Chapter: 13 of 43
Other Info: Sequel to Walls
Warnings: Drug-usage, cursing, violence etc
Excerpt: It wasn’t until several hours had gone by, that he’d gone up to his room and noticed Taylor’s absence. He’s quizzed Zac and Tiff, and finally dredged out of Zac, the faint memory of seeing Taylor out back. Zac had filled him in on the events of the day, and Isaac had become concerned.
If Taylor knew how Zac had been feeling, he was probably pretty upset. The thought of him, in the confused and muddled state he’d been in lately, out running around town, was making him decidedly uncomfortable.
It was starting to get dark, and the first few stars of the night were already shining up above, when Taylor finally decided to head home. He had been aimlessly walking through the woods for at least and hour, maybe more.
Finally, tired and feeling worn, he had found a rock and just sat, hugging is knees, thinking about what he had heard Zac say. “I can’t be alone with him. I’m getting sick…”
The words rang over and over in Taylor’s mind, and once again he had to bite his lip and clench his jaw to keep the tears that threatened in the corners of his eyes from spilling over. He’d replayed the scene over and over, never getting past the hurt he’d felt. It never even occurred to him to try to solve the problem. Despair, and self pity drowned out everything else. His brother’s words had set up an insane echo in his head, and all of the hope he’d felt was drowned out by it.
He gently rocked himself back and forth, his baggy sweatshirt doing nothing to keep him from feeling the chills of the cool, Tulsa night. Briskly rubbing his arms he stood and stretched. Glancing at his watch, his eyes grew wide when he realized he had been gone nearly six hours. “Did I really sit here that long?” he wondered. “I must have. I’m gonna be in such trouble.” He quickly took off heading towards home. He really didn’t want to go there, but another destination failed to suggest itself to him. He was tired, and cold, and home was the only place he had to go.
He had been walking twenty minutes when he realized he had no clue where he was. Stopping, Taylor glanced all around searching for a familiar landmark. All he saw was dark woods.
“This is so stupid…” he spoke to the trees, “I totally know my way around out here, how can I be lost?” Disgusted with himself, he wandered a little further, still finding nothing that looked familiar. Panic began to set in and he started walking again, faster this time, as he desperately swept his eyes back and forth hoping to see something that looked familiar.
When he heard the sounds of people talking he drew a great sigh of relief and headed towards the sound of the voices. He burst clear of the woods and found himself in someone’s backyard. Frowning he made his way to the front of the house, where he could hear what sounded like a group of boys talking. As he emerged from the side, he could see a group of about ten boys ranging in age from maybe 16 to 20. They all gave him curious looks as he walked slowly across the lawn.
“Hey kid? You lost?” One of the boys called.
Taylor stopped and turned to face the group.
“Umm, I don’t really know. I was walking in the woods behind my house when I sort of ended up here.”
“Well what street do you live on?”
“Shit, that’s like three streets that way,” one boy jerked his thumb over his shoulder, indicating that Taylor was walking in the opposite direction.
“Okay, thanks.” Taylor began to head in the direction the guy had pointed when someone else called out to him.
“Hey, ain’t you that one Hanson kid?”
Sensing Taylor’s unease, the guy replied, “No reason, just recognized you is all. You wanna drink?” He held up a beer can and plastered a huge smile on his face.
It was then that Taylor noticed most if not all the guys were drinking beers and other assorted drinks. Temptation began to rear its ugly head. He took a step closer to the house, then stopped.
“Umm, nah, I better get going. I should be home by now.”
“Come on man, one beer won’t kill ya. You look dead, it’ll revive you”
The group all laughed at that.
Taylor took another step, then hesitated. The front door of the house was wide open and he could see more people inside. He walked closer until he was next to the porch. He hesitated there, even when he’d been right in the middle of it with Mike, he never drank. It was the one thing Mike wouldn’t let him do.
Perhaps taking his silence for acceptance, the boy on the porch pressed the can into Taylor’s hand, and smiled engagingly. Refusing now would probably make him look stupid. Besides, what difference did it make?
Look at what was going on at home. Couldn’t really go out, own family was afraid of him. Hurt welled up inside him, overriding the frantic voice of reason, that was screaming at him to leave, and leave now.
“Well, maybe one drink won’t hurt,” he said.
He popped the tab, taking a long gulp.
“Here, come sit down, get comfy. We’re all just sort of chilling out.” Someone indicated to a spot near the front door. Taylor climbed the steps and sat, leaning against the door frame.
The guys began to banter back and forth, talking music, girls, parents, school, anything they could think of to rave or complain about and before he knew it Taylor had polished off two beers, and was feeling remarkably relaxed.
When a familiar smell drifted from the house out the open door, Taylor sat up straight. Looking inside, he could see a group of kids sharing a bowl in the living room.
He stood and asked, “Hey, okay if I go in to use the bathroom?”
One guy waved him in, “Yeah g’head,” he mumbled.
Taylor stepped inside and walked towards the living room. As he stopped and stood in the door way, one of the stoners looked up. “Hey man, want a hit.”
Taylor never even thought about refusing. It never even occurred to him. He was too depressed, too angry. The voice of reason, thoroughly cowed, never even whispered to him.
Two hours later, Taylor had the group steadily through their stash. He had been alternating between smoking inside and drinking outside. Now with a major buzz going, he was back in the living room, sprawled on a couch, laughing his fool head off when he happened to glance at his watch.
“Oh man… I gotta home, gotta, home I mean.”
“I have to go, as in bye, leave, yep,” Taylor stood, with some difficulty and aimed for the door.
“Where ya going man? We still got some stuff left.”
“No, no… I gotta go… now… home…” Taylor stumbled out the door and down the porch steps.
A hand grabbed his arm as he was walking and he turned to see one of the guys staring at him.
“You gonna be okay getting home? I don’t need to be arrested for getting one of the Hanson’s killed.”
“No, I’m cool… really…” Taylor shrugged the guy off, called bye over his shoulder and headed in what he figured was the direction of home.
Isaac had fallen silent over an hour ago. He was just too worried for idle chatter.
Taylor was gone, and nobody had seen him. Where on earth could he be? It was getting late, and Ike was getting tired. He’d arrived home to find Tiffany entertaining Zac, and no clue that anything was wrong.
It wasn’t until several hours had gone by, that he’d gone up to his room and noticed Taylor’s absence. He’s quizzed Zac and Tiff, and finally dredged out of Zac, the faint memory of seeing Taylor out back. Zac had filled him in on the events of the day, and Isaac had become concerned.
If Taylor knew how Zac had been feeling, he was probably pretty upset. The thought of him, in the confused and muddled state he’d been in lately, out running around town, was making him decidedly uncomfortable.
He’d called his parents, who’d asked him, and Tiff, to go see if they could find him. They would do what they could from their end. He’d gone, but he had no idea where to look. He’d asked all of Taylor’s friends, but not surprisingly, they’d all commented that not only had they not seen him today, they hadn’t heard a word since he’d been back.
Frustrated, he was beginning to be tempted to just go home and leave it to Taylor to find his way home. He turned to Tiffany to tell her this, but her attention was elsewhere. She was looking up the street. He watched her face, amused. She was certainly intent on something. Following her gaze, he spotted a flash of blond hair in the distance. Glancing at each other, they sped up, hoping to catch up to whoever it was.
Taylor was getting annoyed. He’d left his new friends and started home, only to find the world behaving oddly. Every step he took caused the ground to tilt alarmingly, in no predictable direction.
“At this rate…” he thought, “I’m gonna land on my butt.” He had never found just picking up one foot and putting it back down, to be so difficult. He suspected he was more than a little drunk. He wasn’t sure, he really felt alright. Things just wouldn’t hold still! Pausing to try to get his bearings, he took a moment to look around. He wasn’t at all sure where he was. Home might lie in just about any direction. He giggled at that. “I’m lost in my own town.” And resumed stumbling in the direction, he hoped, of home.
Isaac looked at Tiffany, eyes wide. “OH MY GOD.”
She nodded, she couldn’t think of anything any more intelligent to say.
“Tiffany, LOOK at him!!! Oh Jesus!!” She was taken aback by the cuss… it was very un-Ike-like. Still, he had a point. Taylor was staggering all over the sidewalk, giggling maniacally even thought he looked as if falling down and breaking something was a given.
She shrugged and glanced at Ike. “Well, we found him.”
He nodded, “Oh yeah we did.” He sped up to a slow jog, catching up to his brother in a few moments.
Isaac was devastated. Taylor was a mess, even from a distance it was obvious.
How could he have done that? Weren’t things bad enough? After all he’d been through, how could he have done this? Unsure how to feel, what to think, or how to deal with this, Isaac reached out and took hold of his brother’s arm.
“Tay? Slow up…”
Taylor jumped about a foot in the air, stumbling into Isaac. He giggled at him blearily, swaying slightly, trying to keep his balance.
Isaac winced, Taylor’s words were slurred and foggy.
“Tay, what’d you do?”
Taylor looked puzzled. “Wha’d I do? I’nt do an’thin’. Hey issat Tiff?” He squinted in her direction, struggling to focus his eyes.
Ike was afraid to let go, Taylor looked about to keel over.
“Yeah Tay, that’s Tiff. Come on, you’re going the wrong way.”
Taylor grinned. “I thought I was, because I’m not sure where I live Ike.” This struck him very funny, and he giggled again.
Tiffany took his other arm, “Come on laughing boy, lets get you home.” She wasn’t finding this anywhere near as amusing as Taylor seemed to be.
He shook her off. “Lemme go, I can walk jus’ fine on m’own. Y’don need to be holdin’ m’arm”
She shrugged. “Whatever Taylor, Ike what are we gonna do with him? You can’t bring him home like this.”
Isaac was running his hands through his hair, intensely nervous.
“Geez Tiff, I just have no idea. You’re right, I can’t take him home, not now, not like this. It would scare Zac to death.”
Taylor pulled out of he’s brother’s grasp, and plopped down cross-legged on the grass. “When y’ all get done talkin’ ’bout me, lemme know.”
Ike looked panicky. “NO! NO! don’t sit down!! Tiffy help me here…”
She sighed and they each took one of Taylor’s hands, pulling him back to his feet. “Come on, we’ll go to my house and figure this out.”
Ike nodded, and steadied his brother, who looked about to pass out.
“Wake up Tay, so you can get where you’re going.”
Taylor giggled. “Y’right Ike, where’m I goin’?”
Ike just stared. There seemed to be a lot to the question. He really didn’t think he could even begin to answer it.
Taylor shook himself out of their hands, as they began to walk.
“I’m okay, y’don need t’ hold m’hand”. He couldn’t really figure out what their problem was, he was fine.
“Tiff, how are you gonna get him…” he gestured at Taylor, who was happily talking to himself, as he stumbled behind them, “past your mom?”
She shook her head. “I’m not. I’m telling her what’s going on.”
“Tiff!! You can’t!! What…”
“IKE!!!” she cut him off. “My mom will be fine. We will figure this out, just don’t worry about it now. Worry about getting him to my house, and sobered up. That’s all you need to worry about. Hey Tay…” She turned to walk backward. “You doin’ okay?”
He nodded, then stopped as the world suddenly jumped out of his sights. “Wow, tha’s really freaky.”
Tiffany sighed. He was really a mess. “Tay, you are gonna get so sick, do you realize that?”
He laughed, “And I’m fine.”
“Suit yourself, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Ike, this is gonna be a long night.”
He grunted, not at all happy.
Taylor watched the ceiling spin, wondering how much faster it could go. It was making him dizzy. Somewhere, someone was talking to him, their words ebbing in and out, keeping time with the spinning ceiling. He couldn’t understand them, really, why wouldn’t they just shut up? They seemed to want a reply. He didn’t know what reply, just that they wanted one. Annoying. Where was Tiffy? She’d been here a few minutes ago. Or a few hours. He wasn’t sure. The spinning was beginning to make him sick. He wished it would stop. Thinking that sitting up might help, he dragged himself upright, immediately regretting it. He froze, as nausea slammed into him, waves of it crashing over him, head spinning…
Tiffany was on her feet in an instant. She’d seen his face right before he sat up, she knew what was coming. She grabbed for a trashcan she’d brought over, knowing what was going to happen.
“Ike! Help here…” Her tone snapped him out of the daze he’d been in, and he had hold of Taylor in a second. “I’ve got him Tiff, just hang on to that…” She nodded, feeling pity and rage warring inside her, as she watched her friend vomiting. He had to have known. After all that had happened, to put himself in this situation again. Biting her lip, she glanced at Isaac, wondering how he was holding up.
Isaac was seconds away from tears, and he hated himself. He didn’t cry. Not in front of people. Certainly not in front of Tiffany. But this was straining all of his self control. He held his brother up, keeping his hair back, waiting for this to spend itself. He’d never seen anyone get so sick, so fast. Taylor couldn’t even take a breath.
Glancing at TIffany, he was reassured. She looked vaguely annoyed, but not worried. Catching his eye, she smiled slightly. “It’s okay, Ike, it’s bothering you more than it’s bothering him, he’s so out of it he probably has no clue what’s going on.”
Isaac only shrugged and held his brother tighter.
“TIff, what did your mom say?” Ike was scared. It was late, and he didn’t know what was going on. “Did she say…”
TIffany cut him off. “I told her what was going on, she said she was calling your mom and explaining.”
“What’s happening, and why we don’t want to bring him home” He was amazed. “She’s telling them?”
Tiffany nodded. “Did you want to hide it?”
He frowned. “No, last time I didn’t tell them… but I thought… what reason did you…” He broke off, confused.
She smiled, and hugged him gently. “My mom took care of it. She told your mom that she thought he should stay here until he sobered up some, so he wouldn’t freak Zac out.”
He snorted… “And my mom bought that?”
Tiff shook her head, laughing softly. “No, so we told her the truth. That you were afraid to bring him home, and having a breakdown thinking what might happen. That we thought you needed time to calm down, and he needed time to come down. I don’t know about the rest of the conversation they had, but the upshot was, you guys could stay.”
He nodded, and his gaze shifted to Taylor, who’d spent the better part of an hour throwing up, and had then passed out. He was sprawled out on his belly on the floor, and appeared to be sleeping peacefully. Ike reached down and pulled the blanket Tiff had thrown over him, a little higher up, gently brushed some golden hair from his face. “Why do you suppose he did this, Tiff? After everything that he’s gone through…”
She shook her head, “I don’t know Ike, I really don’t know.” Peering at him more closely, she could see how troubled he was. “Isaac, can I help? What is it?” Her arm was around his shoulders again, and something in her tone, some sincerity, some absolute loyalty he could hear, finally broke down the wall he’d been barricading himself behind.
He looked up at her, eyes full of tears… “You just don’t know Tiffy, you just don’t know… You don’t know what it was like for us… for him…” He dug furiously at his eyes, angry with himself. He felt her hand, stroking his hair, and when he looked at her, the look in her eyes said it all. He could talk to her, and she wouldn’t judge. She wouldn’t criticize, she wouldn’t blame… she wouldn’t condemn. She loved him and she loved Tay, and that was all that mattered. The last of his control slipped away then, and he let his head fall onto her shoulder, no longer trying to fight the sobs that were suddenly shaking him…
Tiffany waited for Isaac’s tears to play themselves out. She’s never known him to cry, the pain he was in must have been enormous. She knew he needed to talk, and she knew he would, when he was able. They weren’t going anywhere, Taylor was out. She sat and let her friend cry on her shoulder, waiting…
The pitch black surprised him. Sitting up quickly, he immediately regretted it for his head spun and bright red stars exploded in front of his eyes. Moaning, he grabbed his head. He felt horrible. Could horrible even describe it? Probably not. As he waited for his vision to clear, he tried to orientate himself. Glancing around, he was finally able to make out a dresser and nightstand. He was in a bedroom. But where. Panic set in and for just a moment, he had the absurd thought that he had been kidnapped. “Don’t be stupid,” he scolded himself.
He peered through the darkness and nearly jumped a mile when a computer screen suddenly came to life, lighting up a corner of the dark room. Heart thudding in his chest, Taylor forced himself to take deep breaths and slowly let them out. The screen lit up enough of the room for him to recognize where he was. Tiffany’s room.
“How did I get here? And why am I sleeping here? Oh man…” his memory crashed into him and without realizing it a loud whimper escaped his lips. “What have I done?” He tried to stand, but with his enormous headache and the fact that his feet had become entangled in the sheets on the bed, he only succeeded in tripping, and falling with a crash… The world of darkness was spinning and when the overhead light flashed on, Taylor nearly screamed.
“You okay?” Tiffany was kneeling on the floor in front of him, concern etched on her face.
“No… no I am not okay,” Taylor grumbled. He rolled over and sat, leaning against the bed. “I’m stupid. I can’t believe I did this. How could I do this?” His head dropped into his hands. He wasn’t going to cry. No way. He was too angry to cry. He felt more like beating something… hard. So he sat, rocking, his hands clutched fistfuls of his hair and muttered under his breath. Tiffany watched him for a moment, and gently reached out. She tried to move his hands from his head, but he only pushed her away.
“Taylor, stop it. Now.” She spoke harshly as she once again reached for his hands. This time he let her take them. Once she had his hands away from his head, she sighed. “Tay, look, you made a mistake, okay? Everyone makes mistakes. It’s just something to learn from.”
“Tiff, you don’t understand. I can’t do this. I can’t afford to make a mistake this big. I’ve already asked so much of my family. I don’t know how they could find it in them to forgive me for all that I’ve done. I know they don’t trust me. They just sort of tolerate me. And now… now I’ve just wrecked any sort of reconciliation they had building. I’ve just ruined it all. Why do I do things like this? Why aren’t I strong enough? Why can’t I be like them? They’re all so strong… all of them. Mom, dad, Ike… Zac. Oh God, Zac. He already hates me. He is gonna never forgive me.” Taylor looked over at Tiffany, eyes wide, the fear showing in his pale face.
“Tay, Zac does not hate you. He…”
“Yes he does! He does. I heard him. I heard him tell you. He said he couldn’t be alone with me and he was getting sick. He hates me.”
“Oh, Tay…” Tiffany reached over and embraced him. He clutched her, holding so hard, it almost hurt. She could feel him trembling. His hand gripped her hair, pulling it in his panicky intensity. She winced, and gently disengaged him. She expected tears, when he looked up at her, but his eyes were dry. He looked scared, but he wasn’t crying. She was a little afraid to know what he was feeling.
Taylor stared into her eyes, wishing he could tell her what he felt. He didn’t know what to do, he’d really blown it. He knew he was just steps away from being sent to some home somewhere, why had he done this? God, his head hurt.
“What’s wrong with me,” he thought “did I miss this?” He couldn’t take his eyes off of hers, they were holding him, transfixed. What would she say, if she knew? She was his best friend. She loved him. He loved her. Would she still if she knew? Would she still be here, ready with a word, or a touch, when he needed her? Would she still come to him when she…
He sighed. He’d lied to so many people. He’d hidden so many things. He’d built walls so high even he couldn’t see over them. He’d thought it was over when they came home, but no… obviously it wasn’t. He watched her, marveling at the way the light sparkled off her hair. She was so beautiful. He loved her so much. He had to have someone to talk to about this. Someone who hadn’t been there. Could he tell her? He certainly trusted her, but would she still… would she hate him?
He reached around her neck again, resting his cheek on her shoulder.
“Tiffy…” His words were muffled, spoken into her neck, but she heard him.
“What is it Tay?” She held him gently, knowing he needed it. He held her tighter, almost to the pain level again.
“Tiff I… I need to…” He sighed, and pulled away, staring at her with frightening intensity. Searching. She had the unsettling feeling that he could see into her soul.
“What is it Tay? What is it you need?” His gaze went distant then, far away and dreamy. He appeared to be focused on a spot just over her head. He took her hand, running his thumb absently over her fingers.
“Tiffy, it’s just… I…” He stopped, visibly struggling. His eyes flicked back to hers for a minute. “Tiffy, I’m so scared… I want to tell you, but I don’t want you like Zac. I don’t want you to hate me. I’ve just ruined too many people I love.” She waited, knowing he’d tell her, and that any words from her now would be meaningless.
Tiffany watched Isaac sleep, as she waited for Tay to get out of the shower. The story he’d told her was incredible. How any of them had survived it in any way intact was beyond her. She’d known already of course, but she’d never been given all of the details. He had said he’d explain it all to her before, but had managed to avoid her. She’d had no idea it was as bad as this. He’d started talking, and it had all just spilled out. He’d cried when he told her, but she didn’t think he’d even realized it. It was as if something had surfaced from the depths of him, and wouldn’t stop until it had made itself known. He’d just told her and told her, all of it, oblivious to his own tears. Or hers. He’d cried himself sick twice, telling her what had happened, and she’d simply waited, both times, for him to come back into the room, and take up his spot next to her on the floor. She’d felt paralyzed, unable to go to him, even though she’d wanted to. Finally, his tears, and his words, had tapered off, and he’d leaned back against the bed, exhausted, one finger tracing idle patterns along her arm.
His voice, when he spoke, was a hoarse whisper, “Well do you hate me now too Tiffy?” He didn’t look at her, He was too afraid of what he might see in her eyes. She felt herself starting to cry again. How could he think that she, or anyone else, hated him? Didn’t he realize how much they all loved him? She shook her head, and answered him, her voice as ragged as his. “No, Tay, no, I don’t. I don’t hate you. I love you…” She stopped, unable to go on. Her tears finally penetrated the fog of hangover, exhaustion, and trauma that blanketed him, and he really looked at her for the first time since he’d started talking to her.
Alarmed, never having seen her cry before, he reached over and pulled her over to him, his embrace this time one of worry, not of desperation.
“Tiffy…” Still hoarse, still a whisper, but now focused away from himself. “Tiffy, don’t cry, please…” He’d held her like that for a long time, not knowing what he could say to make her feel better. In the end he’d simply done as she had, for him, and waited with her. Finally, her emotions under some sort of shaky control, she’d pushed him away.
“Tay, I love you…” Her voice was slightly sarcastic, “but you really smell funny. Could you push over?”
He’d stared at her, eyes huge, and suddenly laughed.
“You know I’m not surprised… Tiffy, what would I do without you?”
She snorted. “I’m sure I don’t know. Go get cleaned up Tay, and then lets try to catch some sleep?”
He’d nodded, and gone to do as she asked. Now she waited, stretched out across the foot of the bed, watching Ike sleeping soundly, curled up on a borrowed sleeping bag. He’d picked Taylor up from the floor and put him on her bed, then just passed out himself. She’d never seen anyone go from alert to out cold so fast. She suspected the stress had a lot to do with it. He’d just finally caved in. Now, watching him she wondered what all this was really doing to him.