The Saturday Boy
Roman dropped me off at the hospital once again and I got up to Jack's ward as fast as I could. I was excited, not only because I was seeing him again, but because no matter what shit was coming my way from Shaun and his family, I knew the truth. It was because I knew the truth, I could make sense of it in my head finally and tell Jack what was really going on… make him see what a crazy piece of shit my former friend was.
One thing that did worry me was what Shaun had planned for Jack and I. Foremost, I didn't want anything to affect his recovery, but it also worried me that he might gain access to Jack and some point and start the poison flowing again. Sure, I knew Jack was capable of making up his own mind in normal circumstances, but these were not normal times for him. He was under a lot of stress, drugs and grief, and because of that he could be easily influenced, I was certain.
I approached the desk, coming into contact with the lovely Nurse Bates. "Has he been behaving?" I asked her, grinning.
"He is when you're not here, but I'm glad you are, I think he'll need a visitor after the police leave."
"They're here…like now?"
"Yes, so you will need to wait until they are finished."
"Yes of course," I said, looking down the corridor towards his room.
"Do you know what they are here for?"
"If I did know, I'm not at liberty to say, but I don't. They just said they needed to speak to him."
"Hmm, I just hope they are being tactful."
"Take a seat, Joey, you can go in as soon as they come out, unless he refuses you of course."
"Why would he refuse me?"
"He may wish to be alone for a while. I'm just mentioning just in case, that's all."
"Nurse Bates, can I ask you something?"
"Of course Joey, but I do have rounds to do shortly and I don't want you to think me rude."
"No, of course not, I was just wondering if Jack had mentioned anymore about his mother?"
"You mean if he still thinks she's alive?"
"I think he knows the answer deep down Joey, he's desperately trying to deny it from himself, but I think after this visit by the police it's bound to make it evident, after all there is only going to be one reason they are here."
"Yes, I guess you're right, I just hope he can recover from this."
"He's young Joey, the death of a parent is always a tragedy, especially when someone loses theirs at such a young age. It's true that he may never get over it, but, with the right support, he will learn to live with it."
"I intend to give him that support, he can be sure of that." I said, meaningfully.
I picked up a woman's magazine and started to read it, fascinated by a story advertised on the front page that talked about 'ways to satisfy your man'.
Nurse Bates grinned. "Picking up any good tips?" she asked, turning me a deep shade of crimson.
"I uh… no just something to read that's all." I replied, quickly putting the mag down. Moments later I heard the click of a door and two police officers walked out of Jack's room. They passed by me, and as soon as they went through the door I got up.
Peering through the half open blinds to Jack's room, I could see he had been crying, his eyes and face wet. He was staring at the ceiling having not noticed me, so I gently tapped on the window, causing him to look over at me. I waited for his reaction, wondering for a split second if he was going to tell me to go away, but thankfully he waved me in.
"Tough day, huh?" I asked, wiping a stray tear out of his eye.
"You could say that."
"Wanna talk about it?"
"It's just some stuff about my mum and dad. I don't really want to know about it, but I guess they have to tell me. Sometimes I wake up and wonder where I am Joey, and… and I hope it's all just been a stupid dream, and then I realise where I am… still in this damn hospital."
"It's easy for me to say Jack, but this will get easier, I promise."
"Are you going to start telling me my mother is dead again?… don't worry I know she is. I know because I can feel it. No matter how much I tell myself she's not, my heart says otherwise. I feel like I'm tumbling down some water well, you know, like in Alice in Wonderland."
"I wasn't going to mention your mum Jack, I thought it best not to."
"It's ok, you know, in some way I'm glad she's out of it all, she had a really shit life with my dad. I guess I never wanted to admit how bad she had it… come to think of it, I don't think she ever did either, but he can't hurt her anymore, no one can. She's up there with the angels and I'm stuck down here in a living hell."
"Hey, you have me." I said, feeling so helpless. Some part of me knew that despite what he was saying was as morbid as shit, it was doing him good, so I let him carry on and I just listened.
"Thanks Joey, I'm glad you're here, really I am, and I'm sorry if I'm depressing you."
"Not at all Jack, It's good to talk about this stuff, just call me your agony uncle," I said trying to gently lighten the mood.
"You know, no matter how many drugs they give me, how comforted I am and how much you tell me this is going to be ok, I still have this ache in my chest, like my heart has been ripped out, it's actually a physical dull pain."
"I know Jack, and there is nothing I can say to make this right, you just have to grieve and slowly things will get better, just don't hold stuff in ok, I read somewhere it can be bad for you."
"Hold stuff in? Man, I don't know if I can keep anything from getting out."
"That's good, Jack, That's really good."
"Nurse Bates said that I…" he started, but I couldn't hold it in any longer I had to tell him.
"I want you to come and live with me Jack," I blurted cutting him off. "I want you to come and live with me because I'm totally in love with you and I wanna help you get through this. I should have told you earlier, but it never seemed like the right time. I hope you say yes, because I think I will die if you go somewhere else, and I'm gonna shut up now because I am becoming aware I'm babbling like an idiot!" I took a breath and waited for a response, but nothing came immediately. I noticed that I was almost cowering, like some rock was about to fall on my head, but really it was just through sheer dread of getting rejected.
"Live with you, but… but what about your parents?"
"They already agreed," I said quickly, just in case he worried about that.
"Have you planned this all behind my back?"
"Do you know, I knew you were going to think that… no I have not planned anything behind your back? Like I said, it never seemed like the right time; you got a lot going on and besides that our conversations have been as such where it wasn't appropriate to bring up where you will live when you get out of here."
"But where will I sleep?"
"My room, of course, pending authorization from my mother," I said rolling my eyes. "If not then with Roman, either way I would really like you to think about it."
"God, you've really thought about this haven't you."
"Yeah, I have Jack, I've thought of nothing else. Just…just let me take care of you will ya, I really want to do this. I want you in my life and I want you close," I pleaded.
"And Shaun?" He asked, my face contorting under the weight of his name being mentioned.
"Yeah, we need to talk about that, but I was going to wait until you were a bit better."
"Does it matter?"
"Does it matter… what a stupid… of course it matters Joey!"
"Do you really want me to go into this now?" I asked, scratching my head.
"Yeah, I wanna know where I am in all this."
"Ok bottom line, me and Shaun are finished as friends. It was never about him liking me, it was all about him liking you, but lying to both of us. I apologised to him, and actually felt sorry for him at one point, but what you will really be interested in is the point hemade about you."
"Which was?" Jack asked, a curious look forming on his face.
"Well, I hate to say I told you so, but the person you were so keen for me to make up with has said that he and me need to drop you… yeah drop you, and then things can go back to normal. We need to get you out of the picture so our friendship can survive."
"He said that?"
"Yes Jack, he said that. As you can clearly see, I turned him down. What's more, he said that if he can't have you then neither can I and so I should expect consequences of continuing to see you."
"You gave up on a whole long standing friendship for me, a person you have only properly known for a month?"
"And it was a damn easy choice, Jack. Shaun is not the friend I once knew, he's turned poisonous and had made it abundantly clear I am not able to be with you, which means he can't see me happy, which means he can't be much of a friend, bla, bla, bla."
"Wait, can you just back up a bit… so he was never into you, it was me?"
"Yep, oh and the whole Spanish kid thing… he did sleep with him, he just didn't want you to think he was a slut or something."
"Really?" Jack said, shocked. "Jesus, poor guy, all those lies he had to tell…"
"Poor guy, are you serious, Jack. He wanted me to drop you, get you out of the picture, and you say, poor guy? He… he thought if I moved out of the way and let him spend some more time with you, you would eventually confess your undying love for him… do you think that's normal"
"No, but… he must know… surely he knows I didn't have any feeling for him that way, I mean it's not like I ever led him on."
"Jack, you haven't done anything wrong, Shaun is in a really bad place right now, quite unstable and probably obsessed with you…oh yeah just like I am."
"Yeah baby, but in a good way," I replied, winking.
Jack looked deep in thought for a moment, staring at his bed sheets, before turning back and looking at me. "So, what do you think these consequences are he talks about?"
I sighed. "With Shaun the way he is? It could be anything, but you don't need to worry about that."
"Get real Joey, of course I need to worry about that, if he's coming after us, then he's coming after, me."
"Has a nice ring to it don't you think?"
"Us… you said us."
"Yeah, does that bother you?"
"Joey, ever since I have been in your life things have turned to shit for you. Why are you willing to sacrifice so much for someone like me? I don't have anything to offer you." Jack said, self loathingly.
Ok, time for some different tactics Joey!
"Yeah?" he replied, barely lifting his head up.
"Shut the fuck up and stop feeling sorry for yourself. You might not think you are good enough for someone to love you but I do. Now you either want to pull your finger out of your ass and walk out of this hospital, or I can leave you to rot and you can wallow in your own self-pity, which is it?"
"That was a bit fucking harsh, Joey!"
"Yeah well stop worrying about other people, think about what you want and what you need and do something about it. Life is shit, but it's better to share the shit with someone who wants to share it with you. You got to stop thinking everything you touch turns to crap, it doesn't. You've been dealt a bad hand granted, but sooner or later everything will even out."
"How would you know, you haven't lost a parent." He hissed at me.
"Bit of anger, that's good. No I haven't lost a parent Jack, I don't know what it feels like, but it wasn't your fault ok, it wasn't your fault. If you wanna hate someone, you hate your old man!"
"I already hated him, but I still blame myself."
Ok Joey, lets ratchet up the pressure!
"Why, what did you do, love her, protect her, defend her? Is that it, is that why you blame yourself, because you did all you could. You should have stood up to your old man Jack, that's what you should of done!"
"What… I… I did stand up to him!"
"Well you seem to blame yourself so obviously you didn't stand up to him enough Jack."
"I did, I did everything I could."
"Well you should have told her to leave him."
"Fuck off Joey, I did, what would you know?"
"Want me to leave? I'll leave… no point me being here if you want to wallow on your own. I thought you had more self-respect Jack, maybe I was wrong." I headed towards the door, having played a very risky strategy, but I needed to get him out of this self-loathing spiral he was in. Everything that was happening he was blaming himself and it was eating him up. He was sobbing, my hand was on the door knob, he said nothing. I began to turn the handle, it was killing me hear him cry, but still he stayed silent. Opening the door I began to walk out. Please Jack, please stay stop, my mind screamed. I was almost out when…
"Wait, please don't go."
"Why?" I asked, but not turning round to look at him.
"Because I love you, and I need you, and… and I miss my mum so much." He sobbed, uncontrollably. I turned round, closed the door and marched over to him. He held out his arms and I collected them, pushing my hands under his back and holding him tightly. I let him nestle his head in my neck.
He just wept!
It was heart breaking for me to see, but I knew he needed to do it. Anger, guilt and regret had built up inside him like some… some toxic substance and the act of crying acted like a fresh mountain stream, washing away all the dirt and grime from his battered soul.
"Jack, you are beautiful, you just need to remember that sometimes," I whispered in to his ear. I gently rocked him back and forth, soothing him. His sobbing slowed noticeably, until all I could hear was the odd sniff. The poor guy must have been exhausted as I could feel his breathing change to a more consistent rhythmic pattern.
He had cried himself to sleep, one of probably many times, I mused.
I sat there with him for what seemed like ages. My back was starting to ache from the weird position I was in but I didn't care. All I could think about was how to help Jack get through this ordeal in his life. I began to daydream about life beyond the heartache for him. I could see him in my mind, at the beach of all places, running around on the sand with a Frisbee and laughing, the hurt and tragedy in his life but a long distant memory. I could also see myself, running to catch the Frisbee, before we fell into each other's arms laughing and joking. The thought made me smile, and for a moment, I closed my eyes too and made a mental note that, that day would happen.
I heard a tap on the window and looked towards the sound. It was Roman, and I realised I must have lost track of time. I waved him in while putting my finger to my mouth. He gently opened the door, easing himself in. I smiled at him, glad he was here, it was nice to see a friendly face in amongst the clinical looking room, and the sorrow pouring from Jack earlier.
"He ok?" Roman whispered, eyeing Jack's still wet face.
"I think everything is going to be ok now Roman… I think he got most of it out." I whispered back, gently stroking Jack's hair, careful not to disturb the bandage.
"Do you want me to stay?"
"Yeah, I think I should leave now anyway, let him rest."
"I can see why you like him, he is kinda cute," My brother sniggered. "You make a nice couple"
I grinned. "Roman, you're not supposed to say such things."
"Hey, why not, I'm comfortable enough with my own sexuality to feel I can say another guy is good looking, and he is."
"You don't have to tell me, I know."
I gently moved my arms out of under Jack and slowly lowered him down so he was again lying on his back. He stirred slightly but remained sleeping. I looked at his soft skin wanting to eat him there and then. Looking up I dimmed the light further down and signalled to Roman I was ready to leave. We crept towards the door and I held it open for Roman. We both stepped out and began walking down the corridor towards the exit.
Down, just outside the main entrance Roman put his arm round me and began to lead me to his car.
"You really love him don't you." Roman said, not really asking.
"Yeah I do, it's nothing I can explain."
Roman sighed. "Yeah I had that once."
"Hey can… can we go somewhere?"
"Dunno, just drive… drive anywhere."
We got in the car and Roman pulled out of the hospital grounds. True to my request he just drove down random roads, until we reached the south east city limit.
"Where are we going?" I asked, as the density of buildings started to reduce.
"I'm serious, where are you heading?"
"I dunno, you asked me to drive, so I'm driving, does there have to be a destination?"
"Is there a hidden meaning in that question?"
"Could be Joey, but regardless, I'm still driving." Roman said, before starting to laugh. He carried on cruising down a main road until pulling off into a small side track. It was bumpy and dusty and I began to wonder if his suspension was about to give out until he stopped abruptly, and switched off the engine. As the dust settled it gave way to what looked like a gorgeous reservoir, lined with trees and fauna. There was an island in the middle occupied by four swans, with Mallard ducks that gently roamed the calm water.
"Wow, this place is beautiful Roman, how did you know it existed?"
He laughed. "Oh… I lost my virginity here. Two days before Christmas when I was fifteen. Kerry someone… I can't think of her last name. We had been to an underage drinking party just up the road from here. Danny Welbert's mum and dad were away in Spain seeing relatives for Christmas. There was this rave thing going on. I remember it snowed that year and the busses had been suspended due to the weather. I was gonna walk home, a stupid idea really, but I was drunk. I remember a girl catching up to me, then she led me here."
"Then what happened?"
"I fucked her brains out of course," he said, matter-of-fact.
"Yeah, that was one word for it, although I remember wondering if my nuts were gonna fall off it was so fucking cold."
"Hey, you were fifteen? Wasn't that around the time…"
He smiled, and raised his brow. "Yeah it was, and I thought we didn't talk about that."
"Yeah sorry we don't, I was just reminded of it that's all."
"Its fine… does it… bother you?"
"I thought we didn't talk about that?" I asked, before smirking. "And no it doesn't. It does pop into my mind now and again, but that's it, what about you?"
"No, I thought it might as time went on, but no, strangely not."
"Just young and stupid right?"
"Yeah," Roman replied. "Just young and Stupid."
"So why are we here?" I asked, looking up at my brother.
"I got the feeling when you said just drive, you wanted to get away from it all for a bit."
"Yeah, I guess I did. Everything just seems so fucking complicated right now. I feel like I'm fighting about ten different wars with everyone. I got problems at school, Jack's in hospital, Shaun has lost his brain, mum's on my case about Mrs Winters and Dean is almost embarrassed to be my friend anymore."
"Bro, you got some heavy shit going on granted, but as the old saying goes, what doesn't kill you will only make you stronger. Let's have a look at the facts. School right… Soon enough, another bit of hot gossip will rip its way through your year and people will soon forget about being a prick to you."
"And the rest of it?"
"Well, Shaun? He will lose interest soon enough. Once he admits he won't win Jack from you he'll go quietly I suspect. He's just angry and fucked up right now Joey. Don't forget, he's just admitted he's gay to his parents, I'm sure that is also influencing his weird behaviour."
"Yeah I guess you may be right… at least I hope you are. The things we was saying while I was in his room were just plain… well it actually scared me Roman, he was like some possessed demon."
"Hmm, well like I said, give it time with that one. As for mum, she knows you are not to blame really, but she has to look like she is taking a hard line with you to satisfy Shaun's mum. I was there when she was on the phone to her the first time Joey, and believe me, she was in your corner as much as she could get away with."
"Yeah, she's not a bad mum I guess, even if she does pay me eighty five pound a week!"
Roman burst into a belly laugh. "You are not gonna let that go are you?"
"Damn right I'm not!" I barked.
"And lastly, Jack will be coming out of hospital soon and you can start playing mother hen with him, cos I know you are dying to molly coddle him."
"Hey, I'm not a pansy, I'm a man, a real one," I squealed, giving roman a shove. "Mother hen… bloody cheek!"
"Wanna get out and have a walk? I think there is a seat just behind those trees, that's if it is still there," Roman said, pointing.
"Sure, lead the way."
We both exited the car and took a slow stroll along the bank, quietly chatting as we walked. The sun was starting to go down and there was a calmness I hadn't felt for a long time. It was just Roman, me and nature. The low sun was casting beautiful shadows across the ground, the deep yellow rays punching through gaps in the trees as we neared the seat Roman mentioned. I fell back into the wooden bench, sighing as I did.
"This place is really nice Roman, don't you think?"
"Yeah it is, mind you I didn't take in the scenery when I was last here, remember?"
"Yeah I don't suppose you did.
"So Joey," Roman started, stretching out. "What's the L T P with Jack?"
"L T P?"
"long term plan." He said.
I shrugged. "Get him better first. Mum says him staying with us is only temporary until the state can sort him something out, but I can't imagine the day when he has to go, that's what my mind can't seem to look past right now. I think I would have to move out Roman."
"I'm sure it won't come to that, and anyway if you told her you were moving out she would probably let him stay just to keep you from leaving, she relies on you too much. Don't over think it Joey. Let's just get Jack out of hospital first."
"Do you know what dad thinks?"
"About Jack coming to stay?"
"No… no I mean about me, being gay. Has he ever said anything?"
"No, why do you ask?"
"I don't know, I just feel like he's in denial or something. He never asks how Jack is, or ever speaks about us becoming a couple… in fact he never says anything that might remotely suggest he has a gay son."
"Joey, this is dad you're talking about! Most of the time he's away in his little dream world. He just likes things simple and uncomplicated, and, well… you know, he's a guy, and guys of his kinda age probably don't really understand what it is to be you… or be gay. He still loves you Joey and I don't think for one minute he's ashamed or regretful you're gay, I just think he doesn't know how to approach the subject."
"You really think so?"
"Yeah joey I do… and you're doing it again!"
"You are over thinking stuff."
"I know, I can't help it lately, I feel like everyone is out to cut me down in some way."
"They're not, trust me. Everyone I know that knows you, cares about you and just wants what's best for you. They don't want to see you get hurt, and even in Dean's primitive little mind, that probably goes for him too."
I inhaled a deep breath and let it out. "Yeah, I know you're right, I just gotta chillax right?"
"Exactly!" Roman said, ruffling my hair.
"So, will you be going away again with the band?"
"Why will you miss me if I did?"
"Is the Pope catholic?"
Roman smirked. "Don't know yet Joey, everyone is taking some time out. Two of the guys have young kids and jobs so it's hard to get us all together to go on the road. I think for now it will just be a few weekend slots, so for now you are stuck with me."
"Good, it's been nice having you back around the place, you've been like my rock, you know that?"
"Ah shut up, don't go getting all emotional on me, you know how easily I well up."
"It's true Roman! Look, I don't wanna go getting all heavy and shit but sometimes I think about… well you know, doing bad things, and… and without you I get scared I might have done."
"Bad things Joey… you mean like…"
"Yeah I mean that!"
"You idiot, things aint that bad!"
I sniggered. "I dunno Roman; they have been fucking shit from my point of view. But don't go getting all worried, I'm feeling better about things now, I think it was just a few mad moments."
"I fucking hope so Joey, if you ever killed yourself, I would kill you!" We both laughed, and it felt good, even if we were talking about me topping myself.
Roman was soon suggesting we start heading back before mum started wondering where we were. I agreed and we left the bench behind, heading back to the car. I felt better about things, Roman was a pro at making things seem less… well intense really. I wondered if mum had been contacted again by Shaun's mum… or worse, the police. None the less, I had work to do when I got back and I fully intended to immerse myself in it, that's if I wasn't being hauled away in the back of a squad car again.
We were nearing the car when my phone buzzed in my pocket. I was absolutely sure it was gonna be my mum asking me where Roman and I had got to, but it was a message from Shaun, and I rolled my eyes.
"Everything ok?" Roman asked, as I stopped walking.
"It's Shaun, I'm just going into the message now."
"What does it say?"
"I'm going to do something to you that will haunt you for the rest of your life."
"I'm sorry," Roman said, his face screwing up.
"That's what it says; you asked what the text said."
"Is that a threat of some kind?"
"Beats me Ro, probably just Shaun having another meltdown," I replied as he unlocked the car.
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