Mike stood there quietly, with an emptied styrofoam coffee cup in one hand, mobile phone in the other. His eyes were vacant as they stared out across the hospital gardens in front of Emergency where he waited. It was near dusk, and the native birds began to chatter in the trees.
Rob came out from the waiting room and put a thoughtful hand on Mike’s shoulder. He clicked back into the real world, turned to his friend, and tried his best at a half-smile. Failing any attempt of a smile, he turned around fully and gave Rob a hug.
“No news yet,” Rob said, breaking the silence.
Mike only nodded; he knew that already. He let go of Rob slowly.
“Brad and Brendan aren’t back yet?” Rob asked.
“No. Our stuff still hasn’t arrived yet,” Mike replied. He wished Brad would have come to the hospital, instead of Joe, Rob, and Dave. Instead Brad explained he was going to wait at the hotel for the gear to arrive, and for some reason he only wanted Bren there with him.
Rob sighed heavily; the long wait was taking its toll on his body. “Come on Shinoda, let’s sit down somewhere,” he said pointing to a bench nearby.
“So what do you wanna do?” Brad asked thoughtfully. The two sat on the kerb in front of the Novotel, limo drivers and guests of the hotel giving them glares all the while. But it didn’t even enter their heads what they must have looked like, sitting in the gutter outside a well-to-do Sydney hotel.
“Well I’d like to be over at the hospital as soon as I can,” Bren replied.
“Hmm,” Brad began. He didn’t quite know how say what he meant here. “Honestly Bren, Chester can wait. I don’t mean to sound all horrible and nasty, but I’ve got my mobile on me and Mike will call if anything comes up.”
Brendan nodded slowly, a bit unsure where this was going.
“There’s been something I’ve been meaning to tell you Bren, but with Chaz being sick and Toby-” he chose his words very carefully, “having that terrible accident, telling you this earlier would have been really bad timing…”
The two men sat there talking quietly about things. Eventually the tour bus arrived, diesel engine roaring loudly. The driver hopped out, and began unloading luggage out of the storage bay.
Phoenix almost slammed into the auto doors, running out of the waiting room so quickly he didn’t give them much time to open. “Whoa Dave,” he said to himself, “we don’t need another casualty.”
He dashed up along the path to where Mike and Rob were sitting. “Guys-” He caught his breath before continuing. “He’s ready to see us.”
The nurse pushed open the door. Mike entered the room, followed by Rob, Dave, and Joe. It had only one bed, though extra room was taken up by IV and heart-monitoring machines. Chester lay there on the bed, breathing slowly through an oxygen mask.
Froggy sat on the end of the bed; it’s big, cheesy grin oblivious to the sad feeling that filled the room. The nurse smiled weakly at them, and continued on with her duties.
Chester stirred and opened his eyes. Using his free arm he reached up and pulled the mask off his face and onto his neck. “Guys,” he began, “it’s good to see you again.” He gave a thoughtful smile, and his eyes began to close again. He opened them again. “Oops. Gotta stay awake.”
“We won’t keep you up,” said Mike, pulling up a chair.
Just as Mike sat down, the nurse re-entered the room. “Goodevening, Mr Bennington. Looks like there’s even more visitors for you,” she said, tilting her head in the direction of the door. She pulled up Chester’s chart and began his obs.
Brendan walked in, placing a friendly hand on Mike’s shoulder. Brad came up behind Bren and put his arms around his waist. Brad’s goatee settled comfortably on Brendan’s shoulder.
“Well well, I never…” Chester began, smile spreading across his lips.
“You sound like you’re in a good mood,” Brendan said, smiling back.
“How could he be? He’s back in hospital, isn’t he?” Joe asked him.
“Aah Joey, but this time is different, and I think Bren knows that too,” Chester replied, his eyes barely keeping open.
“What do you mean?” Mike asked. He looked up and gave Brendan a confused look.
“I-” Brendan began. “I think he will be okay. After this operation Chaz?”
“Operation?” The other band members said in unison.
“Yeah, operation. Ya know, surgery?” Chester tried his best at cracking a joke.
“Bren, what’s he talking about?” Brad whispered into his ear.
“I’m not too sure what he is talking about, but I’ll guess it has something to do with the donor program?” Brendan asked, looking at Chaz.
He nodded in agreement. “My one in a million…” Chester breathed.
Brendan found himself the centre of attention. All eyes were on him, including the nurse.
He took a deep breath before continuing. “Well it all began when Tobe got his licence. Ignoring his parents wishes, he became an organ donor, and even put my name down as his next of kin.” He sighed, thinking of how the story unfolded. “Before the funeral, I had to sign release papers, and all his internals were then available to the waiting list of patients…”
Mike just looked at him, dumbfounded. “So Bren you’re tellin’ me-”
“Yeah,” Chester cut him off. “Toby and I, well we’re a perfect match. He was the only heart donor in the country that is suitable for me.”
“So how did you know it was Chester?” Joe asked curiously.
“I didn’t,” Bren said shaking his head. “I just put two and two together on the way here with Brad. I remembered Tobe telling me how he had a larger heart or something at birth, and he was unique because of it. I never really thought any more of it! I don’t even know why he told me that.”
Mike sighed, and gave Chaz a weak smile. He never thought the day would come, where talk of heart bypass surgery would make him feel relieved. He leaned over and squeezed Chester’s hand.
The nurse wiped the tears out of her eyes, her emotions overtaking her professionalism. She clipped Chester’s file back onto the bed, and turned to leave. When she opened the door, two porters entered to prepare Chester for theatre.
No one spoke, though this time the silence was not uneasy, like when Sad Chester used to be with them.
The porters soon had all the equipment onboard, and were ready to take him. “Ready when you are,” one of them said to Chaz.
He turned to look at Mike, a thoughtful look etched into his face. “It’s gunna be okay, Mikey,” he whispered. He turned back and nodded to the porter, who released the brakes and began to push the bed out of the room.
Mike’s hand fell away from Chester’s. He gave a puzzled look; realising Chaz had slipped him a note. Unfolding it carefully, he read the word TOBY in capitals, followed by a phone number. Tears ran down his face, realising it was the same note he had given Chester weeks ago.
“Things will never be the same again, though Chesty,” Mike said looking up. But Chester had already left, the bed slowly being pushed down the corridor.
THE END | Fiction
|TOP | Last updated 15 February 2002 19:42 (AUS EST / +1000 GMT).|