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By David Heulfryn
Tom never noticed the powerboat that rounded the rocky outcrop of the cove and beached itself on the sand. Four men got out the boat; two ran to James while the other turned the boat around, readying it for the return trip.
And Tom never noticed the two men approach him, eager to assess James' injuries, until he felt a cold hand on his bare shoulder.
They told him they were here to help but he needed to let them get to James. That was the most difficult moment of his life so far, letting go of James and watching helpless as two men started touching him, trying to find out what was wrong.
Somehow, they had managed to make him come round and Tom could hear James mumbling to them, one man was nodding and took out a syringe from his medkit. He injected James.
Bandages, splints and slings were all put on James as the other two men approached with a stretcher.
James screamed as they pulled and rolled him onto the stretcher
Tom stayed with James as they tried to gently put him in the boat and as soon as he could, he grabbed hold of his hand again.
Once the medics were sure that James was stable, they asked Tom how he was and checked out his scrapes and grazes. It was difficult while the boat bounced on the waves but there would be time to do a through examination later.
The boat took them to the mainland and Tom saw the blue flashing lights of an ambulance that waited for them on the quayside.
The two boys were separated as soon as they reached the hospital; Tom was taken to a cubicle where he waited, alone. James was taken elsewhere.
A doctor pulled back the curtains and looked at the young man wearing nothing but his swim shorts; his body was dirty with mud and sand caked onto his skin by the blood from his scrapes. His English was not fluent, but he had enough to talk to and understand Tom and told him to lie on his back while he picked up his limbs, flexed his joints palpated his abdomen.
Aside from the minor cuts and bruising he gave Tom a clean bill of health, there was no serious damage. Tom kept asking for news of James but the doctor kept saying that he didn't know and that another doctor was looking after him. He needed to send a nurse in to clean him up; the doctor placated Tom and said he would get her to give him an update.
The nurse was rotund and very chirpy. She talked incessantly not allowing Tom to get a word in, the only time he spoke was when she asked him a direct question. He sat back and supposed it was a ploy by the staff to stop him harassing them about James. Delicately, she dabbed and cleaned his wounds and bandaging the worst ones on his arm and feet. The soles of his feet were torn to shreds and by the time she had finished with him he looked like he had a pair of very white ankle socks.
With his body now clean and his wounds disinfected she was finished. But before she left she fetched a bed sheet and wrapped in round Tom telling him that he must keep warm.
As she left he lay back down, curled onto his side and fell asleep.
James felt his hand being squeezed as he slowly drifted awake. He felt like he was strapped to the bed, but the sheets were wrapped over him and tucked in neatly at the sides. Except for the lump where his body was the sheets were flat and creaseless.
"Tom." He murmured and squeezed back.
But the voice that came back was not a young man's, it was a woman. The surprise made James open his eyes sooner than he had wanted, the fluorescent tubes dazzling him for a while until his pupils' constricted.
Twisting, James looked in the direction of the voice and his mother's face came into focus.
On his first movement, she rose to her feet and loomed over his bed, kissing him on the forehead.
She explained that the production team had flown her out on the only available seat and that she had been worried sick. The last thing she heard was that he was being x-rayed and checked for internal bleeding. Naturally she feared the worse and needed to be by his side. He had been asleep for several hours and she kept a private vigil over his pale, battered body.
The pain was beginning to come back and she told him not to move. The doctors needed to operate on his leg to set a compound fracture and he'd broken his collarbone and dislocated his elbow, which was easily put back in place but would remain sore for some time.
Then she asked the question he had been dreading. "So what happened?"
James knew he would need to answer this question many times and just assumed it would be to the doctors and Production Company first. He told it like it happened, how he and Tom had been hounded and attacked, James also included a few previous incidents to show how Henry behaved. But what was conspicuous by its absence was the reason why, and his mother sat patiently as James recounted his story hoping he would explain.
"So why did they pick you and Tom out from the others?" She asked James as he seemed to end his story or perhaps he was just taking a long breath.
"What have they told you?" He nervously asked.
"Nothing. And that's what's most frustrating; you have always got on well with everyone before. Was it this Tom?"
"No!" He was defensive. "Not directly."
She sensed it was difficult for him so she rested her hand on his good arm and lightly stroked it. "You can tell me, nothing can shock me. You've got into all kinds of scrapes before and we've stood by you."
"We did nothing wrong." James sighed and rolled his head to the side, breaking eye contact with his mother. "We did nothing wrong." He whispered again but to himself this time.
She continued to stroke his arm, waiting and listening for him to speak. When James turned again to look at her she noticed three tears on his cheek. They seemed glued to his skin, steadfastly refusing to roll down or evaporate in the warm air.
"They saw us kissing." James let his statement hang in the air and watched for any reaction while a pit in his stomach opened up and made him nauseous.
The face he so intently examined began to smile and the pit shrank making him feel better.
"Is that all?" The question was asked.
James could not look him mother in the eye when he responded, "No." He felt the hand on his arm stop moving.
"Do you love him?"
"I think so," he paused a moment and looked again at his mother, "but I haven't even told him that."
"That is so sweet; both my eldest boys are in love."
James was shocked and let his jaw drop.
"But I will not let those responsible for this off lightly."
"You know about Martin?" And his mother told him what had been happening while he was away.
James sat through a lecture from his mother about how he was too young to get serious or physical with anyone, even a girl, and how he should not decide now about where his preferences lay. He dreaded that stock phrase was about to come about it just might be a phase and come it did.
When she ended her miniature lecture she stood up and told him she would go and find Tom as he was eager to see him. Before she left she bent over him and kissed away those three tears, trying to kiss away his pain.
Tom was sitting on his hospital bed, his legs dangling over the side. Ever since James' mother had arrived he'd kept his distance from them. When she did arrive she was so worried about her son she didn't even notice Tom. So he just left James' bedside and returned to his own room. Despite wanting to be with him and to be there when he woke up, he knew it was his mother's duty and knowing that some difficult conversations would have to be had, he preferred not to pre-empt them and talk to his mother about what had happened.
A wheelchair was at the side of his bed; he looked at it and frowned. He felt fine but the doctor insisted that he keep off his feet for fear of opening his wounds, so whenever he wanted to go anywhere he would have to wheel himself. To start with he found it very awkward but was now was beginning to get used to it. He always felt a little guilty when he would take a couple of steps to get in the chair, but he was always careful and as quick as possible.
Tom swung his legs nervously and vigorously, his hands were clasped on his lap, his knuckles white as he gripped hard. James was only next door and he could hear him talking. When the talking stopped he felt his stomach lurch into his throat and for an instant he felt like crying but somehow managed to hold it back. He'd no idea why he almost cried and assumed it was down to stress and worry about James, his own injuries and the aftermath which was still to come.
His legs stopped and he turned to see James' mother in the doorway, he'd kept his door open so he could see and hear life outside his little room; he didn't want to feel alone and the noises comforted him. He was quite impressed with the hospital, but then they had been treated privately; private rooms and the best care their insurance could find.
As he looked into her eyes those tears he tried to suppress burst through and he told her how sorry he was.
She walked over to him and hugged him. With her mouth near his ear she whispered. "You have nothing to be sorry about. None of this is your fault."
His tears didn't stop and he responded to her hug by wrapping his arms around her back and holding tightly.
"Where's your parents?" She asked.
"They can't make it yet, it's their work. They say they could be here by the weekend. But I'm hoping to be on my home by then."
"I just want to go home." Tom let out a brief sob and held her even tighter, she wasn't his mother but she was the next best thing and was the only person able to comfort him.
"Come on; let's take you to see James. He's awake now and eager to see you." She released Tom and wheeled his chair a few feet nearer.
Sliding off the bed, Tom gingerly put his weight on the heels of his feet, the area least damaged, and shuffled over to the chair. He lifted himself in while James' mother held it stead.
James' eyes never left the open door from the moment his mother left to when he saw Tom emerge in his wheelchair. The moment their eyes locked both faces lit up with bright smiles and tears of joy.
As he was pushed over to the bed, Tom reached out and took hold of James' hand.
"I'll leave you two for a moment; I want to speak to the doctors." Neither boy noticed James' mother leave.
From that moment, the two boys were shielded from what was going on behind the scenes; they just concentrated on supporting each other and nursing each other through their ordeal. James' mother took charge of everything else and was quite formidable in dealing with the hospital staff and production team. It was clear that both their families wanted their boys home as soon as possible and she was the one that made it happen. The doctors wanted to hold them for observation but she figured this was just to hold them so they could claim more money from the insurance. The production team wanted to speak to the boys and get statements, but they were only allowed to see them for a short amount of time as each visit caused them more pain. Finally the local police turned up and insisted on taking a statement. The other people on the island had been quickly flown back to Britain and as the police couldn't interview everyone involved decided that they were unable to take matters further, however they had some stern words to the production company for allowing them to leave.
It took four days for the doctors to discharge James and Tom and for flights back to Britain to be arranged. James' mother had gone shopping and picked up some clothes for them to wear for their journey home. When they arrived at Heathrow Airport they were greeted by their families with more hugs and kisses; Martin gave James and especially long embrace.
After a few months, the physical scars had healed and life on the island faded into a memory.
The television programme was abandoned and compensation was offered to James and Tom, which was accepted; but neither felt they needed to take them up on the offer of counselling. The only bitterness they felt was that Henry seemed to be getting off scot free.
Thank you for reading
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