I slammed the brakes and ran from the car. It wasn’t smart thing to leave the doors open in this area, but I didn’t care.
“Where is he?” I ran up the stairs of an old flat house, painted by the youth that called it home. They were fighting against some old man, who had raised the prices by drawing graffiti over every wall they had access to.
“Where is he?” I demanded from some dimwitted girl, who without delay pointed me towards the end of third floor corridor.
I kept finding empty rooms or children, but not him. After I’d gone through half the corridor I stopped.
It was too dark. My eyes weren’t coping fast enough, but I still began going through the nearest rooms finding nothing but youth too scared to come out. They looked up from their make-shift beds with their large eyes, their heads pulled between shoulders, wrapped in their plaids. Useless punch when it came to caring for each other, let alone somebody they hardly knew! Too young to know most common diseases, yet rebellious enough to learn from the older generation.
Fredrick was without a doubt the older generation. Not that they knew. He sure didn’t look the part.
“Where is he?” I yelled over the empty corridor. “You wrote to me, remember? Come on, this isn’t a game! I can’t find him! Where is he?” This was making me frantic and that was not helping at all. Finally, some girl came out, took me by the sleeve and led me around the corner.
My heart sank and I felt my stomach turn up. Fredrick was laying there, on a reeking cot in a cold corridor and two girls were eagerly packing everything he owned in the nearby room. Into black bags. All he was worth ended up in a roll of garbage bags as if he was just another beggar on the street.
I examined his lean blue body, wide tear filled eyes and his curls like black unruly halo surrounding his head on the white pillow case. He was bleeding bad. It wasn’t seemingly from one main wound, but it looked like every pour and cavity on his body was suddenly giving out his precious blood.
“We don’t know what it is.” She was trying to buy sympathy, but she was searching it from the wrong person. “They had a fight with Mathew and suddenly he began bleeding! We are separating him from others – what if he’s dangerous? We don’t…”
I managed to breath out and jerked her off my sleeve.
“He’s not infectious!” I snapped, desperate for her to stop and ran straight to his outstretched right hand. I did checkup on his eyes and hands and ears. He had been beaten, his pulse was rushing through his body like train on the tracks and every touch he’d received appeared on his body as if the hands had squeezed blood out of his flesh.
“Hemophilia?” I frowned. The black bags crunched in the blond’s hand and it dug through me. “Could you leave us for a moment, please?”
The blond nodded and collected the black bag from the other before setting them down against the wall and leaving us alone. He was genuinely glad I was there, crying from happiness as he drag me closer with his hand until I had to sit on his side.
“They gave you something?”
“Painkillers, and then this hell breaks loose…”
“Something. I don’t know. Could be anything.”
I searched his eyes for yellow, but besides the bloody tears, they were white and lovely brown.
“What’s happening to me?”
I gave him pain struck smile. “I’ll get some clean warm water and we’ll clean you up first.” Inside I was crying. I knew he was prone to bruises after they had to fight, but this was ridiculously stupid way to go.
“Tell me truth, Evelyn!” he coached. His fingers tightened around mine, but my lips remained sealed. His eyes pulled me in and for the first time since I got their message I wasn’t bursting in tears. I couldn’t tell him the truth. It was too late. Even if I’d got him to Henri in time, there was nothing we could do. The blood vessels were too weak.
“I’m thirsty.” He sounded weak.
“I have some juice,” I softened his hold, “I’ll get it from the car.” I offered a last assuring smile and went, reluctantly letting his hand go.
I dragged my feet going back down to get the juice. I was crying by the time I reached it. I whaled like crazy, snuggled on the first seat, multi juice locked between my fingers. They were still covered with the blood I had brushed away from his cheeks and eyes.
Fredrick was dying. How on earth did he let it get so far? He was a doctor after all! Damn good one, too! Yet there he was now, fighting for the rebel causes as if it was the only thing that mattered. For youth who wouldn’t even take him to hospital.
I was so angry, I could hit any of them! Just get in my reach and the next hour would be dedicated revenging Fredrick. Pushing up from the seat I fished my bag of band-aids and bandages from the back seat before retrieving the juice and slammed the door shut.
I tried to calm down, taking good look at the surroundings. Fredrick indeed knew how to choose the best home around. It was nothing more than ruins! What was he doing here? Street, flat house with blocked out windows, street… A man standing on the corner and watching my every move? I didn’t feel danger from him and it struck me as odd. Another one, who would let him die instead of taking him to hospital? I frowned – he looked worried!
I took a step towards him and watched him responded with same. But then he saw something behind me and pulled back, obvious frustration written over his face like a stone rock.
A boy knocked my shoulder, running past me and following the main road to north, towards the city center.
They’re not letting him in!
I did a small gesture, pressing the hand with the juice canister against my heart for a moment and nodded. He bowed lightly and I knew he’ll wait, when I went back upstairs.
They had brought me blue plastic basin with the requested hot water and after I had released him from the soaked through dressing, I started washing him up, ignoring the pained whimpers. It had to be done and I soothed him as much as I could.
“I can do this.” I persuaded in whisper. I sucked in a breath when his next sob broke into pained rumbling laughter rolling out deep from his chest. He was about to argue back while I cleaned his hands, his feet and the chest, but I didn’t give him a chance. Right now I wanted him not to comment on my weak tolerance of gory sites, so I swirled around to ding some help to turn him on his side.
A guy in green tried to sneak by when I reached out, but I locked my bloody hand around his jersey sleeve.
“Hey!” I believe he was screaming out of fear of infection rather than the bloody hand print now decorating his almost clean jumper. “Stop it this instant! You’ll be fine!” Moment too late I thought I ought to have left him his illusions. “I need your help to turn Fredrick around.”
“No can do!” the hands flew up.
“I’ll sue you all for negligence if you don’t!” I bellowed to his face, grabbed him by the elbow and pulled him by the cot. “Hold him still!” I ordered. “Support his shoulders more!”
Had to admit though – once he held him, he didn’t falter. He ran the moment I declared him released and gave him a piece of cloth to clean up.
“Easy, girl, you scare them.” Fredrick whispered, his mouth dry again.
The moment the wounds were covered, the plasma began steeping through reducing me to tears.
“They should be!”
The neckline and hands were covered with red before I was finished with the rest of the body. He had lost his blue hue. There wasn’t even a hint of bluish tint on this blood covered body.
“When did it start?” I asked him while desperately covering last spared parts on his neck. They soaked against his skin without delay and my hands cramped, defying to settle the last cover on him. It was hopeless fight, but it had to be done, I assured myself and pressed it on. My head was fuming, trying to figure out how to get his bleeding to stop. I refused to give up!
“You figured it out?” Fredrick asked.
I nodded, looking away. Yes, I knew, but without the right needs, there was little I could do to make his last days on this life comfortable. No, not days.
“How long do I have?”
“Enough to enjoy the sunrise?” I offered , looking straight to his eyes. He loved sunrises.
“That bad, huh? Will you stay here?”
Did he really need an answer?
“Will you keep me company?”
I nodded and hid my hands before feeling his fingers scrape my stomach and taking them, squeezing them hard I assured him I wasn’t going anywhere.
Despite the efforts I could sense the tremble taking them over . My chest was suddenly too small for the pain.
“Sleep for few hours,” I offered, “I promise you won’t die yet. I’ll wake you up hours before sunrise.”
He agreed that he was tired and laid back down, refusing me to change his bed sheets. “They’ll be soaked again.” he reasoned and at that point the tears escaped from my eyes. He reached out and cleaned them away, promising that though he was hoping to outlive this foolish fight in the first place, he’ll make it all better. Even if he did have to surrender.
How? I didn’t ask him. I let him close his eyes and sat there, in front of his bed, his hand locked in mine so I could feel his pulse. I couldn’t move and I didn’t want to.
The youngsters came and went, all eying us cautiously from the doorways. We were still in the end of the corridor, with wonderful view through half round windows facing south. I wondered what this house must have been before it was taken over by this expression of puberty. There were many pipes running under the ceiling and the old Persian rug was still visible under the thick layer of rubbish. I had an impression of a hotel living its last days as free housing, and in a way it was fitting to be lost forever together with Fredrick.