‘Why Harry? Why did it have to be Harry?’
It should have been Brian, but then why had it been Harry? Every time Brian thought of his face, his heart would crumple and each wrinkle would bring forth new spurts of pain. He found himself constantly almost in tears and the rest of the time his imagination wandered to what could happen next. What if it was his father? Or his sweet mother?
After seeing his anxious state at the hospital, Jackie had insisted that her younger son return home. Harold had left first to clear away the broken glass and to fix up the window with some cardboard, in case it upset Brian again.
Brian. They shouldn’t be thinking about him when Harry was in hospital, but yet here he was causing all of this trouble. He had never felt so sick or selfish in his entire life.
He leaned against his mother’s shoulder, having been instructed by his father to stay with her until he arrived back at the hospital to pick him up. Brian had tried to convince her that he was okay and that she could sit with Harry while he waited but she wouldn’t hear of it. She seemed to think that he would fall to pieces on his own… but she was wrong. He was falling to pieces anyway.
He could almost feel each tiny sliver of his mind drifting away and sailing down the river of insanity. He knew something was wrong inside of him; he constantly felt nervous and agitated and his dreams were haunted by Liam and blood covered floors. This wasn’t normal and Brian was not sure if he could cope anymore. He didn’t know if he wanted to cope anymore…
If the brick had have connected with his head, then his life would be over. At first it had seemed frightening but maybe it would not be so bad at all if he had died. In death, he would have no pain or worry for the lives of his friends and family. His heart would not be lurching painfully with each beat in his chest if he was dead and he would not feel his stomach turning with every thought about what would happen to him.
His mother wrapped an arm about him and massaged one of his shoulder gently. “You okay now, Baby Duck?” she asked softly.
Brian nodded, although he felt anything but ‘okay’.
“I know it was upsetting to see Harry like that, but the doctors say he’ll be all right,” she said. Her voice trembled slightly as if she disbelieved her words, but was too frightened to think about the alternatives.
“I hope so,” Brian murmured. “Because everything that has happened is because of me.”
“Brian, that’s not true.”
“Mom, my stalker… They’re more dangerous then I led you to believe. They broke into my house and painted my lounge wall red and they’ve been sending me notes like the one that was on the brick.”
“Brian why didn’t you tell me about all of this?”
“I didn’t want to scare you! I thought it would all go away and that they’d get bored, but I know that they’re the one who threw that brick and hurt Harry!” Brian felt a few tears spring to his eyes as he relived the horror that had been his life recently. He had not wanted to scare his mother but he had also wanted to avoid thinking about it so that he didn’t scare himself. “I feel so guilty about what’s happened and…” Brian stopped for a moment as a sob bubbled out of his mouth. “And I wish that brick had hit my head and killed me!”
“Brian!” His mother’s mouth fell open in horror and tears filled her own eyes. “Don’t you ever, ever, ever say anything like that again!” she snapped, her voice angry out of worry.
“I’m sorry! I’m so sorry for everything!” Brian sobbed.
“Brian, you should have come to me and your father! We could have dealt with this as a family!”
“No we couldn’t have!” Brian cried. “If I had have come to you, then you could have been hurt!”
“Come here.” Jackie pulled Brian into her arms without even waiting for him to comply. “I’m sorry, honey.” She sniffed slightly. “I’m just worried about Harry and I don’t need you telling me if wish you had been killed.” She kissed him gently on the forehead.
The last thing they needed was him to worry about…
“Am I interrupting anything?” a voice asked suddenly.
Brian turned his tear stained face and saw a blond haired male nurse staring down at them in concern. Brian wiped his sore eyes and did his best to blink away the tears, but they remained stubbornly within him ready to bubble out at any moment. His weakness shamed him and he wondered how he had ever been strong before. It almost seemed like a different life entirely…
“It’s all right. Brian’s upset about his brother,” Jackie said, slowly releasing Brian and smoothing his fringe out tidily.
The nurse smiled at them. “Then I have some good news for him. His brother had just woken up.”
Brian gasped slightly, his eyes shining with joy. “He’s all right?”
“He’s a little groggy and weak, but the tests show he will be fine,” the nurse assured him.
Tears were beginning to slide freely down Jackie’s face and she turned to embrace Brian tightly in celebration. “I told you everything would be okay.”
Brian tried to smile but he knew it did not come out how he wanted it to. Harry was safe and he was truly ecstatic about that, but who would be hurt next?
“Can we speak with him?” Jackie asked anxiously.
“Of course. He was asking for you when he awakened. Just be careful not too tire him out or upset him. He needs his rest.”
Jackie held onto Brian’s arm tightly as the nurse led them into the ward and Brian felt himself smiling genuinely as he saw his brother’s blue eyes watching them from the hospital bed.
“Harry!” Jackie cried in relief. She sobbed slightly as she rushed towards the bed. She gripped Harry’s arm in her hand and smiled down at him.
“Mom,” Harry replied, smiling in return but the weakness of his voice brought a fearsome knot to Brian’s stomach.
“How are you?” Jackie asked, staring down at his bandaged head in concern.
Brian crept closer and felt his heart slamming against his chest in guilt as he saw the broken arm wrapped in a sling and the bruises and cuts that adorned Harry’s handsome face. It was all his fault…
“I’ve felt better,” Harry confessed. He suddenly noticed Brian at the bottom of the bed. “Brian!” he gasped. “Oh I was so worried that you’d been hurt by the brick!”
“I survived,” Brian replied, trying to keep the misery out of his voice.
“Good,” Harry whispered. “Good.” He yawned slightly and whimpered din pain as he tried to move to make himself more comfortable.
Brian felt like a zombie almost as he watched his mother tucking Harry in to make him more comfortable. It was as if he was completely apart from everything that was happening. If only he was, then maybe this would never have happened…
“How about if I call dad?” Brian said. “He’ll want to know that Harry’s awake.”
Jackie nodded. “Yes, call your dad.” She turned to her older son. “Would you like Brian to call your lovely wife as well? She can come and see you.”
Harry nodded gratefully. “You’ll have to get the number from home, Brian. She’s at her mother’s house.”
“I’ll ask dad to do it before he gets here,” Brian promised.
He gave his brother one last smile before he left the ward, his face crumpling the second he turned his back on his family.
He felt such a creep. He should be beside his brother, but too many emotions were preventing him, mostly guilt and fear.
BRIAN, YOU ARE GOING TO DIE VERY, VERY SOON. I PROMISE YOU THIS. YOU WILL DIE FOR WHAT YOU HAVE DONE.
The sickening words of the note were still fresh in his mind. How could anyone forget something so frightening? That was the threat that had been made but Brian did not fear for his own life, he feared for the lives of his family.
He couldn’t stay around them. It wasn’t safe for him to stay. As much as it hurt he would have to leave them before something else more fatal befell any of them.
Slowly he picked up the receiver of the public phone and inserted a quarter before carefully pressing in the digits of his home number. Each digit was a reminder of home and his loving family and Brian sniffed as he fought to keep back the tears.
He needed his family around him, but why wouldn’t his stalker leave them alone?
“Hello?” a voice said
“Dad?” Brian said, clearing his voice from the sobs to sound braver than he felt.
“Brian, is everything all right?” Harold asked anxiously. “How’s Harry?”
“He’s awake, Mom’s just talking to him now.”
“Really?” His father’s voice had filled with joy. “That’s wonderful!”
“Mom wanted me to call you. He’s tired, but okay. He probably won’t be awake for long though. He’s really sleepy.” Brian closed his eyes as he remembered the weary expression upon Harry’s pale face… all because of him and his sin.
“I’m almost done boarding the window up and then I’ll be right there,” his father promised. “How are you? Are you better now?”
“I guess,” Brian replied.
“It’s tough for all of us. I’ll see you when I get to the hospital. I need to see if Harry’s up to seeing the police. They want a description of the attacker.”
“Did Harry get a good look at him?”
“I don’t know and the police want to find out.”
Brian’s head spun slightly. Maybe the police would catch whoever did this and then Brian would not have to fear for his family’s safety again…
“Dad, can you call Harry’s wife?” Brian said as he noticed his money rapidly running out. “She’s staying at her mother’s and the number must be around somewhere. I got to go, my money’s going and I don’t have any more change.”
“Sure. Bye son.”
Brian replaced the receiver and slowly began his walk back to Harry and his mother. He knew he could stay here with them anymore and it was going to break his heart to tell his mother that.
He peered through the window into the ward as he arrived back and saw that his mother was still loyally seated beside his brother. Carefully he opened the door and saw that his brother’s eyes were closed again.
“He’s sleeping again,” Jackie said as Brian entered. She pressed her hand against Harry’s forehead and smiled warmly at him, relieved now that she had seen his open eyes.
“Dad will be here soon,” Brian replied. “He was really happy.”
His eyes drifted down to his brother and he felt his heart beginning to jump about inside of his chest even faster at the sight of his pale face, almost looking as if it were made out of wax. It did not matter that Brian had seen him awake a few minutes before, now he looked almost… dead.
“Come on dear, let’s wait outside,” Jackie said placing her arm about Brian. “We’ll leave Harry to get some rest.”
Brian turned his had numbly and realised that his eyes were growing wet again. He patted his brother’s hand for a moment. “Bye Harry.”
“He’ll be fine,” his mother assured him. Slowly she led Brian out of the ward and into the corridor beyond.
Brian slumped down into a chair, his face in his hands. Harry’s face was still in his mind and he trembled slightly as he thought of how bad this situation could have been. Harry could so easily have been killed…
“Brian what’s wrong?” his mother asked quietly.
“Mom, I’ve decided to go home,” Brian whispered, his lip trembling slightly and betraying his uncertainty. “Harry should be okay, and I think I’ll go.”
Jackie gasped slightly and gripped Brian’s hand as she stared into his eyes. “Brian! How can you leave now? We need you here!”
“But I don’t want to be! If I stay, then someone else will get hurt!” Brian replied tearfully. He pushed her hand way knowing he had to be cruel to protect them. He stood and crossed back over to the window to stare at his poor brother.
“Brian.” His mother spun him back around and gripped his hands in her own. “What do you mean honey?”
“That brick was meant for me,” Brian whispered. “It had my name on it and it was meant for me! Harry was only done over because he was my brother! I can’t stay here! What if… what if someone else gets hurt because of me?”
“Brian, don’t be absurd - ”
“Please I can’t stay here! I – I’m scared something will happen to your or dad. Mom, let me go! I’ll call every day to check on Harry and - ”
The tears were blurring his eyes and turning everything into a messy haze of colours. He was trembling and he could barely find the strength to stand and stop his knees from turning weak. He wanted to stay with Harry. He did not want to leave them. This was his family and it was shredding his heart to know that he was going to have to leave them because of his stalker. He had told himself that everything would be all right, but it wouldn’t be. It never would be. How could his friends and family ever be safe again when he was around?
Jackie seemed to read his thoughts and her own tears slid down her face as she wrapped her own arms about him and rocked him gently. Harold placed a supporting hand upon his shoulder, but both of them could sense his despair… and his determination.
“Brian, you don’t have to go if you don’t want to,” Jackie whispered, holding him tightly in her arms.
Brian pressed his face against her shoulder, the shame tearing his stomach up inside of him. His parents needed him and yet he was being forced to abandon them.
“No mom,” Brian replied. “I have to go. It doesn’t matter if I want to or not. I have to go. For your own safety.”