Her mind was thinking danger, but her fingers were acting on their own; turning the key once, unlocking the door half-way. She put her ear to the door listening if he was close to it. At the faintest sound she’d double-lock the door again without a hesitation, but she was met with silence on the other side. He could be waiting next to the door… Jump on her as soon as it opened…There were no harmful objects in the room that she knew of, but he was bigger than her… he could easily overpower her… Marina removed the key and looked through the keyhole.
She was able to locate the table lamp he had turned on… No doubt to take in his surroundings…, but that was about all she saw. Marina strained to try and bent her sight ‘round the keyhole to check if he was still on the bed, but it was no use. She re-inserted the key and turned it all the way; taking the huge risk…
She entered the room and was met with a silent but curious look. His conscious frame appeared bigger. Much bigger than before, which to her astonishment, took her breath away. A fact never leaving her mind was that he, though breathtaking, still looked as much dangerous as a stranger could possibly look. They stared at each other for some time, neither of them moving. Marina was sizing him up and it looked as if he did the same. Marina doubted he saw her in the same way as she him… Danger alert… The silence was broken 3 minutes later… or at least that’s what it felt like to her… when he spoke to her; his voice coarse as result of his unconsciousness and lack of speaking therein. Her heart made a little jump at the sound.
‘Who are you?’ He kept her gaze captive in his as he continued, ‘Where am I?’
‘Uhm, my name is Marina. You’re at my ranch… Three days ago my… uhm twice over neighbor found you alongside the road and brought you here. You were unconscious and bleeding. You’ve lost a lot of blood…’ she pointed at his chest, but his eyes refused to leave her face.
‘We… my friend Binny and I… cleaned up your wounds and I soaked your clothes…’
Marina didn’t know what was happening to her. This wasn’t how she normally spoke… She felt like a high school student again, holding a speech in front of the class.
Was it the fear that had taken over her? Or was it the dominant brown eyes that never seemed to leave her face? …. Now that his eyes were open she could clearly extinguish the rarity of his appearance. His hair matched his eyes...
‘Are you afraid of me?’
Marina’s mind stopped fussing over his appearance when he asked her that question. What is he part bloodhound? Can he smell her fear? Of course she was scared! Her heart was thrashing inside her chest… or was there another reason for that?
‘Yes…’ Marina said with a sigh, unknowingly wrapping her arms around her torso; a classic shielding maneuver. ‘Do I have a reason to?’ she asked, standing in the exact same spot close to the door. One wrong move from his part and she would go back through it.
‘I don’t know…’
‘What do you mean?’
‘My mind says no, but something inside me says yes… am I making sense?’ a frown appeared on his face as if he was in pain.
‘No… not really… What is your name?’ she took one hesitant step forward, still in reach of the door for a quick escape if needed. The frown on his face etched deeper into his face. He appeared to be searching his mind and giving himself a headache doing so.
…he’s taking awfully long for a question as simple as his name…
He clutched his head and his long brown hair fell like a curtain around his face.
…….infamous Raven… weak... where did… go?........
……come on… leave him… get out of here…...
‘Raven…’ he said after a while, releasing his head, ‘…someone called me Raven’
‘Raven’ Marina repeated. The name flowed on her lips like a whisper. ‘Is there a last name that goes with that?’
‘…’ he dropped his gaze.
‘Alright, well, your name is a start. We’ll just take it easy, okay. You need to rest some more to replenish the blood you lost. Speaking of which, that bandage needs changing’ Marina pointed at the wound again. ‘Am I going to have to hit you with Binny’s baseball bat, or…?’
SHE couldn’t believe the words coming out of her mouth, but she hoped all the way to her toes that he did.
‘You shall find no hindrance from my end…’
Marina gave him a twice over before slowly moving towards him. She opened the drawer next to the bed and noticed a ready-made syringe, Binny left in case of excruciating pain. The contents of it, is said to be able to knock out a horse. That reassured her somewhat and she started to tend his wound.
She started to unfurl the bandage, but kept her eyes on his face. He gaze was fixed on her hands and he watched her slowly remove the bandage. The last two layers were dried into the wound and showed no mercy when pried loose. He closed his eyes and a soft groan rumbled inside his chest. Marina was extra careful around those parts, but it still resulted in a mild bleed. ‘I’m sorry…’
‘No need. We both knew it would happen’
His voice was always calm and composed when he spoke. Marina couldn’t deny that she was quite fascinated by him. She never met anyone that intrigued her so and she had to know him. She didn’t know why, but she felt she needed to. Marina gave way to what lay on her tongue ever since learning his name. ‘I have to ask… You don’t, didn’t, know your own name, but you said one of the attackers called you Raven. You remembered him saying that. Do you remember anything else from that day?’ There were no more bandages in the ‘syringe’ drawer, so she looked for some in the wardrobe.
‘Not much! Just a guy with blond hair. He was speaking to me… called me Raven. I know that he wasn’t alone ‘cause someone called him away right after I felt the sting of a knife or so. It came from the back… I didn’t even know what was happening. I remember walking along that road… and then waking up here’
‘That must’ve been terrible… I can’t imagine what you went through. Stabbed, beaten –you were pretty roughed up when you came here, so I assumed…’ she said when she saw the question mark on his face. ‘There were also some cuts on your shoulder, which seem to have disappeared overnight, but since that’s impossible, Binny’s right, I must’ve imagined them’
He said nothing, just kept looking at her as she applied the betadine and re-bandaged the wound.
‘Why are you helping me?’ he suddenly asked, his eyes once again fixed on her face, ‘You know nothing about me. I could be a murderer waiting for you to turn your back to me’
She fastened the bandage and took a step back. ‘You sound just like Binny. True, that thought had occurred to me, but then I decide to keep an open mind. Criminal or not, you’re still hurt and the day you were brought to us I agreed to help you. And that’s what I’m doing now’
Marina saw something reflect in his eyes after those words and it almost looked as if the corners of his mouth rose a bit, but she wasn’t sure.
Binny slammed the door harder than was necessary. She was fuming. ‘Been waiting at the café for an entire hour and he didn’t even have the audacity to call. How dare he?! Argh, he had better be dead to stand me up…’ She threw her bag on the couch and headed for the kitchen. Instead of a nice lobster or tenderloin, she’d have to settle for leftover lasagna. Not cool!
…I haven’t been gone for long; Marina should still be awake…
‘I’m home! …Unfortunately… Marina?’ She wasn’t in the kitchen. ‘Marina?’ Oh no, I have a bad feeling about this… Please be in your room reading a book… Binny climbed the stairs, hoping that Marina had used her senses. She knew she should’ve have left. Leaving her alone with him was the one stupid thing she had done all week. …damn it! The stairs seemed to keep on going, keeping her from facing her fear.
When Binny found the door opened, her heart sank to her knees. She immediately started assuming the worst. She hastily entered the room… and was met with soft laughter. Marina’s laughter. He was sitting on the bed listening to her speak. Binny’s eyes widened at the sight of him. He looked bigger now that he was conscious and more dangerous. She noticed his pulled–up legs, pressed against his torso. Binny knew that stance, many use it to brace against pain. So he was still in pain… good! ‘Marina!’ Binny said, making her jump up. Raven also looked up at Binny.
‘Binny… what are you doing home? I thought y…’
Marina’s words were cut short when Lubinnia grabbed her arm and hurried her out the door.
‘Wait…’ she could hear him call out the minute they disappeared through the door, followed by a groan as he hunched over from moving too suddenly. Binny took advantage of the fact that he was still in pain, relying on him not being able to move fast and closed the door behind them. Once again locking it before turning towards Marina.
‘What on earth were you thinking? I told you not to go into his room if you hear anything. I leave you alone for 15 min…’
‘…I KNOW, don’t rub it in, and you do exactly that. I can’t believe I was so stupid, thinking… Why would…?’ Lubinnia was angry and disappointed and not finishing her sentences.
‘Binny, Binny… focus, why are you back so early?’
‘Argh this is turning out to be the worst night of the week. I get stood up by Byron, for God knows what reason, better be because he’s dead, and then I come home to a you, who’s entering strangers’ rooms when told not to… Did I leave anything out?’ she yelled.
‘Relax, nothing happened, as you can see, I’m fine’
‘Oh yes, fine… YOU COULD’VE BEEN KILLED’
‘And now you’re exaggerating… He’s hurt and in being that I could’ve easily outrun him if he proved to be dangerous, or knocked him out with the sedative in the drawer. I thought maybe if I helped him since his bandage needed changing again, I would get him to tell me what had happened to him’
Binny thought of this and reckoned it was reasonable. She let out a heavy sigh. ‘What did you find out?’
‘Well, his name is Raven, or at least he thinks so, because someone called him that’
‘He thinks so, huh, what of a last name?’
‘Perfect, very convenient! Makes a background check quite hard don’t you think?’
‘He also said, from what he can remember that there was a group that attacked him. One of them, the blond said that name. I asked if he saw that man again if he would recognize him… He wasn’t sure, but he thinks it might be possible’
‘He’s doing a lot of ‘thinking’ if you ask me… I need some coffee’ Binny said feeling a headache coming up as she descended the stairs, Marina right behind her.
Marina poured them some coffee, handed Binny hers and sat down at the dining-table. Lubinnia sipped on the liquid, driving the headache slowly from her mind.
‘Okay, so you got a few things out of him, but I still say you shouldn’t have gone in there without me. You got lucky this time… You’re taking risks’ Binny said, putting her mug on the table. She watched Marina with a heavy heart. ‘You need to stop… first the dreams, now this… you have to let go, just-just let go…’
Marina hinted a hidden message in those words. ‘This has nothing to do with my father’
‘Doesn’t it?! I mean, you’ve given up on the living, you’re seeing headstones in your dreams and now you’re approaching strangers who for all we know could be on the wanted list right now. Sounds to me like you have a dead-wish, and I won’t stand by and watch you chase it’
‘I don’t have a dead-wish… and believe it or not. I haven’t thought about my father the entire time I’ve spent with him, albeit only an hour. I’m drawn to him Binny…’
‘How can you be drawn to him? You know nothing about him!’ Binny exclaimed.
‘No, not in that way… I-I don’t know how to explain it. It’s like I have this need to know him… and I may sound crazy, but when I’m with him, I feel… safe… Like he wouldn’t hurt me’
‘Safe?! Yeah, you are losing it! There is nothing about him that indicates safety, Marina! Wake up and smell the coffee. I sense a danger from him I can’t place. And now amnesia? Who says he isn’t faking it?’
‘Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t! Neither of us can tell for sure… I guess only in time... We’ll just tend to his wounds and look up missing-persons in the town’s police-station. Maybe someone filed a report… Then we’ll be able to send him on his way, without feeling bad. I say leaving a man who doesn’t know who he is, or where he’s from on the street is in bad taste… also, uhm, now that he’s awake, I don’t feel right keeping him locked up in that room’
‘’Yes’, to missing-persons; ‘No way’ to keeping the door unlocked, I won’t be able to sleep if I know that he’s loose in the house. The thought that he might strangle me in my sleep is unsettling. No, it doesn’t matter who does it, you or me, the last person that retires to bed, locks his door. As long as either of us can keep an eye on him during the day, he can go wherever, but at night… No exception! I don’t trust him, even if somewhere in that deranged head of yours you do!’ Binny said bringing the mug up to her mouth; in her eyes a vacant expression as she lost herself in her thoughts.
…My feelings have never been wrong before. I sense something bad, something dangerous in that room and it scares me…
They drank their coffee in silence and retired to their beds. Binny taking care to remove the key from the door, in case Marina decided to go moonlighting. If Marina didn’t care about her safety, she would care enough for the both of them.