Chapter 10 - Sell Me A Padded Cell.
<~> Brian's POV <~>
Little kisses. Lots and lots of sweet little kisses. Kisses. Kisses. Kisses on my neck. Kisses behind my ear. Kisses trailing along my jaw. Kiss. Kiss. Kiss. Bliss. Bliss. Bliss.
I open my eyes to see where all these blissful kisses are coming from. I'm not at all disappointed when I find a beautiful blond boy hallucination applying his full, kissing-ready lips to every centimeter of skin he can reach without moving out of my arms. If this is just a dream, I hope I never fucking wake up. Dream, delusion, hallucination, whatever it is, it's one fucking GREAT experience.
"Good morning," I murmur contentedly as My Hal pauses in his kissing duties long enough to look up at me, blinding me with a true Sunshine smile.
"I can't believe it. I finally did it?" I shake my head in amazement at my delusionary talents. "I finally got the smile right? I so completely rock at this!"
"Brian," My Hal whispers, still with that smile that lights up the whole world around it.
"Did you know you're the most beautiful thing in the entire fucking world," I ask, dazzled, befuddled and gobsmacked by My Hal's smile, which proceeds to somehow get even bigger when he hears my words. "Can I please, please, please wake up like this every morning for the rest of my life?" Hal keeps smiling then breaks out into a carefree little giggle.
My Hal giggles! He fucking giggled! Out loud, even. Well, it wasn't really loud, loud, but it was loud enough to hear. I heard a definite giggle. This is the best morning of my entire life and it didn't even involve sex! If I believed in a god I'd be on my knees thanking him or her right now. Instead all I can do is roll my body so I'm in a better position to kiss the bejesus out of the boy.
"Ahem," says someone behind me, but I'm not much in the mood to pay attention to anything other than my kissing, smiling, giggling Hal. "In case you didn't hear me, I SAID 'Ahem'," the person adds, in Lily's sternest voice.
Which means it probably is Lily and she's probably going to give me another lecture on the rules about kissing. Well, if I'm going to get in trouble anyway, I might as well enjoy it. I give My Hal one last, huge kiss, making sure to slip in just a hint of tongue this time, mostly just to get Lily's goat.
"Brian! We've talked about this!" Lily now sounds fairly serious, so I reluctantly stop with the kissing, roll off my boy and look up at her with the biggest, most innocent looking eyes I can possibly affect, even adding a little flutter with my lashes for good measure.
"Damn," I say after a minute or two when she just stands there, staring at me angrily with her arms crossed. "You didn't buy it, did you?"
"No, Brian, I didn't. I know you couldn't possibly be as innocent as you try to make out and you're not even a little bit sorry, so you can keep your little act to yourself. But, really, Brian, I can't sit back and let you just break ALL the rules."
"I've never broken the one about running in the hallways," I offer as a consolation.
"That's probably the only one you haven't broken." I can tell that Lily is about to relent because her voice has lost that harsh edge. "Really, Brian, I'm serious this time. If you can't control yourself, I'll have you moved to a different ward, away from 'Hal'.
"I'll try, Lily, but it won't be easy. He's just too kissable. Besides, I didn't even start it this time - My Hal did."
"Enough discussion already. You know the rules, so stop always pushing the limit. Now, it's time to get up. Breakfast is in fifteen minutes so get a move on," Lily commands and then moves off to help another patient.
"You heard the lady, My Hal. Time to wakey, wakey, for eggs and bakey!" I say, making sure Lily's back is turned before I give Hal one final quick as lightening kiss on his cheek.
I climb out of bed and then turn around as always to help guide My Hal. I'm so used to having to do almost everything: sit him up, help him turn sideways so his feet are dangling off the side, and then grab his hands and scoot him forward so he can stand up, getting slowly out of the bed only at my direction. So it kind of throws me when I find My Hal already sitting up on the edge of the bed, ready and waiting for me.
"Well now, aren't you an eager beaver this morning," I beam my pleasure at him along with my words. "Good for you, My Hal. Good for you. You. You. How about we get dressed now too? Then it's off to breakfast with the rest of the zoo!"
The entire rest of the morning is wonderful. My Hal is so much better this morning. He smiles almost the whole time. I'm so excited. I think getting rid of the pills is working. No, I'm sure it's working. We got rid of the pills and all the ills. The pills are gone. The pills are nixed. I think he's almost fix, fix, fixed.
My Hal is waking up. Up. Up.
Now what the fuck do I do?
"My Hal is doing really, really good lately, Dr. Travis," I happily report on my boy's improvement to my doctor during our therapy session."You'd be amazed how much better he seems. Awed and amazed. Awed and amazed. Odd and amazed. He's almost always alive, awake, alert, enthusiastic. I think his head is almost fixed. Now I just need to fix his hand."
"So, what we need now, doc, is a physical therapist. Or an occupational therapist. Or a 'Helps You Do Stuff With Your Broken Hand' therapist. Or whatever other kind of therapist it takes to fix him. How do we get that started?"
"I'll be happy to talk to Hal's doctor for you, Brian, and see about getting him some physical therapy," Dr. Travis offers, politely, and then starts into his full-on head shrinker mode. "But right now, this is your therapy time, not Hal's. I'd like to talk about you. Okay?"
"I guess," I answer unexcitedly.
"So, how about we talk about the Prom Incident and how your former boyfriend was injured? Or any of the other issues that led you to the point when you OD'd?"
"No," I say simply and emphatically. "We don't talk about that."
"No, we don't. Which leads me to my next point. What the hell are you doing here, Brian? What do you expect to get out of your stay?"
Doc kinda took me by surprise with that one - guess I'll need to fall back on my sarcasm defense. "Ummm, complete room and board with all the therapy you could ever possibly want, available anytime day or night?"
"That IS what most of the patients here are looking for, but not you, Brian. You don't want the therapy and pretty consistently refuse any attempts at it. All we ever talk about here in your sessions is your friend 'Hal', some hospital gossip and an occasional story about your friends and family back home. So, I repeat, what are you doing here, Brian?"
"Well, doc, there is that pesky little issue of the whole chronic, drug-induced psychosis thing. You know, where I'm paranoid, often delusional, and even occasionally see things that aren't really there. Is this ringing any bells for you doc?"
"I'm not trying to make light of your ongoing mental health issues, Brian. But, let's look at this objectively for a minute, okay? Most of the more serious symptoms of your condition - the paranoia and delusions and even, to some degree, the more serious phobias and OCD symptoms - are being pretty well controlled with medication at this point. You seem to tolerate the Zyprexa pretty well and haven't exhibited any major side effects, right? And you haven't experienced any episodes of violence or overtly disruptive behavior in at least a couple of years now. Those are the main reasons why you were hospitalized in the first place, am I correct?"
I just shrug. I'm not really sure where the doc is going with all this. It's probably safest to remain noncommittal.
"All the residual symptoms you have - the motor and verbal tics, impulse control issues and even the intermittently disjointed thinking - are relatively minor."
"Minor? Minor. Minor," I scoff. "You try walking around sounding like Dr. Seuss all day and then tell me how fucking 'minor' it is, doc!"
"I'm not saying these things aren't difficult or that they don't present significant challenges for your life, Brian, just that they don't, in and of themselves, necessitate hospitalization. To be completely honest, I think you often use them as a crutch - hiding behind your word games when you feel threatened. But, the bottom line is that there are a hell of a lot of people walking around out there on the streets with mental health issues just as serious, if not moreso, and they all manage to live fairly normal lives. I think you could too, if you wanted," Dr. Travis ends with an expectant glare in my direction.
Shit. I was NOT expecting anything at all like that. I literally do not know what to say.
"I'm not threatening to kick you out of here tomorrow, or anything like that, Brian, so you don't need to freak out. I just want you to think about it, all right? After all, you weren't planning on staying in a hospital for the entire rest of your life, were you?" the doc adds with one of those sympathetic, and yet still condescending, smiles that all psychiatrists seem to have perfected.
"So, wait," I stop him just as he's about to toss me out, since our session time is up. "What you're saying, doc, is that I'm not mad enough for the madhouse?"
"Well, I wouldn't have put it in precisely those words, Brian, but yes, in essence, I guess that's what I'm saying."
"Hmmm. Well, that's certainly different," I respond distractedly, knowing I really do have a shitload of stuff to think about now. "See you later, Doc. Doc. Doc. I'll be back when I want to talk."
I'm already out the door before I think of one other, rather important, question, so I stick my head back through doc's door. "Hey, doc? Do you think I'm still too mad to be a dad?"
"I'm sorry?" Travis asks, not understanding the gist of my question.
"My son, Gus. Am I still too crazy to be around my son? I wouldn't want to scare him or . . . anything."
"No. Certainly not, Brian. There's absolutely no reason you can't see your son at this point."
Hmmm. I'm NOT too mad to be a Dad. That's pretty good news. Yep, I've got lots to think about.
<~> Ted's POV <~>
"What do you think, Bri?" Ted asks, holding up the most yellowest thing I've ever seen in my life as soon as I come through the door. "As soon as I saw this poster, I thought of you and your anti-blue campaign. Think it'll do the trick?"
"Wow, Ted! If that doesn't conquer the blue, I don't know what will! Will! Will! It's the perfect slogan, too. And it's just about as far as you can get from blue. My Hal will absolutely love it, that's true!"
"I'm glad, Bri. I've gotta admit I'm actually having fun shopping for anti-blue decorations for you. Who knew there was so much yellow out there just waiting for a place to call home," Ted rolls the poster into a tube and hands it to me proudly.
"Ted. Ted. Ted. Have you got any good news, or am I better off dead?" I ask, figuring it's better to just get all the shit out of the way at the start.
"Yes, I DO have some good news," Ted says as he takes his customary seat on the uncomfortable plastic chair across from me. "But, I've got some bad news too. Which would you like first?"
"Why don't we try to end on a happy note. Hit me with the bad stuff first," I say, sighing to ready myself for what I think I know is coming.
"Okay, well, this probably isn't going to come as much of a surprise, but Lindsey's still being a bitch. I tried to talk to her but she's not budging. She told me that you don't have any parental rights, so as far as she's concerned you have no say in where Gus lives. She also added that even if you did have any rights, in your current situation you aren't competent to make any valid suggestions. So, in other words, the cunt told me to fuck off. Oh, and she adamantly refused to let me bring Gus here for a visit," Ted says, giving me all the bad news plainly laid out and with little unnecessary commentary.
"Ouch," I can't say I expected Lindsey to say anything else. "So, I'm really ready for any good news you have after that, Ted."
"The good news - the really great news - is that I finally tracked down Melanie, who just happened to disclose that our sweet little Lindsey hasn't been completely honest with any of us about the whole Gus situation. See, Mel told me that after you signed that waiver of your parental rights, they never actually got around to filing it with the court. Apparently, what with the Prom thing happening so soon afterward and then you being sick, they didn't ever find the time to get the thing properly filed. Then, when Mel and Lindz started having problems again, Mel decided not to bother with it. As far as Mel knows, Lindsey's still got the papers sitting in some drawer somewhere, but since Mel is no longer interested, the document is probably useless."
*Wooooooo hoooooooo* This is about the best news I could have ever expected. I'm hollering and jumping around the room in celebration. Fuck the whole 'impulse control' thing - I'm still Gus' dad and I'm going to rejoice and cheer and jump for joy and dance around in high spirits and I don't care how fucking crazy it makes me look.
"Brian. Brian! Now don't get too far ahead of yourself yet. There's still the whole competence issue, not to mention there's nothing legally on the books about exactly what custodial or visitation rights you should have. Mel recommended that you get an attorney as soon as possible," Ted cautions as soon as he's reined me in enough to get a couple words in edgewise.
"Then do it, Ted. Just do it. Hire me a lawyer as soon as you leave here and get whoever it is working on this shit right away before Lindsey does anything really stupid."
"Well . . . It's not exactly that easy, Bri," Ted waffles and my mercurial mood plummets once again. "See, I'm not the one in charge of your estate or, more importantly, your money. Michael is. Unfortunately, when I talked to him about this last night, Michael didn't seem too inclined to spend any money on an attorney for this . . ."
"What the fuck? Why the hell not?" I demand, even as I realize I shouldn't be yelling at Ted, the only person who appears willing to help me anymore.
"Michael seems to think it would be a waste of money - that it wouldn't do any good. He kind of agrees with Lindsey that you're not competent to make any decisions right now anyway, so it doesn't really matter what your parental rights are," Ted confides, all the while making it clear that he doesn't agree with Michael at all. "And, I'm afraid that Michael is siding with Lindsey on the whole issue of Gus visiting. So, as he sees it, you're not likely to see Gus either way and therefore there's no need to spend money on an attorney. I not giving up though. I'm going to keep working in him . . ."
"What the FUCK!" I'm standing up screaming now and I can see Ted flinching away from me but I'm too angry to care. "How the hell can Mikey think it wouldn't matter to me if I never see Gus again? HOW? How can he do this to me, Ted? HOW? And what the fuck does Michael know, anyway. He hasn't even bothered to come see me in years. YEARS! Goddamned fucking motherfucker. Thinks he pulled the plug on me and now I don't fucking matter? Don't even fucking exist? Well, fuck Michael. Fuck Lindsey! Fuck them all!"
My outburst has finally caught the attention of somebody out in the hall and I see one of the security staff guys run into the room. Ted's backed away from me and is just standing there staring. I'm so fucking insanely angry I just want to hit something, anything, throw things, scream, kill, whatever. Anything to relieve all the fury built up inside me as a result of this utter betrayal by the man I thought was my best friend.
I can feel the tic in my right hand going like a race car. I don't even try to control it. I let the tic take over and feel my hand and arm spasming all over. But it's okay. It actually helps. I can feel the stress and the tension and the excess energy, along with much of the anger, draining off through my arm. So I just let the tic tick.
It takes me several minutes to calm my breathing. I was panting and puffing like a train there for a minute. But I consciously try to slow my lungs down, taking deeper and deeper breaths, and that helps bleed off even more of the rage. At some point I manage to hold up my left hand in a 'stop' gesture, trying to show the security guard and Ted both that I'm okay and I'm working to get control. Just so long as they don't fucking touch me, I think I can do this. Luckily they stand their ground.
Gradually the red haze that obscures my vision dissipates enough so I can see what's around me again. I'm sweating and shaking and that fucking tic is ticking and tocking at a frantic pace, but inside I feel calmer. Wiping at a trickle of perspiration that is dripping down the side of my face, I turn and slowly move back to the couch. I sit. I hold my non-ticking hand out in what I hope is a non-threatening way.
"S-s-s-sorry about that, folks. Folks. Folks. Strokes. Tokes. Blokes. Brokes. B-b-b- . . ." With another gargantuan effort I also manage to shut down my clanging, at least for the moment.
"I'm so sorry, Brian. Fuck. I didn't mean to get you so upset. I'm so, so sorry . . ."
"No apologies. No excuses. No regrets. Remember, Theodore? No. No. No, more, Theodore. I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay. Didn't mean to scare everyone. Scare. Scare. Take a chair and you'll get over the scare. I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay . . ."
At this point the hulking huge security guy must figure that I'm no longer at risk of exploding into a million radioactive pieces and he leaves. Both Ted and I are just sitting there, trying to catch our breath and regroup. All I really want right now is to get back to My Hal before the recoil from all of this hits me and I break down into a helpless shaking ball of panic. I know that, whatever happens, I'll feel better as soon as I'm with My Hal.
But first, I have to hold it together just long enough to deal with one more thing.
"Ted," I say, and I can actually feel the coldness from my tone freezing the words as I say them, "I want a lawyer. I want Michael gone as my legal representative. I want to fight for my rights to see Gus. I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I want to try. Can you please help me?"
"Of course I'll help, Brian," Ted assures me and I find I like the look of angry determination on my old friend's face as he says this.
It seems I have at least one remaining friend who's willing to support me. I know I don't deserve Ted's loyalty, although I'll be eternally grateful that I somehow have it. I'm not sure exactly how, but I swear that someday I'll pay Ted back.
And, maybe, it's going to be all right after all.
<~> Justin’s POV <~>
I see Lily leading Brian back to the room after his weekly visit from his friend. Usually, Brian’s in a much better mood after one of his visits and would be bouncing in here, joyfully bestowing treats and gifts on me and recounting all the Gus stories he’s just heard. But today Brian looks completely devastated. Lily’s leading him around the way I seem to remember her leading me during the worst of my grey times.
As they get nearer to where I’ve been patiently waiting, sitting 'criss-cross applesauce' atop my bed, I can see that Brian is shaking and the tic in his right arm is totally out of control. Fuck! This is really NOT good.
I know that I’ve been trying to be a little discreet about the progress I’ve been making lately. I really don’t want to have explain what’s been happening to me until I’ve completely figured it out myself. But concern that no longer matters. Brian needs me. As soon as Lily has Brian seated on his own bed, I jump up, practically leap across the intervening space, and I'm sitting beside Brian before you can even blink.
Which is what Lily does - she blinks at me like she’s never seen me before. I shrug at her and then turn all my attention to Brian. She must be as worried about him as I am since she doesn’t bother pursuing me and my miraculous recovery from catatonia.
Together we get Brian laid out on the bed and the covers pulled over him. I curl up next to him in my regular spot by his left side. I wrap my smaller arms around his sturdier body. I plant my face as close to his ear as I can get on the little pillow - so close that my lips tickle against his skin every time I move - and I whisper to him that he’ll be okay.
It looks like my return to life was just in time to allow me to take care of Brian for a change.