I watch the doctor as he silently wraps the bandage around my hand. I let out a loud sigh and swing my legs back and forth as I wait for him to finish. "You are going to have to change this dressing and clean the wound. I want to see you back here in a week to make sure that it is healing properly and doesn't get infected," he tells me as he finishes and goes to wash his hands.
"Okay," I say as I get down off the table and move toward the door.
"Justin, could you come back here for a minute?" he asks as he turns from the small sink area and sits back down on the rolling stool he was using. I let go of the door handle and move back to sit on the gurney. Shit, I was almost out the door.
We can both see it. It is like a fly in the room, and the longer we stay silent the louder the buzzing becomes. I am watching him watch me and I feel the heat travel to my face. 'Please don't ask me anything,' is all that is running through my mind. I am fixed. I just want to leave. He swivels that small stool until he is right in front of me, level with my face.
I stare into his eyes as he looks at me, they are green and bright. "Justin, I don't believe that this was an accident," he says as he motions toward my hand. "I have been looking over your records. This is not the first time you have been in here in the past couple of months. I also noticed that there is another superficial wound on your arm, slightly above your wrist," he tells me.
Wait, pause, rewind and press play. I am so fucked.
"I know, this is so fucked," I tell Jennifer as she sits across from me. I look around the outside waiting area and then turn my head back to her. I watch her as she tries to process what I am telling her. What I have told her. She is shaking her head.
"I didn't see it," she says just slightly above a whisper. "He is my son and I didn't see it." I pull a cigarette from behind my ear and lean forward a little, resting my arms on my knees as I light it.
"Yeah well, you were too busy," I say as I blow some smoke out and sit all the way back. She turns her head toward me and I can see the need to protest building in her. She doesn't want anyone to question her position as a mother. She doesn't want anyone to suggest that her parenting skills, at least as of late, have been less than stellar. Well, I am not just anyone.
"You know, you told me all these things about Justin, but, you never told me exactly who you are Mr. umm Mr. Kinney," she says with a faint trace of superiority rimming her eyes. I take a long pull off my cigarette and think about what I am to Justin as I let the smoke escape my lungs. I lick my lips slowly and turn to look at her again.
"It's Brian and I don't intend to," I say as I get up and throw the cigarette butt on the ground, grinding it out with my foot as I turn to go inside.
"What you are doing is dangerous," he tells me as I pace from one wall of the small room to the other, trying to wrap my head around everything.
"I am eighteen years old," I say. It is the only protest I can make at this point. "I am eighteen years old and if I don't want to talk to you I don't have to." I scratch at the back of my neck and I can feel the tension building under my skin. I can feel the need to release it building under my skin and I shift a little.
"Justin, I really think that you should talk to " he tries to tell me. I roll my eyes and look toward the ceiling and then back down again. I see me sitting on the gurney, watching the doctor intensely. I blink myself away. I am not there. There is only one of me.
"Whatever. I didn't come here to have you tell me what to do. I came so that you could fix my hand and you did, so can I go now?" I ask as I stand there.
I take a deep breath and try to stop my body from shaking. I pull my bottom lip into my mouth when I feel a sharp pain run through me. "Fuck," I say out loud as the pain comes to a numbing end, reminding me that it is there, waiting to pounce again. I lean against the side of the dumpster as I try to stop my head from pounding. I look down at my legs and realize that they are bare. I look around for my pants, I can't find them.
I start to panic. I look at the spot on my leg where my hand touched, blood is all over my skin and I start to hyperventilate. Blood, it's on my legs, my hands and all over the ground. It's coming from me. I see my purse sitting on its side, all the contents spilled out. I don't focus on any of them. I train my eyes on the blinking red light that is telling me that my phone is on.
I pick up the small device and close my fingers around it. I try not to think of the blood that is staining the surface as I hold it in my grasp. My mind is blank. I can't think of anyone to call. I don't want to call my parents, who would? I press the speed dial for the only person I know I can trust.
I am standing off to the side talking to a nurse about Justin and I feel his phone start to vibrate in my pocket. I look at the display and answer. "Hey Daphne," I say to Justin's best friend. I met her about three weeks ago and liked her right away. She is the perfect match for Justin. If he was straight I could see them together. I wait for her to answer but all I hear are stunted breaths of air and crying. "Daphne Daphne, are you okay?" I ask into the phone. I hear a deep inhalation and wait.
"Brian Brian, is that you?" she asks quietly. I watch as Jennifer comes inside and goes over to the nurse's desk. She speaks with the nurse and then sits down in one of the plastic chairs, waiting for Justin.
"Yeah, it's me. I am holding Justin's phone for him. Is something wrong?" I ask her.
"I need help," she says. I stand still. 'When it rains, it pours,' goes through my mind. "I don't know where I am. I am scared and there is blood everywhere," she spills out. I feel all the tension leave my body as her cries reach through the phone. "I can't get up," she says through the tears.
"Daphne, do you see a street sign somewhere near you?" I ask as I run a hand through my hair. Silence. Nothing. "Daphne, are you still there?"
"I think I see something that says Tioga Avenue. I'm not sure, it's dark and I can't really see," she breathes out. I can hear her voice shake as it leaves her. I know where that is. I know exactly where that is.
"I'm on my way," I tell her as I close the phone. "Hey, I need you to go back there and tell Justin that Daphne needs me and that it's an emergency," I tell the young girl. She smiles up at me and nods her head. "Give him this and tell him to take a cab back to the loft," I tell her as I hand her some cash and turn to walk away. I turn back around and walk back over to her, "Give him his phone and tell him to call me," I say as I hand the phone to her and watch as she disappears into the back of the emergency room.
I leave out of the hospital and hop into the car. I pull out of the parking space and head over to Tioga Avenue as fast as I can. I am glad it is late, there are not many other cars on the street and I get here fast. I pull my car over to the curb and get out. I walk a little down the street until I come to the corner. I look around. You can see the street sign from anywhere near here. I peer into the darkness, looking for anything. I turn my body a little to the left and see a little movement.
I move toward the building and stop short when I see Daphne. "Holy shit," I mutter under my breath. I move closer to the girl and when my foot kicks a rock she jumps. She seems to finally realize that she is not alone and as she fuses her brown eyes with my hazel ones she starts to cry again; her tears fresh and new. I move over to her swiftly. "Fuck, what happened?" I ask her.
"Shit, I didn't think it was really going to work," Brad says as he helps me carry Daphne's drugged body up the stairs. We drop her down on my bed where she tries, without much success to get up, get out.
"Yeah, at first I thought I gave her too much because it worked so fast," I tell him. We watch as Daphne tries to say something, but, nothing comes out.
"No man, I told you she'd be okay. It was just a little bit," Brad says as he walks up to the bed and sits down next to her. "Take my picture," he says as he pulls a digital camera out of his wallet. I don't think it's such a good idea but I reach out and grab the camera. I take numerous pictures of him and Daphne. I even let him take a couple of Daphne and me. I give the camera back to him and watch as he puts it in his pocket. I move away from the bed and go into the closet really quick to hang up my jacket.
"Kiss her, go ahead," I say when I come out of the closet. I watch as Brad covers her mouth with his. In one swift movement I see Daphne punch him in the side of the face. "Shit," I say as Brad hits her back, repeatedly. Fuck, it wasn't supposed to happen like this.
I look at the blood that is on the ground around her and I wonder where it is all coming from, until I realize that she is not wearing any pants. It appears as if she is not wearing anything from the waist down. I see the blood staining her thighs and her legs. I also see the familiar sight of cum, mingling along her body, shining in the little bit of light that is kissing her skin. I close my eyes and open them quickly.
She still looks the same. I am afraid to touch her. I am afraid to move her. Her eye is swelling and there are scratch marks on her skin and a large gash on her arm. "I think we should call an ambulance," I say. I see her tense.
"No, I don't want to go in an ambulance. I don't want to go to the hospital," she tells me. I look her up and down again. I look at all the blood.
"Daphne, you need an ambulance. There is blood everywhere. The police can come and get evidence," I say as I kneel down beside her.
"Will you stay here with me?"
"Yeah," I tell her. She nods her head and lets me call an ambulance. I hang up when I am assured that they are on the way. It seems like forever, but it has only been a few minutes. I watch Daphne as the shock of the events and the loss of blood start to affect her. "Hey hey, stay with me beautiful," I say as she starts to close her eyes. She is leaning against the dumpster and as the ambulance pulls into the parking lot she slips away.
I pull the door open and walk out of the back. I run into a nurse who looks like she is no older than I am. I take my phone and the money from her and listen as she gives me the message from Brian. I nod my head, say thank you and keep moving. I stop short when I see my mother sitting in one of the chairs and I have no idea what I am supposed to do. "What are you doing here?" I ask as I move past her.
She gets up and follows me out of the hospital. "Justin, why didn't you tell me something was wrong?" She asks me. I don't answer her. I pull out my cell phone and call for a cab. "I would have helped you," she says. I laugh out loud to that and sit down to wait for my cab. She sits next to me. I roll my eyes and pull my cigarettes out of my pocket and light one. "You know, you really shouldn't smoke," she says as I blow some smoke out. I want her to go away. "I can take you home Justin," she says.
"No thank you," I tell her. "I'm not going to the house." She goes silent. 'What mom, have you run out of shit to say,' I think.
"Justin, you have to come home." Fuck... that.
"Why? I haven't been home in a week and you sure as hell haven't seemed to mind. You can go home now," I tell her as I see my cab turning into the hospital parking lot. 'Fuck,' I think as I stand up and realize that it's not my cab. I watch the man three benches away get in the cab and I take another pull off of my cigarette. I hate that. I hate when you deliver a really good burn and get ready to leave; then you realize that you have misjudged the situation and now you are forced to sit in the afterglow of your wicked flame.
I sit back down and run my fingers along the healing scar on my arm. "Justin, I know that I haven't been paying too much attention to you but..."
"You never answered my question. What are you doing here?"
"Brian... called me," she tells me and I drop the cigarette. It never occurred to me who would have called her. I just never thought about it. I study the grooves in the sidewalk as I slowly grind out the fire. I fold my arms, making sure I don't press on my wounded hand and lean forward a little. "Is he your boyfriend Justin?" She asks me. I hear laughing and I see myself out the corner of my eye.
'Boyfriend is such a cemented word. I mean we fuck all the time, but boyfriend ' I hear myself say. I look over at my mother and smile. "I wouldn't go that far," is all I offer her. Ask me no questions I'll tell you no lies.
I watch another cab come into the parking lot and this time I wait a little longer before getting up and walking over to it. I open the door. I look back at her and wonder. Am I being too harsh, too stubborn too childish? No maybe probably. Shit, I don't know. It's almost three in the morning, way too early for 'The amazing analysis of Justin Taylor.' "Justin Justin," she yells as the cab pulls away from the curb.
"Tremont," I tell the driver. I am suddenly sleepy, and hungry.
I can see the light as it shines in to my eyes and I feel myself jolt back to the waking world. "Hey, welcome back," the paramedic says to me. I see Brian standing slightly behind them, letting them work. "Okay, we are going to get you onto the stretcher and to the hospital," the paramedic tells me.
Brian walks over to me when I am situated on the stretcher and gives me his hand. I hold onto it tightly and he never complains. I know I am hurting him, I can see his hand turning colors as my grip intensifies but he stays silent. He stays supportive. He stays.
"Can I ride with her?" He asks.
"Yeah, that should be fine," the shorter paramedic says as they pull the stretcher into the air and wheel me toward the ambulance.
"What do you got for me?" The trauma doctor asks the taller paramedic as we wheel into the hospital. He looks at his chart and reads off what it says.
"We have an African - American female, multiple injuries and possible rape. She lost consciousness twice on the way and appears to be in a minor stage of shock. She was found on the street," he says. I try to close my ears. I don't want to hear him but his voice comes through loud and clear. I hold on to Brian's hand as we move through the hallway toward the private examination room.
I slide the loft door open and throw my key on the counter after I close the door and lock up. I wonder what Daphne needed Brian for. I called her while I was in the cab but the phone just went to voicemail. I walk over to the bedroom, stepping over all of the stuff that is still on the floor. I'll clean it up tomorrow. I drop down on the bed and close my eyes.
The last thing I see is me. I am facing me, so close to myself that I can hardly breathe. "You know, if you keep ignoring your problems, you won't have too many more tomorrows," I tell myself. I close my eyes and roll over onto my other side, facing the bathroom. There I am again. "You're fine, you don't have a problem," I say. I close my eyes and when I hear nothing I open them again. I smooth my left hand over the bandage on my right as I lay on my side. I close my eyes and let the darkness swallow me.
Right now during these couple of hours of sleep I am flawless.
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