Well That Was Unexpected
By David Spowart
Edited by J Matlock
By David Spowart
Edited by J Matlock
We sat for what seemed like hours. The hospital in Queens was inundated with casualties from the College, and they were stretched; even I could see that. Stretchers were still coming in as we sat; some walking, wounded, hurt while running from flying bullets,
Todd came in and just grabbed me in a hug. Laura had stayed with Dave; he was inconsolable at the loss of his best friend. I knew what he was feeling. Well, only for a second. When Todd told me that Dale had been shot, it hurt, it hurt like fuck.
"I can't get a hold of Aaron or Kyle" he said, while crushing me.
"They are fine; Aaron drove me to the therapist, he and Kyle are in the city, Todd" I informed him of where, approximately, his childhood friend is.
"He'll call, he's, erm, probably otherwise engaged" I added.
I held Lisa as we waited for a Doctor to tell us how Dale was doing. Dale's Dad and Mother were on their way, as was Mark. He was crying when I talked to him, just over an hour ago.
Vera Valdez approached us, and I stood and embraced her. She had a tear in her eye, and she kissed my cheek.
"Sorry to see you again like this, Josh" she said softly.
"Do you know who they were, yet, Vera?" Cal asked.
"We do, but we need to inform their families, first" she replied.
"Were they terrorists?" I asked.
"Students, Josh, from your college, I'm afraid" she replied, and we just lowered our heads in disbelief.
"Mr Layton, can we talk?" she asked looking at Todd.
I watched as Todd went with Vera, and stood and talked in the hallway. The door closed, so I could not hear what was being said.
Todd came back in and sat down. He lowered his head in his hands and sobbed a little. I walked over and put my arms around him, and he broke down and cried. I knew it was not about Dale; but something that Vera had just told him, broke him a little.
He looked up at me and said:
"Last year, when you were hurt" he started. "She thought I" he sobbed a little and I was confused, what has this got to do with what had happened to me.
"Todd" I pushed
"She thought I was still dating her" he babbled out a little
"Dating who Todd?" I asked. "Candice" he replied with his head still buried in his hands.
"Candice was one of those killed. I didn't even know she was back in school" he sobbed, and I pulled him tight to my shoulder. Yeah, they had a volatile history, but still, Todd did not have a malicious bone in his body.
"Sorry, man" was all I could get out.
Laura soon turned up and held Todd. Dave's brother had come and was taking him back to Kansas. He needed his family, right now. Nick's death will be felt by him for a very long time. They were so looking forward to the summer in the Hamptons, and now all that seems so trivial.
It hit Midnight before the Doctor came and informed us that Dale was fine, and in recovery; but would be out until morning. The bullet had gone straight through, and only caused some muscle damage, which would repair, in time. As the Doctor left, the Jackson's came into the waiting room.
I stood up and grabbed Mark into a hug, his eyes were bloodshot. He had been crying quite a lot, by the looks of him. I kissed Mrs Jackson, her eyes in a similar state as Mark's. Mr Jackson just looked at us all, and grabbed me and Todd and kissed our cheeks.
"Shit Boys, I'm pleased you are okay. Did you know any of the victims" he asked, and we just nodded, slightly.
"I'm so sorry, guys, I really am. The Doctor told us Dale is okay, and we could see him before we leave; so, why don't you go get some rest. You all look beat" he said.
"Josh, can you take care of Mark?" he asked, and I nodded, looking at a forlorn looking Mark.
"I'm not leaving here until I've seen Dale" he informed his parents.
"Mark, you can see him in the morning" his mother informed him, but he was having none of it.
"And what about Lisa?" Mark asked his parents. Lisa looked at them, also waiting for a response.
"Oh, my dear, sorry, I thought you were Laura" she said, as Laura came back into the waiting room with some coffees.
"Okay, Okay, Lisa and you can go see him, once they have him settled" Mr. Jackson replied.
"I would like to see him, as well; I need to see him" I said.
Mr. Jackson just cupped his hand behind my head, smiled, and nodded.
Lisa and Mark came back from seeing him, and they both had tears in their eyes. Todd, Cal and I went next. We walked into ICU and saw him lying there, with a tube coming from his nose, and a drip in his arm. His heart monitor was beeping at a steady rate. he looked pale, so very pale.
We left the hospital, wondering if we could get back on campus. Did we want to go back to campus. Cal flipped open his phone and spoke to his Grandpa for a few minutes; and soon, we hailed a couple of cabs and headed into Manhattan, Cal giving the address to both drivers.
"Where are we going, Cal?" I asked.
"Kenner Engineering has an apartment in New York. It's empty at the moment, and Grandpa said we can use it" he replied.
My cell phone rang, and I flipped it open.
"Hello" I said.
"Hey, Josh, what the fuck is up with Todd, now" Aaron bemoaned.
"Sorry?" I replied.
"I've just turned my cell on, and there's a text, telling me to stay away. His phone is switched off, so what the fuck am I supposed to have done, now?" he demanded.
"Aaron have you seen the news?" I asked.
"Erm... No...Kyle...Erm we have been a little busy" he snickered out.
"Aaron, turn on the TV, and turn to a news channel; where are you, anyway?" I asked, as he was telling Kyle to switch a news channel on.
"The Lincoln" he replied. A minute or so passed.
"Fucking Christ, Jesus...18...fucking hell! Shit, is everyone okay, Josh?" he asked in a sombre tone not wanting to hear bad news.
"No, Dale was shot...he'll live...he's in queens" I added, and I could hear him yell and cuss.
"Where is Todd, his cell is off, is he okay, Josh?" he rambled.
"He's fine. He is in the second cab" I added.
"Do we know anyone who didn't make it?" he asked, and I could hear Kyle whimper a little, as the details were read by the news anchor.
"Nick Stokes. He was killed, Aaron" I added.
"Fucking bastards! Oh, fuck man, I'm so sorry, Josh" he replied, and I heard him tell Kyle, and I heard him go off on one; totally pissed.
"Candice, as well" I added.
"Todd's ex?" he asked.
"Yeah. I do not know how, but she's was killed in a hallway, somewhere in school" I said.
"Aaron, we are going back to the hospital, first thing in the morning. See you then, okay?" I add.
"Okay, Josh, tell Todd I rang; his phone is off" Aaron adds.
"Yeah, no problem. See you soon" I ended the call.
"I take it he had been preoccupied" Cal said, and I just nodded.
Soon, we pulled into a buildings garage. Cal entered a code into the panel and the gate opened. We drove to the far end and climbed out, Cal paying the drivers.
We followed Cal over to the elevator and went to the 33rd floor. We walked along a corridor, then came to a lock box on the wall. He pushed several numbers into the lock box and retrieved a key. He opened the door and the alarm sounded, but Cal silenced it.
We walked in to an open plan apartment that was huge. It had 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. It also had an amazing view of Manhattan.
"Todd, your phone is off. Aaron called. They are okay, and we will see them in the morning" I said, and he smiled at me; a forced one, though.
Lisa switched on the TV and turned to CNN. There was wall to wall coverage of the shootings, and the names of the shooters on a yellow banner trailed along the bottom: Scott Dante, and Lance Black, freshman.
"Todd, is that" he cut me off, and a photo of both shooters appeared on the screen. Lance Black I did not know, but Scott Dante, I did.
"You tutored him for a couple of weeks, before all that shit last year. He was an engineering student, but he was not grasping it" Todd said.
"He was failing. Shit, was that the reason he killed all those people? Killed Nick because he was failing a fucking class?" I screamed out loud, and Cal pulled me into a hug.
"And Candice, and, almost Dale" Todd added.
"Shit, he killed some lecturers. Do we know who he killed? I mean, he didn't kill..." I stopped, not wanting to contemplate the thought of him killing one of my favourite professors.
"No, he didn't kill your engineering guru. I saw him as I left the college. I know one was Coach Latimore; the other three, I don't know, Josh, sorry" replied Todd, clutching Laura very close and tight.
"Four weeks and five days" I said.
"Huh?" Cal queried.
"Four weeks and five days; when we move out of the dorms. Four weeks and five days and we are interns in Chicago; and when we come back, we will be living in the Hamptons" I add.
"Lisa, Laura, your parents were apprehensive about you moving with us to the Hamptons; but I think they will be more in favor of it, now. You should ask them" Cal replied.
"I'd be happier if I knew you were safe, baby" Todd said softly into Laura's ear.
"I'll ask, over the next couple of days. They were distraught when I called, a few hours ago; they were crying" Lisa added.
"Todd, you and Laura take the far bedroom. Lisa, you take that one. Josh and I will have the pull-out," Cal said, as we were exhausted. It was now just after 2a.m.
We hailed cabs and headed back to Queens. We arrived before the Jacksons, but permission had been left by them so we could visit. We entered the room that Dale was transferred to, overnight, and we walked in. The tube from his nose was now gone, but the I.V was still in place. The heart monitor was also gone. Dale was sound asleep, Lisa sitting next to his bed, stroking his head. I could see the look of love in her eyes just as I had seen in Todd's, when Laura had her accident. Something tells me these girls are keepers.
Dale opened his eyes. He was a bit groggy, at first, but looked at Lisa and smiled.
"Hey you" he said in a husky voice, his black hair a little matted. Lisa continued to stroke his face, "Hey you" she replied, leaning in and giving him a soft kiss.
"Love you" he replied.
"Love you, too" she returned.
"We are not alone, sweetie" she added.
Dale looked up and saw all of us, a little embarrassed; and, all of a sudden, he realized why we were all here in this room.
"Shit, I was shot" he yelled, and started checking for missing parts; and, yeah, he's a guy, so he checked to see if his trouser snake was intact, as well as his balls. He let out a sigh of relief, then a yell of pain, when he moved his shoulder.
"That fucker!" he yelled in pain.
There was a look of pain that spread across his face, and the colour had drained from his face. I pressed the buzzer, and soon a nurse came in.
"He's in a lot of pain" Lisa said, out of serious concern.
She adjusted the I.V, and soon Dale was on another planet; not floating, just out of pain.
"Anyone hurt, I mean, apart from me?" he asked.
"Yeah man, a few were hurt bad" I said
"Fuck, one was Scott. I saw Scott. He looked at me and fucking fired. The fucker shot me. I hope he gets the fucking chair" he bemoaned.
"He's dead, baby" Lisa informed him
"Good" he replied, not giving a shit.
"Did the fucker kill anyone?" he asked.
"Nick" Todd said softly.
"You are serious, aren't you?" he replied, and Todd nodded slightly, then added, "and Candice"
"Shit! Sorry, man. I didn't even know she was back in school" Dale replied.
"Yeah, me either" Todd replied.
"How's Dave?" he asked.
"Crushed" Laura replied. "His brother has taken him back to Kansas" she added.
"So, is that it?" he asked, not meaning to sound callous.
"No, man. Eighteen, in total. We do not know who. His partner was killed with him, by a police sniper" Todd added.
"Partner?" he asked.
"Yeah, some kid named Lance Black. Know him?" Todd asked, and Dale just shook his head.
"But, Scott, why the fuck would he do such a thing" Dale asked.
"Dude, I am sure every psychologist from New York to Alaska will have an opinion on it. I just think he was failing classes, and lost his nut" I said, sounding bitter. He seemed all there when I tutored him. He was strung out a little, yeah, but homicidal? I didn't think so, but look, I was wrong on that score.
Mark walked into the room, saw his brother awake, and just burst into tears as he walked over and hugged him; but not so hard as to cause him more pain.
"Marky, I'm fine. Look at me, I'm fine" he said, calling his brother by a name I had not heard him called, for many years.
"When Todd said you had been shot, and you were sent to the hospital; shit, Dale, I thought I had lost you, and fuck, I'm not ready for that" Mark said, looking at his brother, laid up in a hospital bed.
"Mark, I'm not ready to let the world have you with a free reign. They have done nothing to deserve that" Dale said in a mocking way, and Mark's smile just beamed.
"Dickwad" Mark said, with no malice to his words. It was a joy to see.
"Hey, he's awake" Mr Jackson said, as he walked in with his wife.
"Okay guys, let's let his parents stay and visit. Dale, we will come back a little later on" I said, leaning over and kissing his cheek.
"Thanks, man" he replied.
"I love you, dude, don't get fucking shot again, okay?" I whispered.
"Love you, too, man" he replied, and kissed my cheek. That didn't go unnoticed by his dad; but he just smiled,. I know Todd had told his dad of what transpired between us last year; but I am sure Dale has not shared.
"Let's head back to the apartment. I could do with a little more sleep" said Cal, and I couldn't agree more.
We walked out of the hospital as Aaron and Kyle walked in. Todd just scooped him into a hug. He was very emotional at the moment. "Glad you are safe, bud" Aaron said, and Todd was now crying a little. Yeah, I love Todd for just being Todd.
A couple of days later, Dale was discharged, and taken home for a week by his folks, and we went back on campus. It was strange, it looked normal. Some students were milling about, and Connors tree was covered in floral tributes. The quad was a sea of color, with more floral tributes. The names of the dead were released; and, I know this sounds harsh, but thank God we knew none of them. Losing Nick, and, of course, Candice, was bad enough. A period of mourning was in place, and all classes had been postponed for a week. Some leniency would be granted for those who needed a little more time.
Some police tape was still cordoning off certain areas. The FBI was also on campus, asking questions. Since we had no classes for a while, and the girls had headed off home, so their parents could see them safe and unharmed; we decided to head off to Boston, and Todd agreed, and we booked a flight, leaving the following morning. We would have left a day earlier, if we had known of the class postponements.
Aaron and Kyle asked Cal if they could use the house in the Hamptons for a few days, and he agreed and arranged for them to spend some time away from campus. We agreed to all be back in a week, and try and get back to some sort of normalcy.
We would come back for the memorial service, which we assumed would be arranged shortly. The Dean said he would e-mail us of the date, but we would be back in a week, anyway. We would miss Nick; I just wished we had known him longer. He won't be missed by his family; his dad wouldn't have given a shit, anyway. His aunt would see to his service. I will contact Dave and see what has been arranged, and if we can make it, we will. We all will, yeah, we all will.
To be continued...
Well, I hope you all still like me. I hope you have not abandoned me due to this storyline. As I have said, sometimes things just suck, and bad things do happen to good people. Happier times will come, trust me. I know, I write it...
And on a personal note. Thank you to all that posted me over the last chapter. it was very much appreciated and encouragement keeps guys like me writing stories like this.
Comments as usual at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet @DavidSpowart