A YEAR AGO
“Coy, Coy are you listening?”
I was in Dr. Grady’s office. He was my favorite doctor. I’m in his window. Outside of the window there is a boy. He is wide-eyed and innocent. He’s sweet. I can tell. He’s asking for directions from the staff. The older patients get to go out more often. He seems overwhelmed. He’s talking to an aide named Rebecca in the yard who has her hands full with Syn Clinton. As usual Syn is making a scene, mad at one thing or another. Throwing a tantrum. Something about the fact that he should be the president. He’s a lunatic. Syn turns to the boy and barks at him too. Poor boy stands there patiently as the male aids wrestle Syn Clinton into submission. He almost reminds me of a deer wandering into a tiger’s den. Not saying there were any tigers around…
“Whose the new boy?”
Awesome. A new friend.
“I’d like to meet him.”
“You will, Coy,” Dr. Grady said, “But you have to be good.”
“I’m always good.”
“Coy, the aides say you haven’t been taking your medication,” Dr. Grady states.
I come out of the window. I smile at him. A sweet smile. Dr. Grady likes my sweet smiles. He says it reminds him of his son, Edmond. He brings up his son Edmond all the time. How his son Edmond is in college. How his son Edmond is doing great. I remember all his stories. I smile like I imagine Edmond would. He’ll be nicer when I remind him of his son.
That fucking bitch Rebecca must have reported me. I shouldn’t think that. She wasn’t a fucking bitch. She was a sweet aide. The sweet aide with the bad breath must have reported the fact that I was giving my roommate Maurice all the anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications. I told Maurice they were magic beans and it would take him to a magic place. Maurice asked me why I didn’t like them. I told him I wasn’t special enough. They were special magic beans. Just for him. Maurice ate them like goddam tick tacks. Right now he was sitting in the room in near comatose with drool slobbering out of his mouth.
“I don’t need medication, Dr. I just realized, I’m OK.”
He laughs, “You realized that all by yourself Coy?”
There were times he forgot he was a doctor. TImes when he laughs at the things I say. He likes me as a person. I can tell. I make him laugh. Everyone I meet laughs. They all think I’m great.
“Coy, with all seriousness. Remember we talked about mental disorders. You know what a mental disorder is, don’t you?”
I look at him.
“You think I’m an idiot?”
I’ll never forget he asks me that question. I’ll make sure he’ll never forget it either. For now though I don’t get too mad.
“I’m sorry. That was a bit…condescending. You see it’s in my script. I say that to all my clients out of habit. You’re different though. Of course. You’re different. Let me be more specific. I believe you may have something called sociopathic disorder. Do you know what it is?”
All these goddam terms. He keeps writing on his paper. I don’t understand how he thinks something’s wrong with me. Something was wrong with Maurice. Literally the boy was on a magic adventure right now. He needed help. I didn’t need help. This whole thing was just stupid.
“You said it was narcissistic last time. ”
I think he’s making these things up because he just wants me around.
“We thought it was at first. Sociopaths are narcissistic but narcissists are not sociopaths. Both tend to be highly intelligent. Both have charisma or charm that they use to get people engaged.”
“I’m a nice person.”
“Both tend toward grandiosity – big ideas, big stories, big visions.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“Both lack empathy; narcissists are unable to see things from another’s point of view and sociopaths can see how they effect others but just don’t care.”
Yeah. He was just making things up at this point. Narcissistic or Sociopathic. Which one was it? Why the hell did it matter?
“Oh now you sound like the crazy one.”
“A narcissist wants to be perceived well, a sociopath wants to be perceived in whatever way will best suit his purpose. Both ignore social rules, but a narcissist does it out of lack of awareness, while a sociopath does it to manipulate situations for his purpose. Sociopaths use manipulation as a weapon. They often use sex a way of manipulating others.”
“I don’t use sex. I’ve been in love.”
“Like with Dominic.”
There is a pause. So he was bringing that up huh? My ex Dominic.
“You think what happened with Dominic was my fault?”
“I didn’t say that. Dominic had his own issues, but I want you to take ownership of your role in what happened with Dominic. I want you to reflect on your relationship with Dominic. I have an exercise. Write to Dominic. I want you to express your feelings for him. I want you to show true, empathy.”
This was stupid.
“He’ll never read it. Dominic cheated on me. Why would I feel bad?”
“This isn’t about you. It’s about Dominic. This is about you. How do you feel.”
I look at the paper. Nothing’s coming to me.
“Help me,” I state, “How about you write a letter, as though you were Dominic. What would you say to me?”
“Coy, is this one more of your manipulations?”
“I just wanted an example of what real emotion and feelings looked like,” I tell him, “I guess I don’t need you to write it though. I guess I’m the asshole who doesn’t have any feelings. I’m the one who needs the work. You’re perfect, already.”
“I never said that. No one’s perfect,” he states before pausing and thinking about it, “FIne. I’ll write you a letter as though I was Dominic. But I want you to go ahead and reply. OK?”
Little wins always add up. I slide him the piece of paper and a pen.
As he’s writing I’m sure I’ll just respond with the same words. Sincere empathy my ass. I wasn’t sad about Dominic. Sure, I told him that he was weak and ineffective. Sure, I brought up the fact that no one in his life stuck around. Sure, I pointed out that he would die lonely and afraid. Sure, I let him know that it wasn’t going to get better. Sure, I even walked him through the process of buying a gun.
But when he shot himself in the head, it wasn’t like I pulled the trigger or anything.
That was all him.
I walk into the bathroom. It’s an extra large bathroom with a large walk in closet plus two storage closets off to the side. There is a separate toilet area and a 6 foot soaking tub / shower. I walk in the steam is escaping through one of the vents. The low-emittance windows provide insulation as I walk into the area while also blocking UV rays which can damage to the skin. The natural lighting floods into the room and highlights the powerful, beautiful figure standing over the sink.
He’s completely naked. He’s facing away from me. He doesn’t notice I’ve walked in. His round, perfect ass is like honey in the moonlight. It’s smooth and rich. No wonder there were so many bees outside.
“You’re blessed,” I state.
He jumps at that moment. Topaz freaks out. I watch as he struggles to find a towel and when he can’t find one he just stands there with his hands attempting to cover his dick as best as they can. He has large hands but he has an even larger dick. They don’t do much for him. He has this shocked look on his face. There were girls in America who would kill to see what I’m seeing now.
“Good morning,” I state, “How’d you sleep?”
I walk over to the sink. I have my toothbrush in my hand. The closer I get the more awkward he seems. I think he damn near takes a leap back when I approach him.
“Gem…?” he states, “Um…what are you doing in here? You have a bathroom attached to your room.”
“It’s kind of boring in there,” I state, “Figured I can come in here. Talk while I brush. You don’t mind do you?”
I turn to him. My toothbrush is in hand. A smile is on my face. He isn’t smiling back. His chestnut cheeks have turned the strangest color or red. He grasps at the cover of his shaft. Turning completely around when he sees me looking down. I don’t mind though. Now I see his nice round ass. He has an arch in his ass. The perfect arch. The kind of arch that lets me know works on his lower back intensely. The muscles are so defined. I imagine what it would be like to be the tiniest man in the world using the arch in his back as a ski slope…sliding down the wetness all the way to his soaking crack.
“I’m naked,” Topaz states.
He’s too sweet to tell me to get out, but I think that’s what he wants to say. I can tell. I don’t leave though. There was no way I could be making him feel that uncomfortable? Right?
“You want me to go?” I ask.
“Yes. Just. Um…we can talk later.”
“Yeah I suppose,” I state, “I just assumed brothers see each other naked all the time. You know? I guess I’m out of line. I guess maybe I got way too comfortable way too quick. It’s not like I’m Onyx…or Copper. We didn’t grow up together. We’re only half-brothers, right?”
I turn. I don’t leave though. There’s no point because in the next second he grabs my arm. He isn’t blocking his dick anymore. He’s still nervous. I can tell. He still feels awkward but he feels guilty now for feeling that way. It’s written all over his face.
“No. You’re right. I’m wrong,” he states shaking his head, “You being my half-brother doesn’t mean anything. I want you to be comfortable Gem. I…overreacted.”
“No, I’m overstepping.”
“Stay,” he responds, “Please.”
I smile. He doesn’t go out of his way now to conceal himself from me. He joins me at the sink to brush his teeth. I think he feels awkward especially when I stare at him in the mirror. I am looking at his body. I study every inch. He knows I’m looking at him but he doesn’t say anything. He thinks he’d offend me if he said anything else. So he takes it. He lets me stare at his long, 9 inch soft dick as it wags from left to right each time his arm moves.
“Did you sleep well?” I ask him.
“It was good,” he states, “I was wondering, though, Gem. Were you walking around last night? It was OK if you were…”
He was wondering who had caught him having sex with Ainsley. She could barely take his dick last night. I remembered how she was clawing at the bed like a pretentious rookie clearly out of her league.
“No,” I state, “Why would you think that?”
“It’s just…I’m fine with you, you know…seeing me. You’re my brother. Ainsley was kind of worried that you might have seen something. You see, everyone usually sticks to their side of the house. So Ainsley sort of heard something while we were being intimate. She felt sort of concerned.”
I nod, “Ohhh…”
He raises an eyebrow, “What?”
“She sounds really controlling…” I tell him, “Is she really usually like that? Really controlling?”
“Ainsley, no…I mean…sometimes…”
“Is it no or sometimes?”
He thinks about it, “Yeah, she actually does seem to sometimes assume since we never dated anyone else that she’s already my wife. It does make me a little nervous. Wait. Hold on. Why am I talking about this? I was trying to make a point. Damn…I forgot what it was.”
Just at that moment we are interrupted. There is a knock on the door. I watch as Topaz struggles to find a towel. He manages to find the smallest towel known to man and wraps it around his torso before going to the door. When he opens it he sees Copper there. Copper has tears in his eyes. Real tears. He is speechless when he opens the door and sees Topaz there in the bathroom with me. He looks like he is about to say something but he doesn’t.
Something is much more important to him.
Topaz looks at his brother, “Me and Gem were just…um…we were…”
“I don’t care about that,” Copper states, “It’s Mom.”
We’re in the hospital. The whole Monroe crew. The three brothers are all in tears in the hospital room. Jericho is pacing back and forth. I look over at Ainsley. She hasn’t left Topaz’s side. She puts her hand on his shoulder and she looks so supportive. I’m crying too. That’s what people do in times like this. It’s only right. You know. It’s a natural thing to do. Luckily for me my allergies are kicking in so that helps. Not the same kind of allergies that got Rachel Monroe, mind you. Oh god no. That would have been tragic.
“How are you feeling?” I ask Copper.
We haven’t had much time to talk. He still seems very resistant to me being here. But right now I can tell that he’s somewhat vulnerable. Maybe that’s why he turns to me and just shakes his head awkwardly over and over. I reach over and rub Copper’s back. He was handsome when he cries. Sexy even. I notice how muscular Copper’s back was. Copper had that bad boy thing going for him. He always had. He was the brother that wanted to be bad so bad. I notice the tattoos that he has. He has a few piercings too. His other brothers don’t have any. Of course, compared to real bad boys he was a fucking newborn dove but to his Disney obsessed demographic he was the rebel. I found it kind of sexy.
“She never goes outside,” he states, “I don’t understand how this happened.”
What kind of woman never went outside because she was scared of getting stung by a bee? It was hilarious. Well, no, not hilarious. I mean tragic. It was just super sad.
“You know I read once that death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.”
“What?” he asks.
He looks at me with this shrunken face. I don’t get it. He seems almost offended. Maybe he didn’t hear what I said. Maybe he didn’t hear my comforting beautiful words of encouragement and hope and shit like that. I’d made sure to google a quote. Death Coping Quotes. That’s exactly what I put in. Right in my phone on the ride over to the hospital. It was the first one that came up so I knew it was relatively popular.
“I read once that—”
“I heard what the FUCK you said,” he states slapping my hand away hard as hell, “Why the fuck would you say that to me? I’m sitting here worried about my fucking mother getting better and you talking about death? You think she is going to die? What the FUCK is wrong with you? Who fucking says that?”
He gets up and looks like he’s about to hit me. He comes at me. He literally comes at me. Luckily Jericho is close behind. Jericho grabs him and Topaz immediately jumps up in an attempt to restrain him. Copper looks like an angry bull. He’s making quite the scene. It takes Jericho to grab and him and pull him to the other side of the hallway in order to calm him down.
“Did ya’ll hear that fucking weirdo talking about death? Why the fuck would he jump to that conclusion?” he states.
“He’s just trying to help,” I hear Topaz say to his brother.
Topaz starts saying some other stuff. It’s a mix between him and Jericho. I notice how Onyx was the only guy who didn’t jump to calm Copper down. He shakes his head and moves over to me. Interesting. Very interesting.
How odd is it that he’s checking up on me instead of making sure that the boy who was sharing his grief over their mother was OK at this point? How odd was it that he was on this side of the hallway. Hell, even Ainsley had gone over to make sure Copper was fine.
“What did I do?”
Onyx pauses. I can see something in his eyes. He had quite stunning eyes. Out of the three brothers he was probably the one who would stop traffic. Don’t get me wrong, together they would cause a pileup in any city but Onyx was just…stunning. He was the kind of motherfucker who made you rethink what you once assumed was a sexy guy. He didn’t have a fucking flaw on his face. Not one. Who lives like that? Now that changes though. His face is all wrinkled up. He’s attempting to make himself look ugly in a way. I’m not sure what it is. At first I think it’s embarrassment about how his brother is acting but it’s something more. It’s some sort of deep irritation. Something that was going on before I got here. Something that I wanted to know a lot more about.
“Copper is a firecracker,” he tells me, “Always been like that. Don’t worry. I didn’t take it that way.”
“I didn’t mean to worry him. I’m sure she’ll be OK.”
The thing is I wasn’t sure though. I wasn’t sure at all. So when the doctor comes over to me at that moment I swear I’m ready to throw it in their face. I’m ready to go through this monologue about how life was fleeting and that I was planning on being there for them through it all.
But then the doctor comes and he opens his mouth and the bullshit that comes out of his mouth shocks us all, “She’s alive…but she’s in a coma…”
What the fuck was that?
The bee took less than five seconds to deliver its sting, but we are in the hospital for an extra 15 hours before the doctor insisted we go home. No one expected Rachel Monroe to suffer the unexpected and severe allergic reaction to the sting.
Her story is just getting started. I assume it’ll say that she was rushed to the hospital from the Monroe home, but lost consciousness and slipped into a coma from which she never emerged.
But you know…we’ll see.
“We shouldn’t have gotten the fucking garden,” Copper states.
He almost spits the words when we get back to the house. Everyone is tired. I can see it on everyone’s faces. We’d been at the hospital forever it seemed like. Jericho and Ainsley have gone home to get some rest and recharge. I expect it to be a quiet night with just my brothers and I. We were family, after all. I was wrong though. Not about the family part. I was wrong that Copper wouldn’t find a way to bitch and moan about all of this. He’s sad. I can see it in his eyes but he doesn’t really know how to deal with sadness. It all comes out like anger. I bet Dr. Grady would be able to help him.
“Copper let’s not do the blame game,” Topaz states out of no where, “No one could have known…”
“That a garden would attract bees?” Copper asks, “Who would have fucking THUNK it? That’s fuckin crazy, but I guess we’re not doing the blame game. Don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. We are the perfect brothers right. We’re so close and loving.”
He’s being sarcastic. I’m tired as all hell. I’ve collapsed in one of the awkwardly placed chairs made of certified sustainable wood. It’s uncomfortable as hell, but these were the goddam Monroes. Copper had a point. They just had to be perfect. Being environmentally aware was so important to their young, progressive fan base.
Topaz shakes his head, “OK, let’s just go to sleep. Everyone is stressed. Everyone is upset. The doctors are doing everything they can for her. We need to be strong for her. Mom would want us to keep pushing and stay together.”
Speak for yourself. Rachel Monroe probably didn’t want me anywhere near her kids. I watch as they turn. They are listening to Topaz…even Copper. He’s clearly trying to bite his tongue. I can see it in his eyes. He’s trying not to show how angry he is.
“Wait. What blame game?” I ask, “Whose to blame for the garden?”
“Gem, let’s not get into that now,” Topaz states.
“Oh I get it. It’s like a secret,” I state.
They all look awkwardly at each other. It’s clear this was something they didn’t want to talk about but the can was open now. It was time to see what was in there.
“No secret,” Onyx states out of no where, “I wanted a garden. Copper warned me against it. Said that it wasn’t the best thing, but I got this Video series going on gardening and I just really wanted my own.”
“It’s not your fault, no one knew…” Topaz offers to Onyx.
Copper is quiet. He’s real quiet. He’s steaming.
“You seem real quiet, Copper,” I state, “You OK?”
“I don’t need your fucking help speaking,” Copper barks at me.
Onyx crosses his arms, “Go ahead. Say it. Gem’s right. You blame me, don’t you? I’m the reason. Just go ahead and say it.”
Copper explodes right in that moment, “Yes. You’re fucking selfish as fuck Onyx. All you do is think about yourself. You don’t even know shit about gardening. Some 13 year old girl hitting puberty probably made a comment about how hot it would be to see Onyx Monroe rolling around in the dirt shirtless and you felt like you just had to have a garden…”
“Copper,” Topaz tries to stop him.
“Topaz, you should let him finish,” I state.
it was rude to interrupt.
Copper points at Onyx, “You are vain as FUCK, Onyx. Come back down to Earth. Topaz and I know what it’s like to struggle. You rode our coattails. And your videos…they are becoming borderline soft porn. And now our mother is in a coma. But it doesn’t matter right? You got your garden. You got your fucking likes.”
Copper storms off at that moment. Holy shit. He went off. It’s clear he’s been thinking that stuff for a while now.
Topaz looks over at Onyx, “He doesn’t mean it.”
That’s when curiously Topaz goes after Copper. He goes to check on Copper and maybe calm Copper down. Topaz was trying so desperately to be that responsible older brother to these two boys and I’m trying desperately not to smile.
I look over at Onyx. He’s hurt. It’s all over his face. It’s amazing how sexy he looks when he’s pouting. I walk over to him and start rubbing his back, but deep inside, all I can think about was the fact that I needed to go look up the soft porn videos of Onyx working the garden.
“That was tough,” I state.
“It’s OK. After everything that happened with Mom, he’s just…upset. He just needed to vent.”
Onyx is…soft. He was one of those real beautiful people who felt like because they were beautiful on the outside they had to be beautiful on the inside. He’s trying so hard. I can tell. I can tell by how he talks in this melodic deep, calm tone as though everything was right with the world. He’s trying so hard not to say something bad about Copper just like he was at the hospital. He’s trying so hard not to say that his brother was a fucking asshole.
I shake my head, “It’s not OK. None of it is. That’s your brother. Why would he talk like that? Why would he put what happened to your mother on you? And Topaz…does he always run to Copper’s defense?”
Onyx thinks about it. I love how he looks when he thinks. God this boy was handsome.
“Yeah. They are closer in age. It’s always been that way,” Onyx states, “I hate thinking it, but it’s almost like they tag team me. Sometimes I just feel…I don’t know…”
I put my hand on Onyx’s hand, “It’s OK. Me and you are close in age. I can be close to you like Topaz is with Copper. If no one has your back…I will. If that’s OK with you.”
I look over at Onyx. The way he looks at me is different. He’s 17…just a few months older than me. His brothers were right. He’s skated on the Monroe name and his looks. His brothers probably had to come up with real content when he just glided off of his looks. Having this conversation with him I realize something. He’s dumb. No…he’s worse than that. He’s a fucking idiot. But you know…not in a bad way.
“I really want to be close to you like that,” Onyx states, “That just meant the world to me.”
I smile. I was making progress already.
Just at that moment I hear the doorbell ring. Weird. It was a strange hour of night. Onyx starts making his way to the door but then I remember something. I remember who it could be. I remember who could be at the door.
I run to it all of a sudden.
Sure enough as soon as I open it, I see him. Dr. Grady!
“Who is it, bro?” Onyx asks.
“He’s lost,” I state.
I go outside. I slam the door on Onyx. The last thing I remember seeing is Onyx with a curious look on his face. As I walk outside I am face to face with him. Dr. Grady. Our eyes connect. He looks as though he sees a ghost. He seems horrified. I know just what would make him feel better though. I smile for him. I smile like his son, Edmond.
That’ll make him feel better. It’ll make him feel great.
“Coy…Coy…” he is stating frantically with this look of horror on his face, “What are you doing here Coy?”
“Visiting a friend.”
“Don’t fucking lie to me. That boy just called you bro.”
I shrug, “It’s just a term of endearment.”
“Coy where the fuck is Gem Monroe?” Dr. Grady asks me.
No answer. I could tell him a few things. I could tell him Gem Monroe fell in love with an immigrant and moved to Mexico because the immigration policies in the United States were getting too strict and her green card expired. I could tell him that Gem Monroe had a dream where he was given a sign to give his life to the Lord so he moved to Utah in hopes of joining the Mormon church, specifically to one day be named Elder Gem. I don’t think Dr. Grady was in the mood to hear any of that though. He was in a bad mood.
So I don’t reply.
“I didn’t think you’d do this,” Dr. Grady says, “Dear God, I didn’t really think you’d do this. I’m calling the cops Gem. You need to be stopped. You need to be stopped.”
“Here…you can use my phone,” I state.
Dr. Grady is confused. He looks at me. He looks at me with this look of half horror and half confusion. It’s a strange look. It would have been much better if he smiled. Dr. Grady wasn’t cute though. He wasn’t like Jericho.
Dr. Grady hesitates but he takes my phone. It unlocks for him immediately. That’s when he sees what is on my phone. I’ve been expecting him off course. Ever since I’d seen him talking to old lady Monroe. I had a gift for him.
“Coy what is this?”
“Baby, why are you acting confused?”
“Baby, Coy why the FUCK are you calling me that.”
“Especially with the fact that I’m your patient. You’d probably lose everything. Your practice, your license, your wife. Your kids will probably hate you. God, Edmond. I can’t stop thinking about Edmond. Isn’t he in med school now. He’s trying to follow in your footsteps. He’s going to your old school. They all know you. They all love Edmond because he’s your son. Didn’t you tell me that story? Edmond would be so embarrassed. He’d have to drop out. It’d ruin his future. It’d ruin your life?”
“What would? What would?”
“The truth. The truth that you’ve been fucking me. The truth that you are in love with me,” I state.
“You’ve lost your mind,” he states, “I’ve never said that to a patient before but you’ve honestly lost your goddam fucking mind. I’m a straight man. I’ve NEVER crossed those boundaries with you.”
“Yes you have.”
“Coy stop saying that! STOP SAYING THAT NOW!”
“Why are you denying it? You told me you loved me. You told me you would leave your wife for me. Why are you denying it?”
“You sent me those letters. Look on the phone. I took a picture of all of them. I saved all of the letters you sent me. I saved all your love letters. That’s your handwriting. You can’t deny it.”
“I wrote these as if I was your ex Dominic. This was an exercise to get you to express yourself…” he states, “I wrote these and I…I…I…”
“You didn’t sign it,” I respond.
He looks in shock. The poor man was speechless. I feel so bad for him, especially when tears start forming in his eyes. It’s so sad. I could almost cry with him. I really could.
“Why are you doing this to me?” he asks.
“I didn’t do anything to you,” he states, “Not yet. And don’t worry, I won’t. You know why Dr. Grady? Go ahead Dr. Grady. I’m going to need you to ask me why. Go ahead. Open your mouth. Wh—wh—there you go. Say it Dr. Grady?”
Reluctantly the words slip out of his mouth, “Why?”
He’s being a good person now. Yes. He was in a much better mood now.
“I’m not going to leak those letters because you’re going to go back to Bushwick. You’re going to make sure no one at that institution asks questions about Gem Monroe. You’re going to make sure no one shows up here again. And in the end…we’re going to be friends like I always knew we would be.”
I smile and I mean it.
He was going to do what I said. I turn around and start walking away. Before I go back into the house I turn to him.
“You should make sure you prescribe yourself some medicine, Doctor,” I recommend to him, “You’re repeating yourself in an odd way. It may be some sort of mental disorder. You know what a mental disorder is…don’t you…”