Jay’s phone rang insistently, waking him from his nap. “Hello?”
“This is Yolanda Thompson calling from Pearl Harbor Memorial Hospital. You are listed as the next of kin for Kyle Matthews-Williams. I’m afraid, sir, he’s been in an accident.”
Jay felt like he had been sucker-punched in the gut with a fifty-pound sledge hammer. ”How is he? Is he all right? Is he gonna be alright? What happened? Where is he?” His terrified questions came out in a rush.
“I’m sorry sir but I do not have access to that information. I would not be allowed to give you that information over the phone even if I did have it. You will need to speak with his Doctor However, I would urge you to get here as quickly as possible.”
“Okay, thank you.” Jay ran out the door, jumped into his truck and sped off. The tone of Ms. Thompson’s voice left a sinking feeling in his gut. An agonizing half-hour later he ran into the Emergency Room. “I’m Jayson Matthews-Williams, looking for Kyle Matthews-Williams.” The stressed-out admissions clerk checked the computer and directed him to the appropriate room where he found Kyle lying lifeless on a gurney, hooked up to all kinds of machines. He fell on him, crying hysterically, which drew the attention of a passing nurse who sought out the doctor in charge of Kyle’s case.
Jay felt a hand on his shoulder. Startled, he looked upon the doctor with tear-filled eyes. You must be Jayson. I’m Doctor Lovington. You are Kyle’s next of kin?”
“I’m afraid I have some very bad news for you. Perhaps you should sit down.”
Jay grabbed a chair, and pulled it next to Kyle, and sat, intertwining his fingers with Kyle’s. Doctor Lovington briefly raised one eyebrow before continuing. “I see. Okay. According to the police report, Kyle was heading west on highway 2 when a drunk driver crossed over the double line and hit him head on, causing his vehicle to roll down an embankment. His neck was broken and his spinal cord completely severed here.” The doctor placed his fingers on the back of Jay’s neck at the base of his skull to indicate where the injury was.
“So he’s going to be a quadriplegic?”
The doctor shook his head. “I hate to have to tell you this, but I’m afraid there’s nothing we can do for him.” He said, putting as much compassion into his voice as he could. “Even if we could repair the spinal cord, which we can’t, the internal injuries he sustained were just too extensive. I’m so very sorry.” He placed a caring hand on Jay’s shoulder. “Is there anyone you would like us to contact?”
With a trembling voice he responded, “H-h-h-he has a sister, Kim, on the mainland. She’s a pediatrician.” He gave him her cell phone number. “Is there any hope at all?”
“None, I’m so very sorry. His spinal cord was severed in such a way that his brain can’t communicate with his internal organs. The machines are the only thing keeping him alive.”
“Turn them off.”
“Turn the machines off. Let him go. Don’t prolong his suffering. He has a DNR order in his records.”
The doctor consulted Kyle’s chart and found the aforementioned DNR order. “As you wish.” He said quietly.
“Doctor, I need to know, did he suffer?”
“With the extent of his injuries, he would not have felt a thing. I’m sorry.”
As the doctor turned off the machines, Jay got onto the gurney, pulled Kyle close to him, gently pulled the tube out of his throat and kissed him tenderly. “Kyle, you are the best thing to ever happen to me. You are my best friend, my husband, my lover, my entire life. I’m going to miss you so much. I love you with every fiber of my existence. I’ve loved you since the moment I first laid eyes on you and I will love you for all eternity. Be at peace, baby. I love you.” The brain monitor screamed, indicating that brain death had occurred. It was over. Kyle was gone. This time it was not a dream, it was for real. Jay clung to him desperately, crying the tears of the inconsolable. Tommy, Andy, Tony and Billy came rushing into the room, took in the sight of Jay holding Kyle’s lifeless body. They all burst into tears, each clinging momentarily to their respective lovers before reaching out to Jay. When he calmed down, Jay let out a string of curses that would have made the proverbial sailor blush as he got up off the gurney, not wanting to let go of Kyle, but realizing that he was clinging to an empty shell. The essential Kyle, all that he was, had moved on. “Kyle, I swear to you that I will hunt down the person responsible for your death and I will make them pay if it’s the last thing I ever do.” With that, he placed a tender kiss on Kyle’s lifeless lips then backed away as the tears overcame him again.
Tommy approached Kyle. He placed his hand on the side of Kyle’s face. “Kyle, we’ve been best friends since elementary school. I can’t believe you’re gone. I’m going to miss you terribly….” the tears made it impossible to continue. Andy put his arm around his waist and led him away to a nearby chair into which he collapsed.
Tony’s cell phone rang. “Tony, it’s Keileko. There’s a mob outside all crying and shouting out Kyle’s name. What’s going on?”
“Tell them that the club is closed until further notice.” He informed his secretary somberly.
“Why? What’s happened?”
After several fits and starts, Tony managed to get the words out he never dreamed would ever come out of his mouth. “Kyle was in a car accident. He…he…he didn’t make it.”
”No….” was all she could get out before breaking down, remembering how kind Kyle had been to her when she asked him for his autograph and a picture of the two of them which sat on her desk.
Tony hung up the phone, and with Billy by his side, approached Kyle. “My dear Kyle, you have given so much to so many people. You will never be forgotten. You have my solemn word on that. Even though I haven’t known you as long as I wish I could have, I feel like I’ve known you all my life. Your music has given me countless hours of pleasure, for which I will be forever grateful to you. I promise that Billy and I will look after Jayson. It is the very least we can do for you. Hang loose, my brother, and be at peace. I will miss you.” He bent down and placed a light kiss on Kyle’s forehead. Straightening up and moving aside so Billy could express similar sentiments, he approached Tommy and Andy, hugging them both. “There’s something I need to do. Can you guys make sure Jay gets home okay and make him eat something then get some sleep, if he can?” They assured him that they would try their hardest and Tony left on his unknown errand.
They all turned to watch Jay place one final, tender, heart-wrenching kiss on Kyle’s lips before covering his head with the sheet. “Goodbye, my beloved Kyle. I will love you forever.” As he explained exactly what had happened to Kyle to the others, his cell phone rang. Reluctantly, he looked at the display to see who was calling. It was Kim. “Hi, Kim” he greeted her quietly.
“Jay, I just got a phone call telling me that Kyle was killed in a car accident, Please,” she pleaded, “tell me it was a crank call.”
“I’m sorry, Kim, but it’s true. Kyle’s gone.” He told her, his voice breaking, his body wracked with sobs. Tommy took the phone from him when he was unable to continue.
“Kim. Tommy. Kyle was coming home from work when a drunk driver crossed the line and hit him head on, causing his jeep to roll down a steep embankment. His neck was broken, his spinal cord was severed and he suffered massive internal injuries. He never regained consciousness and died about a half hour later in Jay’s arms. I’m so very sorry.”
When Kim collapsed into hysterical crying, Bryan grabbed the phone from her. “We’re catching the next flight out.”
“Andy or I will meet you at the airport.”
On their way to the airport the following morning, they stopped by the hospital. Kim ran into Doctor Foster’s office. “Is he in?”
“He just went to the men’s room. He’ll be back in a minute.”
“Kim, what are you doing here on your day off?” Doctor Foster’s voice startled her.
“George, I need to take emergency leave. Kyle…” He grabbed her to keep her from falling as her knees gave way. He helped her into the nearest chair. His secretary ran and got her some water.
“What’s happened to Kyle, Kim?”
“He…he…he was killed by a drunk driver.”
“Oh, my God, Kim. I’m so sorry. So very sorry.” He turned to his secretary. “Linda, please let Doctor Cramer know that Kim has a death in the family and will be taking family medical leave, effective immediately. Also let Sam and Doctor Michaels know that I will be going out of town for a week to attend a funeral.” He turned back to Kim. “I’m not going to ask you if you’re okay, because I know you’re not. Do you need me to call Bryan?”
“No. He and the kids are waiting for me downstairs. We’re on our way to the airport.”
Doctor Foster reached into his lab coat pocket and pulled out a pad. He wrote something on it, then tore off the top sheet and handed it to Kim. “Stop by the pharmacy and get this filled on your way out. I’ll be on the next flight out.”
“Thanks, George.” She stood up and swayed slightly. Doctor Foster grabbed her and supported her as she went to the pharmacy to fill the prescription he had given her then helped her out to the car. He expressed his condolences to Bryan then watched as the grief-stricken family pulled away. He returned to his office to make preparations for his departure, then called his wife and filled her in on what was happening. He sat back in his chair and reminisced about the struggles Kyle and Jay went through. It’s just not fair. Kyle had Jay went through so much and were finally able to move past what happened and put their lives back together. Life can be so cruel sometimes.
True to his word, Tommy picked up Kim, Bryan, the twins, Janita, Janine, Adam and Kelly at the airport. After what seemed to be hours of crying and holding each other, they finally got into the club’s courtesy van which Billy had placed at their disposal.
“How’s Jay?” Kim asked, worried for her brother-in-law.
“He’s a mess, a complete basket case. He won’t talk to anyone. He won’t eat, he won’t sleep. He just sits by the pool and stares.”
“You don’t think he’s…” Adam started, fearful.
“I honestly don’t know. The pool was Kyle’s favorite place. He spent more time there than anywhere else in the house, except for the bedroom.”
When Jay saw them, he rushed into their outstretched arms. “Oh, God, everyone, I’m so sorry. There was nothing I could do. There was no hope. No hope at all. The only thing keeping him alive was those fucking machines.” He rambled.
Adam took one look at his father and collapsed in a heap, sobbing brokenheartedly as Kyle’s death finally hit home. “K-DAD!” He cried out. Jay gathered him up into his arms, father and son clinging tightly to each other, inconsolable.
Kim and Bryan gathered them and Janita into their arms. “Shhh. We’re here, Jay. We love you. Never forget that. You are a part of us, part of our family, and that will never change.”
“Jay, when was the last time you ate something, or slept.” Kim asked, deeply concerned, having never seen Jay in his current state.
“I don’t know. I can’t eat. Every time I close my eyes, I see Kyle in the Emergency Room.”
“You need to keep up your strength. You need to eat and get some rest.” Kim said.
“Why? Kyle doesn’t need me anymore. I’ve never felt more alone in my life. With all that we’ve been through together I thought we were past all the bad shit. Now this happens.” He started looking around as if becoming aware of his surroundings for the very first time. “I need a drink, a really strong drink.”
“Tragically, that’s true. He doesn’t need you anymore, but we still do.” Bryan said, distracting him.
Kim got him a drink, surprised because Jay never drank hard liquor. “This will help. Toss it down.”
Jay did just that, surprised to find that the clear liquid in his glass was water. His eyes widened as he suddenly started feeling drowsy. Within seconds he was out cold. They carried him into the living room, laid him on the couch and covered him with a light blanket, then returned to the pool. “He’ll be out for at least twelve hours.” Kim replied, having slipped him a strong sedative, thankful for the foresight that Doctor Foster had shown when he wrote her the prescription. There might be repercussions from Jayson for her giving the narcotic to him, but she’ll deal with them later. He needed it more than she did at the moment. “What are we going to do?”
“I don’t know. We need to make arrangements for a memorial service and a funeral. What are we going to do with Kyle?”
Nobody could bring themselves to refer to him as ‘the body’ or ‘Kyle’s body’.
“Leave that to me.” Tony replied, rejoining them poolside. “If you will permit me, I’ll make all the arrangements. Does he have a will?”
“I don’t know. It wouldn’t surprise me if he did. We’ll have to ask Jayson when he wakes up.”
Billy looked up at him. “So what did you have to do?”
Tony glanced around the room at everyone. Clearing his throat, he began. “I just filed the paperwork officially renaming the recording studio to the ‘Kyle Matthews-Williams Memorial Recording Studio’. I also talked with the head honchos at AMS and they agreed to release a special tribute CD with different artists recording his songs which I will produce. The original songs, I mean, not the remakes. All proceeds from the CD will go into the newly established Kyle Matthews-Williams Foundation to stop drunk driving and to help families who have lost loved ones to a drunk driver put their lives back together. I’m also considering renaming the club to simply Kyle’s. I have to discuss it first with Billy.
“That’s incredible, Mr. Malikonahs.” Adam responded, tears forming in his eyes.
“I can’t think of a better way to honor him.” Kelly chimed in.
Tony looked at the two of them. “My name is Tony, not Mr. Malikonahs. Mr. Malikonahs is my father. I won’t answer to anything else.”
“There’s no discussion about renaming the club. Go ahead and file whatever paperwork is necessary.” Billy responded quietly.
“Well, I suggest we all get something to eat then try to get some sleep. I’m sure that none of us are in the mood to eat, but we need to keep our strength up.” Doctor Kim said in a tone that allowed for no arguments.
Just then a honking sound came from the driveway. “I know that nobody is in the mood to cook or clean either, so I called the club and had food sent over for everyone.”
“That’s very kind and considerate of you, Billy. Know that it’s deeply appreciated.” They ate and made small talk before Tony and Billy announced that they needed to get going so everyone could get some sleep. Adam and Kelly cleaned up the mess as everyone departed for their individual rooms to get what sleep they could. The next day was going to be a long and difficult one.
The following morning Jay awoke, pissed at having been drugged, but he had to admit that he felt better. He was even a little hungry. Over breakfast they discussed Kyle’s funeral arrangements. Jay was the first one to speak. “Many years ago, I had a dream that Kyle had committed suicide, and we did something special at the gravesite after the funeral service. I read about it in one of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover novels. Everyone would take turns throwing a handful of dirt onto the coffin once it has been placed in the ground, share a special memory out loud, then say ‘Let that memory lighten grief’. I’d like to do it, if everyone is okay with it.
Kim and Bryan both stated that they loved the idea. Andy spoke up. “Not being part of the family, I hate to ask, but may I suggest something?”
Jay looked at him, anger flashing in his eyes. “What do you mean, not part of the family?” He shouted. “YOU MAY NOT BE RELATED BY BLOOD, BUT YOU AND TOMMY ARE EVERY BIT A PART OF THIS FAMILY, AND DON’T YOU EVER FORGET IT!”
He recoiled from the blast of anger Jay hurled in his direction. “Jay, calm down. I only meant that we weren’t blood or marriage relations. I don’t have any legal say in the arrangements. I simply wanted to suggest that instead of having a wake, we throw a party.”
“A party? Andy, how could you possibly suggest such a thing?” Kim cried, shocked.
“Yes, a party. A celebration of the life of one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever had the honor and privilege of knowing. He would want this. He would want us to be happy and get on with our lives. He wouldn’t want us to wallow in grief.” At that statement, he looked pointedly at Jayson. “We could play his CDs, and show a slide show containing pictures of him teaching, playing games, painting, swimming, goofing around, him just being him.”
Bryan spoke up. “You may have something there, Andy. I like the idea. I think it would more fitting tribute to that big goofball and how much he meant to all of us than wallowing around in sadness. I know it won’t be easy. It’s going to take a lot of time for everyone to get their lives together and back on track. Kyle was special in so many ways. Let’s give him a bon voyage party.”
Jay glared at him, his voice bitter. “Bon voyage parties are thrown when people are going on a short journey then returning home. He won’t be coming home from this journey.”
I may not be with you physically, my beloved Jayson, but I have not left you, nor will I ever. I love you, always have and always will. When the time is right, we’ll be together again. The words crept quietly into his mind.
“Kyle!” Jay cried out before collapsing in tears, only to be immediately surrounded by Kim and Bryan who held him in their arms and rocked him gently until the tears subsided. “He spoke to me. He told me that he didn’t leave me and we’ll be together again.” A strange peace flowed into Jay. He sighed deeply and rubbed the tears from his eyes. “Okay, let’s do the party thing.”
Suddenly the morning TV news anchor made an announcement that caught everybody’s attention. “The name of the victim of a traffic fatality has been officially released by the authorities this morning. Two days ago on highway 2, an SVU driven by twenty-seven-year-old Roland Cornish crossed the double-yellow line into oncoming traffic and struck the vehicle driven by fifty-six-year-old physicist and popular recording artist Doctor Kyle Matthews-Williams head-on. Doctor Matthews-Williams’ vehicle then flipped over the guard rail and rolled down the steep embankment.” The TV cut to the scene of the accident where hundreds of flowers and candles had already appeared. A former student of Kyle’s who just happened to be a witness to the accident recognized him as he was being worked on by the paramedics, one of which made the statement that he had a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving the trip to the hospital as the other paramedic called for a helicopter to airlift him. Word had travelled so quickly that practically the entire population of Honolulu knew about it before Jay did. “Never regaining consciousness, he died a short time later at Pearl Harbor Memorial in the arms of his husband, FBI Special Agent Jayson Matthews-Williams. Our hearts and sincerest condolences go out to Jayson, Kyle’s family and friends. Cornish has been charged with speeding, driving while intoxicated, first degree vehicular manslaughter and reckless endangerment and is being held without bail pending arraignment on those charges. Private services for the family and close friends will be held tomorrow at an undisclosed location, followed by a celebration of the life of Doctor Matthews-Williams at Nighttown Waikiki on King Kamehameha Boulevard in downtown Honolulu. Anyone wishing to send sympathy cards to the family may do so by dropping them off at Nighttown Waikiki. In other news today…” Tommy reached over and turned the TV off.
An inscrutable look of fury and pure hatred crossed Jay’s face as he got up and walked out the door. “Uh-oh.” Adam said apprehensively. “I think I should follow him.” He stood and started towards the door.
Kim put a restraining hand on his arm. “No, let him be. He needs to do this by himself. We just have to trust him to not step over that fine line between justice and vigilantism and to not do something stupid that will get him in trouble with the law.”
An hour later, Jay flashed his ID to the bored desk sergeant, demanding to see Cornish. A guard led Jay to the cell then left them alone. Thinking that Jay might be the court-appointed lawyer he was expecting, Cornish approached the bars, getting one step closer to Jay than he should have. Not so much as a scratch on him, Jay noted. How fucking unfair is that? He’s the one who should be lying on a slab in the morgue, not Kyle. He thought, bitterly. He swiftly reached through the bars, grabbed Cornish by the shirt and jerked him forward, slamming him into the bars as hard as he could. “You god-damned mother-fucking ass-wipe! You killed by husband! You murdered the love of my life! I hope you enjoyed getting drunk the other day because that’s the last drink you’ll ever take! I’m going to do everything in my considerable power to see to it that you never see the outside of this prison again! He was a loving husband and fantastic father! He’ll never see his DAUGHTER get married, nor will he ever see or play with his grandchildren! Millions of his fans will never hear another song from him! I HOPE YOU ROT IN FUCKING HELL! I HOPE YOU REMEMBER EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE THAT YOU KILLED AN INNOCENT MAN!” He pushed as hard as he could, knocking the man to the floor. As he turned to leave, he took one last look at the prone man. “I hope you enjoy the rest of that which your drunkenness has taken away from my beloved Kyle – life!” He spat, his voice thick with venom. When he returned home after several hours of driving around Honolulu, he went upstairs to one of the unused bedrooms and laid down on the bed without saying a word to anyone. He couldn’t bring himself to enter the bedroom that he and Kyle once shared. He knew that eventually he would have to enter the room, if only to get his clothes and personal items, but right now he just couldn’t do it. The memories were too fresh which made the pain of loss much more acute. Everyone watched him trudge up the stairs head hung down, as if life was draining from him. Feeling totally helpless, a feeling shared by everyone there, Kim quietly remarked “He looks so lost. I wish there was something I could do to help him through this.”
“I think we’re all going to need some form of grief counseling. I remember when Kyle went missing Jay said something about that if anything ever happened to Kyle, you and Bryan would blame him and not want anything more to do with him, ever. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was going through his mind right now.” Andy told Kim.
“I think it’s time for a one-on-one conversation.” Kim got up, went upstairs and knocked on Jay’s door. When he didn’t answer, she opened the door and peeked in. The room was empty. Then she remembered the room he had slept in the night before. She went and knocked on the door to that room. There was no response. She knocked harder. When he still didn’t respond, she slowly opened the door and called his name softly. She poked her head around the door and saw him sitting on the bed with his shoulders slumped, looking at the floor. “Can I come in?”
“I just wanted to talk.” She said soothingly. After a long moment Jay took a deep breath, let it out and nodded. She sat down on the bed next to him and put her hand on his arm. He glanced at her briefly before returning his gaze to the floor. “What’s happened is way beyond a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. You’ve lost the most important person in your life. But the one thing you haven’t lost, and will never lose, is your family. Bryan, myself, and the kids are still your family and will always be. We’re here for you. We love you. I’m sure Tommy, Andy, Tony and Billy feel the same way. I know Adam, Janita, Kelly and Janine do.”
His head hung even lower, guilt and shame waging a huge war for dominance. “I’m so sorry Kim. I wasn’t there to protect him. Ever since his kidnapping I swore I’d always be there to protect him and I failed. Failed him, failed you, Bryan and the twins and failed our kids. Basically, I failed everybody.”
“Jayson, look at me.” When he continued to look at the floor, she repeated her words, this time more forcefully. He slowly looked at her with haunted eyes. “The only person you are failing right now is yourself. There is nothing you could have done to prevent his death.”
“If I had been with him…”
“You would be dead too.” She interrupted. “I’ve seen the jeep and I’ve been to the scene of the accident. You wouldn’t have survived. We would be planning two funerals instead of one.”
“At least then I would be with him instead of alone.” He sobbed.
“Oh, honey, you’re not alone. I’m here. Bryan, the twins are here. Tommy and Andy are here. Your son and daughter-in-law are here. Your daughter and her girlfriend are here. Tony and Billy are here. Denise and Karin are on their way as are Greg and Dave. I know that none of us could ever replace Kyle, nor give you what he did, but we are all here for you. We all love you. Nothing will ever change that.” She gathered the devastated man into her arms and let him cry himself out. When he finally fell into an exhausted sleep she repositioned him more comfortably, covered him, kissed him on the forehead and went back downstairs to rejoin the others.
“How is he?” Bryan asked his wife as she entered the room.
“As a doctor working in a pediatric wing for terminally ill children, I’ve seen a lot of grieving families, but I’ve never seen anyone so totally and completely devastated. I’m a little concerned about his mental state. I want so bad to help him, but I don’t know how.” She collapsed against her husband in a flood of tears. “He was the best thing to ever happen to Kyle. I don’t know what would have happened to him if it hadn’t been for Jay. He was so miserable before they got together. Jay feels like he has no one now. I don’t know how to convince him otherwise.” She managed to say through the sobs.
Bryan wrapped his strong arms around her. “Shh. It will be okay. He just needs to grieve. We’ll make sure someone is around at all times to keep an eye on him.”
Startled, she raised her head. “You don’t think he’d try to commit suicide, do you?”
“No, but he’s in an enormous amount of pain and needs companionship right now. He needs to know that we’re here for him and will be no matter what. Tomorrow is going to be a very long and trying day for all of us. Let’s try to get some sleep.” He looked up toward where Janita, Janine, Tommy, Andy, Adam and Kelly were sitting, only to discover that they were alone in the room. Everyone had discretely left the room to give Kim and Bryan some privacy. They went upstairs, performed their nightly rituals, went to bed and fell asleep in the comfort of each other’s arms.
My beloved Jay, please listen to me. You have to let me go. You have to get on with your life. Adam and Janita need you right now. You need to be strong for them. I will always watch over you until we’re together again. Please Jay. Do this one last thing for me. Kyle’s words filtered into Jay’s sleeping mind.
He awoke with a start. He reached over to kiss Kyle then became aware of his surroundings. “Oh, God, Kyle, I can’t do it. I can’t go on without you.”
Yes, you can. You need to get on with your life. Everyone will help you, but you have to let go. Let go of your pain and sorrow. Remember the day I pretended to be pregnant. Remember the birthday I sent you on a wild goose chase all over the house looking for your present. Remember all the moonlight walks on the beach, hand-in-hand. Remember the first day we brought Adam home. Remember the day Janita came to live with us. These memories will help you move on and forget about me. Live for our children.
“I will never, ever forget you.” Jay insisted.
Go downstairs and be with our family. They miss you. They’ve lost me. They don’t want to lose you too.
Reluctantly, Jay got up and went downstairs and joined the others for breakfast. Tony had made all of the arrangements so all they had to do was show up at the funeral home for the services, which were scheduled to be held at two o’clock that afternoon. Piling into the club’s courtesy van, they all drove out to see Kyle’s gravesite, which was on a hill with a beautiful view overlooking Kyle’s favorite part of Hawaii, Walmea Bay before heading to the funeral home for the services.
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