Chapter Seven: Ashe
Kinan Heyoka had been given a semi-private room on the third floor of the University Medical Center. His window looked out over a small greenbelt just west of the hospital, away from the busier east side that faced Campbell Ave.
Ashe's father was in the bed closest to the window. An old goblin woman was hooked up to a respirator in the other bed, looking small and frail amidst the sea of white hospital linens around her.
One of the nurses, Rosalind, showed Ashe into the room. He stood there, looking at his father's unconscious form. The nurse said he hadn't yet awoken. Kino looked almost as small and frail as the goblin woman to Ashe.
The sun was just setting over the Tucson Mountains in the distance, the last rays lining the scattered clouds with a golden glow.
Dr. Garcia, the specialist who had been assigned to his father's care, had promised to stop by later to talk to him.
Ashe sat down in the chair next to his father's bed, taking the man's hand in his. Kino's skin was wrinkled and weathered, like the desert itself where he'd lived these last three years, speckled with age spots that marked the years he'd seen. "I'm here, Dad," Ashe said, touching his father's cheek with the back of his free hand. The skin was cool to his touch.
He glanced at the heart rate monitor. It continued its steady beep, no quickening of his father's pulse to indicate that his father had noticed his presence.
Ashe felt exhausted. He'd been on the run, one way or another, since the day before, and he'd only managed a few hours of sleep at the Copper Queen Hospital in Bisbee. He needed rest. He slumped down in the seat and closed his eyes, the steady beeping of the machinery lulling him to sleep.
Ashe sat on the edge of the bed, kicking his feet against the mattress. His father was getting dressed, ready to go off to work at his new job at Fort Sill, the Oklahoma army base where they now lived.
Kinan was tall, clean-cut, handsome.
"Turn around." Nancy, Ashe's mother, looked his father's dress uniform over from top to bottom. "Your collar's a little funny. Come here." She straightened it out with the ease of long practice.
"Better?" Kinan winked at his son. Ashe winked back.
She dusted off his shoulders. "You're perfect. Now go knock 'em dead."
"Better not," Ashe's father said with a laugh. "They might throw me in the stockade, and then who would keep you in such fine style?"
"You know what I mean." She gave him a quick peck on the cheek. "Now hurry. You don't want to be late on your first day here."
"Yes dear." Kinan knelt before his son. "You be good for your mother today," he said, giving Ashe a hug. "I don't want any burned rugs when I get home."
Ashe nodded. "I will, daddy."
Kinan kissed him on the forehead, and then he was gone.
Ashe stirred awake, his muscles cramped and uncomfortable from sleeping in the chair. He glanced up at the clock on the wall. It was half past midnight, and the doctor was still AWOL.
Kino still lay there, at peace, breathing steadily as if he were just asleep.
Things between him and his father had been different, once. When his mother had still been with them, Kino had been warm and full of life. He'd come home every day with open arms for his only son and a smile on his face.
He was nothing like the man Ashe knew now, but after his meltdown in the rain, Ashe had an inkling what had changed him.
Nurse Rosalind popped in to check on Kino. She looked over the chart and the equipment, and put a hand on his forehead.
"He seems cold to me," Ashe said, glancing worriedly at him.
"I can bring an extra blanket for him, if you like."
"That would be nice. Thank you."
"You should go get some sleep somewhere more comfortable than a hospital chair. Not much you can do here." She rearranged the sheets and fluffed the pillow.
"I was waiting for Dr. Garcia."
"He went home hours ago. He'll be back at 10 AM." She made a few notations on his father's chart. "Do you have a place to stay?"
He nodded. "The Econo Lodge."
"Off with you, then. He'll be here waiting for you in the morning."
Ashe gave her a dubious look. He was tired. And he'd be no good to anyone if he didn't get some real sleep. "Can you call me if anything changes?"
She nodded. "What's your number?"
"I don't have one. Name's Ashe… Ashe Heyoka."
"Just like your father?"
He nodded. "At the Econo Lodge on Speedway."
"Got it. I'm here until 8 AM. Don't worry—I'll call you if anything changes."
Ashe left the hospital and rode his bike back to the motel. A group of University students was drinking in the parking lot, and someone was apparently having an orgy in the next room, but Ashe didn't care. He lay down on the old, creaky bed, pulled the covers over himself, and was dead to the world in less than a minute.
* * * * *
Bam bam bam.
Ashe opened his eyes, staring blearily at the clock. It was 7:30 in the morning.
Bam bam bam.
"Who is it?" he said, feeling cranky. It had felt so good to sleep.
"Ashe Heyoka?" a woman's voice said.
"You have a message."
His father. Ashe was out of bed and across the room like a hell hound. He pulled the door open to find a young hispanic woman in a maid's outfit.
"For you." She handed him a piece of paper and turned away to leave.
He looked at it. Father awake. Come to hospital. Rosalind.
He took a quick shower and was out the door in five minutes, the feathers on his head still dripping wet.