“Why are we going there?” asked Kyle when he saw the hospital in the distance.
Donnie responded, “It’s the right thing to do.”
“What do you mean, it’s the right thing to do?”
Donnie looked over at the puzzled look on Kyle’s face. “Let me park first, okay. Then we’ll talk about it.” He parked the car in the parking garage, and Kyle walked quietly beside him. He couldn’t understand why Donnie was insistent on seeing Buddy. To his knowledge, Donnie had never met him, and he had only talked to Buddy on a couple of occasions. Besides, he might resent seeing the son of the man who hit him with his car.
When they entered the lobby, Kyle grabbed Donnie’s arm. “Hold on,” he said as he stepped around in front of him. “Why do you want to do this?”
“Because you do,” he replied.
Kyle gave him a puzzled look and exclaimed, “What?”
Donnie looked around, and then led Kyle to a cushioned bench against the wall. After sitting, he turned to Kyle and said, “You’ve got this Buddy guy on your mind. You told me you haven’t been able to sleep for two nights.” Kyle nodded his head. “Besides, he’s one of us. Right now, he probably feels he’s all alone in this world. Maybe he needs our support.”
Kyle reminded him, “He has Andre.”
Donnie replied, “That’s an army of one. Maybe he needs to know more people are on his side. You said his own mother has deserted him.”
“I don’t know,” replied Kyle skeptically. “We can’t just walk in there and start talking to him.”
“Why not?” asked Donnie. “I came up to you in the cafeteria the other day and started talking to you. Now we’re friends.”
Kyle responded, “What if he doesn’t want friends?”
“Too bad,” replied Donnie as he rose and grabbed Kyle’s hand. “What did you say his room number was?”
Kyle kept staring at Donnie as they rode the elevator to Buddy’s floor. He seemed so sure that they were doing the right thing. He, however, was worried that Buddy might tell them to get out of his room when they got there. He knew that if he was in a similar situation, he wouldn’t want strangers visiting him.
When they exited the elevator, they passed the waiting room. Andre was curled up on one of the small leather sofas. His coat was balled into a pillow, and his head was resting on it. He opened his eyes and jumped to his feet when he saw Kyle.
“Hey,” he smiled as he approached. He glanced skeptically at Donnie. “What are you doing here?”
Kyle looked over at Donnie. “This is his big idea,” he replied. He introduced Donnie to Andre, and Andre reluctantly shook Donnie’s extended hand.
“Kyle told me about you,” remarked Donnie. Andre quickly glanced over at Kyle. Donnie laughed and added, “It was all good. Buddy’s lucky to have a friend like you.”
A saddened expression appeared on Andre’s face. “I don’t feel so lucky,” he replied. “Buddy isn’t talking to me.” He walked over and sat down on the sofa. Kyle sat beside him while Donnie pulled up a chair.
Kyle asked worriedly, “What’s wrong?”
Andre sighed deeply before speaking. “You gotta understand Buddy. He’s had a rough life. Nothing’s ever gone right for him.” He looked at Kyle and blinked tears from his eyes. “I’ve been trying to make him dance, you know, make him believe.”
“What?” asked Kyle.
Andre laughed nervously. “Never mind,” he said. “That’s something between me and Buddy.” He looked sadly at Kyle and tears started to fall onto his cheeks. “This time I think he’s really given up.” He started to cry uncontrollably. “He won’t even talk to me. He told me last night to get out of his room. I’ve been lying out here all night.” His head feel onto Kyle’s shoulder as he continued to sob. Kyle looked over at Donnie. He was surprised to see tears in Donnie’s eyes. Hesitantly, Kyle put his arms around Andre and held him.
After a minute, Donnie suggested, “Maybe he’ll feel better if Kyle and I visit him.”
Andre wiped his face and looked over at Donnie. He asked, “Are you a friend of his from school? I don’t remember him telling me about you.”
Donnie smiled nervously and replied, “I’ve never met Buddy.”
“Then why are you here?”
Donnie looked around and then leaned forward. “Okay,” he replied, “This is going to sound a little crazy, but we’re all gay here, right?” Andre and Kyle nodded their heads. “And Buddy is gay, too. Right?”
Andre gave Donnie a puzzled look and asked, “What does that have to do with anything?”
“We’ve got to stick together,” replied Donnie. “When one of us hurts, we all hurt.”
Andre giggled and said, “You sound like me now. Buddy’s always telling me that I’m always too optimistic.” Tears welled up in his eyes. “But sometimes you just got to dance, even when you don’t feel like it.”
“Yeah,” replied Donnie excitedly. Kyle gave them a puzzled look. It was if they were speaking a language he didn’t understand. “Sometimes you gotta dance.” He looked worriedly at Andre. “Do you think he’d want to see me and Kyle?”
Andre replied, “He was in a pretty nasty mood last night. I really doubt it.”
“Too bad,” responded Donnie as he stood. “He’s going to.” He held his hand out to Kyle and helped him to his feet. “Come on.”
Kyle grabbed Donnie’s arm when he started for the door. “Maybe this isn’t a good idea.”
“Why?” asked Donnie. “One of our brothers is lying hurt in a hospital bed. He thinks the world has turned on him. Maybe, just maybe, he needs us.” He grabbed Kyle’s hand. “Let’s go.”
They stopped when they came to Buddy’s hospital room. It was dark inside. Only a small light over the sink was on. Buddy was lying in a fetal position with his back to the door.
Donnie nodded toward Andre, indicating that he wanted him to go into the room first. They followed him as Andre lightly tapped Buddy on the shoulder. “Buddy?” he said softly. “Are you awake?”
Buddy muttered into this pillow, “Go away, Andre. I told you last night not to come around anymore.”
Tears appeared in Andre’s eyes as he said gently, “I brought some friends to see you.”
Buddy sat up, looked at Kyle and Donnie and screamed, “Get out! All of you, get out!”
Andre turned and ran from the room. Kyle hurried from the room to find Andre weeping in the hallway. “See, I told you,” he cried. “I told you he didn’t want visitors.”
Kyle took his hand and led him to the waiting area. He sat beside him on the sofa as Andre wept. Reluctantly, he put his arm around Andre’s back. Andre’s head fell onto Kyle’s shoulder as he continued to cry.
Meanwhile, in Buddy’s room, Donnie and Buddy stared at each other. Finally, Buddy asked, “Who the fuck are you? I don’t even know you.”
“I’m your worst nightmare,” responded Donnie angrily, “if you don’t quit acting like some pissy little drama queen.”
Buddy’s eyes widened, “What? Who the fuck are you? I’m going to call for a nurse to have them take you out of here.” Donnie reached down and grabbed the remote before Buddy could get it.
“Listen,” Donnie responded as he walked over and pulled open the curtains to the room. “It’s like a dungeon in here.” Buddy squinted his eyes as the sun blinded him. Donnie walked over and stood before his bed. “Okay, maybe this wasn’t a good idea, and this whole thing has started badly.”
“Got that right,” muttered Buddy as he tried to sit up in bed. Donnie pulled the pillow from behind him and fluffed it up before replacing it on the bed. Buddy lay back and stared at Donnie. “Why are you here?”
“Fair question,” replied Donnie. He looked down, smiled and said, “I don’t have a fucking clue why I’m here. It’s just something I thought I should do.”
Buddy asked, “Are you Kyle’s boyfriend?” From the time he had entered the room with Kyle, he had assumed that they were perhaps boyfriends. He didn’t understand why Kyle would have the nerve to bring him to his hospital room.
“No,” laughed Donnie. “We’re just friends. In fact, I only met him a couple of days ago at school.”
Buddy asked, “You go to our school?” He couldn’t remember ever seeing him in the halls.
“Yeah,” replied Donnie. “You know, it’s funny but I don’t think I’ve ever seen you before.”
“Yeah, well,” responded Buddy. “I keep a low profile. I ain’t got too many friends there.” He turned his head and pretended to be falling asleep. “Maybe you should go now. You’ve done what you came here to do.”
“No, I didn’t” replied Donnie adamantly. “I came here to be your friend.”
Buddy looked at Donnie angrily and said, “I don’t need no friends. Now why don’t you leave.”
Kyle laughed and said, “There you go, being a pissy little drama queen again.”
Buddy balled his fists and pointed them at Donnie. “If I wasn’t laying up in this bed, I’d knock the shit out of you.”
Donnie laughed again. “Just like you did Brad?”
“You mother fucker!” spat Buddy as he tried to sit up. “I’ll kill you!”
Donnie put his hand on Buddy’s chest and pushed him back onto the bed. “You aren’t going to do anything,” he said as he pulled the cover over Buddy’s chest. “You already said you don’t have too many friends. You can’t go killing off the few you have.”
Buddy turned his head away from Donnie. “You’re an annoying mother fucker, you know that?”
“Yeah,” laughed Donnie. “But I’m your annoying mother fucker. Get used to it.”
“Fuck you,” muttered Buddy.
Donnie laughed again and replied, “Maybe later.”
* * * * * *
After Andre regained his composure, he left and went to the restroom to dry his face. Kyle considered going to what was happening inside Buddy’s room. It had been about ten minutes, and Donnie still hadn’t returned.
He also couldn’t figure out why Donnie was so adamant about visiting Buddy. Maybe Donnie did have the right idea. Do you really have to know someone closely to visit them when they are hurt? After all, Buddy was a classmate. They had sat beside each other in class. Even though they weren’t the best of friends, they still shared a same bond. Donnie was reaching out to Buddy, and he didn’t even know him.
Andre also appeared in need of support. In fact, he seemed much more fragile than Buddy. Buddy seemed like the kind of person who could take care of himself. What little Kyle knew of him, he already appeared to be doing that. Andre, on the other hand, seemed to need someone. He felt that Buddy was probably all that Andre had, and he could tell there was a strong, brotherly bond between them.
He looked up and smiled when Andre walked back into the room. He appeared vulnerable as he sat down closely next to Kyle. Kyle couldn’t resist grabbing his hand and asking him, “Are you alright?” Andre smiled slightly and nodded his head.
“I’m glad you came today,” he said as he squeezed Kyle’s hand tightly. “I’m so worried about Buddy, I think I’m going to lose my mind.”
“He’ll be okay,” assured Kyle as he gripped Andre’s hand. He looked at the clock on the wall. It was almost five o’clock. He needed to call home and inform his parents where he was. After excusing himself, he walked out into the hall to call his mother.
As he talked to her, he walked past Buddy’s room and peered inside. He was surprised to see that Donnie had pulled a chair to the side of Buddy’s bed, and they appeared to be talking. He watched for a few seconds before going back to the waiting room.
Andre smiled when he entered the room. “Everything okay at home?”
“Yeah,” replied Kyle as he sat down beside him. “I told them where I was. They said it was okay.” He looked at Andre and asked, “Are you hungry? I told Mom I was going to eat in the hospital cafeteria.”
Andre shook his head and replied, “I don’t have any money. If you and Donnie want to go eat, I’ll just wait here.”
“Nonsense,” said Kyle as he stood and grabbed Andre’s hand. “I’ve got enough money for both of us.” Andre tried to pull away, but Kyle kept a tight grip on his hand. “Let’s go see if Donnie wants to join us.”
When they entered, Buddy was lying on his bed laughing at something Donnie had said. Donnie looked at Andre and laughed. “Buddy told me about this freakish little dance you two do,” he said laughingly.
Andre started to say something, but Buddy spoke first. “I told him it’s something me and you do. I didn’t say it was freakish.”
“Sounds freakish,” laughed Donnie. “Madonna is someone my mother would dance to.”
Kyle looked over at Andre. It appeared he was blushing, though it was hard to tell. He could tell he was extremely embarrassed. He walked over and stood protectively beside Andre. “We’re going downstairs to get something to eat,” he said to Donnie. “You want to join us?”
Donnie looked at the clock on the wall and asked, “Is it that late already?”
“I called home and Mom said I could stay as late as I want,” informed Kyle. “So, do you want to get something to eat with us?”
“Naw,” replied Donnie. He looked at Buddy and laughed. “They’ll be bringing this sorry fucker’s dinner soon. I’ll just eat some of his.” Andre’s eyes widened. He thought for sure that Buddy would say something because Donnie had called him a fucker.
He was surprised when Buddy said, “I ordered a hamburger and fries. The fries are always cold, so you can have them.” He shrugged his shoulders when Donnie insisted that he would eat the hamburger instead.
“Come on,” said Kyle as he grabbed Andre’s hand and pulled him from the room. Buddy and Donnie seemed to be getting along, and he didn’t want to ruin it by insisting that Donnie join them.
At the cafeteria, Andre said he didn’t wanted anything to eat. He went instead to a table and sat down while he waited for Kyle. The special of the day was a barbequed pulled pork sandwich and potato wedges. Kyle ordered two. As he headed to the cashier, he noticed slices of dutch apple pie in a dessert stand. He placed two on the tray, and then he paid for the meal.
Andre frowned when Kyle placed the plate in front of him. “I told you I didn’t want anything.”
“Well, I didn’t want to eat alone,” replied Kyle as he took a bite of the sandwich. He held it up and remarked, “This isn’t half bad. Try it.” Hesitantly, Andre took a bite. Soon, he was eating as if it were his last meal.
“Slow down,” laughed Kyle as Andre licked the barbeque sauce from his fingers. He had a small drop of sauce on the corner of his lip. Kyle quickly looked away when he felt an urge to lean over and lick it off.
As they ate the apple pie, Kyle asked Andre, “So what is it with you and Buddy?” Andre spent several minutes telling him about the close relationship they shared. “I’m all he’s got,” he said. He left out the part about him and Buddy being boyfriends. He wanted Kyle to believe that Buddy was free to date someone. He hoped that someone would be Kyle.
“He really likes you, you know,” said Andre as he wiped his mouth with a napkin.
Kyle gave him a puzzled look. “You told me that once before. We hardly know each other.”
“Buddy’s had a crush on you since he saw you in school the first day,” he confessed. He looked down at the table, looked up timidly and added, “I can see why.”
“This is really insane,” responded Kyle. “Why would he have a crush on me?”
“God!” remarked Andre excitedly. “What’s not to like.”
Kyle lamented, “Some people don’t think I’m all that great.” He was thinking about his sister, Brad and other students at school.
Andre put his plate on the tray and suggested that they should return to Buddy’s room. They didn’t say anything on the elevator back. Kyle seemed deep in thought, and Andre enjoyed just enjoyed looking at him. He wondered if he had made a mistake by telling Kyle that Buddy liked him.
Donnie and Buddy were arguing when they walked into the room. “Hey!” shouted Buddy. “You took too big a bite of the hamburger.” Donnie laughed and took another nibble before handing it to Buddy. Buddy placed the remainder in his mouth. “Now you can’t have anymore.” They then started to fight over the remaining potato wedge. Andre looked over at Kyle and raised an eyebrow.
They sat for another hour talking like old friends. Andre tried to get Buddy to talk more to Kyle, but he seemed more interested in talking to Donnie. He laughed uproariously when Kyle described the lettering on Donnie’s car. “He has huge red letters that say, ‘Buy at Jeff Dillon Ford.”
“At least he has a car,” remarked Buddy as he attempted to defend Donnie.
“Yeah,” laughed Donnie. “That’s what I told his sorry ass.”
At seven thirty-five, Donnie looked at his watch and announced that he had to get home and finish his homework assignments. He asked Andre if he’d like a ride, but Andre insisted he could walk. After some prodding by Buddy, he finally consented into letting Donnie drive him home.
“I can’t wait until you return to school,” remarked Donnie as he looked down at Buddy. “We’re going to have a lot of fun.”
Kyle glanced quickly over at Andre. Andre had told him in the cafeteria that Buddy was thinking about dropping out of school. “We’ll see,” he replied. After saying goodbye, the three boys headed out to the parking garage. Andre doubled over with laughter when he saw Donnie’s car.
He looked over at Kyle and said, “You weren’t lying.”
“Shut up,” laughed Donnie, “or I’ll make you walk home.” Andre climbed into the back seat. After giving Donnie directions to his house, they pulled away. Andre stared at the back of Kyle’s head and sighed.