The next few days for the band passed very slowly. Chester was admitted to hospital the day after the argument. The tour was cancelled and the rest of the band members spent most of the time either at the hotel or the hospital waiting room.
Chester’s mind was continually in a constant flux from the conscious to unconscious worlds. The very few times Chester was able to talk, he would roll over and refuse to speak to anyone.
The third night he spent in hospital, Mike came to visit by himself. He sat there quietly, staring blankly at Chester’s unconscious form.
The IV machine beeped loudly, and sent another dose of morphine down the tube into Chester’s veins. He stirred, and looked slightly more comfortable as he slept.
“I’m so sorry about yesterday,” Mike whispered, standing up and moving closer to the bed. “It’s time to let you sleep now, Chesty.” He said, pulling off Chester’s glasses and laying them on the small bedside table.
He moved closer and sat down on the edge of the bed. Leaning over the sleeping body, he ran his fingers through Chester’s blonde hair. A lone tear ran down his cheek as he leaned forward and kissed Chester on the lips.
“Goodnight. Sleep well, my friend.” Mike breathed.
He stood up and quietly left the room.
He tried to shake the thousands of thoughts out of his head as he sped along the highway. The ring of his mobile pulled his mind back into reality, realising he was still driving.
“What?” He shouted in an aggressive voice.
“Tobe, what the fuck are you doing?” The voice asked.
“I’m going back to Sydney, Bren. I can’t stay here any longer. I can’t just sit around here and watch him… Him d-” his voice wavered.
“Well you’re in no condition for driving. C’mon mate, we can get the train back tomorrow.” He pleaded.
“No. I’m sorry Bren but I can’t wait that long. Look, I’ll talk to you later,” he said and hung up.
“Yeah, yeah I’m coming!” Mike called to the person who was banging on his door. He hadn’t slept much since leaving Chester the night before, and he was rather annoyed for being woken so early in the morning. He looked at the alarm clock while unlocking the door. 6:15 was way too early for him.
“Bren- hey man are you okay?” Mike asked when he opened the door to see Brendan’s ragged form in his doorway. His clothes stunk and his hair was all messy.
“I- I’m so sorry Mikey,” he mumbled. “But I don’t know anyone in Melbourne and I didn’t know who to talk to…”
“Sure Bren, come in.”
“No, I can’t stay. I have to phone his family. It’s terrible, Mike. Terrible terrible…” Brendan's voice drifted off. Mike cringed as his breath reeked of beer.
“Come in,” he repeated, pulling Bren into the room and closing the door. “Now tell me what this is all about.”
“T- Tobe. He left for Sydney in a rental last night. He’d been drinking real bad and… And it was terrible! Terrible!” His voice became irrational.
“What?” Mike said, shaking Brendan. “What’s wrong with Toby?”
“There was glass all over the road,” he began. His mind disappeared into a flashback. “Police took me there this mornin’. The truck was still smoking… And the car wa- was all… Crumpled-” his voice turned into heavy sobs as he put his head on Mike’s shoulder and hugged him around the waist.
“Oh Bren,” Mike whispered in his ear.
They stood there, unmoving as Brendan tried his best to settle himself down. “Terrible, terrible, terrible…” He mumbled to himself quietly.
“Where is he now?” Mike asked quietly.
“The fucking mortuary!” He screamed as he pushed Mike away, hysteria gripping his body. “How the fuck am I going to tell his mother that?! I- I was his first boyfriend… His parents never approved, never talked to me. They hate me Mike! They blamed me for their son’s sexuality for fuck’s sake! Now they’ll blame me for this.” His body collapsed and he slumped onto the side of Mike’s bed, face resting in both hands.
“We can work things out, Bren.” Mike soothed, sitting next to him and giving Bren a warm hug. “The hospital can speak to his parents,” he offered.
Brendan couldn’t respond, his whole body shaking as he sobbed on Mike’s shoulder.
“They won’t blame you, Bren,” he whispered. Guilt flowed through his body for ever giving the backstage tickets to Toby. It was all his fault, and there was nothing he could do about it.
They sat there quietly on the bed, both men lost in thought. As the sun rose above the skyline, far off in the distance, sounds of the city traffic could be heard. It was the beginnings of a normal workday, as if no one else even knew Toby, and the terrible accident that happened overnight.
Outside Mike's window, the Morning Star disappeared into the orange-coloured sky, and no one even noticed.
The days passed slowly. It seemed to Bren and Mike that every passing minute was a challenge. The band was also told about the accident, though Chester had his own worries, and was not told about the accident for several days. He was doing much better now; talking to the guys and being able to stomach some food.
The funeral was held back in Sydney, with only a handful of family and the rest friends he had made through his community of like-minded young men in their city. They were his real family – Brendan was more of a brother than Toby could have possibly wished for. Mike was probably Toby’s last friend in this life, but still special none the less. Both had flown up to Sydney for a few days for the funeral and other matters. The rest of the band stayed with Chester while he was in hospital.
Bren’s eulogy was short and rather to the point. Standing there, it felt as though Toby’s entire family were giving him death-stares, wishing Brendan was in the pine box and not their own relative. Mike sat there quietly, with a very uneasy feeling in his stomach. In a church filled with Toby’s relatives, homosexuals, and a few drag-queens sitting in the back row, he was the one that felt out of place - as though he didn’t belong.
The coffin slowly descended into the earth, and people started to say their goodbyes. Bren and Mike stayed there long after the last of the family members had departed for the wake.
“There’s something I need to tell you Bren,” Mike began.
“Yeah?” He replied quietly.
“It’s about that whole thing with Toby leaving for Melbourne. It wasn’t a business trip at all.”
Bren looked at him, confused. “But wasn’t he meeting clients?” He asked.
“Actually, he met me for breakfast. The whole time I knew Toby we were good friends and talked a lot.” He sighed heavily before continuing. “Look, I really wanted to set Chester up with a really nice guy, and when I met Toby the very first time I just knew those two would be great together. A bit like a gut feeling, I suppose. Anyway, the only reason why you were both in Melbourne is because I gave him passes and tickets for the gig down there.”
“Why didn’t you tell me this before?” He asked.
“I- I don’t know. It’s all my fault, Bren. I feel so bad inside, and I don’t know what do to.” Mike said despondently.
Brendan just sat there quietly, thinking to himself. “It’s okay, Mike. You weren’t the one who got him drunk that night when he drove off now, were you? Life’s full of mistakes, and you can’t go around trying to anticipate them all. You just learn from them, and move on as best you can.”
“You’re moving on, are you?” Mike asked.
Brendan began to reply, but was distracted by a group walking towards them. Five men entered the cemetery and were heading towards them.
“What the-” said Mike.
“I’m very sorry we’re late, guys. Bren, our deepest condolences,” Brad offered.
“Thankyou,” was all Brendan could manage, as he stood up and hugged Brad around the waist. Brad hugged him tightly, and gave his back a rub.
“I appreciate you all coming to see Toby, but what are you guys actually doing here?” Mike asked.
“Well Chaz has been acting weird all day.” Joe began. “The doctor was talking to him this morning and ever since he’s been like ‘I gotta go see Tobe. We gotta go to Sydney.’ And all this other stuff. He reckon’s Tobe is ‘one in a million’ or something or other. He’s been carting that frog everywhere, too.”
Mike looked over at Chester, with Froggy still in hand. He looked better than what he did at the hospital, but still had no colour to his face. He wore an old shirt and pants – his only change he had at the hospital. His eyes looked deep and vacant, as he stared blankly at the grave, whispering to himself.
“Yeah you wouldn’t believe it,” said Dave continuing the story, “he was in such a rush he didn’t have time to co-ordinate his outfit even.”
“You have all our stuff?” Mike asked Dave.
“Yeah. It’s all being bussed up here tonight.”
“You think of everything Dave.” Mike said, trying his hardest at a half-smile.
They spent some time there, before heading back to a hotel. Mike and Bren were shattered from the last few days, and didn’t feel up to the wake. The other band members also paid their respects before they left, including Chester, who sat down quietly next to the grave and whispered kind words to Toby’s resting form.
Mike was unsure what to make of it; the only words he could hear from Chaz’s whisperings were “Thank you, thank you Tobe. You’re my one in a million.”
|TOP | Last updated 15 February 2002 19:42 (AUS EST / +1000 GMT).|