Stories Hub / Incest/Taboo / Helping Mickey Ch. 01

Helping Mickey Ch. 01

by wakingDown 12/28/12

Mickey stood on the balcony, snow piling on his shoulders, the slight breeze tugging slightly at his t-shirt. Susan saw him out there as she came out of the bathroom. She knew he liked to stand out there and watch the cars below, but she didn't know he liked it enough to do so barefoot, wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt and nothing else in twenty-five degree weather. She started forward to bring him inside, but paused when she saw the lift and fall of his shoulders. She was pretty sure he was crying. She walked over quietly, and leaned against the frame of the glass door, just watching. His feet were bright red, his arms pale, and what she could see of his ears and the side of his face, red and pale up there as well. She tried to figure out how long he might have been standing out there. The closest she could figure was between five and fifteen minutes. Not long, but long enough in that kind of cold to start being harmful.

She slid the door open and called his name. When he didn't respond she reached out and tugged on his sleeve. He turned slowly and she saw the tears frozen on his cheeks, his lips almost blue, his eyes red rimmed and sunken in an otherwise ashen face, his ears bright red.

"Come inside. It's too cold out there." She said simply, her brow furrowed with concern.

"It's always cold." He replied as he stepped inside. She shut the door and brushed the snow from his hair and shoulders. He stood just inside the door, head down, and shook. Susan put a hand to his back and gently guided him to the couch and sat him down. She went to get him some dry clothes, trying to keep her own tears in check as she did. She gathered pants and a long sleeve shirt and socks, all the while cursing whatever fate had left her brother this shocked and empty shell. She entered the living room and saw that he had not moved. This was normal. She had seen him sit without moving for periods up to ten hours. His head was down, but his tears had stopped. He asked him to change his clothes and he did. He moved slowly, as he always did. She tossed his wet clothes into the hamper and joined him on the couch. She sat with her head on his shoulder, holding his hand like she usually did, like she always had when they were kids. The TV was on some Christmas special, the volume down, as some inner city kid was learning the true meaning of Christmas from an old man while whisking magically between scenes of different families being happy and perfectly functional.

"Cold. Cold outside. Cold inside. Ice and iron skies." He muttered.

"No. Warm inside." She answered gently, thinking for the thousandth time that responding to these blank statements may help and may do nothing, that she certainly didn't know. The doctors said that it was good, that it would help his brain heal by stimulation cognitive function, but that didn't keep the feeling of trying to talk to a haunted Magic 8-Ball at bay.

She felt his hand tighten on hers for a moment. She took that as a good sign, as she usually did. That was something the old Mickey had done often, answering with those squeezes instead of words. She responded in kind, a few squeezes with different pauses in between. They had once been able to communicate in this fashion, when they were little. Over time, it seemed that the intuitive grasp of the meaning of each sequence faded, but they had been able to convey simple emotions and feelings this way until the attack.

"White hallway." He whispered. One of the many phrases that he repeated that she did not understand the meaning of.

"What hallway?" She asked, looking up to his face. On his right side, she had a clear view of the scar that climbed his temple, dragging a hairless line across the side of his head.

"Not what. White." He answered. This was as close to an answer as he would give, but she asked most of the time, hoping the doctors were right about stimulating his mind.

She slumped her head back down on his shoulder when he remained silent. She let her mind wander. She ran the night over and over in her mind. What she could have done differently. What he could have done differently. Why it had to happen at all. He had survived three tours in the Middle East in four years of service on the Marines. At the end of his first contract, he had been denied re-enlistment because of a torn ligament in his knee from playing football with his Company one weekend. He had come home and gotten a good job as a district manager for a large shipping company, living in a home he was renting, paying off a new car, and generally being pretty successful in life. He talked to her almost every day, same with their mother. They all got together at mom's place for Christmas and thanksgiving. She had been living in this apartment, working in an office building as an accounts manager for a credit union, good hours, and great pay. Then last year, it all went to hell.

She had met Mickey at a café in town for an afternoon of shopping for mom's birthday. They had walked through the various stores, talking and laughing. It had been a wonderful day, until the evening. As he was walking her back to the parking structure where her car was, they passed a small alley. A hand shot out and grabbed her arm, tight as a vice. She was thrown against the brick wall as the man hissed a demand for her purse. Her head smacked the brick pretty hard, and she saw stars. Mickey didn't hesitate. He lunged at the man, arms out. The man swung the small metal club in his other hand, hitting Mickey in the temple. She heard the crunch of his skull fracturing. She screamed and pushed forward, tripping over the dropped shopping bags, and fell into the attacker more than anything. She was shoved aside. She saw Mickey stumble to his feet as she fell. His eyes were pointing in two different directions. The man swung the club again, smashing his shoulder. When Mickey took another step towards the man, he reached behind his back and pulled out the gun.

Mickey grabbed for it, but his hands were slow and clumsy. The man shot him, point blank, in the middle of his forehead. Mickey dropped. They man took off then, running down the alley. He still hadn't been caught. The police and ambulance arrived quickly.

At the hospital Susan and her mother had sat in the waiting room for twelve hours through the first round of surgeries. When the doctor came out, they feared the worst. He told them not to hope too much. Most of his skull had to be replaced with titanium plates. He told them that the club had sent fractures throughout half of his skull, and that the forty caliber slug had shattered that and fractured most of the rest. The bullet had passed through the small gap between the hemispheres of his brain, but had done plenty of damage in doing so. He described the effect like the wake from a boat on the water. The water being his brain, being thrown against the broken shell of his skull, the boat being a 165 grain bullet travelling at around 1150 feet per second. He called it Hydrostatic shock. He told them that Mickey was in a chemically induced coma, and that many more operations were in his immediate future if he lived. The doctor called it a miracle that he was alive at all.

Throughout the next three months, Mickey had several surgeries, and was only awake a total of twenty minutes, during which he did not even open his eyes. When the coma was ended, Susan and mom were right there, waiting for him in his room. The doctor had warned them that the brain damage was extensive, and to not expect anything like the 'Old Michael' to be there.

Mickey slowly opened his right eye, moving only his eyelid and eyeball, and looked around. Susan had taken one hand, their mother the other. Mickey rolled his eye slowly back and forth between them. His jaw creaked open and he said his first words. They did not know it, but these words would be heard from him often, and remain a puzzle.

"White. Hallway." He rasped, that one eye rolling in its socket.

Their mother burst into tears. Susan just smiled, happy that he was able to say anything.

Their mother did not take his condition well. She fell into a deep depression. In the four months between then and his release, she had visited him often, but her outlook was bleak. In an attempt to brighten her a bit, their aunt had taken her on a road trip along the coast. Two days before they were to return, an eighteen wheel truck had crossed the yellow line, the driver asleep. Their mother and aunt didn't have a chance. They died upon impact, their small rented sedan shredded and smashed by the truck.

Susan and Mickey were the only remaining relatives, and inherited both estates. It paid the medical bills, and left enough that they would not have to worry about working for quite a few years. But Susan didn't care about the money or property. She had lost her family. Nearly all of it. All she had left now was this fraction of her brother, a piece of her twin. She would not let herself succumb to depression the way her mother did, though she could understand why her mother did. She resolved to remain strong for her brother. She would not let his injuries keep her from caring for him. She had him released into her care, and moved him into her apartment. She sold the two homes from their inheritance and invested the proceeds in low risk stocks for the future. She oversaw his physical therapy, working closely with his doctors, learning all that she could about how to care for him. He recovered to a state of semi-self-capability rather quickly, given his injuries. He quickly learned how to dress, bathe, feed himself, and such. His communication was still pretty muddled. He understood most things, but when he tried to speak, it was all jumbled and confused. Susan could see in his eyes when he spoke to her that he was trying very hard figure out how to reach her again. She had helped him learn how to walk and manipulate things in his environment again, but she seemed unable to help him relearn how to think.

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