Villainous beginnings part 2
“What did you do?” exclaimed Johnny, turning around and violently lunging at his wife. Charlotte screamed and covered her head with her arms, but her cries were cut short when the security guard caught and contained Johnny.
“Hey!” he yelled. “Calm down!” Johnny’s chair fell over in the tussle.
“Let go of me!” Johnny shouted as the guard overpowered him and pushed him against the wall. “She’s killing me son!”
“What are you talking about?” asked the doctor as the guard and Richie kept Johnny in place. “She’s not doing anything! She couldn’t have put the bullet there!” Johnny stopped struggling before the guard could find his gun.
“Alright! Okay, fine,” he insisted, ceasing his resisting. He shot Richie a threatening glare which made him let go. “I’m not comfortable with you in here,” he said, pointing at Richie and beaming him in the eyes. “This is between me and my wife.”
“She’s my sister,” argued Richie, “you can’t make me leave this room.”
“Not if I feel threatened by you bein’ here,” remarked Johnny.
“What are you gettin’ at?” asked Richie.
“I know the laws,” said Johnny. “I feel you’re a danger to my wife, now get out.”
“You can’t be serious!” exclaimed Richie. “Give me one good reas-”
“He’s right,” interrupted the doctor, realizing Johnny’s instability after his outbreak against his wife. “That’s the law here. His wife is the patient, her husband is responsible for her.”
Johnny broke out into a small, evil smile as Richie contested, “So you’re saying I-“
The doctor broke in, “have to leave right now,” he motioned for the security guard, “or we’ll have to remove you by force.” They could all tell that neither the doctor nor the guard agreed with this specific hospital regulation, but neither of them was prepared to lose their jobs for one patient.
“Unbelievable,” said Richie. The guard sighed and approached him. “Whatever, I’m leavin,’” Richie insisted.
“Be right back, honey,” said Johnny elegantly, following Richie out and closing the door. In the empty hallway, Richie shoved him away, and Johnny quickly cocked the gun under his coat and grabbed Richie by the neck, pinning him against the wall with a painful thud.
“Are you serious?” he screamed in a whisper. “What are you trying to get out of this?”
“You are not taking me away from my son, you hear me?” Johnny whispered back threateningly. “I don’t give a shit about you, I don’t give a shit about Charlotte anymore, but my son is mine, you got me?” Richie stood with his hands at head level.
“Alright, I gotcha,” he muttered. Johnny let go of him and the gun.
“He’s seven months in the womb,” said Johnny. “There’s not a bad chance of him livin’ if somethin’ happens to Charlotte a little early.” Richie swallowed his spit, not knowing how to respond to such a threat. “Don’t say anything to anyone and no one’ll get hurt. I just want my son to be born alive.”
“Fine,” agreed Richie reluctantly, “but you listen to the doctor. Don’t be lashin’ out like that.” He pointed to the room as he spoke. A nurse entered the hallway from the elevator.
“Sit tight, buddy,” said Johnny, suddenly cheery. He slapped Richie on the back heartily and added, approaching the door to Charlotte’s room again, “We’ll be outta here in a jiffy.” Johnny reentered the room and closed the door again. “So what do we do?” he asked the doctor.
“You mean you care?” asked the doctor.
“Shut up and answer me,” Johnny replied rudely. “He’s my son. Now, can you remove the bullet?”
The doctor sighed and answered him, “Not right now, it’s located in the left parietal lobe. The damage at this age would be irreparable if he even survived. We could induce labor to get a better look at it, but that’s exceptionally risky.”
“Don’t do that,” said Johnny. He sighed and stroked his chin in thought. The drunkenness had obviously worn off, as his better-known charismatic, quick-thinking persona present only while sober was emerging. “We can’t even afford this care, can we?” he asked Charlotte. “No insurance.”
“Not necessary,” said the doctor. “The case is so strange the hospital is offering free treatment and housing.”
“Nice,” said Johnny greedily, always happy for free things.
The doctor continued, back on the subject of the baby, “Our best bet is to wait until the child is born and then remove it,” said the doctor. “Until something else comes up, anything else we could do would be irresponsible.”
“Okay,” decided Johnny, “we’ll wait. Simple as that.”
“Johnny?” asked Charlotte, breaking her silence.
“Hm?” Johnny replied, not looking at her. The guard stood with his back to the door, and the doctor flipped through some files in the corner. She opened her mouth to speak, but blabbering non-words came out.
“What?” asked Johnny. The doctor turned to observe after hearing the senseless blabbering, and the guard cast an eye in that direction as well. Her eyes closed and she went into convulsions. The doctor ran over to her as her heart monitor flatlined. He held one hand on her forehead and one on her belly, feeling her temperature rise as her face grew red and her abdomen vibrate violently as the baby also aggressively shook.
“You, outta here!” yelled the guard. Johnny ran out and met Richie in the hallway as the guard yelled for a nurse. Several nurses crowded the room’s entrance immediately.
“Let’s get you two to the waiting room,” said one of the nurses, a short, stout black woman. Johnny sighed rudely, and she led them away.
Richie yawned sleepily as Johnny paced the small, square room. Through the window the whole town was visible, aglow in lights, even though it was nearly two o’clock in the morning. Richie sat in an uncomfortable, white plastic chair mounted to the floor by a rod, just one of many, two rows of the same kind of chairs connected side by side and back to back. Johnny poured himself a cup of coffee from the coffee maker and drank it, leaning on the wall next to a water dispenser and the exit, staring at a clock on the wall. “It’s like you really care,” said Richie, rubbing his eyes.
“I do care,” said Johnny. “About my son.” He took a sip of the coffee. “Not that bitch, though.”
“You selfish prick,” sighed Richie. “I told her you were only marrying her for her money, but no, she claimed you loved her.” Johnny chuckled.
“Stupid bitch,” Johnny corrected himself. “Didn’t have to lead her on for but a year before tyin’ the knot.”
“Didn’t take but a year to blow all her money on booze and women, either, did it?” commented Richie. “And what good is she for you now?”
“Nothin’ if my kid ain’t born,” answered Johnny.
“Like you could even take care of a kid,” said Richie. Johnny downed his coffee and threw away the Styrofoam cup, but said nothing.
“Bad news, gentlemen,” said the doctor lowly with more papers as he entered the waiting room. “More bullets.”
“What?!” Johnny and Richie exclaimed simultaneously. As Richie approached them, Johnny held up the papers for them to see.
“And that’s not all,” continued the doctor. “His skull is changing shape. It’s a bit longer and narrower in the front. Not a lot, but it’s noticeable.” The first bullet had moved further back and was now accompanied by two more, all three of them facing the front and equidistant from one another, forming a triangle at endpoints.
Johnny yelled angrily, “What the hell is goin’ on?!”
“We haven’t the slightest idea,” answered the doctor.
“What about Charlotte?” asked Richie. Johnny scowled and rolled his eyes.
“She’s fine,” said the doctor. “First and foremost, be aware, we do not know what is happening to your child. Whatever this is is happening within specific increments of time. Charlotte’s body is just reacting in its own way as the baby reacts each time. Nothing stays wrong with her,” he took the papers back from Johnny, “but the baby is obviously suffering after each spell.”
“Any permanent damage?” asked Johnny. “Or just more bullets to remove?”
“The skull’s change of shape is forcing the brain to shrink as well,” the doctor explained. “He’s lost five percent of his brain mass. It’s not under pressure, it just isn’t there anymore.”
“Can we see Charlotte?” asked Richie.
“That’s up to him,” answered the doctor, motioning to Johnny.
Johnny continued the doctor’s statement, “And the answer’s no.”
Enraged, Richie shouted, “How am I supposed to just stay in this room?!”
“You’re not,” answered Johnny. “You’re takin’ me home.” Both Richie and the doctor stared at him.
“She… wants to see you,” the doctor said quietly.
“Don’t care,” said Johnny simply. He headed out the door and headed for the hospital’s exit. “Come on, Richie!” he yelled. “You can’t see her anyway!”
“Just get him away from her,” the doctor told Richie. “We’re doing all we can for her and the baby. It’s best he just stay away.” Richie sighed and nodded in agreement.
“Call us both if something happens,” he said before following Johnny out.
“Why won’t you stay at the hospital?” asked Richie, speeding down the highway out of town.
“No alcohol,” answered Johnny. “At least, not the kind I need.”
“You don’t need any of it!” shouted Richie.
“Says you,” said Johnny quickly. Just like on the ride there, Johnny held his gun aimed right at Richie the whole way. “Now shut your trap before you make me mad.” He cocked the gun. When they arrived at Johnny’s house it was after three in the morning.
As they pulled up to front porch, Richie said, “You’re not the only one who cares about that baby, you know.” He put the truck in park in front of the house, and they sat for a few minutes.
“Go home, Richie,” Johnny said finally, never removing gun’s aim from the driver. He got out of the truck, holstered his gun, went inside, and went to bed.