Castle Roland

A Special Place

by Sequoyah


Chapter 36

Posted: N/A

A Special Place--Part Thirty-six--Matt

After the excitement of Sunday and the terrific love-making of Sunday night, I expected to find it hard to wake up Monday morning. I didn't because I was awakened when I felt Luke's lips against mine and his whisper, "Dark Angel, I love you more every day I live". I returned his kiss passionately and whispered back, "Bright Angel, you are the reason I live every day!" Reluctantly, we got out of bed and crossed the hall to brush our teeth and take a piss--not in that order--before we pulled on sweats for the morning run. We climbed down the trellis and found Michael and Mary Kathryn waiting for us. "Luke, Matt, we need to talk as well as run this morning. I mean serious talk."

"Ok, we'll run and jog back so we can talk," Luke responded. "Now let's run. I feel so alive!" We started running and Luke started shouting, greeting the morning, and the three of us joined him. After we had run about three miles, Luke said, "Ok, let's jog and talk".

"Luke, Michael and I had a long talk last night about you and Matt. I think anyone looking at your painting of Matt and how it was displayed would realize that it was more than a painting done of a brother by a brother. Matt, most of the kids who saw you kiss Luke accepted--at least tolerated--what was clearly not an expression of brotherly love. To be honest, you two outted yourselves yesterday almost as clearly as if you had made an announcement. As I said, most kids I heard mention it were at least tolerant, but I know some are not," Mary Kathryn said. "And we all know the least tolerant ones weren't there yesterday. Today with this all-school field trip the good, the bad and the impossible will know all about it. I'm sure the kiss will be the topic of the morning gossip. Then, when they see the exhibition, they will see the painting."

"Since we are going directly to St. Mary's, you won't have to worry about the reaction when you get to school, but before the day is over, everyone in school will be talking--one way or the other. I don't know what the reaction will be. I know that Independence has made a lot of progress in the past few weeks, but a lifetime of homophobia doesn't get washed away in days. Be warned and be careful," Michael added.

"I hadn't given thought to that," I admitted. "I guess we should have."

"Matt, what's done is done and if we outted ourselves, I guess we wanted to, whether we were conscious of it or not. We have said before that our love will sustain us through anything. I hope we are right because I think we are facing a real test of our love here. And I hope that you two have overstated the case. If not, we'll just have to deal with it."

"Remember, we are here for you," Michael said as he kissed Mary Kathryn and turned to go up his walk.

We all fell silent, lost in our own thoughts as we jogged the rest of the way. When we reached my place, Luke kissed me and said, "Matt, I think we might have breakfast with our families this morning". I agreed and watched as he and Mary Kathryn jogged home.

When I had showered and dressed, I went downstairs to find Mom and Dad waiting breakfast for me. "Matt," Dad said,"You don't know how proud you have made your mom and me. Your recital was splendid and the original compositions were outstanding. Your acceptance to Oberlin not only means a great deal to you and Luke, but also to us since it is a recognition of your talent and hard work. We're having dinner here tonight so we can all boast and celebrate." Then there was a long pause. "But there is something else." Another long pause. "Now please don't take what we have to say as criticism."

"Yes, please don't," Mom added.

"You know that we accept and love you dearly and that we are happy that you have the love of Luke. Regardless of what we might have preferred, we are overjoyed that you have found the happiness you have with the man you love so deeply. However..."

I braced myself for... I didn't know what.

"However, I hope you realize that this weekend has changed things dramatically. Luke's painting of you, especially displayed as it is, caught the attention of a number of people. It didn't take a rocket scientist to see that it was not just a painting, but the painting of someone loved deeply and, to be blunt, not as a brother. Then your 'Fantasia' could hardly have made your feeling for Luke clearer if you had called it 'Luke Larsen'. Again, don't get me wrong. I am not condemning or even questioning what the two of you did. Both works were statements of great love and I can find no fault with that. Also, I understand that when Luke came downstairs to congratulate you, you kissed him in a most unbrotherly fashion..." Dad paused.

I blushed then hung my head. "It's true, Dad, Mom. I couldn't contain myself I was so happy and excited. And, yes, I gave him a full, tongue-in-the-mouth kiss. I'm sorry."

"Are you?" Mom asked. "I really doubt that, Matt. And I don't expect you to be."

"You're right, Mom, I'm not sorry. I am sorry and maybe worried about what that impulsive action may bring about. Michael and Mary Kathryn talked to us about it this morning."

"Well, I think it is safe to say you two are about as out as you will ever be. Maybe that is best, I don't know. But I do know you are probably facing some rough times ahead. Your mom and I wanted to be sure you realized what had happened and to know that we are here to offer any support we can. And to make sure you understand were we stand, I want to say again, your mom and I are very, very proud of you and Luke. And we are also pleased you have found so great a love. We do know that great loves can withstand a lot, right, Yong Jin?"

"Very right, Greywolf," Mom replied as she crossed the kitchen and kissed my dad then the two of them embraced me.

After breakfast, I went to pick up Luke. As he got in the Jeep--since Michael wasn't going to the actual school building, he decided the rules against sophomores having cars didn't apply and he picked up Mary Kathryn--he said his family had a discussion and as he talked about it, I told him it was the same discussion I had with Mom and Dad. Nothing more was said about how we had--unconsciously--outted ourselves.

"Matt, are you excited about today?" Luke asked as we approached St. Mary's.

"I didn't think I would be. I thought by today the performance would be old hat, but I'm getting butterflies just as I did Saturday and Sunday."

"So am I."

When we reached St. Mary's, all the crew was already there. The ensemble and chorus were in the church, warming up, and the docents were waiting to begin. Soon the buses pulled in with the juniors and seniors for the exhibition. Luke had walked into the back hall where I was vesting a short time before and, just before I was ready to go to the organ, took me into his arms for a magnificent Luke kiss. I didn't want to let him go. My mouth and then my whole being was filled with the taste of Luke. When we finally broke our kiss, I thought I saw a shadow at the other end of the hall, but decided this morning's talk had gotten to me more than I thought.

Leaving Luke, I went to the organ prepared to start the third performance of the recital/concert. Eugene, Paula and I had decided it was very long for school kids and cut out a few things, but the basic concert and recital remained intact.

A Special Place--Part Thirty-six--Luke

As soon as I had given Matt a good luck kiss, I went back to the exhibition. Perhaps I was being overly sensitive, but I thought the crew were being especially attentive when I arrived. "Luke, Ms. Jones suddenly realized that two classes are too much to try to see the exhibition at the same time so she has decided the juniors will go first and then seniors. If you'll look out in the church playground you'll see just how mature the seniors are." I walked over to the window and saw seniors in high school being kids again--sliding, swinging and playing like little kids.

It seemed the juniors were either totally disinterested or full of questions. It took a while to get them all through the exhibition. I hung around, answering questions when asked, but mostly just observing. I was especially observant when a group went into the gallery with Matt's picture. There were a lot of questions, but nothing to indicate that anyone saw the painting as anything more than a painting. I must confess I was relieved.

When the juniors had finished going through the exhibition, the seniors came in--and the juniors hit the playground. The seniors were generally more interested than the juniors. Four guys--Independence's "skin heads" seemed to take special interest in the exhibition. Michael was their docent and they kept asking questions of him and me as well.

It was nearing time for lunch when all the seniors had gone outside except the Fellowship and the junior basketball players who were laughing and talking with Bill. Jacob and Mary Kathryn were just outside the gallery door when the four with Michael entered where Matt's picture hung. As soon as they were inside, Shawn McKay whipped out a knife and lunged toward the painting of Matt shouting, "Why are we looking at a picture of a shit packing, cock-sucking faggot?" as he slashed the painting. The three with him shouted, "Cut the queer's picture again, Shawn. Get the cock sucker good." I felt as though a knife had gone through my heart. But the worse was yet to come. As Michael rushed toward him, Shawn turned, knife still in hand, and slashed Michael. As Michael fell to the floor, Mary Kathryn screamed, "Bill and you basketballs players, get in here now! Someone call 911!" Bill rushed into the room as Shawn lunged toward me. He quickly took Shawn down and wrestled the knife from him.

Jacob and the basketball players quickly took care of the other three as Mary Kathryn and I rushed to Michael. He was covered with blood and I could see he had been cut badly. "Get Mr. Allan and Greywolf," I said as I ripped off my shirt and tried to stop the bleeding. It was soon obvious that the cut had started just below Michael's right eye, crossed his cheek, then his chest to just below his rib cage and then turned in the opposite direction, slashing open his abdomen. Mr. Allan and Greywolf came and started administering first aid as best they could. Michael was losing a tremendous amount of blood and nothing they did seemed to stop it.

Ms. Jones appeared at the door and said, "The EMS is on the way. It's only three or four minutes to the hospital. I have also called the police. The basketball guys and Bill have the four involved well in hand. I am sending everyone else into the church." Before she had finished speaking, I heard the sirens of the EMS team.

Unfortunately, David was on duty and came with the team. I met them at the door and said, "David, Michael's been hurt. I think you better let your team mates handle this." He, of course, ignored me and rushed into the room. Two team members were working on Michael and David, being the professional he was, joined right in, nonetheless, tears were streaming down his face.

While the other team members worked on Michael, David got on his radio and called the hospital telling them the situation and that they needed to have a surgeon standing by ready to operate. "Michael, I am sure, has a punctured bowel and has lost and is losing a great deal of blood. Call Dr. Bailey--Dr. Andrews and tell her. We are ready to transport. We'll need someone to work on his face as well. It is cut badly. His blood type is AB positive. You'll probably have to find someone who can donate since I doubt that there is enough available."

When the EMS team left with Michael, Ms. Jones had returned and said, "Greywolf, you are not capable of driving a bus load of kids. I have called for drivers to take everyone back to school. When we get there, I will send them home. You need to stay here. I haven't told those in the church what happened, but when I do, you and Yong Jin will need to be with Matt."

"We'll need to be with the whole Fellowship," Greywolf replied quietly. "We will take care of them."

I walked down the hall and walked up behind Matt who was still sitting on the organ bench. As soon as I saw him, I couldn't hold it any longer. I burst into great sobs and clung to him. "Matt, Michael has been hurt. He's been hurt really bad." I had forgotten about Mary Kathryn until she put her arms around me and started crying. I quickly told Matt what had happened.

"Why Michael? Why Michael?" Matt kept asking. "Michael has done nothing. We are the guilty ones. Why Michael?"

The three of us held each other as Ms. Jones walked to the front of the packed and overcrowded church.

"Students, Independence has had another tragedy resulting from intolerance and hatred. Shawn McKay made some accusations about Matt Greywolf and then slashed a magnificent painting of him done by Luke Larsen..."

"One queer's painting of another queer," someone shouted from among the packed students.

There was a brief disturbance and Tanishia Berry was walking up the packed center aisle, dragging a girl by the hair of her head while twisting her arm behind her back. "Ms. Jones, you had better take this bitch before I take care of her!" she said as she shoved a girl down in front of Ms. Jones.

"You stay right there or I'll turn my back and let Tanishia have a go at you," Ms. Jones said. "Not only did Shawn slash the painting, but he also slashed Michael Andrews' face, chest and abdomen. While there is no official word at this time, Mr. Andrews, who was with the EMS team, thought it was very serious, very serious indeed. He told me there is always hope, but that he felt Michael might well die from his wounds. Blood is critical because Michael had lost a great deal before the EMS team got here and was still losing blood when they left for the hospital with him. Michael has a rather rare blood type and there probably is not enough at the hospital. If you are eighteen and are willing to give blood, stay behind and you will be taken to the hospital so your blood can be typed and drawn. If you're not eighteen, but would like to donate, you'll have to have parental permission. You can call and have your parents meet you at the hospital. If you are not going to the hospital to give blood, will you please leave the church quietly and board the buses. You will be taken back to school and then home. And keep Michael in your thoughts." She then looked down at the girl still on the floor under Tanishia's watchful eye and said, "Your are suspended until there can be a hearing. I suggest you see if you can use the phone here and get someone to take you home. Your parents will be in my office tomorrow morning at 8:00 sharp."

"I might have known you'd take up for faggots!" she shouted and, before Ms. Jones could stop her, Tanishia gave her a good smack to the mouth. In response the girl shouted, "Even you, you fucking nigger, you are taking up for faggots!" she shouted.

"Forget the phone and get out of my sight!" Ms. Jones said.

As the students started leaving the church, I noticed several were kneeling before they finally got up. About fifty students were still in the church when Ms. Jones asked, "Are you waiting to go to give blood?" All nodded. "I have a bus waiting to take you to the hospital." Soon only the Fellowship was left and Ms. Jones came back to make sure we were ok.

We told her we would go to the hospital as well, "But first we need to get ourselves together," Matt said. "I miss Michael. This is the kind of thing he could handle." Before we left, all of us, except Paula, knelt for a time. She stood straight, her hands uplifted. As we got up she said, "Think a Jewish prayer might help as well as a Christian one and I pray standing". Mary Kathryn hugged her tightly and began to cry softly.

The Fellowship walked back to the parish hall and, when we got there, Gertie met us. "Fr. Tom has gone to the hospital. Matt, Greywolf and Yong Jin went to tell Jens and Gabrielle. Millie is on her way over. I suggest you go into the conference room and wait for her. I put some drinks in there for you. Anything else I can do?"

"Gertie, could you call Gladys and Chelsea? Please?" Matt asked.

"Didn't need to. They called here. Someone from the hospital had called them about possible emergency duty. They resigned last week, you know, because the hospice is opening next week. They are coming by here to see how you all are doing."

When Gladys and Chelsea arrived, there were hugs and introductions since they didn't really know all the Fellowship. "Hatred strikes again. When will it end?" Chelsea asked. "But right now I guess you are wondering where things stand. I know you've been through a lot and I wouldn't dare try to lie to you. Michael is in a critical condition. He has lost a tremendous amount of blood because the cuts were deep. While it is fortunate no vital organ was cut, his bowel was nicked. That means there is a grave danger of serious, and I mean very serious, infection. Mary Kathryn, I hope his beautiful face can be repaired, but it was slashed deeply. We were told a plastic surgeon was being flown in by helicopter from Lexington, but what the outcome will be is very much up in the air. Right now the important thing is to keep him alive. And I'll not try to sugar coat it--that is not going to be easy." Mary Kathryn turned snow white and collapsed.

Chelsea and Gladys soon had her conscious again. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make trouble," she said, then started crying. Then, as she had done when she was a very young child, she crawled in my lap and put her arms around my neck. I held her close.

"Chelsea and I resigned from the hospital last week in anticipation of opening the hospice next week, but it was only a formal opening since we are not really ready for patients yet. We have told the hospital we will be doing private duty nursing pulling twelve-hour shifts to take care of Michael."

"Then," Matt said to Mary Kathryn, "you can be sure Michael will have the best possible chance of making it. Death has to get permission before he takes someone from these two."

Time dragged on as it does when you are waiting, not knowing what is happening. Bill, Linda and Jacob excused themselves saying they would be in the office for a short time.

When they returned, Bill said, "We got the ball rolling for Independence to hold a vigil outside the hospital. There will be students there around the clock until Michael is out of danger. The first group is going there now. Linda, Paula, Jacob and I are going to the hospital as part of the first group holding the vigil," Bill said.

"We'll take Mary Kathryn and stay," Gladys said "and we'll keep you posted on anything we learn. Let's go, Mary Kathryn."

Matt and I sat silent for a few minutes then Matt got up and said, "Luke, I'm going into the church for a while before we go to the hospital". I followed him, as did Larry and Eugene. The four of us walked down the hall to the church, holding hands, saying nothing. When we reached the church, we went to the altar rail and knelt. We stayed for a good while. When we got up and walked back to the parish office, Millie was talking to Gertie. Both were crying. It seemed strange to see Millie crying. It just was so out of character.

"Matt, Luke, Larry, Son," she said through tears, "I feel terrible. Somehow or other I feel as though I am responsible for this."

"Millie, that's exactly how I feel. Had I not kissed Luke..."

"Or if I had not painted that picture..."

"Stop it all, all of you!" Gertie said. "No-one except the boy who did it and his henchmen are responsible. How could you have known that he would do such a horrible thing? If we all didn't do things out of fear of what someone else might do, we'd never do anything. What you three did was wonderful and shows the world what love is about. That angry young man showed what hate can do. We can't stop doing things because there's hate in the world!"

"I know you four want to get to the hospital although I doubt there will be any news for a long time. I had just got the Oberlin people on their way when I heard what had happened. I'm on my way home to get things set up to make it headquarters until Michael is out of danger. There'll be food and beds there for all who want or need them," Millie said.

The four of us hugged Millie and we all had another good cry, then we left for the hospital.

A Special Place--Part Thirty-six--Michael

I couldn't believe how interested Shawn McKay and his three skinhead buddies seemed to be in the exhibition. It was also strange that their girlfriends were not with them, but standing on the steps outside. Usually they were attached to the side of their "men" as if they had been born siamese twins. Not only did the four keep asking me questions, but also Luke. Every time Luke got a few feet away, one of them would call to him with a question.

It took them so long to get through the exhibition that all the other students had gone outside, leaving only the Fellowship and some of Bill's friends from the basketball team inside. We were finally ready to go into the fourth gallery, the one with the painting of Matt. As I always did, I stood back in order to allow those viewing the painting to receive the full impact of it. Suddenly Shawn McKay reached into his pocket and pulled out a long knife. Before I knew what was happening, he slashed the painting. I rushed toward him just as he turned and lunged at me with the knife. As he did, my world turned red and pain I could not have imagined took over my entire being. I fell to the floor and it seemed as though the pain and the red were all of my world. I heard voices at first, but they soon faded away. As the voices faded, the red started turning to gray, then black. I was alone and I didn't know where. I was only conscious of the pain then... nothing except blackness and pain.

A Special Place--Part Thirty-six--Luke

When we got to the hospital, there were about fifty students outside, standing holding hands, heads bowed. When we got inside, we found Mary Kathryn, Mom and Dad, and Yong Jin and Greywolf in a waiting room. "David and Margaret insisted on being in the operating room," Mom said. "The doctors tried to keep them out, but finally let them go. We have heard nothing."

Larry and Eugene, Matt and I were standing, each holding his love. "Matt, if I hadn't done that painting..." I said, as I felt the tears rolling down my face.

"If I hadn't kissed you in front of all those students..." Matt said through his tears.

"Stop! Stop that nonsense! You are not responsible for what happened to Michael. Don't you dare start being guilty for being in love and letting it show," Larry said. "Don't you dare get yourself into the trap I fell into. Even though I did something terrible, I have had to get rid of the guilt. It will eat you alive and for what? It has been a long, hard struggle for me to finally forgive myself for what I did to Eugene. Don't you two even start. Don't even start collecting and holding on to guilt. Shawn McKay attacked Michael--not you two."

"He's right, you know," Jens said. "I have been down that path and I can tell you, it accomplishes nothing. You didn't do anything to feel guilty about."

As he was talking, Chelsea came into the room with David and Margaret. "These two need to be out here. There's nothing they can do in there except make things harder on the doctors who are working to save Michael." It was the Chelsea of no nonsense who spoke and it was easy to see that she was not taking anything off of David and Margaret.

David sat down with is head in his hands, weeping while Margaret sat beside him, stroking his hair. "To be honest," Margaret said, "it doesn't look good. They have finally got the bleeding somewhat under control, but Michael lost so much blood, he is barely alive. The hospital is out of his blood type and no-one wants to try giving him universal donor blood until it is absolutely necessary."

Chelsea had left the room and when she returned said, "Dr. Bai... Andrews, there is a whole line of kids waiting to give blood. Parents are arriving, offering to give blood and to give permission for their kids to give blood. The lab is flooded. If you are up to it, could you lend a hand?" Margaret was out of the room like a bullet.

We waited--can anything be more difficult than waiting in a hospital?

An hour or so later, Gladys appeared. "There's a bit of good news. There were several people who had the right blood type and the cross matches are ok. Michael is getting the blood he needs and seems to be responding to it. He's nowhere close to being out of the woods, but we no longer have to worry about the blood supply--at least for now."

"Luke, we haven't offered to give blood," Matt said.

"Nor have we," Eugene said.

David raised his head and said, "Larry, Eugene, I don't want to hurt you, but one of the questions you will be asked is whether or not you have had sex with a man. Eugene, it is known that you have--without your consent--so your blood will not be accepted."

"Neither will mine," Larry said, hanging his head.

"There's nothing to be ashamed of," David said, "it's a precaution which, in your case I am sure is unnecessary, but there is no need for you to have to be subject to the questions and refused. You have my heartfelt thanks for your willingness to give blood."

Matt and I went out and joined the line of those waiting to give blood and Larry and Eugene joined the vigil.

The hospital was taking blood from all who offered, but the supply for Michael was still very small. Why didn't he have a common blood type?

When Matt and I reached the nurse doing the forms, she asked if we had had sex with a man in the past two years. When we both answered "No," she looked up in surprise. "I guess you now see how a stupid assumption--which apparently you had--can hurt and maybe kill," Matt said through clinched teeth. I thought she would apologize, but she didn't.

When we took our forms to the next person, he said, "There seems to be some question about your giving blood. I'll need to check this". As he got up to leave, Margaret came out of the lab. "Dr. Bailey--I mean Andrews, would you check these forms please?"

As soon as Margaret looked at them, I could see steam coming out of her ears. In a cold, calm voice she said, "They have my clearance". Then, after signing the forms, she walked over to the woman who had questioned us and said, "Come with me!" When Margaret came back, the woman was no longer with her and someone else took over her job.

Neither Matt nor I had the right blood type, but we donated blood nevertheless. After we had sat for the required length of time, we walked back to the waiting room, drinking our OJ. Chelsea was there. "Good to see you two. I have news which I was just about to tell everyone. The bleeding is under control and the surgeons are doing the repairs. There was some leakage from the bowel, so there is still a danger of a major infection. Fortunately, Michael appears to have no allergies to antibiotics and the IV antibiotics have been started. After the doctors got the bleeding from the cut on his face stopped, they did nothing else, waiting for the plastic surgeon from Lexington to arrive. He is here, but hasn't started work yet because the other wounds are more critical. There will probably be no more news for an hour or so if you want to stretch your legs or whatever. Also, Gladys and I are making reports to Millie's place and to the students outside."

Matt and I decided to go see and thank the students. Outside it was obvious that most of those holding the vigil had given blood because they had the telltale bandaid. Others got up when students returned from giving blood and went to give theirs. As soon as we were outside, the members of the Fellowship came over. "Chelsea and Gladys have kept us informed," Bill said. "It looks a bit brighter than I expected. When I saw Michael lying in that pool of blood, I thought he was already dead. Thank God, I was wrong."

We talked about what had happened and, once again, Matt and I were chided for taking blame. "I have told everyone my house is headquarters until Michael is out of danger," Eugene said. "Millie is sending over sandwiches and drinks for those participating in the vigil. Mr. Stephenson and Uncle Michael came by to offer food and beds to any who wanted them during the night."

When we went back into the hospital waiting room, there was no more news. We sat, waiting with David, Mom and Dad, and Yong Jin and Greywolf. After another hour or so, Dr. Walker came down the hall to the waiting room. He did not look at all happy. "I'm afraid I have some bad news. Michael has taken a turn for the worse. The doctors have done all they can do, but I'm afraid... I'm afraid we are going to lose Michael. I'm very sorry. Everything seemed to be going so well and the plastic surgeon was ready to start work on his face when everything seemed to go wrong. No-one is sure why, but it looks bad, very bad."

Suddenly I had the strangest feeling--I don't mean from the news. It was hard to describe. I looked at Matt and saw a very strange look in his eyes as though he was feeling something as well. In a voice I hardly recognized as Matt's he said, "Dr. Walker, Luke and I need to go to Michael".

"You know that cannot be... well, that is very irregular Matt but I have seen you perform a miracle before and, frankly, there is nothing else we can do. Come with me." He led us down the hall and into the operating room where there were several doctors standing, looking at Michael and the monitors. "Doctors, this is Matthew Greywolf and Luke Larsen. Had Matt not performed what I consider a miracle, Luke would no longer be with us. They have asked to come here and I see no reason not to permit it. Guys, get washed up and the nurses will provide you with gloves, gowns and masks."

As we were washing up, I asked Matt, "Matt, what are we doing? Why are we here?"

"I don't know, Luke. I simply don't know, but when Dr. Walker was talking, I had the strangest feeling and felt like you and I had to go to Michael." I didn't answer, but I knew what he meant.

When we went back into the operating room, the doctors watched as we moved toward Michael. Of course he was hooked up to all kinds of things, his face had a compress on it and he looked dead. Purely and simply, he looked dead. Matt walked to the other side of the operating table and when he did, took off the gloves the nurse had given him. I followed suit. Two doctors started toward us, but Dr. Walker held them back. Matt touched Michael's left foot with his hand and placed his other hand on the side of Michael's head. As he did, he looked as though an electric charge had passed through his body. I had no idea what was going on, but again followed suit. I couldn't believe how cold Michael's foot was when I touched it with my hand. As my other hand approached his head, I felt as though something was flowing through me and into Michael. I could feel myself growing weaker as the flow continued. I closed my eyes, concentrating on--what?--I didn't know. Gradually I began to feel pain and my world was turning red... then... nothing. The next thing I knew, I was on a gurney with Gladys standing over me. "What happened?" I asked.

"I'm sure I don't know," she replied. "You and Matt went into the operating room with Dr. Walker and then you were wheeled out on gurneys, unconscious."


"He's with Chelsea right over there. I think he's coming around too. I don't know whether it was the blood you gave--that shouldn't have made any difference--or the sight of Michael, or what, but apparently you two fainted. You haven't eaten all day, have you?" I shook my head, but I knew that wasn't the reason for our passing out. "Now just lie still for a while. You seem to be ok, but I don't want you passing out on me. We've got to get some food into you soon."

I was very tired and sleepy and slowly drifted off to sleep. As I did, I felt the pain again and my world turned red as it had done when I touched Michael, but it was not as bad.

A Special Place--Part Thirty-six--Michael

I didn't know where I was or what was happening. All my world was red and smoke and pain--horrible, terrible pain. More than anything, I wanted to be out of pain. I wanted the darkness of the smoke to cover me and take away the pain. Slowly, beginning at my feet, the smoke covered me. It seemed to be entering my body, replacing it. As it did, the pain went away. Soon it would be over, the pain would be gone. Soon, soon, please soon. As the smoke whirled around me, it covered, then entered my stomach where the pain was terrible and the pain went away. "Please, take it all away," I cried to myself, for I was alone. Just before the pain completely vanished and I drifted into the smoke to sleep, I felt a presence--no, there were two--approaching. They wanted to bring the pain back! I tried to scream, but it was like a nightmare; I could make no sound. "Please go away! Take the pain away!" I wanted to cry, but no sound came.

Suddenly, the presences I had felt approaching reached out and touched me. There was a blinding flash of light and in it I saw Matt and Luke, dressed as Lakota medicine men, reaching out and touching me. Again and again, lightening bolts came from their hands and ripped through my body. The pain was terrible! With each lightening bolt, Matt and Luke became smaller until, finally, they disappeared, leaving me in body-wracking pain. The smoke was gone and, as it disappeared, I saw Mary Kathryn, holding our son out to me. Then nothing.

A Special Place--Part Thirty-six--Matt

As I had told Luke, I didn't know why we needed to go to the operating room or what we were to do when we got there, but I knew we had to go. When we were all properly prepared, we approached the operating table where Michael lay. Without thinking--how would I know what to think?--I took off the gloves that covered my hands and Luke did likewise. When we touched Michael, I felt as though a tremendous lightening bolt shot through my body and into Michael's. As I continued to hold his foot and with my hand to the side of his head, the lightening bolts continued, each one leaving me in greater pain and definitely weaker. Energy or something was leaving my body and being replaced by pain--horrible, terrible pain. Everything turned red. I saw nothing except red--the red of blood. It seemed as though blood was pouring over me, covering my eyes until all I could see or imagine was blood, red blood, and all I could feel was pain. I felt myself growing weaker and weaker, then nothing.

When I came to, I was lying on a gurney outside the operating room with Chelsea standing over me. "Here, drink this," she said, handing me a cup. I was almost too weak to raise up so she placed a hand behind my head and lifted it from the pillow and held the cup to my lips. When I had drunk the liquid, I lay back down, exhausted. As I drifted off to sleep, I saw that red world again and felt the pain, but it wasn't as bad as it had been when I touched Michael.

When I waked up, Luke was half sitting, half lying on the gurney beside me. He bent over and kissed me softly as he whispered, "Sarang Hanun Pomul, what happened in there?"

"Yonghon Tongmu, I wish I knew what and how and why, but I don't. I don't know anything about it. I just knew we had to do it."

"Well, I see you're awake now, Matt. What happened?" Gladys asked.

"As I just said to Luke, I don't know what or how or why anything happened except I knew we had to go to Michael. Is there any news?"

"Nothing since you went in. Wait a minute, here comes Dr. Walker now with the chief surgeon."

"Matt, Luke, I don't know what went on in there..."

"Neither do we," Luke and I said at the same time.

"Well, maybe we will know something later, but I suspect not. By the way, this is Dr. Martinez, the surgeon who was working on Michael."

We shook hands as Dr. Walker said, "I have told Dr. Martinez about how you pulled Luke out of the grave and he wanted to meet you".

"Matt, Luke, I have been witness to some strange things in my life, but I think your--what?-- performance in the operating room has to be one of the strangest. I would hate for my colleagues to hear me say it--they would laugh me out of town--but as soon as you two touched Michael, I saw a strange light pass from you to him. I don't know what was going on, but I will tell you that, while he is not out of danger by a long shot--he is still in very very critical condition--there is hope, and reason for hope. It was very strange to see you two pass out as he grew stronger. He is almost--almost--stable. If he stays as stable as he is, I think the plastic surgeon will risk working on his face. If Michael is stable enough--and that's still a big if--I only hope he can do a decent job because the cut is deep and I'm afraid it damaged some nerves--but the major thing is that Michael live. Now he may make it. I'd just like to know what you did."

"So would we," Luke said quietly.

Dr. Martinez, once again, said how puzzled he was and he and Dr. Walker went back to the operating room.

"Chelsea, these two have eaten nothing today. They shouldn't have given blood in their condition, but I think we need to order them to go home--or to Millie's--and get some food and rest," Gladys said. "I promise we will call you if there is any news at all."

Chelsea said, "I think we need to get the family to go as well, at least to eat".

Well, who can deny Chelsea AND Gladys? The Fellowship was gathered together and joined by the family. "We're going to Millie's for food and a bit of rest," Jens said. "I think you and Margaret should come as well." David refused.

Margaret was determined to stay with him until Yong Jin took her in hand. "You have been working like a dog and I know you haven't gotten any rest or food. You're coming with us."

"I am not leaving David here alone with our son," she said most emphatically. "Our son," she had said. I guess you can plan not to be a mom to someone, but then you find out you are.

"Margaret, for the sake of yourself and your twins, at least take long enough to put your feet up for a few minutes and get some food. I'll stay with David," Jens said. She was reluctant to leave but, after a soft kiss from David, which turned quite passionate, she left with us.

After we had eaten and Margaret had relaxed as well as she could for half an hour--at least she put her feet up and, when she did, I noticed they were swollen from the hours she had been standing and walking--she was determined to go back to the hospital. Greywolf took her. The rest of us were sprawled out on chairs and on the floor in the living room. There was very little being said--I am sure all of us were buried in our own thoughts.

A Special Place--Mary Kathryn

I was glad I was surrounded by people who cared about me and about the love of my life Michael. They all loved Michael for sure, but I didn't just love Michael. Michael was my very life. My every heartbeat was because Michael loved me. And now... well, there was hope, but... I don't think I could live without Michael and his love. I felt myself slowly sinking into hopelessness as I thought about life without my man. There would be no life without him. I could feel tears forming again--I thought I had long ago cried until there were no more tears.

Luke must have noticed because he got up from where he was sitting between Matt's legs and walked over to me and put his arms about me. "Sis, Michael will make it. Remember, you and he had a son. Just remember that. A dead man does not father children. Michael will make it. I know it." As he gave me a hard Luke squeeze, Millie came into the room with a tray of sandwiches and drinks. We had eaten only a short time before but teens are always hungry, I guess, and all of us had missed lunch.

"I'm taking this into the library," she said. "There has just been an announcement from WLEX that a student had been attacked in Concord today and LaTasha Jackson was on the way to cover the story. You know the rest, 'Film at 11:00'. It's 10:30 now so you may want to go upstairs to Eugene's to watch or come into the library with me."

"Millie," Luke said, "I know we're supposed to be adults and I'm sure you suggested Eugene's place thinking we might like to be alone--alone together I mean--but, to tell the truth, I don't feel too adult right now and would like a mom around." Heads nodded all around.

Millie got misty eyed as she said, "Luke, I have never been more honored".

As we started to the library, the doorbell rang. When Millie went to the door, she came back with Uncle Michael. "I left John to take care of the students coming over from the vigil," he said. "When I heard WLEX was doing a report tonight, I felt I should be here with you since the parents are at the hospital." Before he had finished speaking, he was being hugged by the whole group.

As we got settled with the sandwiches and drinks, waiting for the news, the phone rang. Everyone froze. I guess in such situations, you always expect the worst. Millie answered the phone and her whole body relaxed almost immediately but, just as quickly, it became rigid as she got a stricken look on her face.

Ok, so you don't like cliffhangers. Well, sometimes they just have to. Without this one, Part Thirty-six would be as long as all parts of Part Thirty-five and you wouldn't like waiting either. After the struggle with Part Thirty-five, the story seems to be rolling again so I hope to get back to the part per week schedule--or close to it.

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