Here it is. The ending I wrote for NANOWRIMO in November 2012, knowing it wasn’t good enough, that it was too easy and quick. SPOILER ALERT. This will ruin some surprises in ALL IS SILENCE if you read it before you read the whole book!
Remember, ALL IS SILENCE is ON SALE for the first time at $2.99 the entire month of November on all major sales sites in honor of NANOWRIMO.
Last NANOWRIMO chapter
“Okay, drive through cones.” Lizzie said. “Don’t go into towns. Jesus, people are going crazy. See you in a bit.”
They got back in the vehicles. Lizzie helped Spike back into the Expedition, “Thanks for protecting me, big man, but Duke’s okay.” Then she got back in the truck with Duke “You all right?”
“Nothing like getting dog-mauled by a big man.” Duke was checking his face in the rear view mirror. “Besides he owed me one for last time.”
Zach pulled out and Duke followed him. When they hit the freeway they headed south. Rachael and Saj were asleep in the back seat. “So, you want to tell me about C.J., Curtis.”
Lizzie shook her head. “Not really. But you deserve to know as much as you want. Fucking craziest part of it is, if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be alive.”
“How do you figure?”
“He sold Zach and Nev and I peyote. Besides being young, I think we survived from some antibiotics in peyote.”
“You’re shittin’ me.”
“I looked it up. It was never really used much for modern medicines because it takes too long to grow.”
“That little shit. So, I guess I’m in that group, too. One time we got drunk and he convinced me to try it. He spent the whole next day keeping me safe. It was really bad trip. One of the things that kept me mostly straight. Figured I’d stick with the devil I knew—alcohol.”
“So, I almost hit him with the car. My first day driving by myself. He helped me back to the house with stuff for Saj, the baby. He was drinking, but everything was fine. I went to bed and woke up with him fondling me.” Her body shivered; she shook it off and continued. “I tried to get him to stop. Went to the bathroom. I had a shotgun in there that I almost used to kill myself. I warned him. Thought it would scare him away. But I think he knew I wouldn’t shoot him. And I wasn’t going to…” She stopped, the explosion, the sounds and the smells came spinning back. “Then he pulled the gun. I closed my eyes and must have pulled the trigger. I didn’t mean to kill him.”
“His last words were, ‘I wasn’t gonna hurt you. I just wanted you.’ And then he died. There was so much blood and shit. I’m sorry, Duke. I still see it in my dreams.”
“Stupid little shit. Always the little man trying to prove himself big.”
Lizzie remembered the words. ‘Not little Zach; It’s big Curtis.’ “It didn’t have to go down that way.”
“No, it didn’t. But he never, ever backed down. Usually just used a bigger stick. See this scar? Hit me in the head with a two by four. I’d licked him fair and square and he came back at me with that. 22 stitches.” Duke sighed. “Thanks for telling me. Probably shouldn’t have made you go through it again.”
“No. I needed to tell you. Especially after you saved my life.”
“It was the right thing to do.”
“Exactly. It was the right thing to do.”
Duke reached over and hit the stereo power button. “How about some music?” The opening bells of AC/DC’s Hell’s Bells echoed in the speakers. “Guess I better turn it down a bit.”
Lizzie laughed. It felt good. “Don’t want to wake the kids.”
An hour later they saw headlights in the distance coming toward them. The road sign said the next exit was Bountiful. Lizzie smiled. She was feeling pretty bountiful herself. “I’ve never seen my dad. Not since I remember. Mom kicked him out when I was three. I thought he was dead.”
“Wow. And then?”
“I found a phone number. In the box I went back when I saw you at the house. I dropped the box. Weird. If you hadn’t scared me, I might not have found it.”
“That is weird.”
“I hope he’s worth this fucking trip. Better not be the asshole he was.”
There was a giant Country Inn and Suites building right off the highway as the three vehicles pulled to a stop. Lizzie leaped uot of the truck and ran to the Forest Service Jeep. Jess jumped out and Lizzie felt her strong farmer girl arms wrapped around her. “God, Lizzie. It’s good to see you. Your dad’s still passed out. We ought to get him to a bed. Don’t think he’d had a drink in years.” She felt cold on her arms and saw the beginnings of snowflakes coming down.
“I want to see him.” Lizzie pulled open the back door.
A native American woman shrugged sheepishly. His head was in her lap. “Drank the last of my vodka.”
“Lizzie, meet BeeGee.”
“Your dad’s a good man, Lizzie.”
“I hope so.”
“You want to switch places?”
“No. Let’s go check into the Inn. We can get him more comfortable there.”
In a matter of minutes, Jess had gotten them keys and rooms. The air was a bit stale, but there were no visible bodies.
Lizzie was in the room with her dad by herself. He was snoring softly. She thought he looked pretty good. His salt and pepper beard was trimmed, not bushy and his hair was shorter than all the pictures except the military ones.
There was a knock on the door. Jess pushed it open softly. “Can I come in for a few?”
“Yeah. Don’t know if I can stay awake long enough to be here when he comes out of it.”
“I’m pretty wired. I’ll try and spell you. If he looks like he’s gonna wake up and you’re asleep, I’ll wake you.”
“Thanks, Jess. BeeGee said he’s a good man. What do you think?” She knelt down by the bed. She straightened his collar.
“Not perfect, but I’d agree. You’re lucky.”
“For once, maybe. Thanks, Jess.” Lizzy climbed into the other bed clothes and all. “Don’t know if I’m gonna sleep either. But I think I’ll try.” She yawned from the suggestion of sleep. She closed her eyes and wished she could hear mama’s voice, but tomorrow she could hear her dad’s and not over a phone.
She woke to daylight streaming in the windows. There was a cup of coffee on the bed-stand and someone was in the bathroom humming. “Jess?”
Jess poked her head out. “How you doin’ sleepy head. Tried to talk to you last night, but you were out like a light.”
“Thanks for the coffee.”
“Zach doctored it. Said he’d come back with some for your dad. Black with sugar. Just like yours. We probably should change his bandage and he’s gonna need another shot. You ever do any of that?”
“Nope. But Zach might have. Took care of his grandpa.”
“Funny. I remember Zach being an annoying kid, always playing drums on everything with anything. Just his hands if he didn’t have a pencil.”
“Yeah. You haven’t seen him in years. It’s only been a year or so for me and he’d sprouted up and out.”
“I’m going to go check on the coffee.”
Jess left before Lizz could call her back. “Well, dad. I guess now is the time.” She sat down on the edge of the bed and ran her fingers across his forehead. Tears welled up in her eyes. “I missed you. I always missed you.” His eyes flickered under the lids. Then the opened slowly. He stared at her but did not seem to see here. Then his eyes focused. “Jennifer? I thought.” His faced knotted in confusion. “Where am I?”
He thinks I’m my mom. “Daddy. It’s Elizabeth.” She saw realization in his eyes. She put her head on his chest and listened to his strong heartbeat. His arms wrapped around her. They were warm and strong.
“Oh, God. I thought you were dead.” He placed his hands gently on her head and pulled her up so he could see her face. “Tell me I’m not dreaming.”
“You’re not dreaming, Daddy. We’re in Bountiful, Utah. In between Ogden and Salt Lake.” She watched the tears roll unnoticed down his ruddy cheeks and into his beard. “It’s not home, but it might as well be.”
She lay her head back down and she felt his left hand rubbing her head.
“Hush little baby, don’t say a word, daddy’s gone by you mockingbird.”
She hugged him as tight as she could and let her tears fall into the tired cloth of his ranger’s shirt.
The End For Now…