The Only Way to Fly
I've witnessed street brawls at their worst, and even taken part one or two to aid a friend in trouble, and I've watched many a martial arts displays, but never like the one Billy displayed that morning. He was about the same size as his opponents, so size was no problem, but there were six of them and only one of Billy. I would never have gone to war against three let alone six. No way. But Billy had the guts of ten men that day. The thugs jeered, and Wentworth stood behind than like the coward he was. I watched his face pull into a cunning smile; just like him to let his boys do all the rough stuff. Where had that guy come from? I learned yesterday that he had two more sons, but the twins were the eldest. I wondered what the other two were like.
When the twins did not move, Billy moved closer. The twins conferred with each other, smiled and suddenly charged, but Billy was elsewhere, then spinning to let loose with hands, elbows and knees. It took him about thirty seconds to put them on the ground, his last strike being when they rushed him from either side. He dropped to his knees and they crashed into each other, and then he shot up straight to drive his fists up into their jaws while they were still stunned. Bruised and whimpering, they lay at his feet and their Dad roared at them to get up and stop acting like ninnies. Already, Billy was beckoning to the other louts to have a go, two of them did and got the same treatment, but not before we made our move and came closer to the action. As soon as we did, Wentworth backed away. The other two started to move forward but suddenly found Indian and Rob smiling down at them. They pushed their way past Wentworth and disappeared back into the house. But the twins didn't; they got to their feet and turned on their father. We all heard their angry tirade, informing him they weren't going to listen to him anymore; they were fed up to being forced to fight, that he could fight his own fights from now on. They turned to face Billy and held their hands up in defeat. Billy shook hands with them and they turned to pull their father out of the house, went inside and slammed the door. Billy took one step towards Wentworth and the man backed up to the door. Billy signalled to Daley who went forward and gave Wentworth a little pep talk about raising a family of louts. Wentworth said he was going to call the police. Billy put two fingers up at him and turned to walk back down the drive with a satisfied smirk on his face, leaving the two last thugs crawling about, trying to get to their feet.
"Where did you learn all that stuff?" I wanted to know as we climbed back into the van.
"Bill was into martial arts," Daley said as he switched on the engine. "Taught him a lot of stuff for just this kind of situation."
I glared round at the band. "And you lot let me believe Billy was a gonna. Well thank you very much!" Billy just grinned and I had to endure the teasing all the way home. I was really miffed and felt like a fool, and let him know it till after lunch when he came to me in the barn. I had to get some solo practice in and was making the most of my time alone. Billy walked in and came straight up to me, signed, "I'm sorry, Mags, forgive me?" All the bravado had vanished, and all I saw was a vulnerable young man trying to get himself psyched up for his hospital appointment.
I shook my head at him. "I don't understand. Why didn't you use your martial arts when the twins and his cronies attacked you?"
Billy looked at me as if I was a little child. "In a school? I don't think so. That would lead to expulsion and I don't want that to happen; no way." I did the only thing I could. I took him in my arms and held him close. "You're scared about this afternoon?" He nodded against my chest and tightened his arms round me. What could I do but hug him to me and give him my unconditional love and support.
Dr Brent sat us down in his office and looked down at Billy's notes, his expression one of solemn concern. Daley and I exchanged worried glances and waited for him to speak. He rose to his feet and switched on a wall viewer, showing several pictures of a brain. I looked at the side on picture and at a point at the front of the head was a large white patch. Brent pointed to it and addressed his remarks to Billy. "This is the first tumour we found. It's located in the frontal lobe which governs your sight and is the cause of the visual problems you have started to encounter. Fortunately we can operate to remove most of the tumour, but part of it has invaded essential nerves serving the eyes themselves."
"Which means?" Daley asked.
"If we operate we can't guarantee Billy will retain his sight."
"And if you don't operate?" Daley asked.
"Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy can be tried but we would still need surgery to reduce the size of the tumour as much as possible for them to have any effect, especially if the tumour is found to be a fast growing one." He turned back to Billy. "I'm sorry to give you such bad news, Billy. What I would like to do is to admit you to the Oncology unit for a few days and perform a biopsy to find out exactly what kind of tumour it is and how fast it is growing. That will give me a clearer picture on the proper form of treatment. Depending on what we find, we might operate straight away, but only if you agree to it. Mr Roberts will have to sign the consent form as well. Meanwhile, I'd like you to see our resident Optometrist. I've already had a word with him and he's arranged to see you at four o'clock today. Now, are there any questions?"
Billy was too stunned by the news to reply; unable to take at all in; he just stared at the pictures of his brain. Brent looked as if he wanted to retract his words. It must have been just as hard for him to give Billy his diagnosis as it was for us to hear it. "We have a hospitality suite next door, Billy. You will probably wish to sit quietly with Mr Roberts and discuss all this in private while I finalise your admittance to Oncology. I'll have some tea brought to you, and my secretary will bring you the forms to sign. If you'd like to follow me?"
We got to our feet and started for the door, and I watched Billy sign to Daley who interpreted for Brent, "Blind if I do, dead if I don't."
Brent looked as if he was about to burst into tears. "That seems to be the case, yes. I'm so sorry."
As soon as the door to the hospitality suite closed on us, Billy flung himself into my arms and I felt him tremble as I hugged him tight. Daley came to us, his eyes filling with unashamed tears and he put his arms round the two of us. That set Billy off and we held him while he cried, and I felt my own eyes misting over. What a hell of a way to go! The kid was too young to have such a rotten thing happen to him. I hated the idea of us just going home and leaving him here after suffering such a shock, and so soon after losing his dad. Daley was of the same mind and in the end, he went to see Brent and arranged for us to take Billy home and bring him back tomorrow. The band were devastated when they heard the news, and made a real fuss of him, all of them wanting to hug him, so much it turned into a mass hug for everyone with Billy and I in the middle. After a very subdued tea, during which Billy hardly ate anything, I took him up to bed where I helped him take a shower - sex being the farthest from our minds - and took him to bed. He cried a lot, and so did I, and when, at one point, I asked him what was troubling him the most, he whispered in my ear, "I won't be able to see you anymore."
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