"Oh my God, are you serious? I'm coming immediately, I'll be there in minutes."
I hung up, grabbed my jacket, my keys and stopped a taxi to take me to the hospital.
"Damn bike, damn night and Damn Austin!" I yelled to my poor driver in the middle of the night. I got my phone out and put the music as loud as I could but I was still a half awaken girl in her PJs, hair tied up in a messy bun with a leather jacket. Good thing my pyjamas are cool.
They had just transferred him from the emergency room when I arrived at the hospital. The nurse asked me what was my relation to the 'patient', I answered diligently:
"I'm his best friend, we both grew up in an orphanage, we have no family." Her face became grave:
"I'm sorry Miss, he's been operated but now only time will decide of his fate. We'll watch over him but there's nothing more we can do: he might get better, he might get worse..."
"Noooo! It's impossible, he can't die, he can't do this to me, he has to survive! He must!"
And before the nurse could stop me, I ran towards his bed and took his hand, the one that wasn't in a cast that is. He opened his eyes and attempted a smile: he was ghostly pale and there still was dried blood in his messy brown hair. He was breathing with difficulty, it was almost painful for me to look at him.
"Mint... I have to say something to tell you... Before..."
"No Austin, don't speak: keep your strength to fight against death! Fight Austin, don't give up now..."
By then I was imagining the really sad romantic music you hear in movies when the hero is about to die but then doesn't, more particularly of the music at the end of Disney's 'Tangled' (what? I love that movie!).
"Go to the mattresses?"
The music stopped. Why did he have to say that? I ignored his comment and tried to orient him back to the dramatic side of this situation:
"What is it you wanted to say?"
"Wait for it... I have to think of something sad... Play the Halo soundtrack, or the song of a prayer... Yeah, that's good..."
He shed a little tear.
"Oh, damn that concussion, I can barely think straight and when I do I can't even help my brain to shut my mouth when it comes to stupid comments. Anyway, let me start over: I have something to tell you...before it's too late..."
I thought of that documentary I saw once where poachers were killed baby seal lions and I cried a little (okay, a lot, but seriously: baby seal lions? How is it humanly possible to be that cruel? Oh wait, I forgot, poachers are not human, they're demons, right) just enough to make it look realistic:
"Yes?" I croaked.
"I love you, Mint, always have. Well, almost always, there's barely no other girl I've liked, maybe a couple? And one time I was drunk I thought I liked this guy but you know, I really don't think I'm gay point is..."
Damn concussion, it was ruining my moment! I pressed a finger against his lips:
"Shhh... I love you too, and that's why you'll live because our everlasting love is stronger than death, you'll live, Austin..."
"I don't know Mint, I try but I feel like I'm slipping away, I'm losing it, I..."
He closed his eyes and stopped moving. I started crying softly, until I got really bored: I got up and left the room. The nurse was standing in the doorway, wiping her tears (real ones, as opposed to mine who were half-fake):
"Ah, the power of young love, I wonder if it'll be enough this time, he has little chance of..."
"Don't worry he'll live. Or at least he'll live until I kick his ass and reduced his bike to freaking sowing needles, at least it would be well recycled!"
The nurse gapped, not understanding what was going on probably. I was tired and so I calmly granted her a (somewhat clumsy) explanation:
"He's dying, he said he loved me, I said I love him back; if this were a movie he would die and I would kill myself because life doesn't deserve to be lived if he's not there (although I would never do that since I do not love him and suicide is for wimps, and I'm not a wimp...) but since clichés do not exist in real life, the opposite will happen and he'll live, you follow me?"
The nurse was still stunned but she managed to stammer:
"But since you're faking it, don't you think it won't work..."
"Shhh... walls have ears you know, and HE (God) might hear you, so don't say that, I'm trying to trick Him, get it?"
With that, I smiled broadly and went to the waiting room to get myself some coffee. This was going to be a long night. If I learn he was drunk-riding his bike when he wakes up, he's going straight back to the hospital, thanking his guardian angel I didn't kill him. Don't drink and drive (or ride), it's bad!
Anyway, there was this guy sitting on a chair just sipping his coffee, I ignored him and went to the machine. And then I realized I had no spare change in my PJ pockets, what a surprise! I kicked the damn machine when the dude stood up and asked me:
"Can I offer you a drink?"
I wasn't in a good mood, the guy could go and get himself hanged for what I cared:
"No, but you can donate the money for the caffeine-less girl in a hospital, would you donate 50c free of all charges ?"
"Funny, so, do you really want to spend the night here sleeping 'cause you're so tired and you can't stay awake because you have no caffeine with a weird stranger who could assault you in your sleep?"
The guy had a point. And a good sense of humor. I accepted the offer:
"Is that a warning?"
"Nah, just an argument for you to accept a drink from a stranger. And don't worry, I won't assault you."
We sat down side by side and I started sipping my coffee, already I was feeling much better.
"So why are you here?"
I couldn't figure out if I wanted him to shut up and leave me alone or if I'd answer because I don't want to be bored all night long. I settled for the option B:
"My best friend got run over by a car, doctors say he's almost dead but I think he'll live."
"Scary, shouldn't you be all crying and all that shit like all normal friends do when their best friend is about to die?"
"No way, that's gay, and much to cliché for me to agree with that. Plus, if he's going to die there's no point in being sad: there's nothing I can do about it and it's his fault if he got in the hospital so why make myself even more miserable? "
"Geez, what an awesome friend you are!"
"I know, he'd do the same for me. What about you, why are you here?"
"One of my friends got into an ethyl coma, he's going to have to spend the night here and I'm the one making sure he's okay."
"Oh, that's what I call being a good friend, if that ever happened to mine, I'd laugh at his unconscious face, take pictures and upload them on Facebook. That way, he'd never dare get drunk again."
"Once again, you're a scary friend!"
"Thanks, I've been told that. I'm only that way with him though: he needs somebody to kick his ass from time to time."
"Looks like you're pretty close."
"Yeah, we've been best friends for years, we're like brother and sister... But hey, wait why am I saying all this to a total stranger?"
"Because you're bored? Tired? Sick of life? In a talkative mood? No wait, you feel like you've met me before which automatically annuls the stranger status... No even better: you've been hit by Cupid and you've fallen in love with me! Isn't that awesome?"
"Wow, I would never had guessed I'd come across a random narcissistic pervert in a hospital waiting room at 2 in the morning."
"Ouch, that hurt. You hungry? Let me buy you some lunch."
"Um, no... Damn, I can't remember any good anti pickup line for this. I'm not hungry, thanks."
My stomach chose that second of uncomfortable silence to growl in a very un-femine way. Great. He laughed, he had a pleasant laugh and I joined him in his laughter.
"Looks like your empty stomach strongly disagrees, I'll buy you lunch. A donut and coffee, I bet you like nutella?"
"Where did that come from?"
"I knew it, I recognize people who like nutella when I meet them, I guess we kind of feel that we are different from all these peanut-butter-lovers. Don't you think?"
"That ought to be the worst pickup line I've ever heard but I like it."
"Oh, and just so you don't get any funny ideas, I'm gay. And I'm bored and I feel like buying you lunch because I'm generous and you're fun. I hope you're not a homophobe?"
It was my turn to laugh openly, clichés do not happen in real life: the random, nice, cute stranger will not madly fall in love with the desperate girl in the hospital waiting room.
"I knew it had to be a trick, you were just to perfect to be true."
"Oh right, yeah. It would have been far beyond cliché if I'd been straight, but I'm not, so lets have lunch... But why do I keep repeating the word 'lunch', it's two in the morning, this is like a midnight snack."
"I know, lets find an open Dunkin donut or something, it won't be long, right?"
"Wait, your friend is on the brink of death and your thinking about going to a Dunkin' donut?"
"I'm not worrying about him, he'll be fine. I know him, if I baby him too much, he'll find it too comfortable and he'll let himself go thinking 'awesome, Finally I'm not getting my ass kicked for once, I can die happy' whereas if I leave and ignore him, he'll be thinking 'she'll have to pay for that, I'm not going to die just so I can kick her ass' It's all very strategic."
"Seems like there's a lot of ass kicking between the both of you..."
"Well since we're both lazy slackers and the only thing we enjoy is to annoy the hell out of each other's face so we use for the good and it keeps us going forward, it's mutual development of our future based on ass kicking, isn't that cool?"
"Very cool... You know I love your PJs?"
"I know, right? Don't I just look like a ninja in them?"
"Haha, nice sarcasm."
"Compliment accepted, just one question: how are you going to go to Dunkin Donuts barefoot? I think they have some sort of law: you need shoes to enter a 24/7 open fast food, no matter what are you reasons."
"Well, I'll hide my feet from the sleepy cashier and I guess we'll be fine, he'll be to tired to protest anyway."
So we both left the hospital (we are not that mean: we did ask the nurse to emergency call us as soon as there's something new: no matter what it looks like I don't want Austin to die while I'm eating a donut at two in the morning, barefoot, in my PJs and a leather jacket with a gay guy. Not very glamorous.)
We got to the place and the cashier didn't even notice my lack of proper footwear, we ordered, sat at a table and just started talking about our own respective lives. An hour later, I was quite comfortable but I felt like I had to check out on Austin.
"By the way, I'm Tim Garber, what's your name?"
"Look up Nonexistent in the phone book... Just kidding, I'm Mint Tictac."
"Mint Tictac as in... A box of mint tictacs? Wow, that's so awesome, what were your parents thinking?"
"Actually, I have no parents, it's the name they gave me when I got to the foster home as a baby. Legend says that I'd been shaking a box of Tictacs like crazy and I refused to let it go, henceforth: here goes the name."
"You're an orphan? I'm so sorry..."
"Okay, I'm not sorry, I was just kidding you to see your reaction... Geez, you are scary! Have any other weird names?"
"I have a friend name Ina Orange (Orangina) because that's what they found in the bag of junk she was delivered in and there also a Quincy (Ink) Permanent (there were weird symbols traced on his left arms and it took weeks for them to leave) and a Tokyo Shanghai (the kid was Asian, they hesitated between Japanese and Chinese: just give him both Capitals as a name), and one of my good friends was named Austin Martin, after the car. I guess the dude didn't even know how to spell it right."
"What a lack of inspiration."
"They have so many names to give, I guess sometimes they just get bored and don't bother to figure out a good name."
"Geez, that sucks."
As I got to the hospital, I realized that I had just basically spilled out my whole entire existence to that dude, and sure, he told me about his life; but for what I know he could be lying, maybe he's a serial killer, or a professional rapist... Thank God he didn't have my number or my address.
"Why am I telling you all this, you are a complete stranger after all."
"Really, do you think so? Because I feel like we've met before..."
"Oh, shut up, I'm not in the mood for this!"
"Anyway, don't you think meeting this cool stranger and getting murdered by him in a dark street some day would just..."
"... Be terrible movie material, you're right. I don't know why I'm being paranoid."
"No, it's okay, I understand. See you maybe... If not in this life in the next?"
"Sure thing, Tim." I smiled, I was glad he didn't ask for my number even though meeting him again would be pleasant and fun.
"By the way, your drunk friend, is he your..."
"Yes, he's my boyfriend, we've been together for almost two years now. And you, your best friend: it's Austin Martin, right?"
"What, how did you..."
"It's easy to notice you love him."
I laughed at such a ridiculous suggestion:
"He's like my brother, it would be incest! I'm not in love with him."
"Did I say anything about passionate love? I actually meant a sane, platonic love for a good friend, but you automatically interpreted it the wrong way, strange..."
Damn, he tricked me!
"Oh, I know, but I get so used to people saying I love him, you know, not the fraternal love, the other kind, that I automatically assumed you meant that..."
"Niih, your laugh sounded fake, your face decomposed when you realized your mistake, your excuse is unclear, you call love 'the other kind', what an interesting case of feelings denial. But I'm sure you've heard that before and you don't want to hear it again, I'll just leave you alone."
"What are you some kind of psychiatrist?"
"No, I just observe. And don't tell me it would be cliché, you know I could tell you a lot about your obsession with clichés but I won't because we're both tired and it's none of my business anyway."
He turned around, waved and went into his friend's room to spend the night there (or what was left of it). I was too tired to think of what he just told me.
I sat in a chair and had a restless nap next to Austin's bed. A few hours later, the nurse woke me up and said that he was stable, he'd live. I sighed of relief, I couldn't bare to lose my family, my best friend and my... favorite punching ball in one night.