Majorca Flats 619

 

Twenty minutes went by before his phone rang again.

“We’re out the front of the hospital.  Where are you?”  It was Jason.

“There’s a cafeteria near the front.  On the ground floor.  Or maybe the mezzanine floor, I can’t work it out. I’m sitting having a coffee.”

“We’ll see you in a minute.”

They came into the café.  It felt good to see them.  They gave him a group hug, and then, to his embarrassment and pleasure, all three kissed him.

“How long will they be with Cody?”

“I don’t know.  They didn’t tell me very much.  They’ve got to remove the bullet and maybe there are broken bones.  Maybe they have to put a pin in or something.”

“Didn’ ya ask?”  Keith wanted to know.

“No,” said Luigi.  He looked at Keith for several heartbeats, then added, “I was afraid.  What if it had gone into his heart or something.”  Again he was silent.  They all were, staring at him solemnly.

“Well, not his heart, I don’t think,” said Esmé.  “Or his lungs.  Or his spine.  But his ribs, yes.  Having a broken bone is very painful.  A huge shock to the system.  It’s not surprising he fainted.”

Keith flicked his eyes towards her, wondering when she had broken a bone, and realising that it had probably been broken by her father.  He said to Luigi,  “Hey’ll bey OK, mite.  They got ta him on toime.  Hey’s young and strong.”

“But what if he doesn’t want to live?” asked Luigi quietly.

Keith took Luigi’s hand.  “From what ya said earlier, hey saved ya loife.  Both ya loifes.  That’s not the action of someone in despair.  That someone who seys the point in livin’.”

“But afterwards … it’ll all come back.  Philippa and his kids and his job and …. us.”

“Yeah.  But you must worry about that tomorrow, and the day after.  Right now we’ll worry about the op, and how Cody will feel afterwards.”  Jason was firm.

“What if he dies?”

“He won’t.  He’ll be OK.”  Jason was so sure that Luigi felt his own confidence rise.

 

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Majorca Flats 618

 

His phone rang.  It was Jason.

“Where are you, gayboy?”

“I’m having brekker.  And you?”

“Keith’s just finding a parking place and then we’re going to come and sit with you.  What’s happening with Cody?”

“They’re operating now.”

Jason was silent for a moment, and then he said, awkwardly, and tenderly, “He’ll be OK, Lou.”

When Luigi didn’t answer, Jason said, “We’ll see you in a few minutes, my dear.”  He disconnected.

Luigi felt a little better.  It wasn’t logical, because after all, what did Jason know about Cody’s state of health?  But—he wasn’t alone.  He had friends.  People who loved him.  People who cared.  People who stood by him.  People who would share his burden, whatever it was—the death of Cody or his becoming angry and depressed and withdrawn.  And suddenly the immense weight that was dragging him to the floor was not so heavy, and the numb greyness in his heart began to lift.  His friends were on their way.

He hadn’t really had friends before.  Not true friends.  At school, he’d been too queeny for the other guys to befriend him.  His family—pah!  His father had beaten him up, pretty seriously.  After he’d left school, he’d had Richard, and Richard’s friends had become his acquaintances.  And after Richard had died, he’d had pickups.  Lots and lots of pickups.  Until Cody.  And then Jason.  And impossibly, wonderfully, inexplicably, Jason—macho, manly, straight-acting Jason—had folded him into the arms of his love and affection, had made him part of his life.  And had brought in Keith and Esmé and Eleanor Cumberledge and Lucasta Ellesmere (or whatever her real name was!) and had made him part of a family.  Not a conventional family, no.  But his own conventional family had rejected him, apart from his nonna.  This was his new family.  These were the people he knew he could rely on, who would be with him through thick and thin, who cared, who loved him for him, who didn’t give a flying fuck that he was a flaming gay with issues.

Tears pricked his eyes, and his smile was wry.  But he felt better.

 

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Beachy Head

Beachy Head is a chalk promontory and cliff in Sussex.  It’s rather beautiful.  The chalk is gradually being eroded by the sea, so the cliff is slowly retreating.  Since the chalk is composed of the shells of ancient sea molluscs, it’s only right that the sea is reclaiming its own.  We used to live in similar chalk lands in Norfolk in the east of England.

Beachy Head

Majorca Flats, 617

The nurse went away.  Luigi sat down again, holding Cody’s hand in his.

About ten minutes passed.  Then orderlies arrived to wheel Cody down to the operating theatre.

Luigi bent down and kissed Cody on his forehead.

“I love you, Coads.” he murmured. Turning to the orderlies, he asked in a more normal tone, “Where will you be bringing him back to, afterwards?  Here?”

“No, we’ll be taking him to the intensive care unit.”

“Why does he need intensive care?” asked Luigi, terror making his heart thud.

“He’s had a massive shock.  To have a bullet go into your body like that isn’t just a physical shock to the body, it’s an emotional one to the mind, too.  We want to watch him carefully as he recovers.”

Luigi watched them wheel Cody away.  He’d read long ago that shock by itself was enough to kill.  Now he understood just what the writer had meant: Cody might die from the shock, even if the wound by itself wasn’t fatal.  He felt suspended in darkness.  There was neither hope nor despair.  Just numbness.  I suppose, he thought, I should get something to eat.  With shoulders slumped and steps dragging, he followed the signs to the café on the ground floor.

He didn’t feel like eating, but the latte he ordered was well made, and the slices of wholewheat toast and marmalade filled a hollow he hadn’t realised he had.  Now, he was glad he’d automatically put his wallet in his pocket when he’d left his flat that morning.

He sipped his coffee and chewed his toast and waited, while upstairs a surgeon and an anaesthetist and a whole panoply of medical experts worked to save Cody’s life.

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