Chapter Eight: Ashe
It was best to keep his expectations low.
He burst out of the stairwell, startling one of the nurses. He apologized and took a deep breath to calm himself, running his hand through his feather hair. Then he walked down the hall to his father’s room.
The Doctor was there, standing over the bed with nurse Rosalind. She saw him come in and smiled warmly. Ashe looked at his father.
“Hey kid,” Kino said, and a shudder went through Ashe’s body. He was at the bedside in an instant, putting his arms around his dad.
“Careful there. I’m still tender.” Kino patted him on the back, and it was like he was five years old again and his happy father had returned.
He sat up, looking Kino over. “You feel okay?” he asked, looking up at the doctor.
“Yeah. I’m really sore where the bastards kicked me.” He shifted in bed and grunted. “And the doc tells me I won’t be walking for a bit.”
Ashe turned to the man in the white coat. “I’m Ashe, Kino’s son. Is he really all right?”
“Dr. Garcia. Your father took quite a beating. He assured us you had nothing to do with it?” The doctor looked at him over the rim of his glasses, as if he wasn’t so sure.
“I came home and found him like that.” He bristled at the insinuation. “I would never lay a hand on my father.”
“Well, someone did, from the looks of things. The other hospital…” he flipped through the chart, “Copper Queen, they re-set the leg. It was a clean break, so we’ll get a cast put on it. But I’m more concerned about that internal bleed, Mister Heyoka."
“He’s still bleeding?” Ashe asked.
“Yes. His liver was lacerated in the attack. We need to go in and stitch it up, or it could become problematic.”
“Problematic?” Kino asked.
“If left untreated, your father might lose a lot of blood.”
“When can we get him in for the surgery?” Ashe was no longer feeling relieved.
“I’ve scheduled him for this afternoon.” He checked the chart again. “There is one more thing. He’s at a fairly high risk for a stroke. Injuries like this can result in blood coagulating, which can throw off clots, but we can’t give him a blood thinner until we resolve the laceration issue with his liver.”
Ashe swallowed, hard. “Let’s get him taken care of as soon as we can, then.” He squeezed his father’s hand gently.
“Don’t worry, son. We’ll take care of your father the best we can.” Dr. Garcia clapped him on the shoulder and left the room, but the nurse stayed behind.
The best we can. “Thanks for calling me,” he said to her. “Dad, did you understand all of that?”
Kino nodded. “Son, I need to tell you something…”
“Just a minute, dad. I need to tell nurse Rosalind something.” He gently squeezed his father’s shoulder. “I’ll be right back.”
Kino nodded and closed his eyes.
Rosalind followed him out into the hall. “What did you want to discuss?” She had a kind face. Ashe had felt immediately comfortable with her.
He decided he trusted her. “We can’t pay for this—I have no savings. They won’t kick him out if they find out, will they?” He tried to keep the anxiety out of his voice.
“He has a life threatening injury. The hospital has to help your father. If they ask about your insurance, just tell them the truth. That you have none, and that you can’t afford it. They’ll work out the financial issues later.”
That’s what I’m worried about. The most important thing right now was to make sure his father got the surgery. He’d cross the money bridge later. “Thank you.”
She gave him an impromptu hug. “Just be there with him for now.”
He reentered the room his father shared with the goblin woman. She was still unconscious. He wondered how long she had been here, and if her family ever came to visit.
He pulled up a chair next to his father and took his hand. “I was so scared that I’d lost you.”
“Me too.” Kino’s voice was raspy, but he chuckled a little at his own joke.
“When I found you laying on the ground in the trailer…” He squeezed his fists so hard that his nails bit into his palms “Who did this to you?”
Kino mentioned for him to come closer. He leaned in to hear what his father had to say, being careful not to touch his side where he’d been bruised. “There were three men, all dressed in black.”
Kino shook his head. “Government. Maybe. They wanted my key.”
Ashe sighed. He very much doubted that anyone from the government would have any interest in him or his father. “Dad, come on, it was probably just a couple of thugs looking for coin.”
“Okay, three thugs. What did they look like?”
“I… I don’t remember.”
“Did they wear masks?”
“No. They were… their faces were fuzzy.” He took Ashe’s hand in his own, his grip surprisingly strong. “They wanted the key.”
“It’s in the bag.” His eyes closed, and in seconds he was asleep again, snoring.
Poor guy. The attack had taken a lot out of him. The fire in his spirit seemed to be gone.
He sat back, and rearranged the sheet and blanket over his father’s sleeping form.
The key. He got up and went to look for his father’s personal items. He found a plastic bag filled with his clothing and shoes, stuffed into a cabinet on the far wall from the bed.
He opened it, and went through the items inside. There was a pair of pants, a t-shirt, the tennis shoes his father had taken to wearing of late with a pair of athletic socks. His wallet, and his pocket knife.
There was no key.
Ashe sighed. Maybe Kino was just confused. He couldn’t remember what his attackers had looked like, after all. Maybe he’d remember more with a little rest.
Ashe settled into the chair next to his father, who was now snoring loudly.
Nothing left to do but wait.