Welcome back to my interactive writing experiment, Write A Novel With Me. If you are unaware of what this project is, please click here to learn all about it. You can also read Chapter 1 and check out the best answers provided by you, the reader, to the question: “What happened to Sawyer?”
And now, without further adieu, please enjoy Chapter 2 of our story where we learn of Sawyer’s fate based on your votes.
The moment the laser spot appeared on the center of Sawyer’s black blouse was Jaden’s chance to be the hero he always imagined he was. He used to have fantasies about saving the damsel in distress from the evil dragon and winning a big kiss that came with a pile of riches and notoriety. He always thought that if it ever came to it, he would have no problem jumping in front of a bullet to save the love of his life. But just as the bullet would end the beat of her heart, that small red dot stopped his cold.
If his legs freezing into the ground like the roots of a tree weren’t enough, the inability to open his mouth to warn her of her imminent demise made him feel worth less than an air conditioner in an igloo. As Jaden’s world slowed to a near halt, Sawyer’s sped up to near light speed, leaving Jaden no other recourse than to sit back and watch her fall into the river.
For a split second, Jaden thought perhaps it was all in his head, that Sawyer had caught the rabbit and was petting him on the other side of the brush. The sound of the splash, which resonated upon his senses several seconds after Sawyer’s body actually hit the water, finally woke him up to his nightmare.
“Sawyer, no!” Jaden screamed as his perception of time finally caught back up to the real world.
He ran to the edge of the river and caught sight of the rabbit sitting just off to the side of the shrubs, snickering at him with that ugly pink nose of his.
It’s your fault she was shot, you damn rabbit! he thought, which somehow scared the rabbit to hop its little cotton tail the hell out of there. But what was he thinking? Sawyer would have been shot regardless. If anything, the rabbit only caused her to fall into the river after being shot… or else saved him from the same fate. Then again, if the shooter had wanted him dead, he’d be dead.
This being the city, the shot could have come from any number of rooftops or apartment windows. If he believed in coincidences, his money would have definitely been on the building where the office lights were curiously lit in the shape of a small bunny. But in this time of heated emotion, he was more than likely seeing things. He had to calm down and start thinking rationally —
No. There wasn’t any way he could possibly think rationally right now. His fiancée was drowning and if he spent the time he knew it would take to calm down, she would die, regardless of whether the bullet had already taken care of that.
Reflections of lights glittered across the calming water, but he couldn’t see a thing under the surface; it was as dark as the black hole the bullet had created in his heart. He wanted to jump in after her, but he hadn’t been in the water since his father attempted to teach him to swim as a kid.
Learning to swim is about survival, son, his dad would say just before tossing him into the deep end of the swimming pool. If you can figure out how, you live; if not, you die. Have fun.
Though the lessons may have kept him from going in the water, they did teach him that more often than not he would have to fend for himself when the going got rough and know that sometimes in life, the deep end of the pool is the only place to tread water. After his failure to keep Sawyer from getting shot, he couldn’t let his inability to swim keep him from rescuing her after the fact. He sucked up his fears and dove into the river, howling as the chill rushed through his veins. It wasn’t quite as bad as he thought, probably because he could touch the bottom of the lake, but that didn’t mean he was ready to move further out into the river, or submerge himself underneath the water again.
He spent the next five minutes searching the surrounding areas with his hands and feet, reaching as deep as the water line would allow without having to dip his head underneath. It was odd and frightening that he couldn’t feel her body; this is where she landed after all. At the same time, it almost felt as if the world was laughing at him — a good guffaw if he’d ever heard one. By the time he gave up and crawled his freezing body onto the riverbank, a crowd had gathered. Some were curious about what was happening, others felt it was a great piece of entertainment that deserved to be shown to the world via YouTube. The only thing they all had in common was no one even attempted to help. If just one of them had given him assistance, maybe he could have saved her. But no amount of mouth-to-mouth was going to do that now. It was over.
As Jaden tried to calm the burn in his lungs and keep from crying (much help that did), a pair of squad cars arrived. One of the cops, an older gentleman who was more than likely a volunteer, dispersed the crowd, allowing the younger female cop to escort Jaden to her car.
“What exactly were you doing in the river?” she asked. According to her badge, her name was Cartera. She was a fairly attractive woman who might have been prettier if she didn’t have her hair held up in a bun — or wasn’t wearing a police uniform that hid almost all of the features that would otherwise highlight her womanhood.
“My-my fi… fi… fianc…” Jaden stuttered.
“Calm down, sir. I know this may be hard. Just take a deep breath for me.”
Jaden took a few deep breaths and then looked straight into Cartera’s hazel-brown eyes. “My fiancée,” he finally whispered.
“What about your fiancée?” Cartera said.
“She… she…” Jaden felt his emotions roll back to the surface, but somehow found a way to suppress them long enough to say what needed to be said. “She was shot.”
“Your fiancée was shot?” Repeating his question felt much more condescending than she probably thought it was. Jaden nodded and looked away.
“Did you get a good look at the shooter?” Cartera said in her best respectful cop voice.
Jaden shook his head.
“Was he wearing a mask? Did he try and steal anything? Where did he come from? Which way did he go? Can you tell me anything, sir?” Every question felt more patronizing than the next.
“I don’t know where the shot came from,” Jaden said with a slight sneer.
Jaden turned away again. She wouldn’t believe any explanation he could give her, and lying wouldn’t get him any closer to finding out why she had been targeted.
“Can you tell me exactly what happened?” Cartera said.
Jaden rubbed away the residual water (and tears) from his face. When he looked back up at Cartera, she was finally conveying a little bit of empathy. So Jaden felt it best to lay it all out there and let the chips fall where they may.
“We were taking a walk after dinner. I just proposed to her, you know, and neither of us wanted to let the moment end. She started chasing after this rabbit —”
Jaden rubbed his eyes. “Yeah, a rabbit. Look, that has nothing to do with it. The point is, she was standing there, five feet away from me and suddenly, she fell back into the river.”
“She fell into the river?”
“Yeah. Right there,” he said, throwing his hand out in the direction of where she was shot.
“Sir, if she fell into the river, how do you know she was shot? Did you hear it?”
“I saw the… the, you know…” Jaden pushed his finger repetitively against the center of his chest. “A target. A red dot. Here. And then, boom. Gone.”
“Okay, sir. I need you to calm down.”
Jaden stood. “My fiancée was shot,” he screamed. “Aren’t you going to do anything about that? Aren’t you going to comb the river for her body or something?”
“Sir, we are going to do everything we can to locate your fiancée, but I need you to come back to the station with me and file a formal statement.”
“A formal statement,” Jaden said, wincing at his own words.
“Can you do that for me?” She had one hand firmly on his chest, the other rested gently against the butt of her gun. “There’s nothing you can do here. Let the detectives do their job and when we learn anything, you’ll be the first to know. But before we can effectively do our jobs, we need your full, official statement. Can you do that for me?”
Jaden stared at the river for several minutes, Cartera remaining in position the whole time — up until he fell into the back seat of her squad car to become a blubbering mess once again.
The ride back to the police station gave him plenty of time to think and reflect on what had happened and who the shooter might have been. Who could possibly want her dead? What was she involved in that he didn’t know about? It scared him a little to think she might be some Russian spy who attached herself to him for some reason while putting her deadly plans into effect. Was she part of the CIA with a confidentiality agreement to keep her mouth shut about it? It almost made him feel a little left out.
The only thing he remembered about the interrogation was that it lasted two hours. Refusing a ride back to his apartment, Jaden walked from the station, his eyes hot with dry tears and fatigue. He went nearly ten miles before he realized he was going in the wrong direction, but instead of trying to walk thirty miles in the dead of night with his head as clear as a cigar house at happy hour, he called a cab to pick him up at a rural gas station where he felt he might be accosted or mugged at any moment.
Jaden hadn’t moved an inch between hanging up the phone and the cab arriving. In fact, it was hard to remember if he had even blinked. The cabbie had to nearly yell for him to get off his ass (even threatening to leave him if he didn’t) before Jaden found his strength again. The drive was long and it was only about a mile from his apartment when he was somehow able to take what would amount to be the shortest of catnaps.
By the time he reached his couch (after fumbling with getting the key into the door lock for ten minutes), he was ready to pass out — which was easier said than done, especially when his thoughts betrayed him. He caught sight of a picture of him and Sawyer at Disneyland during their second date. She was climbing over his back and laughing like some wild ferret, doing everything in her power to make him uncomfortable. It was one of the worst looking pictures — his face was contorted in several different directions by the placement of her fingers (and his quizzical expressions of pain), her hair was all a mess and her top was nearly riding up, exposing her delicate flowers — but she absolutely loved it. It was the perfect picture, natural and amusing and exactly like her. Not only that, but who else could say they had gotten their picture taken by Roger Rabbit?
Jaden’s eyes reddened as he grasped the picture tightly in his hand. For a long moment, he wanted nothing more than to simply end it all and live forever in that very moment. He nicked his finger across the sharp edge of the frame that had been bent up after Sawyer threw the picture at him during one of their many tumultuous fights over something so insignificant, the makeup sex would end up explosive.
Makeup sex: the best sex in the world aside from the girlfriend-approved threesome.
That’s when the doorbell rang.
Jaden sucked in a breath and closed his eyes. He lowered the picture and shifted his head to lie on the edge of the couch. A second ring forced his eyes open. He stared at the door for a moment before rolling them back to the picture. Closing his eyes once more in recollection, he waited until the third ring chimed before tossing the picture back to the table.
He slogged his weight onto his feet and stumbled to the door. Without even checking to see who it might be at this late (early?) hour, he pulled the door open.
Who is at the door?
Be as creative as you can, as outrageous as you want, and as detailed as possible. The best answer will determine where the story goes next.
Post your answers to Facebook, Twitter (using #WriteANovelWithMe and @phoenixmoirai) or in the comments section below by 5 p.m. PST on Thursday, October 16, 2014. You can give as many different answers as you want. The top 5 will be posted on Friday.
I can’t wait to see where your imaginations soar.