A Tale of 'Demon' Rights: Part One: Respect the Son

Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, Medical Wing
Boston, Massachusetts, 6/21/1959

Outside of a quite expensive gift given in June of 1956, Hellboy seldom marked Father's Day with much more than getting up earlier than usual to get together a special breakfast tray for the man he called his father. Even though Hellboy wasn't yet 15 years old, he was close to seven feet tall. That combined with the other oddities of his appearance (red skin, tail, shaved-off horns, right hand that was at least five times larger than normal) meant that going out shopping for gifts was a bit difficult. This was especially true since the general public was not supposed to know that Hellboy even existed.

Hellboy almost never ate breakfast with his father. His father was a very busy man and usually was already deep in his work when his demon son would even think about rolling out of bed. Father's Day was the one day out of the year when Hellboy made a concerted effort to be up earlier than his father. The fact that it was Sunday and his father, as a good Catholic, honored the Sabbath helped.

Everybody in the BPRD's kitchen would let Hellboy pretend that he was the one who was getting everything ready. A special table would be set up in Broom's office and two trays of food would be put together for Hellboy to carry there; one with specially-ordered English breakfast tea and crumpets for the professor and a much larger one with black coffee, 'pamcakes', and toast for Hellboy. Hellboy wouldn't touch a crumpet with a ten-foot pole and thought of tea as coffee's weaker cousin. The collection of food was finished off with a number of jars of special marmalades and jams that both of them liked.

It was again Father's Day, but there was no special table set up in Broom's office, no special trays of food prepared for Hellboy to carry there. Hellboy's own usual breakfast of pancakes and coffee was sitting un-tasted in his sleeping quarters. Some were beginning to suspect that he hadn't eaten or slept for almost three days.

Every time they turned around he would be caught pacing the corridors outside of the BPRD's Medical Wing where his father had been located for over a week. Trevor Broom was sick, very sick. At first the doctors thought it might be heart trouble because the primary symptom had been chest pain. Now the doctors were suspecting a form of cancer, but were not exactly sure what type.

Hellboy's presence in his father's private hospital room had been generally tolerated toward the beginning of his stay, but over the last several days he was encouraged by the BPRD staff doctors to stay away. It seems that they were concerned that the outside experts coming in to consult on the case might see him.

Hellboy entered the medical wing and walked up to the door of his father's room.

Martha Wilson, the head nurse, came out of her office into the corridor and saw Hellboy looking forlornly at the door. He was dressed in his usual outfit adopted since becoming an official member of the BPRD: black shirt, black leather pants, black work boots (covering cloven hooves), and that tan-colored leather trench coat. The only thing missing from the ensemble was that specially designed utility belt that contained a number of pouches for holding such weapons as talismans, relics, herbs, and grenades, and a holster for a handgun the size of a cannon.

However, monster hunting was not Hellboy's chief concern at the moment so the belt and gun (called, of all things, the Good Samaritan) were left behind in his room.

Hellboy turned when he heard Martha coming.

"Hey, come on Marty, can't I even go in to see him for five minutes? I'll try not to be in the way. I'll be really, really quiet. Just let me go in, please? It's Father's Day, you know."

Martha sighed to herself, trying not to show anything to Hellboy. She suspected that Dr. Patterson's desire to keep Hellboy away was related to more than just the chance that he might be spotted by an outside doctor. Tests were starting to come back with positive results and these results did not look good.

Robert Patterson, chief surgeon of the BPRD's own medical staff, was one of the best surgeons in the United States, as well as having a strong background in the latest developments in oncology. Trevor Broom couldn't be in better hands medically, but, like a lot of specialists, Patterson's people skills often left much to be desired.

If it had been up to Martha Wilson, Hellboy would have been given more information as to what was going on with his father. However, it was not up to her. Unfortunately, Dr. Patterson had a tendency to think of Hellboy as more like a very large dog kept by Broom as a kind of pet than a son who had a right to visit his father and to be given information about his status. Other people who looked at Hellboy and saw only his sheer size completely forgot that he was still only 14 years old. Martha hated seeing him wandering the corridors outside of the medical wing and looking so lost.

At least she was still head nurse and could grant Hellboy some visiting privileges and saw no reason to completely block his access to his father. Martha found Hellboy's, mostly unexpressed, devotion to his father touching.

"Okay, H.B., I'll let you go in for a while, even longer than five minutes. But, do me a favor and let me rustle you up a chair that can hold your weight. The last time you sat in one of the room chairs it was never the same again. Go ahead and go on in, but please don't sit on anything until I get back with that chair. And if your father is sleeping do not, absolutely do not, wake him up."

Hellboy quietly opened the door to his father's room. It was relatively dark even though the room lights were never completely turned down. Trevor Broom was indeed asleep. Hellboy strode over to the bed and looked down at his father.

Broom was only around 43, but right now it seemed to Hellboy that he looked at least twice that age. He looked too thin and seemed to have tubes connecting to almost every part of his body. He was still losing weight despite the extra intravenous nutrition they had been giving him over the last several days.

Broom's left arm was under the thin sheet that covered him, but his right was lying on top and Hellboy could see that his father still had his favorite rosary twined about his wrist. Hellboy had given his father that beautiful rosary, as part of a special Father's Day gift three years earlier and Broom almost never removed it.

He also noticed that set up next to Broom's bed was a small table that had his favorite bible, the beautiful olive wood box that had been the other half of the gift from three years ago, and a framed picture. These had not been in the room the last time Hellboy had been allowed to see his father and this worried him. It showed that his father suspected that he was going to be there for a very long time.

Hellboy picked up the picture and looked at it. He knew that this picture was a doctored up version of a top secret original. It showed a young Professor Broom posing amidst a group of soldiers in the ruins of an abandoned monastery. They were all standing in the pouring rain smiling at the camera. Broom appeared to be smiling down at a broken column of grey stone. Hellboy knew that that column of stone, in the original picture, was really his own infant self.

He only ever saw the original of that picture once and was amazed at how tiny he had been at one time. The only thing about him as a infant that wasn't small was his right hand. That enormous right hand had seemed almost as big when he had been a baby as it was now that he was full grown. It had taken him a long time to grow into that hand and learn to control it.

The door to the room suddenly opened and two orderlies appeared hauling a very large chair into the room. They were followed by Martha Wilson, who watched as Hellboy set the picture back on the table. "Well, H.B., here's a chair that I think can support you," Martha directed the orderlies to set up the chair in a place that was neither too far away from nor too close to Broom's bed. "As far as I'm concerned you can stay as long as you want. Just don't make trouble for the nurses coming in to care for him. He's not scheduled to see any doctors today, except Dr. Patterson who may stop in later just to check up on things. And if he complains about your being here, you just tell him that I authorized it."

Martha and the two orderlies started to move out of the room.

"Thanks Marty," Hellboy paused and then continued following Martha into the hallway.

"I want you to tell Dr. Patterson that he needs to talk to me. Whenever he sees me he won't talk about anything and I have a right to know what's wrong with my father. I don't like the way he looks and I think knowing the worst is a hell of a lot better than this guessing and worrying I'm doing right now. I know that you probably know more than you're letting on, but you can't tell me without Patterson's OK. If you see him tell him what I said."

Martha turned to leave and then turned back. "I'll make sure to. I agree totally that you should be more informed. But, let me say this. Your father's care is in very good hands. As a medical wing of a federal research facility we have access to experimental techniques and treatments not generally in use by outside hospitals. Since we also deal with unique individuals such as yourself we have certain technologies that the rest of the world couldn't imagine outside of science fiction. I think he really has a better chance here than almost anywhere else in the country."

Hellboy sighed, "I hope you're right Marty. Thanks again for the chair."

The nurse and the two orderlies left. Hellboy returned to the room, took off his coat and hung it over one of the other chairs in the room. He settled into the chair that he had been given and watched his father sleep.

After a while he closed his eyes and just listened to the gentle beeps of the heart monitor that were a reassuring reminder that his father's heart was still beating. Two nurses came in after about an hour to change dressings, exchange the empty intravenous bottles for full ones, and to take some blood.

The nurses had been informed that Hellboy would probably be in the room, so they weren't surprised to see him sitting in the chair. He appeared to be asleep and they decided not to wake him up. One of the nurses grumbled about the inconvenience of Broom's rosary always being on his wrist so she decided to remove it. As she started to do so Broom woke up.

"Please," he said, "Don't take it off. Leave it there. I don't want to take it off." "But, sir," the nurse complained, "It's always in my way and a couple of times it's gotten tangled up in the tubes and wires. I don't really think it's a good idea for you to wear it right now."

Hellboy sat up with a grunt.

"Hey, what's up? Is something wrong?"

He had really fallen fast asleep and had forgotten where he was. The people who had been suspecting that Hellboy was sleeping poorly of late were not wrong, so it wasn't surprising that he had drifted off. But he was a little annoyed with himself for doing so.

Professor Broom by this time had become a little more awake and was delighted to find that Hellboy was in the room with him.

"Son, it's good to see you. I was starting to wonder when you would come."

Hellboy walked over to the bed and knelt down to be closer to his father.

One of the nurses spoke, "Now, about this rosary. It's really going to have to come off. We're going to have to take more blood and it's just in the way all the time."

Hellboy spoke up, "Look, Pop, I think she's right. Why don't you let me put it back into this pretty box here on the table? That's what I gave you the box for, really."

Broom shook his head. "All right," said Hellboy, "how about if I wear it for you. I'll put it on my own wrist just like you wear it on yours." Broom smiled, "I think I like that idea better."

Hellboy gently removed the rosary from his father's wrist. He worked hard to hide how concerned he was with how thin his father's arm seemed to his touch. He then twined the rosary around his own left wrist where it fit much more closely than it had done on Broom's thinner one. "I'll take good care of it for you. I was starting to worry that it could get lost."

"Maybe you're right, Son," Broom sighed, "I just don't like the idea of being without it. Where have you been the last couple of days? I was beginning to think that you were getting too busy to visit me."

Hellboy took his father's hand but said nothing.

One of the nurses explained, "Dr. Patterson seems to think it's better if Hellboy stays away. He's concerned that one of these outside doctors might see him. The poor kid has been hanging around the corridors outside of the medical wing for the last two days."

Broom grimaced. "Why wasn't I informed of this? I am going to have to have a talk with Dr. Patterson. It's one thing to have you kept out of the purview of the general public, but it's quite another thing to limit your movements within the Bureau in this unreasonable manner. The BPRD is your home. Any outside doctor that sees you can be debriefed. I won't let Dr. Patterson use this as an excuse to limit your right to visit me. I've been through nonsense like this before. Some people refuse to respect the fact that I consider you my son. I wouldn't take it when you were five and I'm certainly not going to allow it to start up again now."

At that moment Dr. Patterson walked into the room not even looking at Hellboy as he entered. Hellboy stood up and backed away from the side of the bed. Suddenly he felt very large, very red, and very out of place.

"How are you feeling today, Trevor?" Dr. Patterson asked.

"Somewhat better, now that I have had a chance to visit with my son," Broom said in a somewhat pointed manner.

Dr. Patterson picked up the chart hanging at the foot of the bed and looked at it while he spoke. "Nurse Wilson informed me that you were going to be here, Hellboy."

Somehow, he often managed to appear to be ignoring Hellboy at the same time that he was speaking to him.

"Did she tell you I wanted to talk with you?" Hellboy looked anywhere but at the doctor as he asked the question.

"Yes, she did," Dr. Patterson finally looked at Hellboy when he spoke. For some reason Robert Patterson was usually unable to see any particular emotion in Hellboy's face. To his eyes the face just looked impossibly large and red. However, this time he thought he could see worry in Hellboy's yellow-colored eyes.

"Look, Hellboy," the doctor said as he returned the chart and glanced over at Professor Broom in the bed, "we just don't know enough yet to give you much information."

Professor Broom spoke up, "I want you to tell my son everything we know."

Dr. Patterson looked at Broom, "If you insist."

Hellboy walked closer to the bed. He hadn't eaten anything all day and suddenly his stomach felt both very tight and very empty at the same time.

Dr. Patterson then launched into an explanation of what they currently thought was ailing his father. He seemed unconcerned whether Hellboy understood him or not. He never paused for questions and showed little consideration for how the information was affecting him.

However, Broom could see when Hellboy seemed totally lost or worried and would interrupt Patterson to offer his son some understanding of the issues involved. When the explanation was over Patterson continued his examination of Broom while Hellboy dropped back down into his chair and propped his chin up with his huge right hand. He closed his eyes and kept hearing words like 'lymphoma', 'tumor', and 'inoperable' spinning around in his head.

"Son, don't look so worried," he heard his father say.

He opened his eyes again and his father continued, "It really is quite a small tumor. It's just that its location in the chest between the heart and the lungs makes it hard to get at surgically. We really have high hopes for this experimental treatment called 'targeted chemotherapy'. It's really wonderful how they are starting to be able to target certain chemotherapies directly to the tumor that needs to be eradicated as opposed to sending it through the whole body. This way you get the most benefit of the treatment and the least effect on healthy tissues. The side effects should be less as well. We just need to take the time to research which chemotherapy is the best for this type of tumor. I am sure everything will be just fine."

If Broom had any doubts or fears they were not ones that he showed to Hellboy.

After the nurses had finished their ministrations and left the room, Dr. Patterson spoke up, "I'm just not convinced that he needed to know all this information, Trevor. Most of it is just going confuse and worry him needlessly."

Hellboy stood up, finally having the nerve to say how he felt, "How long was this bastard going to keep me shut outóno word, no information, no visiting. Sorry, Pop, I know you don't like it when I swear, but Patterson here should know that I was already worried, a hell of a lot more worried than I am now. Confusing information is better than being completely in the dark. What you told me about this chemotherapy stuff makes it sound like you have a chance. I was afraid that no one was saying anything because it was hopeless."

He sat back down suddenly, feeling a little dizzy. He realized that he was famished and couldn't even remember the last time he had eaten anything. Dr. Patterson just stared at Hellboy like he had never seen him before.

Trevor Broom broke the silence, "I am not completely pleased with the way my son expressed himself, Robert, but I am in complete accord with his sentiment. I am especially displeased with the fact that I was not informed that he was being turned away from visiting me. In the future I expect that he will be given, within reason, all of the information that he asks for and free access to visit me. I would like to feel, at the very least, that my son is being accorded some respect."

Dr. Patterson nodded, "It shall be as you wish, Trevor." He opened the door and walked out.

An orderly wheeling a cart with Broom's dinner entered as the doctor was leaving. He helped Broom to sit up and arranged all the plates and utensils so that they could be easily reached.

Broom stopped the orderly before he went out, "Does the hospital kitchen have some other foods they are serving other than this bland stuff I'm eating? I would like to have some food brought for my son," he looked at Hellboy, "I can always tell when you haven't been eating. It's something that happens with your skin tone."

"I believe we still have some of the stuffed cabbage that was being served today, sir."

Hellboy wrinkled his nose, "I don't like cabbage."

Broom smiled, "If you don't eat the stuffed cabbage I will make you leave to find something else to eat. If you want to stay longer it will have to be the stuffed cabbage. You like meatballs in tomato sauce. Stuffed cabbage isn't all that much different from that. You don't have to eat the cabbage if you don't want to."

"I do want to stay, so I guess I'll take the stuffed cabbage. I guess I am a little more hungry than I was when I first came here today." The orderly left to get this other tray of food.

When it came Hellboy found that he liked stuffed cabbage better than he thought he would. "You know, Pop, the 'stuffed' part of it's pretty good and even the cabbage isn't half bad."

While they were both eating Professor Broom inquired as to how Hellboy had been doing with his French studies. Even though his son had been working as a field agent for a few years now, Broom did not like the idea of him completely giving up working with the tutors who had been hired to teach him. Hellboy reached into one of the larger pockets of his coat and brought out a French edition of Beaumarchais's play Marriage of Figaro.

"You know, I kind of like reading this one. It's pretty funny."

They were both finished eating so Broom rang for the carts to be taken away. After the orderly went out again, Broom asked Hellboy to read aloud to him from the play.

At one point Martha Wilson looked in to see how things were going and noticed that Hellboy had set the room table up so that both he and his father could read from the book. Every so often Broom would help him with a word that he didn't understand. She smiled and went back out.

After about twenty minutes of this Broom started to get tired again and Hellboy realized that it was now time to go. "I'll be back sometime tomorrow and maybe we could read a little more of this. I appreciated the help."

Hellboy got up to leave, but before he went out the door he turned back. "Father, you mentioned something earlier about not standing for something when I was five years old. Were you talking about what happened on my fifth birthday?"

"I was indeed," said Broom, "How much of all of that do you remember?"

"I think I remember most of it," said Hellboy, "But what I remember the most was that you promised me that you would live forever."

Broom smiled, "Yes, I do believe I did say something to that effect that day. I will try very hard to keep that promise."

"Good," said Hellboy as he opened the door and walked out into the corridor.

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