The duration of my hospital visit was a scattered jigsaw puzzle. Jagged, uneven pieces of time that never really fit together to make a whole picture. Smells and sounds. Pokes and prods and faces with questions. Some of the people I recognized, most I did not. There were moments of clarity, but much of it was blurred. The adrenaline from the shooting had long faded and a weariness chewed through every bone in my body. Beneath it all there was the ache. Dull and rhythmic pulses of hurt that clawed at my chest and hand.
Finally I was allowed to fill out a stack of insurance forms and walk out of the hospital in one battered piece. They would've liked to hold me twenty-four hours for observation, but I wasn't about to let that happen. A mild concussion, two cracked ribs, internal bruising, and a fully dislocated pinky finger was the prognosis. I would live, it seemed, though the pain had me wishing I wouldn't.
I hobbled into the mid-morning sun and stood staring at the parking lot that stretched before me. Hospitals are a melancholy place and the hecticly tranquil aura permeated the open air around the building. Comers and goers drifted listlessly, almost reverently, to their destinations. A movement in my peripheral vision caused me to jolt, but when I looked towards the parked cars, there was nothing. Hyper-vigilance is a common side effect of shootings. I realized I would be jumping at shadows for the next few weeks.
"It's a crazy concept, right? When you get a ride to the hospital in an ambulance, your car doesn't just magically appear there." Came a voice from behind me.
I turned again to see Laura leaning against the wall, arms folded with a newspaper crumpled under her armpit. She was smirking at me.
"Yeah it would seem that way." I said with a smile.
There was a firing of synapsis in my sluggish brain as the electrical pulses made the proper connections. My smile faltered.
"Oh my god, I left you stranded at the hospital yesterday, didn't I?"
"Why yes, you did." Her smirk became a full grin and she closed the gap between us in two quick steps. Her arms wrapped around me in a hug. "It's fine. I managed."
Laura's a head shorter than me and her face landed right on one of my bruises causing me to grunt in pain. The gesture, however, cut through the frustration and pain for a moment. I tried to hold onto the feeling, but when her eyes met mine it fell away. Ours was an internecine love and the story was always there. Those dark green eyes spoke the words that our lips would not.
"Sorry about that," She said pulling away with a slight look of concern. Then her playful smile was back and she slapped me upside the head. "That one, I'm not sorry about. Who do you think you are causing me to worry like this? I've got enough on my mind as it is."
I rubbed the spot on my head where she had smacked me and mumbled an apology. "How selfish of me," I added. "Next time I'll try to think before I get shot."
"That's all that I ask," She said grabbing my arm and leading me toward the east end of the parking lot. "Come on, my car is right over here."
"How long have you been waiting here?" I asked motioning toward the newspaper in her hand.
"Long enoug-HEY!" She said as I reached over and yanked the newspaper from her grasp. I stared at the page she had been reading to see a photo of the Weston family embracing happily. A second photo overlapped the bottom corner, a school photo of Isaac from years ago.
He was smiling through gapped-teeth and his hair was spiked with the carefully mussed feel. There was a small dust of freckles on his cheeks back then. They had faded while he was in high school.
"It's a fluff piece crafted by his aids. You don't want to read it." She warned as I scanned the headline.
Mayor's Son In Hospital After Tragic Overdose
'"Isaac Weston, son of Sandy Mayor, Brian Weston was hospitalized in serious condition late Friday evening after a long battle with chronic depression.
"It can be quite a tragic condition," noted local Psychiatrist, Dr Peter Brendon. "Dysthymia can cause fatigue, persistent pain, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts or actions."
"Someone that appears to have a normal life on the outside; great home, great family and friends, etc. They may be unable to feel the happiness that is usually attributed to these qualities. They are disappointed with themselves and their lives and unable to understand why." Added Dr. Brendon.
Sources say that Brian Weston had been alarmed that his son had stopped taking his medication and became concerned. He called a family friend, local detective George Burton to go check on isaac. Burton found him in his apartment, comatose and…
"The reporter asked me for a comment knowing full well that I couldn't." Laura said reaching for paper. I let her take it with a feeling of revulsion. Isaac would not want this kind of publicity, not that Brian would care.
"I thought they didn't know about Isaac's depression." I mumbled.
"They didn't and they don't. It's entirely for the P.R. fluff and managed to hit somewhere close to the mark. Calling it Dysthymia was overkill, but the only person to naysay would be me. Which they knew I can't do."
I frowned and said nothing as we walked over to her car. There was a pathetic mewling sound as I climbed into the passenger seat. I almost made a comment before realizing the sound was coming from me. With great difficulty, I managed to slide the seatbelt into place. Baby steps.
"Where to?" Laura asked as she threw the car into reverse.
"Well I'd prefer to see what's happening at my house and check if I could pick up a change of clothes."
She nodded and pulled the car out of the parking space managing to catch a nice speed bump that sent a surge of pain up my spine. I needed to focus, and it would not be easy.
"Well I didn't know if we would be able to go back to your house, but I have a change of clothes for you in the back seat." Laura said nodding behind us.
"You had a change of my clothes?" I asked lifting an eyebrow.
"Yes George. Just in case a day like this ever came. I've kept a pair of your underwear within grasp." She said in a doting voice that may or may not have been heavy with sarcasm. We pulled out onto the road, heading south. "Anthony got them from your locker and left them with Liz to give to you. I told her I would do it."
"I think I prefer the first version." I said reaching back and grabbing at the clothing. My eyes were drawn to a green Sedan pulling out of the parking lot a block behind us. I could've sworn it was the vehicle I had seen movement from earlier…