes adjusted he could see people walking by the room, and of course, the smell of the hospital was unmistakable.

   The nurse walked in, smiled, and checked his monitor.

   With all the strength he could muster, he pulled on her arm. She bent down so she could hear his whisper. “Where are my wife and daughter?”

   She gave him a curiously alarmed look. “Mr. Ricter, you have no family. You are a single man with only a Mother and Father.” She glanced around the room and gestured to the flowers and balloons. “They are the ones who sent these flowers to the room, along with your partner and friends. You’ve been in a comma for two weeks.”

   He glanced around the room.

   That’s not true, he thought.

   The Nurse let out a soft smile and patted his shoulder. “Get some rest Mr. Ricter, I will check on you later.”