“Dad?” I asked, still thinking I might be caught up in my memory. But as a drop of sweat beaded from his forehead and dripped onto my arm, I knew it was really him.
“Who the hell did this to you, Ramie?” My father asked with genuine concern in his voice. He jostled my wrists around, trying to untie the impossible looking binding.
I opened my mouth to speak again but my tongue felt heavy in my mouth, dry and thick. All I could manage was a few groans and grunts. “It’s going to be okay. I’m going to get you help.”
I needed to warn him. To tell him about Nadine. “Tanner,” I croaked. “Tanner.”
“Where is Tanner?” my father asked still pulling at the ropes. “He is the one who told me to come out here. He texted me, said there had been some sort of accident. I borrowed my secretary’s car and raced over here. And where is Samuel?” I was brought fully back into the present at the mention of my son’s name. I sat up and the room spun. “Dad, go find Sammy. Please. Don’t bother with me. Just go find my son!” I plead. My words coming out garbled but understandable.
My father gave up on the knots at my wrists and snaked his arm around my shoulders. He lifted me up off the floor. It wasn’t until I was upright that I realized we were in the house boat. “Dad, Sammy…because Tanner…Nadine,” I started again but the series of names in no way formed the warning I was trying to relay.
“What happened to Nadine?” My father asked still working at the ropes.
“She’s dead. Tanner…”
“What about me, Ray?” Tanner asked entering through a large rusted hole in the side of the boat. In his hand was a shiny silver pistol with a long wide barrel and a black handle. “Are you talking about that slut, Nadine?”
It was aimed at us.
“What did you do?” My father asked, sounding horrified. His face paled.
“Turns out that bitch was keeping an eye out on your daughter for the fucking pedophile your daughter is so obsessed with.” Tanner clucked his tongue. “Nothing to worry about now. Bitch got what was coming to her.”
“Son, you don’t have to do this—” My father started.
Tanner laughed. “Son?” He waved the gun from side to side. “Ray doesn’t want me to be your son anymore.”
“Watch your mouth, boy, and lower that pistol. Ray’s hurt. I’m taking her to the hospital. You and I can talk when we get back,” my father argued, his southern accent coming out in full force, which made me realize that in public he took great steps to hide it, but now, not concerned about preplanned speeches or impressing constituents, his drawl was much heavier and thicker than I remembered. He hadn’t lost his accent, he’d just been hiding it. “Step aside, Tanner.” My father took a step toward the door and I limped beside him. Tanner aimed his gun at the ceiling above our heads and fired off a shot which tore a skylight sized hole in the roof that rattled the houseboat, echoing in the small space, sending rust raining down around us.
Tanner again took aim at us. “The only thing you’re going to do is set her down or you can watch as I kill her first.”
My father didn’t budge. Instead he pulled me in closer to his side, my head resting on the shoulder of his suit jacket. “There is no need to do this,” my father started, his accent filtering out of his voice. His cool and calm political persona taking over. “You have a lot going on for you and a bright future ahead of you. You don’t want to throw it all away just because my daughter broke your heart.”
“No, not just because she broke my heart, because she’s been toying with it since we were fucking kids!” Tanner took a few more steps into the room. He was in the kitchen area and we were facing him with our backs to the sliding glass door. “But she hasn’t left me. Not yet. I got to her just in time.” Tanner cocked the gun. “Now put her the fuck down, Senator. I won’t be repeating myself again.” Reluctantly, my father loosened his grip around me and gently set me back onto the floor. “Good, now step aside.” My father looked down at me and with a pained expression on his usually unreadable face, he took two steps to the side and raised his hands in the air.
“I can help you, Tanner,” the senator offered. “Just like when you were sick and I got you help. I can do that for you again,” he said calmly. “I can help you.”
Every movement of Tanner’s was jittery, sweat poured off his forehead. His white polo shirt was wet and yellowed at the armpits. “You wanna help me? You can get the fuck out of my way,” Tanner screamed. “All I need is her!” He pointed his gun toward me and then back to my father.