As time is wont to do, it marched steadily on. Each of the four grew, adjusted, and changed.
The maelstrom of change swirled around Mike. He grew and learned to live in a dark world. There was so much to learn!
Navigation and Braille were primary among what he had to learn. Laura had wanted to wait on Braille, but Mike had insisted. “I miss reading. Give me a way to so I can have something to do for fun!”
The others learned as well. Micky and Peter learned to sight-read Braille and use a Braille writer. Davy struggled with Braille, but he caught on to the organizational aspects of adjusting faster than the others.
They soon fell into a routine once Mike was back home. Micky or Peter – or both – would help tutor Mike while Davy cleaned up and organized for the next activity. Davy did vanish twice more to the monastery to recoup and regroup – but each of those times was planned and prepared for.
The first sign things were not entirely smooth adjusting was when Peter noticed Mike’s unusual behavior.
“Have you noticed how … uhm… how docile Michael’s become?” Peter asked Micky.
Micky looked up from the dishes he was washing and frowned. “No…what are you talking about?”
Peter licked his lips and glanced over to where Davy was out on the balcony, describing the vivid spring sunset to Mike. He lowered his voice and explained, “Michael… he’s doing everything without complaint.”
“Well….” Micky said gently, “this IS for good…. Maybe he’s just… I don’t know… accepting it?”
“Accepting is one thing.” He met Micky’s eyes. “But even an accepting Michael will fight for his way.”
Micky put the last dish in the drainer, and then froze. “You’re right.” His voice was soft with shock. “You’re absolutely right.”
Peter picked up a towel and began to dry the dishes as Micky cleaned the sink. After a few were stacked, Peter whispered, “Micky, what are we going to do? What’s wrong with him?”
“Let me sleep on it tonight,” Micky said as he hung the cloth to dry. “Let’s talk about it tomorrow.” He turned and smiled so it would show in his voice. “Pretty sunset?”
“Very,” Mike replied with a slight smile, skirting the instruments and coming down from the bandstand. “Dishes all done?”
“Yeah,” Micky yawned. “Sorry…I ‘m real sleepy.”
Mike nodded. “So no practice tonight.”
“Sorry, man…I…” He yawned again.
That brought a chuckle from Mike. “Get some sleep. I’ll get a few more chapters read, then I’ll head on myself.”
Two hours later, the lights in the Pad went out.
Micky didn’t sleep much that night. He kept rolling over and staring at Mike. Once his gaze was so intense Mike stirred.
He’d studied Mike that night. And what he’d seen had shaken him.
Peter had been exactly right. Mike was so docile – to the point of letting himself be walked over! A little pit of fear developed in Micky’s stomach as he noticed the flashes of despair that had crossed Mike’s face periodically.
Could Mike be thinking he didn’t deserve any better? How would they fix this?
Then the thought hit Micky that propelled him out of bed and down the stairs, suddenly so full of nervous energy he felt on the verge of panic.
Could it be fixed?
“I’m going to take Mike for a drive,” Micky announced when Peter came out of the bedroom in the morning. “See if I can’t get to the bottom of this.”
Peter frowned slightly. “Are you sure that’s wise? I mean—“
Micky held up a hand. “No, I’m not sure. But it’s about the only plan I have right now.”
Peter studied Micky’s face, then smiled. “I’ll drive Davy to the monastery. You know him and heavy scenes lately.”
“Might be best,” Micky agreed. “Isn’t it nearly time for him to go anyway?”
“Yeah, they’re expecting him – he made the final arrangements yesterday.” Peter sighed. “I’m glad he’s found some way to get the solitude he needs and still be with us.” He frowned, replaying what he’d just said. “Okay… I’ve just confused myself!”
That surprised the first genuine laugh from Micky in days. “Get some coffee in you – wake on up. You handle one Capricorn, I’ll handle the other.”
As Micky turned to go, he heard Peter say softly, “I miss your laughter.”
Micky sighed. “Me, too, Peter.” He walked up the stairs to get dressed, and found Mike awake and dressing. “Hey.”
Mike turned his face slightly in Micky’s direction and smiled a small smile. “Hey. You’re up early.”
“Yeah, there’s been a change of plans. I need to make a phone call, then we’re gonna go for a drive.”
“It’s a surprise.”
Mike frowned. “Ooh?”
“Yeah, you’ll find out when we get there. I’ll be back.” He turned – forgetting all about dressing – and walked back down the stairs.
Ignoring Peter’s surprised look, Micky flipped through their address book. Finding what he was searching for, he dialed the phone swiftly.
“Laura? It’s Micky Dolenz – I’m fine. Look, we need to come see you this morning… no, it’s rather urgent…. Yes, ten-thirty will be just fine… No, it’ll just be Mike and me. …. Thanks…we’ll see you then.” He hung up. “That’s that – we’ve got a date.”
“Hell of a date,” Peter chuckled. “Get dressed.”
“What? I did get –“ He looked down at himself and groaned, seeing himself still in his bathrobe.
Peter’s chuckles followed him up the stairs.
Mike leaned back in the passenger seat, his blinded eyes closed and a closed-mouth smile on his face as the wind ruffled his hair. “Hey, Mick?”
“Thanks for keepin’ the top down. It’s not as disorienting, bein’ able to feel which way and how fast we’re going.”
Micky was silent for a moment, then he asked, “Have you talked to Laura about being disoriented?”
“Think you’d better/”
Now it was Mike’s turn to be silent for a moment. At last, he asked softly, “Do you think I should? I mean, it’s a small thing….”
Micky’s hands clenched on the steering wheel as coldness coiled in his belly. Shit, Peter was right….
“Hey, Mick? Where are we going?”
“We’re going to talk to Laura for awhile. There’s a lot goin’ down that she can maybe help with.”
“Like what?” was Mike’s immediate reply. He frowned deeply when Micky didn’t immediately answer. “Micky?”
“Mike…” Micky sighed, but he was saved from a heavy scene as he pulled into the parking lot. “We’re here.”
“At Laura’s, yes. Come on.” Micky got out of the car.
Mike sat there for another few moments, seeming to gather himself together. Then he got out of the car and extended his cane. He made his way around the back of the car and extended his arm.
Micky took it, and guided him into the hospital, where Laura was waiting. All Micky could think of was that – finally – they could get to the bottom of things.
Laura studied both of them in silence for a moment before asking, “So, how can I help you today?”
Her words opened the floodgates. All that had been happening poured out of Micky. Mike just sat there in silence. The only sign he was being affected was a twist to his lips.
When Micky ran down, Laura asked, “Mike, what do you have to say?”
Mike remained silent. He lowered his head and shrugged.
“Micky, go get something to eat.” Micky opened his mouth, and she glared at him. “I mean it. I want to talk to Mike alone.”
Mike frowned deeply as he heard the rustle of fabric against leather. “Micky?”
“He’ll be back,” Laura said as Micky touched Mike’s shoulder.
“Mike, you won’t tell us what’s bothering you. If you’re more comfortable talking alone to Laura—“ His words died as Mike grabbed the wrist of the hand on his shoulder.
“Don’t go.” Neither Micky nor Laura missed the note of panic in Mike’s voice.
“Mike,” Laura chided, “Don’t be so stubbourn, so willful—“
“THAT’S WHY I’M THIS WAY!” Mike roared, jumping to his feet and hitting his knee on the desk.
Micky moved toward him, but Laura put her hand on his chest and shook her head.
The angry rant continued to pour out of Mike at the top of his lungs. How it was his own fault he was blind. How if he’d not been so stubbourn and willful he might have gotten help sooner. How now he was the one thing he’s always feared he’d become – helpless and dependent, a burden to everyone the way his grandfather had been.
Micky frowned, looking at Laura. Mike had never mentioned his grandparents before.
Tears were flowing now, but Mike didn’t seem to notice. “Swore I’d never be that way! I’d never be helpless and dependent….” He sank to his knees, shaking – barely missing the desk. “And now I am,” he sobbed. “Why didn’t you just let that damned fever take me? Why did you have to make me live? This isn’t a life – this is hell on earth!”
“Don’t talk to him now,” Laura whispered into Micky’s ear. “Just hold him and let him rant. This poison has to come out.”
Nodding, Micky stepped forward and knelt. As he wrapped his arms around Mike and started to rock, Laura smiled to see the depths of a true friendship.
Mike knew who was holding him and he reacted without thinking. His hands fisted in Micky’s shirt and he buried his wet face in Micky’s shoulder. Micky rocked him, drying his tears unself-consciously as he murmured nonsense words of comfort.
Laura steepled her fingers against her mouth as her smile widened. Perhaps they weren’t such nonsense. She could have sworn she heard the words ‘my brother’ in there.
Sliding into her outer office, Laura lifted the receiver and dialed a number. “Hello, Father Friedman? This is Laura Ball, Mercy General…. I need you to contact Benny’s for me.” She talked a moment more, giving instructions.
Hanging up, she dialed a second number. “Hello, Peter? This is Laura. Come to the hospital, please. Michael needs you.”
Peter came barreling into the hospital at full speed. Davy was right behind him, still in the robes he wore at Benny’s.
They didn’t spare a word for each other or a greeting beyond a nod. They also didn’t spare the time for the elevator, but barreled right to the stairs.
Coming out onto the floor where Laura’s office was, the two didn’t slack their pace. They stormed down the hallway.
Their headlong flight reached an abrupt end when they saw Laura coming out of her office. Peter grabbed her by the shoulders. “Where is he? Where’s Michael?”
“What’s happened?” Davy added, his face tight with fear.
“We’ve had a breakthrough, that’s what’s happened,” Laura smiled. “Mike’s sleeping right now – Micky’s with him. Come – walk with me. We need to talk.” She took a step forward after Peter let her go – then paused, looking Davy up and down. “Nice outfit.”
Davy flushed, but fell in step beside her.
“So,” Peter asked nervously, “what happened?”
Laura’s smile grew. “I believe we found the core of both Mike’s willfulness and his self-blame.”
Davy and Peter shot each other a look. They came to an empty office and as the door closed behind them, Davy asked, “Well? Are you going to keep us in suspense?”
“Tell me, boys – did Mike ever mention his grandfather?”
Once more, they shared a look. When they both looked back at Laura, they were shaking their heads.
Laura nodded. “Okay. From what we gathered, his grandfather lived with his family while Mike was young. His grandfather was disabled in some way – ‘helpless and dependent’ was the way Mike put it – and at a young age, Mike swore he would never become that way.”
Slowly, Peter nodded. “I can see that. That’s why he never admitted any weakness – even when he was so sick he could barely move.”
Davy was frowning. “And if he feels he has become ‘helpless and dependent’….”
“Precisely,” Laura nodded. “He feels a subconscious need to punish himself for letting himself become this way. He also feels a deep despair that things will never, ever be any better.”
“But they will be, won’t they?” Peter asked.
Peter shook his head. “I don’t mean will Michael ever see again – because I know he won’t. I mean will he cheer up?”
“That’s up to him,” Laura said. “but with Micky helping him now and you helping him once he calms some – I’ve no doubt you all will be just fine.” She looked over at Davy. “Give you a lift back to Benny’s?”
Davy shook his head. “No – I think I’ll stay awhile.”
Peter put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it in support.
Micky felt a pressure on the hand he held and knew Mike was waking up. “Hey,” he said softly.
The blinded eyes slid open and Mike frowned in confusion. “You….stayed.”
“Of course I did.” He brushed the hair from Mike’s forehead. “That’s what brothers do.”
Mike frowned. “Not in my experience.”
“Well, here I am. Peter and Davy are downstairs getting some food.”
“How….” Mike stiffened. “How much do they know?”
“All of it,” Micky admitted evenly. When Mike tried to pull his hand away, Micky gripped it in both of his. “Nobody pities you,” he said firmly. “The only one who thinks you’re helpless and dependent is you.”
“Micky, I can’t—“ Mike began, only to have a hand clamped firmly over his mouth.
“You can’t see,” Micky finished for him. “And you can’t drive. That’s all you truly can’t do.” Seeing the lines of argument starting to furrow around Mike’s eyes, Micky shot back, “I’m right, Mike. And you know I’m right.” Only then did he remove his hand.
“Micky—“ Mike tried to argue, but a finger was laid on his lips.
Micky’s voice was gentle but firm. “You know I’m right.”
Mike’s reply was a deep sigh as he turned his head away.
“You can do this, Mike,” Micky urged, griping Mike’s hand in both of his. HE was using Mike’s two strongest remaining senses – hearing and touch – to connect with him. “We all believe you can.”
The words were so soft that Micky almost didn’t hear them.
“Micky… I-I’m scared.”
“You’d be a fool not to be.”
Mike turned to face him, frowning. “Say that again?”
“I said only a fool wouldn’t be scared. You’re many, many things, Mike – but you’re not a fool.”
“Can I… have about ten minutes by myself? Just to… to…” He squeezed his eyes shut, and Micky saw the tears trying to bead on the long lashes.
“Sure.” Micky squeezed his hand again before releasing it. “I’ll be right outside the door. If you need me, just call. See you in ten minutes.”
He heard the sobs begin before the door fully closed.
Over the next few weeks, the Monkees noticed life slowly returning to normal. Slowly, Mike grew to accept the blindness his willfulness had locked him into.
The others were absolutely delighted to see that stubbourn streak returning. Micky’s words had proved true – the only true limitations Mike had were his inability to see and drive. Everything else was compensated for and overcome.
And then the day arrived when the gigs resumed and they were once again doing what they loved – all four of them knew beyond a shadow of a doubt healing had arrived at last.
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