Men of Honor Ch. 04

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Chapter 4 – “The Undying One”

[San Francisco – 1981]

Sylas sat on the cold marble floor, legs bent, and his head dunked between them, sobbing uncontrollably as hordes of hospital staff rushed past him, seemingly oblivious to his suffering. Eventually, a female doctor walked up to him, and after brushing the tears from his eyes, Sylas finally lifted his head.

“Are you here for Mr. Sanchez?” The woman asked hastily. Sylas lifted his body off the floor, eyes puffy and soaking.

“Yes.” He replied, his voice sounding depleted.

“Come with me, please. Let’s talk in my office.” She requested, looking from side to side with a discomfiting demeanor. They walked the long and sterile corridors through rooms packed with young men, their bed stations shielded with plastic capsules, their bodies covered in rashes, and the sounds of their strained coughs echoing through the halls. “Please.” She indicated, pointing her arm towards her office at the end of one of the aisles. “Sit down.” She suggested. Sylas sat, his head tilting slightly back as he exhaled profusely. His tattooed arms were bare, and his hand was holding a shirt stained with dried blood. “Are you related to Mr. Sanchez?” She questioned.

“He’s my partner.” Sylas replied, his eyes on the bloodied shirt.

“Well, your friend…” She resumed, but Sylas immediately cut her off.

“I told you…he’s my partner.” He sounded as he raised his head, his eyes now locked on the woman.

“I see. Mr. Sanchez is sick. He tested positive for Karposi’s sarcoma and pneumocystis pneumonia. We believe it might be related to this new virus…” She reluctantly informed. Sylas’ eyes began to well up again, his mouth rigid as he tried to fight away his momentary anguish.

“He…he was doing fine a couple of days ago. What the hell is happening?” He mumbled.

“We don’t know yet…” The woman replied, becoming gradually more sympathetic to Sylas’ suffering. “We’re still trying to figure out…the CDC has been actively engaged. Some form of contagious cancer, it seems. It spreads very fast, and the cases have been rapidly increasing. Have you had any symptoms, Mr. Campbell? She asked calmly. “Cough, chest pain, rashes on the body, and diarrhea?” She grilled. Sylas remained silent, his head tumbling down gradually. “Mr. Campbell?” She insisted.

“Is he going to die?” His frail voice asked. The woman took her hands to her face as she tried desperately to find words of comfort. But her silence answered Sylas’ question. “Oh, my god…” He whimpered.

“Mr. Campbell, it might be wise for you to quarantine yourself for a few days. In case any symptoms start to show.” She unlocked one of the drawers from her desk and took out a pamphlet. “Might be helpful if you take this with you and read.” She suggested as she extended Sylas the folded piece of paper. Sylas grabbed it and turned it over.

“The gay cancer.” He read out loud. “You fucking people…” He muttered, his voice now becoming resonant and sore. “Where is he?” He asked. The woman remained silent. “Where the fuck is he?” He hollered.

“Mr. Campbell, he’s in isolation. You’re not allowed to see him.” She reasoned.

“Fine. I’ll leave.” He stated, standing up. “I’d shake your hand, doctor, but we wouldn’t want you to catch any gay disease. Right?” He sarcastically questioned. The woman stood speechless, her hands firmly tucked behind her.

Sylas exited the room, but instead of heading for the elevator, he strode back the way they had come and sneaked into the service stairs. One floor at a time, he opened the door to the hallways and searched for the UCI area. He eventually came to a hall that had rooms with small plaques on them. He wandered through the corridors, reading the names one by one, and every patient inside the rooms he passed by would glance at him, pleading for hope. As his heart began to cave again, he looked to his right and finally saw the name Sanchez, engraved with a black marker on a small white strip. He entered the room and felt an immediate pungent odor.

“Baby, is that you?” A soft and debilitating voice answered. Sylas closed the door, slanted his body over it, and stood there, garnishing the courage to step forward.

“Yes. Yes, baby, it’s me.” He finally answered, trying to fight his tears.

“I can’t see shit, but I could smell you at the end of the corridor.” The young man explained. Even in that dire circumstance, his voice was sweet and melodic, albeit weak.

“I’m here.” Sylas declared as he approached the bed. “I’m right here.” He conveyed, the cracks showing in every word he uttered.

“Let me feel your hand, baby.” The young man pleaded. Sylas scanned the large plastic tent around him and slipped his arm through a small crack, touching the young man’s arm and swathing their hands together. “That’s nice…” He uttered. But his voice suddenly broke. He began to sob, his breath failing üvey kız kardeş porno as he wailed. “Sy, I don’t wanna die. Please don’t let me die!” He begged. Sylas’ head turned over to the side as his face contorted in pain and despair. But he faced his lover again.

“Tony, listen to me…you’re not going to die. You’re going to be fine. Soon we’ll be home again, ok?” He uttered.

“Liar!” Tony yelled, his voice rasping and his head shaking from side to side in a state of delusion. “I’m fucking blind, Sy. I’m going to die here. Oh god, please help me. Por favor Dios, no me dejes morir!” He prayed desperately. Suddenly, two male nurses with masks came rushing in, momentarily startled by Sylas’ presence.

“Sir, you can’t be here. You need to leave.” They instructed as Tony lost consciousness, his grip on Sylas’ hand becoming weak, eventually letting go. Sylas stepped back awkwardly, stumbling over some cables on the ground as the nurse began performing CPR on Tony’s lifeless body. “Sir, leave!” They demanded again.

“Tony, please…don’t leave me.” Sylas whispered as he back-paddled towards the door. But as he reached the doorway, it slammed shut in his face.

Thirty minutes later, Tony was dead. And Sylas sat alone in the corridor, yet again, holding nothing but that bloodied shirt.

He eventually picked himself up and walked out of the hospital. He wandered around the block, lost in thought and harboring a profound sense of hopelessness and loss. He strolled past the bars he and Tony used to go to, and as Sylas stood outside on the other end of the street, he could hear the noise coming from within, the vibrant sound of all the reckless youth, oblivious to the future, unafraid of the challenges to come. He carried on, and after half an hour of walking, he found himself near the city’s bay area. He strolled along the pier, finally halting there, and stood silent as he gazed at the river. His heart caved in, lost in mourning. As he observed the still water, he contemplated ending his life. Perhaps death was a blessing. He would rather die healthy than end up on a hospital bed withering away as his love did, he taught. His hands gripped the metal fence, and he raised his eight-foot body, ready to tilt himself over when a voice suddenly sneaked up from behind him.

“If you had any idea how cold that water is right now, you wouldn’t jump.” The male voice sounded. Sylas halted but didn’t turn around right away. He just stood there, perplexed. “Step down. Let’s talk.” The voice continued.

“I’m busy. Go away.” Sylas stated, ruffled. He finally turned his head back, but given the poor lighting around, he couldn’t see the man’s features as they hid in the shadows cast over the area.

“I won’t leave you alone here, Sylas.” The man uttered. Sylas froze.

“How…” He mumbled. “Do I know you?” He questioned, dumbfounded. His eyes squinted as he tried to catch a glimpse of the mysterious man’s face.

“Not yet. No.” The man replied, taking a few steps forward, unveiling himself. He was younger than Sylas, with dark, perfectly brushed silky hair, the luster perceptible even in all that darkness. His face was stunning, with hard lines yet a soft expression. And the most profound eyes that seemed to pierce through Sylas. As the man stared at him, Sylas began to feel warm, and when he brought his hands to his bare arms, he realized how cold his body was. The man undressed his coat and extended it to Sylas. “Put this on. You’re going to get sick.” He said.

“Maybe I’m already sick…” Sylas murmured to himself, so low it would be impossible for anyone to hear.

“You’re not, Sylas.” The man conveyed. Sylas’ eyes gaped, and despite his will, in an almost involuntary move, he began climbing down from the metal bars that separated him from a considerably high fall into the water below. He reluctantly received the leather jacket the man was offering and put it on. It fit perfectly. “The name is Jeffrey, by the way.” He introduced himself. Sylas meant to say his name, but then he remembered. They looked at each other and shared a subtle yet genuine chuckle. Sylas felt instantly guilty for laughing. As if he owed his current situation some penance. “Sit. Let’s talk.” Jeffrey suggested, sitting on a bench just in front of where they were, overlooking the water. Sylas stood there looking around, his body reluctant to concede to the will of this mysterious man. “I’m not going to hurt you. I promise.” Jeffrey assured. Sylas finally sat down, his hand grabbing the edges of the jacket together, protecting his chest from the cold night.

“Don’t take offense, but…” Sylas stated. “What do you want?” He asked. Jeffrey smiled. As Sylas glanced at him, he couldn’t help but notice this strange glow inside his eyes. Like lights reflecting on it.

“To help.” Jeffrey replied without hesitation.

“Well…” Sylas uttered sarcastically. “You’re about one week too late.” He remarked.

“I wasn’t talking about Tony. I meant you.” xnxx porno Jeffrey clarified. Sylas’ mouth dropped slightly. Jeffrey took his hand and moved it in his direction, landing it on Sylas’ arm. As soon as it touched his skin, Sylas felt a warm wave of overwhelming comfort envelop his whole body. The sensation was so overwhelming that his chest squeezed, and he felt like crying.

“How do you know…” He whispered, his voice becoming frail.

“What do you say we go for a ride? It’ll help you get your mind off things.” Jeffrey suggested. “My friend is dying to meet you.” He said, pointing his head to the car parked just a few feet away from where they sat. Sylas turned his head to the parking lot and tried to see inside, but it was too dark.

“I don’t even know you, man.” Sylas finally uttered, uncertainty boiling inside his chest.

“But I know you, Sylas.” Jeffrey replied with a commanding gaze. Sylas chuckled, incredulous. Jeffrey grinned. “I know you were born the youngest of four. I know your mother left your father the day she came home from work to find him raping your sister. I know you ran away from home the day your uncle slapped you for being gay in front of your mother as she sat idly by. I know that you never forgave her, yet, to this day, you visit her house on her birthday and stand outside watching her, hidden away. I know that you lived as an addict until you met Tony and that he saved you. In every sense that a person can be. And that your life seems void of purpose after what happened tonight.” Jeffrey described. Sylas’ mouth remained open for the entirety of Jeffrey’s speech. Even the most astute person with the means to hire someone to dig about his life couldn’t possibly know all of that. Then again, why would anyone spend resources on a man like him? He was nobody.

“How…” Sylas mumbled, his cynicism swamped by this mysterious man’s words. Jeffrey’s hand slid through the bench and touched Sylas’ shoulder.

“Let me show you, Sylas.” Jeffrey uttered soothingly. Sylas looked at him, and as he did, a strange light seemed to emanate from within his eyes.

“What will I find?” Sylas questioned as he glanced over to the car and then back at Jeffrey, who gazed at him, his eyes now bright as daylight.

“Hope, Sylas. Hope.” He conveyed.

Sylas heard Jeffrey’s voice echoing in his head, the sound dissipating like benevolent ripples through his body. He suddenly felt compelled to heed. They stood up and walked to the car parked just behind them as Jeffrey’s touch carried him like an invisible force, nudging him toward the unknown.

(Somewhere in South Carolina – 1897)

Casey’s bright blue eyes blinked, concealed behind the large book cover, his elbows placed on the small desk as he gazed at the boy, three chairs in front of him, watching silently, oblivious to the turmoil around the classroom as the teacher attempted to manage the noise.

“There’s a box in the main hall where you can place your letters. Do not mark them.” The young teacher explained as she sat on her chair, an exhausted look piercing through her. “Try to be polite and refrain from doing something you’ll later regret.” She said, scanning the room that had now become quieter.

“Like what, Mrs. Selner?” The young boy Casey was peeking at said.

“Tommy W. Dent, don’t make me regret putting you in charge of the letterbox…” The teacher uttered. “If anything happens, I will spank you. Then I will call your father, and he will spank you.” She threatened. The boy looked at her, slightly scared, but not enough to avoid turning over to his friends and whispering something, making them all start giggling complicitly.

As they did, a loud bell fired outside before the whole classroom broke out, pushing tables and dragging their belongings as they ran out the door. Casey remained seated, looking over the book cover at the commotion around him and patiently waiting for it to cease. As it did, he slowly began stuffing his books and pencils inside his small, old backpack.

“Casey, is everything alright?” The teacher asked from the other side of the room. Casey’s head nodded slowly. “Everything all right at home?” She inquired reluctantly. The boy nodded yet again, but the woman seemed unconvinced. She got up from her chair and walked over to the boy. As she approached him, she stopped, drew one of the chairs over to him, pulled her skirt up slightly, and sat beside him. “Casey, look at me.” She instructed. The boy’s eyes remained hidden. She reached over and held his tiny hand. “You know the Lord doesn’t like children who lie…” She said, endeavoring to scare him into opening up. “Is it your father? Is he still drinking?” She questioned. The boy nodded affirmatively, with visible apprehension. “Lord, have mercy. You’ll need to be strong, you hear!” She stated, grabbing the boy’s chin and turning his head to face her.

“Mrs. Selner…can I ask you a favor?” Casey’s gentle voice uttered.

“What is it?” She asked.

“Can you put my letter in zenci porno the box, please?” The boy begged, embarrassed. The teacher looked at him, confused.

“Don’t you want to be the one to do it? I mean…it might be nice to let the girl you wrote it to know you like her?” She insisted, playfully nudging her body into his, teasing him as she smiled.

“I don’t want anyone to know I put it there.” Casey revealed. Her expression changed immediately, becoming intrigued with the boy’s request and subsequent secrecy.

“I suppose I can, yes.” She said as she extended her hand to receive his small piece of paper. His hands were dirty as he placed a crumpled piece of paper in her hand.

“I…didn’t have enough nickels to buy the envelope. Lady at the store said I had to pay for it, but pappa didn’t give me lunch money today.” The boy explained under the watchful eye of his teacher. She held the paper in her hand.

“Run along now, Casey. Your momma is going to get worried. I’ll see you in church on Sunday, alright?” She conveyed, her face denoting apprehension. Casey slid off his chair and went out the door, dragging his beat-down sandals through the cracked wooden floor of the old wooden school.

He wandered outside, the noon sun peaking and pressing down on his little blonde head. He began to walk. The same walk he would do every day. The worn-out sandals could barely hold his growing feet, and his dirty, baggy clothes couldn’t hide how thin and frail the boy looked underneath. From time to time, Casey would stop and adjust his feet, trying to keep his sandals intact. But on this particular day, he seemed uneasy. Despite his usually peaceful demeanor, Casey sighed loudly, grabbed his sandals, and angrily tossed them over the side of the road into the large, bushy area around it. As he did, he suddenly felt a presence around him, but as Casey scanned his surroundings, the boy failed to find anything that would explain the eerie feeling he had just felt. He shrugged his shoulders and tiptoed the rest of the way home, trying not to step on a sharp rock and injure his feet. As the boy approached his house, a small, beaten-down wooden shack on the side of the deserted dirt road, his eyes spotted his mother waiting for him on the small porch. He walked cautiously over to her, preparing himself for some scolding.

“Casey, what happened to your shoes?” His mother questioned. There was no bitterness or anger in her voice. Casey’s mother had bestowed upon him her beautiful looks. She had stunning silk blonde hair, and the boy shared her deep, bright blue eyes. And notwithstanding her young age, her semblance reflected an older woman’s soul, bitter and sad. Yet, as she gazed at her son, a ray of hope emerged inside her eyes. Whatever it was that maintained this woman’s spirit alive, it resided inside the boy. He was her reason to live. “If your father catches you barefoot, we’re in trouble. Go inside and take a bath. I’ll heat the water in the fireplace. But hurry ’cause momma still needs to start dinner.” She informed, grabbing his head and pulling him into her, nestling his blond hair between her fingers and holding the boy close to her belly. As they parted, she dropped down and looked at him. “I love you. You know you can talk to me about anything, right?” She said.

Casey’s eyes welled up. Inside his mother’s embrace, he found the comfort he sought. The only joy in the boy’s daily life was these few hours he’d spend with her alone before his father returned home from work, when the sun recoiled, and the twilight hovered melancholically over that small house in the middle of nowhere. As he took his bath and stood on the porch while his mother dried his frail body with a towel, Casey stared at the vast sky and dreamt of a life beyond his own. One where he and his mother lived peacefully, away from the dark and violent nature brought on by his father’s abusive nature. But those fleeting minutes of hope always ended the same way. His father would eventually come home drunk, spewing hateful things at them. Some nights, if they were lucky, he would be too drunk and pass out on the chair near the fireplace, where he usually sat. But on the nights his stamina hadn’t been entirely depleted by the alcohol, he would expend his last fragments of energy beating Casey’s mother or Casey himself if the boy tried to protect her. He would even go as far as locking Casey inside his room some nights and dragging his mother by the hair into their room, where he would rape her continuously until her screams became faint or she eventually passed out. Even so, through all the pain inflicted, both physically and mentally, Casey’s twelve-year-old self still dreamt. That hope and unbridled determination poured from him with inexplicable tenacity. A luminous spirit that even the darkest reality seemed unable to punch through. On this particular day, Casey’s father was late for dinner, which wasn’t usual. The young boy could feel his mother’s anxiousness show, and as the hours passed, so grew their fear. It got dark, so his mother locked the door and fell asleep on Casey’s bed as she nursed him to sleep. His father’s absence provided a few hours of uninhibited peace, and so, under the dark star-filled sky, in that house in the middle of a deserted road, mother and child fell asleep in a loving embrace.

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