Chapter 3

"Shit, mom," Trey cursed under his breath. Events from two years ago replayed in his head. It had happened just like this, with the twins wailing behind him and him yelling at his little brother to call an ambulance.

There was no little brother to yell at now. He ripped his eyes away from his mother's pale form in the tub. At least, she hadn't let the water run. Trey sprinted out of the room to grab his cell phone, call someone for help.

To deserve this much bad luck he should have thrown a black cat at a mirror while stepping on a crack underneath a ladder.

Somehow, he found his cell phone, remembered what number to dial and stated his emergency.

My mom is taking a bath in her own blood. I don't think it's good for her health.

He told himself to keep breathing, knowing that he was becoming hysteric. But how could she do this to him again? Would she still have done this had she been alone in the house? He couldn't think about that now.

Knowing what he had to do, he forced himself to go back into the bathroom. His mother's skin felt strange to his touch. Was this really the woman who had raised him, let him sleep in her lap and sung songs to him when he was a toddler?

Emptying his head, he tried to stop the bleeding. Well, at least this isn't new to me. He swallowed down a bitter smile at the thought.

When the medical people came he stepped aside and watched them do their work. It felt like watching another person's dream. He wasn't there at all, didn't want to be there.

They had to ask him twice whether he wanted to come along in the ambulance. He couldn't remember saying anything, but at some point, he found himself filling out forms in a hospital, hastily clad in the same clothes he'd been wearing the day before. His hand was writing down all the facts from some space in his memory, but he couldn't stay in the moment, couldn't think about what was happening to them at all. He had to make some calls. His aunt, his siblings. He had to—

He stopped, shoved the form paper aside and rushed to the bathrooms where he threw up into the toilet bowl.

Fuck. He splashed cold water in his face and wiped his mouth with paper napkins. Looking into the mirror, he saw his scars stare back at him. He splashed some more water in his face, as if he could wash it all away.

His mom had always been different from the other mothers on the playground. Even as a toddler, he'd known that. When other kids had gotten candy, his mom had offered him loose buttons. But it had been alright. Just the way she was. Just Mommy. She might not have been able to tell stuffed toys from sofa cushions at times, but she'd always done her best. They'd been happy in their own way.

Until life had decided to be a bitch and fuck them over anyway. Life just loved doing that.

Trey left the bathroom to finish filling out those forms.

Once that was done, he stepped outside into the fresh air of the parking lot and dialed the first number in his head. His boyfriend's. He had to talk to him. Tell him about last night, about his mother.

Henry picked up on the second ring. "Hey," he said, sounding tired.

"Hey," Trey said and was quiet for a moment. He didn't know how to start-or where. "So about last night…"


Trey opened his mouth, but he wasn't even sure what he wanted to say. What had they been fighting about? He remembered the pills, and Henry insinuating that he wanted him drugged up. Hell, he'd rather have him drugged up than in a bloodied bathtub. "Promise me you're going to take your fucking anti-depressants."

"I'm not going to promise you anything like that," Henry said, voice hard.

Of course not, that would have been too easy. "Fine," Trey almost hissed. "Then it's not going to be my fault when you kill yourself."

"I'll make sure to mention that in my suicide note, if that's what you're worried about."

"That's not…" Trey stopped, not knowing what to say. This was so completely not the direction he'd wanted this talk to go. "Why can't you see that what you're doing is stupid?"

"I don't know," Henry said, "maybe because I'm crazy."

"You're not crazy," Trey said, without thinking.

"Spare me your lies. Was there something else you wanted to talk about besides my pills and whether I'm taking them?"

The message couldn't have been clearer if he'd said Stick your nose out of my business. "No," Trey found himself replying. "There's nothing I want to talk to you about right now." He pinched the bridge of his nose. "I'll be home late, don't wait up." Before Henry could protest, he hung up.

Trey sighed and tackled the next call. Pull yourself together.

He called his aunt's number and his sister picked up the phone. She'd always been an early riser.

"Livy?" he said.

"Yeah?" she sounded bored, and like she didn't really want to talk. "Whatcha want?"

"It's about Mom."

"Oh God," Livy said, annoyance clear in her voice. "What she do this time? No, wait, I don't even wanna know what that crazy bitch gets up to anymore."

"She's our mother, Olivia," Trey said, using her full name to let her know that he was not amused. A couple of years ago, he would have taken away her TV time for a comment like that.

"I don't care."

Trey suppressed a groan. "Can you get Conner on the phone?" Nowadays, his brother was the more reasonable of the two.

"He's still sleeping."

"Our mother is in hospital, I think that justifies waking him."

"Yeah," Livy said. "I don't think so." And just like that the line went dead.

Trey almost threw his cell phone to the ground. He was alone in this. Of course. Fuck that.

He scrolled through his phone list, frowned at the number of names of people he wouldn't call. He put his cell phone back into his pocket and his fingers brushed a small piece of paper. The weirdo with the expensive car from yesterday. Trey pulled the card out of his pocket and looked at the number written on it. It was crazy, but if everyone else was allowed to be insane, why shouldn't he?

Trey typed the number into his phone and pushed the call button. The phone beeped in his ear. He glanced over the parking lot as he waited for the other man to answer the call. The place was almost deserted this early in the morning. A clicking sound and the call connected.

"Who's there?" Denzel-was that his name?-sounded as if he'd just woken up.

"Hi, um… It's Trey. The guy you almost ran over yesterday?" Smooth. Trey ran a hand through his hair as if the other person could see him looking all tousled.

"Oh. Hello, Trey. Hadn't expected to hear from you so soon."

Trey was stumped on what to say. Did he look desperate now? Maybe he could joke it off. "I didn't expect to find my mom bleeding out in the bathtub this morning, but life is just full of surprises, huh?"

The other man was quiet. Okay, maybe that hadn't been the smartest thing to say. Trey was just going to apologize when Denzel spoke again. "I guess so," he said.

"I was wondering whether you wanted to go for coffee. You sound like you could use it."

"I´m sure I could make some time in the evening."

"I was more thinking like right now," Trey said. He´d already embarrassed himself so what the hell?

"Right now? Where are you?"

"The central hospital."

"You're looking for a pity fuck?"

Trey bristled. "I don't want to fuck you at all." Better make that clear from the start.

"Then why did you even call me?"

"Because… I don´t know. Company?"

"Yeah, sure," Denzel said on the other end of the line. This had been a stupid idea after all. But Trey had liked the thought of talking to an outsider.

"Take it or leave it, okay?" Trey said.

Denzel seemed to consider his words for a minute. When he replied a moment later, it wasn't without a hint of amusement in his voice. "There's a good coffee shop across the large Bubbaloon company building on second street. I could meet you there in two hours."

"Two hours?"

"Take it or leave it," Denzel repeated his words back at him and almost made Trey groan. He wasn't sure what to say.

"Alright," Trey pressed out eventually. "I got it. I'll meet you there."

"Fantastic," Denzel said. "See you later, Trey."