Harper gained more mobility over the next few hours. Her speech was a little garbled, but really not that bad, considering. The doctors were calling her their little miracle because even if she regained consciousness, they weren’t convinced she would be able to move, let alone speak. But with every passing hour, she improved. She was suffering with headaches, and that would have been totally normal even with the concussion to her frontal lobe; but the blow she had taken to her cerebrum had made things touch and go. The injury was dangerously close to the brain stem. Blaise rarely left her side now, and Harper peppered him with somewhat slurred questions—at least as many as she could handle at one time.
“How long have . . . been here?
“You’ve been in hospital for almost three weeks—some of that at first was in ICU. You were attacked behind the store—hit over the head with a rusty, metal pipe. Police found it at the scene. Staff took you into surgery upon arrival to stop the bleeding and clean up the bone fragments . . . Is that too much for you right now?” Blaise had spoken slowly, but he paused to be sensitive to Harper’s needs. She waved him to continue on. “Okay, so then, they induced a coma to facilitate healing. I don’t remember all the particulars of why; I was kind of in a fog myself. But when they tried to bring you out . . . you remained unconscious; and no one could give a good prognosis, given the extensive damage. So . . . we have just been waiting . . . and praying. A lot! The ‘we’ being the fellowship and me. Tell me if I’m giving you too much information. I don’t want to stress you out.” Blaise held her hand gently.
“No, no . . . I want to know what happened.” She tried to alter her position in the bed, and Blaise adjusted her pillows and helped her to get more comfortable. “Start from the first. Please.”
“What’s the last thing you remember?”
“Hmm . . . went to take the trash out to the dumpster. I left the door propped open with a block of wood . . . so I wouldn’t lock myself out. I’d checked through the peephole . . . you installed to be sure the parking lot was empty.” Harper paused frequently to gather her thoughts. “I went to kick the block away from the . . . door, and then . . . saw a shadow move . . . felt sharp pain in my head . . . and the last thing I remember is lying face down on the ground with sticky wet stuff on my fingers.” The retelling of it made Harper wince, but Blaise was amazed that she had lost no memory of the attack at all.
“That’s how I found you, lying in a pool of your own blood, the door still wide open. I was terrified for you! Really! I called 911 and, well, you kind of know what happened once you got here.”
Harper closed her eyes and took a big breath. “So, was it a robbery, or what?”
“I guess of sorts, but he didn’t take much.”
“He? So . . . the police caught him?”
“Yes. From what I could tell, he tried to get into your cash drawer, but couldn’t. He spilled over some bookshelves; but whether he took any, only you will be able to tell. He did take your guitar. Max found it at the pawn shop, so I have it at my place, safe and sound. The case is scratched up, but that’s all. He also took your purse; but when he got arrested, it appeared he hadn’t even opened it. Your credit cards and cash were still there, and so were your house and store keys.”
“That’s really odd.”
“Not as odd as the next part. He stole your coffee maker.”
“Who in the world would want that old thing? I’ve been thinking of replacing it . . . but . . .” Harper paused, and looked a bit confused. “So, who did it, Blaise?”
“It was JR, Harper. And the coffee maker was the reason he got caught.”
“Max’s friend JR . . . really?”
“Do you want me to go on; you look really tired.”
“Yes, please. I just don’t understand. Why . . .”
“About a week after the attack, Max was making his regular runs with sandwiches and sundries to the homeless camps. When he got to the 5th St. bridge, he noticed JR had moved his tent some distance from the others. He didn’t think that much about it at first because without his meds, he is really antisocial. Well, he’s not quite social even with his meds. But when Max went to see him, JR had placed a small lean-to made from cardboard beside his tent; in it, he had a cardboard box with a tea towel over it, and on top was your coffee maker. What he planned to do with it without electricity, no one knows; but Max recognized it because of the little pink heart sticker you had on the front.”
“So, did he confront him?”
“No, he acted normal, and then he went to a phone and gave an anonymous tip to the police. He didn’t want JR to run, and he also didn’t want to jeopardize the trust the others living there put in him. The police picked JR up, and he confessed to everything.”
“But why? Why would he do that?”
Harper was getting agitated, so Blaise cradled her face in his hands and whispered, “I think that’s enough for now.”
“I want to know everything . . . but I just don’t understand.” She started to cry softly.
Just then, the nurse came in to take her vitals and give her meds, so Blaise wiped her tears away, then backed away to give the nurse complete access. “It will be okay. You’ll see. God has had you in His hands, and understanding will come with time. I’m going to leave you for a while for you to get some rest, but I’ll be back later. Okay?”
Harper choked out an okay and drifted away as the medicine did its job.