Sophomore Year

Chapter Nine

By Grant Bentley

If any nice person, nasty person, place, event, happening, thing, or sport, seems familiar, it is purely coincidental.

We became the school’s official reporters on the progress of Chad over the next week or so. We stopped at Harvey’s every night on the way to the hospital. Brett started to complain that we were spending too much money and he didn’t know how he would pay us back.

Jeff just laughed and responded with, “There’s no payback, man. That’s what friends do.”

He just grinned at us and said, “Thanks. You guys have just been the best.”

“So what’s the latest news?” I asked.

“The doctor said they are going to keep him in an induced coma for another few days so he heals more. Then they’ll bring him out of it. If all goes well, he should be ready to come out of the ICU about a week after that,” he replied with a big grin. “They’ve upgraded his condition to serious and stable.”

“That is so cool,” I responded. “You have no idea how happy we are to hear that.”

“Oh, yeah, and Mom’s filed for a divorce,” he announced.

“Good for her,” Carol said.

“We're staying with my grandmother right now and once Chad is out of the hospital, we're moving in with her,” he said.

“Cool, you really won't want to go back home after what happened there,” I said.

“I don't ever want to see that place again,” he replied.

“Where’s your grandmother live?” Carol asked.

“1025 Westlake Crescent,” he replied.

“You have to be joking,” I exclaimed.

“No, why?” he asked, looking puzzled.

“You’re grandmother’s Mrs. McMillan,” I said. “She lives across the alley from me. I’ve known her since I was a baby. In fact, she used to babysit me.”

“You mean we’re neighbours?” he asked.

“Looks that way,” I said with a grin.

“Yes!” he exclaimed.

The next day, Brett was back in school. When we saw him walk into the cafeteria at lunch, we waved for him to join us. He waved back and within a few seconds, he was sitting at our table.

“Not hungry?” Jeff asked.

“No money,” he replied.

“Just grab a plate then,” Craig said.

“No, thanks guys. I can’t keep letting you feed me. I haven’t starved to death yet. I’m good,” he responded.

“Fine, but we’re still stopping at Harvey’s on the way to the hospital,” Craig said. “So either way, you’re going to get fed.

He just grinned and said, “Okay then,” and got up and got a plate.

We each slid some of whatever we were eating onto his plate and started chatting back and forth as we ate. Brett was quickly becoming a good friend…one of the guys. Then, after about two weeks, he came to us at lunch looking both happy and nervous. It was kind of weird. When I asked him if anything was wrong, he told us that Chad was going to be awake when we got to the hospital after school.

“Hey, that’s great,” I exclaimed.

“Yeah, it is, it’s totally awesome,” he responded. “But what’s he going to do when he sees me? After all the shit I put him through these last few months. I nearly got him killed. I mean, I told Dad he was gay, which I had no right to do in the first place. And, then Dad fuckin’ shot him. I’m so scared he’s gonna hate me and tell me to fuck off and stay the hell out of his life. I can’t blame him if he does. I mean, what would you do if it was you I did that to?”

“I don’t know Chad that well,” I said, “but I don’t think he defied all odds and fought as hard as he did to live, just to tell you to fuck off.”

“Yeah, but he’s at least gonna be pissed off with me. What if he tries to hit me or throw something at me and reopens his wounds?” he asked.

“I don’t think he’s going to do anything like that,” Craig said.

“He might not want to talk to you at first, but he’ll come around. You’re his big brother,” Jeff said. “And if you’re really worried, talk to the doctor first. Get the doctor to ask Chad if he wants to see you. That way, the worst he can do is say no. Not that I think he would, at least you’d know he won’t be throwing stuff and hurting himself.”

“Thanks, I’ll talk to Dr. West first,” he said.

“We’ll be there with you. So whatever happens, you won’t be alone,” I said.

The bell rang for afternoon classes. When we got to Mr. Jameson’s class, I spoke to him for a few minutes about the GSA. It seems everything was going along just fine without us. He and the guys understood that we were going to the hospital every day and supporting Brett and Chad. In fact, he said he was proud of the way we had stepped up to help Brett get through it.

When we got to the hospital, Brett went up to the nurses’ station and asked to see Dr. West. As it happens, Dr. West was with a patient, so Brett asked if one of the nurses would ask Chad if he wanted to see him.

“Are you afraid he won’t want to see you?” the nurse asked.

“Yeah, we weren’t on very good terms when dad shot him,” Brett replied.

“Well, I don’t think you have anything to worry about,” she responded. “He’s been asking if you had been in to see him. But, if it will make you feel better, I’ll ask him.”

She disappeared into the ICU and about a minute later reappeared with a smile. “He is very anxious to see you,” she said.

“Thank you so much,” Brett said as the nurse led him in to see Chad.

About half an hour later, Brett reappeared with a grin from ear to ear. “I can’t believe he really wanted to see me,” he said. “It was so cool. He said he didn’t blame me. He knew I was looking out for him. He did call Dad a total fucking asshole and said he hopes he rots in jail for the rest of his life and then burns in hell. And he hopes Sheila is right there with him. But he doesn’t hate me.”

“See, we told you he wouldn’t,” I said.

“Yeah, I know,” he responded. “I told him you guys had been here every day to keep me company and to keep track of how he was doing. He was really surprised that you would care that much, since you hardly know him, but he says he can’t wait to get out of ICU so he can see you. Then he fell asleep. That scared me, but the nurse said since his body is trying to heal itself, he only wakes up for short periods. I guess Mom had been in to see him this afternoon too.”

“So do you want to wait for a while and see if he wakes up again?” Craig asked.

“No, the nurse said he will probably sleep through the night now,” he replied. “The main thing is, I know he’s going to be okay and he forgives me for being such an ass, so I’m ready to go home. Besides, you wouldn’t believe how much catching up I have to do.”

As we left the hospital and started towards home, Brett stayed with us. It was the first time he had left the hospital with us and when I looked at him, he just grinned and said, “The police let my uncle move all our stuff to Grandma's last week, so we really are neighbours now. I don't know what we'd do if it weren't for Grandma. There's no way I'd go back to that trailer.”

“I wouldn’t want to live in it now either,” I said.

“You wouldn’t have wanted to live in it before,” he said. “It was a total fuckin’ dump. I was ashamed to admit to anyone that that was where I lived. But Dad didn’t give a shit as long as he had a beer in his hand, and I think Mom gave up trying to care a long time ago.”

“That’s so sad,” Carol said. “I feel sorry for her.”

“Her life will be so much better now we’re staying with Grandma,” he said. “Soon, I bet no one will recognize her, she’ll have changed so much. I’ve seen her change already, especially after we knew Chad was going to be okay. I’ve actually seen her smile.”

We dropped Carol and Jeff off at her place and continued on towards my place. As we were walking along, Brett looked at us and grinned.

“What?” I asked.

“So you guys are a couple, right?” he asked.

“Yes we are,” Craig replied.

“Cool, I never knew a gay couple before,” he said.

“Well Chad’s gay,” I said.

“Yeah, but he’s not a couple,” he said with a chuckle.

“True,” I said.

“I’ve been watching you guys, well, not watching, I guess noticing is a better term,” he said. “But when you guys are together, it’s the same as when Jeff and Carol are together. I mean, you respond to each other the same way. You look at each other the same way. It’s like there is no difference. You act just like any other couple in love, except you’re both guys. You know what I’m trying to say?”

“Yeah, that’s cause there is no difference,” I said, “except we’re both guys.”

“I guess I never thought that one guy could actually fall in love with another guy,” he said. “It’s wicked cool though.”

“Thanks,” Craig said with a grin. “I think it’s wicked cool too.”

We had reached his grandma’s corner by this point and we stopped. “Well, I got about eighteen hours of homework waiting for me so I better get to it,” he said before giving us each a quick hug and asking, “What time do you leave for school?”

“If all goes to plan, I leave at 7:30,” I replied. “So if you’re out here at 7:31 we can walk together. If not, I’ll come knock on your door.”

“I’ll be here,” he said. “Good night guys.”

“Good night Brett,” we both replied.