Paradise Found Part Three
Story Notes: Part Four and Final Chapter coming up much later.
SequelTo: Paradise Found Part Two
Inspector Thatcher called Ray at the hospital and asked him to stop by the consulate for a discussion about Ben and his future. It was a bad time for Ray to agree as Ben was showing signs of other problems resulting from his head injury. Just that morning, Ben had thrown the Winnie-The-Pooh book at him and Ray's quick reflexes allowed it to whiz by his head and it hit the patio window, thankfully not breaking it. Ben was so agitated he couldn't speak and since he was lying on his hospital bed in his sweats, Ray took it upon himself to use the leather cuffs to restrain Ben. Frase's left arm was now out of the support sling and the arm was weak, but Ray wanted himself and others to be safe from Ben's rages. Restraining Fraser was hard, not only because Ben was still struggling, but because he looked at Ray as if Ray was a traitor. Ray's heart was breaking, but he knew he was going to have to learn to deal with Ben the way that he was now and it would part of what he would have to do when he was alone with him in Inuvik. He would let Ben cool down and come back to himself before he attempted to find out what had caused Ben to throw the book that had been pleasing Ben so much.
Ray called Nurse Evans in and told her what happened and also told her he had to go. He didn't think Frase would miss him. The anger directed from Ben to Ray was so strong it almost took on a physical form like the daggers they sometimes say come from people's eyes.
At the consulate, Ray sat across from the Inspector Thatcher and Turnbull was standing by the desk to her left; they both looked as if they had lost their best friend and in a way, they were right. They had not only lost the person, Benton Fraser, but knew Ben would never be able to go back to work for the RCMP, unless there were some dramatic changes in his condition.
"First, Detective Vecchio, I have seen Constable Fraser at the hospital, but didn't get a chance to find out as much as I would have liked about his condition. Would you be able to enlighten us further, please?"
"Inspector and Turnbull, I have to tell you, I'm not a detective, anymore. I resigned. Please call me `Ray'. I've been talking to Tom, I mean Dr. Summers, a lot and he gave me something to read, too, about head injuries. Right now, Ben is not able to talk very well, which you probably figured out when you visited him. Me and Stefano, a real nice guy who works at the hospital and helps Ben, have to be like crutches for Ben to be able to walk. Inspector..."
"Det...Ray, please call me Margaret and you can call Turnbull, `Renfield'. I think we are in a different place, now, with how we liase, don't you think, uh, Ray? Please continue."
"Yeh, like I was saying, so far, um, Margaret, Ben's had three times when he just gets real mad and two of the times, it looked like he mistook me and Stefano for his attackers. The third time was just this morning and Ben picked up the book that he had been looking at and just threw it at me. I ducked, so I wasn't hit. I have no idea why that happened unless he was trying to read the book and couldn't. Ben, uh, can't read, right now. I've been reading to him. The stuff I read about Ben's head kinda says that no one knows why people with head injuries do what they do and different things can come up later. I always heard yer supposed to live in the moment. With Ben, you HAVE to. It can't be any other way."
"Also, Ray, the RCMP is paying for all of Ben's hospital bills, here, and in Inuvik, if he is able to move there with you as you have planned. I know you planned to use your savings, but that won't be necessary. Ben is very lucky to have you. I am not sure you are comfortable with me knowing, but I have noted certain indications that what you and Ben have together is possibly more than friendship or partnership....
Ray interrupted Margaret, "Wait a minute! You too! I don't get it. Frannie knew, my parents knew...that's just great! I mean, I know I love him, now, but I'm definitely the absolutely last one. Wow. I'm sorry, what were ya going to say?"
"Well, Ray, I just feel that you're the only one really that will be able to help Ben in the next coming years because of your devotion to him and I just want you to know that if there is anything...and I do mean anything...that you need, please let us know."
Ray felt tears come to his eyes and he glanced over at Renfield and saw that he, too, was fighting back his emotions and wringing his hands. Then, Ray saw something that he thought he would never see - a look in Ren's eyes that was just like what they show in cartoons, where Ray could actually imagine a light bulb lighting up over Ren's head. "What? What did you think of, Ren?"
"You said that Const...I mean, Ben can't read and that every victim of head traumas have different skills and limitations - I can't help but wonder if Ben might be able to type. Dr. Summers told us that Ben's understanding is in no way undermined and he might be forming words in his mind, but unable to clearly voice them. And then he can't read, but what if he was able to type since that is a direct brain/hand connection. Even if he was unable to read what he wrote, the people around him would be able to communicate at a much higher level than they can, now, since it is so exhausting for him to try to think. Sorry, for babbling on about it, but the idea seems exciting to me."
Ray felt at that moment that he had always underestimated Constable Turnbull and he jumped up and grabbed the taller man in a hug and pounded on his back. "Ren, it's a great idea! I'll buy him a laptop on my way back to the hospital."
"No need, Ray," Ren told him, "I just bought one of the newest ones on the market for myself. I'll go get it". Ren scurried away. He was as excited as a child at being to give a gift of great value to Ben. If this worked to increase Ben's ability to express himself, this could be a huge, huge turning point in Ben's adaptation to his disabilities.
Renfield looked very pleased as he handed Ray the laptop computer that was in a nice leather protective carrying case. Ray was shaking his head, "Ren, I don't know what to say."
After a few more minutes of desultory conversation, Ray took his leave and hurried back to the hospital. It was 6 o'clock, so he headed to the employees' cafeteria, filled his tray with food and sat down at one of the tables near a window that looked out on the wintry landscape. He gazed upon the distant horizon and, for the first time, he could see that not only were his thoughts becoming lighter, but that he was becoming excited about discovering as many ways as possible to help Ben.
Dr. Summers spotted Ray and came over to join him at his table. "Hey, Ray, how are you?" Tom sat down across from Ray. Ray noticed that Tom was a very good looking guy. He had had his mind on so many other things, he just hadn't taken the time to notice. He had sandy-brown hair that tended to be long in the front and fall over his forehead. Tom occasionally tossed his head to get the hair to fall away from his eyes which were startlingly blue and piercing. "What do you have in that beautiful leather case, if I may ask?"
"Yeh, sure you can ask, Tom. It's an idea that Ben's friend Ren, came up with. Ren's a constable like Ben used to be. I just hope it works out. Ren thinks that because Ben can still think straight just like you said, except for forgetting what he is trying to say, that he still might be able to type. What do you think, doc?"
"There is never any harm in trying anything we can think of to help Ben. I'd like to be there for the first trial run, if that's okay. How about tomorrow morning at about 9 a.m.?"
When Ray got back to the room, Ben was still restrained, but the aides had changed him into his pajamas and placed him under the covers. He was wide-awake and turned toward Ray when he put the laptop briefcase down on the table between the two chairs. "Ray...I...I...wa...was try...read...Win...I couldn't. I am...........sor...ry. I don't...under....stand...get so...mad."
Ray went over to Ben's bedside, leaned over and kissed him on the lips, very gently and tentatively. Ben did not move his head away. "Ben, I am always, ALWAYS going to forgive you, even if you accidentally hurt me. I love you so much that it hurts some times. Now, you try to get some sleep. Is there anything you need?"
Ray put the straw to Ben's lips and Ben looked directly into Ray's eyes while he was drinking as if he was searching for something in their blue-grey depths. Ray locked in on Ben's striking eyes and couldn't look away. Ray and Ben were communicating so much without a word spoken.
Ray found it difficult to break away, but finally looked down at Ben's restraints and removed them. He kissed Ben on the forehead. "Goodnight, Ben."
Ray got into his own pajamas after making Ben comfortable and was really glad to climb into his own bed and was looking forward to falling asleep and having the weight of carrying around his and Ben's future lifted by entering into a deep and he hoped dreamless sleep.
Ray was woken up by nurses fussing around Ben. They were giving him his medication and Stefano was waiting to help Ben have his first shower in place of sponge baths. When Stefano saw Ray was awake, he said, "Hey, Ray, you woke up just in time. Ben's going to have a shower. You might as well keep your pajamas on. If they get wet, they'll dry faster."
"Okay, Stef. Let me know when you're ready." Ray glanced at the clock on his bedside table and saw they had two hours before the "great laptop experiment". He found he was very excited about it and hoped it worked out. Ben always liked to talk - a lot - and it must be driving him crazy to have to struggle to get each word out.
After Ben's bathroom needs were all taken care of, Ray asked Ben if he would like to sit in the chair by the window and Ben nodded yes. Ray opened the curtains and at this time of the morning, there was an amazing kaleidoscope of sunrise colors both in the sky and reflected on freshly fallen snow. Both men were transfixed and glanced at each other briefly before returning their gazes out the window.
Ben was slowly coming to realize that he was NOT going to interfere with Ray's decision to stay with him, even if it did mean Ray had to give up his career as a police officer. The shared experiences, both the good and the bad, he had had with Ray in the past few weeks showed him he could not live without Ray in his life. Ben didn't know how Ray tolerated the angry outbursts that Ben had no control over, but he did. He was also thinking about the soft kiss Ray gave him, last night, and how loved he felt. He had never, never felt that kind of love except from his mother; unconditional love. Ray wasn't demanding anything from him, only giving and giving and giving. Ben hoped he would be able to give back to Ray, someday.
Ray tore his gaze away from the exhibition nature seemed to be putting on just for them. "I'm going to get some breakfast. I'll be back as soon as possible, okay? And, of course, I'll bring back something for you."
Ben nodded and struggled to express himself, "Ray...I...love...you...hope...you know...appreciate...you."
Ray leaned down to Ben as he sat in the chair by the window and kissed him on the lips, this time not so gently and Ben returned the kiss with just as much fierceness.
It was 8:45 a.m. when Ray returned. Ben was still staring out the window. He turned slightly when Ray, after putting down the biggest cup of coffee Ben had ever seen, started unloading his pockets onto the table between the two chairs - out came more muffins, but these looked liked they weren't bran, but poppy seed, one of Ben's favorites. There was a napkin full of grapes, another banana, two oranges, an apple and some sausages, also wrapped in a napkin. Ben glanced down at the food and back up at Ray with the biggest grin on his face Ray had ever seen, even bigger than the grin Ben had when he accomplished the first "walk" to the bathroom with Ray's and Stef's help. Ben pounced on the food like a cougar pouncing on its prey.
Ray sat down and alternately looked at Ben stuffing the food in, and out the window. Ray felt happy. Yeh, maybe he wouldn't always have these good times with Ben, but he just didn't care. Ben was going to have to adapt to what his severe injuries had done to change his life completely just like Ray was going to have to have to deal with whatever comes his way. A stray thought came to Ray that he would be doing all of this for Ben even if he didn't love him so much and that made him happier; that he was doing it as much out of friendship and partnership as love.
Dr. Summers stood behind the two men and cleared his throat. Ray made a half-hearted attempt to hide the remaining food that he had brought Ben from the employees' cafeteria. Tom said, "Ray, don't bother trying to hide it. I know you've been supplementing Ben's diet. It's okay. Are we ready to try the laptop?"
Ben, with a mouthful of the last of the sausage, asked, "Lap...top?"
Ray reach over for the briefcase and brought out the laptop Ren had given him. "Ben, Constable Turnbull wants you to have this." Ray placed it on Ben's lap with a platform under it to keep the computer cool.
Dr. Summers had placed a chair on Ben's right side. Ray moved the table that was now completely empty of the food Ray had brought and shifted his chair closer to Ben's. Ben first looked at Ray and then at Tom. "Do...you...think...?
"We just want to see, okay, Ben?" Ray opened up the laptop's lid and turned it on, after plugging it into a socket on the wall under the window. He didn't want it running out of charge before the experiment was over. Ray opened up Word to give Ben some typing area. "Ren thought you might be able to type even if you aren't able to read what you type. I've even seen you typing without even looking at the screen. Do you want to try, Ben?"
Ben nodded and hesitantly placed both hands on the keyboard exactly in the right typing position. So far, so good. Ray could tell Ben was having a little trouble keeping his left hand on the keyboard. His whole left arm was going to need more strengthening. Then, Ben began to type, very slowly. Ray had his eyes glued to the blank document and watched as if by magic words began to appear. Ben made mistakes, yes, but the words were "real" words. "I think this is going work. It reminds me of an Inuit story I wonce herd from an elder...just kidding, Ray. Ray, can you read it back to me, please?"
Ray was crying, but he managed to see through his tears and read back to Ben what Ben had just typed. Dr. Summers was patting Ben on the back and looking extremely pleased while Ben began crying, too. On a scale of one to ten, Ray realized what had just happened was way past ten, up into the twenty-range. It was confusing as hell that Ben could type and communicate that way, but couldn't read what he had just typed, but not one of the three people sitting there in that hospital room was even going to begin to question why.
A few days before the trip to Inuvik was scheduled to happen, Jackie James came by, introduced herself and had a "conversation" via laptop with Ben about Inuvik and the people there they might know in common. Jackie's uncle's name was Jesse and Ben indicated he knew of him, but didn't know him very well. Jackie knew Maggie and Buck as acquaintances around town. Jackie explained to Ben that she would helping him if he ran into difficulties on the long trip to Inuvik, not really coming out and saying that she would be there to sedate him if he became uncontrollable. Ben seemed to understand, anyway. He was so excited about going to Inuvik with Ray and seeing Maggie and Buck, he was willing to acquiesce to anything that could make that happen.
Ray had been spending parts of every day in the last week, finalizing the details of their trip and closing off the life he had in Chicago. Diefenbaker had been sent on by Turnbull a few weeks ago, so he could be nearly finished with quarantine when the two men arrived at their new home.
Stefano came in on one the last remaining days to make the announcement that Ben could now walk with the use of a walker although he had to be helped from his bed to get in position. If Ben was sitting in a chair with his walker placed directly in front of him, he could use his arm strength to pull himself to a standing position. Ray would need to be there when Ben did this and walk along beside him for insurance, though. Ben demonstrated for Ray how he could rise from the chair by the window. Ben's left arm did not fully participate due to its weak condition, but his powerful right arm was able to accomplish the feat and Ben was soon walking, albeit at a slower than snail's pace toward Ray. All three men were, once again, smiling broadly.
Ray stepped forward quickly when he noticed Ben tiring after just a few minutes and helped him to sit back down, but that did not diminish this achievement for any of the participants. Ray leaned down and hugged Ben sideways and ruffled his now long curly hair.
There were only four more days remaining before the journey to Inuvik. Ray was at the consulate, checking on the piles of paperwork to sign to finalize their move. Ben had asked to be left in the chair by the window with his laptop. He knew that he made mistakes when he typed, but Ray had assured him what he wrote was easy to understand, so he began to tell the story of what had happened that fateful night when Ray's and his life had changed forever. The view outside the window was dismal, grey and depressing which, Ben thought, was the perfect scene of contemplation for what he was about to write. "I had spent another night at The Closet, talking to other gay men, getting a little advice on the best way to reveal to your potential lover the feelings you have. I walked to Ray's apartment. As I approached his front door, I began to shake and it wasn't with cold; it was fear. Ray didn't seem to notice. You know the rest of that part, Ray. When I walked away from your apartment, I was not taking in my environment as I usually do when walking alone in Chicago at night.
Three men approached me and asked me for a light. I told them I was sorry, but I didn't smoke. That is when one of them brought his arm from around his back and hit me in the head with a board. I don't remember anything after that. The next thing I remember is I was naked, lying face down on a filthy, malodorous mattress. I heard one of the men say that he saw my eyes open. They started calling me names that had to do with the fact that I am gay. I think all three of them surrounded me and started beating on my kidneys and my legs, with just their fists, I think.
I struggled to sit up and was punched in the right temple. I lost the ability to see for a few seconds and a blinding headache followed on. I no longer could struggle. I remember wishing the blow had been hard enough to kill me. I started to yell loudly and a greasy rag was stuffed in my mouth and tied with another rag. I started to regurgitate the drink I had had at The Closet and once again, hoped I would die by suffocating on my own vomit. That didn't happen, either.
Then, I felt the first penetration of many that were to follow as I was raped repeatedly. I found this ironic; to say the least, that men who hated gays and their lifestyles would use sodomy as a way of expressing that hate. They must have used sexual enhancement drugs because the rapes went on for a long, long time; quite unnaturally.
Then, they turned me over and I could see their faces and the revulsion in their eyes. One of them had a small penknife and started cutting me with slicing motions and then some shallow stabs. I could tell this was a form of torture and it would be pointless to wish, yet again, for death. My screams were imploding in my chest, causing further pain, as they could not escape the rag blocking my mouth.
One of the men then hit me in the stomach with a baseball bat and I couldn't catch my breath. It was at this time; they tied a rope around my wrists and with the use of a ladder, hoisted me up to dangle from the ceiling beam by my wrists. I could feel an excruciating pain in my left shoulder and someone hit me in the back with the same bat and that is all I knew until I woke up, here, in the hospital.
Ray, I, too, knows that it is important for me to deal with the horror of what has happened to me before I can make a full recovery. Because I am convinced that you love me as much as I love you, I am hopeful that, one day, we will be able to have only faint memories of this part of our lives together."
Stefano came in just as he was finishing. "Stef...could...you...uh....save...this?"
Stefano looked over Ben's shoulder at the laptop and saw there was no title. "What do you want to call it, Ben"? "For...R...Ray". Stefano did as he was asked, put the laptop aside and helped Ben grab onto his walker. Stefano was concerned. Ben looked totally exhausted. He took Ben into the bathroom and back into bed, gave him his pills and left him alone. Ben could feel his eyes closing, but he took one more look out the window and instead of seeing a grey, depressing scene, he, now, saw a vista wide open with possibilities.
End Paradise Found Part Three by Vscott
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