Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Hardest Head in the World

Rose returned from her evening art history lecture in a really good mood to an empty house which was a little disappointing. She thought about making something nice for dinner but after looking in the refrigerator realized to do that she would have to go out to the store which she didn’t want to do. Also, she had no idea where anybody was and if they would be home tonight. It was a Thursday night and frankly she was surprised Seamus was not around because he was always home on Thursdays. Oh well, there was enough leftover chicken and romaine to make a nice chicken salad for dinner.
She ate and poured herself a glass of wine and was going to settle in and paint when she heard the landline ring. She never used the landline nor did she contribute to it so she usually didn’t answer it. Somebody insistently rang two more times and the last time she actually did run for it because it started to creep into her mind that maybe she should. It could be an emergency. She snatched it up on the last ring and was met with a dial tone. Damnit!
As she was walking back to her room, she heard another phone ring. It was Kimmie’s cell judging from the obnoxious I’m Too Sexy ring tone. She must have walked off this morning without it. Feeling a little weirded out, Rose went and looked in Kimmie’s room but could not see the phone. It had stopped ringing by then. She wondered if it was the same person calling Kimmie that was calling the house phone.
She went to her room and shut the door when she saw her own cellular phone sticking out of the top of her purse. It was flashing but silent as she had turned it off before she went to her lecture. There was nothing ruder than letting your phone interrupt a lecture. She dove onto the bed comically to catch it before it went to voice mail making Muddy, who had been asleep on the end of it bounce awake. He looked at her goggle eyed. She had thought she had missed it as there was silence for a moment on the other end.
“Rosie?” It was Seamus. She loved the way he said her name, it brought up goose bumps in unmentionable places. She could listen to him talk forever.
“Hi, she said cheerfully. I’m sorry, was that you on the house phone just now?”
“I just got in and didn’t make it in time, she said apologetically. What’s up?”
“I was wondering if you could do me a favor,” he asked in his calm way.
“But of course,” Rose replied.
“Grand. Do you think you could come and get me? I’ve been in a bit of an accident…..”
“What?! Rose stuttered excitedly. Are you ok…? What happened……..?”
“Shaved a few years off my life, nothing more, he said chuckling quietly. They won’t release me without a ride home though. Please come and get me?”
She promised to be there as soon as possible and hung up the phone with a shaking hand. She cursed herself after she hung up as she knew she would have to look up how to get to SF General from the house as she had no idea. Gawd, she wished Kimmie was here and they could just run out the door and go get him. Miraculously, she made it there without making any mistakes despite her nerves and worry. Her heart was completely in her throat.
When she got to SF General, the emergency room was packed with people in varying degrees of distress. She looked around at the mob and felt her hair stand up on the back of her neck. She didn’t see Seamus anywhere. She went up to the big, security guard burly nurse at the registration desk who promptly looked at a list and then buzzed the heavy double doors open to admit Rose to the back. Behind the scenes, the ER was every bit as chaotic as it was out in front in the waiting room. She found Seamus in a cubicle sitting in a chair besides the exam table talking quietly in Gaelic into his cellular phone.
“Gotta go, my angel Rosie is here,” Seamus said into the phone in English. He winked at her. He finished up his call in Gaelic and then hung up.
“That was me mam, He said gratefully. Am I glad to see you!”
“Oh my god, what happened?! Rose said in a small, shaky voice and moving very close to him. The only obvious damage was a bandage on the side of his left hand.
“Eejit ran the red light at Van Ness and Golden Gate and clipped me back tire, Seamus said shoving his cell phone into the pocket of his jeans. Sent me flying. I knocked me head pretty good too.”
He stood up from the chair; wincing and growling as he did so. He moved so stiffly, Rose thought she could probably snap him in half.
“Look at this, he said, grabbing the handles of a large shopping bag beside the table. His violin case was in the bag and it didn’t look like it could close anymore on it’s own. He opened the case and Rose could see that the neck on the violin was broken. More like shattered. It was hanging by it’s strings.
“Oh no! Rose said with a shaking voice. The sight of it made her want to cry. I’m so sorry Seamie……!”
“Better this, than me though,” Seamus said smiling sadly. Still makes me sick, it was me grandda’s.”
“Oh my god, Rose replied covering her mouth.
He reached into the bag again and pulled out his helmut which was in pretty shocking shape too. There was a caved-in hole in the side of it.
That’s why they wanted me to ride home with someone, Seamus said. I may have a concussion.”
Rosie hesitated and then her lip started to quiver. Seamus noticed it immediately.
“Oh, what’s that, Rosie! He said leaning into her and putting his arm around her small shoulders warmly. He cuddled her to him. Nothing’s happened here that I won’t recover from…..”
“It’s just really scary,” she replied looking at the ruined helmut. And your poor violin…!”
“It’ll be fine, really,” he said softly, trying to comfort her. He moved the hand around her shoulders to the back of her neck and buried his hand in her hair; squeezing the silky, dark handful affectionately.
He reached into the bag a third time and pulled out his leather jacket. The EMTs had cut it off of him at the scene. It was cut down the middle parallel to the zipper and the sleeves had been cut lengthwise. It was now a mishappen flapping mass of leather.
“Maybe you can make something with that, he joked. Something multi-media…?”
“When did this happen?” She asked looking at the ruined jacket and not realizing he was trying to be funny.
“Around 3,” Seamus replied. He started loading his crash trash back into the shopping bag.
The doctor came by to release him and explained to Rosie that she would have to observe him off and on all evening for a concussion. Kimmie was still not around when they got there.
“I bet you’re hungry, can I make you something to eat?” Rosie asked putting the bag of crash trash down by the front door. She watched Seamus walk stiffly down the hall to his room.
“That would be so nice, Seamus said stopping and turning around and smiling at her wearily. I’m beyond starving……..”
There was not much in the refrigerator but there were things for breakfast so she made him his favorite of eggs and bacon and a weak cup of decaffeinated tea. She was setting a place at the table for him when he walked into the kitchen. He was struggling with his tee-shirt and it was winning. He was knotted up pretty tight in the fabric. His arms were flailing and his head was just a bump under the collar. Under other circumstances she would have loved to tease him over it, but this just wasn’t funny.
“Oh no, let me help you with that!” she said.
His arms stopped moving and he snorted.
“Not doing very well, am I? Yes, a little assistance would be good….”
She took the hem of his tee-shirt between her fingers and gently tried to lift it towards his shoulders. She carefully pulled one arm at a time out of the sleeves and was working on freeing his head when Kimmie came bounding into the kitchen completely clueless.
“Oooo lala, what’s going on here?” She joked stopping dead.
Seamus laughed at Kimmie’s comment beneath the tee-shirt.
“Oh shut up!, Rose replied off-handedly. She finally freed Seamus’ head. He “ooooofffed” as if it smarted.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to hurt you, she said softly to him. She handed him his shirt and was suddenly face to face with his naked chest. He had such beautiful skin. Flawless.
“What the heck, Seamie, where the hell did you get this?! Kimmie asked very soberly. She reached out and touched his lower back. There was a very ugly bruise surfacing there.
“Kidney punch from Ms. Rosie, he said smartly. She beats me when you’re not here…”
“Seamus got in an accident this afternoon, Rosie said looking at the bruise critically. She unconsciously made a face when she saw it and then looked at Kimmie. He may have a concussion…..”
“What? Oh my god!” Kimmie said wide eyed.
“Some asshole ran into him, Rose said in a tight voice. I went and picked him up from General…”
Seamus turned around to go back to his room.
“Do you need help putting on a fresh shirt?” Rose asked looking at his bare back with that intricate tattoo. That was nice too. It made her want to drool.
“No, Lovely, I think I can handle it. It’s the taking off part that kills me.”
“If you really wanna see how bad it was, go and look in that bag in the hall, Rose said to Kimmie after Seamus had left the room.
Francis had finally picked up his messages and rushed over to see how Seamus was doing. That was when Seamus gave them a detailed account of what had happened to him. He relayed the collision, the air born twenty feet, out cold for 10 minutes and waking up as he was being stripped down by the EMTs.
“They were about to cut me jeans off me when I woke up, Seamus said to them and then to a sober Rose across the table. Now that would have been awkward, me bum hanging out for all to see on Van Ness.”
They all laughed at Seamus except Rose.
“You must have the hardest head in the world,” Francis laughed as he stuck his finger in the hole in the side of Seamus’ ruined helmut.
“Ach, you’re making me feel violated! Seamus joked reaching out and smacking Francis’ hand away. Don’t be doing that…”
Francis and Kimmie laughed but still no smile from Rose.
You know, I slammed the door on him when we were lads and put a pineapple on his forehead that could be seen from space,” Francis said cracking himself up.
“That’s true, Seamus agreed. It has taken some knocks in it’s time.”
Seamus chuckled at the memory and quietly watched Rose; her face the portrait of pinched aggravation.
“Well, that explains alot, Kimmie said taking the humor further. You never have been quite right in the head, Seamus….”
Francis took out his phone and pointed it at the helmut and took a picture of it.
“What are you doing?” Seamus asked him.
“Your admiring public will want to know about this, Francis said looking at the image on his screen and then pocketing the phone. We’ll say you were being chased by the paparazzi.”
“I’m going to bed,” Rose said standing up suddenly.
“I don’t know what I would have done without you, Seamus said with a sweet expression. Thanks so much for everything, Rosie.”
“I’m just thankful you are alright, she replied turning around and giving him a level look. You all have a good night.”
She just wanted her space as she had expended way too much energy and stressful emotion tonight to listen to them joke another minute. She berated herself for having no sense of humor about the accident. It should have been funny because Seamie was ok. She had excused herself as she knew she was not good company right now. She hated being scared that badly. She also wanted to quietly contemplate why she took all this so hard.
Because you secretly want Seamus, that’s why, you dummy. She thought sharply to herself. You really care and that’s why you are upset.
It was something she knew to be true but had yet to admit. Proof of her regard for him was all there. Kimmie had even called her on it. She consciously knocked herself out to please him. People freak out when the people they love get hurt. She hesitated to admit it openly because her last relationship had been so unsatisfactory. Boring. Unnapreciative. Clueless. She did not think she would ever look at another man again. Her caution was purely residual leftovers from her break-up with Hank and had nothing to do with Seamus.
She was sitting at her desk with her sketchbook open in front of her thinking about this when she felt her phone vibrate against her thigh. Who the hell could this be this time of night? It was 12:30am! She looked at the caller ID and saw it was Seamus. Silly boy, what was he doing calling her from the kitchen?
“Hello?” she tried to sound cheerful.
“……….gotta let that mess go, boyo, Francis said clearly. It’s over.”
“Aye,” Seamus replied. There was a measure of crabbiness in his tone.
“You hate this whenever I say it, but that was a match made in hell, Francis went on seriously. I am glad it ran it’s course, you deserve better than ‘Ms. Lola If You Please’…”
Rose suddenly realized that Seamie had pocket-dialed her. She felt momentarily embarrassed at having intruded on what sounded like a private conversation but she paused and did not hang up. She had to admit, whenever the name “Lola” popped up and it had her complete attention.
“She never appreciated you, Francis continued his riot act. And you now got beautiful herself in the other room who clearly thinks you walk on water…you’re totally daft, man, if you don’t see that……”
“She does really like you, Kimmie agreed faintly from the background. She’s just very shy…….”
There was a pause and no response from Seamus.
“I’m tellin’ you, she thinks you’re the cat’s pajamas, dude,” Kimmie reinterated.
“See? Francis said. Rose would be a novelty after all that other selfish shite.”
Rose crumbled under a mountain of embarrassment and hung up suddenly when she realized that they were talking about her. She threw her phone across the room in case she got pocket-dialed again. Ugh! She absolutely hated it when people tried to match make her, even if it was to someone who was as delicious as Seamus. Their interference may cause weirdness that could ruin her friendship with him. Gawd, she would never leave her room again!
She could not concentrate on any one of her assignments as her mind raced. She got her second wind by overhearing that conversation in the other room and just knew she would not be getting sleep anytime soon. She wrote her mother an e-mail and cruised the web aimlessly and checked her social network page. Thank goodness she did not have class tomorrow morning and did not have to go to work till the afternoon because she would be a hungover mess in the morning.
When she was coming back from the bathroom around 2:30a.m, she heard a light clanking coming from the kitchen. It was Seamus standing at the open refrigerator door. He turned and saw her before she could duck back to her room.
“Everything okay?” She asked him.
“Ach, I fucking hurt, he complained. I wish I could have a beer………”
“Is it your head?” She asked suddenly worried.
“No, me head’s fine, actually. I just hurt all over, he said taking a sip out of the glass of cold water he had poured himself from the pitcher in the refrigerator.
“I’m so sorry,” she said regretfully.
“I’ll live,” he said giving her one of his soft, sparkly smiles.
“Well, you have a good night, she said turning around to run in fright back to her room. Try to get some rest…..”
“I just wanted to say thank you again for collecting me tonight, he said looking at her very frankly. You’re such a good friend…”
“You’re very welcome,” she stuttered awkwardly.
The infamous spy job via cellular phone hung over Rose’s head the next couple of days and she just couldn’t put it out of her mind. She finally decided to ask Kimmie to fill her in on why that conversation had even started. They were going on a morning walk along the Great Highway when she finally got the courage to mention it.
“I need to ask you something, but you gotta promise me that it stays between you and I,” Rose said seriously.
“Sure,” Kimmie said looking very serious.
“I’m serious, you may feel like you may want to mention it to Seamus because he is your cousin so there is familial loyalty there…”
“You’re every bit as much family to me as Seamus is! Kimmie said intrigued. Okay, I promise….”
Rosie hesitated because she didn’t even know where to begin or if she really wanted to begin at all.
“You’re killing me, spit it out!”
“The other night when I went to bed after Seamie’s accident. He accidentally pocket dialed me and I heard you guys talking………”
Kimmie laughed.
“It’s not funny!” Rose said dejectedly.
“I know, I am sorry, Kimmie said grabbing her friend’s hand and shaking it.
Rose looked so embarrassed.
“What part did you hear?” Kim asked trying to get serious.
“Why are you guys pushing me on him?”
“He started it, Kimmie replied defending herself. He said you were so cute he couldn’t stand it….”
“Shut up!”
“No, he did. He likes you a lot Rose, but you’re always running away so you send the message that you aren’t interested…..!”
“I’m not…..”
“Now we all know that’s bull, Kimmie said levelly. I don’t think I have ever seen you more interested…”
“I don’t need any distractions, Seriously…………….”
“You need to take better care of yourself, Kim chastised her gently. All you do is school and work and lock yourself in that studio of your’s. You are so lovable and you can’t let that mess with Hank define every relationship you may have from now on. Hank isn’t even in the same league as Seamus…..”
Rosie knew what was coming and had to smile. Kimmie was about to do one of her world famous analogy ridden comparisons.
“Gawd, Hank’s Milli Vanilli to Seamus’s Beatles………”
Rose’s smile got bigger.
“He’s Hersheys next to Seamie’s Godiva….”
Rose chuckled.
“He’s shit on a shingle next to Seamie’s filet mignon…”
Now that was funny and Rose did laugh out loud.
“You know how Seamie gets all uptight when Corley’s around? Well, it isn’t really about the music, honey, it’s because Corley hit on you that one time.”
Corley was totally disgusting and not Rose’s type at all. She had intimated to Seamus about how much Corley annoyed her. Seamie’s look of surprise was burned into her mind and he had promised her he would have a word with Corley about it. He must have because Corley had not bothered her since.
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