The Cup Bearer
Gypsy shook his head again. "What's the point?" He turned from the window and made his way to the only chair on which he could be comfortable, an old overstuffed armchair.
Manuel stood in front of him, wishing he could take some of the hurt on himself. How could he be the bearer of bad news while Gypsy suffered like this? But Percy Junior was right; Gypsy had a right to know.
Manuel turned to Sean hovering nearby. "Sean, I'd like to talk to my son in private, do you mind?"
"No problem." Sean blinked from behind rimless glasses. "I'll be in the office if you need anything."
When they were alone, Manuel drew up a chair close to Gypsy's. "If you feel up to it, there's something we need to talk about and it won't be very pleasant for me to tell you or for you to hear." Gypsy lifted almost lifeless eyes to look at him but remained silent. "It's rather a sensitive matter and I told Percy and George that I would rather be the one to tell you." Again Gypsy did not say anything. "Think carefully. Was anyone else in the house when Guido attacked you?"
At last, Gypsy spoke. "No. Why?"
"Another man perhaps?"
Gypsy shook his head.
"Gypsy, you know the samples that are taken when a child is attacked? You have had them done several times. There is evidence that there must have been someone else with Guido."
Gypsy's eyes widened with shock. "No. There was only Guido."
"Well, the evidence was there, Gypsy. One was HIV positive, and it wasn't Guido." Manuel expected Gypsy to get angry at this revelation but Gypsy just stared at him in disbelief for a moment, before turning his face away. He dearly wished the boy would say something, scream or shout, anything but this silence. "If Guido was on his own, then something must have happened in the hours prior to the attack. Did you meet anyone after you left Northwood?"
"What about the people you hitched a lift with?"
Gypsy's eyes flashed angrily. "W-what are you t-trying to say, Dad; that I p-paid for my lifts with sex?"
Filled with remorse, Manuel said, "I'm sorry, Gypsy. I didn't mean to imply that, but that's the way the police will be thinking."
"They c-can think what they l-like. I d-don't c-care anym- more."
"Can you swear you didn't –?"
"The first l-lift I had w-was with a w-woman with two k-kids in the b-back of her c-car. She t-took me as f-far as Preston."
"All right, Gypsy, calm down, you are stammering again. Just concentrate on your breathing for a moment. That is right. Now, start again."
"The next one was an elderly… couple who d-dropped me at the…Warrington Service Station. I had to wait nearly three hours before my last lift… took me home." Gypsy glowered angrily at Manuel. "Is that what all those injections…. were for? Don't you realise there's no… treatment for Aids?"
"I'm sorry, Gypsy, I really am, and I wish there was something I could do. Percy says they'll know for certain in about two weeks, if-." He just couldn't bring himself to say it.
"It doesn't matter. I… had to expect it sometime after… what I've been through."
"We won't know for certain till you have the tests done again."
Gypsy looked through him with eyes that told Manuel that the spark that was his beautiful son had been extinguished. "It doesn't…matter anymore. I just…wish Guido had killed me first."
Manuel marched back into Percy's office and went straight past the elderly consultant to end up by the window where he stared out at the terraced garden without even seeing it. "It's done. He knows. And I know you're going to say 'I told you so.'"
"You should have let me tell him," George said from behind him. "He took it bad huh?"
"How do you expect? He is very bitter and wishes Guido had killed him first. He certainly does not have any faith in the treatment you have prescribed. He was very quick to remind me there is no cure."
"Did you tell him it's too early to say for definite if he has the virus?" Percy asked.
"Of course I did. Meanwhile he goes through hell not knowing if he is positive or not." Manuel closed his eyes. "It is the worst thing I have ever done in my life." He remembered the letter he had written to Shana, informing her that it was best that she didn't see Gypsy again and to find someone else.
He turned and addressed his anger at Percy and George. "I do not know how you deal with this sort of thing all the time. Everything seems to be crashing down around my son and I'm going to have to leave him in a few days to cope on his own. I have money to earn to provide a home for him and now this happens. I can imagine what the police are thinking; that my son is a prostitute, a rent boy."
"You don't believe that for a moment. Manuel," Percy senior said, "and neither do we. He's been the unfortunate victim of a gang rape, by friends of Guido's, in the hours prior to the attack, and I'll do my damnedest to prove it even if I have to testify in court to do it."
Manuel let his shoulders slump as his anger left him. He turned round to apologise to Percy for his anger and saw the understanding in the surgeon's eyes. "There must be something we can do. My son is ready to give up and I feel so helpless."
"We'll do the best we can for him while you're gone," George said. "You know that."
"Yes. I know." George was trying to kind to him, but he still felt so useless.
Monday 1st April 1996
The last two days had been exhausting and demoralising for Manuel as he watched Gypsy slip further and further into a state of depression in which he remained silent and unreachable. He did everything Sean asked of him and made an indifferent attempt to follow the physiotherapy routine, but preferred to lie on his bed with his eyes closed. The night shift attendants reported that he hardly slept through the night. George spent more time than was fair with him, at the expense of his other patients, but Percy Senior said nothing and delegated the scheduled appointments to other available, and more than willing staff. The nursing staff reported that Gypsy had slipped further into his shell and somehow the light had they known had faded and he was just another hurting patient. Even Lucia's happy chatter failed to get a response from him. She soon fell quiet and troubled, and spent most of the time being cuddled by Manuel or one of the nurses who came to look after her in their off duty time.
It was now seven o' clock in the evening and Manuel was taking a break in the visitors lounge. Earlier on, Gypsy had risen from his chair by the bed to walk the few yards to the sofa where Grey Rabbit sat. He stared down at the toy for a few minutes before turning and going back to his bed, his face tight with some inner anger and pain. Manuel had waved the nurses away and had let Gypsy have the freedom to do whatever he wanted. Perhaps he was coming out of the depressive state, it was hard to tell. Manuel looked at his watch once more. He had less than an hour before his departure for a flight to Paris for a concert he could not cancel. The Spanish government were hosting a conference of the heads of certain European countries and he had been commissioned to play for them at a private dinner in their honour. He had delayed his departure till the last minute and he didn't even have time to go back to his hotel to pick up his cases. Following Erskine's instructions, David had packed them and had delivered them to the airport, and Percy Junior was going to drive him there. Everyone was being so kind and helpful and he shouldn't be worrying about Gypsy, but he could not help it. Worrying made him restless.
He got up from his chair, walked out into the corridor and headed towards the West wing. He had just turned the corner into the west wing when he thought he heard someone call him from a distance but Lucy's loud and desperate scream swept all other thoughts from his mind. She came running out of Gypsy's suite with tears running down her face. A nurse scooped her up and attempted to find out why she was crying but she reached out her arms for Manuel. Taking her from the nurse, he soothed her till her sobbing had quietened to the hiccup stage then asked her what was wrong.
Lucia buried her face against his neck and wailed, "Gypsy (hic) broketed Grey (hic) Rabbit."
Manuel placed Lucia into the nurse's arms and led the rush to Gypsy's suite, followed by Percy Junior, who had come looking for him. Gypsy stood in the middle of the room with the remains of Grey Rabbit in his hands and round his feet, while Sean stood a few feet away with his hands to his head and looking totally baffled. Manuel went towards his son and Gypsy looked up at him with a mixture of anger and grief. Then Gypsy gazed past him and fixed his eyes on someone behind Manuel, his eyes growing wide with disbelief. Manuel started forward, ready to give Gypsy the comfort he needed, but someone planted a large hand on his shoulder and stepped past him. Gypsy's mouth dropped open as Don Clooney marched up to him and gathered him in a bear hug.
Suddenly the room seemed to fill with people hurrying in, including George. His own tears threatening to flow, Manuel waved them all back and George urged everyone out and shut the door. Manuel turned back to Don and saw the man's eyes glistening as Gypsy sobbed quietly against him.
"How did you know?" Manuel asked him.
Don shook his head. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
Someone laid a hand on Manuel's arm and he turned to find a tall, dark haired lady smiling softly at him. "Hello. I'm Cissy Clooney. Don't worry about the rabbit; I'm sure I can mend it."
Relief flooded Manuel. Swallowing back his own tears he grabbed hold of Sean walked him to the door. Out in the corridor, Sean asked, "Who is he, anyhow?" He was due to go off duty but Manuel knew he would stay and be on hand if needed.
"The best friend anyone could have; the kind that always turns up just when he is needed. You have my permission to answer any questions Mr. Clooney will ask, and if anyone asks who brought him in, ask if they believe in miracles. I'll be back in four days. If I can persuade Mr. and Mrs. Clooney to stay till I return, they can use my suite." He handed Sean the key to the rooms Rosscroft had kindly let him use two doors down the corridor from Gypsy's suite. "Look after them, Sean, they are special people." Now all he had to was to pacify Lucia.
She was in bed in the cosy little room attached to the children's ward, which she used when Manuel was away. Smelling delicately of baby soap, she blinked sleepily at Manuel when he leaned down to kiss her goodnight. "Don't worry about Grey Rabbit. I'm sure he can be mended."
"Why did Gypsy break him, Daddy?"
"I do not know, Lucy. Perhaps he felt that Grey Rabbit reminded him of too many bad memories. I promise, if we can't mend Grey Rabbit, we'll go out and buy a new one. Okay?" But even as he said those words to make the little girl feel better, Manuel knew it would be impossible to find a replacement for something that meant so much to the Gomez family. Once Lucia was asleep, Manuel made his way out of the children's ward and found six feet six of barely controlled anger waiting for him.
Manuel beckoned Don Clooney to follow him and led him to the visitors lounge attached to the children's ward. Once the door was closed behind them, Don demanded to know what was going on.
"If you will just calm down, I will explain," Manuel replied, "but first, tell me how you knew he needed you."
"Like I said, you won't believe me."
"I did what I was told to do."
"I still don't understand."
"I had a dream; at least I think it was a dream. I heard a voice say 'Your little brother needs you.' I woke up and the voice was still there. The thing is, I haven't got a little brother. I'm the youngest in my family."
Manuel stared open mouthed at Don as the meaning of the American's words made sense. Of course! The times both Manuel, and members of staff had found Gypsy staring out of the window, lost in his own thoughts! Not only had Manuel been praying for a miracle, Gypsy had been praying as well - for big Bro to come. Gathering himself together with an effort, Manuel quickly told Don all that had happened, from the attempt by Bryn Adams and Horace Jones to deepen Gypsy's coma to a point where recovery was impossible, to the latest AIDS scare and Gypsy's increasing depression. "He has regained a good part of his memory and we all thought that was the end of his problems, but something is disturbing him. He will not tell George or me what it is. George has been looking back over past reports on Gypsy and has come to the conclusion that Gypsy is one of the most insecure children he has ever dealt with."
"That I don't believe. Gypsy's always been in control."
"All right, think of it this way. His first friend was a boy called Benito, a lot older than him who supposedly gave him comfort when Guido began molesting him, even though he betrayed that friendship. Then there was this man Caroga at the sex club, according to Gypsy he was like you except that he was black. Then George came into his life, another large man, followed by Sandy. All these people had one thing in common. They were comforters, people who wanted to help him; people he could lean on and be himself; his own team of body guards because they were bigger and stronger than him. You are the most recent addition to the list. Sometimes there was no one around that he could use as a prop, so Gypsy learned to build his own defence barriers around him, and hid behind them while appearing to be 'in control' as you put it, with all his Judo and Karate skills. George says Gypsy has been living in a world of make believe where he is the tough guy and no one can touch him or hurt him."
Don took a deep breath. "And I've just gone and opened up the barriers! I'm sorry."
"Don't be. You have done what George Sherbourne has been trying to do for ages. Gypsy has spent so much time watching the front gates from his window, I'm sure he was hoping you would walk right through them. Now you have arrived and he can lean on you, George says he will begin to heal and perhaps recover the rest of his memory. It may take time but in the end he will be a lot stronger than he ever was, and able to talk about what happened. If that is the case then I heartily welcome you back into his life, despite the reason you went away in the first place. I have a series of concerts in France that I cannot cancel. Can you stay till I get back?"
"How long will you be gone?"
"Four days, back for two and away again for another four. I have arranged for you and Mrs. Clooney to use my rooms just down the corridor from Gypsy's. I have already given Sean the key and told him to look after you."
"Gypsy's personal care assistant; each patient at the Rosscroft is assigned one to look after the patient's personal needs as well as assisting the nurses. Actually Sean is studying to be a nurse practitioner. He was on duty when you arrived. Will you stay?"
Don shrugged his shoulders. "Depends on Cissy; she's the boss."
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