Betad by: Charity
Jean felt his heart hammering, he pressed the towel against Michael’s wound. Ricky was cursing and moaning in pain on the floor just a couple of meters away from them. Joe and that other man had already grown silent. Michael had lost consciousness. There were no more bullets.
“Fuck, Jean!” Ricky groaned and tried to move in vain. “Help me!” he demanded. Blood was everywhere. Jean stayed next to Michael and snorted.
“Why in the world would I help you?” he asked. “I do believe you’re going to jail, Ricky. I already called for help,” Jean smiled,” I wouldn’t worry too much though, I am sure you’ll find a company even in jail. Of course, it could be that it will be in a different role than what you’re used to.”
“You will pay for this, Jean! I’ll make sure of that!” Ricky roared. Jean didn’t care about him, he was in a hurry, but he wouldn’t have wanted to leave Michael.
“Help is on its way chéri,” he whispered in Michael’s ear. “Don’t worry, I have to go soon, but help is on the way, and I will find you later, I promise.”
“Jean!” Ricky groaned in pain while he swept past him and out of the room. There wasn’t time to waste. The receiver was still on the table and Jean lifted it on his ear for a moment. The line was still open.
“Is help coming?” he asked.
“We have sent a unit. What’s the situation, are there any injured? I heard gunshots.” The woman asked with a worried tone.
“The victim is badly hurt, the ones guilty as well. There will be no threat to the authorities anymore.”
“What is your name? Stay there, the help will reach you soon.” Jean lowered the receiver back onto the table. He couldn’t stay, they’d arrest him if he would. He had to hide, maybe Patrick would help him. He had to start all over as someone else entirely.
Jean returned to the room, Ricky’s clothes were piled up on the floor and he searched for his wallet and smiled when he found some cash. He quickly stuffed the money in his pocket and gave Ricky a spiteful glare.
‘I hope they rape you with a metal tube in jail.’ he thought to himself.
“You’ll pay for this Jean! Ricky still attempted to threaten him, the broken monster on the floor on his way to ruin. He had to be in enormous pain by now, but he deserved all of it and more.
Jean believed that Ricky was mostly pained about the awareness of what was now inevitable. He would be arrested and all the ugliness that he was would be revealed piece by piece.
The latest rape was filmed, the evidence spoke for itself and at the same time his own participation couldn’t be denied. But he had done what he had to, and he called for help and now he needed to live in exile until he would find his way back to Michael.
Jean knew that he needed to rush, he visited Michael one more time, making sure that he was breathing. “I love you chéri… I will come back.”
Jean heard the approaching vehicles, and he had to flee from the backdoor to the safety of the woods before he would be seen. The help was on its way for Michael and Ricky’s journey to destruction had begun.
They waited and the wait was agonizing. Sam didn’t know what to do, how to be, what to say. None of them did, Sam offered Michael’s parents some tea, he prepared the cups, and made some sandwiches, for they should all eat, right? But the tea turned cold in their cups and the sandwiches remained untouched, the shock of the situation too great.
The private detective Samuel had hired had contacted him and told him that apparently Mr. Larkin had left the country a couple of days prior. Apparently?! The cops had already told them as much! Sam had been furious, and the detective’s explanations didn’t help. He hadn’t wanted to hear them and ended the call enraged. If the man had done his his job properly, he would have let him know about it the moment Ricky had set his foot in the airport, when… He could have taken Michael somewhere safe and forced him to tell the truth to the cops. Sam regretted that he hadn’t been more forceful about the matter. The regret was useless, but still, it refused to leave him.
And those things that Michael had already been forced to go through… Those images forced their way into his consciousness even though he didn’t want them. And Jean? was he involved? Had Ricky found him as well? Or was Michael only with Jean? What had happened? Ricky hadn’t been reached so far and they kept assuring them that the authorities were doing their best. What if the best wasn’t enough?
“What kind of man he is? This Jean you talked off?” Henry asked. The clock was nearing six, the whole day seemed to have gone by in a fog. They sat in the living room and Sam wasn’t sure how long they had sat there. Sat, or walked restlessly in the apartment. Evelyn held a fresh picture of her son, which she had stared at for quite a while. Her eyes were swollen with tears that still glimmered in her eyes. Henry was serious, upset, but fighting to stay calm.
Sam thought about his words and swallowed. “Jealous,” he said. ” And… Well, without him, it’s a good chance that Michael wouldn’t have gotten away from Ricky when he did. With that, Jean did a good thing,” Sam shrugged. ” But at the same time, Jean took advantage of Michael’s gratitude concerning it. A better man would have encouraged him to contact you sooner. I made a mistake as well that I didn’t persuade him to talk with cops sooner… Damnit!” Sam broke down in tears and brought his hand to cover his eyes.
Henry reached for the cup of tea that already cooled. “You did your best, don’t blame yourself,” he said. It was easier to say to others than to allow that comfort for himself. His heart felt heavy, he felt Sam’s remorse and knew those self-accusations all too well. There were many mistakes to share but dwelling on them helped nothing.
“I can prepare a fresh cup, it’s already cold,” Sam said after wiping his eyes and getting up. He wanted something else to think about.
”I could reheat it in the microwave,” Henry said and got up with his cup. He couldn’t stand the helpless feeling, of not being able to help his son. His child was suffering and the things that Michael had been through, things he was currently going through spiraled in his mind even though he didn’t invite them. He wouldn’t survive, there is no way he could survive if Michael died now. He wouldn’t forgive himself or those who caused this.
“Tea is better when it’s fresh,” Samuel said. He needed something to do, even if it was just brewing a fresh pot of tea.
Henry glanced at his wife who had gotten up and walked restlessly in the apartment until breaking out in tears next to the bookshelf where there were Michael’s pictures. They wouldn’t survive, Henry thought. There was no way they could survive, there was an unpleasant feeling squeezing his insides. He didn’t want to think, didn’t want these horrid thoughts. And he couldn’t go over to his wife, for he felt like breaking down himself.
“I’ll go out to the balcony for a moment, to get some air,” Henry said, and Sam nodded. He made the tea ready, and Evelyn’s tears made his eyes water again. Sam squeezed the edge of the sink and tried to focus on breathing. He forced the unwanted thoughts away, Michael would survive, he had to keep believing that.
After eight o’clock in the evening, they received the call; Michael had been brought to the hospital. He was in a critical condition, he had been shot, and that was all that they were told. They wasted no time going over there to see him.
Michael had been rushed to the emergency room and he had been unconscious when they found him. It took time before they were told more details. The wait was agonizing and at the same time, it was comforting that he had been found, that he was in good hands now away from whoever had hurt him. But what if they would receive bad news?
Finally, a serious-looking male doctor came to them. They were afraid that he would bring hopeless news that would be impossible to be prepared for. The man seemed to notice their fear because he tried to smile. His smile however faded soon. ” The surgery went well,” he said. “His condition is still critical but stable,” he took a small break. “Maybe we should go somewhere quieter to talk.”
Sam gritted his teeth. Evelyn nodded standing beside her husband and quietly they followed the doctor into a small room.
“Please sit down,” the man gestured and took a seat opposite them. The clock was ticking on the wall: 1.41 AM. Sam stared at the numbers for a moment before drifting his gaze around the room. The room was white and clean. The curtains on the window were light mint green. The doctor went over Michael’s condition, speaking English with a strong French accent.
Michael had lost a lot of blood; the bullet hadn’t injured any vital organs. There were several external signs of abuse. Michael had been raped.
The doctor’s words were blurred in Sam’s ears. Of course he had realized the probability when Michael disappeared, but hearing it out loud was even harder than he had imagined.
” Considering the circumstances, he is lucky and was spared severe physical damage that would affect the rest of his life,” the doctor said. “However, the next twenty-four hours are critical.”
‘Lucky, Physical damage. The next twenty-four hours are critical. Sam’s mind picked up words. Michael’s mother cried loudly. Henry was pale, quiet, angry, and miserable looking at the same time. Michael was unconscious and in intensive care. The doctor did his best to comfort them and despite everything, the prognosis was good. Michael was young and healthy. The man suggested that they should all receive crisis therapy as soon as possible to help them deal with everything. It would be especially important for Michael.
After talking with the doctor, they spoke with the police officers. The course of events was still partly unclear and the investigation incomplete. It seemed however that Michael had fired some of the shots. Because it seemed to be a clear case of self-defense, he would very unlikely face any criminal charges. Two of the suspects were in hospital care, one dead, and the fourth, who was suspected to be the one to call for help, was still hiding.
The cops had found video evidence that the suspects had recorded part of the ‘assault’ as they put it. The evidence against the men arrested was aggravating.
Sam felt nauseous. Evelyn seemed about to faint. She had gone pale and leaned close to her husband, who shared the repulsive feelings, not being able to voice out his thoughts.
Four men, maybe more. ‘He’s lucky, considering the circumstances… The prognosis for physical recovery is good…’ How could someone get pleasure from torturing someone else? It was sick. It was repulsive.
Sam thought about his partner who was gentle and good. He thought about the state of mind Michael had been in when firing the shots. Cornered, broken, and violated, who was left with no other options to escape.
They were allowed to go see Michael, but since the room was only recommended for two at a time, Sam waited. Michael’s parents hadn’t seen their son in five years and he… He took the time to digest what had happened. He sat on the bench, leaning on his hands, and felt his thoughts drifting away.
Michael was alive and despite everything the prognosis was good; he felt gratitude. One suspect, Jean, was at large; anger followed. Michael had been raped, and there were several marks of abuse; fear and nausea hit him like a wave.
He had been naive and for a while, he had imagined that they could live some degree of normalcy with Michael. Imagined that Jean and… all that shit… the darkness that Michael had had to experience at Ricky’s hands before… He had imagined that somehow, they would just put it behind them. But how did you get over that? Especially now… Now after this.
He hung his head low and waited. A rich powerful man who had kidnapped a seventeen-year-old schoolboy and forced him to… Sam stopped his trail of thought or at least tried to. It would end up in the papers, it was a big deal. It would be a bigger deal than any of them were ready for. Life had been so very simple before, could it ever be regained?
Their son was hooked up to beeping devices and had an oxygen cannula on his face. Evelyn shuddered as she walked closer, a lump rising in her throat, and she put her hand over her mouth to try to silence her sobs. Her child. Her little son. After all, it was only a moment ago when she had held the warm bundle in her arms, rocked her child to sleep, his little chubby fingers had wrapped around her finger and she had kissed her little one’s forehead, thinking that she would never let anyone hurt him.
She had failed. And that failure felt like a heavy cut in her heart as she looked at her adult child in that state. The right corner of his eye was slightly swollen and black, there was a cut on his lip, and purple bruises on his neck. Evelyn felt sick knowing that the blankets and hospital gown covered the worst of it. The skin on his wrists were chafed and broken. Evelyn cried. Just a small moment and at the same time eternity. She came closer, wanting to touch and at the same time she was afraid. “Michael…” She whispered and finally placed a trembling hand in her son’s soft hair. The device beeped steadily, and the boy’s chest fell and rose.
Evelyn’s chest heaved, tears streaming down her cheeks. ”Mommy is here, sweetie,” her voice broken by her tears, “I’m here, my love.”
Henry came to the other side of the bed. He gritted his teeth. The pain felt incredible. And he felt hatred, raw hatred for the men who had done this. Medieval torture death: that’s what he wanted for those men, and that wouldn’t have been enough, that wouldn’t have atoned the pain either. Unable to speak, he looked at his son’s face and felt remorse.
Henry scolded himself, those words… The words that had been the last before the boy disappeared. Words that had driven the offended teenager to make a foolish and ill-advised decision. Michael wouldn’t have left if they knew how to be better parents at that moment. He would beat himself up forever for not being able to accept. He had questioned his faith.
Henry touched the boy’s hand and wanted to beg for forgiveness, even though he felt he didn’t deserve it. He loved his child, and that love was more painful than anything at that moment, he couldn’t bear it if Michael died.
Henry looked up at his wife, who at the same moment met his gaze. Evelyn’s tears made him cry too, and Henry wasn’t sure if he had shown his feelings and weaknesses so openly before. Evelyn came up next to him and wrapped her arms around him. They wept at their son’s bedside, wordlessly supporting each other.
”He’ll wake up, you heard what the doctor said…” Evelyn finally whispered. Henry could only nod, he wanted to believe it.
The morning had already dawned, none of them had slept. Sam had entered the room; he watched the heart curve drawn on the screen with clouded eyes. Michael’s chest rose and fell with a steady beep, but his eyes remained closed.
Those bruises made Sam feel ill. However, they were not so bad on his face, Michael was recognizable. Worse bruises must be hidden under his clothes, Sam couldn’t help but think.
He tried to keep the thoughts away where his mind was wandering, but they had heard that there were two more suspects besides Jean that the police were currently tracking. Six men had participated in beating and raping Michael. Sam didn’t want to think, he didn’t want the images, but they were persistent and cruel and tried to force their way into his consciousness.
It was as if someone had squeezed his heart between their palms so hard that it felt like it would burst into pieces. He felt the silent tears on his face as he looked at his partner. He had never met a person who was so… good. Sam remembered the sweet smile and the light in his eyes when he had arranged a birthday surprise for him. He remembered those sweetly tender and trying first kisses.
A soft laugh, a touch of a hand, a warm body against his. The playful look on Michael’s face when…
”I’m happy, Sam,” Michael had whispered. ”I didn’t know I could feel like this anymore,” nowthat whisper tormented his thoughts and the horror that Michael had to experience during his kidnapping that lasted less than a day. How twisted and evil did a person have to be to hurt another like this?
“Mo ghrá thú,” He heard Michael whisper in his mind. In addition to Spanish and French, Michael also knew some Irish.
Intelligent, gentle, and kind, that was Michael. Why did such a bad thing have to happen to him? He reached to touch his lover’s hand, softly squeezing it between his palms, tears clouding his vision.
This gentle soul had been pushed to the breaking point where he had raised a gun and shot his abusers. It had been the right thing to do, and Sam felt proud that Michael had done it. At the same time, he was worried about what that horrible situation must have caused.
When Michael woke up, how deep would those scars be? ’The prognosis for physical recovery is good.’ The doctor’s words echoed in his mind. But what about the mental one? Had Michael even gotten a decent chance to deal with the old wounds?
”I am here my love; I am always here. Come what may,” Sam promised because it was all he could do for him now. He leaned down to plant a kiss on Michael’s forehead, “you just have to wake up…Please wake up.”