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 Montgomery and Detroit

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PostSubject: Montgomery and Detroit   Wed Apr 01, 2015 11:15 pm


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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Wed Apr 01, 2015 11:19 pm

261 days before

The climate has changed. And so has time.

Which made sense, since I travelled from America to England. It would have been strange if it didn't.

And because of the time differences, I showed up at work with my nerves strung like guitar strings and with my jaw permanently set in the position to yawn. And they say I don't dress to impress. It was a bit hard to keep my eyes open and brain focused onto the nice lady who gave me directions around the building. It was a big place, but lucky for me, I only needed to figure out my surroundings in a small part of it: the bathroom, the dining area, my office and the room of my patient.

It was kind of scary, I have to admit. For a psychologist like me to prance into a room of a mentally unstable person and tell them, "Hey buddy, your old doctor is retiring and I'm replacing him! Oh joy! But never mind that, let's eat some play doh and watch birds and" whatever children did in this asylum, really. And it was even scarier, since I didn't know the child I'd ruin life to.

It was sad, also, and hauntingly depressing. They were children, for Christ's sake, yet by some crazy way they ended up homeless and/or mentally traumatized. Thank God, the children section was a bit smaller than the adult one.

The nice lady left me in front of the room she said was my office, and her final parting words to me were,

"Dr. Greene is just collecting his supplies. Go in, he'll tell you everything you need to know and I forgot to tell you, and about your patient." Was that a blush? I think it was a blush. There was probably a full length sixty season Mexican soap opera of stories between her and Greene, and I didn't want to get involved.

"Thanks", I said and rolled my suitcase in front of my office. Well, I say office, but it will also be my bedroom. Here's a story behind that:

I had just finished my schooling in America. Yeah, got my phD and all those fancy titles and stuff. But, (according to my Egyptian mother) an Englishman never leaves home, so after my last semester, I packed my bags and flew home. Ah, but the thing is, for a broke college graduate who lived, well, nearly a decade off of scholarships, buying or renting a flat wasn't an option. But, as they do, the chips fell into their place and voila. I'd work and live in that office I was about to enter, half day I'd work and half day I'd… Well, still work. Kids are high maintenance. But I guess it's for the better, because, even if I did have a social life in England when I was eighteen, it all turned to dust ten years later. I guess I'm still the nerd, but I'm a nerd with a phD.

But back to present.

I knocked on the door and there was a bright and clear 'Come in' from the inside. So I came.

"Hello there, Dr. Greene", I said once the door was closed and my things were inside.

"Oh, hello." The man looked no older than fifty, but I guess a business with mentally unstable people takes its toll in shape of early retirement and wrinkles on forehead. "I'm just packing the last of my things, I should finish in a minute, then I'll give you instructions on Mon and I'm off", he said with melancholy in his voice and a slightly sad smile. I wondered what was Mon short for, but I'd figure that out when I read his/her medical file.

I waited patiently for Greene, and, once he was all packed up, he handed me an incredibly thick file, at which I raised my eyebrows.

"Oh", Greene quickly explained, "you expected a child?" Well, yeah, we are in the children section, right? "No, Mon… He's not a child, but he arrived here when he was younger, and we didn't have the heart to move him out."

"Oh, alright…" Strange, but understandable. Mental stability, change of surroundings… "How old is he, then?"

"Well, he'd be your age, I guess. He's twenty six." Okay hold up.

"Twenty six?" My voice raised a bit at the end of the sentence. I signed up for a kid, not a drinking buddy!

However, it made me think. Twenty six? He'd been here for at least eight years, then, maybe nine. How screwed up can you be to spend eight years in the social services? Greene must have seen my face because he continued in a reassuring tone.

"No, don't worry, Mon…" he drifted away for a second. "I think you could get along well. He's getting better."

Getting better? Eight (plus) years and just 'getting' better? I considered just rolling my suitcase out and leaving, but, to hell with it all, I was curious.

"How do I… Act around him? Like I'd act around a child? Or as my own age?" This was a new field for me, I had to arm myself with information.

"Be his friend who's also his psychologist. At least, try. He comes with, aside his many other troubles, extra bipolarity." Okay, bipolarity was good. Well, not good. Familiar. Except in teens.

"Okay. I can try."

"Shalil. Is there anything you wish to ask?"

Well screw me for trying to hide from a psychologist.

"I'm not quite sure if I'm capable of… Handling this."

"You can always call me. My number is…" he pointed at a small paper paperclipped to Mon's file. "Right here. If you need anything, call me."

"Okay." Of course I will.

"So, I'll just put this", Greene tapped the suitcase with his foot, "into my car and then I'll introduce you to Mon, sounds good?" I may have still looked alarmed, because he smiled a little. "Don't worry. I'm sure you two will get along just fine."

"Okay, thanks. I'll try to remember that."

Greene left me alone in an empty room.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Sun Apr 05, 2015 12:17 am

I put my bag and my suitcase on the bed, deciding to unpack later. I was much too interested in my patient. I mean, I knew I was going to meet him sooner or later (aka in 5 minutes), but, again, curiosity got the best of me. It often does.

I sat down on the office chair and placed the file in front of me. 'Montgomery Jean Blanchette', said the title. What an odd name, I thought. Yet again, what did I expect from a nickname 'Mon'? On the other side, that name seemed to belong to a king of sorts. Montgomery Jean Blanchette the First, or something.

When I was done studying his name, I opened the file.

Words floated in my mind as I read. I skimmed over more than half of the file before Greene returned.

"I like people who get into business real quick", he told me as he appeared in the doorway, luggageless. "However, I think you actually have to meet Mon to know him."

"Yeah, I was just-"

"Curious? Anxious? Excited? Scared?"

That man read right through me.

"Err…" No point in lying, right? "Yeah. I just-"

"I'm sorry, Shalil, but I really don't have time for questions." He put his hand onto the old, black telephone on the desk. "Call me tomorrow, alright? Now, I introduce you and Mon to each other, and I'm out of here."

"Okay." I wasn't quite sure I liked Dr Greene. Something in him felt off. But maybe it was just me and my rebellion towards authority.

I got up and followed Greene to the door, across the one I entered through. I felt a rain of thoughts as he opened the door. What if he doesn't like me? What if I don't like him? We'll only be around each other for the rest of his life and/or my job. But I decided to bite my tongue, swallow, and pick my mantra: YOLO (cringe). If I screw this up, so what?

Greene entered first, and I followed, a millisecond after.

The person (the boy, the man -- the patient) was sitting on a chair, one leg folded beneath him, sketching something into a dark blue notebook, with cracked spine and yellow pages. He wore a grey, ragged t-shirt, too big for him, an interesting amount of bracelets which clicked while he sketched and round shaped glasses with thin frames. He had brown, thick hair, lazily cut and strawy in shape, which covered his eyes, so I didn't see if he looked up or not. His pen didn't stop moving on the paper, though.

"Montgomery", Greene spoke. No reaction, but he obviously heard. Greene continued. "I'm retiring, I already told you."

"You did", Montgomery said, in an overly casual manner.

"And this is your new doctor." Oh, that's where I jumped in. "Dr. Detroit Shalil, a fresh graduatee from a college in America, isn't that lovely." Greene had a that overly nice voice we only used on children. But Montgomery wasn't a child, he was all grown up, so there was no use to that voice... Right?

And… He was… Laughing?

Well, it definitely was something. He turned his head away and let out a sharp and quick exhale through his nose. It was either a laugh or an allergic reaction.

"Detroit?"

"Um, yes?" It was strange, hearing my name in such a clear, soft British accent. I'd got used to it being Americanised.

"Your parents named you Detroit? On purpose?" Well that's not nice.

"Yes, they did." I shot a panicked look Greene's way, but he looked just as confused. And a tiny bit glad. Why? Montgomery had same questions on his mind.

"Why?" He asked, rolling his chair around so he faced us. He had gentle brown eyes which looked like they didn't belong on his edgy facial structure. "I mean, why did they name you Detroit?"

This wasn't the way I imagined him to be. And this conversation was even more confusing.

"Legend has it that mum and dad made little foetus me in Detroit during their honeymoon."

"Detroit isn't on the charts for top ten places to go to for your honeymoon."

"They went because it was cheap at the time." The right corner of Montgomery's mouth quirked up and he repeated the sharp nose exhale from before. I was sure then that it was Montgomery's version of a laugh.

To say Greene was shocked would be heavily understating the situation.

Montgomery rolled his chair back so he faced the table again and resumed his sketching, and Greene and I stood awkwardly side by side staring at walls.

"So." I said.

"So", Greene replied. "Mon, I'm going. Bye."

"Mm", just a hum as a response. It was strange, to see how little he connected to Greene after so many years spent together. And, yet again. Mental illnesses can mess with your emotional capacity.

Greene pulled me outside of the room, leaving Montgomery to his sketchings, and when he closed the door, he said, in a slightly breathy voice,

"That was amazing."

"What was?"

"He actually laughed. It took me years to get him to laugh again, and even then he only laughed when I was present." Oh, so that was a laugh?

"Maybe he needed someone his own age?" I suggested. Or was it my natural charisma? (probably not).

See, I refuse to believe in miracles. I'd been in the medical school for to long to believe in them. Even if they do exist, they don't happen in my life. I refused to believe that I just pranced into Montgomery's life, made him all better and everybody lives happily ever after. There is always a logical explanation to 'miracles'.

But, I was also a bit narcissistic. Why not? Did I not prance into his life and make him all better? He had laughed, after all. Greene said that it took him years to make him laugh, why would it be any different with me?

"Yes, most probably. Age is always a factor", Greene said. "On that note, I leave you. Good luck." And he left.

Well, considering the way we started, I wouldn't need any.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Wed Apr 08, 2015 10:28 pm

'Montgomery Jean Blanchette', started the file. I reread it once Greene left and I, of course, unpacked. 'At the age of seventeen, Blanchette was a victim of assault, both physical and sexual. It has left psychological damage in form of bipolarity, night terrors, anxiety, depressive manic disorders, panic attacks and heavy asociality', and on the margins, I saw a handwritten comment. 'Anorexia (??), full emotional detachment.' I hadn't seen the notes written by, well, Greene, I presume, so I spent a good fifteen minutes deciphering the frankly horrific handwriting. I had a feeling those hurried notes were there for me, so I ditched reading the actual file to read the notes.

And, oh, the notes.

They varied from 'Take his bracelets away and he won't speak with you ever again (ask the nurses)' and 'Don't even touch him if he doesn't initiate it. No hugs, no shaking hands, no accidental hand brushes.' It felt like every single one of the notes was a story.

'He gets a horrific cold during winter. It might look worrying, but it's just his weak immune system. It will pass in a couple of weeks.'

'If he ever feels sad, for any reason at all, play the Beatles, that ought to cheer him up.'

But, even though most of those were aww-worthy or enough to put a smile on your ace, some were just heartbreaking.

'He shuts down. Just stops talking and listening to you, even doesn't look at you. He'd carve into the pieces of material on his desk and ignore everything else. At times like that, you have to take away his sculpting kit at night. You have to act towards him as if he were a child. He is able not to speak for months.'

'Don't describe places you've been to him, especially not if he asks you to. He has never been outside this part of England and even though he may look interested, he's dying inside. I mean figuratively.'

It seemed like, even though Montgomery was indifferent towards Greene, he'd definitely found a place in Greene's heart.

I hoped I didn't have the same defect. And when I say defect, I mean it in the nicest way possible.

The rest of the day was silent. My official work had started today, but the proper work, with conversations and therapy and all other technicalities didn't, so I didn't bother to go check on Montgomery. He wasn't a child, he definitely had things to do when Greene wasn't there to babysit him. I wondered what those things might be.

Instead of sitting in my room doing nothing, I wandered around the hospital, to get to know my surroundings. I wanted to confirm my knowledge about the locations of bathrooms, lunch halls and such. And, also, to get to know the nurses and doctors working here. I had no interest in the old ones, because if they spent their lives in this place, there is no telling how fucked up they might be. And maybe they were just my future. Hopefully not.

Surprisingly, the male/female scales here were pretty unbalanced. Most of the people I saw were of the different gender. Cleaning ladies, lunch ladies, nurses (I had no idea they were needed here) and doctors, who were, guess what, female. It felt like high school all over again. And, of course, everyone wanted to meet 'the new kid'.

I was approached by at least five different girls my age. I say different, because one introduced herself to me twice. None of them were particularly interesting, with plain names and a little bit scary flirty behaviours. That one who showed up two times, she was particularly terrifying. I decided to give up on girls altogether and headed in the general direction of my room. (General, because I had no idea where I was. I was fully lost in a building the size of a… Well, it was reasonably large. But still. Building versus Detroit, one to null.)

But, as I was headed towards the office room, I was pulled over by a girl. Yes, more girls. I swear I saw less than three men in this facility, and I mean men which weren't patients.

"Hello", she greeted me. She had warm, light brown skin, short curls which were just a few shades darker, freckles, and a genuinely curious look on her face. She was a breath of fresh air in the building full of copy-paste people.

"Hi." I guessed it wasn't a good enough introduction, so I continued. "I'm Detroit, I'm taking over Dr Greene's patient." I shouldn't have been THAT general.

"Mon's got a new doctor? Well that's new." Her eyebrows arched up in surprise. "Oh well. It's nice to have male company here once in a while. It gets boring, ya know."

"I can see that", I admitted, and she cracked a half grin, half smirk, which covered only one side of her face.

"I'm Summer, I'm a medical student here in the city, but doing my work hours. I picked this place hoping it would be a breeze, and, my oh my, was I wrong", she shook her head.

"Why? What's wrong with this place? Except the glaringly obvious, I mean." I then realised it was awkward, just standing in the corner and talking in a quiet tone. People would think we're Illuminati. "You know what, want to go sit down in my room or something? I could make coffee, and you could explain just how this place works, sounds good?"

She nodded with way too much enthusiasm and we were off. (I told her the number of my room and she showed me where it was. Turns out I'd walked circles around in for about ten minutes.) I had a good feeling about Summer. She seemed nice, more dimensional than the cardboard cut-outs whose first words to me were 'sweetie', 'sugar' or worse. I'd decided to try to make friends with her. If she knew anything about Montgomery, which I hoped she did, she'd turn out to be a good person to have by your side.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:53 pm

Once we were inside, I looked around the makeshift kitchen. It was obvious that somebody else filled the cabinets, and I quickly found coffee.

"I'd ask you which coffee do you want, but I only have decaf", I said as I took out sugar and milk. Sugar? In the fridge? I was pretty sure sugar doesn't go there. But again, what do I know about life. The most cooking I've done was snacks for lazy college students who didn't know how to make their own.

"They only have decaf in this place. One sugar, please", Summer replied. She had sat on the back side of the sofa and swung her legs. I proceeded to make coffee as she began to talk. "Mon has been here for, what, ten years or so. I don't know, I've only arrived last year. But what surprises is that you only have him as a patient."

"Yeah, I've expected more, at least five or so", I didn't feel the need to talk much. Summer seemed like she could talk enough for the both sides of the conversation.

"Mhm. But, on the other side, Greene only had Mon also, and he arrived here from another hospital, as I've heard. I think Greene was on field duty before, and he found Mon and decided to be there for him." She sighed. "Poor kid. He's had an awful life."

"Kid? He's as old as you", I asked.

"Well, yeah, but he doesn't act like it. It feels like he's the collective child of this entire facility, you see. He never got to live out through his childhood, it's one of those stories", she sighed, and then almost audibly switched to a different conversation topic. "Say, where are you from? You have a strange accent."

I knew it would get to this point. I knew it. But since folks in America couldn't tell the Scottish accent from the chav one, I've successfully avoided that question for a decade. Now, the universe strikes back.

"I'm from Birmingham", I told her, casually skipping over my accent. But unfortunately Summer seemed to be a specialist of sorts in accents so she narrowed her eyes at me.

"Ya sure?"

"Yep, pretty much."

"I can't place your accent, and my grandma lives in Birmingham so that one I should know pretty well..." She bit the side of her lip in thought. Well, if she worried so much about my accent, why don't I tell her everything.

"My parents are from Egypt, they moved to England once they got married. So I was taught English by people who didn't know it very well. That's reason one. Reason two, I studied in America, so a lot of their accent has snuck up into mine", and that was the shortest explanation I could muster up. Summer seemed interested.

"That's really cool. I've always believed that parents have a huge influence on children." I couldn't help but laugh. "What?"

"I did part my doctorate on that thesis, that children pick up habits, beliefs and even body language quirks."

"Really?"

"Mhm", I fished out two mugs from an upper cupboard (on which I've spent half of our conversation finding) and turned around to Summer. "White or white with a sneaky advertisment at the bottom of the mug?" I asked.

"I don't mind", she replied. "I'm still trying to figure out on what topic I'll do a doctorate upon. I was tempted just to ask my teachers to give me a subject, but I guess it's a bit impersonal."

"You could write about a mental disorder one of the kids here has", I suggested pouring coffee in the mugs. "You can always dig up some new facts on anything involving the brain."

"True. Good idea. But I dunno, I'll try to figure out something. Thanks though", she pushed herself up and snatched the mug from me. Luckily, I have experience with coffee, glass containers and caffeine-lacking individuals, so I managed not to burn myself and continued to pour the coffee in the white mug.

"So", I switched the conversation around, same theme but a different subject. "How do things work around here? Do you have a room or do you have a flat in the town?"

"I'm here on a scholarship, so I currently live in the student homes, but I think some of the nurses really do have rooms here, and as you know, most doctors have their own rooms", Summer replied. "It all depends on your financial status, your age, if you're married or not and so on."

Huh. So I, with, erm, no financial status, single, must be provided with an office inside the building. That, and also the fact I'm with a patient who is special, squared. Fair enough.

We continued talking, and that was the first time I felt I might actually do something productive here. At first I'd planned to just stay in my room all the time, but if I keep talking to Summer… Well, I doubt I'd be a party animal. Maybe we could sit on the sofa, drink coffee and watch shit reality tv shows. Aka, what we proceeded to do for the following hour and a half.

"Say, don't you have work to do?" I asked when I got up to fill our glasses. (We ran out of coffee and switched to lemonade instead.)

"Yeah, but I accidentally dropped a few trays with lab supplies, so they sent me in my room", she explained. I looked at the glasses I was pouring lemonade into and left them on the counter. Not taking any risks. If she drops them I'd have to clean.

"Lucky you. Instead of sulking alone in your room, you ran into me."

"Lucky me", she laughed.

The rest of the conversation was nonexistent. We watched a full season of a reality, she left and I fell asleep on the sofa.

And that was day one. An unsurprisingly surprising day. I made a friend, I got to know my patient. I honestly doubted that it would all go uphill from there, but I got myself an interesting headstart there. I appreciated it.

And hopefully, I'd keep it up.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:16 pm

260 days before

I woke up with terrible pains in my neck by an annoying sound of my phone alarm clock. Because I left it on the desk, I had to get up and walk all the way to the desk to turn the goddamned alarm off. Not the best way to start off my day, but it's also not the worst. After deciding that my clothes from yesterday had to be changed (and accordingly to that decision changing the clothes), I headed for the kitchen.

Yes, I know I could have just gone to the cafeteria (it's not called cafeteria but I can't for the love of God figure out what was it called) and eat breakfast like everybody else, but I figured, since it was my first full day here, I ought to do something special. So I decided, what better way to do it than to make pancakes? Everybody loves pancakes, right? I checked if I had all the ingredients, and, luckily, I did. I even had marmalade and a chocolate spread in the top cupboard. I made a mental note to thank whoever equipped this kitchen. And then I stopped to ask myself an existential question.

Does Montgomery like chocolate spread or marmalade? Or nothing?

And then it dawned on me.

Screw it all.

I was the doctor here. He's to listen me.

I knocked on the door and walked in, with not even a second of space between. I find knocking irrelevant in a) prisons, b) schools and c) hospitals and anything that resembles a hospital. What? The people inside the doors can't be doing anything strange… Can they?

I walked into the silent room. Montgomery's bed was just on the left, and I could see his brown hair lying on the sofa, lifeless, but that was about it. He was covered head (a loose term. Maybe neck) to toe by a thick blanket and let out soft breathing sounds. So, I knew he was alive, but not if he woke up or not. I coughed.

"Montgomery?" I called.

"Mm", came a quiet grumble of a reply.

"I'm making pancakes."

"Okay." And that was about it. He didn't move one inch during that so-called-could-be-called conversation. I coughed once again.

"Montgomery."

"Mm."

"Do you like chocolate or marmalade in your pancakes?"

"Okay." I almost laughed. It was like talking to a college student the morning after their finals. The lights are on but there's nobody home.

"Montgomery."

"Mm."

"Montgomery."

"Mm."

"Montgomery."

"Piss off."

"Oh good", I couldn't hold back a laugh then, but I think I covered it nicely. "Now that you're awake, answer me the question. Do you like chocolate or marmalade in your pancakes."

"Sugar", he answered.

"Yes?"

In retrospect, I could have been more thoughtful.

He let out a sigh so harsh I believed if he huffed and puffed one more time he would blow the house away.

"I meant sugar in pancakes." And he covered his head and he was gone for the world.

"Gee, tough crowd." I walked out of the room, but left the door open, in case Mr. Blanchette decided to get up and smell the flowers. In this case, eat the pancakes. Whatever.

Due to my life spent in college, my cooking experience and knowledge was limited at least, but things I did often I did perfectly. If only Gordon Ramsay could try my burnt toast sandwiches, or the exotic Chinese pasta with those powdery substances from the small, plastic bag, oh, the Heaven. I cooked for my whole class one time. We nearly died from all the poison they pack into those small plastic bags.

But pancakes. Christ, the pancakes.

So here's the story. My dad always made pancakes on Saturday. No exception. Once he had a horrible flu, but he still made them. (Needless to say both mum and I picked up all the possible viruses ((virusae? Yes, I have a doctorate, but I have never learnt the plural of virus. Laugh all you want. At least I have a doctorate)) and were sick for days.) He always made the thinnest, the most delicious pancakes, and every time he made them less sweet, as if to fill them with cheese and toss them in the oven, for dinner. Never have we ever left enough pancakes for dinner. I swear, mum and I could empty an entire jar with marmalade in one day. In one sitting, even.

And of course, the routine went on when I got accepted into over-ocean college. The pancakes weren't as good as dad's, but it was nothing a spoonful (or two. Three, for those with PMS) of Nutella couldn't fix. It felt like Disney's Princess and the Frog, the gathering to eat food on the porch (read: in the back of the library, giggling like maniacs) and passing on cooking traits to my offspring. Ha. Yeah right.

Over the years, my skill has been upgraded. Which means, I don't burn every other pancake, my 'customers' don't make faces and pretend its great as they put half a jar of the spread on the pancake, and most important thing, nothing gets thrown away. Always an important factor in college, for broke, sleep deprived students.

But back to after-grad. I quickly mixed up a somewhat acceptable mixture and found a frankly tiny pan, but the smaller something is, the cuter that same aforementioned something is, right?

The whole stack of pancakes took me a bit more than a quarter of an hour, but I was satisfied. At least if they kicked me out for trying to put something in my patent's food, I can blame my dad for it.

I took out marmalade, for me, and the rest of sugar, for Montgomery, and I headed to the door. My grand journey to bring the plate, the jar and the paper bag into the room with my limited two-armed skeleton turned out to be a bad one. To avoid dropping, I left it all on the kitchen counter and called Montgomery over.

If we were to become 'friends', we might as well start now.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Sun Apr 19, 2015 10:16 pm

"Montgomery!" I called through the opened door leaning against the kitchen counter. After a long string of creative and, quite frankly, descriptive swears, came my reply.

"What?" His voice was hoarse from not being used throughout the night, and slightly muffled by the pillow, or so I guessed.

"Could you help me out, please?" I asked, trying to make my voice as nice, friendly and timid as possible. I think Greene said something about sculpting kit, doesn't that thing have knives?

"You're really making pancakes, aren't you?" Montgomery coughed once, clearing his throat from all the imaginary obstacles so he was able to speak normally.

"Nope", I said. "I've already made pancakes, I need your help to carry 'em." I realised that it would be much quicker to carry the plate, the jar and the paper bag one by one, but it was more interesting, nagging Montgomery. Greene did say I should act towards him as if he were my friend.

Another, shorter but more provocative cascade of profanities.

"My, oh, my, Mr. Blanchette. Didn't your mother teach you not to swear?"

Silence.

Shit.

During the silence, I thought about what I said. 'Mother' was obviously the trigger word. Now, his file said 'sexual assault', meaning rape. In those cases families usually grow closer to protect the endangered member, don't they? Why did Montgomery end up here? Was he in such bad state he had to be moved away from his family?

I opened my mouth to apologise, but then I saw him get up and walk to the door.

"I'll just change my pajamas", he said and shut the door.

Well, whatever I had triggered, it seemed to work. So far, Montgomery turned out to be everything I didn't expect; stubborn (not getting out of bed unless I made a cynical remark), maybe a bit shy (not showing himself in pajamas?), and a horrible person in the morning (self-explanatory). But maybe it was just one of his good days.

It took him a couple of minutes to get dresses. He came out of the room in an old, once-was-white grey hoodie with darker grey letters on it that said the name of the band I knew all too well.

"The Beatles?" I asked as Montgomery ordered the bracelets on his arms. The bracelets covered the whole of his lower arms. I wondered why they were there, and if they hid anything.

"What?" he asked, his dark eyes wandering off to the, if I may say so myself, deliciously looking pancakes.

"Grab a chair, we'll eat on my desk", I said, luckily the desk was a corner one, which meant there was room for both of us. "Your sweater", I explained nodding towards the grey print.

"Oh", he said, picked up the chair out of the small dining area in the room (read; two chairs and a miniature table) and placed it next to the desk, sitting on it. "I've had it for a long time."

"You like the Beatles?" I proceeded to ask as I brought the already well-known trio in the cast of plate, jar and paper bag, one by one, to the desk. In reality, the question I wanted to ask him was 'how long'. Has he had the same clothes for nearly ten years he's spent in this place? It would explain their worn-outness. I sat down in the desk chair and kept my distance, listening to Greene's notes.

"Mm", he responded. I was beginning to doubt that that 'mm' sound (which was supposed to be a yes, I suppose) was fifty percent of Montgomery's vocabulary.

We began the 'feast'. Marmalade was put in my pancakes, sugar in his. More silence.

"So. How are you today?" If I intended to be awkward, it would be less awkward than that. He raised an eyebrow.

"Didn't your mother ever tell you not to talk while eating?" he asked, in a half-mocking me, half-mocking him.

"Fair enough", I smiled a bit. He wins that one. "But my mum never told me not to talk while eating. We're a loud family."

"Obviously", he let out the Montgomery laugh, the lip corner twitch and the nose exhale. "You have any siblings?"

"None. Only dad, mum and I. You?" I found it as a great opportunity to learn about the 'trigger' family.

"A sister, but she moved to France a long time ago", he shrugged.

"I'm guessing you weren't the most talkative family. Or, rather, maybe they're talkative, and you, not so much." 'A long time ago', again. What does that mean?!

"When they said I'll be getting a psychiatrist, they didn't mean a fortune teller, right? Or a Sherlock Holmes? Because it seems like I got one", Montgomery smiled this time. A full, human smile. Shalil, one, Greene, nil.

"I took a class in body language. That being said, you don't have to get a doctorate to notice that a person really doesn't talk much", I smiled back.

"Rats. How did that never cross my mind?" His smile stayed on for a few seconds, but it faded away. Okay, okay. Shalil, 0.5, Greene, nil.

Oh, and what I said about Montgomery being an asshole before noon? Not true. Based on what I saw, I'd say he was actually a really pleasant person. Not very talkative, not very open, but a pleasant person nevertheless. I could see myself becoming friends with him.

And yet again, so many questions still needed answering. I needed to ask him what exactly happened on that night, nearly a decade ago, which caused him enough mental illnesses to make some Greek gods seem normal in comparison. I wanted to know about his family, did he miss his sister, and why was he left here instead of being with the aforementioned family.

My curious nature popped out, and required answers to those, as well as many other questions.

But I remembered one of the main rules of talking about sensitive subjects. Get to know your patient. Make sure they can trust you.

And, yes, ultimately, be a friend. Nothing more, nothing less.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:45 pm

"So", I started when we finished off the stack of pancakes (I ate at least two thirds. Anorexia notes seemed to have a reasonable point) because it didn't look like Montgomery was going to talk any time soon. "I think, if we're going to be friends, I should know a thing or two about you." He raised an eyebrow again, an annoying action, really. I was never able to lift just one eyebrow.

"Friends? I thought you were supposed to be my shrink", he said with a hint of curiousity in his voice.

"Oh c'mon, don't think so low of me. I won't sit you in a chair and keep saying, 'and how do you feel about that?'. I'm not that type of a person."

"Greene was", Montgomery looked at something over my shoulder, but then focused back on me. "Sorry." I had a feeling he just zoned out for a second. Not an uncommon thing to do.

"Back to the point. Friends. It sounds awful when I put it that way, in a gindergartenish way, but never mind that."

"Didn't you read my medical file? I guess it's all in there", Montgomery didn't laugh at my lame joke. But never mind. Rome wasn't built in a day. Or whatever.

"Scanned through it. Person who writes those has no emotion or creativity. The file won't tell me anything I couldn't have guessed myself."

"So you've decided to?" he asked. It took me a second to get what he was aiming at.

"I've decided to ask you. Look, I'm asking you right now. And I've decided that we do it like this", I leant back on my chair, "I ask you a question, you answer, vice versa. How about that?"

"Mm", here we go with the 'mm's again. "What makes you think I want to ask you questions?" He questioned me with a puzzling look on his face. I, as a magna cum laude in body language, was left dumbfounded. Fortunately, he wasn't a novice in body language either, so he soon noticed the look on my face and explained himself. "I'm joking."

"Usually you don't joke without laughing, with a blank tone in your voice and with no cynism or sarcasm in it."

"They teach you that in medical school?"

"They teach you a lot of bullshit in medical school", I confessed. "Useless bullshit I will never use."

"Rebellious, are we?" Montgomery had a slight smirk on his face. Is it possible for a person to change so much over the course of a day? And if it's possible, it shouldn't be called bipolarity, it should be called multiple personality disorder.

"Maybe. I like to think I don't have a lot of respect towards authorities", I shrugged, returning his smile.

"I think you just like to think that you don't", the smirk only grew. Can I get that one point back?

"Possibly. Not very likely, but possibly." Here you have another chunk of silence, and then he started.

"I'm Montgomery. Hello, nice to meet you. I'll be twenty seven soon and I like listening to the music from the eighties and older. You?" I narrowed his eyes at him. "What? You said kindergartenish."

"I say a lot of things, but that doesn't mean you have to listen to everything I say. If I told you to jump off a cliff, would you?" He looked at me in a you're-not-dumb-stop-acting-like-you-are way. "Okay, okay, I will play that game. I'm Detroit, nice to meet you too. I'm twenty eight and I like… Well, a lot of things." Montgomery huffed.

"I also like a lot of things. Name just one."

"Okay, okay… Hm, yours was about music. What do I like about music… Ah. I like to turn on the radio when I cook and sing into a wooden spoon to whatever comes up but I guess I won't be able to do that now."

"Yeah, I appreciate you not doing that", he smiled a bit.

"Gasp. I'm shocked. Mocking my singing voice, are you now, mister?" I teased.

"Can't be worse than mine. That's why I don't sing. I'd rather let those more qualified to take that job." Montgomety started playing with the string on his bracelet, making me decide that the lenghty conversation is over.

"Okay, so let's do this. I clean up the table, you go to your room and do whatever you do when you're alone. I'll do some doctory business, call Greene and stuff, and if you fancy a talk, I'll be here, sounds alright?"

He nodded and immediately left.

Huh. Is it possible that he had gotten very good at faking smiles and that he was faking all the time? And that I didn't uncover his façade? It was, wasn't it? Well, if he'd been here for ten years he must have learnt some very useful tricks, and I know for sure that imitating a realistic smile that a doctor believes into is very hard. They teach that in the Navy, don't they?

Alright, alright. Bring my counter back to zero again.

I tidied the plate, the jar and the paper bag away and read through the a bit more technical parts of Montgomery's file. Most of it was 'diary' entries by Greene, where he described what they did that day, change in behaviour and things which made Montgomery seem like a rat in a lab. I disliked the approach, but if he was like Greene described him, I'd have to become a bit more serious. It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

It would be hard, in all honesty. It felt like I'd already got used to Montgomery, and seeing him in his worst days might change my perception of him. I'll just have to remind myself and him respectively that it's not his fault, and that no matter what happens on those bad days isn't who he really is.

It's always difficult seeing a person as old as you having nothing achieved in life, being kept away with a psychologist and nurses, only because of human insensitivity.

I made two decisions that moment.

One, that I would get him out of here somehow.

And two, that I will never, in any way, hurt him. It's the least he deserves.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Sun May 17, 2015 11:45 am

Greene called later that day, as I was preparing to go to lunch. Of course, that meant I'd get no lunch at all. If you didn't know it yet, doctors can talk quite a lot.

"Shalil?" I heard him say. It felt off, being called by my surname. Even in college the professors referred to me as Detroit. Yes, yes, my name is so funny ha ha.

"Hello, dr. Greene", I responded. If he calls me by my surname he'll at least title me properly, damnit.

"I just called to check up on how you two boys are doing."

"Oh, we're fine. I woke up early to make pancakes and then we ate them with a pleasant chit-chat. You know what, dr. Greene, I think you worry about Montgomery a bit too much."

"I have to worry, it's in my job description." He fell silent and I felt that he wanted to talk. "Montgomery… He was my first real and only patient. I used to work in  the ambulance duty as a helping hand and helped out with people who went through a lot. I was in the ambulance that night. I saw the wounds the attack has left on Montgomery, physical, and, over the course of years, mental. He was the reason I got into one-patient psychology. It is default that I worry about him." I gulped a bit.

"Dr. Greene… What exactly happened that night?" If I wanted to continue… Whatever this was, I had to know what caused Montgomery the trauma. There was a silence on the other side of the line.

"A lot of awful things. I'd rather you get to know Montgomery better to fully understand the depth of the consequential wounds."

"But it's necessary that I know what am I treating in order to treat it properly", I protested, but I knew I was fighting a losing battle. He fell silent again. My logic had no holes in it, but he still managed to sink it. And here I end metaphorical treatment to the word 'logic'.

"I'm afraid we don't have time for that. I just called to see if you two were going along nicely. I'll leave you at it. So long." And he hang up on me. See, there are doctors like me and doctors like Greene. You pick which one you like better. I think I'm winning that battle.

Just as I got up to get at least a bit of lunch, my door clicked open.

"Hiii", Summer sang as she twirled into the room, holding in her hands a (oh look) plate with spaghetti in it. "I noticed you weren't in the cantine, then I decided you liked to hermit in your room, then I got you lunch so you can hermit with me."

"Ugh. Thanks so much", I took the plate away from her and showed her to sit on the chair where Montgomery sat. "Greene held me up. I think he thinks that if he leaves me alone for more than a day that I will burn the entire building and dance amongst the rotting corpses."

"Descriptive", Summer noticed as she rummaged through a kitchen drawer. Once she fished out an object of interest, she hopped back to me, handing me the fork.

"When you're left in one room for an entire day, your brain starts wandering off."

"You could've gone outside, to get the creative juices flowing. If you want, we could still go. It's not as sunny as America, but…" She glanced out of the window. "No, ignore me. It started raining. Never mind."

"I thought you worked here, not just chit-chatted", I noticed, amused by her actions, as I ate a bit of my spaghetti. She tsked me

"I work as much as you do."

"Rude."

"But that's why we suffer throughout the schooling and college and stuff. So we don't have to really work after all that."

"Cheers to that." I clinked her imaginary glass with mine. (Also imaginary.) Actually, not working and/or working whenever you want is a privilege. I, for one, actually enjoyed helping people. "So what else do you do that's fun over here?"

"We rearrange private things in the rooms of the OCD people and kidnap the Stockholmers." I started laughing.

"I hope you're joking. Oh, hell, even if you aren't, that's still hilarious." I pretended to show her a serious face. "Still. Very, very wrong, ms. Summer."

"I am. Joking, that is." She got up and found two glasses and some orange juice, much quicker than I would if I was to set off on that exact same quest. She filled the two glasses and returned the juice to the fridge.

"Oh, by the way, does he ever leave his room?"

"Hm? I mean, who?"

"Montgomery. I asked him to have breakfast with me, and when we finished, he was off to his room."

"Oh, he does. When the cleaning ladies clean, when this whole area is forced outside for fun play time in the park, and… No, that's it."

"Why doesn't he go outside more often than that? Is he forbidden to do so?"

"No, nothing like that." She finished her juice bottoms-up and looked at me in a top secret way. "He's twenty six, for goodness sake. They can't forbid him to go outside. He has to be here only when he has his hours with the psychologist, aka, you. But I think he thinks it's easier to just stay here. He's not very social. If the group doesn't come to him, he'll be all alone."

"Maybe being around doctors and nurses and cleaning ladies made him that way."

"Could be. And maybe he's in it for the long run."

I haven't met anybody who didn't enjoy company. Not always, but sometimes it's nice to have someone at your side. Montgomery didn't have friends. He had people who were, in a way, his work colleagues. You can't make friends on a workplace, you have to invite them to your home so you could talk privately. Unfortunately, his home was his workplace. That meant socially handicapping him.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Wed May 20, 2015 6:25 pm

259 days before

It was hopelessly foolish of me, to think I've got a huge advantage with Montgomery, to think I knew him better than Greene - and, after all, Greene'd been with Montgomery for a little less than a decade. I've known him for less than two days; and both of the days proved out to be good days. Today, well… Not so much. Today was a bad day.

After breakfast and a shower (not necessarily in that order) I went into Montgomery's room.

He was sat down on the cold ground, leant against a wall opposite the bed, with nothing beneath him, in the same clothes as yesterday, sketching into his blue notebook. His hair sticked up on some places and his round glasses were crooked on his nose, and I could see white earbuds plugged into an so-old-it-could-be-called-vintage, but well kept radio. Focused on his work, he didn't look up at me.

"Good morning, Montgomery!" I greeted him as I walked around the room to sit on the bed, facing him. There was no response. "What are you listening to?" He still didn't say anything, and I guessed it was because the music in his earbuds was too loud. It didn't keep me from trying, though. "Have you had any breakfast yet?"

He plugged off the earbuds and loud music filled the room, zoning me out, almost physically pushing me away from him. That was a clear enough sign, but I was persistent.

"It's rude to ignore people, Montgomery. Especially people who are trying to help."

The way he glared at me sent cold shivers down my neck.

"Okay. You want me to leave?" Again, no response.

Defeated, I left him alone in the room and walked out. With nothing else to do, I went to find Summer, deciding to call Greene later, to learn the way to handle the silent treatment.

Because apparently Summer doesn't work, ever, I found her talking with some of her crew, consisting off all those girls who were giggly and flirty and generally whoreish. Ugh.

"Hey, Summer!" I called her, to the overall delight of the Spice Girls. "Can I talk to you for a second, minute, hour… How long you can provide me, I just have a question, a proposition, really…" With every word I spoke I was digging myself deeper, so eventually (too late) I gave up and grabbed her lower arm. "Just come on." Once I pulled her out of the group, she eyed me curiously, and maybe a bit suspiciously.

"You just picked up what was left of your street cred, pinned it against a wall and took it down with a sniper. This is you burrying it. What was the question again? No, a proposition, really…?" She mocked me and I rolled my eyes.

"Montgomery is-"

"All shut-down, not talking, generally being a bitch?" I opened my mouth to speak, but she just continued. "Eh, that mood was just waiting to pop up. They", she pointed at the girls, "call it PMonS. Don't know why, it's rude, but describes it well enough."

"Does… This mood often happen? And if so, what does Greene do on those days?" I mean, I am paid to doctor around. What do I do when I'm not able to work?

"Hm… The mood happens too often, really. It's what makes your job easier. Greene went out with his wife into the city."

"Really?" I raised my eyebrows and leant against the wall. Huh. 'The mood' days are basically my days off. It felt really wrong on many different levels. "Is there nothing I could do to, I don't know… Make him not ignore me today?"

"Dunno. You can try. God knows Greene had tried, but nothing." Summer sighed and ruffled the loose fringe on her forehead. "It makes me really sad, you know. But there's nothing to do. Just… Let it go, Detroit. He'll be better soon and then you two will be able to talk, okay?" She patted my shoulder. "I'm sorry."

She walked away, I returned to my room.

It was one of those moments when you feel absolutely useless, like the whole world has picked you for a winner of the loser lottery and you have just deemed your ticket. You look up to all the people who achieved the impossible, and you think to yourself, 'Well, I'm never going near those people'. Those moments suck, but I didn't know what to do to make them stop sucking and start being what I want them to be.

I wanted to get up and return to Montgomery's room, more than once. I wanted to shake him, slap him if necessary, just to make him snap out of what ever he was in. But I knew better than that.

I wanted to just sit and watch him, see if he ever moves, if he finally starts sculpting the sketch he's been working on, if he ever looks up at me, to check if I was here. The realisation which came from all those thoughts was more than simple:

I was getting too attached. That was one thing I never wanted to do. To start wanting for my patients to look at the world through the pink tinted sunglasses, like they had a swell life and never got hurt, and I was stupid enough to think that I could make them forget their pain. His pain.

He smiled at me yesterday. Meaning he wasn't too scarred for happiness. And my job was to stop these days from happening, and remind him that life could be beautiful every once in a blue moon.

He didn't even need a doctor for that. He needed charisma. A friend. What Greene wasn't. And I could be just that. God knows that I'm charismatic. Maybe this whole thing will end up fine, I just have to let Montgomery 'have the mood' every now and then, but only if he smiles between that.

Everything is coming up Shalil. I like my odds.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Sun May 24, 2015 8:29 pm

258 days before

"Good morning, Chicago", I heard once I entered Montgomery's room.

"What?" I heard the oh-so-welcome smile/exhale and he turned around on his chair to face me.

"I said 'good morning'. I think it would be nice if you said hello also."

"Hello also."

"Idiot."

I walked over to him and, in lack of a better place to sit, plopped on his unmade bed.

"Whatcha doing there?" I asked. "Finally starting that thingy you've been sketching these days?" These days. I meant, that day you were nice to me and that day when you didn't even bother to flip me off. It was extraordinary how much a person could change in just a couple of days. I've seen distant, cold Montgomery, happy, but reserved Montgomery, glary, pissed off Montgomery, and… Cheerful, talkative Montgomery? Could it be?

"Mhm, yeah. It's a mini-totem", he quickly explained as he hastily shoved the glasses up his nose and examined the partially ordinary-stone-like, partially eagle-like pebble, which looked similar to the ones in the so called park just outside of the building. "The Native American ones, you know, in the past? My favourite thing as a kid. Other boys had transformers, dragons and girls; I had totems, the Beatles and these bad boys." He shook his hands to click the bracelets together, and I just then noticed (maybe I didn't pay attention before) that, as well as the bracelets, he wore a lot of rings, some thin and some thick, also, a nose ring piercing. And I figured, why the hell not.

"I was more into playing doctor with my cat, resulting in many tears, making friends and, oh, those embarrassing songs we all listened to."

"Like?" He pulled out a sort of chisel-like thing and a hammer from under his desk, and for a second I was amazed that a problematic patient like himself was allowed to have hammers and chisels. Maybe he was never suicidal, otherwise that wouldn't be a shrewd thing to do.

"Britney Spears, Cyndy Lauper, Madonna. Awful, I know. But in my street I was the only guy that age, and was surrounded by girls all the time. All influences were theirs."

"Betcha you didn't mind that", Montgomery smirked and grabbed a pencil to mark some spots on the smooth part of the pebble.

"Not at all. But those girls didn't respect my other music choices like hip-hop, so at that age I pretty much gave up on girls. That is, until I went to high school."

"And high school changed?"

Well, I started liking boys as well as girls, got a scholarship, was at the same time the student with highest grades and worst behavoior, and so on, so on. The last one isn't my fault. I was into firecrackers when I was fifteen and everybody in that school had rich parents and records so clean you could eat from them. I've been developing a theory that half of the kids in that high school (and in other private high schools, as well) were genetically modified, or at least made-in-a-lab creatures to make the other half of the kids, aka the normal ones, feel bad about themselves.

"Hold up, monsieur, I thought I was the shrink here."

"Hold up, General Motors, I thought we were friends here."

"Hey!" He cracked me a grin.

"You mock my name, I mock yours."

"Nuh uh. You mocked my name twice already."

"How so?" The false innocence on his face made me burst:

"You called me Chicago!"

And that was all it took. It took us at least five minutes to gain control, because from that point, we couldn't stop laughing.

I framed that moment in my mind and saved it for the bad days, because I sensed more would come.

"I'm sorry", Montgomery said as he took a long, shivery breath. "I guess-" a chuckle before he continued, "I guess that makes us uneven. You have one name-mock token extra."

"Name-mock token, oh my god…" I was close to wheezing at that point, because laughter started hurting.

The door was opened with a kick.

"Is everybody alright?" I knew that voice.

"Summer?" I said, at the same moment Montgomery muttered,

"Holiday?"

I glanced at him.

"Holiday? Seriously?"

"Her name is Summer, right? Summer, Summer Holiday, Holiday. What's off with that?"

"What's off with that? What's off with you? Montgomery, do you not hear yourself? First I'm Chicago, then Summer is Holiday…" I trailed off, because all the things I said spoke for themselves. "Anyway. Summer. Yeah, everybody's fine, why asking?"

"I heard laughter."

"So?"

"I don't usually hear laughter from this room."

"So?"

"Yeah, it's a rare sighting -- hearing? -- so-"

"So?"

"Shut up!" Montgomery snickered at our bickering. What a bitch, he wouldn't even cover for me. What nice friends have I got. "So I decided to check it out. Ya know, for a moment I thought you-" she pointed at me, "murdered Montgomery and was laughing at his rotting corpse."

"You, Miss Holiday, have an astonishingly vivid imagination", Montgomery picked up the chisel from the floor (where it fell while we were laughing, I guess).

"I learn from the best. And my surname is not Holiday!" Summer complained.

"Oh, I know." And he returned to his work. Actually, no, looked at it, and spun back around to face us, abusing the weels on the spinny chair. "Hm. Holiday, could you play the radio? It's already on the right settings and all, you just have to press play." Summer didn't respond, she just crossed her arms on her chest. "Come on, just press play."

"Montgomery", I tuned in, "I don't think she responds to Holiday."

"Oh, okay." He paused. "Freckles, please press play on the radio."

Summer raised her hands above her head and, without a word, walked out.

Montgomery's gaze diverted to me, and I sensed that something bad would happen.

"Chicago. Radio. Please."

And I just.

There are moments like that one which you want to place in a jar, seal the lid, and just watch as life happens inside them.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Sun Jun 07, 2015 7:28 pm

I got up to reach the radio and searched through Montgomery's CDs before pressing play.

"Okay, I know about your fondness of the Beatles, but now Michael Jackson, Bonnie Tyler… Someone likes good music", I pointed out. He grimaced.

"Bonnie Tyler is my sister's", he said and leaned back on his chair, one of his his hands ruffling his hair, which was obviously abused by not being washed for at least five days, because it lost some of its springyness and floppyness, as it just lay on his face like a dead thing. I only now realised the shittyness of that metaphor, I'm sorry you had to hear that.

"Everybody likes Bonnie Tyler, no matter if you like her or not."

"That sentence doesn't make any sense whatsoever."

"Shut up, of course it does."

It matters not whether you're a talkative, friendly person or the opposite, when you're placed in a situation where it's necessary to become friends, you have to pretend that you've been friends for years, because that's the only way you can push the awkward atmosphere away and leave room for the actual friendship to form.

I pressed play and the old thing played.

"Oh my God."

"What?" He must have looked at me in an okay-you're-crazy way.

"I love this song!"

"George Michael, isn't it?"

"Yeah! My mum played it a lot when I was a kid."

"Isn't it a well known and also scientifically proven that if you listen to a song too many times you'll begin to dislike it?"

"It only means I haven't listened to it enough."

He just flipped his eyes and returned to his work, but when I approached him to sit near him, he had a small smirk plastered on his face. I sat on his bed again and watched as the small pebble turned into a totem.

But the thing is, I didn't watch silently.

"So since when have you been sculpting?" I asked. There was something in the way he looked over the glasses at me which made me feel strange. I wasn't used to a carefree Montgomery. But then again, what was I used to?

"I think our little talk answered that question. Since I was a kid, I don't even remember how I started."

"Ah, yes, yes, right", I replied. "I find it a bit surprising that they let you have a sculpting kit. After all, this isn't really a danger-free area."

"Oh, I threatened them. Either they let me have my sculpting kit, or I start cutting myself." He paused for a second. "Of course, I would never do such a thing, but the threat worked, so here you have it."

"You're a liar, I see."

"Only when necessary."

"Sculpting is necessary?"

"Keeps my mind off things."

"Things like?"

The glare which I got was nowhere near that one from yesterday, but it meant the same thing; you're pushing it too far.

"Yeah, right, I'm sorry. It's your turn to ask questions."

"Hm?"

"The game, from yesterday? You ask I answer and vice versa." His forehead furrowed.

"The kindergarten one?"

"Yeah."

"Yeah, alright." He focused back to his pebble/totem, and I had a brief moment of envy. He could multitask; talking and sculpting at the same time. I cant even simultaneously walk and eat, let alone do something artsy. "Greene said you went to a college in America."

"That's not a question."

"It's a prompt for more." I sighed. I couldn't even argue with him, it just felt useless.

"Okay, okay. I went to Berkeley, in California. Great place, really, and great people. A bit too grandeur for me. I prefer the smaller, but homelier UK colleges."

"You've multiple degrees?" He questioned me. "I mean, have you been to more than one college?"

"God no. Isn't this one enough? No, before I checked out colleges abroad, I snooped about in my own country."

"What made you pick Berkeley?"

"Because, hello, Berkeley. One of the best psychology courses in the USA." I leant a bit more against the wall and watched him work. "I've always wanted to be a doctor, but I never wanted to touch organs or cut skin and just ugh. Not for me. So psychology it was." I stopped for a second. "And what career would you pick, instead of sculpting?"

"Honestly I haven't given it much thought. Never. It was either this or nothing, I never had a second option."

"Neither. But I'm a pretty smart kid, college was an open door for me."

"That's always good." He looked at his notebook, then his totem, then back to the notebook. "Shite." Well that's a new swear to hear from a twenty-six year old French-British man. I wonder what Summer would say about his accent.

"What happened?"

"A mistake."

"Can you fix it?"

"I don't know, I'm thinking", he said and frowned over a small dent where (I guess) it wasn't supposed to be. "Nope, it's unfixable. Oh well. If I ever give it to anyone, I'll tell them it's a signature."

"Very creative signature for an artist." Montgomery rolled his eyes at me.

"If the jury has made their decision… Yes. Dr. Detroit is being a little bitch. Thank you, jury."

"You watch too much Law and Order."

"Mm, it's Judge Judy actually. What am I supposed to do, it's the only thing they play on the TV in this area."

"Poor children, being forced to Judge Judy their whole childhood."

"Now I'm going to be terribly rude, but they could have at least played it to the Alzheimers. They won't remember it anyway."

"That's awful." That was the second time someone in this facility mentioned mental illnesses so casually, as if in a joke. But yet again, it was their everyday. Maybe it's normal for the people here to make jokes about the number of the pills they take in the morning or the amount of time they forgot where they were. Even though I am a doctor, I could never joke around like that.

But (again) again, I'm healthy. They aren't. Maybe it's their way of coping.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Sun Jun 07, 2015 7:41 pm

257 days before

Since I couldn't talk to Montgomery about serious things yet because we were still in the 'friendship making' period, and we sure as hell couldn't keep sitting one in front of other and talk, I decided to take him out of his room for a walk.

I say 'decided', because I never really asked for his opinion on the subject.

"Wake up, loser", I targeted his head, which lay peacefully on his pillow, and threw my pillow at him. He mumbled something which sounded suspiciously like a deep, grumbly 'no', and covered his head. "C'mon, Montgomery! It's beautiful outside, it's the end of June in Britain, it's sunny without being hot, and it's absolutely brilliant."

He turned around and, with much drama, cracked one eye open.

"Please. Pleease. I missed sun. I spent nearly ten years in California, just imagine what it felt returning to the fog of Europe. Imagine that, and then tell me you don't want to go outside with me."

"You're exaggerating."

"A little bit. But still doesn't explain your being an arsehole towards me. Sun. Warmth. Happiness. Indulge me this once." I gave him the world-wide-famous puppy dog eyes and he had no choice but to listen to me.

"You hate me, don't you?" He said and raised his head, his hair surprisingly fluffy from yesterday's wash but still sticky-uppy and strawy. Ridiculous sight, really.

"My momma told me not to hate."

"Shut up." And he pushed himself up and pointed at the door. I exited while rolling my eyes.

"Seriously? You ain't got nothing I haven't seen, honey." I closed the door after I left the room. I was just joking, and I hoped that he got that. I may be loud and cheeky, but I sure as hell wasn't insensible.

"I repeat. Shut up", I heard him from the closed the door through rustling wood-onto-wood drawer sound. A question entered my mind; were does he keep his bracelets? I didn't see much of storage place in his room, and the only thing I saw was a small wardrobe. Like, comically small. But that's not important, or at least I think so.

"Don't be rude, Montgomery. It's not nice."

"Why do I have a feeling we had this conversation before?"

"Because you dress up as fast as my grandma."

Silence.

"And now I'm rude." I couldn't help but laugh.

"Yes. Me being rude doesn't exclude your rudeness."

"Ugh." I prepared for it, and I wasn't disappointed. "Shut up."

And I did, as I waited for him. He came out of his room five minutes after, with another grey hoodie and bracelets which were just a bump in the tight sleeves of the hoodie.

"I don't think the sun will last. It's June, I expect rain later in the day."

"I like your contagious optimism", I said and opened the door. "After you, mister."

"Mm. Oh, wait, I forgot something." He looked at me straight in the eyes (which was really awkward because he was about half a head taller). "Good morning, Boston." He skipped out of the room before I could complain, but that didn't stop me.

"Seriously?? Boston?!" I ran after him. I only caught up when I ran into his conversation with the nurse who was in charge of letting people in and letting people out. Apparently, she wouldn't let Montgomery out.

"Sweetheart, you don't want to go outside now, cleaning day is two days away, you can go out then", she said, in the same fake sweetness in her voice like Greene had.

"I'm going with Dr. Shalil", Montgomery explained, with a slight cringe. Not used to being titled properly? Yeah, could be. "He suggested it." Just then, I barged in, barely recollecting breath. Doctors are not creatures made for running.

"Yes, Ms…" I looked at her name plate. "Ms Norton, I thought that some air might do good for us both."

"It's not like there isn't any air in my room", Montgomery chipped in.

"No, shut up, I'm defending your case. We're going out for some fresh air, is that any better?" Ms Norton didn't seem quite thrilled by our overly casual discussion.

"Of course you can go out, it just seemed... Rather odd."

"Thank you", Montgomery walked out of the door, not waiting for me.

"Sorry", I apologised to the nurse. "Whenever he is in a reasonably good mood he gets a bit cocky, surprisingly so." But he wasn't like that yesterday. I guess that his moods depend on many factors.

"No problem, kid." It's worth mentioning that the nurse was no more than five years older than me and that she had neck tattoos. Just a heads up.

"Yeah. If he ever wants to go out, just notify me, but don't hold him back." I waved and headed out, but she kept on talking.

"He never wants to go out."

"Sorry?" I went back a few steps.

"He never wants to go out. Until today, he never asked for a permission to go outside."

"Huh." I leaned a bit against the counter. "Did Greene forbid him?" It made the nurse think for a couple of seconds.

"No, I think, but don't take my word on it. The thing is, I don't think Montgomery wanted to go out, and if he did, I doubt he asked Greene to let him."

"Why wouldn't he?" Turns out my bad feelings about Greene were true to an extent.

"Greene's… A bit protective. Always has been, especially about him." The nurse sighed and ordered the papers on her desk. "I'm just glad he's got you now. Maybe you can get him out of this hellhole."

"I can certainly hope so." I decided that I better go find Montgomery before he wanders off; ADHD is not an uncommon disease and, with that many different moods/personalities, he's bound to be at least a little bit jumpy. "I'll go after him. Cheers." It's so much easier to be British around British people. Americans couldn't stop laughing about my accent.

And off I went, into the sun.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Sun Jun 07, 2015 7:50 pm

I found him leant against the wall, with hands in the pockets of his hoodie.

"Might have overdressed for going out. I counted on it being colder", he glanced at the long, warm sleeves of the hoodie.

"You said it yourself, it will get cold soon", I shrugged and nodded in the direction of a path which lead God knows where. Although, I am a big believer in spontaneous adventures. Like a wise man once said, the destination is only a part of the goal, the other part is the journey.

"Hm." Was it intentional, was it meant for me to understand, I don't know. But I didn't understand, and he didn't complain, so we stayed silent for a couple of minutes of walk. But, as it's infamously known by pretty much everyone by now, I can't keep quiet.

"So."

"So?"

"So."

"You're pulling out a Holiday on me, aren't you."

"Her name is Summer, you twat."

"Oh, I know." He smirked. Well, at least the part of his face I could saw did. "But it's more fun this way, don't you think?"

"I don't think Summer likes you."

"I don't think she does, no."

"Do you like her not liking you?"

"You're the worst shrink I've ever had."

"How many have you had?"

"Including you?" I nodded. "Two."

"Wow." Another smile, this time a bit less evil, a bit more honest. We fell into another silent period.

Silence is sometimes easier than words, and sometimes it just drives insane, and yet, it's so bloody necessary it's unreal. Without silence, when would we have our peace?

But again, Montgomery took it a bit too far.

"Montgomery?"

"Mm?"

"Bracelets?"

"That's not even a question." I shrugged and nodded towards his arms.

"I mean, why do you have so many? I'm not saying I hate them, I'm just curious." Montgomery took his hands out of the hoodie pocket and stared at his wrists for a second.

"I don't know. It's my personal aesthetic? Do people even say that anymore?" He looked genuinely, childishly confused. Like a time-traveler landing in the unknown. "I really have no clue. I like them, I guess?"

"Would you wear them if you didn't like them?"

"That question is pointless."

"Maybe, but why stating it? You're not a text message, you don't have limited characters." He just shook his head, and (I had to notice) his hair looked brilliant in the sunlight. It lost its straw-like quality, and let some of the strips of sun fall on his face.

"And the piercing?"

"It's a… An odd story."

"I'n a doctor, my PhD is earned because I listened to a lot of the so called 'odd stories'."

"It's actually an earring. My friend and I improvised nose piercings in his garage with a hot needle. Hurt like hell, and his sister searched for her earrings for a month, but it was kind of a bonding moment."

"Why'd your friend want to do that in the first place?" Montgomery pushed some of the bracelets on his left hand further up his wrist and revealed a small text tattoo which simply said 'c'est la vie'.

"Sister sponsored this little thing on my sixteenth birthday." He looked at the tattoo for a second before returning his bracelets and the sleeve of his hoodie back where they usually were.

I liked the way we got all casual, talking about life and such, but it was… Strange. Or off, as Montgomery would say. He wasn't in as good of a mood as he was yesterday. Sure, there were smiles and laughs and generally talking, but he was getting distant. Like that life he was talking about wasn't his. A past life, maybe, but he talked about it like it was forever since those things happened. It made me a bit sad.

"You speak French?" I asked, continuing the conversation.

"Ouí", he replied. "Mother was —no, is— French, so she taught my sister and me, even though we never went to France. I mean, I didn't, she now lives there, but at the time, I mean." He let out a soft sigh. "Was best at French in school though. It was the only subject in which I got all As."

"And others?" I couldn't help but to be curious. I had to get as much information out of him during these good days as I can, so I actually could plan my strategies with him on the bad days.

"Other subjects?" He asked, and I nodded. "Cs, Ds. I couldn't bother to study. Studying is boring, I rather spent my time watching telly with my sister and just doing nothing."

"Friends?" I questioned. Now I was genuinely curious. This normal, human relationship turned into a proper session.

"Eh. Had one or two, but we drifted away when I went to high school, and then I had another one, who left me after-" he frowned and looked to the ground. Then he was silent for a minute. "His name was Timmy, we were really good friends… I liked Timmy." There was a certain look in his eyes, for which I had no other explanation but: Timmy was important. I decided not to press on that subject.

"See, isn't it wonderful that we go out? I think you needed the vitamin D you're soaking up right now", I said with a smile.

"Yeah, don't bask in the sunlight for too long, the clouds are coming."

"How can you tell?"

He pointed at the clouds which were forming at the edge of the sky.

"Oh. Okay then. Fair enough." I turned around. "We're going back inside. Damn this English weather. If there's one thing which I don't like, it's the cold, British rain."

"I like the rain, during the day, at least", he said. "It's calming."

When we arrived to the building about ten minutes after that, we were soaking wet, and both Montgomery and Ms Norton were laughing at my pout.

And I guess I was glad. I will clown around as much as it was necessary to make Montgomery smile.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Sun Jun 07, 2015 7:58 pm

256 days before

I guess I had it coming.

Montgomery was less talkative today. Still not in the grouchy, I'll-burn-your-brain-with-a-glare mood, but near enough.

"G'morning."

"Good morning, Orlando." But he never held himself back from calling me another one of the America's capital cities. Sigh.

"Orlando, Florida? You're getting less creative", I noticed as I sat on the bed, near him, on the desk, working on a new sketch.

"Mm." Back to the 'mm's. I knew that wasn't a good sign.

"So. What do you plan on doing today?" I asked, taking a peek at his sketch in the ragged, blue notebook.

"Nothing", he replied simply and let out a soft sigh.

I then figured it out.

'Play the Beatles, that ought to cheer him up.'

I hopped up to the radio (for which I decided that it needed to be placed nearer the bed) and looked through the CDs. I remember seeing… Ah, there it was.

"Ya know, I didn't listen a lot to the Beatles when I was younger, but there was one song which I loved more than anything, and it was…" I put the CD in. "Wait…" Found the track I needed. "And go." Here Comes The Sun played.

"Oh, that one I like", he said, stopping his scribbling for a moment. "That, and the ridiculously happy ones, like Penny Lane. They're so happy it's unrealistic."

"Why is it unrealistic to be happy? I'm happy, most of the time, at least, and I'm definitely real."

He looked at the wall for a second, and I could almost hear the wheels in his head turning.

"I meant, unrealistic for me."

Oh.

"In my humble opinion, I think you can choose whether you'll be happy or not."

"Maybe you can."

"Alright, little miss sunshine, no need to be so optimistic." It wasn't a good day for jokes, I thought. And my theory was quickly proven to be true.

"You know what?" Montgomery dropped the the pencil, and it jumped off the table causing clicking, wood-against-wood noises. And he burst."Do you think you can just tell me to be happy, and I'll listen? Because, if you do, I have to welcome you to the reality. I don't choose… To be happy. I choose to push through day after day after day, and that's the only bloody choice I'm making here!"  When he finished his rant to the wall, he turned to me. His eyes and the bottom of his nose were red as he sniffed quietly.

It must have been something more, because otherwise he wouldn't be this… Unhappy. Deeply unhappy. I saw him yesterday, and yesterday he was happy. No, this problem ran much deeper.

"Montgomery…" I picked through his monologue until I found the words which popped up. "And… What else you didn't choose?"

He opened his mouth to speak, maybe to rant again, but I stopped him. "No, I'm talking now. I'm joking with you, and jokes are not to be taken seriously, capiche? Would you rather if I was like Greene?"

He was silent for couple of seconds, maybe a minute. One tear spilt from his eye onto the pages of the notebook.

And he shook his head.

"See? I'm joking because it's sometimes it's easier than talking about serious subjects. Would you rather… Tell me about that night? Or would you prefer me joking with you?"

"No, no, I'm sorry", he wiped his eyes and slumped back into the chair. "It's… Dumb, I should not even try to talk about… Things like this, I really shouldn't."

"It's okay", I said, keeping my voice quiet. "We all get confused sometimes."

"Greene never got confused."

"Ei, leave Greene out of this. For all we know, he could be an android genetically modified to be perfect and to make you feel bad."

"That's ridiculous", he said, but I heard a shallow, soft nose exhale, so I knew I succeeded.

"Is it? Is it really? Technology today, man…" I shook my head. "Anyways, what are you making?" Changing a subject might be a good choice.

"I don't really know. A thing. I just sat down and sketched it out, I don't know what it's supposed to be", he admitted retrieving the pen from the back of the desk. "I need something to do at moments like this."

"You can talk with me, if you wish", I suggested, fiddling with the right corner of his pillow. He was silent for a few seconds so I had to look up, to see him observing me.

"And if I do consider that option", he asked. His voice got a satyrical note, and I knew my persistence paid off. "If I do, what might we choose our talk topics about? Considering."

"We might talk about one's life", I responded in a similar way, immediately adjusting to his new behaviour. That wasn't a class in college but it should have been. "Lives are generally a very interesting topic to talk about, because everyone has a different one and diversity is important when it comes to communication, don't you think?"

I think, out of all Montgonery's different ways of smiling, this one was far the best. Small, but fully sincere, his eyes warm, and that note of sadness he always carried almost unnoticeable.

To know that I caused that smile made me feel incredibly ecstatic. Finally, progress. If I can make him happy on lousy, weak days like these, maybe someday I could cause a smile when his mood is bad. Maybe.

It's not much, but I like having options.

We talked on and off for the rest of the day. Sometimes he scribbled in his notebook, sometimes I'd scribble on the piece of paper he gave me (horrible. That's why I don't have a carreer as an artist) and it felt okay. Natural, like we'd known each other for years. I liked that.

But I couldn't fight that feeling that the bad days are coming again, and this was just the silence before the storm.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Sun Jun 07, 2015 8:23 pm

249 days before

I gave it a few days, to let the dust settle, but some things needed to be made clear.

It was one of the better days for Montgomery. He wasn't particularly ecstatic, but he was wasn't showing me middle fingers, also.

"Good morning, Tacoma", he greeted me.

"My, my, you got all As in Geography, didn't you?" I asked as I pulled the chair from my study desk to the room. I figured, serious conversations require serious environment. I sat on the chair across him, for which I got a frown.

"What are you doing?" he asked and turned on his chair towards me.

"Montgomery, I… Well shit." My chair lowered so I had to get up and pull the leaver to raise it, which kind of killed the vibe of a serious conversation I had going here. He watched me silently as I fixed the chair. I coughed. "Sorry about that."

"It's fine."

"Anyways, I wanted to talk to you about the events which brought you into this facility." His face immediately darkened.

"No."

"Would you rather I asked Greene?"

"No."

"Then what?"

"No, just… No."

"Montgomery." I said firmly, leaning forward a bit. "You'll have to tell me once. I need to know, if I plan to ever make you feel better. You want to get out, don't you?"

He stared at me long enough for deciphering every little secreted feeling he had.

He was angry, distanced. Scared. Helpless. But most of all, he felt alone.

"I want you to know what happened, to… Understand me better, I really do. But… I don't know if I can tell you."

"Of course you can", I said softly. I almost put my hand on his, as a comforting gesture, but I decided against it. Greene said no touching.

"No, no. I don't think I'm able to. I—" he looked down, and when he returned his gaze, there were tears spilt on his cheeks. We stayed quiet for minutes, and then he decided to tell me.

His memory of the event was impeccable. He remembered everything but the man's face.

He told me that school ended late that night, and, to save time, he took the shortcut to get home early, so his parents wouldn't worry about him. He never had his phone when he went to school so calling them wasn't a thing he could do. He told me about the lessons he had in school that day and stupid French jokes he told Timmy.

He described the street where it all happened so vividly, I could as well looked at a picture.

"Ordinary street", he said. "The type you ignore, with old brick walls, white balconies and trash cans."

He talked about the street as if it were a graveyard.

He told me much less about the man. And, honestly, I didn't want to know. But he told me what he did.

He told me about each and every bruise and how he got it. He told me how the man ran away, without looking back.

With every word, I felt more and more desperate to shelter Montgomery somewhere where nobody could hurt him like that ever again.

He told him that when his family came to visit him in the hospital, their first and only question was "Montgomery, if it was a man who did it to you, are you a homosexual?".

He ended in sobs, and I couldn't hold myself back anymore.

I got up, took a step towards him, and hugged him. He left blubbery sobs in the shoulder of my shirt, but his hands lay still on his legs.

"Shh", I said, as gentle as I could, "I'm not going to say it's okay, but you're safe here."

"How can you know?" he asked, his voice sounding like a soft whimper of a wounded animal. "I have nightmares, sometimes. He's out there somewhere, lurking in shadows, finding someone else to—"

"Shh", I repeated myself. "Nobody's going to hurt you. I'll make bloody sure of that."

We stayed like that for a few minutes, and I let go of Montgomery once he stopped crying.

"Should I… Leave you alone?" I wasn't sure of the protocol with these things, and I knew that whatever I knew didn't work on Montgomery.

See, a thing about psychology is that there is no default way to do things. Sure, there are some rules you must obey (like never to say 'it's okay'. Ever), but sometimes a patient like Montgomery comes along, and you two make up your own rules as you go. Alternative rules, if you wish. Maybe that was the problem with Greene. Maybe he didn't listen to Montgomery. And maybe he didn't talk.

"No, no… Stay." He looked at me with his big brown eyes which contained all the sadness in the world in them, and the eyes alone pinned me down to my chair.

"Should I do something?"

"No, just… No. Stay. I feel safer with you around."

And I'll be bloody damned if my heart didn't break a little.

I stayed in the room with him until dusk. We were both quiet, him and me, his head tucked on his knees, staring into nowhere, and my hand scribbling nothings onto a piece of paper I found on his desk.

It was eerily quiet, but we had nothing to say. Not even to each other, just… Silence. It seemed to comfort him.

Around nineish his eyes started closing, and he let out a few of small quiet yawns. I thought he would shoo me out and go to bed, but he fell asleep on his chair, in an uncomfortable, curled up position.

"Montgomery?" I called.

"Mm." And we were back to square one.

I got up and half-dragged, half-carried him to his bed, and, once I placed him in a somewhat comfortable position, he turned away from me. And he was gone for the world.

I returned to my room, knowing that tomorrow's going to be hell.

But I also (thought I) knew why Monthomery's family left him. Not because he was raped. No, it was because he was raped by a man.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Sun Jun 07, 2015 8:30 pm

248 days before

Nothing today. He sat in his corner, listening to music, scribbling into his notebook. I came in, sat on the bed, watched him for a little while, but I knew that I had no chance with him even before I entered his room.

Even though I knew that beforehand, it didn't stop my hopes from rising.

241 days before

Still nothing. The only change which occurred during this week was a switch from the 70s to the 60s, music-wise. I spent way too much time with the doctors around here. I wish I knew how to snap him out of it. Whatever it is.

234 days before

Nope. It's been going on for too long. I have a new schedule in regards of Montgomery. Wake up, make sure he had breakfast, get out of the American Horror Story: Asylum to go to the town, go back to make sure Montgomery had lunch, talk to Summer, go to sleep. Why breakfast and lunch? Well, Montgomery decided that getting up from his corner was too much work and started not getting up.

Maybe it was too soon. I should have left myself clueless and him happy.

219 days before

Nothing. I considered quitting my job, but one look at Montgomery made me change my mind. I wanted to help him any way I could, and if that meant waiting for a month, and a month more, then I was willing to do so. I was persistent, and I knew better than bailing out on a job.

And during this month, I managed to convince myself it was just that. A job.

213 days before

"A what?"

"We found a dog!" Summer squeaked. "He's so cute and fluffy and stinks to Saint Peter and the heavens but he's so cute!"

"What?! Can you even have dogs here?" I asked. I'd just returned from the city, where I chatted with (and chatted up) a couple of quite good looking people. But, alas, I didn't consider even asking them out. Yes, as pretty as they may have been, I kind of require at least two brains in my relationship.

"Not really. We're hiding it in Mon's room until further notice. There's this really rich girl whose dad can bribe the government to let us keep 'im."

"What??"

"If you start another sentence with 'what', that dog will be your replacement."

"You put the dog in Montgomery's room? You do know that he's been off since June?"

"Uh…" she mumbled, and then just broke into a small, secretive grin.

"Summer, what have you done?"

"Did nothing. You have to see for yourself."

If I said I didn't gallop to Montgomery's room, I would be lying. But my, oh, my, was I welcomed by quite a sight.

Montgomery, sitting on his bed, with a large red-and-white dog who was wildly wagging its tail in his lap, and smiling. I missed that smile.

"I don't care, I already named him, we're keeping him."

I almost said what again, but I held myself back.

"You named him?" The dog barked, jumped off of Montgomery and began sniffing my legs, letting out low barks every few seconds.

"Yes. His name is Ringo."

"Ringo?" I made a mental note to stop asking questions, at least for today. What's too much is too much.

"Yes."

"We can't keep the dog."

"Why not?"

The way he looked at me. His eyes reminded me of hope, and reminded me of the fact that for the past month he hadn't had any of that. A decision was made.

"Summer!" I shouted, even though I knew that he was standing outside with her ear placed against the door. I've got to know her way too well during these weeks. "We have to wash the mutt, prepare a bath or a car wash or something!"

"Okay!" she replied, and she was much closer than Montgomery thought, apparently, because he raised his eyebrows.

"It's not a mutt, Salt Lake City, it's an Australian shepherd", he complained, at what the dog's — Ringo's, I guess? — ears spasmed up and he jumped into Montgomery's lap once again. "And a charming one, that is", his voice was covered by loud barks and the whoosh of the wind Ringo's tail made as it wagged. It seemed to be a default setting for it.

"I don't really think it's a good idea to keep it. Health control will kick us out."

"Don't be such a pessimist." I gaped at him.

"Oh, so I'm a pessimist."

"Yeah, a right big one."

"Shut up." A huge, almost childish smile covered his face, and I smiled back. He looked at me for a few seconds, his smile fading and his eyes becoming thoughtful, before Ringo tipped him over onto his back and started drooling over him.

"Ah, ew, get off."

"I thought when dogs do it it's cute", I noticed.

"Wonder who told you that", Montgomery sat up and glanced me with a mischievous look in his eyes.

"Shh", I shushed him down and sat on the chair. "Why do I have a feeling this dog is going to love you and hate me?"

"No idea. Maybe it's your subconsciousness telling you that", Montgomery shrugged.

"Piss off", I snickered. "But if you're going to keep this dog, you're going to take care of it. You're going to have to walk it."

"First off, it's a he, not an it."

"It's an animal, therefore an it."

"You're an idiot, therefore a git."

"Was that a rhyme there, Mr. Blanchette? I'm impressed." He just rolled his eyes at me as Ringo hopped off Montgomery onto the floor, sitting down. I realised that, under all that dirt, there might have been a pedigree'd dog. I saw something almost wise in its eyes.

"Thanks. I try. I want to be a comedian when I grow up", he joked. It took less than five minutes for Summer to return after that.

"Hey, guys, I found a garden hose in the backyard, will that do the trick?"

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Sun Jun 07, 2015 8:38 pm

"I can't believe this. I cannot believe this. How did I get into this?"

"Ringo, sit. Look, he even listens!"

"Alright, Cesar Milan, calm your shit", I said as I fiddled with the water hose. It really was a beautiful day. Middle of August, grass was green, skies were blue and et cetera, et cetera, I'm sure you can paint the scene in your head. There were some kids outside, also, plucking out daisies from the grass and tearing out petals, one by one, chanting a song which I recognised, but it was far beyond me to remember how it actually goes. The dog seemed to be enthusiastic enough, because the first thing he did when we opened the door was ran out and rolled in the grass for a minute or so, which meant we had more work with him.

On the topic of actually washing the dog, we had no shampoo whatsoever, so we had Summer go buy some (I promised I would pay her back but she didn't believe me) while we figured out how to make water spray out of the hose. Which was quite fun, since a) Montgomery didn't even know the building had a water hose for starters, and b) I was stupid when it came to actual, physical labour. I could solve math equations and chemistry formulae (not gladly, but I could), but give me a simple technical assignment, I'll get confused and require help. Most often from a more capable woman, because they just love making fun of me and my inability to fix anything. It is a trait I inherited from dad.

But, finally, the hose worked, water was relatively warm, everything was okay but the pressure.

"Why is it so weak?" I asked. "Isn't there a sort of rule in physics that if water is entering the hose in one end, it should come out of the another? I mean, that's not even physics, that's common sense!"

Ringo barked and got up to nudge my thigh.

"It should", Montgomery frowned. "I don't understand. Is it on highest? Can it go any higher?"

"No, I checked", I frowned. Ringo nudged me again; what was with that dog?

"Well, check again", Montgomery seemed a bit ticked off at the attention the dog was paying to me, and not to him.

It soon became more than apparent why Ringo was nudging me. See, I was standing on the hose, and when I moved my foot off of it, water pressure went off the charts and produced a spurt which could have blown a cow away at least five meters from us, almost hitting Montgomery in the chest.

"You nearly killed me."

"Well, I'm sorry. At least the pressure is normal now."

"I could have died."

"Let's wash this dog already", I snickered at Montgomery's shocked look. Somewhere around then Summer returned with dog shampoo (and a dazed look on her face. Flirted with the shop owner), so we could start properly then.

Turns out, Ringo doesn't really like water.

"Could you keep the dog still for a minute?" I asked.

How many men does it take to wash a dog? I'll ask you that question once again when I describe what happened.

Ringo, at the sight of water ran back inside through the door and hid in the female bathrooms, so we had to get a girl (read: Summer) to go find him and drag him out. Once the poor thing saw Montgomery, his ears quirked up and he was immediately happy and ran around barking, like nothing had happened. We somehow bribed Ringo out again and Montgomery held him down while I washed off the dirt off of his fur. Turns out Montgomery is a weakling, so the dog ran and hid again, but this time jumped the fence and sat behind a bush, hoping we wouldn't see him. We saw a tip of a red-white tail, so we tracked him down easily. We tugged him back and sat him down to wash. Again.

The next challenge we encountered was shampooing. But we would have done that easily, if it wasn't for the kids.

Apparently, it was their time outside, to play in the park.

"Puppy!"

"Look at him!"

"Ms Taylor, can we keep him?"

I saw Montgomery get uncomfortable because all the noise. When he was alone in his room, it was quiet, he wasn't used to children yelling and pointing and doing whatever kids did. I had to interfere.

"His name is Ringo", I said, "and he's new here. Of course, if his owner comes, we will return him."

I glanced at Montgomery to see if he got it, because I pointed it out for him to hear. He just rolled his eyes and proceeded to ignore the world. I continued.

"But for now we have to wash him and search for his owners. If we don't find them, you have all the time in the world to play with him." The children squealed with joy and followed the nurse hopping to a much clearer, less wet part of the backdoors, leaving us with a half clean dog and a hose which decided that water pressure can be changed whenever.

So let me ask you again. How many men does it take to wash a dog?

None. Absolutely none.

Because, you know what, at the end of the day, it only took this one girl to wash the goddamned mutt.

"I think he trusts her more", Montgomery said as we, leant against a wall, watched Summer talk sweetly to the dog and slowly shampoo him.

"Yeah, you tell yourself that", I had my hands crossed on my chest. Montgomery's shirt was completely soaked, and so were my trousers, and that's when I decided I would never wash a dog again. I do the work of the mind, not of the body. But, nevermind how, the dog was washed.

When it was around eleven pm that night, I checked on Montgomery. Ringo was under his legs, both of them sleeping peacefully.

I can't thank that dog enough. He returned the talkative, and, in the end, the real Montgomery.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Sun Jun 07, 2015 8:59 pm

208 days before

Not working for a month is taking its toll in shape of working like a dog for the past four days. See what I did there? Word play. Because Ringo. The dog brought both peace and anarchy to our small community.

The children absolutely love him. He nudges them to talk to each other and socialise more, which is always a plus. The problem was that every child wanted Ringo for themselves, and, even though Ringo took all the pulling and screaming very well, there was a fair share of violence among the children. Which, of course, meant, that us doctors and them nurses had a lot more work to do. Surprisingly enough, Montgomery joined us.

Yes, read that sentence again. He started helping out with the kids (again, stopping them from eating playdoh etc., etc.) because he stopped being a patient. It was like having the ordinary Montgomery without the bad days. Was it the dog, was it us, letting him join as an equal or was it just the way stars aligned, I don't know, and right now I'm fine not knowing, as long as it keeps up being good.

After all, you take what you can get, right?

194 days before

Unfortunately, not even the dog can help in some situations.

Montgomery's birthday was somewhere in July, I checked, which meant we missed it because of that one month off we had. But that means the tenth anniversary (I say anniversary in lack of a better term) of Montgomery's arrival was soon. You won't find a glummer holiday than that.

Ten years was a long time to be spent alone, especially if you spend them near your twenties. It's that need for self-fulfillment, for success or whatever you wish to call it, which is always somewhere in the back of your mind, reminding you of what you've done and what you wanted to do.

Why am I saying all that?  Because Montgomery's parents called. First time in ten years, they called.

That is, if Greene was being honest with me. He never told me nor Montgomery that they called.

"Hello , Dr. Shalil speaking", I answered my phone. Summer told me that I should be more formal with my phone conversations. Yeah right.

"Dr. Shalil? My apologies, I believe I got the wrong number…"

"Depends. Were you looking for Dr. Greene?"

"Yes, I was."

"I'm his replacement. He doesn't work here anymore. But, I know everything he does, so if you needed him for something, you can freely ask me, as well."

"You sound a bit young to be working in Dr. Greene's spot." The suspicion in the woman's voice was disgusting. It was like eating a candy so sweet it made you sick.

"No ma'am. I'm a fresh after-grad, fully capable to handle whatever Greene left behind." And he left quite job to handle.

"Which means you have a patient named Blanchette?" Oh, yeah, which reminds me, those files were fully confidential, she needed to answer some questions first.

"Don't mind me asking, but who is calling?"

"My name is Julie Blanchette, Montgomery's mother." I nearly dropped the phone and called Montgomery to get here, but shock didn't let me move.

"Montgomery's—shit. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, but I didn't really expect you to call—"

"Never mind that now." Seemed like I pissed her off with my swears. Luckily, I didn't care what she was thinking. "I'd like to speak to my son."

"Why?"

"I think he knows why."

"I don't mean to come off as rude, ma'am, but I don't think he does." I took a moment to take a few deep breaths, so I wouldn't snap at her. "Your son hasn't heard from you in, well, exactly a decade, not since you left him here. Now, if you're calling to— wait. Why are you calling?" Without an answer to that I wasn't quite capable of carrying this conversation on.

"I'm calling to ask him if he's cured."

Hm. I might have reacted a bit too harshly.

"O-oh, sorry ma'am, sorry. Montgomery can't be reached at the moment", he was taking Ringo out for a walk, "but I can answer that question for you. While his mental stability has been improving significantly during these last months, PTSD and bipolarity are still—"

"No, I'm not asking for that."

I prepared for a storm.

"I'm asking if my son has been cured from homosexuality."

And there it was, the reason Montgomery had been closed up for a decade. His family's closed-minded, conservative views of the world. I consider myself to be a calm person, but at that moment, I would have hit that woman and her husband if I had a chance.

"Excuse me?"

"I'm asking—"

"No, don't repeat that, why would you even say what?" I had to stop myself from yelling.

"But is he?"

"Don't you care about your son at all?"

"I care, that's why I'm asking."

"If you really care, you would have asked different questions. When and if you decide to clean your mind from the filth of your world, you may call again.  Until then, I have patient confidentiality policy."

"But—"

I hung up.

I spent the following five minutes with my chin on my knees, trying to process what I had heard.

Montgomery arrived with Ringo in laughter.

"You'll never believe it, Atlanta, Ringo scared the crap out of Summer. You should have seen her face…" Ringo jumped into my lap, demanding a hello. I scratched the dog's ear.

"Montgomery", I gulped. "Could you put Ringo in your room now? There's something I want to talk to you about."

"Um, yeah, sure." His expression immediately changed accordingly to my shy and careful voice. Once Ringo was in his room (squealing), I told Montgomery to sit down.

"Montgomery, I… You know what happened today, ten years ago?" He didn't reply, he just stared blankly at me. I gulped. "Well, since ten years is a long time, this… Person, she wanted to call and check up on how you are 'n everything."

"No." His jaw dropped.

"It's your mother. She called. I'm sorry."

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Sun Jun 07, 2015 9:06 pm

"My mother?" His voice was shivery, but it was the type of coldness you couldn't stop with a bit of warmth. It caused a feeling somewhere in the middle of the core of my bones, and, once again, I wanted to stand up and hug him. I held myself back. Once again.

"Yes."

"What did she say?" He didn't want to know, I heard it in his voice. But at the same time, it was an obstacle he needed to cross.

"I don't think you want to know."

"Oh." He was staring directly at me, making me uneasy.

There was something unnatural in the sharpness of his eyes, which were a gentle, soft colour. A contrast that I would rather skip than see.

"Did she…?" He couldn't even form a proper question. It was painful to watch him struggle.

But, not even after those times when I saw him crying, did I think he was weak. You know how they always say, guys who cry are less strong than those who don't? I thought the opposite. Montgomery went through a lot, and tears were a natural reaction. If anything, they made him stronger. As some person smarter than me once said, the amount of tears you let out is equal to the amount of pain you let go.

"What did she ask about?" he managed to collect his thoughts into one question. And I decided, it's his mother, he deserves to know.

"She asked have you been cured yet."

He swore under his breath.

"If she wanted me to be cured, she could have sent me to a fucking commune."

And he started closing off into himself again, into what I guessed would be another month of silence.

"No, Montgomery, listen", I tried to stop the process of closure. "Everything she said was wrong, okay?"

"I don't care what she said, I've heard it all before. I just… Ten years", he was biting the inside of his lower lip, "ten years in which I get nothing from them. Then, one day, they remember they have a son. Great. I don't think they call my sister, either. What kind of parents are they, anyway?"

"Shit parents", I answered. Since he was staring at the ground, I got up and knelt down, so he had nowhere else to look but me. "Montgomery, they're not worth it. I heard your mother talk, and her entire brain shouldn't be sold for more than half a pound. She is not worth it."

"I—"

"No, shh." I put my hand on his. "To put it this way, who'd you rather have to listen, me or your mother?"

"You."

"Then listen to me. You are worth more than her. There is nothing wrong with you. At least, nothing you can't fix. And you've been doing a great job lately."

"Before you say anything, don't flatter yourself, you're not a miracle worker." He smiled. A small smile, but still a smile.

"Oh, sarcasm doesn't fit you. But I agree. I'm not a miracle worker. What you've done, that's all you, not me."

"But—"

"You know what, if it works for you, you never have to see them again." He looked at me, and, if he was a cartoon character, there would be a large, bubbly question mark above his head. "You're an adult, right? Meaning once you get out, you're a free man."

"I don't feel like an adult", he admitted, at which I shook my head.

"It doesn't matter whether you feel like it or not, you are an adult and no one can say you aren't."

"I don't know how to act like an adult."

When he bantered uselessly like that, I couldn't help but to let out a melancholy smile. It was nice to know I could help him block out the useless, depressing parts of his life.

"I'll show you." His sad, brown eyes were filled with… Bewilderment?

I got confused, and forgot what was about to say. I'm guessing it was too smart for me to remember. I coughed.

"Anyway", I continued, "you should probably let Ringo out, maybe he'll stop squealing." He got up and headed to the door.

"They'd never let me name anything."

"Sorry?"

"My parents. I always loved naming things, a ridiculous habit, and whenever I wanted to name something, like a pet or an artwork, they didn't let me. That's why I insisted on keeping the dog. Because I named him." He shrugged. "I don't know. It's not important."

I watched him open the door and let the happy dog inside.

It is interesting, and tragic, in a way, when you see how much the little things from one's childhood affect their entire life. Words are more permanent than actions, and certainly more powerful. If the situation had been a little bit different, Montgomery would have made some friends here and be better in, what, a couple of years? Bad influences of any kind, such as his parents and Greene, were slowly breaking him into pieces.

"I really think Ringo doesn't like me", I said as I looked at Montgomery returning to his spot and Ringo pouncing around him. It really was a pretty dog, he must have had an owner. I decided to do a search later on.

"I think of it as", Montgomery started as he tore his eyes away from the dog, "magnets. They have two different sides, right? Positive ones attract negative and so forth. Since both you and Ringo are unexplainably happy all the time, that makes you two same sides, and you don't attract each other."

"And what about Ringo and you? Why does he like you then?" I asked.

"I'm the different side", he explained shortly.

When the evening turned into night, I went to sleep in my bed. Around elevenish, Montgomery exited his room and lay down next to me. We weren't touching, but he was so close I could feel the heat of his body. But I didn't say anything.

I decided to ask in the morning.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Sun Jun 07, 2015 9:13 pm

195 days before

He woke up next to me and padded away to his room, thinking I didn't hear him. I heard him, and I heard Ringo following him. I don't know what to think about that.

I still felt his breath on my neck.

189 days before

He keeps going to my bed at night, sleeping next to me, and early in the morning, he leaves. Honestly, I feel like I should tell him that I know what he's doing, but I think that knowledge would stop him from coming.

For now, I stay quiet, trying to warm up his icy cold skin with my body heat. I'm playing the part of a sun.

152 days before

I never liked being the bearer of bad news, but, I decided, screw it. Montgomery has heard worse. Just another bump in the road, this was for him, and he'd get over it quickly enough.

"Montgomery?" I called once I returned to my room. "Could you find Ringo and come here, it's important", I said.

"What do you mean, find him, he's right here", Montgomery and Ringo appeared in the doorway.

It wasn't just me, other people had noticed that Montgomery not only getting better mentally, his looks have improved also. The strawy hair remained strawy, but it was softer and more airy, he'd gained weight (thank God), and he got a certain spark in his big, hazel-brown eyes. I hate to give myself all the credit, but, damn, I'm a good doctor.

"I have some news regarding the dog", I informed him.

"Go ahead", he said and sat down on my desk chair.

"You won't kill me if I tell you?"

"Depends on what you say, really", Montgomery said and whistled. Ringo's ears flew up and he had his hair in Montgomery's lap in no time. He scratched the back of his ear absentmindedly.

I am a big believer of trying not to sugar-coat the ugly truth.

"This woman called, she asked if we saw her dog around." He stared at me blankly. I knew he understood; but he didn't want to understand. "She said it was a red and white Australian shepherd without a collar, but with a nick in his ear."

"Ringo doesn't have a nick in his ear."

"Oh doesn't he now. Check again." He lifted the dog's ear only to discover a small portion of it missing. "Shit."

"The woman said he got it in a fight with her cat."

Montgomery looked up with a tiny pout.

"Noo. So we're giving him away?"

"We're not giving him away, we're returning him." The pout grew.

"Do we have to?"

"Yes. Don't be selfish. The woman had been looking for her dog for months, aren't you glad she found him?"

"I am selfish. But isn't Ringo better off with us?" Sorry to burst your bubble, kid.

"Goliath?" I called the dog his real (and ironic) name. He immediately started barking and squealing.

"See, he remembered his owner. We're returning him." Montgomery still seemed sad. "We're doing a good thing. I think he'll be happier if he was back with his real owner?"

"I'm not being narcissistic if I say that I think he'd be much better on if he stays, right?"

"Damnit, Mon, it's not your child!" I felt like I was going to burst into ugly crying laughter if this continued in this 80s-sitcom direction. "Even if it was, you have to let him go."

"No, Jack!" Montgomery mimicked… Rose, I guess? I never watched Titanic, sappy love stories based off on the greatest tragedies in history aren't really my deal. "I'm never going to leave you", he hugged the dog, who mostly just looked confused.

"Okay, you done with saying goodbyes? The woman will be here any minute. Or hour, I think she lives kind of far", I shrugged. "But this is good, right, getting rid of your training wheels and stuff?" He just glared at me.

The woman called fifteen minutes later, saying that she can't make it today, but will come tomorrow.

That night, not only did Montgomery join me in bed, but the dog also, lying on top of us, which couldn't have been hygenic. I guessed the dog could sense that we were returning him. I've grown to like Ringo, he made a dog person out of me. And it was sad to know he was going, but, also, a chance for Montgomery to show what he's learnt.

Like I said, training wheels.

151 days before

You could cut the awkwardness in the air with your fingernails.

The woman (Lisa, let's call her Lisa. I forgot her name), she was creeped out, to put it lightly, to be in a place where kids ate Play-doh and those who were older slept in the same bed with their shrinks. Of course, she didn't say a word, but you could tell she was uncomfortable.

"Dr. Shalil?" she asked once I opened the door.

"Hi, yes, that's me. You're here for the dog?" I asked, and she nodded. "He's right in there, with… Montgomery? She's here!" I said. We waited a couple of seconds and Montgomery came out of his room with Ringo tapping alongside. Once the dog saw his owner, his ears shot into the air, and he ran towards her, barking his soul out.

"Oh, thank you, thank you, for finding my little baby!" Lisa exclaimed as she hugged the red dog.

I glanced at Montgomery and he glanced back.

I could see it in his eyes that he was sad to see Ringo go, but was glad that at least Lisa was happy because her dog was found.

"I'm afraid I have no time to stay and thank you enough, but maybe later, over a cup of tea?" she asked and left her business card on the table, the lamest type of flirting.

I sighed as I watched Ringo leave with Lisa.

"You okay?" I asked Montgomery.

"I don't know", he shrugged. "I will be, I guess."

And that's the kind of enthusiasm I've been trying to achieve for months.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Sun Jun 07, 2015 9:22 pm

104 days before

Montgomery's going to kill me.

It was the end of November, practically Christmas, and it snowed. Snow, which I loathed as a child, became a symbol of home during my time in America. So, naturally, I wanted to take Montgomery out.

Err, okay, not in that way.

Whilst Montgomery was an amazing person with whom I could spend my life with, it was unfathomable that I actually date the boy. Firstly, and most importantly, he was a patient. More so, he was my patient. I'm pretty sure it was illegal. Secondly…

No, wait, never mind, this whole thing was stupid.

Never mind.

And, I repeat, Montgomery is going to kill me.

I was sat on his legs (I don't even know how I managed that without waking him up) with mittens and a scarf in my hands, ready to wake him up. He looked so peaceful in his sleep.

I threw the scarf at his face.

"Wake up!" I exclaimed, and I was nearly shoved off of the bed.

"Fuck, Detroit!" Montgomery squealed, don't let him tell you otherwise, and shoved me backwards into the wall. It didn't hurt at all, believe it or not. He was, what they say, all bark but no bite.

"It's snowing!" I replied, in the same tone. "I mean, it snowed outside!"

"I don't care!" This conversation was just one big scream fest. Montgomery grabbed the cover and pulled it above his head.

"C'mon, let's go outside!"

"Fuck no! First you miss the sun, then you miss the snow, go out by yourself!"

"Please", I made my voice as nice as possible as I crawled closer to him. Hands ended in places which I'd rather not mentioned, but I glossed over them. Err, I mean it. "Please please pleeease", I whined. "There was no snow, or, rather, shit snow in America, and this is proper snow!"

"What do I get if I do?"

"Eternal gratutude."

"Ehh. That's dull."

"Ei, rude. What would you like, then?" I asked removing myself off of him so I could sit on the bed rather than on top of him.

"A million pounds and world peace", he said. I hit him in the head with a pillow.

"You're not on a pageant, Blanchette! Up! Snow is healthy for you!"

"Snow is frozen water!"

"Water is healthy for you!"

"Okay, okay!" We stopped yelling at each other for a few seconds. "Okay. I'm going. Give me a minute to find the proper winter equipment." I got up, left the pillow on his bed and walked out.

"You're not a car, Montgomery", I noticed.

"You're not my mother", he replied.

I'm glad we got communication about family out of the way. At least now I can use insults like 'you run like your mother', or, the more accurate, less stereotypical one, 'you're as narrow-minded as your mother'. That ought to snap him out if anything.

We haven't had bad mood days for months. Greene stopped calling. Summer stopped getting worried whenever she heard laughter from Montgomery's room. Things have changed for better. And even I, not a person particularly fond of change, liked it.

While he found his 'equipment', I put on mine. Gloves, a huge trapper hat with faux fur, that I found, but I couldn't for the love of god figure out where my scarf was. (Though, if we're going to be honest, I didn't look for it all that much.)

Once Montgomery came out of his room with two scarfs layered on, it all became clear.

"You thief", I laughed and took the scarf off of him. "If I'd known you had taken it, I wouldn't have looked for it in the first place."

"But, Spokane, I didn't take it, you threw it in my face." He had that awful, I'm-so-innocent face, which was just waiting for laughter to be thrown its way.

"That's irrelevant, Petain. Main point is, you had my scarf all along, and my search for it was useless."

"No time spent on reaching a goal, no matter how useless that goal is, is useless", Montgomery said. I would have stopped and clapped at him. That's a good, philosophical sentence. I said, would have, because a second after it, "But wait, did you just call me Petain, that French politician from, what, World War Two? Have you really fallen that low?"

"He was the first person who came to mind", I admitted and wrapped the scarf around my neck. There. I was fully prepared for Stormageddon. "Unlike some other individuals, I don't spend my free time thinking of names I might call my friends next time I see them."

"Unlike some other individuals, I actually know of a few larger cities in the United States, so I don't have to think of them, I just say a city I remember."

"And yet, you never said the same city twice", I noticed and opened the door for him. While walking out, he pushed the hat further down on my eyes. "I call bullshit, you have them written down somewhere."

"It's a brilliant mind, my doctor, which remembers all your names." I see poet Montgomery decided to pay a visit today. I'm not sure just how I feel about that, but I'm willing to cooperate. Well, kind of. Actually, no, I'm not willing.

"Are you calling me stupid?"

"No, I'm simply calling myself brilliant."

"Wow." So it wasn't poet Montgomery, it was arsehole Montgomery. No wonder I couldn't tell them apart.

We walked around the halls for a few minutes (we wanted to get Summer, or, 'Holiday, to join our snow fun', but, alas, we couldn't find her) before we headed outside.

"Feelin' the chill already, boys?" asked Ms Norton as we bickered our way to her.

"Unfortunately. Somebody", Montgomery nudged my ribs, "pissed doctor off, so he's been quite cold-hearted."

"Was not", I complained.

"Alright, alright, kids, don't claw out each other's eyes. Enjoy the snow, they say there won't be much of it this year", she said and we were out.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Sun Jun 07, 2015 9:30 pm

"I'm freezing", he said.

"Shut up."

"But it's cold."

"Summer is making us tea. Shut up."

"But I'm cold."

"Please, Montgomery."

I don't even have to describe what happened. I think it's pretty self explanatory. The obligatory snowball fights happened, throwing into the snow happened, laughter, making snow angels, more rolling around in the snow like children.

I never knew the yard had a pond.

I may have pushed Montgomery in. He may have cracked the ice on top and fallen in. I may have laughed, but just a little, before I pulled him out and dragged him inside before he turned into an ice cube and we'd have to chisel him out of it.

"How long does it take for tea to be made?" he asked.

"Longer if you keep on complaining, you tosser."

"Me? I vaguely remember being thrown into the jaws of ice cold water!"

"No, you must have hit your head pretty hard there, that didn't happen."

"Shut up!"

"Make me!"

"Shut up!" Another voice joined our bickering. It was Superhero Summer, with two mugs full of steaming liquid (which I really hope was tea)!

"Tea!" Montgomery squeaked. Squeaked? Oh god I think I broke him. He threw the blanket off of himself and gratefully took his mug off of Summer.

"Yeah, here you go, you git." She rolled her eyes as she passed my mug to me. "And here you go, git number two."

"Rude", I complained, but I still grabbed my tea.

"Yeah", Montgomery chipped in as steam heated up his cheeks, "she's just like you. You share the similarity of rudeness."

"Rude", Summer and I complained at the same time. Montgomery just shook his head and returned to his tea as Summer winked at me.

"Ah, but you wouldn't have us any other way."

"Even if I did, which I do, I'd have no other choice", Montgomery muttered.

"Ah, shut up, you love us", Summer chirped and pushed us around until she could sit between us.

I think I heard Montgomery say something like 'Unfortunately so', but I'm not sure.

"My silly boys."

"We're not your boys at all", I complained.

"Yes you are", she cut me off and hugged us both. "Now, telly?"

We spent the rest of the day watching television, and of course they made me get them popcorn. Twice.

Tomorrow we decided to go out once more and build a snowman.

98 days before

"Our snowman has died", he said, as we gathered around a small pile of buttons and a carrot. The snow melted during the night, and, even though it was reasonably cold still and we were wearing both mittens and hats, the sun shone, its warmth not reaching us.

"It didn't die, it will live forever in our hearts", I said.

"Bullshit", he replied and kicked the buttons with the tip of his shoe.

"Yeah", I agreed.

95 days before

Something's changed between Montgomery and me. Something is definitely different.

When I watch him sculpting, I no longer watch the pebble turning into an artwork. I watch the focused look on his face, his eyebrows connecting in a frown, those gentle eyelashes crowning the even gentler eyes.

But, when we talk, I don't want to look him in the eyes. My gaze wanders around the room, stays on his bracelets and rings, on the work-in-progress project on his desk, on the unmade bed. I don't know why I'm afraid of him.

No, I wouldn't say afraid. Timid. Careful. Like I could break him. And god knows I can't.

If you look at Montgomery half a year ago and Montgomery now… Well, I'll just say I'm proud of my work even though I've done nothing. Absolutely nothing. It would be exaggerating if you'd say I worked for these past six months. All I did was talk with Montgomery and help around with some kids when I was needed. I say money well earned, right? I haven't even thought about it as a job.

It doesn't feel like a job. Honestly, lately it's been more like a highly reactive chemical, waiting for the earthquake to come.

76 days before

The earthquake came. A teeny tiny one. Enough to shake things up but not enough to change things drastically.

Montgomery sleeps in my bed. That, of course, is nothing new. He'd been doing that for months now. What is, however, new, is that now he throws an arm or a leg over me, and nuzzles into my shoulder, and I know it should feel…

Wait. I don't know how it should feel. I know how it shouldn't feel, and it's exactly how it does.

I am not supposed to dream about him, not supposed to think about turning around to face him. But I do.

I dreamt about turning around and moving his strawy hair out of his face, resting my hand on his jaw. I still had a slight fascination with his breathing; I could feel his lungs expanding on my spine, and his exhales were painfully slow. Like he was holding the air in until he couldn't do it anymore. I've decided that Montgomery is a suicidal sleeper, which gives me a reason more to check his pulse. I tried avoiding that but I just can't.

51 days before

I don't even know what's going on in my head anyway. It's like it is pushing me away and pulling me in, and none of those options were a valid choice.

39 days before

I've probably gone crazy, but I think he looked at me once. Truly looked, with the same look he gives to his projects. I've certainly gone crazy. These awful, do I even dare to call them, crushes, have taken the best of me and threw it in the trash. I'm like a cat, on the edge of my seat, jumpy, always looking for something to occupy my mind with. It is a very difficult task, to keep doing my job while my job is distracting me from doing my job.

Great, now I've managed to confuse myself again. I swear I'll be dead by the end of this year.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Sun Jun 07, 2015 9:38 pm

18 days before

I decided today, that I have to stop thinking about Montgomery that way. It's not natural. He's a patient.

I have to stop watching the way his eyes reflect the sunlight, or the way his hair behaves when it's just dried.

He really has ridiculous hair. I've never given (too) much thought to it, but it's strange. When he washes it, it almost looks like it's has volume, and it's less prone to sticking up in every direction known to human. One day after the wash, (when did I ever start paying attention to when he washes his hair?) it turns into a big, one piece flop and it covers half of his face, so it's become almost routine that, when he sculpts, I always move his hair out of his face and tuck it in somewhere behind his ear. He's often said he needs a haircut, but he never actually got one. But that's off topic.

His hair three, four days after the wash is straw, like I've mentioned before. Completely dead. It gives him a sort of charming look. With his glasses, a stubble, a hoodie half tucked in his jeans and messy hair, he looks like a penniless French artist back in the '20s.

I don't even know anymore. I've thought about it too much already.

I applied for a job near Reading today. It's less personal than here, and I don't want to leave Montgomery, but the way this has headed, I think it would be better for us both. I'm getting the results in a couple of weeks, and I have contradictory wishes about it.

15 days before

It seems like, no matter how I try to escape him, he will always be somewhere around the corner. Even when I'm in my room, I hear music from his, which is a clear invitation. 'Come to my room', deciphered, 'I'm doing something and I wish not to be alone'.

Montgomery dislikes being alone, that much I've learned. Before Ringo, he suffered in silence, just as he'd done with Greene. (I still haven't called Greene about the techniques he used on Montgomery. That's not only amateur work, but it is also sloppy.) With Ringo around, Montgomery was rarely alone. Hell, that dog even slept with him. And, after Ringo, he's spent most of his time with me.

We listen to a lot of music, I talk while he sculpts, he talks while I draw on his CD covers and so on. Ah, about that latter one.

I'm an awful drawer. Absolute worst. Thank goodness I'm not a surgeon, I can't even hold a pen straight in my hands. But, one day, while I tried to find a CD for us to listen to, I discovered something which I didn't notice for the past hundred times we played that CD.

"Who drew this?" I asked Montgomery as I pointed at the album cover. The paper from the inside was taken out, drawn on with a silver marker, and returned back in. You could only see the silver when you placed the CD under a specific light. It looked really cool, I'm not even going to lie.

Montgomery gave it a quick glance over his glasses and returned to his project.

"My sister. I told you that Bonnie Tyler CD was hers."

"Did you? I don't remember."

And from then on, I've left scribbles on every one of his CDs. I think he secretly enjoys it. I know I do.

7 days before

You know how I decided to stop thinking about Montgomery? Well, it worked. Not for long.

I spent a week celibate and then had a hyper-realistic dream, and I'm not even going to give you the details of it. Woke up in cold sweat, like a teenager, with Montgomery's arm around me, which did not help my situation at all.

So I made another decision. Thinking is fine. Dreams, as long as we sleep in the same bed, aren't.

2 days before

I got the Reading job. I start working a week from now. In the meanwhile, I have to rent out a flat, quit this job and tell Montgomery. I know which I want to do the least.

I planned to tell him when I'm already packed and ready to go, so there won't be any trouble with leaving.

1 day before

Everything's been taken care of. Except Montgomery. Regret is kicking in like a sticky cough syrrup with a delayed effect.

0

"You're… What?"

"I'm sorry, but I find it the best thing to do at this moment."

"But… Today?" He seemed endlessly confused and completely helpless. I saw lights in his eyes slowly dying. "You planned it before, didn't you."

"Err, y-yeah", I stammered. There it was, the coldness. He was completely indifferent when Greene left. Why would it be any different for me? "I have to settle down somewhere, I need to get my own place, you know."

"I understand." And he rose them all up. Every. Single. Wall.

"Got my bags out. Want to go and help me load them in the taxi?"

"Sure." No, not this again. The 'I don't care' Montgomery. This was supposed to be a clean break.

We stood in silence for a few seconds, or minutes. I didn't pay attention to the time. He kept looking at the floor.

And when he looked up at me, I had a brief flash of panic. He looked at me the way he did in that dream.

He rushed towards me, stopped inches away, and stared at me for a moment. As his eyes glanced at my lips, my heart dropped, and—

He hugged me. It was not our usual hug. It was cold.

He held so many things back, and I didn't know if he felt them too.

He didn't help me with my bags. I spent the taxi ride and the train ride in the complete silence of my mind. I had nothing to say to myself.

I found a small totem in my suitcase when I unpacked. It had a small dent near the bottom, which was obviously not meant to be there.

I wish I was a better person than this.

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PostSubject: Re: Montgomery and Detroit   Fri Jun 26, 2015 10:15 pm

That feeling when you're drowning, and everything you grab to stop your fall is sand.

Those late nights when you fear the monster from your mind will catch you.

That person which replaces you when you have no control over your body.

Those bruises and cuts on your skin which hurt even though they're a decade old.

The neverending hunger for something you cannot eat, for something which you can't even fathom.

That disappointed look on their faces, when all you've done was been misunderstood.

I am here. I'm still alive. I'm trying.

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