hetsmut serial ag ryan cyril oreily

Before the Yellow Brick Road - Part 4

by Amused Girl

Shannon O'Reily was awakened by the sound of an ambulance racing past her building with its sirens trumpeting. Groggily, she looked over at the alarm clock next to her bed; it was 1:09 p.m. She blinked three times in succession and looked out the window. It was gray and rainy outside, the roads were slick, and someone probably had a car accident. Then she remembered that Ryan hadn't come home last night, and for once she wasn't worried that it might be him encased in twisted metal, dying on the side of the road.

Shannon spent last evening with her dear; old friend Glenlivet and her head pounded as the onset of an all too familiar hangover was creeping its way in. The sirens were fading away as her head fell back onto the pillow. The air forced itself out of her lungs, like a semi going up an icy hill. Her mouth was dry; her tongue stuck to her teeth. Just then the shrill ring of the telephone commanded her attention. "Christ," she mumbled as she slowly lifted herself out of bed and staggered into the kitchen to answer it.

"Hello?" she asked wearily.

"Shannon?" The voice on the other end was hoarse.

"Jamie…..Is that you?" Shannon strained to hear.

"Shannon, Gran had a heartattack, the paramedics are here, they're taking her to the hospital." Jamie said as she broke into uncontrollable sobs.

"Don't move, I'm coming to get you." With that Shannon hung up and ran out of her apartment.

Two hours later, Ryan and Cyril arrived at Mercy Medical Center. They found Shannon and Jamie huddled together in the waiting room of the ER. The halogen lights hummed above and made them look gaunt and hollow. Their eyes were red and swollen, their noses rubbed raw from tissues. Ryan sat down next to his wife, Cyril took the seat beside Jamie, she wouldn't look at him.

"Babe, we came as soon as we heard." Ryan said as he rubbed Shannon's back and leaned over to kiss her. She pulled away from him, her red eyes glaring into his.

"Don't touch me." She hissed. She stood up and pulled Jamie from the chair she had been sitting in. "We're going to the chapel." With that, she and Jamie walked up the hall and disappeared into the hospital chapel. Ryan ran his hand over his mouth and chin. He sighed, rolled his eyes, he suddenly felt like an outsider. One look from Cyril, and Ryan knew that his brother too felt like he was interrupting something. Ryan got up and followed Cyril to the chapel.

The girls sat in the third pew, Jamie's head was on Shannon's shoulder and she was crying softly. Shannon's eyes were closed as she felt Ryan sit down next to her.

"Come on, let's talk." He whispered into her ear. They got up and made their way up the aisle. Shannon looked back and saw that Jamie and Cyril were hugging, it made fresh tears spring into her eyes.

"What happened? I mean, I know what happened but, are you alright?" Ryan asked pensively when they were out of the chapel. Shannon didn't respond as she started walking away from him. Ryan caught up to her and grabbed her arm gently.

"Baby, talk to me, please." He said in a hushed voice.

"I need a cigarette, I'm going outside." Shannon informed him. She snatched her arm from his grip and continued walking.

When they got outside, Shannon searched in her purse for a cigarette; she could only find a crumpled up pack. Ryan gave her one of his and lit it for her, all the while saying nothing. They smoked in silence until Shannon was ready to speak.

"Where the fuck were you Ryan?" She asked accusingly.

"I was taking care of some things, I came as soon as I heard." Shannon noticed that his eyes were different somehow, he looked so young, almost sincerely apologetic.

"I mean last night, you bastard, where were you last night?" Her voice was raised and Ryan was grateful that they were outside. He gulped, and was noticeably taken back by her question. She'd never questioned him before, Shannon knew the deal, and she knew where he was last night and she knew what he was doing. He didn't answer her.

"You are a sorry motherfucker." She pronounced each word with precise clarity. She took another drag and licked her lips. "My Grandmother is dead, she had a heart attack." Shannon's voice was hushed and solemn, she looked away from Ryan, couldn't bear to look into his eyes any longer.

"She and Jamie are the only people who ever really loved me." Shannon's eyes were filling with tears once again; her voice was becoming jagged and pinched. She watched as an ambulance took off with its sirens blaring. They were quiet until the ambulance made its way deeper into the city, its sirens growing faint. Shannon had a strange feeling of déjà vu.

"I guess I know now what the true meaning of family is. It's not just a title, it means the people who love you unconditionally will be there for you when shit is bad…and when it's not." Her voice trailed off. "They are my family and by law you are too but, I think I finally discovered this morning, that O'Reilly is just a title for me, there's nothing behind it, it's just a name." She stubbed out her cigarette and wiped the tears from her cheeks.

"Why don't you just leave? You're not welcome here, let me mourn in peace." With that, Shannon O'Reily turned and left her husband standing alone in the emergency entrance of Mercy Medical Center.

The funeral was held three days later at St. Agnes of the Immaculate Heart Catholic Church. Gran played bingo there every Thursday, prayed there every Sunday, took her holy communion there as a child, confessed her sins (though, she often struggled to think of something to confess), it was her church, she had come home.

Jamie was overwhelmed at how beautiful the sanctuary looked; she'd never seen it decorated for a funeral before. There were sprays of white orchids at the altar and at the end of all the pews. A white carpet had been rolled out down the aisle, over the marble floor. Pink tulips covered the casket; they were Gran's favorite. Their perfume filled Jamie's nose and made her dizzy from grief.

Shannon saw people she hadn't seen in years, family members that all but threw her and Jamie away when they had nowhere else to go but to Gran's. The only person who ever took a chance on two girls, who had been visited by misfortune, now lay dead before them. Shannon seethed with anger at all these people who kissed her hello and said what a tragedy Gran's passing was, and how "we should never let time slip away, family is the most important thing."

Bullshit! Shannon thought to herself, none of these people had ever made an effort to contact Gran while she was alive. Shannon shook her head at the thought of the three of them, she, Jamie and Gran, the family throwaways. Well fuck them! Shannon rolled her eyes as she watched Gran's cousin Merna kiss Jamie's cheek. Shannon's mother, Natalie was customarily absent, and she was relieved for that.

Ryan had paid for everything, in the hopes of reconciling with Shannon. She refused to speak to him and had been staying with Jamie at Gran's apartment. He came by at all hours, knocking then banging on the door, pleading with her to talk to him. He sent flowers and candy; he called every ten minutes, only to listen to Shannon hang up on him. She looked back at Ryan; he was sitting in the last pew. His hair was combed and he was wearing a suit. He smiled cautiously; Shannon looked away without returning the smile. He was trying so hard, making such an effort. She was almost flattered by his pathetic display; and couldn't help but smile when she bowed her head to say the Lord's prayer.

After the funeral, Gran's family and friends gathered at her apartment. Jamie greeted people at the door. Greeting was supposed to be Shannon's job but, when she told Jamie the only thing she had to say to these people was that they could go fuck themselves, Jamie decided she would greet instead and Shannon could get the food ready.

Ryan showed up and Jamie greeted him with a hug, thanking him for all he'd done for the funeral. He went and sat quietly in the corner; no one spoke to him except Cyril. Shannon walked into the living room and noticed Ryan; she blinked and turned back towards the hallway. Why did he come? Who the hell did he think he was, just showing up like that? She closed her eyes and swore to herself that it was over between her and Ryan, and she had planned on getting around to filing the divorce papers. Shannon told herself that she was going to get on with her life, maybe even go back to school. She and Jamie had made arrangements to live together in Gran's apartment, just like the old days.

Jamie took a break from greeting. She was so exhausted from the day's events but she welcomed the exhaustion because it kept her mind off of Gran. She made her way through various people and into Gran's bedroom. Walking unsteadily over to the dressing table, she sat down in front of the mirror. Her reflection was horrid; her eyes were sunken in, and shrouded in dark circles. Her skin was pale and hung off her cheekbones, her lips were dry and colorless.

Jamie looked at Gran's things on the dressing table. She saw the jar of Porcelana; she opened it and smelled the cream inside. She picked up Gran's bottles of perfume and inhaled their scents. She fingered Gran's earrings in the small crystal bowl that had been given to her as a wedding present so many years ago. She looked at the picture that was stuck in the corner of the mirror; it was of the three of them, Jamie, Shannon and Gran. It had been taken when she and Shannon were little girls and had come to visit one summer. The three of them were sitting on the front stoop, eating popsicle's. Jamie wept, choking sobs into her hands, covering her face. "I miss you so much." Jamie whispered to herself.

Later, after Jamie had cleaned herself up, she and Cyril were in the kitchen getting out more plates and napkins. They hadn't really had a chance to talk about anything but funeral arrangements since Gran died. Before that, they only spoke to each other; it had been months since they really talked. She had been pulling away from him in recently. She was mired in doubt about where the relationship was going and Shannon's words from so long ago echoed in her head constantly. But, Jamie saw a change in Cyril, or maybe it had been a change in her. Maybe she was giving up on questioning their relationship and how it stood to hold Jamie back.

When he showed up at the hospital after Gran died, Jamie wanted to tell him how sorry she was, for everything. Cyril had been by her side the whole time, quietly supporting her and giving her the space she so diligently fought for. She realized then that loving someone and being loved by someone is not negligible, and that outside factors don't stand a chance of beating you, if you don't let them. Jamie looked at Cyril and ached for him. It was as if a floodgate of yearning had opened up inside her. Instead of the constant disdain she'd been feeling for him lately, Jamie knew she was falling in love with Cyril all over again.

"I was wondering, I mean, I know this is sudden and I want you to take all the time you need but, I was thinking that if you wanted to, you could come live with me." Cyril stammered as he reached for the glass plates on the top shelf. Jamie watched as he pretended to notice the intricate design on the plates.

She smiled, and said "Can I think about it for a little while?"

"Yes." He answered quickly. "I want you to think about it for as long as you need to, I don't want to rush you into anything."

"Okay…. Thank you." She walked over and kissed his cheek before returning to the living room.

"Hey." Ryan said as he walked into the kitchen.

Cyril looked up, "Hey."

"So what's up with you and Jamie?" Ryan asked, fingering the food on the tray next to him.

"I don't know yet." Cyril answered honestly. "What's up with you and Shannon?"

"I don't know yet," Ryan replied, sucking the pimento out of an olive.

Shannon wandered aimlessly through the apartment; feeling as though the only thing that kept her feet on the ground was the enormous weight of grief in her belly. The conversations going on around her were muted, she could see people's lips moving but their words were empty and tumbled clumsily out of their mouths. She couldn't find Ryan; he must have left without saying goodbye, which was so typical of him. She walked into her old room, the one she'd shared with Jamie a million years ago it seemed. Her breath caught in her throat, she was startled to see Ryan sitting on Jamie's bed.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you." he said quietly.

"Don't worry about it, I'm just jumpy I guess."

"I'm sorry about a lot of things Shan." He chuckled to himself. "I know sorry doesn't even come close to what you need to hear from me but, I am Shan, I'm sorry for hurting you." He gulped and folded his hands together. He couldn't look her in the eye; instead he stared out the window. Shannon sat down next to him on the bed. She looked down at her own folded hands.

She sighed. His voice alone was enough to break her defense.

"You're right, sorry isn't enough to make up for everything that's happened." Ryan looked down at the floor and closed his eyes as she spoke.

"But, it's a start." Shannon unfolded her hands and reached over to hold his. Her touch surprised him; he looked at her and let go of her hand. Ryan's fingers brushed her cheek, her chin, and her lips. He kissed her so delicately; she trembled remembering that this was how he used to kiss her when they first met.

His lips opened, and his tongue gently caressed her bottom lip. She opened her mouth and felt his tongue brushing against hers. They embraced, her arms were instantly around his neck and his were around her waist. His lips moved to her neck, his tongue flicked her earlobe, he kissed her throat. Shannon breathed deeply, she could smell his hair, and they lay back on the bed.

Things moved very fast after that. Ryan fumbled with the buttons on the front of Shannon's black dress. She fought to remove his suit jacket, and loosen his tie. Ryan successfully unbuttoned the buttons and opened the dress to expose Shannon's black lace bra. He nibbled at the tops of her breasts, then pulled the lace down, revealing her nipples. Shannon tried to suppress her moans as she unbuckled his belt and popped the button on his pants. She could feel that he was hard and that only excited her more. Ryan flicked her nipples with his tongue. He cupped her right breast in his hand while he kissed her neck.

"Ryan, we can't, not here, not now." Shannon said breathlessly.

"I have to baby, please, I need you." He begged as his hand traveled up her bare thigh. His fingers continued their ascent and reached her black lace panties. He hooked his finger into the waistband and gently pulled it down past her hip. Shannon hated herself for letting this happen. She silently cursed her stupidity for letting him get to her again. She was supposed to be moving on with her life Dammit! She wondered why she couldn't let him go, why he had this hold on her?

Shannon felt Ryan gently pulling her legs apart. He had removed her panties and had unzipped his pants. She could feel his naked skin on hers, in between her legs. Then she felt him enter her. She gasped, they had made love thousands of times before but, this time was different, it seemed genuine. He was slow and meticulous with his thrusts. He whispered in her ear that he loved her and never wanted her to leave him, he needed her. Shannon wrapped her legs around his waist as he continued to thrust. He licked her breast, and sucked on her nipples. Their bodies moved together, they were both sweating and breathless. It was then that Shannon knew she was never going to leave him again.

As he was leaving, Gran's nephew Frank handed Jamie a business card with his office and fax numbers on it "Jamie, here's my card, if you ever need anything, don't hesitate to call." He winked and made a clicking noise with his mouth. Jamie thanked him and crumpled the card into a little ball behind her back as she continued to say goodbye to the guests. She wondered where Shannon was, people had been asking for her. It was probably for the best that Shannon was not there to see the guests off, Jamie had remembered how she threatened to tell them all to go fuck themselves.

When the last of the guests had left (each making sure to take a something of Gran's with them, "to remember her by"), Jamie sat in the kitchen with Cyril and they talked quietly.

"I've been thinking about what you asked, and I've decided that I would like to come and live with you." Jamie said bashfully.

"Really?" Cyril was wearing a wide grin. "I was hoping you would say that."

"I have to talk to Shannon though, we had made plans to live here together, and I need to check with her first, okay?"

"I understand. Where is she anyway, I haven't seen her for awhile." He wondered.

Ryan and Shannon lay quietly on Jamie's bed, neither one spoke. It felt so good to be in Ryan's arms again. Though she feared what she was getting herself into, she tried to quiet the fears with hope. Hope that maybe this time would be different, she'd never left Ryan before, and maybe now he knew what he stood to lose if he ever fucked up again. She propped herself up on her elbow and softly kissed his closed eyes, his nose, his cheeks.

"I want you to come home with me baby." Ryan finally said, breaking the silence. "I want you to come home with me tonight, right now."

"There you are, I was getting worried, where have you been?" Jamie asked as she saw Shannon coming up the hallway. "Everyone wanted to say goodbye to..." Jamie stopped when she saw Ryan behind Shannon, holding her hand. They were both smiling. Jamie sighed and knew instantly where Shannon had been and what Shannon had been doing. "I need to talk to you." Jamie said, making no effort to hide her disgust.

"Bout what?" Shannon asked in a sing song voice.

"Cyril asked me to move in with him, and I'm going to. What do you want to do about our living situation?" Jamie had planned on talking to Shannon privately about this but she was so angry, that she didn't care if she was putting Shannon on the spot.

"That's great!" Shannon answered gleefully. "Don't worry about our living arrangements, I'm going home." With that, she looked up at Ryan and they exchanged a kiss.

"Baby, I've gotta go take care of some things but, I'll be home as soon as I'm done okay?" Ryan asked, as he was getting dressed and ready to leave. It had been four months since the separation and they were like kids again. Cyril once told Ryan that he expected to see him and Shannon skipping down the street, holding hands and singing love songs to each other. Ryan knew in his heart that he was a terrible husband to Shannon, there had been many times when he'd said to himself and (anyone who'd listen) that he could take her or leave her. But, he knew he couldn't leave her and he damn sure didn't want her to leave him. So there they were Mr. and Mrs. O'Reily, playing house, and doing a damn fine job at it too! Ryan hadn't fucked any other girls since Shannon came home, and man that was a true test of his will power, he'd had so many opportunities. He was home every night, without fail and noticed that Shannon had cut down on the drinking.

"Mmm, okay sweetie. Do you want me to keep dinner warm for you, or are you gonna eat out?" Shannon asked, lazily wrapping her naked body in the bed sheets.

Ryan smirked and turned to his wife. "Actually, I feel like eating out." With that, he pulled the covers off Shannon and delayed his business outing for another hour.

"Damn it Jamie, why can't you fucking understand? We've been through this so many goddamn times; it's like a broken record! This is my life; this is the way I live. I never went to college, I don't have a fancy fuckin degree to hang on the wall, I ain't no corporate executive!" Cyril yelled. These fights of theirs were becoming legendary and routine. Ever since Jamie moved in with him, there had been no peace between them.

"Cyril, you think I don't know all that? What I'm asking is, why can't you go to college? Why can't you get a degree? You are so smart and so much better than Ryan." The mention of Ryan's name elicited an angry glare from Cyril.

"Don't bring him into it, you know Ryan has nothing to do with any of this."

"Yes he does, he has everything to do with this! You've always tried to live up to him, to save face so Ryan wouldn't think you were a pussy. That's bullshit Cyril! Who gives a fuck what he thinks? He's a loser, he always will be and if you don't turn things around, you always will be too!" Jamie yelled back.

"So, the truth finally comes out, I'm a loser huh? I was good enough for you in high school when you were being driven around and treated like royalty in this neighborhood but, now that you're surrounded by those faggot college boys I'm a loser? You better check yourself Jamie, and remember who the fuck you're talking to." Jamie had never heard Cyril's voice sound like that. It was low, like a whisper but there was also rough condescension in it.

She shivered inside her skin. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"You heard me. You ain't no better than anyone here Jamie, just a little hood rat like all the rest of us. You think you're special because you're in college? Big fucking deal, that ain't shit. I'm not going to stop being who I am Jamie. I'm not going to pretend to be someone different for your new friends. You used to love me the way I am, it's a damn shame to find out this late in the day that you're a hypocrite." Cyril turned and left her standing alone in their bedroom. Jamie's temple was pounding; she heard the front door slam, and moments later, tires screeching outside.

She wanted to blame the wrong person for her problems with Cyril. It was Ryan she hated and blamed for being such a huge influence on Cyril and taking advantage of that influence, using it against him. She knew that Ryan did have a lot to do with the divide between she and Cyril but she also knew he wasn't solely responsible.

Cyril had been right, when Jamie was in high school, it was great being his girlfriend, it was a whole different view of life and she loved every second of it. But, now it was different, she was embarrassed when Cyril picked her up from school. She'd heard people whispering that she went out with a thug, a punk, a criminal, and she was ashamed of him. The people at school were smart and talked smart and had intelligent conversations, Jamie felt like she belonged with those people. When she was with Cyril, Ryan and Shannon she felt like the little hood rat that Cyril accused her of being. It was like living two lives, educated, intelligent undergrad by day, common gutter trash by night. Jamie sighed; she knew what had to be done.

"O'Reily, ya fuckin mick, where the hell have you been? I haven't seen you in months. You're a hard one to track down my friend." Marchese "Fat Marky" DeLorenza said as Ryan approached his table at Valardi's.

"I've been around Mr. DeLorenza, ya know, just tryin to hang low."

"Sit. Eat. We're having mussels marinara." He motioned for the waiter to bring out another plate as Ryan sat down next to the imposing Italian. When the waiter was out of earshot, DeLorenza got on with the business at hand.

"I called you here tonight because I have something coming into LaGuardia and I need some men on it when it touches down. First, I know that you know some of the guys working the cargo deck there, and they would come in very handy for this particular job. Second, I want you on this because I have faith that you can get the job done without any hassle. Third, if you get pinched, I know you're full of enough shit for all of us. Of course you'll get a cut and I can tell you it ain't going to be no small cut either. You with me?" DeLorenza asked as he slurped from his glass of red wine.

Ryan chuckled. "Absolutely Mr. DeLorenza, I'm in for whatever you need."

DeLorenza laughed. "Good, that's what I like to hear." He clapped Ryan on the back, a little too hard. "He's a good boy, didn't I tell you?" DeLorenza asked his "accountant" Pauly "The Fin" Finnucci.

"So what is it you need done Mr.DeLorenza?" Ryan asked, taking a bite of garlic bread.

Forty-five minutes later, Ryan was lighting a cigarette on his way out of Valardi's. The information he'd just received from DeLorenza was bigtime; he would be rewarded well for his services. Ryan smiled to himself as he walked into the damp night. His smile was cut short when he saw an unmistakable glint out of the corner of his eye. It was a gun. He saw the person who held it. Before Ryan could duck and cover, the gunmen fired the first shot and missed. Ryan took the opportunity to pull out his piece and return fire. The shooter was uninjured, he pulled the trigger again, and shots rang out into the night.

Ryan was down; he'd taken a hit. He lay on his back, in the street; he could feel blood filling his throat and streaming from his mouth. The assailant came and stood over him. Ryan knew what this was about and thought, just for a second, that the vendetta would end right here, right now. The wrong person would be victorious afterall. Dino Ortolani looked into Ryan's eyes, then ran away.

Ryan glanced up and saw "Fat Marky" peering out the window at him, puffing on his Cuban. He nodded to someone off in the distance, and turned away from the window. Right then Ryan knew he'd been set up, he was supposed to be dead and Dino was supposed to kill him. The last thing he remembered seeing was the streetlight; its illumination drenched his face. His eyes squinted from the glow, until there was nothing but darkness.

"What can I getcha?" the bartender asked when Cyril sat down in front of her.

"Triple Sec." He answered, pulling out his cigarettes.

"Comin up." She said with a smile.

The bartender handed him the drink and Cyril downed it in one gulp.

"Another?" She asked.

"Yeah sure, what the hell? You only live once right?"

"That's what they tell me." She replied, handing him his second drink. He dragged on his Newport and looked around the bar. Two guys were in the back playing pool. A wasted couple in the corner was close to fucking right there on the table. A skinny, greasy-haired girl was standing at the jukebox, swaying to the strains of "Hotel California".

"Not much goin on tonight huh?" Cyril asked the bartender.

"Nah, it's always slow in here on Tuesdays. I haven't seen you before? What brings you in?" She asked, cleaning out an ashtray.

Cyril chuckled to himself, and drank the last of his shot. "What usually brings people in here on a Tuesday night?"

"Oh, I dunno, lots of things I guess. From what I can tell, everybody has a sad story." She replied.

"Yeah, and I bet you've heard 'em all right?"

"That's probably a safe bet." She answered with a snicker. "So what's your sad story?"

Cyril didn't answer her right away. He let the affects of the alcohol swirl around his brain for a minute and flicked the ash off his Newport.

"Mine's the oldest story in the book. If you can guess what it is, I'll buy you a drink." He lifted his glass to her and swallowed the last of its contents.

"Okay, I'll give it a shot. I don't see a wedding ring, so you're not married but I can tell just by how you downed those shots that it's obviously girl trouble. Am I close?"

"You're warm." Cyril answered, chuckling.

"Okay, so there's a girl, probably a pretty one too. You need another drink?"

"Of course I do. No patron with a sad story should be without one." He answered. She handed him a third shot of Triple Sec.

"Where was I? Ah yes, there's a girl, not your wife but, I'm sure you'd like her to be. There was an argument, possibly about money, or women…or social standing?" Cyril looked up at her; she had his full attention now. "How am I doing so far?"

"You're getting warmer by the minute." He said suspiciously.

"She thinks she's too good for you, she told you as much, words were exchanged, you left in a rage, now you're here keeping me company on this lonely Tuesday night. Still warm?" She asked with a grin.

"No, I'd say you're pretty damn hot, too hot. What are you, some kind of psychic or something?" He asked with a quizzical stare.

"Honey, when you do what I do for as long as I've been doing it, you learn to read people pretty well. Besides, mind reading is a great party trick, it'll break the ice every time."

"Well ma'am you just won yourself a drink." Cryil nodded and smiled.

"Thanks anyway but, I don't drink." She winked at him and went to help another customer who'd just walked in.

For the first time, Cyril noticed that the bartender was someone Ryan would have been interested in. She was a young looking, brunette, with big tits. She was wearing a tight black mini skirt and an even tighter black leather vest that laced up the middle. Her best feature by far (barring the tits) were her eyes. In the dimly lit bar, Cyril could tell that they were green, his favorite color. Yes, she would definitely be one for Ryan's scorecard or Cyril's for that matter if he didn't have Jamie. Though it seemed he didn't have Jamie, anymore.

Wait a minute pard where the hell did that come from? Cyril thought to himself. It was just an argument, nothing's been done that can't be undone. Yeah and you better keep it that way, he thought as he looked over at the bartender. You love her man, and you'll never believe that she doesn't love you back. Just don't be stupid, you can get out of here without any demons following you home but you have to be cool about it. The ringing of the telephone interrupted the conversation going on inside his head. Cyril blinked and watched as the bartender answered it.

"Mooney's." she said. "No, China Palace is 6389, this is 6388. That's okay, happens all the time." Click, she hung up and walked back over to where Cyril was sitting. Cyril couldn't put his finger on what it was about the bartender that was so intriguing. No matter what his voice was screaming inside his head, he managed to block it out. He was a gambling man by nature so he decided to throw the dice and see where they landed. What would Ryan say if he saw the bartender with Cyril? Cyril could just picture the look on his brother's face. Yeah, he'd eat his heart out for sure. Cyril pressed on.

"What's your name mystic seer?" he asked.

"Trina…Katrina if you see my mother but, since she's in Scranton, it's not likely she'll show up here tonight. And what's yours, oh patron of sad stories?"

"Cyril O'Reily. It's nice to meechu Trina." Cyril's words were starting to slur together. He decided he'd better not have a fourth shot. "I don't suppose you have any coffee back there?" He asked, leaning over the bar.

"For you Cyril, I have the best three day old coffee in town." Trina handed him a cup of Joe, and told him to be careful, it was very hot.

"So Trina, what does your husband think about you working in a place like this?" The Triple Sec was making him bolder by the second. Trina laughed out loud.

"That one's so old Cyril, its wrinkles have wrinkles." She said, giggling. "But I won't fault you for trying. And for your information, I don't have a husband to think about me working in a place like this. The thing is, I own this place, it's all mine and I don't think it's half bad." She said earnestly.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean anything by that." Cyril stammered. His face was red and he knew it was time to go. If he were Ryan, he'd have this girl eating out of the palm of his hand by now. But he wasn't Ryan, and the idea of him even coming close to Ryan was a joke. What had he been thinking? All that horseshit pep talk before was just a waste of time. He needed to leave now, if not for himself, then for Jamie. It just goes to show that gambling is a sin for a reason.

"Well Trina, thanks for the drinks and the conversation, it's been real." Cyril laid a twenty on the bar and got up to leave.

"Where ya goin? I know you're not leaving already. Besides, the drinks are only ten. But, the conversation's twenty all by itself."

"That right?" Cyril asked with a smirk.

"Mmhmm. If you stay here and talk to me for a little while longer, it'll be on the house." She answered softly. Their eyes locked as Cyril sat back down.

Ryan's senses were failing him. He could only hear in fragmented sentences.

"C'mon…with me…hang…pal…you're …make it." The paramedic said. Ryan could hear the sirens very clearly however. It was as if they were right inside his head, he half expected to open his eyes and mouth and see red lights flashing inside the ambulance. He decided to try it; but when he opened his eyes and mouth, no red, flashing lights. What he discovered instead was that his eyes were playing tricks on him. They sent images to his brain of what he saw and what he saw looked like pictures, grainy black and white pictures. Smile, now say cheese *FLASH* and it was gone, moving on to the next image.

He tried to rub his eyes but couldn't lift his arms.

"arms…strapped…won't knock…I.V." The paramedic said when he saw Ryan trying to lift his arms.

He tried to speak but, all that came out of his mouth were garbled words, and he didn't know what he would have said anyway if he could have spoken clearly. He couldn't smell anything at all, it was like his nose was clogged but he could still breathe through it. He closed his mouth and took a deep breath through his nose…nothing, no smell, no odor. He felt like a cotton ball in an unopened, sterile bag, completely closed off and innocuous from the rest of the world.

"Are…having…pain?" the paramedic was talking to him again. Ryan strained to find him; he was just a voice that floated somewhere above Ryan's body. The snapshots of him were blurred and gone too quickly.

"Buddy…with me…you…pain?" Ryan put the choppy words together to form a rudimentary sentence. He was asking about pain, was Ryan in pain? Ryan struggled to answer, he knew the answer was no but, he couldn't make his mouth give the word any sound. Instead he slowly moved his head from side to side. That did it, he knew his senses were checking out. Now he couldn't feel anything either. Is this what death was like? If so, it was all right by Ryan. He couldn't remember ever feeling such peace and contentment.

The paramedic again, "good, because the docs have more drugs than you have pain, you remember that okay buddy? Morphine is your best friend right now."

Ryan heard it all, clear as day. He wanted to laugh and thank this man (the voice) for such a wonderful statement. But, of course he couldn't form the words thank you, so instead he just grinned in the direction of the voice. Two minutes later the ambulance arrived at Mercy Medical Center. Ryan thought to himself that he should get a discount rate for all the time and money he'd spent at this hospital in his life.

Ryan was taken out of the ambulance and wheeled into the ER. His body was limp and jiggled with every bump and turn. The pictures of what was going on around him were making him nauseous so he closed his eyes and just listened.

"What's his name?" A new voice!

"Ryan O'Reily." The paramedic answered.

"How's his pressure?" the new voice asked.

"Stabilized for now but, it's been up and down since we picked him up."

"Ryan…Ryan can you hear me? My name is Doctor Halloren and I'm going to help you." Ryan nodded slowly after the good doc introduced himself.

"Ryan you've been shot. We need to get you into surgery and remove the bullet, you've lost a lot of blood."

"Okay." Ryan was startled by his own voice; it sounded so small and weak. His eyes popped open, he thought someone else might have said it. He spoke again, to make sure it was really him talking. "Okay."

"Do you think you can sign a consent form? We can't get you into surgery until you do, and we need to get that bullet out." Doctor Halloren informed Ryan.

"Yeah, okay." Ryan closed his eyes once more. He could hear, he could talk, he couldn't feel anything (getting shot ain't half-bad when Morphine is your best friend), he couldn't quite see and he still couldn't smell anything. All in all, not a bad way to spend an evening, he grinned to himself.

He was then handed a pen and a piece of paper; he didn't look up to read what he was signing. Someone placed his hand where it needed to be. He scribbled something and was told that anesthesia was being injected into his I.V. and that he would fall asleep soon.

"Okay" was all he could muster before he faded out.

Shannon and Jamie arrived at Mercy just as Ryan was being wheeled into surgery. They didn't get a chance to see him, though a nurse brought out his personal effects. Shannon sobbed as the nurse handed her a bag that held Ryan's things. Inside the bag were his wedding ring, his necklace and crucifix, his wallet, and a pack of cigs. Shannon put his wedding ring on her thumb, and asked Jamie to clasp the necklace for her after she'd placed it around her neck.

"Jamie, what if he dies?" Shannon asked, staring straight ahead. She rocked back and forth in the chair, her arms held tightly to her body.

"He's not going to die, don't say it, don't even think it Shan. He'll be just fine." Jamie thought that sounded pretty convincing as she put her arm around Shannon's shoulder. For the time being her mind was elsewhere, as was Cyril.

Jamie had left a hastily jotted note on the kitchen counter for him before she left. He wasn't at the hospital, which meant he hadn't come home yet. Jamie licked her lips and told Shannon she was going to call home and see if Cyril was there. Maybe he had come home and hadn't read the note because it got swept off the counter and under the fridge by a wayward breeze? Jamie was reaching, and she knew it. She walked to the payphone in the waiting room, dialed her number, listened to ten rings, no answer of course. She hung up and walked back to Shannon. Where are you Cyril? She thought to herself. She rubbed her own crucifix and silently prayed that he was alone.

continued in Part 5

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