When they saw him the discussion stopped and Mark asked him how things were going. If he still was in pain and if he already started toning down on the painkillers. He was, but it was hard.
When he sat down at the kitchen counter, on one of the barstools Patty handed him a fresh cup of tea, green tea with a slice of lemon.
Conversation was picked up again and came back to local politics, but moved fast into the interesting realm of the smudge in politics. The rumors around politicians. Was the Chinese restaurant owned by a Chinese or was he actually Taiwanese? Which started a whole new discussion on whether a Taiwanese person was in fact a Chinese as well? He continued with the announcement that he'd been married to a 89 year old Chinese lady once, for only 15 minutes. It had been the consequence of a lost game of black-jack several years ago... Well, the lady had thought she was married to him anyway. She'd died 15 minutes after the I-do's. He was pretty sure that she was Chinese and not Taiwanese, if there was a real difference. Mark and Patty were at a loss, where had this come from, this he knew. He had no intention to elaborate on this episode of his life. Not even when they would ask for it. He put a smile on his face and left it at that. Patty and Mark picked the conversation up. It was a lively discussion with many laughs and it emphasized to all that life was getting normal again. The reality of the day was taking over from the absurdity of his 'accident'.
He inquired about Mark's ventures into the world of love recently. He knew about Mandy and that it wasn't going anywhere, but Mark had told him once that he was never shy on girls. This time was different, after the dates with Mandy, Mark hadn't dated anymore. Actually he had, with Mandy. Non-romantic dates. Mark explained it by seeing his friends becoming so close and that their love seemed to run so deep that he now was looking for more in a relationship than just romance and what it could lead to. Mandy was definitely a dead end when it came to that, but both seemed to enjoy each others company and they both weren't looking for sex at this point in their lives. It worked, because both didn't feel sexually attracted toward the other.
Mark had another coffee and then he left. He still had a sales target to meet and times were not that good recently.
After he left Patty told him that Mandy had told her that she and Mark had been on a few more dates, as friends, but that she had gotten very fond of Mark and now actually wanted to take their relationship to a next level. But she didn't want to ruin their friendship right now and feared that romance would cause this. Patty asked him if he thought men and women could be just friends. If he though that men could be with a woman and not consider sex as a possible result of a discussion. He didn't answer, instead he asked her if she would make him another tea and he was going to take a bath. His wounds were itching and he thought that maybe one of the wounds had gotten infected. She turned on the water cooker and told him she would be upstairs with the tea, he should already go and tend to his wounds.
While she was waiting for the tea she thought this over. Why didn't he answer? It had seemed almost as if he hadn't even heard her. She dismissed it, maybe he hadn't because of the wounds. Although she was pretty sure that they all had healed. She would take a close look, maybe they had to call the doctor.
When she got upstairs with the tea she heard the water in the bathroom running, the typical noise of a bath filling up. She put the tray with the tea on the windowsill and quietly walked over to the bathroom. The door was a bit ajar and she was allowed to take a peek inside. What she saw made her whole body shiver. His muscular body was in plain view as he was taking of his clothes ready to step into the tub. His wounds were showing, slightly reddened and she was sure that they must hurt him still. But he never complained about them. It was as if his wounds would heal and then worsen again. As if he would inflict the wounds on himself over and over again, but the scares she saw were the exact same scares as she had tended to ever since she met him in the hospital. They could not be self inflicted, not over and over again without clear signs of self mutilation.
She could see the ripple through his back muscles caused by the agony while he was easing himself into the water, which was either too cold or too hot as she could tell from the flexing of his muscles. Too cold would be most likely as he had been complaining about his wounds itching, hot water would increase the itching, but would be better for an infection.
She turned around, picked up the tray with the tea, decided to get some cookies and took care of it.
When she got back to the bathroom he was rubbing the special emulsion into the areas around his wounds, at least there where he could reach. He smiled as if it wasn't a painful experience, but his eyes told Patty otherwise.
He looked at her, saw her concern and within the blink of an eye his facial expression changed and the pain was gone from his eyes. Te smile was genuine and he reached for the tea. Patty gave him a cookie instead and told him that the tea was still too hot. A tremble in her voice gave away that she didn't believe his change in posture and wasn't convinced that the pain hadn't been there. He took a bite of the biscuit, dipped it in the tea and nibbled on it. Then he told her that he thought that the wounds on his lower abdomen seemed to be infected. That they would never really Completely heal because of the parasite living in him. Childhood problem. No doctor ever found anything, but whenever he had a wound in his lower abdomen it took a dead serious infection to heal, and still it would be a weak spot. No problem. Patty asked him why he thought it was a parasite when nobody ever had found anything. He replied by elaborating how weird it was that some people wild dip a biscuit in tea before eating it, maybe that was because they didn't like chewing? The tea didn't really add any flavor to the cookie and it wasn't that hard anyways. After this he handed her the tube with the emulsion, asked if she would rub it in the remaining wounds and then maybe they could out and maybe buy some plants or flowers to brighten up the house. He wanted the house to reflect how he felt about her, which would require a lot of flowers. An awful lot of flowers, that was of course when she was okay with that and wanted to do something like that. Patty didn't know how to respond. It had been the second time he just continued their conversation, if that was what it was, with something completely else, completely of topic, not even close to the original topic. As if she had been unconscious for a split second missing the transition from one subject to another.
Sure she wanted to go out with him, but she also wanted to buy some groceries. They would have to go to a nearby town as she needed some special vegetables and spices, for diner that night.
After treating his wounds they prepared for a rainy day in town and went of. First taking care of Patty's shoppinglist, which took quite some driving around to various ethnic stores. Then they went to the florist where he spend in Patty's opinion an obscure amount of money on flowers, vases and decorations. It was to help the economy he told her. Patty just wondered how he would pay for this as she was still not clear on how he earned his money. They went back home and while Patty was working on diner, marinating the meat, chopping the vegetables and preparing various sauces, he was creating the most beautiful flower pieces she'd ever seen. When she was ready preparing diner, he just finished his last piece. The whole house smelled like roses, lilies, daisies and various other flowers. Patty suggested that maybe they could invite Mark and Mandy for diner as she realized that more food was prepared than the two of them could eat.
Later that night the four of them had diner.