"That... that... HOW CAN YOU DO THAT TO A PERSON?!?" I shouted as Claudia and I raced to Lionel's house. I burst through the front door and-
Oh Lord NO!!!
I spun and held my arms out in front of me."Claudia no. Yo-You can't. Claudia please. STOP!"
Claudia ceased trying to look over my shoulder and just stared at my face.
"Claudia please. You have to trust me. Go to your house and call the ambulance. Lionel... needs to go to the hospital."
She shook her head in denial. Her mouth moved as though she were trying to speak but couldn't.
"Claudia." I said softly, "Go."
She nodded a few times then ran for her house. I ran inside, the First-Aid training I'd received as a Lifeguard finally coming in handy.
Check for signs of life. Look listen and feel for no more than ten seconds.
He had a heart beat. He was breathing. Barely.
Remove knife and put pressure on the bleeding.
"Lionel I swear to God, you will not die on me." I kept the pressure on until the wail and flashing lights of the ambulance arrived outside of the door. The door was still open and the EMTs ran in. I stepped aside, more than happy to let them take over.
They bundled him up, strapped him down, and wheeled him to the emergency vehicle. I followed them, and was joined by Claudia who had somehow had time to change clothes. The medics allowed us to ride with Lionel in the back of the ambulance. Claudia went with Lionel to the Emergency Room, while I went to call his parents who, as fate would have it, were away on a trip.
I returned to Lionel's room to see a sight that, was upsetting but... not unexpected. Claudia had been distracted these last few weeks following the big ol' chat with Lionel.
When I walked in the room, she was kissing him. She must have heard me walk in because she tore away and looked at me.
I... I had a promise to keep. Now was the time to honor it.
"It's fine. You... him..." I took a deep breath. "It's fine. He deserves you." I tried to laugh softly, "Finders Keepers after all."
I turned slowly and walked out of the room, after getting Claudia to promise to call me if there was any news.
I walked back to Lionel's house to clean up a little and wandered into his room. I happened to look at his Calendar and saw today circled in a big red... marker hopefully.
"The Loner. Curtain Call and Fin."
I just stared at the words. The Loner. If he made it through the next few days he wouldn't be the Loner anymore. I picked up a pen from his desk and crossed out "Curtain Call and Fin." Above it I wrote:
"Intermission. Begin Act Two."
It would be a new chapter for him.
After I finished picking up I closed up shop and shambled over to my house, thinking:
"Begin Act Two. The Part of the Loner will now be played by Daniel Owens."