|Queer As Folk FanFic by Morpheus
The Prisoner of Tremont Street
Part 2: Sirens
pull-to-the-right-hit-the-gas, pull-to-the-right-hit-the-gas, pull-to-the-right-hit-the-gas!
The phrase repeats over and over in my head, sing-song, sing-song, I can almost see the words spinning around and around in circles, spinning and spinning, and loud, too loud, ear-piercing-loud, almost like the wail of a siren.
Wait. It is a siren. I think it's a siren.
My eyes are closed, but through my closed eyelids I'm aware of bright light, painfully bright. One of my eyes is pried open and a light as bright as the sun pierces my vision. Behind the blinding light I can see darkness and strange shapes, moving shadows and shapes, and gradually I become aware of voices, murmuring voices, shouting voices, calm voices and hysterical voices. I don't want to be here and I try to go away, but the voices won't let me.
"Stay with me," one voice says, and "Give him some oxygen, keep him awake," another voice says.
"Try to stay awake," the first voice tells me and "No," I refuse, but I can't make a sound. Inside my head I'm shouting, but I can't make a sound. I want to go away, but the voice won't let me. I try to raise my arms, to push away the shadowy-shaped demanding voice, but I can't move my arms.
"Don't move, sir, stay still. Open your eyes, can you do that?"
I can but I don't want to. There's bright lights and shadowy shapes and something unbearably frightening right outside my awareness, I don’t want to see, I don't want to know, just let me go away for a while, I can open my eyes later, later, not now.
"Sir, open your eyes." I try to shake my head no, but I can't move my head, and when I feel something pressing down over my face, smothering me, finally sheer terror forces my eyes open.
"It's okay, relax," the voice tells me, "It's just oxygen, we're giving you some oxygen, breathe deeply, relax."
Now I can see the face of the voice, it's a man I think, or maybe it's a woman, I can't tell, somebody in a white uniform, and I become aware that the pressure on my face is a clear piece of plastic. It's an oxygen mask. The voice's hands press against my shoulders, making me lie back, and I take a deep breath, then another, of air pushing through the mask, and it's making me wake up, making me wake up and I don’t want to wake up.
"What?" I try to say, but my mouth isn't working right and it sounds like "Whuck?" I blink and take another deep breath, there’s a weight on my chest, it’s hard to breathe.
"There's been an accident," the man-or-woman voice tells me, "You're hurt but we're taking care of you now, it's important for you to stay awake, okay?"
"Hurk?" I don't feel hurt. "Whuck?"
The man-or-woman is busy doing things to me and doesn't answer. Gradually I become aware that I'm lying on the ground, on some kind of board on the ground, I'm strapped to the board. It's dark all around except for lights, white lights and red lights and yellow lights, some of them blinking on and off, and the monotonous loud scream of the siren is driving me mad.
"Whuck?" I demand again, my voice is louder, and the man-or-woman turns back to look at me.
"You were in a car accident," the person says, "You were hurt but you'll be okay, we're going to take you to the hospital."
The information stuns me, silences me, and I strain to look around me, I can make out shapes of cars parked at strange angles and I realize that I'm lying on the verge of the roadway. I was in a car accident and I'm hurt. I feel nothing, nothing at all, except for the pain in my ears from the wailing sirens.
Suddenly I feel my body go stone-cold, suddenly an unbearable fear grabs hold of me, and once again I struggle against the straps tying me to the board, and I try to get the man-woman's attention. He-she turns back to me, once again pressing my shoulders and murmuring, "Lie still sir - "
"Juckin?" I demand, my voice getting stronger, "Juckin? Juckin? Juckin?"
"Let me go!" I hear his voice coming from behind the man-woman's shoulder. "Let me see him, damn it!"
Suddenly over the man-woman's shoulder I see his face, Justin's face, like a moon rising in the sky behind the man-woman's shoulder. He squeezes around and the man-woman makes room for him on the ground next to where I’m lying.
"Juckin!" I cry, so relieved to see him I can't catch my breath.
"Shh, Brian, it's okay, everything's okay!" Justin touches my cheek and leans over me, he's got something around his neck and there's blood on his face, but he whispers, "Shh, it's going to be okay, we're going to the hospital soon, you're okay, shh."
"Juckin, whuck habben?"
"A car accident, but we're both okay, so just relax, all right?"
"Stay," I tell him, and he says, "Yes, I'll stay with you, don't worry about anything, I'll stay with you."
And then I just really need to go away, I close my eyes and let the darkness take me away, I can't stick around any longer.
They let me ride in Brian's ambulance to the hospital, it's crowded but I'm squeezed into a seat in the corner and strapped in tight, the neck brace they insisted on putting on me keeps my head from flopping sideways as the ambulance sways back and forth, changing lanes and speeding like a bullet on the freeway, the siren deafeningly loud, my head is hurting so bad I have to grit my teeth together not to scream from the pain.
It's a nightmare at the hospital, they rush off with Brian's stretcher but they won't let me follow, they force me into a wheelchair and wheel me through the emergency doors but I lose track of Brian, I don't know where they've taken him. A dozen people descend upon me, lifting me from the wheelchair onto a high table and cutting off my clothes, I try to insist I can undress myself but nobody pays any attention to me, they just keep pushing me down and shoving needles in me and turning me over and examining every inch of my naked body and finally I give up and close my eyes and let them have their way with me, let them get it over with. And all the time I want to scream, "I promised Brian I wouldn't leave him!"
After what seems like hours most of the people working over me disappear, I open my eyes and there's just three people around my table now. I've got a needle taped to my left arm and someone's covered me with a blanket, I'm warming up, I was freezing for such a long time. One of the workers, a nurse I guess, is swabbing the left side of my face by my ear, and I feel stinging pain there. "Ow," I sputter at him, pulling away slightly, "What are you doing?"
"Only a few stitches, honey," he murmurs, "Hold still now." He's got a lilting accent and fuzzy dreads. "I'll make the stitches nice and tiny so you don't have an ugly scar to mess up that pretty face." His own face is very close to me and his breath smells like garlic but not unpleasantly. "First you'll feel a little prick," he says, and I know he's going to give me a shot, so I look the other way; if I don't see needles, they don’t hurt so much.
It hurts anyway but I bite my lips together and try not to move. Another white-coated man is standing nearby, his back to me, and I realize that he's studying an x-ray stuck into a flat light fixture attached to the wall. "Some slight tissue damage and swelling, but no broken bones or vertebrae damage" he says, but he's not talking to me, there's another white coat also peering at the x-ray. "You can remove the neck-brace when the stitches are done, Luke," the taller man says.
"Sure, I'll be doing that in a jiffy," answers the guy who's sewing up the cut on my face.
The shorter white-coat moves away and the taller man turns toward me. "How are you feeling, Mr. Taylor? I'm Dr. Jennings."
"Okay, I guess," I answer, my voice is gruff and my throat feels sore. "I'm awfully thirsty, and I kind of hurt all over. But what about my - my friend, the one I came in with, Brian Kinney? He was a lot worse than me, is he okay, can I see him? Where is he?"
The doctor smiles slightly. "I believe your friend's still in surgery, you can probably see him pretty soon. As for you, well, you'll likely be sore for a few days, but you don't have any major injuries - "
"Surgery? Brian's in surgery?" I'm starting to get scared again, I've been numb for a while, my helplessness made me tune out everything but the pain in my head while the crowd of doctors and nurses held me captive, but now I’m waking up and I'm scared for Brian.
"Dr. Kuchner's in charge of your friend's case I think, I'll ask him to come see you when he's available. I believe the patient's injuries are serious but not life-threatening. Just try to rest quietly. We'll find you a room eventually, you'll need to stay overnight for observation, but we'll probably release you tomorrow."
"Okay," I agree somewhat breathlessly, "Could I please use a telephone, I need to call my mom and our friends, and - "
"Luke," Dr. Jennings addresses the nurse who's now applying a bandage to the side of my head, "Has Mr. Taylor's family been contacted, do you know?"
"Yes, yes, there's a whole passel of his people in the waiting room," Luke assures the doctor, and he pats my shoulder reassuringly. "We'll get you ready for visitors in a very few minutes - you don't want folks seeing you all naked and bloody, now do we?"
"No. Yes. Thanks." Dr. Jennings also pats my shoulder and turns to go, but luckily I think to ask him, "Oh please, could I have a Tylenol or something? My head hurts so much."
"Of course," the doctor agrees, waving a hand at Luke. "Two Tylenol with codeine for Mr. Taylor, when you get a chance."
"I'm allergic to codeine, but I can take regular Tylenol," I call after the doctor, he stops and glances back at Luke. "Right away, doctor," Luke calls after him. He's swabbing the side of my face with a wet cloth.
"You have to do all the work, don't you, Luke," I comment, and that makes him laugh.
"Ah, you catch on quick, boy," he laughs. "Let's get this collar off you, I bet it's very uncomfortable by now, eh?" I agree and sigh with relief as Luke releases me from the torture of the neck brace. Luke disappears for a moment but comes right back, holding a blue-checked hospital gown, a paper cup with two Tylenol, and a glass of water. After I swallow the pills and drink the glass of water in one swallow, Luke raises the head of the bed at an angle so I can sit up, and he releases the IV needle as he helps me slip my arms into the gown which he ties in the back, then he reattaches the IV and arranges the blanket over my legs and tucks it in the bottom.
"Now, then," Luke smiles at me, "I'll just go fetch your family, shall I?"
"Oh yes, please! And thanks for taking care of me. Oh - Luke," I call after him, and he turns back once more. "Could you please find out how my friend is doing? His name is Brian Kinney."
"Sure, of course, Mr. Taylor, I'll be doing that as soon as I can." Then he winks and turns away, his dreads swinging gently against his neck. I barely have time to run a hand through my hair, which is sticky with dried sweat and who-knows-what-else, when the curtain around my cubicle is thrown open and here's Mom, rushing toward me and throwing her arms - carefully - around me in a hug.
"Sweetheart!" she exclaims, "Are you all right?" She pulls away before I can answer and stares hard at me, then smiles. "You look good, I was so afraid - " She does not finish that thought and I don't even have time to answer her before Debbie surges forward on the other side of my bed, she takes my hand - careful of the IV needle, and reaches her other hand to caress my cheek. Not surprisingly, she's smiling and crying at the same time.
"Sunshine, you're okay! Oh God, we've been so worried! As soon as we heard, we all headed for the hospital, everybody's outside in the waiting room, they'd only let two of us in at a time, and we - "
"Did they tell you anything about Brian?" I interrupt Debbie, "All I know is that he's in surgery, do you know anything at all?"
Deb glances at Mom who says, "That's all we know too, darling - the doctor said he's in serious-but-stable condition, and they'll let us know as soon as he's out of surgery."
"What's the surgery for?" I exclaim, "What's wrong with him?"
"A broken leg, or broken hip, something like that I think," Deb answers me. "Don't worry, honey, he's going to be fine."
"Why is he so much worse than me? Why does he need surgery for a broken leg? I can't stand not knowing anything!" I turn my head too quickly, whack it into the pillow and a cry escapes my lips.
"I'm okay, Mom," I reassure her, "Just the worst fucking headache of my life. Or second-worst," I correct myself, remembering how I felt when I came out of my coma over a year ago.
"The doctor wants to keep you overnight, so you need to try and relax, and- "
I shake my head, "I can't relax till I see Brian, I promised I would stay with him and they dragged me away."
"Knock-knock," says a man coming into my cubicle, there's two of them, uniformed police officers. "Sorry to interrupt, but we need to get some information about the accident. Can you speak to us now?"
"Yes, okay," I sigh deeply; I'm so tired, but I want to ask them questions myself. "What happened? I mean," I added quickly, "I know a car hit us, but - "
Mom and Debbie move to the back of the cubicle and the policemen flank my bed. The one who seems to be in charge is a tall black man with a mustache, carrying a clipboard. "Why don’t you tell us what happened, whatever you can remember."
"Well," I try to think back, "Brian was driving me home from his place, it was about eleven or eleven-thirty I guess."
"That’s - Brian Kinney? Okay." He scribbles a note, then looks at me again. "Had he been drinking?"
"No." I think for a minute. "Well, he had a glass of wine with dinner, but nothing after that."
The cop nods.
"He decided to take the freeway, there was so much traffic on the streets because of the big game. We were headed south, and I was telling him about this mural I'm working on at school, and I looked out the side window for a minute and when I looked back at him, suddenly I could see these headlights coming right toward us."
I start to nod, then stop. "No," I correct myself, "The lights were coming at an angle. Really fast. Brian said, "Hold on!" and I think he was turning the steering wheel away, turning to the right. But I don't really remember, that part's kind of blurry now."
"And what happened then?"
"Well, the car hit us. There was a loud crashing noise and - and I think I was screaming." I blush, having to admit that I screamed like an idiot. "I was scared, you know?"
"And then everything went black. That's all I remember, maybe I passed out? I don’t really know. Then when I woke up, somebody was pulling me from the jeep. I think it was upside down?"
The cop scribbles something on his clipboard and looks back at me. "Remember anything else?"
"No. I'm kind of blurry after that, till the police got there, and I know they had to cut Brian out of the jeep. I think his door was all bashed in?"
"Mmm-hmm. Then what happened?”
“Well, finally the ambulance people got there and started checking us out. I was okay - I TOLD them I was okay, but they put that neck thing on me and made me sit down on the ground. There were a lot of people all around, but I don't know what they were doing."
The cop continues to scribble and I glance at the other one, who’s white and very short, he looks too short to be a cop. He’s balding and kind of chubby. He reminds me of Joe Pesci, and I find myself wishing he’d smile so I could see if he had a gold tooth like Joe Pesci did in “Home Alone.”
“Officer,” Debbie steps forward and rests her hand on my top of my blanket-covered foot. When the cop turns to look at her with raised brows, she asks, “Can you tell us what happened, what caused the accident?”
“Well, ma’am, there’ll be an official report of the scene of the accident and follow-up investigation released later, but we do know right now that the other vehicle, for reasons unknown, crossed the center line and smashed into Mister – “ he pauses, consulting his notes, “Into Mr. Kinney’s vehicle, smashing the driver’s side door and flipping the jeep over – at least once, probably twice, where it landed upside down on the verge of the freeway. Luckily traffic was fairly light, and other vehicles were able to avoid the accident. Some good Samaritan stopped and set off flares, which helped too.”
“Was the other driver hurt?” Debbie asks, and the cop nods. “That driver wasn’t wearing a seatbelt – he was thrown out of his vehicle, and he’s probably not going to make it.”
“Oh, dear lord,” Debbie cries, crossing herself. Then she turns to me. “Thank God you boys were wearing seat belts!”
“Yes,” the Joe Pesci cop pipes up, “The seatbelts held and both airbags deployed, otherwise – “
“Ahem,” coughs the black cop, giving Joe Pesci a harsh look. He says, “Thank you for your statement, Mr. Taylor. We may have more questions later, but otherwise, good luck on your recovery.”
“Thank you.” I slump down in the bed, it's just starting to hit home to me the enormity of the car crash.
The policemen turn and part the curtains of my cubicle and slip out, just as Luke moves past them and comes up to my bed. “Mr. Taylor, we have a room ready for you now, and the doctor wants you to sleep – no more visitors tonight.” He smiles at Mom and Debbie. “We’ll take good care of him,” he promises.
“No,” Mom corrects Luke politely, “I’ll be spending the night in Justin’s room, please let me know when you’ve got him settled in.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Luke smiles at her, giving up without a fight; a wise move. Another nurse comes into the cubicle and rolls back the curtains; together she and Luke fuss around with my bed and the IV cart and begin to wheel me out of the ER.
“Mom, please find out what’s happening with Brian?”
“Yes, sweetheart, and I’ll be up to see you once you’re settled in.”
“What time is it?” I ask Luke. He glances at his watch and tells me it's about three a.m. God, I am so tired, and the Tylenol's beginning to work, my head hurts slightly less and I'm getting sleepy. But I can’t sleep till I find out about Brian. I want to see Brian, damn it!