|Queer as Folk FanFic by Morpheus
The Prisoner of Tremont Street
Part 3: Juckin
Jeep fell through a hole in the ice, freezing cold water, must get out, must swim to the surface, swim up. . .
“Wake up, Mr. Kinney.”
“Open your eyes. Wake up now, Mr. Kinney. Open your eyes.”
I open my eyes and I’m looking right into the close-up face of a stranger in a white jacket. I’m not underwater, but I’m still freezing. “Cold,” I say, in a voice that isn’t mine, a mumbly voice. “Cold,” I repeat and the stranger nods.
“You’re in post-op, Mr. Kinney, the room has to be cold, would you like another blanket?”
“You’ve been in surgery and now you’re in post-op.”
“Hoppital?” I can’t talk right, and I’m so confused, my eyes try to see around and past the stranger, it looks like a hospital, maybe he’s a doctor. Bright lights.
”Yes,” he confirms, “You’re in the hospital, you were in an accident. You’ve had surgery and you’re doing fine.”
Surgery? I had surgery? I want to close my eyes again, wake up someplace else. Home. Home in my bed. Turn over and put my arms around –
Suddenly I’m awake, and I try looking around the man again, try to see the room, see if he’s here’s somewhere in this big, bright, freezing cold room. Where is he? Where is he? “Whay i’ he?”
"Pardon?" says the doctor.
"Whay i' Juckin?"
I could scream with frustration, I can't talk right, then I realize I can raise my arm, and I move my hand toward my face, I feel a bandage there, on my chin, and it hurts to touch it. Pushing down my frustration and fear, I try to enunciate clearly, "Boy wi' me, whay i' he? Juckin!"
"A boy with you in the car?"
Yes, yes, you moron, I want to yell at him. "Yeck!"
The doctor/moron disappears, I can't turn my head to see where he's gone, but in a moment he's back and he puts a hand on my arm and squeezes. "The boy is okay, he's here in the hospital, but apparently his injuries are mild."
"He okay? Juckin?"
"Yes," he assures me, and I allow myself to relax slightly. I don't trust him to tell me the truth, but suddenly I remember talking to Justin on the side of the road. He was bleeding, his face was bloody, but he was talking to me, he was moving around.
"Mr. Kinney, we're going to give you some oxygen now, help you wake up. Just relax and breathe normally, okay?" He doesn't wait for an answer but puts a plastic mask over my face and I can feel the air coming into the mask, so I take a few shallow breaths. It hurts to breathe, but I don't want to sleep any more, I need to wake up. I need to see for myself that Justin is okay.
Time passes, eons go by while I lie there helpless, freezing cold, every breath of oxygen hurts my chest, I'm a mass of pain, I can't tell what parts of me hurt, it feels like everything hurts, like my body is one big fucking bruise. Dozens of people dressed in white or green dart back and forth in the vicinity of my bed but no one pays any attention to me, I'm thirsty, I'm dizzy, I hurt like fucking hell, and more than anything else, the overriding worry in my mind is: where the fuck is Justin, is he really okay, and why do I have to be so fucking helpless, imprisoned on this hard narrow bed in the middle of a freezing cold room with blinding bright lights?
Gradually, as I wake up bit by bit, I become aware of individual pains all over my body. I'd already discovered the bandage on my chin, and I gingerly raise my hand to feel the outlines of the bandage, and discover that my lower lip has become puffy and very sore; no wonder I can't speak properly, my bottom lip is the size of Texas. There's some kind of very tight bandage on my chest, which makes it necessary to take shallow breaths, and every breath hurts. Worst of all is an enormous bandage on my left side starting just at my waist and encompassing my upper leg, stopping, from what I can tell, just above the knee. The pain in my hip is incredible, amazing really, I've never felt pain this intense.
I want to sit up, I want to get up, I need a drink of water, but more than anything else, I need to see Justin. The longer I lie here helpless and frustrated, the more worried I become. The doctor said he's okay, but how do I know if he's telling the truth? How do I know if he even knows who Justin is? Maybe he was just placating me. Maybe he didn't want me to worry. Where the fuck is Justin?
"You don't understand, I HAVE TO see him, I can't possibly wait any longer!"
"He's been moved from post-op to ICU," the blond nurse whose name badge proclaims that she is Wendy Harper but who looks like Ted in drag tells me, "There's no visitors in ICU."
"I'm not a visitor, I was with him in the car, I HAVE TO see him, he has to see me!"
"Justin," Mom interrupts in her deceptively gentle way, "Everyone has assured you that Brian's doing fine, so you need to sleep now like the doctor told you. You can probably see Brian when you wake up."
"No." I turn to look at my mother. How can she think I'd fall asleep, knowing Brian's lying somewhere in this hospital? "I promised I wouldn't leave him, and he must think I left him all alone. I have to see him, I have to."
"Mr. Taylor," Wendy says ever-so-patiently in the most condescendingly sickly-sweet voice, "I've explained that you cannot see your friend now. I checked with the doctor, and he assured me the patient is doing fine, and he cannot have visitors."
"I'm not a visitor," I insist, but I look away from her. I'm getting nowhere and I just want her to go away and leave me alone.
"Mr. Taylor, take your medication, please." Wendy holds a paper cup with two Tylenol in one hand and a glass of water in the other. Feeling like a bad actor in a very bad play, I pretend to swallow the pills, holding them under my tongue while I take a drink of water. When Wendy turns away, I glance at my mom, who's getting something - a tissue - from her purse, and I palm the tablets and shove them down beside me under the covers. I'm afraid the pills will make me fall asleep, and I really cannot sleep until I see Brian.
When Wendy's gone, I turn to look at Mom and plaintively I say, "Why don’t you go home now? You've been up all night, you must be exhausted."
"No," she shakes her head, "I want to stay with you."
"Well, I'd rather be alone." I know that sounds mean, but I need to get rid of her. "I just want to sleep, make the time pass more quickly, and I can't sleep if I know you're sitting there staring at me."
"Justin - "
"I'm sorry, Mom, but it's the truth. Please go home, I'll call you later today, when I wake up. Okay?"
Mom shakes her head and sighs; I know I've hurt her feelings. "Okay, sweetheart, I'll leave you alone. But I'll be back this afternoon. And call if you need anything from home."
"I'll need something to wear," I tell her. "They ruined my brand new khakis, they cut off all my clothes." It still galls me that the ER staff wouldn't let me get undressed by myself.
"Okay." Mom comes over to the bed and bends down to kiss my cheek. "Sleep well, sweetheart."
"Thanks, Mom. See you later." I give her a slight smile and watch her walk out of the room. I wonder how long I should wait before making my move?
I let half an hour pass; I'm afraid if I wait longer, I really will fall asleep. I’d watched Luke disconnect the IV line in my arm when he was putting the hospital gown on me in the ER, so I’m able to disconnect it without dislodging the needle taped into my vein. Then I find the little paper slippers they gave me, and re-tie the blue checked gown. Luckily it's quite large and I pray it won't come undone in the back, exposing my butt to anyone walking behind me. I stand in the open doorway for a few minutes, till I get a feel for the hallway, till it seems that all the nurses are away from the nurses' station, just a few yards down the hall, and I slip by and get into the elevator.
That's one hurdle overcome, and I decide to go downstairs, see if I can find the lobby, see if I can find out where ICU is located. The elevator stops at the second floor and two doctors get on. I freeze, waiting for them to demand what I'm doing, but they pay no attention to me, they're deep in conversation about somebody's bowel obstruction. The doctors get off on the first floor, I can see the hospital lobby and there’s quite a few people there, doctors and nurses too, I'm afraid to get off. So I stay on the elevator and go down to the basement.
Stepping out of the elevator, I smell food, what smells like roast beef and onions and gravy, and my stomach growls, I haven't eaten anything since dinner many hours ago. A few yards along the hallway is an entrance to the hospital cafeteria and I peer inside, like the lobby there’s a lot of people sitting at round tables, but no one pays any attention to me. Or that's what I think anyway as I turn away and start down the hall in the opposite direction.
"Hey," I hear somebody call out behind me, but I ignore it and keep on going. "Hey, wait," the voice calls again, and it's closer. Reluctantly I stop and turn around. I'm not a very good secret agent, I've been caught already. Then I see the man who's following me, and it's Luke, the nurse from the ER.
"Hey, Luke," I say, as casually as possible, "How's it going?"
"What you doing wandering around the hospital?" Luke asks. He's carrying a bottle of Dr. Pepper and he drains the last drops and then tosses it into a nearby garbage can. "Lost?"
"Umm, yeah," I admit, "I'm looking for ICU."
"ICU? Why? You're supposed to be in bed asleep, aren't you?"
Sighing, I confess, "I escaped."
Luke laughs then and shakes his head at me, his fuzzy dreads fly around his face. "Bad boy! They need to tie you down, eh? Come on, I'll take you back."
"No!" I pull away from the hand Luke's put on my arm. "Luke, I have to find ICU. My - my friend's there, I have to see him."
No longer laughing, Luke tells me, "No visitors in ICU, sweetie, sorry."
"I'm not a visitor!" I insist, my voice rising. "I have to see Brian, I HAVE TO."
"Shh," Luke warns me, glancing around the hall. "Why you have to see him, boy?"
"After the accident, he was really freaking out," I confide in Luke, "He was scared for me. I know he needs to see me right away, and I need to see him too."
Luke's studying my face, and after a moment he says solemnly, "He's more than a friend, eh?"
I raise my head and stare him in the eye. "He's my lover," I say proudly. Surprisingly, Luke laughs again.
"Well, why didn’t you say so, boy? We got to stick together, right?"
"Oh," I'm surprised, "You too?"
"Sure," Luke nods his head up and down quickly, "Sure. And you got to see your man, right? Well, okay," he says decisively, "I'll help you, but we'll probably both get in trouble."
"Oh, thanks - " I start to say, but he shushes me again. "Wait here, no better yet, go in there." He leads the way a few feet down the hall to a unisex restroom. "Wait here, lock the door, I'll be right back."
Inside the restroom, which has only one toilet and sink, I turn the lock on the door and wait. In just a few minutes there's a soft knock, and I hear Luke say, "It's me, open up." When I open the door, Luke beckons me out and points at a wheelchair he's gotten from somewhere. "Sit here," he instructs me, "And I'll wheel you to ICU. This looks more official than a boy running around the corridors with his ass hanging out, right?"
"Oh!" I exclaim as I sit down on the chair, "It wasn't, was it?" He only laughs and won't answer, then he turns the chair a hundred and eighty degrees and pushes me back down the way I came, then around a few corners till I'm totally lost. We stop at a different bank of elevators, and then Luke pushes me inside and hits the button for the fifth floor. We're alone on the elevator, so he tells me that ICU is on five, close to the OR on six. "Let me do the talking," he warns me as the doors open and he pushes me out onto the floor.
Right outside the elevator door is the nurses' station, and I see several nurses busy there, two talking together and a third off to one side reading something, a patient chart maybe. "Miss Lisa!" Luke addresses her, I can hear the smile in his voice, and when she looks up, she smiles back at him.
"Hi, Luke, what brings you up here?" Lisa is pretty, a small black woman with large red-framed glasses.
"It's like this, darling," Luke lowers his voice. "This poor boy was in a terrible car crash last night, and he just can't relax till he's seen his friend, who's up here in ICU. Can you help us out?"
Lisa glances down at me. "Is your friend Brian Kinney?" she asks me, and the serious look on her face is scaring me. I swallow a sudden lump in my throat and nod my head.
Then she smiles and I feel such relief I almost fall out of the chair. "Oh, thank God you've come!" she tells me, "Mr. Kinney is driving everyone CRAZY, asking over and over and over about 'Juckin.' Are you Juckin?
"Justin," I correct her, "Yes, yes I am, can I see him? Please?"
"Absolutely," she agrees, then she turns to the other nurses and says, "Ladies, here is the one-and-only, world-famous Juckin!" The other women glance at me and start laughing.
"Hooray!" one of them exclaims, and the other rolls her eyes and says, “Thank God, maybe now we can get that patient to calm down and go to sleep!"
Lisa directs Luke to turn my chair around, and says, “He’s in 6B, right this way.” She comes along with us. There's no individual rooms here it seems, just beds in little alcoves. Anxiously I ask the nurse, "Is he badly hurt? Is he going to be okay?"
Lisa puts a hand on my shoulder and squeezes. "He's going to be fine. He has some serious injuries, but with good care from his family, he should make a full recovery. Dr. Kuchner can tell you more if you see him after rounds this afternoon."
I breathe a sigh of relief, and then, following Lisa's directions, Luke pushes me down an aisle and over to a bed in the corner. There’s a long lumpy sheet-covered shape surrounded by machines and two stands with IV bags. Lisa precedes us to the bed and says quietly, “Mr. Kinney, are you still awake?”
“Yeck, yeck!” an angry voice answers her; Brian’s voice, but flabby and strange. He says something else to the nurse, but I can’t understand him, then Lisa interrupts and, patting Brian’s arm, she informs him, “Good news, Mr. Kinney, here is your Juckin, come to visit you!”
On cue, I stand up and approach the bed; I’m unsteady on my feet, partly from exhaustion, partly because I’m afraid of what I will see. But it’s okay, it’s Brian; it’s just so strange to see him lying flat out, immobilized, with a large bandage on his chin and IV tubes running into his arms.
“Brian,” I say, but no sound comes out, I clear my throat and try again, louder, “Brian!”
“Juckin!” he exclaims, then shoots out his right arm and grabs my wrist. “Jeezuh Cride! You okay?”
“Yes, yes, I’m fine,” I assure him, “I’m sorry I couldn’t stay with you, they took me away!” Suddenly I’m horrified to discover that I’ve started to cry, and I bite down hard on my tongue to make myself stop, but it’s not working.
“S’okay,” he says, pulling on my wrist, pulling me closer to the bed, and I turn my hand in his so we can hold onto each other. “S’okay, Juckin, s’okay now.”
I nod but I can’t speak. I’m vaguely aware that Luke and the nurse have moved away, but still I cannot speak.
“Juckin,” Brian squeezes my hand in his, “Sowwy you got hurk, you head okay?”
I nod again, snuffling as hard as I can. “It’s my fault, for making you drive me home.” That starts me off crying again, and Brian squeezes my hand harder, yanking my arm.
“Don’ be stoobug,” he orders me, then he laughs, a choppy, chortling sound. Brian shakes his head and moans, “I soun’ like Elma Fugg!”
“Elmer Fudd?” I ask and he nods.
“Yeah, you do,” I confirm, and he moans, “Don’ make me lagg, it hurks!”
Lisa comes back to the bed and tells me I have to leave now before a doctor comes by, there’s no visitors allowed in ICU, the nurses could get in trouble. I don’t want to leave, and I feel tears gearing up again behind my eyes. “Don’t worry,” Lisa pats my shoulder, “Mr. Kinney will probably be moved to a regular room tomorrow, then you can visit him all you want to.”
“S’okay, Juckin,” Brian assures me, “You sleeb now, see you tomowwow.”
“You sleeb too, Brian!” I order him and he nods his head.
“Come on, Juckin,” Lisa beckons me, and I follow her out of the ICU, though I keep looking over my shoulder at Brian and waving, though I know he can’t see me once I’m a few feet away from his bed. Luke is waiting for me with the wheelchair, and gratefully I almost fall into it. I’m so exhausted, I manage to thank Lisa and the other nurses, who smile sweetly at me, then I’m half asleep in the chair before Luke wheels me into my room. He helps me get back into bed, reattaches my IV, and by the time he pulls the covers up over me, I’m gone.