Irony

Chapter 18: Wilson's Boys
1 - Weird Wet Wednesday
2 - Greggs Place
3 - Questions Without Answers
4 - Wilson Goes Down
5 - Roger
6 - In Wilson's Room
7 - Billy Arrives
8 - Brothers
9 - Mixed Bag
10 - Gregg Screws Up
11 - Don't Go!
12 - The Signal
13 - Finding Jules
14 - Houses is Where??
15 - Billy Rides Again
16 - Looking Out For The Cripple
17 - The Cripple Gets Even
18 - Wilson's Boys
19 - I Need You!
20 - Jules and Roger
21 - Me 'n' My Shadow
22 - Crutch Ballet
23 - Wilson Speaks
24 - Whispers
25 - Winners
26 - Business at Hand
27 - All These Men ...
28 - Get Ready... Get Set...
29: Caper
30 - Over The Rainbow
31 - All Over But The Shoutin'!
32 - Irony

by Betz88

On his way home from taking House back to his own place, Wilson stopped by the hospital to see Roger and Jules.

 

He had not lingered at East Side Drive because he could feel the need in Gregg to be alone once more.  Sometimes his friend’s body seemed to radiate the need for isolation, and Wilson could read it on his face like a blinking neon sign.  House had assured him that he was indeed all right, and his leg was not causing him added distress.   He just wanted and needed solitude; time to stretch out mind and body in his own personal space and relax to the best of his ability, and vegetate by himself.

 

Wilson had no qualms about leaving his friend alone this time.  Gregg House was a complex man, not normally a social animal.  When society closed in around him and forced him to accommodate his closest friends, such as had happened today with Vince Crane’s mental hang-ups about his physical condition, then Gregg needed to retreat deep inside himself and lick the wounds that Vince had inflicted without even being aware of it.  Wilson knew what was happening, even as it was happening, and knew what the end result would be.  Vince was doing his best to stop his guts from churning when he was around Gregg, and Gregg did his best not to come down on Vince for being a coward when he saw Gregg’s painful lameness, or heard him make jokes about being a cripple.  Wilson did not know if the impasse would ever be resolved between them, but at least they were facing the problem instead of running from it.  But now Gregg needed to unwind, and Wilson was more than willing to allow him the down-time to do it.

 

When House struggled out of the Pacifica in the underground garage at his condo, Wilson reached across the seat and touched his friend’s hand.  “Call me if anything changes,” he said softly.

 

Gregg nodded, then pulled away and limped toward the elevator.  “Yeah.  Thanks.”

 

Wilson pulled his car into his outside parking space on the PPTH lot and shut off the engine.  At 6:15 p.m., it was nearly dark.  Two more weeks until Daylight Savings Time!  The weather should be a little warmer, and daytime would stick around a little longer.  He got out of the car and beeped it into standby mode, slipped his keys into the ratty pocket of his old green GAP jacket and walked up the front sidewalk to the main entrance.

 

All the administrative offices were shut down for the weekend, and the corridors were already dimming into evening calm.  James quickened his pace to the elevator bank where he and Gregg were headed when they’d both been waylaid by the double whammy that made a shambles of their entire week.

 

Wilson was tired.  Stiff and sore.  He’d engaged muscles today that he didn’t normally use for strenuous activity anymore, and most of them were beginning to pull painfully.  He clasped a hand to the back of his neck, massaging roughly, groaning at the resistance he felt there.  Was he getting old already?  Guess so!

 

He stepped out on the second floor not far from the nurse’s station.  There were two women working the desk; both RNs, charting and counting meds.  Neither saw him walk past.  His moccasins made no noise on the polished floor.

 

Wilson continued down the corridor toward the second floor ward.  There were no stragglers wandering around in the halls tonight.  Everyone must be full of supper and in a mellow mood.  Was there a NASCAR Busch night race on somewhere tonight?  Or might there be a WWF marathon?  A dose of March Madness, maybe?  Wilson wasn’t sure, but it was very quiet at the moment, and he continued on his way to Room 220 and peered in the door.  Roger’s bed was empty and his wheelchair was gone.  The bed being used by Jules was empty also.  Two men in the remaining beds looked up at his entrance, not recognizing him in his old clothes.  Both nodded a greeting, both pairs of hard eyes set into hard faces looked at him in question.

 

“Anyone happen to know where Mr. Wilson and Mr. LeBeque are?”  He asked.

 

“They might be over in the dayroom,” one of them replied.  “Those cutsie boys don’t spend too much time in here when we’re here!”

 

“What do you mean by that?”  Wilson growled.

 

“Means just what it sounds like, buddy.   ‘Mister’ Wilson and ‘Mister’ LeBeque are a little ‘light in the loafers’!”  He guffawed at his own joke and was joined by the man in the next bed.  “Who the hell are you, anyhow?”

 

“I’m Dr. James Wilson, and Roger Wilson is my brother.  Perhaps you gentlemen might want to rethink your positions where he and Mr. LeBeque are concerned.”

 

Their expressions changed quickly.  Both pairs of eyes darted away.  “We didn’t mean nothin’, Dr. Wilson … but … Jesus!”

 

Wilson planted his feet and slammed both hands into his jacket pockets.  “And the fact that their lifestyle differs from yours concerns you boys … how?  Have they stolen your food?  Poisoned your water buckets?  Threatened to attack you in your beds?”

 

“Well … no …”

 

“Then I would suggest you tend to your affairs and allow them to do the same.  They won’t be around to bother you that much longer.  Is that understood?”

 

“Yeah … Jeez, man …”

 

Wilson pivoted on his heel and strode out of the room, turning in the direction of the dayroom.  That had been a very short, sweet, instructive conversation, and everyone had learned a lot from it.  He was angry.  It was time to get Roger and Jules the hell out of here!  Monday at the latest.

 

They were across in the furthest boundary of the dayroom, near a small alcove where the draperies came together at the corner window.  Roger was in his wheelchair wearing a heavy sweatshirt, both legs covered by a thick blanket.  His abundance of dark brown hair shimmered with cleanliness in the dim lighting, and his sweet face was clearing up from the abrasions he’d suffered on the street.  Their conversation was animated and punctuated with occasional laughter and they had their heads together like two teenagers with a juicy secret. 

 

Jules was finally cleaned up also, and the raggedy old fatigues were gone.  He wore a grey sweat suit similar to Roger’s, heavy white socks and a pair of new white sneakers, probably hospital issue.  Even his black hair had somehow lost that “crab grass” look, and his smooth bronze skin was so shiny it made him look like a four-year-old on his way to a wedding.

 

Wilson walked up to them and stopped, standing with hands in his pockets.  “Hey!”

 

They looked up, both at the same moment, smiles spreading, faces welcoming.  “Hey Jimmy!”  Roger held out his hand and Wilson took it with a gentle pressure that signaled reassurance.  His brother’s skin was softer now, healing rapidly.

 

“Hey Bro.  Hi Jules.  How are you guys doing?  Thought I’d stop by and check in on you.  Do you need anything?”  He walked around the wheelchair and sat down on the settee at Jules’ side.

 

“Actually, we’re doing pretty well, aren’t we Rodge?”   The Jamaican lilt was pleasing to the ear.

 

Roger nodded.  “Yeah, really.  I’m feeling a lot better, Jimmy.  I’ve been to hydrotherapy once and to PT twice … and that’s just today.  Maria and the ladies in PT are careful not to hurt me, but they say it’s going to get a lot harder.”

 

“And you know they’re right, don’t you?”

 

Roger nodded.  “Yeah.”

 

“Well, I do have some good news.  Some friends and I went to my place today and moved a lot of furniture around so you guys have a room to yourselves downstairs.  If I can make the necessary arrangements, I’m going to have you discharged on Monday, and you can move in out there.  I’ll drive you both to the hospital on the days you have therapy and drive you home at noon.  The rest of the time you can do whatever you please.  You can have the run of the house and the neighborhood and get to know the place and the people.  When you’re feeling up to it, we can give Mom and Dad a call and tell them about you.  Is that okay with both of you?”

 

Their eyes met across the intervening space, and both of them nodded their heads at the same time.  “I’d like that, Jimmy.  I have a lot to make up for with the folks, and it just sounds wonderful,” Roger admitted cautiously.  “We aren’t too popular around here, if you know what I mean.”

 

“We sure aren’t,” Jules echoed.

 

“You’re talking about the two guys back in your room?”  Wilson asked.  “Because if that’s the case, I don’t think they’ll give you any more trouble.  I was just there, and they opened their big mouths without knowing who I was.  I told them!”

 

Jules laughed appreciatively.  “Wish I could have seen that, mon …”

 

“It was short and sweet.  If it were anyplace else other than this hospital, I might have stirred up a hornet’s nest.  Idiots like that just don’t seem to know when to quit.  But if they try anything else with either of you, my boss will come down on them like Lucifer’s Hammer.  Or if not her, then Dr. House would …”

 

“Gregg?”  Roger’s ears suddenly perked up.  “Where is he?  Don’t you two guys usually travel together?”

 

Wilson frowned.  “Well, not always …”

 

“Where is he?”  The topic suddenly veered away from intolerant rednecks and refocused onto Gregory House.

 

Wilson smiled indulgently and shook his head in frustration.  There Gregg was again!  One offhand mention of his name, and Dr. House would jump into and dominate every conversation he’d ever had, except with those people who had never heard of him!  (In this hospital, those were few!)  Even when the subject was so far off-topic as to be completely inconsequential, up he would pop again!

 

“As far as I know, he’s at home.  I dropped him off there about an hour ago.  He needed some space and some down time, and I always give him that when he needs it.” 

 

“Is he all right?”  There came the Wilson compassion again, thick within Roger’s voice.  There was concern in Jules’ face also as they both looked at him.  Wilson sighed.  He could not fight it.

 

“He’s fine, as far as I know.  He said he was, anyhow, and I have no reason not to believe him.”  Wilson was not comfortable with the sidestepping of truth, but now was not the time to get into a discussion of Gregg’s health with the brother who was obviously   feeling a deep connection to his crippled friend.  Common ground was often an overwhelming motivator. Wilson sighed.  Their attention was still riveted on him, expecting more information. 

 

“Gregg was tired,” he finally admitted.  “Worn out.  He was on his feet most of the day.  He did the cooking for everyone who helped with the move.  He’s probably zoned out in front of his TV right now, smoking a cigar and having himself a couple of beers.  Resting.”

 

They finally accepted that as an explanation, but Wilson knew that that was not the end of it.  As gay men, he suspected they knew where “the bear shit in the buckwheat”, but were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until he gave them enough rope to hang him!  He would let it go at that for now.

 

They spent another hour together.  Wilson asked for a list of the things they would like for him to stock up with in refrigerator and pantry, and they laughingly gave him a long list.  He asked for clothing sizes, and was astounded that neither of them had any idea.  They had been on the streets so long that the question held no meaning for them.  It made Wilson shudder in sorrow.  “I suppose I’ll just have to guess then,” he said.  “I can probably get stuff for both of you in the kids’ department!”

 

They both found this funny, and he could understand why.  But again, it struck him as sad.

 

Wilson left them a little after eight in the evening, saying he was not sure if he would see them the next day or not.  He had a lot of shopping to do and errands to run.  And he might even have a nice surprise for them.

 

He left them laughing and guessing, and waved from the doorway when he left.

 

He wanted to get back to Ridge Road before it was too late to call Vince Crane at his home.  And he was hungry.  One of Gregg’s leftover hamburgers sounded good right about now.

 

 

                                                       ********

 

Vince answered his phone on the first ring.  “Hallo … ?”

 

“Hey Vince!”  Wilson took a bite of nuked hamburger and chewed lustily.

 

“Hi-ya, Jimmy … what’s cookin’?”

 

“Not much.  I’m tired.  It’s been a long day.  But I’ve been thinking, Vince.  I need a used car.  Not the Toyota!  What have you got?”  He took another bite; chewed.

 

“For the boys, huh?”

 

“Yeah.  You’re reading my mind.  They can’t be stuck out here with no transportation.  Something inexpensive … good on gas.  And it needs to have room to transport Roger’s wheelchair.  Not sure yet how long he’ll need to be in the damned thing …”

 

“Aha!  I got an older car back in the shop that’s in really good shape.  Should be just about right for what you need.  Dodge Shadow.  Automatic.  1987.  Woman traded it last Monday on a Jeep Wrangler.  It’s a metallic green two-door hatchback.  The back seat lays down flat and you could fit the Washington Monument in there!  Sound good?”

 

“Sounds like just what the doctor ordered.  You gonna be over at the garage anytime tomorrow?  I’ll stop by and take a look.”  Wilson finished off the hamburger and wiped his fingers on his jeans with a flourish.

 

“How about around noon?  Jeanie is at her Mom’s this weekend, and I need to catch up on paperwork.  Maybe we can stop for a bite afterward, okay?  Gregg and Billy coming along?”

 

“Nope, just me.  Billy and Nancy had other plans, and Gregg … I think … is just kicking back and relaxing at home tonight … probably tomorrow too.  Lunch sounds good though.  I’ll see you around noon.”

 

“Sounds good, Jimmy.  Hope Gregg’s okay …  So long now.”

 

“’Bye.”

 

Wilson hung up the phone.  Why in hell would Vince Crane ask if Gregg House was okay???

 

Of course he was okay … probably.

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