A tap at his door and Kacy came back in, carrying two bags of McDonald’s breakfasts, and two large coffees. “I knew you’d not be able to eat. I saw it as they were loading it up. Disgusting! I got you something good tasting, even if it isn’t good for you. Eat up.”
She’d gotten him three Egg McMuffins with extra cheese, hash browns and plenty of ketchup and pepper.
“How did you know?”
Her smile faded a little, “Pete loved ’em. I took a wee chance.”
“It’s all right, Kacy. You can’t help falling into old habits. It’s kind of cool, in a way, knowing he and I liked the same things. It gives me a little connection.” He shook massive amounts of pepper on his egg and took a huge, satisfied bite. “You have no idea how good this tastes right now!”
Someone came in to take his food tray and smiled as he tried to look innocent.
“You’ve got the good stuff there, don’t ya?” The heavy set black woman said cheerfully. “Put some meat on you. You are one tall, skinny white boy!”
“Aw, come on, I bet you like your men tall and skinny.”
She raised an eyebrow, a quick flicker of her eyes at Kacy. “Well, I do at that, but not when they belong to some other woman. You just keep to yourself, honey.”
She winked. He laughed loudly, almost choking on his food in the process. He spewed a few crumbs onto the sheets.
“Yes, ma’am. You serving lunch too?”
“I might be, then again I might send someone else in here to put a collar on you. You’re getting wild. I hope they’re planning to let you out soon.”
“I promise I’ll behave. Scout’s honor.”
She took up his tray, tipping her nose in the air, she walked to the door. “Mm hm, I bet you wasn’t even a Boy Scout,” she said as the door shut behind her.
“I was too a Boy Scout for a whole semester.” He grinned broadly, taking another huge bite.
“Why didn’t you stay in?” Kacy asked.
Deacon’s smile faded slightly as he remembered. “I got moved to a new home, they couldn’t be bothered to take me, so I had to quit. It wasn’t a lot of fun anyway, since all the kids came with their moms and dads. I didn’t have anyone but Mr. Petry, and he was about seventy years old.”
“Deacon, were you ever happy growing up?”
He stayed silent so long, she thought he’d forgotten her question, but he was thinking.
“Once in a while, yeah. Mostly, I wasn’t really happy at all. I don’t think I ever got really happy until I met you.” Having said more than he intended, he concentrated on his food.
Kacy sat quietly until a telltale sniffle escaped her. “I’m sorry, I’m being bloody awful again. I can’t seem to keep my emotions in check. I feel like I’m on this roller coaster ride that has me up and down like crazy.”
Wiping his hands and lips on the napkins, he held out his arms to her. She came willingly, lowering the side rail, she lay next to him, her head on his shoulder.
“It’s all right. I’ll be out of here soon, and you won’t have to see another hospital room for a long time. That’s what is really getting to you, isn’t it?”
She nodded, wiping her eyes on the sheet. “I just keep remembering. Oh, it was awful, Deacon. He was so still, so pale and he never, ever came back so I could say goodbye. I used to sleep next to him in that horrid bed, praying he’d wake up and tell me everything was all right.”
She snuggled next to him, sniffling. He felt her tears warm and wet on his hospital gown.
“Go home with Dino and rest. When the doctor comes by I’ll find out how soon they’ll cut me loose. Maybe I’ll get lucky and they will spring me tomorrow.”
“Oh, tomorrow! I completely forgot! Pete’s parents are coming in. What am I gonna do?”
“Call them, tell them to rent a car, and have Dino give them directions.”
“Have Dino give who directions to where?” Dino walked in the door just then, carrying another bag of food. “You already ate?”
“My fault, Dino. I went for a walk, and there it was like Mecca.”
“No problem, I’m starving. Mind?” He sat down and started to eat. “Who needs directions?”
“Oh, Pete’s folks are coming in tomorrow. I was going to go pick them up, but under the circumstances….”
“I’ll go, no problem.”
“I was just going to have them rent a car and drive up.”
“With Pete’s mom as intense as she is? Hell no, I’ll get them. She’d have Ev crazy before they got out of town. I can ignore her.”
“You won’t mind?”
“Not at all. People want a friendly face coming into town. It’s been a while since I saw them. Maybe I can help prepare them.”
“For seeing me, isn’t that what you mean, Dino?”
The older man nodded. “I have to admit, it was rather a shock to me. I honestly didn’t know what to think when I first saw you. I swear, I think you guys are brothers.”
“Kacy told me Pete was adopted, it’s very possible that we were.”
©2021 Dellani Oakes