You Are My Bad Boy - Chapter 33: THE END
The newspaper for today lies spread eagled on the table.
My father’s face, bruised purple from my own fist, grainy mugshot blown huge across the front page.
“FATHER WHO SHOT SON’S BOYFRIEND SENTENCED TO LIFE”
I haven’t read it yet.
I can hear quiet hum of cars from the road, and the sound of voices from outside the door, but the room itself is quiet.
His face is paler than I’ve ever seen it.
He could almost be a wax statue, lying there, under the starchy sheets they put on him, his hair like a oil spill on the pristine pillow. His crucifix lies on his chest – someone must have put it back on him.
The door opens. In comes my mother, even more haggard than usual. She is carrying a tray, along with a vase of white and green flowers.
She looks at me. Her eyes are soft and warm.
She turns, and sees the newspaper. She stares for a moment, then flips it upside down.
“16 SHEEP RUN LOOSE ACROSS AMBICTON, ONE IS CALLED JOSEPH”
it now reads. My mother places the flowers next to it. It is a relatively small bunch, compared to the rest. All from girls he has never talked to – all ages, maybe they’ve also seen him on the news – and moms, so many moms. A whole garden blooming through the room, the smell so intense that the window has to stay open at all times. That’s ok, though, because the temperature has been warming. Summer is coming.
My mother comes over and hands me the tray. “You need to eat. ” She says, gentle, like I’m made of glass.
The tray has a sandwich, an apple, water, and a multivitamin.
“Thanks, mom. ” I say, and place it on the seat next to me.
She puts a hand on my shoulder, squeezes hard. She leaves.
I don’t touch the food.
The sun is pouring in through the window. It is tinted green, because there is a giant sycamore outside the window.
He is so beautiful. He always will be. He doesn’t look comfortable, so still and stretched out like that on the bed.
His eyes open, fix on me.
Something is bubbling up inside me.
“Hi, motherfucker, ” I say.
His eyes are like dark jewels. A slow grin creeps across his face, showing those white, white teeth.
There are no doubt a lot of drugs in his system. He breathes in, hard. His chest expands and then falls slowly beneath the sheets. He blinks at me, trying to stay awake.
I can’t stop my smile. He turns his head towards me on the pillow, just as his eyes slide closed again. The nurse said he would be free to go next week – that’s when college applications will be coming in.
I might be imagining it, but his face seems to have a bit more colour. I get up, cross the room over to him. I bend down and press my lips to his brow. His skin is warm. I fix his crucifix so that Jesus is facing the right way.
I have changed my mind. There is something gone from me now. A fear.
I pick up the flipped-over newspaper, and begin to read.