We run into Tony’s flat, my eyes searching every crevice. All of the doors inside are closed – Tony usually keeps all the doors open except his study. There’s no need to try and work out which room they’re in, I could hear Kathy even though the bedroom door is closed tightly. She’s moaning and begging for more and my heart breaks just a little as the improbable scenario of Tony pleasuring her the same way he does me pops into my head. Caroline puts a hand on my shoulder and storms toward the room, throwing the door open violently as Mads and I bring up the rear. I don’t want to look but I have to, maybe it’s morbid curiosity or maybe it’s a way of punishing myself for thinking Kathy had gone away and left us alone.
“God! Oh, Tony.”
Kathy is straddled across his hips, gyrating to an unheard beat with her hands wound in my boyfriend’s hair. But when I look at Tony, the scenario that haunted me disappears. His body is limp beneath her, eyes half closed and there’s a sheen of saliva on his chin. Mads is the first to react, she grabs Kathy by the hair, pulling her away. To my horror, it’s plain to see that Tony is hard and she hadn’t been faking them having sex at all. It’s obvious that Tony is completely out of it, he doesn’t respond to me patting his face with my hands, his eyes just roll around and he gurgles.
“What the fuck did you give him?” I turn to where Mads and Caroline are holding a smirking Kathy by the arms.
“My love – he’s just high on it.” She giggles.
I jump in fright as Mads swings her fist into Kathy’s sternum, knocking the wind out of her. “You’ll tell me exactly what you gave my brother or I’ll beat that pretty face of yours black and blue.”
Kathy wheezes as she tries to straighten up and my friends throw her to the floor. Caroline takes out her mobile and calls for the police and an ambulance while I keep trying to wake Tony up. Mads kicks out at Kathy and asks her what she dosed him with again.
“A little pick me up and a little bring me down, Viagra to get his body in the mood and Valium to switch off his protests.” To my disbelief she’s still grinning, despite the way Mads has been hitting and kicking her. “It’s amazing what you can get on the Internet.”
Kathy just laughs at my tears as I try to get Tony to even just look at me. Caroline comes back in and tells us the ambulance will be here within ten minutes. She goes back downstairs to make sure they can get in the building when they arrive. I manage to tune out Mads and Kathy shouting at each other and focus on my boyfriend. The man I love, the man I could really see myself being with in the future. The more I try to wake him up the more upset I get, I don’t realise I’m hysterical until I’m being pulled out of the way by a paramedic and told to calm down.
“He’s been raped.” I blurt out and point to Kathy. “She gave him Viagra and something else and she raped him.”
I see the paramedics share a look and nod, one of them uses the radio attached to his uniform to ask how long it’ll be for the police to arrive as the other checks Tony’s eyes with a little light.
“He wanted it. It was a secret but he wanted it, I know all his secrets. Even the ones he never told his family about.” Kathy looked right at me, bloody lip and all. “I know him better than you, I wanted him for longer than you but you just swooped in, didn’t you? But I know all his secrets and you’ll never take that away from me.”
Enraged by her arrogance and psychotic look but determined not to hit her, no matter how tempting it is, I just throw a blanket at her. “Tuck yourself in, slapper. Don’t want to be arrested in the buff, do you?”
“They never got me for any of the other stuff I did, what makes you think I won’t get away with it this time?” Mads and I looked at each other in confusion before turning back to Kathy. That’s when I noticed it; her eyes were a different colour than usual. “Finally getting it are you? It’s so simple, all a girl has to do is lose a bit of weight, dye her hair, get some colour contacts and a new wardrobe and, hey presto – a star is born.”
“There’s no such person as Kathy Macklin is there?”
She shrugs. “Maybe, I didn’t Google the name before I decided to use it.”
“Lisette.” Mads whispered. “Jesus fucking Christ, we thought you’d just found someone else to stalk.”
The police came in at the moment and took Kathy … or Lisette away. We were told we’d need to give statements but I was more concerned with the fact that the paramedics were placing Tony on a gurney, ready to take him to hospital. Thankfully Mads was there, they gave his sister all the information she needed to know but as his girlfriend, I doubted I’d be given the same level of clearance as to his state of well being. While Mads rode in the ambulance with Tony, I followed in my car with Caroline. She had called Miro’s phone but it had been answered by the coach, to relay what had happened – omitting a lot of the details, just that we’d gotten to Tony’s flat and found him severely drugged and that the police had taken the perpetrator away and Tony was en route to the nearest accident and emergency.
“They went on without him, so far the Falcons are winning 3 to 1.” Caroline rubbed at her face, the strain of the afternoon clearly showing. “Merry fucking Christmas.”
It was impossible to find a parking space anywhere near A&E, by the time I found a space and Caroline and I had walked to the building, Tony had already been in the Hospital for fifteen minutes. Mads was nowhere to be seen, I run up to the reception desk and knock on the glass panel. A woman in pink scrubs looks up at me with exasperation.
“This desk is closed; admissions are clearly marked for the window on your left hand side.”
“I’m sorry; my boyfriend was brought in on an ambulance. His sister went in with him but I can’t see her anywhere.”
She cleared her throat and looked at me again. “Information about admissions will be found at the admissions window on your left hand side.”
I bit my lip and held in a growl of frustration, spinning round and joining the small queue at the other window. Caroline was walking around, peering up corridors for any sign of Mads or Tony. I huff and tap my foot, slowly becoming aware of the dirty looks being thrown my way. I drop my chin to my chest, ashamed that I completely ignored the woman behind me and the screaming toddler she was trying to comfort. I moved out of the queue.
“You need to see them quicker than I do. What happened?”
The woman sighed. “She found the present stash at the top of the wardrobe and tried to climb the shelves to get to the toys, I really think her leg is broken.”
I nod and move over to stand with Caroline, we’re both on tenterhooks and anxious for news. I almost jump out of my skin when my mobile buzzes in my jacket pocket. It’s a text from Mads, Tony is in getting his stomach pumped, she’ll meet us in the coffee shop and give us all the details as soon as she knows which ward he’s being moved to.
“Okay, let’s go to the coffee shop and wait for Mads.”
It’s Christmas Eve, and I’m sitting in the most depressing environment possible. The Hospital’s coffee shop serves mediocre drinks at best and I’m surrounded by others waiting for word to hear if their loved ones will make it home to open their gifts this year. The way Tony’s head lolled in my arms came back to me. How much of each drug did Kathy, no – Lisette, give him? Would he ever recover? Did we get to him in time? One of the police officers that was at Tony’s flat comes over to talk to us, they need to take statements. I argue that Tony might wake up and ask for me while I’m stuck in a room recounting one of the most horrible days of my life, but it has to be done.
Caroline and I are taken, separately, to give our statements to a member of CID in a small office. I close my eyes and recount, moment for moment, from the point we realised Tony was missing to when the police arrived at Tony’s flat. The detective goes over it another two times, asking questions and making sure he gets every detail, before I’m allowed to go back to the coffee shop and wait for news about my boyfriend. Another watery coffee later, Mads walks in. She looks tired and drawn but relieved, I look at her expectantly and she nods her head. I cry as the weight of the day alleviates just a little. He’s okay. Whatever Lisette did to him, didn’t kill him. Mads was taken away by the same detective that had interviewed me and Caroline. Caroline picks up her phone and calls Miro. The game finished not long ago, the Falcons won – Miro said it was for Tony. I go to the toilet to give them a little privacy and splash cold water on my face before relieving myself of all the cheap coffee I’d consumed. When I got back, Mads was finished with the detective and had been joined by an older man and woman. They were hugging each other and the woman looked very upset, I assumed these were Tony’s parents. I cleared my throat as I approached with my hand outstretched.
“Hello, Mr and Mrs Robertson, I’m Mandy Newton.”
“Call me Dave.” Tony’s Dad stepped toward me and took my hand in both of his, shaking it warmly. “It’s a good thing you girls reacted so quickly, the doctor told us that if he’d been left for even as little as an hour, the amount of drugs that girl had given him could have caused brain damage or outright killed him.”
There wasn’t much I could say to that, so I just nodded and smiled, tiredly, as Barbara Robertson stepped toward me to introduce herself. Like me, she was pretty much speechless over the whole event. I’m not even sure how much the police told Tony’s parents. Did they know that Kathy was actually Lisette and that she’d raped him? A doctor came over and explained, in hushed tones, that Tony was ready for a few visitors. Naturally, Dave and Barbara went up to see him first. Mads, Caroline and I settled in the small waiting room near the ward.
“I never noticed it before but when Kathy turned up at the rink, it was just after that the gifts from Lisette stopped. We just figured she’d moved on – never linked it to Kathy at all. They were so different with Lisette being mousey and shy and Kathy being blonde and outgoing.”
“She obviously has some very deep, psychological problems.”Caroline offered. I bit my lip from telling her she was stating the obvious – she’d been a rock for me to lean on and didn’t deserve my spite.
Surprisingly, the coffee from the vending machine in the waiting room was better than the stuff from the canteen. Miro, Brent and the Falcons coach arrived a few moments before Dave and Barbara came back in. The doctors were only letting in two people at a time, so Mads and I went in next. I wasn’t sure what Tony would look like but I was sure that he didn’t need to see me all teary eyed and self-pitying. It was time to put my game face on and be there for the man I loved.
Tony was sitting up in bed, ashen-faced with the curtains drawn around his little section for some semblance of privacy. For the first time since I met him he looked weak, but I supposed having the contents of your stomach pumped out and having to be revived with a defibrillator will do that to anyone. The heart monitor beeped next to him as he nodded to me and Mads, recognising our presence if nothing else. I wanted to throw myself at him and wrap him in my arms, I wanted to make everything okay … but after what Lisette did to him, I wondered if things would ever be the same between us. He had been violated in the most horrible way, laid bare at the mercy of a crazy woman – psychologically and emotionally he had a lot to deal with on top of the physical effects of the drugs she gave him. Mads spoke first, I struggled to think of something to say.
“Have the police been in to see you yet?” Tony nodded and looked away from us. “Well, the doctors reckon you’ll be back home in a day or so, that’s good, right?”
I noticed him wince as she said ‘home’. If I had been drugged and raped in my home, I doubt I’d ever want to go back to it again. “If you like, you could stay with me for a bit, rather than go back to your place.”
He looked at me then and nodded. “That sounds nice, I’d like the company.”
His voice was rough and dry, it looked like it hurt him to talk – he winced and brought a hand to his throat. I saw a plastic cup of water on the bedside unit and handed it to him. After a couple of sips he gave it back to me, looking into my eyes like he was trying to convey something significant that I simply couldn’t fathom. Mads started talking again, telling him about how the Falcons won the Christmas Cup derby and that she’d had texts from loads of people wishing him a speedy recovery.
“How many of them know the truth?” The question was asked in a pained voice, as though he really didn’t want to know the answer.
Mads and I looked at one another before I placed my hand on his and answered. “Only a few know the whole truth, the police, us, Caroline, your parents – as far as everyone else is concerned you were broken into and assaulted by Kathy … Lisette … whatever her real name is.”
Tony nodded and looked relieved. I guess it’s better for him that people don’t know everything and that when the whole story starts to circulate he’ll be back on his feet and not lying in a hospital bed. “She said she wanted to apologise and asked if she could come in, when I asked her how she found out where I lived – she stabbed me in the arm with something. The doctors think it was a tranquiliser shot from a vet, strong enough to weaken me but not knock me right out.”
As if saying such a long sentence was the limit of his capabilities, he sagged on the mattress – clearly wiped out. I kissed him lightly on the cheek to say cheerio, but he held onto my hand and asked Mads to give us a minute. She smiled and said her goodbyes to us before swishing the curtain closed behind her and leaving us alone. Tony’s breathing was ragged and his eyes were drooping with tiredness.
“I knew giving you a spare key would be an important moment for both of us – but I never thought it would save my life.”
“I’m just glad you gave them to Mads to pass on to me after the game. Until the paramedics saw the state of you, the police weren’t interested.” Tony nodded and grasped my hand in both of his. “If you’re not out of here by tomorrow, I’ll visit again. I’ll get the sheets changed for you coming to stay.”
“Thank you, the thought of going back there …” He tailed off and I leaned in to place a kiss on his forehead. He didn’t need to say anything else.
“Whatever you need, I’m here, okay?”
“I love you.” Tony looked at me with such sincerity and surety that I thought my heart would burst.
“I love you too.”
I held in the tears as he rubbed his dry lips against the knuckles of the hand he was holding and we said goodbye. As soon as I got out of the ward, the tears spilled down my cheeks. I wept, silently, for a few moments before getting myself together and going back into the waiting room. Only Caroline and Miro were there – waiting for me so I wouldn’t have to go home alone. Miro took my car keys from me and drove us back to my place, with Caroline giving him directions. Once we were upstairs, Caroline made me a cup of tea as Miro called a cab to come and pick them up. I simultaneously dreaded and yearned to be alone. I wanted solitude to really let my emotions out but I didn’t want to be by myself. Then I thought about Tony, in a strange bed in a room full of strangers after everything he’d been through and I felt like a petty little girl.