Dad had come stumbling out of his room still half asleep, and even though he could see the blubbering state that I am in, at first he thought I was joking when I told him that Granite had been rushed down to Intensive Care again, and it does not look good.
As we make our way down the corridor towards ICU, I am not only irritated by the occasional waft of the smell of Granites vomit drifting off my body that keeps assaulting my nostrals, but also by the two armed police that are following at a distance behind us.
"Don't they trust you to stop me from doing a runner?" I look back at Dad and laugh
"Son it's not about you doing a runner, if you notice the other two are not here, they would have followed Granite down to ICU. Its about protecting you and keeping you alive. Until we have sorted out these death threats, we can't take any risks, especially not with you." he sighs heavily as he puts his hand on my shoulder "I never want to have to bury any more of my kids and now we know Gravel is capable of anything, I'm scared!! You are the one key to getting him banged up for good, he could very well send someone to remove you out of the picture, and Granite, well Gravel seems hell bent on ruining him completely ... so you two in particular need protecting."
"Is that why you, El and Shale have constantly got your guns?" I mumble knowing he is wearing his underneath his pyjama top, when normally out of work hours he does not carry it around with him.
"Yes ... like I said, we are not taking any chances, with anyone, until we find out who made those death threats!!
My blood suddenly runs cold and I almost feel faint hearing an all too familiar voice, that at first I think I am imagining. Speak of the Devil and he shall appear!!
We hear Gravel before we see him.
We round the corner into the corridor outside the ICU doors, and my wheelchair suddenly comes to an abrupt halt as Dad stops. I look back at Dad who is just stood there scowling, he is hearing and seeing what I am. Gravel is in the corridor in front of us, kicking off and shouting both Slate and Granite's names. Obviously he must have just seen them rushing into ICU.
Gravel has been pushed out of ICU and is parked in the corridor, sat in a wheelchair which his ankles are handcuffed to while his two hands are handcuffed together. Three armed guards are standing close by, but at a distance constantly watching him.
For a split second I think about Dad's gun, I think about Tami and what Gravel did to her, I think about what he has done to all of us .... If only I had the guts to wrestle Dad for it and use that gun, right at this moment I probably would.
I don't even want to look at him, but I have no choice as he is right in front of us. He is struggling in the chair, trying to kick out, rattling the handcuffs around his ankles like he is trying to free himself, while he hurls abuse and kicks off with the policemen because he wants them to turn him round, he wants to know what is happening to Granite.
This makes me angry.
"DAD!!" he shouts when he suddenly spots us "What is wrong with Granite?"
"Like you care!! He is no business of yours any more ..." Dad snaps at him quite nastily "And don't Dad me ... you are no longer any Son of mine ... I have washed my hands of you!!"
"DAD PLEASE!!! I'm sorry!!"
"SORRY!! You are sorry!!" he snaps sarcastically "Do you think that SORRY is going to make what you have done all right!? SORRY is NEVER going to bring your Sister back or everyone else that you have hacked down in cold blood just for fun!!" Dad yells at Gravel "SORRY is NEVER going to fix the mess you have made of Granite, Slate or Mace!! Your own family ... you DISGUST me!! You are your Mother's son all right ... evil and twisted!!"
"Mace?" Gravel turns to look at me as he starts to get upset "Why are you in a wheelchair? Has Slate had his transplant? What is going on? They won't tell me anything, not even Mango!!"
"Don't even talk to me Berry Hole!! You don't deserve to know ... Just rot in hell!!"
"Bro please ... I need to know what's going on and what's wrong with Gran!"
"Don't you bro me either, like you have ever treated any of us like your bothers!! You no longer have a family, we have ALL washed our hands of you!!! And don't try to pretend that you are worried or care about Granite now!! You pulled the trigger, you shot him and put him in here and if I know you, you are only pissed because he hasn't faded yet ... like Tami ... what did she ever do to you ... nothing, but love you!!" I start to crack up
"I take it by the prison issue clothing he is being transferred to Berry Shores?" I hear Dad's voice starting to crack as he questions the officer while he tries to comfort me and probably keep his own emotions in check. Any mention of Tami tends to set him off, so usually I try to avoid talking about her in his presence.
"Good!!" Dad mumbles "What is the hold up? Why is he sat out here in the corridor?"
"We are just waiting for transport, we thought it best we move the prisoner out of ICU, with your other Son being rushed in." Just as he says it, the door opens and two prison wardens casually stroll through it.
"DAD please ... I need to talk to you ... don't let them dump me out in Berry Shores ... Dad!!" Gravel almost starts to beg but Dad totally blanks him.
"Perfect timing!! Your transport has arrived Sargent, get that prisoner out of here NOW!!" Dad almost yells at the police officer.
The police officer quickly starts to push him away down the corridor, they are followed by the prison wardens and a few of the armed guards. The others remain by the door watching us from a distance.
"Dad ... DAD ... MACE ... PLEASE!!" Gravel continues to shout until he is out of sight
We sit out in the corridor, I am trembling with anger. I had hoped that I would never have to see that man again, well not yet at least!! I know I can not avoid seeing him when our trial begins, but that is probably months away, and I really was not prepared for this now. I can not believe the nerve that he has asking after Granite like he is worried and cares.
Dad is very quiet and just puts his head in his hands, I can see that he is getting upset and I know seeing Gravel has to be very hard for him. Knowing the way he loves and dotes over his children, even his fostered ones, like me, and how much being estranged from Granite all these years has really hurt him. Washing his hands completely of Gravel, even after everything that he as done, must be almost destroying him as much as losing Tami has.
All we can do now is sit and wait for Slate or one of the other doctors to come out and tell us what is happening to Granite. I can not believe that we are sat out here again, worrying ourselves sick. I thought these days were behind us and that Granite was on the mend. We have had not even a two day break from it, and here we are having to go through it all over again!! I am now terrified again, that I am going to lose him, something that I seriously could never cope with.
I have been ecstatically happy for a few short hours, after the conversations me and Granite have been having today. I finally felt like we were getting somewhere, I seemed to be getting everything that I hoped and dreamed about relationship wise, now it could all be snatched away from me again, and I couldn't bare it!! This now feels like someone has pulled the floor from underneath me and I am continuously falling. He says he is over Forrest, and even though he has not really said it yet other than flipantly, finally, I know there is a chance that he loves me and we have a future together, which seems to make the thought of losing him, even worse some how.
I start to crack up again. Dad puts his arm around me and cracks up with me.
We watch Mango come running down the corridor in a hurry, he slams straight into the room that Granite it is. I feel a little more comfortable knowing that Mango is in there with him. After what feels like an eternity, but in fact it is only ten short minutes, Slate is pushed out of the room by one of the nurses while he is protesting.
Dad jumps up off his seat, which of course I can't do any more.
"Mango made me leave the room, because I'm getting upset in there."
"Not with you, you wally, with Granite?" Dad chuckles quietly
"He is .... back on full life support." he pulls a pained expression "I was right, he has scepsis from a nasty infection and his liver function is a lot lower than it should be so we are expecting that to start failing, amongst other things." he says glumly
"It's bad isn't it?" Dad chokes
"It's not good, but not as bad as it could have been ... hopefully he will be okay, we have caught it very early, thanks to Mace realising something was wrong and waking me up!! This is all Forrest's fault ... he has really messed up with his medical care today!!" he snaps
Slate starts to explain to us everything that is going on, everything that Forrest should have done and hasn't and what scepsis actually is and what could be the best or worst to happen to Granite ... obviously the worst being this could quite easily finish him off and fade him.
He doesn't hold anything back and he terrifies me.
The door bangs open again suddenly making me jump, this time it is Forrest who comes running through it. Seeing Forrest, I become very angry, still shaking from seeing Gravel and what Slate told us about Granites condition, he is the very last person I want to see at this moment in time. I hear Slate mumbling, "he has got a nerve" under his breath.
"GET AWAY FROM HIM FORREST!! DON'T YOU GO IN THAT ROOM OR EVEN TRY TO TOUCH HIM!!" I yell at Forrest before he gets a chance to reach the door. He comes to an abrupt halt as he swings round to stand there glaring at me.
"What is your problem convict?" he snaps at me
"I don't want you touching him as a person or a doctor!! Slate make sure Mango keeps him away from Granite, I don't want HIM anywhere near Gran!!"
"Oh and off goes the snivelling drama queen ... what's the matter ... are you not centre of attention suddenly" he snaps sarcastically in a baby like voice before his face switches to angry. "Who the hell do you think you are to tell me I can't touch Granite ... I am not only a doctor in this hospital, but I am also his husband unless you have forgotten ... idiot!!"
"You obviously haven't listened to a word that Granite has said to you have you, especially about the way you keep insulting me!!" I snap at him "Your farse of a marriage ended twenty years ago, and I am his current partner as well as his next of kin if you check his medical records ... so I have every right to tell the EX husband and incompetent doctor to keep his hands off the patient!! You have already messed up three or four times with him and he hasn't been awake two days yet!! What are you trying to do finished the job Gravel started!!"
"Whatever convict!!" he laughs sarcastically as he turns to go into Granite room.
Slate grabs him quite forcefully to stop him.
"STOP calling Mace a CONVICT!!!" he snaps "Mace is right ... You are NOT going in there!! I DO NOT want you anywhere near my Dad either!!! This is my department so you are over ruled doctor by me and the patients next of kin!! Neurology is your department, so sling your hook back upstairs, you are not wanted or needed down here!!" he almost yells at him " You have got a DAMN NERVE coming in here like you are all concerned - THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!!"
"Why is everyone so angry suddenly ... what the hell did I do?"
"You have messed up big time, its your incompetence that has got him rushed down here!!!"
"How exactly?" Forrest snaps
"He has had no obs, no anti rejection meds or any medical attention what so ever since dinner!! You didn't give him IV fluids when you found the infection, I'm surprised you even bothered to give him antibiotics, not that the one dose that you did bother to give him has done him any good without repeating it, which you didn't!" he snaps sarcastically "You should have had him on red alert, but no, you kept all the vital information to yourself, guarding him like a dog guards a bone and not letting anyone near him!! Nobody on Neurology had a damn clue what was going on with him because you didn't tell anyone and couldn't even be arsed to write his notes out properly." Slate yells at him "You also should have listened to Mace, when he was worried and asked you to check him hours ago!! Instead of belittling Mace, if you had done your job properly and checked Dad like he asked, you would have seen Mace was right - there was something seriously wrong with him ... HE HAS SEPSIS YOU MORON and the liver transplant will probably fail thanks to you ..." Slates is really starting to rare
"Just calm down Slate!!" Forrest yells in Slates face
" What the hell ... You have been drinking haven't you!! I can stink the booze on you ...."
Suddenly Slate erupts and starts going totally ballistic at Forrest.
Forrest and Slate really start to yell at each other. Slate keeps poking Forrest in the chest as he yells in his face, he starts to lay into him over more than just what has happened to Granite. He is worying about what Cinnamons wasted liver will do to Bay and his family if it does totally fail. Forrest hiding the truth about Granite being his real Father seems to be really troubling Slate, like it is Granite, and Slate also accuses Forrest of being Gravel's sidekick, and trying to finish Granite off.
Dad tries to calm Slate down, but he just shrugs him off.
Mango comes tearing out into the corridor.
"What the HELL is going on?" he has to yell to be heard above the noise of them shouting.
Mango jumps in between them, pulling back Slate, who had launched himself at Forrest and managed to get a punch in .
"We can hear you yelling in there ... and both of you, as doctors, should know better!!" he snaps "The yelling is bad enough, but there is especially no need for violence!! I am really disappointed in you Slate!!"
"Sorry!!" Slate mumbles while Forrest remains silent
"So what is the problem Slate?"
"HIM!! I think you already know, HE is the problem!!" he points at Forrest "I am sure you have worked out by now that he has been running your department like a bag of shit today, he's messed up big time and been endangering patients lives!!" Slate snaps "He has been too busy tormenting Mace and arguing with Dad to do his job properly and it's his fault my Dad has ended up down here again!!" Slate snaps "Me and Mace want HIM kept away from Dad ... he should not even be treating him as a doctor anyway!!!"
"You need to calm yourself down!! I have been made aware that Dr Rock has made quite a few mistakes today, and I will deal with this matter properly when I have collected together all the facts ..."
I can't stand it any longer, I am getting aggravated by the fact that Mango is too busy sorting out the argument, and me and Dad especially don't really have a clue what is going on with Granite ... anything could of happened after Slate left the room.
"Mango, what is happening with Granite?" I interrupt
"I'm sorry Mace ... Shale ..." he looks embarrassed
Mango explains that Granite is now fairly stable, back in a controlled coma and on full life support again, and it is basically a waiting game while the sepsis runs its course and any complications that arise, they will deal with them as they occur. It is too early to say what might happen, especially with his liver transplant, but he says that he is not too worried, they have caught the sepsis early enough and that Granite is a fighter and he expects him to pull through this.
It amuses me, while Slate pulled no punches in telling us everything, Mango skirts around and doesn't really tell us anything too gruesome or upsetting.
"Can I go in and sit with him?" I ask him
"Not just yet Mace, they are not quite done with him yet. Once we know he is completely stable we should be taking him down to theatre shortly to attempt to remove as much of the infected tissue as possible. I also need to warn you, until he is taken off the critical list I'm afraid we are limiting him to one family member at a time ... you know the routine, the same as last time." he smiles at me.
"How long do you think before one of us can go in?"
"At the moment I couldn't say, but while we are waiting, I want to clear this mess up!!" he looks around at all of us "I will start with you Mace, seeing as you have probably seen everything, since I hear you and Granite have been together and sharing a bed all afternoon ..." he frowns at Forrest for a moment
"Yes, and that right there is exactly where he has caught the infection from, because today is not the first time they have been caught sleeping together since Granite woke up!!" Forrest snaps sarcastically pointing at me, like he is trying to shift the heat off himself and blame me for this.
"I'm afraid Dr Rock, while it was your responsibility to keep them in separate beds, and you didn't!!" he scowls at him "The infection started internally, the signs of which were evident today and missed, due to the painkillers Granite has requested on more than one occassion." Mango frowns at Forrest again "In this case it is a post operative problem, we suspect from the kidney removal, not anything that he might have caught from sharing a bed with Mace ...."
Hearing this Slate starts to crack up.
Slate suddenly turns into a blubering wreck, and at one point I thought he was going to completely lose it and have a break down. He starts to blame himself, he thinks it is all his fault, if Granite had not donated his kidney to him, this would not have happened. He starts to ramble almost neurotically, over and over, saying first he was responsible for faded his Mother in childbirth, now he is going to be responsible for fading his Father too.
All I can do is sit and watch as both Mango and Dad try to calm him down, Mango especially is having to reason with Slate in a medical sense, telling him, that he isn't thinking straight, as a doctor he should know infections happen sometimes and this is not his fault. I think Mango tried to make Slate feel a little better by back peddling and telling him the kidney removal is not the only surgery that Granite has had, so until they open him up they can't be 100% sure it is that. Sepsis could happen to anyone after surgery, and often does. He also had to reassure him that his Mother fading in childbirth is also just one of those things and a medical tragedy, which he was no way responsible for whatsoever. It was his Mothers body that failed and not because of something he did.
Watching him break down, is really upsetting, I am struggling to fight back my own tears and when I can't hold it any longer I quietly join him. Dad too struggles to hold it together and sits down and starts to get upset. This whole situation is getting on top of us, we have been on an emotional rollercoaster since the shooting and now Slate is voicing what we are frightened of the most - Granite not making it through this. Forrest surprises me by standing there stoney faced, hardly showing any emotion, when even Mango is starting to look like he is getting upset.
I see finally what has been really worrying Mango about Slate, his mental state ... emotionally he is a wreck. Yet again Slate proves he is like Granite, he has kept everything bottled up inside, he has put on a brave face, while underneath he has been quietly and silently cracking up.
Out of all of us, Slate has had a lot more to contend with in particular, I am just glad that Jasmine has not been affected as badly because a lot of what has happened and is happening she is being shielded from her because of her age. I thought Slate was dealing with it all, but Mango was right, he hasn't been. Mango saw this and predicted it coming, while I thought he was just being over protective, because Slate has appeared okay, he has pretty much kept it together on the surface until now.
I never gave it a thought until he mentioned it in amongst his blubbering ... he has seen Gravel today when he rushed Granite down here, just like me and Dad did. Seeing Gravel has affected him quite badly, on top of the prospect that he might lose Granite, which is terrifying him, enough to finally have him cracking up.
Mango, who knows Slate better than any of us, has persisted that he has not dealt with everything properly, and he is right. I guess I have noticed that he has taken the fact of Granite being his biological father far too easily, almost like it didn't cause him the slightest problem, especially emotionally. He just accepted it and started calling Granite Dad straight away without a hesitation, like he had shut Gravel completely out and just replaced him with Granite, and there was no emotional baggage getting in the way, even though earlier when he was laying into Forrest, he hinted that there is.
"I want Bay!" Slate snivels quietly
I am a little surprised when Mango pulls out his phone, without any hesitation, and actually phones Bay. That is another thing that is worrying everyone, Slate latching onto Bay and trying to play gay when he is so obviously straight. I am beginning to think I can see what Slate is doing - he has completely shut out Gravel and Coral, replacing them with Granite and Bay, who he is concentrating all his energy on, so that he does not have to deal with the emotionally baggage. The prospect of losing Granite has unhinged him - because it brings all his emotional baggage back up to the surface.
Forrest sits down and tries to put his arm around Slate. This has Slate kicking off again as he pushes Forrest away quite nastily and forcefully. Forrest looks hurt and confused by Slates outburst, then tries again to put his arm around him.
"Forrest, just leave him alone, let Dad do it. Don't you think you've done enough damage to him!!" I snap at him
"What now?! Just don't start convict!!" he snaps back
"You asked earlier why everyone is so angry. You don't even see do you ... you are a very big part of Slates problem right now." Forrest frowns at me "You know Granite is blaming you and says he is never forgiving you for helping to rob him of 20 years of his sons life ..."
"Yes and ...?!" he frowns at me "Why bring that up now, I heard Granite quite clearly thank you, I don't need you ramming it down my throat too?!" he almost yells at me with irritation.
"Well Slate is feeling exactly the same way!!" I snap at him "I think all that boy can see right now is that you lied to him his whole life, you hid the truth from him and helped Gravel to rob him of his real Dad, as well as the different life that he could have had. Like that isn't bad enough ... now after your fuck up today, I should imagine he is thinking that you might also have robbed him of their future too!!" I snap at him "So I would say, the very last person he needs or wants in his face right now is you!!"
Slate looks up slowly from his crying and tries his best to smile at me, which confirms to me that I am right ... even though he has not said it, I knew that is exactly what he is thinking!!