Chapter 19

Neil pulled up to the hospital in Tom’s car.

Neil knew full well that he couldn’t be there. He looked over at Tom.

“I’m sorry old friend. You know I can’t be around when they start asking questions.”

Neil reached for Tom’s wallet, pocketing it. He pulled Tom’s arm through the steering wheel and wedged it against the horn as he left the car. He ran into the shadows. As guilty as he felt leaving Tom like that, he knew he needed to keep watch from outside.

Neil also didn’t like the idea of having to answer a number of questions along the lines of why he had makeshift plastic gloves, who he was, who Tom was, how this happened. Hopefully some anonymity would keep Tom safe while Neil tried to think of a better plan.

He watched from afar as a team of paramedics ran outside and attended to Tom. He was satisfied that Tom would be well cared for while he tried to drum up some clothes and some time.

Rifling through Tom’s wallet, he found a credit card. He hoped there was some money on it. Maybe he could take a cab to Tom’s place. Or maybe there was enough money to buy clothes. He knew he needed to get presentable enough to get in that hospital without raising too many questions. Stores would be open soon at this point, if they weren’t already. He knew he needed to move quick. Tom would be safer with him at his side. He glanced back at Tom one more time, hoping that his friend was safe.

“I’m a goddamn coward,” Neil thought to himself. “If he doesn’t pull through, it’s entirely my fault.”

As Neil ran off, Tom caught a glimpse of him running as he flashed in and out of consciousness. He was confused. All he knew is that he was both cold and outside, being attended to. He must have passed out, because suddenly he was inside, under a bright light. His eyes burned from the intensity of the bulbs. As he struggled to focus, he looked around and saw many blurs. Presumably these were doctors and nurses all around him, barking panicked medical jargon at each other. As Tom’s vision sharpened, he realized that the professionals looked panicked. Tom had a feeling he would not live through this.

Desperately, he struggled to listen to the doctors. Concentrating past the pain, he heard bits and pieces, fragments of conversations. None of the words sounded good.

“all the B+ we can find.”

“shallow breathing”

“critical condition.”

Tom didn’t need to hear the whole thing to understand it was not good news.

“Okay, we’ll need to move him. This isn’t going to be pretty. On my count, we’ll do it on 3. OK, 1, 2, 3, lift”

Tom instantly felt like his body was on fire. It hurt so much. He could see them bringing a mask over. They put it on his face. Everything started to fade out. As he lost consciousness, he thought to himself: “Where in the hell is Neil?”

At Tom’s apartment, Neil frantically paced around, talking to himself.

“Alright, I need to shower. I need clothes. I could probably get away with Tom’s clothes. I need to get back there before Conrad finds him. I don’t know if it’s safe for me to have a shower. What if I electrocute everyone in the apartment? And how can I go back to the hospital without cooking all the machines? I need to get this under control. There has to be a way to get this under control.”

Frantically, Neil started to open all of the drawers and cupboards around him looking for ideas. He had only rifled through a few of them before he found Tom’s alcohol stash. In it was a bottle of whiskey. “What the hell,” he thought. “This might calm me down a bit.”

Continuing to the next drawer, he found a picture. The picture had Tom, Rebecca and Neil in it. “Happier times,” he thought to himself as his heart skipped a beat. Taking a deep breath, Neil grabbed the photo and resumed his search.

In the last drawer, Neil found an old multi-meter. It had to have been at least 30 years old. It was cheap, and analog, with needles that swing across the display. He sat down with the whiskey, and the meter, placing the picture in front of him

He took a swig of the whiskey and looked at his arm. Pausing for only a second, Neil decisively grabbed the multi-meter probe, and jabbed it forcefully into his left forearm. He hardly stifled his scream. Breathing frantically, he closed his eyes and downed another swig of whiskey before repeating the process in his right forearm.

Taking a second to compose himself, Neil started clicking the knob on the meter. He clicked the meter to DC voltage and watched the pointer deflect all the way across the scale.

“Hum. Full deflection. I guess I’ll select a different range.”

Clicking the knob again to the next setting, the pointer still sat on the right hand side of the scale. He continued to click the range knob higher and higher, but even the highest setting on the multi-meter was clocking him as out of range.

Neil tapped the screen a couple times.

“Well OK, I’m a human power plant, or this thing is broken.”

Neil let out a long, protracted sigh. He noticed the pointer flicker. He let out another sigh. The needle moved again. Intrigued, Neil started to take slow, relaxing breaths. The calmer he got the lower the meter would go.

“So, it is controllable.”

Taking another swig of whiskey, Neil looked at the picture again. The needle flicked all the way back to the right side of the scale, corresponding to the mental anguish brought on by the picture of Rebecca.

It dawned on Neil that this was the first time he had seen a picture of Rebecca since the accident, and as much as it hurt, he knew this was somehow good for him. He studied the picture intently, looking at her red hair, her smile lines, her warm eyes. He missed everything about her. His eyes started to blur, wet with tears. He hadn’t taken the time to mourn his soul mate. He had a good cry while thinking about the picture. “That picture was taken the day we announced Rebecca was pregnant. That was the day we made Tom the godparent.”

The three of them looked so happy in the picture. Neil decided that this was the way he’d remember everything from this point on.

Wiping his tears, he lost his grip on the picture. It slid out of Neil’s hand and fell against the multi-meter. The needle was at 0.

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1 comment:

Richard Belzile said...

last chapter published originally without notes. you made it!

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I am Sinewave: Spark

Written by Richard Belzile

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