2 months after the end of blood Ties
Pre-dawn hung over the Last Chance Garage. Darkness blanketed the run-down,
half abandoned neighborhood on the worse side of the Windy City. Only one
street lamb dared shed light, its companions long since burn out. Pot holes
and crumbling buildings hid in the shadows afraid of what the light would
expose. Thing had changed since the time this was considered a good neighborhood,
a place to raise a family.
The only noise was that of the stray bird or cricket that had gotten lost and wound up far from their suburban domicile. Even they dared make hardly a sound. And what sound they did make was covered up by the occasionally by the urban equivalent of the before mentioned insect, the car alarm. Its blaring sound was hardly noticed by what people remained in the crumbling community.
Inky blackness painted the inside of the garage and the four accompany rooms. Broken only by the green glow from the VCR and microwave clock, and the alarm that sat next to the owners bed. And a nightlight. Silence coated the rooms too. Save the consent run of the fridge (yes its running and no they won't go catch it..grow up), and the drip of a leaky faucet.
The Garage both in and out had changed very little since it was first built. A new paint job had been added every now and then, as had new wall paper and the like. But the structure itself had not changed. Even until recently little had changed superficially about the garage. Since Charley had taken over the business thing had pretty much stayed the same. But recently small changes had occurred. Changes so small, they could be look over if you weren't really looking.
A cherry red bike, that until a month ago had only been there during the day, sat next to Charley's bike. Next to that sat a child size black bicycle with a white basket. A small black helmet was hung on the handle bar. A white jump rope in the basket, partly sticking out. As was a coloring book.
Inside in the living room, at first glance you wouldn't think anything was different from two months before. On the table on top of the once much used TV guide was a copy of Cat in the Hat. Disney movie and the like were now part of a video library that once had only contained movies such as Ghost, James Bond flicks, and Die Hard. In the doorway between the living room and the kitchen a pair if tiny white sneakers sat right where a certain child had been told not to leave them.
Faded yellow wall paper seemed more cheerful, even at night, now that there were dirty smudges made by small hands in places. Bill and past due notices were one all but covered by crayon drawn pictures. More than hot dogs and rootbeer sat in the fridge. Much to three Martian's disappointment, but a lecture from someone's grey furred Mama set them straight. A booster seat now occupied a chair at the kitchen table. Crayons of all colors were scattered across the table.
Upstairs in the once plain guest bathroom, hung Little Mermaid shower curtains over the tub. A child sized toothbrush sat in the holder. Under the sink sat a small stool. Around the tub were bottles of bubble bath and tear-free shampoo and condintior.
In the small light blue bedroom on the left, sat a small bed and dresser. The once empty room was now filled with toy and books, the stuff of little's girl dreams. A toy chest sat open at the bottom of the bed. Toys left out across the floor, though she had been told to pick them up.
In the small wooden bed, a small white furred child lay sleeping. Covered in pretty Beauty and the Beast sheets. Cuddling a worn and ragged Teddy bear and a night light close by for comfort . Her brown hair, which was curiously streak with traces of white, feel in her face as she moved restlessly in her sleep. Murmuring, she push up a small hand as if to ward off something unseen.
Across the hall in the larger yellow walled master bedroom and bath, another person wasn't sleeping well either. In fact he was asleep at all. Starting at the ceiling, Vinnie rested his head in his arms and sighed.
Blaster and bandoleer where stashed safely in the nightstand drawer, where they were out of the reach of small hands. On the dresser next to pictures of Charley's family, sat a picture of three macho Martian mice, Charley, and Zoey. Safe in her daddy's arms. Charley had one, that was taken about the same time, of just Vinnie and Zoey on her desk. A picture of Charley and Zoey was kept safe in Vinnie's wallet.
None of Vinnie clothes as yet occupied the closet or drawers. Despite Charley reassurance, Vinnie couldn't get over the thought that he could be putting them endanger by being there. But Charley had figured she'd wear him down eventually. And given the fact he was madly in love with both is daughter and her, it wouldn't take long.
Vinnie sighed again and shifted on the king sized bed. The bed that hardly seemed big enough when Charley was there seemed over sized. And empty, very empty and very lonely. Looking over at the clock he figured Charley would be home in about four hours. She had gone to visit a sick friend, and Vinnie was stuck home alone. He wished now he had taken up on Throttle's offer for them to bunk at the Garage for the night.
He had cuddled on the couch with Zoey. Even let her sweet talk him into watch Aristocats and pop popcorn. Vinnie smiled remembering how she got him to do. He could refuse her anything, just like her could refuse her mother anything. If Charley asked him for the stars and moon, he'd find away to get them for her. Same with Zoey.
Time had passed quickly as long as he was doing things with Zoey. But after he put her to bed, time seemed to inch by. With Zoey asleep and Charley gone, the garage seem so empty. He had never realized how much he had started to take it for granted her always being there. Then he had remembered another female he had taken for granted always being there. And then he thought of something else real fast.
Vinnie had tired watching TV. But not even sports got him out of his funk. Sleeping didn't work, he kept rolling over expecting to find Charley. And when he didn't he had been brought awake in a second. Giving up on that he had gotten dressed in all but
his bandoleer to go ride. But then realized he couldn't leave Zoey alone.
Going into Zoey's room he had stood and watched her sleep. Marveling over the fact this small miracle was his. She look so tiny and fragile as she slept. While he watched Zoey had kicked her sheets down to the bottom of the bed. Smiling Vinnie had walked over and re-tucked her in. Smoothing the sheets over her, he brushed her hair out of her eyes. With a kiss on her small forehead he left her room.
Now staring at the ceiling memorizing the cracks, he still couldn't get over that she was his own sweet little girl.
I still can't believe she's mine...my own baby girl..so precious ..so small. I must have done something right in this messed up life of mine....
Smiling Vinnie closed his eyes and decided to try and get some sleep. He had just started to drift off when a sound broke the silence of night.
Vinnie sprang to his feet. It hardly took a second to recognize the scream. Zoey! Oh Mars.... Stopping only long enough to grab his blaster, Vinnie rushed to his daughter's room. Throwing on the lights, he prepared for battle.
Finding nothing, Vinnie crossed the distance to Zoey's bed. The child was still asleep but was thrashing and kicking her sheets. Small terrified sobs and cries came from her. Vinnie's heart clenched, another nightmare. Charley said Zoey had a sleeping disorder called Night Terrors. Vinnie didn't care what some shrink called them, it broke his heart to see his baby so scared. Taking her in is arms, he rocked her gently. Hushing her, speaking to her softly.
"Shhh...it's okay baby...wake up...daddy's gotcha..." Vinnie whispered, rubbing her back.
Still screaming in terror, Zoey clung to her father. Her tears dampened her father's fur, as she sobbed. Vinnie couldn't do anything but rock her gently. Cradling her in his arm, Vinnie carried her into his and Charley's room. Sitting down with her on the bed, he continued to soothe her.
"Daddy's gotcha, baby girl. S'okay....nothin' gonna hurt ya....shhh...." Soothing her.
Zoey's screams gradually died down but her sobs still wracked her small form. Vinnie. Vinnie rubbed her back, trying to calm her more. She had gotten thorough most of the week with out an attack. Vinnie had hoped she would get through the entire week.
Nothing he did seemed to really be helping. This wasn't something he could fight or blow up. This wasn't a villain he could dispatch. He couldn't fight this thing....he was helpless. Helpless to help his baby girl. And he hated it.
As a last resort, he tired his father's remedy for bad dreams. A cradle song. It was as old as the sands of Mars. But Vinnie's father had sang it to him and his before that. And so on.
Zoey's sobs lessened in intended as she listened to her daddy sing. She snuggled into his arms even deeper. Vinnie kissed her head. While her mother swore her father was tone death, Zoey loved to her daddy sing.
At the finished of the song, Zoey was fast asleep in his arms. Smiling Vinnie kissed her forehead.
"Sleep sweet, my little one." Vinnie whispered into her hair. "I love you."
Laying down with Zoey in his arms, he cuddled her close. Zoey's hand was clutching his bandanna. With his arm placed protectively over her small form, Vinnie kissed her head again. Closing his eyes, Vinnie gave into sleep.
His daughter safe and sound in his arms. All through the night.