It's The Ultimate Truth!

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"Three more minutes" Joshua thinks to himself. "Three more minutes until it sets in."

"Joshua! Joshua were are you? You're late for your tennis lesson!"

"I'll be right out Shannon," he replies accompanied by a deep sigh.

Pushing himself away from the bathroom counter, Joshua slowly gets ready. "I hate Saturdays," he whispers putting his bottle back in the cabinet.
°~°

"Where am I?" croaks Joshua. His eyes going blurry and out of focus. He can barely make out Shannon's outline across the room.

"You're in the hospital-" she replies, finishing her crossword puzzle she adds, "again" with a quick glance in his direction.

"Oh okay," he says calmly - easing himself back against his hospital pillow. "So what's new?"

"Joshua."

"What? That bad huh? I told you, you should've quit when you could. Now it's too late. You're too old to get a life."

"Joshua!"

"What? It's true! Sorry babe - but you're getting up there..." He calmly states while staring at the ceiling - his hand playing with the bed remote.

"Joshua would you quit that already?" she pleads moving across the room and taking the remote with her.

"What's wrong with you Shannon? You never act this way."

"What about you Josh?" she questions turning her back towards him.

"What do you mean? If this is about the old comment then I'm sorry, but it's the truth."

"It's not the old comment!" she exclaims whirling around to face the 16 year old pale face staring right back at her.

"Then what is it?..." he whispers.

"I saw the bottles Josh..." she carefully says while turning to face the wall again.

In a panic, the only word he could even begin to stutter was, "Wh-wh-what?!"

"Don't play that game with me boy!" she frustratingly yells, beginning to feel her years catching up with her by the minute.

"What game?"

"Don't try and change the subject Josh!"

"Change what subject?" he questions, scratching his head in confusion.

"What in the world were _thirteen_ bottles of pills doing in your bathroom cabinet???"

"Oh those!" Josh states dumbfounded. Frantically looking around his room for an answer as if he's looking around the inside of his head. "They're enhancement pills...They umm...enhance my game on the court!"

"Josh...since when do you need enhancement pills? Since when do you care about your game?" Shannon wonders, holding her head in the process.

"Oh...since - always," he said in a questioning and confused tone.

"Never in my years." Shannon whispered to herself. "Joshua. You know I've been in that bathroom just about every day. So tell me. Tell me the truth! Why in the world do you have thirteen bottles of pills? Not just ordinary pills either! But prescription pills!" Shannon had worked herself up to a point that she had one hand on her heart in fear of a panic attack and one hand holding her forehead, prepared for it to explode in all of the _excitement_.

"I...I...I-" began Josh before he was cut off by a knocking.

"Son? What's going on? We were at our regular Tuesday Bridge Club meeting when we got this phone call from this ditzy old lady. She wouldn't tell us what it was about - all she said was to get down here. So it better be important! We were just about to start our seventh game of Ultimate Bingo - and your father and I were going to win this time!! So you better be dying or something as equally important as that!"

"Hello Clarisse. Paul." Shannon greets with the slight nod of her head.

"Shannon? Shannon what are you doing here? You're supposed to be at home giving Pooksie a bath!"

"I'm very sorry Mrs. Pinkelton, but-"

"Excuse me! What did you just call me?? You know that you're supposed to call me MS.!"

"I'm truly sorry MS. Pickles. I always seem to let that slip my mind when you're standing with your husband." Shannon clarified, attempting not to mock her boss, but she couldn't help herself from letting a smirk slip with the _mispronunciation_ of her boss's name.

With a grimace in Shannon's direction, Clarisse forgot about her husband and turned to face her son.

"Joshua? What's the meaning of all of this - this...this chaos?" Ms. Pinkelton gestured at the room and the bed.

"Hello mother. Nothing's the matter. Shannon just overreacted. I overslept for my tennis match..." Josh explained to his mother, and with a glance in Shannon's direction he continued. "Isn't that right Shannon?" Clarisse's gaze following her son's.

"Well-" Shannon tried to fight and hold up her end of the responsibility as well as he enf of the argument.

"Excuse me-" Clarisse began, extending her arm in Shannon's direction, motioning for silence. "You mean to tell me that Paul and I rushed down her for nothing when we could have been winning the jackpot?!"

"But ma'am!" Shannon pleads.

"But? But? What's with you and your obsession with rear-ends lately? Seriously...It's a wonder why we ever hired you in the first place!" Ms. Pinkelton exclaims. So excited and self-absorbed in her ridicule, she continues to extend her arms as if to say 'how in the world,' knocking a glass of water into her son's lap.

"AHHH!" Josh screamed in surprise. But before they could all turn their heads towards him, the door flew open and an old nurse was pushing Shannon out of the way.

"Oh honey, it's okay. Don't worry. It's very common for that to happen in your situation," the kind nurse soothed as she looked down at his wet lap.

"Excuse me Miss Ditz-a-roo! But what the hell are you doing all over my son? I know he's good looking and all, but he's only 16 and you've got to be around ... her age over there-" Clarisse rudely states, pointing at Shannon who looks mortified whereas Joshua is giving her an, 'I told you so' look.

"Ms-" began Shannon, trying to explain that it was very clear that the nurse was much older than her. She had to have been at least in her late forties compared to Shannon who was in her early thirties.

"What? What was that? Did I hear someone talking? While I was talking?! No, it couldn't be. Anyone who did that would surely know that they would be out of a job faster than they could say unemployment!"

Following this speech, Shannon takes two steps back bowing her head in shame while Josh leans back against his pillow again and begins counting the number of marbled tiles on the ceiling, realizing it was going to be a long nice. Picking up on the atmosphere in the room, the nurse moves her hands away from the bed and takes a step back, careful not to bump into Shannon.

"That's what I thought," stated Clarisse proudly. "Now lady. Why don't you get your fat sagging ass out of my presence NOW!"

"Yes, ma'am!" She said while quickly scurrying back out the door.

"Now that she's gone. Where was I? Oh yes, I was asking you why you called us down here."

"Josh has a serious problem Ms. Pinkelton!" Shannon rushed to say.

"Unless he's dying I don't really give a damn!"

"Okay, that's it! What the hell is your problem bitch? Get over your stupid Bingo games and Bridge Club meetings! Your son is addicted to drugs and all you can think about it your own freakin' self!" Everyone's mouth dropped open at the same moment, even Josh's, all astonished by Shannon's forwardness.

"I knew it!" Shrieks Clarisse causing Josh to whip his head around to face her.

"Wh-wh-what?~" he stutters again.

"I knew it. I knew we should have never hired her! She's a nut! she was always making up stories! And this is the last straw!" She shouts in Shannon's direction.

Now it's Shannon's turn to let her jaw drop. But this time it's only her. Josh heaves a deep sigh of relief instead.

"Ms. Pinkelton! What do you mean? What does this mean?!" Shannon asks, doing her best not to start crying.

"I mean - YOU ARE FIRED!" Clarisse shouts at the top of her lungs. "That's it! Your time is thru. You can pack your bags and be on your way in the morning."

"But, ma'am!" Shannon tries to reason with her crazy boss.

"Again with the but's? If you don't get your butt out that door right now then I'll give you a reason to say it!" Screams Clarisse at the top of her lungs.

"Yes, ma'am," Shannon whispered quickly mimicking the nurse and practically scampering out the door.

"Now that that's all over and done with, your father and I are going to go back to our game of Ultimate Bingo. Hopefully we can get in on the eleventh game." Clarisse says to her son while glancing at her watch, "You really screwed us over today Josh. We could've won!" And with that she turned on her heel and walked out the door with a faint flick of her wrist towards her son.

"I'm sorry Shannon," Josh whispers to himself when he's all alone. Then he leans over, realizing he can't change the dosage of his medication, he picked up a pillow and hovered it above his face as he closed his eyes and whispered "Bye" before closing the space between him and his pillow.





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