When they bump into each other at the soup kitchen, Frank offers Chloe a glimmer of hope that she can pull her life back together. She rekindles his lost sense of self-worth by taking his mind off his own problems. But they will not meet again until Frank is riding high as a working man, and Chloe has hit rock bottom.
By helping Chloe rebuild her broken life, Frank banishes the demons from his own past. Unfortunately, the past comes strolling back into their lives, threatening to destroy the happiness they have finally found.
Pain’s a bitch.
The doctor at the VA called it phantom pain, nerve trauma that would eventually go away. Yeah, right. Frank was twelve years and counting.
This morning, he woke to a cold, sluggish fog that had his foot throbbing before he even stood. His only relief was to shift his weight to his toes and keep pressure off the heel. Of course, the gimp-walk didn’t do much for his appearance. People already shied away from his long hair and shaggy beard. The shuffling limp and tortured expression convinced onlookers that he was a derelict.
They should have seen him twelve years ago at the VA. The pain was so intense all he could do was lie in bed, groaning and thrashing, his hospital gown soaked in sweat. Once he was up and around, he’d rolled down the hallway in his wheelchair, ranting at other Vietnam veterans with missing legs and arms. His rage seemed to ease his pain, but like a drug, he needed more. So he started ramming into other wheelchairs, then chasing after those who could walk, bruising their ankles with his metal foot-plates.
On his feet, Frank was a regular fighting machine, wielding a crutch like a club, or throwing sucker punches when least expected. It never occurred to him that those guys were battling their own pain.
In desperation, he pinned a doctor to the wall with his own clipboard, threatening to decapitate him if he didn’t up Frank’s morphine dosage. An orderly put him out on the street.
Then the pain really took hold. The dribble of morphine still in his system wore off while he slouched in the back of a city bus headed for downtown Atlanta. When he threw up in the aisle, the driver tossed him off. Unable to stand, much less walk, Frank crawled into an alleyway and passed out.
A wino rummaging through a trashcan woke him. Frank offered the bum some dough for his bottle of Thunderbird, and slugged the wine down in one long gulp. From there it was all downhill.
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