'It's called 'selective amnesia',' said Dr. Galbraith, the chief neurosurgeon at New Orleans' Baptist Hospital, where Ford was being treated after having been shot in the leg and the head during the robbery of a convenience store.
'Did the bullet do that?' asked Kenny.
'Probably not. It is more likely psychological than neurological. His subconscious is attempting to block out the trauma of the shooting. Only in his case, Mr. Leveque has blocked out all recollection of not only the shooting, but all events of the past week. He may be giving himself a little extra buffer, so to speak, or there may be other memories besides the shooting that he wants to forget.'
'So, what do we do, Doc?' asked Jeremy. 'Should we try to help him remember?'
'Well, if he's blocking out something that's bothering him, it could be counterproductive to remind him. I think it would be best to let him work it out on his own. If he asks about people or events, you can help him fill in the gaps, but be careful not to give him more information than he can handle at any given moment. If he starts to show signs of discomfort, back off.'
'He will get his memory back, though, won't he, Doc?' asked Brandon.
'There's really no way to tell, I'm afraid. It's all up to him.'
'The wedding is still on for Monday, isn't it, Sis?'
'No, Ford, it's not.'
'Oh, no, I hope you didn't postpone it on my account. I know how important it is for you.'
'No, little brother. Don't you worry about that right now. There'll be plenty of time to work all of that out when you're feeling better.'
'Am I at least going to meet your fiancee?'
'In due time, Ford. Right now, you just concentrate on getting better, OK?'
The next 24 hours were living hell for Jeremy. Everyone told him it best for him to stay away from Ford until his memory came back--although Jeremy felt that his presence was precisely what Ford needed to get his memory back. Kenny, who was put on temporary medical leave, spent practically every minute at the hospital even though he was allowed into Ford's room for very limited periods at a time, and when he wasn't on duty at the fire station, Kyle spent all of his time looking after Kenny. At the insistence of his parents--and everyone else--Brandon went to College Station, where the fall semester at Texas A&M had already started. And, of course, Amy now had Paul, which meant that Jeremy was pretty much all alone in the Crescent City. Then, his cell phone rang.
It was Red, the young man Jeremy had met with Brad...uh, Ford...in the bar that first night. 'Red, where the hell have you been?'
'At a management seminar in Dallas. I just heard about what happened this morning.'
Jeremy filled Red in on the details, at least what they knew at that point. Red went down to the hospital to visit Ford, and then Kenny suggested that he go look after Jeremy.
'Come down to the club with me tonight, Jeremy. It'll do you good to work out, soak in the hot tub, and maybe get a massage.' Jeremy moaned that he was not really in the mood, but Red insisted. He did work out with the equipment for about 45 minutes. His heart wasn't in it, but he did have to admit that it felt good afterwards, as did the soak in the hot tub.
On his way back to his locker, he passed the dungeon, which he vaguely remembered from his first visit there. He thought he recognized the guy chained to the floor in the corner as the same one he had pissed on before, but it had been dark then as it was now, so he couldn't be sure. In another area, three young men fisted a slightly older man who was suspended in the sling. Sex had been the last thing on Jeremy's mind, but he was a man, and there was no denying the tingling in his groin.
He decided to go into the video room and jack off to a porn flick. It'll help me relax, he said to himself. Though the Southern Decadence tourists had all left town, the city was filled with young men attending a convention of computer programmers. Yes, they were geeks, but many of them were pretty hot geeks! And the video room was packed with them. They fucked like rabbits all over the place, in couples, in trios, and in gang bangs. As soon as Jeremy sat down, one of them approached him and began sucking his cock. No 'hello.' No 'may I?' He just dived in and swallowed. Jeremy's initial instinct was to wave him off, but it felt too damn good. It was like that old joke: 'Don't. Stop. Don't. Stop. Don't stop. Don't stop! DON'T STOP!' Pretty soon the sucker was joined by another and then another. Before Jeremy knew it, he was surrounded by men sucking his cock, french kissing him, and licking his body from head to toe.
They lifted him up and laid him on a bench. Two of the men raised up his legs while a third knelt on the floor and rimmed his ass. One continued to suck his dick as others licked him all over. He squirmed with delight at the sensations he felt under his arms and across his nipples. They rotated, each taking his turn at Jeremy's cock, ass, face, and other parts of his body. Yes, this was what he needed--not to be the hunter, but the hunted. He needed to feel alive again. He needed to have every single fuckin' dick in that room shoved up his ass. He needed to feel the power of manhood reinvigorating him. 'Oh, fuck me, man. Fuck me hard.'
Over the next two hours, Jeremy took more than a dozen loads up his man chute and just as many more down his throat. He shot his own wad no less than three times, and each time, someone lapped it up and fed it back to him. When it was all over, his ass dripped with so much cum that it looked like a waterfall in the Wyoming mountains.
The last thing Jeremy wanted that night was to be alone, so he invited a couple of the guys to come back to Ford's apartment with him, and they accept delightedly. After all, Jeremy was fuckin' gorgeous and a hot piece of ass to boot. They fucked him again when they got to the apartment and, after smoking several joints to help them relax, fell asleep in a tangle of masculine flesh on the bed. In the morning, they fucked him again. He never did get their names. It didn't really matter. He got what he needed.
Later that day, Kenny strolled back to Ford's room to check on him once again, but Champ stopped him at the door just as the head nurse, Ms. Spencer, was passing by. 'He's getting his sponge bath right now,' said Champ.
'Sponge bath?' asked Nurse Spencer. 'It's not time for that. Who's in there with him?'
'We don't have a Nurse Hackett in this unit,' responded Nurse Spencer with a puzzled look.
Champ and Kenny shot panicked looks at each other and clicked immediately. They tried to open the door, but it had been blocked with a chair from the other side. Champ stepped back three paces and charged at the door with the same determination that had won him All-American honors at LSU, ripping the door off its hinges. There, standing over Ford with a pillow over his face was Nurse Hackett, A.K.A. Tommy Lee Moseby, the man who had shot Ford and then vowed to finish the job. Champ grabbed him and threw him across the room and out the door as Kenny and Nurse Spencer rushed to Ford's aid. As Moseby scrambled to get up off the floor and make his escape, Champ went after him, but Kenny yelled out, 'Get the doctor,' so Champ turned toward the nurses' station as Moseby fled in the opposite direction. Once he had alerted the staff, however, Champ resumed his pursuit.
He followed Moseby down the stairs and into the parking lot, where Moseby got into an '87 Ford pickup and tore out of the lot. Champ jumped into his unit and followed in hot pursuit. He chased Moseby all the way down Claiborne, picking up two or three other units along the way. By the time Moseby turned and raced toward the Ninth Ward, at least half a dozen units were on his tail with lights flashing and sirens blaring.
They entered a neighborhood that Champ knew well; it was where his little brother had been killed in a gang initiation, but he couldn't worry about that right now. Still, he could not forget either.
He radioed to the other cops to continue the pursuit as he turned off and flew down side streets, coming up facing Tommy Lee Moseby head on. They stared each other down as they sped directly at each other. It was a game of chicken to see who would flinch first. It was Moseby. He smashed his truck into a dumpster. He tried to scramble out of the truck to continue his escape, but Champ charged and tackled him hard to the pavement. By the time the other officers, including Captain Sullivan, arrived, Champ had beaten the little shit to a pulp.
The captain grabbed Champ's arm. 'No, Champ. I know how you feel, but we've gotta do this by the book.' Champ glared at the captain with eyes of steel, and the captain knew he was licked. He ordered all the other men to back off and return to their patrols, and he returned to the station house. By the time Champ got through with Tommy Lee Moseby, he was nearly dead--but not quite. Champ dragged the bastard back to the dumpster and handcuffed him to the handle.
He scanned the neighborhood and saw a young man peering at him from behind a curtain in a second-story apartment across the street It was J. T., the leader of the Spiders, the gang involved in his brother's death. It had never been proven just what their involvement was, and no charges were ever brought. Champ looked down at Moseby and then back up at the window. Then, he nodded toward J.T., held up the key to the handcuffs, placed them on the pavement beside the scumbag, got in his unit, and drove away.
'He's not breathing!' yelled Kenny.
'Get that oxygen mask on him,' barked Nurse Sullivan. Other nurses rushed into the room and began administering valproic acid to prevent seizures.
'There's no pulse,' proclaimed another nurse.
'Get the crash cart in here,' demanded Dr. Shelby, who was just entering the room. 'And page Dr. Galbraith at once.'
To Kenny, time seemed to stop, as if the universe had played itself out and had nothing more to give. Dr. Shelby and the nurses ushered him out of the room. He paced frantically for several minutes before it dawned on him that he should call Ford's parents. He hesitated about whether or not he should call Jeremy, but ultimately he did.
'He's stable at the moment,' Dr. Galbraith later explained to the family and friends gathered in the lounge, but he has suffered what we call cerebral hypoxia.'
'What's that, doc?' asked Pete Leveque.
'When Ford was being suffocated, the supply of oxygen to his brain was cut off--exactly how long, we don't know for sure, but it was enough to cause his heart to stop. Fortunately, we were able to get the oxygen flowing and the heart pumping again, but he'll have to remain on support systems for a while at least. What's more, we don't yet know what other damage he may have sustained.'
'What do you mean, doctor?' asked Mrs. Leveque.
'Well, when the brain loses its normal supply of oxygen, brain cells die, and the patient may even suffer seizures or strokes. He does not appear to have suffered any seizures, but we can't be sure and we won't be able to tell how extensive the damage to his brain cells is until he wakes up.' Then, he took a deep breath. 'And that's the problem right now. I'm afraid he has slipped into a coma.'
'Oh, dear Lord,' screamed Mrs. Leveque, her husband and daughter scurrying to grab her as she slumped toward the floor.
In a warehouse in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward, somewhere between 25 and 30 young men, all decorated with the ribbons and medals of urban warfare--sinister tattoos and multiple scars from knife and gunshot wounds--gathered around Tommy Lee Moseby. Each took his turn beating the crap out of him, and when he would fall unconscious, they would revive him and start again. 'OK, he's ready,' pronounced T.J. And with that, the men pulled out their knives and began ripping the clothes off of him. Being the leader of the gang, T.J. got to go first. He wiped the sweat from a hot summer's day off his brow and used it to lubricate his captive's asshole. Then, he rammed his stiff cock in as hard as he could. Moseby screamed in agony, but that only excited T.J. and the boys all the more. They laughed and spit on the animal, for he was nothing more to them. Another member of the group shoved his cock into Moseby's mouth.
'Owwwwwww!' He yelled, as he took a step back and kicked Moseby roundly in the jaw.
'What?' asked T.J.
'Goddam mutherfucka bit my dick!'
'All right. That does it! Benny, go get the tool box. Oh, and grab the jumper cables while you're at it.'
Tommy Lee Moseby remained a guest at the Spider Warehouse Inn for the next 24 hours.
Officer Marcus Champion's police report stated that he had tracked the suspect to a neighborhood in the Ninth Ward, where he had eluded capture.
A subsequent report by Officer Benjamin Williams, who had graduated from the academy with Officer Bradford Leveque, stated that upon an anonymous tip, he had discovered the naked body, or what was left of it, of one Tommy Lee Moseby on the other side of a levee along the Mississippi River in the Ninth Ward.
Captain John Sullivan signed off on both reports.
The coroner's report would later show that the victim suffered multiple lacerations and abrasions to all parts of his body. His jaw and numerous other bones were broken, and his nipples had been crushed with some sort of vice-like device. Substantial amounts of semen were found in the victim's mouth, stomach, and rectum. Extensive scarring of tissue in the rectum confirmed multiple rapes as well as the possibility of sodomy with foreign objects, such as pipes. All of his teeth had been forcibly removed without any trace of anesthesia, possibly with a pair of pliers, and his penis had been severed and stuffed into his mouth. Hair around the anus and the genitalia had been singed, perhaps with a blow torch. Evidence would suggest that all of the traumas to the body were administered pre-mortem. Cause of death: shock resulting from extreme torture.
The following day, civilians Marcus Champion and Benjamin Williams would pay a social call on a certain TV reporter.
Meanwhile, Officer Bradford Leveque, one of New Orleans' finest, lay in a hospital bed in a coma on life support systems.
(To be continued.)