sometimes I want to strangle your neck Who: Abel & Brent. Odd couple much? What: Lottery prompt. Where: Pax. When: Monday afternoon.
Abel gently shut his car door, hitting the key fob to hear the reassuring beep of his car locking up after him. Dressed in a beige suit with a navy button up shirt, he'd just come from the county lockup where he'd been interviewing yet another patient -- this one a murderer whom the prosecution wanted to seek the death penalty, despite the fact that no one had been executed in California since the 80s. He slipped his car keys into one pocket, his mind lingering over the details of a killing done in passion, not planned, so he doubted he'd be able to give the county attorney what they wanted. He slipped sunglasses off of his face as he came within the towering shadow of Pax, and saw a cat disappearing around one side.
He hadn't been too disturbed by the cat infestation that had occurred a few weeks ago; most animals gave him a wide berth. He had noted a rise in the amount of animal noise, especially near the garbage, and for some reason decided that now would be a good time to investigate such a theory. Putting one arm of his sunglasses down his collar, he turned on the concrete path to walk around the far side of the building, moving out of the shadow and back into the fleeting sunshine as he crossed the manicured lawn and toward the less well-tended area of the apartment complex. A service road came up behind the building, and a handful of dumpsters were present, far more than necessary for the current number of tenants in the building.
Abel couldn't immediately detect anything off; his appearance scared off a handful of stray cats, though, who ran off hissing and spitting almost as badly as Bear had the night he'd visited Nish's apartment. He clucked his tongue, shaking his head as he moved closer to one foul-smelling dumpster; glancing in, he saw nothing out of the ordinary, but when he stepped back, his foot slid in something and he went straight down to the ground, smacking the back of his head badly on the pavement. Suddenly, it was lights out.
Or rather...everything went dark. Very dark. Pitch black, in fact. Abel put his hands out in front of him, quickly sitting up and making his head spin. A hand on the ground used to prop himself up also touched whatever he'd slipped in and was likely now sitting in, making him curse softly under his breath. He brought what he assumed was his clean hand to his face, moving around to the back of his head, where he could feel blood welling, but not an injury bad enough that it should have affected his sight. Temporary, maybe, he thought. Need a doctor.
He slowly started to get to his feet, holding his arms out wildly, fingers finding and using the side of one dumpster to rise to his full height. He heard his sunglasses fall, but they wouldn't do him much good now, so he left them where they lay.
"Hey," a voice called, dragging out the word. "Nice shades. Don't step on them." The voice drew nearer. A slight scraping sounded the newcomer retrieving the glasses, scraping them against the pavement in a motion both unnecessary and unwanted. The arm of the sunglasses clicked as it fell back into place; they were being held out to their owner, for all the good that would do.
"I'm Brent," he said. The introduction was punctuated by a chorus of feral cats, yowling and spitting at Brent's newly-made friend. "You've got some… I'm not sure. Some shit on your suit, I guess. You drunk or something?"
Abel's eyes closed, nose sucking in a breath that forced him to reel his anger back in. When he opened his eyes again, his vision was still black, and the vile feeling in the back of his head grew thick and heavy with annoyance.
"I slipped," he explained. "I'm having some trouble with my vision; do you have a phone? I think I need a doctor." He didn't recognize the voice, and the idea that he had feces spread on his suit did not help the situation. Putting a hand out, he grasped for a moment before he finally came across the glasses. "I'm Abel. I live here," he added, as though to reassure the person he hadn't been trespassing.
"Okay," Brent said. "Me too. Um, I don't have a phone, but there's one in the lobby. I'm on the first floor, too, so you could use my house phone if you want." Somewhere a cat yowled a warning, but Brent only swore at it in answer. "Don't mind them. They've been kind of a pain in the ass the whole time I've been here. You'd think a place like this would deal with them…"
Brent's voice moved off to one side. He cleared his throat, then said, "I can lead you in if you're okay with me touching you." His voice was slightly different now; more professional, as though these tasks were things to which he was accustomed. "I can call an ambulance if you think it's that bad."
Abel turned, following the sound. He put out a hand, nodding. "Yeah, sure. Maybe Stephan's there, he could help. I don't know, I might need an ambulance." He'd had moments of vision impairment in the past, but never from a head injury before. Asphyxiation tended to lead to these sorts of things, but a head wound would bleed a lot, and he could have a brain injury. He briefly wondered how big the man was that was suddenly helping him; if he should fall again, the issue could only be compounded. He heard more cats howling and hissing in the background, but he ignored what had almost become normal for him.
"You do this kind of thing often? You're more calm that I would've expected." His evaluation could be made of himself as well; most who found themselves temporarily blinded probably would have approached the situation with less logic.
"Yeah. I work at a hospital. LA County. I'm not a doctor or anything, though, so don't get excited." Brent's hand was dry and dusty where it grabbed onto Abel's, but he led him around the corner of the building with fairly steady steps. Abel felt the press of concrete beneath his shoes, faintly remembering where he'd stepped on his way back behind the building. "How bad is it?" he asked. "I'd be freaking out if my eyesight fucked up. And outside, with all these cats? You should see some of them. The one that was getting kinda close only had one eye…"
The front of the building loomed up before them; the air was slightly cooler in its shade. Brent let go of Abel's hand long enough to open the door. Then he pressed his palm to Abel's shoulder, pushing lightly at him. "In you go."
Abel reached out to find the doorway and instead came to the edge of the door, then the open air, feeling his way onto the tile of the lobby. He felt ridiculous, that he should be handicapped so, but at least he wasn't left to fumble in the dark completely. A cool rush of air passed over him, making him feel inexplicably cold compared to the warmth of the midday sun outside. He paused, waiting for his would-be seeing eye dog to return.
"It's just...black," he offered, his voice low, wondering if Stephan was there and what he might say. Any other time when his vision had been tested, it had always started with fuzziness, the disproportion of items in his sight, then a slow leak of black around the edges. Never just... This was more like the lights in a room had simply been clicked off. His fall was the easier explanation, but this seemed like something else. It reminded him of something else. A cave...
"Stephan?" He held his hand out for Brent, less like a child waiting for a parent and more like a master commanding a servant, ready to be led to wherever was next. "Where's the phone?"
"He's not here," Brent said. "Probably off reapplying that goddamn eyeshadow…"
Brent took Abel's hand again, plainly unruffled by the tone of the order, or perhaps simply accustomed to it. They crossed the lobby with smaller steps than were likely necessary, shuffling their way across polished marble. Brent had used the concierge desk phone before without asking, and this seemed a better reason than most to do so again. He brought Abel's hand to rest on the countertop, then let go of him. A faint shuffling and a heavy thump announced Brent's reaching across and procuring the phone.
"You don't look like you need an ambulance," he said, "so I can just call a doctor. I don't know if you know this, but ambulance rides are crazy expensive. You got a doctor you really like, or can I just call somebody? I have a couple in mind."
"I'd rather have the ambulance, unless you intend on driving me to the hospital." He could well afford whatever the cost was for the trip, and Brent's sudden assertion toward the state of his condition worried him. He was now in the hands of this stranger, and he didn't care for it. "Give me the phone. I can call." He started to reach out, trying to move around the desk to find the device that Brent seemed bent on keeping from him.
"Sure you can," Brent said, snorting a laugh. "I don't know what you've heard, but I can dial three numbers without help. I promise. Jesus." He pressed three buttons and held the phone out to the other man. "Here. I called emergency, since I don't have a car and I can already guess you're not going to let me drive yours." He held onto the phone longer than he had any reason to. "Even though I'd do fine," he added.
Abel took the receiver and pressed it to his ear, momentarily reassured by a ringing tone until he realized he should have been talking to a person. Suddenly an automated voice rang in his ear.
Thank you for calling 511, the automated service for local traffic patterns. Please speak or dial your zip code now to hear about traffic issues near you.
"Hang up," Abel snarled, thrusting the phone back at the other man. "I need 911, not 511. Can you read?"
"Oh I'm sorry," Brent said. "I thought you could do it! Do you need me to dial it for you after all?" He pushed the base of the phone closer to Abel. "There you go, buddy, knock yourself out."
Abel grasped at the device, feeling over the keys with no small amount of frustration. His blindness combined with the inept helper he'd been assigned did not foster patience, and though he counted out the keys, he wasn't familiar enough with the phone design to dial correctly. Two incorrect tries had him attempting to slam the receiver back into its cradle, but he missed even that, instead smashing it into the counter.
He turned, and abruptly started moving away from the concierge desk, moving in the direction of what he hoped was the elevator.
"How do you think you're going to handle the elevator if you couldn't get that?" Brent called. "Don't break your nose on the elevator, too."
Brent watched him walk away for a minute, smug and content. Then something like guilt nagged at him, and he ran to catch up with his neighbor. "Ugh. Come on, man. Let me help you upstairs. Or I'll call for you. Or we'll wait for Stephan. You're seriously going to hurt yourself worse though. I've got a couple cats could probably help you out. I mean it seems like they all hate you, but I've got one I think is a Maine Coon and she won't give a shit. She's smart, too."
Abel ignored him, making it toward the stairwell and using the wall to walk backward toward the elevator. He found the call button and pressed it, feeling victorious in that small achievement.
"Animals don't like me," he provided, hoping it would be enough of a deterrent to get this Brent to finally go away. "You've been helpful, but you can go now. I can handle myself from here."
"They all say that," Brent said. He was shaking his head, but there was no-one there to see. The elevator doors opened, chiming merrily. Brent started in, guiding Abel forward with one hand on his shoulder. "What floor did you say you're on? I still think you should see a doctor. Or at least let me get Edward Scissorhands to help you to the door or something. I could go get her really quick..."
"No," Abel snapped, grabbing Brent's arm at a pressure point and twisting as Brent shrieked. He stood in the threshold of the elevator doors, shoving the smaller man out of his path. "I don't want your fucking cat, I don't want your fucking help. I want you to go fuck--" Before he could finish his sentence, the elevator doors closed on him, pressing him nearly into the side of the box before starting backward as the machine's safety sensor kicked in. Abel fell into the elevator, scrambling backward into the wall as he tried to make some sense of why this was all happening to him.
"Well fine." Brent moved away, rubbing his sore arm. "Find your floor and your doctor by yourself, then. See if Eddie and I bother to help the next time you slip in cat poop." He made a rude gesture at the closing doors, but did not try to stop them closing a second time.
Fortunately, for Brent and Abel both, the gesture went unseen, and Abel heard the doors close. He climbed to his feet, feeling out the buttons until he was sure he was pressing the fifth floor. Abel breathed a sigh of relief as he felt the elevator rise, at least one of his problems dealt with.