At the hospital.
Doctors haven’t said anything yet, even though we’ve been here for four hours. They ran various tests, asked the same questions over and over and muttered incoherent responses to everything I said. In the end, nothing. Just that we’d have to stay overnight.
So five beds were rolled into one of the larger suites and here we all are, four o’clock in the fucking morning. Everyone but me is asleep. Gerard and Ray never woke up. Bob passed out not long after we got here, blood loss they said. And Mikey was just plumb exhausted, once he realized there was nothing more he could do, he could barely keep his eyes open. But he tried. He couldn’t stand to leave Gerard unprotected I think. I finally told him to go to sleep, I’d watch after everything.
Sleep is not an option for me. My brain just won’t shut off. I keep reliving everything that happened on the bus, like a movie, the tape just won’t stop playing. I see everything I should have done differently. It’s all my fault. And now Gerard and Ray, and who knows, maybe even Bob, lay on their deathbeds. And if they die, there’s no way Mikey will make it through. Neither will I.
In a way it doesn’t even matter if they live or die. I know that sounds awful, and that’s not what I mean. Of course I want them to live. I give everything I have to make them live. I’d die to let them live. But dead or alive that doesn’t change what happened. It doesn’t erase what I did to get us where we are now. I messed up bad, that can’t be forgiven. I don’t deserve to be around these guys. I didn’t trust them enough to go to them in the beginning, and that, more than anything else, was my biggest mistake. They deserve better than that and I’ll make sure they get it.
I sit in the dark, listening to four bodies breathe in time. Some stronger, some shallow, all sounding incredibly fragile. I’m still here as Jason. The make up washed off when they treated my arm, but a friendly old nurse offered me some of hers, after I started to have a panic attack over it. It’s bad enough, everything that’s happened already. Having to explain why Jason has Frank’s tattoos would be just the icing on the cake now wouldn’t it. The door opens a crack and a doctor pokes his head in. His eyes meet mine and I nod once then get up and follow him out. Once we’re safely in the hallway he closes the door and turns to face me.
“We have the results on your friends,” he begins. It’s a neutral opener, it means nothing. There’s no set up either way, not for good news, but not bad either. Probably some of both. Better than all bad I guess. I nod.
“Would you like to wake Mr. Way?” he asks. Technically Mikey and I are no longer checked into this hospital, so Mikey should be out here like a grief stricken relative with the rest of the grief stricken relatives. I shake my head.
“Let him sleep.”
The doctor nods sympathetically. “Where would you like me to start?”
“Let’s have the worst first, get it over with.”
He nods again. “The older Mr. Way –”
“Gerard,” I interrupt.
“Gerard,” he amends. “Was the most severely injured. The bullet pierced a lung and he lost a considerable amount of blood. He was also the first injured, is that correct?”
He looks to me for confirmation, although we’ve been over this a dozen times before. His question makes the tape start all over in my head. I manage a nod.
“The time between injury and treatment was far from ideal.”
He’s rambling and it’s annoying the shit out of me. “Doc,” I ask. “Is he going to wake up?”
The doctor is silent for a long time. Not a good sign. “I don’t know. If he doesn’t wake before sunup, it’s doubtful he ever will. Even if he does, he won’t ever sing again. The lung was too badly damaged. He won’t be able to do anything that would leave him out of breath, it would kill him for sure.”
I stare at the floor. That was the worst, I asked for the worst first. So it should get better from here, right? Because I can’t handle anymore bad news.
“Mr. Toro suffered a moderate concussion and some swelling of the brain, but luckily it was minimal. No surgery was required. He should wake on his own within a day. If he doesn’t, then it’s time to start worrying. But all our tests show that he will. Once he does, we’ll be able to determine the extent of the brain damage.”
Well there’s one piece of good news. If they’re right, then Ray will take care of everything all on his own. He’ll just wake up, rise and shine, and everything will be ok again. Easy peasy pumpkin peasy, pumpkin pie motherfucker. If we’re lucky. If there’s no noticeable brain damage. Otherwise everyone’s favorite guitarist could be a vegetable for the rest of his life.
“And Bob?” I ask
“His leg is pretty bad. He won’t be able to walk on it for quite some time. The amount of stress he’s already put on it may prove to be too much. It will be a while before we can determine whether or not he’ll ever walk again.”
I nod numbly. I’ve barely had time to process this new bit of information when the doctor continues.
“The younger Mr. Way,” he pauses to check his chart. “Michael –”
“Mikey,” I correct automatically.
“Mikey physically is completely fine. The cut on his neck is minor, and poses no immediate threat to his health. Emotionally however, he’s unstable. Once things settle down a bit, if he doesn’t return to his normal self I’d recommend counseling.”
I nod though there’s no way in hell I’m sending Mikey to a shrink. He just saw his brother shot for fuck’s sake, he’s earned to right to be a bit unstable. I’m not going to be the one to force him to sit down with some stranger and talk about his feelings.
“You’ll have some noticeable scarring, but if everything heals properly and nothing gets infected you’re arm should be fine.”
I smirk at his word choice. Sure the arm might be fine, but I never will be. I thank the doctor a make my way back into the room. Everyone is still sleeping. This is the end then. I gather my things and head toward the door. I pause at the threshold and look back sadly. I’m surprised I don’t feel more than this. My life as I know it is over and I’m walking away from the only things that could make it better. But I’m drained. There’s no energy left to feel anything.
I love these guys more than life, and I hurt them. Now every time I see them I’ll be reminded of what I did. I can’t stand that. The only option left is to make sure I never see them again. With a sigh I turn and face the door, but I can’t bring myself to open it. I hear a soft rustle behind me.
“Frank?” a sleepy voice asks. My breath hitches in my chest. I turn around. “Frank, you weren’t there. It was awful.”
“I know, Mikey, but it’s over. I’m sorry I left you with her. You’ll never know how sorry. Now, go to sleep.”
He mumbles something I don’t understand, his logic smother by exhaustion. When he wakes he’ll probably convince himself I’m just a dream. He rolls over and is promptly snoring again.
Not giving myself a chance to change my mind, I turn and quickly exit the room. I can’t ever go back.
So sorry that took so long. I originally had a happy ending planned, but I couldn't do it, it goes against my nature. There's one more after this. I already have it written, so I promise it won't take as long. Then its done! sob sob. Love you to pieces (don't make me make that literal).