And whichever journey you embark on,
Don’t let it slip your mind,
Your friends can be your Sherpa’s,
On the Mountain track you climb.
Life always throws a curve-ball,
And you may lose, or maybe saved,
Crisis may lead you up to the stars,
Or drag you to your grave.
From “A Turn of Events” by Ross D. Taylor
~ 28 ~
Brian tried his best to close his eyes and not think about things, even if just for a few minutes. It seemed like for the last hour, everything had hit him like a whirlwind and he didn’t have much time to even think or breathe. He had been walking down that dark road with AJ, seemingly without any sense of direction whatsoever. Feeling so emotionally and physically drained he just wanted to sit down on the side of the road and call it a day. They both had reached their breaking points. Then suddenly out of nowhere two glorious headlights appeared off in the distance. As they got closer, the two friends had looked at each other and then jumped in the middle of the road and started waving their arms like madmen. Brian was fully prepared to be hit by the car because there was no way he was getting off that road unless whatever was coming towards them stopped.
Luckily it was an older man in a pickup truck. At first when they saw the truck a brief moment of irrational panic occurred that maybe it was Tim coming back to kill them, even though it was coming from a different direction entirely.
The man led them both into the car as AJ started to babble about what had happened talking in sentence fragments about car accident’s wolves and kidnappings. It came as no surprise when the man decided maybe they should be brought directly to the hospital. Brian had asked if the man had a phone he could use and was extremely disappointed when he said he didn’t.
The emergency room was pretty quiet when they walked in; only about three people were sitting in the chairs waiting to be seen. All eyes seemed to go to them as they approached the desk. The nurse sitting there barely gave them a second glance as Brian explained they were just in an accident and needed the police. She handed him a clipboard and instructed him to fill out all the information and she’d call him when they were ready to see him.
“This is an emergency.” He had stated.
“Yes, and this is an emergency room.” She answered, snippily.
That’s when AJ lost his cool. “Excuse me!” He said, taking the clipboard that the nurse had given Brian out of his hands and banging it on the front desk with so much force that everyone looked his way. “My friend just told you this was an emergency! We were in an accident and our friends have been kidnapped and we need the police now so tell me what I need to do to make that happen? If I need to start throwing things and make a bigger scene than I am now, just tell me and I will because I am having a BAD BAD FUCKING DAY!!!! SO ACTING A LITTLE CRAZY WILL BE JUST EASY AS FUCKING PIE FOR ME LADY!!”
She finally decided to look up and a moment of recognition hit her, “Oh my God…” She said pointing to both men, “You are the guys from the news.”
That’s when another nurse came out into the lobby, “The Backstreet Boys! You were missing.”
Brian and AJ looked at each other and then back at the nurses, “That’s us.”
The nurse who came out in front, instructed the rude one to call the police as she led them to the back, out of the lobby and into a curtained area. “I guess they did notice we were gone.” AJ said. It was the last time he saw AJ as he was escorted in a wheelchair to be checked out by a doctor.
Brian was also being looked over by another doctor and at least three other nurses who seemed to be doing nothing but staring. “I need to call my wife and let her know I’m okay.” He insisted as the doctor poked at prodded at him. “We’ll take care of that after we get you looked at.” He then ordered a slew of tests and walked out of the room.
Turned out Brian was pretty lucky. He needed about five stitches on his head and was suffering from dehydration and had a hairline fracture of his left wrist, the one that had been trapped. He hadn’t even felt the break until he was told it existed. There was also talk of a possible mild concussion. The doctor decided to admit him. A nurse then handed him a hospital gown and soap and told him he could clean himself up once he got into his room which is where he was now. All clean, and lying in bed. When he got out of the shower, he once again asked if he could call his wife. The nurse informed him that she had been called and was on her way along with the police and the FBI.
He sat there in silence, not sure what he wanted to do with himself. He decided to turn on the TV but nothing was on except infomercials about fast cookers and fat remedies. The clock on the programming channel said it was 4:04. No wonder no one was on the road. He had lost all sense of time, he felt like months had gone by, not just hours. The fact that so much stuff had happened to him in such a short period of time seemed inconceivable.
He just started randomly flipping the channels as he waited for his wife to show up. He felt an odd kind of panic. It was a horrible feeling actually. It was even worse than being stuck in that van for as long as he was. Like he needed to do something to help, but there was nothing to do but wait. He was safe and he was grateful for that, but Nick, Howie and now Kevin were still in the middle of a nightmare. How was that fair exactly? That he and AJ were safe but they were still in danger? He should have offered to go with Tim. He hadn’t even thought to do that once Kevin threw it out there. It wasn’t even on his radar to trade places with his cousin. The same was true when Nick showed up. He didn’t think to say, “You know what, let him stay here, I’ll go with you.”
He had been so angry at them all during the course of the night. Instead of sympathizing and being overly worried, the emotion he had chosen was anger and now that it was being washed away a fresh new coating of guilt was taking its place.
His cousin had sacrificed his own well-being just to give him and AJ a chance to get help and yet, he was angry at Kevin for the accident and blaming him for everything that happened. Brian was thankful when a nurse walked in the room, “Are you all settled in now Mr. Littrell?” She asked as she poured him a fresh glass of water.
“Call me Brian and yes, I am thanks.”
She nodded, “Brian. I will be back shortly to draw some blood and check your vitals. Is there anything you need?”
“Can you tell me how AJ is? He’s the guy I came in with.”
“I believe they are still working on him.”
Brian got nervous when he heard ‘working on him’ “Is he okay? It’s nothing too serious, right?”
She smiled, “How about I go check for you?”
“I’d appreciate that.”
“I do believe he’s going to be your roommate.”
“Great.” He rolled his eyes but in a joking manner. Then there was AJ. He had wanted to kill AJ at one point during the course of the night, and why? He was going through the same things as Brian. Why was it okay for Brian to be angry and sad but not AJ?
He felt like a horrible person. He put his hands to his eyes and started to cry. Just letting everything hit him and hit him hard as he sat in that hospital bed all alone, alone for the very first time since this nightmare happened.
AJ was having his own sense of survivor’s guilt as he waited to be brought up to the room he would soon be sharing with Brian. It turned out he did have one broken rib and one bruised one. He also needed a few stitches right above his eye and was suffering from dehydration as well. Other than that, he was fine, physically anyway. Mentally AJ was having a very hard time keeping it together. He seemed depressed and overly anxious, to the point that a psych consult was called.
The doctor tried to prescribe a Xanax to ease the anxiety he had been feeling but he refused, just as he refused all pain meds for his injuries. That’s how his addiction started in the first place. He didn’t want to go down that road all over again, so he’d endure a little pain and anxiety because the alternative was a lot worse.
It sure was tempting, though.
As he was being wheeled to his room, he closed his eyes and thought about all that had happened to him. He couldn’t believe what he had been through, but that was nothing, NOTHING compared to what Howie and Nick were going through. And now Kevin was added into that mix. It was so weird that what haunted him more than anything wasn’t so much the fact that a person had actually held a gun and pointed it right at him, ready to shoot him dead so much as knowing that three of his best friends were still with that guy. He had made it out alive, but what about them? The chances that he and Brian were able to survive all that had happened had to be some kind of fluke of nature. How would it be possible that Kevin, Nick and Howie would be able to make it out of there alive?
He didn’t like the odds. He didn’t want to think about that but it’s all he could think about. His eyes popped open because he hated that dark place.
“There he is.” A nurse said as AJ was wheeled into the room. “I know you asked me to check on him but I figured he could just tell you how he was doing himself.” She winked at Brian and then walked over to AJ and guided him into the bed.
He grimaced slightly when he was standing straight on his feet but then once he was able to lie down he felt a lot better.
“Hey buddy, how are you feeling?”
He looked over at Brian, “Been better, but at least I feel clean.” He was happy for the sponge bath he had before the psych consult came.
“So the ribs?”
“One was broken, another bruised but long story short… I’ll live.”
AJ noticed the cast, “You broke it?”
Brian nodded, “I guess because of all the anxiety and nervous energy I didn’t even feel it."
AJ let out a sigh, “Do you think they’re okay?” He was looking up at the ceiling, trying to keep his mind from going where it really wanted to go. Thoughts of how much pain Kevin was in when they left him. He was fully aware he had a broken ankle. What else was probably wrong with him they didn’t even know? And then of course Nick, he had looked awful. And no one even knew about Howie.
“I don’t know AJ. All we can do is hope that we give the FBI enough information to get this guy before he does anything to them.”
AJ did look at his friend then, intently actually. “What if we’re too late?” Brian stared at him as he continued, “I mean what if… I’m not sure I can live with that.”
Brian nodded slowly before focusing his attention on the TV again, “I don’t know, AJ.” He paused, flipped channels neither of them were watching and said, “I don’t know” once again.
AJ laid his head back and tried to ignore the pain he felt. He was so tired and wanted to sleep but the guilt of not knowing the fate of the others was preventing that from happening. Plus he knew his wife was on the way. He needed to see her, feel her, and touch her. Maybe she could take away some of the pain, lift some of the burden off of his shoulders.
“We will be able to get through this, right?” He asked Brian once again who seemed to not want to have to think about anything more than how to cook a steak in less than ten minutes.
Before Brian was able to answer, Leighanne, Rochelle and a slew of official looking people entered their room.
AJ smiled for the first time in hours.