The title and parts of the story were inspired by Tim McGraw's song "Everywhere".
But ever since you said good-bye
I've been out here on the wind
And baby you would be surprised
All the places you have been
(Everywhere by Tim McGraw)
It's tough to drive with both double vision and tears in your eyes, so I pulled my truck onto the shoulder of the country road. Just because my life sucked, was no reason for me to kill someone. The double vision was caused by alcohol and the tears by abject sadness. What could have caused me to drink as much as I did and brought tears to my eyes? That's the story I will tell here.
My name is Woodson Allen Connor (Woody to my friends and to most everyone else too), and I'm 24. I'm pretty much just an average guy but right now I was a mess. My story began in my junior year of college.
I met Jessica in my Poly Sci class. She was very pretty, in the girl next door way. I would never have had the nerve to do more than just nod and say hello, but she approached me. Apparently she enjoyed my debates with our professor.
In my mind, this guy was somewhere left of Karl Marx in his political beliefs. I was about three steps to the right of John Wayne. You can see the problem. There wasn't one class period that we didn't butt heads and apparently Jessica found this extremely funny.
"You really let old man Johnson have it tonight," Jess said to me. "Hi, I'm Jessica Hampton."
"Yeah, I know. I mean nice to meet you," I stammered. I'm not the smoothest guy around women. "I'm Woody Connor. He deserved it; him and his totally off the wall radical ideas," I preached.
Jess was laughing at me. She calmed me down with, "Take it easy, I'm on your side. I understand your ideas and agree with you."
I couldn't resist repeating what I had said in class. "If you take money from the people who are working hard and give it to the ones that don't work, two things happen. The non-workers won't do anything to help themselves; they will just sit and wait for more hand outs. The hard workers will stop working as hard. Why bother if the government is going to take what they earn and give it to the non-workers? In the end the whole country suffers." I stopped and shook my head.
"There I go again. I'm going to have to learn to save my preaching for Sundays," I laughed at myself. Somewhere I gained a little nerve and said to Jess, "Would you like to get a coffee or drink and talk some more?"
"I can't, I have another class. We could met at the student union, this evening though. How about 7:00?"
"Great, see you there," I answered.
That meeting was the start of the most amazing time in my life. Jess and I talked until they threw us out at closing. She and I just seem to fit, you know? Jess was tall for a woman at 5 feet 9 with auburn hair and blue eyes
We started going out on actual dates every week or ten days. That soon developed into more dates until we were spending almost every evening and some days together. It was either her apartment or mine; most of our nights were spent together.
We told our friends that it wasn't financially sound to pay rent on two apartments so we decided to move in together. I don't think we fooled anyone about our reasons to live together. I know it sounds hokey, but I don't think any two people were ever as happy and as much in love as Jess and I.
Our families lived within 100 miles of each other, so we used the spring break to meet and spend time with the two families. My dad and mom loved Jess from the start and her family took me into their hearts right away. Her family decided that since I belonged to Jess, I belonged to them too.
My family felt the same way about Jess. Both of my brothers and my sister wanted to know what kind of drugs I was giving Jess to get her to love me. My siblings think their hilarious; very funny guys. Jess and I started to talk about marriage and kids; it was just a matter of picking the right time.
There is a soliloquy by a character in one of the Greek Tragedies, I don't remember which one and I paraphrase it here. He says that the Gods don't want man to be too happy. If men are too happy they won't have to pray to the Gods for anything. So the Gods will take steps to make sure that a man doesn't get too happy. That must have been what happened to me.
We were at my parents and Jess realized she had left her lap top at her mom and dads'. My dad and I were going to play golf one morning and Jess decided to drive back and get her lap top. It was about a two hour drive each way and she should be back around noon. About 7:00 the next morning Jess kissed me good bye, told me she loved me, and left for her parents'.
It was two o'clock and I was getting a little concerned about Jess. She should have been back by now. I tried her cell several times but the calls all went to voice mail. I had called her mom around 1:00 to ask what time Jess had left. Her mom told me Jess had left around 10:30 and should have been there. Now I was really beginning to worry. I tried Jess' cell one more time; it was answered by a voice I didn't recognize.
"Hello, who is this? Is Jess there?"
"My name is Julie, I'm an E.M.T. This phone was on the seat of the wrecked car."
"Wrecked car? Was Jess in an accident? How is she?" I rambled on.
"Wait just a second," Julie said. Another voice, a male, came on the line.
"This is Officer Thompson of the state police. Who is this please?"
I identified myself and asked again about Jess. He informed me that Jess had been in an accident and was seriously hurt. The officer said a drunk driver had forced her off the road. They were transporting her to the hospital. He gave me the info on where and which hospital.
"Is Jess alright? How badly was she hurt?" I had to know.
"Mr. Connor, she was hurt very badly. The doctors will do everything they can, but you better get to the hospital ASAP," the policeman told me.
I yelled at my dad to tell him what happened and ran out to my truck. My dad tried to get me to wait for him but I was already in my truck and moving by the time Dad got to the front door. I believe I broke every speed law ever written getting to the hospital. It still took me over an hour to get there.
I ran into the emergency room, asked about Jess, and was directed to ICU recovery. The nurse there told me Jess had just come out of surgery and I could see her in about twenty minutes. I was pacing back and forth in the waiting room, with tears running down my face, when the nurse told me I could see her.
Jess' face was unmarked except for a small scrape on her forehead. If it wasn't for all of the tubes and wires attached to her, she could have been sleeping. The nurse told me she was resting comfortably and should wake up any time now. No sooner had the nurse said that, than Jess started to stir. I went to the bedside and held her hand as she woke up.
When she opened her eyes I said, "Hiya sweetie. I love you."
Jess smiled at me and then looked around. She asked, "Where am I? Is this a hospital? What happened?"
"Whoa kid, one thing at a time," I told her. I explained about the accident, where she was, and told her she would be fine. Jess looked less worried as I talked to her. I told her to take it easy and rest.
"I am tired, maybe I will just rest for a little," she said and then fell asleep again.
The nurse had brought a doctor into the room and I started to ask all the questions you would expect. The main question being, "Will she be alright?"
The doctor faced me and explained, "Mr. Connor, I really shouldn't be telling you anything. You are not her next of kin and aren't even family. However she woke up on the way to surgery and kept calling for you. Miss Hampton has a lot of internal injuries. We have done everything possible at this point.
"She'll be alright though, won't she?"
"I just don't know Mr. Connor. She has a ruptured spleen and other injuries. I hate to be insensitive, but her chances are 50-50 at this point. We will just have to wait and see."
Going back into Jess' room, I pulled a chair over to her bed, sat down, and held her hand again. I was still sitting there an hour later when my dad and mom came in. Before I had time to tell my folks what was going on, Jess' parents came in. The doctor returned and filled everyone in on the situation. I just sat and held her hand. He told us it would be sometime before we knew anything and suggested we get some food and some rest.
Both sets of parents tried to get me to go eat and relax for awhile. My answer was the same to both of the families, I WAS NOT LEAVING JESS, PERIOD. If she woke up I was going to be there for her. My mom and dad and Jess' parents went to get something to eat and to relax for a few minutes.
While they were gone, Jess woke up. I had fallen asleep holding her hand; she lifted her hand and stroked my head. That woke me up and I was very excited to see her awake. She smiled at me and it reminded me of the smile she gave me when we woke up together in our apartment.
Jess stroked my face and said, "I love you so much. Never forget that."
She closed her eyes and died.
I didn't know what to do. I think I mentally went away for awhile. The nurses and a doctor came in and started to work on Jess. It was no use. She was gone. By the time the families came back to the room, I was already in my truck getting away from the hospital.
.... There is more of this story ...