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Beta'd by Erin.
Go Straight to Hell, Boy - part 2/17
Breakfast in the cafeteria:
"Man, look at Keller. He's a mess," Hill says slowly, like he's afraid the other man's gonna hear him - infringing on his personal space and shit.
And yes, Keller doesn't look too swell these days.
The man just sits at a separate table, all alone, staring at his tray, immobile, like he's not even there. Eyes lowered, all that self-confidence gone.
"His wife died," Rebadow murmurs, a hint of sympathy in his slow-running voice.
Beecher doesn't even look up, so Hill feels like he has to take over:
"You know, the one that he always talks about".
"The fat one?"
"Yeah, the one he married twice".
At which moment, Beecher asks, mildly interested:
"Yes, that's the one. Heard she was ill. She O.D'd. Took her own life."
An unexpected shiver runs down Toby's spine...'killed herself'...
Gen's figure, floating for a second in front of his eyes, like a ghost.
That silent uneasiness, like a constant feeling of being choked by long invisible fingers.
(--'Man, she really was sick...'--)
Beecher keeps eating, staring at his tray, not looking up.
"Now, nobody's ever gonna come to visit him," Toby whispers.
No more visits for Christopher Keller, the man's...forgotten.
Like he's already dead.
Toby feels everybody else at the table looking at him, not exactly staring, but still...so he lifts his head and looks directly at Chris, his eyes cold and blank.
Catches in the process the mocking glance of Schillinger, staring at the same man, eyes just as cold, but his entire being marked by a fixed grimace...which means the man is aware of Keller's state of mind, and enjoying every moment of it.
Beecher feels...nothing. Or at least, that's what he thinks.
"Yeah, no more visits for Christopher Keller."
While Keller seems completely unaware of that sudden attention, or completely uninterested...anyway, he really doesn't look good.
Some stupid A.B. fuck stops by his table, saying something that Beecher can't hear, and then laughs.
Keller raises his head, stares at him - like awaking from a long sleep - and then slowly moves his head sideways, looking at Beecher...but not really looking at Beecher, but at somebody else...looking at Schillinger.
His eyes are dark, watery, like having been soaked in blue-black ink...says nothing, does nothing.
Just stares, looking through Schillinger, long enough for the other man to back down and break into a dismissive laughter, joined by everybody else at his table.
Still, what Beecher gets from this whole thing is the fact that Vern doesn't look back *once*, while Keller seems...lost, his eyes still locked on Schillinger.
Finally, he looks away, drifting over Toby for a second...long enough for Beecher to feel an immense, overpowering black wave of pain mounting behind his stare.
So Tobias does what he knows best: avoids him, looking right back at Rebadow.
"So, what, am I supposed to feel *sorry* for him, now?"
"Nobody here said that, Tobias."
Yeah, none of you said that out loud...but it's all over your faces.
"Well, I won't," he mutters.
Poor, *poor* Christopher fucking Keller. End of fucking discussion.
Still, that's not the end of it, 'cause this is Oz, and there's not a lot of shit to do around here but sit and gossip and watch TV.
And this was as good as anything else, even better.
Nobody ever really liked Keller,
(nobody really likes anybody in this place, to be honest...)
but it's not like the man was Schillinger.
So, without further ado, over a game of chess:
"Ya know, his mom offed herself too. Apparently he seems to have this kinda effect on women, huh?"
But Ryan doesn't smile like he's amused or something, just the usual smirk of his, that *I'm-so-tense-I-might-snap* bullshit he carries around.
Looking more and more like a clown, one eye smiling, the other in tears, but at the same time seeming somehow *older*, all dried up on the inside.
Slower than usual, like constantly losing the beat of the music he's supposed to be dancing to.
And, *that* particular aspect about Keller, Beecher didn't know.
Like he doesn't know pretty much anything about him, especially his family or his childhood.
And why is that?
Guess he never really gave much of a shit about stuff like that. Not like Keller did.
Sometimes, the man seemed to practically *feed* on family-parents-kids stories and info Toby would spill out anytime he felt like it.
Like trying to grab something for himself and never let go.
And by saying just that, Beecher seems to silently tell O'Reily to just change the subject.
Or shut the fuck up.
Keller's not something he wants to talk about. Not right now, not ever.
But Ryan completely ignores him:
"You didn't know? Man, didn't ya *looove bunnies* ever talk and shit?"
At which point, Beecher stares at him, that ugly stare of his:
"Are you gonna play...or what?" --a beat: "Keller doesn't like... didn't like to talk about himself much, not about his family, anyway."
"Well, she fucking hanged herself, that's what I heard...after trying to slash her wrists and do some *self-medication* of her own. Keller was a kid when it happened.
Apparently, she wasn't exactly sane, the picture-perfect mommy..."
(--'shit, Ryan, neither was yours - whose mommy is picture-perfect? Mine, probably. Or maybe not.'--)
"...and K-boy's starting to catch up with her, if ya know what I mean."
O'Reily was Keller's podmate now that Cyril had died, and even if they disliked each other on basic principle (too fucking alike for both their tastes), Ryan really didn't like this new Keller either - all quiet and still, like he had collapsed into himself.
Slowly - too-slowly - spoken words, monosyllabic answers - when he would actually bother to respond. Most of the time O'Reily would only encounter an uncommunicative, stubborn, constantly tired-looking man barely giving him any attention. An odd, annoying look on his face, like he was constantly trying to focus, to realize where he was and who he was talking to (or, more correctly, who was talking to him, *at* him).
Having Beecher not even looking in his direction all this time after getting back in Oz
(and damn right, the man had every reason to do that!) had gotten to Keller, but it was barely perceptible - he was just a bit quieter, more reclusive, he himself trying to avoid looking at Toby (but not quite succeeding), barely laughing or smiling, most of the time.
The toughness was still there, though.
Which was a good thing, a strong podmate to *watch* his back, so to speak - not that he expected Keller to do that,but...you never knew, while *staying off* his back - and in this particular area, O'Reily really didn't have anything to worry about, K-boy always seemed to just not care at all about that particular subject...his eyes set on someone else.
(--'Yeah! Like we all didn't know about that! Most entertaining soap-opera around, never a moment of boredom!'--)
But now, after this...well, it was...difficult to watch him not say a fucking word all day.
Or wake up in the middle of the night, bladder full, badly needing to piss, getting off his bunk, and a moment later turning and seeing him on the lower bunk, eyes wide open,
(and, man, did he look anything-but-normal, scary in the middle of the night, in that dim light, his eyes seeming bigger, deeper, darker...liquid)
not a word muttered, looking at him, through him...
Fuck, it had to stop, or he had to move to another pod!
It had started keeping O'Reily awake too. Like the air in that pod was filled with so much tension it gave him goosebumps - light a match and the whole fucking place would explode!
It was unbearable.
It took him some time to snap out of it and realize Beecher was saying something.
"...n't know what you mean".
His eyes still ugly, like: 'I told you to fucking drop it. So *drop* it.'
"Oh, come on, Beecher, *everybody's* noticed it except *you*?!"
(The underline being: 'Who the fuck do you think you're kidding here? You, of all people, should have noticed it first! If *you* don't know this poor bastard, who the fuck does?')
"He's...he's totally fucked up"-- Ryan's voice getting quieter, leaning over to Beecher, staring right into his eyes: "...last night I woke up and he was sitting on the floor, singing some shit 'bout going to hell...That's what I mean, Beecher, that's not normal."
"Oh, so he's going to hell again,"-- Toby smiling secretively and bitter: "What a surprise..."
Deliberately ignoring O'Reily's inquisitive stare:
And then shifting his position, leaning away from Ryan, arms folded across his chest, legs spread under the table forcing Ryan to pull his back a little bit.
(Oh! and *who* does this pose reminds us of?!)
"Listen, O'Reily, there's nothing I can do about your middle-of-the-night singin' podmate."
A sly, slightly amused look on his face, like imagining Keller's half-dazed half-asleep figure mumbling shit in the dark, hugging his knees to his chest, those long fucking legs of his, shivering.
""To be more precise, there's nothing I *wanna* do, so stop the shit you're trying to pull here.
Keller's *your* podmate, your problem, and if you don't like it, go talk to fucking McManus, or make him try kicking your ass so he'll get thrown in the Hole for a month...you'll get your good-night-beauty-sleep, and I'll get you off my ass and everybody's fucking happy.
Don't have to teach you how to make things go your way, now do I?"
('Cause. You are. THE. LORD. OF. THE. FUCKING. DANCE. Right? Right.)
Up, and off he goes, leaving O'Reily wandering what the fuck happened to the *other* Tobias Beecher, the guy that would give a shit even about Schillinger's pain at losing Andy...
And, yes, he is the lord of the fucking dance, and he would get his way, like always...Well, most of the time.
Most of the time.
Those completely unimportant moments, the ones that don't mean shit in the bigger scheme of things.
*Yeah, I know. I know.*
(Just like the rest of us.)
---end of part 2/17---
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