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 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: November 4, 2021      Views: 62
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I've had some interesting years on this big blue dot in the solar system. Syracuse area for the past twenty years. Twelve years in Texas. Married for twenty six years. Five children and two grandchildren.

Since winning a publishing contr - more...

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Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
This work has reached the exceptional level

Chapter 10 of the book Leave of Absence
Cole seeks redemption through finding a daughter
"Reflections of the Lost" by forestport12

Officer Cole lost his daughter to car accident, then he lost his wife, then he was forced to take time off work. His life spirals out of control until he discovers he has another daughter.

Crystal caught another glimpse of the ghost in the motel mirror. Vacant eyes, vanilla face, sharp bones on thin skin, but it was her-trapped inside. She fell and spread on the bed in her sports bra and cut-off jeans. Resigned.

Freedom was gone when she met Spike. He controlled her from day one, and with her love for him, she'd do anything-anything. And she did then, starting with crack, then a month later the needle, that first surge in her veins, an instant wash of euphoria, better than sex, better than life. It hooked her, the heroin, but that's what he wanted, not the company to do drugs, or the fellowship. It was for domination. Control.

Funny how the phobias of needle as a child seemed ancient. How once upon a time she sat on one of those sticky leather exam benches and cried thick tears over getting poked.

A knock on the door prompted Crystal to wipe the tears from her face. Spike had once said she had to pay for the drugs, food, and shelter. He hinted she'd need to open herself up to the possibilities. She swallowed a lump in her throat when she heard an older man ask for Crystal, her play name. She thought about going in the tiny bathroom and locking the door, but Spike would just knock it down. He's already put holes in it for taking too long in the shower.

As she looked at herself now, it was not a ghost, but somewhere between life and death. And her random thoughts sparked memories of innocence, her virgin life with her mother, the prom, drive-inn movies, malt shakes, a life she hated, a life lost. If she could rewind, she would, but now the drugs, the heroin especially kept her on a hook. She laid there, half-naked, beyond shame. But she dreaded the knock, the John on the other side of the flimsy door in the cheap motor coach inn.

Spike threw the bag of fries at Crystal. He stalked over and looked threw the peep hole, half expecting it could poke him. "I got nothing you want old man!"

"Got a hundred bill."

Spike looked over at Crystal.

Crystal curled into a ball. Her insides heaved. She tensed up. Was he turning her into the street or someone buying her as a sex slave? She had only wanted Spike.

Spike leaned against the door. "Get out of here, pervert."

Crystal rolled over, planted her bare feet on the cold linoleum floor. Relief washed over her. She dug into the bag and found her cheeseburger. She splayed the wrapper and wolfed it down.

Spike turned from the door. "You eat like a horse but are thin as a rail.. Men don't like women who show their bones. I've got you in at the Paradise. You start in the back where men pay to watch you strip."

Crystal stood. She protested with pleading eyes.

"I got some girlish dresses for you try on, ones to hide the tracks on your arms but enough skin to tease a man." Spike stroked her hair, then bunched it into his fist, holding her like it was a rope.

Crystal fought with words. "But I thought I...I could help you here. You know, cook, clean..."

Spike sprouted a sinister grin. "Oh, like a regular Susie Homemaker?" Then his face tightened. The veins in his neck hardened. "I'm doin' you a favor. Get it! I could have you opened like an oyster."

Spike shoved her on the bed where she bounced off on the other side and banged her head on the wall leaving a mark in the sheetrock.

Crystal crawled around the bed, eyes wide, mind in a fog, she apologized. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

Spike paced around the room. "You should be thanking me, for keeping you safe."
"I've got to make my run. Try those dresses on. You start tonight. I'll be back soon." He tossed the dresses on the bed next to her, grabbed his keys from the dresser and left.

She thought, why not just leave. But she knew what he would bring back. The craving bore into her soul. She threw herself back on the bed. Resigned.


Luke packed up his Jeep Liberty from the cabin, he knew his search for Chrissy would mean he'd be on his own, a man without a badge or department to back him up. He'd be a ghost detective. He couldn't chance getting jailed when trying to find the daughter he hadn't known existed a few hours earlier. But now he had Bugsy his bulldog riding shotgun who would lick his internal scars for him-if he could.

Luke fired up his jeep and checked his phone. The Amherst address was there. He put it in his GPS. He drove down the rutted logging road, bouncing and rolling around with his best friend Bugsy where the canopy of trees played peek-a-boo with the sun.

On the highway, he left the Adirondack Park and into the foothills toward the thruway west. A few hours into his drive, he dove into a rest area and looked at Bugsy's mug. "I need a shower Bugs. Sorry, I can't take you with me. Yea' I know, we both smell like dog. I'll bring you a treat."

Renting one of those trucking showers, he stuck his head under the spray where he imagined he was under Niagara Falls absorbing his punishment for being an absentee father. His thoughts ran between two women, the wife who threw him out and his first flame from High School. Then he shaved his beard in front of the mirror until he recognized his old self.

After climbing into his jeep, he looked over at Bugsy and pulled a biscuit from his jacket, giving it to him in the front seat. "I promise to clean you up when we get to Suzie's. I heard tell she has a cat. You okay with it?"

Bugsy said nothing. He just licked his chops. Luke jumped on the highway, his mind a pinball of prospects bouncing in his head over finding his daughter and if his love for Suzie the mother would stir the cold ashes of the past. Soon there'd be no miles or walls between them. Vulnerable.

Within each mile his heart drummed harder. His mouth dried. His tongue clave. Nervous sweat beaded on his forehead. As he tugged on the wheel he found himself turning into a driveway where Suzie lived.

He turned off the ignition until the faint sounds of birds could be heard nesting in trees. Kids could be heard playing in their yards. It was a pleasant sunny afternoon with cotton clouds sometimes blotting the sun. Luke looked straight ahead, his mind drifting.

It was a white house with blue shudders guarded by thick hedges. The screen door whined open, bringing Luke back to the brink. Suzie stepped on to the porch. Her green eyes sparkled. Suzie was the same unassuming soul, unguarded, she dashed toward him, the same bouncy blonde hair he remembered from school.

Luke gulped. Once again, she held his heart in his hand. He slipped from the jeep where they embraced in the driveway. He wondered if this day was real. The electricity of the moment raced down to the soles of his feet like a bolt of lightning.

He kissed her on the cheek. She stepped back and smiled with a crease of concern under each eye. "This was all my fault. I'm so sorry I never told you. I...I"

"I'm here now. I'll find her. I'm on a leave of absence. I want to find her so I can tell her she has a Daddy, from now on. They say, love is something you do, not just say. I'm here now. I'll find her and bring her back." He said this he held her shoulders and looked into her tear-stained eyes.

Luke was about to kiss her when Bugsy bolted from the car door and chased after Suzie's cat who had been resting on the porch steps.

The book continues with Stolen Time. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
I love to write stories about redemption. This one is no different. I also like my writing to feel like the characters do live somewhere and what happens does so somwhere.

Cast of characters:

Luke Cole: a trained police officer on a forced Leave of Absence whose life spirals out of control until he finds a reason to come out of hiding.

Suzie: Lukes old high school flame who revealed to Luke that he has a missing daughter.

Bugsy the Bulldog: And Luke's best friend, or he wouldn't have any, loyal to the end.
Pays one point and 2 member cents. Artwork by MoonWillow at

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