Dylan woke up relatively late on his first day of the weekend. He was still getting used to the fact that his weekend now started on a Monday, but already felt considerably less of a Garfield then he had been for the past God knows how long.
Apple seemed to agree as he pawed at the duvet hiding Dylan’s chest. He petted the cat and it responded by lying down, purring loudly. Dylan didn’t mind the cat-hair in his bedroom as much as he had before, and Apple seemed to be happy he didn’t have to stay in the living room at night anymore. Dylan was just glad he wasn’t sleeping alone.
Their cat was hardly a placeholder for the sturdy body of Sean, but it would have to do. For both of them. He was quite sure Apple missed Sean too. People said cats only bonded with their environment and not with their human companions, but that was just dog-lover’s talk. Just because cats don’t wait around for their humans to tell them what to do, doesn’t mean they don’t care. Apple cared, surely.
Dylan’s stomach growled so loud it made the cat jump up, which was a clear sign Dylan should be getting out of bed. He walked over to the living room, still wearing only his underpants. He used to have a bathrobe, but he wasn’t sure where he’d left it. He hadn’t seen it since the move, so he had probably thrown it out along with everything else that reminded him of Sean too much. Maybe he had been a little rigorous…
He gave his little black companion some cat-milk for breakfast, then proceeded baking himself an omelette. He ate it in front of the TV, watching the news. Nothing much had happened. There were still people starving in Africa, bombs going off in the Middle-East, and demonstrations against whatever in The Hague. As he finished his food he got up and put the used plate back on the kitchen counter, then made a mental note to buy a coffee table.
Maybe he could do that today, Dylan thought. Normally the stores were way too crowded in his weekend to even consider going shopping, but now… Then again, he could also just pick one out online and have it delivered at his doorstep. That would be easier since he didn’t have a car anymore and he wouldn’t have to take a day off to wait for the delivery man.
Dylan sighed as he wondered why he hadn’t become a bartender ages ago. He probably would’ve been happier. And maybe Sean…
Don’t go there. Dylan warned himself. Don’t even dare to think you could’ve done something different. You didn’t, and you can’t turn back time to try over. You tried, you did your best, you couldn’t save him. It’s not your fault…
But somehow, deep down, it kind of felt like it was…
As he was scanning furniture on the IKEA website, a strange kind of noise tore Dylan from his destructive though spiral. It sounded like… what did it sound like? Something between an alarm and a guitar and an electronics malfunction. Right… probably Ian next door.
It was too bad, he could often hear Ian when he played the electric guitar, but most of the time it actually sounded like music. Dylan knew he wasn’t a connoisseur, but he was pretty sure that this was just noise.
A scream accompanied the sound. Dylan was aware that some heavy music featured loudly screamed lyrics, but this didn’t sound anything like it. It didn’t have any melody in it, nor sounded it angry. What the hell was his neighbour up to?
Another scream. Fuck, that sounded like panic. Dylan put his laptop down and walked out to the French balcony. The screaming was getting worse, something was happening. Dylan didn’t hesitate a moment. He climbed up on the railing, plucked Ian’s key from the ledge and jumped over to his neighbour’s balcony. One glance inside make Dylan’s heart skip a beat and immediately open the door.
Ian was lying on the floor in his underwear, blood everywhere. He was flailing at the air with his arms, kicking at the couch and screaming in terror. Dylan ran towards him, phone at the ready to call emergency services when he noticed what was on the table.
He walked over to Ian, who didn’t seem to acknowledge his presence, he stayed clear of the flailing limbs and checked where the blood was coming from. This meant catching Ian’s right hand and inspecting it. He had a cut on the side of his finger. Not deep, not bad, not even bleeding anymore, but it was quite likely the reason Ian had blood on his face and lots of other places.
He checked Ian’s face, seeing if there were really no more wounds. Meanwhile he tried to calm him down by talking steadily in a soft voice. Ian’s hazel eyes were wide open as he stared right through Dylan’s face, pupils enlarged, gaze unfocussed. His chest was heaving up and down in panicked breaths, but at least he stopped screaming.
“Ian, you’re okay. You’re okay, relax buddy, breathe.”
“He’s coming for me… he’s submersed as a crab, but he’s not. He controls the light and the weather.” Ian muttered, still shaking.
Was it sugar? Dylan tried hard to think back to his friends’ college adventures. They always called him a wuss for not partaking in their trip nights, but every time someone went bad, Dylan had praised his backbone. Fuck peer pressure. Turns out it’s very handy to have someone at the ready to calm a tripping idiot down and feed them Dextro.
Luckily, Ian had sugar in his kitchen cabinet. Which was a good thing, because Dylan wasn’t really sure if he had any himself. He dissolved as much as he could in warm water, then brought it over to the delirious man on the floor. He put it down for a second as he sat down behind Ian, and Ian’s upper body up against his own. Having him back in an upright position he coaxed him into drinking it.
First Ian didn’t want any of it, twisting out of Dylan’s arms, screaming again as if he was being murdered. But stoking his hair whilst talking him down did seem to work. At one point Ian turned his head and looked at him with one hazy eye.
“Will you make the pincers go away?” He said.
Dylan’s expression turned soft. “I’ll protect you. Now drink this, it’ll make you better.”
Ian did what he was told. When he had emptied the cup, Dylan took it from him and put it back on the floor. He moved a bit back and let Ian’s head fall into his lap. He stroked his hair as his breathing slowly evened.
“You shine like the northern lights… Your face goes all green and cerulean and then your nostrils eat the shadows and they come out your eyes.”
Dylan rolled his eyes as he tried to hide his annoyance. Why couldn’t people just take care of themselves for once? Don’t do drugs. How difficult is that?! As difficult as not smoking? Dylan’s traitorous mind snapped right back at him. He kissed his teeth in response. What the hell is cerulean anyway?
Ian kept muttering nonsense every few minutes for about an hour or so, then drifted off to sleep. He looked so young and fragile. Dylan kind of wondered what kind of parents would let their son just go out and live this kind of life in the big city. Then again, Ian’s parents probably had no idea. Dylan remembered his parents also didn’t have a clue what he had been up to when he was in his early twenties. Shit he was getting old.
He picked his neighbour up and brought him to bed for the second time in a month. When this kid sobered-up he really needed to talk to him, for this shouldn’t become a habit. This time Ian wasn’t dressed however, so Dylan tucked him in to make sure he didn’t catch a cold. He stroked his golden hair once more and Ian’s eyes opened slightly.
Dylan was stared at in awe. He wasn’t sure how he figured that, because no one had ever stared at him in awe, but he was sure this was what it looked like.
“Muse…” Ian sighed, then promptly fell asleep.
Why do I always get myself into these kinds of situations? Dylan wondered. Why can’t I just call the police like a normal human being? How much pain and misery would I have been spared if I just left the druggies be druggies and the crazies be crazies and just not give a damn about all these toxic people? Then again, he probably was toxic person number one, considering...
Dylan walked back to the living room and cleaned up the blood and the mess, all the while asking himself why on earth he was doing that. Some pieces of paper had blood spatters as well as scribbles on it. Dylan was about to throw them away to see that the scribbles were actual sentences.
The touch of your skin has set my soul alight. Your kisses grew me wings upon which I own the skies. From this day on you’ll be my only medication. My one true love my ecstasy, I won’t stand for moderation. You eclipse the stars as your cerulean eyes shine brighter, fading all the darkness that kept me from getting higher. My aria, my gloria, my mania.
Dylan’s blood ran cold as various thoughts raced through his mind, but one prevailed: Jeffrey.
How could he NOT have seen that? All the fucking signs were there, he had even told Ian the guy was crazy. He was fucking CERTIFIED crazy. His mannerisms, the incoherent talking, the spending, the ‘I’m going to be a millionaire’, the instant soulmate thing… For fuck’s sakes I’m the psychologist! How come it takes a drugged-up songwriter to tell me the guy was having a manic episode?!
Muttering curses under his breath, at himself and at the world, Dylan left Ian’s apartment the way he came in. Then he grabbed his coat and ran.
Dylan could always remember the way once he had been somewhere before. He had a knack for it. He ran straight for Jeffreys crappy basement apartment. All the way there hoping.
Hoping Jeffrey was there, celebrating his million-dollar deal from this morning had gone right. Hoping he wasn’t there, for the same reasons. Hoping that there actually had been a deal to be so happy about, instead of the delusion Dylan was now thinking it probably was.
Hoping he was wrong, and Jeffrey was just a sane happy person. Knowing that was probably not it, hoping his family was there, helping him back on his medication. Hoping for any possible scenario that didn’t involve police tape. There were a shitload of scenario’s not involving police tape.
Reality was not one of them.