Hooked

Hooked by Matt Richtel Read Free Book Online

Book: Hooked by Matt Richtel Read Free Book Online
Authors: Matt Richtel
asked. “You know, in the line of duty.”
    I told her the story from two years before when I’d seen an SUV back over a pregnant woman outside a mall. I administered CPR, as anybody with basic training would have done. The woman died, the baby survived. The woman’s husband sued me for failing to stabilize his wife’s cervical spine. His case was tossed out, but not before it made the experience even more painful.
    “I would have wanted that man’s head on a platter,” Annie said, then added after a pause, “Why are you smiling?”
    It was true. She was right. In a millisecond, my mood had shifted.
    “I haven’t felt angry about that for a long time,” I said. “The thing is, I haven’t felt much of anything for a long time.”
    From the bedside table, I picked up
Horton Hears a Who
. It was autographed, inscribed to “Annie, A Wondriferous Girl, Who Someday Could Rule The World.”
    “Why did you ask me if I’d ever saved a life?”
    “Why, Doctor,” Annie responded playfully, “you never know when a girl will need saving.”
    We spent the next two days prone. Not necessarily in the throes of passion—we talked constantly—but there were a lot of throes. It was a bit surprising, given the relative lack of contact between our dates. She dismissed my questions about her inattentiveness on her work trip by noting that she had been overwhelmed. Her father had sent her to size up a small technology company in upstate New York. The work was all- consuming. She told me that she’d thought about me all the time.
    All in all, it was two days of great conversation, take-out food, and Strawberry Too, her Labrador retriever, named after her first childhood dog. We took a crash course in each other. Annie got nervous when people touched her neck; she preferred watching television with the light on because it reminded her that what was happening on the screen wasn’t real; she once had a “little brother” from East Palo Alto from whom she learned Spanish to better communicate with; she had a high tolerance for liquor but not beer; she monthly wrote handwritten letters to her mother, who had divorced her father several years ago and moved to Washington State. She liked writing letters, and theorized that her handwriting changed slightly depending on who they were written to; with her mom the script was a little rounder, bespeaking sympathy.
    It wasn’t one single thing that inspired me about Annie, one accomplishment or trait I could point to that summed up her allure. It was how she made me feel—that she was clearheaded and passionate but waiting, like me, and I could be the thing she was waiting for. When I woke up Monday morning, I was truly hooked—until we had our first fight.
    I was sitting in an antique chair in her living room a few weeks later. I leaned my head back over the back of the chair, reveling in the greatness of the moment. I over-reveled. The chair fell over backward and a leg snapped. Annie rushed over. To the chair.
    “Can I get you a sledgehammer?”
    “Don’t worry about me,” I said, holding up my bleeding hand.
    I walked into the kitchen, turned on the faucet, and ran warm water over the cut that ran inside the webbing of my thumb. I’d need a butterfly bandage. Behind me, I could hear Annie trying to put the wood pieces back into place. Finally, she walked over and inspected the wound, but she remained cold.
    “That’s the first thing I ever bought myself,” she said.
    I held my tongue. I left in a dark silence and spent the night replaying the event. Maybe it was just a function of upbringing; Annie was Prada, I was Levi’s. Then with the light of day came a delivery on my doorstep. It was a baby snapping turtle in a terrarium. There was a note. It read, “I am so horribly sorry for snapping. Please forgive me. A.”
    In the coming months, when one of us lost track of our priorities or blew things out of proportion, that person was deemed “turtle.” Our first pet name.

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