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Two Strangers

“So… It was out of no where?”

One of his fellow inpatients asked.

“Well, yeah, you could say that. At least, it seemed ‘out of no where’, at the time.” Declan air quoted and leaned back in his chair.

“What I want to know is what happened with that girl he was seeing.” Another asked.

“Lissie?” Declan retorted.

“Yeah, her; the blonde. I mean, you said they had sex, right?” He nodded, “Well, what happened after that? Did they break up? What happened?”

Declan sighed, and after a few moments of hesitation he began. Karen and Toby, having heard the story already, sat back in their seat. Karen placed her hand on Declan’s shoulder.

A few hours had passed since they’d arrived. Declan had chosen to stay near the couple of people that had been civil enough to engage with him, but other than that he remained silent. In a state of intoxication, Gable texted Declan to meet him about a mile away from the party.

Briskly, Declan drove away from the party, got out of his car, and waited for Gable. The air was slightly cold, but that was only because of the gentle breeze. The stars were glistening just as the night they’d laid on top of Gable’s car all those months ago. Just like the ones he’d hoped they’d gaze at from the bed of the truck he’d help pay for, some day soon.

He saw the truck pull up, and it was evident Gable wasn’t alone. He climbed out of his truck and began to instantly berate Declan.

“Listen here, you fucking faggot,” He began, to Declan’s chagrin, “I’, fucking finished with you. I can’t believe I put my life through so much bullshit just to use you out of every penny you had.” Gable spat at Declan

“Gable… What are you doing?” He crossed his arms.

“What the fuck are you doing, you faggot? Did you really think I was gay?” Gable yelled back at him.

Declan grew angrier. Who was this person yelling back at him? It couldn’t be the same guy he fell in love with. This was a different Gable. A confused one. A rude one.

They continued yelling slurs and half-truths to each other. Declan reached his limit, he couldn’t keep letting him walk all over their relationship and him.

“It’s not my fault you’re fucking white trash, Gable,” Declan defended himself, “I cared about you, and you’ve been avoiding me, being sketchy as shit… We haven’t had sex in over two weeks. What is your fucking problem?! We both compromised to give this our everything.”

The two stood in the middle of the empty road. Declan’s car a good few yards away, Gable’s friend’s waiting, in a truck behind them, intently.

The night was robust with the smell of booze, weed, and cigarettes; a typical aroma for a party in Bethlam. Not to mention the copious amounts of cocaine that had been snorted by many of the attendees. The barn at which they’d partied at could still be heard in the distance.

“So what? You let me take advantage of you. It’s not my fault you’re so fucking obsessed with me.” He sneered, “My friends, family, everyone is talking behind my back. Everyone looks at me like I’m some kind of a monster. All for what? For this piece of shit relationship? Every time I go off to Rio Rojo, you freak the fuck out.”

“I get worried, Gable. You drink your weight in liquor and then drive back forty minutes. Why the FUCK would I not freak out? I care about you. I care about your family, your frie-,” Declan began

“Shut up! SHUT THE FUCK UP! YOU STUPID FUCKING FAGGOT! I DON’T GIVE A FUCK. THIS IS FUCKING DONE, YOU CRAZY ASS FAG! GO. GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!” Gable shouted angrily at the man he loved with every fiber in his body.

Declan didn’t want to accept this. This wasn’t happening. The world wasn’t spinning anymore. He felt weak, as if his heart was being ripped out of him through his chest. He couldn’t breathe.

All of this time couldn’t have been for nothing, all the money wasted couldn’t go to waste. No. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to go. It wasn’t his fault he cared so passionately. So much so that he abhorred weekends; he hated worrying over the jock and The Plastics.

Mentally, he had prepared himself for that one call… The call where he’d be told that Gable and his friends had been in a car wreck, or something of the sort. It haunted him.

He’d had always felt that when he cared about someone on such a level, half of his time was to be consumed by thinking about that certain person, and wondering if they’re okay, happy, and safe. The other, he was to be thinking of what he could do to make them be that.

Love was supposed to be a mutual obsession, and he thought when he’d find that, it’d be magical. Conversely, time and again, unrequited love had been one of the most fatal of all ailments, and it seemed as if death had finally come to Declan’s door.

“What do you mean you’ve moved on?!” Declan shouted.

Gable continued to walk away.

“You can’t just leave me out here in the cold.” He screamed at Gable, “You can’t walk away from this. We said we’d fight this together. You lied. You-“

“What the fuck did you expect me to do?!” Gable he hissed, “You knew that from the very beginning that I did not want a single soul knowing about this. You did this, Declan.” He retorted to fallen teenager, now on his knees, folded over, crying, in the middle of the road.

Gable’s voice stung into Declan like daggers; he’d never spoken to him in such a harsh tone.

“You need to leave me alone.” Gable snarled at him. As his friends climbed out of his truck. Declan had forgotten they were even there.

Surrounded by his friends, Gable felt empowered. God like, “This shit has gone too far. You’ve left me no choice, but to file for a restraining order.”

“What are you talking about? Why are you doing this?” Declan looked at Gable bewildered.

“You’ve stalked my entire life. You’ve made up lies about me. You’ve gone too far.” He responded, tears in his eyes.

“Gable, what are you talking about?!” Declan exclaimed, “Why are you doing this? I never made up any lies…” he was cut off.

“Shut the fuck up, you fucking faggot. Either you leave, right now, or you’re going to suffer.” They began to approach him.

Declan gave him one last look, furrowed his brow, wiped his tears, stood up and turned to his car. He couldn’t understand what had happened, or why it was happening, but Gable had laid down the gauntlet.

“By the way, Lissie says hi.” Gable called after him. Even though it pained him to say it, he knew he had to.

As Declan climbed into his car, he gave him one last look, and it was at that moment that he knew Gable hated himself for doing this to Declan. He saw the pain in his eyes, and for a second, it looked as if he was tearing up. Gable turned to his friends, and one by one, they all climbed back into the truck. He started the engine, and before long, they were gone into the West Texan night.

Declan’s van raced down the back road towards Rio Rojo. He needed to see Skylar. He needed to feel wanted, safe… Home.

“What did I do?!” He cried into the night. He kept slamming his hands onto the steering wheel. Gable had been merciless. The anger in his eyes had been unmistakably cold.

He neglected to keep track of his speed, and in between heaves he noticed a pair scarlet and navy lights flashing behind him. He panicked, and pulled over swiftly.

“Son, do you know why I pulled you over?”

Declan, still sniveling, shook his head, “No officer.”

“You were going 90 miles per hour. Why in the hell were you going that fast?”

Declan attempted to tell him the story, but the officer stopped him abruptly, “Mr. Gardner, I’m going to need you to step outside of the vehicle,” he instructed, “I believe you are intoxicated. Nothing about what you’re saying makes any sense. I’ve known that family for the past twenty years of my life, and I happen to know that kid is not a homosexual.”

“Oh, God, not you too.” Declan shook his head, but complied. With tears in his eyes, he attempted to prove his sobriety, but the officer remained unconvinced.

“Look, please, I just need to get home.” Declan pleaded.

“Son, I think you are drunk, so I’m going to need you to…” Declan cut him off.

Tears escaped him once more. He couldn’t escape Gable’s influence… Everyone knew him, and everyone believed his bullshit façade. Suddenly, Declan’s mind flashed back to the night Gable’s dad was brought home by the police… That police officer… Jon… JON. He looked at his name tag, it read, ‘J. Cooper’.

“Wait… Your name is Jon, right?!” Declan stammered.

“Well… Actually, yes, it is...”

“Jon, I was there the night you brought Rance Cask home drunk from the bar. Remember? Gable answered the door clad in only a towel?!”

Officer Cooper stepped back and searched his brain for the memory… It was all coming together…

“I remember… Yeah… Okay, I remember you now.” Office Cooper nodded his head, “However, I’m still going to have to arrest you for drunk…”

“What if I do a backflip?” He blurted.

The officer looked at him quizzically. Declan could see that he was considering his plea. A passing car displaced the wind for a moment, and the officer approached him.

“Alright. You do a backflip… I let you go.” He crossed his arms.

Declan emitted a deep sigh of relief. He squared his body up, and jumped. His feet landed perfectly together, one of the better standing back tucks he’d done recently. The officer clapped in disbelief, and patted him on the back.

“You’re free to go, Mr. Gardner. Just be sure to go home.” He winked.

Declan returned to his van, relieved, but still wallowing in his immiseration.

He had no idea where things had gone awry. As he drove back towards Tommy’s, he kept analyzing every single memory he had of he and Gable. Even the black eye he’d acquired earlier that night was no match for how much his heart hurt.

The darkness around him complimented his innate feeling of failure. It was as if he wish he could just disappear. He’d done everything for Gable; lost weight, helped him and his family financially, and had even decided to give up the scholarship opportunities Coach Johnson had fought so hard to get for him, all to go Pro so he could take care of an insensitive and sadistic individual.

The rest of the drive back to Tommy’s was all but a blur of tears. Declan had never cried this hard in his life. His face burned like hell every time a new tear streamed down it. Everything he had worked for, all the late nights they’d spent messaging, texting, talking to each other were no more. He literally felt as if though he had lost a part of him; a ghost limb of sorts.

He raced the door, the moment he arrived back at Tommy’s. Skylar was the only thing on his mind, and the only person that mattered. Tommy’s living room was a disaster, couples everywhere, people playing beer pong, people conversing about the most random of things... It was definitely a party.

He spotted Jesse and walked towards him.

“Hey, Jess,” he blurted between sniffles, “Have you seen Skylar?”

“Hey, fag, yeah... They were in the garage last time I saw him. You okay? You look like someone just killed that big ass dog of yours.” He joked.

“I’ll explain later, thanks man.” Declan walked intently towards the garage, but before he reached the hallway, he heard a disturbance in the bathroom. Part of him told him it was probably just some drunk girl trying to maintain, but the other part urged him to check.

He turned the doorknob and before him lay Skylar, lying on his stomach, on the floor, convulsing lightly.

“Skylar!” Declan exclaimed, “Are you okay?!”

Skylar seemed unconscious, and as Declan rushed to figure out what to do, he fidgeted ever so slightly. Declan managed to turn him on his back, and noticed he was covered in vomit. It smelt putrid, but he was immune to the smell of it by this point.

“You came back.” Skylar muttered. Declan searched deep into Skylar’s eyes and began to cry once more.

“Gable and I broke up.” Was all he could muster to say.

“Good. You deserve better. I knew you’d realize it. I need to sleep now.” Skylar mumbled in between hiccups.

Declan knew something wasn’t right. He had to get him out of here. He ran to his car, pulled around to the back, in order to avoid causing a scene and returned to where Skylar was.

Once he entered the bathroom, he could tell Skylar desperately needed medical attention. He was convulsing and vomiting all over himself. Without missing a beat, Declan grabbed Skylar and tossed him over his shoulder. It’d been a long road to get into shape, but between his black eye and the heavy teen on his shoulder, there was no pain that could equal what he’d already been through that night, or so he thought.

He tossed Skylar into the passengers seat, rushed to the drivers side and took off. He knew the hospital wasn’t far away, but he worried if Skylar would be fine until then.

As he flew through the night he kept checking on Skylar. He kept convulsing and vomiting on himself. At this point, Declan could careless about his car’s upholstery; getting Skylar to safety was his goal.

The hospital was close to the next exit, he got off the freeway and neared a red light. Patience wasn’t one of Declan’s virtues, but even at a time like this he needed to abide by the law, lest he get pulled over again. He stopped and turned to check on Skylar.

Skylar had stopped convulsing. Relief spread through Declan, but his heart dropped, as he realized he had stopped breathing. Fear struck him with a deadly bludgeon. He had to get there instantly. He sped through the red light, ignoring the other cars, and pushed his car to speeds he knew he shouldn’t be driving.

“Please, don’t die,” He urged, “I’ll be right back.” He begged, before running off towards the double doors. He broke through the emergency room doors and cried for help. The two nurses on staff rushed outside to help Skylar out of the car.

The following thirty minutes were the fastest yet most silent minutes he’d ever experienced. He knew what he’d heard. The doctors kept trying to ask him questions and talk to him, but the haze he was in hindered him from showing emotion or giving the ability for him to form coherent words. He didn’t want to accept it. It wasn’t true. He refused to believe it. No. It couldn’t be possible… It just couldn’t… Regardless of what they said he knew Skylar was anything but dead.

The people around him kept trying to get some sort of reaction out of him, but to no avail. It wasn’t until he realized one of the attendees was asking him if he needed anything that he finally snapped out and answered him dryly.

“I would ask to be sedate,” his face stoic, “but I fear not even death will destroy this memory.”

“Do you feel like it was your fault?” Dr. Anderson asked Declan.

Declan was lost in his own thoughts. His eyes stared into the distance, empty. Devoid of any sort of emotion.


“Yes.” He finally answered before the doctor could repeat his name, “I shouldn’t have walked away. I should’ve kept him company at that fucking party. I knew something wasn’t right. I put Gable before him... Just like I did with everyone else. It truly was my fault.”

With that, he stood up, and walked away back to his room.

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