Never Give Up
We drove to the club with heavy hearts and said our goodbyes to the team as they got on the bus. We drove home and I got the boys something to eat, we sat at Dan's table and worked out a plan of attack, they wanted to go see the city and maybe do a little shopping tomorrow.
I said "That's fine, I've got a doctor's appointment in the morning, but I should be home after lunch, then I have to do three hours work, so I'll be home for dinner, what do you want me to cook?"
They said "Pizza."
I said."Okay, but don't tell your mum, I'll pick them up on the way home."
Good, they wanted to go and do some local sightseeing, so I said
"See you later, dinner's at six"
They walked out of the apartment laughing and punching each other, I think they are going to enjoy this stay. They demolished the pizzas in one foul swoop.
Next day we had dinner on the balcony. I just put some steaks on and did a salad, with plenty of rolls, half of which disappeared before I even sat down.
"God, you're just like your brother, do you lick the plates too? Maybe it will save me some washing up."
They laughed and then Mike wanted to check his emails so I sat with Luke for awhile, he asked if my scars had something to do with the doctor's visit.
I said. "Yeah just a check up, all's as it should be."
"What happened Squirt?".
Fuck this kid would make a good lawyer. I sighed and said.
"This goes no further, right Luke."
"Okay Cody" he nodded.
"I was beat up pretty bad a couple of months ago, I got scars all over, the one on my leg went septic so it put me back in the hospital. I've only just got back here last week, but all's good, they are healing"
I wasn't going to lie but I wasn't going to tell him what happened.
He looked concerned, I went and got us another beer, hoping he would let it go at that. No such luck .When I returned he asked.
"Who beat you Cody?"
I just said "I don't want to discuss it ".
He raised his head and I could hear his voice waver with a sob.
"Who did this to you Squirt?"
I thought about it and just said.
"I had a flat mate who was a drug addict, I wouldn't give him money, so he and his dealer, beat me and threw me through the lounge room plate glass door. That's how I got cut, Luke, please don't ask me anymore," I was starting to shake.
He said."In Dan's apartment, the one we are in?"
I said."Yes and that's why you're eating here, I can't go in there alone."
Just then Mike came out and Luke went to do his internet stuff.
Mike said."What was Luke upset about; I thought I heard him kinda yell?"
"Nothing Mike maybe he will tell you later, but I'm too bushed to get into it."
"Cool dude, no problems," he said.
When Luke came out he said."Thank you for dinner Cody, Mike and me better be off, you don't look so good maybe an early night is best for us all."
"Okay boys, I got a big day tomorrow, are you ok to get your own breakfast, I got to get an early start?"
"Yep, all's good mate we'll see you tomorrow night."
I just didn't want to get into that conversation with Luke, it's none of his business.
I locked up and went to bed. I cuddled Dan's pillow and fell asleep, sometime in the night I heard a scream and I watched Shaun go through the windscreen, and Dan also screamed as he hit the concrete driveway. I moved to the couch and finally had some sleep. I got up early, showered, preened and went to the hospital.
"All's good Cody" the doctor said, he checked me thoroughly.
"Are you sleeping okay?"
I said."Yeah, but I still get the odd nightmare, I'm working with Mrs Lynch on that, it's getting better."
"Good, I know you won't take the sleeping pills, but I'll write down the name of a natural one that will let you get some shut eye."
"Okay doctor, it's just with the pills, I am scared I won't wake up and will be stuck in my nightmares."
"I see, maybe you should mention that to Mrs Lynch."
"Okay, I will, are we done now?"
"Yes mate, see you in a couple of weeks. "
"Thanks Doc, see you then"
I got a phone call while I was driving to the shops, so I didn't answer it; I just hoped it wasn't Dan. When I parked and looked at the number, I didn't recognise it but I returned the call.
"Detective Gow, how can I help you?" he answered.
"Hi sir, this is Cody Mitchell, you called me?"
"Yes Cody can I come around, I have something to discuss with you?"
"That's okay, I just have to get some bread, I'm at the local shops, but I'll be home in twenty."
"Okay mate, I'll see you then."
I went to the bakery and got bread for me and two for the boys.
When I arrived home Detective Gow was already there, we rode up in the lift, I made coffee and we sat outside.
"Now what's up sir?"
"Okay it's not sir it's Robert okay?"
"Okay" I said "Robert it is."
"Now my news is good and bad, the court appointed lawyers for both men. Steve and Carl have done a deal with the prosecution lawyers, so you won't have to testify in court."
I was relieved; I didn't want to tell the world my story.
"What was agreed to Robert?"
"Well Cody, Steve is getting seven years and can be paroled after six, with good behaviour."
I gasped but held it, he continued.
"Carl's part in this is getting him six years, but five and a half till he's eligible for parole."
I thought about it and said,
"Well I guess the Australian justice system strikes again."
He said."I know it stinks, but I'm sure they won't have an easy time in jail Cody. Now to the hard part, the court wants you to write a victim of crime statement, it will be read in court by the clerk. It's your only chance to tell the court your side of the story."
"I see, what do I write Robert?" (he said to call him Robert)
"Well, whatever you feel like."
He said,"Write down everything that has happened to you, what they did and how it's affected you. I don't think he will, but the judge has the last word, he may find there's a need to go to trial, but they may get off, the justice system is right on when it comes to female rape, but it hasn't got a good record with gay males. I think the offer is going to be the best they can do."
"Okay Robert, I'll start on the letter tonight, can I just fax it through to you?"
"Yes Cody, just take your time and I'm sorry you have to relive this."
"Well it's better than having to recount it in court."
We shook hands and before he left he gave me a one armed hug.
I got ready for work, my phone rang and I picked it up, it was Dan. I started crying, I said,
"Dan, I miss you so much."
He said, "Me too babe. Listen Squirt is everything okay with you and the boys; I don't have much time to talk?"
"Yes Dan all's good; they went into the city today. I've got to go to work and they will be here at six, but no problems so far."
"Okay babe, I love you and miss you."
"Me too Dan, love you heaps."
He answered, "Love you heaps more."
Then the phone went dead. Work was easy on me today, I got everything organised for a wedding Saturday night, all on the bride and groom's list was organised, and we started to set up tables and chairs for three hundred people, it was a Greek wedding. I just love their weddings. They are so much fun, I'm looking forward to cruising it.
The boys arrived at six, babbling on about how they went to look around the city. They had some shopping bags and showed me the stuff they bought; farting cushion, exploding cotton wool, disappearing ink. They had spent most of the day in the Joke shop, my god it's been years since I've been there. They said they went to the big mall and had lunch, then went for a walk to look at the sheilas down by the river bank.
"Did you get some pizzas Codes?" Mike said.
"Yes they're in the oven, I'll get them."
I brought out three family sized pizzas; I thought they might take some home for the morning. How wrong I was, two pieces left over and they went before the guys went home.
They wanted to watch a game on TV so they left early. So I seated myself at the computer and started to tell my story, right down to the last detail, I finished it at midnight, but I'm glad I got through it without crying and feeling bad. It was factual and honest, I finished it with "I hope these two men seek treatment while in jail, I wish them luck. A bit forgiving, but I do know drugs alter your perception on life so they had to take some blame in all this. Now it's all done. I turned it off and went to bed, I would correct mistakes tomorrow. I heard Dan screaming, that night, but I went back to sleep.
The next morning I had to go into work, the boys wanted to get their emails, so Luke went in first while Mike and me chatted about his mum and Dan and his hopes for the farm, they ran twentythousand head of cattle, but he wants to increase it to thirty thousand.
"There's plenty of land to support them Codes, it's just my dad couldn't cope with so many, mum and dad had us kids later than usual, so he only has what he can manage himself. I'm positive I can do it. I'm going to hire someone to help us. It will work; Dan said he would help us with finances to get it off the ground."
Just after, he was telling me what Dan had got up to in school, and I was loving it. Luke walked out and said,
"All yours Mike."
He had been crying, and was very upset looking.
I said."What's up Lukey, bad news?"
He looked at me with Dan's sad eyes, and said,
"You could say that Squirt."
I left them to make sandwiches for lunch and went to work. Annie was pleased to see me, she had everything done for the wedding, the room wasn't needed till Saturday, so we did start early but it was a good thing, some of the seat covers needed repairing, some still had stains on them from the twenty first. We still had to do the bridal table; the bride said one of her girlfriends would do the flowers and bonbonniere .
We went through the diary and planned the next three functions. Annie then went home and I went to the players bar because I felt lonely. There was no one there except a couple of ladies, I said hello to them; then went down the back and drove home.
I put a casserole in the oven, and after an hour called the boys for dinner.
"I forgot to tell you Dan rang, he's good and he asked about you two. I told him you were both okay, he couldn't talk long but he sends his love. We were worried the phone in his socks would be discovered"
They laughed. "They are pretty strict on themaren'tthey?" Mike said.
I said, "Yeah for sure, they bring in big bucks especially your brother, they want them focused on the game, it's not long before it starts. Oh by the way your appointments are for Friday to get the photos taken, later or tomorrow you can go through my clothes and pick a few outfits, the stuff is mostly brand new, thanks to your brother."
Mike said "Thanks Codes, can we eat now, I'm starving?"
During dinner I noticed Luke wasn't his normal happy self. The only thing he said was "Is there a jeweller at the local mall Squirt?"
"Yes, a good one Luke. Do you have to buy a gift or get batteries for your watch, because I have spare ones if you want?"
"No" he said "I have to buy someone a special gift."
"Okay, do you want a ride, I only have to go into work to organise some washing to be done then I'm free?"
He said, "No, it's okay, I can drive there, it's all good."
They said their goodnights and went downstairs. I went to the computer and opened my letter, re-read it, corrected the spelling mistakes and sent it off to Robert. Good, over and done with, I thought.
I made breakfast for the boys, then they played dress up in my bedroom. They decided on some funky Billabong stuff, I got a fashion show like no other, especially when Mike came out just in Speedos.
I said, "Your mum is going to love that photo."
"Oh this one's not for mum, it's for someone special."
I said,"You dog Mike, way to go,"
And we high fived; I picked out some stuff.
"No," Luke said "What about the hipster blue jeans with this t-shirt, that's cool Codes, try it on."
I did and both said WOW!! .So I left it up to them. The next one they picked was tight cargo shorts and a really nice striped polo shirt.
I said, "That's enough; I only want the pictures for my mum, not a dating site." They said, "No way, one more if we have to do it, you do too."
While I was changing into the next outfit Luke came in to take a piss, I had my boardies on but no top he just gasped, he blushed, went to the loo and left. I'm afraid the scars were quite noticeable still; it's going to take years for them to go.
I walked out and whispered,"Sorry Luke."
He just looked at me and I saw tears. They said goodnight again and I took one of the new sleeping pills, the natural ones, and slept soundly that night. When I woke up I went and got into Dan's bed, I needed his smell. I had taken his pillow into my bedroom, but it wasn't enough.
Thursday was full on at work. I was lonely and I hadn't heard from Dan, only the once. I was in the office making out the bingo roster when my phone vibrated heralding a message. I opened it and nearly cried as I read. "I got a reprieve next weekend; we are all hitting Surfers for the Saturday and Sunday nights. Bring the boys; I have booked two rooms far apart at the Continental. They are in my name, be there please, I miss you so much." I replied, "I miss you more c u there xx."
Friday arrived, the photo shoot was at nine, so we left early, we were treated like royalty. I had some makeup done, hair twisted and gelled. The boys looked awesome. They went first, they played the camera exactly like Dan, Mike said they had practised his moves forever, they looked so good all done up. Mike did blow me away in the Speedos. I suddenly realised they would also be uncircumcised. He looked stunning holding a Boogie Board.
The photographer will add backdrops later. My turn, I was just doing silly things, so Luke showed me some moves. He said I had to show off and try to harden my body up so my muscles showed; I wasn't happy, but got through it. On the way home they were so hyperactive and so happy they had done it.
Luke said, "He got some great natural shots of you Squirt; I had a sneaky look at them."
"Oh," I said, "and you think he got at least one good one?"
He laughed and said, "Cody, he took about two hundred photos of each of us."
"Oh," was all I could say.
"By the way we are going to the Gold Coast next Saturday, Dan's organised it. We can drive down Saturday morning; we will be there Saturday and Sunday. Maybe we can hit the fun parks guys?"
"You up for it Mike?" said Luke.
Mike said, "Try and stop me."
Luke added, "Mikes a pussy when it comes to scary rides, he can ride a bull but not the Bullett."
Mike just thumped Luke and said, "Shut up idiot."
The wedding was beautiful and the bride looked fabulous, her father had spared no expense, the dress alone cost fifteen grand; so a friend of the family told me. We finished our night around ten, but the wedding was going till eleven thirty. I was bushed. I drove home thinking about Dan and next Saturday when I got inside Luke was watching TV, I sat with him for a minute. He looked like he had been crying hard, I couldn't work it out.
He said, "How was your night?"
I said, "Okay, I guess, I'm so tired."
"I'm sorry I'm here, but I will go soon."
He said, "Mike is watching some rubbish so I came here, I hope you don't mind."
I just said, "No problem Luke I'm going to shower and crawl into bed, have a good night."
He said, "You too Cody, sleep well."
I showered then looked into the living room and Luke had gone. I locked up and crawled into bed. I laid there thinking about Dan and wondering if he was thinking of me at the same time. I sent all my love to him through the air, I haven't even had a fat since he left except a little hard on when Mike wore his Speedos. I turned over to turn the lamp off and then I saw it, a small gift wrapped box, I thought what's this?
I looked at the little card it just read 'Cody'. I was confused as I twisted it every which way. Well it's got my name on it so I better open it and find out what it's all about. I unwrapped the little parcel and looked inside the box.
There was a delicate, gorgeous gold chain with a small heart on it. Really good quality, I thought, maybe Dan had organised it as a surprise. It was engraved and I had to move closer to the lamp to read it. I read ...Never give up Cody...I thought god what a wonderful thing to say and I loved Dan more as my heart danced. I put it on turned out the light and held it. I loved it; I've never owned anything so beautiful. I saw my phone light come on, my heart skipped, there was a message.
It was from Luke, it read. I mean every word Cody, Never give up. What the fuck? I thought there's a mistake, it's from Luke, of course he was asking about the jeweller at the mall, but why had he been crying; God what a great kid to do that for me. I decided I would talk to him tomorrow about the gift. I turned on my side and slipped into blissful sleep.
Sometime in the middle of the night I woke with a start, EMAIL!!. Oh my fucking god he read my email. I mustn't have closed it off; he was the next to use the computer, that's when he looked like he had been crying. My Fucking god, he knows, he knows all about the abuse, the glass, the double rape, the panic attacks. I had put everything in that email.
I ran to the bathroom and spewed my dinner up. I started to get a major panic attack. Dan, Dan, help me, I thought. I took some pills they didn't kick in. He knows Dan he knows everything what do I do Dan? I need you, I was sobbing my heart out again I needed help; I got to my phone and sent a message to Luke. Please, please Luke, don't tell anyone. Please I beg you, don't tell Mike please Luke I'll give you money, just don't tell. Please, it wasn't my fault.
I'm not dirty Luke, I need your help!
Crashing glass was falling on me; Dan fell to the cement driveway. Fuck, Fuck, Fuck what do I do now, what the fuck do I do? I screamed as Dan came and picked me up from the bathroom floor. Dan, help me, save me. Dan pleeease I love you, please don't goaway,help me.
Dan put me on the bed and spooned me and held me close. He said "It's okay Codes I'm here, Luke's here, I'm not going anywhere." I calmed down a little, and looked around the room, Luke was lying on the bed with me, I screamed.
"NO! Luke please don't tell anyone, I'm not dirty, I didn't ask for it. Dan saved me he saved me three times, please don't repeat my story, I beg you"
He looked so scared "I'm sorry Codes, I read your email, I just wanted to make you feel a little better, I'm so sorry."
I heard Dan's screams again. I was having a fit I shook the bed, I shook all over. Luke held me tight, putting his legs through mine straightening them.
He kept saying "Breathe slowly, deep breaths Codes, deep slow breaths, slow and easy, slow and easy."
I finally calmed down, everything was quiet when I stopped shaking, I moved to the kitchen for water and drank plenty. Looks like another trip to the doctor's. I started to silently sob I slid down the wall and tucked myself into a ball and cried, my heart just aching for Dan to come home. I clutched Luke's little heart andwhispered, never give up Cody.
Luke came out and got himself water too. I was sweating all over, my underwear was soaked. He was looking at the ugly scars on my leg and body, he came to me, stood me up and hugged me close, he kissed my neck and rubbed my back.
"I will never tell anyone what I read Codes, it made me feel so sick to read it, I hope the bastards get raped every day in prison."
I just said calmly,
"It's okay Luke, but you must promise me two things. One, not to tell my story to anyone, and you cannot tell Dan what happened here tonight. You have to swear on your mother's grave Luke." I immediately felt terrible I had said that to him.
"I swear," he said.
I showered and dressed in clean underwear, I got into bed and thought, you fucking idiot you brought this to your happy place, then I slept. When I woke up I felt okay, Luke had crawled onto the bed and spooned me, I needed a piss and I needed to get away from him. I quietly got up and used Dan's toilet. Put coffee on and sat on the balcony, it was a beautiful day, the sun was already up.
Luke walked out with two coffees in his hand and said,
"Are you feeling a bit better this morning Codes?"
I said, "Yes, thank you for last night Luke, I get extremely bad panic attacks, I took my pills but I think they don't work. I love your little gift Luke, thank you; it's the most beautiful thing I own."
He blushed, and said,
"I'm sorry I brought this all on, it wasn't my intention Codes, I just wanted you to feel better, that's all, but I made you feel worse."
I just said "I can't explain it Luke, when I realised you had read my story I panicked, I thought you would tell all your family, and I didn't want that, it was a letter to the court, only for their eyes.
"Again, I'm sorry, and I feel really bad I did read it."
"Don't sweat Luke, you just can't tell anyone especially Dan; he would be upset he wasn't here for me. But thank you for coming up and helping me."
"Codes when you have these major panic attacks do they get better when you take the pills or worse?"
I thought about it for a moment and said,
"They get worse, but mostly I think they don't work, you saw the state I was in last night, I had already taken two of them.
He said. "Well there's maybe your answer, you are probably allergic to them. I'll take you to the doctor and explain what's happening to him. It's rare but it does happen. They might just be the main cause of your panic attacks."
"How do you know about these things Luke?"
He said, "I read a lot Cody; you never asked me what I was going to study at Uni. I'm going to become a doctor Squirt, I know about some things medical wise. I've wanted to be a doctor ever since I can remember."
"Good for you Luke, I think you'll make an awesome doctor."
"Squirt, can I ask you some more questions?"
"Okay, there's nothing you don't know about me now, I guess so."
"Okay what did you see when you were screaming for Dan, what were you seeing?"
I told him "I see glass crashing all around me, cutting my skin to absolute ribbons, I hear screaming, sickening sounds, I see Dan being pushed through the plate glass door falling over the balcony and hitting the concrete driveway three floors down. I hear the crack of his skull. I sometimes see a beautiful boy I once knew for a minute, flying through a car windscreen, I see Steve raping me with that bad stench in the room.
"Okay, why Dan?"
"Why do you call for Dan?"
I looked at him and thought I can't do this to Dan. I said
"Dan saved my life three times now; he's my saviour, my strength, my lifeline. That's why you can't tell him about last night. He thinks I'm okay now."
"Okay one more," Luke said.
"And I want an honest answer, are you in love with Dan?"
I looked at him and said.
"I won't answer that Luke."
He said, "You just did Cody."
Thank god, Mike came up, he broke the long silence.
He said."Lukey I looked for you everywhere."
"Hey Bro, I came up early to write some emails, and have just been chillin wid my main dude man here."
I laughed at his lame attempt at ghetto talk.
"Want coffee Mike, Luke?"
"Yes please Squirts, my man, what's for breakfast?" Mike said.
I rolled my eyes and said,
"Shit on toast."
He said, "Great my favourite."
We all cracked up laughing.
As I made the coffee I looked through the window at Luke, I thought, god these Lawrence men are smart; and wonderful human beings on top of it. I took the coffee out with some warm croissants and a selection of jams, cream, vegemite, cold meats and real butter. I watched them demolish the lot; I was lucky to get the one I had.
"Squirt do you want another one? I can get it for you."
"It's okay Mike, I've had enough," I replied.
"Oh," Mike uttered.
"Do you mind if I have another one?" He asked.
"No, of course not, better get one for Luke too."
I was playing with my little heart and I whispered to myself,
"Never give up Cody"
I made that appointment with my doctor for eleven am; it was my day off work so I didn't have to rush. Luke came in around ten thirty; he said he had sent Mike off on an errand to the supermarket.
"It will take him hours Codes, he's got no brain, the aisles will confuse him something shocking."
Laughing loud at his comment we took the lift and went to get my car. At the doctor's, Luke gave him the pills he had prescribed, he used a lot of medical terms and the Doc was impressed. He took some bloods and put a rush on them. We went to have some lunch, and returned at two. The doctor shook Luke's hand, they had found something, he apologised profusely to me.
He said "Cody I'm so sorry, the tests have confirmed Doctor Luke's diagnosis. You are allergic to them, now that's the case; I'm going to prescribe a low generic pill. If my colleague here is right you won't even have to take them, let's see what happens. Make an appointment for two weeks time and if you have an attack in the interim come here right away."
I thanked him and hugged Luke. We drove home and I looked at himand said,
"What is it with your family? Dan saves my life and you save my sanity. Thank you Luke, just thank you."
He smiled at me and said,
"I bet you can't wait till next Saturday?"
I said in my dreamy relaxed state,
"Your right there and neither can Dan."
After a long pause I realised what I had said. I looked at Luke and he had the biggest smile on his face, he looked over at me and whispered loud,
"I thought as much."