Joanne Evans opened her eyes.
The light that she could see was bright white in colour. She could see her angel. Above her.
“Joanne, honey. Can you hear me?” She could hear the familiar voice of a friend. It was Cathy Gilmore, a nurse at the hospital, and one of her closest friends.
“What happened?” Joanne struggled to say. Her head was groggy and she couldn’t remember much.
“Jo, honey, you’ve been attacked,” Cathy told her. “Your house has burnt down and Richard is missing.”
Joanne was confused and she looked down at her hands. They were dirty. She couldn’t remember what happened. Her face was sore and her body ached.
“Any idea who did to you or how you got here?” Cathy asked.
Joanne tried to think hard. The last thing she remembered was sitting with her husband, Richard, on the lounge watching television. The next thing she knew Thomas Helling had interrupted them. He had set fire to the house.
“Thomas has Richard,” Joanne told Cathy.
Leading Senior Constable Kyle Cook fires his handgun. The bullets rip through Thomas. Joanne watches on as her brother is killed instantly.
“No! Stop!” Joanne screams. She runs towards Kyle, narrowly missing being shot herself.
Kyle drops his gun and reaches out for Joanne. He holds her firm within his grasp. She kicks her body around, screaming.
“It’s okay,” Kyle says to Joanne, trying to hush her. “He won’t be able to hurt you ever again. I’m here, it’s okay.”
Joanne pants heavily, finding it hard to breathe.
“Now,” Kyle smiles at her, “how about saying yes to my marriage proposal?”
“You…You…” Joanne pants. “You didn’t have to kill him!”
“Just think about all the pain he’s caused you, Joanne.” Kyle caresses Joanne’s forehead, pushing her hair away from her face. “Now you don’t have to worry about him anymore.”
Joanne looked down at her legs, damaged and bandaged, told that she would never use them again. She faintly remembered being attacked by a cricket bat.
“I’ve given you something for the pain,” Doctor Smith said to Joanne as she laid in the hospital bed. Joanne looked on as Doctor Smith injected her with more pain relief. “You won’t remember a thing,” he said to her.
“You need to find Richard,” Joanne instructed.
“It’s okay, Joanne,” Doctor Smith said. “You’re in safe hands now.”
Joanne didn’t feel so sure. She still hadn’t been given any news of about Richard’s whereabouts.
“Here,” Doctor Smith said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a Polaroid photograph. He held it up for Joanne to see. “Something to cheer you up. A photograph of your parents, Joanne.”
Joanne blinked a couple of times, noticing her parents standing on either side of a woman with red hair. The woman was wearing a bright red dress.
“This woman, Joanne,” Doctor Smith informed her, pointing at the woman in red, “is your real mother.”
Doctor Peter Smith smiled down at Joanne in her hospital bed. “And I’m your real father, Joanne.”
Joanne’s head was groggy. She tried to say something, but she couldn’t. The pain relief medication she had been injected with had made her drowsy.
“That’s not the only surprise, Joanne.” Doctor Smith leaned in close to her and whispered in her ear. “Thomas Helling is your brother.”
Joanne closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.
“Thomas didn’t hurt anyone!” Joanne cries, trying to free herself from Kyle’s grip.
“But he did, Joanne,” Kyle says. “He attacked you and he killed Richard. He would have killed you if he had the chance.”
Joanne thinks back to when she had been attacked in her own home, the cricket bat lying only inches from her broken legs. “I know,” Joanne suddenly says, wiping tears away. “Thank you for saving me.”
Kyle releases his grip and the two sit down on the picnic rug. He refills their empty glasses with more champagne. “So what do you say, Joanne? Will you marry me?”
“I will,” Joanne whispers.
Only a few metres behind them, the dead body of Thomas Helling rests in the grass.
The pain relief medication helped Joanne immensely after her husband’s death. It helped her to numb the pain. Reality was a blur. She had become involved pretty quickly with her husband’s best friend, Kyle Cook. He helped to ease her pain.
“Joanne,” Sergeant Michael Anders said to her one day. “Doctor Smith has just called me. Thomas has awoken from his coma.”
“Oh.” Joanne was unsure. “I need to speak to him straight away!”
“Joanne, I don’t think that’s a good idea…” Michael started.
“Sergeant, I need to find out what happened to Richard.”
“Joanne, I’m sorry,” Michael told her. “But you can’t talk to him.”
“Joanne, you don’t understand,” Michael interjected. “Thomas has escaped. We don’t know where he is.”
“You will marry me, Joanne?” Kyle asks excitedly. “You’ve made me a very happy man!”
Joanne smiles faintly. She looks up into the night sky and notices the full moon which has made an appearance from beyond the treetops.
“I will,” Joanne whispers again.
It wasn’t until after she had been attacked by Doctor Peter Smith, The Poetry Predator, that the pieces of the puzzle started to fit together for Joanne Evans.
She had somehow remembered Doctor Smith telling her about her biological mother, Sylvia Jessop. She realised that the visions she had been having of the woman were her own hallucinations. Somehow the image of Sylvia from the polaroid photograph that Doctor Smith had shown her had imprinted on her brain.
The shock realisation that Doctor Peter Smith was her biological father really tested her character. She realised that she never would be the same person after that, however she had already conceded this long ago, after her loving husband had been killed.
It was time, Joanne had thought.
It was time. Time for retribution.
“I will…” Joanne whispers again.
Kyle reaches over and grabs Joanne’s hand. “You won’t regret this.”
Joanne closes her eyes and takes in a deep breath. She turns to face Kyle. “I will now tell you the truth.”
“The truth?” Kyle laughs nervously. “What are you talking about?”
“Ricky isn’t yours, Kyle,” Joanne says. “I haven’t been telling you the truth.”
Kyle pulls his hand away, incensed. “What are you saying?”
“My baby will never be yours.”
Joanne knew she needed to find out the truth about her husband. She needed to find out what had actually happened. She needed answers.
The only person that would have the answers was missing. Thomas Helling had disappeared and no-one knew where he was. No-one, that is, except for Doctor Peter Smith. Joanne learned soon after he was arrested and taken to the mental hospital, Holgate Bedlamites, that Doctor Smith was responsible for the disappearance of Thomas. She needed to get to Doctor Smith, somehow. She needed answers from him. She needed to find out where he taken Thomas and if Thomas was still alive.
Joanne Evans hatched a plan.
“I think I need some time alone,” she told Kyle Cook a week after she had given birth to her son. “You need to tell the hospital staff that I need some time away to recover.”
“Joanne?” Kyle was curious.
“Tell them to send me to Holgate Bedlamites,” Joanne continued. “I think I’m suffering a nervous breakdown.”
“I’m not sending you away,” Kyle scoffed.
“I’ve just been attacked and lost a child,” Joanne pleaded. “Please help me!”
“What’s happened to her?” Kyle asked Cathy Gilmore when the nurse entered the room. “What is wrong with her?”
“She’s been through a lot,” Cathy reassured Kyle.
“She’s not all there in the head!”
“She may not be, but just remember what she’s been through,” Cathy informed Kyle.
“The best place for her is at Holgate Bedlamites.” Kyle had given in to Joanne’s wishes. “That’s where all of the insane people go.”
“Constable,” Cathy was incredulous. “You couldn’t possibly consider sending Joanne there.”
“Why not?” Kyle asked. “She’s not right. She’s not the Joanne I know and love. That Joanne is lost.”
“You can’t be serious,” Cathy stepped closer to Kyle, almost pleading with him.
“I am serious, Cathy,” Kyle said forcefully. “I’m her next of kin, so I decide what’s best for her.”
“You knew all along?” Kyle says, the anger building inside him. “About Ricky not being mine?”
Joanne sighs. “Yes.”
“And you didn’t think to tell me?”
“I thought it was best for you,” Joanne tells him. “For us.”
“You tricked me,” Kyle begins to sulk. “How could you do this to me? I thought you loved me!”
“I needed to find the right time to tell you,” Joanne says.
Kyle stands up and begins to pace back and forth. He clenches his hands together. “I don’t know how I feel about this, Joanne.”
Joanne begins to feel nervous. She begins to shake.
“You shouldn’t have tricked me like that,” Kyle snarls. He reaches down to pick up the handgun he had dropped to the ground only moments earlier. He looks around frantically, guided in the darkness by only the candlelight and moonlight.
“Is this what you’re looking for?” Joanne says, pointing the handgun at Kyle.
Joanne Evans walked into the hospital room. The cricket bat she had with her was held high above her head. She swung it down forcefully and it connected with Doctor Peter Smith.
“You will never hurt anyone again!” she screamed at him.
“I won’t, I promise,” Doctor Smith screamed back, reaching for the desk lamp. Joanne and the Holgate Bedlamites room she was standing in was suddenly illuminated with a wash of yellow light.
“Joanne?” Doctor Smith struggled to speak. “I thought you were dead.”
“Tell me where he is,” Joanne pleaded. “Tell me what you’ve done to Thomas.”
“Give that to me, Joanne,” Kyle says nervously, motioning for the handgun. “That can be very dangerous in the wrong hands.”
“Like what you did to Thomas?” Joanne screams.
“I was protecting you, Joanne!”
“You weren’t protecting me!” Joanne screams again, waving the gun in Kyle’s direction. “Thomas was protecting me!”
The first person Joanne wanted to see on her arrival back to Peppercorn Patch after she was released from the Holgate Bedlamites was her aunt. Valerie Pickering was still in hospital, having had complications after a kidney transplant surgery. The pain medication she was on meant that she wasn’t altogether lucid and tended to be hallucinating.
“It’s so good to see you again, Aunty Val,” Joanne said, kissing her aunty on her forehead.
Valerie stirred awake. “Joanne?” She was still groggy.
“I’m back,” Joanne whispered. “I’m back to take care of you.”
Valerie smiled warmly, and then, without warning, her whole body started to shake. Her eyes rolled back as she continued to convulse.
“I’m falling!” Valerie screamed. “I’m falling over the cliff!”
“Aunty Val?” Joanne was concerned for her loved one.
“Come and find me,” Valerie continued. “I’ve fallen to my death.”
Kyle steps in closer to Joanne, one arm out trying to plead with her to put the handgun down. “You don’t need to do this, Joanne.”
“I realised a long time ago that I needed to protect myself.” Joanne tries to be brave.
“I can protect you,” Kyle suggests.
“I realised a long time ago that if I didn’t protect myself, then I wouldn’t survive.” She holds the handgun firm in Kyle’s direction.
“Put the gun down, Joanne!”
“I realised a long time ago that I had become a much stronger person than I thought I was.”
Kyle Cook suddenly lunges at Joanne. She is taken by surprise and doesn’t have enough time to fire the weapon. She crashes to the ground, Kyle falling on top of her.
They struggle for the weapon for a moment, before Joanne launches it over the cliff. The handgun sails through the air, and then out of view.
“I realised a long time ago that I would finally find out the truth.”
Joanne was rattled by her aunt’s words. She couldn’t make sense of it, but decided she need to find out what it meant.
She headed towards the bottom of the cliff.
Aunty Val’s words stuck in her head. “Come and find me. I’ve fallen to my death.”
Joanne peered around the rocky surface. She knew the answer was there somewhere.
She noticed a mound of dirt, recently disturbed earth. She grabbed a rock and started digging.
Inspector Wesley Manning’s lifeless body stared back at her.
She had located the missing detective.
“You killed him,” Joanne pants, pushing Kyle off of her. “You killed Inspector Manning.”
Kyle looks incredulously at her first, then starts to laugh. “He thought he was so clever!”
“He knew something, didn’t he?” Joanne asks. “That’s why you had to kill him.”
“Well, aren’t you little Miss Agatha Christie,” Kyle sniggers. “You think you’ve got everything worked out, don’t you?”
“I’ve only ever wanted to find out the truth,” Joanne says.
“The truth is; I was too clever for everyone.”
Joanne sat in the dirt looking at the dead police detective. She didn’t know what to do.
She was startled. She wasn’t expecting anyone.
“What are you doing?”
Joanne looked around behind her. She was frozen with fear.
Thomas Helling stepped towards her.
Joanne couldn’t talk. She tried to, but no words escaped.
Kyle grabs Joanne by the hair and pulls her towards him. “You should have just said ‘yes’, Joanne, and married me. But you had to go and play the damsel in distress.”
“I would never marry you!” Joanne screams at him, trying to pull herself away from his grip.
“You think you’re so special! Look at all the things I’ve done for you!”
Joanne finally pulls herself away and lands harshly on the ground. She hurriedly crawls on her hands and knees across the dirt, trying to hide herself behind some bushes.
“You can’t run away, Joanne,” Kyle calls out, picking up one of the candles to light his way. “Kyle Cook always gets what he wants.”
Thomas bent down and rested a hand on Joanne’s shoulder. “It’s okay, Joanne,” he said, “I’m not here to hurt you.”
“Kyle,” Joanne pointed to Inspector Manning’s body. “Kyle did this.”
Thomas pulled Joanne in close to him. “He will pay for everything he’s done to you.”
“Please tell me what happened to Richard.” Joanne began to cry. Out of fear or out of a sense of relief, she did not know. “I need to know the truth.”
“Joanne,” Kyle calls out. “You can’t hide from me forever. Just show yourself and make this easier on everybody.”
Joanne hides behind the bushes. Her whole body is frozen with fear. She is too scared to breathe.
“Richard Evans didn’t deserve you,” Kyle continues. “I was the one that saved you and Thomas that night. Richard just stood by and watched.”
The image of Thomas being rescued from the sinking car flashes into Joanne’s head. She can see Richard and Kyle working to resuscitate Thomas.
“I was the one you were meant to fall in love with!” Kyle continues. “You were supposed to choose me!”
Joanne closes her eyes. Richard flashes before her eyes. Sitting together on the lounge watching television. Their home suddenly invaded by Thomas. Richard taken hostage by Thomas.
But it was all a lie.
Joanne remains frozen in the darkness behind the shrubbery. Her legs begin to tingle.
It was Kyle Cook.
Thomas had taken Richard and Joanne was left in the house. She was lying on the floor looking up around her as the house was on fire.
Someone else was with her. Kyle Cook.
Kyle wasn’t her rescuer. Kyle was the one who had attacked her.
The cricket bat swung down forcefully, breaking her legs. “Insurance,” she can remember Kyle saying before she passed out. “This will define us, Joanne. I will be your saviour and you will eventually marry me.”
Thomas pulled Joanne up and held her close to him. “He manipulated me, Joanne. You can probably never forgive me, but I never intended to hurt you, or Richard.”
“Did you kill Richard?” Joanne cried.
“It was Kyle. He thought he could get away with it.”
“I think I knew all along,” Joanne was suddenly still. “Deep down I knew.”
“You need to protect yourself, Joanne.”
“I can handle myself,” Joanne said to Thomas. “I’ve been looking after myself for a long time now.”
“He’s dangerous,” Thomas warned her. “Please be careful.”
Joanne takes in small breaths, making sure that she doesn’t make any noise. Her body is still frozen.
“It will all be over soon, Joanne!” Kyle calls out in the darkness.
In the moonlight, Joanne sees something glisten under the shrubbery. She pushes herself forward and reaches down, grabbing the object. She can feel the cold metal of Thomas’ handgun. She holds it firmly in her hands.
Joanne Evans suddenly feels brave.
“It was all a lie!” Joanne calls out, stepping out of her hiding spot.
“You’ve come to your senses,” Kyle remarks, turning in the direction of Joanne’s voice.
“I never loved you!”
“You lie,” Kyle scoffs. “You needed me.”
“You thought I wouldn’t remember,” Joanne continues, walking towards Kyle, the handgun hidden at her side. “You thought I wouldn’t remember that you were the one who attacked me in my own home. You crushed my legs with a cricket bat and left me for dead in that burning house.”
“I rescued you from that burning house, Joanne,” Kyle argues.
“After deforming me!” Joanne screams. “You thought you would be the hero!”
“I am the hero!” Kyle sees Joanne, illuminated by the moonlight, walking towards him.
“But guess what, Kyle?” Joanne berates him. “I remembered! I’ve always remembered! I swore to seek vengeance on you because I knew that you had something to do with my husband’s death. That’s why I never stopped looking for Thomas – to find out the truth. That’s why I kept you close to me. That’s why I became your lover!”
“Maybe I am,” Joanne laughs. “I’ve had my eye on you from the beginning. And you never suspected a thing!”
“You’re just saying that now! You’re making this whole thing up!”
“You can’t even do basic maths,” Joanne laughs again.
“What are you talking about?”
“My pregnancy!” Joanne tries to spell it out. “I became pregnant to make my plan even more believable. You thought the baby was yours, but it’s not.”
“You’re psychotic!” Kyle sniggers.
“It couldn’t have been Richard’s because I wasn’t pregnant when he died,” Joanne adds. “So you believed it was yours. But Richard had frozen some sperm a few months before he died. We did it just in case, and it was one of the best things we ever did. Little Ricky is certainly my little miracle baby – Richard’s miracle baby.”
“You don’t deserve me!” Kyle screams, deciding that he’s heard enough.
Joanne Evans steps up face to face with Kyle Cook.
“The perfect illusion.” Joanne feels strong.
“You think you’re so clever,” Kyle snarls.
“This one is for Inspector Manning. This one is for Thomas. This one is for Richard. This one is for my baby, Sylvia. This one is for Ricky. This one is for me!”
Joanne Evans raises the handgun and shoves it into Kyle’s chest. The cold barrel clinks on one of his buttons.
The explosion rings in Joanne’s ears and she feels her face being splattered with warm, sticky blood. The smell of gun powder is overpowering.
“My final act of revenge.” Joanne smiles, looking down at Kyle Cook’s crumpled body. “It’s been a long time in the making.”
Joanne Evans drops the gun. She lets out a deep breath. She cries. She collapses to the ground.
Stay tuned for more Obnoxious Weeds in 2017!