(This story is part of a continuing series, An Assault in Venice. Part 1 starts here.)

In some ways, I felt like I’d been communicating with Jeanette all night but I only had fragments of images, and they came at me too quickly to understand. It was as if a movie of the event was being projected onto darkened subway walls, and I was on a train that didn’t make stops. I was eager to call my friend John Edward, psychic medium extraordinaire. I knew he could help me make sense of the images and fill in the blanks.

I waited until it was light enough for me to feel comfortable being in my home alone. It would never again be the safe haven that had always embraced me so comfortably. At 5 AM I tiptoed down the stairs trying not to wake anyone. Rob and Amy were already up; they hadn’t slept much either. I wanted to shower and get a change of clothes. Rob offered to go home with me and wait until I was finished but I told him I was going to make some calls so instead he walked me across the lawn and escorted me inside. We walked slowly from room to room, opening closet doors and confirming what we both already knew: no one was there. It was a routine that would continue for months every time I entered the place.

After Rob left, I fished around in my junk drawer for the pocketknife I’d gotten with some magazine subscription and had never used. Now, and for the next six months, I would never be without it. I opened the blade and made my way back upstairs to my bedroom. The window looked down into the backyard and onto the guesthouse. I stood there for a moment in utter disbelief. It had been less than twelve hours since I’d found Jeanette, and our lives, both hers and mine, had been indelibly marked.

I sat down at my desk and called John. He’d been awakened by images, too, but he was far more equipped than I to interpret them. He gave me a barrage of information I tried my best to write down. The fragments were beginning to create a puzzle that I hoped might somehow lead to answers.

I hung up the phone. It was a start. At that point, no one from the police department had called to say they were investigating, and I wouldn’t meet Detective Mora, aka Cagney, until later that night. Honestly, I felt like I was on my own.

A crime photographer came to take pictures, and a woman dusted for fingerprints. I hadn’t yet begun to operate like the detective I would become; I was still in too much shock to pay much attention to the gathering of clues. All I could think about was Jeanette, whether or not she would recover, how long it would take and what it would look like. I had just enough time to get back to the hospital to see her before picking up her sister and brother from the airport.

Jeanette, aka Kandy Diaz, was in the ICU looking as if she were wearing an oversized mask of stitches and bruises. She was conscious and alert, but because she was still on the vent she couldn’t talk, and it was enormously frustrating for her. I told her that she was safe and that there were angels all around her. I told her that I would do everything I could to make sure this savage thing that had happened to her would be made right. I hoped like hell I could follow through. She seemed desperate to talk but when I asked her if she remembered anything, she shook her head, scared and defeated. I sat next to her on the bed and held her hand trying to soothe her. I told her to be gentle with herself and to expend her energy on healing rather than on recovering her memory. I felt certain that would come, and I was terrified about what it would reveal.

At noon, Rob and I showed up at the airport holding a sign with the names of Jeanette’s siblings written on it. It’s the most awkward way I’ve ever met anyone. Karen and David were both older than Jeanette by several years and were, in many ways, more like the parents Jeanette never had. Karen was the tender, affectionate mother while David was the practical, stoic father. We probably would have recognized them without the sign; both of them slumped toward us looking just as tired and shell-shocked as we were. As we drove to the hospital, I did my best to update them on Jeanette’s condition and prepare them for what they were about to see.

I watched them both enter the ICU and take it all in. As the force of her sister’s appearance hit Karen, I reached for her to hold her up and pulled over a chair.

Rob was the one who noticed it first: a stunning, unbroken rainbow stretching across the window behind Jeanette. The image was incongruous and nearly unbelievable since it had not been raining. We gawked at it with awe and wonder. It was the first ray of hope in an otherwise dismal environment. Jeanette wanted to see it, but to move her bed would have required moving all the machinery attached to her. So Rob and I came up with the brilliant idea of finding a mirror. We rushed to the nurses’ station, and to our surprise they pulled a large hand mirror from a drawer. We were excited for Jeanette to see the rainbow but as we returned to her bedside we abruptly halted, each of us realizing the same thing: that Jeanette would not just see the reflection of the rainbow—she would see her own reflection, too. We both knew that on Day 1, that would be too much to bear.

The nurses, however, had already been given orders to take Jeanette off the vent. They removed the breathing tube and all the machinery, and we swiveled the bed around so all of us could marvel at the image together. We desperately wanted to believe it was a sign, a good one.
…go to Part 6