It was coming down in sheets. Visibility was near zero as the wind whipped the torrential rains diagonally across the sky outside of the Rourk penthouse. The view was nearly as bleak outside as was the mood within the confines of the luxuriously appointed high-rise apartment. Outside was the potential for death; inside, death had already swung his scythe, taking the life of the family patriarch. Las Vegas was about to find out that they had lost a legend. Lisa Rourk had just found out that she had lost her father. Sullivan Rourk was dead.
Lisa stared out into the darkened night, not noticing the distortion caused by the heavy rain against the 12-foot high glass wall that circled her home. Her tears brought about a distortion all their own. Sullivan had been so much more than a father to Lisa these past 52 years. He had been her mentor, her teacher and hero. The pain of losing him was excruciating. It was as if someone had stabbed her in the chest with a red-hot rod, searing her pain into place. At this moment, Lisa was sure that her anguish would never leave.
The paramedics had pronounced her father dead less than 10 minutes earlier. Now they had to wait for the county coroner to come and pick up Sullivan’s remains.
‘Dear God! ‘Remains’.’ Lisa thought to herself. The word seemed to take away her ability to stand. It was easier to give in to the void that sought her mind than it was to fight. Darkness came in from the outer edges of her vision, slowly at first. Her knees buckled, the room began to spin. Blackness became complete just as she hit the floor.
It was a comforting place to be. Safe.
The paramedics rushed to her side. A quick check of vital signs allowed them to determine that she had only fainted. A couple whiffs of ammonia from a crushed ampoule brought her back to consciousness with a jolt! Consciousness wasn’t a place that Lisa particularly wanted to be. The first thing she saw was the debris from the paramedic’s attempts to resuscitate her father; there were scraps of sterile packaging, syringes, oxygen tubing and tubes of gel that had been used as a conductor when they had applied the cardiac defibrillator paddles to his chest. Electricity had been sent coursing through Sullivan’s body in what turned out to be a vain attempt to restart his stopped heart. Now all that remained was the body that lay limp and in disarray amongst the trash from the rescue attempt. Lisa’s tears began to fall anew.
“Why did you leave me?” Lisa asked her fathers’ corpse, her fresh tears distorting her vision once more.
Sobs caused Lisa’s shoulders to heave and fall repeatedly. There was little that the paramedics could do to console the woman before them. They asked if there was someone they could call. The only one she had left was her mother. April Rourk was in no shape to provide any solace; April Rourk’s Alzheimer’s disease had ravaged her almost completely. She still lived in the Rourk suite at the Pearl Dust Hotel and Casino in downtown Las Vegas. Sullivan had been taking care of her with the help of several full time nurses. Lisa wasn’t even sure that her mother would know who she was talking about when she told her that Daddy was dead.
One of the paramedics had recalled hearing about a son somewhere and asked if he could call him for her.
“He is the reason that my father is dead.” Lisa replied with sober vehemence.
That statement acted as a cathartic remedy for her tears. The story of her son was one that needed to be told; one that still needed closure; one that she had to see through to its inevitable end. But these weren’t the people to tell this story to. There was only one person left to take this to. Lisa pulled herself together and stood slowly with the help of the fire department paramedics. “Thank you.” She spoke softly, sincerely.
Lisa needed to say good-bye to her father, but first she had to put him back together. She knew it was silly, he was dead, but she knew that her daddy wouldn’t want to be left in such disarray. She knelt down beside him and slowly buttoned his starched shirt, taking time to tuck in the tails and retie his solid red silk tie. The custom embroidered Pearl Dust logo was difficult to center in the ties’ knot, but she managed. Next, she used her long, perfectly manicured fingernails to comb his full mane of silver hair into place. He was particularly prideful about his hair; it was luxurious and always perfectly groomed. Lisa smiled as she recalled the term that her uncle Spanky had come up with to describe it: ‘Goomba chic.”
Lisa leaned down and pressed her lips to her fathers’ forehead. “Good-bye, Daddy.”
There was business to attend to. Wrongs that could never be righted had to be brought to account. There was an old world style of justice that her father had used in times of dire straits. She would use that same style of justice now in order to punish the betrayal that had brought about her father’s heart failure. The very knowledge of it had been too much for him to take.
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