I felt bad for Mom. She had her hands full, Dad wasn’t there to help her, and my being in the hospital was my own blamed fault. So when my eyes continued to play tricks on me, and the whispering started up again, I kept it to myself. There was only one person I knew that I felt comfortable sharing all this with, and he showed up later that afternoon.
I was trying to watch some TV when I saw a stuffed monkey at the edge of my doorway. A voice came from the hallway, and I saw a hand move the monkey back and forth as I heard the voice:
“Don’t…push…me…cuz…I’m close to the edge!” I grinned and watched Lu step forward with a little shyness. He carried his laptop under his arm. He looked at the monkey and then threw him across the room and into my lap. I caught him and nodded a greeting.
“He looks a lot like you,” I said.
Lu shrugged and took a step forward. “I was gunna name him Crash.”
“Very funny,” I said to him. He stepped over to the bed and we bumped fists. “Crash is one word I don’t want to hear from you.”
“Seriously, Dude. Have you heard about the mileage I got out of the video?”
“Video? You didn’t put my accident online? Did you?”
“Dude, I had to. It was classic. Look,” he said, flipping his laptop open. A minute later, he had pulled up YouTube and an image of me. Above it read: “The Further Adventures of Crash Corrigan.”
“My name is Charlie, not Crash,” I said, frowning.
“After this, it’s going to be Cash, not Crash,” he said excitedly. “Look at the hits. Over two million! Take that, you Canadians!”
I stared at the screen as the number of hits continued to go up. Lu then clicked on the image and the video began. It showed me waving at the camera and unicycling off into the distance and around the far side of the building. Then it watched me come back toward the camera. I flinched as I heard the clock gong and the pigeons flew up between the image of me and the camera. Then I heard Lu’s voice shout, “Look out!” and the camera tilted. I watched my unicycle hit the edge of the scaffolding and then disappear out of sight. I watched myself fall against the edge of the scaffolding, bounce against the lower deck boards and then richochet off some bushes below us. The video showed my body lying on the ground below the scaffolding, as onlookers ran over to where I lay. I heard Lu mutter, “Oh, no. Oh, no.” several times and then the video switched off.
Lu flipped the laptop closed and looked at me soberly. “I got down to you as fast as I could. By the time I got there, someone was giving you mouth to mouth. Your heart had stopped, but they got it going. You died, Dude.”
I stared at the screen, then at Lu. The video looked familiar to me up until the part when I fell off the edge. After that, it seemed like it was some other person.
I shook my head. “Whoa,” was all I could say.
“I was going to trash the video when you were in a coma, but when you came out of it, I figured, what the heck. We needed to get something out of the whole experience. I mean, more than what you got.” He looked at me and gestured at all the bandages.
I shrugged. “Doctor says I probably get to go home tomorrow,” I said, cheerfully. “That’s something at least.”
Lu squinted at me and shook his head. “Dude, you don’t understand how epic this video is—for you and for me. Your name is going to be a household word at our school.”
“But my name isn’t Crash.”
“Whatever, Dude. It’s what will get you famous.” He looked at me and realized where he was. He slid his laptop onto the table beside the bed and turned to sit down in the chair beside the bed.
“So what’s on TV,” he asked, looking up at the screen above us.
“Next to nothing,” I said. “I Love Lucy, soap, another soap, Judge Penny, infomercial. Here.” I gave him the remote and he began switching through the channels. He finally settled on an old black-and-white Western.
“Doc says I get to go home tomorrow,” I said.
“Yeah, I heard.” We watched TV for another minute without speaking. Then he spoke again. “How soon will you be able to go back to school?”
I shook my head. “Knowing my mom, she will want to keep me at home till Christmas, but that’s going to more boring than being in here. I’ll have to convince her to let me get back to school ASAP.” I looked at him.
“So you think I will be a household name,” I muttered.
“Lady Gaga, The Last Airbender, then you,” he said, counting off the names with his fingers.
“Cool,” I said, then paused. “Dude, I need your advice on something.”
“Go for it,” he said, still watching the Western.
“Dude. I’m serious. Look at me.”
He turned to me and then nodded, switching off the TV.
I cleared my throat and took a deep breath.
“When I came to after the accident, my vision was all blurry and jumping around. I had a terminal headache and this ringing in my ears.”
“Right. Don’t interrupt. Anyway, they bandaged up my eyes overnight and said I would be better today. And I was. Better, that is.”
Lu nodded and looked at me, expectantly.
“But while I was lying there in the bed, I could hear voices whispering. Voices that weren’t in the room with me. And later—I mean today—I could see shadows moving around as if they were people.”
“Dude, you just did a face plant off a 50-foot scaffold. You died, Dude. There’s going to be squirrelly things happening in your cabeza. What do you expect? Be glad you still speak English. I’m just glad you know who I am.”
I nodded. “Yeah, I thought of that. I know I am messed up. But there was something else. I heard something one of them said last night. Something that’s got me a little spooked. OK, a lot spooked.”
“What did you hear?”
“A lot of it was hard to hear. Garbled, or a long ways off. But I did hear one thing.”
“I heard the words, ‘Bo Landry must die.’”
Lu looked at me for a long minute and then burst out laughing. I watched him, unsure what to do next.
“Dude, you got me with that one. Good one.” He continued to laugh, then realized that I wasn’t laughing. His face lost its smile.
“You’re serious, aren’t you?”
I nodded. “Dead serious.”
Lu rolled his eyes. “Well, what do you want to do? Tell the docs? Tell your mom?”
I shook my head. “The docs would just want to put me on drugs or keep me here until I die of boredom. And Mom has plenty on our plate already. She wouldn’t understand, anyway.”
“So what do you want to do? Keep it to yourself?”
I shook my head again. “What if these voices are telling me something that’s going to happen? What if Bo is really in trouble?”
“So you want to tell Bo? Are you stupid, or what? He wouldn’t let you get a word out before he pounded you into the ground. Don’t you remember that you are number one on his hate list?”
“Yeah, I know that,” I said. “Believe me, I know that.”
“So what’s the plan?”
“I’m thinking Emily Parmentier.” I started to put my arms behind my head, but realized that my left forearm was in a cast. Instead, I put my right hand behind my head by itself.
“What about her?” Lu asked. “She hates you, too.”
“Well, there’s hate—like I want to pull your arms out of their sockets—and then there’s hate—like I don’t want to sit next to you in Math class. Emily’s definitely the latter. She’s still got connections with Bo. If I can convince her to tell him the message, then I think she has a better chance of getting to him than I do.”
“And you do still have the sympathy thing going for you,” Lu added. “The gossip train has been going crazy. They have you dead and buried and dug up and living like a zombie. I just have you dying once.”
I nodded. “Once is enough, I believe. Once is enough.”