Taylor Not Afraid
In the morning he was up a little
earlier than usual because he had a lot on my mind. He didn't sleep well having
fits of impatience thinking of the St. John's Ambulance certificate he had
found on Drake's dresser. And despite the shallow nature of Daphne and her ways
she did have a point. He needed time to work through it and see how his lack of
action had contributed to Drake's cognitive dissonance. The truth was he wasn't
crazy about seeing Drake again. He knew Mr. Ketchum would be at the hospital
today. There was something about the way he looked at him now that made him
feel uncomfortable as hell, maybe because he knew he had chosen not to take the
course with his son. And every time he saw him, because he was a successful
psychiatrist, Reid felt he was making his own diagnosis of his psychological
state. And to be honest, that's the last thing he wanted - for someone to be
delving into his thoughts. He just wanted to be on my own and away from all
these complicated matters. He wanted to talk to his grandfather because he
would have the words to make his turbulence dissipate into the ethers so he
could return to his old self.
Taylor was up early too. He was in
the living room reading The Razor's Edge
because of that 1946 film they saw. Reid wanted to read the book too if he
could only clear his head a little. Taylor had been there for a while because
he was ready to take a break. He asked Reid if he wanted to go for breakfast at
The Rose and Crown. He went there sometimes because they have a great bacon and eggs
special on all day and they served a bottomless cup of coffee. Reid's stomach
was still a bit dodgy but he said I'd go with him.
"I need to go by the hospital this
morning to see Drake, and drop off some things for him. He's leaving Kingston
in the next day or so and Mrs. Ketchum has asked me to drive Drake's station
wagon back to Toronto." Taylor sat up on the couch. He could see his interest
"I haven't decided yet." So they
planned to stop for a breakfast special of bacon and eggs at The Rose and Crown on their way down to the hospital.
For some reason Reid was content to
sit there in the crowded restaurant, sipping his coffee and anonymous, and
hearing Taylor speak. He was in good spirits because he related to the main
character Larry Darrell wholeheartedly. As he spoke he kept referring to the Rose and Crown as the Rosenpenis.
"We live in an age of the
shrinking garnish," Taylor said looking at his plate. "Say McFetty,
whaddya say we leave the Rosenpenis
and go on a road trip to New York City?"
"Um, I don't know Taylor."
"Drake's parents asked you to
drive Drake's station wagon home, didn't they?"
"So we have mobility. We can go
up through Montreal and down Highway 87; it'll only take nine hours at the
most. It's ten now, and we could be out of Kingston by ten-thirty thus putting
our arrival time in New York at about seven and a half bells, just in time to
hit the pubs. Whaddya say?" Mischief exuding from every pore.
"Well, it's a bit far,
"Come on von Betty. How can you say no to a spontaneous post-Rosenpenis road trip? It'll be fun. We need a break." Drinking his third
cup of coffee he considered it. He could use a break. Taylor's enthusiasm
didn't alleviate Reid from his growing claustrophobia. He felt trapped in
Kingston because of the constant reminders of his running with Drake, during
the days of an unknowing innocence. The thing that pushed him over the fence
was the idea of stopping off in Montreal to visit his grandfather, who he knew
was in the hospital having an operation on his hip, and was taking it hard. To
Reid his grandfather was a Renaissance Man.
He had been all over the world and could take anything that life had to throw
at him. The idea that he was bummed out in some hospital in Montreal bothered
him. He was probably the only person Reid really looked up to. As far as male
role models go, his father certainly wasn't around. And every time he tried to
get his approval he only hacked off his legs at the knee. But his grandfather
wasn't like that. He used to tell Reid how he hung out with the Three
Musketeers in France during the twenties and rode his bike all over Europe. He
was buddies with Rene Lacoste and Jean Burrotra and the other tennis master,
who made up France's national team and had all won the French Open. He was a
real McCoy man-of-action who had lived life as a verb. He had seen and lived
"You've become a bit of a
"I like his ideas, yes."
"Well then you know his aphorism: There are no philosophies, only philosophers."
"No. I haven't heard that one, but
what does it mean?"
"It means stop muckin' around
thinking so much and become a philosopher."
"And how does one do that?"
"You know sometimes- No, wait. It's
a damn fine question padre. I think it means get off your ass and do things you
want to do that defy reason. It means create your world of what you value, not
what others value. It means to learn for yourself by making mistakes. It means
live your life like a work of art! It means take chances man! Don't be cowered
into a corner waiting for something to happen. It means follow your gut, chase
your fears, strive for your dream, harness your passion, do now what you could
do tomorrow. It means let's go to New Yorl City!"
"I get it."
"I have money so we can split the
cost of gas and whatnot."
"I have so much work to do. It's so
close to the end of term."
"There's always a lot of work to do. There's always something. That's what a spontaneous road trip is." The notion of visiting Drake
again exhausted any patience he could muster. He wanted to be with Michelle but
she was in Vancouver. Besides he thought, it was his birthday tomorrow.
Taylor's eyes swamped with alacrity.
"All right Tailpipe, I'm in."
They paid the bill and walked to the hospital together. Mr. Ketchum was there
and to Reid everything was crowded and intense. He nodded at Drake's father but
he avoided his eyes. Reid had to protect himself from what he said by the way
he looked at him. Taylor sensed it so he took up the reigns.
"So Mr. K when is Drake leaving us?"
"Tomorrow." Taylor put his hand on
Mr. Ketchum's arm and steered him towards the door, out of range from Drake. He
spoke to him man-to-man.
"Well, is he going be all right
going forward? What I mean is, could it happen again?" Drake's father told him
about Marfane's syndrome and being supervised to take his pills, all of which
Reid could have told him over breakfast.
"But we're hopeful he will be back
in his classes in January."
"Classes!" Taylor was moved closer
to him. "Don't you think that's a little too soon? Attending university classes
is not like sitting in a high school classroom you know." Taylor softened his
voice. "Is he going to be ready for classes? That's less than eight weeks from
"The doctors say there could be some
permanent brain damage but my feeling is that the sooner he's back in the
saddle, the better it'll be for him to remember things and getting back his
memories. I think his cognitive
dissonance is only temporary. He's a tough kid and I don't want him falling
behind. He' improved more than they expected, so there's little reason to think
he can't make a full recovery."
the rush? Even if what you say is true, why not nurture him back to full health
before throwing him back into the mayhem of university life?"
"It's been thirty years since you
were at university Mr. K. I think it's changed a bit since the fifties. It's
pretty hairy sir. I'd hate to see him feel left out. Life now moves pretty damn
fast. All of us will be here next year. The worst thing is that he's going to
feel inadequate." It was a though Mr. Ketchum took the last
comment personally, but that didn't affect Taylor's posture at all.
"You can think what you want Taylor,
but the longer he's away from what he likes to do, the worse it's going to be
"Mr. Ketchum, I'm not afraid to tell you I think you're wrong."
"Your opinion son. That's your
opinion." Righteous, Mr. Ketchum stood his ground against this young
know-it-all upstart when Taylor shook his head and looked at Reid. He could see
what was going through his mind: Couldn't they see that he's not the same?
Couldn't they see he needed more time?
Reid handed the bag of toiletries to
Mrs. Ketchum. She put them in a large suitcase and then took a tissue and wiped
Drake's nose, blocking him from Reid. It depressed the hell out of him to see
that. He had been given a sedative and couldn't keep his eyes open.
"It's time for him to rest Reid.
Thank you for bringing his things." She wouldn't even let him shake his hand
before he left for Toronto. To complete the block, she gave Reid a hug. He
could tell she was holding in a cry.
"Drake, I'll see you in Toronto.
Okay?" He nodded but it was exaggerated. To Reid he looked desperate and scared
with so many people in the room. Reid walked through the door where Taylor and
Drake's father were standing.
"You're driving the car are you
Reid?" Mr. Ketchum all business.
"Yes, I am. It should be there
within the next week or so. I'll bring it by before exams start."
"It's appreciated. And be careful.
You're not insured." He was looking deeply into Reid's eyes, which made him
squirm. He and Taylor say good-bye and walked away, sensing something wasn't