At first I did not realize that the person on the bed was Dominique. There were tubes in her everywhere, and the life-support system caused her to breathe in and out with a grotesque jerking movement that seemed a parody of life. Her eyes were open, massively enlarged, staring sightlessly up at the ceiling. Her beautiful hair had been shaved off. A large bolt had been screwed into her skull to relieve the pressure on her brain. Her neck was purpled and swollen; vividly visible on it were the marks of the massive hands of the man who had strangled her. It was nearly impossible to look at her, but also impossible to look away.
Lenny wheeled her chair to the bed, took Dominique's hand in hers, and spoke to her in a voice of complete calm. "Hello, my darling, it's Mom. We're all here, Dominique. Dad and Griffin and Alex. We love you."
Her words released us, and the boys and I stepped forward and surrounded the bed, each touching a different part of Dominique. The nurses had said that she could not hear us, but we felt she could, and took turns talking to her. We prayed for her to live even though we knew that it would be best for her to die.
There was a small conference room in the ICU where we met periodically over the next four days to discuss her ebbing life. Dr. Edward Brettholz told us that the brain scan was even, meaning that it showed no life, but that it would be necessary to take three more scans so that, in the trial ahead, the defense could not claim that Cedars-Sinai had removed Dominique from the life-support system too soon. This was the first mention of a trial. In the shocked state in which we were operating, we had not yet started to deal with the fact that a murder had taken place.
Copyright 2001 by Dominick Dunne Used by permission of Crown Publishing.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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