Her pupils were fixed and dilated when I found her. Gary had been living with me for around six months, maybe longer. I didn’t keep track. Jennifer worked with him at Tumbleweed. She was a beautiful woman, and the new upscale location of Louisville’s favorite Mexican restaurant suited her. She had gotten out of rehab and wanted to get her kid back. She was only thirty-three years old. Her mom lived in Tennessee. That was all I knew about her.
The night before, Gary had taken her out to Wick’s pizza. It took me years to get over what happened.
“What could I have done differently?”
“What if I had done this?”
“What if I had done that?”
She had already been staying in Gary’s room downstairs for over two weeks, so that night I didn’t pay much attention to the time when I heard them come in. All of a sudden Jen was walking into my bedroom and taking her clothes off. She was really drunk.
I found Gary and told him that he should take his girlfriend to bed and let her sleep it off. If I had known what I know now, I would have shot him in the head. Gary and I had two things in common, we didn’t drink and we both loved playing pool. I had the best setup money could buy and he was a good player but a truly vile man as it turned out.
At the time, I was having trouble sleeping anyway, and an intoxicated naked woman in my bed wasn’t helping. I had already taken my sleeping meds and Gary weighed about 115 pounds soaking wet, so the question was how were we going to get her down to Gary’s bed. She wasn’t in any frame of mind to help, and I felt pretty sure she and Gary had been smoking weed. They both loved it, and I hate it, and I always thought that was about all they saw in each other. Anyway, we waited around for about twenty minutes and I finally scooped her up and carried her downstairs and put her in bed.
I’ve had a somewhat sheltered life and the way I was raised, touching an intoxicated woman was an extreme violation of the gentleman’s code. A day or two earlier, Jen had mentioned that she had a court date about her daughter the next morning. I normally slept until noon, but that morning, I woke up at 7:00 to piss. As I was commencing I remembered that Jen had a court date and I realized I could wake her up and be sure she got there.
So I went downstairs to wake her up and she was sprawled out naked and I saw white stuff coming out of her mouth. Gary was laying lying next to her and the adrenaline hit. I screamed, “CALL 911!” Her left pupil was dilated all the way. In my head I knew that was brain damage but I didn’t think, I just reacted. I checked for a pulse. I couldn’t feel any. She wasn’t cold. I tried 3 quick breaths but nothing went through. I did a finger sweep and got the vomit out of her mouth. I finally got some breaths in her.
I started chest compressions but basically I was just pushing her into the mattress. Then I pushed as far as I could and then did the compressions. By then, Gary was on the phone, and I screamed out the address because Gary didn’t know. I don’t know how long it took for them to get there but everything was in slow motion. My back began cramping badly so I told Gary to take over. I stood erect and it got better quickly. Gary was just bouncing her on the mattress. I put her on the floor and straddled her like they teach you in CPR class. 1-2-3 chest compressions, one breath.
I told Gary to wait outside for the ambulance. Those few minutes before they arrived still haunt me. I stared into her lifeless eyes. “Don’t go Jen. Please don’t go. Please. Don’t go Jen.” The lactic acid was building to the point I couldn’t do anymore. I saw the door open. “GET THE PADDLES!” The other one came over. “Take over for me.” I collapsed on my back. His colleague came running in with the defibrillator.
They hit her three times with it. Nothing. They were shaking their heads like they were calling it. “One more time. Please.” They tried again, and something happened. The one on top of her called for the big needle. He put the adrenaline in her heart. I heard the monitor beep a few times. They put her on the stretcher and ran her out of there.
They “called her” eight hours later. What Gary didn’t tell me was that she had drunk twenty six shots of Crown Royal. That’s more than a liter of alcohol in a 128-pound woman. At autopsy, her blood alcohol level was .46. The coroner called me a couple of days later. He was a friend of my dad’s. He told me she had consumed some pills too. He asked to speak to Gary and I listened in as he told the coroner what happened the night before. I won’t say what I heard but when they were done, I came out of my room holding my pistol and told Gary to get the fuck out of my house. It was a good thing I never saw him again.
I didn’t find out until years later that he was the last person to see my ex-wife alive. Her mother found her unconscious on Christmas Eve with a broken nose. She was apparently extremely drunk. They got Lisa to the hospital but her kidneys had shut down. She died on the twenty seventh. Gary told Lisa’s parents that I was the reason Jen died. That was rather telling in a lot of ways.
The day I learned Lisa had died was over two years after she passed. She was only 40. I was overwhelmed with grief. I wanted to do something. I cried for her mother because they had a peculiar closeness that was positively supernatural. Lisa closed the car door on her finger once and it wasn’t 5 seconds later her mom called and said, “what happened? Is she okay?” I called her parents in tears. I wouldn’t be that prick that didn’t call.
“Lewis, it’s Thomas. I just found out. I am so sorry. She was such a beautiful woman.” Whatever hostility he felt those two years melted away. We shared that grief and I felt it pour out of him as he told me what happened. Her mom knew something wasn’t right with Gary’s story. I told him what really happened with Jennifer. Lewis told me he thought a lot more of me because I called and things made more sense now.
Sometimes, you just need to get things off your chest so you can move on with your life.