When you lose someone you love, they take a piece of your heart with them when they go. In Daniel's case, the loss of his beloved grandmother left him lost, lonely and broken. There was a time in his life when Daniel believed his grandmother would never die. She had been the only stable and loving presence in his life since he was born. Daniel never knew his father, and his mother was rarely around long enough to be significant to his life. She worked nights cleaning office buildings and her days were spent sleeping or partying with friends. She was only 15 when she had Daniel and left him in the care of her mother. She drank too much, smoked three packs of cigarettes a day and never learned to cook or care for her son. Grandma did it all, up until she couldn't do it anymore. That's when Daniel became her caretaker at the tender age of 13. Still, his grandmother brought in extra income by teaching children how to play the piano. She knitted lap blankets for Hospice and taught Sunday School for many years until arthritis in her legs got so bad, she couldn't get around without the aid of a walker. When she fell and broke her hip one cold winter day, her health began to decline, and she died while hospitalized for pneumonia.
Daniel was only 17.
He needed a fix and he needed it now! More importantly, Serena needed it, too. He lost his job and then the bank took his grandmother's house, all in the same week. He was a talented carpenter, but when he met Serena and she introduced him to Meth, it was all he could do to keep up with the cost of their habit, and now there was no more money for that, either. Serena was sobbing continually, and he had to do something soon. They were running out of time.
Serena was sobbing continually, and he had to do something soon. They were running out of time.
Daniel had a gun and a plan, and he was ready to risk everything to get them the drugs they needed. He would wait until after visiting hours at the hospital and enter through the side door that he had propped open earlier that evening. Fortunately, no one noticed that the door had been tampered with because that exit was rarely used by the staff at the hospital. The couple made their way towards the hospital and headed for the door. It was still propped open for their entry. Serena entered first. She had a pillow under her T-shirt to make people they may run into in the hallway believe she belonged there and was about to deliver a baby. Daniel followed close behind with his hand on Serena's back to guide her into the direction of the pharmacy. It was closed at this hour and secured with a panel over the pickup window and the steel door was closed and armed. Daniel hustled Serena into the stairwell next to the elevator and waited for a time when they could make their move. Just then an elderly woman stepped off the elevator and made her way past the door to the stairs. She seemed confused and looking for someone to give her directions. She was on her way to sit with her husband in the intensive care unit while they prepped him for surgery. Daniel heard another voice in the hall. It was a large, black male dressed in green scrubs with dreadlocks in his dark hair. The man was speaking to the older woman in an accent Daniel believed to be Jamaican.
“Hello, Mary, are you lost again, Devon asked? This hospital takes some getting used to; took me a few weeks to learn my way around, too, he added.
“Hi Devon, yes, I got mixed around somehow and realized I must have stepped off on the wrong floor again, will you please accompany me to where I need to be, Devon, my husband is having surgery and I want to see him before they take him to the operating room, Mary said.
If Daniel was going to make a move, he better do it soon. As Mary and Devon headed back towards the elevator, Daniel and Serena slipped out of the stairwell and followed them. When they entered the elevator, Daniel pulled out his gun and pointed it towards Devon. Instinctively, Devon raised his hands and stepped back, positioning himself in front of Mary, Serena started to sob again, and all eyes were on her as the pillow slipped out from under her T-shirt as she moved away from the other three to the opposite side of the elevator.
“What are we gonna do now, she asks Daniel? I'm so scared and I just want to go home, she said.”
“Shut up, Serena, I can't think when you're crying like that, shouted Daniel.” “You, Devon, do you have a key to that pharmacy door, he asks?”
“I'm just an orderly here man, I ain't got no keys to nothin', he said.” “Why you doin' this, they got security all over this hospital, if you leave now you can get away clean and no one gets hurt.”
“Where else do they keep the meds, Daniel ask him? “Morphine or, anything man, he slurred.”
“Look, man, just let Ms. Mary get out safe and I can see what I can do for you, but not 'til she's safe, he replied.”
“NO, NO... you have to make her stay, cried Serena, she'll tell someone we're in here and they'll find us! We'll go to jail and I won't be able to get my fix in there, she stammered.”
Just then, Mary stepped out from behind Devon and moved slowly over to where Daniel was standing, holding the gun in his shaking hand.
“See here young man, I will not let you rob me of the rest of my time with my husband and my grandchildren, she said. Put that darn thing down before you hurt somebody and listen to what I have to say, she added.”
Daniel was impressed by the heroics of this woman and something in her tone of voice reminded him of his grandmother. He lowered the gun a bit, so it was pointed towards the floor.
“Now then, what is it you need from us, she asked. Do you think Devon and I can work miracles? We have no idea where or how to get any drugs, but I do know that they have medicine here that will stop your pain until you can get the help you both need, she said. You two are not Bonnie and Clyde and Devon and I are of no help at all to you now with that gun pointed at us. How in the world do you think this is helping either of you, said Mary? Give me that thing before you end up shooting yourself; it's clear you don't want to use it, she added.”
Devon was dumbfounded; this woman was brave beyond belief, he thought. Tears began to run down Daniel's face now as confusion and grief struck him all at one time. He couldn't hurt this woman who reminded him so much of his grandmother. She would have done the same exact thing in this situation. This lady had everything to lose but would not be bullied by the likes of him, or anyone else, he thought.
“Danny don't listen to that old lady, she's crazy, she's trying to trick you. Please, Danny, I'm sick and I need my fix, she wailed.”
“Young lady, you are beyond help, said Mary. Just look at what you have become. I have been on this earth a great number of years and have cherished every day of it. She continued, and I will not give in to the likes of you or anyone else living a wasted, hopeless existence.”
Before Daniel could react, Devon knocked the gun from his hand and to the floor of the elevator. The two men both dropped to the floor in an attempt to retrieve the weapon, but before they got the chance, Serena had reached it first and stood before them, holding the gun and pointing it towards them. Her hands shook violently as she tried to keep the gun steady.
“Serena, give me the gun, shouted Daniel. Give it to me before you kill someone, he continued.”
But it was too late to react, and the gun went off in her hands. Daniel fell to the floor as the bullet went through his shoulder and then into Devon's chest. Devon slumped over and his large body slid to the floor behind Daniel.
“Oh God, Oh God, Danny! I shot Danny, oh my GOD, cried Serena.”
Mary took this opportunity to take the gun out of Serena's hand and tossed it to the other side of the elevator. Then she pushed the button on the elevator to open the doors and as she did, she shoved the girl out and pushed her to the tile floor of the hallway. Then Mary drug Devon out of the elevator and leaned him up against the wall and then went back for Daniel. The two men sat next to each other, one writhing in pain and the other unconscious and unresponsive. As Serena sat on the floor in a ball, wailing, Mary ran to the end of the hallway and cried out for help. Two doctors in scrubs came out of the operating room entrance to see what all the shouting was about. When Mary told them what had happened, they both ran to the aid of the two men, now bleeding all over the hospital floor. Serena still sat in a ball, rocking back and forth and mumbling something eligible.
“Call the Police,” said one of the doctors to a nurse that ran to the scene to help.
She hustled back to the nurse's station to dial 911. More doctors and hospital employees showed up to offer help. They gently loaded Devon on to a stretcher and rushed him down the hall to the emergency room. Then they returned to do the same with Daniel.
“Get up, young lady and get yourself together. You are in a heap of trouble so don't make it any worse for yourself, Mary said.”
At first, Serena just stared up at the woman as if she had two heads, but then when Mary took her by the arm and forced her to her feet, Serena complied and both women followed the doctors down the hallway to the emergency room. When they reached the entrance, a hospital security guard took charge of Serena and secured her to a chair in the waiting room. Another doctor appeared and approached Mary, who by now was exhausted.
“Now then, Mary said, please take me to my husband so that I can see him before he has surgery. After that, I will return and give you a statement of what went down in the elevator and check on Devon's condition, she continued.”
The doctor insisted that Mary sits in the wheelchair for the ride to intensive care and she didn't give him any objection. She was drained and her feet were unsteady underneath her. She had just had a gun pointed in her direction by a drug-induced, desperate man and the realization of her actions just became apparent to her. She was still alive and for that, she said a silent prayer. She prayed for the welfare of the young orderly going into surgery with a gunshot to his chest. She wondered if the young couple would get the help that they needed for their drug problem and thought about how they had ruined both of their lives now and would spend some time in jail; time enough to think about their actions.
What a world this had become, she thought, as she held her husband's hand. She asked that no one tell him of what had just happened to her so that it wouldn't upset him before his surgery. As they rolled her husband into surgery, a young nurse took Mary by the arm and led her down the hall and sat with her while she waited for her husband's return.
Daniel sat in handcuffs in the back of a Police car with a bandage where a bullet had passed through his shoulder on the way to Devon's chest. The drugs for pain helped with the anxiety, but he found himself thinking about his grandmother. What would she think of him now? Then he thought about the brave old woman that stood her ground in the face of grave danger. His grandmother would have done the same thing if she were in that position. The orderly that took a bullet in the chest would recover and Serena would be going to rehab now.
Later, alone now in his cell, with time enough to ponder what he would do with the rest of his life if given a second chance, a chill went through his body when he felt two warm hands cup his face.
“Be a good boy, Danny, grandma loves you very much.”
He heard his grandmother's voice and then he knew what he was going to do from this day forward; be the man his grandmother always wanted him to be.
At the same exact moment as Mary sat with her husband in the hospital recovery room, a chill went through her, and suddenly she felt two warm hands resting on her shoulders briefly, and then they were gone. As the room grew cold again and the lights flickered briefly overhead, Daniel's guardian angel smiled down at the woman who had just saved her grandson's life.