CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN
Jackie and Harold Littrell's plane journey was taking place almost in complete silence. Neither of them, being God fearing citizens, could believe what their youngest son had done. He'd tried to end his own life, and now they had to deal with the aftermath.
"Don't worry, Jackie", Harold Snr had said, but she had shook her head. She always worried for her baby. He was so in need of love and care; so delicate. He was her miracle. How could he want to end a miracle?
They had awhile left of their journey to go, and as Harold slept, Jackie looked out of the window at the clouds beneath her. This was the closest a living person could get to God, and as she prayed, she hoped he was listening.
"Open your eyes, Brian. Come on now", Dr Chantler said to his struggling patient. Brian had became aware of the tube in his throat, his restricted arms twitching to remove it. He was restrained, so he would be unable to disturb the equipment which kept him relatively well.
"It's helping you breathe. Calm down."
AJ flinched in the corner of the room. All he'd done was sing to him.
"Why is he freaking out like that?" he asked, concern lacing his croaky voice.
"He can feel the respirator, and he doesn't like it. When he was unconscious, his gag reflex was repressed. This is the first sign of him waking up; becoming aware of the tube."
AJ looked around the room nervously. He didn't want to see Brian so uncomfortable.
"Then why don't you just take it out? If it's making him act like that."
Dr Chantler shook his head as he held down his patient. "I can't do that until he is fully conscious and I've assessed him. He may not be able to breathe unaided, and until we're sure he can, it stays."
The tattooed young man felt a strange sensation in his heart and in his stomach; the kind he only got when somebody he knew well was in pain. It was kind of like a reaction to the bursting emotion he was feeling watching one of his best friends struggling so much.
"Mr McLean, maybe you could talk to him? Let him know you're there?"
AJ nodded, making his way to the bed where Brian was flailing and choking. It broke his heart.
"Hey Brian, I'm here buddy. Can you hear me?"
Brian's eyes shot open, as he tried to focus on the voice. They were filled with terror and desperation, and AJ was forced to look away.
"You made it, Brian, and don't you ever do that again."
As Brian continued fighting, Dr Chantler injected something into him.
"Brian, this should make it easier for you to accept the respirator, now it is important you don't fight it any longer. You're tiring yourself out, and you need all the energy you can get."
His eyes moved to Dr Chantler, unbelievably blue and pain filled. The doctor stroked his head tenderly. "You'll be fine, Brian."
It took awhile for the drug to kick in, but when it did, he calmed down considerably. The tube no longer felt so bad, and he no longer felt so panicked and suffocated.
He obviously wasn't dead. Heaven would never be this painful.
CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT
“Brian, I know you can hear me. Will you please look at me? Please? Just to let me know that you know I’m with you?”
AJ’s voice was tearful and small. Since the doctor had left, Brian had not so much as acknowledged him. He had just stared to his right, blankly, deep in thought.
“I know you’re upset, but I understand.”
I only wish you did
“We all love you dearly, and to lose you would’ve been worse than death itself. You’re part of us, Brian. You’re our brother.”
You’d be better off without me.
He picked up Brian’s limp hand and kissed it tenderly as a friend and as a brother. He was hurting right now, and he just wanted Brian to know that he was there for him. It broke his heart to see him suffering so badly. It made him wonder if he wished his attempt had been successful.
“You’re mom and dad should be hear soon. They caught the earliest plane they could.”
Brian closed his eyes. They can’t see me like this. It’ll kill them. I wish I’d died. Why didn’t I die? It was what I wanted. Dammit, they won’t even let me kill myself.
“Brian, you have to come back from whatever dark place you’re in right now,because we need you dammit. We need you.”
AJ broke down, sobbing over his friend, resting his head on his restrained hand.
Oh AJ, no. Please don’t cry. Please, I can’t handle it if you cry.
He wanted to offer him words of comfort, but he couldn’t speak. He wanted to stroke his hair the way he did for him, but he couldn’t move his hands. It was tearing him up inside being so helpless and so damned useless.
He raised his hand as far as the strap would let him, and tapped AJ on the ear. Pathetic gesture, but the thought was there. He couldn’t make his thoughts heard, though. This was the best he could do. It seemed to work.
“Oh, Brian, don’t you scare me like that again”, AJ sobbed hysterically, his words muffled by the sound of tears. It was pitiful.
I love you. I’m sorry. I wish I could tell you that…!
Dr Chantler looked on from outside, not wanting to disturb the emotion that lay in the room. It was visible. The bed almost glowed with it. It wasn’t in his job description to invade on people’s love for each other, so he concluded that the initial tests could wait a few more minutes.
Billy sat in his parked car outside of the hospital. He’d been told by his guys that Kevin was expected to visit at around 7-ish, and that AJ was due home by 5. That gave him a window of 2 hours to pay Brian a visit. It was amazing how easily somebody could invade on a telephone conversation. The right kind of wiring, and he could tell you where Jennifer Lopez was going to lunch. Hmmm…
AJ’s car lay in the car-park, looking out of place amongst the battered old Transit vans and the family cars which probably took their owners years to pay for. Shiny metallic blue, with a convertible roof. Nice car Freak had chosen for himself. Shame about his dress sense.
He looked at his watch. 5.15. AJ was running late. Typical.
He’d perfected his ‘I’m family’ routine. It wasn’t new to him, of course. He’d done it before time and time again, and it never failed. He even had the flowers with him to ‘prove it’. He couldn’t go wrong.
Bastard. He’d probably told his little friends all about his dealings with Billy Fernandez. If he had, he’d be sorry. It was ‘their little secret’. If anyone else was in on it, it wouldn’t be so personal. He liked it the way it was. They couldn’t intrude on it. No way.
“I’m bad”, he whispered gleefully as he lit up a cigarette. He tapped his fingers on the steering wheel and waited. He couldn’t wait to see Brian’s face when he turned up in the doorway. That’s if he even knew he was there. If he was still unconscious, then he’d just leave his little gift. He was sure he’d get it when he finally graced the world with his crystal blues again.
Such beautiful eyes. So much more beautiful when they were filled with fear, just like his own had probably been when he was led into that cell for the first time.
He was still paying for that…and maybe he’d get a taste of his own medicine soon. Billy was sure that Brian would enjoy his time inside.
Maybe he’d be treated as ‘lovingly’ as Billy himself had been.
CHAPTER TWENTY NINE
He wanted peace and quiet, but the shouting never ended.
He wanted some release, but this Hell was captivating.
“You look tired, buddy. You should get some sleep. The doc is gonna be prodding you around any minute now, and I know you don’t want me to see that, right?”
Brian closed his fingers around AJ’s hand warmly. He was thankful that he’d been so supportive. God knew he didn’t deserve it.
“You take care. I love you, Frick. Don’t you forget that.”
I love you too, AJ. So much you wouldn’t know…
He closed the door behind him, leaving Brian in the darkness and the quiet of his own room. On his side of the door, however, AJ gave way to his devastation, and punched the nearest wall.
“Love that walk, baby”, Billy laughed, watching AJ as he shuffled to his car. “Look so damned dejected that I could kiss you.”
He put out his eighth cigarette, and shut down his engine. He pulled on his inconspicuous coat and fastened the buttons. No need for the onion, yet. Plenty of time for tears.
He brushed his hair forward, parting it in the middle. The ‘Nick’ look always got him sympathy. They probably all thought he was a simple kid or something. It did have that ‘pathetic’ element to it.
When he perfected his ‘do’, he grabbed the flowers and got out.
“Here we go”, he giggled.
“Well, Brian, your heart seems fine. You’re lucky, because your weakest organ is usually affected first. As it is, the only thing that sounds abnormal is your chest. A little rattly. We’ll keep you on the respirator for a further 24 hours, see how you progress.”
Brian looked at him with pleading eyes, begging. He hated it. It was hurting him.
“I know it’s uncomfortable, son, but trust me when I tell you you’re better off feeling that kind of discomfort than what you’d feel if it weren’t there.”
I feel as though I’m being strangled. Please…?
“Your reflexes seem fine”, Dr Chantler said, shining the tiny torch in Brian’s eyes, causing him to flinch away, “…no dilation. That’s a good sign.” Do you want to blind me, too?
“It’s gonna be awhile before we can see what’s going on, but I want you to relax until then. There may not be anything to worry about.”
No, only the psycho that wants my blood.
Chantler finished up with Brian, then wandered out, staring into his notes absently. Brian wondered what they said. ‘Complete freak’,or maybe ‘basket-case’? That was him, alright.
He was staring into space, waiting for the drugs to kick in so he didn’t gag so damned much, and didn’t notice his door opening.
“Five minutes”, he voice from outside said. “Yes maam”, came the polite reply.
Brian turned his gaze toward the voices, and his heart almost stopped when he saw Billy, standing there in all his glory, smiling at him from across the room.
“Hey, baby. Howrya feelin’?”
Brian’s choking became so much worse now that he was nervous, twisting and writhing against the straps which made him immobile. They were made to hold psychotics with abnormal strength, so how was little Brian, as weak as a kitten, going to break them?
“Don’t be scared”, he whispered. “Billy’s here, now.”
He took Brian’s bound wrist, and pressed it hard into the bed. If his vocal cords were not inactive, Brian would’ve yelped in pain.
Billy looked down at Brian, all captive and restricted, and he smiled.
“How does it feel to be held down, Brian? How does it feel to be bound and…gagged and unable to scream?”
Please God, please God, please God…
“How does it fucking feel to be helpless?”
Brian felt the tears falling from his eyes and onto his pillow. They were tears for fears, a river of anguish. He didn’t understand. He really didn’t.
Billy watched Brian’s monitor as it began to bleep faster…and faster. He smiled.
“Watch that heart of yours, Brian. It aint up to scratch.”
He tapped Brian’s chest. “Tick tick, Tick tick”, he whispered.
Brian shook his head from side to side, desperately trying to dislodge the breathing tube from his throat so he could at least scream, or at least answer him back, but it was no use. It was fixed firmly into place.
“Baby, don’t struggle. It feels so much nicer if you don’t fight.”
He remembered the call button he had, for in case he needed anything. Averting his eyes downwards, he noticed that it was at the end of his bed. If he could only reach it..
“So much better if you just embrace it.”
His eyes were closed, engulfed in his thoughts. Only when he felt Brian’s movements did he open them. Brian’s restrained hand just would allow him to reach the button.
“Is this what you’re looking for?” Billy said, picking it up and throwing it away. Brian felt as though he had just been dropped from the only string that was holding him above the surface, and he slipped under.
“Don’t flatter yourself, Brian. I only came to drop off these flowers.”
He stood up, almost sadly, and placed the flowers next to Brian’s bed. He moved to leave.
“Oh and to tell you that I’m not finished with you yet…or your boys.”