Prom Night in Purgatory
Author:Amy Harmon

“Johnny,” Maggie insisted, her eyes beseeching.


“He’s here. Down the hall, actually. He’s recovering from a gunshot wound to his chest. He’s pretty out of it. I don’t know if I can get you in to see him… but I promise you I’ll try. He’s got a sister…she’s looking out for him. I don’t know what she’s told the hospital staff.”


“A gunshot wound?” Maggie scraped out in horror. “Someone shot Johnny?” Then the rest of what Gus said registered in her wool-filled brain. “A sister?” Maggie rasped in disbelief.


“I never told you. I guess I just never thought about it. Chief Bailey and Dolly Kinross had a daughter. You know Principal Bailey?”


Maggie nodded her head, dumbfounded.


“They found him at the school, just lying in the rubble, right where the rotunda stood. He wasn’t burned or anything. He just had that wound, and he’d lost a lot of blood. Principal Bailey happened to be there when he was found, and she recognized him. I reckon she’s spent her whole life lookin’ for his face…and her poor momma before that. She’s pretty shaken up, but she’s a strong woman.” Gus wrung his hands, obviously missing the hat brim he usually abused.


“He’s really alive? He’s really here?” Maggie felt the realization rise up and tears spill over onto her cheeks.


“He really is, Miss Margaret. As God is my witness, he really is. Praise Jesus,” Gus marveled, shaking his head in wonder. “I ain’t never seen the like…”








And a Time to Every Purpose









Everyone was calling him John Doe. He had stayed silent the first few times he had awakened. At first it was because he didn’t know where the hell he was. Shoot, he didn’t know WHO the hell he was. He had fallen back into oblivion before he’d had time to ponder anything at all. The next time he was awake for longer. The first thing he was truly aware of was pain. He hurt everywhere, like he had been run over by Gene’s tow truck. Gene. He remembered Gene. And little Harv. He’d drifted off to sleep not long after, reassured by the fact that he remembered something and someone. When he woke up again, a woman sat by his bed. The room was dark and no one but the two of them sat amid the bleeping machines that looked like the robots from one of the programs on the television Jimbo’s dad had purchased and now proudly displayed in his living room. Jimbo’s pop had positioned the set right in front of the windows so everyone who lived on the block would know he had a TV. He left the windows opened when he watched, and sometimes the kids playing ball in the street would abandon their games and listen outside. Johnny had been able to watch it a couple of times. Sometimes the whole neighborhood came over to watch the thing.


At first he thought the woman was his mother. As soon as the thought occurred to him, his mother’s face rose up in his mind. The glow of the lights was hardly sufficient to make out the woman’s features, but there was something very like his mother in the way she sat, her head nodding in sleep, her neck bowed gracefully in tired supplication. It wasn’t until a nurse came in and snapped on the light to check his vitals and poke at him that he saw that the woman was not his momma after all. She was wearing men’s pants, and her hair was styled in a boyish cut. The nurse also wore pants….when did that become the norm? Hmmm. He didn’t care for it. He had always kind of liked a nurse’s uniform; there was something sexy about it. The woman sleeping in the chair bolted straight up and met his gaze in alarm.


“You’re awake.” Her eyes shot to the nurse. The nurse didn’t seem too surprised by Johnny’s wakefulness and proceeded to ask him how he felt, if he struggled to breathe, if he thought he could sit up, and a million other mundane things. The nurse was young and pretty, and he smirked at her a little, testing her out. She raised one eyebrow at him disdainfully, and told him she was going to remove his catheter. With a toss of his covers, she unmanned him with a yank.


“Ouch!” Johnny roared. His manhood lay quivering for the lucky females in the room to enjoy. He jerked the blankets back over himself and glowered at the nurse, who fought a slight smile. Gee whiz. The woman had just grabbed his handle without batting an eye. She hadn’t even given him time to give her a better first impression. Ah well. She was too old for him. He liked them a little more timid anyway, didn’t he? Something nagged at him. A memory of someone…and then it was gone, dissolved into the muddle that clogged his heavy head. He was suddenly dizzy, and the woman who had been sleeping beside his bed jumped up to help him lie back. The nurse patted his leg. Oh, now she was being nice. Too late, sweetheart. She made a few notes and looked up at him again.


“The doctor will be in shortly. Do you think you can stay awake?” When he nodded, she walked out of the room without another word.