When Toby's car turned the corner, immediately we saw the crowd of journalists that had taken the entry of the White House in an assault with their cameras, recordings, camcorders and spotlights. There was no doubt that Morgan Ross had done a good job.
We tried to get into the inner door in the middle of a now small multitude whirled about the car.
- Mr. Seaborn... Mr. Seaborn... - the journalists were shouting.
- I am from the Globe - another shouts...
- We want to ask some questions...
The questions were continuing as we were advancing slowly among them.
- Mr. Seaborn, is it true that you was attacked by Morgan Ross?
- Mr. Seaborn, is it true that this morning you threatened Ross...-
- What the hell happened to them? - asked Josh.
Rapidly after the insatiable press leaving behind we came to the entrance. In the lobby, the first person that I saw was CJ.
She was standing up, with a confused and angry expression. When she saw me, she walked over and took my arm.
- Sam Seaborn... - she said in an angry voice, very angry...
- Later, CJ, - I said to her.
Gradually I was feeling more pain in my head; giving me a few very intense pricks, and I was terribly tired. I wanted to sleep for hours and hours. But I could not relax and felt more nauseous by the moment.
We were going towards Toby's office, passing the White House´s labyrinth of corridors. When we were there, I collapsed in Toby´s couch
- Very well, Sam, here we are - Toby said, while he looked for a pink ball on his desk.
- I would like to know what is happening? What is Sam doing here? And what are you trying to do? - protested CJ.
- I want to give a press conference and deny everything that Morgan Ross said.
When I said it I looked obliquely at Josh who was still standing up in the doorframe, shaking his head, but I was sure that he was listening.
- I´m sorry, Sam, I cannot let you do it. If you feel like you say, you wouldn't even sustain the first round of questions.
- Oh, CJ!... There is no other way.
CJ looked at Toby, at Josh and the two made the same gesture of surrender with their hands; then she looked at me, then again at Toby. Finally, she said to me:
- And what do you intend to say to them, Sam?
- That I was in an accident.
- Ah, yes?
- Yes, that I fell on the wet asphalt.
- And you had a contusion? - added Toby
- Sam, nobody will believe your story when they see you, - protested Toby
- They will.
- OK!, Sam, do it, - CJ gave up, - but I'm warning you that they will destroy you, they are hungry.
- If anyone is hungry, it's me, - I said; it was a lie, but I needed to gain force in their eyes.
- I will bring you something, - answered CJ, walked out and stumbled into Leo.
- What the hell is happening here? - was the question that Leo asked while entering the office.
- What happened here is that our hero wants to face hungry press in this terrible condition to discredit what Morgan Ross said,- pointed out Josh.
Leo seemed to remain confused.
- What for? - he said watching me.
- Why?... why?... Because I don't want him to use me to promote his damned movie! - I said, angry.
- Sam, you are nuts!. - Josh assured me.
- Why ? Because I do not want to be used? - I shouted and then I regretted that.
- Not, because you will not be able to make anybody believe you that have not been attacked, that only you slipped, look at you... for God's sake!- Toby said throwing the ball against the crystal... and now it was his turn for me to hate him because of what he did. I closed my eyes and put my hand over them. My right eye was bothering me.
- What you would do in my place? - I said while opening my eyes slowly and seeing CJ's hands in front me with a tray with a cup of coffee and a muffin.
- I would leave it like this. I would not do anything, would go away to my house, would get into bed, and would not go out of there until I could meet normal people in a cafe without scaring them.
Josh could not refrain from a smile at Toby's commentary, and neither could I.
- I feel fine, - I said.
- Yes?! - asked Leo with irony .
- Yes, - I assured him, drinking the coffee and biting into the muffin. I could not savor it; it was like eating a newspaper, but I knew that it was necessary to eat a little.
My head was heavy as a wheel. The pricks were increasingly intense, more painful.
- OK! let's get the show on the road, - said Toby. - We prepare the Roman Circus, I want to see you struggle against the lions in the sand.
- While you fight the lions, I will be in my office, - Leo said. - Josh, come with me.
- But... - protested Josh pointing at me with a finger, but it was the only thing he
said, made a grimace, looked at me and followed Leo
- Now that you bring up the Romans, maybe Leo does not want Josh and Sam together, or they recreate Nero. - commented CJ, going forward to prepare the journalists.
I got up and we walked towards the briefing room where we could start working. Toby accompanied me. While we crossing the corridor, I suddenly felt nauseous. I stopped by the men's room with the excuse of wanting to wash up a bit and vomited the muffin and the coffee.
I was feeling very weak, sweaty, but the dizziness passed and I felt better. I returned to Toby.
- How do you feel?
- You are becoming monotonous, - I said.
- You look awful, as if you are on the verge of becoming dizzy.
- It is not like that.
Toby frowned. We arrived to the front of the briefing room's door .
- And well, here we are, genius. And now what? are you ready?...- he remained observing me fixedly -... I hope, Sam, that you know what you're doing, - said Toby.
- I know - I said.
But before entering, I approached the water-cooler and filled a glass. I drank it and
turned to fill it again. My headache was now stronger, and the terrible drowsiness added.
I wanted to fall asleep, to forget myself and everything, to sleep... But I did not say
- I know what I'm doing, - I said.
- I hope so, - he said, - because if something happens to you, you won't have to worry about another concussion. I will open your head and verify that you have really something there.
- Don't worry, - I said leaning on one of the walls of the corridor and drinking another glass of water.
- The hell with not worrying!...look at yourself...
- Don't worry, - I insisted tiredly.
- You're killing yourself.
- Toby, don't exaggerate...
- Let's forget it, Sam, you do not need to clarify anything, lets let Ross suffocate in his own garbage. You'll go to your house, leave this and tomorrow we will find a way of finishing Ross.Maybe we could have a meeting alone with CJ.
I smiled at this.
- I bet that she could make him cry.
- And then tell his mom, - added Toby.
- I do not want him to use me. And I want to see to it myself. This became personal, - I insisted.
- Sam, you are not all there. What are you trying to prove? - he asked.
- Nothing, only that I'm tired of all this. First he used the President and now this. I warned him that he would meet with me and I will do it, someone must stop him.
- And you believe that it's your responsibility to do it? Stopping this madman justifies your going there and trying to prove that you had but slid in the street, it's ridiculous... - Toby paused and pressed his fingers against the bridge of his nose, -... the end does not justify the means, Sam, you are acting just like him.
- Sam, I am letting you do this because if I do what I must I'm afraid you'll faint right here and then the press will have something interesting to write about.
- I knew I could count on you, - I said, trying to smile.
- My God...! - sighed Toby
In that instant CJ joined us.
- Ok, everything is ready, you will say that you are feeling very well, that it was an accident and you came back, understood?
- Yes ,- I said.
Toby threw a glance at me and I avoided his eyes. I was feeling terribly; my headache was much worse and there were moments when my eyesight was clouding over. I had trouble seeing with my left eye. But someone had to stop Morgan Ross, and it did not matter how I wasdoing it, I had to do it.
I wiped the sweat off my forehead.
- Good, - I said. - I am ready.
- Yes? Are you sure? - asked me CJ but though she was to my side, it felt like she was very far. Her voice was becoming suddenly switched off and insignificant. Everything around me was looking equallyinsignificant. Everything turned small and discolored. The headache had now converted into rhythmic explosions of intense pain. I straightened up and took three steps. Then I had stopped to rest.
- What happened?
- Nothing, I'm just tired.
- Well, - he said, - that's enough.
He took me by the arm, lead me to an office and seated me in a chair. I put my hand on my forehead and noticed that my left hand was trembling.
- Do you want another glass of water?
- Yes, - I said.
I was feeling dizzy, with a stomachache and discomfort in my whole body. A bit of water would do me well, and I'd be able to speak with the press. Or maybe it make me feel worse. Toby gave me a glass of water and while I was drinking it, I said:
- Toby, I want to give this conference...
- The only thing that you will do is rest here, until you can take two steps without getting dizzy and then you will go back to the hospital.
I looked up to protest at that and saw one of the pictures on the wall, it looked like a painting of a lake. I fixed my eyes on the boat that was there, then the boat started moving.
I needed a while to answer. It would take time to speak. I was sleepy, so sleepy.
- Call the hospital.
Was that CJ?
My voice was deep, as if it was coming out of a hole, of a grave. It seemed to echo.
- Are you okay?
- Yes, perfectly. - I continued hearing the words, repeated as if I was dreaming; ...perfectly,...perfectly.
- You look awful..
- I am perfectly
- Sam, don't be angry.
- I am not angry, - I said, closing my eyes. My eyelids were very heavy and sticky so I could not open them - I am happy.
- You are happy?
- No, - I said. Toby was speaking, but I didn't hear him say anything, his voice sounded the gurgling of a baby, infantile...ha! Toby with an infantile voice
- No, I am definitely not crazy.
- Stops calling me Sam
- It's your name, - Toby said.
I saw him get up slowly, moving with the slowness of a dream, and I felt very tired watching him move. He approached CJ and said something to her. My eyes were hurting me. Especially the right one.
- Look at me.
Toby's voice was strong and authoritative now; this was the Toby I knew. The voice of a sergeant. Sharp, irritating. I liked this voice.
- Go away, - I said.
Someone entered, more people, they all were moving in slow motion.. why did they do it? Strong fingers were holding my head, a light was shining inside my eyes.
- Leave me alone, Toby.
- Sam, hold on a little more.
- Leave me, - I closed my eyes. I was tired. Very tired. I didn´t want to see more people and every time I looked, I saw more. I wanted to sleep for millions of years. The dream was something wonderful, like an ocean bathing the sand on the beach, with soft and wonderful noises of the waves washing everything.
- I am fine, Toby... only a bit confused.
- Sam, hold on.
Sam, hold on...
- Toby, for god's sake...
- Shut up, - he told me.
Now I was laid down, and they were moving me. I was getting angry, I wanted to sleep, wanted to sleep deeply
- Toby, stop making noise.
- Sam, keeps silent, you are terrible.
The words were producing an echo in my head...terrible ..? I asked myself.
Later, the dream overpowered me, later there were fingers that were stretching, plastic fingers, rubber, which were hovering above my eyes.
- I am tired.
- I know, I can see it
- I cannot see anything. I do not see anything...nothing... -
I could not see... I tried to open my eyes -
- Coffee. I need coffee.
- No, - Toby said.
- Josh... I want coffee.... Josh?.
- Here I am, Sam.
- I want coffee... or get me a lion, - I said, and wondered why said that. That
doesn't mean anything . Or does it? It means something? something?. Everything was so
confused .. my right eye hurt too much.
- A dwarf, - I said.
- A dwarf, - I explained. It was clear. He was stupid for not understanding. I was perfectly clear; a reasonable affirmation of a reasonable man. Toby was pretending not to understand.
- Sam, - a voice said... - one moment .. - it was not
- I want you to count from one to a hundred, but backwards. Keep subtracting seven Can you?
I made a pause, wondering who it was. A hundred minus seven? It was not easy. In my head, I saw a chunk of paper, a white brilliant paper and above, a pencil. Hundred minus seven. And a line below to do subtraction.
- Ninety three.
- Good, continue, Sam.
Who was this, I liked the challenge... I needed another piece of paper. I must tear the used one before being able to begin with the new one. And when I tore the old sheet, I could not remember what I must do... Complicated.... Confused .. who was this?
- Came on , Sam. Ninety three.
He continued defying me...
- Ninety three minus seven, Sam.
I made a pause. Eighty-eight.
- No, eighty-six.
- Continue, Sam.
- Seventy nine... Seventy-three. No. Seventy-four. No,
Wait a minute... I was ripping pieces of paper, but slower now. It was very difficult to tear the paper. Very difficult. And everything was so confused. It was very difficult to concentrate.
- Sam. What day is it today?
- What day? - What a silly question.
Toby, where are you?... someone is asking me silly questions. What day was it?
- Today - I said.
- What dates?
- What date?
- Yes, the date.
May, I think it's May.
- Where are you now, Sam?
- I am in the White House - I said.
- No, Sam.
No?... I am always in the White House.
- You are in a hospital, Sam.
This is a hospital?...what is this man saying? Who was this?
I opened my eyes a little, but the eyelids were heavy and the light hurt me. I wished they would leave me alone and I could sleep. I needed to sleep. I was very tired, very tired. And I did not want to make clear to this person that I was already out of the hospital,and signed my papers.
- I am not in the hospital.
- This is the hospital and you are in it.
- It can not...- I started saying something, but I could not recall what I intended to say. My headache was now unbearable, striking the right eye, the forehead, to the right of my head, a terrible headache.
- Sam , raise your left hand.
- Raise your left hand, Sam
Now I heard him, I heard the words, but they were stupid. Nobody would pay attention to a few words like those. Nobody would listen to them.
I felt a vibration to the side of my head, a curious vibration. I opened my eyes and saw a young woman. She was nice, but she was doing something very strange to my head - moving objects of brown color, and later they fell down... Toby, where is Toby...or Josh...
Someone was observing me and asking for something but I was not understanding the words. After the brown object came the cream... and the shaving. I watch it, and also the shaving cream, and suddenly without previous notice, I felt tired...and without me realizing anything I was sick, and someone was saying, " Let's go , hurry up..."
Later they brought a drill. I could hardly see it, my eyes were kept closed, and I was sick again.
The last thing I said was:
- I do not want holes in my head.
I said it very clearly, very slow, stressing the syllables.
Or so I thought.