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    Jdonley75
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

The Empty Spaces Between Us - 7. Chapter 7

Tyler zipped up his coat and headed out of the trailer into the cold November air. He had a lot to do today before this day would be done. He had to meet up with Max and a couple other guys to go do a job installing new cabinets. That will likely take up most of the morning. Andy wanted to join him at another job later in the afternoon to teach him how to replace a floor. Once all that was done, he needed to get his check and then hurry over to Mr. Tucker and give him the deposit so he and his mom can start moving into the new house at the end of the month. He didn’t feel rushed or worried about it all. He just wanted to get it all done and get ready to move.

The last six weeks had been busy for him. Tyler and his mom were one of only two units that were still occupied in the trailer park. Most of the trailers that were aged and rusted out years ago had already been removed the previous month. While they had been given until the end of the year to be out, the new owners were subtly urging everyone to vacate as soon as possible. Between working and spending his free time with either Drake or Andy, he hadn’t had much time to himself. Not that he minded. Sex with Drake or getting high with Andy were both fun in their own way, though the sex was starting to feel more and more routine. As much as he liked Drake, he knew he would never really be in love with him. Knowing that made the sex feel meaningless. Not that it wasn’t enjoyable. He just had this feeling that it wasn’t filling all the needs it should.

Being around Andy frequently after work turned into its own blessing. Even after working with him for months, Tyler was surprised by how lowkey and laid back he could be at times with no one else around, not to mention funny. Hanging out with him and his kids was just as enjoyable as spending time with Drake. Blake had a sort of infectious smile with his green eyes and shocking red hair. Tanner had been quiet at first but once he started vying for Tyler’s attention with Blake, he learned how lovable the older boy could be.

Andy would always wait until the boys were in bed before lighting up. Tyler would bring him a little extra money to cover his end of the pot they would smoke so he didn’t feel like he was freeloading off him. Once the pot started to kick in, Andy would get more relaxed and the two of them would share stories about their times in high school. Tyler was impressed when Andy showed him his medals for wins at regional swim meets when he was a teenager. He even showed Tyler a picture of him, Troy and their friends all in their speedos from one of their high school swimming meets. Tyler couldn’t help but laugh at how he and the others looked so long ago. It was all in good fun and Andy gave him some playful ribbing of his own from time to time. They talked about school, work and some of the other guys at work. Not once would Andy mention his time in the Marine Corps, even when Tyler would hint at it. At best he would skim the surface of the subject, but he wouldn’t talk about anything he did specifically when he was deployed. It was a good relationship they had together, and Tyler knew that he had a friend for life in Andy.

Tyler hopped up into the truck and it started up as faithful as ever. As he pulled out of the trailer park and onto the road, he began to mentally go over his list again as the radio played. While it had gotten colder out, Troy had started shifting some of their workloads to projects that were more indoor work. Andy told him to expect it to stay that way for the next few months. While there might be some stuff to do outside, there would be things intended to be finished in one day which might involve two crews to make sure they were done just in case the weather took a sudden turn for the worst. Troy kept one eye on the weather reports and the other on a potential new hire for the office. With most of the seasonal men already out of the area, the few jobs that were scheduled kept Tyler and the others who were still there busy.

He was glad the stoplights seemed to be going his way as he drove down the street. The last thing he wanted was to be sitting there at a red light when all he wanted to do was get this day started and over with. The morning news droned on in the cab as he glanced down at the dashboard and then to the rearview mirror.

A split second later, he heard what he thought was the blare of a car horn before the entire truck suddenly went swerving and spinning. He felt his body being thrown against the door of the truck and in the next split second his entire world became white as his head was snapped back and a burst of pain erupted in his head. It was over so fast he was never quite sure how it all started. What he did know was that the truck was no longer moving or running. When he opened his eyes, the pain in his head got worse as all he could see was the white of the airbag that had exploded and was now deflated. He pushed it aside and looked out through the broken windshield at what was left of the front of his truck. Half of the front end had been ripped off and scattered about the intersection. He slowly turned his head to the left where the street was empty. To his right an older SUV was torn open in the front as a dazed man stumbled out of it.

Tyler’s mind seemed to go into autopilot as he moved mechanically to open his door and slowly crawl out of the devastated truck. He reached for his phone, intending to call 911 but aborted that when he heard and then saw flashing lights heading in his direction. He stumbled over to the side of the road in case more traffic was coming but his mind was fuzzy as he slowly started digesting the new reality he was going to have to live with. He opened his phone and called the office.

Troy’s voice came through the phone as Tyler stared at the remains of the truck he had been gifted only months ago. “Adams Construction…”

“Um… Troy.” His mind was slowly clearing the longer he looked at how his life had once again been ruined through no fault of his own. He could feel tears welling up in his eyes, but he refused to let them go.

“Tyler? What’s up? Thought you’d be here by now.”

“Yeah. I need you to come get me, I think.” He rubbed the back of his head and winced in pain. He prayed nothing was broken.

Troy’s voice took on a small hint of concern. “Where are you?”

“I’m at the corner of Main and 6th,” he replied as a small tremor started to color his words.

“What happened?”

“I… I was in an accident.”

“Don’t move,” Troy said quickly. “I’ll be there in a minute.”

“Okay.” He finished the call and waited as the police cruiser rolled to a stop near him. In the distance, he could hear more sirens that made the back of his head throb sorely. He wasn’t sure what to do or say. He’d never been in an accident before, much less had to deal with the mess of scattered car parts strewn around. Was he supposed to start picking it all up? He could see other cars and trucks coming up to the intersection but with his truck and the shattered SUV in the middle, traffic and come to a complete halt.

One of the officers got out of the cruiser and went around Tyler’s truck to the other vehicle as the driver of the police car moved towards Tyler. “Are you alright, kid?” Tyler was a little surprised that he seemed more concerned than he thought a cop should be in this situation. Doesn’t he just want to know what happened?

“I’m… I’m okay.” In truth, he just wanted to curl up into a ball and disappear. The gravity of the situation was starting to sink in, and it was swiftly becoming overwhelming. He just lost his only transportation to and from work. He had a new house that only he was able to afford, and he couldn’t turn back and start over because the home he’d known for most of his life was going to be wiped off the face of the earth within a month. If he couldn’t afford the new place because he wasn’t going to be able to work, then he and his mom would have nowhere else to go. In the time it took to snap his fingers, it was as if his entire life had just been burned down to the ground.

“Hey, kid,” the cop came up to him and put a hand on his arm. “What’s your name?”

“Tyler. Brewer.” He was blinking to clear the tears from his eyes. He didn’t do anything wrong. He was doing the best he could. Why wasn’t he able to at least get ahead in life instead of constantly having opportunities turn into nightmares?

“Okay, Tyler. Why don’t we get you sat down for a minute?” The officer took him by the forearm and gently started to guide Tyler over to the cop car.

“Great,” Tyler thought to himself, “on top of it all I’m being arrested.” He allowed himself to be led, figuring there was no point in trying to run. The cop opened the back door of his cruiser and helped him in before going to the trunk and pulling something out.

“Tyler!” Troy’s shout could be heard clearly in the chilly air. He wanted to respond but wasn’t sure if yelling was good for his head in that moment.

“Over here,” the police officer called back to Troy as he knelt in front of Tyler and opened a first aid kit, pulling out some gauze and gently pressing it up against the left side of Tyler’s head.

Tyler saw Troy running towards them with a frantic look on his face. “Tyler?” He ran around the car and came to a stop in front of Tyler and the officer. “Oh my God, you’re bleeding! Are you alright?”

“He’s got a cut on the side of his head,” the cop said in response.

“Shit, we need to get him to a doctor.” Troy sounded more upset about Tyler than his truck that was just destroyed. To Tyler’s mind, that made no sense.

“Ambulance will be here in a minute, Troy. Just calm down.” Tyler couldn’t help but groan when the cop used Troy’s first name with such familiarity, he would bet they were best buddies in high school just like everyone else in this town. In any other situation, he might have laughed.

Troy knelt next to the cop, looking up at Tyler’s face with nothing but genuine concern in his eyes. “Did you see what happened, Mark?”

The cop nodded. “Saw it in my rearview mirror. Took us a minute to turn around and come back. The other guy blew the red light and slammed right into Tyler here.”

Two more police vehicles and an ambulance showed up with their lights flashing, illuminating the early morning gloom. When the officer noticed he stood up and said, “I’ll get a statement from him later. I gotta get traffic moving again or else there’ll be another accident. Let the EMT’s deal with Mr. Brewer instead of you being a bossy asshole, okay?” The last was said with a playful smirk to Troy before he walked away.

Troy ignored him, keeping his attention on Tyler, keeping the bandage on the side of his face to staunch the blood flow. “Talk to me. Are you in any pain?”

“I’m so sorry,” Tyler said in a small voice.

Troy’s lips pressed together in annoyance as he glared and the young man. “You have nothing to be sorry for. Mark said it himself that the accident wasn’t your fault. Now, answer the question. Are you in any pain?” A medical technician rushed up and leaned into the open door of the police care to check him for any additional injuries.

“The back of my head hurts,” he said in a subdued voice as he reached behind his head.

“Could be a concussion,” the EMT said as he started to point a small flashlight into Tyler’s eyes.

“I’m taking him to the emergency room,” Troy said as he stood up.

“Oh, no you don’t,” The Med Tech said. “He can’t leave the scene until he’s checked out.” The guy was silent as the area started to fill with blocked cars and two new police cars on the corners as the new cops on the scene started the arduous task of getting traffic moving again while everyone else went about their work. The original officers on the scene were talking to the other driver to get his story. Tyler would later learn that the man had been preoccupied with his cell phone and hadn’t noticed he had gone through a red light.

Tyler ended up sitting there for nearly half an hour before the officers had a chance to talk to him to get his side of the story for their official report. The entire time he was sitting there, Troy stood near him with his arms folded across his chest, waiting patiently. Once the tow trucks arrived to remove the totaled vehicles out of the middle of the intersection, Mark, the officer Troy seemed to know, told him he was free to go and that he could pick up a copy of the police report for his insurance statement by the end of the day. He rose from his seat in the back of the cop car, wincing at the still throbbing ache in the back of his head. He wasn’t sure where to go or what to do at that point. Before he could decide his next move, Troy put a hand on his shoulder and said, “let’s go.”

“Go where?”

“I’m taking you to the emergency room,” he replied in a voice that meant it wasn’t up for debate.

Tyler felt so hollowed out at that point he didn’t bother to argue. He just wordlessly allowed himself to be walked away from the area over to Troy’s company truck. As Troy started up the engine, Tyler took one last look at the devastated Silverado being pulled up onto a flatbed tow truck. Looking at it was like looking at his own life. So beyond repair there was nothing to do but haul it away to a junkyard for scrap. He kept quiet as Troy drove away from the scene. His mind was so focused on what had happened and what had been lost he was barely aware of Troy talking to someone over his bluetooth. “He’s pretty shaken up. The med-techs at the scene said it might be a concussion but I wanna make sure so I’m bringing him in. Just make sure we can get in quick.”

Just as Troy was pulling into the entrance to the emergency room, Tyler had another crushing thought that finally came to his lips. “I can’t afford to go in there.”

“What?!” Troy looked over at him like he suddenly grew two new heads.

Tyler replied, “I don’t have the money for a doctor’s visit after everything else that’s happened.”

Troy parked the truck in a spot near the entrance and turned to him. “Tyler, you’re young and still have a lot to learn. You’re not paying for this, I am. Or, at least the company is. You were on your way to work when the accident happened. So, technically, you were on business time. You don’t need to worry about anything.”

He shook his head despondently. “It doesn’t matter. Everything just got pissed away and I’m left with nothing.”

Troy looked at him and sighed. “Stay right there.” He got out of the truck and went around to the passenger side and opened the door. “Come on. Let’s go inside.” Tyler looked at him and reluctantly got out of the truck. Troy put his arms around him. As he felt the tension in Tyler’s body, Troy suddenly understood that Tyler never had a father-figure when he was growing up. Knowing how lucky he had been having two men to look up to when he was a kid, he felt it was only fair to give back to someone else who needed it. “I know it all seems bad right now,” he said in a comforting voice. “But I promise you, things will get better. You just gotta trust me on this. Let’s go inside and make sure that you don’t have any serious injuries and then we’ll go from there. Okay?”

Tyler just nodded, still holding the piece of gauze up to the side of his head. Inside, the place was quiet with a handful of people sitting around looking tired and waiting. Troy went up to the desk and looked around for a moment before a blonde-haired woman smirked when they made eye contact and walked up to him. “So, what happened,” she asked him as her eyes went from Troy to Tyler.

“Some idiot blew a red light and side swiped him,” Troy said. “He’s got a cut on the side of his head and the EMT sounded like he has a concussion. Is Darrell around?”

She nodded. “Yeah. I paged him so he should be here in a couple minutes.” She grabbed a clipboard and handed it to Troy with a coy smirk. “I assume you know what to do with this.”

“Yes, dear,” he said with his own smirk. “What time are you gonna be home tonight?”

She shrugged. “Probably six or seven. Why? Wanting to do some more ‘family planning?’” They last part she said with a coy smile and an arched eyebrow.

“Maybe once the kids are asleep,” he replied as his smirk took on a more playful appearance.

The nurse laughed and leaned over the counter to kiss him. “Go down to room five. Dr. Ford will be there soon so don’t keep him waiting.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He smiled and then motioned Tyler to follow him down the hall with the clipboard in hand.

“Aren’t we supposed to wait like everyone else,” Tyler asked as he followed Troy who seemed to know his way around the hospital more than he would have expected.

“Normally, yes, but I pulled some strings to get you in and out quicker.” He kept walking and turned a corner before walking into an empty examination room and closed the door behind him.

“You didn’t need to do that,” Tyler replied as he went to go sit on the exam table while Troy took a seat on a nearby stool and started filling out the papers on the clipboard.

He waved his hand dismissively. “I fill these out all the time. I can get one of these done in half the time it would take you.” Troy was making quick work of the papers he was filling out, having been in similar situations with other employees in the past who would injure themselves on the job.

There were a few moments of silence in the room, broken only by the scratching of the pen on the paper. Tyler sat there, keeping his hand on the side of his head. He was pretty sure the bleeding had stopped but he wasn’t sure what else he was supposed to do. Troy put the clipboard on the counter near the door and sat back on the stool, letting himself relax as Tyler watched him. He wished he could be as relaxed as Troy was in that moment but in the back of his mind, all his worries were there, silently circling as if waiting to strike when he’s alone again. “I’m sure you probably have better things to do than sit here.”

Troy glanced over at him and smirked. “Not really. Andy’s taking care of getting everyone out on their assignments today. Dad’s in the office. When we’re done, I need to get back and continue looking for a new hire in the office.”

“I’ll need to find my way out to that job doing the cabinets as soon as we get out of here.”

Troy frowned slightly. “Only thing you’re doing today is going home. You’ve been through enough. You were lucky that guy didn’t do any worse damage.”

“Almost wish he had,” he replied sullenly.

Troy’s eyes flashed as he looked at Tyler, almost angry. “Trucks can be replaced. You can’t.” He suddenly blinked and the anger was gone, replaced with a worried look. “Oh, shit. Have you called your mom yet?”

Tyler groaned. “Oh, fuck me. What do I even tell her?”

Troy held out his hand. “Here. I’ll do it.” Tyler hesitated for a moment before handing the phone over to him. There was a moment of silence before Troy’s head tilted up as he said, “Ms. Brewer? This is Troy Adams, I’m the General Manager at Adams Construction.” There was a slight pause. Tyler watched him before he continued. “Yes, I’m using Tyler’s phone. His emergency information is at the office and I’m not there right now. I’m actually in the emergency room with Tyler right now...Yes. Yes, he’s here with me. No, ma’am, he had an accident on his way to work this morning.” Tyler cringed, suddenly wishing he’d made the call himself. He was sure his mother was probably screaming or crying or doing anything else but listening to Troy.

Troy smiled and nodded after listening to the other end of the line. “We’re pretty sure he’s fine for the most part. At most, he’s got a little cut on the side of his head. We’re here in town at the hospital, if you want to come see him. We’re just waiting for the doctor to check him out before we leave here.” There was another short pause before Troy said, “yes. He’s in room number four here. I’m here with him and he seems alright though maybe a little shaken up. It would probably be best if you come here so you can pick him up and take him home when he’s done. Yes, ma’am. Yes, just speak to one of the nurses at the front desk and they’ll direct you. All right. We’ll see you soon then. Thank you.” He ended the call with a small sigh as he looked back at Tyler. “She’s on her way now.”

“How bad was she,” Tyler asked.

Troy snickered. “About as bad as any parent who just learned their child is in the hospital. Don’t worry about it. Just wait to hear what the doctor has to say.”

Tyler sighed, knowing that he wasn’t going to get to work today from the way Troy was talking to his mother. “I’m being benched today?”

Troy nodded. “Just being careful. I don’t wanna take a risk with your health. Besides, you’ve had enough stress on you for one day already.”

Tyler couldn’t argue that point so said nothing. Less than a minute later the door to the room opened and a man in blue scrubs with a white coat over them walked in. Tyler guessed him to be somewhere in his sixties with his thinning white hair and wrinkled face, but his eyes were bright as he looked around the room going from Tyler to Troy. When the older man’s eyes settled on the older man, his lips pulled down in an almost exacerbated frown as he said with a gravelly voice, “what did you do this time?” His tone sounded annoyed as he stared at Troy.

Troy seemed unphased by the doctor’s tone as he replied, “wasn’t me.” He nodded his head to the side. “This is Tyler. He was in an accident today on his way to work.”

“Oh, lucky day for him then,” the doctor replied with a little sarcasm as he looked over the clipboard Troy had filled out earlier. “I’m Dr. Ford. Do you have any medical records?”

“No, sir,” Tyler responded.

The doctor’s irritated frown seemed to deepen. “How come?”

Tyler shrugged. “Haven’t been to the doctor since my senior year of high school.”

The man sighed. “That’s still records. Any allergies or anything else I should know about?”

“Not really no.”

“Okay then. Let’s take a look.” The doctor walked up to him and took the bandage away from Tyler with an almost surprising gentleness. He gave the area around his temple a careful look. “What did the guys at the accident say when they looked you over?”

“They said he might have a concussion,” Troy interjected.

Dr. Ford turned his head slowly to look at him. “Amazing to you as it might be Mr. High and Mighty, I wasn’t asking you.”

Tyler’s face reddened slightly as the older man chastised Troy, but he smiled and take it in stride. “Sorry, Dr. Ford. I won’t do it again.”

“Damn right you won’t,” he replied. He turned his attention back to Tyler, extracting a pen light from his breast pocket and shining it in each of Tyler’s eyes. “How long ago was this accident?”

“About an hour… hour and a half ago,” Tyler answered.

“Do you feel any dizziness or nausea?”

Tyler shook his head. “I was a little out of it at first but all I have now is an ache in the back of my head.”

The doctor put his hand on the back of Tyler’s head and carefully felt around. “Probably just a bump. Judging by the company you keep your skull is probably hard as a rock and you’ll just have a small shiner on the back of your head for the next couple days. I’ll get you some painkillers that should help with any tenderness and it should help reduce the swelling. After a day or two you should be fine.”

The doctor checked his eyes and pupil dilation just to double check but was satisfied with his diagnosis and set about filling out a small pad. He glanced over at Troy and muttered, “Liz tells me the two of you are thinking about having another baby.”

Troy grinned. “Yeah. We’ve been discussing it. She still wants a girl and I have no objections to having another.”

Dr. Ford smirked a little. “Well, whatever you end up happening, I’ll be happy to perform the vasectomy for you whenever you’re ready.” Troy chuckled even as his cheeks tinted slightly. “How’s Jacob and the others?”

“He’s doing great. Getting his business off the ground.”

The doctor nodded as he ripped the paper off the pad he’d been writing on. “Here,” he said to Tyler holding the prescription out to him. “One time only. I don’t do refills unless you lose an arm or leg.”

Tyler took the offering and pocketed it. The doctor gave a few last instructions on what to do if he feels any signs of fatigue or dizziness in the next 24 hours and then headed out the door to go onto his next patient. Tyler started to get up from his spot, but Troy put a restraining hand on him. “Wait a minute. We still need to deal with the cut on your head.”

“But, it’s not even bleeding anymore,” he protested.

Troy smirked and replied, “humor me.”

Tyler rolled his eyes and sat back. “Is he gonna come back just to put a Band-Aid on my boo boo?”

Troy laughed. “No. My wife’ll be in in a second.”

“That was the lady at the desk you were talking to?” He suddenly realized in all the months he’d known Troy he hadn’t met his wife or kids.

Troy’s smile widened as he nodded. “Yup. She’s from Nebraska but we met while we were both going to UCLA. She’s been a nurse here for about two years.”

As if on cue, the door opened as Elizabeth entered the room with a half smirk on her face as she closed the door behind her. “Hello, lover.” She went up to Tyler, her short blonde hair bobbing slightly with her steps. “Let’s take a look at you, young man.” Tyler blushed, thinking how odd it was that his boss’s wife was examining his face while his boss watched with a wide grin on his face. “Hm. I think you’ll live. Did Ford give you anything for any pain?”

“Yes, ma’am,” he answered rotely, hearing Troy giggle slightly to himself.

She smirked as she glanced over her shoulder at her husband. “Go ahead and laugh it up over there. I’m Elizabeth, but you can just call me Liz. You’re Tyler, right?”

“I’m starting to think there isn’t anyone Troy doesn’t know here in town,” he said with a nod.

She giggled as she crossed the room to the cabinets, opening them to look for something. “I wouldn’t say he knows everyone. He just likes to pretend he’s important.”

“I do not,” he said with his smile still on his face.

“Don’t listen to him, Tyler.” She took out a few items and closed the cabinets before turning back to the young man with a playful smile. “I never do.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” Troy mumbled.

Liz stepped back up to Tyler and started to bandage the cut on his head. Her touch was gentle. Almost reminding him of his mother with how careful she was being for him. “Well, that’s about as good as it’s gonna get.” She looked behind his head and grimaced. “Oh, that’s gonna be a lump before the afternoon. Better make sure you use a soft pillow when you lay down or else it’s gonna make things worse.”

Tyler chuckled. “All I got is flat pillows that’re ten years old.”

Liz went over to a large cabinet and pulled out a pillow and handed it to him. “Here, then. Take this home with you. Don’t put too much pressure on that lump.”

“Thanks,” Tyler replied. He was feeling a little surprised by the generosity Liz was affording him.

“Okay,” Troy said as he gave his wife a peck on the cheek. “I’m gonna go find his mom and hand him off to her before I head back to the office. I might be a little late tonight.”

“Call David and ask him to pick up Chase at school then if you think you’re not gonna make it,” she told him. “Then rest up before tonight because we should have another family planning meeting.”

Troy grinned a little. “Yes, ma’am. Let’s go, Tyler.”

The two of them left the room and headed down the hall to the front of the emergency room. Going around the corner, Tyler caught sight of his mom in her work clothes heading in his direction. When she saw him, she rushed up to him with her eyes full of worry. Her hand went up to his head, gently touching the new bandage he just received. “Oh, sweetheart! Are you alright? Your boss said you’d been in an accident.” Her eyes went to Troy, looking him up and down. “I guess that would be you.”

Troy nodded. “The doctor said he should be fine. He should go home and rest the rest of the day, though.”

“I still need to get the deposit to Mr. Tucker,” Tyler said, remembering how optimistic he had been at the beginning of the day and all the things he still needed to do. “The truck is gone, so I guess you’ll have to get me to the bank and to his place and back.”

Troy frowned. “He should be home in bed.”

“No,” he replied with a little irritation in his voice. “I should be helping to finish the cabinets in the Taylor house today and getting ready to do a new floor with Andy, but I can’t because some fucking asshole decided whatever the fuck was on his phone was more important than my life!”

Colleen and Troy were both taken aback at his sudden outburst. “Sweetheart,” She said to her son gently, “It’s gonna be okay. I can call him and explain, and he’ll be fine if we’re a day late.”

“No,” he said again as he started walking again, feeling anger and resentment growing inside him with each stride. “If I have to walk to the bank and over to his house, I’m going to get this done like I told him I would. If I make an excuse now, he’s always going to think we’re not reliable. I don’t know how I’m going to do this now that I don’t have a way to and from work. But I’m not gonna let us go homeless if I have to kill myself to do it!” His anger at life and the constant setbacks and disappointments he’s had to deal with on what seemed like a constant basis kept him focused on getting out of there and maybe escaping from this nightmare.

“Wait up, Tyler,” Troy called to him when he and Colleen were going through the doors a couple paces behind him.

Tyler ignored him, feeling the pain in his head beginning to throb but he didn’t have time to think about it. He had to do what he said he was going too. He was heading to the parking lot, looking around for his mother’s car when he felt a hand on his shoulder. “I said wait,” Troy’s normally easy-going tone had hardened slightly. “Whatever you’re going through right now, you’re not gonna do it by yourself.” Before Tyler could protest, Troy pulled his phone out and made a call. He held the phone to his ear silently for a moment before the other person on the end answered. “Hey, it’s me. I need you to come to the hospital. I need an extra set of hands for an hour or so. I’ll explain it to you when you get here. Just get here soon as you can. Thanks.”

Troy regarded Tyler with a slightly stern expression. “Okay. Your mom obviously has to go to work, and I have stuff I need to do too. So, when help gets here, he will take you to do whatever it is you need to get done today and once you’re done, you go home and rest the rest of the day.”

He wanted to argue and yell, but he knew it wasn’t Troy he was mad at. With a sigh he closed his eyes and slowly nodded his head. “Fine. I’m sorry I got a little heated.”

“To be honest, I’d probably be a little heated to, if I were in your shoes” Troy’s face eased into a small smile.

The three of them stood there, mostly quiet with just a few words shared between Troy and Colleen as they waited. Soon, Tyler saw a familiar grey pickup truck pulling into the parking lot and he did his best to suppress a groan. As low as he felt right now, for some reason having Jacob drawn into it made it seem even more embarrassing than before. Troy waved Jacob down who dutifully drove up and stopped in front of them, lowering his window. “What happened,” Jacob asked curiously.

“Tyler was in an accident this morning,” Troy replied, stepping up to the window. “I need someone to take him around and get some stuff done and once he’s finished, I want you to make sure he goes home and stays there. He needs to be resting.”

Jacob’s eyes went to Tyler, showing his concern. “Are you hurt?”

“Just a bump on my head,” he muttered.

Jacob looked back at Troy. “Sure, I’ll make sure he gets home in one piece. You want me to call you when I’m done?”

“No. Just text me so I know he’s alright.” He turned and looked at Tyler. “Don’t forget to get your medication before you do anything else. Might not be a great idea to take it until you’re home.” He walked Tyler around to the passenger side of Jacob’s truck, making sure he got in. He knew he was probably being a little over-protective, but he figured it was best to be safe. He stepped back and watched as Jacob pulled away and drove off. He stepped back up to Colleen and said to her, “your son can sure have a temper when he’s set on something.”

Colleen sighed, her eyes on the retreating truck her son was in. “He’s just tired, is all. I’ve never been able to give him the life he deserved.”

“Maybe,” Troy conceded. “But I can tell he’s got a good heart.”

She smiled and nodded. “I can’t take all the credit for that. Just wish I could’ve done more for him. Not much you can do to make a decent living in a small town.”

Troy stared down at her thoughtfully. “I’m sorry. I don’t know much about you. What kind of work did you used to do before you came here?”

She chuckled. “I raised a little boy while my husband worked. He didn’t want me working. I did get two years in at a junior college before I got married though.”

“What were you aiming for?” He couldn’t deny the fact that he was hoping for something from this unexpected conversation at this point.

“Business management,” she replied as she gazed at the spot she last saw Jacob’s truck.

Troy suddenly realized he might be able to solve a number of problems all at once. “Would you be interested in doing more than what you’re doing now?”

She turned to look up at him with a small smirk. “Like what?”

Troy pulled a card out of his wallet and handed it to her. “I have a job opening at the beginning of the year. We’re looking for someone to fill an administration role and possibly more. If you’re interested, call me sometime next week and we can sit and talk.”

She stared at him for a moment in muted surprise before taking the offered card. “Well, thank you. I guess.”

“Welcome. I need to get back to the office. It was good to meet you.” He gave her a handshake and then headed back to his truck and to the office, hoping that maybe things will work out for everyone involved soon enough.

 

****

 

The drive from the pharmacy to the bank had been relatively quiet between Tyler and Jacob. In his mind, Tyler was going over all the possible ways he might be able to crawl himself out of this most recent pit life has thrown him into. He gave Jacob the address to his future landlord’s house and they set off while Tyler looked at the bottle of pills he picked up with Dr. Ford’s prescription.

“You sure you’re okay,” Jacob asked for the third time in fifteen minutes.

Tyler frowned, still feeling resentful of the situation. “I doubt it could get any worse at this point.”

“Don’t look at it that way,” Jacob said with a small smile, hoping to cheer him up. “I’m sure you’ll be fine in a couple days.”

“Maybe,” he replied. “But what am I gonna do without the truck? I’m not gonna be living just down the street from work anymore and be able to bum rides off of people like I used to.”

“You’ll get it back,” Jacob tried to assure him.

“No,” Tyler insisted. “It was totaled.”

Jacob’s eyes widened a little, now even more worried as he glanced over at him. “Oh, my God. I’m sorry. Troy didn’t tell me that part.”

“It’s okay,” he mumbled. “I’m just pissed that it’s all out of my hands right now. If I can’t get to work, I have no way to pay the rent on the place I’m about to hand a deposit in for. I’m just…” Tyler looked out the side window and tried to compose himself. “... frustrated with it all.”

Jacob smirked a little to himself, all too familiar with that feeling. “Give it a couple days. Things will end up working out. You had insurance and the guy is at fault so you’re probably gonna get some cash coming your way and you can buy a new truck with that.”

Tyler blinked a little in surprise, having not thought about that outcome. “Yeah, maybe.”

“I’ll tell you what,” Jacob said. “How about we wait until you get your settlement for your accident and then you and I can go shopping for new trucks. This one is too small for my liking and I’ll need more space in the back if I’m gonna be delivering anything bigger than a dresser or a chest.”

“Really? I’ve never actually bought a car before. I wouldn’t know where to start.”

Jacob grinned. “Then I should definitely go with you. Make sure you get a good deal and not played with.”

Tyler found that idea appealing. Getting to spend a day with Jacob would be fun but also a little torturous at that same time. He still wasn’t all that sure on how to get around to letting Jacob know he was interested in possibly being more than just friends. “I wouldn’t say no if you offered…” He liked the sound of that. Kind of kept the door open for whatever Jacob might have in mind.

“Then that’s what we’ll do,” Jacob replied with a nod of his head. His smile brightened a little the more he thought about the fun he could have going to a dealership with Tyler as a first-time buyer. Tyler noted his smile and thought that maybe his subtle suggestion had been heard.

Dropping off the deposit was effortless as Mr. Tucker wasn’t even home. Tyler handed it to his wife and made sure he got a receipt just in case she “forgot” to give it to her husband later. Jacob decided, since it was already almost noon, to stop at a drive thru and get some lunch for the both of them. Tyler was a little surprised when Jacob drove up to the trailer park instead of driving them both back to his house. As he parked near Tyler’s trailer, he stopped for a moment to look around the nearly abandoned park. There had never been all that many lots to begin with but seeing all but a handful of them now gone, it gave him an odd wistful sensation he wasn’t quite sure he was comfortable with.

Tyler seemed to sense his thoughts as he looked over at Jacob. “You don’t have to stay if you want. I promise I’ll eat and take my meds and lay on the couch the rest of the day.”

Jacob shook his head cleared out any of the unwanted thoughts from his head. “No. I told Troy I’d make sure you were resting and that you were fine, and I mean to do that.” He opened his door and grabbed the food before stepping out of the truck. Tyler grabbed his new pillow and his medication and joined him. He reached the door before Jacob and pulled out his keys to unlock it and stepped inside with Jacob just behind him.

Tyler stepped over to the kitchen and pulled out some paper plates and some napkins. Jacob took a moment to look around the inside, not sure if he felt relieved or resentful that Tyler and his mom’s trailer was a lot cleaner than he remembered his old home ever being. “You can just set the food on the counter and we can eat in here,” Tyler said, drawing Jacob out of his inner thoughts.

Jacob put the bags on the counter and watched Tyler as they sat down to eat. “Are you supposed to eat anything with that medication?”

Tyler looked at the bottle carefully, reading the instructions. “‘Twice a day. Once in the morning and once at night.’”

“Okay then, after you eat.” Jacob pulled the bags open and started setting out their lunch. They ate mostly in silence. Once in a while, he caught Tyler staring over at him. He knew that look. He’d seen it enough times from guys at bars back when he was drinking. And this wasn’t the first time he’d noticed it. He wasn’t entirely unsympathetic towards Tyler, but he didn’t want to lead him on or be forced to turn him down if he got too forward. Since becoming an adult, he’s noticed that some people see how he looks and just assumed he was all muscle with not a lot of brain. At first, he was a little resentful of it until he realized he could turn it into an advantage. If they don’t expect him to be smart enough to notice their subtle flirting then he could meet those expectations and avoid some unpleasant conversations like telling Tyler that, while he liked him and thought of him as a friend, that was all he was ever going to see him as. “How’s Drake been lately?”

Tyler shrugged. “Okay, I guess. Haven’t seen much of him lately. If he wants me to meet up with him at the bar this weekend, he’s gonna have to come pick me up.”

“I’m sure he would if you asked,” Jacob replied. “Andy seems to be in a better mood the last couple weeks. Tanner seems a little more relaxed too. Don’t suppose we have you to thank for that?”

Tyler smirked slightly, figuring it would be best to not say anything about Andy’s drug habit or that he’d been joining in on the fun. “I don’t think it’s all just me. But we’ve been hanging out a bit more.” Tyler took a drink of his soda and then realized what he’d forgotten. “Oh, shit. I need to text him.” Tyler pulled his phone out and started tapping away at the screen. “I was supposed to help him put in a floor today.”

Jacob chuckled. “I’m betting Troy already put someone else on the job.”

Tyler finished sending his text and set his phone back down. “Well, at least this way he’ll know I’m alive.” Jacob smiled at that and they went back to eating their lunch.

A few minutes later, Tyler got a text from Andy. “Holy shit, bud!! Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. Sitting here at home eating lunch with Jacob,” he replied back to him.

“Try and keep your hands to yourself.” Tyler blushed when he saw the response and closed the screen.

“Andy,” Jacob inquired.

Tyler nodded. “Yeah. Just telling me to be careful.”

Jacob grinned and finished the last bite of his meal. “Time for your meds. Then lay down and get some rest.”

Tyler complied, taking a pill from the bottle and washing it down with the last of his drink. Jacob took the pillow he brought home from the hospital and set it on the couch. “Shouldn’t take long for that to kick in. You’re probably already a little worn out as it is.”

“Yeah,” he said as he walked over the lay down on the couch. He grimaced a little when his head touched the pillow a little harder than he should have. Having not really put any pressure on his head all morning, he hadn’t been aware of just how bad it actually was.

“You need anything before I go,” Jacob asked as he watched him carefully.

“No, I’m fine,” he said as he turned onto his side. “Thanks for helping me out today.”

Jacob smiled down at him. “No problem. I figure I’ll be asking favors in the future whenever I need a hand.”

Tyler yawned. Not sure if it was the pill or everything that happened today that made him so sleepy. “Sure. I got you.”

“I’ll let myself out. Get some rest and I’ll check up on you later tonight to make sure you’re doing okay.” Jacob turned to the door, taking one last look around the place before stepping out and closing the door behind him.

As he opened the door to his truck, his eyes stopped on the bare piece of ground across from Tyler’s trailer. He stood there, almost paralyzed as his mind remembered what that spot used to look like. In the back of his mind, he could still hear the yelling, the screaming and the crying. It was a little surprising to him since he figured he had dealt with that while he was in therapy. But there were still unresolved issues that he knew he was never going to get resolved. The one person who he needed to confront was gone and never coming back.

Jacob got in his truck and pulled out maybe a little faster than he meant too. The urge to get away from this place and never come back was getting stronger the longer those memories played over again in his mind. To make matters worse, as he got to the street, he could see the place where Kyle used to pick him up to take him to school. Another unresolved issue that he wasn’t sure would ever get fixed. He wished he at least knew where Kyle was. If he was okay. If Kyle thought about him as much as he thought about Kyle. Years ago, he didn’t have the courage to try. Now, he just didn’t know where to start looking for him. For all he knew, Kyle was a thousand miles away… Maybe married…? With an ache in his heart, he gripped the wheel tight and focused on getting home. If he didn’t get there soon, he wasn’t sure he would be able to stay sober the rest of the day.

Copyright © 2019 Jdonley75; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments



5 hours ago, Okiegrad said:

Poor Tyler.  And I’m so sad that Jacob has no interest in anything but friendship.  I had hoped those two would get together.

If you read @Jdonley75 previous story, you will know that they will not get together. I'm curious about what surprises are reserved for Tyler.

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5 hours ago, Okiegrad said:

Poor Tyler.  And I’m so sad that Jacob has no interest in anything but friendship.  I had hoped those two would get together.

Some things are just not meant to be...

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48 minutes ago, Sweetlion said:

If you read @Jdonley75 previous story, you will know that they will not get together. I'm curious about what surprises are reserved for Tyler.

A lot.  There are a lot of surprises left for him. 😉

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1 hour ago, Sweetlion said:

If you read @Jdonley75 previous story, you will know that they will not get together. I'm curious about what surprises are reserved for Tyler.

The Aquittal fills in SOOO much, but in doing so it makes Tyler's story more of a mystery than if you just read this one.

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Another great chapter, @Jdonley75!

I like the way you skillfully introduced us to new characters, especially Liz.

I tend to keep forgetting that Tyler is so much younger than the likes of Troy and Andy, so doesn't know everything about the history between the members of The Team. But I think Tyler may be starting to realise just how fortunate he is to have fallen in with such a good set of new friends.

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1 hour ago, Marty said:

Another great chapter, @Jdonley75!

I like the way you skillfully introduced us to new characters, especially Liz.

I tend to keep forgetting that Tyler is so much younger than the likes of Troy and Andy, so doesn't know everything about the history between the members of The Team. But I think Tyler may be starting to realise just how fortunate he is to have fallen in with such a good set of new friends.

It was kind of a happy accident that I got Liz this early into the story.  I like her because she's that more relaxed and humorous side of Troy.  I swear, I think he married her because she reminded him of his friends.

I really wish Tyler could understand how fortunate he is at this point, but he's just angry at life right now and can't really grasp the kind of relationship he's slowly being drawn into.

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11 hours ago, Jdonley75 said:

Hm... a mystery? 😏

It's going to be an interesting ride. And bare in mind, there is a lot of story left that will go way past Jacob and Kyle's wedding. [Oops. Spoiler]

Only a spoiler if peeps have not read The Acquittal.If you haven't yet - go fill the time till J has the next chapter ready!

3 minutes ago, Jdonley75 said:

It was kind of a happy accident that I got Liz this early into the story.  I like her because she's that more relaxed and humorous side of Troy.  I swear, I think he married her because she reminded him of his friends.

I really wish Tyler could understand how fortunate he is at this point, but he's just angry at life right now and can't really grasp the kind of relationship he's slowly being drawn into.

He will figure it out eventually.  He is fitting right in, just doesn't know it yet.

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6 minutes ago, Jdonley75 said:

It was kind of a happy accident that I got Liz this early into the story.

I'm not 100% sure that Tyler would look upon his accident  as a happy occasion... :unsure2:

;) 

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13 minutes ago, Kitt said:

Only a spoiler if peeps have not read The Acquittal.If you haven't yet - go fill the time till J has the next chapter ready!

He will figure it out eventually.  He is fitting right in, just doesn't know it yet.

Yes and Yes. 😃

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13 minutes ago, Marty said:

I'm not 100% sure that Tyler would look upon his accident  as a happy occasion... :unsure2:

;) 

Oh.  Hah.  I see what I unintentionally did there. 😆

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31 minutes ago, Jdonley75 said:

It was kind of a happy accident that I got Liz this early into the story. .

 

23 minutes ago, Marty said:

I'm not 100% sure that Tyler would look upon his accident  as a happy occasion... :unsure2:

;) 

 

9 minutes ago, Jdonley75 said:

Oh.  Hah.  I see what I unintentionally did there. 😆

Yea...

I sorta guessed it was unintentional on your part. :) 

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2 hours ago, Marty said:

 

 

Yea...

I sorta guessed it was unintentional on your part. :) 

Yeah, I can't really do humor that well on purpose. 🤣

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11 hours ago, Andre Delport said:

Really enjoying this story. I cannot believe how you can take a character who only really got a handful of mentions in The Acquittal and flesh him out to produce an entire new book. Simply genius in my book. And we get more on the other characters as well. Very well done!

The best way I can describe how I go about creating a character is how I've been doing it for twenty-some years now.

Before I got into writing, I was playing table top role-playing games.  Specifically World of Darkness.  What I learned about creating a character in that game was that what is important has less to do with what they can do and more about who they are as a person.  The games encouraged players to not stop at just having some special ability but how they got it, where it's from and what kind of person did it change them into (if they changed at all).

So, when making a character, I ask myself a bunch of questions.  Where are they from?  How did they get where they are?  What was their life like before the story starts?  Where are they headed in life?  What do they like/dislike?  What kind of mental ticks do they have?

There are a lot more questions to it and, obviously, as you start to answer them, you begin to create a person and along with it comes other potential characters along the way as well.  You have to be ready for that and then answer those questions as well.  Eventually, the character will take on a life of its own and you can start making scenarios and figure out how they would react and once you get that down, then you have a story.  :)

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Just when things were starting to improve for Tyler this happens.

i don’t like Dr Ford, saying that he will de-sex Troy in front of one of his employees, I don’t think that is something a doctor should be saying to a patient at anytime.

 

Edited by Bft
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4 hours ago, Bft said:

Just when things were starting to improve for Tyler this happens.

i don’t like Dr Ford, saying that he will de-sex Troy in front of one of his employees, I don’t think that is something a doctor should be saying to a patient at anytime.

 

Dr. Ford is an old family friend.  ;) 

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On 9/21/2019 at 11:54 PM, Bft said:

de-sex

A vasectomy is not a desexing by any logical definition.

A vasectomy stops the flow of sperm from the testicles to the prostate gland, preventing insemination. The production and distribution of testosterone is not impeded. If sperm production were the sole definition of masculinity, a weedy sixteen-year-old nerd would be more masculine than a macho thirty-year-old marine.
;–)

Testosterone is the hormone that makes a human male during pregnancy. A male whose testicles have been removed, as might happen due to cancer or injury, can always get testosterone injections to maintain their hormone levels. Besides, hormones are not the only thing that defines a man and masculinity.

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So my prediction of Adam’s Construction offering Tyler’s mom a job was correct. I just didn’t know how it would come about. Even though he was injured, Tyler and his mother came out ahead.
;–)

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34 minutes ago, droughtquake said:

So my prediction of Adam’s Construction offering Tyler’s mom a job was correct. I just didn’t know how it would come about. Even though he was injured, Tyler and his mother came out ahead.
;–)

Funny how life works like that sometimes... ;)

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On 9/22/2019 at 12:07 PM, Jdonley75 said:

Dr. Ford is an old family friend.  ;) 

That’s a poor excuse 

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8 hours ago, droughtquake said:

A vasectomy is not a desexing by any logical definition.

A vasectomy stops the flow of sperm from the testicles to the prostate gland, preventing insemination. The production and distribution of testosterone is not impeded. If sperm production were the sole definition of masculinity, a weedy sixteen-year-old nerd would be more masculine than a macho thirty-year-old marine.
;–)

Testosterone is the hormone that makes a human male during pregnancy. A male whose testicles have been removed, as might happen due to cancer or injury, can always get testosterone injections to maintain their hormone levels. Besides, hormones are not the only thing that defines a man and masculinity.

Thanks doc, it was meant as a tongue in cheek comment😂

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15 hours ago, Bft said:

That’s a poor excuse 

My apologies.  I didn't realize it would be such an insulting line when I wrote it.  I'll keep that in mind in the future.

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