The closer I got to my car, the faster my footsteps charged towards my target. My breath was giving out, sweat trickling down my forehead and almost into my eyes. I had to wipe my face off on Dustin's shoulder to keep it from blinding me. No time to deal with smears of perspiration stinging my eyes! I need to DRIVE, dammit!
I finally reached the car and unlocked the doors with my keychain. Panting, I said, "Dustin? I'm gonna put you down on your feet for a few seconds while I open the door, ok? Lean up against the car."
"M'kay..." He said sweetly, still holding his head and wincing from the pain.
"Don't touch it! K? You'll aggravate it. Just hold on..." I said.
"M'kay..." He said again. I leaned him back for a moment, and was VERY cautious about letting him go before making absolutely SURE that he was going to be able to stay steady long enough for me to put him into the passenger seat. I swung the door open and quickly wiped some of the junk in my seat down to the floor mat, all while keeping my eye on Dustin and holding one hand out just in case he began to tilt.
"Alright. Here we go. Nice and easy. Watch your head, hon..." I said softly as I gently put him in the car. Then I pushed his legs in and made sure to fold his hands in his lap. "You good? Alright, watch yourself now." I shut the door, and then ran around to the driver's seat, *SO* happy to shake some of the fatigue out of my arms and catch my breath again.
I strapped myself in and put the key in the ignition. I was breathing so hard that my lungs hurt, but I didn't stop. I couldn't. I started up and just figured that I could work out the rest of my brilliant plan on the way to the hospital. Shit...when I got to the main street, I had to think about which way to turn to even GET to the hospital! And where is the emergency room? Do I just circle around until I find it? I'm sure it's got to have a pretty clearly labeled entrance, right? Is it on the North side or the South side of the hospital? Grrrr! Seriously? Does this lady want to drive 7 miles per hour today? I swerved around her and tried to beat the light, but it caught me anyway. Fuck!
Ok, so when I get there...can I just like...I mean, what then? Can I just carry Dustin in through the front door and scream, 'somebody help', or what? How do I even...? I've seen them bring wheelchairs out for pregnant ladies before. Should I run in and ask for one? No wait, I don't want to leave Dustin in the car by himself, he'll go to sleep. I'm convinced that going to sleep would be bad. Oh shit! I forgot about Dustin! "You awake, hon?" I asked.
"Uh huh..." He said faintly, still holding the t-shirt on his lump. I'm pretty sure that a lot of the bleeding will have stopped by now, but I didn't want him to pull it away and sit there with a bloody t-shirt in his lap the rest of the way there. This has already got to be freaky enough for him as it is. "Eric...?"
"Yeah? What is it? What's wrong?"
"Did you carry me all the way out of your apartment to my car? Hehehe, that's so sexy!" His voice was weak, but the playful grin on his lips was strong.
"It IS! You're like Superman. I just thought about that. You carried me a long long way." His smile faded for a moment, and I heard him suck his teeth as the car hit a small bump in the road and the pain in his head was triggered again. "Ahh...shit..." He whispered.
"We're on our way, baby, k? We'll be there soon."
Suddenly, with a touch of sadness, Dustin said, "I'm sorry I wasn't careful, Eric. I'm so sorry that I screwed up. Ok?"
Why is he apologizing??? And why are people driving so SLOW today? I honked my horn loudly at the guy in front of me and sped up to go around him too. I needed to goo fast, but the LAST thing that I needed at that moment was a speeding ticket! Not just because I can't afford it and can't waste the time getting pulled over...but if an officer of the law comes walking up to my driver's side window while I'm transporting the wounded, half conscious, teenage boy that I've been sleeping with to the emergency room, I'm pretty sure that I'm going to PISS myself!
"So sorry, ok?" He said again, and leaned his head back...his shoulders relaxing. It looked like he was getting ready to lose consciousness on me again.
"Dustin? Ummm, why don't you find us something good on the radio? Huh? Find us some Superman music to get you to the doctor faster." I said, and Dustin fought to stay awake for a bit longer, leaning forward a bit to mess with the radio with his free hand. Thank goodness that he loves to take control over the tunes. It'll keep him awake and I can concentrate on my driving for a little bit longer.
Just a few more lights! Just a few more! Come on! Come on, come on, come on!
I turned the corner and found myself approaching the hospital. I didn't have any more of an idea than I had before, but at least I could have somebody 'professional' look at Dustin and get a clue as to how to help him. The emergency room was pretty much the first thing that I came across, thank God! The visitor parking lot was too far away for me to try to carry Dustin inside, so I just turned into the emergency room area right by the door where the ambulances pull up. I hope my car doesn't get towed. Ah, screw it. I'll worry about that later.
I pulled in and yanked the keys out of the ignition, running around to the other side to unbuckle Dustin and get him out. He protested. "Dude, I'm ok. I can walk. Honest."
"Dustin...please..." I was nearly on the verge of tears. Every second that we spend debating this is a second that his injury could be getting worse. But, determined as ever, Dustin stepped out and slowly rose to a standing position while I held onto his hands. Less arguing, more moving. I might as well just let him try. Anything to get him in the building.
I shut the car door and helped him walk by ducking down and putting his arm over my shoulder. I didn't push him to move too fast, but I didn't want to shuffle around either. One foot after another. One foot after another. There we go. Almost there.
"Shit...sorry..." Dustin said as he accidently dropped my t-shirt in the driveway.
He was about to turn and pick it up, and I told him, "Leave it."
"Huh? Dude, your shirt..."
"Leave it! Really, Dustin? Are you kidding me? Come on." I only moved him faster. I couldn't really tell if Dustin was too dizzy to really understand what had happened to him, or if it was this adrenaline filled hysteria that was making me think that it was worse than it really was. But I'd be much more comfortable letting the doctor decide. Fuck that t-shirt.
We walked into the automatic doors and I half carried Dustin over to the first desk that I saw with a nurse behind it. "Excuse me! I've...umm...I've got an emergency here. I don't know what to do. Where do I go?"
She immediately came from behind the counter and another guy brought over a wheelchair once he saw the way I was holding Dustin up. I knew hey had wheelchairs for this sort of thing.
The lady was quick, but she was calm. 'Efficient', I guess would be the proper term. "Ok, what happened here?" She asked.
"He slipped. And he hit his head. There's a really big bump on his head back here, see? He was bleeding at first, but now it looks like...oh God..." My stomach was quaking like crazy, and my every breath started to stagger itself as the overwhelming joy of seeing Dustin get help mixed with the frightening panic that I had been suppressing all the way over here. My eyes misted up and she looked at me in an attempt to get me to calm down.
"Sir, I just need you to breathe, ok? Are you alright? Do you have any injuries yourself?"
"Just him. Ok. Let me take a look here." She pulled a small flash light out of her pocket and looked into Dustin's eyes with it. Then she moved around to carefully take a look at the bump on his head. "Oh yeah, it looks like you took quite a spill there, kiddo." She gave him a little check over to see if there might be anything that she was missing, and then she asked, "Does he have any pre-existing conditions or known allergies?"
My heart sank as I was forced to tell her, "I...I don't know. I'm not sure." Should I know that? I should probably know that.
"Ok." She said. Then she bent down a bit to talk to him. "What's your name, sweetie?"
Meekly, he answered, "Dustin."
"Dustin? Ok, Dustin, this is Mike. He's going to take you in back and make you comfortable so we can get you all sorted out. Alright?"
"Can Eric come with me?" He asked.
"I'll be sure to send your friend back to see you once we're all situated. Ok?"
"M'kay..." And with that, Dustin was being wheeled away from me. Looking back over his shoulder...almost as if to see if *I* was ok? I swear, that boy is all heart. It baffles me sometimes.
I let out a huge sigh of relief, my body suddenly realizing the stress I had been putting it through over the last thirty minutes or so. It hit me all at once and I had to put my hands on my knees to keep from falling over myself. My throat was so dry. I'm going to find the nearest cold drinking fountain and guzzle down a half gallon with the first few swallows. Jesus!
"Thank you! Thank you SO so much!" I told the nurse, shaking her hand like crazy, and eventually just stepping in to give her a full blown hug around the shoulders. "I was so scared. God. Is there...? I mean, do you need anything from me, or...?"
"I'll need you to fill out some paperwork at the counter. Also I'll need your information, driver's license, proof of insurance..."
"Wait...I'm sorry, what?" I said, stress levels already rising again.
"We'll need your information, sir." She said. When she looked me in the eye, I probably had the guiltiest look EVER on my face! "May I ask your relation to the patient, sir?"
"My relation?" I began to tremble. My breath getting short. "I'm his...we're...I'm his friend. We work together. Well, sorta work together. He works across the hall from where I...well, you know where the mall is...?"
I was rambling. Why was I rambling???
"And you said that he slipped and hit his head? Where did this happen, exactly?"
"I'm sorry, but do you mind if I get a drink of water? I'm seriously dehydrated right now." I said.
"Sure. There's a fountain right around the corner. Just be sure to come back to the front desk and fill me in on what happened. Ok?"
I nodded, but I was about to shake myself to pieces as I turned around and tried to picture how much time I could buy myself with a simple trip to the water fountain.
Questions. Loads and loads of question. How'd it happen? Where'd it happen? Who am I? What was he doing there? How did he get hurt? How do we contact his parents? It's all falling apart! All of it!
I wonder how much time could I kill if I just fainted right here on the hospital floor?
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