Paul is sitting in a chair his posture perfect his hands folded in his lap. Dr. Baxter sits across from him silently observing for a few moments before she begins. She takes note that the patient is sitting so the door is in his line of sight.
“Did anyone tell you why I’m here to talk to you?” Dr. Baxter asked pulling Paul’s attention away from the door.
Paul shook his head then continued to stare at the door.
“Paul please look at me. I need you to focus on the questions I’m going to ask you.”
Paul reluctantly complied.
“Let’s start with the easy stuff. What’s your name?” Dr. Baxter smiled. She’d never dealt with a disorder quite like this before. After reading the patient’s history and what had transpired over the last three days she had to admit she was totally baffled, yet completely intrigued with the mystery. This case could make her internationally known if she could manage to cure Mr. Kinney. The man was an enigma to say the least.
“How old are you Paul?”
“What grade are you in?”
“Where do you live?”
“Do you know the street you live on?”
“Do you know where your parents are?”
“Did you ever know your parents?”
“How long have you known Justin?”
“Two…um three days.”
The doctor noted that the patient answered the questions as if he were a soldier being interrogated by the enemy.
“Do you know how you got here?”
“Justin and Michael brought me.”
“Do you know why?”
“I was hurt.”
“Do you remember how you got hurt?”
“You don’t remember anything about the night you were hurt?”
“Do you remember the other hospital?”
Paul looked at her with confusion. No one had mentioned that he had been in another hospital.
“Paul can you tell me the last thing you remember before you were hurt?”
Paul started to fidget the doctor could see he was getting uncomfortable with her questions.
“Paul, what do you remember?”
“I…I was playing at the playground near my foster house.” Paul’s fidgeting worsened and he began to rub his right ear.
“Were you playing with anyone?”
“No. Not then before, Brian was with me before and then it got dark.”
“Can you tell me what happened then?”
The doctor sat silently waiting for Paul to continue. After a few moments she noticed that the tips of his ears had become red and his face was flushed.
“Paul what’s wrong?”
When she got no response and feared the patient had gone back into a catatonic state. Dr. Baxter got up and moved toward Paul.
“Paul I’m going to touch your forehead.”
Paul flinched as her hand came toward his face.
“It’s okay. I only want to see if you’re running a temperature.” She knew the moment she touched him that he had a fever.
“Paul I’m going to call in the nurse to take your
temperature and then have
“Let’s get you back into bed first.”
After she had Paul tucked into his hospital bed she stepped outside.
Justin jumped when she exited.
“That was fast.”
“He’s not feeling well. Why don’t you go and sit with him while I get a nurse and his doctor into see him?”
“He’s sick? Christ what else can happen.” Justin scrubbed a hand through his hair.
“I’ll come back later and try again.”
“Did you get anything? Any clues at all as to why he’s like this?”
“Not really, but I assure you I will take Mr. Kinney’s case and do everything I can to help.”
“Thank you. I’d better get in there. I don’t want him to be alone.”
When Justin entered the room Paul was on his right side curled into himself gently rocking.
“Hey. The doctor said you’re not feeling too good.”
“It hurts Justin.” Paul whispered.
“Tell me what hurts?”
“My ears hurt… bad.”
Justin could see tears of pain forming in Paul’s eyes. Shit, fuck the shower he knew Brian was susceptible to ear infections. Though Brian only briefly mentioned it after Justin had teased him about his meticulousness in cleaning his ears after showering and swimming. Something to do with his ear canals never forming correctly, and having a tendency to hold water thus causing more than one ear infection over his 30 something years. Who knew the great Brian Kinney had a deformity.
“I’m sorry. It’s my fault for leaving you in the shower.” Justin touched Paul’s cheek and forehead with the back of his hand, he was burning up.
“Where the hell is the nurse?” Justin cursed to himself then pressed the call button several times.
“Hold your horse’s sonny.” Katie admonished as she bounded into the room.
“Don’t you ever go home?” Justin threw back.
“Sometimes. One of the day nurses got sick so I’m working a double. I hear you’re not feeling too well young man.” Katie stepped next to Paul’s bed grabbing the pressure cuff from above the bed. “Can you sit up for me sweetie?”
Paul complied and Katie began checking his vitals. Then put a thermometer into his mouth. She retrieved the thermometer after taking his pulse holding it to the light to read it.
“Wouldn’t a digital one be more accurate?”
“I’m an old mule sonny don’t trust that new fangled crap.”
Paul giggled at Katie’s use of a potty word.
“Think I’m funny sweetie?” Katie chided then quickly realized her words sounded a bit harsh to someone as vulnerable as Paul. She could tell by his expression that he thought he’d gotten himself into trouble.
“It’s okay sweetie. You have a beautiful laugh and if you think I’m funny well you just go right ahead and laugh at this old red head, okay?”
That got a slight smile from Paul, but it faded fast as the pain in his ears became worse.
“What’s his temp?”
“102. I’ll get the doctor right up here and be back with some Tylenol to help with the pain. Do you know if you have any allergies Paul?”
“ I don’t think so.”
“I’ll be right back sweetie just hold on a bit.”
“Hurry.” Justin added as Katie left. He hated to see Brian in any pain especially because he knew it was his fault.
“It’s not your fault Justin. You dint know. Don’t be mad.”
“I’m not mad. I just don’t like seeing you hurting.” Justin said as he pushed Brian’s bangs out of his eyes. His hair was getting really long. The longest he’d ever seen Brian’s hair was when they’d met. It was much longer now and Justin thought it really did make Brian look very young. It was hard to see him as an adult now with his voice sounding so young and his beautiful chestnut hair cascading across his brow.
Katie entered. Justin poured Paul a glass of water as Katie held out a tiny paper cup with two white pills inside.
“Take these honey it will make you feel better.”
Paul took one of the pills out of the cup, popped it into his mouth and began to chew his face immediately registering the bitterness of the pill.
“Oh, sweetie I’m sorry. These aren’t the chewable kind. Here drink the water to wash that nasty taste away.”
Paul took the glass and emptied it in a few gulps. Justin quickly refilled it so Paul could wash down the chewed up pill.
“Now the next one I want you to place it way on the back of your tongue and drink the water real fast so it can slide down.”
Paul followed the instructions and was rewarded with a pat on his cheek from the brightly colored nurse.
Justin felt like an anxious parent as he watched the doctor probe Brian’s ears.
“Could you take it easy his ears are really sore.” Justin could see Paul wince as the doctor looked into his ears.
The doctor continued to examine Paul becoming a bit gentler in his actions.
“His ear canals are deeper than normal which is why water stays. You have ear infections often Paul?”
Paul shrugged is shoulders.
Aktar turned his attention to Justin, ignoring Paul.
“I’m going to have to pack his ears with an antibiotic. It will work much faster than giving it to him orally. We’ll keep track of his temperature to make sure it doesn’t go higher. He should be fine in a few days. Do you know where the clinic is?”
“I’m sure I can find it.”
“Good. Make an appointment for Thursday or Friday. I’d like to see him before he goes home.”
“Yes, unless you’d rather take him to his own physician. I can have a copy of his records sent.”
“Wait…I thought he’d be staying here?” Justin was confused at the doctor’s blasé attitude toward his patient’s mental status.
“I’d like to keep him overnight for observation. If his temp is down I’ll release him in the morning.”
“Can I talk to you…outside?” Justin looked at Paul. “I’ll only be a minute.”
Paul lay down and turned on his side. He was in to much pain to care about anything and knowing someone was going to be messing with his ears even more made him want to be someplace else. ‘Maybe he would go back to the park… no not there. The sandbox at Brian’s house that was a safe place, if he asked he knew his best friend would read his favorite book to him again. The Neverending Story, Atreyu was his hero.’ Paul closed his eyes tight and took himself there.
Outside Paul’s room.
“I can’t take him home, not yet. I thought he would stay here until Dr. Baxter helped him remember who he is?”
“I’m sorry Mr. Taylor, but your friend isn’t ill other than
this minor infection. There’s no
indication that he is a threat to anyone or to himself. The only way he can stay in a hospital is for
you to have him committed to a mental health facility. Do you want to do that? I can have it arranged we have a good place
“No! I’m not committing Brian to a nut house. He’s not crazy doctor he’s just lost in his head somewhere. I know it.”
“I’m a medical practitioner Mr. Taylor. I can only treat physical problems and the hospital needs the bed. I suggest you try to work something out with Dr. Baxter.”
That said the doctor left and Katie approached with a tray of the medical supplies she would need to carry out the doctors orders.
“Come on sonny. Paul’s not going to enjoy this. It will be easier if you’re there to keep his attention focused away from what I’m doing.”
“And buck-up, shit has a way of working out. Trust me.”
“It’s just hard to see that far ahead right now.”
“Then deal with right now. Dr. Baxter’s a good woman she’ll help you work something out that’s best for him.”
Katie was right as gentle as she tried to be Justin could tell the procedure hurt like hell. Young Paul was a very compliant personality, always fearful wanting nothing more than to not be hurt or yelled at so he stayed still.
“You are one of the best patient’s I’ve ever had.” Katie knew her compliment fell flat, but she really was at a loss when it came to kids.
“I think Paul deserves a treat for being so good.” Justin said stepping in to help Katie out.
“I do?” The idea of getting something for doing what he thought was expected of him was a foreign concept to him.
“You sure do kiddo. What’ll it be?”
Paul was at a loss. He didn’t get treats very often and that was only on holidays. Brian would sneak cookies for them sometimes once he even snuck them each a piece of chocolate, chocolate chip cake. It was the best thing he ever ate and it was even better because Brian had thought about him.
“There’s a good selection of ice cream in the cafeteria.” Justin said.
“And I know where there’s a stash of the best chocolate, chocolate chip ice cream.” Katie gave Justin a wink. It was her own stash, but this kid deserved the best. She could hardly believe that thinking of this grown man as a child came so easy. It was his eyes she thought, they were so big and expressive, not to mention, beautiful.
“Okay you want ice cream or something else?” Justin prodded. Paul wasn’t making this small task easy. He seemed too afraid to say what he wanted.
“Ice cream would be okay. Are you having some too?”
“I’m always up for ice cream.” Justin smiled. He was starting to feel more parental all the time and he couldn’t help but sort of like the feeling.
“What kind of ice cream would you like?”
“Any kind is okay.”
“Okay then I’ll go get my stash.” Katie patted Paul gently on the shoulder and went to get the ice cream.
At Deb’s house.
“There are a number of Robertson’s, a few with the first name William, but I didn’t find any connection to Brian. The guy probably used an alias. The surveillance video gives us nothing. This guy made sure his face couldn’t be seen.”
“Well that’s fuckin creepy.” Deb replied as she buzzed around her tiny kitchen.
“Are we having company?” Carl noticed Deb was in the mist of a baking frenzie.
“I’m sendin my boy’s a care package. They’ve seen nothing but hospitals for days.”
“Debbie they’ll probably be home by the time that stuff gets
“They will? Did Michael say something to you because he sure hasn’t told me shit. The little shit.”
“No, it’s just a feeling. Michael said that physically Brian is fine so I don’t see them keeping him in the hospital. And unless Justin has him committed…”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“Honey listen, I’ve been around the block too you know. If the doctors don’t think Brian is a threat to himself or to anyone else they have no reason to keep him.”
“Well then it’s best for those boys to be home where they
belong. Brian can get just as good of
help here as he can in
“Anyway, I’ve got someone searching any criminal connections to Brian’s family.”
“You think this guy is related to him?”
“Just a hunch.”
“So spill already. What does your gut tell you?” Deb began her interrogation.
“I’d rather not get into the details sweetheart. Let me see if we find anything and then I’ll tell all. Okay?”
“You’d better or no sex for a month.”
“Right.” Carl laughed he knew she couldn’t go that long.
Paul is sitting cross legged behind the tray table bowl of chocolate ice cream in front of him. Justin noticed that Paul is eating with his left hand, Brian is right handed.
“How’s your ice cream?” Justin asked.
“Okay.” Paul took another small spoonful his face scrunching up a bit as he swallowed.
“Is your throat sore?”
Paul shook his head.
“You don’t like the ice cream?”
“It tastes like medicine.” Paul admitted.
“Some of the medicine they put in your ears is probably draining into your throat.” Justin takes in the sad look from Paul. “It’s okay Paul it will be better tomorrow and then I’ll get you some more ice cream or whatever you want. Okay? Don’t be sad.”
“I never had…(sniff) and it looks so good…(sniff)” Paul is fighting hard to keep back the sadness and pain that is overwhelming him.
Justin gets up and sets his ice cream next to Paul’s and moves the tray table away, and sits on the edge of the bed.
“You’ve been through a lot in the past few days Paul. It’s okay if you want to cry.” Justin offered. What he really wanted to do was throw his arms around Brian and hold him tight and never let go.
“I’m not suppose to cry. Crying is for babies. I…(sniff) I don’t have nothing to cry about.” Paul swiped at his eyes with the back of his hands and tried hard to breath deep. If he cried Justin would see what a big baby he was. Maybe Justin would go away. He didn’t want Justin to go away.
“You have plenty to cry about and it might make you feel better inside.”
Paul continued to struggle with his emotions. Justin moved closer and put his hand gently on Paul’s arm.
“I cry sometimes.” Justin admitted with a slight smile.
“You do? But you’re a grown-up.” Paul sounded very surprised at Justin’s confession.
“Grown-ups cry. There’s nothing wrong with crying. It’s away for us to deal with things that happen.” Justin could tell Paul was losing the fight against his tears. “Come here.” Justin said holding out his arms. Paul looked at him for a few seconds then fell into Justin’s arms. Justin held tight as the familiar body in his arms lost control. Paul buried his face into Justin’s neck and let go sobbing loudly.
Dr. Aktar’s office.
“Mr. Taylor I assure you Mr. Kinney would get excellent care…”
“I already told you I’m not committing him to some fucking
nut house. I don’t care how excellent of
a facility it is. Can’t you see how
vulnerable he is right now? Just give
him a few more days. I don’t think he
could handle a huge change right now. If
I take him back to
There’s a knock at the door and Dr. Baxter enters.
“Finally, Dr. Baxter please help me convince Dr. Aktar that the hospital is the best place for Brian to be right now.”
“I’m sorry Mr. Taylor, but I agree with his doctor. Hold on before you go off the deep end. After talking with Paul just now I believe that getting him away from this setting could be much more productive.”
“But I can’t take him home! Not yet. Not until he’s Brian again.”
“I understand your concerns, but that may help him remember. I’m not suggesting that you take him home today. Why don’t you get a room at a hotel close by. Let’s say for a week. That will give me time to do some research and have a few more sessions with him. That way I can map out a strategy to help Mr. Kinney.”
“That sounds like something Brian would say. Okay…okay that’s good. But what will I do with a seven year old in a hotel room for a week?”
“You were seven once. I’m sure you can think of things to do. I suggest a park that seems to be a repeating theme for Paul. Something about the park and Brian, and take notes when he starts to talk about his life, try not to let him see you doing it.”
“What do you think is wrong with him? I mean this is much more than amnesia…right?”
“A lot more. His symptoms suggest a rare disassociative fugue. I’ll give you some literature on it. What doesn’t fit is the two personalities he has displayed and that he doesn’t recognize himself. The personalities are the same just at different ages and he knows who Brian Kinney is, but thinks of him as a totally separate person. It’s like Brian has taken on the life of someone he knew from his past.”
“What would cause that?”
“Most likely some sort of horrible trauma, I would guess that it is something from his past, but it’s a mystery as to what could have triggered it now. Mr. Taylor, I’ll need your help to unravel it. I need for you to get me as much information about Brian’s past, especially his younger childhood as possible. I know you don’t want to involve his family, but I think they may have the best leads.”
“He’s been estranged from his mom and sister since his sister accused him of molesting his nephew. And no he did not touch the kid. His mother and sister are a couple of homophopic, religious zealots; but I’ll try to get what I can.”
“Fine, I’ll see you in a few days. Call my office and let me know where you’re staying. I think it best if I talk to Brian in a setting that is comfortable for him.”
“Thank you for everything Dr. Baxter. And Dr. Aktar I apologize for my outburst.”
“No offense taken Mr. Taylor, I hope everything works out for you and Mr. Kinney.”
“Wow!” Paul exclaimed as they entered the room and dropping his bag. “This is so nice. I’ve never seen so many pillows on a bed. Why do they have so many pillows?” Before Justin could answer Paul had run to the large windows that made up the outer wall of the room. “Look Justin! You can see all the city from way up here! This is so nice. Is this where we’re gonna live now?” Paul turned his mood much lighter than the past few days.
“For a little while, a week, then we go
“Do I have to go back to the Johnson’s?” Paul’s face dimmed once again.
“No you’ll stay with me. Unless you’d like to go back to stay with the Johnson’s” Justin hoped he could get some clues from Paul without having to resort to talking to the Ice Queen.
“I’d like to see Brian again, but the Johnson’s dint really like me. I was too messy and Mr. Johnson said he dint like the way I looked.” Paul shrugged his shoulders and hopped onto the large bed near the window.
“It sounds to me like Mr. Johnson was an asshole.” Justin said without thinking.
Paul giggled at hearing the cuss word.
“Sorry, but I think you are a great kid and can’t see why anyone wouldn’t”
Paul beamed and threw himself back on the bed laughing harder.
“You think that’s funny?” Justin teased.
“Sorta, I’m just a dumb throw away kid. But you liked me right off even when I couldn’t talk, and even when I got scared and sick. It’s funny like you know me and like I know you, but I don’t…do I? I mean I never remember seeing you before, but you look like someone I think I know.”
Justin was dumbstruck he wasn’t sure what to say so he let it go for now.
“Justin which bed do you get?”
“Whichever one you don’t want?”
“Really? You pick first though ‘cause you’re grown-up” Paul said getting up from the bed he so obviously wanted because of its closeness to the window.
“I’ll take this one. I like to be closer to the bathroom.”
“’kay then I’ll take this one. But you can have it if you want later if you change your mind. You’re the grown-up.” Paul shuffled his feet uncomfortably. As if he was unsure if Justin was really giving him what he wanted or just playing.
“Paul I know you want to be close to the window and its okay. I want you to take that bed.” Justin walked over to Paul and motioned for him to have a seat on the bed. “Let’s get some things clear, okay.” Paul looked as if he were about to be yelled at. Justin placed his hand under Paul’s chin and raised it gently until they made eye contact. “I like you a lot. When I said I think you’re a great kid I meant it. No bullshit. I know that things are going to get strange for you and I need you to understand that I care for you very much. I will always be here for you and I won’t run away.”
Paul seemed to understand and nodded slightly. Justin pulled him into a tight hug hoping to show Paul he meant every word.
The next two days were the most fun Justin had ever had with Brian that didn’t include sex. Only it wasn’t Brian, or was it? Maybe this is how Brian was as a kid or wanted to be and didn’t get to. Paul loved to swim and only lightly protested having to wear ear plugs. Justin only had to gently remind him of the pain he’d suffered with the ear infections. They went to the hotel pool after hours. Justin had cleared it with the management telling them his partner had an anxiety disorder and couldn’t enjoy himself with people around.
Paul was getting more comfortable around him and was even starting to play around with Justin a little. This made it even harder to remember that in just a few hours Dr. Baxter would be coming for Paul’s first real therapy session. Justin was torn. He could rent a car and escape with Paul and hope Brian would eventually find his way back or face the unknown, and deal with what was surely to be hell for both of them. What would Brian want? What would he do if it were me? Justin knew the answer to both questions. His cell rang bouncing him back to reality.
“Justin, its Carl can you talk without Brian overhearing?”
Note to readers: Put on your seat belts you’re in for a bumpy ride!