A Year of Writing Prompts by Brian A. Klems and Zachary Petit
“An Unexpected injury leads to an equally unexpected family discovery.”
The call came late in the afternoon, while Richard was settling into a lunch to entice a new client to use his company. He had been chasing them for months. Wooing them with gifts that consisted of cookies, flowers, concert tickets. Ultimately it would have put him in the back seat of a limo if he had gotten them. Unfortunately life doesn’t stop moving for anyone else either.
“Mr. Massano?” said a female voice after he had answered the phone call.
“This is he,” he said. He held up a finger, stood, and stepped away from he table. “Can I help you?”
“Mr. Massano, this is Angela calling from Southwest Medical Emergency, I’m sorry to inform you that your partner, Sean, has been injured and is currently in the ICU.”
For Richard it felt as though the floor had a trapdoor he had just triggered. His mind whirred furiously trying to find words, any sound of the English language, to speak.
“Mr. Massano, are you still there?”
“Yes,” he choked. “You said you’re from southwest?”
“I did indeed.”
“I’ll be over immediately.”
Richard faced his potential clients with a pale complexion.
“Is everything alright?” One remarked.
Richard could only shake his head, his mouth agape.
“I’m sorry, gentlemen, this meeting will have to be postponed. I apologize. A family member is in the hospital.”
The balding man, with a snowy Vandyke, held up his hands for a moment.
Richard excused himself and hurried to the hospital.
Normally the trip would have taken just under forty-five minutes, but Richard managed to do it in under ten minutes. The entire journey was a haze for him. All he could think of were the horrible, graphic, scenarios that would have befallen his husband. How badly was he hurt? How did it happen? Will he be okay?
He hustled to the information desk and incquired about his husband, who the nurse explained was on the first floor at the end of the hall.
“In room number one hundred twenty-six.”
With his hands clenched into fists, he stormed through the hallway to the room, where he found his husband of three years laying in a hospital bed. His face was puffy and purple. A cut marred his face from hairline to the bottom corner of his left eye.
“Oh my god,” Richard said, “what happened?”
Sean didn’t lift his head. His eyes stayed fixed on the imperfection of his blanket. His slim fingers picked at it incessantly.
Richard walked around the end of the bed and grabbed a chair. It scraped sharply across the pristine linoleum floor.
“Seany,” Richard said, “Baby, talk to me please.”
His husband glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. His frown began to tremble as a tear jumped to the sheet.
“I don’t want to tell you.” He said.
The sound of the heart monitor filled the silence between the two men.
“When did this happen? Where were you? I thought you were out of town for the day.”
“I was cruising.”
Richard felt like he was falling again. Every muscle in his body tensed and he wanted to scream. He wanted pick the chair up and throw it at the wall.
“This guy, attacked me and stabbed me with a knife. Some kids playing at the park heard me crying for help and got their parents.”
“How could you do this,” Richard said, “Again.”
“I know,” Sean said, shutting his lids. “I deserved this. I am a horrible person. You trusted me, took me back, and all I do is break that love.”
“Yes, you do.”
Sean’s tears ran down his battered and bruised face.
“You didn’t deserve to be beaten, Sean,” Richard said. “But I don’t know how we will be after this.”
Sean nodded his head.
“I just don’t understand. We were doing so well together. Do you not love me? Is it that you just want to cause me more agony? Evidently it’s your goal in life to make sure I never have any happiness.”
“Rich, I promise I love you. This was,” he stumbled over hi words, “this was such a big mistake. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I can’t stop. These places pull me. I love you. I truly, with all of my heart want to be with you. For whatever reason these urges won’t go away.”
“Am I not enough for you?”
“You are,” Sean tried to reach a hand out to him, but the IV tugged at his skin, tethered to his sick bed.
“How long has this been going on?”
Sean covered his face with his hands and sobbed.
Richard couldn’t take the emotion roiling in his chest. It pulled him toward rage. It beckoned him. But that was the last thing he wanted to do. The anger and agony were more than he could bear. The only thing he could think of was to leave, and without another word did just that.
That night his phone seemed to never stop ringing. Eventually he broke down and just turned it off and then unplugged the land line for good measure. The only thing he wanted to think about was his task. He had taken it upon himself to remove every one Sean’s belongings from their marriage room into the spare room. Before the dawn of the next day he had managed to wipe all evidence that another person had shared his room.
He took the next day off. The weight of his pain was too great that he couldn’t get out of his bed. All he could think about was what he didn’t know. How many men had their been? Every line of thinking took him to the conclusion that he was unloveable. Worthless. What other reason could there be?
Then words echoed across his mind. It was what Sean had said, that he couldn’t stop. What did that even mean? That lead him directly to the internet to do a search. Top of the list were the tales of celebrity sex scandals. Their reasoning, sex addiction. He rolled his eyes at the thought. Blaming your inability at fidelity on addiction was preposterous. But for humors sake he found medical journals that published extensive data and research. There was even a book written by a one Doctor Patrick Carnes. He himself suffered from the same mental obsession.
All he could do now was to read the book and attempt to understand.
The following day, Richard dressed in his best jeans and t-shirt, the ones Sean had bought him for his last birthday, and took a trip to the hospital. With a bouquet of his favorite flowers, lilies, he entered his husbands room.
“Hi.” He said.