You Won't Feel a Thing ....
The taxi drives slowly into Sugar Valley. I am a little amused by Atlas, as I glance across at him, he has his nose pressed firmly up against the glass and is intensely peering out of the window of the car with interest. I point to the derelict warehouse which comes clearly into view as it rears it's ugly head across the skyline.
"Welcome to the dump that is Sugar Valley!" I laugh at him and he turns to smile at me.
"Yeah I see what you mean, it is a little ... primitive!" he laughs "Is it all like this?"
Atlas looks at me wide eyed as I tell him, yes pretty much. He makes a comment about the litter on the streets and the houses all being so small. I laugh because I did warn him, in Sugar Valley he is not going to see anything anywhere near like what he is used to on that posh estate, that he and Granite live on in Cherry Hill. We don't do posh in Sugar Valley.
The taxi is heading in the direction of my house and it does not take long before the car turns into Gravels roads. We have to pass Gravel's house on route, and as I glance out through the window I am expecting to see the house in total darkness at this time in the morning. However, I am surprised to see that there are actually quite a lot of lights on, lighting up in the house.
"Stop the car!" I shout suddenly at the taxi driver who slams the brakes on suddenly and me and Atlas both jolt forward. I do not go very far because my seat belt stops me, but Atlas does not stop until he crashes into the the passenger seat in front of him. "We will get out here."
Atlas frowns at me as he rubs his forehead, which has just hit the head rest of the front passenger seat pretty hard. That will teach him not to wear his seat belt like I told him too! I laugh at him and call him a baby as we get out of the car, because he is still moaning about his sore head.
He asks why we have stopped here as he looks around saying he can not see a green house. I tell him my house is in the next street and explain that this is Gravel's house and there are lights on, so there is no time like the present. I am expecting at this time in the morning that Gravel and Granite are both more likely to be in the house and I just want to get this over and done with.
I have been working myself up during the flight home. Now that I know Granite still loves me, and we have been apart for the last twenty years for no other reason than because of Gravel and his games, I have actually started to get very angry with Gravel. Angry enough to go in there all guns blazing.
I pay the taxi driver while Atlas gets his case out of the boot and we both stand on the pavement staring at the house that is lit up like Blackpool illuminations, virtually every light is on in the house. Atlas asks me if I really should be doing this now, but I tell him that I have to for my own sanity.
The only thing that I am really getting nervous about is the thought of facing Granite again, especially when Mace is more than likely going to be around. This is not really the ideal situation or how I have imagined us meeting again. I have imagined what we might do or say, in a million ways, the next time our eyes meet, mostly stupid sappy stuff. However, I think I have always known that the reality of it was always going to be a lot different somehow!!
Atlas grabs my arm and points towards one of the windows in the downstairs of the house. I spot Gravel and Mace through the living room window and it looks like they might be arguing, no fighting, I watch Gravel swing for Mace, but I do not see Granite anywhere in the room. That is when I realize I can actually hear Gravel and Mace yelling and shouting at each other faintly from inside the house, even stood out here on the pavement.
As I start to walk down the path, Atlas follows me and we can now see Gravel and Mace quite clearly through the glass in the front door. We stop and stand there watching them for a moment. Suddenly Gravel starts really laying into Mace, he punches him a few times then grabs him and throws him up against the bookcase. Mace drops to the floor, like a lead weight, and Gravel then starts seriously laying the boot into him while he is lay on the floor.
"Hell!! That is definitely the Berry Hole I have seen with Mace before!!" Atlas shouts as he drops his case and starts running towards the front door. "It looks like he is going for a repeat performance. Where the hell is Granite?"
I am wandering that myself as I follow Atlas and we run towards the front door. Not that it actually bothers me that Gravel seems to be giving Mace a good kicking, but I know Atlas is not going to standby and watch and neither can I really, even if it is Mace. I wander where Granite is to let this happen?! Atlas tries to open the front door but it is locked. I quickly pull my keys out of my pocket and unlock the door. Luckily I have a key to Gravel's house, just like he has a key to mine. As soon as we have the front door open we can hear everything clearly.
"WHERE IS SHE MACE?" Gravel is yelling at Mace who is lying on the floor with Gravel's hands around his throat. I notice Mace is in a right mess, he already looks like he has had a seriously good kicking. "It is no coincidence, you being back and only days after I tell you about us, she has gone AWOL!! I don't believe you haven't seen or spoken to her!!" Gravel yells at him "You have told her about Coral haven't you!!"
"I HAVEN'T!!" Mace yells at him as he pulls him back up onto his feet. "I DON'T know where Tarragon is!!"
I do not have a clue what they are arguing about, but I really don't like the sound of what Gravel is saying and who is Tarragon?
Gravel has pulled Mace up onto his feet and grabs him round the throat again with both hands and starts to shake him violently, yelling at him, saying that he had better hurry up and tell him where she is. Gravel is continuously smashing him up against the bookcase and Mace does not seem to be fighting back. Gravel is throwing him around almost like he is a rag doll, while he continuously yells at him and bouncing Mace's head quite violently off the bookcase, which really worries me.
I yell at him as I grab hold of Atlas and pull him back because he was just about to dive onto Gravel's back and I had to stop him. I have seen how Gravel operates, he is likely to just start on Atlas, without asking any questions and give him some of what Mace is getting.
Gravel swings round to face me, still holding Mace round the throat while he stares at me wide eyed. I can see that Mace is struggling to breath, Gravel has a seriously tight grip still on his throat.
"LOOSE HIM GRAVEL!! You are fading him!!"
Gravel just stands glaring at me. I see Mace's eyes widen as he stares at me while he is gasping for breath. He only quickly glances at Atlas, then he looks straight back at me. I guess I am the last person that he would want to see here!!
I have to yell at Gravel quite a few more times before he lets go of Mace, but he does not just loose him, he throws Mace violently to one side. I hear the horrible thud as his head hits the coffee table before he collapses into an unconscious heap on the floor. Atlas runs over to him.
"What the HELL are you doing here Forrest?" Gravel glares at me. "Didn't I warn you clearly enough to KEEP AWAY until Granite has slung his hook!!"
"Yes you did but you can go and screw yourself brother!! You are going to put everything right TONIGHT!! I'm sick of all your lies and I am not going to let you play with all of our lives any longer!!"
"You open your mouth Forrest and I am warning you!! I DON'T make idol threats and don't think you being my brother is going to save yours or Granites neck!! Just ask Mace how I treat my brothers when they pee me off!!" he snaps at me viciously as he pulls out his gun. "The minute you tell him you are not only sealing your own fate, you are taking him with you!! And remember there are three people in this town who need to know who their sperm donar is!!! You spill my secrets and I'll be spilling yours!!" he rares at me "HE IS NOT taking my boy away from me!!"
He points his gun right at me. He actually jabs the end of his gun into my stomach and I really do not like the look in his eyes!!
He almost looks deranged.
I hear the door burst open behind me.
I decided not to jump the back wall in case one of them has now locked the back door, so I carry on running to the other end of the alleyway, and run round the corner into Gravel's road.
I sprint past the two houses then across Gravel's front garden. As I run across the garden, I am not really watching where I am going because I am too busy looking at the house, which is lit up brightly, it looks like every light is on in the house.
I go flying over a suitcase that is dumped on the grass. What the Hell?! I pick myself up off the grass and brush myself off, staring at the dirty marks on my knees. Great!! The last thing I need on my clothes are grass stains!! Mace is going to have a field day when he sees those!! I don't have time to check the case, pick it up or do anything about my trousers, so I just leave them both.
I try the front door and am surprised when it opens straight away. I thought it would be locked and I might have to get my key out. I just burst through the door expecting to find Gravel and Mace still fighting but it is fairly quiet.
I freeze in total shock because I can see Atlas and Forrest in the living room. They are the very last two people that I would have expected to find here when I got back. What the hell is going on here!! Am I dreaming?! I guess that accounts for the suitcase outside!
It does not make any sense to me at first, how did Atlas get here? Isn't Forrest supposed to be in Cherry Hill?! Then the penny drops. Forrest DID go to my house and knocked on my door and he has brought Atlas back with him, but why has Atlas been telling me he hasn't arrived? Why did the police not pick them up at the airport boarding a flight home?
I feel like I have just been punched in the face and stomach with a sledge hammer, as I stand staring at Forrest, who is standing with his back to me in front of Gravel. I actually pinch my arm to make sure I am not dreaming!! The fact that Mace is lying on the floor and Atlas is leaning over him does not register with my brain because of the shock of Forrest being here, which has totally floored and distracted me.
"Forrest!! Atlas!! What the hell are you two doing here?" I say in shock. I also say their names out loud for the rings benefit, so that the police know who else is in the house with us. I hope to berry they are listening, they really need to know that Forrest is here, if they do not know already.
Hearing my voice Forrest swings round to face me, his eyes widen as he stands there staring at me. I quickly glance at Atlas then look back at Forrest, wandering why neither of them are answering my question. That is when I notice Gravel has his gun in his hand, but at this precise moment, I don't really care!! Forrest grins at me and I can not help but grin back like a goofy idiot.
"And here he comes, Granite Rock, the bane of my life, to crash the party!" Gravel snaps quite angrily "Where the HELL have you been? Sneaking out after you sent me off to bed!!"
"Out for a walk to get some fresh air, like I told Mace when he phoned me." I frown at Gravel who still has his gun in his hand and is waving it about. I feel sick and my blood runs cold!! Like I don't already know, now that me and Forrest are standing in the same room together, it is probably extermination time!! However, I have to ask the question anyway. "What the hell is going on Gravel?"
"Forrest here has been a silly boy!! He is usually the brains of the outfit, but not this time!!" Gravel snaps at me "You see we have been keeping secrets from you for the past 20 years and he has decided he wants to spill them. I have warned him what will happen if he even tries to open his mouth, but he didn't listen!"
Gravel starts to wave his gun around and is poking Forrest in the back with it. Forrest is not really reacting to the gun being jabbed into his back. His eyes are transfixed on me like mine are on him. I pinch myself again to make sure I really am awake. I still can not believe that he is standing in front of me, and at this moment it time he is all I can see, the world and this whole situation vanishes from my thoughts until Gravels voice swims back into my awareness snapping back into reality.
"So you brother, are just in time to watch your divorce happen, but don't worry!" he laughs sarcastically "You will only be a widow for a few minutes before you join him!! Your bitch on the floor has booked his ticket out too." he starts to laugh sarcastically "I will make sure I have the three of you buried together Granite, then you can have both of your bitches forever!!"
Sick Berry Hole!! I do not get time to react to what Gravel has just said.
"Hey Guys" Atlas says nervously as he looks up worriedly "I don't think Mace is breathing!"
Forrest who is the closest to him is straight down on his knees checking on Mace. I stand frozen for a second and can not react, scared that Gravel has already used his gun on Mace. Suddenly I feel like my heart has just been ripped out, thinking he might be faded. Forrest looks up at me for a moment and I just stare back at him numbly. Forrest only gives me a quick glance before he goes back to what he is doing. He shouts me to help him.
"Hell Mace?!" I shout as I run over and join Forrest on the floor. Atlas moves out of my way quickly, he gives me a worried glance. I am shocked by the state that Mace's face is in. "How the hell did this happen?" I snap at Gravel
"Just leave the wuss, he is probably play acting!!" Gravel snaps then he starts laughing "He can not even take a fanny slap!!"
"That was no damn fanny slap!!" Forrest snaps
I ignore Gravel as Forrest tells me that Mace is in respiratory arrest but he still has a pulse, just about. I can see his lips are starting to tinge blue as I wipe the blood off them. I tilt his head back quickly and open his mouth to check that his airway is clear. We start to work together to resuscitate him and try to get him breathing again. I take his mouth while Forrest does the chest compressions.
While we are working on him, I count the chest compressions out load so that Forrest can talk and he tells me what he saw Gravel doing to Mace. I am shocked when Forrest tells me that he was properly laying the boot into him while he was on the floor, he was shaking him by his throat while he was virtually strangling him, and repeatedly slamming him into the bookcase. He says he was gasping for breath when Gravel threw him and must have stopped breathing when or after he hit his head really hard on the table which knocked him out. I've already checked his eyes and know he is unconscious, I was scared they might be fixed and dialated, but they are not, yet! I check his throat and neck to make sure Gravel hasn't done any damage and it doesn't feel like anything is crushed, or dislocated, but I can already see a lot of bruising breaking out on his neck.
Gravel shouts again for us to leave Mace. I yell at Gravel that if we leave him he will end up getting done for his murder because he has stopped breathing. He laughs at me sarcastically.
"Just leave the wuss!! Let him fade he has served his purpose now anyway." he laughs "Maybe I should have hit him a little harder and finished the job off properly!"
I lose my temper, I start yelling at Gravel as I jump up onto my feet and go for him, he rams his gun into my chest and Forrest has to grab me and pull me back. He puts his hands on my face and tell me just to ignore Gravel, he knows how easily we wind each other up. He reminds me Mace needs me, which instantly calms me down and I go back to Mace's mouth.
"Look at you two, tweedle dumb and tweedle dee, the double act is back together again!! Gran, I see you are straight back under the thumb again already!!" Gravel starts laughing sarcastically "Although I doubt you would be working so hard to keep him alive if you knew who he really is! Especially you Granite! If only you knew who's son you have been shagging" he starts to laugh quite hysterically. "Who he is married to might also amuse you some what!! Boy have you crossed a line!!"
"Mace Brownie, I know exactly who I have been shagging for the past five years. Just like I know you have been shagging Fudge's daughter, Mace's sister for the past four year!! I am not as stupid as you think Gravel!!" I snap nastily.
I instantly start regretting my words the moment they left my mouth. Now is really not the time to retaliate to his snide remarks, but I couldn't help wanting to wipe that smug grin off his face. Forrest's eyes are almost popping out of his head as he stares at me then looks down at Mace. Gravel is also very shocked by what I have just said and that I actually know.
"So Tarragon, is this why you have given him a beating? Trying to find out where his sister is ... well you have wasted your time because Mace doesn't have the faintest idea where Tarragon is!!"
Gravel just glares at me wide eyed. I don't suppose it really matters what I say to him now, but I need to be careful that I do not wind him up too much, he has got a gun and I don't doubt that he will use it. I best not even mention Slate's name right now or even give him the slightest idea that I know.
Gravel starts yelling then telling us to move away from Mace, because he is going to put a bullet in his head for telling me who he is. He says Mace is a useless idiot anyway and he should have disposed of him a long time ago like the rest of his useless family. I can see that Gravel is now totally unhinged, he is admitting to things that he should not and probably would not normally be telling anyone. He has an expression on his face that I have never seen before, and I don't mind admitting that it is scaring me.
Gravel pulls Forrest away from Mace and he falls backwards. I stand my ground and stay leaning over Mace, trying to shield him from the gun pointed at him, if Gravel is going to shoot him he will have to go through me. I can not just move away and sit and let or watch Gravel pull the trigger.
"My old mate Turmeric, he was the one who told me!!" I snap at him "Mace does not even know that I know he is a Brownie. Just leave him alone!!"
Gravel snaps that Turmeric is the only one that he can depend on to be loyal, he would never have told me. He has just let the cat out of the bag to me about him knowing Turmeric. I have to do some quick thinking because he is right, Turmeric did not tell me. I lied because I can't tell him the truth about it being the police who told me or he will probably finish all three of us off instantly, so he can get away and go underground. I was hoping to take the heat off Mace who is actually innocent in all this, in the hope that Gravel doesn't shoot him. Forrest comes back to helps me and takes over the chest compressions again.
"It is your own fault Gravel, you have been really stupid ... who do you think pays Mace's phone bills? I do, and who's phone number has been showing up on his phone bill since the day he moved into mine, YOURS!! Turmeric had no choice but to tell me to stop me from getting the police to check Mace out which would have just blown you and your game wide open!! He had to tell me to protect you!!" I squeeze Forrest's hand which is lay on Mace's chest "I've known for years, Mace is a Brownie, but I don't care because I love him! He's not exactly a typical Brownie is he!"
I lean into Forrest and pretend I am doing something to Mace as I whisper to Forrest that I am lying. I am scared that he is going to believe what I just said about loving Mace. He just smiles at me half heartedly. I hope to hell that Atlas has been telling Forrest the truth about me and Mace!! To quickly distract Gravel from reacting to what I have just said, I tell Atlas to phone for an ambulance. It half works because Gravel jumps straight in then and tells Atlas he is not to touch his phone, nobody is making any calls.
"Don't think I have not recognized you either!!" he says as he turns the gun on Atlas. I nearly shit myself because I thought he would leave Atlas alone, I thought it would be me who he had a go at. "You are a long way from Cherry Hill and you have the nerve to show up at my door!! Obviously you did not have enough of a kicking the last time our paths crossed!" This really confuses me, when have their paths crossed before? "I told you I would use this on you didn't I if I ever laid eyes on you again!!"
Atlas, who is still crouched down close to me, nearly shits himself because he has Gravel's gun inches away from his face. He drops his phone as he tries to move backwards and away from the gun, he looks terrified. Gravel starts laughing sarcastically as he stamps on Atlas's phone, that is now lay on the carpet, and smashes it up.
Gravel then pulls out his own phone and dials a number.
"T, The green and brown one have just collided and Brownie boys best buddy has tagged along for the ride. Get round to mine, NOW!!" he snaps into his phone then switches it off and stuffs it back into his pocket.
I get a nasty feeling that he has just phoned Turmeric and I have just got him into big trouble by using him as the escape goat by lying to Gravel. I thought it would not matter because he is not here, now I am really worried!! I think when Turmeric gets here this is just going to totally blow up!! I wander what the police are doing, why haven't they tried to get in here yet?!
I am also very confused as to how Gravel could know who Atlas is, or when there paths have crossed before. So I ask the question. Atlas tells me nervously that he has seen Gravel in Cherry Hill with Mace a few times. Over in the dive bar at the ruff end of town and he reminded me about the weekend I went to Mint and they were both beat up when I returned. They had told me that they had done it to each other fighting while they were drunk, but they hadn't, Gravel had given them both a kicking.
"I bet you didn't know I have been trampling your posh gaff in Cherry Hill every time your back has been turned, did you brother!!" he starts to laugh and not in a very nice way. "Very entertaining between the sheets, that bitch of yours!! He gives the best blow jobs! I think that's the only thing he's good for!!"
"In your dreams Gravel!" I snap at him
Even though I already know something has gone on between him and Mace, I don't want to say anything else that lets him know that I know anything. I've already got Turmeric into trouble and even though he has upset me, I don't want anything bad to happen to him. I don't want to unhinge Gravel any more either, because he already looks like a crazy man right now! Forrest is counting the chest compressions out loud so I know when it is my turn to stop talking and breath into his mouth.
I am starting to worry about the length of time we have been doing this when Mace suddenly starts coughing in my face as he starts to gasps for breath. Forrest shouts 'over' and we roll him over on to his side trying to keep his spine and neck straight. I quickly check my watch and am surprised that hardly any time has passed at all, it just felt like it because I was panicking inside, because the patient is Mace.
Mace instantly starts throwing up all over the carpet. I am holding his face as I make sure his mouth and throat are empty and clean his face with my cardigan while talking to him, trying to keep him calm. I tell him to lie perfectly still while Forrest checks his spine and ribs and all the bruising that is starting to break out all over his stomach chest, back and face. Mace starts to throw up again, which is not a good sign. Forrest looks at me and shakes his head saying T7, T9, T10. After I've made sure his mouth is free of anything that he might choke on again, I run my fingers down his spine and feel what he is talking about. Me and Forrest just sit looking at each other.
"Mace are you in any pain?" I ask and he doesn't respond. "Can you feel your legs?"
I lie down on the carpet so that our faces are level and try talking to him, he just lies there looking at me blankly almost like he is not really in there. I pull the face at him that always makes him laugh and he doesn't react in any way.
I hold each of his hands digging my nail into his palms and there is no movement in his right hand. His arm just lies there lifeless. Forrest checks his reflexes. I run my finger down his right side first gently then I go back up and tickle him, which he hates, and he doesn't move or react, not even a moan. While I'm doing that I'm amused by Forrest pulling out a flash light from his pocket, he jumps over Mace and checks out his eyes thoroughly, he reminds me of Mango for a second, who carries his flash light around with him 24/7 something I don't do unless I am at work.
"This really is not looking good!" Forrest pulls a face at me
"intracerebral hemorrhage?" I mumble and he looks a little amused for a moment.
"Possibly! He did keep smashing him repeatedly up against the bookcase like a mad man!!" Forrest starts to inspect his head "I did notice he seemed to stop fighting back, he went like a rag doll." he points at a large patch of blood on the side of Maces head "Probably around here somewhere I'd guess which ties in with the partial paralysis above the waist. There is nothing below the waist but that's his spinal injury."
"SHIT!! Gravel PLEASE we need an ambulance!! Mace is going to fade if he doesn't get medical attention NOW!!" I shout at him "If he is left like this for too long and he does pull through, you will turn him into a cabbage!! He seriously does not deserve this!!"
"Aww diddums! It looks like your second wedding is now off then!" Gravel starts laughing sarcastically "Just as well really, seeing as you are still married to the first one! It is no fun trying to juggle a double life and two nagging bitches!" he starts laughing at the look on Forrest's face. "I guess you haven't told Forrest yet, that you and Mace have recently got engaged!! Oops!!"
Forrest thumps my arm quite hard and points at the ring on Mace's finger, he frowns at me, and not in a nice way. I roll my eyes as I have to start doing some quick thinking trying to make an anagram out of what I am trying to tell him.
"Lost river elf." he smiles at me. I pause as I point to the ring relying on him to work out that I am saying police bug "a public ego" I smile at him "Stale keenly award ... Antigens." I basically told him in our own language I already knew about Slate from the compatibility test results.
"So suede guy?"
I laugh quite loudly for a moment because of his immediate response as his reply just rolls straight off his tongue, he hasn't forgotten our dictionary either! He has just said 'you guessed'
"Meany ha midday death!" I grin at him as I reply Yeah man I am the Daddy!
Forrest starts laughing hysterically and holds his hand up for a high five and we both start laughing as we slap our hands together. It is like we have never been apart!! 'Yeah man I am the Daddy' is actually a saying we used to use when we were bragging about something, now I am able to use the saying in a literal sense to get my message across to him.
"That is why ... a public ego!"
"What the hell are you two gibbering about?! You are off already with your silly shit aren't you!! Talking your double dutch!!"
Suddenly we get a gun in our faces as Gravel snaps at us, it always used to rattle him in the past when we talked like this to each other.
"I don't want to hear you two speak to each other again!!" he slaps me across the face with his gun "GOT IT!!" he yells at me as I call him a Berry Hole.
I see Forrest staring at the ring again with a frown on his face then he glances at me wide eyed. I am actually surprised that the gun does not seem to be bothering him as much as I thought it would, while Atlas is sat cowering up against the couch, staying silent and jumping nervously every time Gravel starts waving it around. Forrest suddenly whisper 'Cinnamon?' quietly to me with raised eyebrows. I smile at him and he grins back. I thinks he has got it and knows that the ring is a police bug.
Mace throws up for a third time as his eyes roll to the back of the head. I can not just sit here and watch him fade. I tell Forrest to watch him as I jump to my feet and pull out my phone.
Gravel instantly has the gun in my face, yelling at me telling me I am making no phone calls as he snatches my phone out of my hand. I watch as he smashes my phone up under his foot then he grabs Forrest demanding for his phone which Forrest has no choice but to give him quickly, because he has Gravel's gun to his head.
All three of our phones are now lay on the floor in pieces, but I am not too worried because I know the police are listening to everything going on in this room. I just hope that they are going to find a way to send an ambulance for Mace.
That is when I notice Coral sitting on the stairs quietly looking a little scared. I am not sure how long she has been sat there and watching what has been going on in the living room. Shit!! I have never given her a second thought since I came back into the house, I had completely forgotten that she is upstairs. I need to get her out of this house!!
"Gravel ... Mace needs to go to the hospital. NOW!!" I yell at him loudly, also hoping that the police will take the hint and get the message. "We think he has got a serious head and spinal injury. He needs proper medical treatment!!"
Gravel shakes his head and says nobody is leaving the house, especially not Mace and we can just leave him there to fade! Which he says is what is happening to all of us anyway, so why waste what little time we have left stressing over Mace. I am really not sure where his head is at, he is pacing about a little now and I'm not sure why. He checks his watch and looks towards the front door with irritation, then I remember he phoned Turmeric, I guess he is waiting for him to turn up. The longer Turmeric takes the more time he is buying us. Gravel looks unhinged
"Do you REALLY want to be done for his murder? If he fades - I will make sure you do!!" I go to jump up and go for him again, I am starting to lose it because I am starting to get upset and terrified for Mace. He seriously needs proper medical attention, and he seriously does not deserve this!! I am also confused and angry wandering what the hell the police are doing, they must be listening, I hope Coral made that phone call to Cinnamon when I asked her to!! They must know what is going on here, so why aren't they doing anything!? "GIVE ME YOUR PHONE!! We need an ambulance!!" I yell at Gravel.
Forrest has to pull me back again as Gravel starts to lose it and yells back at me.
"STOP IT!!! STOP IT!!" Coral suddenly screams from the stairs "I've already phoned for an ambulance." She looks really scared "Granite there is an ambulance on it's way for Mace." I notice that she is sitting there with her phone in her hand and she seems to be shaking. She looks terrified and seems to be looking at me more than Gravel.
"Idiot!! Bitch!!" Gravel shouts angrily and glares quite nastily up the stairs at her. "What the hell did you do that for you idiot!! You better NOT have phoned the police you STUPID BITCH!!" he yells at her and she shakes her head and says no, only an ambulance for Mace. I'm terrified for a moment about what he might do to her, when he starts yelling a stream of vile language at her, he is reminding me of Dad shouting at Mom.
"It's OKAY Gravel!!" I shout at him as I jump up and grab his arm trying to attract his anger and attention away from Coral. This gives me a chance to try and get her out of the house with Mace. "Let Coral go to the hospital with Mace. She doesn't need to be here, it's me and Forrest you have the problem with not her!! All she needs to say is that Mace tripped on the carpet and fell down the stairs, that should cover all his injuries ...."
I think he knows that he does not really have a choice but to let Mace leave the house now, when the ambulance arrives, without attracting attention to himself. He must know like I do, if there is any stupidity or if they have an suspicions when they turn up, especially with the injuries that he has got and you only have to look at him to see he has had a good beating, they will call the police and that is the last thing that Gravel needs.
I will say anything right now to get Mace and Coral out of the house. I start playing on the babies, reminding him that they could still be his, and her not needing the stress with her being pregnant. I try to convince him that she wouldn't want to get him into trouble by telling them what really happened and she agrees with me, she tells Gravel she will tell them it was an accident, because she loves him. She starts to play the game with me and I start to wander if Cinnamon hasn't filled her in on a few things over the phone.
Gravel is still not biting so I also tell him that the head injury that Mace has got will have him out for weeks possibly months, so he won't be able to talk and Coral will stick to our story. I also remind him that we have that other problem to sort out that we were talking about in the kitchen only hours ago. I hint that Coral is just going to get under our feet if she is around and I have thought of a way that we can find them, via their medical records. This seems to grab his attention more than anything, because this is what I think has finally unhinged him. Tarragon and the baby thing on top of being scared of me finding out about Slate. I swear that this has actually all sent him off his rocker!! Somehow I manage eventually to talk him into letting Coral go to the hospital with Mace.
I think about the ring on Mace's finger, even though I know this whole house is bugged I slip the ring off his finger and put it into my pocket just in case Gravel decides to take us off somewhere and the police don't stop him. I doubt he will want to spill our blood all over his carpet and I suspect that is why Turmeric might be on his way here in Gravel's mind. That is IF the police let Turmeric come into the house, which I highly doubt. I bet they have already nabbed him and taken him into custody by now, or he would have been here by now! He only lives on Sixth Street which is a five minute walk away from here.
Gravel suddenly grabs for Forrest and throws him onto one of the couches then starts shouting at Atlas to sit next to Forrest, he does as he's told but looks terrified. Gravel sits down next to Forrest and waves the gun to catch my attention. He then puts his hand holding the gun inside his jacket and tells me that if there is any funny business when the paramedics get here, Forrest will be losing his insides. He digs the gun into Forrest's side making him yelp, just to show me he means it. Gravel tells me to get rid of all the smashed up phone peices off the floor, which I do quickly, picking up all the pieces and hiding them under one of the cushions on the unoccupied couch.
The ambulance pulls up outside the house and Gravel tells me to let them into the house. He reminds me any funny stuff and he has six bullets in his gun, Forrest and the paramedics will be gone before they even know what has hit them.
FOUR paramedics come out of the back of the ambulance and start walking down the path to the front door. Straight away I know that is not normal. I glance at Forrest who has also spotted the oddity as he watches the four paramedics walk into the house. Only two paramedics normally travel in an ambulance. I am guessing that two of these men are not actually paramedics but policeman. Very Clever!!
I open the door for them and go straight back to Mace.
"Oh Dr Rock! Glad to see you back mate. Dr Muffin never said that you were back off your holiday!"
One of the paramedics smiles at Forrest as soon as he walks through the door, I presume he already must know Forrest from the hospital, but then who doesn't know everyone else in this town.
"I only got back last night Plum. Mango doesn't know I'm back yet. I'll be back at work in a few days." Forrest laughs and smiles at the paramedic.
"Gravel, did you know that brother of yours is a right slave driver at work!" he laughs now turning his attention to Gravel "You are not here in a professional capacity I hope." he smiles at Gravel who starts laughing. I'm guessing the police have told him to make casual conversation with Gravel especially so that he does not get suspicious.
"Berry No!!" he laughs "Plum you are a joker, you know I live here!!" they both start laughing at each other "The clown on the floor is my brother in law, he is a clumsy oaf!! He has woken us all up tripping on loose carpet and falling down the stairs. He was not watching where he was going in the dark!" he laughs again "Lets hope he doesn't try to sue me for having dodgy carpet, my Mrs is always nagging me to fix it!" the paramedic laughs with Gravel for a moment.
"Can you come over and run me through what is wrong with the patient Doc? I take it you have already accessed him." The Paramedic turns to Forrest who smiles and quickly stands up and Gravel has no choice but to let him. This has given him a chance to get away from Gravel, he smiles at me as he walks over to the paramedic.
I watch Gravel shuffle awkwardly into the seat Forrest had been sitting in. He is now sat right next to Atlas, he glares at me to let me know that now Atlas is the one who is going to get it, if we try anything.
"We think this one is for neurology, a suspected intracerebral hemorrhage, there is also a spinal injury." Forrest tells him and then he starts to run through everything in detail with the paramedic as he walks over to Mace with the paramedic.
I notice that only one of the paramedics rushes to Mace and starts acting like he is a paramedic, while the other two just stand there either side of the stretcher that they have wheeled into the house. I am busy cleaning his face again, after Mace throws up for a fourth time. One of the 'policeman' comes and kneels down next to me and whispers very quietly that they will get the patient and the girl out of the way first.
Gravel does not seem to notice anything a miss and if he does he isn't reacting yet. I wander how or why he does not recognize the policemen being in the force himself, they are not bothering him in the slightest. I would imagine that they have been pulled in from another town just for that reason. I am seriously scared for Atlas, but am really relieved that Forrest is no longer the one sitting in his place!!
Forrest has come to stand next to me and holds my hand, squeezing it tightly, while we watch the two paramedics who are now putting Mace onto the stretcher and I shout Coral down to go with Mace. She walks nervously across the living room, not even looking at Gravel, she slips her phone into my hand as she walks behind and past me and out through the door a head of the stretcher. I am not really sure why she has given me her phone, it does not make a lot of sense. I manage to slip it into my pocket without Gravel noticing, somehow doubting that I will be needing the phone.
The second that Coral, the two paramedics and the stretcher carrying Mace are out of the door, the two remaining paramedic policemen instantly pull out guns and start shouting at Gravel to put his hands in the air. I cross the fingers on my free hand and start praying for Atlas, I seriously don't see how he is getting out of this in one piece if Gravel reacts in any other way than to do what they are telling him to do.
I hear a gun shot as Forrest's grip tightens on my hand, we both just stand there frozen. I watch as one of the officers drops to the ground and I look towards Gravel and notice that he is now up off the couch and using Atlas as a human shield. Shit!! Gravel is laughing, I think he knows if the officer tries to take a shot, he is more likely to hit Atlas.
The officer starts to shout 'back off' quite loudly then says out loud "Gravel has a human shield'. I think he must have a microphone on him somewhere and he has just stopped other officers from storming into the house.
I wish I could do something, I spot the officer lying on the floor with his gun in his hand. He is too far away from me, I doubt I'd get there without Gravel taking a shot at me. I am also too scared to move for Atlas's sake and I don't want to leave Forrest. I know I need to just sit this out and let the police handle it, me interfering might make it worse.
The police officer keeps shouting at Gravel to put down the gun, and in reply he just laughs back. I am not sure who lost their nerve first but suddenly there are two gun shots ringing in my ears, one straight after the other.
The second officer is down and I feel sick as I watch Atlas drop to the floor as Gravel lets him go. There is nothing either me or Forrest can do to help him as we hear Atlas loudly riling around on the floor in pain. I can not even see him because he has crawled and is lying down on the floor at the side of the couch and the couch is blocking my view. I don't have a clue where the bullet has actually hit him.
I am more scared for me and Forrest as Gravel turns the gun straight on us. We are alone in the room again with Gravel who is now stood right in front of us. Me and Forrest just stand there, he is still holding tightly onto my hand.
If Gravel had a knife in his hand I would have jumped him long before now, but he doesn't he has a gun. I feel useless, because there is nothing I can do, I am not even going to try tackling him when he has got a gun that still has four bullets left in it.
"Brown or green, brown or green ..." Gravel keeps on repeating over and over like a mad man "Slate is mine and you are never taking him away from me!!" he mumbles then goes back to his mad rambling "Brown or green, brown or green..."
I just stand there thinking - he seriously has lost it - he has driven himself crazy!!
"Green first I think!" he snaps
Suddenly he aims his gun at Forrest.
"NOOOOOOOO!!" I yell at Gravel as I step in front of Forrest holding my hands up, "You don't need to do this!! What the hell did we ever do to you Gravel?"
"Do I really need to spell it all out to you? I think you know!!" he yells "You always come up smelling of roses you, don't you!! Well not any more!!" he starts laughing "I think you have just volunteered to go first, because you know it really does not matter which order you go in ..."
"GRAVEL PUT THAT DAMN GUN DOWN NOW YOU IDIOT!!"
Suddenly a voice shouts from behind me.
Gravel freezes almost instantly as he stares past both me and Forrest to whoever just spoke and is standing behind us.
I am too scared to turn around to see who is standing behind us, someone who must have just come into the house via the back door. I presume it is a policeman, I don't even know if he is alone. Gravel's eyes widen as he stares over my shoulder.
"DON'T do it Gravel!! Granite is your brother for berry's sake!! Put the gun down and we can sort this out sensibly!!" the man says
"What the Fudge!!" I hear Forrest mumble from behind me
"I think you of all people should know this has gone way past sorting out!!" Gravel laughs sarcastically " and like HIM being my brother means anything to me, when your precious little princess is lying at the bottom of Apple Lake AND I PUT HER THERE!!" Gravel yells at the man and I hear him gasp.
"WHY GRAVEL?" I can almost hear him choking behind me. "What is all this about Gravel? Why are you even doing any of this? Turmeric has finally told me about the games you have been playing, we just can't work out why you are doing it. YOU PATHETIC IDIOT!! You have made a right bloody mess of things!! Think about your son!!"
The man behind me is yelling at Gravel but I'm still too scared to take my eyes off the gun that is still pointed at me. I am very confused as to who this guy is?
Gravel starts laughing.
"He is the reason why I am doing this!! Technically Slate is not my son, I stole him ... so sue me!!" he snaps sarcastically "The prodigal son is the sperm donor and HE IS NOT coming back here to take Slate away from me because he isn't going to live long enough to!!"
Finally he says it, he admits to my face that Slate is my son!! However, I don't like how he keeps jabbing the gun at me and into my stomach, so I am too scared to say anything even though I would love to tell him exactly what I think of him and what he has done.
"WHAT are you doing here anyway!! Are you out of your tidy mind!? HOW did you even get in here, you do realize the police will be crawling all over this place by now!" Gravel snaps to the man behind me.
"Yes I do know IDIOT!! But what choice did you leave me with. Like you haven't destroyed this family enough already, what the hell did you do to Mace? Turmeric has gone and got himself arrested trying to get in here to stop you and save you from making the biggest mistake of your life - IDIOT - DO as you are told for once in your life ... PUT THE GUN DOWN NOW GRAVEL!!" The way this guy keeps saying idiot is ringing alarm bells in my head.
"You are NOT stopping me, it has gone way too far for that!! You need to get out of here while you still can!!"
"I'm going nowhere until you stop this madness!! Yes you have already taken this too far, that is why you need to put the gun down now!! Don't make it even worse for yourself!! I am unarmed, so just put your gun down and we can talk!" I am thinking this guy is crazy coming in here unarmed, because Gravel is probably going to shoot all three of us. "COME ON GRAVEL, you don't want to fade your own brother!! Do you want his fading on your conscience for the rest of your life?! Just let Granite and Forrest go!!"
"OH PLEASE!! Tell me you are in here risking your own neck trying to save HIS sorry pathetic skin!!" Gravel yells at the man as he jabs the gun at me again "Well you should not have bothered because I will NEVER give him that satisfaction of either you or Slate!!"
It all happened quickly.
Gravel pulls the trigger, I hear the gun go off seconds before I feel the pain that rips through my insides.
"YOU BLOODY IDIOT!!" The man yells
Hell!! Gravel is stood right in front of me, I see the look in his eyes, he freezes for a split second as he is watching my face twist up with the pain that is tearing through me. For that split second he almost looked like he really did not want to do that, but then he starts to laugh.
I might have known that my little brother would have to be the one to take part in my downfall. I hear Forrest scream as my legs buckle from underneath me and I drop into a heap on the floor clutching my side.
"GRANITE!!" the man says as he hovers over me for a moment and touches my face. "Forrest DO SOMETHING you are a doctor aren't you!!"
Who the hell is this guy?
I lie on the floor and my head is swimming.
The noise in the room suddenly erupts to an irritating level - Gravel suddenly starts yelling and I can feel Forrest trying to stop the blood pouring out of me as there are other voices now shouting and filling up the room. I think I can hear Cinnamon voice amongst the others and presume there are now more police officers inside the house.
However, it is too late for me.
All I can hear now is gun shot after gun shot. I am in too much pain to even count them, but I am past caring as I keep swimming in between the light and darkness. Suddenly the shots stop, the room seems to fall into an unbearable silence for a moment before I start to hear a lot of quieter voices around me.
Forrest starts to get hysterical, he is not getting a grip, not like a doctor should - I think he knows like I do, because of how close Gravel was to me and where the bullet went into me, I am more than likely done for!! It is going to take a miracle to get me through this!!
As I try to fight my head from swimming into the darkness, the pain is reaching an unbearable level that I don't think I can take much more of without passing out. I feel someone trying to stop the blood pouring out of me, and a sharp pain like a needle going into my arm, while Forrest is now in my face.
"Stay with me Gan!!" I can hear Forrest saying "Please don't leave me now!!"
I feel his lips touch mine as I black out completely.
Song ~You Won't Feel a Thing ~ The Script