Love's a Pain (draft) by mikegonzales682
"Get your **** out here, Mike!" The old drunk man screamed from the parking lot downstairs. It was Saturday and had to have been around 3am. I don't really recall. I didn't look at the time considering the yelling woke me up from the dream I was having. The man yelling was the future ex-husband of the woman I was living with during the time, who just happened to be an ex-girlfriend of mine. I was quite angry that I had to wake up to this, on top of the fact for the longest time I had waited for the chance to knock his lights out. I sat up from the couch I slept on and rubbed my eyes. When I was beginning to register just what was happening, my other roommate walked out of her room to find out what all the noise was.
"Go back to your room, Steph. I'm about to take care of it." I told her as I lit a cigarette.
"Mike, he's drunk! Ignore him and we'll call the cops." She pleaded with me while I slipped my brown boots on. I sat straight and exhaled.
"Call the damn ambulance while you're at it." And I got up. I unlocked the door but before I could walk out, Joanie stormed out of the room.
"Mike, just stay here while I take care of this ****."
"You're pregnant. The guy's a prick and he's drunk!"
"He won't hurt me. It's his baby I'm pregnant with and he knows it." She stated as she opened the door. I grabbed her arm to stop her.
"I'm coming with you. He's a maniac, I don't give a damn if you're pregnant with his kid or not." She put her free hand on my chest to assure me.
"It's okay, Mike. I'll be fine. If he tries anything I'll scream. Just stay by the window. If you come with me it will only escalate, and I don't have the money to bail my best friend out of jail." The **** was still calling me out and I couldn't stand letting him believe I was too afraid to come outside. Stephanie and Joanie walked out while I kicked myself in the **** for not stepping up like I normally would've, but Joanie had a point. I walked into the kitchen and grabbed a beer from the fridge. I hurried to sit by the window to make sure she was okay.
"What the hell are you doing here?" She asked the drunken bastard.
"He is not!" She defended.
"He is a chicken ****!" He drunkenly slurred.
"I will not let him fight you! Why don't you just leave me alone?"
"I love you...and..he is ****' you! Admit it to me!"
"We're not together! He's living with me because he needs a place to stay! Get outta here before I call the cops!"
"We're meant to be together. I'm sorry for the drinking.....I've quit!" Liar.
"Scott, you're drunker than hell right now. Stop lying to me! You lied to me then and you're lying to me now." She wasn't having it.
"But...honey.... That's the only..problem.. We can over....come this together!" His slurring was getting worse.
"It's more than just the drinking. What about the women, what about the drugs? You're a damned liar, and I want you out of my life! LEAVE!"
"Okay.. I will leave, but this... is not over!" After the trouble it took for him to get in the car, he finally drove away. My cell phone started ringing.
"You cool?" I asked upon answering.
"Yeah. I'll be fine. Steph and I are going to take a walk."
"Joanie, it's the middle of the night."
"I'll be fine."
"You call me if you need me, okay?" I said.
"I will." She hung up. I didn't like letting her walk out by herself, and even with Stephanie, it still wasn't safe. I knew she would stay in the vicinity though and I was too tired to argue with her. I stayed seated and finished my beer, thinking about what just happened. I attempted to go back to sleep when my phone began to ring around thirty minutes later. It was Joanie. Something wasn't right.
"Hey. What's wrong?"
"You're probably going to be pissed at me." She said
"For?" I used to always tell her not to give me ****. Just tell me.
"We're at the gas station down the street and I'm not feeling well."
"****. I'll be down there in five minutes." I scrambled to put on my boots and slip on my camouflage cap. I grab my wallet, keys and phone before running out the door. I didn't have to ask which one, it was the only one closest to us. It wasn't exactly walking distance, though. I peel out of the apartment parking lot in my truck, hoping there wasn't a cop nearby to hear my rush. I pull up to the station in a matter of minutes, surprised to find they walked this far. There were five men around her and Steph. Both girls were sitting on the ground, leaning against the wall. I sped up after entering the lot of the station and stopped at a halt just behind the group. They spread out, letting the headlights shine on them. Joanie was passed out. I immediately jumped out and reached behind the seat for my baseball bat that I kept in the truck for situations like this. The area we lived in wasn't the best and it was always better to play it safe than be sorry I didn't. I walked towards the girls while pointing the bat at one of the men who I assumed to be the leader of the pack.
"We have a problem, brother?" Two were african american, two mexican and one white. The man I asked was mexican.
"No, sir, we were just walkin' and saw your friend faint into her arms. We're just checkin' on her." He responded with a smirk.
"I've got it from here, esse. Why don't you boys go on about your business?"
"'Ey man you don't to have be all disrespectful. We were just checkin' on your lady."
"Yeah and then some 'til I pulled up, I get it." I responded as I walked to Joanie's limp body and bent over to pick her up. "Steph, take my bat and open the door. Get in first and help me buckle her in." Stephanie hurried to the passenger side of the '98 White Sierra and got in, leaving the door open for us to get Joanie in. With her help we got her buckled and secured. I looked up at Stephanie.
"Steph, when I shut this door, I need you to lock it. And if **** gets sketchy, lock both doors. Don't hesitate to drive away." I took my bat from her and shut the door. I knew she wouldn't drive away, but should something happen I would hope she would. I walked around to the driver's side and got in. Before I could shut it the white man of the group stopped me.
"Say, bro, you think we could hitch a ride? We just need a ride down the street." I looked straight in front of me in thought. I chewed my lower lip before responding.
"You brothers got this far. I'm sure it ain't going to hurt ya to walk a little bit further. Thanks for your help." I slammed the door and pulled away from the middle fingers and gang signs being thrown at me. I couldn't help but laugh. I entered the nearest hospital into the GPS on my phone as I began the drive on i-30 freeway. I looked over at Stephanie, then trained my eyes to Joanie.
"What happened?" I asked.
"We were walking up to the gas station and when we saw it was closed, she complained about her stomach hurting and that's when she called you. After she got off the phone she fainted. I caught her just before she hit the ground. All I could do was sit down with her. I'm sorry, Mike, I should've done something."
"Like what? Stephanie, there wasn't anything you could do. After all the **** she's dealing with Scott, especially tonight, there's nothing you can do. You kept her safe, that's all I can ask for. I'm just glad I got there in time."
"Yeah, when you pulled up and scared those ****, that was great! I didn't know what they were going to do. That mexican looked like he was about to **** his pants." It was my turn to chuckle.
"Yeah. Well..when you mess with my girls, you're barkin' up the wrong tree." She began to stir a bit. I reached over and touched her shoulder as I drove.
"Joanie, you okay, honey? I'm takin' you to the hospital. You're going to be fine." All she could do was mumble. After dodging in and out of morning traffic, we finally made it to the hospital. I carried her in and there were two nurses at the front desk. The man was quick to meet me after observing the situation.
"What's going on?" He asked.
"6 months pregnant. She called me complaining she wasn't feelin' well and shortly after hanging up, she passed out."
"Okay." He called to the other nurse. "Marissa, get a wheelchair."
He quickly wheeled her through the double doors leading to the ER rooms and I followed, with Stephanie behind me.
"I'm sorry, we can't allow anybody to come with her right now." Marissa looked at me. "Are you the father?" I looked at Stephanie and back at the nurse.
"Yes he is!" Stephanie interrupted. Marissa was taken aback by the raise of her voice.
"Okay then. Well I guess we can make an exception. Right this way." I looked at Stephanie.
"Take care of her." Stephanie said as she gave me a wink and a smile. I could only smile back.
I fell in love with Joanie six months ago when she and I started dating, but somehow it didn't work out. I guess that's what happens when it's your best friend's sister and the two of you hardly know each other coming into the relationship. She had a way of drawing a man in though, myself especially. She wasn't innocent by any means and regardless of everybody trying to convince me of that, I never could see it. Maybe I did, but I never admitted it because I could only see the good in her. I was crazy about her. We had a horrible falling out and it's safe to say I never overcame it, even when I said I did. We stopped talking for a few months until one night she was kicked out by her ex-boyfriend. I remember that night like it was yesterday. I was sitting on the sofa in my apartment. I couldn't find anything to watch on television so I stumbled upon an old episode of Three's Company. My phone started ringing. I looked at the caller id and saw a number that was unfamiliar to me. Normally I wouldn't answer an unknown number, but everything told me to answer it. I did.
"Hello?" I said.
"Hey." I couldn't believe who it was. I was not even entirely sure it was her, but it damn sure sounded like her.
"Who, uh.. who is this?"
"It's Joanie. What are you doing?" She still sounded as sweet as I could remember.
"Just, uh.. Watching tv. Can't find anything good. How ya been?" I wasn't sure what to think. I thought I was over her, but here she is again.. talking to me.
"I've been better." I could tell something was wrong.
"Anything you can talk to me about?"
"Besides that **** kicking me out of his house? No."
"What?" I knew she didn't have a place to stay, and so did her ex. I was a close friend of the family and after the reason behind our falling out, they wouldn't have a whole lot to do with her either. She was officially on the street, with only her van to keep shelter. It took everything from me to convince her not to drive off a bridge. She seemed okay after the conversation, but I sure as hell was not. My wall was up, but my emotions broke through and my heart gave in.
"Look... why don't you stay here for a while? I could use some company." I asked.
"......I'd like that."
"Okay, well.. I haven't gone anywhere and you know where I live... So be safe getting here, okay? The door will be unlocked, just walk in. I'll be here."
"Okay. Thank you, Mike."
"Yeah." With that, we hung up. She was staying out in the upper north area from where I was in Dallas, TX. It took her 30 minutes after our conversation to get to my place. I heard a knock on the door and my heart began to race. I got up and answered the door.
"I told you it was unloc-" When I opened the door she immediately fell into my arms. It's hard to describe just what I was feeling. I felt a feeling of joy but hurt at the same time, yet I didn't want this feeling to end. It was amazing and right then I knew I still loved her.
"You okay?" I slowly ran my hand down her head, to assure her it would be ok now.
"Just hold me.. please..." I did as she asked. After a minute or so she released her embrace from me and looked up into my eyes.
That was a time long gone. I think about those times often. The nurse and I made it to the temporary room they were going to hold her in for a short time. I helped the nurse get her into a hospital gown and stepped out as another nurse came in so they could begin their work. I decided to give them space so I walked back out into the waiting room where Stephanie was. She had her back to me as I walked around to the front of her and sat in my own seat. My elbows were on my knees and my eyes concentrated on the hard white hospital floor.
"How is she?" She asked.
"Okay, I guess." I was worried, extremely worried and it was obvious.
"Are YOU okay?"
"Could be better....could be a lot better, actually."
"I'm sorry about earlier." She said. I looked up at her.
"The nurse asking if you were the baby's father. It wasn't my place to answer that, and I'm sorry. I just know how much you...care about her, and I wanted you able to go back there and be around her." I smiled and leaned back in my chair. I took off my hat and ran my fingers through my hair.
"Stephanie, you don't have to be sorry. You're my friend..and you're just trying to help. You know better than anybody I still love her. I always have....I just...." I had put my hat back on and leaned back onto my knees. "...wish I could make her realize I'll love her more than anybody ever could... It's not fair."
"Give her time. She's mixed up."
"Hell, I'm mixed up too but at least I know who I want to be with."
"Nobody is as strong as you are, Mike." I get up and begin to pace.
"I'm strong because of her, Steph. That's what you and nobody else understands. She was the reason I got up to go to work every damn day, and now she's the reason I get up every morning to look for a job and hustle my **** off. Yeah, I drink every night and I take a pill here & there, but you want to know why, Steph? Because I'm hurting, I'm ****' hurting. I hurt because I don't understand why she's tore up over a drunk bastard, or wondering why that guy at the bar didn't call her the next morning when I'm right ****' here! I've been here the whole damn time, and I haven't left!" I controlled myself when I saw a mother and her daughter staring at me from across the room. "Sorry, ma'am." I sat down in the seat next to Stephanie. I leaned back and locked my fingers behind my head for relaxation. "You know when I got laid off a few months ago, it didn't mean a damn to me.. I lost all hope that she would ever want me again, and when she married that old prick, it became impossible to care... Now when I see her crying over him or looking for the next catch, I pretend it doesn't hurt, but it does... it hurts bad."
"It's okay, Mike. I know it hurts. Believe me, I know how you feel. Just give her time and she'll come around. I know she will. You’re a good man. Men like you are hard to find, and soon she will see that."
"I hope you're right.... Thank you."
"I'm your friend. There's no need to thank me." She responded while patting me on the back.
"I'm going to go see how she's doing." I had gotten up to walk back to her temporary room when the nurse walked out and approached me. Stephanie got up to attention. We spoke at a low volume to avoid any outsiders who might've overheard.
"Luckily there is no water breakage and there is no sign of bleeding. Her vitals are perfectly fine as well. We have taken blood and are running some tests and the ultrasound seemed to be okay but the doctor is looking it over. Until everything comes back she's in room 306b on the third floor."
"Thank you. Is she allowed to come with me to see her?"
"Yes, I think it's okay now. But she's still asleep so I would let her rest." I turned to Stephanie.
"I'll stay. I'd prefer to have the baby's father there instead of me." She said with a smile.
"Okay." I nod my head and walk to the elevators. It took a minute to get to the third floor, while meanwhile talking to myself.
"Please let everything come out okay. It's all I ask." I finally made it to the floor and took a moment to find her room. I quietly walked in to find her awake, staring at me.
"Hey yourself." I saw a chair leaning against the wall. I grabbed it and scooted it to her bed side. I sat down. "How ya feelin'?"
"Um..In pain. They can't give me any meds 'cause of the pregnancy and all... What happened?"
"Steph would do a better job of explaining. All I know is as soon as we got off the phone when you said you weren't feelin' well, I was already out the door and in my truck."
"Tha-oh God!" A pain must've shot through her judging by her sudden wince and the need to grab my hand. I stood up out of concern.
"Hey now.. you okay? Squeeze hard if you need to." I felt the need to state the old That's What She Said joke in hopes it would humor her, but it wasn't a good time. I let go of her and proceed to get the nurse. Before I can open the door wide enough to walk out, she calls for me.
"I'm okay. It was a sharp pain, but it's gone now."
"You sure you don't need a nurse?"
"Yeah." She patted the chair with her hand. "Come back." I walked over and sat back down as she smiled again.
"Thank you for coming for me."
"Yeah, well.. it takes a lot to get me out of bed, or couch in this case." I said. She chuckled as I continued. "All joking aside." I glanced to the floor in thought and turned back to face her. "Don't ever do that again.... You scared the hell outta me. And then how do you think I felt when I pull up and find five thugs surrounding you and Stephanie?"
"What?" She asked.
"Yeah. I pull up to find five **** surrounding both of you."
"They didn't hurt us, did they?"
"Not on my watch. Though I almost didn't get there in time. One of 'em said they were just concerned when they saw Steph catch your limp body when you fainted. Judging by the smirk on his face, I knew it was ****."
"I'm glad I didn't have to wake up to that."
The door opened and the doctor walked in. He approached me and shook my hand.
"Hi, I'm Doctor Garvin."
"Michael." Doctor Garvin stood straight and put his hands in his pockets.
"Well, Joanie.. all your blood work came back. Everything looks good. Your ultrasound we performed on you earlier looks good. The baby is healthy.
"What do you think it is?" I asked.
"Could be stress." Joanie nodded her head in agreement. "I'm assuming you've dealt with a great deal of it lately?" Garvin asked.
"Thought so. I suggest whatever is causing this stress, you avoid it as best as you can. Avoiding it during this point of your pregnancy is crucial. Turn your phone off, isolate yourself if you have to. You have a strapping young man that can deal with it for you." Doctor Garvin joked and winked at her as we shared a laugh. He grabbed the door handle, signaling his departure. "But everything is good. You'll have a little bit of pain for a while, so I recommend you get plenty of rest. You're free to go." The doctor smiled at the both of us and walked out, quietly shutting the door behind him. I turned to her.
"Need any help getting dressed?" I kicked myself, hoping that question didn't sound bad.
"No, I'll be fine."
"'Kay.. Well I'll be right outside until it's good to come back."
"Yeah." I walked out, shutting the slide door behind me and waited. I checked my cell phone to find it was 7am. I couldn't believe I was up this early. You'd be lucky to find me awake at 9am. I nodded in greeting to a well dressed woman with a clipboard walking by. Joanie cracked the door a bit.
"It's safe." I smiled and walked back in. I helped her sit back on her bed and I proceeded to sit beside her.
"Look, I'd like to talk to you about something." Before I could finish another nurse with papers walked in. She greeted Joanie and gave her the discharge papers telling her what she is restricted to when we get home. She leaves and Joanie turns to me.
"What were you saying?"
"Oh, uh... You know what? It's nothing, it can wait." I helped her off the bed. "We need to get you home so you don't get your short **** hurt again." We laughed after she gave me a stiff punch to the side. For once I felt like it might work out.. so I thought, anyway.
From author: Thank you for reading. In the next chapter you will find out how this all began. Reviews are much appreciated.
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