I heard about how dangerous the drive between Baghdad and Fallujah were a million times, yet I still wasn’t as worried as I should have been. Riding in the back of the Humvee tended to zone me out and made me feel like I was riding in the back of my mom’s Suburban and not an armored truck filled with ammunition and unstable men with guns.
I didn’t even know what happened when we hit the roadside bomb. I suddenly felt myself flying through the air and my legs were burning. I landed hard on the side of the road in a pile of sand.
My legs felt like I had stuck them on a barbecue grill and left them there. I laid on the side of the road in the dirty sand, listening to the sound of the vehicle I had been riding in burning up and the sound of my comrades screaming out in pain. I wished I could have helped them, but I couldn’t even move my neck enough to look at them and see exactly what was happening.
I sucked in about 10 breaths before everything started to get blurry. At first I thought it was just tears welling in my eyes, clouding my vision, but I quickly realized my overall consciousness was being affected. I was slipping away.
The red hot cloudless sky of the desert faded. The burning hot landscape was replaced with a dark alley lined with brick walls on each side as far as the eye could see. I didn’t recognize the setting and it didn’t feel natural. It felt like part of a waiting area for a ride at an amusement park. There was nothing but the puddle-splashed dark asphalt at my feet and the endless walls of red brick that stretched as far as the eye could see in each direction.
I felt a warm splash of rain fall on my skull of buzzed hair. I looked up and saw a night sky of grey clouds hovering over me. A soft tap on my back interrupted my gaze.
I spun around and laid eyes on my younger sister, Bonnie, standing soaking wet in a white t-shirt fully stained with red blood and sopping wet with rain and her own bodily fluid. I jumped backwards when I noticed a savage, gaping wound on the side of her neck.
The sight before my eyes made me feel like my skeleton was going to run out of my body and turn me into a formless puddle of blood, guts and skin. My little sister Bonnie had been murdered three years before and no one had the slightest clue as to who had done it.
Bonnie wrapped me in a soft hug. I felt blood trickle from her neck and run down my bare arm.
“I need you to help me,” Bonnie whispered into my ear.
Bonnie pulled away from me. The setting changed to that of a bustling casino. My nose tickled with the scent of stale smoke and cheap bourbon. The jingle jangle of the slot machines put me in a slight trance. I was almost knocked over by a cocktail waitress in a short skirt carrying a tray of watered-down drinks.
“Come find me,” Bonnie’s voice whispered in my ear, even though she wasn’t anywhere in sight.
“Where?” I muttered to myself.
I scanned the casino without an answer. All I could see were endless blackjack and poker tables and grizzled gamblers. Based on the quality of the health of the clientele and the casino’s decorations, I assumed I was at one of the lesser hotel casinos on the strip, or maybe one of the ones on Fremont Street.
“Bonnie?” I called out into the crowd.
My scan stopped at a blackjack table a couple of rows into the floor from where I stood. I saw Bonnie’s back in a white shirt. She sat at the table by herself, playing cards and sipping her signature drink; vodka-cranberry-lime.
I walked through the tables until I was to the side of Bonnie’s table. I looked over at her. Her neck was now intact, soft and delicate with her favorite thin, silver necklace draped across, ending at the bottom with a pendant in the shape of a bunny. Her white t-shirt was clean. Her face focused on the cards in front of her in a grimace with her tongue slightly sticking out.
Bonnie motioned for a hit when I sat down next to her. She took a sip of her bright red cocktail and shook the ice afterwards. She asked for another hit.
The dealer, a swarthy young fellow with one of those haircuts where it is buzzed on the sides, but long on the top and flopped to one side with a small tattoo on his neck gave her another card.
Bonnie busted. The dealer gave her a sympathetic smile. She finished the rest of her drink. Her eyes glazed over just a little bit more. She exchanged a long look with the dealer.
“Watch,” I heard Bonnie’s voice in my ear, even though her mouth didn’t move at the table, she just stared at the dealer, whose nametag said Timothy…
The image of an empty, upscale hotel room flashed before my eye. The materials the furniture and counters were made of clearly too expensive for me to ever afford. My view of the room started in the doorway and slowly panned into the heart of the room.
I flashed back to the blackjack table. I watched Timothy deal Bonnie a couple of more cards. His hand lingered on hers for a few seconds.
I flashed to the hotel room again. My view was past the initial tight corridor of the entrance and into the larger room with the king size bed in the middle and the sliding glass door of the balcony on the far end.
The pristine white comforter of the bed was soiled with the face-down body of Bonnie. A thick stream of blood had poured out of the gash in Bonnie’s neck and puddled on the comforter next to her head. I felt liquid rush to the back of my throat.
A blink. Back to the casino floor. I watched Timothy close down his table. I watched Bonnie polish off another vodka cranberry. I watched them walk away from the table and towards the entrance of the nameless casino.
I got one last flash of Bonnie lying still on that hotel room bed. Then it all started to fade away…
That was almost a year ago. That roadside bomb ended up taking my legs below the knee. What my brain showed me as I laid disoriented on the side of the road until I was brought to a base to have my life saved was much worse. Not a minute has gone by that I haven’t thought about those images. I was convinced I was shown the sequence of Bonnie’s death.
I went back to my hometown of Reno with my artificial legs and made my home back in my childhood bedroom at my mom’s house. I had plenty of time to rehab physically, but was stranded alone mentally with an absentee father and a mom who now had an amputee son just a few years after losing her daughter to an unsolved murder and a dead-end job as a grave shift blackjack dealer in the Silver Legacy Casino.
I wouldn’t stop talking about the visions of Bonnie I was given. I told my mom. She told me to stop. She had come to terms with never solving the mystery of Bonnie’s murder and dismissed my visions as PTSD. I told my friends. Same indifference and excuse. I told the Reno Police Department and called the Las Vegas Police Department and got the same treatment, but not in such words. I was mainly dismissed because Bonnie was reportedly in the Los Angeles area when she went missing and her body was found less than an hour outside of LA. No clue ever linked her to Vegas anytime around then.
The only thing I wanted to do since I arrived back in the states was to go to Vegas and conduct my own investigation into Bonnie’s murder, armed with the information of knowing what the inside of the casino I saw looked like, the name Timothy, and the look of Timothy’s face. Problem was, I had no money, hadn’t learned to drive with my new legs yet and no one I knew was signing up to escort the guy they thought had a serious case of PTSD to Vegas to look for a murderer.
I did the only thing I thought I could do. I hitchhiked the seven hours from Reno to Las Vegas, until a guy with a mouthful of Red Man dropped me off at the end of the strip by Circus, Circus. The baking, 120-degree sun greeted me with a sizzle. I felt like a pile of steak on a fajita platter.
I made my way up and down the strip. Not a single casino floor looked familiar. I trekked to Fremont Street with no luck. I was 400 miles from home, dog tired, without a single clue, without a single dollar in my pocket, and a maxed-out credit card as the sun set on the city of sin.
The only thing I could do was check into a hotel off the strip which almost looked worse than some of the bombed-out places I saw in Iraq. I laid down on top of the stained blanket and figured I would spend the next day checking the rest of the casinos in the city that are off the strip and then find a ride back up to Reno.
A hot cut of dread sliced into me as soon as I woke up to the sound of a knock at my motel room door. Nothing good ever starts with a knock on the door of a cheap motel room
I checked the clock on my phone — 3:30 a.m. I heard the hard knock again. It was not an, “I’m a drunk 25-year-old with the wrong room” knock, it was a, “Get the fuck up and strip off everything you own shitbag” knock.
“Look, I can get the key in forty-five seconds if I really want it so just open the door piece of shit,” a powerful male voice boomed on the other side of the door.
“Fuck me,” I whispered to myself.
“You better get moving or I’m gonna spray this door with bullets.”
“Okay, okay. I’m coming,” I announced when I walked to the door.
I opened the door to reveal a guy covered in sores and tattoos with an irritated scalp of buzzed hair. He clutched a sizable handgun and carried an empty laundry bag.
“Sorry, it’s your unlucky day fucko,” the guy announced when he stepped into the room.
“Look man, I’m a disabled Iraq War veteran with nothing but the clothes on his back, a credit card with a maxed-out nine hundred-dollar limit, and half-fake legs. You might have better luck robbing somebody else,” I explained.
“Ditch the sob story prick. I don’t give a fuck.”
The guy pointed the gun right between my eyes.
“You said fake legs. Titanium?”
I let out a defeated exhale.
The guy squatted down and examined my artificial calves like a doctor who knew for a fact were titanium. He prodded them with the muzzle of his gun.
“They look removable.”
The butt of the gun hit me hard across the nose.
“Lay down. I’ve done this before,” the guy instructed.
I laid down. Blood gushed from my nose and down the back of my throat. I struggled to breath.
The pain from my nose blocked out the shooting pain from my legs. The guy wrenched on my false appendages until I felt them slide off of me.
“Nothing personal man. I’d rob my own mother…again,” the guy said.
I opened my eyes again to get a look at the guy. I only got a split second of vision. What I saw was the end of my own titanium foot coming hard at my face.
I came to in a darkened corner booth at the steakhouse in one of the casinos in Reno. The smell of one of the five or so restaurant-cooked steaks I have ever had in my life made my mouth instantly start to water. My hunger and its savor made me almost forget where I was.
My sad, pathetic trio family was clustered around the table. My mom to my left, probably just dying for a smoke and for someone to order chicken so the bill would be a little smaller and Bonnie, clad in blue and white high school graduation garb to my right. I could tell Bonnie probably felt a little bit embarrassed that my mom was making such a big deal out of just graduating from high school. Her and I both knew it was just the bottom of the bar now, not an accomplishment that warranted aged ribeyes and Shirley Temples.
Nonetheless, we sat there, looking about as normal as we probably ever looked. A sharp sadness cut into me when I looked to my right again and saw Bonnie staring into the bottom of her pink soda. The girl never had a chance.
“Yes, I did,” Bonnie’s voice whispered into my ear.
I looked at Bonnie again, she stared at me with wide eyes and a straw stuck in her mouth, her lips sucking up the Shirley Temple.
“You should have been there,” Bonnie said to me, the straw stuck to her bottom lip.
“What?” I was in fucking Iraq,” I shot back.
“You two never took care of me. You think it sucks being a guy who had to grow up a poor piece of shit…well, it’s ten times worse for a girl. You have any idea how hard it is to turn down any guy who can ever offer you something, no matter how scary he is just because you’ve never had anything,” Bonnie went on.
“Bonnie, please. I’m try…” I felt tears hit the warning track in my eyes for the first time in a long, long time.
“And you’re fucking up again. You can’t even figure it out.”
“Please. I’m trying my best.”
“Well your best was never good enough,” Bonnie said just before my vision cut out again.
I opened my eyes and found myself back in a different dirty motel room. The layout of the room was almost identical, but the contents were different. A pink suitcase laid open, overflowing with women’s clothes on the floor next to the bed I laid on. A menagerie of unlit candles dotted the landscape. The smell of cheap perfume burned my nose.
“Thank God. I was worried you were dead, or in a coma, or something,” I raspy female voice cut off a heavy groan from my mouth.
I looked up and saw a woman I identified as a prostitute in .5 seconds standing at the foot of the bed. A tan face that looked like a hearty piece of beef jerky, teased blonde hair, a sloppy body cased in dirty jean shorts, a pink tank top and a few bad tattoos, she looked like a vixen from an 80s hair metal video who never left the strip club.
“I was going to take you to the emergency room, but I know that’s a risky move around these parts. Warrants and all. Plus, figure no one in this place has a sniff of insurance,” the woman said.
I focused in on the gal for a few seconds and let her come into full focus.
“The guy robbed me and hit me with my own leg?” I muttered, still dazed, phrasing it as a question.
The woman chewed on her lip for a few moments.
“If you say so. I didn’t see it. I was just walking back to my room and saw your door open with you lying bleeding on the bed. It was a bitch to drag you in here. You’re a few doors down now. You were out for about a half an hour since I found you,” the woman explained and then extended a hand with rings on each finger. “I’m Bobbi, by the way.”
I gave Bobbi’s dried-out hand a loose shake.
A shot of pain rushed to my head.
“I think I’m kind of okay,” I said through clenched teeth. “I’ve definitely fought through worse without having to go to the hospital.”
I wiggled around on the bed. Remembered that I no longer had my false appendages. Moving around was going to be very difficult.
Bobbi sat down on the bed next to me.
“I’m so sorry about everything that happened to you,” Bobbi said, what seemed like genuine empathy marinated her words. “I’ll do whatever I can to help.”
“Do you have a time machine that can go back and get me out of that fucking recruiter’s office five years ago?”
“Sorry,” Bobbi shot back, not sounding the least bit amused.
“Sorry, sorry, but no, really. You don’t happen to have a ride back to Reno, do you?”
“I actually gotta ride leaving to LA in a couple of hours,” Bobbi said.
I pushed myself backwards to the back to the bed and sat up. My vision was still cloudy. I felt dried blood plastered to the side of my face. I looked at the bleak picture of Bobbi’s face at the foot of the bed. She had one of those looks where just a glance at her made you feel sad and this is coming from a guy who is missing the bottom half of his legs.
My options were limited. I could stay in Vegas, without a cent, and keep on the trail of Bonnie’s death and try to find some way to live and/or make money there. I could call up my mom like a beaten dog and beg for the money to go home. I could hitch hike back to Reno. Or, I could go with this broken women to LA and try and figure it out from there.
LA won. I always meant to check in with Bonnie’s friend’s family where she was staying that summer it all happened. She was supposed to be down there for a summer job at a waterpark and to stay at the house of her friend’s dad somewhere in the suburbs. I was always wary of the whole thing. I heard rumors from the older brother of Bonnie’s friend that the water park job may have been a ruse, they may have actually been going down there to dance at a strip club, or turn tricks. I dismissed it as bullshit at the time.
I was friends with Bonnie’s friend on Facebook and figured I could hit her up to at least talk to her. She responded to my messages in the past and said that she didn’t really want to talk about what happened, but she would meet up with me to discuss as much as she could if I was ever in LA. I thought this might be my broke ass’s only chance to ever get to the City of Angels. I took up Bobbi on her offer.
Bobbi set me up in the shotgun of her 2004 Chevy Malibu with no air conditioning. I stuck my head out the window like a dog about every 10 minutes to feel the wind in my face and find some relief from the sun which baked us on our way out of the city.
From the moment we set off, Bobbi seemed set on being some kind of therapist for me. She kept prodding at me with difficult questions. Growing up with my single mom, Bonnie’s death, the tours in Iraq, losing my legs and going back home. I felt that I almost wanted to jump out of her car and let the flying asphalt take care of me, and not just because of the oppressive heat.
I was tempted to ask Bobbi about her past. I was sure it was probably somehow even darker than mine, but I fought through it. I just machine gunned short answers to her heavy questions and looked out at the burning desert, those old demons rattling my soul until I started to fade out again.
My eyes opened back in Iraq. That burning hot Nevada desert was replaced by the sparse landscape outside of Baghdad, the joshua trees and dead shrubs all around replaced with crumbling buildings of a dead town. I didn’t remember the name of the village, but I definitely remembered the image of it. It was not something I wanted to remember.
I didn’t want to go there, again, but I quickly found myself paralyzed. I drifted through those dirty streets lined with homes which bordered on rubble. I could hear people milling about inside them, inside their pockmarked walls. I was always amazed at the resiliency of people who would live in a place even if it had just been carpet bombed.
I heard the distant chatter of gunfire. I heard the powerful shake of bombs dropping from closer than from where the gunfire came. I knew what was coming next. I put my arms out in a Jesus Christ pose and let it happen again.
The bomb hit about 10 feet behind me. It sent me flying in the air, through a thin wall of rotted wood and into the shell of a meager home built around a single stove.
I landed hard on the ground. The wind knocked out of me. My brain rattled like the bits inside of a maraca.
I could see the image in my mind before I even opened my eyes. It had haunted me since the day I was tortured by it.
I opened my eyes. There she was. Dead. A dead girl. Dead teenage girl. A, literal, dead ringer for my younger sister. Her eyes were just inches from mine, still wet, but gone. I could smell her breath.
It was not just a dead ringer this time. I was instead face-to-face with Bonnie’s actual body. I recoiled and tried to crawl away in the sand, but just kept sinking deeper and deeper into the coarse floor.
I woke up in the passenger seat of Bobbi’s car covered in a coat of sweat, my arms tensed and convulsing. I was fighting a battle against the seat belt and cloth interior of Bobbi’s car.
Bobbi’s giddish laugh welcomed me back to the real world. She stood outside my window, looking down at me with the hot sun burning behind her.
“Are you so fucked that your dreams are twisted too?” Bobbi asked.
I shook my head. Felt as I might faint from the heat and exertion.
“Why’d we stop?” I asked.
“I had to take a piss and it’s too hot. We need a break.”
I looked out the window and saw what looked like a lone casino behind Bobbi off in the distance. It looked to have some kind of half-assed Wild West theme.
“Where the hell are we?”
“Primm. Ever heard of it?”
“You know how Laughlin is for people who like, can’t afford Vegas?”
“Primm is for people who can’t afford Laughlin.”
“It’s a good enough place to take a piss, that’s about it.”
“I could go for that.”
Bobbi lifted me out of the car and into a motorized wheel chair.
“Snagged this in the lobby for you. Don’t say I never did anything for you,” Bobbi said once I was set into the chair.
I drove and Bobbi walked to the mouth of the casino through the blistering-hot sun.
That rush of sweet, sweet air conditioning never felt better when I walked into the dark, smoky casino and surveyed the lay of the land. A cold too deep to just come from the AC came over me.
This was the casino from the visions I had of Bonnie. Where she played cards. Where she left with the swarthy dealer. Timothy. Where I believed she met her demise. At Buffalo-fucking-Bill’s in Primm-fucking-Nevada.
This was what I came here for. That piss could wait. I made my way right to the blackjack tables. Combed through each, looking for Timothy.
Only about six or seven tables were staffed in the dregs of the day, but I decided I needed to stay. I waited outside the lady’s room until I could inform Bobbi of my plan. She decided she would stay with me through the night. She could probably find some work for the night and make some money before she went to LA.
It took about eight hours and about 12 watered-down Jack and gingers to catch a glimpse of the man I was looking for. I was fantastically drunk when I saw Timothy walk up to an empty blackjack table and start setting up. I watched him prepare his table from over by the penny slots Bobbi and I were patronizing.
“I need some cash,” I asked Bobbi.
“You’re gonna ask someone who is ninety-five cents down on a Jimmy Buffet slot machine for cash?”
“I’m serious. He’s here.”
Bobbi’s eyes followed mine over to Timothy and his blackjack table just as he turned on his green OPEN light.
I started to head towards Timothy’s table. Bobbi stopped me.
“I have a better idea of how we can do this.”
I watched Bobbi saddle up to Timothy’s table from over the slot machines. I could tell she went right to work on him. I watched her lean over much more than necessary to pull her chips closer to her side of the table. Saw her whisper something in his ear.
Bobbi’s plan was to lure Timothy up into a room she had booked for another client she met earlier in the night. I could confront him there about everything. I wasn’t so sure Timothy would go for what I considered to be spoiled bait, but Bobbi assured me she could make it happen. She had drugs to ply him with if her body wasn’t enough.
Bobbi quickly walked away from the table. I followed her over to by the bathrooms where she said to meet if things were going well.
“Go up to the room. 323,” Bobbi said and handed me a key. “We’ll be up there in a minute.”
I cranked the AC in the room, but it just wouldn’t seem to chill. I sat in my chair staring out the window and listening to the hallway. I couldn’t wait to hear two pairs of feet coming up the way.
I had my script all ready for what I was going to say to Timothy as soon as he walked in. I couldn’t wait to just start blurting it out. I couldn’t wait to hit dial on that number to the Las Vegas Police Department. Tell them we had the guy. I couldn’t wait to tell my mom that I wasn’t mad with PTSD. I was actually a magician.
The ding of the elevator arriving outside the door make everything suddenly become real. I heard footsteps approach and suddenly lost all my confidence.
The door opened and Bobbi ushered Timothy in. He was initially relaxed, but his eyes flew into panic as soon as he saw me.
He stared down Bobbi.
“What the fuck is this?” he asked.
I tried to launch into my glorious soliloquy, but couldn’t.
“Uh, uh, uh…”
“What gimp?” Timothy spat at me.
“You killed Bonnie,” I blurted out.
“Who the hell are you talking about?”
Timothy was still talking tough, but I could tell my question rattled him. His posture tightened. He started to blink rapidly as he stared at me.
“Bonnie Bagwell. You met her in this casino. Three years ago, in July. She was never seen again.”
Timothy let out a single laugh. He was out of breath.
“What did you do to her?” I yelled.
“Does it really matter,” He muttered under his breath. “She was a whore just like this one right here.”
I rolled off of the bed and onto the floor. Timothy went for the door, but Bobbi sealed it off.
“You shouldn’t have said that,” Bobbi screamed in Timothy’s face.
Bobbi pushed Timothy. His slender frame fell over mine on the floor and he fell between me and the bed.
I pushed myself around and came face-to-face with his dark eyes. I closed mine.
I opened my eyes in a dark tent. The air was unbearable hot. I could feel my clothes had already been sweated through. I couldn’t see a thing, but I could feel that someone was in there with me.
My senses were confirmed when I felt the cold blade of a knife slash across my arm. I screamed out and recoiled until I was stopped by the thin plastic of the wall of the tent.
“Who is there?” I screamed into the dark.
“Ah fuck, I was just trying get that fuckin camel spider that got in here,” a raspy voice I didn’t not recognize answered back.
I felt the wind of the knife swipe at me before I could react. It seemed it barely missed the bridge of my nose.
I dropped down and put my hands out, reverted to my high school wrestling skills. I grabbed the dark assailant around the waste. I felt the knife flail over my shoulder. I had him in a hold which would prevent him from getting fatal leverage with his weapon.
My attacker gave me a hard kick in the gut, but I didn’t flinch. I drove my shoulder into him until I pummeled the wind out of of him and was lying on top of his panicking body.
I felt the knife fall out of his grasp and slide down my back. I grabbed the six-inch blade from behind me and wrapped it up in my hand, poised it at my side.
My wrestling partner fell on his own sword before I even had to do anything. I lost my breath when I felt the weight of the man slide onto the sharp blade of the knife. Based on the weight and tension on the end of the thing, it felt that it must have slipped just beneath the man’s rib cage.
A pained gasp let out in the dark, followed by a flurry of horrified screams. I yanked the knife out and felt the man fall hard on the ground next to me.
I slowly caught my breath as I listened to the man scream bloody murder next to me until I had to put my hands over my ears.
Light came back to my vision. I was no longer in that hot tent in the Middle Eastern desert. I was back in that steamy hotel room with the shitty air conditioning. I was on my knees looking down at the crumpled body of Timothy, forever stuck with his arms clutching his upper stomach/lower ribs. Blood flowed from his wound and onto the already-stained carpet of the room.
I looked at the knife in my hand. A thick coat of blood oozed down the blade. Timothy must have pulled the thing on me, I wrestled it from him and the blade ended up in his insides. Now he was dead.
“Ah fuck, what do we do?” I screamed at Timothy’s body.
“He came after you with the knife and then just fell on it,” Bobbi said from behind me. “I was a witness.”
“Shit. What do we do?”
“We should get the police involved. I can vouch for your story of self-defense, but there’s something I think you should look at on this guy before we do that,” Bobbi said.
Bobbi walked around me and over to Timothy’s body. She unbuttoned a few button on his shirt and yanked down the collar area. She waved me over.
“Look at this. I saw a glimpse of it when he was dealing,” Bobbi said.
I joined Bobbi by the bed and saw what she was talking about. Tattooed just below Timothy’s collarbone were what looked like latitude and longitude degree numbers. Bobbi took out her phone and snapped a picture.
We called the police. It was messy. Luckily, Timothy had a lengthy rap sheet which kept the police from accusing us of too much. Bobbi mentioning that I was a freshly-mugged and disabled veteran about five times might have helped as well. We told them our accusations about Timothy’s potential involvement in the death of Bonnie, but they didn’t seem to care. She was an already-forgotten dead person in another state.
The good news about the police’s disinterest was it left Bobbi and me to explore on our own. We punched the latitude and longitude marks into her GPS and set off back into the deep desert.
Our points took us to a lonely road off a lonely freeway, off a lonely highway which eventually turned to an unmarked dirt path that Bobbi’s car could barely traverse. The points stopped next to a cluster of shrubs a few paces off the road.
Bobbi hooked me up with some crutches before we left town, so I was able to push myself out to the points with her and squint against the sun and brace against the hot wind.
What waited for us was a patch of dirt with a tiny little black ball sticking out of it. Like one of those markers you might find on a golf course which marks where you can tee off. I pulled the thing off and got to work digging with my hands. Bobbi joined in with the crowbar which was in her trunk.
We found what Tom’s tattooed points led us to in the dirt. A dirty white arm bone, a couple of feet long, with a faded diamond ring hanging off of her ring finger and a silver pinky. I didn’t know the diamond ring, but I recognized the pinky ring as the one which came from her high school boyfriend on a Valentine’s Day that she always wore.
All that was left of Bonnie were some dirty bones in the desert. They never found her left arm, when they originally found her body in California, so it made sense that all we found was that piece of her body. The police always figured her left arm had been carried away by scavengers, not stashed in the Nevada desert by the man who had killed her.
What the police later discovered was that Timothy has been pimping Bonnie after he lured her into a relationship. He lived in LA, but worked weekends sometimes as a blackjack dealer in Primm for extra cash. He became enraged when he found out that Bonnie was going to go back to Reno in September to go to school after she had told him she was going to run away to be with him. The police suspected that he had given her an engagement ring and that’s why he buried her left arm closer to where he lived and tattooed its coordinates on his chest. They discovered old text messages on his phone and social media messages which confirmed everything.
Solving it all gave me some comfort, but it didn’t bring Bonnie back to life or stop me from getting horrific visions which seemed to be a mix of my past, my future and traumatic things connected to me even if I didn’t directly play a part in them. Every day is still a struggle.
Bobbi has helped. We bonded over the trauma of our destroyed lives. We went to LA to spend time together and cool off from the ordeal in Primm. I eventually convinced her to try and give up her profession for a while and get into therapy. She convinced me to do the same.
Bobbi and I live together with my mom in Reno, for the time being. It’s a difficult life, but it gets a little bit better most days.
The biggest positive development has been the evolution of my visions. No longer am I mired in the haunting violence of my time in Iraq, or of Bonnie’s bloody death. They have become more helpful visions of the future.
The best vision yet came last night. I saw Bobbi and I on the porch of a cabin, older. I watched as we held hands and supervised the sun as it set behind mountains in the distance above a glossy blue lake. I felt like this was a vision of things to come.
It felt pretty damn alright with me.