The Cup Bearer
Gypsy's heart started failing at eleven twenty in the morning. Manuel had been aware that Gypsy's skin had been growing cold for some time. The doctor lifted his stethoscope off the boy's chest and shook his head. Out of all of them, little Lucia was the only one who was dry eyed, not knowing, at four years old, what was really happening. She touched Gypsy's face. "Hello, Gypsy; are you going to be with Jesus now? Mummy's there isn't she? If you see her, will you tell her I love her and I miss her? I'll miss you too, Gypsy. Bye-bye and God bless." She had Grey Rabbit with her, and as Perquita moved forward to pull her out of the way of the doctor, she pressed herself hard against Manuel and he withdrew his right arm from around Gypsy to pull her close and help her put her arms round Gypsy's neck. She gave Gypsy a loving kiss on his mouth then placed the toy on his chest. Gypsy's hands moved up to slowly cuddle the toy, and there was a combined intake of breath.
The doctor placed his stethoscope against Gypsy's chest once more. After listening for a few seconds he grabbed the wall phone off its cradle with a frown of disbelief. "This is Monks. I'm in ward two. I don't believe what I've just witnessed but I want my team back in here on the double. I want all life support systems restored and constant monitoring round the clock for at least the next forty-eight hours. Page Mr. Lehar and ask him, no, tell him I need him here right away. This patient has a better heartbeat than I have."
Manuel stared into Gypsy's face, not daring to believe what the doctor had just said. He felt Gypsy's face getting warmer. " My son is going to live ," he thought with a sob, " he's going to live!"
"Of course he is, his time is not yet, he has much to do for Me. I am Your God. I will cause him to forget all that has happened till he is well enough to deal with it; and rise above all that has gone before. I will keep him as a child till he is healed. Be patient and put your trust in Me, for by My stripes he will be healed."
Manuel raised his head and looked round at the looks of amazement on the faces of the Gomez children. None of them had spoken. With a cry of relief he bowed his head and sobbed as he hugged Gypsy to him.
Saturday 11 th January 1996
Shana leaned forward to wipe away a drop of saliva from the corner of Gypsy's mouth, and for the hundredth time hoped she would be the first one he would see when he opened his eyes again. The signs of recovery were good and only the monitor leads and the tubes feeding him intravenously remained. Five days had gone by since his reaction to Lucia and Grey Rabbit. He still had it cradled in one arm, and Lucia was quite firm in her decision that Gypsy should keep it, "till he's better", as long as she could come in and see Grey Rabbit every day. The bandages had been removed from Gypsy's head and he wore a cotton cap to hide the stitches and bruising. Shana had seen him without the cap and he looked quite the little boy without his hair. The first time Lucia had seen him without the bandages, she had been quite upset until Shana explained why his head was shaved. Since then, the nurses had covered his head with the cap whenever Lucia visited her brother. After that, Lucia chatted away quite happily to him, telling him the same thing every time she visited, that he was not to worry, that his hair would grow again like it did the last time. She was doing so well, helping the nurses look after her brother, an anonymous member of staff had bought a nurses-dress up costume for her and she wore it proudly on each visit. At least with Lucia chatting away, it relieved the problem of finding enough topics to talk to Gypsy about. The tot chatted non-stop about anything and everything.
Today, she sat on Shana's knee, and Gypsy was lying on his right side, facing them. Suddenly Lucia leaned forward and said in a loud voice, "Hello, Gypsy, can you see me? I can see you. Are you in there?"
Thinking about Lucia, Shana had been momentarily distracted from her vigil. She leaned forward too, and saw that Gypsy's eyes had opened just a fraction. Her heart beginning to hammer, she reached out to press the alert button on the wall by the bed. Seconds later a nurse hurried in. Shana was too delighted to speak and just pointed to Gypsy's eyes. The nurse took a close look then grabbed the wall phone off its cradle.
Tuesday 14 th January. 1996
"There she is again, Lord, with her never ending chatter. Why doesn't someone shut her up? I've been back here for three days now and no one's told her to shut up. Who is she?"
" Your little sister, her name is Lucia."
" Lucia? I don't remember. Why can't I remember?"
" You will, in time. I promise."
"And who's the lovely girl with her? I should know her. My eyes don't work right, can't get my eyelids to open far enough. I can just make her out but it's such an effort. It's easier to keep my eyes shut. Is she someone I'm supposed to know, Lord?"
"You know her, and you love her. Her name is Shana."
" Shana? Where am I? This isn't my bedroom, and why do people talk loudly to me, don't they know I'm not deaf? My head hurts so much. Why can't I move? And where is that lovely music coming from? I've heard it before, but can't remember where. Why can't I remember things?"
"So many questions, Gypsy; be at peace, all is well."
"That big guy who talks to me with that funny accent, talks real quiet. I like listening to him. He tells me about a bad guy who calls me Ganymede and I shouldn't respond to the name any more because it would make me very ill."
"You know him as George Sherbourne."
"Do I? I can't remember."
"Listen to him and he will make you better."
"There's someone else who talks softly too, the guy who sits with me most of the time when the girl isn't here, and plays such lovely music on his guitar. I like the perfume the girl uses. I've smelled it before; can't remember where. I know it's important. But this kid; will someone tell her to shut up? I remember her name now; it's Luce."
"Why do you not you tell her yourself?"
"Just try, Gypsy."
Tired of listening to the little girl's non-stop chatter, Shana daydreamed of the day when she and Gypsy would dance again together. Then she heard the words above the kiddie talk. It was a phrase heard often in the Gomez household, and slurred, as if spoken by someone very drunk. Suddenly Lucia fell silent, and they both stared at Gypsy. His eyes were firmly closed and Shana was sure he was in a deep sleep, so where had the words come from.
Lucia let out a peel of baby giggles and pointed to Gypsy. "You're not sleeping, you're just pretending." and before Shana could stop her she had scrambled onto the bed. Putting her face close to Gypsy's, she sang, "Helloooo? Can you hear meeeee?"
"Lucia, no." Shana attempted to lift Lucia from the bed but the little girl cuddled up against her brother's upper body. "No, I want to stay here," She wailed, clutching Grey Rabbit to her.
A nurse popped her head into the room, saw the situation and came bustling in to check her patient. She was a large jolly Scots lady. Shana said, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have let her do that but she was so insistent."
"That's all right," the nurse said with a smile. "As long as she doesn't disturb the tubes and monitor leads or rest too heavily on his stomach, she can't do any harm. Perhaps she may do him some good. You'd be amazed at the weird things that bring people out of a coma. Who better to bring him round than his little sister? Look!"
Shana had already seen Gypsy's right arm creep slowly round Lucia. The nurse said as an afterthought. "Don't build up your hopes of a quick wake up though; some of these movements will be a natural reaction to outside stimuli."
"But we just heard him speak, Didn't we, Luce?"
"Yes," Lucia said very firmly. "He told me to shut up, just like he does at home."
The nurse began to laugh. "Well, you take no notice of your big brother. It's your chatter that's making him better, so you chat away all you want to."
"There," Lucia said into Gypsy's face. "The nurse said I can talk as much as I like, so you better listen 'cos I'm going to talk and talk and talk and…"
"That wasn't too hard, was it?"
"No. Thank you."
"Rest now, you have a long way to go before you recover; sleep, My child."
Shana stared into Gypsy's face for any sign of a reaction but Gypsy had gone back into his dark space. But this time his expression was one of peace.
Somewhere deep in the American Mid-West, Don Clooney sat on his bed in a motel room and replaced the telephone receiver. Slowly he got down on his knees and bowed his head to the floor. "Dear Jesus, he doesn't deserve to die. I know he's not really my brother but he is in my heart, and I know you'll understand. Please, let it be your will, take my life instead. I have sinned, Lord. I don't want to sin anymore. Forgive me, Lord. The door of my heart is open, please come in and abide in me forever. Please let my little bro live." A knock at the door made him utter a quick but reverent Amen then he rose shakily to his feet. Desperately trying to wipe the tears from his eyes, he went to open the door and stared in disbelief at the tall, dark haired woman standing outside.
"You take some finding, I must say," she said with a smile and a toss of chestnut curls.
She gently pushed him back into the room and closed the door. "It's a long story involving a nice young man called Sandy Roberts. I was in New York, about to board a plane, when I thought I ought to ring the flat to say I was on my way home. He answered the phone and gave me your zip code. So here I am, ready to make an honest man of you, if you'll have me."
Not knowing what to do, Don threw his arms about her and crushed her to him in a desperate embrace. "Cissy, I'm so glad you found me in time. Another day and I'd have been on the road. Oh. Cissy, I've missed you so much." "Thank you, Lord. You certainly know what you're doing with my life."
"Thank you, Don, I do answer prayers."
"I've missed you too, big boy, "Cissy replied softly, "more than you'll ever know. Tell me, what's going on at the flat? I heard a lot of music in the background and Sandy had to shout down the phone to make himself heard until he told someone to shut up. It sounded like a rehearsal going on."
"That would be Different Hats." Don thought about the words that had just come into his head. "Like you said, it's a long story. Come and sit down and I'll tell you all about it. Then I have to make an important phone call."
"I know," Cissy replied. "Sandy told me about his friend, and how you tried to help him. That's why I decided to try and find you; I thought you might need a shoulder to cry on. I'm sorry he's so ill. I suppose you want to find out how he is."
"Yeah, I also have a lot of work to do, for him and for myself. Will you help me?"
Cissy smiled up at him. "Of course I will; for as long as it takes and for ever."
Tuesday 21st January. 1996
Was that a smile she saw tugging at his mouth?
"No," the starchy old nurse with the glasses assured her, "Just wind just like babies smile when they have wind."
Shana was sure the nurse was wrong, and when the nurse left the room she leaned close to Gypsy. "Why are you smiling, Gypsy?" He was propped up on pillows and turned slightly on his right side. Grey Rabbit lay against his right shoulder and one ear was touching his chin. "Is he tickling your face?"
The smile was there again, and slowly the eyes opened and Gypsy was gazing straight at her through his eyelashes. "Sh…sha na?"
Tears sprang to Shana's eyes as she realised he had tried to say her name. "Oh. Gypsy, I'm so glad. Are you awake now; really awake?" She kissed his face and laughed her delight. Someone came into the room and she turned to find the starchy nurse had come back. "I was right, he did smile, and he said my name."
The nurse sniffed at her. "I'll tell Dr Monks."
How can she be so cool? Shana thought as the woman left the room again. This was a wonderful moment, wasn't it, a time to be excited? She took hold of Gypsy's right hand and gently rubbed it with both her hands the way the doctor showed her, explaining that skin contact was important. The doctor hurried in with the nurse and he at least showed some enthusiasm for this new sign of recovery. He asked Shana to leave the room for a few minutes while they did some reaction tests.
It took another three days of tests, brain scans, and consultations with George and the Rosscroft medical team before Manuel came to a decision about what he had to tell Shana and the family. It was going to be as hard for him to tell them, as it would be for them to accept his decision. More so for Shana because he suspected she loved his son deeply. But if she did, then she would realise it was for the best. He waited by the reception desk in the main foyer and, when she arrived, he took her to Percival's private suite of offices where they could talk undisturbed. They sat down on a comfortable settee and a secretary brought them some coffee. By the time they were settled, it was evident by Shana's expression, that she realised things were going to change.
"Shana," Manuel began, "this is going to difficult for me to say ,but Rudkin has let us know that someone has told the team investigating Guido's death about your relationship with Gypsy. The prosecution will use any evidence they can to show Gypsy as not so squeaky clean. As it began before he was sixteen they might dig deeper. I don't want you or Gypsy to suffer any more than you have, so I think it would be best if you didn't see him for a while. Also Gypsy's condition isn't as good as we first thought. The doctors believe he is coming out of the coma well enough; all his responses prove that. But there is the underlying problem of shock when he begins to remember things that happened in the past. George Sherbourne believes Gypsy is suffering from partial amnesia; it's the brain's way of shielding itself from the after effects of physical and mental shock. The same thing happened after he was rescued from that club in Tamarigo. He shut himself off from everything and it took a lot of hard work to bring him back. Now he has to go through the whole process again. There is also the fear that the brain damage is worse than we thought at first. It's also possible something happened while he was at Northwood, but the MacCaffreys are just as mystified as we are. They did all they could to find him when he disappeared but they had an emergency of their own to deal with. A cottage on their estate caught fire and it took a few hours to put it out. Unless Gypsy remembers we will never know what happened. Physically, Gypsy is healing well and the physiotherapy he is having each day is preventing muscle wastage, but it is important that we treat his mental problems in the best of environments. Not only that, he is technically under arrest for the murder of his stepfather and normally he would be in the hospital wing of a young offenders unit. As soon as he is mobile, that might still happen. Some day in the near future, when he is sufficiently recovered, the police will interrogate him, and officially charge him with Guido's murder."
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