Synopsis:  Jason deals with the aftermath of the previous nights events.

”Go ahead, baby, it’s your day.  Birthday number eight,” mom said with a smile.  “I know you want to.”

Ordinarily I would put up a bit of a fight about being called “baby”.  All my friends were there, but she was right I wanted to put on some tunes. Walking over to the stereo I turned it on and began to make sure that everything was working right and that it hadn’t shorted out.  I worked on it yesterday to make sure that everything was going to be perfect.

It powered up without incident which made me smile.  We spent the last several nights making mix tapes.  Ninety-minute cassettes so we knew we would have enough music for the party and afterwards while we cleaned up.  She asked what I wanted.  I told her that I wanted a party.  She laughed and said what present did I want. I told her again a present.  If she knew someone who knew someone Batman showing up would be cool or Robin. That would be sweet, but party was at the top of the list.  It was always a party. I never had one.  I wanted to have one.  I had been to a few, and they were fun.  I had a good time at most of them so why not.

The only thing I requested is that I got to select all the music which was easy, because she knew where I was headed with it.  It meant that we would have to make sure that we got the songs off her records.  There were some that we grabbed from the radio reach required expert timing.  It took us a few days, but we got it all and now it was time to get the apartment rocking.

With the stereo working we were in business.  We had gotten the stereo years ago before I was born.  At least that’s what my parents told me.  My friends said it was ancient.  It was from the eighties. It had a turn table and everything, but it was the best thing in the world to me.   Today there weren’t any records being played.  It was all cassettes today.  No turning it to the radio either. Everyone already knew that I was the DJ and they knew what that meant, eighties classic.

Pressing the play button on the tape deck could help bobbing my head when the guitar rift started.  Soon I was rocking my body to it and the strum of a bassline that joined it.  It’s familiar.  One that I have heard before one of my favorites.

[The deception with tact
Just what are you trying to say
You’ve got a blank face, which irritates
Communicate, pull out your party piece
You see dimensions in two
State your case with black or white
But when one little cross
Leads to shots, grit your teeth
You run for cover so discreet
Why don’t they]

Where was I?  Cloud nine moving my body to the beat of the music as music blasted through the apartment and I was off doing my eighties dance moves that mom had taught me.  Complete with my own spin of course.

[Do what they say
Say what you mean
One thing leads to another
You told me something wrong
I know I listen too long
But then one thing leads to another]

Our favorite part of the song was about to come out which meant that I needed to grab my mom.  Looking around she was no where in sight. She was probably in the kitchen.  I made my through the room smiling at some of my friends who showed up.  I waved to a neighbor or two making my way to the kitchen.  Not finding her there I turned around in time with the music and headed in the other direction.  Hips shaking along the way as I made my way to her room.

“Hey mom…”

[The impression that you sell
Passes in and out like a scent
But the long face that you see
Comes from living close to your fears
If this is up, then I’m up
But you’re running out of sight
You’ve seen your name on the walls
And when one little bump
Leads to shock miss a beat
You run for cover and there’s heat
Why don’t they]

There’s a smile on my face, but hers doesn’t quite match.  She was startled and there’s a nervous look in her eye.  One that’s reminiscent of when my father decides to share his brand of wisdom.

“Mom?”  She slides the baggie away, while my Aunt Gloria smiles at me.

“Hey birthday man.  Eight years old today.  Gonna get all the candles out.”   My eyes immediately shift towards the man that walked past us.


My eyes flutter and I find myself staring at the window closest to the bed that I’ve been placed in.  The first thing that I notice is that it smells…well clean is one word for it.  Disinfectant. It assaults the nose alerting me to the fact that I’m definitely not in my room nor am I in any place that’s familiar.  I’ve been in Dr. Thompkin’s clinic before.  She used disinfectant, but it didn’t smell like this.   The bed was…it wasn’t uncomfortable, but it wasn’t comfortable either.  There were rails on it.


Wetting my lips, I look down at the little clip that’s on my finger and the band around my arm. My eyes look towards everything tat I’m hooked up too and immediately I start to frown.  How did I get here?  Why am I here?  Most importantly my father’s voice steps in.  I can’t pay for this. What ever this is.  I start to slide up and one of the machines beeps and immediately the band around my arm starts to inflate tightening around it as my blood pressure is taken.

I also have a needle I my arm and immediately I start to want to pull at it.   I’m literally clawing at it when the someone appears at my door way.

“Jason,” she sounds alarmed not that I’m awake, that I’m like a feral cat trying to tear the needle out.

The woman steps quickly to my side pushing me back down forcefully, but gently.  “It’s okay. It’s okay.”  Staring up at the woman my eyes were quite wide, wild even.

Then started talking.  It wasn’t a Charlie Brown moment no, nothing like that, instead it sounded distant and far away.  Her eyes remained focused on mine as she spoke and slowly the sound of her voice got closer to the point that I took in everything the said.

<i>Antibiotics.  Dehydrate.  Slightly malnourished. </i>

I listened to everything Dr. Thompkins had to say the rapid rise and fall my chest slowly changing to nice steady even breathing.  My heart rate was down sadly the blood pressure monitor said that I was high risk, but I think we both know there’s a reason for that.

I also take in a few other things.

Unconscious for almost three days.  Exhaustion.  Concussion.  Bruising along the abdomen.  No permanent injury.  Take it easy.

Usually there’s a smile after that.  Something even if there’s a hint.  If I had to choose a word for the expression on Dr. Thompkin’s I would chose three.  First there was relief, but then it moved to regret.  Finally, she looked a bit grim.

“Where’s my mom?”

Don’t pull at it, boy.  Rip it off.  Be done with it.  Words of wisdom from my father.

“I want to see my mother.”

There was a moment of awkward silence that was broken by me.

“I know. I remember.  I’m not in shock, but I want to see her.”  I need to see her.

Had it been anyone else there might have been an argument, but there were no arguments. There was a moment of prolonged of silence between us before Dr. Thompkins acknowledged my request with a nod.  I would have to get checked out of course, but after all that was done I was officially granted my request.  It was better to acquiesce and grant the request.  The last thing anyone wanted was a scene, because there would be one.

It took a bit, because I wanted to clean up some.    I had been laying in bed for the better part of three days. I was a little sore, but I didn’t mind the pain. I didn’t complain. I didn’t want anything for it. Pain meant I wasn’t dead, but it also meant that I wasn’t doped up.

It took a little over thirty minutes, because I had to deal with the IV, but I got dressed in a gown and robe and slipped on those socks they give you.  Maybe I’ll be able to get a few pair out of them. They were pretty warm.

All and all I was taking it all in stride.  Shock..I don’t know.  Maybe it had arrived either way I slipped into the wheelchair when it arrived.  Not that I needed it, but I did not have a choice.  Concessions had to be made.  The hospital didn’t want to be liable if I happen to fall on their watch. What am I? A grifter?

However, it was Dr. Thompkins that wheeled me to where we needed to go. I didn’t have a problem with it. The employee from transportation started to pitch a fit, but I tugged on his shirt and give him sad eyes and told him that it was okay that Dr. Thompkins was a family friend, and this was a time for family.

It sounded better than I was going to go see my dead mom and the doctor was the only person I trusted in this place.  So, could he not be a shit about this.

See choices.  I can make them.

The trip to our destination was a long one.  It was also a silent one.  We really didn’t need to speak.  There wasn’t anything that needed to be said. We both knew what happened.  How many times, had I shown up at Dr. Thompkin’s clinic with my mother in tow?

No, there didn’t need to be words.  There was an understanding.  There was so many things that I could say, but to no one in particular.  Sorry, no poetry slams here.  Only the deep understanding that this was in the DNA of Gotham.  We were the center of the cancer.  All at once we were a symptom, cause and face of the cancer that continued to metastasize throughout the city.

So, no there were no words.  There was nothing there was silence as I was wheeled from one corridor to the next.  The transportation representative was there with us just in case.  We stepped onto the elevator and went down.  Down. Down. Down to the depths of the hospital to the last place anyone wanted to go.   Any normal person, but these weren’t normal times were they.

Upon reaching the basement the doors open and I was pushed out until we reached our destination.

Strange that we were here and not at the coroners.  I suspect the doctor had something to do with this.   One less body for the police to worry about. It had been three days. It probably luck that she wasn’t ashes in box yet.

Not cynical. Just practical.  Maybe that’s worse?

When the door was open the attendant looked towards Dr. Thompkins.   He was expecting us so there was no discussion about why a patient was here.  Truth be told this was no the first time that I have done this.

My eyes shifted left than right before I was on the move again towards the room where I could view the body.  The door was opened, and I held up my hand.  I was capable of standing.

No words, they were unnecessary.  It moved to my feet and stepped inside of the room.  Dr. Thompkins made a move, but I shook my head.   I needed a moment.  She didn’t push she let the door close.   Once it clicked I turned towards the gurney that my mother had been placed on.

The sheet had been turned down already.  I want to say she looked peaceful, but she didn’t.  There wasn’t anything physically out of place. It’s just that her eyes. I couldn’t see them.  There was no smile.  She was gone.   This truly was nothing more than a shell.  At least that’s what it felt like.

Lifting my arm to press a finger to the corner of my eye I rubbed at it while releasing the air from my lungs.

Reaching out I smoothed out her hair shutting my eyes letting the air in the room settle.  Slowly I began to bob my head to the guitar rift that plays in my head followed by the bass line.

”The deception with tact, just what are you trying to say, you’ve got a blank face, which irritates. Communicate, pull out your party piece, you see dimensions in two, state your case with black or white. But when one little cross, leads to shots, grit your teeth, you run for cover so discreet, why don’t they.<

Don’t forget the hip shake.

”Do what they say.  Say what you mean.  One thing leads to another.  You told me something wrong I know I listen too long, but then one thing leads to another.

Outside of the room Dr. Thompkins waited leaning against the wall next to the door.

“Is he?”  The attendant and the transportation tech looked at one of another then towards Leslie who didn’t open her eyes. She nodded twice the continued to bob her head to the sound of the singing coming from behind the door.