Mental Games

The Road to Recovery

When George, Rita and Mike arrived at the hospital room the following morning, Adam was in a very chipper mood. 

"Hey, welcome back," he exclaimed, as he flashed them a huge grin. 

After walking over and giving him a kiss, his mother noticed the tray sitting on the stand. 

"Have you already eaten?" she asked, with a mild look of surprise registering on her face. 

"Yeah, I just finished a few minutes ago," Adam chirped.  "This time they gave me scrambled eggs, a bowl of oatmeal, a bagel and a couple of sausage links.  It wasn't the greatest, but at least it was solid food." 

"I'll make up for it when we get you home, because I'll prepare all your favorite dishes," his mother countered, as she gave him a smile and a squeeze. 

As they continued this playful banter, a strange man entered the room.  He wasn't in scrubs and didn't have on a lab coat or any other type of hospital related uniform, so they quickly concluded he wasn't part of the hospital staff.  The guy was dressed instead in a pair of slacks, a short-sleeve shirt and a tie, so they all wondered who he was. 

"May I help you?" Adam's father asked, as he turned toward this person. 

"Actually, I'm here to help you," the man responded.  "I'm Detective Guardino and I'm the lead investigator on this case.  I hadn't stopped by earlier, due to the victim's condition, but I've kept in touch with the nurses' station and monitored the situation.  I didn't think there would be much sense in coming over here while he was still unconscious..."

"His name is Adam!" Mike interrupted, since he was annoyed by the way the detective had referred to his lover.  "It's Adam Washburn and these are his parents and I'm his boyfriend." 

"Ah, yes.  Please forgive me.  You're right.  I should have used his name," the detective agreed, mildly embarrassed.  "I apologize for my insensitivity and careless mistake.  As I was saying, however, I didn't see any sense in coming over while Adam was still unconscious, but I've also been advised that he has no memory of the incident.  Has this changed?"

At that precise moment, everyone turned in unison and looked at Adam. 

"No, it's still a blank," Adam answered, looking disappointed.  He was upset because the events of that day were still lost to him. 

"Well if any of that information comes back to you, please give me a call.  Here's my card," Detective Guardino added, as he handed a business card to both Adam and his father.  "I'll continue to do what I can on my end, but it would definitely help if I was aware of a few of the details surrounding the events in question." 

After they assured him that he'd be the first to know if Adam recalled anything at all, they said their goodbyes and the detective left.  They were still talking about the visit when Dr. Corrigan entered the room and politely asked the others to leave, so he could examine Adam.  They quickly honored his request and made their way to the waiting room.  A short time later, Dr. Corrigan came out and gave the Washburn’s some good news. 

“I’m going to fill out Adam’s discharge papers so you’ll be able to take him home in the morning after breakfast,” he announced, eliciting broad smiles from Adam's parents and Mike.  “I can't release him sooner, because the orthopedist will have to remove his casts first, but he should do that later today.  You'll just need to stop by the billing office sometime during the day so you can sign a few forms they'll have waiting for you.  Once that is taken care of, there will be nothing to hold up your departure tomorrow.” 

“That's great news!  Thank you for everything you've done," George stated as he shook the doctor's hand.  "Will it be all right if we drive him home?”   

“That would be fine, as long as you don’t have an accident along the way,” Dr. Corrigan replied, partly tongue-in-cheek. 

“I’ll do my best to prevent that from happening,” George agreed, while silently contemplating what a disaster that would be. 

After the doctor left, George suddenly turned to Mike and spoke. 

“We'll go back to the apartment after lunch so the three of us can pack up your things,” he announced.  “In a little while, I’ll return our rental car and trade it in for a passenger van.  That way, the four of us will be more comfortable and there will be plenty of room for all of Adam’s and your belongings, along with my wife's and my luggage." 

"What about your return flight?" Mike wondered.  "You flew down here, so won't you lose money?"

"I'll try to see if we can get a partial refund, but I don't mind losing a little money on the deal," Adam's father stated.  "I'm just thrilled to have Adam back and being able to take him home.  Let’s head back to his room so we can give him the good news.” 

As soon as they returned, Adam was nearly bouncing on the bed with excitement.  They merely assumed the doctor had informed him about going home as well, but that wasn't the case.  Adam's joy was because he had something else to tell them. 

“I just remembered something about the day this happened!” he exclaimed, beaming.  “I remember going down to Mike's and my favorite watering hole and having a couple of beers after I finished my last exam.  I was just so excited it was all finally over that I wanted to celebrate and unwind.  I remember leaving the place too, but it’s a little fuzzy after that.” 

“That’s alright, sweetie,” his mother told him with a big grin on her face.  “You’re doing much better and it’s starting to come back to you now.  Before long you’ll remember everything.” 

That seemed to perk Adam up even more, but it prompted Mike to wonder how Adam was going to react when he remembered all of the events from that day.  Would it be too much or too gruesome for him to deal with?  Mike didn't want to say anything and possibly cause the others to panic, but he was deeply concerned about the ramifications once Adam recalled the details about what had taken place. 

Now that Adam had remembered a little more about what he had gone through, his father informed him about what the doctor had told them and went over their plans to return home.  This news caused Adam to start bouncing up and down on the mattress again, as his mother did her best to get him to calm down.  They also informed Adam that the orthopedist was going to cut off his casts a little later, so George decided this would be a good time for him to go get the van.  After he left, the rest of them began talking to Adam about the trip back and discussed what they were going to do when they got home.

Adam's father didn’t return until lunchtime and walked in just as an orderly was delivering Adam’s tray.  Since he felt Adam would be eager to start eating, George took a second to speak with his wife and Mike first.  However, when Adam lifted the cover over his meal, he merely made a face and set the lid off to the side, but he didn’t seem eager to eat. 

“Honey, we’re going to be leaving now, but we’ll be back in a little while,” his mother informed him, as she moved closer so she could kiss him on the forehead. 

As the others were going out the door, Adam took a couple of quick bites of his food and then pushed the tray off to one side, because it wasn't very appetizing.  Totally dejected, Adam suddenly began to hope the dinner they brought him later would be better, but he also considered that he might be able to talk his parents into going to get something for him when they got back. 

‘I wish someone would just bring me a pizza, instead of expecting me to eat this crap,’ he thought.  ‘This stuff is disgusting and I’m glad I’ll be leaving here soon.  I don’t think I'd be able to take much more of this hospital garbage.’ 

Luckily, Adam's parents and Mike weren't gone very long, maybe twenty or thirty minutes at most, and when they returned his mother was carrying a large pizza box. 

“We thought we’d eat together this time, so we picked up a pizza to share,” his father announced as they entered the room. 

“Damn, how did you know I wanted pizza?” Adam wondered. 

“I don’t know.  It just sort of came to us after we left you.  It might have also had something to do with the fact that you always seem to want pizza,” his mother answered with a smirk.  “In fact, we all had the same idea as we were walking down the hallway, so we stopped by the nurses' station to make sure it would be alright if you had this.  They had no problem with it, since you’re about to be discharged anyway, so we had Mike call the place you guys go to get pizza and put in our order.” 

“Great!  The hospital food was starting to make me sick, so I didn’t eat very much of it.  This is terrific though,” Adam agreed after he took a bite, and then a huge smile crossed his face. 

After they finished the pizza, the three of them said goodbye to Adam again before setting out for the apartment.  They stopped at the local grocery store along the way so they could pick up a bunch of boxes to pack everything in, before they continued on to their destination.  They had been fortunate that the landlord had allowed Mike to stay at the apartment for the extra time, because it gave them all a place to stay.  The landlord wasn't being altruistic, though.  He merely realized the apartment was going to be empty for the summer, so doing this would provide him a little extra cash flow.  Even now, the owner still had plenty of time to find new tenants for the upcoming school year, if he didn’t already have someone lined up to take it.

Loading up the van took longer than they’d anticipated, so they didn’t get back to the hospital until well past dinnertime.  They apologized to Adam for leaving him alone for so long and making him eat hospital food again, but he merely shrugged it off.  He told them not to worry, since his dinner wasn't quite as bad as the lunch they'd given him.  He was just grateful that he would be leaving there in the morning and totally overjoyed about finally going home. 

The atmosphere was very upbeat for the rest of the evening, seeing they were all glad this lengthy ordeal was finally coming to an end.  The four of them also agreed to turn in early, because they wanted to be fresh and alert for the long drive home.  Adam even tried to shoo them out of the room sooner than they intended, because he felt it would make the morning come quicker.  It didn’t exactly work that way for him though, because he had trouble falling asleep.  He was just too damn excited about getting out of there, but he did manage to get a few hours of shuteye before the night ended.  Although he was still slightly groggy the following morning when his breakfast tray was delivered, he suddenly felt much better once the others arrived. 

“Hey, I remembered something else during the night,” he advised them, nearly as soon as they walked through the door.  “I vaguely remembered someone calling me a faggot and a pervert before he said they were going to teach me a lesson.”

“So there was more than one person involved in this?” Mike asked. 

“I think so, but I only saw the one guy,” Adam answered as he tried to focus in on that day.  “Someone else was holding me from behind though, so there was definitely more than one person.”

“It’s great that it's starting to come back to you.  You'll remember more eventually, but do you recall anything about what the guy looked like,” his mother wondered, while hoping Adam would be able to describe his attacker. 

“I’m sorry, but I still don’t remember any of that yet,” Adam confessed, as a look of disappointment crossed his face.  He immediately stared at the bedding and broke eye contact with everyone else, because he was slightly embarrassed about not be able to come up with the most important details.  Noticing his discomfort, the others attempted to make him feel a little better. 

"Hey, it's ok.  I was just wondering," his mother added, quickly trying to brush it off. 

“Yes, don’t worry about it,” Mike offered.  “It will come back to you eventually, just as the rest of it has.  It will just take a little more time.  That's all.” 

"How are your legs and arm feeling, now that the casts are off?" Adam's father interjected, changing the topic completely.  This seemed to distract Adam temporarily as he answered the question. 

"They're weak, but they stink too," Adam answered while wrinkling his nose.  "The nurses sponged off the areas, but I think I really need a shower to get rid of the smell." 

"Let me go see what we can do about that," Mike suggested and then he raced out of the room.  A few seconds later he returned, but this time he was pushing a stainless steel stool in front of him, with a small stack of towels and a clean hospital gown on top of the seat.  "I asked the nurse at the nurses' station and she said you can use this to sit on in the shower and said it would be alright if your dad and I helped you get in there to wash up."  

Adam's face suddenly broke into a broad smile, as Mike pushed the stool into the shower area of the bathroom in Adam's room.  When he came out again, he asked George to help him support Adam as they guided him over to the stool to sit down.  Once Adam was sitting on the stool, George left them alone and Mike shut the bathroom door.  Mike then removed Adam's hospital gown, before he took off his own clothes so he would be able to help wash Adam, since he didn't want Adam to possibly fall off the stool trying to do this by himself.  After Adam was clean from head to toe, Mike used the towels to dry them both off and then helped Adam into the fresh hospital gown, before putting his own clothes back on.  Then, Mike called George in to help him get Adam back to his bed. 

"Thanks, I feel and smell a whole lot better now," Adam told Mike and his dad after he was back under the covers.

A few minutes later, the doctor showed up to give him his final checkup.  From that point on, Adam was totally focused on what Doctor Corrigan was doing and the comments he was making, because Adam didn't want anything to go wrong at the last second and then be forced to stay there even longer. 

After the examination had been completed, the doctor announced that Adam was doing fine and everything was set for them to leave.  Doctor Corrigan also advised them that an orderly would be arriving shortly with a wheelchair and would help take Adam down to the main entrance.  After everyone thanked Doctor Corrigan for all of his help, Mike asked George and Rita if they would leave temporarily, so he could help Adam get dressed in the clothes he had brought for him to go home in.  Adam's parents had no problem with that and waited in the hallway until Mike told them they could enter the room again. 

Before long, an orderly arrived pushing a wheelchair and he helped Adam get in it so he could be taken down to the main entrance.  The orderly also handed Adam a pair of crutches that he could use later, since his legs were still weak from not being used for the past couple of months.  Before they left the room, though, the orderly asked Mike to help keep Adam standing upright while he adjusted the crutches to Adam's height.  Once that had been accomplished, they were ready to leave. 

George went ahead of the others so he could get the van to pull up to the front entrance, while the rest of them walked beside Adam as the orderly wheeled him to the lobby.  As soon as they helped Adam get into the van, they were ready to take off and begin the journey home. 

Although the others were chatting about a variety of different topics, Adam seemed to have tuned them out and was staring out the window of the van instead.  The rest of them pretty much ignored him and gave him some space, at least until he startled them when he suddenly screamed out. 

“That’s him!  That’s the guy who beat me up!” he shouted while pointing at a twenty-something young man walking down the street. 

George immediately pulled the van to the side of the road, took out his smart phone and began recording a video of Adam's attacker.  He kept focused on the guy for a couple of minutes, until the fellow got into a car.  George then made sure he captured the license plate number on the video as well, in case it was needed to identify the culprit later.  As soon as the car took off, Adam's father asked Mike for directions to the police station so they could report this to the authorities. 

“Is Detective Guardino around?" George asked the officer at the front desk.  "He's investigating my son's case and we need to report some new information to him."  

"He's out of the building at the moment, but maybe I can help you.  I'm Sergeant Rathbone," the officer replied.  "How may I be of assistance?"

"My son just spotted one of the individuals who beat him up so badly that he spent the past couple of months in the hospital,” George told Sergeant Rathbone. 

“Please give me your son's name and I'll look up the case file," Sergeant Rathbone offered.  Once he had found it, Adam's father continued.    

“When my son spotted the guy, I was able to capture him on video so we could show you what he looked like,” George announced. 

He then took out his cell phone, set up the video and played it back for the officer.  As soon as Sergeant Rathbone saw the recording, he began nodding his head and then he spoke. 

“It doesn’t surprise me in the least and I know exactly who it is,” he announced.  “He’s been in trouble before and we’ve had several other dealings with this guy.  In fact, he’s quite well known around here, so we have a pretty good idea where to find him.  I’ll dispatch a squad car to pick him up and we'll also notify Detective Guardino.  In the meantime, we'll need your son to swear out a complaint against his attacker.  Do you have time to do it now?” 

“We’ll make time,” Mr. Washburn answered.  “We were planning to leave town and start out for home, but we’ll stay for as long as we need to.  We just want to make sure this son-of-a-bitch pays for what he did and never gets the chance to do it to anyone else.” 

Adam was then taken to another area, where he gave his statement to a different officer.  This time he remembered a lot more about what had happened that day and recalled even more details about his attacker.  After his formal complaint had been taken and printed out, Adam looked it over and signed it.  Then he went out to rejoin the others, as they waited for the guy to be brought in and questioned.  Adam was also told he might have to come back again at a later date so he could testify at the scumbag’s trial, because he would need to do that unless the suspect confessed or accepted a plea bargain. 

As they waited, they were told the guy had already been brought in without incident and was currently in the interrogation room, where Detective Guardino was grilling him about the attack. 

‘I wish the guy who beat me up would just own up to what he did and be man enough to take his punishment,’ Adam thought.  ‘That way, I won’t have to come back here and see him again.  Damn it!  You felt you were man enough to beat the crap out of me, so you should also be man enough to admit what you did.' 

Adam was totally focused on his thoughts when he was unexpectedly disturbed about fifteen minutes later.  It happened when Detective Guardino came charging out of the interrogation area with a big grin plastered across his face and began to shout. 

“I can’t believe it, but the dumb bastard just confessed to everything,” he announced, with a shocked and pleased expression plastered across his face.  “He even gave up the names of his two buddies that helped him do it.  I was convinced he was going to ask for a lawyer, clam up and fight this to the bitter end, but then he just opened up and began spilling his guts.  I have the entire interview, including his confession, recorded on video, so there’s no way he can deny he said it or claim the confession was coerced.” 

Although everyone else looked very excited and relieved about what had just happened, Adam appeared confused and speechless.  He should have been the one who was the most thrilled about this, but he actually seemed bewildered instead. 

“Cheer up, buddy,” his father told him.  “This means you won’t have to come back here to testify against him at a trial.  He’s admitted to everything, so they can bypass the trial and go straight to sentencing now.” 

Adam didn’t respond to his father's comment, but he nudged Mike and asked him to go outside with him for a breath of fresh air.  While Mike helped Adam hobble outdoors on his crutches, Adam’s parents were going over the details of what this meant with the detective. 

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Mike asked as soon as they were out of the police station.  "You should be thrilled about this."  Mike's expression showed how worried he was. 

“I think... well I think something has happened to me?” Adam stammered.  His voice was very soft and he looked concerned, but Mike didn't immediately take note of Adam's demeanor.  He merely concentrated on what Adam had said. 

“Yeah, you got beat up and spent a couple of months in the hospital,” Mike countered.  “But you also just nailed the bastard who did it to you and he'll be going to prison now.”

“I'm happy about that, but I think something is different about me.  I'm not the same as before,” Adam added, this time catching Mike's attention. 

“Why?  What are you talking about?” Mike pressed, looking totally confused. 

“Do you remember when you guys left the hospital yesterday and then brought back a pizza?” Adam wanted to know, as he studied Mike's face. 

“Yeah, so what?” Mike answered, looking even more confused than before. 

“How did any of you know I wanted pizza?” Adam demanded, while waiting for Mike's reply. 

“I don’t know,” Mike mumbled, while wondering why Adam was bringing this up.  “I guess we all saw you make a face when you looked at the food tray, so we knew you weren't excited about eating what they'd brought you.  Since we all know that you love pizza, I guess we just kinda thought we should go get one and bring it back to you.  That way we could all eat together.” 

“But why pizza?  Why didn’t you go to McDonald’s, Burger King or someplace like that instead?  You know I like to eat at those places too,” Adam pressed, and his voice got louder when he mentioned those other places.  Mike merely gave him a bewildered stare and wondered what he was getting at, because he didn't expect Adam to make such a big deal over such an unimportant issue. 

“I don’t know,” Mike whined, since he didn't understand why any of this mattered.  “I guess we were all just in the mood for pizza too.”

“And you all came up with the idea at the same time?” Adam shot back as his eyes bored into Mike's.  It seemed almost as if he was trying to read Mike's mind. 

“I guess we must have,” Mike admitted, somewhat lamely.  “Why does any of this make a difference?” 

“I just need to know, because when you guys were leaving, I began to wish that someone would bring me a pizza so I wouldn’t have to eat the hospital crap again,” Adam explained, thinking that would clear things up. 

“Yeah, so it was just a coincidence,” Mike reasoned, while trying to brush it off. 

“Yeah, that’s what I thought at first too,” Adam agreed, “but now I’m not so sure.” 

“Why?  What changed your mind?" Mike countered.  He then slowly tilted his head to one side and thought back to see if he could figure out how Adam's parents and he had come to the decision in the first place.  

“It's because something else just happened,” Adam stated as he attempted to clarify the point.  "While we were waiting to see what the police were going to do next, I started wishing the guy who’d beat me up would just admit it and get this over with.  Then the detective came out of nowhere a few minutes later and announced that’s exactly what happened." 

“Wait!  Are you saying you made those things happen by sending out thought waves or something like that?” Mike wondered as he studied Adam's face to see how he reacted. 

“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying,” Adam agreed.  “I don't know how I did it, but I thought about each of those things and then they just suddenly happened.” 

“I think it’s probably just another coincidence, but I guess we could test it out, just to be sure.  Would that make you feel better?” Mike asked in return. 

“I'm not sure.  What, exactly, are you suggesting?” Adam wanted to know, since he didn't understand what Mike was getting at.  "What do you have in mind?"

“Well I was thinking we could set up a situation where you would think about something and then we’d wait to see if it actually happened,” Mike explained. 

“Like what?” Adam persisted, since he wasn't exactly clear about what Mike was suggesting. 

“I don’t know.  Something simple,” Mike offered, “but if it happens again, then we’ll know there’s something to this.” 

“What do you want me to think about then?” Adam asked, while trying to get Mike to give him a suggestion.

“I have no idea,” Mike answered.  "We’ll talk about this some more on the ride home and then we'll do something to test it out later." 

After agreeing to this, the boys headed over to the van and waited for Adam’s parents to finish up and join them.  When they stopped for lunch later, Mike and Adam stayed together to hatch their plan, while Adam’s parents went off to use the rest rooms. 

“Once we get back in the van, I want you to start thinking about what type of place you want to go for dinner later,” Mike suggested.  “We’ll have to stop somewhere to eat again, because we’re definitely not going to make it all the way to your house tonight.  It will also give us a chance to test your ability, so I want you to think about stopping at a place that you wouldn’t ordinarily choose to eat.” 

“I don’t want to stop somewhere to eat and then not like any of the food there,” Adam complained, while giving Mike a dirty look. 

“No, not a place where you don’t like the food, but somewhere you would only choose to eat once in a while, but not very often,” Mike offered, to clarify the point. 

“Oh, ok.  I see what you're getting at now.  Usually when my parents ask where I want to go to eat, I would probably tell them to stop at a steakhouse or an Italian restaurant,” Adam reasoned.  “I also like Chinese once in a while, but I don’t want it very often, so maybe I’ll just suggest that.” 

“That will be perfect,” Mike agreed with a grin.  “If they ask where we want to eat then we won’t offer any suggestions and leave the choice up to your parents.  If they decide to stop at a Chinese place, then we’ll know for sure that you can get others to do what you want by just thinking about it.” 

“Ok, I’ll give it a try then,” Adam confirmed. 

Once they ended their discussion, they met up with Adam’s parents again, got their food and sat down to eat.  When they finished their meal, Mike and Adam went to use the restroom before getting back in the van.  While they were in the men's room, the pair confirmed what they were going to do, but didn’t come right out and say what Adam was supposed to think about.  They did that just in case Adam's father wandered in, because they didn’t want to take the chance of him overhearing what they were up to.  If he did, it would contaminate the experiment and ruin their chances of discovering if Adam really had this ability or not.  Now, they were finally prepared to test Adam’s hypothesis. 

Almost as soon as they started out again, Adam began thinking about where he wanted to stop for dinner.  He continued thinking about it over and over again, just to see if this worked.  About a half hour later, his mother turned toward them and spoke. 

“I know we just finished eating lunch a short time ago and it’s still kind of early, but I was thinking maybe we could have Chinese for dinner tonight,” she told them.  “We haven’t had it in quite a while and it would be something different, so what do you think about the idea?” 

Mike and Adam didn’t say anything right away and merely turned to face each other instead.  Their eyeballs were nearly bulging out of their sockets and their mouths were hanging open in disbelief.  They were totally amazed by what had just happened and shocked by what they’d just heard. 

When the boys didn’t respond, Adam's mother turned around and noticed their unusual reaction, so she wanted to know the reason for it.  “What are you two up to?” she demanded, while giving them a suspicious glare. 

“Nothing.  It's just that Adam and I were talking earlier about maybe having Chinese tonight,” Mike replied.  “Did you overhear us or something?”

“No, I didn’t,” she confirmed.  “I just thought it might be a nice change of pace.” 

Mike and Adam quickly agreed they would be fine with stopping for Chinese later, although they continued to look at each other in shock and total amazement.  Slowly, they silently considered the various ramifications of what this might mean for them.  Did this experiment actually confirm that Adam had the ability to telepathically persuade others to do what he wanted?  Although they didn’t say anything to each other, they each considered the various possibilities of how Adam might utilize this new skill. 

When they stopped to eat later, it proved to be an interesting time for Adam.  Not only did he lack sufficient control over his right hand to use the chopsticks, but he also had some difficulty holding the fork as well. 

“Ugh.  What the hell is wrong with me?” Adam finally blurted out in frustration, as he began to flex the fingers on his right hand. 

“Your arm just recently got out of the cast, so your muscles are still a little weak from lack of use,” his mother explained, as she tried to comfort her son. 

If Adam had taken a moment to look closely at everyone else's face, he might have been able to read the concerned expressions currently displayed there.  If so, it probably would have made him realize that they weren't convinced that the reason they had just given him as to why he was having trouble was the correct one either.  Since he hadn't noticed their reactions, he merely responded to what had been said instead. 

“Maybe so, but I’ve never been very good with my left hand, so how the hell am I supposed to do anything?” Adam followed, as he playfully smacked his right hand against the table. 

“You’ll just have to work at strengthening it,” his father offered.  “In time, it should be just the same as it was before.” 

“I hope so, because I totally suck left handed,” Adam pointed out, while examining his right hand again and flexing the fingers a little more.  “I just hate feeling so spastic.” 

After finishing his little rant, Adam managed to make it through the rest of the meal without further incident.  He then grabbed his crutches and hobbled out to the van so they could resume their trip home.