Ethan McKenna had been holding down the bile and rage and pain that had been ringing in his ears since he had gotten the call early that morning.
The call had come in with the dusting of dew at three o’clock in the morning. The call had caught Ethan while he was slaving away in a dark classroom, just as his eyes started swimming and multiple yawns had begun to crack his maw.
Since summer school had just ended at Southeast High School Saturday, Ethan, a Physics professor at the School, had been nearly buried in a pile of unmarked papers, which his students had dumped on his desk the previous day. Countless sheets filled with his Ninth Graders algorithms and chemical properties. Ethan had sat in the soft light of his tableside lamp, quietly passing out A’s B’s C‘s and D’s and secretly fudging some of the F’s so that some of the kids that put forth effort weren’t sitting in summer school all over again.
Ethan knew he could get into trouble for fudging some of the F’s and D’s into C’, but Ethan had spent months with some of the Teens and he knew that a lot of them were facing long odds inside and outside of the public schooling system. If he could alleviate some of that and give a few of them some help? He felt that this was more important than being anal over a few F’s and D’s.
So as Ethan sat there writing a C on the top of a paper….his cell phone had begun buzzing like crazy. At first Ethan had easily ignored the call. He knew that the only people ringing him at that ungodly hour were telemarketers or some random hornball from tender or Facebook looking from some after Club company.
But….the phone kept ringing…and as it continued annoyance melted swiftly into concern. So with a sigh Ethan dropped his pen, opened his bag, fished around and finally lifted a neon green i-phone from the leather pocket. The screen was glowing with a pictures icon that simply read Unknown….but recognizing the area code as one from Raleigh Ethan was soon pressing the green button to answer the call.
“Hello?” He called into the speaker as he steeled back into his chair and waited.
A soft feminine voice bleed through the speaker crowded by the sound of ringing phones, murmuring voices and swishing papers in the background. “Hello? Is this Ethan…Ethan McKenna?” the unknown woman inquired in a professional and measure tone.
Oddly feeling put off Ethan cleared his throat and spoke up. “Yes this is Ethan speaking….Um Can I help you?”
“Hello Sir. I’m Dr. Shannon. I’m Sorry to disturb you so early Mr. Ethan. “The Dr. Shannon eloquently expressed. “But I regret to inform you that there has been an incident…one of your family members in currently in Wake-Med Emergency.”
“I…I see….”Ethan replied. He was sure that he should have sounded more upset….or more emotional, but Ethan was not in denial about the way his family life was. He didn’t call them. They didn’t call him. He shot his mother a text whenever he got a new number or changed address, but for the most part….they acted as if he didn’t exist. It was hard to bring tear jerking emotion to his voice, when the people he was speaking about were in essence strangers to him.
So rather than fake an emotional response Ethan went with the real one he was feeling. Confusion.
“ I’m sorry but….I’m not really sure why you’ve decided to contact me…” He replied to the Dr.
There was a pause….as if the woman was taken back by his cool response. Then the Dr said. “Your mother, she asked us to reach out to you. She provided us with your number.”
Ethan tipped back his head and closed his eyes. His body tensed as various questions swirled around in his soul.
IS this it? IS this the day…? God is she finally going to wake up?
With a painful hope burning in his heart Ethan tightened his fist on the phone and said. “My Mother? Is she the one who’s hurt?” he asked unable to keep the small tremble from his voice.
The Dr. quickly answered. “No Mr. Ethan, it’s not your Mother. Its you’re brother…Andrew. Andrew Soul. He was admitted for surgery today.”
There was nothing that could have prepared Ethan for the instant and undeniable wave of fear that swept over him at those simple words. Ethan’s mother was a reflection of who she use to be. Ethan’s step father was lacking in basic human decency.
But Andrew….Ethan considered him to be the only good thing about their family. He was just an innocent kid.
Sitting up in his chair Ethan nearly shouted into the line. “What! Andy’s in surgery? Why? What’s wrong!”
A part of Ethan was surprised that Andrews nickname “Andy” had fallen from his lips so easily after all of these years. He hadn’t seen him since he was a toddler. He hadn’t spoken his name in years because it hurt that he couldn’t be in his life….but Andrew had always been in the back of Ethans mind.
Seemingly surprised by the genuine note of concern in his voice the Dr’s professional tone turned warm and calming.
“Please, calm down Mr. Ethan! The surgery went off without any complications. Your lil brother came in after collapsing at school. It was determined that he had a bad appendix which was removed. He is currently regaining his strength and should make a full recovery….but….” Dr Shannon suddenly stopped and sighed.
Ethan bit his lip. “But what Dr?”
“Mr. Ethan….are you around your brother often? Dr Shannon suddenly questioned without explanation.
Confused and chilled by the subject change all Ethan could think to do was answer her truthfully.
“Umm No. No. I haven’t seen him for about ten years now.” Ethan quietly expressed, then he sighed and shook his head. “Really he’s not even my brother. Were completely estranged. He probably doesn’t remember me at all. He’s my step father’s son from a previous marriage. No-Blood relation. I left home when he was still a baby and haven’t been back in person. But why do you ask?”
Dr. Shannon sighed. “Mr. Ethan there is clear signs of abuse having been visited upon him. Extensive abuse…that seems to have been going on for a long time.”
Hardly able to think or breathe as those word took root Ethan had to force himself to speak at a whisper. “What kind of abuse….?” Ethan asked the Dr…..but did he really have to ask her?
She asked me if I’ve been around Andy…if I could have abused him.
Ethan puzzled to himself as he let the phone hover by his ear.
If it was only physical abuse I don’t think she would have called me. Oh GOD….what did he do?
The line stayed silent as if the Dr knew Ethan was on the edge of meltdown. But Ethan couldn’t take the silence. Nearly shouting into the phone he pressed “Please Dr…Tell me what happened to Andy!?” Ethan insisted feeling like his throat would close up on him.
“I think….I think you should come and see him.” DR Shannon softly put forth rather than answering him question. A small pause filled the speaker as if the woman wanted to say more, but she only finished by reporting. “The authorities have been called…and his parents are being questioned. So…seeing as you’re the only family he has that can take him in; Estranged or not….I think it would be best for you to come. I don’t think Andrew needs to be put into child services.”
So without any real hesitation Ethan had hopped in his car and tore across the upper east side of Raleigh with a vice on his heart.
Now here Ethan was. Sitting in front of a giant mountain of stone, where countless souls had gone to die with a bright red neon light that spelled out the Hospitals name. He just remained sitting in the Wake-Med Hospital Parking lot barely able to move, but it wasn’t the rainy Sunday morning that held him inside of his four door Mazda.
Ethan couldn’t even look at the building without frustrated tears pricking his eyes. He didn’t have to guess or speculate. He knew what was waiting. He knew what he was going to hear and see when he went in.
Ten years ago he had run from it. Ethan had evaded this moment happening to him….but somehow he was here. He was seeing something he thought he would never see. How could he have been so selfish? So wrong!? Ethan would give anything in that moment to go back.
“Ten fucking years!?” Ethan shouted in the confines of his car.
“Why! Why didn’t you check up on him for ten fucking YEARS!?” Ethan slammed his fists into the driver wheel over and over, hoping that the stiff leather and hard rubber striking against him would alleviate the guilt that was trying to crush the life out of him……But there was no outward pain that could swamp the horror he was being faced with. The guilt he was forcing himself to swallow.
This was his fault. He had left him with a monster.
With a shuttering breath Ethan stalled his rampage on the steering wheel. With throbbing knuckles it was easy to see the bruising darkening his fair vanilla skin, from his own self-inflicted abuse. But Ethan was numb to it. He closed his eyes, wrapped his hands around the wheel, dropped his head into it and whispered in anguish. “Andy…I’m sorry. I’m so sorry…”
A wordless sob touched Ethan, and for a long time the rain pattered across the cars roof, and burning trails of tears dripped across his cheeks and down into the darkness. But like the pain….Ethan’s own misery was swallowed by the guilt….and transformed into white hot rage. The tears were halted in seconds as Ethan’s breast swelled on a furious cry.
Dashing the moisture from his chin Ethan raised up his head, popped open the door beside him and steeped out into the rain. A well-built frame, long legs and narrow hips, stepped out, draped in a long black trench coat. A single small stud in his rounded nose, and thick black hair cropped and jelled back accentuated the swallow, but healthy contours of his cheeks and chin.
In seconds the stinging rain was plastering the black silken strands of his hair to his nape and forehead.
Dark blue eyes touched with hatred seemed almost grey in the dismal Sunday light blocked by the rain….and with far more fore then was needed Ethan slammed the car door shut and bowed his head towards the car.
“I’m going to kill him….” He vowed, before he turned from the car and made his way towards the doors of the hospital.
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Book / Gay and Lesbian
Book / Gay and Lesbian
Book / Gay and Lesbian