Redemption: Book One (A Gay Novel)

Yellow- Red Content Contains swearing, sexual content. Story is mainly about GAY characters. Not For the Faint of Heart. Part of a Trilogy, and an additional book later.


11. Chapter Ten Part Two

I said to Ma and Wayne, “You go out onto the porch.  Stay there.  I’ve got to check on Nathan.  And I need to deal with Christopher.  He’s blood, Ma.”

Ma lifted the phone to the see the numbers.  She pressed 3 buttons, “This is the Walker home… I need an ambulance and cops.”

At the same time I walked across the kitchen, across the line where you could see anyone passing from the living room.  Christopher was sitting on the sofa with his eyes closed.

I reached for The Reinforcer, pulled it off the top of the refrigerator, and then quietly spun it around and noticed that 5 bullets, hollow points, were present.  I chambered one and then stuffed it into my right front pants pocket… just in case… and only to be used in a dire necessity.

Wayne and Ma, they were headed for the back door so I entered the living room.

Christopher was sitting in the living room facing the doorway that I’d just passed through. He was a fucking slob what with wearing baggy, filthy dirty underwear and nothing else.  The room stunk of body odor, and his hair was greasy and in total disarray.  The lighting was such that it wasn’t hard to see what Vito had done to him just a day or two previously.  Add to that, dirty plates, silverware, and glasses filled the coffee table.

The worst part of the whole scene was the wicked smile on his face and the distant and vacant look in his eyes that overshadowed the filth about and around him.

“Wayne, get out of here.  Take Ma with you… go NOW.  Christopher what the fuck are you doing?  Why did you hurt Nathan?”

“He’s like you, you son of Satan, spawn of the devil.”

“Like you have a lot of room to talk.  Christopher, bro, you’re fucking crazy… you do know that, right?”

The evil in his eyes was nearly overpowering.  Wayne took several steps backward and then bumped into Ma just as he was turning around to leave.

“I said for you guys to get the hell out of her.  Go outside!”  I said with steel hard ice in my voice.  Wayne would have no part of it.  Instead of standing behind me he stood by my side… like I’d figured he would.  Wayne’s blood too even though our ancestry was different.

I heard Nathan’s door open.  I said, “Nathan, go back.  Lock the door.  Do not come out until I say you can.”

“Go Nathan.”  Wayne reinforced.

Christopher snarled, “He’s a fuckin-godforsaken-faggot-breath too.  Aren’t you Nathan?”

“Fuck you Christopher!”  Nathan said weakly.

I looked up.  My brother… my little brother… his angelic face was beaten and battered.  It was black and blue, his eyes were mere slits, his legs were also beat and battered as were his arms.

That raised the stakes.

Nathan instead of going to his room walked out and stood at the stairs.

He screamed, “Gun!”

… And then everything happened in slow motion.  In a split nanosecond, our lives changed forever, never again would they ever be the same…

Nathan, on his wobbly legs, took a step down, missed it and then came crashing down each and every step, beating his head and body to a pulp.  As he crashed to the floor, the unmistakable snap of a bone breaking and his screams permeated the air.

But his screams weren’t normal.

He was gurgling.

I reached into my pocket… but it was too late.

The burst of light from next to Christopher’s thigh lit up the room and then the deafening reverberation caused by the exploding gunpowder shattered the air.

I expected to feel the bullet come crashing through my body but it never did.

I reached into my pocket; grabbed hold of the handle then fumbled the grip but then got an adequate hold on it.  But it was too late.

He blasted again… his aim looked like it was toward my gut… I felt the whiz go by.

I had no time to see where the bullet had gone to.

I yanked my gun from my pocket but before I could get it leveled Christopher turned the gun back toward the kitchen … Blast.  Blast.

Thud.  Sickening.

I leveled my gun.

Christopher looked into my eyes.  I saw only evil.

Wayne launched toward Nathan.

Christopher swiveled toward my little brother and Wayne.

I closed my eyes.

I squeezed the trigger: Pop.









I opened my eyes but I was lying on the floor, facing Nathan.


From somewhere, through the thick mist of indifference I looked up… my hand was sticking straight up in the air.





Sirens. Lots of sirens. Screaming sirens. Run. Run where? Squeeze. Squeeze. Squeeze. Blackness. Silence. Nothing.

*-* Two months, four days later *-*

“Good morning Joey.  I’m Becky Ann.  Sweetie, I’m going to give you your bed bath this morning.  Are you with me this morning, honey?”

Southern drawl.


I felt like I was a million miles away.  The day was cloudy, cold, dreary, dank and drizzly.

I was all alone inside of a vacant warehouse.

I’d been in many warehouses before when my dad was alive… men and women were all over the place ‘picking’ orders, replenishing supplies in cubbyholes that I could stand up in.  I had felt like king of the mountain.  Little kids do that though… put them on top of something and they feel like they are all powerful, and tall.  I remembered feeling tall.  Dad would laugh and act like he was afraid of the big ole Jolly Green Giant.  Then I’d feel that sudden rush when I leaped down from the shelf into his arms which were big and strong… those arms had to be big and strong because he was the foreman.  He would explain that a foreman is like a daddy who’s responsible for keeping his children safe and out of harms’ way, guiding sometimes softly, sometimes harshly, depending on the situation.

My warehouse was different.  It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

There were no workers… there was nobody anywhere in sight.  I walked miles and miles and miles to an office in a corner… I knew it was a foreman’s office.  My daddy would be there… I just knew he would be.  For a while, I don’t know how long a while was, it seemed like I was going backward, away from his office, rather than going forward to where he would be.

“Daddy!”  I called out frightened.

His voice was not heard.


Nothing.  No sound.  He didn’t come bounding out of the office when mom would take me, Jerrod, Christopher, David, Nathan, and Mark to see him during his work hours, sometimes for lunch.

Daddy had said, “Never give up, my son.  There’s a beginning to every rainbow.  At the starting place is a pot of gold waiting just for you.  You’ll be rich in life and love and happiness.  Before every rainbow is a storm.  Life gets rough sometimes but there’s always a rainbow somewhere.  You’ll see it if you’re looking for it.”

Days and days and days passed before I arrived at the foreman’s office.  The lights were off.  I cautiously walked in but nobody was in there.  The office itself and the lighting from outside were really strange… I could stick my arm around the corner to the door leading in or out … my arm had light on it but my upper arm and my clothes were all dark.  It was like a line had been drawn – one side was light, and one side was pitch black dark.

“Daddy, are you in here?  Daddy come out.  I’m scared.  I’m lost.  Where are you?”  I cried out in despair.  Truly I was afraid.

My legs felt like they had lead weights attached at my ankles holding me down.

Didn’t they know I was afraid of the dark?  Didn’t they know I had to have a light on when I went to bed at night so I could fall asleep?

I just had to find my daddy.  He’d know what to do.  Yes he would.  He always knew what to do.

I was so tired.  My legs were useless. They had lead weights on them that were like suspended in mid air yet they weren’t.  I’d never experienced anything like it before.

Then my arms got heavy… like they had weights attached yet they didn’t have any weights whatsoever.  My fingers… they felt numb like they weren’t even attached to my body.

“What’s happening?”  I asked… but no voice came out that could be heard.  I felt myself being lifted, turned horizontal and then I felt sheets, lots of sheets, and a blanket being wrapped around me… they were all soft and billowy.  A pillow was placed under my head to hold it ‘just right’. The thing was that the room was pitch black dark.  There was no light.  Yet I did not feel afraid anymore.

Warehouse floors don’t have beds, silly.  What are you thinking of?  Why would you ever think they did?

I fell asleep in the dark foreman’s office at the far end of the warehouse floor.  My eyes had already been closed… they’d closed because of the bright light coming from somewhere… but not from within, and not from without.

I don’t know how long I was asleep… maybe just a few minutes.  Everything, and I mean everything, was pitch black.  Not even the lights outside on the warehouse floor were on.  The only time I could ever remember it being so dark was when daddy took me night-fishing on a lake one day when I was a little boy.  Even then it really wasn’t totally dark… there were stars suspended in the sky, bright stars, stars you could count.  Some of the stars were blinking and winking.

I saw no stars.  It was totally black.  I tried to move but no matter how hard I tried I could not move.  It was like I was suspended in the outer reaches of a far away galaxy, forever lost, yet I was lying on something with lots of sheets.

Where was I? Did I just disappear into thin air? Did I go to hell like those preachers had said Sunday after Sunday after Sunday?  They would say that with God there was light… and when you lived with the devil there was nothing but total black darkness.  You were lost.  And you would be lost for all eternity. There would be no hope.  There would be no possibility of returning to what we used to know.

I was totally swallowed by and engulfed in the darkness, as if darkness were an object.  I resigned myself to a life or suspension or something as it was right then.

Maybe daddy would come get me.  His strong arms would lift me up really tall.  Perhaps he would even let me ride on his shoulders like he used to when I was little.  Perhaps even he would hold me against his rock hard chest with his huge strong harms. I would be safe again.

But where was he?

I closed my eyes and resigned myself to fate.

“Joey, are you in there?  Wake up child.  Open your eyes honey.”

Silently, from the still of the darkness, I replied, “Yeah I’m here but where is here?  I can’t see anybody and I’m numb.  Tell them to go away.  No visitors are permitted.  You can’t come in.  Don’t come in.  You’ll be swallowed up.  Once in you’ll never be permitted out.”

“Okay honey, maybe tomorrow.  I’m going to wash your hair… would you like me to?  I’ll tell you what… I’ll just go ahead.  Did you know that your hair is beautiful…? I wish mine was as pretty as yours.”

My head wasn’t totally numb.

I tried to reach up but my hand wouldn’t obey the command.  I was going to remove that drop of water that worked its way into my ear, one that I couldn’t get to it.

Mom used to wash my hair in the kitchen sink.  She had told me over and over again that I couldn’t get all the soap out when I took a bath.

Becky Ann, who was Becky Ann?  We had no friends with that name.  Becky Ann’s hands felt like moms.  Strong.  Small.  Determined.  Persistent.  Gentle yet firm.

“Okay honey… here’s a big soft towel for me to dry your hair… hold on I’ll be done in just a minute.”

My head jostled from side to side, forward and backward, and then side to side again.

“Joey, I’ll brush it out in a few minutes.  Don’t you worry none… I’ll make it all pretty and handsome.  Sorry honey, I don’t mean pretty pretty… boys don’t have pretty hair.  Go ahead, honey, wake up so I can hear your boy voice.  Silly me for saying that you have pretty hair isn’t it?”

“S’all right.  They call me pretty boy all the time in school.  I was going to get it all cut off anyway.”  That inner voice inside my head said plainly.

“Okay, honey, I’m going to leave that towel on your head… your hair is so thick and shiny. I’ll come back to it, okay?”

“Okay.”  That inner voice inside my head said plainly.

“Keep your eyes closed… I’m going to wash your face now.  <Giggles>.  Honey, you have 3 zits on your nose… did you know that?  Don’t worry, my little brother… don’t tell him I called him little, okay?  He’s actually 5′ 11” tall.  He’s only 14.  Skinny as a bean pole.  He hates zits.”

“Yeah, well I hate zits too.”  That inner voice inside my head said plainly.

I felt a nice warm, soft washcloth touching my skin starting at my forehead and extending down my nose and onto my upper lip… then it fanned out onto my cheeks and jawbone and then went on down into my neck.

“I’m going to scrub your nose a little bit.  We gotta get those zits taken care of so the pretty girls will come after you like sweet is to apples… speaking of… I’m starting to feel your little Adam’s apple budding… they’re so cute.”

“I don’t have a girlfriend.  I’ve always had a question: if boys have Adam’s apples does that mean girls have Eve’s pears?”  That inner voice inside my head said plainly.

“Okay honey, I’m gonna rinse now.  It’s important to get all the soap off because if we don’t then the pores stay clogged up.”

“Rinse away.”  That inner voice inside my head said plainly.

Hot water.  Lots of hot water on that washcloth.  “I’m rinsing your face off really good.  Gotta keep those pores open.”

“That damn drip in my ear… it’s driving me fucking crazy!”  That inner voice inside my head said plainly.

I tried to reach for my ear to pop that water out.  Nothing. That just made it worse.  Why is that?  I mean why does something itch even worse when you can’t get to it?  The question of the century.  No answer.

Then it happened.  “Okay sweetie, I’m going to turn your face so that I can wash those potato peelings out <giggles>.  I wonder why ears are called potatoes… do you have any idea where it came from?”

Finally.  The water in my ear was gone.

Blessed relief.

“Okay honey, I’m going to scoot the covers down so I can wash your chest and tummy.  I’ll try not to tickle even though I want to.”  <Giggles>.

“Don’t worry.  I’m not ticklish.  Scrub away.”  That inner voice inside my head said plainly.

I don’t like my nipples messed with … they’re way too sensitive … I never use a washcloth against my nips … but she didn’t linger.

The warehouse… it’s still dark.  Dad hasn’t come for me yet.  Where was he?  He always came to me when I cried or got to laughing so hard… he just had to see what I was up to.  He often would say that I was so close to the pot of gold so keep going one more step and then take one more when I felt so tired.

“Did that hurt honey?  I’m sorry.  Your little nip grew.  Oh my, I’m sorry.  <Giggles>.  No not really… do you like your nips played with?”

“No, fuck no, hell no.  Just rinse the damn thing and get it over.”  That inner voice inside my head said plainly.

“Okay, raise your arm so I can wash your pits.”

My arms were dead weights… remember I’m in the warehouse.  It’s totally dark and I can’t move.  I’m waiting for someone, hopefully my daddy, to turn on the light so I can see what I’m doing and where I want to go… but I’m afraid of the dark…  He’ll pick me up in his strong arms so we can go home.

“That’s okay.”  Becky Ann said softly.

“Whatever.”  That inner voice inside my head said plainly.

“Oh my… you have one little hair sticking straight up. That’s so funny.  I remember when my little brother got his first one… he had to show it off to everybody.  Wake up Joey… you’ve got to see it.  I’ll be real careful.  Don’t you worry.  I won’t pull it out.  My brother pulled his out… I laughed my ass off… oh sorry.  I’m so embarrassed.”

“Really?  I have a pit hair… wow.  Okay.  Don’t worry… I’ve said worse.”  That inner voice inside my head said plainly.

“There… let’s get the other pit then we’ll move on down to your tummy.  Do you want me to get a male nurse in here to wash down below?”

“I don’t care.  Really I don’t.”  That inner voice inside my head said plainly.

“No, none here.  Don’t worry.  They’ll grow in.  Everything has its own timetable.”  She said as I felt my right pit being washed with a hot sudsy washcloth.

Her ministrations went south from there.  I had been known for not being ticklish… the sensation was that which I’d never before experienced… I didn’t like it… it was too sensitive.  Push it away.  Stop it.

“Joey… are you in there?  Wake up honey… I didn’t mean to tickle you… good gracious.  Did you feel yourself move?”

“Stop that!  Damn it.”  That inner voice inside my head said plainly.  Yet I heard something else… it wasn’t her voice… daddy?  It wasn’t dad’s voice at all… his was deep, rich and baritone.  He had sung in the choir. Besides I’d know his voice anywhere.

“Joey… wake up honey.  You’re so close.  It’s okay come on back to us.  I don’t bite.” <Giggles>.

Nothing.  Everything was gone again.  The mattress in the warehouse… it was soft, not scratchy.  Mom used to starch the freaking sheets… can you believe that shit?

“Cute, real cute, NOT.”  That inner voice inside my head said plainly.

“I’m going to wash your tummy now… have you decided if you want one of our male nurses to wash your area down south?”

“I already said I don’t ‘care’.”  That inner voice inside my head said plainly.  Another voice, the same voice repeated.

“Care?  Do you care or do you not care?  Oh my honey… you’ve been asleep for so long… it’s safe here.  I’m Becky Ann… I’m your nurse for today. Come talk to me.”

“Asleep.”  That inner voice inside my head said plainly.  The additional voice said clearly.

“Yes honey, you’ve been asleep for a very long time.  I’m going to finish your bath then we’re going to try a couple of things.  How about you take this washcloth and wash your other side… I seem to have tickled you.”  Becky Ann said and then I felt a wet washcloth enter my hand.  She squeezed my fingers around it. She added, “It’s okay if you drop it… I haven’t changed your sheets yet.”

My arms felt wooden, heavy, discombobulated even.  With great difficulty and tremendous effort I felt my hand spread open. The washcloth disappeared.

“It’s right under your hand, Joey.  Can you pick it up for me?”

It was then that I felt my cheek being brushed by a soft but wet hand.  She said, “That’s okay… I’ll go ahead and finish washing you today… you’ve done so good… I’m so proud of you.  You rest now.  I don’t want you to get too tired.”

I rested my arm… it was so tired.  The warehouse was so dark.

I had to try one more thing before I went to sleep… I opened my eyes but nothing happened.  The light did not turn on.  I turned my head first one way then the other way… nothing.

“Joey, you opened your eyes… do you see me?  I’m the red head on your right side.  <Giggles>.  I’m the only red head in this room by the way… I’m not hard to miss.”  <Giggles>.

“Dark.  It’s dark in the warehouse.”  That inner voice inside and outside my head said plainly.

“No honey.  You’re not in a warehouse.  You’re at Northwestern in room 1216 which is our pediatric or child’s wing.”

“Hospital?  Why?”

“Okay, here’s the deal… I’m going to finish your bath then I’ll page Dr. Mauer… she’s your doctor and will explain things much better than I can, okay?”

The name rang a bell… “Dr. Mauer?”

“Yes sir, your doctor’s name is Dr. Mauer.”

The house… Derrick… hurt… smile… Coke… wild monkey… Dave… June…


“Yup… it’s June 18th.”

“June… Dr. Mauer…”

“Oh… <giggles>… yes, her first name is June.  Do you know her?  I mean you’ve been asleep.”


“Oh, I’m so excited.  <Giggles>.  Joey, you made my day today.  Okay, here we go.  Don’t worry I’m not going to play with your stuff.”

I felt my legs spread apart. Vigorously, too vigorously, doesn’t she know that that stuff down there is sensitive?  And then the washcloth traveled all over my junk, under my balls then she lifted my legs and took the rag between my cheeks and washed that area vigorously.

She then washed my legs. Then she rinsed and thoroughly dried them.

“Joey, can you help me roll you over onto your left side?  I need to wash your back and cute butt. <Giggles>.”

I sincerely tried but the darkness held me back and firmly in place.

“That’s okay… I’ll cover for you today… but you gotta do it tomorrow… deal?”

“No deals.”  I said clearly.

“Joey, you’re so close but you gotta start fighting.  You’re too handsome and young to just wither away.  You do know that I can kick your skinny naked butt, right?”

“Not a chance.”

<Giggles>.  “Okay, let’s get you rolled over.  I’ll get this done then I’ll call Dr. Mauer.  Deal?”


She began at my neck, worked down and then vigorously washed my lower back and butt cheeks.  I stopped feeling her efforts at about the level of those two big bones that stick out on each side of my lower back, just above my cheeks.  I felt nothing further south.

“I’ve got to pay a lot of attention to your back… you’ve got some slight red places which means they will possibly fester into bedsores if we aren’t careful.  You need to get up and out of bed sooner than later.”

“I’m heavy.  My legs don’t work.  I don’t even feel them.”

“That’s okay.  We know how to work with patients who are in the game to help with their recovery.”

“I’m dark on the inside.  It’s like I’m in a dark warehouse office with no lights on.”  I said dejectedly.

Becky Ann asked, “Do you have a headache?”


“How about your eyes, do they hurt?”

“No… it’s not like that… I open my eyes like this <I opened my eyes> but there isn’t anything there… it’s all black.”  I said worriedly.

“Okay, well Dr. Mauer can best talk to you about what’s going on with your body.  I’m going to page her.  As soon as she gets paged I’m going to change your catheter.”


“Yup, you have a tube in your bladder to drain your urine.  This is a common thing when there is  paralysis involved in the lower half of your body.  Can you take your hand down… you could probably get a better understanding of it rather than me telling you about it.”

With a lot of effort I got my hand up and onto my stomach.  She pulled aside the covers and then led my hand to my penis and then she let go.  I felt around, found my penis but it felt totally detached from my body, although it was attached.  The tube was large.  It was like it was a rubber hose, soft yet firm.

“I don’t feel anything down there.  What color is it?”

“It’s kind of a pukey orange… it’s not very becoming.”

I ran my hand up my stomach and found that I had essentially no feeling from my belly button down.  It was weird feeling my pubic hairs with my hand but not the skin those pubes rested in and grew from. Going up further I felt a bandage with yet another tube going in or out, “What’s that?”

“That’s a feeding tube.  We’ve been giving you feedings through it because you’ve been in a coma. A coma is a deep, deep sleep that cannot be broken with just words.  It has to run its course.”

“You said June 16th…”

“Yes siree.  You’ve been here for a while… let’s see you were admitted in early April… April 7th to be exact…”

“I’ve been in a coma that long?  Why?  What happened?”

“Honey, I’m going to let Dr. Mauer talk to you about those things.  I’m your nurse.  Sorry, I wish I could tell you more but the doctors know more about these things than I do… so I want you to get the best possible information.”

Just then I heard footsteps and low voices talking. There was one set of very loud footsteps and several other softer ones.  I couldn’t make out the voices.  They were getting louder. They were coming closer.

Becky Ann softly, just above a whisper, said, “It sounds like you have visitors, Joey.”

“No!  They can’t see me like this.  Tell them to go away.”

“Honey, they’ve been here every day that I’ve been on duty. They come in at about the same time.  I think your waking up will be good for them to see.  If you want me to… I’ll stay here with you.”

“No.  No visitors.  Nobody’s going to see me this way.  Get them out of here!!!!!!!!!!”

I heard the rollers on the curtains move in their tracks.  I then heard a deep intake of breath and then a voice, Nathan’s voice say softly, “I’m Nathan your little brother.”

“Go away, Nathan.  I’m no good to anybody.  I can’t even fucking see.  I can’t even fucking move in this bed.  And I damn sure don’t want anybody looking over me.  Now GET OUT!”  I said angrily.  I would have screamed had I been able to but I was too weak to even scream.

“Joey, don’t do this.  We’re blood.  I’ve waited so long for you to come…”

“Nathan, go.  You can’t see me like this!”

“But I already see my brother.  I already see your eyes open.  Can’t you even look in my eyes and tell me to go?”


Becky Ann said, “Joey, your brother has been here every day.  He’s been waiting for you to come back to him.  He doesn’t care how you came back he just wants you to talk to… nobody else.”

“Nathan, I died.  I’m worthless.  I’m useless.  Just go.  Get out of here!”

Becky Ann said, “Nathan, you should go out to the waiting room.  Wait for me.  I want to talk to you.  I may be able to help you understand.”

Nathan retorted, angrily, “No… My brother is here.  This is where I belong.  If he wants me out of his room then he’s going to have to kick my ass out.”

“Joey, stop being a dumb ass.  I’d kick your ass into next week but you’d like it.”  A voice that belonged to Wayne said.

At the same time I felt my bed move and then a boy, Nathan, I knew his aroma anywhere, worked  his way up until he had laid his head on my chest, wrapped his arm around my chest that he squeezed firmly as though our lives depended on what he was doing to me.  Wetness across and between my nipples was something that brought me back to reality. That and Nathan’s restrained sobs just about sent me over the edge -but- I had to maintain.

Becky Ann said, “Would you guys please leave.  Joey and Nathan need their time together.  I’m going to call Joey’s doctor.  He has many questions that need answers.”

“Joey’s my boyfriend.  I’m staying if he’ll have me.”

At the same time I was trying very hard to bring up my arm to put around Nathan.  Surprisingly, my arm obeyed the command to move.  His waist was against my other arm but he moved just right, just enough so that I could bring it out enough to wrap it around his other side.

Meanwhile Nathan’s hand moved up my chest to where he cupped my cheek then he moved in such a way that our lips met.  “Joey, I’ve waited for you to come back.  I needed to hear your voice.  Go ahead.”

Lips, very large lips at that, then touched mine then mine touched his and then we kissed together.  Permission was then requested to enter my mouth but I declined because Nathan had his face resting against my cheek.

Over the intercom we heard, “DR. MAUER STAT.  DR. MAUER STAT Pediatrics Room 1216”

My chest got tight, my breathing became totally labored and I was not sure that I could continue to breathe… I was headed back into the warehouse, afraid and alone, yet I wasn’t alone… from what Nathan had told me I had never been alone – yet I was alone, locked into a dark foreman’s office, unable to get out.  I was trapped.

I tried to get out.  I tried to get up from that damn bed in the office in the warehouse – that was jet black in color…. black – has no color.

My eyes were filling with water… I felt it, and I felt that water cascading down my cheeks onto Nathan’s face.  He said, “Joey, don’t go back… stay here with me.  Wayne’s here… we’re all here.”

I then heard a flurry of activity out in the hallway, on my right side.  I heard Becky Ann talking to someone and then a set of footsteps entered and then the visitor’s voice said, “Boys, please excuse me, I’m Doctor Mauer, Joey’s physician.”

Both Nathan and Wayne kissed my lips quickly then stepped away.  I laid my arms across my stomach.

Dr. Mauer’s voice was precise yet soft and sweet and angelic.  She said, “Joey, I’m glad to see you here.  Your return to us is a very good sign that you’re healing.  You have quite a few visitors waiting to see you.  I don’t want you to get over-excited though.  Too much too soon could very well set you back.  We don’t want that to happen.  I will permit you to have one visitor at a time.  They can each stay for 15 minutes.  First though, I am going to examine you before we go any further with visitation.”

“Who’s here?  I mean… why?”

“Because you’re loved, young man.  There are people who care about you.  Your brother Nathan has been quite a handful.”

“He’s definitely that.  Can he be here?  I’ve got nothing that he hasn’t seen before.”

“I’d rather he wasn’t here.  He’s pretty emotional… he loves you so, so very much.  I need to perform some tests.  The results could be skewed if there was too much going on in the room.  The tests will take about an hour to perform.”

“Nathan, Wayne would you guys…”

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