“The plane ride was a fucking cunt,” Scott complained. He was lying on the couch, wincing in pain with every movement, “When we took off and when we were landing I couldn’t help but scream. Every bump was fucking agony.”
“Fuck, that sucks.” I was slowly getting ready for a shift at KC.
“Just leave me on the couch tonight, I am too sore to move upstairs.”
I brought him a pillow and blanket from his bedroom. I sprayed on some deodorant and fed Deniro.
I was putting on a clean shirt when Scott yelled, “Hey hun, can you come here?”
“Yes?” I asked as I walked into the room.
“I had an idea. I can hardly walk, I’m in too much pain. I am going to ask around for a wheelchair tomorrow, but for now I was hoping you could bring down the desk chair from upstairs? It has wheels, so I am hoping that when you are gone I can push myself around on it to go to the bathroom?”
“Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.”
“Thanks, hun. I don’t want you to have to help me to the bathroom. I’m hoping I can do it on my own.”
I paused for a second, “How much pain are you in, if I may ask?”
“Darling, it’s the most intense pain I’ve ever been in my life.” He let out a weak smile.
* * * * * * * *
At work I told Nick, Brendan and Matt about Scott’s arrival by ambulance.
Matt could hardly believe it, “There is no way they let him out of the hospital in that condition!”
“Well you should have looked at him, Matt. He is all skinny and his face is sunken. He is in such bad shape, he can’t even climb the stairs to get into his bedroom.”
“Don’t tell me he’s gonna sleep in your bed tonight?” Matt gasped.
“Oh my god, no way. He’s going to sleep on the couch tonight.”
The conversation swayed to more boring topics so Nick and I slipped away for a cigarette.
“I’m thinking,” Nick paused to take a drag, “I want to make an online profile.”
“Yeah, I’ve been thinking the same.” I stated.
“I need the extra money, business has been slow. Plus we get seriously ripped off here anyway.”
“Yeah I know, right? We could be making double the money online. I’ve just been very skeptical about being online. It doesn’t seem as safe.”
“Matt has been doing fine. Nothing bad has happened to him and he’s the one who always makes mistakes. I want to make a profile soon.”
“Yeah, I should as well.” I flicked the finished cigarette from my hand into the ash tray.
Nick followed suit, his cigarette became a glowing projectile as it bounced off the lip of the tray and landed on the ground. “Fuck,” Nick said under his breath. He then said, “We should get together and make our profiles together.”
Yeah, that would be fun.”
“Brendan said he wants to make his profile soon as well. We can make a night of it at his apartment or something.” Nick stands up to go back inside.
“Are you going to pick that up?” I asked about the cigarette he left lying on the ground. It was still glowing red.
His face contorted into disgust as he spat the words, “No.”
I noticed that I started spending lots of my time in the manager’s office every time Robert was working. There was a comforting quality about him that I enjoyed. He reminded me of a family member I never had. With a sense of humor that was golden and a gentle soul that was pure, he didn’t belong in the line of work he was in. Yet he managed to fit in perfectly as the strong and gentle male presence that the brothel needed. Everyone respected Robert. Nobody ever said anything bad about him.
Robert was sad to hear about how much pain Scott was in, “That’s too bad, mate.” He winced when I told him about how Scott was wailing in pain. “Does he have someone taking care of him?”
“Yeah, me.” I responded.
“No way,” Robert was shocked, “No mate you can’t. He can’t do that to you.”
“Apparently he doesn’t have anyone else.”
“That shouldn’t be your problem. I know this is horrible to say, but you shouldn’t be doing this. Nope. That is way too much for you to deal with.”
“I can’t just leave him. I’m not that kind of person.”
“But listen, mate, you are a very young guy. You have so much going for you, the last thing you want to do is to take care of someone. It’s just not fair, and quite frankly, it’s not your problem.”
“I know. I just… I just can’t. At least not right now.”
Robert’s face grew soft, “Just please be careful. Please, please… just be careful. Scott, he’s a good guy and all, but he is trouble. He isn’t someone you should be around often.”
“I’ll be careful.”
Later that night I arrived home to find the neighbors had infiltrated my living room. The three guys were spread out on the floor, Scott was passed out with his mouth wide open on the couch. They were all glued to the tv, stoned out of their minds. The bong rested on the floor beside them. I greeted them and said no to an offer of a bong hit. I stayed up with them late into the night, and once they all had gone back to their house Scott woke up and said softly, “Hello, darling.”
“Hi, how are you?”
“I’m fine, darling.” Scott whispered, and then went back to sleep.
For a few seconds I watched him sleep. This man who used to be as strong as a rock was now a frail shell. He was swaddled on his blanket, looking smaller than any man I’ve ever seen. His facial features looked alien. He seemed to have aged ten years since the last time I had seen him. What used to be a whole man was now broken.
As he slept peacefully, Deniro guarding him at the base of the couch, I couldn’t think of a reason not to help him. I wanted to see this man whole again. It made me sick to see him in such a bad condition. There is nothing worse than comparing a man who is supposed to be whole to that of an infant.
Once I had crawled into my bed I felt proud of myself. I was proud that I was willing to go against better judgements to help this man I hardly knew. To help this man who had helped me at one point.
I had only just closed my eyes to sleep when I heard a faint noise. My eyes darted open and I wondered what it was. There was silence for a few seconds as I squinted at nothing in the dark. The noise came about again, louder than the first time. It was silent for another second, and then the noise got so loud I shot out of bed.
It was Scott wailing in pain.
When I got out of bed to inspect him he was fast asleep, but once I climbed back into the comfort of my bed he wailed again. His cries chilled me to the bone.
I hardly slept as Scott cried all night.