Hey everybody, I thank you all for your comments and apologize for taking so long with this one. I’m going to work on this story so you won’t have to wait so long for the next chapter. Thanks again.
Two days later, Cion sat on the couch where he had spent much of his time since leaving the hospital being taken care of by Sharon lovingly and to the point of irritation. He had never taken many sick days in his young life and was an awful patient. Sitting about was not something he was accustomed to and Sharon’s mothering was getting to him. He finally snapped and bit out a harsh retort when she asked him for the fourth time if he wanted something to eat or drink.
“Don’t be using that tone with me, boy-o or I’ll belt ya back to Brigid’s Well faster than a Tinker can whistle.”
“I’m sorry, Sharon. You’re right. I shouldn’t have bitten at ya. I just don’t like being sitting round, not of much use to anyone and nothing to keep my hands busy.”
“Well, you could do what you’ve been putting off and call the nice, good looking doctor like you said you would.” Sharon smiled.
“I could, yeah. But what should I say?” Cion asked, feeling the familiar nervousness he’d felt since meeting Sam.
“How about ‘Good evening, Doctor. This is Cion. Fancy a spot of tea?’.”
“Jesus, people didn’t talk like that when you were my age, did they?”
“Keep a civil tongue in your head and I’ll keep the arsenic out of your black and white pudding.”
Cion laughed and shook his head but glanced at the phone sitting next to him like it was a grenade that hadn’t yet exploded.
“It’s simple, Cion. Just talk to him a bit and then ask him if he’d like to go out for coffee or dinner or whatever.” Sharon said as she set a cup of tea down on the coffee table in front of him.
“And if he says no?”
“He won’t say no. Doctor’s are smart, generally, and you’re a great catch. He’ll be interested. He’s probably wondering why you haven’t called already.”
“Fine then. I’ll do it.”
“What? Why now?” Cion asked.
“Cause my brood’ll be home soon and you’ll get no peace. You’re lucky the dogs are being quiet now.”
“Fine. I’ll call now.”
“Good.” Sharon smiled and sat back on the couch.
“Could I have a bit of privacy then?”
“What if you need moral support or a little coaching?” Sharon asked with the bright gleam of mischief in her eyes.
“I’m not a twelve year old girl callin’ my first crush, Sharon. I’m thinking I can handle it.”
“If you could handle it you’d have called yesterday.” Sharon said but made her way out of the room as Cion picked up the phone. He took a deep breath and dialed the number. ‘Here I go’, he thought.
“Dr…” Cion cursed. He had forgotten the doctor’s last name. “Dr. Sam?”
“This is Cion. Um… Cionadh Malloy. We met the other night in your E.R. there.”
“Yeah, I remember. I was wondering when you’d call.”
“Well, I sort of had to gather a bit of courage first.”
“Oh really?” Cion grinned as he heard the smile in Sam’s voice.
“A bit, yeah. So, I was hoping you’d be free to meet for coffee or a drink or a bite to eat?”
“Well, actually I’m a little busy but… um, yeah. A cup of coffee sounds great..”
Cion was a little disappointed that Sam had chosen coffee over a more intimate dinner but took what he was given.
“I’m a little bit new to the area, I’ve only been in America for about three weeks. Is there anywhere you’d recommend?” Cion asked.
“There’s a great little coffee bar in my neighborhood. It’s called Jo-Jo’s. I’m off tomorrow if that works for you.”
“It does. I’ll see you there around six?” Cion was hoping that after a nice cup of coffee he might be able to convince the good doctor to go out for dinner.
“Six is good. I’ll see you there Cion.”
“I’m looking forward to it Sam.” Cion said and hung up the phone. “He said yes.”
Sharon peeked her head into the room from where she had been eavesdropping and smiled.
“Of course he did. I told you so.”
“You did, but there was something in his voice. A sort of hesitation.”
“Just nerves. You’ll be fine.”
“I suppose.” Cion sighed.
“Will you be able to get around all right?”
“Sure, I’m well enough to get around by myself now if you weren’t always hovering.” Cion said with a smile.
Cion left with more than enough time for him to get to the coffee house Sam had suggested. He caught the trains which changed him over to Sam’s neighborhood and walked the few blocks till he came to Jo-Jo’s. The smell of coffee was overwhelming and Cion actually decided against his usual cup of tea and ordered a coffee to sip while he waited.
He didn’t wait long till Sam came in and watched him look around till their eyes met. Cion felt his stomach flutter and happiness spread through his chest. He couldn’t help his smile and was rewarded when Sam smiled back.
“Hey.” Sam said as he came over to Cion’s table.
“Hey yourself. How are you?”
“Fine thanks. You?”
Just then the waitress stopped by to ask them if they wanted anything and Sam placed his order.
“Is this your first time to America?” Sam asked after the waitress had left.
“It is. I’m on holiday. I had a yen to come see what the fuss was about.”
“And have you found what it’s about?”
“I think I have.” Cion smiled and watched as a blush crept up Sam’s face. The doctor chuckled at himself and lowered his gaze.
“You don’t beat around the bush too much do you?”
“I try not to. Never been good at games. Even as a child I’d always get chosen last for football.”
“I doubt that. A big guy like you?”
“It’s European football. Size doesn’t really matter.”
“I’ve heard that about Europe.” The doctor teased and had the gratification of watching Cion blush and laugh. “Sorry. It was hard to pass up and you did set yourself up for it.”
“I did at that but rest assured, I’m more than adequate.” Cion winked and Sam grinned and both paused their conversation as the barista returned and handed Sam his cup of regular black coffee.
“Cion, I should tell you before we go much further- Christ, I should have told you before we even got here.” Sam sighed. “I’m not in a good place. I can’t be thinking about a relationship right now.”
“Oh?” Cion felt his stomach drop. “You just got here. I can’t be that bad.”
“No, you’re not. You’re great. You seem nice, you’re adorable, it’s just where I am.”
“And where’s that?”
“Not able to think about starting a future with someone.”
“You were hurt?” Cion asked.
“No. Well, yes, but that’s not really why I can’t-. I just can’t.”
“You can’t.” Cion repeated. “That sounds final.”
“You have no idea.”
“If you weren’t in this ‘bad place’ would you be able to think of starting a future with someone?”
“Well, then there’s really only one thing to do.”
“What’s that?” Sam asked.
“I guess we’ll be friends and we’ll see if we can’t get you out of this place you’re in.”
“I can’t ask you to do that.”
“Then don’t. I’m offering. I could use a friend here in the states and people in bad places generally need friends to pull them out.”
“This isn’t something a friend can help with.”
“A friend can’t be supportive?”
“Then that should help. Besides, I’m hoping that when you’re in a place to start thinking of a future you might consider me.”
“Why don’t I explain a little bit more and then maybe you’ll understand.” Sam took a sip of his coffee hoping it would give him the strength to admit something to someone else he hadn’t even come to grips with himself. “You asked if I’d been hurt and I have. My boyfriend of a year and a half left me seven months ago.”
“He must be a real shite piece of work.”
“No, he’s actually a nice guy.” Sam shook his head. “He just can’t handle what I’m going through. He’s weak but still a nice guy. I guess if we were both honest we’d have seen that we weren’t exactly head over heals for one another to begin with. I miss his friendship more than I miss our relationship.”
“Then it’s good that this happened. You know he wasn’t the one if he leaves over some trouble.” Cion argued and Sam laughed.
“Well, not many people handle their loved one dying too well.”
“I have a glioblastoma which is basically a tumor in my brain. I only have about eight months to a year to live.”
Cion could barely swallow and felt nauseous. He didn’t know what to say to make his remarks any better.
“I don’t know what to say, Sam.”
“There’s not much to say, Cion. It’s a shitty deal and I have to live with it. Or not.” Sam chuckled. “Sorry, I’m still dealing with it and my humor can get a little dark at times.”
“Can’t they operate?”
“They can and they will but that’s not going to be it. They’re just taking out most of the tumor and giving me a little more time.”
“Don’t they use radiation or something?”
“Glioblastomas are actually really resistant to radiation therapy but one type of radiation might be an option. If that doesn’t work we’ll have to try chemotherapy.”
“I’ve heard the term but I don’t actually understand what it is?”
“Basically they give you a drug which is basically poison and they hope that it kills the tumor before it kills you. More or less.” Sam sighed and took a sip of his coffee. “I’m sorry, Cion. I shouldn’t have dragged you into this. I’ve been dealing with this alone for a while now, ever since I first found out and when you asked me out I thought it might be nice to just have a drink with a nice guy.”
“I’m glad you did.” Cion said, still feeling the rock in the pit of his stomach.
“No you’re not. You look like you’ve just been told you had a year to live. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done this. I’m gonna go.”
Sam said, and grabbed his coat from the empty chair where he had laid it.
“No! Please! I’m sorry. It’s a bit of a shock. Even doctors don’t hear that someone they know and like is going to die every day.”
“That’s true but there’s no reason you have to be pulled into the muck my life has become.”
“You forget, I’m Irish. I happen to like muck.” Cion said and smiled brightly hoping he could put aside his own feelings for the moment.
“You’re crazy.” Sam chuckled but sat back down. “If your offer’s still open, I think I’ll take you up on it.”
“Dinner?” Cion asked.
“Well, that too but I meant being friends.”
“My mother always said ‘no one is too rich as to throw away a friend’ and we were poorer than most.” Cion lifted his mug in salute. “Then it’s settled. Friends.”
“Friends.” Sam agreed.
The two finished their drinks and headed to one of Sam’s favorite restaurants for dinner. It was a nice little Italian place with an ambiance that was at once intimate and not overly suggestive. They talked over dinner and found each other to be the prefect company for the evening.
“What did you do then?” Cion asked, being entertained by Sam’s stories of med school.
“We waited. We waited for four hours but it was so worth it. When Ryan came back into the morgue and started back to work, we inflated the tubes and all this weird looking jello came out of the cadaver. I mean, everywhere! His eyes, his mouth, the y incision, it was a mess.”
“You were a cheeky bastard then.” Cion said, smiling at the image in mind of a young, roguish Sam.
“Oh yeah. But Ryan’s face was horrified! He thought he had been working on a body with the Bubonic Plague or Hemato-Lacrimal Fever or something.” They laughed as the waitress appeared at their table.
“Anything else tonight, Doc?” She asked.
“I’m fine, Marie. Cion?”
“Couldn’t eat another bite.”
“Great. I hope you guys have a great night.” She said and placed the check down on the table.
Their eyes met as they both reached for it.
“I asked you out tonight, Sam. I’m paying.”
“No, Cion. It’s not everyday you meet a great guy who offers to be your friend through something like this. I’ve got it.” Sam pulled the check from under Cion’s hands.
“I just offered to be your friend, Sam. I haven’t walked on water.”
“Well, when you walk on water I’ll get the check then too.” Sam slipped some bills into the check folder and laid it on the table. “Are you ready?”
They walked down the avenue continuing their conversation as they noticed a great deal of people heading in their general direction. At the end of the block they saw it had been closed off and a large banner named it the St. Anthony Festival.
“What do you think?” Sam asked. “You game?”
“I haven’t been to church in ages. Do you think ol’ St. Anthony might get a bit bent?”
“Let’s take our chances.” Sam smiled and led the way.
Hours later, they were still laughing as they stopped in front of Sharon and Jake’s house.
“This is me then.” Cion said as he fished his keys out of his pocket.
“Wow. You live here? I live in an apartment. Just how much do construction workers get these days?”
“It’s my ma’s friends that live here. They’re just letting me stay while I’m here.”
“On holiday.” Sam remembered.
“So when do you think you’ll leave?”
“If you ask Sharon, I’ll be here till she’s good and ready to send me packing. I’m thinking I’ll be here for another few weeks till my visiting visa expires, then head back and get a work visa. Jake’s already said he’ll sponsor me and he’s got a few friends ‘in high places’ as he puts it that will help the paperwork go through.”
“Friends ‘in high places’?” Sam asked. “You know what, don’t tell me. I’d rather not know.”
“I didn’t ask too many questions myself.” Cion smiled. “Would you like to come in? I’ve got a terrible thirst, I imagine you do as well.”
“I’d better not.” Sam said. “I’ve got a busy day tomorrow. I’m actually training my replacement, so to speak.”
“You’re replacement? You’ve been fired?”
“No, I’ve taken a leave of absence indefinitely. My condition makes it dangerous for me to practice medicine, especially emergency medicine.” Cion felt the reality of their situation flood back to him.
“Yeah. Anyway, I want to thank you.” Sam sighed. “If you rethink this… being friends and all… I’ll understand. I just appreciate tonight. It’s been a while since I was able to relax a little.”
“Sam, I’m not going anywhere. I said I’ll be your friend and that’s something the Irish take very seriously.” Cion smiled. “That and whiskey.”
“Glad to hear it.” Sam smiled back. “I should get going.”
“Sure, yeah.” Cion stepped forward and took Sam in his arms. “I’ll see you soon?”
Cion watched as the doctor walked back the way they came. He sighed and headed into the house. He lay in bed unable to sleep until his phone rang a few hours later and he saw that it was a familiar number.
“What’s wrong?” She asked without preamble. He wasn’t surprised. Though he didn’t put too much credence in psychic abilities his mother did have an uncanny gift of knowing when he was upset.
“I met someone.”
“That’s usually a good thing.”
“He has a problem.”
“What? No! Why would you think that?”
“Something that happened- never mind. What’s the problem?”
“He’s got cancer.”
“He’s American. They all have cancer.”
“Ma, this is serious.”
“Right. Well, what are they doing for it?”
“I can’t even remember. He told me but I honestly was stuck at the cancer and the part where he thinks he’s going to die.”
“People who think they will usually find a way to make it happen.”
“What are you going to do?” Margaret asked.
“The only thing I can do, Ma. Be his friend. That’s all he’s allowing me.”
“That may be all he thinks he has to offer.”
“I’ve felt like I’m looking for something for so long and now that I finally found it, it might be taken from me.”
“You’ve been looking for someONE not something. People don’t come with guarantees love. You’re going to have to have a little faith on this one.” Margaret sighed, feeling her son’s pain.
“I’m not sure I’ll come out of this in one piece.” Cion admitted.
“If you did, it wouldn’t have been worth it.”