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Discussion in 'Cricket Leagues' started by qpeedore, Aug 13, 2014.
Cliffhanger...NOW I feel comfortable leaving you guys until November...
Oh damn! What happened?
I actually have a day off so maybe later you'll find out!
Chapter 16 - "That's the Qpee I know"
I reached over and grabbed the steering wheel. Which, in all honesty, was not the best of ideas on the highway. The car swerved and I heard tyres screeching as I was thrown against the inside of the door, my head hitting the window. Scott regained control quickly and set the car back on a straight path before pulling aside on the shoulder of the road.
"...the f**k Qpee? You trying to kill us here?!"
"Scottie, you tell me and you tell me right now. What happened to Sammy?"
Scott sighed. "Qpee, can we PLEASE go home first?"
I glared at him, but his face was set in stone. I could not get any response from him as he returned my icy stare with one of his own. Jaime, in the backseat, suddenly became interested in the night sky, looking up at the moon and whispering to himself about how beautiful our lunar landscape was.
Scott and me were locked in a battle. And I knew immediately that I would lose. But I was not about to admit defeat so easily. I kept glaring at him, all the time thinking about the worst. Why did he want me to be home before he told me what was going on? Why was that so important? Memories of Phil Hughes flooded my brain. No...surely not. Not Sam. But the more I tried not to think about it, the more it kept bothering me. I started to break into a cold sweat and I could feel my heart pounding. I was having an anxiety attack, and I did not enjoy it.
"Okay Scottie," I finally said, "Let's go home. Well...to YOUR home, at least. But promise me that you'll let me know what's going on as soon as we reach. Please."
Scott nodded as he eased the car back into the driving lane. I was not quite sure what to think about along the way. At one point I wondered why Jaime did not take his own car. But I suppose we were in this together and we three were responsible for the kids, so we sort of needed to be together at that point. It was at another point that I realised I was wearing my cricket kit still. I looked around. Scott and Jaime were wearing theirs as well. Scott would definitely be doing a number on my gas and brake pedals with his spikes.
A few minutes later, we were parked behind Scott's apartment building. I got out of the car and almost collapsed, but thankfully I was holding onto the door before my legs gave out under me. I did find some sort of inner strength and pulled myself up and managed to walk inside, albeit looking rather drunk even though I was not.
The elevator ride was eerily silent. Scott and Jaime kept glancing across at me from time to time, as if I was someone to be suspicious of. I suppose I was, though. What with everything and my reaction and then being blacked out for so long and whatnot. But we did arrive at Scott's floor, and he unlocked the door and let us in. He motioned for me to have a seat as he pulled the bed part of the sofa bed out.
"I'm in your apartment, Scottie. I'm allegedly safe. Now can I PLEASE know what the hell is happening?"
Scott stooped in front of me and then knelt down so that we were eye to eye. I'm not kidding, the guy was literally inches away from me and looking directly at me.
"Qpee," he began, before letting out a sigh, "Qpee...um...Sam..."
He swallowed once. Twice. By the third time I was beginning to get frustrated.
"Scott, either you tell me or you'll be needing your food through a tube by tomorrow."
"Sam was hit in the helmet, you remember that. With all the safety stuff, it could have been much worse according to what the doctors told us. But where he was hit was still a bad spot to be hit. When he went to the hospital, he woke up by then, but he was complaining of a wicked headache. They did a CAT scan on him. Turned out...well...a lot of medical terms were used, but Stuart kinda dumbed it down for us. He was...like...bleeding...inside his skull. Normally that's not a big issue if it's anywhere else according to Stuart, but see, your skull can't exactly grow to deal with all this blood, so what happens is that it presses on the brain. And...well...you don't want to know the worst case scenario. But Sam's not a worst case...Sam went to surgery. They have to...like...they have to drill a hole in his head and then take off the blood. That will release all the pressure on the brain."
I stood up, felt dizzy, so I sat down again and closed my eyes for a few seconds to recover.
"So," I began, "You're saying that Sammy...my Sammy...my little Sammy...had surgery?"
"Still in surgery. They needed a couple of blood tests back before they could take him across to the operating room."
"...Remind me why we're HERE AND NOT THERE?!"
"Because he's in good hands. Qpee, relax. It's fine. Jaime is going to ensure that you don't even think about leaving here tonight, and I'm going to go camp out at the hospital. I'll keep him informed, don't fret. I just don't think...well, dude...you had a major meltdown today, I really don't think you're emotionally 'all there' to be seeing Sam after surgery. All of us saw you, man, you really care about the kids...Jaime, you'll take care of him, right?"
Scott nodded his head at Jaime, who immediately saluted and bowed and then, for added drama, also did a curtsey. "Yes, Oh High Master of the Heavens. This, too, shall be done."
I broke a rare smile, given the circumstances. Scott gestured toward his fridge. "Qpee," he said, "You've been attempting to cook over the past few months. I've got stuff in the fridge. Have fun. Take your mind off of things." He turned on the TV, which was on the Fod Network. "Look...Chopped is on now...eww...liver, rice cereal, evaporated milk, and artichokes?! Okay...Qpee, I've got chicken nuggets, bake them for 25 minutes and they'll be fine."
Scott turned away from the TV set, repulsed. I suppose he was right. Cooking would help to take my mind off of things. And I guess that it was best if I stayed away from the hospital, because I really would freak out if I was around. Even thinking about it got my heart beating fast again.
"Neeparcallthem" I said.
"English? Well, I do understand Spanish and a bit of Latin too," Jaime offered as a response.
"Need to call Sam's parents and tell them..."
Jaime shook his head. "They know, they're there at the hospital. And no, Qpee, they don't blame you one bit."
"I would blame me. I would blame Qpee. It's Qpee's fault." Suddenly, I was referring to myself in the third person.
Scott grabbed his jacket and his keys and headed toward the door. "Guys, I seriously need to go back to the hospital. Jaime, I'll keep you updated. Make sure he," Scott nodded in my direction, "Make sure HE doesn't try to create something inedible. If anything, call the number second from the top on the list on the fridge, give them my name and order what you want from the menu stuck up next to the list, they'll show up in about 20 minutes."
I was busy counting the number of threads in the carpet at this point (I had reached three thousand four hundred and twenty three...might have skipped a few numbers along the way though) when I looked up at Scott and for the first time all night, was actually in my right mind.
"Scott," I said, "You will update ME too. Fair enough that you don't think it's wise for me to be in the hospital, but this is my teammate, my student...and my friend. You had BETTER let me know what's going on."
Scott simply gave one tilt of his head toward me.
"That's the Qpee I know. Will do, buddy."
(EDIT X2: You really seriously don't want to know what happens worst case scenario, so DO NOT ASK. And if you do, I will ignore it.)
Again, this is not a cricket story. This is a story that features cricket. Admins, put it where you wish. Don't care. But it IS (relatively) popular. And look, no graphics! Amazing!
Next update very soon.
Chapter 17 - "No avoiding that"
"Hey, man," was what I heard the first thing the next morning. I opened my eyes to find a few rays of sunlight streaming through Scott's large windows. (Again, who gets such a nice apartment that must cost thousands of dollars in rent monthly if they "develop software"?")
The first image was Scott's face, again inches away from mine. I had ended up falling asleep on the couch sometime after 4am. I had attempted to cook for myself and Jaime, with the leftovers going to feed Scott. I think it was the first and only time a chicken nugget lasagna has been made in the history of the world. Wasn't half bad, either. Well...Jaime might have kept it down simply because he was that damn hungry. (It was comparable to wet cement mixed with meaty chunks.)
"I'm awake, Scottie," I said, "Kindly remove your head from my vision."
"That's our Qpee," he replied. But to his credit, he did move away. Just as Jaime threw a towel and toothbrush at me. To MY credit, I caught the towel, but the toothbrush sailed over my head and hit the wall behind me.
"Dropped the catch," Jaime said, "Poor fielding."
I sneered and grunted at him but I took the hint and went and tidied myself up. By the time I was back, I was looking like a hundred bucks (I would have looked like a million bucks, but Scott did not have enough razors for me to shave my head back to bald. I generally disliked those straggler hairs that tried to grow in the back and on the sides, but...I was not at my own apartment...so...I had to make do. The damn b*tch could have bought me a couple of disposable razors. But no, that's beyond this idiot named Scott.
At least there were bagels waiting on me for breakfast. I'll cut my "outside food" rule if it's bagels.
"Jaime," I said, "Don't you need to go to work today? It's Sunday. Don't you have some sort of research stuff to do on Sundays?"
"Nah," he replied to me, "I took a sick day...theoretically speaking, I have laryngitis."
"But you don't...isn't that...like if someone finds out you're NOT sick, isn't that illegal?"
Scott, back from his bedroom and now actively throwing clothes in my direction (I sort of was still in my towel wrapped around my waist, but I caught all the clothes...hmph), he said, "It's not illegal if I arrange for a form signed by his doctor for a few days..."
I looked at Scott, "You're going to arrange for some sort of form with his doctor's sig, faked, aren't you?"
"I'm not allowed to ask any questions, am I?"
Scott and me looked at each other for a few moments before I actually decided to just accept the blatant abuse of the medical system. Then Scott spoke.
"So, Qpee, if you're actually in your right mind today, you can go see Sam...I was there when he got out of surgery, they're keeping him in Intensive Care for 24 hours just to be on the safe side, but everything went well they said. They're keeping him sedated but again, just for the next day or so. Guys...I haven't slept in about 32 hours, I'm basically unconscious on my feet here...James, I mean Jimmy...oh f**k you know who you are I'm getting like Qpee now...Jaime...that's your name...look, just...I need sleep dudes. I seriously need...I'm tired...I just..."
His eyes were literally closing down on us. Jaime caught him and I held his legs (towel and all) and we put him to bed. I put on some decent clothes (Scott was slightly shorter and slimmer than me, but his clothes fit well enough I suppose).
I asked Jaime to drive though. Even though it was my car, I still could not drive.
Onto the hospital, no avoiding that now...
Going to attempt double updates from now on because I'm unsure about work, etc.
As of my revival, the story is organic. (I don't have updates stored anymore, I write them on the fly, only write them a few minutes before I post. That's why you'll see my edit tags at the end.)
Too good! Eagerly waiting for the next part.
Chapter 18 - "It wasn't intentional"
I think the worst of my worries was meeting Sam's parents. I did not want to see them, but I knew that it was inevitable. I felt totally responsible, having teenagers play in an adult league. Jaime parked the car and turned to me.
"You ready?" he asked.
"Not in the slightest." I replied. "But I have to do this."
I stepped out of the car on wobbly legs. Slowly taking a few steps forward, I heard a voice behind me.
"Hey, Qpee, hold up."
I turned around and focused my eyes onto the bowler who had delivered that ball. He seemed to have aged about 10 years since the game that did not happen, and his eyes were rimmed with red. I didn't hate him, not by any means, but to be honest I didn't quite know what my feelings were toward him.
"Look, dude, you have to know -"
I cut him off by raising my hand up at him.
"Not your fault, it happens. Maybe not as bad as this, but it happens."
"I wasn't trying to hurt him, you know. I just...it was just a regular bouncer, I didn't mean to hurt him or anything."
I was still swaying on my feet. I did not blame him for anything that had happened. He was not at fault. If anything, the blame was mine. I had exposed my kids to this sort of thing. In the hopes that maybe me (maybe my own ego?) maybe we could go get that $25k. Jaime put his arm on my shoulder to help me steady myself as I spoke.
"It's okay, don't worry about it. You've been in to check on him."
The bowler nodded. "I sort of feel responsible, I've got a younger brother his age...they say he'll be alright. I haven't slept well since, I mean...jeez it's not a nice thing to know what I did."
Jaime spoke up. "It wasn't intentional, you didn't mean to do it."
"Yeah, but still..." his voice trailed away as he looked anywhere but at our faces. "Still, I did that. I want to be aggressive, I want to hit batsmen, but I don't want this."
All I could do was slowly shrug and offer my hand to him. He stared at it for a long time before he took it and shook it, eventually pulling me into an embrace where I could feel him fighting the tears. For me, I could barely hold those tears back myself. "Not your fault..." I kept repeating to both myself and him. "It's not your fault."
He was on his way out. I later learned from Jaime that Scott had talked to him and requested that he be in the parking lot when we arrived. He was going to just head home for a shower and then return.
Jaime and me, well we headed up to the ICU. And when we got to the waiting area, my kids were all there. I mean, ALL of them. Eliza rose first.
"You doing okay, Mr. Qpee?"
I nodded. "What's everyone doing here?"
"Well, sir, um, Sam is gonna be taken off of the sedatives soon, so we thought...well, we thought he would like to have his friends around him. Mr. Scott was here all night, a couple of us were here too, we just figured that...well...it would be nice if we were here. He'd like that. Oh, hi Mr. Jaime."
Jaime looked around the room. "I guess," he started, "I guess there's no doubt about the team spirit here."
I also looked around the room. Small room, and yet there were all my kids there. Wil, singing silently to himself, Ranu and Vishan conversing in a language that I would have to pay money to learn, Jason in the corner brooding, everyone there in support of their friend and teammate. I felt even closer to my team, to my kids than ever before.
"Jaime," I began, "Find out what's going on with Sammy...please..."
Eliza piped up. "Oh, well, sir, they're gonna wake him up soon...they said the surgery was a success, he will be back to normal in no time at all! But, well, he's gonna have a hole in his head you know."
She pointed at her scalp. Jameson cleared his throat and spoke. "Sir, I'm not sure we should be doing this. This is dangerous. You have us playing against big serious guys and I'm uncomfortable with that after what happened."
There was a small murmur around the room. I was not particularly prepared for this. I just wanted to check up on my teammate. But I was the captain.
"Your opinion is heard, Jameson. But I don't think we should be discussing this right now. We've got an injured team member to worry about."
"So you're blowing me off?"
I'm not one to have a very long fuse. It does not take much to make me fly off the handle.
"Calm your mothereffing puberty hormones down and listen to an adult for once in your life."
Jameson, taken aback, rose from his seat.
I have been asked to continue this...by God, has it almost been a year already?
The reason why I stopped was really...nobody comments. I'm not Wayne, but a little ego massage is good now and again, you know? Anyways, here goes, let's see if I can get back into the story.
"Chapter 19 - I can't lose him"
Jameson took a couple of steps towards me, and Jaime quickly got between us.
"Guys," he said, "Come on, we're all a bit worked up here, let's just settle down. Calm down, please, both of you."
Jameson looked at Jaime first, then at me.
"Sorry sir, Mr. Jaime, I'm just...well, I'm both pissed and scared all at the same time. I mean, we're out there and...we can get hurt."
I nodded. Jaime relaxed a bit and looked at me. His eyes were strikingly piercing. Then again, he'd been the one to sleep on a bed that was a bed. I slept on a sofa that apparently became a bed by lifting and pulling. Adequate, yes. Comfortable, probably not.
"Jameson, come, let's have a little walk and talk. Anyone else wanna come along?"
The rest of the group either shook their heads or, in Vishan and Ranu's case, said something resembling "no" in Sinhalese. Or Farsi. I mean, nehi is no in Hindi, I think. Or something. Eliza seemed rather close to Jason, seemingly looking to him for support. I guess they were "on again" or whatever it is those teenagers say these days.
Jameson, still suspicious, followed me out of the room.
"Mr. Qpee," he began, "I just...I don't know, I keep thinking, what if it was me? I don't like bouncers, you know that."
That much was true, Jameson did have a terrible time with shorter stuff. You'd think a six foot two Caribbean-American guy would have had zero issues with bouncers in cricket, but he was, as he had called himself, "the nerdy black sheep in the family".
By this time we had arrived at what seemed like a dead end corridor and a staircase leading both up and down. I sat on the rails framing the staircase. Jameson, still suspicious, leaned against the wall opposite me.
"Oh come on," I said, "I'm not about to throw you down the stairs. For one, it would be dumb, with the length of those arms and legs you'd look like a spider going down those steps."
Jameson cracked the first smile I'd seen all day.
"Now look, something's bothering you and I want to know what it is. You don't ever act like that, and you never...ever lash out at me like that. What's up?"
Jameson looked at me. Or rather, he seemed to look right through me.
"Hey, Jameson, the point of having a conversation is to converse. You know? I talk, you talk, I talk again, and so on."
He kept on staring into nothingness. As stated more than once before, my fuse doesn't exactly burn very long.
"Boy, you talk to me or else I will actually throw you down these steps."
It was then that I saw the tears in his eyes. At first, I thought it was in response to what I had just said, but I was horribly, terribly wrong.
"I can't lose him, sir..."
"Well, I damn well am not about to lose him either, you know."
"No, sir...I CAN'T lose him...he's...everything...to me..."
The ball finally dropped. And I understood why Jameson was that angry and hanging on by a thread all at the same time. And I knew why he lashed out at me. I realised all at once, and perhaps all too late, that the world I lived in wasn't really the same world that my kids lived in. There were some things that would be left unsaid. At least, unsaid to me.
"How long?" I asked.
"Only a couple of weeks, it's not something that's exactly common knowledge though."
"You know that I'm here for you, for all of you guys...well, Eliza too, she's not a guy."
He cracked another smile.
"She was the one who noticed first. She made it all happen."
"Hmm...she doesn't get enough credit, I guess. Now, Jameson, you understand that things are pretty serious right now, but in no way did I ever intend for anyone to get hurt."
"Have you ever been hit with a bouncer, sir?"
"More times than I can recall, and I'm talking truthfully here, because I literally don't remember a couple of times. I've been knocked out more than once, I've had my helmet rattled a few times, and I've had more near misses than there are snails in the garden. I actually have an old grille, somewhere in a box under by bed I think, where the dent is so bad I could probably have flossed with the wire if I wore it. What happened to Sammy, son, was an accident, a freak thing. Nothing intentional."
I was saying all the right words, but I could feel the tension in my muscles and the heart pounding. Beads of sweat were forming on my mostly bare scalp and forehead, and I just hoped that Jameson could not see it. Another anxiety attack was starting up, and I did the only thing I remembered...count to ten in my head...anger management, anxiety management. I didn't realise that I wasn't exactly counting to ten until I had reached the letter T, then I wondered to myself when did I start with the alphabet? I was vaguely aware of a voice somewhere off to my left. Or was it right? Was left the right one? Or was right the right one? Then there was a blood clot...and a brain, and then a drill was drilling and creating too much noise. Can't they do something about that drill? For that matter, what was -
Reality was immediately brought back by Jameson.
"Sir, you zoned out for a while there. Are you okay?"
"Me? Oh...yeah...yeah, I'm...uh, yeah...hey good talk huh? Let's head back?"
(I know this isn't a "strong" post, but it's something. Honestly it's not my best, but when you write sometimes you need to get the bad out before you get to the good.)
So happy to see this back. @qpeedore You have did a commendable job in writing such a good story here.
Chapter 20 - A damn hobby
Jameson and myself walked back toward the waiting room. Along the corridor, walking in the opposite direction, still shedding gloves and hats, but adorned in their protective gowns, were Sam's parents.
"Sir," he began, "I..."
I put my hand behind me and signalled for him to shut the hell up. I met Sam's parents just at the door to the waiting room. As brave as I thought I was, my legs felt something similar to a jellyfish, and I'm pretty sure I had the brain capacity of one as well. Yet another anxiety attack in the space of five minutes. There must be some sort of medical condition to describe me.
I had only gotten to J in the alphabet this time before Jaime rescued me. He...I don't know, one moment he wasn't there and then the next moment there he was. Apparently I had done that zoning out thing again.
"Mr, Mrs Adams..." he began, "Please, come have a seat. Coffee? Eliza, Jason, stop canoodling in the corner, get the Adamses some coffee...I don't care, find a coffee machine somewhere! Vishan, Ranu, call and arrange some lunch for these guys, they've been here all night, they're gonna be hungry. Vish, your dad delivers, right? If he doesn't, tell him extenuating circumstances. Wil, turn off that TV, it's too loud. Miles, get up, you're taking up too much room on that couch, the Adamses need it. Sean, Greg, yes that nurse is very pretty but she does not like either of you. Mike and Alex, I have half a mind to throw you both out the window right now...practical jokes are only funny when they are...you know...practical..."
In less than one minute Jaime had sorted out an entire team roster and had two concerned parents sitting on a couch with fresh coffee in their hands. Wow.
Never in my entire lifetime could I have done the same.
I looked at him and there was that sparkle in his eye again. It wasn't from sleeping in a good bed. The guy just knew what to say and do and, in a way, he commanded respect. But also in that glance I knew that I had to say or do something too. After all, Jameson was behind me.
"Jameson," I said, "Can you give Mr. Scott a call? He'd want an update."
A bogus thing for sure. I knew Scott had his phone off. I was the one who switched it off. Software developing be damned. He needed sleep, and a lot of it. But I needed Jameson out of the room, clearly.
So said, and so done.
Jaime and myself sat in separate chairs just alongside the couch. I felt as if I should speak first. Well, Jaime kept staring at me, at least.
"Erm, so...I know you've met me more than once."
The pounding heart again. Why the hell do humans have a heart inside their chest when it just beats against it to escape? I mean, why even have an entire ribcage? Just rip my beating heart out, why don't you? It would make things easier.
Mrs Adams spoke first.
"It's Cupidore, actually...Qpee is a nickname."
"No, he always called you Mr. Qpee, and that's what we want to call you too. Even if it is a nickname, he called you that, and...we'd like to keep it."
I looked at Jaime, who shook his head slightly. He had saved me by clearing the room, now it was up to me.
"Well," I said, "I didn't expect -"
"No, no," Mrs Adams replied, "We understand. Believe me, when I'd seen what could happen, I was a bit afraid myself. But...it was an accident."
"Let me ask you something," Mr Adams spoke for the first time, "My son, he said you told him he had talent. Now you're just telling every kid that, or did you mean it?"
Ah, damn. Sam...well, Sam had talent, that was true. His talent was rotating the strike and being something of an anchor. A decent enough guy for T20, but his real role would be in the longer formats, which, unfortunately, we did not play.
"Sir," I said, "I have 9 players on the team at present still in high school. 3 other players have graduated. 2 of those graduates currently work at HeartSoft as interns while also pursuing degrees in college. The other 1 graduate is studying History full time. My colleague here, James...sorry, Jaime, he's actually a fully qualified mechanical engineer. Cricket, sir, is only a hobby. If I've said that your son has talent, it is both on and off the field."
That was definitely not the right answer.
"So you're saying," he began as he started to rise from his seat and tower over me, "That my son almost got killed over a damn hobby?!"
His last word seemed to echo throughout the room. I could swear I saw a couple of concerned kids' faces peek over the doorframe before immediately disappearing. Even Jaime, the master of words a few minutes ago, seemed frozen in place.
In a tiny voice, almost before I realised I was saying it, I asked, "But the surgery was successful, wasn't it?"
That got me another hard glare. I wanted to shrink into the seat cushion so hard that I became part of the cushion. But then, another voice spoke. Mrs Adams.
"Yes, the surgery went well. He just came off of the sedation. He squeezed my hand. Honey, don't you remember that? He squeezed my hand."
"Honey" didn't seem all that pleased.
"Yeah, and we'll be damn well happy if that's all he does."
Now, if you've known me, you'll realise this. I tend to react to fear with anger. I don't have deep seated mommy issues or anything like that, but when someone threatens me, yeah, I initially am afraid, but then something in that fight or flight response makes me want to effing fight. I might lose, but damn straight I'll give you a hell of a fight.
Jaime started seeing my response building in me too.
"Mr Adams," he started, "Could you -"
But he would not be able to finish. Because at that moment Eliza burst into the room.
"Jaime, Sam's asking for you! The doctor said he's asking for James! That's you!"
Of course it wasn’t
Even though it's a serious story, I do try to throw in some laughter in every update.