DISCLAIMER: This story is fiction and portrays acts of a homosexual nature. If you are offended by such acts, or you are under the legal age to read such material in your state/country, please leave now.
¤¤¤ Part One ¤¤¤
The oppressive glare of the hospital walls and the constant bleeping and sucking of the respirators and EEGs were too much for me to handle. My throat was closing up and my chest was getting tight. I could hardly breathe. I hated hospitals - they gave a constant, stark realization of human mortality. Everywhere around me lay the morbid decay of death, the closeness of life. The two elderly men in the next room, skin all yellowed and sagging, cracked like dried paint. The woman across the hall with the thinning hair and the frail limbs and the huge varicose veins that streaked her legs like worms under the skin.
Everywhere was dying and I had to get out. I grabbed my jacket. Sarah was asleep, her leg looking uncomfortable, caked in bandages and raised on its pulley. She had asked me to sit with her until she fell asleep. I was free; I could leave now.
I smiled down at her sleeping form. "Sleep tight, baby," I mumbled, bile rising in my throat - I need to get out, I need to get out - and I shouldered my jacket and turned on my heels. I couldn't move quick enough. The corridor leading down to the elevators was stretched in exaggeration, the walls pulling tighter around me. I ran. I pushed repeatedly at the elevator button. Come on, come on. At the nurses' station on my left-hand side a young woman was sobbing, her broken and choking voice grated on my ears.
Ping. The elevator doors swished open. I jumped in and pressed 1. Doors closing. Third floor. Second floor. First floor. Doors opening.
I rushed through the main reception area where a man bled on the reception counter, a baby wailed violently and a man dressed up in baseball refinery scratched an angry red blotch on his neck. I kept my head down and broke through the exit, out into the cool night air, a soft breeze fluttering over my flushed features, a butterfly on my skin.
I closed my eyes. Sighed heavily. I was out. I could relax. My hands were shaking. I had never been so terrified in all my life. When Sarah had fallen asleep I was pushed into a train of thought I could have done without. Mortality. Death. For by fire and by His sword will the Lord execute judgement upon all flesh, and the slain of the Lord will be many.
I walked across to a bench and sat, wearily. I was in no state to drive home, not like this. I needed to calm down first. I tried to block my ears from the not-so-distant keening of the ambulance sirens. A helicopter dragged overhead, momentarily blotting out all other sound, until it had passed by and the cacophony of sirens and street traffic flooded my hearing again.
"Jesus loves you!" a voice shouted. I turned. An old man in a trench coat stood waving a bible in the air at the side of the road. "Repent and ye shall enter into the Kingdom of Christ!" Then his voice was drowned out by the return of another ambulance.
From inside the entrance of the hospital I heard raised voices. "I don't give a damn! Do it yourself. I'm not staying around here to have you yelling at me! Who do you think you are?"
"Calm down," another voice said.
"No, I won't calm down! Leave me alone."
"If you walk out of here now, don't think of coming back."
The automatic doors peeled themselves apart and a figure stepped out, his arms folded over his chest, shoulders hunched. I don't think he saw me, but he headed in my direction, flopping himself down on the bench beside me. I looked at him; I couldn't help it. Finally he turned to me. "What are you looking at?!"
Terrified by his anger, I mumbled an apology and stood to leave.
"Hey," his voice came, softer this time. "I- I'm sorry. Listen, sit down again. God I hate these places."
I turned and smiled at him. Carefully, I sat, keeping a slight distance between us. He sat forward, elbows on his knees, face in his hands. I heard him sigh. Then I think he was crying. I said nothing. I had nothing to say to him. I thought about getting up and leaving him alone anyway. He obviously needed some space.
And then he looked at me, tears streaking his cheeks. He attempted a wry smile. "I think I've just lost my job."
He didn't look like he worked in a hospital, but again I didn't say anything.
"I need to sober up," he sighed. "You know where I can get a coffee?" I nodded; pointed off to the right. He stood and adjusted his sweater. "See you." He started walking. I didn't say goodbye to him but I watched him walk all the way across the lawn to the hospital's coffeehouse.
I sighed. Maybe I should go after him. See if he's all right. But maybe I shouldn't get involved. What did his problems have to do with me, anyway? I chewed on my lower lip. Don't be silly, Bobby, I said to myself. You don't know him. He could be a weirdo! He could be a murderer! But he didn't look like a murderer. He looked sad. Lonely.
I stood. I had to go see if he was all right. If he was a weirdo, I'd just back away, call security, get the hell out of there. Slowly, I made my way across the lawn. In the evening darkness, I failed to see the "keep off the grass" sign. Not that I would have cared anyway - I mean, this guy could be crying his eyes out and someone wanted to stop me from stepping on the grass?
In the coffeehouse, a small room with uneven walls that were painted an almost pale pea-green color, I spotted him sitting in the corner nursing a Styrofoam cup of coffee. I got myself a coffee and boldly walked up to his table. I cleared my throat. He looked up at me, eyes red-rimmed from his tears. "Can I sit here?" I asked.
He looked around. There were plenty of other places to sit. He lowered his head and shrugged. I sat.
The coffee was lukewarm when I sipped from it. Too much cream. I spoke. "Um, I didn't mean to stare at you outside. You just came and sat there so suddenly that I couldn't help -"
He looked up again and this time I thought I recognized him. "Huh?" he said. "Oh, it's you." He smiled wryly and chewed on a fingernail, watching me over his hand.
I knew that face. But how? Did he live near me? Does he shop at the same grocery store as me? What? I narrowed my eyes. I knew it! He was an actor. Devon Sawa! Or at least, if he wasn't, he looked exactly like him.
He nodded, seeing the recognition on my face. I was right. But neither of us said it. In stead, I said, "You want to talk about it?"
I shrugged. "Whatever happened back there. You said you think you've lost your job."
He closed his eyes. I thought he was going to explode at me. It wasn't any of my business! But he said, "I had an argument with my agent."
"A bad argument?"
"Bad enough for him to tell me not to come back," he said. He rubbed his temples. "What's your name?"
"Bobby," I told him.
I cut him off. "Yeah, I know who you are."
He rolled his eyes and laughed, the first time I had seen him happy since he sat beside me on the bench. "I hate that!" he smiled. "Think I should grow myself a beard or something!"
"But then no one would recognize you!" I said.
"That might not be a bad thing," he sighed again.
"If you did, though," I offered, "you could always go back to your agent and pretend to be someone else!" We both laughed, even though it was a lame thought. I was beginning to feel comfortable in his presence.
Devon sipped his coffee. "Ugh! This is cold. I'm going to get another. You want one?"
"Um..." I said, delving into my pocket to pull out a handful of quarters. "Okay."
He refused my money. "Forget it, it's only fifty cents!"
When he came back to the table, he asked me why I was at the hospital. "You sick?" he asked. I told him about Sarah and her accident - she broke her leg while skating. "She your girlfriend?" he asked me.
"No way," I said, a bit too forcefully. "We're just good friends, that's all." I paused. "She's a fan of yours. It's weird, she rented Wild America just a few days ago."
He rolled his eyes again and I thought it was kind of cute the way he did it! "I'm just here visiting my agent's son," Devon said. I hadn't asked him why he was at the hospital. I didn't want to pry. He told me about the son, Mark, and his agent. Mark broke his arm. They were good friends. He spoke a lot about him. Graham, Devon's agent, was usually a good man, but their argument was a strong one - Devon didn't want to go into all the details, but it had something to do with turning down a film role while his agent insisted he take it.
We talked for ages, as the night drew closer around us. I forgot about my need to escape the hospital and it appeared as though Devon had momentarily forgotten about his argument. I was glad he could talk to me. I liked him, his laugh, his smile, his eyes. And I got the feeling - although at the time I was sure I was mistaken - that Devon Sawa liked me too.
When it was time for him to leave, he said, "I should go now. I've got some stuff to sort out. It was nice meeting you." We stood.
"You too," I said. "Hope things work out with your agent."
He shrugged and smiled. "If they're meant to, they will." He reached out to shake my hand. His skin was soft. Warm. He looked me in the eye. "I mean it. It was really nice meeting you. Thanks for being a shoulder to cry on."
"Hey," I said, "any time."
"Listen, give me your number. I'll call you some time. You owe me a coffee!" He delved into his pocket and withdrew a piece of paper and I got a pen from my jacket. I wrote it - thinking he'd never call anyway. He was Devon Sawa, for heavensake! And then he glanced at the sheet, folded it in half, and tucked it into his shirt pocket. "I'll call you."
"I'll be waiting," I said, and as soon as I said it I cringed. What the hell kind of thing was that to say?!
Devon laughed when I blushed. "See you, Bobby. And thanks again. Really."
When he left the building and I could see his figure move across to the parking lot from the window, I sighed and sat down again. The old woman came along with a coffee pot. "You can have one last cup if you like," she said, "before I have to close up."
"No thanks," I said. "I'm leaving." I was smiling. Why on earth was I smiling at her like a Cheshire cat?!
Before she turned, she said, "Wasn't he that actor guy? What's his name...?"
"Robert De Nero?" I said, still smiling. "No, but he really looks like him, doesn't he?" I left, chuckling to myself. I had spent the night with Devon Sawa and he had left with my phone number.
That's all of part one. Stay tuned for the next installment coming soon! Please email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org - Pretty soon I will have my website up and running where you can get this story and others! Watch out for it!