A Voice in the Night
I heard the door open, but I didn't think nothing of it, just thought it was one of the night nurses. I glanced at the mirror, I was wrong.
He stood there, watching the heart monitor. So caught up in his anguished expression, I lost my moment to move and announce myself. I slid down the wall more quietly than I ever thought I could. Even down here I could still watch him, the one they call Bodie.
Some of the nurses call him handsome. Most, though, call him a ghost because he haunts the corridors and this room. He just appears and vanishes, spooks some of the night staff. He doesn't do any moaning or talking for that matter, it's almost like he's afraid to ask.
Tonight, it had been my turn to clean the loo, Mr Doyle is supposed to be waking and moving around tomorrow. So I wanted it done up nice for him. I'd been just about finished when Mr Bodie'd come in.
I could still see Mr Bodie, I had angled the cabinet mirror when I had first come in so I could keep watch on Mr Doyle's bed using the room door mirror.
He stood next to the bed, didn't pull up the chair, like I thought he might've. No, he just stood, looking down at Mr Doyle, eyes blinking a lot.
"Ray? Ray you awake yet? You need to wake, got no one else to appreciate me humour." Mr Bodie waited but Mr Doyle didn't answer or nothing. I knew the poor man was still out.
"I was out there, found your shooter, but I found myself feeling much like a one-winged bird. Need you out there beside me, ya know. We're that mobile ghetto, needs two of us to make it work."
He picked up Mr Doyle's hand and curved his fingers around the unresponsive ones. Didn't seem to mind, just stroked back and forth with his thumbs, almost absentminded-like.
He took a deep breath, I hoped he wasn't going to cry. Harder than watching a woman cry, watching a man. Don't seem as natural as with a woman.
He didn't, just stood all stoic, a little half smile on his face. He kept one hand in Mr Doyle's and the other he used to caress his cheek and forehead.
His voice was low, but I heard him quite clearly.
"Ray, we don't lie to each other, that's one of our rules."
His hand stopped, looked like it just hovered over his face then brushed his cheek again. He was so gentle, so very gentle.
"I stand guard, you stand guard. You watch, I watch, but recently, I do more than watch, I want. Not your problem, though, won't bother you with it, never fear.
I watched him brush the hair from Mr Doyle's face as he steadied his own breathing.
"They said you had a hiccup...fight with all you have, mate, you live for two. As long as you breathe, I breathe. As long as your heart beats, mine does. You are all that I am. What you mean to me is far beyond this life…. I stand by your side and watch your back. Never doubt that, but you have to fight."
It was said like a vow, a promise. I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone say something they've meant more. I wanted to curse the world for making it so difficult for him. It seemed like he was almost broken. I wanted to grab a sticking plaster to fix it but all he needed lay asleep in that bed.
Then, the most romantic gesture happened. It wasn't the gentle kiss on the forehead or nose, it was the press of fingertips to Mr Doyle's throat. He felt the heart pulses against his skin. He smiled, closed his eyes with a tremulous breath and a single tear escaped rolling down his face. That single tear seemed more poignant than my own dam burst.
Mr Bodie froze, I froze…a sound from Mr Doyle.
It was a hoarse whisper at best.
A hard swallow, then from that same whispered voice, "I'm stayin'."
I felt like dancing. I stayed motionless and hidden but I still felt giddy. I don't know what it'll mean for them, but something warm seemed to settle in my chest. I had great hope, for them and for me as well.
Mr Bodie pulled the chair right next to Mr Doyle's bed. He sat as close as he could get and rested his head against the covered thigh. Mr Doyle rested his hand atop the dark head and they both fell asleep.
I crept out silent as a mouse and finished my shift in a buoyant mood.
-- THE END --