I guess I dozed off without even noticing it because suddenly I was back in our old high school again. It was the first week of January, right after the Christmas break. My parents left this morning for their usual deal-signing business. The same trip as the one that is going to kill them four years later when the jet crushes into the ocean. Of course I didn’t know it back then so I was deliriously happy to be alone in the house for the next four days.
Kay got Dylan a used car for Christmas because she never trusted him enough to let him drive her Porsche. I didn’t blame her. I was still surprised that my parents let me drive their Jeep. Of course it was no Porsche but still…
That day Dylan told me that he had to run a couple of errands for Kay before he could come over to my place.
“I’ll be there before seven”, he said.
“Want me to go with you?” I asked and he just shook his head.
“No, it’s okay. She just needs me to refill her power bars supply and she needs more soda.”
“Power bars and soda”, I said thoughtfully. “That’s all she eats?”
“No”, he snorted. “She also likes pasta but she has enough of that.”
“All right… See you at seven then?”
“Yeah”, he smiled and ran his fingers down my side absent mindedly.
“Stop that”, I said sternly. “Or Kay will kill you for not getting her power bars.”
“Right”, he laughed.
So I went home, put some dishes away, and even did some laundry. Finally it was almost seven in the evening and Dylan was not here. I called his phone but there was no answer. I called Kay’s house and got the same result. Then I remembered that Kay left for another photo shoot. This time somewhere in Florida. I waited half an hour and tried Dylan’s phone again. No answer. I looked at the clock. Seven forty five. Where the hell is he? I paced around the empty house, dialing his number every ten minutes and I was starting to get freaked out when suddenly my phone let out a shrill ring. It startled me and I almost dropped the damn thing.
“Hello”, I breathed after I flipped it open.
“Hey”, it was Dylan.
“Finally!” I exhaled with relief. “Where the hell are you? I’ve been calling you for the last hour and a half!”
He made some weird sound like he was trying to cough and spit something out at the same time.
“Come get me, will you?” he muttered finally and I squeezed the phone with my suddenly cold fingers.
“Where are you?” I asked without wasting any time on useless questions.
“I am…” he made the same weird sound again. “Behind the old Wal-Mart…”
“I’ll be right there”, I said and closed my phone.
…It took me maybe ten minutes to get there. The store was closed for the last couple of weeks so there was nobody in sight. The street lights were on but not all of them. I slowly drove around the empty parking lot, trying to see him. Finally I did. He was sitting on the ground, leaning on the wall, his head lowered, hair falling down in messy strands. I drove closer, threw the gear in park and climbed out without bothering to turn the car off. He slowly raised his head and I swore out loud.
He wasn’t just beat up. It seemed like he was trampled on. I hoped to God that nothing in his body was damaged beyond repair. One of his eyes was almost not visible.
“Can you get up?” I asked and he gave me a very small shrug.
I grabbed him under his arms and pulled him up. He clutched onto my neck desperately but didn’t make any sounds. I dragged him to the car and lowered him into my passenger’s seat.
“Who?” I asked after I slid into the driver’s seat.
“Billy and the clowns”, he twisted his mouth in a nasty smile.
“Shit!” I slammed my hand down on the steering wheel. “Any broken bones?”
“A couple I think”, he muttered. “My wrist is broken for sure… Don’t know about the face… Also it hurts to breathe deeply…” he closed his eyes and dropped his head onto the back of the seat. “Take me to your place…”
“Are you crazy?” I demanded. “We have to get you to the hospital!”
“I know”, he grimaced. “I want to clean up first… I probably look like shit, huh…”
“Yeah”, I admitted unwillingly and he just nodded.
“Take me to your place then…”
I gritted my teeth but didn’t argue. Arguing with him was absolutely futile. If he wanted to do something, he’d do it. So I drove towards my house.
“Your parents are gone, right?” He muttered after several minutes.
“Yeah”, I said softly and glanced at him. “They beat you up, that’s all, right?”
His mouth twitched in a very nasty smile.
“They didn’t fuck me if that’s what you are asking”, he said quietly.
That was exactly what I was asking.
“They were about to though”, he added, eyes still closed.
I started to shake.
“Police cruiser drove by”, he muttered. “So they took off… Even though the cops didn’t see us… I guess they didn’t want to take any chances…”
“Was it because of Wes?” I asked and he opened his eyes and looked at me.
“What do you mean?” he sounded almost harsh.
“I mean, was it because Wes told Billy about the whole thing between me and him”, I frowned.
“No”, he closed his eyes again. “Billy was gunning for me for a while… Ever since I broke his face…”
“Yeah”, I nodded. “I remember.”
We were really close to my house when his eyes flew open.
“Stop”, he muttered and I looked at him.
“We are almost there…”
“Stop”, he repeated through his clenched teeth. “Oh God… Connor, pull over… Now…!”
I pulled over the side of the road and he opened the door and almost fell outside. He limped away from the car, fell on his knees, and vomited violently. Then he just stayed there, his hair falling in front of his face, body shaking. I grabbed a half-finished bottle of water that I forgot in the Jeep a couple of days ago, jumped outside and kneeled next to him.
I carefully pulled his hair back, poured some water into my hand and washed his face. He was completely white right now and he was shaking like he had an epileptic seizure. Suddenly he pushed my hand away, folded in half and vomited again. I waited for several minutes and when nothing else came out, I washed his face again. He took the water bottle out of my hand, his fingers shaking so bad, he almost dropped it, and took a couple of quick gulps. After he was done, I took the bottle away, put a cap on it and threw it into the Jeep. Then I lifted him off the ground carefully and almost carried him back to the car. He sunk into the seat like a rag doll, his eyes closed, breathing very shallow.
“Dylan”, I said softly and stroked his face. “Dylan, let’s just get to the hospital, okay? If you are throwing up, that could be a sign of concussion…”
“It’s not”, he croaked. “It’s all that fucking blood that I swallowed… We are almost at your house anyway…”
I gave up and took him to my house. We cleaned up his face and hair the best we could. I was surprised when he had all of his teeth intact. I expected at least one or two of them to be lost for good. I gave him some of my clothes and helped him to get out of his bloodied ones. Finally he nodded at me breathlessly, letting me know that “Fine, I’ll go to the damn hospital now!”