They hung up simultaneously. Deacon settled back, trying to think. His breakfast tray had come in while he was on the phone, but he hardly noticed.
Karmina came in to collect the untouched tray and stopped just inside the door. “You okay, skinny boy?”
Deacon forced a smile. “Yes, ma’am, I’m okay. Thank you for the care package, it was fantastic.”
“You have become my own personal project. I’m gonna get meat on you before you leave this place if it kills us both!” Chuckling, she went to take the tray. Wrinkling her nose, she sniffed the tray, then sniffed carefully near Deacon. “You are one smelly fella, and that’s for sure! We need to get you a bath! You sit tight, I’ll take care of this.”
“I don’t get one of those nasty sponge bath things, do I?”
“I’ll have the nurse check doctor’s orders, but I think you’ll be able to take a shower. The bathrooms on this floor are built to accommodate chairs and walkers. Since you aren’t in a cast, just stapled and pinned, I think you’ll be okay.”
“Thanks, Karmina, I appreciate it.”
“Don’t worry about thanking me! I am doing this for my own self-preservation! Besides, can’t be scaring off that pretty bride of yours, can you? She gets one whiff of you, she’ll divorce you!”
Deacon’s chuckle followed her out the door and down the hall. A few minutes later she was back with an orderly to get Deacon cleaned up.
“You want to shave?” The orderly, a muscular white man about Deacon’s own age offered to help him. Deacon scratched the stubble.
“Does it look bad?”
The orderly held up a mirror and Deacon saw himself for the first time in days. He was pale, his skin drawn tightly over his features with pain and worry. The growth of beard on his chin aged him about ten years. The face gazing back at him looked like a hollow eyed old man.
“God, I look like death on a hot plate!”
“That’s a new one. I like that.”
“Feel free to use it.”
The orderly chuckled. He had white, even teeth, and a build like Mr. Clean. He sported three earrings per ear and admired Deacon’s plugs.
Steve, the orderly, ended up shaving Deacon, whose hands wavered so much, he was afraid he was going to cut his own nose off. Afterwards, he felt much better and got back into the bed mostly under his own power.
Kacy came in a little before ten, looking haggard and wan. Her smile was warm and welcoming as she came over to the bed, bending over to kiss him deeply.
“You look fantastic, good morning,” Deacon said softly.
“I look dreadful. My mum always says, Well, you’re no oil painting, but you’ll do. I feel that way today.”
“Dino told me what happened. Are you all right?”
“Spooked as hell, but otherwise hale and hardy. I’ve Pete’s folks with me. They’re in the waiting room down the hall, and will understand if you don’t want to see them.”
“Did you tell them about me and Pete?”
“How about you and me?”
Another nod. “It all burbled out when we got home, and discovered the break in. I’m afraid I was rather hysterical. Nancy seemed pretty understanding. I’m not overly sure of Everett. He and Pete were so close.” She hung her head, seemingly ashamed of herself.
“I’m glad you told them. I couldn’t have pretended not to love you. I don’t think I could have kept my hands sedately to myself, either.” He tickled her, holding her closely so she couldn’t get away from him.
“Oh, Deacon, I am too! Let me go get them, they’re probably wondering what’s keeping me.” She hopped up, moving quickly toward the door.
A few minutes later, she came in with a couple who looked to be in their late fifties or early sixties. The woman was pale, and had once been a great beauty, which had faded only slightly over the years. Deacon thought that her son’s ordeal had probably weighed heavily on her, aging her prematurely. The man was robust and dark haired, handsome in a severe and intimidating way. He wore a mustache and Van Dyke beard. It was shot with gray and an attractive blaze of gray adorned each temple.
With a gasp, the woman stopped inside the door, apparently frozen to the spot, her hand to her throat, face going even more pale. Her eyes were dark brown, in sharp contrast to her pale blonde hair.
“Oh, my God, Everett, she wasn’t exaggerating!” She burst into tears, holding her husband in a clumsy embrace. “For a moment, I thought it was Peter.”
The man looked equally taken aback, but determined not to make a scene. He led his wife further into the room so that the door could shut. Kacy led them to the chairs next to the bed and perched on the side facing them, Deacon’s hand in hers. There was an uncomfortable pause finally broken by the woman.
“Please forgive us, young man,” she began.
Kacy interrupted, “Deacon, Mom.”
©2021 Dellani Oakes