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“You doing alright man?”
Deke looked up at JB. They hadn’t seen each other for a long time, but JB still looked just like he always did, ready for trouble and on the run from the police and several fathers. Deke couldn’t help but smile a little, he had missed the shrimp. Their reunion was not built around the situation he would have ever wanted, but in his heart, he had always thought it would be the situation he would have to face when he came back home. In the hospital with one of them, in a prison visiting room, or at a graveyard. He and his friends hadn’t been the most careful or law-abiding citizens in their younger days.
“Yea man I guess. Other than I come home, see a friend, go to get something I left at his apartment, and he’s being shot. Other than that yea, I’m doing good.”
JB stared at Deke, and even Deke could notice how his eyes were hard with suspicion and anger on the former friend.
“It’s a little odd Deacon, you coming back into town all the sudden, and magically being there when Otis is getting shot by some punk. We trusted you a long time ago, but that was then, and this is now. A now were my best friend got shot and you showed up after a few years, and a lot less years than you said you’d be gone to the army.”
Deke looked at JB for a minute. So that was the score? AS far as JB was concerned he was a suspect? Fuck that shit. Deke jumped up from the chair, forgetting that he still hadn’t fixed his prosthetic leg right. The leg crumpled, and Deke started to fall, only to be caught by JB. Sitting back down, Deke started cursing under his breath as he began to roll his pants leg up.
“Goddamn fucking piece of shit fucking fake ass motherfucking leg.”
JB just kind of stared. That would definitely explain why Deacon had come home a lot earlier than his original five years. Fuck, from the look of it, he didn’t have much leg below his knee. Maybe 3 inches, but not much more than that. His fake leg was one of the fancier deals, the kind that would support running and walking. He knew he was about to ask a stupid question, but he had to ask it anyways.
“How did that happen?”
Deke couldn’t help himself.
“We decided we’d rather stay friends so my lower leg moved back in with its parents.”
“You fucking smartass.”
Deke smiled a little. He was still pretty stung over what JB had said, but it was something he would have to get over.
“IED’s man. A little four door car on the side of the road that decided to explode next to my door on the hummer did it for me. My second tour was ended the moment I woke up and they said my leg was gone. The nerve and bone damage was just too much for the leg to ever recover from, so they had to take it. I got this shiny piece of shit, a plane ticket, a purple heart for being wounded and sent home. Now I’m here, sitting in this hospital as another person I consider a friend is possibly dying from being shot.”
“I’m sorry for saying that man. I’m just freaking out.”
“Nah it’s ok man. It would seem fucked up to me to, so I know where you are coming from. Still hurts though you know?”
Jb and Deke sat in the room in semi-comfortable silence. JB had questions for Deke, but he wasn’t going to ask them. He didn’t know how he would feel about the answers, or if he could handle any stories Deke may tell. JB didn’t really want to have to try and match up what was possibly an Army killer to his goofy friend who listened to Muck Sticky when they were growing up. The two sat in semi-comfortable silence for a few minutes.
Deke looked over to see why the line of questioning had stopped from JB, and almost laughed. JB’s head was cranked back; mouth opened and was starting to make a slight snoring sound. They had all been having a rough time, so sleep was something JB needed apparently. Deke knew what he was in need of, and walked off from the waiting room looking for the Hospital Chapel.
As he entered the chapel, he nodded to another person sitting in one of the pews and went to another and sat. Deke had always liked to see where he was and try to commit it to memory for some reason, so he looked around the chapel, at the dim lighting, the heavily stained and varnished oaken pews, and the silver and gold cross. Reaching inside his shirt, Deke removed the simple wood and pewter crucifix that he had carried since he was 13 years old, and began to pray.
Deacon had been raised in a strongly non-caring family. Sure, if you had asked his father, they had believed in God and Jesus, especially around the time that the churches were giving away free food or clothes for Deke or his three brothers. Deke’s mother had been die-hard Catholic until she was killed in a car wreck along with Deke’s two younger brothers when Deacon was 12. Roman, the oldest of the boys, had decided the best way to make money was to sell drugs to support his brother and now alcoholic father. Roman made the mistake of trying to sell crack to a man who wasn’t a junkie, he was an undercover casino şirketleri police officer. At that point all that was left anymore were Deacon and his father, who wasn’t a father at all. There was only one place left for him to turn in his mind, and Deacon turned to God, following in his mother’s religious footsteps.
Meeting Otis and JB hadn’t derailed him from his path, even though they had done a lot of sinning as teenagers, and he had regretted it. When Roman had been released from jail only to be busted on a parole violation when Deke was 17, he decided he was going to get away from that life. Signing up for the United States Army was his chosen way to get out. His faith got him through his time in the sandbox, and it got him through losing his leg. He knew he wasn’t the same, but he also knew that his faith in Jesus could get him through anything.
As he went to rise, the man who had been sitting in the other pew sat beside him and grabbed his arm. Deke looked at the man coolly, wondering how this was going to go down. He didn’t want to have to walk away from a fanatic, nor did he really want this guy to attempt to mug him in the Chapel. Looking at the man, he seemed to be in his late 80’s, white hair, pale complexion, and wasted away l8ke a cancer patient, which being where they were at, might not be too far from the truth. His eyes were what threw off any guess to his age. Where his face looked late 80’s, his eyes looked timeless but young. They were filled with a great compassion and a great hunger for life.
“Easy there soldier. I’m not going to hurt you. I just want to talk.”
Deke looked at the man. Soldier was a pretty good guess, but there were signs that pointed to it. Deke still had a crew cut, was wearing an ARMY shirt, and he still wore his tags, which were hanging on the outside of his shirt.
“Then talk, but first, let go of my arm. I don’t like people grabbing me.”
The man chuckled and released his arm. Stretching back, he surveyed Deke like someone he intended to buy. Deke tensed up, he wasn’t really enjoying all of this attention and he wanted the man to say his piece then get the hell away from him.
“I’ve seen the look in your eyes a thousand times kid. Have faith in the Almighty, and have faith in yourself. That will be all you will ever need in life. That faith will save you at your worst times.”
The old man stood with those words and walked away, leaving the chapel. Deacon bowed his head once more and talked to God, thanking him for the gentle reminder that he needed to keep his faith strong. Standing, he began to leave the Chapel, stepping out into the bright fluorescent lights of the hallway and immediately bumping into someone. Still dazed by the lights, he helped them off the floor and apologized profusely.
“Don’t worry; you never have to apologize to me.”
As the glare began to recede and his eyes adjusted, he could see who it was. It was Nikki, the girl from the other night. He blushed a bit, and still tried to stammer an apology. Nikki just smiled and him and shook her head.
“So, what are you doing here? I thought Otis fixed you up pretty good.”
Nikki nodded and they started walking as she explained.
“My mom is here for a doctor’s appointment, and I have to drive her. I just always walk around and say hi to the people I know until it’s time to go. What are you doing here? You didn’t get hurt or something did you?”
Nikki felt a very really uneasiness at the thought of him getting hurt. He had helped her, who was someone he didn’t even know, and she didn’t want her savior getting hurt. True, Otis had done most of the medical work, but she would have never got that without Deacon. Besides, he was cute. And she still really loved his color, even if the bronze was tarnished by the glaring lights.
Deacon shook his head and stopped, Nikki walking a couple of steps before realizing he had stopped and turning to look at him. Taking a deep breath, he filled her in on the events with Otis, and she grabbed his hand and began pulling him down the hallway before she stopped.
“I don’t know what room he’s in, hurry up and show me!”
“Nikki calm down! He’s in surgery as far as I know, but Pappaw, JB and this girl that Otis is whatever with are all in the waiting room.”
Nikki about yanked his arm out of his socket yanking him down the hallway. Deke was glad he had firmly secured his leg, she yanked him like that again it’d probably come off. Thankfully it wasn’t far to the waiting room.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“You’re a fever dream. All of this was nothing but a fever dream.”
The Hallucination smiled at Otis and began to laugh. Reaching towards the table and grabbing a cup, he motioned for Otis to sit. Being wary, Otis placed the shield at his side and planted the axe handle in the ground hanging onto it as he sat. He didn’t care that it made him look like he would start swinging it any moment, he was suspicious. casino firmaları He had been fighting in this dream since it started; he wasn’t going to let his guard down now.
“I’m not a fever dream boy. And that axe wouldn’t do you much good; I could crush your skull between my finger tips.”
Otis fairly bristled, almost snarling and baring his teeth. He spat out the first words that came to his mind
“Hager probably thought that to. AS did every other creature you sent after me. But who is still standing? None of them! I am still standing!”
The hallucination calling itself Thor laughed again.
“You’re proud boy. That’s for sure. Next time you feel proud about being strong and deadly; remember that someone has almost killed you. Which is why you are here, fighting to prove you deserve to live.”
Otis scowled at the ‘God’. Taking a drink, he sat the cup back down.
“I’m not a Christian, but you can’t be real, because everyone says the only God is Jehovah.”
“Now you’re reaching. If everyone said that you could fly if you jumped off a bridge, would it be true?!?!?”
Otis sat back a little in his seat as dark clouds began rolling in from the west and thunder rumbled. The Hallucination jumped to his feet, his red hair and beard bristling and crackling like red forks of lightning.
“I AM THOR! THE THUNDERER! DONNAR! THORR! TORAN! PERUN! UKKO! HORGALLES! A THOUSAND DIFFERENT NAMES BUT ONE GOD! ONE WARRIOR WHO SLEW THE GREAT GIANTS WITH NAUGHT BUT MY HANDS AND HAMMER! HUSBAND OF SIF, SON OF ODIN, FATHER TO MAGNI, MODI AND THRUD!”
A giant hammer appeared from nowhere, giant except for the short handle, and Thor struck the ground with it. As the ground actually fucking rippled, a golden hair woman appeared in a flash of green light, wearing a two color dress. Like ripe corn layered with the color of ripe wheat. She also had a look on her face like she was going to jerk a knot in someone’s ass.
“Thor. Calm down, right this second. I swear. I can’t leave you alone for one hour without you getting angry about something.”
Thor pointed a stiff and angry finger, fairly crackling with lightning at Otis, who was trying to hide equal parts terror and a smile, especially because of the look on the first Hallucinations face when the second one arrived. Thor knew he was in trouble.
“Sif, he told me I wasn’t real because only that damn Nazarene and his father are real!”
“Calm my husband. Calm.”
Sif grabbed her husband’s hand and lowered it to her face, gently rubbing her cheek against it. Thor visibly softened, and the air lost its electric feeling, and the darkened sky turned light and sunny again. Kissing his hand softly, Sif and Thor walked back to the table where Otis had sat still, not moving other than in his seat.
Thor sat first, in his dramatic Barbarian chieftain seat, and Sif sat down on his leg.
“Here’s the deal Otis. My husband and I had a little argument about your will to live, and how well the possibility of love with Ariel, the love you feel for your friends and others, and the love you feel for your Grandfather would play into how hard you fight. We felt those things in your determination to live, but mainly felt was a general hatred of whomever was making you fight and a desire for revenge. Anger and hate do not rule the world. They look like they do. But this world is ruled by love, for when anger and hatred fail, the strength of love keeps the world turning.”
She broke her speech as she took a drink. Otis looked at her unbelieving. He knew what the world was ruled by. Strength of one’s arm and heart, and how far you were willing to go to get what you wanted in life. Looking at Thor roll his eyes, he couldn’t help but believe the Thunderer believed the same as he did. Otis brought his attention back to Sif as she placed her cup down and began speaking again.
“You won’t remember any of this, except in your sub-conscious, as a little voice that offers advice when you make a choice from now own. My husband will also offer plant some of his choice words of wisdom into it as well, and it will also offer advice. Now, any questions before we return you to Midgard?”
Otis looked between them. If they weren’t a fever dream, maybe they were real. He didn’t know. Otis had never really believed in anything, nothing really besides himself and the strength of his arm. He wasn’t going to start believing in anything besides those two things anyways. He may now that something greater than himself was out there, but he wasn’t going to depend on them. Looking back at them, he shook his head no.
Thor nodded, and reaching forward, placed his hand on Otis’s chest, and then his world shattered like he had been struck by lightning. This, in truth, was what happened.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The nurses and doctor looked at the screens worriedly. Right before they went to shock Otis again, the screen lit up with güvenilir casino a single blip. Then another, and another, until a shallow heartbeat was steady on the monitor, and becoming stronger with every second. Then, they heard the telltale signs of the patient trying to breathe on his own, instead of the machine helping him. The Doctor bowed his head, giving thanks to whatever was out there for that.
Finishing the operation took them almost two hours. Finally, the patient was stitched up and bandaged, the leaking artery firmly fastened this time. As they wheeled him out to his room, they once again passed a waiting room of hopeful and scared faces, with the addition of one.
JB had woken, and been quietly chatting with Pappaw while Ariel had slept, only for her to wake up because of the uncomfortable chair she was sleeping on. Deacon and Nikki had arrived earlier, only to wait around, both nervously chit chatting with each other and waiting. Nikki had talked to a nurse she knew, who had told her mother about what was going on. Since she knew Otis as well, she was on her way as soon as her appointment ended.
As the stretcher was wheeled past, the doctor stepped out of the doors walking towards the group. Looking at the expectant faces, he couldn’t help but smile tiredly.
“We’ve done all we can, barring fate, he’ll make it.”
Pappaw grabbed the Doctor in a bear hug and then let go, grabbing both JB and Ariel in a similar hug. He then waved at Deacon and Nikki, and included them in his massive hug as well. No one commented on the old man’s tears, more than one of them had tears in their eyes as well. Turning to the doctor, Ariel asked the question that was in her mind the most.
“When can we see him?”
“I’d advise that he rest for the night at least. We don’t even know when he’ll wake up, let alone when he will be able to talk to visitors.”
Ariel nodded. She chatted with everyone, and since they finally knew their friend was safe, they had things to do. She needed a shower and real food desperately. JB had to go check in with people. Pappaw needed to go home and sleep in his own bed. The only one who had nothing to was Deacon, so he offered to stay and call people in case anything happened.
Before everyone walked away, Pappaw thanked each of them for being there. He wanted them all to know they were welcome at his home anytime, as long as they weren’t on the run. With a final wave, JB and Pappaw walked to his truck, since JB needed a ride home. Ariel waved bye to everyone, then got in her car and began to drive home. Deacon settled into a stiff hospital chair for his wait.
“So, when did you and Otis meet?”
Deke looked up at Nikki. He smiled softly, remembering a past with a young man who was almost exactly like the person he was now. The biggest difference being that the young version believed he could never die, and the older Deacon knew very well how close to him Death would always be. Looking off into that distant past, Deacon gradually began to tell his own tale, about how he had met Otis and JB, and found brothers closer to him than any tie of blood could make them.
“Let’s see…. I was about 14 or 15. I’m a year older than both of them, but we had same classes because I was held back for unexcused absences. In case you didn’t notice, my skin has a little bit of a darker cast than most around here. My father was from New York; his parents had decided that they didn’t want their son growing up in the city. My grandfather got a job down here, packed everyone up and moved down. I don’t think my grandpa realized that a Southern town wasn’t a good idea for anyone of dark skin to live in. But, they were from Greece, and had scraped a living out of the bare rocks to move to America in the first place, they would work just as hard to make it in America.
So anyways, Dad meets girl. Girl gets pregnant her Senior Year of school, girl becomes Mom. Which lead to Roman, then to Deacon then to Peter and Paul. My mother was religious, so we all got religious names. When I was young, Mom, Peter and Paul were killed in a car accident.”
Deacon stopped for a moment as Nikki made some noises of consolation, but he just shook his head and said they were in a better place, and then continued.
“So, that happened. I started having to go to a grief counselor at school. We did a group therapy thing once a week, and Otis was a part of it. He had just lost his dad. We just kind of bonded. His mom had ran off and his father was dead, my dad wasn’t much of a father at all even when he was sober and mom was dead. And as you prolly know, when you get Otis, you have no choice but to get a JB. He didn’t like me much. I was to dark for him. His dad taught him that I wasn’t any good, but after a while he realized I wasn’t my skin color, my color was a part of me. So that’s the basic story. When I turned 18 around 3 years ago I left for the army and went to Afghanistan, and I lost my leg there. Now I’m back home, and wasn’t here four days before my best friend from childhood was almost killed.”
Nikki stared at Deacon for a moment.
“Well, I have to say Deacon, that I think your skin color is beautiful. It’s like polished bronze. And you lost your leg?”
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