# 38 – Class 8

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Liza sat on the edge of the marble bench outside of Norton Hall.  Saint Francis Hospital discharged Bruce yesterday afternoon, but he was still a mess.  Besides a bunch of cuts and bruises, he ended up with a severe concussion, a broken nose, three missing teeth, and two cracked ribs.  Liza visited him every night for the six days he was hospitalized.  Casey was in Saint Francis’ pediatric oncology division, so Liza would sit with her until she fell asleep, then go up to Bruce’s room and sit with him until he fell asleep.  Bruce had been quiet all week.  He wouldn’t talk about what had happened that day or much else.  Liza didn’t press him, but she was frustrated and hurt that she apparently didn’t rate any kind of explanation.  What was he hiding?  It had to be something significant. Maybe he thought that she wouldn’t see him anymore if she knew.  Liza couldn’t see that happening.  The secretiveness made her consider not visiting, but then she found herself drawn to his room every night.  She told herself that she was going because Nurse Bill told her that Bruce had no other visitors.  Really, she just missed him.  He always seemed glad to see her when she showed up.  Even though it pained him to move, he would slide over and pat the bed.  He would wrap his arm around her and they would watch TV until he dozed off.
 
Liza would ease herself out of the bed, pull the covers up over his chest, find an uninjured spot on his cheek, and kiss him goodnight.  Usually, she would end up standing there watching him sleep, thinking.  Was he a drug dealer?  An alcoholic?  A serial killer?  A serial rapist?  Maybe he was as crazy as Scary Witch Hat Guy, only he hid it better.  Her cynical nature had her convinced that he was bad news. Then, what happened yesterday confused her all over again.

 

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# 36 – The Oh Shit! Moment

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It was a good thing that Liza didn’t stop to think about the fact that she was charging a small mob of mentally unstable homeless people.  Fortunately, the butterfly knife that she was still holding scared away all but one of Bruce’s attackers.  The one, of course, was Scary Witch Hat Guy.  This guy was the king of mentally unstable homeless people, with a crown to prove it.  Liza’s crazed, wheezy sprint with a folded up knife didn’t faze him.  Without missing a beat, he whacked her with a copy of Robinson Crusoe that he was wielding like a tennis racket.  He caught her shoulder.  Pain shot through her arm but Liza just managed to stay on her feet.  She panicked and threw the closed knife at him.  Her aim was slightly better than his.  The heavy knife caught him just above the right eye, opening up a gash along the brow line.  Blood began to dribble into his eye.  Terrifyingly enough, he didn’t seem hurt so much as stunned.  Liza had a major Oh Shit! moment, but then Scary Witch Hat Guy dropped the book, waved, and walked away.

# 35 – Mecca

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Rusty shopping carts, cardboard boxes, and tattered backpacks were scattered everywhere.  Little piles of junk lay around them.  There were even tents made from old blankets draped over bushes.  Apparently, she’d found some sort of homeless person mecca.  Bruce was surrounded by five or six people.  One was Scary Witch Hat Guy from last night.  He was yelling hysterically and hitting Bruce with a book.  Another guy was kicking him.  The others were mostly egging them on, but would throw a fist or a foot of their own once in a while.  Bruce was fighting back, but there were too many.  Someone nailed him square in the face with a big piece of wood.  Liza heard the crunch from where she was parked.  Bruce reeled back, staggered sideways, and dropped to his knees.  His head bobbed close to the ground.

Liza had no idea what was going on.  It didn’t matter.  She thought about Bruce watching over her the night she had sat outside drawing, taking care of her when she passed out at school, framing her picture of him and displaying it in his office.  An hour ago, she’d been wrapped in his warm arms.  His head had been lying on the pillow next to hers, and now it was leaking blood like a fountain.  It was as Liza was running toward him that she realized that she had already passed the point where she could just walk away.

# 30 – Ok

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They were silent for most of the ride, but not in an awkward way.  They listened to the radio and watched the city roll by.  At night, you could forget that most of it was a dump.  Some of it even looked pretty.  Liza drove more slowly than usual.  It had been a long day and her right hand was still enveloped in Bruce’s.  When she stopped at the corner where she usually dropped off Bruce, he didn’t move.  Liza looked around.  Was there an axe murderer outside the car that she didn’t see?  No, though there was a homeless guy across the street wearing a witch hat.  He had wild eyes and was walking toward them slowly.  Something about him reminded Liza of a 80s horror movie killer.

“Do you want me to drop you off somewhere else?”

“No.”  More motionless silence.  He was eyeing the homeless guy too.

“Ok…”  Well, now it was awkward.  “If you don’t get out soon, I’m going to take you home with me.”

“Ok.”

“Ok.”