Alex paused, walked over to the chair and straddled it, eyeing the floor dully. They stayed in silence for a minute, then two.

   “You never met my mom.” He murmured finally, he swung back and forth from the chair, gripping it by the backrest, “She was probably the smartest person in the world, Derek. Didn’t mean shit to the Schizophrenia.”

   Derek watched him quietly.

   He turned his eyes away from the monitor. “They had her doped up on everything, those bastard doctors don’t cure shit, Derek. It’s about making her acceptable to society. The f&*(%^g pricks. She had her mouth hung open like a fish, eyes half lidded. She would close them every so often.”

   He finally looked to Derek, eyes dry and cold. “She was lying in a bed like this one. There were needles stuck in her everywhere. Every time her eyes shut, I pictured her having the same look on her face if she flat lined. The worst was when she had them open. Those empty eyes. I grew up seeing them full of joy, happiness, ambition, disappointment. Everything. She barely had the energy to turn them to me, and when she did, she worked so hard to utter something to me, but she could barely manage a note, Derek. I was about to hear her say something, there was so much focus placed on telling me something, but then she was probably overwhelmed with the voices. The screaming, overlapping, demanding voices. She was my mom, Derek. I couldn’t do anything. Just watch. I was asleep in her room when she finally passed.”

   His grip tightened on the chair, knuckles pasty white, “I used up all the tears I get for this lifetime. Still. I never want to see someone I know in a bed like this one.”

   Alex walked over to the small sink in the corner of the room, Derek staring at his back, wordless. Alex puddled water into his hands and slapped it up to his face. Wiping with a paper towel he turned back to Derek, composed.

   “The girls are waiting.” Derek managed to utter.

   “To hell with them.” Alex pulled something else out of the box. It was a deep black, collared dress shirt with silver threaded designs leading from the shoulders and trailing down the back and sleeves.

   Alex shot him another legendary wink.

   Derek looked at him, still soaking in the echo of their conversation, “What’s it for?”

   “The hero’s thank you party.”

The End

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