DARK ROADS – PART 5
Pain, not a dainty light headache or a paper cut, but a sledgehammer hitting the small of my back.
Fierce, mind-numbing pain.
Just focus on breathing. Nothing else matters now. If I stopped breathing now, I would lose consciousness. Although unconsciousness sometimes can be nice. I would also wake up with a raging headache.
I tried to gather a few thoughts.
It starts that way. Agonizing pain in the small of my back and then, like a glass window, my back would shatter while pain crawls outward in all directions in a spiderweb formation.
Down was not too bad. It stopped soon, above the legs.
Left and right. There was no room to go anywhere.
But up? Oh up!
Slow, agonizing pain crept up and out. It took its time like it was on a holiday cruise.
It slammed the base of my skull and spread down my arms. Creepy crawling bugs that had fire on their feet inched their way to my fingertips.
I grunted a few times, incoherent thoughts, things of the past. The fog settled in.
When it cleared, the pain was stable. Hurt like hell, but was stable.
I’d do anything to make it disappear.
“The Doctor.” My ears heard nothing, so I was sure no one else heard me either. I opened my eyes and attempted to sit up. Instead, I almost threw up. My hands shook and twitched.
The car stopped. Clara and the cop got out of the car. We had arrived at the clinic.
I somehow opened the door. Officer McClury caught me before I fell out.
He picked me up. “I got you. You can relax.”
I felt safe in his arms. I wondered how he would feel about used goods for a girlfriend. McClury carried me to the entrance door.
An older man stood there holding the door open for us. He seemed cold when I looked at him. His eyes were flat, almost lifeless.
McClury carried me through the door and a hallway and placed me into a room with strange devices, most of which looked like they belonged in a science fiction show, and lay me on a stainless steel table. It looked like it could be an operating table.
The older man introduced himself as he ushered us in. “I am Dr. Claude Galven, and who do I have the pleasure of meeting?”
I kept it simple. “Diana.”
I was about to start convulsing. I felt it coming.
Dr. Galven put his hand on my forehead. “We have little time.” He nodded at Clara. “You, you’re her friend. Are you okay with me giving her medication? It will help her.”
I am unsure what happened after that. Consciousness left.
The hurt, the yearning, receded. The ocean of pain swept away like a high tide leaving. Now, this I knew well. The pain traveled even further away. I waited for the amazing bliss that followed.
It didn’t happen. I still felt the pain living in the background. It didn’t go away, as if I placed a mask over it. It was tolerable. More than tolerable. Still a reminder I was not well.
Dr. Galven looked at me. “Feel better?”
“The gnawing is alive, but in the background. It is better, thank you. What is that stuff?”
“You can’t get it over the counter or by prescription. It is a special formula, of which I have a very limited quantity. I shared it with you, as I have a very important topic to discuss with you.”
Dr. Galven pulled back, giving me more space. “I want you to think carefully and clearly about this question. Is anyone or anything more important to you than yourself?”
“What? I am not sure I understand.”
Clara reached for my hand and squeezed it. “I think he means someone like your brother, Brian.”
An unusual look entered the doctor’s eyes as they darkened into an expression I had never seen. It seemed he was searching my soul. It gave me the heebie-jeebies. I felt invaded.
“What about your brother, Brian?” the doc asked.
“My brother and I found ourselves in foster care about seven years ago when our parents died. We were lucky to be kept together. The system does not always allow it. We bounced around a few times. The last foster parents didn’t put on a show. They just told us the plain truth; they were in it for the money. We kept to ourselves and didn’t cause any problems. Everything was fine.
It was until I got involved with the wrong guy. We were at a party, and while I was drunk, he gave me my first…” My eyes tore at the memory. “My first taste of the Big H. After that, my life went downhill.
My foster parents waited a couple of more weeks till my eighteenth birthday and threw me out. My brother is eight years younger than me. He stayed with them. I wanted him to be with me. I tried to get help. Once social services found out about my problem, that dream floated away.”
Tears flowed down my face.
My brother means everything in the world to me.
“What if, purely hypothetical, I saved your brother? I can’t get him into your custody, but I could into Clara’s. She would become his legal guardian. You would live together if you chose.”
I could not see my smile, but I am sure it split my head in two. Is what he suggested possible? I turned to Clara. She was smiling as well. “Would you be alright with that, Clara?”
Clara took both my hands in hers. “We have no place to stay, no income to support him. Things need to be done first.”
Dr. Galven continued, “You can also be free of the drugs and have no physical cravings. It would still be up to you to resist any mental yearnings. Plus, walk away with enough money to purchase a house and a car. I could even arrange a job for you as well.”
Clara’s face turned sour. “Enough, Doctor Galven. You can’t get her hopes up like that. It’s not fair.”
The doc took a step back. He leaned against one of the strange devices in the room. He was settling in for a while. “What about you, Clara? Surely there is something you would like. Maybe not to save someone. If Diana accepts, she won’t need saving. What do you desire?”
Clara’s eyes squinted. “You believe you can do these things?”
“What’s the harm in trying? The worst, nothing works. The best, you get everything, I promise.”
Clara almost laughed and said, “Fine, give me ten million dollars. No, one hundred million.”
Dr. Galven nodded. “Unfortunately, Clara, you can’t afford for me to give you ten million, let alone one hundred. It is beyond what you have to offer. I can get you two million. I could even throw in a job like I offered Diana.”
“Why would I need a job if I have two million dollars?”
“Money does not last forever. With careful planning, the three of you could live comfortably.”
Clara fumed. She had enough. “What’s the catch? You mentioned we had something to offer.”
The doc smiled. “You both do, though you may not like it.”