Hours passed by and there was still no sign of Dave returning home, Carla's panic was slowly growing inside her with every tick of the clock on the kitchen wall. She sensed trouble, but didn't know what to do. She called her friend and asked her what she would do. Véro was worried too and suggested a search for him, promising her that she and
Justin would be there in a few minutes. Carla was sobbing in her terror and could hardly bear to wait for Vero and Justin to arrive.
They came up to the flat at last and Justin immediately asked Carla knew where Dave was likely to go for his walk. Carla said that probably in the park he had mentioned once,
so they rushed there first. Everything seemed peaceful and quiet, and the park was empty.
As they walked on the path covered with gravel, Justin noticed something in the grass, and it turned out to be Dave's coat, blood-stained and torn. As he picked it up, in disbelief, looking at the horrified women, then passing the coat to Carla, her legs went week and she dropped onto her knees, hugging the bloody coat and tucking her teary face inside it, weeping loudly.
Vero stayed with Carla while Justin looked around for anything else which might help them decide what had happened. With one hand he moved branches growing out onto the path, with the other he called the police on his cell phone.
"Oui venez vite au Parc du Châtelet - au coin de la Rue Graffin et de la Rue Daucy.
Je crois qu'il y a eu un accident. Merci. "
Carla looked at Justin - her eyes pleading - "Where is he ? "
" Look Carla don't panic - I said there'd been an accident as that's all we can be sure of.
It'll get them here nice and quick - you'll see!"
While they waited, time seemed to stand still for them - they called out Dave's name, searching in the bushes and undergrowth, all desperate to find him ...the amount of blood on the coat scared Carla - Dave could be bleeding to death just a few metres from where they were. She was trembling and sobbing but couldn't stop searching.
Then they heard the police sirens.
By the time the thirty or so gendarmes had set up a thorough search of the park, Carla was crazy with worry.
Justin and Véro left because Véro was exhausted by now, and Carla was left in the capable hands of a woman gendarme, who got a blanket from one of the cars and wrapped it around her.
Carla gave a full physical description of Dave in between sobs, and the gendarme was very patient with her, giving her time to regain her composure. The police officer didn't react to Dave's celebrity status : he was a missing person, perhaps badly injured, like any other.
Carla appreciated her tact and calm questioning manner.
Carla's head was spinning - had Dave gone back to the flat by a different route?
The gendarme said that she would make sure her colleagues checked this right away, and Carla gave her the address so that the nearest car in the area could do this.
Every minute that passed seemed to pull Dave further away from her - what if she never saw him again? Another wave of sobs took over her body - this nightmare was too much for her.
The gendarme decided to take a break with her questioning and went to talk to her searching colleagues. She came back to Carla to say that unfortunately they had found nothing more than the coat.
" So there's a good chance he's alive and he's wandered off on his own, madame, and perhaps if he had a head injury he's disorientated. We'll put out a message to our colleagues to look for anyone fitting your partner's description in this area. How are you feeling now?"
Carla was trembling and looked disorientated - no words came to her - so the gendarme
orgainsed an escort to take her home safely.
Dave saw something red. And something was moving. He was nauseous and his head was throbbing.
The moving thing under him seemed to worsen his state, especially the state of his stomach,
He leaned forward and started puking next to the seat. Seat? Was he in a car? a travelling car? he wondered. He felt a cool and calm touch on the back of his neck and looked up, trying to focus.
There was a red-haired woman next to him, she was driving and tried to divide her attention between the traffic and her passenger.
“ Don’t you fear Dave, you're in good hands. I'm taking you home with me. “
“ Who are you? What happened ? Where are we going ? “
“ I am Isabelle and I found you wounded in the park, and thought you need help. I was very scared. I couldn't see much from where I was and for a while wasn't able to come nearer because of fear but I saw five or six guys, all in big boots, shaven skulls, probably skinheads, and they were beating you up and called you horrible names, I won't repeat them if you don't mind. They threatened to kill you but heard a siren somewhere and were scared off, but shouting that they would find you and get rid of you later. It was really hard getting you into my car, as there was no one around to help, and now we are on our way to my apartment, in Lokeren, Belgium. I will get a doctor to come and see you and you can stay with me to get better. Is it okay for you, David?
“ You call me David, do we know each other? “
“ You don't know me, but I know you. “
“ David who ? Who I am ? What's my surname ? “
“ David Gahan.”
“ Gahan ? “
“ Don't you remember anything? “
“ I'm afraid I don't.”
Dave just stared ahead trying to make sense of the situation. He tried to remember his last clear thought, retrieve his last memory from before this had happened, but nothing came for a while, until closing his eyes he saw a little girl ....
" I have a daughter. I can see her little face - but her name - ohhhhh " his head started to throb and he gave up trying to think. He went back to questioning the woman. She turned to smile at him.
" So why are we going to Belgium? And where are we now? " he looked more closely at the rows of buildings as they sped along a wide Parisian boulevard.
"This looks like France - and we seem to be in a big city - you know, I think I need to go to the nearest hospital for such a bad head injury if you don't mind ... did I pass out ? ...
I could really use some painkillers ! "
" Look in the glove compartment, and you'll find some strong pills, and there's a bottle of water on the back seat, can you see it? "
That was not really answering any of Dave's questions, but his first priority was his splitting headache ... he opened the glove compartment and saw a packet marked "DAFALGAN", and took a pill from the blister pack inside.
" You'll need at least two the first time " advised the woman. " I'm Isabelle by the way."
" Thanks for rescuing me, Isabelle, but I wonder if I should take these, er, shouldn't we head for a hospital?" Dave started to feel a little panicky - why go all the way to Belgium ???
" Actually, you'd probably have to wait hours to be seen anywhere in France: there's a national strike in all hospitals and clinics - the country is in chaos, as there are only a few non-striking doctors in each place.
You'd be seen straight away in my town. I don't think you trust me, do you? " Isabelle saw Dave's incredulous expression, and tried to lighten the atmosphere.
" Listen Dave - I just want what's best for you ! I suppose you'll find out sooner or later, I'm a big fan of yours! Why would I want to harm you ? The best thing for you is if you sleep while I drive - and you will, when the pain goes away, I'm sure."
" O.K. seems I have no choice - I can't stand this pain any longer - ahhhhghhhh!! " He had tried to turn round to get the bottle of water but the sudden movement had awakened another sharp pain, in his ribs.
He must have several broken ones. Another wave of nausea hit him and it was all he could do to signal to Isabelle to pull over.
As soon as the car stopped, Dave opened the door and vomited copiously onto the pavement. Some passers by looked on, half amused, half disgusted - Dave couldn't believe he was puking out of a car, like some everyday drunk
... it was years since he had drunk enough to be in this situation !
Isabelle took the opportunity to get the water for Dave. She got out and went around the car, crouching down in front of him, handing him the pills and then the water. He swallowed them down and then looked hard at her.
The woman was smiling at him, yet something was disturbing him : why Belgium ? But he wasn't able to think coherently because of his great pain, so he accepted his situation without further thinking. He was almost laying in the seat, unable to hold himself more upright because of the sharp shots of pain. He looked up to the woman, Isabelle who was still smiling at him kindly and in a very confident, almost smug way. He was confused and sensed danger.
He had an awful lot of questions but he was hesitant about asking them.
He just wished she would take him somewhere where he could got medical assistance.
An hour and a half passed before Dave fell asleep.
Dave next came to when the car had stopped and Isabelle was trying to wake him by stroking his face and whispering to him.
" Come on gorgeous, I have to move you and you're too heavy asleep! "
He opened his eyes, blinked several times at the bright street lamp's glare, then focused on Isabelle - she smiled and held out a hand to him as she moved away to give him room to get out of the car seat.
" You mentioned a certain Carla in your sleep - But your wife's name is Jennifer - is Carla your dream nurse? "
Isa chuckled as Dave slowly got to his feet, straightening up inch by inch.
" I have no idea who Carla might be - all I know is that those painkillers seem to have taken the edge off this - but - aaahhh Jesus! I'll have to go real slow - "
" Take your time - you must have a few broken ribs, not surprising from all the Doc Marten’s boots that connected with your body! "
" Why me for fuck's sake? I mean I could understand a robbery, but you said there was a crowd of them? "
" It was racist, Dave, they heard you say something in English and weren't pleased to have found another tourist. Too young to recognize you, I'm afraid! "
"Well that's flattering! " He snorted as he took Isa's outstretched arm - she locked up her car and they walked at a snail's pace towards a tall building - more of an apartment block than a medical structure ...
And it was an apartment house, indeed. Isabelle was living here. When they entered and got out of the elevator on the second floor she lead him into her flat and tucked him into bed after carefully undressing him in her sanctuary. She went out and called her GP to come and have a look at Dave.
She came and asked no questions, it wasn't unusual that she was called out to see patients like him. It sadly occurred more and more often, it was becoming a wild, wild world. She stitched his wounds on his head and checked if he had any fractures or internal bleeding. other than the ribs, it seemed he had no more, but she had to give him antibiotics shots too because of the -fortunately superficial- knife wounds on his chest, under his arm and on his lower back.
She said she would come back tomorrow to check Dave's condition and if needed, Isa should take him into the nearest medical centre. She promised everything, escorted her to the door and shut it behind her, then went back to the room and sat on the edge of the bed. Dave was looking at her questioningly.
Isa smiled at Dave and felt compelled to speak. She did so in barely a whisper.
"You know, when I saw you lying there, I felt sick with shame, with anger, with fear, and all I wanted to do was save you - you must think it a little weird that I brought you here, I can see it in your eyes, but you see at the park I wasn't the only one to spot you - another woman thought she'd recognized you and tried to call her colleagues, at her paper - she said she was a journalist while we were checking you were still alive. By some stroke of luck, her cell phone had no signal or she would have taken photos of you, then sent them to her editor. I called her a heartless bitch and she just laughed and ran off looking for a phone, and that's why I had to think of something ...."
" So you saved me from the shame of having my mug shot in the papers today? Well thank you Isabelle! I bet that journalist will be phoning round the hospitals looking for me ... and you had the brilliant idea to get me right out of Paris - clever girl! "
Dave smiled as he tried to sit up. Isa put an arm round him and carefully helped him. She found it hard to breathe as she touched the skin on his bare shoulders. He wanted to put his T-shirt back on - the one Isa had dressed him in while they waited for the doctor to come. She was taking care of what could be saved of his clothes from the night before.
So as she helped him do this, they continued talking.
" Well - anyway - I got you into my car, God knows how, and drove off before she came back - I just hope she didn't see me driving away, or see my car plates. "
" Why would you want to do this for me Isabelle ? " Dave narrowed his eyes as they locked onto hers.
Isabelle felt herself blushing - if only Dave knew how she had loved hearing him say her name - how much she loved watching him, and had not tired of this, since she had found him. The hardest part had been concentrating on the road getting here, but now she could feast her eyes ....
Dave felt awful again. His chest was burning because of his ribs, but he didn't say a word.
But Isa saw it and felt quite ashamed from the desire she felt after him. She pulled it back and looked worried at him.
“ Do you need something, David? “
” Just a glass of water, then I could really use some sleep. “
” Alright, I'll be right back, just lay still. “
And she went out for the water, then Isa just sat there and watched as Dave fell asleep almost immediately. He had had a hard day, and Isa felt herself blessed to have the chance to nurse her idol in her own home!
The next few days passed in a blur for Dave, who was heavily sedated but awake for most of the time - he craved undisturbed sleep, but he was either woken by pain from the healing wounds on his body or by the nightmares that came to him when he did manage to drift out of consciousness. Mostly his bad dreams were all connected with the moments before and during the assault.
Sometimes, however he had another even more disturbing dream - someone was crying for him, searching madly for him, a woman but he didn't think it was his wife. Isa could tell the two sorts of nightmares apart: in the first kind Dave would get progressively agitated and even try to strike out at his attackers - but in the second kind, he would moan softly and often be moved to tears by these dreams, Isa noticed, by the end of them.
One afternoon, Dave was resting after the light lunch that Isa had prepared for him. He gradually succumbed to the pull of sleep and lightly closed his eyes as he drifted off, under Isa's smiling gaze.
Silently when she had had her fill of his beautiful sleeping face, she crept out with the tray of lunch leftovers.
Hardly a minute passed before Dave began another on of his dreams - it was one of the second type, and yet he seemed more perturbed than usual. She soon understood why:
" Carla - don't leave me - wait! I'm coming as fast as I can - please babe, wait for me - CARLA! " and with that he sat bolt upright, and his eyes flew open. Isa was terrified and decided to call her doctor to re-examine all Dave's wounds.
Finally he had managed to take a look at that beautiful face with the teary eyes, who was calling for him. Although he still didn't remember exactly who this woman was, he knew he had special feelings towards her. He covered his face with his palms and tried to calm down, waiting for the doctor.
The results were satisfying, his wounds were healing well. The pain in his chest had lessened already.
Isa came to sit with him, looking at him with concern.
" Are you hungry or thirsty? I can get you a light snack ..."
" Listen Isa - you have been really kind to me, but I need to get myself sorted out here - I have to get in touch with my family - they must be worried about me ... and the woman I dream about - there's so much that is just a mess in my head. "
" Hey - Dave - it'll all come back to you, I'm sure! Rest and enjoy the peace and quiet here while you can. If there's anything I can do for you..."
" You know I can't give you a single name of anyone in my family that you haven't told me about ? I can see faces, partially, but no-one clearly. And Carla - who the hell is she? It's pretty scary inside here! " he said, touching his head and laughing without much conviction.
Isa reached out to stroke Dave's cheek. Her eyes were full of sadness but behind this was her desire for him and Dave must have seen this - slowly he'd been taking in the Depeche Mode posters and objects around Isa's place, and was beginning to wonder if she wasn't slightly obsessed with him.
For some reason, he thought it seemed right to lean forward and kiss her - just a small kiss, on her mouth, that lingered for a moment. Isa pulled back, visibly surprised, but smiling as she gasped
" Dave - what ... "
" Just to say thank you for all you've done. I don't know what I did to deserve this royal treatment, but it's doing me good. " and he put his arm round her neck to pull her in for another kiss - slightly longer this time. Isa didn't move away this
time, but Dave didn't take it any further, and when they finally broke apart, they were both smiling.
" A little Tender Loving Care goes a long way, hm ? " He winked at her then continued with a question :
" Hope you don't mind me asking - but there doesn't seem to be anyone special in your life right now ...? "
“ Anyone special in my life? Oh, yes I have someone, he is here with me now, laying on this very bed. “
Dave didn't answer, it was as he suspected. He wasn't as surprised as he should have been.
It seemed now, that from the very first moment he suspected something like this. A fan, a DM fan devoted to him. His memories were not clear but he did remember women going crazy for him all the time for some strange reason. He learned to accept it as a part of his life and to be honest, he loved women a lot. An awful lot.
It was a basic trigger in his life. He could see how just these two kisses made his nurse so happy, because if she had been smiling before, now she was glowing with joy.
And he could see without a doubt that she wouldn't hesitate to accept more.... if he decided to give more.