In The End
Pops Racer was going red. I recognized rage when I saw it.
"You stay the Hell away from my son," he growled, "You've brought him and the rest of this family nothing but danger."
"Listen to me," I ground out, "We need to move him."
"I won't let you touch my son," Pops snarled, "Not after that stunt at Thunderhead."
His fist lashed out. I took it on the jaw. He was right, wasn't he? I should never have let Speed close enough to me to do that. My mind was racing. I shook my head and got back to my feet.
"I care about his safety just as much as you do, this room has windows…You think the bad guys won't just crawl through 'em?"
"Rex…?" a faint voice managed to carry over our fight. An IV laden arm was outstretched, the hand at the end grasping toward me. Ignoring Pops, I dashed to the boy's side.
"How're you feeling, champ?" I inquired, grasping his good hand. Leaden blue eyes, bleary with pain and exhaustion gazed up at me from under sweat-pasted black hair.
"A little better," he was lying.
"Tell ol' Rex what's wrong, kiddo," I coaxed.
"How dare you use my son's name!" Pops exploded, "And how dare you deceive a young man like that!"
Again, I was ignoring him, something irregular had caught my eye. I laid my head on Speed's chest.
"His heartbeat is racing," I whispered, "But the drugs are sedative narcotics…"
"What the Hell are you mumbling about?" Pops was furious and clearly wanted to clobber me. But for Speed's condition, I had no doubt that he would have.
"Oh God," Pops was silence immediately by those two syllables. I had discovered the problem. In the IV bag that fed the vein in his arm, there was an ever-so-tiny pin prick.
"Speed, I'm going to have to take this out, alright?" I warned, pointing to the IV. He just nodded. Carefully, I undid the tape and slid the needle out.
"There was a puncture in the IV bag," I said to Pops, "No telling what kind of poison was in it."
"What are you saying?"
"I'm saying…" it hit me then, like a ton of bricks, "I'm telling you that your son is dying!" the tears began to fog up my mask. I yanked it off and pulled Speed's head to my chest.
"He's going to die because some selfish, fat old bastard though he should play for another team or not at all!" I shouted, "Oh God, Speedy, what have I done? I shouldn't have left, not last night, not eight years ago!"
Pops was dumbstruck. He shuffled close.
"It's okay, Rex," Speed whispered, breath coming in gasps, "You died for what you believed…Now it's my turn."
"But I'm not dead!" I became hysterical, "Here I am, right here goddamnit! I'm here, right next to you!"
He passed with a placid smile on his eighteen-year-old face. I cried for an hour at least, holding his body and just rocking him. I tried to pretend he was just asleep, tried so hard. Finally, Pops laid a hand on my shoulder. I looked up and Mom, Spritle and Chim-Chim…Even Trixie were all in the room.
"It's time to let go, Rex," Pops coaxed, "I don't know how I missed it but he knew who you were all along. Even if that face isn't yours, you're still my son and I'm so sorry for ever closing my door to you."
A shuddering sob tore through my body as I stood. My mother opened her arms and I raced to her, crying without shame. My family circled around me and, somewhere in the background, Speed smiled.
I tried so hard and got so far
But in the end, it doesn't even matter…
I had to fall, to lose it all
And in the end, it doesn't even matter…