Roads: Chapter 5

Title: Roads
Chapter: 5 of 43
Author: Sheryl
Rating: R
Other Info: Sequel to Walls
Warnings: Drug-usage, cursing, violence etc
Excerpt: Isaac eyed his brother, somewhat critically, from his spot across the room. He wondered how many more days Tay was planning to sleep and then hang out in, those clothes. If he’d counted right, he was on day four. Kind of gross, when he thought about it.

Chapter 5

Isaac eyed his brother, somewhat critically, from his spot across the room. He wondered how many more days Tay was planning to sleep and then hang out in, those clothes. If he’d counted right, he was on day four. Kind of gross, when he thought about it. It had been about that long since he’d gone near the shower, too, and Isaac was less and less thrilled about sharing a room with him. He’d mentioned it to him earlier, and gotten no response other than a somewhat stupid giggle, and a snort. Now he watched him, wondering what, if anything, was going on in his brother’s head. He didn’t want Taylor to see him staring, he’d already had his head bitten off once today, when Tay had noticed he was being studied. He couldn’t seem to help it though, something just wasn’t right… sighing, he headed into the kitchen. He’d wanted to talk to his mom about this for a few days, and he’d finally gotten up the nerve. He found her sitting at the table, coffee cup in hand, gazing out the window.

Zac and about a dozen friends were careening around the backyard. Looked like fun. Too bad they couldn’t leave the yard. The media crush that had surrounded them at the hospital had followed them home. Leaving the yard was a challenge at best. Zac’s friends didn’t care, if he couldn’t come to them, they were coming to him. The whole time he’d been laid up waiting for his ribs to heal, and getting over the flu, there had been a steady stream of them trouping through the house. Now that he was feeling better, he was still housebound my circumstance. They didn’t seem to mind. The woods out back spread far enough that they had plenty of space to get up to no good. Trust Zac to make the most out of every situation. Especially impressive, at least from Isaac’s point of view, was Zac’s dogged determination to be happy. He, of all of them, felt their loss most keenly. He avoided radio and MTV like plague, not wanting to hear, hear about, or even think about, the band. Isaac let his mind drift back to a few nights ago.
Zac had come in looking mopey and down, had shot Tay, asleep on the floor, an utter death look, and gone stomping up the stairs. Isaac, concerned at open hostility from Zac, had followed, to find his little brother storming around the room, red faced and furious.
His well meant, and innocent query, “Zac, what’s the matter?” had brought Zac at him, and he’d taken a quick step back, for a moment wondering if he were about to get clobbered. Instead, Zac had brushed by him, yanked open the bedroom door and gestured wildly down the stairs.
“HIM!!! HE is the matter!! Do you have any idea what I’m going through, Ike?? Do you?!?!”
Ike sat down on the bed. “Tell me, Zac. What’s going on that’s making you so mad?”
“Well one, nobody wants to talk to me. Oh, those guys…” He’d gestured out the window to where his friends played football, in the road. “They’re fine. But nobody else. I saw Andy and Eric today, the twins? They told me that they’re not allowed to talk to any of us, anymore. Lizzie’s mom told me that she’s really sorry, but I’m not allowed at her house anymore, after all of this with Taylor. And you have no idea what I have to hear. You never go anywhere, you don’t hear it.”
“Where do you go, Zac? How do you get by them?”
“Yeah, them…” Zac’s expression darkened. “I go through the woods. It doesn’t always work. Everywhere I go I have to hear about Taylor, and how awful he is, and how awful IT is, and how sad it is that our career had to end like that, because of HIM! I hate him, Ike, I really do… I didn’t want to stop. I can’t stand it, Ike, it’s like… if I hear our songs on the radio, I want to just lay down and die. I miss it so much… And I hate my own brother.”
His voice had dropped, and Isaac had seen tears in his little brother’s eyes.
“You don’t hate him, Zac. You’re just mad at him. Maybe you should tell him, though.”
Zac had looked at him as if he were crazy. “I can’t tell him that!! Don’t you think he feels bad enough? No, and don’t you say anything either. He doesn’t need to know about this.”
Ike had smiled then. Maybe Zac hated him, but not so much that he wasn’t worried about him. Zac then took both of his brother’s hands, and had stared straight into his eyes.
“Ike, promise me, promise, that you won’t say anything. Not to Tay, and not to mom and dad. Nobody.”
Isaac had nodded, and seeing how close to falling apart Zac was, had quietly left the room, knowing he’d want to be alone.
Now, watching his brother and his friends, he had to think that maybe, just maybe, for all Zac’s fury and hurt, this was better. He was dissatisfied, maybe, but at least he had some time just to be.
Ike felt bad though, that the bikes, and blades, and skateboards were collecting dust, but they had to wait until some of it died down. It was too crazy to go anywhere yet. At least anywhere that didn’t involve a trek through the woods.
Feeling a little bit jailed in his own house, and frustrated with the other inmates, he plopped down at the table next to his mother, and reached out for her hand.
Diana smiled. Ike had always been touchy with her, and she’d always liked it. She squeezed his hand back, and reached out to brush his hair out of his eyes.
“Look at you, you look like a sheepdog. You’re going to have to cut that soon.”
He grinned, and shook his head. “Nope, I’m going for the record.” His smile faded. “Mom, I need to talk to you. Is it okay?”
Giving him a puzzled frown, she nodded. “Of course, why would you even ask?” Sighing, he leaned back, tipping his chair against the counter behind him.
“Well it’s about Tay, and I know you haven’t really wanted to talk about him.”
She sighed, resignedly, and toed his chair back down onto four legs. “Don’t do that, you’ll fall over. Okay. What is it you want to talk to me about, about Tay…? No, wait a minute.” She got up and refilled her cup, flashed him a dubious look, and then eyed the cup in her hand. “Whaddaya think, Ike? Is this gonna get me through, or do I need a good stiff shot of whiskey in it?”
He laughed, knowing she’d do no such thing. “Whatever it takes, mom, really.”
She shrugged and sat back down. “It was a thought, anyway… Okay, honey, what’s on your mind?”
He looked down, idly tracing a finger along the pattern in the table cloth. He wasn’t sure where to start. She waited, knowing he’d remain silent until he’d sorted out his words. Isaac, her careful one. Never one to just blurt out whatever was on his mind, as Taylor and Zachary were so apt to do. She waited with him, listening to the sounds of the children in the yard, wafting through the open windows.

Ike was thinking hard. He didn’t want to make her angry, and he didn’t want to hurt her feelings with what he was about to say. He knew she was aware of the situation, and he didn’t want her to feel he was criticizing her. Finally, knowing there was no diplomatic way, he took a deep breath, and just plunged in.
“Mom, how long are you gonna let him just lay around not doing anything? He won’t go anywhere but from bed to the couch, he won’t move, he won’t go out, he won’t talk to anyone, he won’t even take a shower or change clothes. Have you looked at him lately?”
She nodded. She knew. “What is it you’d like me to do about it, Ike? Can you tell me that?” Her words were short, but she wasn’t angry, he could tell. She was really asking him.
He shook his head. “I don’t know. But you have to do something. He’s been in the same clothes for like, four days! He’s sleeping in them for heavens sake. Don’t even try to sit next to him, I mean it.” He paused for a minute. “Actually, I lie, he’s going to bed in them. He’s not sleeping. He’s up most all night every night. Only time he sleeps is when he dozes off in front of the TV… mom, he’s really down, and nobody’s doing anything about it!” He was getting upset now, could hear himself starting to raise his voice, and cut himself off. He didn’t want to sit here yelling at her. It wasn’t her fault. But someone had to do something. Frustrated beyond belief, he dropped his head into his hands, unable to continue.
Diana watched him. She understood his frustration. She’d talked to Taylor, over and over, and it always went the same way. He’d look at her with a vaguely confused air, nod once in a while, and drift back to the TV. There were times she thought he wasn’t even really aware that she was there. That she was simply an annoying noise in the background.
She looked at Isaac, with his head in his hands, and sighed. He was right. This had gone far enough. She reached out and patted his shoulder. “Ok, Ike, I’ll go talk to him. But don’t expect miracles. You know what they told us. To let him alone and let him recover.”
He nodded. “I know, but he’s not recovering. He’s avoiding the world. Mom, it’s almost worse than… just talk to him?”
She nodded, gave his hand a squeeze, and headed into the living room to talk to Taylor.
She stood in the doorway, watching him, for a minute of two. Ike was right, he looked like hell, pale and thin, huge black circles under his eyes, hair matted and tangled, clothes that definitely looked slept in. She shook her head. This was absurd. She quietly walked over to him, and gently tapped his legs.
“Gimme some room, honey, I want to talk to you.”
He curled his legs up, making space for her to sit down, but his eyes never left the TV.
She tried again. “Tay, look at me.”
He did, for just a moment, but his eyes slid away again almost immediately.
She slid closer, noticing for the first time that the sweet, soapy fragrance she associated with him, was gone, replaced by something acrid, and faintly sour. Frowning, she reached out and pushed the tangled hair from his eye. “Sweetie, look at me. I need to know what’s going on now.”
He shrugged a little. “Nothings going on. Why do you think something’s going on?” She continued stroking his hair, hoping to keep him relaxed. The one emotion they’d seen from him, lately, the only break from this complete apathy, was anger.
“Well Tay, look at you. You look terrible. You’re not wanting to get up, or go out with your friends, you don’t seem to want to do anything at all… that’s not like you. Can you tell me what’s wrong?”
He looked at her blankly. “No, nothing’s wrong.” His eyes flicked back to the TV, and she deliberately put herself in his way, blocking his view.
“Tay, please. Talk to me. Tell me what’s wrong?”
He sighed. “Mom, I guess I’m just tired. And I don’t really feel good. Besides, where can I go with all those people out there?” He slid down a little lower, and closed his eyes. “I’ll get up and do something tomorrow. I’m just tired.”
She knew he wasn’t telling her anything, she knew it went way beyond tiredness.
“Tay, it’s more than that, and we both know it.” She spoke gently, “Now will you please tell me what’s making you like this? What can we do to make it better for you?”
He shrugged again, refusing eye contact. “Nothing, I’m okay. I’m just tired.”
Diana sighed. She knew it had nothing to do with “tired,” although she didn’t doubt his energy level was nonexistent. Taylor had never been unkempt, he’d never been apathetic. She had her suspicions about what the problem was, but she’d been warned not to bring anything up. To just “let him recover.” She was about sick of it though, she could completely relate to what Isaac was feeling. Well, enough was enough. She wouldn’t bring up anything upsetting, but he did need to clean up. There was just no reason to let this go on.
She stood up, taking his hands, and tugging. “C’mon Tay, you need to get up now. It’s been way too long since you showered or changed, and I’m betting it will make you feel a lot better.”
He yanked his hands back, scowling. “Mom, I don’t feel like taking a shower, okay? I just want to sort of chill here for a while.”
She sighed, unsure how tough to get with him. “Tay, sweetheart, it will make you feel a world better, just come get cleaned up. Come on now…” She continued trying to gently prod him, but he remained stubbornly fixed on the TV.

Listening from the next room, Isaac just couldn’t take it anymore. He could hear her in there, tiptoeing around it all, and he’d had enough. Anger overpowering good sense, he stood up quickly, knocking over his chair in the process and stormed into the living room. If Tay wouldn’t listen to his mother, by God, he’d listen to him.
“I can’t take it anymore!” Practically shoving his mother out of the way, Isaac got right in Taylor’s face, leaning over him. He crinkled his nose and made a disgusted face.
“YOU STINK! Do you realize that? You are completely disgusting me! All of us! You haven’t showered in days, let alone even bothered to change your clothes and it is really really sickening! Me and Zac have to share a room with you and we can barely sleep ’cause the room is starting to reek from you!” He paused, maybe waiting for a reply. Getting none, he went on, louder. “You won’t get up, you won’t go out, you won’t talk to anyone, you just lay here and mope! No matter what I say, or what I do, you just ignore me and lay there! You don’t want to leave the house then fine! I am sick of begging you to go out! I don’t care anymore! But if you are just gonna sit here all day and do nothing, then the least you can do is shower and change before you stink the whole damn house out!!”

Taylor just stared, baffled. He only barely understood what Ike was screaming at him, let alone why Ike was screaming at him. What had he done? He was staying out of everyone’s way, and being quiet. He wasn’t doing anything wrong. What was Ike yelling at him for?

Isaac having had about enough of Taylor’s befuddled stare, had pulled him up off the couch, and onto his feet, by the front of his shirt, and was now dragging him down the hallway towards the bathroom.
Diana was trailing behind. She couldn’t decide if she should intervene and tell Ike to lay off, or just let him do what he had to do. His outburst had taken her by surprise, and she knew she ought to stop it, but some small voice, deep inside, was telling her to leave it alone. Ike wouldn’t hurt him, and maybe they’d all been pussyfooting around too much. She knew it was more frustration and fear motivating her elder son, that he wasn’t really angry at Tay, so much as worried to death about him. She wished he’d picked a less violent way of showing it, but had to admit that her method hadn’t done much. At least this had Taylor up and moving, if not under his own steam. Deciding to just let Ike be, she only prayed that this was a wake up call for Taylor, and that it wouldn’t lead to bloodshed.

Isaac pulled a struggling Taylor roughly into the bathroom, and while still holding his brother in a death grip, he threw the shower stall door open and blasted the cold water. He turned and shoved Taylor into the stall and pushed him down under the freezing cold blast. Taylor screamed and tried to get up, but Isaac held him on the ground screaming just as loud right back in Taylor’s face. It took little effort to hold him there, for all his yelling, Taylor didn’t have much force behind his resistance.
Isaac finally let go of Taylor and stepped out of the shower, hair dripping, clothes soaked. He cracked a smile and said in a sickly sweet voice, “There, now was that so hard? While your in there, try soap.” Then, he slammed the shower stall door shut, and stomped out of the bathroom, leaving Taylor writhing in the cold shower. Sputtering, wiping his eyes and spitting water, he fumbled for the knob and managed to shut the water off. He sat there for a minute, unable to believe that Ike had just done this to him.
Climbing to his feet, Taylor ripped the shower stall open and stepped out, eyes wide, a look of utter murder on his face. “How could you let him do that to me!??” He shouted at his mother.
Before Diana could even answer, he had shoved by her, and headed for his bedroom.

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This fictional story is hosted at The Gifted Ones,
with permission from the author, Sheryl.

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