Sweet Anger(3)

By: Sandra Brown

“Kari, Kari,” Pinkie crooned. He patted her back.

“There’s a mistake. It couldn’t be—”

“I made the reporter confirm it a dozen times before I came to tell you.” Her eyes were wild in her pallid face. Her lips worked, but no sound came out. “Come on,” Pinkie said gently. “They’ve taken him to Denver General. I’ll drive you.”

It was the cold that struck her first. She had never been in a room this cold. The dual swinging doors closed silently behind her and Pinkie as they entered. She shrank against him, hating this stark, clinical place instantly.

The fluorescent lights hurt her eyes. The brightness offended her. Shouldn’t this room be dark and serene, lending death some dignity and reverence? But here death was considered only a physical phenomenon. This place was so very sterile. And so very cold.

She felt like turning to run, but Pinkie urged her forward. A man in a white lab coat looked up from his desk. He stood up immediately. “Mrs. Wynne?”


He led them to a large table draped with a white sheet. Beneath the sheet lay the still form of a man. Kari began to whimper involuntarily and mashed her lips flat with her fingers.

How could she bear to see Thomas’s body mangled and bloodied? Would she disgrace him and herself by her actions? Would she scream? Faint? Dissolve into hysterics?

The pathologist pulled back the sheet.

At first she thought it must all be a tasteless joke someone was playing on her. Or some outlandish mistake. Her eyes flew up to the man holding the sheet. He read the unspoken question in them; saw her incredulity.

“He was killed by the impact,” he said softly. “The truck struck him from behind. The trauma traveled up his spine into his brain. There is a bruise on his back. Otherwise …”

He left the rest unfinished.

Kari stared down at Thomas’s body. He looked as though he were asleep. Nothing more. His face was relaxed. The silver hair that she had found so attractive the first time she met him was neatly combed. The hand lying by his side looked merely at rest, ready to lift up a tennis racket or caress her hair.

His tall body seemed as strong as it had that morning when she had kissed him good-bye. He exercised religiously at a gymnasium to maintain that hard muscle tone and to avoid middle-age spread.

“Thomas, Thomas, darling.” Her whisper sounded loud in the silent room. She almost expected him to open his eyes and look up at her, to say her name, to smile. She would see again the sparkle in his blue eyes and hear the rich sound of his laugh.

She had thought it would be unbearable to see his body broken. It was almost worse to see it looking so normal. His untouched state made the whole thing seem that much more absurd and unreal. It simply hadn’t happened!

But it had. He was horrifyingly still.

“Where would you like us to send him?”

“Send him?” she repeated vacantly.

“I’ll telephone you later,” Pinkie said to the man. “Mrs. Wynne hasn’t had time to make her arrangements.”

“I understand.” The pathologist began to lower the sheet.

“Wait!” she cried. The word echoed eerily off the tile walls. She couldn’t leave him. Not in this terrible place. Not in this cold, cold room. If she left him lying here, his face covered by the sheet, it would be official. She couldn’t cope with that yet. She couldn’t admit that Thomas, her husband, was dead.

“Kari, you have to go.” Pinkie laid gentle hands on her shoulders.

“Thomas.” Her eyes filled with tears that rolled heavily down her cheeks. Tentatively she stretched her fingers toward him. She touched his hair, his forehead.

Then, sobbing uncontrollably, she collapsed into Pinkie’s arms. He led her out.

It was unexpected, unheard of, bizarre. The day of the accident had been clear. For some undetermined reason, the driver of the delivery truck had lost control as he turned the corner. The truck had swerved, jumped the curb, and robbed Denver of one of its leading citizens and Kari Stewart Wynne of her husband. He had been walking back to the courthouse after a luncheon appointment. Innocently. Feeling the false sense of security human beings are wont to feel about their mortality. He had died instantly of the impact.

Kari stared at the flower-blanketed casket and wondered how it was possible that Thomas, her vibrant, dynamic husband, was sealed lifelessly inside.

She gripped Pinkie’s hand. He had been a bulwark for the last two days, seeing to the myriad details while she moved in a daze. She was grateful for this mental netherland she moved in. It protected her from reality. Without it, she wouldn’t have been able to cope.

She had no parents to lean on for support. Her mother had died when Kari was a child. Her father, whom she had adored and admired, had died just before she graduated from college with her degree in communications.

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