The Saturday Boy
Chapter 14 - What a Mess
The drive back to the pub was painful. I felt sick, angry and possibly mad… yeah mad, like in a mental way. I was trying to process the emotions that my body had never felt before. I needed to be with Jack, but all I was doing was heading back to the pub, but to do what?
"Joe, everything will work out yeah," Roman said, as the silence had obviously gone on too long for him.
"Work out Roman, who for, me or him?" Roman didn't answer my question, knowing that he really didn't have an answer that was gonna make this any better. He pulled his car up across the street from the pub and parked. I got out in a zombie like state without saying anything.
Wandering towards the pub doors I felt a hand grab my shirt, a car almost clipping me as I crossed the street. "Fuck Joey, you almost got yourself killed," my brother hissed at me. I just looked up at him, wondering what all the fuss was about. He guided me across the road with his hand firmly on my shoulder and we both walked into the pub.
"Mum, can you come upstairs please?" Roman asked as he caught her eye across the bar. My mum muttered something into Christie's ear and she followed us upstairs to the apartment.
"Well, what happened is everything ok… is Jack ok?" she called from behind us as we walked into the lounge. I sat down and stared at her, our eyes staying locked until she sat down on the sofa opposite me.
"I'll go make us a strong cup of tea," Roman remarked, obviously thinking it was better if he stayed out of this.
"Well, Joey, are you gonna tell me what the hell is going on here?"
"Jack is in hospital after being beaten up by his dad and his mother is dead… he killed her," I said robotically, the numbness I now felt subduing any emotion I felt.
"What… what do you mean he killed her, is this some kind of… oh my god, oh my god. Joey where is Jack?"
"I just told you, he's at the hospital, he got beat up by the man you and dad let drink in this pub until he was drunk enough to almost kill him as well."
My mother was speechless, and I wanted to scream at her for this. I felt like blood was on her and my father's hands. Time after time I had asked that he be barred, but they never did because he was a good paying customer who spent a lot of money in our pub. It was sad… sad because at the end of the day a life had been taken by a man with a bad temper what we made worse by allowing him to drink in our pub, just for a few extra pounds in the cash register.
"Joey, I don't condone what Mr Stanton has done, not one bit, and I am utterly shocked by what you have just told me, but if he didn't drink here, then he would have got it somewhere else. I know you're angry, but you can't lay the blame of this on anyone but old man Stanton."
"You shouldn't have served him," I screamed at her. "He was drunk out of his skull today and you carried on serving him. When other people walk in here and they are drunk you refuse to serve them for exactly that, so why did you serve him, why did you have to serve him," I spat, staring to cry
"Because he's been a drinker in this pub for twenty six years, long before your father and I had the place and because I didn't know he was gonna go home and kill his wife and beat up his son. I'm sorry Joey, I made a bad call, I didn't know ok… I didn't know," she shouted back at me.
My mum started to cry and I knew that I had made her feel responsible. I didn't want to upset her, I just wanted someone to blame. I got up and quickly went over and hugged her. She gripped me tight and once again the floodgates opened and we sobbed in each other's arms.
Roman came back in the room with the tea and sat down silently letting us have our moment. "Is there anything I can do?" he asked, probably to both of us.
"Can I go see him mum; will you let Roman take me to see him?" I asked wiping my wet cheeks with my sleeve looking at her.
She sighed. "I should speak to your father, I mean the police might be there and I really don't want you getting involved with that side of it Joey. I think we need to stay out of this as much as possible."
"Mum, his mother is dead and his dad is an asshole who has to go to jail for this, who else is gonna be there for him? His other family are far away and they all hate the fact that he's gay, so they ain't gonna give a shit, who else does he have?"
"I understand what you're saying Joey, I'm fond of Jack too but…"
"Mum, please! Please let me do this," I pleaded with her.
"Mum, I think you should let him go. But Joey, you need to tell Mum the reason why she needs to let you go for this all to make more sense."
"ROMAN!" I squealed.
"What do you mean the reason why?" asked my mum looking between Roman and me.
"Roman, shut up, I don't need this right now," I said, not actually believing what he had just said.
"Joey?" My mum asked, a perplexed look on her face.
"Joey, just tell her." I shot Roman a look which would have killed him if looks could. The three of us stood looking at each other in silence, no one wanting to reveal what each of us already probably knew.
"Joey, are you and this boy involved in something I should know about?" my mum asked. It felt like a cryptic question. Either that or she really wasn't picking up the fucking obvious."
"Involved, in what way?" I asked, probably sounding defensive. But I wanted her to play this out, rather than me having to tell her.
"Involved, as in are you seeing each other?" she replied, her voice calm but stern. I pulled my hands up to my face and sighed.
"I don't know what we are mum, but yes, I have feelings for him and he does for me," I said. "Are you happy now Roman?" I added, glaring at him.
"Joey its cool you know, you don't have to be afraid of this."
"Thanks for the pep talk bro, but this was hardly the time to start discussing such a private and personal issue in front of mum. It should have been my choice to do when I was ready."
"Excuse me boys, but I am still in the room," my mum cut in folding her arms. "Joey, you and Roman can go to the hospital to see Jack. I need to get back downstairs now I have left Christie on her own."
"Thanks mum," I said, giving her a thoughtful glance, but equally surprised she didn't force the topic any further, until…
"I had a lesbian affair when I was eighteen, but please don't say anything to your father," She casually remarked before heading back downstairs. Roman and I looked at each other flabbergasted at the comment.
"Did she just say what I think she said?" I asked him, my jaw still on the floor.
"Uh… yeah, I think you heard it right."
"But why would she say…"
"I think the message you need to take from that admission Joey was her way of telling you she gets it, and that you should give her more credit."
"Uh huh," was all I could reply with, nodding.
"Wow, mum with another woman, the world just gets stranger," Roman remarked to himself before shaking his head. "So C'mon bro lets go. By the way, do you even know where he is?"
"The ambulance they sent had a guy with a St Anne's logo on his bag and that would be the closest one with an emergency department so…"
"Ok, let's get out of here then, I know where St Anne's is. We left the pub via the side gate and quickly rushed over to Roman's car. It was taking ages to get there as the traffic was heavy and bad thoughts were starting to invade my mind.
"Someone up there fucking hates me" I hissed as we got stuck behind a bus doing ten miles per hour.
"Just calm down Joey, getting uptight is not gonna help you or Jack."
I just closed my eyes and tried to calm myself down with some deep breaths.
"I don't think I can go in there Roman."
"What do you mean Joey? You've been on at me to take you so here we are." Roman replied as we stood outside the main entrance to the hospital. I was shaking. I didn't even know if he was gonna be alive when we went in, or what injuries he had. What if he was in a coma or worse, what if he died minutes ago?
"Ok, can I just have a minute," I asked, my breathing rapid and hands clammy. Roman pulled me into a tight hug and stroked my hair.
Roman had always been like that with me. Even though we used to fight like cats and dogs as most brothers do, he was always there for me when I needed him, springing up at the perfect time when there was some sort of crisis happening in my life. Today though, I don't think I have ever needed him so much, and his hugs, the ones he was never afraid of giving me, it felt so reassuring.
Like me, he had always been in touch with his feelings, and was never shy of showing emotion or support when family or friends needed it. Sure, he was, and still can be a complete ass, but when you need Roman to be serious and thoughtful, that's exactly what you get.
I continued to bury my head into his warm chest and get myself together. At six foot four he towered over me which somehow made me feel even more safe with him, but alas, it was time to face the music and go in.
"Ready to do this bro?" he asked, gently pushing me away.
"As much as I'll ever be I guess." He winked at my reply and we walked through the sliding doors and up to the main desk.
A middle-aged woman sat behind the square enclosure and Roman let me move ahead of him to speak to her.
"Can I help you?" she asked, with one of those smiles that said I really don't want to be disturbed.
"Yeah, uh, I'm just wondering if I could see a friend of mine. His name is Jack Stanton."
"Hmm, Stanton. One moment, let me check for you."
"Thanks, " I said, turning to Roman, more for silent support than anything meaningful. He simply smiled at me and I turned backwards to the woman.
"Yes, I have found him for you. He has been moved to a ward. If you wish I will phone the staff nurse and find out if she will accept visiting."
"So does that mean he's ok…I mean on a ward means he's not gonna die or anything?" I asked in a desperate tone.
"Well, young man, usually when someone is moved to a ward it means things have improved but I do not know your friend's condition so I really wouldn't like to comment. However the staff nurse may be able to tell you a little more."
"Thank you," I said, a wave of relief washing through my body.
The receptionist dialled a number and chatted away to someone on the other end before placing the phone down and turning to me. "You may go up, but visiting is restricted to half an hour. Mr Stanton has received a sedative and pain relief and the nurse does not want him getting too excited."
"Ok, yes… a half hour, that's fine. So where is he?"
"He's on Churchill ward. Take the lift to the sixth floor and turn left. The entrance to the ward is right in front of you. Please register yourself at the desk when you enter and please use the alcohol gel provided before you go in. It's attached to the wall outside the ward."
Roman and I headed over to a set of lifts on the far side of the large waiting area and I called one to collect us. As we waited for the elevator to come I went inside my head and started to think about what Jack would look like when I saw him. I was preparing for the worst as my mind flashed back to where I first saw him bloodied and bruised, slumped up against the wall. I was pulled from my thoughts as the doors opened with the familiar bing bong sound and we stepped in.
I pressed the number on the panel and the doors closed, taking us up. "Are you ok squirt?"
"Yeah, Ro, just a bit nervous, that's all."
"I'm sure they have got him all nice and comfortable."
I forced a smile. "Yeah, I hope so."
The doors opened and we stepped out into the corridor. I looked left and right. Right being the entrance to Queen Elizabeth ward, and as the woman stated, the left being Churchill ward. We both walked to the door and saw the gel she was talking about and I pumped out a generous amount onto my hands, the fumes making my eyes sting.
"Shit, this stuff is strong," I remarked.
"Yeah, I bet the germs don't like it either," Roman said, cracking a smile at me squinting.
I took a deep breath, looked at my brother and pushed open the stiff door. I was expecting there to be a desk with about a dozen or so beds in it but it seemed every patient had their own separate room which was nice. There was about four off to the right and six or so to the left, and what I assumed to be utility rooms scattered in between. I stepped a few paces forward and tentatively approached the woman who was sitting behind another desk tapping away on a computer.
"Hello…uh, I'm here to see Jack Stanton?"
"Ah yes hello there, and what's your name darling?"
"I'm Joey Cork, and this is my brother Roman."
"Thank you, and what's your relationship to Mr Stanton?"
"Well, um…he works at my parent's pub and he's my friend."
"Ok that's fine. Now I need to warn you Mr Stanton does have some cuts and bruises on his face that look worse than they are so please do not be alarmed. In time these will heal but I wanted to let you know as some visitors can be quite shocked when they first see someone with injuries such as Jack's."
"Yes I have wondered what state he would be in but I have prepared myself."
"Good. Now I need to ask you a couple of questions before I let you go in there."
"Are you aware of the situation surrounding him being here?"
"Yes I was at his house after it had taken place."
"Ok, now please do not make reference to any of his family members or offer any information or opinions on what you saw. There is a police investigation currently taking place and it's crucial that Jack does not get confused. If he offers any information himself then that's fine you can listen and agree, but no answers should be offered back ok?"
"Yes Sister, thank you."
"Ok if you follow me, young Jack is in the last room down the corridor. The lights have been dimmed for his comfort, so please do not adjust them."
"Of course…uh please, before we go in can I ask…"
"Yes of course," the nurse said, stopping.
"Can you tell me what injuries he suffered?"
"Yes, there was some blunt force trauma to his head causing a fractured skull. He has two broken ribs and a fractured arm. The cuts to his face are superficial and will heal so there will be no lasting damage."
"Will he be ok…I mean like normal again?"
"Oh yes, the body is a remarkable piece of Kit. Jack will make a full recovery and there will be no lasting physical effects. There is some concussion but thankfully there was no swelling or bleeding on his brain so it's just a matter of waiting for his skull to heal and the other bones. Like you Joey, he's young and he'll heal up just fine." She said finishing with a reassuring smile. I smiled back, for the first time actually feeling like it was natural.
We continued to head down the corridor until we reached his room. The blinds were closed and the door was shut making the anticipation of seeing him even more suspenseful. The nurse slowly opened the door and popped her head in.
"Jack, you have some visitors." I didn't hear his response but it must have been ok because she pushed the door fully open and waved us in.
I peered inside and immediately and involuntarily let out a sob as my eyes settled on his face. "How could someone do this to you," I whispered, before fully entering the room. Roman went and sat down in a chair opposite Jack's bed and stayed quiet. I just stood there like a fool, my eyes fixed on Jack's, his on mine. His face said it all, he knew, and he knew that I knew. His mother was dead, and I felt utterly gutted for him. A small tear departed his eye and slowly travelled down his cheek, leaving a trail where wet replaced dry.
I stepped forward and gently placed a kissed on his bandaged forehead before sitting down on a chair beside his bed.
"I tried to stop him you know, I tried with everything I had but he was too strong," Jack said, his voice husky, hoarse, and it was barely a whisper."
"I know you would have done Jack, I know"
"I saw the look of fear in her eyes as he beat her. He was kicking her in the stomach and I jumped on top of him trying to get him off her but he threw me off and then started on me."
"You don't have to talk about this Jack," I said, but he continued anyway.
"I was glad you know… that he was leaving her alone. He was…he was punching me in the head and then I felt him kick me in the chest, then he punched my head again and I felt a cracking sound and don't remember anymore. I failed Joey, I tried to save my mum and I failed."
"Hey don't you say that, you did everything you could, I'm sure of that."
"She had such a sweet face my mum, I can see it now, it's all I've thought about since I came round and they told me. She was so happy when he wasn't there and now I'll never see her again, never feel her warm hugs, never…" He started to gently sob unable to talk anymore. I gently rested my hand on his shoulder and looked over at Roman, seeing that his eyes were also wet.
"I…I'm an orphan Joey, I don't know what I'm going to do."
"That is something you don't need to worry about Jack, I'm gonna think of something. Have the police been to see you?"
"Yeah they were here when I woke up; I told them everything just like I told you."
"Have they said what happens next?"
"Joey, remember what the Nurse said." Roman called over to me.
"What did the nurse tell you?" Jack asked, painfully twisting his neck to look at me
"That I shouldn't ask you questions about stuff and just listen to you."
"Well you haven't asked me anything so there is no problem," he replied, trying to sit up a little.
"You need some help there?"
"No its fine, I just have to do it gently, My pain meds are wearing off and I'm not allowed anymore for a while, it just hurts a bit that's all. In answer to your question I don't know what happens next. I just keep thinking about my mum and what's gonna happen to her. Do you think they are looking after her?"
I looked at Roman. How was I supposed to answer that question, I didn't know what happened to people when they died. I had watched Six Feet Under and CSI but that was TV, I didn't know if she was wrapped up in a blanket or on a cold slab in some lab being cut open. Roman got up and stepped towards the end of Jack's bed.
"Hey man, I don't know much about what you're asking but I'm sure your mum is being treated with the respect she deserves.
"I hope so, she needs someone around her now, to look after her, I can't bear the thought she's alone somewhere."
"I'm sure she's not Jack, I'm sure she's not."
"Sorry I'm so rude, you must be Roman…you look like him you know."
"Hey guy, you have nothing to be sorry for, who I am is the last thing I expect to be on your mind. But nice to meet you Jack, I'm really sorry about what you've gone through and just to you know, if you and my brother get together, I really hope it works out and you can one day be happy again."
"Get together?" Jack asked a confused look on his face.
"Forget it Jack, It's not important," I said, glaring at Roman. Him and his fucking big mouth! "But he is right. One day you will be happy again, and you will not have to put up with your dad ever again."
I heard the door open and the nurse came in and told us it was time we had to leave. I really wanted to stay and comfort Jack, I wanted to have that feeling back again what we had in the tent, but we were both worlds away from that. I got up and gently placed my hand on his head and winked at him.
"I'm gonna see if I can get out of school, and then I'm gonna come see you as soon as I'm allowed."
"No Joey, go to school, don't start missing stuff because of me."
"I can't Jack, I wanna be here with you, and someone has to be."
"Just don't get into trouble ok?" I didn't answer him and just winked instead.
"C'mon Joey, you heard the nurse, let's leave Jack in peace and quiet," my brother said, pulling at my arm.
We stepped out of the lift and headed out of the hospital back to Roman's car. He climbed in and opened the door for me so I could get in. Strangely he sat there without starting the engine, his hands on his lap.
"Well, are we going?"
"Why not?" I asked.
"Because you need to understand what you are thinking is not gonna happen and I would rather you talk to me about it rather than shout at mum again when she says no."
"I don't know what you're talking about Ro."
"I think you do Joe, and I think you are way in over your head if you think this can work out."
I sighed. "Roman, when he leaves that hospital he is homeless. If…when his dad goes to prison the state is gonna take that house and move new people in, he won't have anywhere to go."
"Joey look, don't take this the wrong way but Jack is not our responsibility, certainly not mum and dad's." Roman sighed. "Look, I dunno how this works but I'm sure he will have accommodation supplied for him from the state if he's homeless."
"Roman, I'm not gonna see him discharged from hospital trying to get well in some drug infested hostel."
"All I'm saying is, if you do ask mum and dad and they say no, I don't want you shouting and screaming at them, it's not their fault this has happened to Jack, and you know that deep down."
"I gotta try Ro, I gotta try and help him. It breaks me to think of what sort of life he has ahead of him. His mother is dead and his father is a murderer, how can mum and dad turn away a homeless and parentless person."
"Like I said, I'm not being cold here but I think they will think what I am… that it's not their responsibility. Look at it this way, he needs to be fed, clothed, not to mentioned there is the problem of where to put him."
"My room of course and with the other issues you raise, he does work there already so that can go towards his board and lodgings."
"Jesus, you already have this all worked out don't you?"
"As it happens no, all this is coming to me while we talk. Your right I probably don't have all the facts and no, I don't know how much it costs to keep someone our age, but what would you do Roman? What would you do if you really liked someone and they needed your help, wouldn't you go to mum and dad and ask them for help?"
"That's not a fair argument."
"Because I've never been in that situation so I can't answer it. Joey, I'm not trying to go against you on this, in fact I'm trying to help you by giving you a neutral opinion."
"He called me Roman…while all this was going on at his house, of all the people he could of contacted, he called me, why?"
"I don't know, but the police would have been a better option given what was going on there."
"I think he thought he could handle it like he always has, but when it got bad, I think he called me because I was all he had to call. Don't you think that's sad?"
"Yeah Joey, I do."
"So will you help me?"
"Help you, what can I do?"
"Help me convince mum and dad to let him come stay with us, at least until he gets himself sorted."
"Oh Joey, you know how these things work, someone comes and stays for a couple of weeks and then months and before you know where you are three years have gone by."
"I thought you said you weren't trying to go against me on this." I said huffing.
"I'm not Joe, but I just don't think you are thinking clearly right now."
"Oh, so now I'm not thinking clearly, first you were saying I hadn't thought it through enough."
"Ok, I'll help you, just don't expect this to go the way you're hoping, that's all I'm gonna say."
"Fine, just back me up on my reasons, that's all I ask."
"Ok, we better get back, I'm sure the rents are already worrying."
"Yeah, probably about a barrel that needs changing knowing mum."
Roman just rolled his eyes and started the car. I knew he was right, it was going to be an uphill struggle to get mum and dad to agree to what I was gonna ask of them, but I had to try. Next would be telling Shaun and Dean the latest and I knew there was going to be a million questions there.
Jesus, What a mess!
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