Chapter 2 – Martin “Marty” DeYoung, Part 1

2011/12/16, 02:01:09 – Finch Estate, Southampton (Village), New York

A/N: I’ve created names for the two bodyguards – Marty DeYoung is the bigger guy.

I’d just started watching an old “Bonanza” rerun when the phone rang, making me start out of the leather recliner. I caught it on the second ring, knowing instinctively who it was: only Mr. Finch would be calling at this late hour.

“DeYoung here,” I answered, a thousand questions racing through my mind.

“I’m about thirty minutes from the house,” Mr. Finch began without preamble. Something about his tone instantly set me on edge. “I need you to meet me out front with the wheelchair, and we may require Mr. Doherty’s assistance as well.”

“Are you hurt?” I asked, alarmed. If he’d stumbled and fallen, his old injuries could’ve flared up…

“No, Mr. DeYoung – I’m not the one in need of the wheelchair,” he responded, with a trace of… nervousness? worry? fear? in his voice. “Mr. Reese has been injured in a… a most unfortunate accident. Is the first floor bedroom in order?”

“It’s exactly as you left it, Sir,” I answered, swallowing down my natural response. That bum had been in an accident, and Mr. Finch was bringing him here?

“Very good, Mr. DeYoung. I’ll see you shortly.”

After he’d hung up, I stood staring at the receiver for a long moment. So. He was still… consorting, for lack of a better term, with that alcoholic bum. Sure, the guy had some skills – he’d knocked both Jim and me out of commission for a minute with one swipe of his paw, during which time he’d made good his escape – but I couldn’t understand why Mr. Finch would prefer to use him for whatever project he was working on rather than one or both of us. We’d been in his service for years and had proven our loyalty as well as our discretion. The bum might have some military training in his background, but he was an unknown, a loose cannon. His alcoholism alone should have raised warning flags… and yet Mr. Finch insisted that he was the right man for “the job.” What that job entailed, I had no way of knowing, but now it seemed like the bum had screwed it up somehow and gotten himself hurt. Why Mr. Finch wanted to take care of such a liability, even bring him into his home, was beyond me… although maybe he felt responsible for the guy getting hurt. That had to be it – Mr. Finch was nothing if not responsible towards his employees.

Remembering that he’d mentioned maybe needing Jim, too, I went to wake up my coworker so he’d be ready. He grumbled a bit, and I couldn’t resist telling him what all I’d heard. He was just as incredulous as I was that our employer was bringing that guy here. The first floor bedroom Mr. Finch had referred to was where he’d recovered from his own injuries, over months of rehabilitation, and it was still set up with the hospital bed and other medical instruments. Whatever injuries the bum had incurred, it sounded like he was in for a long recovery.

While Jim was getting dressed, I went downstairs and turned on the lights in that bedroom to make sure it was ready for the new patient. I even lowered one of the handrails so we could get the guy up into it more easily, although I shook my head in dismay. I couldn’t believe we had to do that again! After the bum had given us the slip on that street corner, Mr. Finch had somehow managed to track him down to a cheap hotel and had us move him to the Ritz-Carlton (of all places!) using a wheelchair and some ether. Personally, I didn’t think the ether was necessary, since there was another almost-empty bottle of whiskey on the floor next to his bed, but I’d used it anyway, not wanting to risk getting clouted by him again. It had been a backbreaking job moving his dead weight into the wheelchair, then into the car, back into the wheelchair, and into (or at least, onto) the bed at the Ritz. I wasn’t looking forward to repeating any of that process tonight.

Thankfully, that last time, the bum had at least cleaned up before we’d caught up to him in the hotel – showered, cut his hair, and shaved his beard. When we’d picked him up earlier at the police station, the smell of filth and alcohol on him had been almost overpowering. I’d glanced over at Jim incredulously as the bum had walked past me to the rear of the Lincoln, since the whiff I’d caught of him had nearly knocked me over. The drive to the park where we’d left Mr. Finch was even worse, since we were trapped in an enclosed space with the heaters going – then I couldn’t believe that Mr. Finch actually got into the car with him. I made sure the vents were open full blast, but even so, Sam (the driver) had to use baking soda and vinegar to get the stench out afterwards.

Waiting for Mr. Finch’s car to arrive now, I hoped that the bum was still clean and had not gone back to his wino ways. For that matter, I really hoped that he hadn’t screwed up whatever he was doing for Mr. Finch because of his drinking. That would be… unforgiveable. To have someone like Mr. Finch give him a second chance at life, and then for him to waste that golden opportunity because he couldn’t give up his addiction? He didn’t deserve to have his injuries treated, if that were the case. Mr. Finch might be too kind to let him go, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t try to talk some sense into him – convince him to put the guy’s sorry ass in some rehab facility or half-way house and be done with him. Of course, Mr. Finch is my boss, so he’s not under any obligation to listen to my advice… and he certainly does seem to have a blind spot the size of Texas when it comes to the bum he calls Mr. Reese.

That night, when we’d moved the sleeping bum (or he could have just been passed out from drinking) to the Ritz, Mr. Finch had seemed pleased to find him relatively clean-cut and dressed in a new set of clothes – no doubt from the Salvation Army store near the other hotel. Mr. Finch had an old photo of the guy from his military days and was comparing his face to it as I handcuffed his left hand to the headboard with vinyl cord. He looked older, more haggard, than he did in the photo, and definitely had more gray in his hair, but it had probably been a good ten years, maybe even fifteen, since the picture had been taken. Plus, living on the streets with cheap whiskey for company didn’t do a man any favors.

“Thank you, gentlemen. You may both take the rest of the night off,” Mr. Finch had said, his eyes still on the unconscious bum.

I really didn’t want to leave Mr. Finch alone in the room with that… that animal, but he’d insisted. What could I do? He was my boss, and he paid me (very handsomely) to do exactly what he said. My only consolation was that I’d made sure the guy’s hand was bound nice and tight to the wooden frame. As Jim exited the room ahead of me, I turned around to catch one last look of Mr. Finch and almost gasped at what I saw – he was leaning over the bum, stroking the guy’s cheek with his knuckles as though he’d found some long-lost brother! Then he straightened, so I turned away quickly, pretending to go over the checklist of things he’d asked us to bring one last time. I let Mr. Finch know that I would leave my cell phone on all night in case he needed me, but he never did call. The next thing I knew, “Mr. Reese” was on his list of employees as well.

It galled me to know that the bum was being entrusted with some project that was, apparently, very near and dear to Mr. Finch’s heart. Our boss had kept a regular schedule – well, as regular as it could be when he randomly switched up where he spent the night, jumping from one apartment to another – as soon as he had recovered from his accident, and he went in to work downtown almost like clockwork. He did get carried away sometimes with whatever it was that he did on the computer at night and had to go in late or take a personal day, but most weekdays Sam would drop him off at one corner or another, and either Jim or I would tail him to make sure he arrived safely at his workplace. Then one day, not long after he’d hired the bum, he stopped going in to work altogether. Instead, he asked to be dropped off near the abandoned library where he’d had us set up some of his computer equipment – with a “No need to follow me, Gentlemen.” – which was obviously where he was doing whatever it was that he needed the bum for. That left the two of us guarding his mansion in the Hamptons – guarding the empty house, for pete’s sake! Sure, there was the cook, Mrs. Stuckley, and Sam and his wife in the cottage; but basically, Jim and I had been reduced to human guard dogs at a house Mr. Finch rarely returned to.

We still took turns riding with Mr. Finch to and from his apartments every day and kept up some semblance of order by taking shifts and doing rounds to check the premises, but it was painfully clear that the only reason he kept us on was because he didn’t want to fire us. We were tried and true, after all, so he didn’t want to part with us just yet. When Jim had suggested that he might be keeping us as backup, in case the bum didn’t work out – or got injured, it occurred to me just now – I’d gladly latched on to that thought to keep my spirits up; otherwise, it was too easy to get depressed, to worry that we’d been replaced by a newer, better model… even though it was hard to admit that the bum might be better than us at anything.

I hadn’t told Jim what I’d seen at the hotel – Mr. Finch touching the bum’s face like he was something special – because I knew what Jim would say: he’d tell me to quit mooning like a jilted schoolgirl with a crush. And although it made me bristle whenever he teased me like that, the sad part is, it’s mostly true… I’ve grown to feel very protective of Mr. Finch. When I first came to work for him, years ago, Jim let me know that I was replacing a guy who’d gotten drunk at a bar and started talking about the rich, paranoid SOB who was paying him top dollar to guard his precious books and computers. Jim had been with him that night and tried to stop him, unsuccessfully. The next time the guy showed up for work, Mr. Finch sent him packing – and Jim still swears that he wasn’t the one who’d snitched on him. Somehow, Mr. Finch had found out, and it had scared the hell out of Jim. He’d toed the line ever since (with an ex-wife and three kids, he couldn’t afford to lose this job) and I wasn’t about to make the same mistake, either. Mr. Finch was not only a good employer, but he was also very… understanding. He’d known that I was gay before he’d interviewed me, but he said that as long as I kept my private life separate from my job, it wouldn’t be a problem. I’d had several boyfriends over the years, but I made sure that they never became an issue.

That’s not why I’m so concerned for Mr. Finch, though – I mean, he’s a nice-enough looking man, if a bit fastidious, but it irks me whenever Jim suggests that I have the hots for my boss, because that’s not how I look at him at all. What keeps me (and Jim, too, I suspect) on my toes whenever I’m working for him now is the fact that his paranoia had been proven to be well-founded. I’ll admit, I used to think his whole routine of getting dropped off at different locations to go to work, sleeping at a different apartment or house almost every night, and never taking the same route to get to the same place… was ridiculous. He was just paranoid; it was an affectation, like some people always have to fold their clothes the same way. It was one of his quirks and nothing to take too seriously, although it kept us employed. But then… the accident had happened.

He’d survived it, and we’d taken care of him exactly as he’d told us to beforehand – because, of course, he’d had a contingency plan for every conceivable eventuality. But I still couldn’t help the wave of emotions (mostly guilt) that had washed over me and continued to affect me even after he’d come out of the woods and begun the long, slow process of physical therapy. He’d been injured on my watch, after all. He must have sensed it… in fact, as Jim puts it, I was “an oozing mess of remorse and self-reproach, covered in penitence like a swamp monster is in slime,” so even with his exaggeration aside, it was probably pretty obvious how bad I was feeling. Then one day when I was helping him back into bed after his therapy, Mr. Finch grabbed my hand and (for the only time that I can remember) called me by my first name.

“Thanks, Marty. I’m lucky that you got to me in time.”

He called himself “lucky” after nearly getting killed, having to undergo multiple surgeries, and having his neck fused with titanium pins! And despite all the pain he was in, he still took the time to try to make me feel better, even though I hadn’t been able to do my job – not really, since I was supposed to protect him from getting hurt in the first place. But that’s the kind of man Mr. Finch is, and I know that I’m lucky to have been hired by him. It’s truly an honor to work for a man like him – an honor I will never take for granted.

Going over all these thoughts in my mind, I waited by the front door, looking out through the etched glass for the tell-tale sign of headlights coming down the long driveway. I’d already rolled out the wheelchair from its place in the recovery bedroom by the time Jim came down the stairs to join me in my vigil. I wondered how badly the bum – Mr. Reese – had gotten hurt, and how; Jim was probably wondering the same thing, too. I wondered if Mr. Finch would let one of us take the guy’s place now… and hoped with every fiber of my being that he’d choose me. I just wanted a chance to prove to him that I could do as well as some washed-up ex-army guy, especially one with a drinking problem. I just wanted to show Mr. Finch that I would do anything for him.

“Heads up,” Jim said, having caught sight of the headlights first. I opened the door and rolled the wheelchair down the ramp to the end of the circular driveway, where I waited for Mr. Finch to pull up.

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