Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Johnny and Doris - Part V - The End

He looked so small. Was he really that thin? With all the bruises on his face he looked entirely different. For Doris, that hit home with her unique and uncanny ability with faces. Even though John had only visited her twice, he had left an indelible impression.

A police officer entered John’s room and Doris stood to greet him.

"So you say he was mugged?" she asked.

"Yes Ma'am," the investigating officer said.

"I see."

"So you're his next of kin?"

"No!" Doris said, a little more forcefully than intended.

"So who are you then?"

Doris just shook her head.


She sat with him every day, every night. Every spare moment she had, she spent it by his bedside. He was now breathing on his own but he still hadn't regained consciousness. She had told Dr. Matheson about Stevie or what she knew of him, at least. He told her that they would deal with that later. "Let's just see if he can open his eyes first," he had said. "But it does explain the fact that there weren't any defensive wounds found on him. That's very strange for a case like this. He was either completely taken by surprise with no time to react or he didn't even attempt to defend himself at all. My guess would be the latter based on the extent and type of his injuries." Doris wept quietly when Dr. Matheson left the room.

Oh what to do with Johnny, she fretted. He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t tell her his story. Surely he had family somewhere, people who might be missing him? Strangely enough no one had filed a missing person report. She took to reading to him, anything to pass the time, any way to stimulate him into consciousness.

Fourteen days later, John woke up. Doris was at the hospital but had just left his room to get herself a fresh coffee and some air. When she returned, she was shocked to see him, wide awake and staring out the window. He tried to get up to greet her but was temporarily snared by his IV. Then he was gripped by his own weakness and flopped heavily back onto the hospitals pristine pillows.

“Hey Doris,” John spoke rather casually, “what are you doing here?” It seemed odd, she thought, that his first question would be regarding her presence in the hospital and not his own.

“Well kid, you gave us all a pretty good scare. Do you remember anything that happened to you right after you left the diner? You know, that time after you told me about Stevie?”

“You know about Stevie?” John asked incredulously? Obviously his memory was a little bit murky at best.

“I just said that you told me about him!”

“Oh, sorry…” John seemed to shrink backwards within himself.

“Hey, hey. Don’t do that. I’m not mad at ya. Just worried is all. Hang on, let me go get everybody; they’ll be so excited!” Perhaps almost as excited as Doris was.

Over the next few days, contact was made with John’s only living relative, Keith, who flew in from London as soon as he heard. He thanked Doris profusely for all she had done and the vigil she had kept at his bedside.

John ended up being let go from his job. Not for his failure to show up during his days in the hospital but for his entire career of tardiness in general. The mugging and John’s subsequent rehabilitation just gave the company a perfect opportunity to bid him adieu. Doris and John’s relationship was now cemented, however. She still visited him whenever she could, first in the clinic where he sent after release from the hospital and then in assisted housing where he was placed to live, as he could no longer fully support himself. Doris continued to read to him, only this time John actively participated and sometimes did some of the reading himself. With Doris’ help John managed to attain a suitable level of literacy and even picked up a part time volunteer job at a local community centre.

Doris continued working for the rest of her days at the diner. No one ever came in like that one customer, on another otherwise nondescript rainy fall day and that was just fine. In her eyes, no one could have ever replace her Johnny anyway.

And as for Stevie, he disappeared. John had several new doctors now and one of them had given him some medication to, as he said, “let Stevie be free.” It wasn’t that Stevie was bad and being punished, John was told, it was just time for him to go on his own. After all, John was now a man and Stevie was still a boy. It was just better that way. John was relieved but on some days he still missed Stevie. On those days, he would get out his watercolours and paint for hours…to remember all the things they liked to do and all they places they had visited during their time together.


ania said...

I enjoyed this as a short story, and would really enjoy a fleshed-out, character-developing version.

Thank you for sharing it.

Patient Anonymous said...

Hi ania, thanks for visiting my blog and commenting on the story in it's entirety. It means a lot as you're the only one!

It was originally written for a writing group that I participated in and even co-led at one point. We tried to keep pieces brief due to the size of the group for critiquing purposes.

I just found it a while ago, had actually forgotten I wrote it and thought I'd post it here.

I'm my own worst critic though and never know what to think about what I write--in creative/fictionalized form, at least.

Thanks again,