I Give Devise and Bequeath (9)
Whether it was the fact that the amount of alcohol in his body had anaesthesized him to some extent, or the inherent instinct for survival which impels humans to struggle for life when death seems imminent, Alex began to flail his arms and legs to get back to the surface. This was not the day Alexander Constantinos would die. He broke through the surface of the icy water coughing and spluttering to get air into his bursting lungs. He pushed towards the pier. Reaching the wall he felt his way along until he came to some metal steps where he hesitated trying to dispel the numbness in his extremities. Gathering all the strength he could he slowly climbed up the few steps and collapsed on the pier where he lost consciousness.
That was where Frank Delaney found him. Frank, a thirty-two year-old five year homeless man had witnessed the whole scene with La Terra's thugs. Drunk with alcohol and despair, he had come to the pier to finally commit suicide. When the car rolled up he had hidden behind one of the electricity boxes which serviced the ships that docked alongside the pier. Watching what went down sobered him up instantaneously, and when the car left he had tried to look for the body in the dark water, and was just turning to go back to the makeshift hovel he called home, when he saw a figure appear climbing out further down the pier. Not quite knowing what to do when he reached Alexander, he took off one of the coats he was wearing and put it over Alex and tried to shake him awake. Alex finally opened his unseeing eyes and Frank tried to get him on his feet which proved to be very difficult. Frank was not strong but tenacious and with one of Alex's arms around his neck and supporting this semi-conscious man two heads taller than himself, they shuffled along between the warehouses until they came to a burnt out construction where in one corner Frank had his dilapidated shelter.
He lowered Alex onto his dirty mattress and covered him with a blanket and newspapers. He knew he should have taken Alex's clothes off first, but he was too exhausted and curled up in a tattered, filthy armchair he had proudly brought to his home recently. At dawn Frank awoke and found Alex shivering with fever. He needed to get some antibiotics and fast.
Frank looked around at his meagre possessions to see what he had to trade but amongst the rubbish there was nothing of the remotest value to anyone. He then touched the only thing he had left of his former life, a small golden cross which hung around his neck on a piece of leather string. He had sold the chain of the cross years ago, but would never part with the little cross which had belonged to his mother. Well, he thought, mother would no doubt approve his decision to sell it now. He scurried off to his dealer who also had a plethora of medications acquired from several robberies, hoping some antibiotics and a few bucks could be obtained for the cross.
Twenty minutes later with some antibiotics, a packet of large band aids and five dollars in his pocket, Frank bought some tea and milk and a loaf of stale bread, a packet of sugar and some eggs. He then headed back to the port picking up some pieces of wooden crating as he went along. Once back, he saw Alex's condition had worsened. Frank made a small fire in a large pickle tin, removed the coverings from Alex and proceeded to undress him. It was strenuous work for the emaciated Frank. Naked, he covered Alex again, whilst in another tin he boiled some water out of his plastic container and made some tea. Supporting Alex into a sitting position he forced a capsule into his mouth followed by some hot tea. Alex opened his eyes slightly, then slipped back onto the dirty mattress. Frank covered him and drank some tea and dipped a piece of the bread to soften it, and ate his Spartan breakfast. Every five hours Frank repeated his inadequate nursing efforts throughout the day and night. He had seen the gunshot wound was only a flesh wound and neither the entry nor the exit of the bullet had caused excessive bleeding. He had put a band aid over both wounds, and although they barely covered the areas, it was the best he could do.
On the third day Alex woke up to a dreadful smell. The stench of a human being who has not washed in months is worse than any animal on the planet and Frank could not remember when he had last immersed in water. Alex opened his eyes and stared into the eyes of the offending smell. Never again in his life, would he ever see such beautiful, joy-filled, smiling blue eyes. The eyes of his saviour.
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Great as always, which doens't come as a surprise.
killea: Thank you my faithful reader.