January 20, 2009. At 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, a light snow began to fall as the parade marched down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the capital. Thousands of people lined the streets in support of Barack Obama, who had been elected president and was awaiting his inauguration.

Miles away in a cold and drafty loft of a three-story warehouse in downtown Washington D.C., a gunshot flashed, and Samantha Logan’s body slammed against the dirty wall. A steady stream of blood ran down her face, creating a wide, red puddle on her white parka. Within moments her blue eyes glazed over, and her breathing became shallow as her heartbeat slowed. The afternoon traffic suddenly became muted. A distant siren sounded, and Samantha slumped forward.
A white man inched his way closer to the twenty-one year old girl.
“Is she dead?” Another man’s voice broke the silence.
“If she isn’t she will be soon. Let’s get out of here.”
As the two men raced out the door and down the staircase, Samantha felt her life slipping away.
Minutes later a pair of hands reached out and touched her face. “Hold on.” A man said as he wrapped his blue shirt around her head. “The bullet grazed your temple, but you’re not going to die.”
That’s nice, Samantha thought as her world went totally black.

Nearly thirty hours later Samantha awakened with a throbbing headache, and the bitter taste of sulfur in her mouth. Lying on a small bed in a strange room, she struggled to make sense of what had happened. Her eyes searched the messy green room, but nothing registered. The sudden awareness of loud male voices coming from another room alerted her that something was wrong.
Suddenly the bedroom door opened, and a muscular, young man appeared. “Are you feeling better?”
Samantha’s eyes were blank. “Where am I?” She asked timidly.
“Don’t worry. You’re with friends.”
“What happened?”
Greg Norman, age twenty-five, looked older because of his recently shaved head. His hazel colored eyes appraised the frightened young woman as he moved closer to the bed. “You were suppose to testify yesterday, and when you didn’t show up we came looking for you. Sam, I’ve got to know. Do you still have the disk?”
“What disk? Who are you?”
“I’m Greg, and you’re in my friend’s apartment.”
“What happened?” Samantha repeated.
“You don’t remember anything?”
“Someone shot you in the head.”
Panic rose in Samantha’s voice. “Why?”
The young man appeared visibly shaken. “Lets back up a minute. Do you remember that you were suppose to testify in court?”
“Do you remember that you’re in the Army?”
Greg inhaled deeply, and then exhaled slowly.
“Do you remember the Iraq war?”
The blank look on Samantha’s face indicated that she had no idea what he was talking about.
“Do you remember Abu Ghraib?”
“No. What is that?”
Greg sat down next to Samantha on the bed, and took her hand as he looked deeply into her eyes. “My God! Do you know who you are?”
Samantha slowly shook her head no.
Greg gently patted her hand, and then rose from the bed. He walked across the room, and opened the bedroom door. “Rand, Dez. Come here.”
Rand Amorin was Argentina by birth, but had lived in the United States since he was three months old. Now, at age thirty-two he was tall, and thin, with black hair, and black eyes that held a world of pain. As Rand moved swiftly across the room, he glanced at Greg and then at Samantha. “What’s going on?”
“She doesn’t know who she is.” Greg said solemnly.
Rand’s eyes searched the girl’s face. “The doctor said she might be out of it for a few days. She’ll come around. Anyway, the hearing has been postponed for two weeks.
Greg glanced back at the confused girl. “What if she doesn’t…?”
“She will.” Rand said heatedly. “She has to.”
“Listen to this,” Dez yelled from the other room. “Link TV is reporting Sam’s disappearance.”
Desmond Jackson was a black man from St. Louis. He was younger than Greg and Rand, only twenty-three years of age. Desmond nicknamed Dez, had been in Iraq for sixteen months, and following a two-week leave, like one-hundred and nineteen others, he refused to return to active duty.
“Close the door.” Rand ordered. “The doc said not to confuse her with facts. We’ve got to let her remember on her own. You guys get your stuff together. We’ve got to get her out of here.”
“Where will we go?” Greg asked in desperation.
“I don’t know, but we can’t stay here.”
“They’re looking for us too.” Greg said.
“You think I don’t know that?” Rand answered calmly.

An hour and a half later the three men, and Samantha left Washington D.C. in a used Toyota Sequoia. Greg used cash, and a fake driver’s license to lease the SUV from his Uncle Max, a Toyota dealer in DC.
“Why don’t we go to Toronto?” Dez suggested as they drove through the city.
Rand glanced in the rearview mirror at Dez. “The Canadian border is the first place they look. Besides, Sam doesn’t have a passport. They took everything she had when they shot her.”
“We have to make a plan,” Greg snapped. “If we can somehow get to the President, we’ll be protected.”
“You think they’re not waiting for us to try that? Until things settle down we’ve got to get out of here. We’ll head west. It will give us time to come up with a plan.” Rand said quietly.

Wearing borrowed tennis shoes, jeans, and a man’s denim shirt, Samantha adjusted the baseball cap on her aching head and tried to remember something, anything that would make her feel alive. For the next two hundred miles sat quietly in the backseat of the SUV, and although her brain was swirling, her memory was totally blank.

The snow had covered the highway as Rand took exit 32 and merged onto I-70 W. “Anyone hungry?” He asked.
“Yes.” Greg and Dez answered in unison.
“How about you, Sam?” Rand asked.
“Is Sam my name?” She asked.
“It’s just a nickname. Your name is Samantha Logan, but everyone calls you Sam.”
“Do you know where I’m from?”
“Why is it I know how to talk, but I can’t remember anything?”
“I don’t know.” Rand answered truthfully. “But, I’m sure your memory will return soon.”
“My head really hurts.”
“Why don’t we get something to eat, and then I’ll give you something for your head, okay?”
Samantha was barely able to eat a cup of soup, while the men consumed their steak, eggs, toast, and fries. As they were getting ready to leave, Rand gave her a painkiller the doctor had prescribed. Just as they were leaving the restaurant four men, dressed in army uniform, pilled out of an army car.
Rand pulled Sam close, and pressed his lips against hers. She struggled, but he held her arms tightly to her sides as Greg and Dez walked slowly to the car. When the soldiers entered through the front door of the restaurant, Rand released Sam and put his finger to her lips. “I’ll explain later,” he whispered, and she shook her head.


Patricia Dexheimer

Lake Park, United States

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Artist's Description

A young female soldier, serving at Abu Ghraib, stumbled upon classfied documents that nearly got her killed. Shot in the head, and left for dead, she was rescued by three male soldiers, who were determined to expose the atrocities that occured daily within the prison walls.

Artwork Comments

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