In part one of our story, the narrator feels a growing attachment to his lodger. In the next chapters, an illness brings the two closer and we hear the word ‘dad’ in an unexpected context! For the full series, you can click here. And a special thanks again to Anthony for submitting such an awesome tale!
During the next couple weeks our friendship took a turn for the better. We opened up to each other, and it started to feel like there were no secrets between us. Tim turned out to be the touchy-feely type and would always give me a hug before he went to bed.
It was late one Saturday night/Sunday morning and I woke up to find the sound of Tim being sick and moaning in pain. I got out of bed and went to see what was wrong. I walked in to the bathroom to find Tim sitting in some chequered boxer shorts hunched over the toilet retching and spitting into the toilet bowl.
“What’s the matter, sunshine?” I asked.
“I don’t feel well,” he cried. He slumped from the toilet and began cradling his stomach. “I’ve had this pain in my stomach all evening and I…” He turned back to the toilet and began throwing up. I handed him a glass of water.
“Here, drink this.” He thanked me and slumped down from the bowl again. He face was red and his eyes were filled with tears. He did looked well at all.
“Would you like to go to A&E?” I asked. He shook his head.
“It’s Saturday night, we’ll be there forever,” he said through a moan. He was sick some more; it sounded painful. It was upsetting to see him like this.
“Right,” I said firmly. “Put some clothes on. I’m taking you to the hospital whether you like it or not.”
He did as I asked, and we got in my car and we drove down. We had to stop twice so Tim could vomit some more. We got to the hospital and Tim ran into the toilets to be sick again. He eventually came out and walked up to the reception desk. I walked up to him.
“Do you want me to stay?” I asked. He nodded and we sat down together.
Saturday night at A&E was busy, filled with drunken revellers and losers of drunken altercations. Tim saw the triage nurse who took his blood pressure and asked what was wrong. He came back to the waiting area, and he sat next to me looking worse for wear. I tried to make some small talk; however I couldn’t seem to get a word out him. He ran to the toilet again. He was in there for a good five minutes. I went to see what was taking him so long.
He was hunched over the toilet bowl practically crying. I walked over to him and rubbed his shoulders. He retched some more and sat up. There was red liquid in the bowl.
“I think that’s blood! I vomiting blood!” he exclaimed.
“No, that’s your stomach lining. You’ve got nothing to else to bring up, son,” I said sympathetically. He dragged himself off the floor and he sat down in the A&E waiting area. He began to cradle his stomach and moan loudly. He looked at me and let out a heavy hearty sigh.
I was taken by surprise when he leaned over and put his head on my lap. He just lay there feeling sorry for himself.
He was eventually called by the nurse, and Tim stood up.
“Do you want me to come in as well?” I asked and he nodded. I followed him into an examining room. I sat on a seat next to the bed Tim climbed on to. The nurse asked him questions about what was wrong with him, how long had he been ill etc. The nurse took some more blood from him and came back to administer some morphine.
“This will help with the pain and you’ll get some rest,” she said helpfully. She inject him via a drip. and he immediately calmed down and became docile. He closed his eyes and lay there peacefully.
I began to drifted off, and finally a doctor came and began to quiz Tim some more and asked for a urine sample. The doctor left and came back after he finished analysing Tim’s fluids.
“I’ve analysed your blood, Tim, and nothings unusual there; however, your urine is filled with all sorts, and you’ve got a urinary tract infection.” The doctor handed Tim a box of tablets. “Take these as instructed for five days and you should be OK. If you or Dad…” he said, I think he was referring to me “…have any concerns go to your GP and they’ll take a look at you. Apart from that you’re OK to leave.”
It was four in the morning when we managed to leave the hospital. Tim took one of his tablets, and we both went to our beds to get some sleep.
The word “Dad” kept ringing in my ears. I was thinking about all the ways in which I had been looking after him: cooking his meals, washing and ironing his laundry. Maybe we are like father and son? I shook my head. What the hell was I thinking about? I eventually managed to get some sleep.
I woke up the next morning to find Tim fast asleep. I sat on the corner of his bed. I woke him gently and asked him how he was. He said he was feeling a lot better, but he just wanted to sleep some more.
“You might need to take a couple of days of work,” I said, and I ran my hand against the back of his neck. He was sweaty and smelled like death. “Do you feel like you can take a shower?” I asked, he said he did. “Right, I’ll change your bed sheets. You go and clean yourself up. Get some pyjamas on and you can get some more sleep.”
“I don’t wear pyjamas,” he said. I lifted up his bed covers slightly. He was wearing a t-shirt and his boxers from the day before.
“You’ll feel better if you do, trust me. Come with me.”
I led the boy into my bedroom. I got him to sit down on the bed and went into my wardrobe. Right at the back was a pair of pyjamas that would be Tim’s size. They were a pair of old and faded brushed cotton striped pyjamas. I got him to stand up and held the long sleeved shirt and bottoms against him. It was a good fit.
He looked at the pyjama suit.
“They’re old men’s pyjamas,” he complained.
“Old men?” I asked. “What are you trying to say exactly? I don’t care how ill you are. You’re not too ill for a smack on the arse!” I joked. He looked at the pyjamas again and took them.
“Sorry,” he half apologised, rolling his eyes. I turned him around, pushed him out of the room and gave him a light swat on his cute little bum.
“Shower!” I ordered, and he walked into the bathroom. He cleaned himself up as I changed his bed covers and pillows cases. He walked out of the shower as I was finishing up. He threw the pyjamas on the bed. He made his way to his chest of drawers and pulled out a pair of plain black cotton boxer shorts and stepped into them. I handed him the bottoms and he stepped into them and pulled them up. He removed his towel, and started to button up the shirt. I brushed him down and pulled the bed covers back as he climbed into bed. I finally pulled the covers over him.
“Thanks, Andy,” he said. “Changing my bed at that, it’s a nice gesture.”
I made sure he was comfortable. I smiled and said, “Don’t worry about it. Call me if you need anything.”
I left Tim so he could sleep and went to do a bit of shopping. I arrived home, and it was quiet. I guessed that he was still asleep. It got to five in the evening, and I made something light for Tim to eat. I knocked on his door and walked into his room. I was carrying a sandwich and a shopping bag with me. I placed the plate on the bedside table and the bag on the floor. Tim turned to look at me.
I sat on his bed, “Tim?” I asked quietly. “How are you feeling?”
“I’m still not 100%.”
“Is your stomach any better?”
“Yeah, thanks.” He moved along to one side of the bed so I could sit on the other.
“I’ve made you a sandwich, eat as much as you can,” I said and handed the plate to Tim. He placed it on the other bedside table. “I’ve got you some get well gifts too.”
“Really?” he asked. “You didn’t have to.”
“Here is your mandatory bottle of Lucozade,” I said picking up the bag and handing him the large bottle of dark orange liquid. “Something for you to read,” I handed him some magazines “…and some pyjamas that granddads don’t wear,” I said and gave him the shopping bag; there was a number of different lounge-wear tops and bottoms. Tim looked into the bag.
“You shouldn’t have,” he said. He picked out a pack that contained a white t-shirt and cotton red tartan printed bottoms. He smirked and shook his head. “No, you really shouldn’t have.” This made me laugh. Tim slid his head against my shoulder and I wrapped my arm around his.
“Don’t mention it,” I said.
“Besides, I didn’t call you a granddad. I just said you were old,” he joked.
“That makes me feel so much better, thank you,” I joked back at him. I started to rub his shoulder.
I sat with Tim while he ate what he could. We talked about Tim taking a few days of work and other things that were on his mind. He eventually became very quite, and I thought he wanted to go back to sleep.
“I’ll be downstairs. If you need anything let me know,” I said and made my way off his bed. The moment I stood up Tim grabbed hold off my sleeve. I looked down towards him.
“Will you stay with me?” he asked.
“What?” I asked.
“While I’m going to sleep will you stay with me?” he asked again. “Please?”
Not sure of what to make of this I climbed back on to Tim’s bed and lay down on top of the covers. Tim repositioned himself so he was lying on his front. He moved close to me and put an arm over my waist. I sat there feeling slightly shocked at this odd request. With the hand that he slung over my waist he found my hand and held it.
“What’s this all about, Tim?” I asked feeling slightly concerned. Tim didn’t say anything. “Tim?” I asked again. I looked at him; a single tear was running down his face. I wiped it with my free hand. “What’s the matter?”
Tim didn’t say anything. He lay there weeping. He squeezed my hand tightly.
“Can I tell you something? Something I’ve never told anyone before?” I asked and he nodded. “When I started University, it was the first time that I moved away from home. I moved to a strange part of the country, where people talked funny and I didn’t know anyone. I was socially awkward, and the people I lived with I didn’t particularly like, and we had nothing in common. I frequently asked myself what I was doing, and I sometimes cried myself to sleep. So, if you’re feeling lonely or homesick or if you need anything Tim, and I mean ANYTHING, let me know.” We sat there silently. “It’s not too bad here though is it?” I asked.
He smiled at me. We lay there as Tim closed his eyes and fell asleep.
I woke up some time later, it was dark. I looked at my watch and saw it was late. Tim was still asleep with his hand resting on my stomach. I carefully slid off the bed trying not to wake him up. I went into the kitchen. I made myself a coffee and sat at the table, and with great difficulty I tried to process what exactly had just happened.
A few weeks later I was woken up in the middle of the night. The light outside my door was on, and I could hear Tim was up to something. He was standing half naked in a pair of jeans. He was rummaging around the linen cupboard.
“Tim? What are you doing?” I asked. He nearly jumped out of his skin and looked back at me.
“Nothing, it’s OK, I’m fine. Just go back to sleep it’s OK, fine, nothing,” he said. His breath was short, and it was obvious he was trying to hide something from me. I walked past him and made my way into his room. As I walked past he tried to grab me and hold me back. “Don’t!” he pleaded.
I looked in his room and saw that he taken off his bed clothes and pyjamas. They were in a pile on the floor. I glanced over at the mattress and saw a dark patch where he had been sleeping. I walked over to inspect.
“No! Oh, shit!” Tim said as I placed my hand on the mattress, it was wet. I lifted my hand to my nose. It smelled like urine. I was shocked.
He looked down at the floor. He was absolutely mortified.
“Andy, I’m sorry. Please don’t be mad… I… it was an accident… I…I didn’t mean to… I just… I just – oh FUCK!” he said through sobs. Not sure of what else to do I walked up to him. He winced as it did so, as if he expect I’d smack him or something. I wrapped my arms around him.
“Shhh… it’s OK, come on now, stop crying. It’s going to be all right,” I said trying to calm the boy down. He placed his head on my shoulder, tears running down his face. We stood there for a few minutes, and he eventually calmed down. “Why don’t I sort this out? You get yourself cleaned up and when you’re done, find something else to sleep in and come in my bed. OK?”
He wiped his face and said “OK” in barely a whisper. He made his way into the bathroom and turned the shower on. I opened his window and took his bed sheets and pillows cases downstairs into the washing machine and left them in the drum. I made my way back into my own bed and waited for Tim. He came in my room wearing the pyjamas I’d given him the day after we came back from A&E. He climbed into my bed and hid his head in some pillows.
“Come over here,” I said softly and pulled him over to me.
He put his head on my chest and wrapped himself around me. He was still very upset and was still sobbing and sniffling.
“Shhh, it’s OK, this kind of thing happens all the time,” I lied. I lay there rubbing his back. Eventually I drifted off to sleep with a distressed young man in my arms.
My alarm clock went off the next morning, and Tim was still sleeping by my side. I woke him up and we began our morning routines. Tim didn’t say a word as he went about getting ready for work. The only thing he said was ‘bye’ as he was about to leave.
“Do you want a lift in?” I shouted towards Tim, but I heard the door slam shut seconds after.
I sat at the kitchen table and begun to shake my head in bewilderment. Tim had been living here for about four months now, and this took me by surprise. It struck me peculiar as to how someone of his age could still manage to wet the bed. If he was extremely drunk it would be understandable – not acceptable of course but understandable – but just out of the blue like that?
I turned on the washing machine that was filled with his soiled bed sheets. I found some instructions on how to clean a mattress and went to his room and began to make a start. I decided that when his bed was clean I would put some new linen on his bed, and hopefully neither of us would speak of this again.
I went to work as normal, but I decided to leave a couple of hours early to make sure Tim’s bed was as good as new when he got back.
I finished cleaning up his bed and Tim came home. I asked him if he was OK, and he said he was. Neither of us made mention of the night before, and we carried on as normal. I put it down to a one-off occurrence and thought no more of it.
A week later I was again woken up to discover that Tim had another accident in his sleep. This time I was slightly less sympathetic and made sure Tim helped me clean up his bed. I made him stick the bedding in the washing machine and made him clean himself up in the bathroom. He came in my room, and he slid up to me.
“Andy, I’m sorry. It’s not as if I’m doing this on purpose, please believe me. I’m really sorry.”
“I know, son, I know,” I said. I placed my am around him. He cuddled up. “Tim, I think you should go and see the doctor. Just in case.”
Tim went to the GP the next day. The tests came back inconclusive; the GP figured there was nothing to worry about, and it should sort itself out soon.
And he wet his bed again.
Then again four nights later…
…and the night after that.
“Oh Jesus Christ, Tim, not again?” I said shaking my head in disbelief. “What is this about?”
“I don’t know.” he said. “Do you think I’m actually enjoying this?” he was choking on tears.
I sighed and picked up a towel and threw it at him. He caught it.
“Right, wash yourself. Leave this to me,” I said. Five times now. Five times in three bloody weeks this happened! What was causing it? The doctor sure didn’t know what he was talking about. Tim didn’t drink too much fluids before bed so it wasn’t that. “Is it stress?” was my next thought. Tim had been having a hard time at work; he hadn’t been eating as well as he had when he moved in.
I finished removing his bed clothes and got back into my own bed.
“Erm… Andy?” Tim said from his room.
“Yes Tim,” I replied.
“I don’t have anything clean to wear to bed,” he responded. It struck me that he had worn pyjamas every night since I had bought him some.
“Just wear some underwear or something. Hurry up so we can get some sleep,” I said irately.
The boy came in my room. He was wearing a tight black vest and a pair of black briefs. I thought he looked adorable.
“Andy, I’m sorry. I really am,” he said. “I don’t know what it is. I can’t… I can’t help it.”
If he wasn’t so clearly embarrassed I would say he knew how to tug at my heartstrings. I put my arms around him. I began to rub the small of his back.
“It’s OK.” I said nursing the boy. “We’ll sort this out”. I gave him a reassuring kiss on his forehead.
Is this what I meant when I said that I wanted to take care of Tim and make sure he had nothing to worry about? He was clearly distressed about having these night-time accidents and the way he wrapped around me vulnerably when he did so it was as if he was staying, “I really need someone to take care of me.” After all, if he couldn’t keep his bed dry when he slept then maybe he did need my care and shown some support and guidance. Yes, I was going to help Tim through this. I had a stop-gap measure in mind that would do for the meantime. I was sure he wouldn’t like it, but it was better than waking up in a wet bed.