A Special Place--Part One
I was in another world, so totally immersed in a Bach piece I had been working on for several weeks that I didn't see the light flashing indicating I should pick up the phone/intercom. Accordingly, I almost had a heart attack when Gertie, the parish secretary, shouted, "There's a hysterical woman on the phone asking for you. Think it might be Gabrielle Larsen."
"Thanks, Gertie," I said as I grabbed the phone and punched the button, "Matt here."
"Matt, Luke has left a suicide note. It says you will know where to find him. I don't know what to do!"
"Call 911. Tell the dispatcher what you have found and to call me on my cell phone. I think I know where he is and pray God I won't be too late! I'm on my way." I tossed the phone into its cradle and said to Gertie, "My God, Gertie, Luke has left a suicide note and his mother doesn't know where he is. I'm supposed to, and I think I do." I was shouting over my shoulder as I rushed from the church toward my Jeep.
Luke's place and mine were about ten miles out of town. I leapt into my Jeep and pushed it for all it was worth. My mind was also running in overdrive. "Luke must have left school early because he should just be getting home now," I thought to myself as I raced down Old Farm Road toward our places. I was doing an independent study in music for my final period each day and I hadn't been practicing at St. Mary's for more than twenty or twenty-five minutes when Gertie called. "God, please let me be in time," I prayed, wishing my Jeep would go faster. Fortunately, Old Farm Road is a farm road and traffic is minimal, so I wasn't worried about that.
"Why has Luke even thought about suicide?" I kept asking myself. Exactly the same age as I--we were actually born minutes apart and both would be eighteen in two months--he was handsome--even beautiful--popular at school . . . .We have no secrets from each other,"I thought,"or at least I didn't think we did, but I was surely wrong."
Suddenly I heard sirens behind me and when I looked in the rear view mirror, saw flashing lights approaching. About that time my phone rang. "Yea?"
"The EMS squad should be getting close to you," the dispatcher said, "I'm patching you through to them."
"Yea, I see them right behind me," I responded.
"Matt, this is David Andrews. Where are we headed?"
David and his son lived on the farm on the town side of the Larsens; our farm was on the other side of Luke's home. When David got out of the army, he used his Army college money to become a registered nurse with special emergency medicine training and he had been with the EMS for several years, actually since before I was born.
"David, I'm betting money--and maybe his life--that he is below the falls on the river. I'm jumping the ditch and crashing the fence as soon as I cross the river bridge. Think that thing you guys are driving can follow?"
"We can sure as hell try," he responded.
"If you can't...."
"I know, it's three more miles. You go; we'll follow."
I rushed passed the David's place, across the river bridge, and hung a sharp right, jumping the road ditch. As I crashed the pasture fence, I expected the barbed wire to snap, but it didn't. Instead, it started stretching and pulling loose from the posts. When it finally snapped, the backlash smashed the windshield and whipped through the Jeep, but I didn't pause. "Please, God," I prayed with my whole being, "let him be here and let us be in time."
Reaching the path to the river, I leapt from the Jeep before it stopped moving. As I raced along the narrow path through the cane and trees lining the river bank, I heard the sirens stop and then the sound of the water rushing over the low falls and splashing into a wide basin before, once again, entering its narrow river bed and going on its way. As I raced toward the river, I kicked off my shoes, knowing that if Luke were here, he was in the river.
As soon as I reached the edge of the basin, my heart stopped. I saw him, his nude body, face up, caught between two rocks. Otherwise, he would have washed over the basin's edge and down the river. I dived into the icy water--after all it was only mid-March and this water was never really warm enough for swimming until mid-May--and swam over to Luke. As I pulled his body to mine, I couldn't be sure, but it seemed as if his beautiful body was lifeless. Grabbing him under the chin, I started swimming back just as David and his crew reached the river's edge.
"Matt, grab the float," David shouted as he tossed it out over the water. Holding Luke's chin above water with one hand, I grabbed the float with the other. David rapidly pulled me to the sandy beach. His two team mates grabbed Luke and started working on him while David helped me ashore and covered my shivering body with a blanket."I'll grab you something hot from my kit," he said as soon as I was settled.
While I waited, I looked around at this, a very special place. Suddenly I spied Luke's clothes, neatly folded, a few feet from me and near them was a prescription bottle. I quickly got up and ran to the clothes, picked up the bottle, and called to David, "David, here's something you need to see."
Handing me a cup of hot liquid, David took the bottle and called to Anna and Jake, his colleagues,"Here's an empty bottle which originally held 35 200 mg caps of phenobarb. That's a lethal dose if they were all here and he took them. "Is he still alive?" I asked, dreading the answer.
"Barely," Jake replied, "but since we know we have more to deal with than hypothermia, that's a plus. But to be honest, I doubt he makes it, but we'll try to get the barbiturate out of him and do everything else we can.
As he and Anna continued to get Luke ready to transport, I bent to pick up Luke's clothes. I felt something warm running down my cheek. I turned to speak to David when he said,"Matt, you're bleeding like crazy!" as he rushed toward me. "When you crashed through the fence, you took a barb in the face. You've got a bad cut there." He grabbed his kit, quickly cleaned the wound and pulled it together with butterfly strips. "When we get to the hospital, you will get that checked out. Promise?" I nodded.
"We're ready to transport," Anna called to David.
"See you at the hospital, Matt," David said as he grabbed his kit and joined his team.
"I'll get his things, go by his house, get some dry clothes and his mother," I responded, "then I'll be there."
As the EMS team left, I walked slowed over to Luke's neat folded clothes. "This spot has always been so special to us," I thought as I bent to pick up his things. I clutched his clothes to my body, inhaling the fragrance of the man I loved--I loved as my very best friend as did he me, but more than that, my great and painful secret was that I not only loved Luke, but had been in love with him for a very long time, in fact, for as long as I could remember. I lived with the agony of loving him more than life itself and the fear that if he knew, at best, our friendship would be destroyed and at worse, he would hate me. It was a risk I could not take. So I lived, every day, every night with the heartache of my secret.
Tears streaming down my face, I walked slowly back to the Jeep, shivering in spite of the blanket David had given me. Placing Luke's clothes on the passenger's seat, I picked up my cell phone and hit speed dial 1. "That's exactly what you are to my life, Luke, you're first and all else is after. Please, please,please don't die!" Gabrielle answered on the first ring. "Gabrielle, we found him and he is alive,barely. It's not absolutely hopeless, but very, very close."
"I'll light another candle to the Virgin for him,"Gabrielle responded. The Larsen's, he of Danish background and she born and raised in Germany, were surprisingly, very devote Catholics instead of being Lutheran as one would have expected. And that raised another question about what my best friend, a devoted Catholic, had done. Taking your own life, I was sure, was a mortal sin for a Catholic and would doom Luke to hell. Not that I believed that, but then I am an Episcopalian, not a Roman Catholic.
"Call in all you have out to your saints, Gabrielle. Our guy needs all the help he can get. I'm on my way now. I'll pick up some dry clothes at your place and then take you into town. We'll have to take your car, though, because my Jeep's a mess. See you in a sec."
"OK, I'll be ready."
There would be no problem with clothes. Not only did Luke and I spend so much time at each other's house that we both had clothes in both places, but we were also the same size. In fact, our fathers once remarked that had we not been "darkness and light" we could have been twins so far as size goes.
Luke was clearly "light." Again, given his family background, how could he be otherwise? Luke was truly a golden man-child--a golden young man. His hair, so curly he had given up in trying to make it otherwise, was so blond it sometimes seem transparent. In the sun it shown like spun gold, creating a shining halo around his beautiul face. His fair skin was perfect so that the goodness that was inside made his body seem to glow. Hard work on the farm and the non-jock sports--volleyball and tennis--kept him in excellent shape, clearly defined, but not grotesque. Also, he and I had started running together two years ago and ran every morning after our chores were done before we got ready for school. In the winter we even ran in the dark and the weather had to be really bad for us not to have our morning run.
I, on the other hand, was darkness, the son of a half Korean mother and father who was at least half American Indian.
As I pulled into the Larsen's drive, Gabrielle ran out to meet me. Weeping, she cried, " Why? Why? Why did he do such a terrible thing, Matt? Why?"
"I don't know, Gabrielle, I don't know and I should have known. I should have known he was in pain. I should have known, even though he didn't tell me."
We walked into the house and I continued upstairs to Luke's room. As soon as I entered, I could not hold back an outburst of tears as I was overwhelmed by a tide of memories and the fragrance of the man I loved. While I had loved Luke as long as I could remember. Of course, over time my love had changed, had matured, but I kept it to myself. No way was I going to risk the beautiful friendship Luke and I had since the day we were born.
Suddenly I realized that I was still carrying Luke's clothes I had taken from the river, the clothes that had covered Luke's so alive beautiful body and which still held the scent of the one I loved above all else. Tears still streaming, I got dressed in Luke's clothes and walked downstairs.
Gabrielle handed me her keys and we walked out of the house to her car. While the trip into town was not a race like the one out, my mind was racing around and around, "Why? Why? Why?" Suddenly it occurred to me that Gabrielle should not have been home when she had called me. "How did you happened to be home early today?" I asked Gabrielle.
"The system went down just after lunch and we were told it would not be back up until sometime late tonight so I just came on home. I hope in time to save my boy," she responded as she started crying softly. Gabrielle was office manager for the medical complex in Concord, our small town. The rest of the drive into town was spent in silence, each of us lost in our own thoughts.
When we reached the hospital, I found a parking place near the emergency room entrance. When we walked in, David was coming out of one of the treatment bays and walked toward us.
"He's still alive, but just barely. Matt, had you not known where to find him and had we not gotten there when we did, there is no doubt he would be dead, but he's sure not out of the woods yet," David answered our unspoken question. "But you, Young Man, need to get yourself over there into that treatment bay so someone can take a look at your face."
"So there's no change in Luke," I asked David as we walked toward an empty treatment bay.
"None, at least none for the better. He's so close to death that any change would be for the better or . . . ."
When we reached the treatment bay a fairly young, good looking woman--hey, I may be in love with another man, surely you have gathered that--but that didn't mean I didn't appreciate a good piece of handiwork and God had done an outstanding job on this woman.
"Hi, I'm Dr. Bailey. I understand that you took a pretty severe hit in the face by a pasture fence while rescuing a friend."
"I'm not sure I would call it a rescue, especially since it looks as if he may not make it. And, in fact, I didn't even know my face was cut until David--Mr. Andrews--noticed all the blood."
"Yes, I understand your friend. . . .What's his name?"
"Luke, Luke Larsen."
"Luke is near death, but so long as there is a spark of life, there's hope, right."
"Right! Damn right," I responded with all the bravado I could muster, then the tears started again in spite of my putting every effort into stopping them.
Dr. Bailey reached over and put her arms around me, giving me a warm and comforting hug. Gradually I stopped crying.
"Now" she said, "let me take a look at your face, Matthew."
"Please call me Matt. The only time I am called Matthew is when my mom is really upset with me or when I am in her class."
Ok, Matt, you've got a really nasty gash there. David--ah, Mr. Andrews--told me you crashed through a pasture fence and the barbed wire didn't break until it snapped and whipped back, breaking your windshield and hitting you in the face."
"Yea, that's what happened, but as I said, I didn't know it until Mr. Andrews. . . .Look, David is obviously a friend of both of us, so can we stop this Mr. Andrews bit?"
I was very surprised when Dr. Bailey blushed a bright red like a young school girl. "Sure," she replied, suddenly becoming very busy with some instruments on a tray beside the table. I wondered what was going on here.
When she turned back to me she said, "David is well-known around the hospital. Not only for his work, but also for the loving care he gave his wife Elizabeth when she was here for treatments for cancer two years before she died three years ago. Did you know her too?"
"Sure, there are three families of us living on adjoining farms. The Larsen's live between David and us. David and his son Michael live on the town side and we live on the country side. But actually, we're like one family most of the time--except we don't talk much about religion, since the Larsens are devote Catholics and we are Episcopalians. David and Michael were very active in their church until the preacher said AIDS was God's curse on gays and then damned gays and peoplr who supported their rights. Also, he was never there when Michael and David needed someone during Elizabeth's illness and death. David and Michael have really been close to my family after Elizabeth's death. It's a long story, but the families have been very close ever since before the three men got out of service."
"I'd like to hear that story some time. Meanwhile, let me look at your face. And, Matt, I need to know your full name for this form."
"Matthew S-a-r-a-n-g upper case H-a-n-u-n upper case P-o-m-u-l Greywolf. That's my middle name Mom and Dad gave me when I was born. I think it's probably Dad's butchered Korean, although it may be perfectly correct. It's a real mouthful and when I was younger, I just gave the English translation until one day kids started kidding me about it so now I just spell it and let it go at that. My mom's Korean, actually half Korean. Her father was an American soldier who deserted her mother when she became pregnant. Mom doesn't even know his name since her mother refuses to acknowledge he ever existed. Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf--that's what Mom and Dad call me when they are very upset with me or when they are very pleased with me. I've never figured it out. Ouch!"
"I'm sorry, but I needed to clean up your face so I can see what needs to be done. What is the translation of you middle name?"
"You have to promise not to laugh. It means 'Beloved Treasure."'
"While I can see why kids, being kids might laugh, I think that is one of the most beautiful names I have ever heard. David has done an excellent job with the butterflies, but there is going to be a scar on that high Greywolf cheekbone. Am I correct in assuming your father is an American Indian?"
At least half. I don't think he even knows what the other half is, but his mother was a full blooded Lakota."
That makes your middle names mean even more since it honors your mother and carries out the Lakota custom of naming one according to what one is, Beloved Treasure. By the way, are your parents on their way?"
"Oh, my God, I haven't even thought to call them. They don't know anything about this since they had a faculty meeting after school today and I was at St. Mary's so they won't expect me home until about five. What time is it?"It's almost 4:30"
They are probably just getting home now. I gotta call them."
"I'll take care of that," she said as she walked out of the treatment bay and called out, "Mr. Andrews, could you come here, please?" When David reached the bay, she asked him to call my parents and tell them what had happened. Also to ask them if they felt I was mature enough to make a decision about my face since if anything was to be done, it needed to be done as soon as possible.
Apparently David knew what she meant because he came back in about three minutes and said the decision was mine, then continued talking to my parents on his cell phone as he walked back to the desk.
"Well, we are at a decision point, Matt. How old are you?"
"Eighteen. Well, Luke and I will both be eighteen in two months. We were born on the same day, but I am twenty minutes older." Mentioning Luke's name started another flood of tears and their salt soon started the newly cleaned wound on my face stinging. I realized that Dr. Bailey had not only been attending to my physical needs, but my emotional ones as well by distracting me.
"Well, you're not quite eighteen, but your parents say you can make the decision. David has done an excellent job, as I said, but if there is not to be a scar, I need to get a plastic surgeon in here pronto. If nothing more is done, you will have a scar, as I said, right on the peak of that Greywolf cheekbone. It will be, oh, I guess about an inch long and narrow. Hope you don't think I'm being sexist, but I wouldn't hesitate in calling in a surgeon if you were a girl, but since you are a man (Yes, she said "You are a man."), given where the scar will be and as small as it will be, it's your call."
Look, you're to doctor. You're supposed to know these things. I'm not."
"Just a minute," she said as she stood up and walked into the hall, calling David again. When he came into the bay, she said, "Matt needs to have a plastic surgeon redo that wound pronto unless he wants to just let it go. You know there will be a small scar, so what do you think?"
"I think a small scar there would be downright sexy," David responded as he reached over and messed up my hair. "He'll have all the women in school chasing him, not that he doesn't already!" I blushed all over at his comment. If he only know how little I cared about that! But it was true that Luke and I had girls all over us most of the time, but neither of us dated more than occasionally, then it was first with one girl then another. A kind of friends going out, not real dating.
What do you think, Stud?" David asked, causing me to blush a deeper red I'm sure.
I decided more than one could play in this game and said, "Well, Doc, you're a pretty sexy bundle yourself. What do you think? Which would be sexier?"
David laughed and Dr. Bailey joined in the blushing. "Well, I think I'd be Matthew Beloved Treasure Barbed Wire in the Face Greywolf and let be as is."
"So be it."
Since Dr. Bailey had finished with me, I walked to the emergency waiting room where I found Gabrielle and Jens Larsen. "Are you ok?" Jens asked me and I nodded yes. "There has been no change in Luke. The doctors are holding out very little hope," he said. "We have called Fr. Muller for Last Rites."
As he finished speaking, the burly German priest came through the emergency room door and stopped at the nurses' station. He spoke briefly to the nurse on duty, the came storming over to the waiting room. His opening words to the grieving parents were, "You son has committed a mortal sin and unless he confesses, he will be damned to hell forever. I thought you were good Catholics, yet you dare ask Mother Church for Her Last Rites for a boy who had attempted self-murder." Every word he spoke was like a hammer blow to the heart of his parents and to mine. Gabrielle was weeping bitterly and Jens was turning white with anger. "I will say a prayer for you two at Mass, but not for him and his damned soul."
"Get the hell out!" Jens shouted at the priest and appeared to be advancing toward the burly man in the collar, "Just get the hell out!"
"You'll understand later," Fr. Muller said, "then you can come to confession."
I thought Jens was about to kill the priest, but Gabrielle held him back as Fr. Muller beat a hasty retreat.
Without further thought, I whipped out my cell phone and hit speed dial three--again, I thought of the priorities in my life: Luke was one, my family was two, and St. Mary's was three--hoping someone was still in the church office even though it was late. Gertie answered the phone. "Gertie, get Fr. Tom over to the hospital at once. I need him," I said, surprisingly calm. As I put the phone back in my pocket, I saw a gurney with Luke on it being wheeled out of the treatment bay. Thank God, his face was not covered, but he looked dead with tubes goes in and out of his beautiful body. I tried very hard to be brave for the Larsens, but I didn't make it. My tears started again as I looked at Luke, thinking this may be the last time I see him alive. And he doesn't know how I feel about him.
A doctor walked over to the Larsens and said, "We have done all we can for Luke right now. He is barely holding his own, but he has not gotten worse. He's being taken to ICU. You may go up and see him for a few minutes--five or ten. After that, you may see him for fifteen minutes every hour on the hour, however, I would suggest you go up and see him, then go home and try to get some rest until tomorrow morning. At the very miraculous best, this will be a long, tough haul and you need to stay well. If there is any change at all, any at all, someone will call you. If you need something to help you sleep, I will leave it with the nurse on duty here in the emergency room. Do you have any questions or is there anything else I can do?"
"No, I guess not, Doctor. And thanks for offering the medicine to help us sleep. I am sure we will need it and if you think it best, we will go home."
"I do. If Luke makes it, he is going to require a lot of you after he leaves the hospital and there is nothing you can do here now. Save your strength for when he is going to have to have it. Here's my card. Should you think of anything, anything at all, that I might do, please call me." Handing Jens the card, the doctor shook his hand and gave Gabrielle a hug before he left."
"Matt, are you ok?" Jens asked as he hugged Gabrielle to himself.
"Yea, I'm ok, I guess. David called Mom and Dad and Fr. Tom is coming and he can take me home. Go on up and see Luke."
As the Larsens got on the elevator, I, for the first time, felt something in a back pocket. When I pulled it out, it was a letter addressed to me in Luke's handwriting. I opened it and began to read.
"I know you are hurt and in pain because of my cowardly act. Please forgive me and know that I loved you better than life itself, but I could never let you know. Every moment I was away from you, you filled my thoughts and I felt empty and lonely, suffering because I was not with the one I loved. Every moment I spent with you over the past few years have been filled ecstasy because I was with you, the man I loved more than anything in heaven or earth. Yet it was agony also because I was terrified that my feeling toward you would slip out and I would lose you as a friend forever and I could not bear the thought of that happening. Agony because the loneliness and emptiness were still there, just overshadowed by the joy of my being with you., If loving you, another man, makes me gay, I am gay, Matt. Please don't hate me, even though when you read this, I will be gone. I could not go on being so in love with you and never being able to tell you."
Since my family, and I thought I, are good Catholics, I was also haunted by the fact that loving another man was a mortal sin. Fr. Muller made that very clear Sunday after Sunday. Since I was damned for loving you, hell's fire held no terror to prevent my committing another mortal sin. To escape the agony because I can no longer handle it, I have taken a coward's way out. Please forgive me and know that I went to my death loving you with my whole being. I chose a place special to both of us. I love you, Matt, my beautiful friend.
Before I finished the letter, I could hardly read for the tears streaming down my face. As I read his name, I screamed "Luke!" and collapsed on the floor. I was not completely unconscious, so I knew someone had picked me up. My foggy mind recognized Dr. Bailey and David. "I think we need to take him into my office. I don't think the problem here is medical," I heard Dr. Bailey say and David lifted me in his arms. As soon as I was safely in Dr. Bailey's office, she gave me something and said, "Drink this." My mind gradually cleared and I lay on th sofa, staring at the ceiling.
Dr. Bailey said to David, "Wait outside for a few minutes while I check Matt out."
"Also be on the look out for Fr. Tom, please, David. I am expecting him," I added.
As soon as David had left the room, Dr. Bailey said, "Do you want to tell me what happened?"
"I'm not sure. About telling you I mean."
"Had you rather wait and talk with Fr. Tom?"
"Don't both of you have the same vow about keeping secrets?"
I took a deep breath and decided to unload a big pile of garbage I had been carrying too long, garbage which might have killed the love of my life. "I was all wet after we got Luke out of the river and since his house was closer than mine, I went there to change. When I took off my wet clothes, I put on the clothes Luke had been wearing before he jumped into the river, because they were Luke's. After the Larsens left to go to ICU, I found a letter in a back pocket addressed to me in Luke's handwriting." With those words, I handed the letter to her.
She read the letter slowly, glancing at me every once in awhile.
When she finished she said, "Do you want me to tell you the rest of the story?" I nodded. "The truth of the matter is, you could have written essentially the same letter to Luke. Right?"
I had sat up on the sofa and when she said that, I dropped my eyes to stare at the floor as I slowly nodded my head "yes."
"I am not surprised. I have seen an awful lot of guys come into the emergency room with injured friends, but it was obvious to me from the first that your feelings for Luke was well beyond friendship, even a very close friendship. Don't be ashamed of your love, Matt, there is little enough love in the world to condemn any of it. And look what hate can do. Luke was told his love for you was a dirty, sinful thing; that he should hate himself because he loved. And so now he is lying up there having tried to destroy himself, having no reason for living."
"But he knows that there are people out there just waiting for the opportunity to kick the ass of a man who loves another man--of me and Luke. He knows that people get carried away and kill a man simply because he is gay. Remember the student who was brought in here last year, half dead because he had be sodomized over and over by a group of rednecks? He and they went to the same school we attend. But Doctor, to be honest, If he dies, I can't see any reason to live myself."
"Oh, there are thousands of reasons for you to live, even without Luke. But let's not think about that right now. Let's think about Luke living. Nothing else you have said makes any difference otherwise, does it?"
There was a soft knock on the door and when Dr. Bailey said, "Come in," David and Fr. Tom walked in.
David had filled Fr. Tom in on what happened and he had been to see my parents and they are fine, David told me.
"Are the Larsens still here?" I asked David.
"Yes, they have a few more minutes with Luke."
I quickly told Fr. Tom what had happened with Fr. Muller and asked him if he would offer to anoint Luke and give him the Sacrament if his parents wished. "I know that it's not Last Rites for you, but it's the same Sacrament, right?" Of course, he agreed. He told me as soon as he had seen the Larsens and Luke, he would come back down and and do the same for me as he had done for Luke.
I'm glad Episcopalians don't have Last Rites because Last Rites seem to be giving up hope, and I still had hope for Luke.
As David and Fr. Tom left Dr. Bailey's office, another doctor came in. He was the one who had talked to the Larsens earlier, Doctor Walker. "How's Luke?" Dr. Bailey asked.
"I would like to say he is at least holding his own, but I'm not sure he's doing that well. He seems to have absolutely no will to live--which is not surprising since he tried to commit suicide; he has no fight. I think he is willing himself to death. He is healthy and looks as if he is as strong as a horse, I think he could make it if he just had the will to live, but if he continues to wish to die, he will. I am sure of that."
"Paul," Dr. Bailey said to the doctor, "just how far are you willing to bend the rules?"
"Hell, Margaret, you know me well enough to know that I don't just bend the rules, I break them and if or I ignore them. What do you have in mind?"
"You have known comatose patients who, when they woke up, know everything that was said and done around them, haven't you?"
Dr. Bailey looked straight at me and said, "I think we can give Luke something to fight for and a reason to live if you will bend the rules."
What did she have in mind? Why had she looked at me so strangely?
Dr. Walker seemed not to hear Dr. Bailey and said, "The Larsens are, I think, going home shortly. They were about ready to leave when I came down stairs. As soon as Fr. Tom--I thought the Larsens were Catholic--but Fr. Tom was up there--as soon as he finished, they planned to go home and try to rest." Looking at me he said, "You should do the same, Young Man."
"I don't think so, Paul, I think Matt needs to spend the night with Luke."
"What in the world are you talking about?" asked Dr. Walker.
Dr. Bailey looked at me, raised an eyebrow, and picked up Luke's letter from her desk. She waited for some reaction from me. I thought I knew what she had in mind and nodded my head.
She handed the letter to Dr. Walker who read it slowly, glancing at me from time to time as had Dr. Bailey.
"When are the assholes of the world going to learn that some men love men and some women love women and that love is love, period? But what did you have in mind, as if I couldn't guess?"
"Paul, Matt could have written a letter telling Luke exactly the same thing about being in love and the fear he had of losing a lifelong friendship. Because of their fear and the value they placed on their friendship, both young men, who were madly in love with the other, were afraid to say anything. I want you to take Matt up to ICU, throw the fear of God into Chelsea who is on duty tonight, telling her that Matt is not to leave Luke's side. He'll have to get out before the Larsens get here tomorrow morning and someone will have to take care of letting his parents know."
"Just what I thought you had in mind. I'll take care of Chelsea and make sure the nurse coming on in the morning knows to get Matt out before the Larsens come in. You'll have to take care of the parents."
As Dr. Walker left the room, Fr. Tom and David came in. Fr. Tom asked Dr. Bailey if she would like to receive the Sacrament with me as David had done when he anointed Luke and placed a drop of the consecrated wine on his lips. The Larsens, of course, expressed their appreciation to Fr. Tom for what he did for Luke, but as good Catholics did not receive. She said she would and Fr. Tom said the prayers, anointed me, and gave me and Dr. Bailey the Sacrament. After we had said the Lord's Prayer together, Fr. Tom said,"I'll take you home now, Matt."
I looked at Dr. Bailey, took a deep breath and said, "I'm staying." Both David and Fr. Tom looked surprised, then looked at Dr. Bailey. "It's ok. Show them the letter. They need to know."
David read over Fr. Tom's shoulder and when they had finished, I said, "My fear may have killed Luke because I feel the same way toward him as he says he does toward me."
Fr. Tom simply nodded his head and said, "Well, you have never heard me say you'll burn in hell because you love a man. If you love him as he loves you, you have a hard time ahead of you, but your surely have my blessing, even if it's not official."
David looked less surprised than I thought, then said, "You know, Matt, the Larsens cannot know about this, at least not now. I'll be really surprised if your parents will love you less or treat you any differently, but you can never know. They need not know until we can sit down and talk about this as family. You have my love and support as you always have. Should either you or Luke need a home, you have it. My older brother, whom I worshiped, was gay. I was eleven when our parents found out. My father beat him to a pulp while my mother screamed at him. They then threw him out of the house and told him he was no longer their son and never to darken their door again. He was eighteen, almost exactly your and Luke's age. I only saw him once after that. He came by school to see me. When my father found out, he beat me until I had to be hospitalized. My brother sent me a note though one of my teachers and told me he loved me, but he couldn't see me again because of what my father might do. When I grew up, I tried o find him, but never did. I swore then I could never let what someone was make me hate them. And you know I love you and Luke as I do Michael."
When David had finished speaking, I jumped up off the sofa and hugged him with all my strength while crying like a baby.
"Dr. Walker is making arrangements; he's setting Chelsea straight, David, for Matt to spend the night with Luke. Dr. Walker says Luke has no will to live and it is up to Matt to convince him he has a damn good reason to live," Dr. Bailey said.
"Well, I guess that means I have to come up with some reason for Matt staying here without having the Greywolf pack rushing here to take care of their young pup, Sarang Hanun Pomul. (David knew he could always get my goat by calling me that.) I'll tell them he needed to stay for observation and was already asleep.
"Matt, you better tell that man you love just how much you love him and pray at the same time that he hears you," Fr. Tom said.
When Fr. Tom and David left, Dr. Bailey had food brought to her office and even though I didn't feel like eating, she insisted. "You have a long, tough night ahead of you, and it's probably not the last one, we can hope" she said, "so eat.
By the time I finished eating, it seemed as though it was midnight, but it was only eight o'clock. It had been about four hours since Luke had been pulled from the river.
"When you go up, Matt, you will probably be shocked by what you see. Luke took an overdose of barbiturates which slowed down his heart, his breathing, all his body functions. Additionally, he was in icy water which caused hypothermia, which also slows down the body's functions. It forces all nonessential body functions to completely shut down so the brain can receive oxygen. He has a ventilator breathing for him. He had to have his stomach pumped and infused with charcoal to get any barbiturates still in his stomach. His body temperature, which was below 85 degrees, ten degrees below where hypothermia begins, has to be increased gradually. In short, he looks as if he is not alive and is hooked up to a number of machines. Try to overlook all that and concentrate on convincing him he has a reason to live. If anyone can do it, it is you. And remember, he may not be able to hear you and even if it does, he may well have suffered brain damage and have other problems. Don't blame yourself if you cannot get through to him, but don't give up hope. And since you seem to be a religious person, prayer like hell!"
I gave Dr. Bailey a huge hug and she hugged me back. "Luke just don't know how lucky he is and if he knows only half of it, he'll jump up out of that bed!" Dr. Bailey said.
"I know someone who is luckier if he lives," I replied as Dr. Bailey led me toward the elevators to the ICU.
Know this is PG, but there was a lot of things which had to be set up. Sex next time? In a word, "no." The code says the story doesn't have sex for awhile (slow) and it is romantic. Hope you enjoy the "no sex" romantic story this is intended to be!
A Special Place--Part Two should be available next week. Beginning with Part Two, each part will be told from two perspectives--Luke's as well as Matt's.