The Bull Singer
As I lay there, stunned, with my gown soaking up the orange, I thought the jug would have broken and the sound of smashing glass would bring someone running. No chance; the jug being plastic. I tried to get to my knees but the wet floor gave me nothing but a slippery surface. Damn, shit, damn! "Help! Help me, someone!" My ankle hurt, my shoulder hurt. I craned my neck to look at the table, no more than three feet from me. Using my elbows and the toes of my right foot, I wriggled and squirmed my way towards it, and reached out to grip the bar holding the rear castors. I pulled it towards me and managed to get hold of the uprights. I was halfway to my knees when it decided to roll away from me. I fell on the floor again and watched it roll towards the open door. Lucky me, the table hit the door jam, the tray slid to the side, caught on the lip causing the plastic plate and aluminium cover to carry on over the lip. If I hadn't been in so much pain I would have laughed my head off as the cover bounced and rolled out of the doorway, making like a runaway cymbal. Well, at least it got the attention I needed. Suddenly the room was full of people shouting orders and trying to make like I was dying or something; the fuss they made of me and telling me off for being out of bed. Did it really take four nurses to get me back into bed and strip me of my wet gown? By the time they had finished sponging me down and had me in a clean gown, I had tears rolling down my face, partly from the incident that caused my predicament and partly because I couldn't help laughing at the look of embarrassment on the face of the youngest nurse at my unfortunate boner. It was obvious she had never seen a naked guy before.
With the floor cleaned and everything back to normal, nurse Hodge, the chubby one, demanded to know what had happened. I started to tell her when Mags walked in. Boy, was I relieved to see him! As soon as he and nurse Hodge had the story, nurse Hodge's face lost it cheery expression. "Right; I've just about had enough of that porter. I don't much care for the way gays live but I don't let that interfere with my job and neither should he. It isn't the first time he's let his own feelings rule his actions but this will be his last, believe you me. Wait here, Mr. Alton." Now there was a nurse and a half; supposedly off duty but willing to stay and cope with an emergency. We watched her storm out of the room, and I could imagine her rolling her absent sleeves up to do battle with the crummy bigot.
"But how on earth could he have known about me, Mags? I never told anyone." I watched Mags look away from me, deep in thought. "What is it Mags?"
"I'm not sure." Mags rubbed his chin. "What's Bernard's last name again?"
Before Mags could answer me, nurse Hodge marched back in with the casualty doctor, a very irritated porter and another man in a suit. This man came to the bed and addressed me. "Young man, I'm Perry Torch, the weekend duty manager of this hospital. I believe you have a complaint against this porter?"
I look looked past him at the porter and threw mental daggers at him. "Yes, I do. First he brought me a lunch that was cold, and then he dumped a second tray on the table that was nowhere near enough for me to reach. As a result I hurt myself again, trying to get to it. For a patient who's supposed to be kept calm, I don't think I've been treated very well."
"Indeed you haven't." Mr. Torch glared at the porter. "What have you to say, Mr. Reece?"
"I knew it!" Mags took a step towards the porter but I managed to grab his coat sleeve. When he looked down at me I shook my head. He calmed down and turned to Mr. Torch. "I don't think much of your establishment, sir. Joey was brought in for treatment at eight thirty this morning. It is now three thirty. Not only has he been deprived of food, the doctor he's supposed to be waiting for has not put in an appearance. If that doctor is not here within the next half hour, I'm taking Joey to a private clinic. Is that understood?"
"What was the name of the doctor you are waiting to see?"
"Doctor Simms," Nurse Hodge said, looking up from my notes hung on the end of the bed.
Mr Short shook his head." I think there may have been a misunderstanding. Doctor Simms won't be back on duty till Monday morning."
The duty doctor frowned. "But he told me he was changing rosters with Doctor Forbes this weekend so Forbes could go to London to deal with a family emergency."
"Well I wasn't informed of any changes," Mr. Torch replied. "All staff know the rules about that; I have to be made aware of any changes to the staff roster. Now we're one doctor short are we?" He grabbed Joey's file off the foot of the bed and gave it the briefest of scans. "Fortunately this patient is not a high risk; Doctor Simms can see him when he comes back on duty on Monday morning; after he's been to see me."
"Not a high risk? Right; that's it." Mags pulled the covers off me. "Joey is coming with me. Can I have his clothes please? And a wheelchair."
"Mr Alton, please; let's not be hasty." Mr. Torch laid a hand on Mags's arm. "Give me some time, I'll get things sorted."
Touching Mags was the wrong thing to do. Mags whirled round on him, and the man took a step back thinking Mags was going to attack him. "You've had eight hours to get things sorted as you put it. Now, if you don't want this hospital sued for negligence, I suggest you back off and get whatever papers I need to sign, and give me Joey's clothes. But first I'd like a word with Mr Reece." Mags smiled at Reece and the man's face lost a lot of colour, and backed to the door. He turned to run but he had no chance against Mags who grabbed hold of the back of his tunic and slammed him face first against the door. "What relation is Bernie to you, tow-rag?"
"He's my nephew, damn it. What's it got to do with you?"
Mags grabbed his left arm and pushed it up his back till the man's face creased in pain. "It's got plenty to do with me, and with Joey. So now we know who's spreading the dirt. Don't we?"
"Let him go, Mr Alton," Torch said sharply, "I won't have rough stuff in this hospital. Leave him be or I will call security."
Mags laughed but stepped away from Reece. "Security? Don't make me laugh. Probably one old age pensioner with bad knees." He came back to the bed, looked round at Torch and Nurse Hodge. "Okay, I can see no one is going to take me seriously so I'll do things my way." Using one of my blankets to wrap me in, he picked me up in his arms and carried me out of the room with Nurse Hodge and Mr. Torch hurrying after us. The only person who seemed amused was the casualty doctor who gave me a wink as we passed him.
As Mags carried me down the corridor towards the hospital entrance, I heard Torch shout, "You can't take that blanket, that's hospital property. If you take it off these premises I will have you charged with theft."
"So call the police," Mags shouted back, "I'll do the same to you as you still have Joey's clothes." Mags had parked the old 405 close to the hospital entrance. He set me down and leaned me against the car while he opened the passenger door and manoeuvred the seat back as far as it would go to give me plenty of legroom. Once I was comfortable, he fastened my seat belt and got into the driver seat. He asked me if I was in any pain and I said my ankle and my shoulder were starting to ache again. He didn't drive off straight away; instead he pulled out his mobile and punched in a number.
While he waited for an answer, my curiosity got the better of me. "You mentioned a private clinic, Mags. Which one are you taking me to?"
He grinned at me. "How about Marble House? Hi, Ben, it's Mags. Is Doctor Sam there? I have a patient for him. Meanwhile can you do a check on someone for me? Well, a family actually. The name is Reece."
I couldn't believe the speed with which Elias Chambers got his team moving the minute I told Sam what had happened. First, Chambers refused to let me drive Joey to Marble House, insisting on sending his private helicopter with Sam on board, and ordered Gramps to arrange for a landing in a field close to the cottage. Next, he had his security team swing into action to investigate the Reece family, including staking out the homes of Bernie and his uncle the homophobic porter. While we waited for the chopper to arrive, Aunt Mabel marched into the cottage and took charge with the authority of a woman used to getting her own way; we were all too tired and hungry to argue with her. By the time the chopper landed in the field, Joey was fed, bathed and suitably calm, which couldn't be said for Bosun and the rest of Aunt Mabel's farm-stock, when the noisy intruder landed nearby. Like a scene out of 'Casualty', the cottage filled with Dr. Sam and two paramedics carrying bags full of portable equipment. Dr. Sam gave Joey a quick check up, re-strapped his ankle with a much firmer splint, and put an IV line in his arm. "All the better to administer a sedative or painkiller while you're in the chopper," he explained when Joey started to panic at the sight of the needle. "This way you can go to sleep and not have to worry about being woken up every few minutes. And my advice is to get as much sleep as possible. I agree with the doctor in A&E, it could just be a case of severe stress in which I prescribe lots of rest, okay, young man? Now, my men are going to strap you onto a gurney and take you to the helicopter. Have you ever been in one before?"
I watched Joey's eyes widen with anticipation. "No, I haven't."
Sam shook his head. "What a pity you won't be in a position to enjoy it, I've just given you a sedative and I'm hoping you'll be in Happy Land for quite some time." We watched Joey try to fight the drug, to stay awake, his hands waving about to grasp anything to hang on to.
I gripped his hands and leaned over to kiss him on the forehead. "It's okay, babe, just close your eyes and go to sleep. I'll be here when you wake up." Joey tried to speak but I just heard muttered rubbish as his eyes finally glazed over. His hands relaxed in mine and I looked up at Sam. "I'm going with him, okay?"
Sam nodded. "Fine, although you'll have a long wait while we run some tests. It might be better if you and your father spent the night at Marble house and have Benjamin bring you to the clinic first thing in the morning. The tests will be completed by then and I'll have a better idea of what's wrong. He'll be asleep, on and off, for at least twenty-four hours. I'm having him shipped to the Burton Clinic a few miles south of Marble House. It's a place I help to run, very private, very expensive, and run through donations and sponsorship of past and present patients who feel the need to have somewhere where they and their families can be treated without a load of fuss. Mr. Chambers is one of our founders, and also our main sponsor." Sam lifted Joy's left eyelid and pronounced him to be in a drug-induced sleep. He turned to his team. "All right, gentlemen; let's rock and roll."
I can't say I had the best night's sleep that night, even though Elias had Benjamin pick us up at the clinic and bring us to Marble House, and made sure I had every comfort in the same bedroom Joey and I had previously used. That bed was of the most luxurious kind, but I still tossed and turned with my mind on Joey, coming up with a myriad of illnesses that I knew of and trying to link his symptoms to them. In the morning, I was as tired as when I went to bed and couldn't face anything more than a cup of tea for breakfast although Dad seemed in fine spirits. Ben drove us back to the clinic, which turned out to be a blessing as I was so wound up I couldn't have driven anywhere safely. We arrived at the clinic, a beautiful two-story building in its own extensive grounds, just after eight thirty. Ben knew his way around the place and led us past the reception area to the rear of the building where Elias had his own suite. As we approached, Dr. Sam came out of a nearby door, waved, and beckoned for us to follow him into the suite. Suddenly I felt I had stepped back in time. None of your casual white American style uniform here, but an honest to God matron in navy blue; complete with white cuffs and a frilly head dress perched on top of her head. Her motherly face lit up as Sam brought us forward to be introduced. She approached Ben and took his hands in hers, waited for him to lean down then reached up to give him a kiss on the cheek. "Hello Benjamin. It's lovely to see you again. How is Ly doing these days?"
"Improving day by day, Marge, thanks to a certain young man we've come to see. It looks like Ly has something to live for again."
"Ah, yes." The nurse glanced towards a door I guessed led to the bedroom. "A sorry business this, and no mistake." She turned to face me and nodded her head. "And this must be the uncle the boy keeps on asking for. Magnus Alton? Pleased to meet you at last." We shook hands and I found myself looking into the warmest pair if eyes I have ever seen. "I was just about to wake Joey and give him his breakfast; perhaps you'd like to help me after the doctor has had a word with you." She turned to a tea trolley laden with covered containers and a pot of tea, and preceded to push it towards the bedroom. I turned back to Sam and found him standing with his hands in his pockets and a troubled look on his face. He indicated the comfortable settees set round a coffee table. "What I'm going to say is not easy," he said as we sat down with him. "You must understand that although we have own rules and procedures in this private clinic, there are some that, by law, we have to follow. One of those rules governs what we have to do when we discover any child abuse." Sam fixed his gaze on me, and my heart pounded in my chest. "You know full well what I'm talking about, Mags; we've both seen the evidence. I'm sorry, Mags, I have to do what I must."
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