THE ROOM I'M HIDING IN
"I can't believe this is happening," Jo said.
Aimee gave a sigh and closed her eyes, leaning her head back onto the top of the chair. "I hate hospitals."
Jordan shook his head slowly, staring hard at nothing. "We are all in so much trouble."
"Nothing like this has ever happened," said Mike, one of Landon's band mates and good friends. He had still been in the house when the ambulance came, and had joined them on the ride to the hospital. He seemed to be in shock.
Shane looked around at everyone, amazed. It was strange to hear how they were all speaking, but no one was really talking to each other. Everyone was so confused and stunned by what had happened, all they could do was say what was on their minds with a blank stare on their faces, not really communicating with anyone. Silence ensued for a long time after that.
"What do you think happened exactly?" Jordan asked, startling everyone else out of their reveries.
Aimee gave a shrug. "Can't really say without knowing what he took. Could be a number of different things, hypoventilation, cardiac arrest…."
Just then Walker came bursting through the waiting room doors, drawing everyone's attentions. He came over to them. The Cranes all hung their heads. They couldn't look him in the eye.
"Do you know what's happening?" Walker asked. "I can't get a hold of any of the doctors yet."
"Landon overdosed," Aimee said. "They're trying to figure out what he took."
Walker looked to the rest of the Cranes. "Do you guys know?"
"No, we didn't see him take anything," Jo said. "Honestly, we were just drinking, and not even that much."
Mike slowly raised his hand. "Excuse me, sir, but I think I can help."
"Do you know what he took?" asked Walker, not caring that he didn't even know who the kid was.
"No, but there was a candy bowl. I saw all the pills that were in it, asked about each one so I knew what was going around."
"Well, what was in it?"
"Um," Mike racked his brain. "There was Demerol, Vicodin, Xanax…um, some Percocet and Darvocet. What else? Um, there was Valium, Dexedrine. I think there was Ritalin, I'm not sure on that though."
"Any number of those pills could have caused an overdose easily," Walker said. "Especially when combined with alcohol. We need more information."
"That girl might now!" Jo said. "She and Landon were with each other all night."
"Well, who is she?" Walker asked. "What was her name?" No one knew.
Mike sat up suddenly. "Wait, was that the blonde chick with the red streaks in her hair? Wearing almost nothing, right in front of the stage the whole night?"
"Yeah, that's her," Jordan said.
"She slipped me her number as we were getting off the stage." Mike began rummaging through his pockets. He brought out a small slip of paper. "Here!"
Walker snatched the paper out of Mike's hand and left to get better reception on his phone. He was back in a couple of minutes. He went immediately to the nurse's station, then back to the group.
"So, what did he take?" Aimee asked.
"The girl was pretty positive he took Vicodin. It took a while to get her to talk to me, but once I alerted her of the seriousness of the situation she was helpful."
"Do you think it will help the doctors take care of Landon?" Jo asked.
Walker shrugged. "I hope so."
There were a few moments of awkward silence, until Jo asked, "What now?"
"Now, I want some answers from you guys."
"Come on, Walker, do we have to do this now?" Trip asked with a whine.
"Yes, we have to do this now. Landon is in the hospital because of the poor decisions you all are making and we need to start resolving this right now. Who actually went home? And don't even try to lie because you know I can find out easily."
Trip, Aimee, and Jo raised their hands.
"Do your parents know you're here?" Walker asked.
They all nodded.
"So where were the rest of you staying?"
"At Landon's house," Jordan said. "We got our family members to sign us out and then just went home with Landon."
"Okay, so Landon didn't go to his aunt's, he went to his own vacant house. Whose idea was this?"
Everyone looked at each other, not wanting to rat out Landon.
"You might as well tell me. If I have to find out on my own it will be worse for everyone."
There were a few nods. Aimee was finally the one to speak up. "It was Landon's idea. He wanted us to come and see his band play at this club. It was fine for those of us who were already going home and were close enough to get to his place somehow, but everyone staying at Ledger wouldn't have been able to come, so he invited them to stay at his house."
"And I take it this performance was tonight?"
"Yeah, and then Landon threw the after party at his house," Jo said.
"Now, this is very important. Did anyone else take anything from the candy bowl or drink something that had the opportunity to be tampered with?"
Everyone shook his or her head no.
"But you all did drink, right?"
"Shane and I didn't," Aimee said. "We left the party for a while. We didn't take anything or drink anything. We had just come back when we found Landon."
"Okay then. Thank you all for being honest with me. I'll save the punishments for later. For now, we'll wait."
Waiting was the worst part. The Cranes didn't even know if Landon was alive or dead, what was happening to him, or how serious his condition was. It seemed like they would never get any news, when finally a doctor approached.
"Matt Walker?" the doctor questioned. Walker stood up and the doctor approached him. "Mr. Walker, I'm Landon's doctor, Dr. Andrews."
"Is there any news?"
"Well, we were able to stabilize him. We lost him once on the table, but we were able to resuscitate him using a defibrillator."
"What exactly happened to him?"
"He suffered hypoventilation do to overdose. Basically, he just stopped breathing. He would have been dead by the time the paramedics got there, but I believe someone gave him CPR."
Walker looked at the Cranes. Everyone pointed to Aimee.
"Well, I just wanted you to know that you saved Landon's life," said the doctor. "If you hadn't given him CPR, he probably would have died in the ambulance. You did a good job."
"Uh, thanks, I guess," Aimee said, not liking the praise.
"So what happens now?" Walker asked.
"Landon is unconscious. We have no way of knowing when he will wake up. You should also know, that due to the lack of oxygen to the brain during hypoventilation, it is quite possible that Landon may have sustained some brain damage."
"Brain damage? What kind? How bad? Can you be any more specific?" Walker asked.
"I'm afraid that's all I can tell you. We won't know the extent of the damage, if indeed there was any, until Landon has regained consciousness."
"Okay, well, thank you, doctor. Thank you so much."
"You may visit him now, if you'd like. No more than two people at a time."
"Thank you, Dr. Andrews."
The doctor left and Walker gave a sigh of relief. The worst was over.
All of the Cranes had gone in to visit Landon, but there was nothing much they could do. All they could do was wait for him to wake up. Most of their time was spent in the waiting room.
"Hey, what about Landon's dad?" Jo asked suddenly.
"What do you mean?" Walker said.
"I mean, did someone call him? He should be here by now."
"Maybe he couldn't get a flight back from…wherever he was," Jordan said.
Walker hadn't realized that Landon had not told them the truth about his father. He didn't want to lie to the Cranes, but if Landon wasn't ready to tell them, Walker wasn't going to force it. "He's here."
"Really? Where is he?" Jo asked.
"He's around. He's probably upset with me, for not taking better care of things."
"It's not your fault we all decided to disobey the rules," Shane said.
Walker knew that wasn't entirely true. After talking to Jo's mom and Seely's parents, and seeing all the trouble that the Cranes had gotten themselves into, Walker was beginning to realize what little affect he had been having on these kids. Jo had been at Ledger for over a year, under his care, and had never mentioned abuse. Trip was casual about everything; Walker had never been able to get much out of him. Jordan's attitude had improved since coming to Ledger, but Walker sensed there were still things that Jordan was hiding from him. Aimee and Seely had both been at Ledger for several months, but talking to them was like talking to a brick wall. Walker could get nothing out of them during their sessions. Landon had clearly not changed at all since he had come, and Walker had no idea what kind of affect, if any, therapy was having on Shane. Overall, it was clear that more had to be done. It was time to push things a little. Things had to change, and it had to happen as soon as possible.
"It's Saturday," Walker said suddenly. "Everyone has therapy today."
"But it's break," Trip said.
"Not anymore. Not since you all lied and broke the rules. I'm officially ending break. You will all have therapy today. Even Landon, if he wakes up."
"That's not fair!" Aimee argued.
"I don't care. And for your attitude, you can go first. Come on."
Aimee reluctantly followed Walker away from everyone else. They found some empty seats in a nearby hallway and sat down.
"This is so stupid. There are other things to worry about right now than stupid therapy."
"Exactly," Walker said.
"I should be exempt from this. You heard what the doctor said, I saved Landon's life."
"And I'm sure Landon will be very grateful. And I'm proud of you for helping him. You really stepped up. But if you think I'm going to go easy on you just because you have more medical knowledge than the others, you're wrong."
"But I did a good thing! And I didn't even drink or anything at the party! And my parents knew I was visiting a friend."
"Your parents never should have let you leave, especially overnight."
Aimee scoffed. "My parents let me do anything."
"Well, now you're at Ledger. And your parents aren't exactly in charge anymore, and I am telling you that you can no longer do whatever the heck you want. You will be punished like everyone else; you will be expected to behave like everyone else. I am not going to give you any special treatment, is that clear?"
"You know, I have a right to experience anything I want to."
"You also have a right to a happy life, which is what I am going to try to help you achieve."
Aimee crossed her arms over her chest stubbornly. "I am happy."
"No, you're bitter."
"I have good reason to be!"
Walker looked at her and his voice softened. "I know you do."
Aimee huffed. "You don't know anything." She didn't see how Walker could possibly ever understand her situation, and how she was feeling. No one understood.
"I would know more if you would talk to me."
Aimee didn't reply, and Walker knew that she would not, or maybe could not, talk about it at that moment. "Fine, you're free to go."
Aimee got up and left without saying anything. Walker followed after her a moment later.
Jo and Jordan were walking down the hallway to Landon's room to check up on him when Jo suddenly stopped. Jordan looked back at her, confused. "What's the matter?"
"Sh!" Jo put a finger to her lips. She had heard Landon's name being uttered by two nurses, or doctors, she couldn't tell, from inside a patient's room.
"How's Mr. Barbosa doing?" a female voice asked. Jo tried to see into the room, but there was only a tiny window in the door, and she couldn't see anything through it but an empty bed.
"Same," replied a male voice. "No better, no worse."
"Have you talked to the family about their options?"
"I mentioned taking him off life support. They said they needed time to think about it, obviously."
"What?" Jordan exclaimed. "No, they can't do that! What's going on?"
"I don't know, but I'm going to find out," Jo said, setting her jaw in determination. She marched into the room to find a doctor and a nurse surrounding a burn victim who was unconscious.
"You can't take Landon Barbosa off life support!" Jo blurted out.
"Excuse me?" the doctor said. "Can I help you?"
"You can't do it! It's only been a day! Give him a chance!"
"Miss, I don't know what your business is, but Mr. Barbosa has been in his present state for quite a while."
"Are you a relative?" the nurse asked.
Jo furrowed her brow. "No…. What do you mean he's been in his state for a while? We just brought him to the emergency room last night."
"I don't know who you think you're talking about," said the doctor, "but this, here, is Landon Barbosa." He motioned to the burn victim.
"No, that's not. I know Landon Barbosa. He's a friend of mine. We go to school together."
"It says Landon Barbosa Senior on his chart," said the nurse. "Maybe he has a son with the same name."
What? Landon's father is in the hospital? Jo was thoroughly confused. "I…I'm sorry for bothering you, then." She left the room and rejoined Jordan.
"Did you hear that?" Jo asked.
"Yeah, I did." Jordan thought for a moment. He knew he probably shouldn't share what he had found out at Landon's house, but he also didn't know if he could contain something this big. And now with this new development, he felt he had to say something. "There's something I should probably tell you. I overheard Landon telling one of his neighbors that his house burned down over the summer."
"That man in there is a burn victim!"
Jordan rolled her eyes. "Well, yeah. That's my point. Why didn't Landon tell us?"
Jo shrugged. "Same reason we all don't just spill our secrets to each other."
"You have secrets?" Jordan asked.
"Oh yeah," Jo said with a scoff. "Tons."
"Me too," Jordan said quietly. "Come on, I want to see Landon."
Jordan and Jo visited with Landon for a while, but he didn't wake up.