Apple Juice and Aspirins

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Posted on 3:30 AM | By Biki Honko | In

Abby peppered me with tons of questions that I had no answer for.  I had told her the little that I knew, but like me wanted more information about what happened and how Derrick was.

"You said Rich called you on Derrick's cell phone, yeah?"

"Yeah."

Abby rooted around in her black hole of a bag at last pulling forth her cell phone making a joyful sound of discovery. Quickly she found Derrick's number and hit call.

"Hey Rich, it's Abby.  What can you tell us about Derrick?"

"Hey Abby.  Yeah, he got hit with a bunch of shrapnel."

"Shrapnel?"

"Yeah, it happens, not often, but it does happen.  Tom was pounding on a steel pin, and we had chilled it to shrink it enough to fit, and the last time he hit the pin it just exploded.  Pieces of the pin flew everywhere.  I was shielded by the loader bucket I was welding, but Tom is in a bad way, most of the shrapnel got him and they went deep.  Derrick was about 20 feet away, so while he got hit with a ton of the stuff, I don't think any of it went very deep.  He does have a nasty cut on one shoulder though, he was covered in blood, but I think most of it was from his shoulder."

Abby let out a huge breath and turned to me, "His wounds sound mostly superficial, but there seems to be a bad one on his shoulder.  A co-worker sounds like he is kinda in a bad way."

Hearing that Derrick was in fact going to be ok was an immense relief.  Knowing that it wasn't a life or death situation allowed me to slow down.

"Rich, thank you so much for letting us know about Derrick.  We really appreciate it."

"Any time.  Let me know how he is ok?"

"Will do.  Talk to you later.  Bye bye."

"Bye then Abby."

Abby turned to me with a funny look on her face asking, "Ben?  What is St. Mary's visitation policy?  Do you know, 'cause I don't have a clue."

"Ya know, I don't either.  How about you be his sister?"

"……….ok…. but I don't know anything about him that a sister should know."

"Hmm, let's see.  His birthday is November 9th.  He's 25 years old.  He enjoys romantic evenings in front of a fire and long walks on the beach."

"Hahahahaha! Ok funny guy.  Is that is real birthday?"

"Yeah, it is."

"Do you think they will ask anything else?"

"No, I mean think about it.  You might have proof that someone is your spouse or child, but what on earth would the average person carry around with them that could prove that someone is their sister or brother?  Just act like the worried and loving sister you are to him, and everything will be ok."

"Ben?  Are you ok to drive?  You look kinda funny."

"Funny how?  Yeah, I'm ok to drive."

"You're super pale for one thing, and your hands are shaking for another.  You're unnaturally calm right now."

"It's like everything is moving in slow motion.  Nothing seems real."

A few minutes later Abby said rather sharply, "Pull into this 24/7."

"What now!"

"Yes!  Now!"

I pulled into the parking lot of 24/7 and killed the engine.  Abby got out and walked around the car and opened up my door. She reached in and unbuckled my seatbelt saying, "Ok mister get out of the car.  I'm driving!"

"Why?"

"Because dearest, you ran a red light back there.  Come on, get out of the car honey."

Sighing, and knowing she was right I climbed out of the car and walked around to the passenger side.  Taking me quite by surprise I started to tremble, and barely got the door open, and basically collapsed into the seat.  Abby got my seat belt buckled, shut the door on me, and from some unknown place tears started to stream down my face.  What in the hell was wrong with me?  I knew that Derrick wasn't hurt that badly, so why the water works?  What a baby I am, crying like this!

"No, you're not a baby."

"Did I say that out loud?"

"No, but I knew what you had to be feeling.  Honey you have had a day from hell today.  First the fight with my mom, then running into your brother and his wife, and now this scare with Derrick.  If you didn't cry you would most likely explode."

Struggling for control over my run away emotions my voice thick with tears I said, "Yeah, this is really one for the record books, huh?  What do you think about my brother?  Should I let him back into my life?"

"What feels right to you?  It was a long time ago, maybe his opinions have changed."

"Nicki claims they have, but I don't know how far I can trust that.  I told her about my having a wife and a husband.  The way I looked at it was that we already don't have a relationship, so it's not like telling them about us would hurt anything."

"What did they say?"

"I don't know before Alex or Nicki could say anything one way or the other Rich called."

"Have they been looking for you?"

"No, supposedly guilt got in the way of him looking for me.  I mean how hard is it to type someone's name into a search engine and see what pops up?"

"I'm hearing some hurt feelings."

"Yeah, I am still both mad and hurt that he didn't try to help me at all!  He is my older brother after all, but no he was to busy spouting the party line our church spewed."

"Ben?"

"Yeah?"

"I think you should give them a second chance.  How did he seem when he saw you?"

"Well, he did hug me.  Pulled me right out of the booth, and then he apologized to me.  Even called himself a stupid ignorant asshole."

"Well that sounds to me like he means it, don't you think so too?"

"…………yeah I guess it does.  Maybe if I hadn't had that wrangle with your mom before I would have been more open about seeing him again."

"Did you get his number?"

"No."

"Give him ours?"

"No.  But this is what I was thinking.  If he truly wants to get in contact with me, he can at least look us up in the phone book.  At least this will tell us if he is serious or not, yeah?"

"Yeah it will."

"Feel better?"

"Immensely!"

"Good!  We're here, ready?"

Abby pulled into a parking space, turned off the engine and undid her seat belt, she had her hand on the door handle when I said,  "Come here you.  Did I ever tell you how much you mean to me?"

"Hmm, maybe once a long long time ago.  You could tell me again though, I won't mind to much."

"Abigail Sara Hanson Parker, you mean the world to me.  My life would be an empty waste land without you!"  I punctuated my feelings with a soft and heart felt kiss.

Our hands linked we walked into the hospital's emergency waiting room and stood in a line to ask at the front desk about Derrick.  After a quick conversation we found out that Derrick was in the back and we could go back and wait with him.  We followed the nurse thru the rabbits warren of hallways and turnings, before she finally arrived at one of an seemingly endless identical rooms.  She quietly slid the door open peeking in, and then saying, "He's awake but is going to be groggy due to the pain meds."

Abby and I stepped into the room, and the nurse slid the door shut behind us.  The room was dimly lit, and Derrick lay on the bed covered up to his waist by a sheet that was spotted with fresh blood.  He had sluggishly turned his head towards us as we entered the room, but I'm not sure he if recognized us or not.  He had many small cuts over a large portion of his chest and his left arm and leg and hand, and a large ragged wound on his shoulder.  Afraid to touch any part of his left side we moved to his right side and stood looking down at him.  Even in the dim lighting we could tell he was pale.  As we stood there Derrick opened his eyes, and blearily looked around, with a confused expression on his face Derrick struggled to gather his thoughts, and finally he mumbled out, "Hey…..guess what……I got hurt at work……it kinda hurts……………but……they fixed that…….love……..you"  And his eyes drifted shut again.

The door slid open and a doctor stood in the doorway reading from a clip board, "Derrick Addison?"

Abby and I looked at each other, and I cleared my throat and said, "Yes."

"Ok good.  I'm new here, and I keep getting lost."  He slid the door shut and stepped over to the bed and checked the band on Derrick's right wrist, nodding his head that his paperwork and patient matched up.  "I'm Dr. Chan, and you are his….?"

"I'm Ben Parker, and this is my wife Abby."

"Ok, and you are who to Derrick."

"I'm his sister."

"What we would usually do for small wounds is to glue them together, however these types of wounds caused by metal often get infected, and with stitches it's easier to open the wound back up to clean it out.  So, we will be stitching quite a lot of these, this one on his shoulder will take much more work, this one is deep and will require stitches inside the cut as well as on the surface.  I would rather you wait in the waiting room while we are working on him.  This will take a while, so don't be worried about how long you're waiting out there.  Do you have any questions before I get started?"

"How can you tell if all of the metal is out of him before you stitch him?"

"We have a strong magnet that we use.  And if we have any question of if there is metal left we xray the area.  I think we are going to run a few of those just to be sure we got it all with this amount of cuts."

"Ok, thank you Dr. Chan."

The door slid open and a nurse pushed in a cart containing many plastic wrapped bundles, after allowing her to pass into the room, we stepped out into the corridor wondering how we were going to find our way back to the waiting room.  An orderly was standing there apparently waiting to show us the way back to the waiting room.  We found two seats and sank into them to wait for who knows how long.  Not long after we sat down, Abby got to her feet, picked up her purse and walked away!  Wondering where she was going, and why she didn't say anything really started to worry me.  Was she mad at my behavior after hearing about Derrick's accident?  Upset that I went to talk to her mother alone?  Feeling like I had once again messed up something else in a very long line of the crap that had happened today, my chest tightened up and my head felt like it was going to explode.  Not wanting anyone else to see if I lost the battle with my over worked emotions, I dropped my head into my hands and sat looking down at the floor hoping I could keep from crying.

A hand appeared in my vision and Abby's voice said, "Here drink this I think you need the sugar and the caffeine."  Abby had gone and gotten me a soda and herself a sandwich and a juice.  "Sorry about that….I didn't realize that I just got up and left without saying anything to you until I was in line to pay.  Guess I'm not thinking to clearly either.  My stomach was starting to hurt, not much breakfast and no lunch and here it is almost 2.  Forgive me?"

"Always.  But there is nothing to forgive you for.  Thanks for the soda."

Abby smiled around her sandwich, and continued to chew.  I sat and sipped the soda while she finished her lunch, turns out she had a container of fruit salad in her purse also and fed me bits of it.  I noticed that she fed me the stuff she doesn't like.  My little wife hates grapes with a passion, and will only occasionally eat pineapple.  So, I got the part of the salad I like and she ate the part she liked, the apples and blueberries, and strawberries.  How three of us are going to split a fruit salad is beyond me, unless Derrick has fruit he doesn't like as well.  I hope he hates grapes!  We sat in the waiting room for what seemed like years, but in real time was only two hours, when a different orderly came to show us back to Derrick's bedside.

We were greeted by Dr. Chan saying, "I removed all of the pieces of metal.  We x-rayed his fingers and the large wound in his shoulder.  I think we got all of them."

"Will he be able to come home tonight?"

"Yes, as long as he won't be alone, he can go home tonight."

"Derrick lives with us, he won't be alone."

"Then yes he can come home tonight.  But I have a few questions I need to ask you.  He claimed that he never has had antibiotics?  Is that true?"

So close and yet so far!  We almost made it out of here with our ruse intact.  I was opening my mouth to answer, when Derrick opened his eyes and blearily looked around him, as his gaze passed me, it swung back and a goofy smile appeared on his face and he said, "Hi honey, kiss?"

Ask me if I cared if the doctor was in the room or not, our fable was proven false by Derrick's own words.  Who was I to deny him?  I leaned down and careful not to touch him and possibly hurt him I softly kissed him.

"You could have told me you two were partners, it wouldn't have mattered."

"We didn't know the policy here and wanted to make sure that we could see him.  And we are", before I could finish what I was saying Abby nudged me rather sharply as I glanced at her, a micro no shake of her head. Knowing I had to finish the sentence I started in some fashion, Derrick played the final card saying, "Not partners…….triplet….right Abby?"

"Yes baby, you're right, we're a triplet."  And she leaned in and kissed him, and as always Derrick had the cutest face whenever Abby kissed him.

Throwing caution to the winds I looked up to see a most interesting expression on the doctor's face.  Wow!  I had managed to garner not just one nonplussed expression today, but two!  Must be some sort of record.  After carefully going over all the precautions with us, and writing Derrick out a script for both antibiotics and pain meds, it was time to take Derrick home.  The doctor didn't want him to put on his dirty work clothing, so he went home in a set of scrubs.  Abby pulled the car up the the door and I helped steady Derrick after he got out of the wheelchair and into the front seat.  After a quick stop at the pharmacy to drop off his prescriptions we headed for home.  Home!  Ahh the ideal of home being a safe zone had rarely seemed as sweet as it did today.

It took a bit to lever him out of the front seat and into the house.  Abby ran ahead and got the bed ready for Derrick.  He had to keep his arm on a pillow for at least tonight to hopefully keep the swelling down to a minimum.  Trying to steady him, while not touching his many cuts was a real challenge, but somehow we made it down the hall and into the bedroom.  I was just about to lead him over to the bed when Derrick said, "Hey, I need to go to the bathroom first."

So, into the bathroom we went, and with one hand all bandaged up, I undid his scrubs for him, made sure he was steady enough on the toilet and went to grab him a pair of boxers.  When I came back into the bathroom Derrick was slightly swaying making me glad that I didn't allow him to stand to pee.  Getting the scrubs off was easy, I simply took a pair of scissors to the top and cut it off of him.  Job done!  I helped him pull his boxers up, and gingerly led him to bed, we got him settled in, and I think that his eyes closed as we pulled the covers up.  He was instantly asleep, and Abby and I stood there a few minutes just watching him sleep.  We had both seen the burn scars that peppered his arms and hands, and a rather ugly one on his upper back where a piece of molten slag fell down the back of his jacket and was held against his skin until he had managed to strip down enough to expose it so that someone could pull it off of him, so we knew his job was dangerous, but this accident really brought it home to us.

Abby still didn't trust me to drive so she ran out to collect Derrick's medicines, and I called Rich to give him an update.  I was sitting on the sofa thinking about taking a few aspirins for my headache when there was a knock on the front door.  Well shit!  Who in the hell could this be?  Sighing as I stood up, grumbling my way to the front door, all I needed was some peace and quiet after this day from hell.  I'm sure my face wasn't all that welcoming when I opened the front door, and was shocked to the core.  It was Alex!

"Alex!  What are you doing here?"

"Hey, Ben.  I understood that you were testing me earlier to see how serious I was about having you in my life again.  Did I pass?"

I held the door open wider for Alex to step in saying, "Yeah, it was a test, and you passed.  Come on in and sit down."  I led the way into the living room and collapsed on the sofa.  I watched Alex look around before slowly sitting down in a chair.

"Nice place you have here.  When did you move in?"

"Just over two years ago."

"Nice."

"Look, I know you don't trust me, and I don't blame you.  Will you give me a chance at least to show you how sorry I am?  Believe it or not, I've grown up a great deal since then."

"I let you in, didn't I?  If you can accept me as I am, then you have a chance."  I leaned forward rubbing my hands over my face, wondering if this day will ever end?  Sighing I pulled my hands from my face and looked at Alex to really look at him.  I never realized how much we looked alike.  There was no denying the fact that we were brothers.  "I'm sorry you have caught me in one of those days from hell, and it's just drained me.  And yeah, I would like to get to know you again too."

A sunny smile rose on his face and he said, "That is the best news I have heard in a really long time!  Thank you for giving me a second chance.  I won't let you down this time."

A wave of exhaustion poured over me, and I dropped my head on the back of the sofa just wishing I could go to bed and sleep the rest of this day away.  My head started to throb again, no wondering about taking aspirins this time, they were now a requirement to getting thru the rest of the day.  "Would you like something to drink?"

"Yeah, if you don't mind."

"What will ya have?"

"Whatever, I'm easy."

I got up and shuffled into the kitchen and held the door to the fridge open for a bit standing there looking in, "Ok, we have soda and apple juice."  Shaking the milk carton, hmm it was only half full, Derrick sure goes thru the milk.  The memory of him pouring a large glass of milk and leaning back against the counter while drinking it down made me smile.  I reached in and pulled out the apple juice.  "This ok with you?"

"It's fine, thanks."

I poured two glasses of juice handed him his, and set mine on the end table on the way to the bathroom to fetch the bottle of aspirins.  Coming back into the living room, Alex was up looking at the many framed pictures Abby had scattered around the room.  He was holding our wedding picture in one hand and in the other hand, one of me on my college graduation day.  Alex finally noticed that I had returned and he carefully set the pictures down and turned to face me.  I was shocked to see tears in his eyes.

"Oh Ben!  I'm so very sorry that I wasn't there for you're wedding day, your graduation day, or moving into your first home.  If I can help it, I'll never miss an important day for you again."

Derrick's voice floated from our bedroom, "Ben?"

Saying to Alex, "I'll be right back."  I headed off to see what Derrick needed.

"Hey honey, you ok?"

"Yeah, but I'm so thirsty.  Could you get me a drink please?"

"Sure thing.  What do you want?"

"Juice?"

"Coming right up."

I paused in the living room long enough to swallow several aspirins.  I poured Derrick a large glass of juice and was headed to the bedroom when Alex said, "May I meet your….husband, please?"

"Umm, he's in bed.  Maybe another time."

"Oh, ok."  The look on Alex's face showed how hurt he was.  I felt bad about hurting his feelings, but Derrick did come first.

Derrick needed some help sitting up to drink, and after a few healthy swigs of his juice he asked, "Whose in the living room with you?"

"My brother Alex."

"….oh?  May I meet him?"

"Yes, of course you can."

Derrick carefully laid back down with a sigh saying, "Go get him babe, ok?"

"Now?"

"Yeah."

"….ok."

Walking the short distance to the living room, my stomach started doing that damned tap dance.  As I came into the living room Alex was sitting with his head back on the chair looking rather……defeated I guess the best word would be.

"Alex? Derrick wants to meet you."

His head shot up off the chair back and the look of……defeat was quickly replaced by cautiousness.  "Are you sure?  You didn't seem like you wanted me to meet him at all."

"No, no.  He was injured at work today, and I didn't think he would be up for it, that's all."

"Ah, ok then."  Alex stood up and followed me to our bedroom asking, "Where is your wife?"

"She's gone to get Derrick's prescriptions.  She should be home any minute."

"Is that why you left the cafe so quickly today?  What happened to him?"

"He's a welder and got hit with pieces of exploding steel."

"Is he ok?"

"Yeah.  It just looks bad, but most of them are minor."

Derrick was still awake, but only just barely.  Taking a big breath in saying, "Derrick Addison, this is my brother Alex."

"Hi, nice to meet you."  Derrick held his hand out for Alex to shake, but Alex just stood there with a funny look on his face.  My blood started to boil, there was no way he was going to treat either Derrick or Abby like he had treated me!  I was just getting ready to rip Alex apart limb from limb, both verbally and physically.

"Hi."  Alex shook Derrick's hand and continued, "I'm sorry about that, but I was expecting someone older for some reason."

Derrick softly chuckled and answered, "Well, your brother seems to like his partners younger.  He is the old man of this house."  Derrick let go of Alex's hand, and rested his hand on my leg, "You know I'm just teasing you, yeah?" he asked as he looked up at me.

"Yeah of course I do.  Besides if you get too cheeky, I could always just spank you!"

"Oh!  Sexy threats!"

And then it dawned on me, here I was flirting with Derrick in front of my brother, and from the look on Derrick's face the same idea had crossed his mind at the same time.  Clearing my throat I said, "Hey, sorry about that."

"No, it's ok.  If I'm going to be part of your life, I want you to be yourself.  No self editing, no cleaning things up for company.  Just be yourself.  I lost you once, because I didn't accept you, it won't happen again.  I won't pretend to understand being in love with two people at the same time, and I might say some stupid shit from time to time because I just don't know any better."

"Ok, sure.  So…. what you're telling me is that you're as stupid as ever?"

"Hey!  You little shit!"  And just like that, the tension in the room melted away and we were all laughing.  As we were all laughing, Abby walked into the bedroom.

"Honey, this is my brother Alex."

"Nice to meet you Honey."

"Oh, I sure see where you got your humor from now!  I'm Abby, nice to meet you."

"So, I can't call you Honey?"

"You can call me whatever you want, doesn't mean that I'll answer to it!"  Abby sat down on the bed next to Derrick and rubbed her hand on his thigh asking, "How are you doing?"

"Pretty good, tired out, but ok."

"Are you hungry?  Now that was a silly question, of course you're hungry.  What do you want for supper?"

"Hey!  Don't I get a say in this whole dinner thing?"  I pretended to be all kinds of offended, which caused the room to dissolve into laughter.

"No, she loves me buddy.  You are now a non-voting member of this union!"

Sighing theatrically saying, "Well shit!  I got voted off this island awfully fast!"  Abby started giggling and soon we were all laughing again.

After Abby finally got herself under control she asked, "Alex, would you like to stay for supper?"

"Are you sure?"

"No worries.  Why don't you call Nicki.  I'd love to meet her as well."

"……but won't we be in the way tonight?"

"Nope.  Call Nicki please."

"Ok."

While Alex was talking to Nicki, Abby and Derrick and I discussed what to have for supper.  Alex broke the connection with Nicki saying, "She'll be right over.  Did we decide what we are having?"

"Steak sound good to you?"

"It sure does."

"Steak supper coming up!  Ben do you feel like driving yet?"

"Yeah, I feel much better.  Let me change my clothes and then we can go."

Abby gave Derrick a light kiss, adjusted the covers over him saying, "Ok Mister, nap time for you.  When everything is done, we'll come get you."

"No arguments from me.  I'm wiped out."

I leaned in and gave him a kiss saying, "Have a nice nap."

On her way out of the room, Abby pulled the door shut and I headed for the bathroom.  I just felt grimy and desperately needed a quick shower.  Stepping out of a very refreshing shower, I wrapped a towel around my waist and opened the door to the bedroom.  Derrick was fast asleep and that bed looked so damned inviting.  Maybe I'll lay down for just a moment or two?  No, if I do that, I'll sleep now and then be up all night.  I resisted the lure of the bed, and got dressed, and quietly left Derrick to his much needed sleep.

Abby had a list ready for me, and Alex and I set off to the grocery store.  At first it was pretty quiet in the car, and I was wondering how to break the silence with something that sounded natural and unforced when Alex spoke up asking, "Where did you go after mom and dad threw you out of the house?"

Sighing and answering, "I got a job at a resort as a lawn boy, they had housing for their employees and I worked there each summer until the year before I graduated from college."

"Oh, I guess that worked out ok then."

"Yeah, more or less."

"Tell me where you met Abby."

"Gladly. I'm sitting on a bench in front of the library at college, enjoying the beautiful fall weather, when I saw this gorgeous girl walking towards me, she was with a few other girls and they were all laughing.  She caught my eye and held it, I couldn't look away, I was literally mesmerize by her.  And totally out of character for me, I went over and introduced myself to her.  And she twinkled up at me, and asked me if Ben was short for Benjamin, and when I told her it was only for special friends to use, she said, "Well Benjamin were you only planning on staring at me, or are you going to ask me out?"  She stole my heart at that moment, and thankfully hasn't given it back to me."

"Wow!  Now that's a love story.  How did you convince her to allow you to have a boyfriend?"

"I didn't talk her into it.  She talked me into getting one."  The rest of the ride we talked about how I meet Derrick and the growing pangs the three of us suffered and how we had just begun to adjust to our new living arrangement.  From that moment on our talk flowed easily and naturally.  We chatted in the store filling Abby's list and all the way home.  I got the grill ready and made the marinade while Alex sat in the kitchen getting to know Abby better, while Nicki sat out on the patio with me and it gave us a chance to reconnect.

Before I could believe it my miracle worker of a wife had dinner almost finished, when she asked me, "Honey, you should go in and wake up Derrick.  Do you think he wants a tray in bed, or do you think he wants to join us at the table?"

"Eat in bed?  I don't think so!  Pfft!  Silly wife, men don't eat in bed unless they are almost dead!"

"Whatever, just go get him up, ok?"

I got Derrick up and helped him pull up a pair of baggy sweat pants and a sleeveless tee shirt.  He was steadier, most of the pain medicine had worn off by then, and I didn't need to steady him, so he motored into the kitchen under his own steam.  And as he entered the kitchen he took a big whiff of the delicious smell of dinner and walked up to Abby and gave her a big kiss on her cheek, "You are the best cook I have ever met.  Thanks for taking such good care of me."

After Nicki and Derrick were introduced we sat down and started passing the food around when the doorbell rang.  Now who in the hell could that be?