I was laying in bed around eleven, eleven-thirty when the thought hit me. Maybe it was the caffeine, maybe it was the boredom, but I felt like something was missing, and it wasn’t Zoë. Hell, it wasn’t even Lola or...well, any of the girls that I should have been thinking about. And that was the screwed up part of it. I had to be out of my damned mind.
I wanted to know what Gary was up to.
I knew what he was up to—Happy Volts had a daily schedule, and it was pretty much ‘locked in a room, play some checkers, watch TV and eat somewhere in between that’. Oh, and take meds. I was sure that was a big part of Gary’s schedule.
That was different from knowing though. I had to look him in the eye and see what was going through that little fucked up head of his and see if anything was ticking. If he had plans—I mean, I knew he had plans. He was fucking Gary. He always had plans. I had to see if he had plans that could affect me or anyone else at Bullworth. And I wanted to know right now.
Once I decided that I wanted to see him, it took me all of fifteen minutes to get out the dorm. I pulled on my sneakers, shoved the orderly’s uniform I’d swiped a while ago into my backpack, and made sure that no one else was wandering the halls before I left. The campus was dead besides the prefects, and that felt like a bad sign. It was enough to make me consider not going—not because it was a bad idea to go see Gary (which it was), but because I should be at school in case anything happens.
That thought lasted about as long as it took me to grab my bicycle. By that point, hey, I was already moving, right? Anyway, Gary was going to be in a cage, so there shouldn’t be a problem. The guy was in a nuthouse, right?
...Well, maybe I should have been too, for doing this. I was halfway to the asylum before I started to think this through. I mean, this one stupid visit could screw with everything that I’d been doing to put the school back together. I tried imagining what would happen if I needed to remind the preps and nerds why they had stopped fighting, if they knew that I snuck out at night to see the guy that turned Bullworth to shit—
And I wasn’t that good at imagining, so all that got me was a headache. I was some kind of fuckin’ chump, all right.
It had to say something about me that I had a routine to breaking into Volts. I knew where to hide my bike, in this place between trees and some big boulders that gave me enough darkness to change into the uniform without worrying about getting busted. I could go straight to the big tree by the gate without searching for it.
I waited until the nurse in the nurse’s station had to take a piss before going in there and looking for room assignments. Gary was in a little back corner of the asylum. That was good, since that meant I didn’t have to worry so much about foot traffic. I grabbed a set of nurses’ keys from the wall. Five bucks said no one would notice that they were gone.
This place was too much of a fucking dump to keep Gary for long. Someone should have thought this through better. I bet Gary laughed his head off when he found out he was being taken to Happy Volts.
I ducked past a couple more orderlies. No point in making myself known, not when it was so easy to hide in here. I could hear patients, the real sick schizos ranting and raving in their little padded rooms. Gary didn’t exactly belong with these guys, but hey, it wasn’t up to me, unfortunately.
If it was up to me, he’d have been tied to a chair and I’dve had a baseball bat and twenty minutes.
It took me three or four keys before I found the right one, and even when I found the right one, my hands were fucking shaking from sudden adrenaline. I didn’t know whether I was going to punch the guy or smile when I finally got that door open, but this was better than the dead boredom that was Bullworth in the morning. If I thought that enough times, then maybe I’d convince myself that seeing this A-hole was a good idea and I shouldn’t be bothered. Hopefully.
I opened the door and slipped in quickly, closing the door before any orderlies noticed. Gary was lying in bed, same way I had been a little over an hour and a half ago. His arms were behind his head, and he was staring up at the ceiling. Or at least he was when I first opened the door. Like he didn’t care that an orderly was checking up on him. As soon as I closed the door, he raised himself up on his elbows. He looked shocked as hell, and I didn’t really blame him. I was shocked as hell too.
He was just laying there, in the gray drawstring pants and t-shirt of a mental patient. And he still looked like Gary. Don’t know why that bothered me.
Gary spoke first. “Well, well, looks like someone was sniffing glue.”
My face scrunched up in confusion. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“Why else would you sneak out to come see me?” Gary managed to shrug lazily. “Visiting hours aren’t ‘til noon tomorrow, Jimmy-boy.” Slowly, he sat up, turning so that his feet were on the floor. He rested his elbows on his thighs and continued looking at me. Waiting for my move, most likely.
I didn’t have any moves, was the problem. I hadn’t thought past ‘seeing Gary’. After that, I was pretty much fucked for ideas. “Shut up, Gary.”
“Hey, you came to see me, now you’re telling me to shut up?” Gary shook his head. “You sure you’re not in the wrong uniform?” Something about Gary’s smug look—like he’d known I’d come see him—made my fists curl tightly at my sides. No, not something. Everything about it.
“Wanted to see how they were keeping you.” I could bluff like I didn’t give a fuck, so that’s what I was going to do.
“I’m getting my three square a day, and I’ve got a pile of dirty pink pills under the bed. Wanna see?” he drawled sarcastically. His hair was still in that fucking hairstyle. What the fuck—even in a padded cell, the freaking psycho looked like the friggin’ head boy.
I shook my head and rolled my eyes. “I oughta let a nurse know you’re not taking your pills-”
“Oh right, James, you’ll go up to the head nurse and say what? ‘While I snuck into your lovely establishment in order to talk to my old friend Gary, he happened to tell me that he didn’t take his medication.’“
“I’ll leave a note.”
“I flush my meds, you brick-headed hermaphrodite.”
“Can the crap, Gary, you’re in a cell.”
Gary snorted. “Do you take all your schoolboy dialect from ‘50s movies set in English boarding schools, Jimmy-boy?”
“Of course.” Gary stood up. “Sorry, forgot you’ve probably never seen a map of England, let alone a movie that took place there.” He took a few steps closer to me, and I couldn’t figure out whether to move in closer or back the fuck up. So I stood there, lifting my chin to look him in the eye—I hadn’t realized he was that close until he tilted his head slightly to look down at me. Fucker was never good at respecting my space.
I spoke around a clenched jaw. “Back off, Gary.” The warning was still audible, I hoped. He didn’t move, just smiled at me in that fake happy way he did just to piss me off. “I’m serious, back the fuck off.”
Gary’s cat smile stretched a little bit further. He put a hand on my shoulder and I pushed it off. “Come now, James. Old friends can’t reach out and touch each other all of a sudden?”
“There’s only one place your fucking hands should be.” In a fucking grinder.
I didn’t even get a half a second to realize what I’d said before Gary’s eyebrow shot up. “Really now, Hopkins? I didn’t think you’d have it in you to ask and all, but-”
“Shut up,” I snapped, shoving him back. I pushed him hard enough that he landed on his ass, and Gary laughed at me. Guy in the fucking nuthouse laughed at me, which showed exactly how much he needed to be in there. If I was him, I’d be pissed as fuck. He was still laughing. I walked over to him, looking down as I raised my fist. “I’m serious. If you don’t shut the hell up-”
“You’ll hit me?” Gary sighed dramatically. “Jimmy, Jimmy, so predictable. What’ll that do for you? I mean, seriously, unless you get off on it, I can’t see you getting anything from it—unless you do get off on it.” He smirked again. “Are you a little sadist, Jimmy Hopkins?”
“What did you call me?” This guy seriously seemed to have a thing for saying my name. He just kept repeating it, and every time he said it, he made it sound like a fucking insult.
As if to prove my point, he responded with a slow, “Jim-my. I called you Jimmy. Are you deaf and dumb now?” I grabbed him by the collar and yanked him up partway, so that I was crouching and he was looking me in the eye. The squirmy little fucker had to shut his trap if my fist was an inch from his mouth, right? “Wait, so I put a hand on your shoulder and you get all uptight, but two seconds later, you’re practically straddling me? Oh, boy, you’ve got more issues than I do, pal. You should talk to someone about that.”
“Got any recommendations for me? I’m sure you know a few people,” I retorted. I moved back away from him, pushing him just enough to make him drop back to the floor.
“Ooo...we can have group therapy together and everything!” He sat up, brushing dust off his pants. “Invite the family—you, me, the kids Petey and Zoe and Russell—how is the little girl doing, anyway?”
I snorted. Couldn’t help it. “Petey’s better than when you were around.”
“Well, with his own personal guard dog, I imagine no one messes with him.” Gary picked another piece of dust off the cuff of his pants. “Do you slobber all over him when you see him, your...tail wagging whenever he gets home?” I rolled my eyes. I’d let him piss me off, and that was a chump move. Gary was the kind of sick fuck who thought that if I wanted to hit him, he must be doing something right. “I’m serious. Now, the thing about Petey is that you’ve got to remind him to leave water out for you, ‘cause he just gets so flustered about getting up in the morning that he forgets the little stuff.”
I blinked at him. “What the fuck are you going on about?”
He waved me off with a sigh. “Never mind. My genius is lost on you.” Meaning that the lack of good drugs was making him ramble on like an idiot. “So, Hopkins, old pal, why exactly are you here?”
“Didn’t I answer that already? Aren’t you supposed to be smart? Notice shit?”
“ ‘I want to be here’ isn’t a good enough reason, Jimmyboy,” He leaned back so that his back was against the bed.
It was a weird moment to realize that I was sitting on the floor with Gary like we were friends or something. On the floor in a mental hospital like I was friends with him. What kind of shit was this?
I scowled at him. “Well, that’s why I’m here. What more do you want?”
“I know this is difficult for a dunderhead like yourself to comprehend, but you’ve got to have a reason for wanting to see me. Especially when you go through the trouble of breaking and entering.” Gary paused, and then added, “Not that criminal activity is beneath you or anything.”
“You say that like you’re above criminal activity,” I pointed out.
Gary shrugged and smirked. “I’m a mastermind. You’re muscle.”
“I beat you.”
“In a fist fight.”
“You wanted a fist fight.”
“I just wanted to be close to you, James.”
“Is that a request?”
“Were you always this much of a fag?”
Gary chuckled. “This homophobia’s a problem, Jimmy. You’re gonna break Petey’s little heart...and he doesn’t deal with heartache too well. He gets all whimpery and red-eyed. Trust me, it’s just a big mess.”
“What, you deal with Petey getting his heart broken before?” I couldn’t see Gary ‘dealing’ with anyone after a break-up. He’d roll his eyes, and maybe laugh, and walk away. Or he’d crack jokes about it or something. Then again, couldn’t imagine Petey having dated anyone either, so...
“Why, you want pointers?” Gary retorted.
I shook my head. “You’re still crazy as fuck.”
“You’re still dumb as a brick. Look, nothing’s changed...’cept now you’re seeking me out.”
I grimaced at him bringing that up again, and looked away from him. “I was bored, alright?” Shouldn’t have said that, but whatever, too late now. “I was bored and no one was awake, and I knew damned well that you didn’t have anything to do but sit around.”
“How sweet.” Gary stretched, and somehow that stretch ended up with his arm around my shoulder. “The troll missed its handler.”
“You’re not my handler.”
“But you don’t argue you’re a troll.” I glared at him, but he didn’t move his arm. “So, no one’s lighting your fire like I do, huh? Not even your little girlfriend...what’s her name?” He knew her name. “Um...Zora? Zena? Zoe...yeah, Zoe. She’s cute, real cute...so why not go wake her up instead?” I didn’t have an answer to that one besides ‘didn’t wanna’, so I didn’t answer. “So, I’m more exciting that your girl, James? Really? What does that say about you?”
My hands were fists again, but I wasn’t going to bash his face in. Gary made gay jokes, it’s what he did. “You know what Gary? You’ve got a real fascination with my sex life.”
“It took you this long to figure it out, Jimmy?” I didn’t jump because he made it sound like he was interested in my sex life. I didn’t jump because his arm was still around my shoulder. I didn’t jump because he was looking me dead in the eye.
I jumped because he practically purred that shit and it was creepy as fuck.
Gary cackled like a fucking hyena when I jumped. “Down, boy, down. I mean, I thought it was obvious—but then again, you and obvious aren’t exactly buddies now, are you?”
“What, you think this is fucking clever, Gary?” I looked at him, my disgust pretty clear. “You must have been locked up in here too long if you think that’s a great joke or something.” I shrugged his arm off of me, and was bothered that he hadn’t moved it when I reacted to his dumbass comment.
I stood up. I don’t know why I’d gotten so comfortable sitting next to him anyway. This was Gary, and Gary was not a guy you got comfortable with. The guy was a snake who said whatever he thought would most fuck with a person. Especially with me. For some sick reason, he’d picked me as his special target, and I was letting myself get wrapped in it.
“I’m serious, Jimmyboy. I clearly have to have some sort of interest in you and sexual activity, since I keep bringing it up.”
I was pacing. It occurred to me that Gary was in this little fucking room for most of the day. Hell, if I was in here, I’d try to fuck with the first person I saw. Still, Gary was being weird as hell and it was freaking me out. “Shut up, Gary.”
“Maybe I’m just a boy tugging at your pigtails...ever consider that?”
“I don’t have fucking-” I cut myself off. “That’d be fucking, fucking-”
“Crazy? Imagine that.”
“No, ‘cause you wanted to do what you did before I showed up.”
“True.” Gary was still sitting on the floor, looking relaxed as all hell. “And you were just the icing on the cake. The dumb, thickheaded, goblin-like icing, but still.” I threw another glare his way. “Look, so I annoyed you for a little while...you can’t get me out of your head either, clearly, so let’s skip this ‘stop being a weird fag’ step, alright?”
“You-you annoyed me?” I nearly shouted in disbelief. He raised an eyebrow at me and put a finger to his lips as if that was what was going to make me be quiet. “You didn’t annoy me, you harassed me. Made my life hell!”
He shrugged. “Technicality. My point still stands.”
“And what point is that, huh?”
“When you’re lying in bed at night, and you should be thinking about your girlfriend, it’s me you’ve got on the brain.”
I hauled him up by the collar of his shirt. He was still grinning like a fucking maniac. The slimy, creepy little freak was still smiling. “Say something like that again, I fucking dare you. I’ll bust your fucking lip open.”
“So now you’re thinking about my lips, huh?”
I clocked him. He stumbled back, the back of his hand going up to his mouth instantly. He stared at me, and at first I thought it was because it was going to be a fight, but then he just kept fucking staring at me. I wanted him to throw a punch back at me, because otherwise this staring shit was getting to me, making my skin crawl.
“That it, Jimmy?” He moved his hand. I had busted his lip, but that didn’t make me feel better. He was practically whispering, doing that weird purr shit again. I hit the guy and he makes a noise like a housecat getting petted. “Come on, don’t disappoint me now. We’re just getting started.”
“We’re not starting dick,” I snapped, pointing at him. “You’re still out of your fucking mind, and I can’t believe I fucking came here. I’m out of here.”
“Well shit,” Gary almost sounded disappointed, and dropped down to sit on his bed. “I thought you’d have more stamina, James.” I shivered at the pure sleaze that dripped off the guy. I went to the door. “At least I’ve got something to...think about while you’re gone.” I didn’t take the bait and turn around. “Don’t forget to return the keys...unless you plan on coming back to see me.”
Fuck him. I needed some air.