Josh looked at his daughter, at the fear and utter devastation on her face, and he couldn’t help himself. Standing, he rounded the table and took her into his arms and held her tightly, and continued holding her as harsh sobs racked her body. Placing a soft kiss on the top of her head he murmured soothingly, “Honey you are putting too much pressure on yourself. Both you and Tony were robbed of your daughter’s birth. You were robbed of your memories. And you keep expecting everyday that you will wake up and everything will be as it once was, but even your doctors say it is going to be a slow process.”
Marah sniffed as she sat back rubbing the tears from her eyes. “What do you think I should do? I can’t keep hurting Tony but I don’t know if I can be who he wants me to be. At least for right now when I have more questions than answers.”
“Maybe you need to stop waiting for that magical moment when your life goes back to normal and instead live in your new normal.” At her perplexed expression Josh continued, “Go see if Dr. Salas will clear you to go back to work. Maybe getting out of the house, and the pressure of trying to remember surrounding you it will be easier. Plus, like I said, maybe if you get back to what you love doing things will come flooding back. But even if they don’t, what’s the harm in trying?”
Marah smiled at her dad, “When did you get so smart?”
Josh barked out a laugh, “I have always been smart Darlin’, but you have just enough of your mother in you to be too stubborn to see my brilliance for what it is.” He picked up both mugs from the table and deposited them in the sink, “Now you go call your doctor and set up an appointment. I am going to go visit with my grand baby.”
Tony kept waiting for Danny to get to the point. He had been sitting here for the past twenty minutes while Danny had droned on and on about sales figures and profit margins. Though he was thrilled that Infierno was still operating solely in the black, he already knew all that. He got the same reports from Rafael, and it wasn’t like he was out of loop the past month he had been working from home. And he knew Danny was well aware of that fact. But he also knew his cousin. He was getting ready to announce something big, he was just laying the foundation.
“Starting at the first of the year I feel we should begin phasing out the gambling portion of Infierno.” Danny slid a report across his desk towards Tony, “I have been looking at figures and it wouldn’t hurt our bottom line. The gambling was good at bringing in quick money when we first reopened but we earn substantially more from the restaurant and bar. And since the Springfield Journal voted New Millennium as “Best Dance Hotspot” we have been making a killing on that front. What do you think?”
Tony looked over the figures Danny had laid before him, “Sounds good to me. You never have been too keen on the gambling anyway, it was just the initial money-maker.” Tony laid the report on the desk and smiled wryly. “Besides, the cost to legitimately run that particular venture costs a fortune. No wonder we did things the old Santos way for so long.”
“Now there is the new Santos way, which thankfully doesn’t include threats of jail time every three months. Less hazardous to our health.”
“True enough.” Tony sat back in the cushy chair and casually placed his arms behind his head, “So you going to spit out what you really called me here for? Not that it isn’t lovely to see your face but I have already seen most of these figures.” Tony checked the watch on his wrist, “And I told Josh I would be back relatively soon.”
“How is Marah? Any progress yet?”
“Well we traveled a few miles down memory lane, but as for any memories actually returning? Nada.” Tony rubbed his hands down his face and sighed, “I am so tired Danny. I love my daughter but I swear she never sleeps. And as much I try, and trust me I try so hard, Marah hasn’t made any progress.”
Across the desk Danny looked uncomfortable, “Um, I have something to tell you that in light of what you are going through may not be the best timing.”
“I figured as much.” Tony sat up straight and motioned for Danny to continue, “Hit me with it.”
“Well there is no better way to say this but I have decided to run for mayor of Springfield in the upcoming election.”
The inside of the hospital room was white. White walls, white blankets. There were no cheerful balloons, not in the long-term care portion of Cedars. Cheerfulness and balloons were reserved for patients that might actually see them. Not ones that had been in a coma for over ten years.
But unlike the other patients in this wing there were no family photos, no sign that a family hoped their loved one would regain consciousness. It was a bleak, solitary existence and it was completely fitting for the occupant lying in the hospital bed.
Richard Salas peered down at the woman lying so still underneath the blankets. The only indication that she were alive the steady rising of her chest due to the machines keeping her alive. It was hard to see the viciousness that had resided in the woman, not the frail woman with the hair that was more salt and pepper than her sin black. But he knew it was there, lurking inside. He had seen it first hand.
Reaching into the pocket of his lab coat Dr. Salas brought out a syringe. He stuck it into the IV port and pressed down on the plunger. Capping the syringe he placed it back into his pocket. He patted her shoulder mockingly, “Se you next week Mrs. Santos.”