Once Was Lost Ch. 04bytaylorreed©
He eventually got a ride back to the hospital and with a few minutes to spare. He wished he had gone back to the hotel and had a shower and changed his clothes but oh well...It wasn't as if this was a real date and truthfully there was something off about Justin.
A loud shout made Stephen jump and he turned to see a freshly showered Justin walking towards him. My God he was one good looking guy. He didn't even have to try and probably would look just as good in a sack. Justin walked up to him and ushered them to his car. Stephen ignored the uneasy feeling in his gut.
Don't be stupid. He told himself. It's still light out and they were going to eat not out on some deserted road in the middle of no where.
While they rode in silence to wherever it was they were going, Stephen glanced around the inside of the car. Looking for little signs that this guy was a fruit loop. What he expected to find he had no idea. A bloody axe or some rope maybe? He laughed a little.
Justin turned to him. "What? What's funny?"
Stephen realized he had laughed out loud. Crap! "Oh nothing. I was just thinking about this place I hung out at for a little while today. Talk about cheesy. Wood paneling and fake cow horns. Good beer though."
Justin smiled a little. "Was it called The Steakhouse by any chance?"
"That's actually where we're going. I know the atmosphere is probably not what you're used to. Being a city boy and all that but the food is amazing. Unless of course you want to drive for the next three hours to somewhere bigger?" There was a smile on Justin's face but Stephen saw that it didn't extend to his eyes.
"No...that's ok with me. I enjoy a good steak and I know the air conditioning works there too. I just wish I had time to grab a shower. I must stink by now."
Justin glanced over at him. "You look good enough to me." There was that cold smile again.
Stephen was relieved to finally get to The Steakhouse and jumped out of the car before Justin had even turned it off. He saw that now there were quite a few more people but then anywhere cool was going to be popular..Good food or not.
They walked in and Justin took the initiative and led them to a small booth in a quiet corner. A waitress came over to take their drink order and Stephen surprised himself by ordering a shot as well as a beer. Justin eyed him almost warily. "You like a drink then?"
It wasn't a question, more of a statement. Stephen shrugged and gazed absently at the menu. "It's been a long, hot day; and it certainly didn't start off too great so I guess I need something to take the edge off."
The waitress came over with their drinks and Stephen took his shot in one swallow and chased it with his beer. He noticed his hands shaking a little and hoped the alcohol would alleviate some of that. He had no idea why he was reacting to Justin this way but his gut was usually spot on.
Justin waved the waitress back over and ordered a steak medium rare. Stephen asked for his to be cremated. There was no way he could eat anything remotely pink and hoped he could stand to watch Justin eat his that way. They both choose fries and the house salad to finish the meal off.
Stephen looked around, frantically thinking of something they could talk about. "So Justin, how long have you been a paramedic for?" Pretty lame but any port in a storm huh.
Justin sipped on his beer before answering. " Well I won't say what everyone expects you too about wanting to help people and blah blah. My motive was purely selfish. I wanted a challenge. Simple as that. I like the rush I get taking risks. And just in case you hadn't figured it out yet, I'm gay. So picking up guys is easy when you're in uniform." Justin looked at Stephen almost daring him to be shocked.
Stephen took another drink of his beer just to do something other than stare at Justin in disbelief. "Well at least you're honest. So you're the one that helped Adam and his daughter? I knew I recognized you from that news story."
Justin smirked pompously. "Yep that was me. Although by the time we got there it was too late to help the baby and we had to sedate Adam to get his daughter away from him. So you know him well do you?"
Stephen sensed a deeper meaning behind that question and proceeded with caution, trying not to give too much away with his answer. " Yeah. I knew Adam a while ago. Actually we used to be a couple. Then he moved away. I didn't know why at first but now I think I do." Stephen tried to gauge Justin's reaction but like a true poker player he gave nothing away.
Their meals arrived and Stephen once again felt relief at now having another excuse to delay any further conversation.
He woke and once again was given a few seconds of ignorant bliss regarding his circumstances and then the freight train came rollin in and emptiness took over. He wished Stephen would come back. There was so much he had to say, to tell him. He wanted so badly to explain the true reason for the break up but then maybe Stephen already knew?
He was still wondering why Stephen was here at all but said a small prayer of thanks anyway. Maybe this was the universes way of trying to make up for the loss of his daughter. Was this his second chance? He didn't even know how to find Stephen again and hoped that maybe he was staying near by. He called the nurse in. Maybe she knew?
She came running in, fearing some emergency. "Mr. Watts. Are you ok? Are you in pain?"
Yes. Thought Adam. Only not the kind you can cure with a pill.
"Oh. No. I'm ok really. I just wanted to know if you remember that guy that came in this morning? His name was Stephen? Do you happen to know where he went or if he's staying somewhere in town?"
The nurse looked perplexed for a moment. Now she remembered. That was when Mr. Watts had his breakdown and they had to ask that nice gentleman to leave. He looked so upset.
"Well I don't really know sorry. But I do know that Justin was going to take him out for a meal. He nearly ran him over you know."
Now it was Adam's turn to frown. "Justin? Stephen nearly got run over? Well is he ok?"
"Oh you probably don't remember Justin. He's the paramedic that brought you in when your baby....well you know...And yes your friend is ok." The nurse gave him a quick once over. Checking his pulse and blood pressure. "Anything else I can help you with before I go?" She liked Adam even if he was obviously a "little light in the loafers" as her mother used to say. He was a good patient and a good man and her heart ached for his loss.
"Actually yeah. You can tell me when I get to leave. I feel ok physically and now my friend Stephen is here I have someone to look after me so I'm not going to go throw myself under the first bus I see. I know that's what everyone here is worried about. So when do I get out?" He knew she probably wouldn't know and that it was up to his doctor but maybe she could put in a good word on his behalf.
" I don't think it will be too much longer. You're head seems to be doing ok and yes that's true about having someone here for you now. Tell you what, I'll have a word to your doctor tomorrow ok and try to get you out on good behavior. How does that sound?" She had such a warm smile and she reminded Adam of his mother.
She ruffled his hair and he felt like a child again. That was something else he needed to take care of. His own child. The thought of her being in the hospital morgue alone in the dark without him made him want to scream. There were arrangements to be made. Arrangements? It all sounded so cold and impersonal. This was his baby. The one person who had truly loved him unconditionally. She didn't expect him to be perfect just to love her back.
Adam rested against his pillows and allowed the memories to come in. Walking through the park on a rainy day with Lilly squealing in delight whenever a drop trickled down her face. Blowing the fluff from a dandelion flower gone to seed and watching as they floated away on a breeze. Off on some adventure neither of them was privy to.
"Daddy?" Lilly had asked in her high musical voice. "Where do they go when they float away? Do they go to heaven to see mommy?"
Adam remembered that day. Lilly had mentioned her mother only that one time and he was so glad she thought that Susan was in heaven. Of course she was. Where else would she go? Adam had to stop a moment to catch a few stray tears.
" I guess so pumpkin. You know how much mommy liked to do this with you so I think they are her way to help you to remember her. She's up there right now. Looking down on us and smiling. Remember how much she loved to brush your hair?" Lilly nodded. Lost in the memory too.
"There was no one that mommy loved more than you Lilly. I love you too. More than anything." She smiled broadly at this.
This was their game. "More than ice cream with syrup? More than baby lambs and sunny days?" Lilly was giggling now. Everything about her was music to Adam's ears.
Adam scooped her up and rubbed his gruff chin against her baby soft cheek. "More than any of those things. More than mountains of ice cream and a million baby lambs." He twirled her as fast as he dared to. She laughed and screamed with pure happiness. Time stopped for a moment then and Adam knew he would remember this for the rest of his life.
Adam shivered with the memory. The front of his hospital gown soaked with tears. He reached to wipe a few away. He was crying! Then he felt it. That overwhelming sorrow that is a physical pain. It makes you want to smash your head against something just to get it to stop. Adam took a pillow and held it over his face to keep the screaming as quiet as he could. Then he just let loose. The impotent rage and mind-numbing sorrow took him to new depths of pain.
He didn't know how long this cleansing went on but when it was over he felt as though he had run a marathon. Soaked with sweat and tears he went into the small bathroom to wash his face and he found a clean gown in the closet. He looked at himself in the mirror. For the first time since he lost his baby, he felt human.