Billy Dayton
by Brad Aiken

page 3
It was obvious to me that Billy had just had one of his visions.  He had known that Harveyâ
€™s car was going to slam into that Buick and slice poor Mrs. G in half; that much I’m
sure of.  What he hadn’t known, unfortunately, was that she was going trip over the curb
as he tried to push her to safety. The thud when her head hit the pavement was so loud that
I could hear it from clear across the street.  Billy pushed himself up off of Mrs. G and
stared in horror at her lifeless body as the blood ran down the sidewalk and trickled into the
gutter under the bashed-in hood of Harvey Melnick’s smoking gray Ford.
 There were only a few of us who had seen what happened, and even I couldn’t argue the
fact that Billy had tackled poor old Mrs. Grandy before Harvey’s car was in sight.
 The trial didn’t go well for Billy.  He had never been the most popular guy in town, and no
one much believed in his visions except for me.  I tried my best to convince the jury.  I told
them about all the times that he’d saved my life over in Nam, but they hadn't been there;
they hadn't seen the things I had.  Hell, they probably figured I was just as nuts as him by
the time we got back.
 So now, there we were.  It had finally come to this.  They were doing to Billy what a lot of
them had always wanted in the first place, I suspect.  There he was, lying there on the other
side of that glass wall, strapped to a bed, with an IV in his arm, while I looked on; nothing I
could do but watch. No one came but me and one local reporter-- some kid at the bottom of
the totem pole who had gotten trapped into covering a story that no one wanted.
 â€œAnything you want to say, son?â€� the man in the white coat asked Billy.  We could hear
him through a speaker in the glass wall.
 Billy lifted his head off the bed and looked right at me.  He had the most serene smile Iâ
€™d ever seen on a man’s face.  Odd, for someone who knows he’s about to die, I
thought.
 â€œEverything is alright now, Henry,â€� he said.
 It was the first words Billy had spoken since Mrs. Grandy had died, and it would be his last
on this Earth.
 Billy laid his head back down and nodded to the man in white.  The smile never left Billy’s
face as the poison made its way into his body, and the essence of life faded from that bed.
 I stood there with my hands pressed up against the cold glass wall, watching.  The reporter
scribbled some notes, and then hurried off. The man in white disconnected the IV from Billyâ
€™s arm, and wheeled him out the door.
 The room was empty, and still I stood there.  I marveled at the serenity within him as Billy
had spent his final moments in this life.  Was it one of his visions?  Was it that he knew
something better was waiting for him, or was it just that the great burden of his gift was
finally going to be lifted from his shoulders?  It didn’t really matter, I suppose.  Billy was
at peace.

 I owe my life to Billy.
 As I stood there all alone that day, staring into the void of that white, sterile room, I
swore that as long as I were to live, Billy would never die.  And that every year of my life, on
the Fourth of July, I’d tell his story to my kids, so he wouldn’t die as long as they
were alive, either.  I want them to know that it’s OK to be different, that in fact, itâ
€™s more than OK. I know that now, and every day I thank my lucky stars that Billy Dayton
was always a little different than the rest of us.