John woke with the jolt of icy maggots burrowing into his right arm and he screamed, clawed one out, it came out with a gush of blood and someone was screaming, next to him pushing him down and, "No no no, those are for your fluids! Those are I.V. tubes! What are you doing? What are you?"
John froze, the other maggot pinched between his thumb and forefinger just like Sarah had done, and looked left. his mother was back lit by a large window, mouth twisted, cheeks tear streaked. It was orange-dark outside. Blushing furiously, he let go of the I.V. His mother sat down. She pressed the emergency button on his bed and pinched the bloody I.V. shut. "What happened to you?" She asked.
"Mom, I'm sorry."
"You're lucky you had your cellphone on you! They called 'Mom less than three'! Why am I less than three, Jay? Who's greater than three if not your mother?" John laughed despite himself, it started as a giggle, but spiraled loudly so that when the nurses rushed in, they found him in tears, laughing and his mom chuckling, too. I.V. in hand. The nurses stopped short and stared.
Everyone got quiet. The taller nurse, pale blue scrubs and bald said, "I'll go get another I.V. Thank you Ms. Osborne for holding that closed." Stiffly, he turned around and walked out of the room.
"Mom, turn the phone sideways. It's a heart, Mom. You're not less than three."
She turned the phone sideways. She frowned. "Ohhh," she said. She smiled and patted his leg. Then, a moment later she snatched up the phone and started pressing buttons.
"Who else do you have hearts next to?" She dodged his desperate lunge for his phone and laughed, stood up and out of reach.
"MOM! I will stand up so help me,"
"I wouldn't recommend that." Someone said. The someone was a woman in a long white lab coat, with bright red hair, holding a manilla envelope. She had a stethoscope covering her name tag. "I think you're going to be in a wheel chair for at least a few days from the cuts you've got on the bottom of your feet. What were you doing? Walking barefoot on broken glass? Hello. I'm doctor Hartland. Ms. . ." she checked the manilla folder, "Arbol, Janice Arbol, is it?"
John's mom nodded.
"Well, Ms. Arbol, your son is lucky he was dropped off when he was. By taxi." Doctor Hartland raised an eyebrow. "Your son was bleeding from the, ah, posterior and feet, with minor, though extensive, cuts and bruises on his arms and chest. You fall out of a tree, tiger?"
"Rawr," John replied.
The Doctor continued, "You've got all new boosters for the usual, Tetanus, etc. We sent some of your blood to be processed at the central hospital, too. We'll mail you with the results unless we need you to come in. You're free to go once the next transfusion is finished. The hospital can loan you a wheel chair, but you can walk, on crutches by Monday."
"Is that normal?" Ms. Arbol asked.
John asked, "No missing school, huh?"
"Not for you," the doctor said, and smiled. "Sorry. Do you want the wheel chair or just the crutches?"
"Just the crutches, thank you," John said.
"Okay, I'll let the nurses know that you'll be leaving when you're ready, but some time today, if that's okay with you both?"
John and his mom nodded in agreement. The doctor nodded and turned to leave, as she was closing the door John called out: "Hey, did you guys, uh, do x-rays or anything?"
The doctor stopped. She looked at John, "Something feel broken?"
"No, but I was wondering if you found anything, or did anything that could have uncovered anything, I dunno, weird about me?"
The doctor frowned. "What would we find weird about you?"
"I dunno," John mumbled.
The doctor looked from John's mother to John and back again. She put on a smile and, startlingly chipper, said, "Well, the preliminary tests didn't find anything wrong with you and we will call you if anything is wrong with your blood work. Okay?"
"Yes, thank you. Thank You!" John said. His mother said it, too. They exchanged goodbyes and the doctor left. Quietly, his mom started straightening the room, folding sheets, moving the chair into the corner of the room. John tried to rest, but every time he started to doze off images from the abandoned building flooded his mind like a morbid flip book and he snapped up in bed like a broken bear trap. He'd look over and his mom would be watching him, tight lipped. After his third start she balled her fists and shouted, "What were you doing to get so beaten up?"
"Mom, I wasn't beaten up."
"Where'd the black eyes come from?"
"Black eyes?" His mom pulled out a makeup compact and showed him his face. John indeed had two black eyes, puffy purple bags sagging under each of his eyes. He made a huh sound. He poked at one, experimentally, and it moved, under his finger. Seemed to wiggle. He shouted and looked at his mom, "Did you see that?" He managed to whisper.
"You didn't see it move?"
"You mean the blood sac bruise? Yes, it moved. You poked at it. How did it happen? Who beat you up? Please tell me so; so I know."
"Mom. Honestly. No one beat me up." John stared at the sheets on the bed. He bunched the sheets into his hands and, fists balled, said, "I was exploring the asylum, way out in Northville. Ah. A friend took me out there and things, and I fell through some stairs that were more rotten than she, uh, shoot. The stairs were more rotten than we knew and I fell through and landed in some glass and more broken wood. I fell like a full flight, but I think the stairs broke my fall. That and the rust nail that punctured my leg."
"And your feet? What about all those cuts, John?"
"My uh. My shoe came off when I fell and I was trying to get it back, walking on the broken glass, before Li --before my friend found me and got my shoes for me."
"Really." He swallowed.
"Please never go back there."
He swallowed again, "I won't mom. I'm sorry."
Janice Arbol pursed her lips and nodded. She said, "I'm going to nap before the nurses come in with the crutches. Are you going to be okay? I mean, do you need anything?"
"Thanks mom. I'm good. I'll try and nap, too."
"Okay baby. Love you."
"Love you too, mom." And they both closed their eyes, Janice curled on the olive couch-chair, under a stiff blanket. John closed his eyes, gritted his teeth and relived watching as the maggots crawled into his leg while the blood transfusion swarmed and swam, cool and thick through him.