Aidan 4

By Asa Montreaux 

 Well, that wasn't exactly what I wanted. It felt like I'd been passed out a long time, when I finally woke up. I was in the hospital. I looked down. I was in a gown and I could feel my underwear were gone. Ugh, someone undressed me. I blinked my eyes. I sat up. I felt weird.

Someone came in the room. It was a nurse. 'Your awake.'

'Oh. Yea. Hello.'

'Everyone was so worried about you. We weren't sure what happened to you. Or what made you pass out.'

'It happens sometimes.'

'You should have told someone about it. We were ready to do all sorts of blood tests CTs and X-rays with you to figure out what's wrong. Your tour manager was so worried. I don't think anyone was so worried. He wanted us to get to the bottom of it. He'll be relieved if it was just anxiety, I imagine.'

'Yea. It's embarrassing.'

'You shouldn't be embarrassed. It happens to lots of people.'

'Yea. Too bad they happen to me.'

'I'm sure you'll adjust. Your book is just about to come out and it's a lot of pressure all at once.'

My book. So it was still coming out.

'Yea. I guess so. They used to be worse.'

'See. There you go. You can recover from this. It'll just take time. Just go slow.'

'Slow. Right. Yea.'

'It'll be okay. Now, there's someone here to see you.'

'Oh. Okay.'

'I'll be right back.' The nurse left and I was alone again. It was so embarrassing. I should have known this would happen. I couldn't believe I didn't see it coming. Everything was just going my way. And it was all happening, there wasn't any choice in my head about going through with it. I suppose there should have been. Maybe I wasn't up for this at all.

Just then someone came in through the open door. I turned my head to see who it was. It was Janelle. She looked concerned, and she was smiling a little, perhaps in greeting.

'There you are. We were so worried about you.'

'Yea. Sorry.'

'What do you have to be sorry about?'

'For passing out. At my book signing. It was embarrassing.'

'Not really. Calum handled it, and we think it'll all blow over.'

'My book. It's still coming out.'

'Of course. That is. If you’re up for it, that is.'

'Yes, I am. It's just... well, the book tour. I'm not sure I'm up for that.'

'We can discuss it. But readers are going to want to meet the author, you know how it works.'

'I know, but Salinger never met any fans, and he's still pretty popular.'

'You don't want to be Salinger. You want to be yourself. The tour allows you to introduce yourself, and set yourself a part from other authors.'

'How are they going to accept me?'

'You're the author of a brilliant book, they can't wait to accept you. Believe me, you are far less quirky than most writers I know.'

'So I guess you know now.'

'That you're quirky?'

'That I have panic attacks.'

'I know now that being gay isn't the only reason that you chose to have someone else say they wrote your book.'

'I wanted to tell you. It's just I wanted it so much. Everything was happening so fast.'

'It's a very stressful time. The book only comes out once. Maybe in a few months there won't be any pressure at all. And now we know not to stress you out.'
'You think we could still do the book tour.'

'We can skip the grandiose introductions, have better timing with other events, and we could eliminate the questions part to.'

'That would help.'

'But the question is, do you think you can still do the book tour?'

'I don't know. They’re getting better.'

'Well that's great. We'll be there for you every step of the way.'

'Maybe after the book comes out there won't be so much pressure. Then we'll already know how it did, no more anxiety.'

'Exactly. See, there is hope.'

'So, you're not angry?'

'Angry? This has been one of the weirdest book launches I've ever been a part of. Honestly, finally I see some clarity arising from it. So, no, I'm not angry.'

'That's good.'

'It is.'
'So you think we can continue working together?'

'Absolutely, I do, yes.'


She sat with me for a few moments. 'Well, I'm going to go. It was nice to see you. Glad you're feeling better. We'll speak after the book comes out.'

'Okay. Sounds good.'

Janelle got up and walked out of the hospital room. 

I was alone again and I felt a cornucopia of emotion. I was relieved that my book was still happening, thrilled there could be a tour still, and terrified for what could happen. But with them working with me, maybe things would be controlled more, and I'd probably still have panic attacks, and maybe we could get through them, and maybe they wouldn't be so bad.


That night I was released from the hospital, and I went home to my hotel room. Even though the book was still coming out, I couldn't help but feeling a little down. All the same, I was hungry. I ordered something to eat from downstairs, and twenty minutes later there was knock on my door. I slipped the attendant ten dollars, and sat down at the table. I turned the news on and listened to it drone while I ate. It felt like I hadn't eaten in days. I was famished. Suddenly I thought of my parents. I missed them. It was weird to say that because maybe my Dad was coming to kill me, but I missed them. Both of them. I'd like to talk to my mom, maybe she could sort through my problems. I'd like to apologize to my Dad, say sorry for scaring him. But maybe it was deeper than that. Maybe he didn't deserve an apology. Maybe he'd been really offended in a deep way, and there was nothing I could do. I thought of Jayden. I could never forgive my Dad, if he had really done it. I couldn't see any way around it. I heard him order the hit, I don't know what better evidence there was than that.

It was just one more day until my book was launched. It could be just one more day that I'm alive. What would Janelle say then? Two writer’s dead? I figured if I could make it past the book launch that would be a major accomplishment. Then there was a chance I could be alive at least for a little while. Maybe I'd be ordering more room service. I wasn't going to be leaving that room for any reason until the launch had passed. Then I thought maybe someone could find me here. But it seemed my hotel was far safer than out on the streets, where anything could happen. I didn't want to make the news for the wrong reasons, for getting gunned down.

It took me a while to calm down my thoughts, but afterwards I watched reruns of the Big Bang Theory because there was nothing else on tv. I turned in for bed early. I probably wasn't going to sleep tomorrow night, so it was important to get as much sleep as I could tonight.


When I woke up the next morning, I had been in the middle of a bad dream. I had not followed my own advice, and had stepped out of the hotel. And right outside, I was kidnapped. They took me to an old warehouse near the water and lined me up against a wall and shot me in the head. After I got shot I woke up in my bed. What a scary dream! It took me some time to realize I was okay, to catch my breathing. After that, I swore I wouldn't leave the room no matter what. 

However, I was hungry. I needed to go down for breakfast. Though there was nothing stopping me from ordering something up, even if I usually only did it for dinner. I dialed room service and ordered pancakes, french toast, and an omelet. If I was going to hole up in a hotel room, I could at least do it in style.

When the food came, I suddenly regretted ordering it because now I had to open my door. I was suddenly really awake, breathing heavily. I walked over to the door and looked through the peep hole. It looked like room service. He had the food and everything. 'Who is it?' I asked.

'Room service.' Alas. That's what I needed to hear. But it still could be a trick. I couldn't holed up in here without anything to eat, though. Maybe I had to risk it. Hey, I made it until one day before my launch, that's not so bad? I decided to open the door, and held my hand over the lock, hesitating. I had to open the door. On the count of three. One. Two. Three. Unlocked. I pulled the door open. 'Hello,' said the attendant. 

'Oh, hello.' I said. 'Is that for me?'

'Certainly, sir. Here you are.'

'Yes. Thank you. I'll take that.' 

I handed him a twenty for good luck, and bid him goodbye. 

My goodness, I was so hungry. I opened up the tray and started to dig in. I'd eaten a little bit when it occurred to me the attack could be in the room now. What if the food was poison. I stopped eating. Well. I'd eaten it now. I was as good as dead.

When I didn't die instanstly, I decided to take a half hour break from the food to see if I died or not. If not, I wouldn't let the food go to waste. I was too hungry and too nervous.

While I waited I tapped my foot on the ground. I watched the clock as it moved every minute. 9:34. 9:35. 9:36. It was taking so long! The good news was I wasn't dying.

Finally, after an excruciating wait, a half hour was up. I thought about it again. Yep, I was definitely going to eat. I started chowing down again. All was good. I might just survive this thing after all. 

Everything went down fine indeed. Aside from a few trips to the bathroom, I felt great. It didn't seem likely anyone was going to barge in during the middle of the day, though I couldn't be too sure. I walked over to the window and started watching everything happening below. I was transfixed. Old men taking way to long to pass, Young women stopping to talk on their phones. Cars stopped out front. Suspicious cars parked out front for so long it made me feel uncomfortable. One black sedan was there for so long I swear I'm almost passed out.

It wasn't getting me anywhere watching everything like this. After two hours I gave up. I walked over to the couch and turned on the tv. I flicked through the channels to kill the time.

I skipped lunch and when dinner came I knew I had to eat something. I could think of two options. One was to skip out of my room and down the hall and get some chips from the vending machine. But for one I had skipped lunch. And two, and this was the big risk, I had to leave my room. The other other option was order more room service. Then there was a chance I could be poisoned again. But it had worked this morning. It could even be the same bell boy that brings it up.

Room service it was. I called and ordered a burger and fries. While I waited for it to come up I paced the floor anxiously. I was taking a risk eating something made by someone else. But I had to do something. At some point I had to eat, it might as well be now, I guess.

It arrived up, and I went to the door to see who it was. It was the same bell boy. I opened the door and said hello.

He said hi and he offered to wheel a cart in. I said that's okay and just took the tray from him. This time I slipped him just a ten, and hoped he'd bugger off and not come up again. Of course, why would he, but hey, I was nervous.

Once again I took a few bites, and then I watched the clock for half an hour. Still not dead, I finished the burger.

It was dark now and I was getting worried. I didn't have much control over the situation now. Anything could happen. I had the lights on in the living room, but I turned on the lights in the kitchen, and in the bathroom. 

I couldn't watch tv anymore, and I couldn't look out the window either, so I just sat on the couch, and listened. Sometimes, I watched the clock. But mostly I just waited for time to pass.

Bedtime. So nothing had happened yet. But I still couldn't sleep. It made the most sense to stay up, and try and be ready if anything happened. I went over to the door, and put the bolt lock on. I was careful not to get in bed so I didn't drift off. There was a coffee maker in the kitchen and I made a pot. While it brewed I listened, seeing if I could hear anything out in the hallway. I took the pot and a mug and went back to the couch.

I poured myself cups of coffee and drank them slowly for an hour or so. It was starting to get late. I turned on the tv but put it on mute so I could still listen to things happening outside the room. Every now and again I got up and peeked out the window to see what was going on. A couple cars stayed for too long and really threw me off. Once they'd left I'd sit back down, and my heart rate would slowly drift back to normal. 

The hours crept by. I wasn't feeling tired from all the coffee I drank. I felt a little silly sometimes, sitting there, listening, but the stakes were so high. My best friend was already dead. 

At about three o'clock, I could have sworn I heard something. It was outside the door. I thought I heard someone walking. I stopped dead, unable to move in the chair, listening with all my ears. Hello, I thought of saying. The cronies were here, to take my life, to send me on my way to the other side, and they didn't care whether I was met with flowers or brimstone or nothing. 

Then I swear I heard a knocking noise. Not on my door, but maybe a few doors away. I craned my ear to hear every note. For a moment I thought I heard somebody clearing their throat, but I must have imagined it. Then all the noise stopped. I listened closely for a few more minutes, but I couldn't hear anything. I closed my eyes in relief, but when I opened them, it was still black. Sparks of panic went up and down my body. But I told myself to calm down, and after a while, I could see again. Everything was okay.
After that, the night continued to pass, completely silent. Every now and again cars stopping out front gave me fright, but nothing happened outside my door. 

Eventually, the morning came. No one had murdered me. It was seven o'clock. Then eight o'clock. Nine o'clock. I thought about it – I needed to go out now. I would go out and get some breakfast. My book was released. The ultimate moment was past, and I felt confident I'd be alive for at least a little while longer. I grabbed a sweater, put my shoes on, and travelled out into the morning light.

I ate at a diner fifteen minutes walk from the hotel. I ordered french toast with scrambled eggs. I laveered maple syrup all over my french toast. It had never tasted so good to me. I had another coffee to help me stay awake. Where I was sitting at the bar, I could see most of what was happening in the restaurant, and I felt safe. There was no one that looked very suspicious to me there. 
After I finished, I paid the check and headed off back outside. I started walking, farther away from the hotel, and into the grey air. I walked for many blocks. Feeling free after a night all couped up.

People didn't seem to recognize me; the book had just been released. I always wanted to walk in New York. I felt very free, like I could be anyone, maybe anything on these streets. 

After a while, I stopped and sat down on a bench. I had an idea of something I wanted to do, but it wasn't something surprising. After I rested a while, I started walking again. 

When I reached the Empire State building, I went in and learned you had to pay just to walk up. The stairs were tough, one at a time up however many flights. The coffee was making my heart beat hard, or maybe it was just the lack of sleep.

At the top there was a gift shop, and surprising myself I bought a t-shirt that said I love New York, and a miniature Empire State building. I went outside, and looked over the railings, careful to not get to close, in case someone pushed me. I could see the whole city, from side to the other. Such an alive city, but really so small.

I walked home, and spent the rest of the afternoon watching tv in my hotel room. I ordered room service again that night. This time there was a different bell boy. That night, I thought about whether I should go to sleep, or stay awake again. For the first time, I allowed myself to lie down on the bed. Without really making up my mind, I realized I felt so tired. I needed to sleep. And I fell asleep there, everything be damned, and didn't wake up until nine the next morning.


The next morning after returning from breakfast downstairs, there was a call on my phone. 


'Hello? Hi, it's Janelle.'

'Oh, hi. How's it going?'

'Good. I have some news.'

'Oh, really. What is it?'

'Well your books been in stores for almost two days and we have our first numbers.'

'Oh. Wow. Well how did it do?'

'They're projected a hundred fifty thousand copies this week. Congratulations. It's a huge hit.'

'Wow. That's great news.'

'It is great news. And the reviews have been just great as well. I'm so excited for you.'

'Haha. Well don't get too excited for me.'

'Of course not. And on the subject, we've made some changes to your tour.'

'Oh really?'

'Yes. We've chosen smaller venues, and they are just signings. There won't be any q and a or any readings.'

'Wow that's great. That should be a big help.'

'I think we might just pull this off. Are you ready for Boston?'

'Stop number one. Of course, I'm totally ready, I think.'

'Calum will be there to guide you through every step.'

'Calum, right.'

'And if worst comes to worst, we can always try again on the next stop.'

'Well I hope not. My pen needs to get busy. Help sell those books.'

'That's what I like to hear. I have to go now, but nice talking to you. And once again, congratulations.'

'Thanks. Nice talking to you too. See you soon, I guess.'

'Certainly. Enjoy your tour. Bye, Aidan.'

'Bye, Janelle.'

I hung up the phone and got up from my breakfast and fist pumped in the air. How exciting! My book is a huge hit. How awesome! And they've changed the book tour! I might be able to do it! Maybe everything was going to keep going my way. It felt like nothing could stop me!

It was one more day in New York, and then I was off to Boston for the next stop of the book tour. I didn't have anything planned for the day. I would just hang out and kill the time. And try to stay calm. It was important to get this one right, as it would set the tone for the rest of the journey.


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