I left Pretty Boy’s roof top the same way I got up more or less. There might have been a little falling at the end. But no one saw so it didn’t happen. My phone rang half way home. “Max, it’s late? What’s wrong?”
There was only sobbing on the other end of the phone. “I think I killed him.” The man said, Mr. Wallace was crying and the only thing that ran though my mind was Max was hurt. I don’t think I even hung up the phone as I turned around and dashed the other way. Magnolia Pines wasn’t far from Nox’s place. A few blocks at most. I flew up the stairs to Max’s apartment, the door was already open and there was paramedics lifting Max on their gurney and I rushed over to him. There was a slight bruised smile on his face when he saw me. At least he was alive. I rounded on Mr. Wallace and he was curled up in the corner of the couch while the cops spoke to him.
I interrupted. “Mr. Wallace didn’t mean it.”
“Don’t make excuses for the violence in men son.” The officer said.
“No I mean he really didn’t mean it. He’s a combat vet, he saw some shit over there, where ever there was and once and a while Max will bring back those memories by dropping something. He wasn’t here. He just needs help. You can’t arrest him. He really didn’t mean it.” I pleaded with him. Max didn’t need an absentee father, as much as they fought, they needed each other. “Please. Let me call Mr. Durante. He deals with the VA and other situations like this. Max will stay with me.” I looked at Mr. Wallace. “He’ll stay with me until we get things worked out. Max will be fine, and you can get better. I got Max.”
Mr. Wallace looked at me with tears in his eyes and nodded. The officer said. “Call him now and see if we can get him in an facility ASAP.”
I could have called Nox to get his number, but I already knew his Dad’s cell. I’d already known he was a resource to help Max and his dad when they were ready and the phone call from his Dad was a clear message. Mr Durante answered his cell phone sleepily, “Can I help you?”
“Mr. Durante, my name is Alex, I’m a friend of Nox’s, he said that you handle Vets and alcoholics and troubles they two can bring on together. Mr. Wallace is ready for that help now.” Mr. Durante had approached them already.
“What happened?” he asked more awake than before. He muttered to his wife sleeping next to him but I didn’t understand what he said. And then I could hear him moving around his house getting things together.
“He hurt Max. Max is going to the hospital. But he’s ready to work I think, this was too close of a call for him.”
“I’m on my way. I’ll make a few calls right now, but Mr. Wallace will get the help he needs. And what about Max? That was the biggest reason they wouldn’t…”
I cut him off, “Max will stay with me when he’s out of the hospital, until Mr. Wallace has a handle on things again. So he can stay in whatever place you got for him, I got Max. My parents have offered many times over to help him out. They won’t mind.”
“I know they won’t. Good folks, the Kennedy’s.”
I hadn’t given him my last name. “How…”
Mr. Durante laughed, “You sound just like your pops. A good man. You should go check on Max, make sure all is well with him. I’ll meet you at the hospital after Mr. Wallace is settled. The officers can watch him, no need for another teenage boy to go into the hospital tonight.”
“Yes, sir.” I hung up the phone and looked at the officer. “Mr. Durante is on his way.” I looked at Mr. Wallace again. “I’m going to go stay with Max. You take care of yourself, I’ll watch Max till you get back.”
He patted my hand and I smiled at him. He was a good man. Life was hard on him. And the drinking only made it worse. Sober he was a great man. He just needed that reminder. Hopefully Mr. Durante could help there.
I spent the night and the half the day waiting for Max to get out of surgery. He’d been beaten so bad that a rib had punctured a lung and he was going to be in pain for a long time to come. It was lunch by the time I got in to see him, and my phone had long since died. Max was groggy and on a lot of pain meds but he greeted me with a smile. “How’s my Dad?”
“I called Mr. Durante and he’s gonna get him some help. Your dad was so scared he called me.”
“Is he gonna be okay? They didn’t hurt him did they?”
I shook my head, “He’ll be okay. He was fine when I left him. Mr. Durante came by and said that they were going to take him to Chickory Hills down across the county line. He’s on a 30 day program.”
Max nodded but it looked like it hurt to move. “Can I go see him?”
“When you get out we’ll go see him.”
“Good. I want to tell him I’m not mad at him.”
“He knows Max. I think that’s why he’s ready to go too.”
Max smiled, “So how did things go with Nox?”
I rolled my eyes. “You don’t need to know about that. But it went well.”
“Has he called yet?” Max asked.
I shrugged, “My phone’s been dead since before lunch.”
“You should go home and get changed. You look like shit.”
I probably did. I had called my parents from the hospital phone because I needed to tell them where I was. And the nurse let me do that so there wasn’t an APB put out on me. But I hadn’t changed, or showered since the prior morning, and I’d as good as missed the entire day of school.
Max smiled at me, “I’ll be okay. You can come back after school tomorrow. One of us has to go.”
I sighed, “You sure?”
“Yes. Go and when you come back I want to know what you and Nox did last night and tonight.”
“None of your business.” I said as I walked to the door.
I stopped in the door as Max teased, “You’ll tell me.”
“We’ll see.” I said, “My parents will come check in on you, and Mr. Durante said he’d stop by to make sure you had everything you needed.”
Max nodded, “Thanks Alex.”
“Don’t mention it.” I gave him a good smile. “And I mean don’t mention it.” I smirked as I headed out the door. Max was like a brother to me. I hated he had to go through this, but he wouldn’t go through it alone.