Happy Birthday.

AN: The plot for this thing just wouldn't leave me alone so here's part two. The third and final part will be up shortly. Thank you to all who reviewed part one.

-Travis


"Come on, come on, where the fuck are you. . ." I wondered as I stood hoping from foot to foot on the platform, not out of any real belief that it would make the train get there faster but it did make me feel slightly less anxious.

Why was I in such a rush anyway? I don't know. All I can tell you is that I had a bad feeling, like the sort of feeling the coyote gets right before the acme rocket crashes.

Finally the train pulled in to the station and I nearly knocked over an elderly man trying to get off in my enthusiasm.

I wasn't certain what I intended to say when I got there. I had to say something though. . . "Now, where does he live again. . .?"

All this started earlier today when, at the end of my sociology lecture I stumbled on to the misfortune of having a conversation with the dumb and dumber of Hammersmith and West London College, also known as Charlie Franks and Emanuel West.

Now, everyone else had left already and it was only us in the room (or so I thought) and I was pretty much just agreeing with whatever they had to say so I could leave. This ranged from Sera Hopkins' breasts to Casey Smiths' dick and the humorous aspects of their relative sizes. There was, like in most of their conversation (and I use the term loosely in reference to the crap that comes out when either of them open their mouth) had a vaguely sexual streak. Unfortunately.

"Yeah, He's a poof. He probably checks you out in the showers Jordan, I'd watch it!"

I laughed. I missed the part of the conversation where he said who it was they're talking about. I was too busy trying to decide weather the spark in their eyes was intelligence or some kind of medical condition. Probably the latter, I decided.

Why was I taking this, you might wonder? Well, yes. I could be idealistic and tell them to stuff their stupid comments and their dirty jokes where the sun don't shine, but then, my life would be a lot harder. Why bother? I was happy where I was. We were all on the sports team, why upset the balance of things? It's not as if I had a personal crusade against them or anything, they'd never done anything to me.

That's when I caught another bit of conversation.

"Oh Jordan! Would you go out with me? I want you sooo much!"

It took a while to dawn on me that it was an exaggerated imitation with a lot of lip smacking and eyelash batting and not an epileptic fit.

"Get he fuck off me!"

I yelled playfully, shoving him away. Charlie pretended to be put out.

"Don't you want me baby?"

He said mockingly.

"Hey man, if you want something up your ass so badly go find Richey!"

And that was my mistake. You see, I didn't really have anything against Richey, it was a sort of joke! He was the first appropriate name that popped in to my head as a couple of months ago he acquired a stigma. The rumor was his girlfriend dumped him because he turned out to be gay. No one really thought he was gay. No one really had anything against him being gay, least of all me, but this was college, i.e.: a large group of bored teenagers under one roof.

Suddenly the expressions on their faces changed to admiration and amusement. In fact they were all but rolling around on the floor howling with laughter. What was so funny? It soon became clear.

Not only did it turn out that it was Richey that Charlie was imitating to begin with, but also, as it happened, he was standing behind us, just inside the door.

"Great."

That's all I could think to say, and they, sensing the lack of amusement at the situation in my voice asked my what the big deal was. That's when I told them to stuff it and left.

You'd think the crap I'd have to deal with as a result of that was punishment enough but I guilted my self in to trying to find him and explain, apologize even.

I didn't mean any of it! I had nothing against him, I like him and had no intention of hurting him, I simply didn't know he was there! We only have this one class together, but he comes by the gym every so often to shoot some hoops, and at the start of the year he couldn't even hit the board, so he became my pet project, so to speak. We'd hang out when everyone else left and play one on one, and I'd give him a few pointers here and there. In fact, lately he started to show up late, after everyone else had gone, just for our little lesson. He was fun to be around. "And now he'll think I'm a prick and wont want to play with me." Was what went through my head. Not entirely unselfish, but it sounded better to me than "I feel bad because I hurt his feelings."

So here I was, walking down what I hoped was the right street looking for number 77a. I'd never even been here before, the only reason I even knew where he lived is because he used to go out with Emily and we were on the same course and she told me. I'm not sure why now.

So, after I spent half an hour running around campus looking for him without success I decided he must have gone home. "ok," I thought, "no problem, I'll just call him."

No answer. Just his voicemail message.

This is where I would normally have given up, deciding, quite rationally, to catch up with him later, except I didn't. Instead I jumped on the first train to Camden and am now knocking at his front door.

I was just starting to notice things like the gothic gold knocker and the chipping black paint on the door when I heard footsteps from the inside. It was all I could do not to barge past the woman who opened the door demanding to know where Richey was.

-Hi Mrs. Page, is Richey home?

The woman was wearing a flowery apron. This is the only thing I could notice about her. The vague impression of blond hair and blue eyes didn't really register. It was the apron that threw me. This is not how I pictured Ritchies' mother.

-Oh, come on in! You must be one of his friends form school,

-Yes, Jordan Grey

I cut in but I don't think she was paying attention.

-He is upstairs in his room, I heard him come in earlier. Will you be staying for dinner? Or are the two of you going out?

(I kind of paled at that)

-It is his birthday, so I suppose it's alright. .

She went on as she walked me down a corridor. It was his birthday? I felt worse.

I smiled and nodded politely and went upstairs taking the "second door on the left".

I knocked.

No answer.

I was about to knock again, but then that coyote feeling intensified and I just burst in to the room.

- Richey?

It was stupid, somehow I knew he couldn't hear me, but I couldn't think of the sensible thing to do here.

He was lying on the floor next to the chair as if he'd just dropped out of it and fell asleep. Except he wasn't asleep.

In the eerie quiet of the room I dropped to my knees and rolling him over on to his back listed for a heart beat. There was none.

I started to panic. "call someone, call someone, you idiot." My brain was screaming at me and I finally listened, tripping out of the door and yelling for Mrs. Page to call an ambulance.

She rushed up stairs. I think she screamed. While she talked to the paramedics on the phone I sat on the floor next to Richey with my hand on his shoulder. I didn't know what else to do. I'll never forget how he looked, lying there with tear traks on his pale face. I brushed blonde strands of hair out of his eyes. "No, he's not dead. He can't be."

The feeling was surreal. What if he dies? Was all I could think. Mrs. Page gasped and put a hand over her mouth. I saw that her gaze was directed at the bed, and more precisely, I small brown plastic bottle that was on it.

It took me a second to catch up to what that meat. When I did, I looked back at Richeys' face in shock. I was crying. I haven't cried in years. I didn't even notice, and then they were there talking in medical jargon that made the New York minute seem like the Hartfordshire hour and then they were gone. Mrs. Page must have gone with them I guessed. I was sitting on the edge of the bed looking straight ahead. The blurry out line of the computer screen was making my eyes hurt, but I didn't look away. I just kept on staring at it, for no real reason, that is until it slowly swam in to focus.

"I guess it's a fore gone conclusion that these things aren't meant to be long, but. . . it seems stupid to have a rule about such things, and I can't think of a better way to explain. Explain what?. . ."

I read it twice. Then I deleted it. Then, I rushed out side and took a taxi to the nearest hospital.

::::::::::

End of part two.