Live for Me by Andy Deats

Live for Me
Part Three
I'd like to send a big thank you to Ronyx and Grant Bentley, who helped me to get to the point that I'm at now. Also, to my friends Eli, Ashley, Tiffany, Tasha, and George: Thanks for supporting me through everything and inspiring me to write more. I love you guys so much! And, last but not least, I'd like to thank you for reading this and e-mailing me your thoughts on my first-ever story.


Tasha stood up and kissed Rusty's cheek and both she and Michael kissed me on the forehead on their way out the door. Even though there were now two empty chairs in the room, Rusty continued to sit on the edge of my bed. “Do you need anything?” he asked.

“Just a lot of answers,” I responded bluntly.

“Ask away,” he responded. A hint of nervousness played at the edge of his voice, and I definitely noticed that.

“Are we boyfriends?” Rusty acted a lot like he was my boyfriend, but nobody had said that he was. While I knew Rusty to be gay, I wasn't sure about Michael. I did know that I felt a strange attraction to Michael, while being unsure of my feelings towards Rusty.

“Honestly? I'm not really sure.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, we kissed the night you got attacked. But you ran off right afterwards, and that's when it happened.”

“What about Michael? Is he gay too?”

Rusty shrugged. “I don't know. I only met him today. But I really doubt it. He's far too masculine.” His voice seemed strange through this entire conversation, and I had a feeling that he was hiding something from me.

Rusty stayed with me the rest of that day. Something about him relaxed me, and it seemed very easy to have a conversation with the attractive teen. A while after Michael and Tasha left, I announced to Rusty that I needed to get to the bathroom. Earlier in the day, I had tried to stand with the help of some doctors and realized that my legs were very weak at that point. “Need some help?” he offered.

“You just wanna see my dick,” I teased him.

“Do you kiss your boyfriend with that fucking mouth?”

“Only if he's lucky.”

“Maybe you should wash it out first,” he teased.

“With soap?”

“Nah.” His smirk turned in to a laugh that soon took both of us over.

“Just help me get to the bathroom, please.” He stood up and helped me to slowly rise from my bed. I draped my arm over his neck as he wrapped his longer arm around my waist. I leaned gently into him, and started walking on unsteady legs.

“Just take your time,” he coached. “No need to rush and hurt yourself.” I took a few steps before almost collapsing, and Rusty stopped with me when he felt me struggle before I leaned on him again. “Just take your time, dear,” he whispered in my ear. “Let me know when you're ready.” I took another step, and Rusty walked forward with me. He didn't rush me at all, and I thanked him for that mentally. He got me to the bathroom and turned the light on before going back into the main room.

I did what I had to do, and stood up using the small sink for support. I washed my hands by myself and flushed before calling out Rusty's name. He opened the door quickly, and saw me leaning over the sink. “You ok?” he asked, quickly helping me to lean on him again.

“I'm fine.” I was panting rather heavily from the exertion, though, and was starting to get pretty mad at myself. I didn't want to be dependent on Rusty or anybody else. I wanted to be strong again. To be normal.

Rusty helped me back to my bed and into a lying position before sitting on the armchair that he had positioned next to the head of my bed. When I commented on how sweet that was, he responded that he wanted to be nearer the remote for when I fell asleep.

The next thing I knew after lying back down, I was awakened by Michael and Rusty talking to each other. “Yeah, I'm sure,” I heard Michael say. “You've been here since he was found. You need to take a break. And I'd like to spend some time with him; he is as much my cousin as Gabe was.”

“Well, ok, but I'm only going home to take a shower and maybe a quick nap. I'll be back within a few hours.” I looked at the two of them and they suddenly noticed that I was awake and listening to them. “Is that ok with you, Jerry?” Rusty asked. I nodded, and he kissed my forehead before leaving.

Michael sat by my bed in the armchair that Rusty had put there. “You ok, dude?” he asked softly. I nodded and forced a smile at him. I was actually missing Rusty and kind of wished that he had stayed instead of Michael.

“I'm ok. Just a little confused.”

“Well, if you have any questions that I could answer, I will. We know each other pretty well.”

“And how is that?” I asked.

“Well, like I said yesterday, Gabe was my cousin. But we were more like brothers, and since you and he were best friends, you spent a lot of time at our house.” I continued to look at him, unsure of what to say.

“So we were all good friends?” I asked after an awkward silence. Another pause followed.

“Yeah, basically,” he replied.

“Basically?” I asked.

“Yeah, we were all friends.” I noted a slight tinge of sadness at the edge of his voice. I chalked it up to missing Gabe.

“So how long ago was it that Gabe passed?” I asked softly.

“He was murdered on Friday. It's been just over a week,” he answered.

“That's not very long.”

“No... it's not.”

Our conversation ended there, and we turned our attention to the TV in the corner. The program he picked, however, was boring, and it didn't take long for my attention to drift from the show to Michael. He was definitely an attractive man, and he had beautiful eyes. I couldn't help but wonder if I liked him before I lost my memory. Something about him seemed very familiar and I felt like I was starting to fall for him, if I hadn't already done so. But he never mentioned being gay or having any sort of feelings like that for me.

“So, can I ask you a question?” I asked softly as the show went to a commercial break.

“Sure, go ahead,” he responded kindly.

“You're not married, right?”

“Right. How did you remember that?”

“I've got parts of my long-term memory,” I explained to him. “I've got parts of my short-term memory too. I can remember quite a bit, but some things are just... gone.” He nodded solemnly, and I continued. “So why aren't you married yet? You're old enough.”

“I know,” he told me with a chuckle. “I just haven't found the right girl yet, not one that I'd like to settle down with.”

“So, you do like girls?” I asked. He laughed at that, but stopped when he must have seen that I was slightly offended by that.

“Yes. I like girls. Gabe was gay, but I'm straight as an arrow.” I smiled at him, but was a little bit hurt. I didn't want him to be straight.

“So do you have a girlfriend?” I asked him.

“Not yet, but hopefully soon.”

“Oh yeah? Who's that?” I inquired.

“Well you know that Tasha girl...?”

After many tests and a lot of medicine, I was released from the hospital on Wednesday, signed out to Michael's care. I had to be released into somebody's care who was over the age of eighteen and, since my parents couldn't have cared less when people told them about me being attacked, Michael signed for me with his parents’ permission. They still wanted me to live with them, they said. I wanted to get out though. I didn't want to be a bother, and I knew that that's exactly what I was.

Michael, Rusty, and Tasha were all there when I was released. Michael rolled a wheelchair up to my bed, and Rusty helped me scoot over into it. I remained silent through the whole thing. “You ok?” Rusty asked me, concerned. He had learned that whenever I was quiet for very long, something was usually upsetting me.

“I'm fine,” I lied.

“No you're not,” he said bluntly. “What's the matter?”

“I don't wanna talk about it,” I told him tersely. “I don't want to dump all my problems on you, ok? I'm tired of being a sad-sack charity case. So just drop it and let things be, ok?”

“Babe, please... tell me.” Rusty put his hand on my shoulder as the three of them walked and pushed me along. I shrugged his shoulder off and grabbed the wheels of my chair.

“I'm not your 'babe’,” I snapped at him. I started to push myself away down the hallway, and Michael grabbed the handles on the back of my chair.

“Jerry, talk to us. Please.”

“Let me go!” I yelled at him. I started thrashing around in my wheelchair, trying to loosen his grip on me. “I don't wanna fucking talk!” My screams echoed down the empty hallways, and I was sure that all of the other patients heard me. I didn't care. I started pushing myself down the hallway, and Michael's grip loosened on my chair so that I could get away.

I rolled down the hallway, feeling the tears forming in my eyes burning. I closed my eyes as tightly as I could, and felt myself stop suddenly. I opened my eyes to realize that I was at the end of the hallway, looking out the window out over the hospital parking lot. I just sat there looking, thinking, and trying not to cry. “Jay, what's the matter?” I heard Michael talking behind me, but I ignored him and stared forward. “Jay, please.” His voice was softer now, and he knelt by my left side. “Jay, I wanna help you. Tasha does too. And so do my parents. But we can't help you unless you help us to help you.” Again, I ignored him. “Jay,” he said softly after about a minute of silence. I heard tears in his voice, and had to blink back some of my own.

“I don't want to be a bother anymore,” I told him. “I don't want to live off of you and your parents. I don't want you and Rusty giving up your lives to stay in the hospital with me. I don't want you pitying me anymore.” I took a break to blink back some tears. He tried to rub my arm, but I pulled it away from him. “I'm moving out tonight.”

“Jay, you can't. You don't have anywhere to go. You don't have anything to do to make money. You don't have anything.”

“Thanks for fucking reminding me,” I snapped. “But living off of you and your parents isn't gonna be any better for me.”

“Jay, stop this. This is your problem. You worry about other people too much. You need to stop living for other people, and start living for yourself.” I shut my eyes tightly again, holding back the tears as best I could, but I felt a few roll out anyway. A thumb lightly brushed them off, but I pushed it away. I opened my eyes, expecting it to be Michael, but instead I saw Rusty.

“Jerry, he's right. You're too good of a person.” I forced a smile, and he chuckled slightly. “You worry about other people too much. All you ever talk about is being a bother to other people, and how whatever you do affects others. You need to stop that, and start looking out for number one.”

“Who?” I asked. He poked a thin finger into my chest and smirked.

“You, silly.” I forced a smirk.

“I'll try,” I said. In all honesty, I knew that I wouldn't be able to change something that was that big of a part of me.

“Promise?” Michael asked, holding out his pinky to me. I hooked it in mine, then crossed my heart with my pinky. He grinned at me as Rusty and he stood up. “You ready to go, Jay?' I nodded, and he pushed me back down the hallway to the elevator.

The four of us entered the elevator and Michael pushed the button to take us down to the ground floor. I sat silently in my wheelchair even as we passed doctors and nurses who wished me well. I still wasn't feeling right about living with the Lorenzes, but I didn't want to say anything to hurt Michael's feelings.

He wheeled me out to his SUV, and Rusty helped me to stand and climb into the backseat. He took the seat on the other side as Michael and Tasha climbed into the front. I rested my head back against the rest and closed my eyes pretending to sleep. “Jerry?” Rusty asked me after a few minutes. I stayed silent. ”Do you think he'll be ok, Michael?”

“He'll be fine,” Michael responded. “He's always been emotional. It's just how he is. I'll keep an eye on him and help him out, don't worry about it.”

“Please do,” Rusty said back to him.

“You like him, don't you, Rusty?” Tasha asked him.

“It's just... it's been a while since I've been around somebody like him. I can't even remember the last time I fell for somebody this fast.”

“Why don't you tell him?” She asked. “It's not like you to not tell people things.” I heard Rusty sigh softly.

“I can't. After everything that he's been through, the last thing he needs right now is a boyfriend. Especially one like me.” He laughed solemnly. “I don't want him to get hurt any more, and I'm not good for him. In fact, maybe I just shouldn't hang around at all.”

“Don't you dare leave him,” Michael said tersely. “We're all he has right now. And without you, he probably wouldn't be coming home today. If you leave now, he'd be more hurt than anything that you could possibly do by sticking around.” I felt us turn and the SUV started slowing down, so I knew that we were going down the driveway towards Michael's house. “Just promise me you'll stay, ok, Rusty?”


A few minutes after I was sure their conversation had ended, I raised my head up and slowly opened my eyes. “Are we almost there?” I asked in a groggy voice.

“Just about,” Tasha told me from the front seat. “I'm kinda excited to see your house, Mikey.”

“Mikey?” I asked, holding back a laugh. “Nobody calls you Mikey.” Michael shot me a look through the rear-view mirror, and I quickly shut up.

“I wish I had time to give you the grand tour, but we have to get Jerry settled back in,” Michael said to her.

“I can help with that,” Rusty offered. “You two love birds go and have your fun.”

“You sure?” Michael asked, a little bit too much eagerness in his voice. I looked at Rusty and pantomimed shooting myself, causing him to laugh.

“Yeah, I can handle him.”

We pulled into the garage at the end of the driveway, and the three of them got out quickly. I opened my door, and Rusty and Michael were both standing there to help me climb out.

“Guys, I can do this,” I said. “I'm gonna be walking at school tomorrow, and you two aren't gonna be there to help me stand. Besides, I got most of my leg strength back.” I stepped slowly down from the SUV and faltered a bit. Rusty was there to help me, but I grabbed onto the open door instead. “Rust, I got this.”

“Maybe you shouldn't go back to school tomorrow,” he said, obviously worried about me.

“Rusty, I'll be fine. I promise.” I gave him an adamant look, and saw that he wasn't going to protest anymore.

“If you two wanna go on now, I'll take Jerry in to the guest room,” Rusty told Michael and Tasha.

“Ok, let me know if you need anything,” Michael said as he and Tasha walked off.

I walked to the front door, Rusty walking by my side. “You know, you can go hang out with them,” I told him. “I really don't need any help.”

“Oh, is that what you want?” he asked sadly.

“No, it's not that,” I said hurriedly. “I just didn't want you to feel like you had to help me.” I said as I opened the door and walked inside.

“Jerry, I'm not sticking around out of guilt. If it was just guilt that kept me around, I wouldn't have taken you to the show. I wouldn't have been at the hospital with you all that time. I wouldn't be here in the foyer telling you that I love you.” He stopped as soon as he said it, locking up in shock. I just stood there staring at him, unable to believe what he said.

“Wh... what did you say?” I asked softly. He looked down at the floor, blinking quickly.

“Nothing. Just forget it,” he said quickly. By the time I had a chance to react, he had walked out the front door. I followed after him on weak legs and saw him get into his car.

“Rusty, wait!” I called out to him. He ignored me as his car turned around and he sped down the long driveway. I watched him go, then sat on the porch and pulled my knees to my chest. Michael and Tasha walked around the corner, his arm around her waist as they laughed.

“Where's Rusty?” Michael asked. I raised my head from where it was resting on my knees and looked at him.

“He drove off,” I responded softly.

“Why?” Tasha asked. “What happened?”

“He told me he loved me.” I saw their reactions were about the same as mine was, mostly shock with a lot of confusion. “I didn't know what to say to that right away, and he ran off.” I stood up and looked at Tasha. “Do you know where he could be going?” She shook her head.

“Any number of places, really.”

“Well, where does he live?” I asked.

“He has an apartment over on Dahlia Lane,” she told me.

“Get in,” Michael commanded.


“I'm going to take you to go find Rusty.” He grabbed his car keys from his pocket and opened the car door for me. I climbed into the back as he and Tasha got into the front.

Michael's driving was never what you would call the safest, technically speaking, but anytime he was in a rush, it got even worse. He was definitely in a hurry on the way over to Rusty's, and it showed. I was grabbing onto the seats at times to keep from sliding across it, even though I was buckled in. Eventually we arrived at the Oak Ridge Apartments building and I didn't know whether to kiss the ground or look around for Rusty's car first. I decided to look for his car, and got out quickly.

I walked all through the parking lot, scanning for Rusty's beat-up old car, but saw no sign of it. “It's not here,” I told Tasha.

“He may just not be here yet,” she responded. “The way this maniac drives, I wouldn't be surprised if we beat him here.” She giggled as she said it, but stopped when she saw my serious expression. “Jerry, he'll be ok. I can tell you're worried about him, but he's done this before. He gets emotional and drives around for a little bit. He'll either do that or come back here and paint. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go to the restroom.”

“Where do you plan on doing that?” Michael asked as she got out of the car.

“I have a key to his apartment.” She walked towards the building, and I followed her.

“Can I come in, too?” I asked. “Like, wait for Rusty to make sure he gets here ok?” She nodded.

“Well, I'm gonna go grab some dinner for us then,” Michael told the two of us. He drove off and we walked into Rusty's apartment, number 2B.

The apartment was surprisingly clean, but all the furniture looked rather aged. It didn't look like a thing in the living room was out of place. A tattered couch sat against one wall, opposite a small television. Only a low counter separated the living room from the equally clean kitchen. An art easel sat in one corner of the living room, opposite the door. On it was a half-painted picture of two boys. Tasha went to the bathroom down the hall, and I walked over to the easel.

The picture, I realized, wasn't just two regular boys. In the picture I was sitting on a bench, with Rusty behind me, wrapping his arms around me from behind in a hug. We were both immediately recognizable, a compliment to Rusty's apparently amazing artwork. I noticed other works scattered around the apartment and hanging around the walls of the living room. Not all of them were portraits of me, but I noticed a couple that were definitely my likeness.

Laying next to one on the coffee table, I saw a small purple book. Feeling curious, I picked it up, and opened it to the first page.

“May 7, 2008.

Today, I came out at work. They wasted little time in firing me.”

I quickly realized that the book I was holding in my hands was Rusty's journal. Hearing the toilet flush, I started to panic. Tasha would be pissed if she saw me reading through Rusty's journal. I thought about throwing it back to the table, but the bathroom door had already opened. Quickly, I stuffed the book down the back of my pants and arranged my shirt to cover the slight bulge that it caused.

“Everything ok?” Tasha asked, walking out and seeing me looking at the painting on the easel.

“Yeah,” I responded, trying to sound nonchalant.

“You sound weird. Are you freaked out by the picture?” She asked.

“No, not at all. It's sweet.”

“He doesn't mean it like he's stalking you or something,” she told me. “He draws everybody. He doesn't paint himself in very many though.”

“Well, like I said, it's sweet. I've never been drawn or painted before. And he's really good. He got my best side.”

“I have a hard time thinking you'd have a bad side,” she said.

“Oh, you'd be surprised.”