In this confession, I read a story that I wrote about four years ago, and confess the origins of the characters therein. The narrative of this story is driven primarily by dialogue, and the reader (or listener, in this case) is left wondering why the characters were put in the described situations, in the first place.
Rain Was Coming Down Hard
Rain was coming down hard, and soaking my clothes through completely, the night cold and the glare of cars’ headlights blinding and disorienting. I was out of breath, scared for my life, unsure of where exactly I was, and they were still chasing me. I darted right and raced down a short narrow road lined with houses on each side, then cut through a back yard, jumping a fence and arriving in a cul-de-sac, and the Hawkwood apartment complex. I remembered now, Matt lived here, I had driven him home from work a couple times. We were more than friends, but not much more than that; the extent of our interactions were animated conversations, playful jabs at one another, and awkward stares at work. I’d never actually been inside his apartment, but I knew which side of the building it was on and which door it was, from walking him up one night. I had to move quickly.
“Please be home, please be home,” I thought to myself as I ran to the bottom of his window. “HELP,” I yelled, “MATT!” A window opened on the top floor of the building in front of me: Matt looked out, obviously confused.
“Brandon?” he asked, “What the hell...”.
“Over here! I found him!,” yelled some of the men who’d given chase just minutes before.
“Let me in, I’ll explain later,” I yelled up to Matt as I started for the stairs that led to his door.
As I rounded the landing halfway up the staircase, one of the men caught sight of me, and made a b-line to the first flight of stairs. Redoubling my speed, I ascended the second flight two steps at a time and sprinted toward the door, which flew open as I approached the threshold. As I entered, Matt slammed the door shut behind me, and locked the deadbolt. I fell to my knees, desperately gasping for breath.
“I don’t think they’re gonna want to leave without a fight,” I said through ragged breaths as I looked up at Matt, who was sliding the magazine into a handgun.
“What the hell is going on, Brandon? Who are those guys?” Matt asked me in an only slightly exaggerated tone. He seemed surprisingly calm, given the circumstances.
“I can explain later,” I said as I got back to my feet. “Please don’t use that unless you have to, Matt,” I urged, pointing to the gun in his hands. Matt’s roommate walked into the room then, holding his own pistol with what looked like the trained comfort that comes only from experience and familiarity. He positioned himself on the side of the peninsula counter farthest from the door and squatted so as to have the best possible cover. Matt instructed me to follow him into the kitchen, and stay behind him, which I readily obeyed. The men then began banging on the door, and I could see the door frame move with each pounding blow. Following quickly after a brief pause in the battering, the door flew open with such force as to tear half the casing away from its threshold. The first man to enter saw Matt at his flank and threw himself at him. As they fought, a second man ran into the living room and was met by Matt’s roommate, who’d drawn his gun and was aiming for the would-be assailant’s chest.
“I will shoot!” yelled Matt’s roommate. The man started toward him. He fired. The man fell to the ground, and, seeing their accomplice, the other men fled. This offered enough of a distraction for Matt to subdue his attacker with a swift right hook. The man was thrown into the wall to his side, which he slowly slid down into an uncomfortable heap, unconscious. Matt then ran to the living room and knelt by the man his roommate had just shot.
“Thomas get my medic pack. Orange bag on the bottom shelf.” Thomas, as I now knew him, ran to Matt’s room and returned seconds later with what looked like a large orange duffel bag.
“Gloves,” Matt instructed. “Get the scissors and a roll of gauze, cut his shirt and pack that wound. Great, now get another gauze pad and keep pressure on it.” As he instructed Thomas, Matt checked the man’s pulse and whether or not he was breathing. “Okay, put a lot of pressure on, I’m gonna have to do CPR, he’s not breathing. Brandon…Brandon!” I’d slipped into a daze as I watched the men fight to keep the other alive. “Brandon!” I finally heard, “Brandon, call 9-1-1, tell them a man’s been shot. Tell them he has a week pulse and he’s not breathing. Tell them you’re gonna put them on speaker so I can talk to them.”
“Sir, what is the address?” Asked the operator over the phone.
“I’m at 315 Osage street, apartment C,” Matt replied through heavy breaths.
“Where in that residence are you located?” The operator continued.
“I’m in the living room with two friends. There’s a second assailant unconscious by the door.”
“Okay sir, police and EMS are on the way. Have any firearms in plain sight, and away from yourself, unless you are actively subduing your assailant. When the police enter, please comply with all their requests. Do you need any further assistance?”
“Okay sir. Remain calm, help will be there in a few minutes.” The operator hung up.
“Okay, Brandon, I need you to tie that guy’s hands.” Matt motioned toward the man he’d knocked out. “There’re some zip ties in the closet.” Matt once more motioned with a nod, to a closet on the hallway. “Quickly,” he urged.
I ran from the closet to the man by the door and, with some effort, pulled his arms behind his back and zip tied them together. I also tied his feet so he couldn’t run if he woke up before the police arrived. When I walked back over to Matt, he told me to sit with my hands in my lap so the police wouldn’t try to subdue me. As I knelt, the world seemed to spin around me. Then dark edges kept in around my vision, narrowing my field of view until I could see nothing more than Matt’s concerned expression. He silently mouthed something, then everything went dark.
I awoke with a sharp pain pushing into my side. I reached down to find a bandage taped to me, and several pillows keeping me from rolling to my left. I laid on my back and breathed a heavy sigh. On the nightstand to my right, I noticed a piece of yellow paper folded into a house shape with my name on it. The other side of the page read, “Hey bud, take it easy and don’t lay on your left side. You got a pretty good cut. I’ll be in the living room if you need anything, just call me. My number’s in your phone.”
“Lovely,” I said as I put the paper back on the nightstand and reached for my phone. As I did, there came a light knocking on the door.
“Hey, you up? Can I come in?” Matt asked from outside the room.
“Yea, I’m up. Come in,” I replied as I tried to sit up.
Matt opened the door quietly and entered the room, then rushed over to help me up.
“Easy, man. You’re gonna tear your stitches. There.” He put a pillow behind me so I could lean back more comfortably. “Are you Hungry?” He asked.
“A little bit. I’m more thirsty than anything.”
“Okay. I made some breakfast, so I’ll bring you some of that and a glass of water. Oh, uh, on a scale of one to ten, how bad does that cut hurt?”
“Like a 4, maybe. I’m fine, Matt,” I answered with a smile and a slight chuckle. “But thank you.”
“Alright, I’ll be right back,” he replied as he turned to leave. “Don’t go anywhere.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it.”
I watched Matt leave, then stared at the doorway as he turned down the hallway and out of sight. I tried to recall something from the last several hours, but it was no use. My mind was clouded by pain and exhaustion, and the stress I’d endured the night previous. I could hear Matt rummaging around in the kitchen, cursing lightly as he dropped something. He returned moments later with a small tray containing a plate of scrambled eggs and sliced ham, a small bowl of fruit, a glass of water, a fork, a knife, and a napkin, all arranged as if the very same dishes and cutlery were on a set table. I gave him an inquisitive look, raising one eyebrow.
“Ya’ know, if I’d known you would treat me like this, I’d’ve gotten stabbed months ago,” I said sarcastically.
“Heh. If you wanted to be treated like this, all you had to do was ask,” Matt replied Kindly, but matter-of-factly. “And you weren’t stabbed, you were cut.”
He set the tray down on the bed, its legs keeping suspended above my own. Then he walked over to a shelf, pulled down a heavy duty plastic case, pulled a small pill bottle from it, then placed the box back onto the shelf. He walked over and sat down on the bed, opposite the tray from myself, and handed me a small white pill.
“What’s this?” I asked as he dropped the pill into my hand.
“Aspirin. Just something for that cut and those stitches to not hurt as much. Speaking of which, I need to take a look at that. When you’re done eating, of course.”
“I feel like I’m in a hospital; albeit a really comfortable hospital. Where did you learn how to do this?” I asked as I pointed to my side. “The stitches, I mean?”
“I was a medic in the army. I was deployed one time, saw a lot of people die, and decided it wasn’t something I wanted to be a part of. So, I left. Came back home.”
“So about last night -”
“Eat first,” Matt interrupted me, “then we can talk about that. Do you need me to bring you anything?”
“I’m okay for now. Thank you, though.”
“You don’t have to thank me. I’m sure you’d help me out if I needed it.”
“I’m not sure I’d be able to beat a guy up like that. Or give you stitches. And my roommates definitely wouldn’t shoot someone to protect you. How is that guy, by the way?”
“He’ll live. He’s in the hospital still, obviously. Unfortunately he’s not well enough to answer any questions, and the guy you tied up probably isn’t talking. But like I said, we’ll talk about that later.”
Matt got up to leave, but before he turned away from me, he asked me once more if I needed anything.
“Can you stay here?” I asked, not making eye contact. “I don’t want to be alone.”
Matt sat back down on the bed, but this time he pushed himself back against the wall perpendicular to the one I was leaning on, grabbing one of the pillows I wasn’t using. As I ate the food he brought me, we talked similarly to how we would at work, except this was different; this was more natural and relaxed. This man, whom I barely knew, and who’s bed I was resting in, felt familiar to me in a way nobody ever had.
“Hey, wait. You undressed my last night?”
“Well how else do you think you got in those clothes? I needed your shirt off to stitch you up anyway, and your clothes were soaked, so I gave you some of mine.”
“You didn’t see anything, did you?” I asked shyly.
“No. I only changed your shirt and pants, and removed your socks and shoes. Would it have been a problem if I had seen something?”
“Uh…” I smiled nervously.
“While you think of an answer, lay on your right ride so I can redress your wound. This might hurt a little.” He pealed back the tape which held the gauze pad over the wound. The gauze stuck to a bid of dried blood, which he tried to pull off gently.
“Just pull it,” I said. “I told you it didn’t hurt that much.”
He did as I said, and I winced as the pad removed a small scab that’d formed near one of the sutures. As he cleaned the wound and redressed it, I began thinking. Would I have really had a problem if he’d seen me naked? He didn’t remove my clothes to be some sort of creep; he did it because my clothes were wet, and, I’d imagine, bloody. Plus, I was comfortable being around him, anyway. But still, he wasn’t my boyfriend, he was jus a friend. More than just a friend? Such matters are often complicated, and nearly anything could be considered inappropriate under the right, or wrong, circumstances.
“There,” he said, interrupting my train of thought. “That should be okay until tomorrow. The stitches look like they’re holding well enough for you to move around gently. Here, I’ll help you up.” He put his arm behind my back and wrapped it under my opposite arm. As I stood, so did he, and with his help, I walked to the bathroom door.
“I think I can handle this on my own,” I said with a smirk.
later that night, after we’d eaten dinner and I was back in Matt’s bed, we sat like we had that morning, talking and prodding at one another until we could no longer evade the embrace of sleep. Matt stood up and turned to go, and, just as before, hesitated to leave the room. He walked back to the bed and knelt down beside me, not speaking, and with an almost nervous expression on his face.
“Are you okay, Matt?” I asked as I turned to face him.
“Yea. I just…” he whispered. As his voice trailed of, he leaned toward me, and kissed me on the cheek. Before he could pull away, I put my hand on the side of his face and kissed him once more.
“Goodnight, Matt,” I whispered.
“Goodnight, Brandon,” he replied as he stood to leave. He walked to the door, turned off the light, and walked into the hallway, quietly closing the door behind him.