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Once I pulled myself together I asked about the office sign up and Clara, the Nurse who looked so stern but wasn’t, told me that it was attached to the library and they could sign me up there. So down I went and signed up.
Sarah the chief librarian used my wrist band like a room key at a fancy hotel, I just passed my wrist over the chip reader and bam, I was in. I said thank you and wandered off for the cafeteria.
After a really good chicken breast in a white sauce I walked a while and finally decided to go to bed. I found I had a roommate named Jerry. He was a little younger than me and he had been in a horrible crash and was having some trouble getting a grip on things. He said he hallucinated that he was covered in blood again and would strip off all his clothes. Apparently his teachers and classmates found this somewhat disconcerting.
He told me a big mule deer had come through the windshield of the SUV he was riding in and killed his brother who was driving and mangled his brothers girlfriend leaving Jerry soaked in human and deer blood.
He sat there covered in gore for a couple hours before a farmer found the wreck. I think I’d freak out a little too.
It didn’t hurt that he was cute as well. That’s right, I said cute. I had been noticing boys that way for a while but that was so far down the list of stuff to worry about I couldn’t be bothered to analyze it.
Jerry and I chatted about regular stuff and then I got sleepy and decided to go to bed. Jerry seemed reluctant to go to sleep so I roused myself enough to ask him if he was having nightmares. He said he was having night terrors which is worse I guess. “It’s hard to snap out of them and they leave you all paranoid and jumpy.”
He said he’d try not to wake me, poor kid. I told him not to worry about it.
About two a.m. he woke screaming at the top of his lungs. I jumped up a little disoriented myself and then did the only thing I could think of and grabbed the hand closest to me and held the back of it to my cheek. He stopped wailing and went back to sleep. A nurse rushed in and I explained what happened and she said he seemed okay for now. She said, “thanks, he’s had a really rough time of it.”
That’s how I met Cynthia the night nurse. I was wide awake at that point so I decided to go for a pee. I put my shoes or whatever you call them on and went into the bathroom. I did what I needed to do and when I turned around there was a naked kid standing there.
“I need to go too.” Jerry said.
“It’s all yours” I said as I scooted past him. I climbed back into my bed and settled in. A few moments later Jerry was standing next to my bed.
“What’s up?” I asked and Jerry stood there looking like he wanted something but didn’t know how to ask.
Then after a long silence he said haltingly “Can I sleep with you? I know it sounds weird but could I, please, sleep with you?”
I looked in his eyes and they sort of glittered from the little bit of light there was, and he looked like a frightened five year old and I just didn’t have it in me to say no.
“I don’t know if the nurses will approve but I don’t have a problem with it.” I told him.
I hadn’t slept in the same bed with anyone since Dennis moved to Granada Hills but it seemed like Jerry needed the help so I threw back my bedding and said “Come on in.” He grabbed his pillow and practically flew into my bed. He faced away from me and spooned up next to me.
I put my arm over him and he took my hand and was very quiet until he said, “Hey your doodle is poking my butt.”
“Yeah, it does that sometimes, sorry” I said.
“It’s okay, mine does it too, see?” And he placed my hand at his groin and his Doodle was as stiff as mine.
“I never heard it called a doodle before,” I said.
“It’s just what my Mom said to call it, and doodle sounds nicer than penis or any of the other words I’ve heard for it,” Jerry explained. He settled back into me and we were both asleep in a few minutes. Having him in my arms was comforting for me as well as him and I slept straight through til’ morning.
When I woke up around six a.m. Cynthia was nudging me.
“How did this come about?” she asked when I finally switched on.
“He asked” I said simply. “I couldn’t turn him down; it would have been like kicking a puppy.”
“You,” she said emphatically “Are a sweetheart!” and she gave me a peck on the cheek.
“We better get him back in his own bed before dayshift starts making their rounds. But his Doctor will want to know about this.” She said.
“He just needed a little comfort; how could I say no?” I protested.
“You’ve done nothing wrong Duncan; I meant this is the most positive thing that has happened with Jerry in several days. He slept through the night after that first terror and that’s a first right there. He’s been on the pediatric ward for over a week since he was admitted but the other kids couldn’t get any sleep.”
A sleepy groan erupted from the lump of boy that was tucked up next to me. “I gotta pee really bad!” he said and scrambled out of bed and dashed to the bathroom at top speed.
“Problem solved” I said “he’s out of my bed.”
Cynthia giggled a bit and said, “Would you ask him to get dressed in at least pajama bottoms please.”
“I’ll do better than that; I’ll get him dressed and take him to breakfast if that’s okay.” I said.
“I’m sure he’ll appreciate that. You’re such a dear, could you give my son lessons on how to be sweet.” And off she went before Jerry could find out that a woman saw him run to the bathroom naked with a boner.