The next few hours were a blur. It felt as if I were moving through water. The ambulance came and Laura rode with them to the University of Utah Hospital. I followed behind in my car and the ride was mercifully short.
They took Isaac away and then made me take x-rays of my hand which, by then, had swollen to the size of a grapefruit. They wrapped it and gave me an ice pack. It wasn’t broken but my pinky was in bad shape. There were strict heating and icing instructions which I would dutifully ignore and they gave me some pills for the pain. I reluctantly pocketed them. Deciding that, for now, my mind needed to be sharp.
I called my neighbor, Robert, and asked him if he could feed Penny and maybe let her hang out at his house. Robert owned a golden lab named Jackson who was Penny’s best friend. He said he’d be happy to.
Sharon and Brian arrived about an hour after we called them. Sharon moved through the waiting room and made a b-line straight to me. She arrived at my feet and stared at me. I felt myself withdraw from her as my mind irrationally concluded she was staring into my soul. She knew that this was my fault.
Her hand shot out and connected soundly with the side of my face. The sound of the slap echoed through the waiting room as on lookers paused from their conversations to stare.
“How could you?” She hissed and her eyes held a sadness that shook me. It was the most emotion I had seen from Sharon Weston in the eight years I had known her.
“I’m sorry,” I choked.
“You’re his protector,” She said and her hand lashed out again against my face, her long nails slashed the skin leaving a small cut on my face. She hammered her other hand against my chest and then began windmilling her hands into repeated strikes against me. “How could you not be there in time? That’s what you do. That’s what you do! You’re supposed to save my baby.”
I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her into a hug that forced her to stop flailing. She squirmed beneath me for a moment then her shoulders sagged and she collapsed into tears.
“I’m sorry,” I said gently, “I’m so damned sorry.”
Brian Weston walked up to us and put a hand on Sharon’s shoulder.
“Sharon, honey, you’re making a scene.” He said.
Weston had put on a suit before coming and each hair was meticulously combed. He looked official and considering the circumstances, anger flared at the base of my skull.
A doctor came out to tell us that they had finished pumping Isaac’s stomach and that they were administering fluids. He was not yet conscious and they were still unsure of any permanent damage he might have sustained. They were especially concerned with the state of his liver.
“He’s been stabilized for now, but we’re not out of the woods yet.” He said and then was gone.
I sat Sharon down next to Laura as I heard the quiet swoosh of the sliding glass doors. I turned and stared as Gary Holtin walked in. He gave me a perfunctory nod then moved over to Brian.
“I’m glad you called me when you did,” he said in a hushed tone, “we’ll definitely need to get in front of this.”
Brian nodded. “That’s what I was thinking.”
“It could be bad. People hear suicide attempt and they’re going to think trouble at home. They might try to blame it on you and we can’t have that.” Holtin continued.
A familiar tension built between my shoulders and my ears burned so sharply that I thought they might burst into flames. If Holtin made just one more sound with that smug, pointy little face of his, I did not know what would happen. In a moment of unsurpassed self-control, I managed to walk out of the waiting room without throttling the little weasel.
The night air delivered a cold shock to my senses as the temperature was hovering just below freezing. I got into my car and tried once more to calm myself. My skull was pounding and my stomach gurgled painfully. My right hand throbbed and every muscle in my body felt pulled tight like a piano wire. I chewed some antacids and popped two of the small white pills the doctor had given me.
Slowly the pain and tension released their hold and me and dripped out into the night. The darkness quickly folded in and I was soon sleeping the dreamless sleep of medication-induced rest.