Chapter Two: Ashe
He sat on the floor next to his father, holding his hand. "I'm right here, Dad," he said, squeezing Kino's hand gently. Thank the gods it was winter. The trailer would have been broiling by this time in the afternoon on a hot Southern Arizona summer day.
He looked around, wondering who the hell had done this to Kino and their place, and why. They lived a quiet life. They bothered no one, and had no enemies to speak of. But it looked like whoever had done this had been searching for something.
For what? They owned nothing worth stealing. If there had been anything with value, his father would have sold it off years ago. Ashe had managed to save up a little money, but he kept that hidden, buried out back in an old coffee can, under a cholla cactus.
Had his father been a target? Or had he just gotten in the way when his assailants had broken into the trailer?
The siren sound silenced. They must have been making their way up Brewery Lane now—with any luck, they'd be there in another minute or two. Ashe lifted his father's head gently and grabbed one of his pillows to place under it. "I'll be right back, Dad," he said, and went to meet the EMTs.
He moved his bike out of the way and set his pack next to the trailer. A moment later, the rig pulled into the gravel drive. A man and woman from Southern Arizona Emergency Transport jumped out.
"Where's the patient?" the man asked. He was young and clean-cut, with that military look about him.
"Inside. In the bedroom. It's my father…"
But the man was already past him and up the stairs, and the woman, a stocky blonde, flawed him an apologetic smile as she followed.
Ashe found them in the bedroom with his father.
"Hello, sir, my name is Drake," the man said, checking Kino's pulse. "Can you hear me?"
Kino's eyes blinked, but he made no other sign.
"Subject seems mostly non-responsive," Drake said. "What's his name, sir?" He looked up at Ashe.
"Kino. Kinan. Kinan Heyoka."
The woman looked up. "Plains Indian?"
"Native American. Yes. How did you know?"
"My girlfriend is part Dakota." She reached out a hand. "I'm Avery. So what happened to your father here?"
He shook his head. "I don't know. I came home from work and the place was a mess. Robbery, maybe? Is he in pain?"
She put a hand on his father's forehead and concentrated. "Only a little. I can draw it out of him." Her brow furrowed, and her hand began to glow.
Ashe raised an eyebrow.
"Little trick that runs in my family."
"Handy for an EMT."
She nodded with a little smile.
Drake was listening to his father's chest. "Kino may have a punctured lung, and his leg is broken."
"I'd guessed that."
"We're going to take him down to Copper Queen hospital—he needs to be seen by a doctor to assess the extent of his injuries."
"Okay… can I ride along?"
Drake shook his head. "I'm sorry, sir. That's not allowed. But you can follow behind the rig. Avery, help me with the stretcher?" Avery touched his shoulder gently as she went by.
"These emergency techs are going to take you to the hospital, Dad," Ashe said, kneeling next to his father. "I'll be following right behind." He knelt down to kiss Kino on the forehead.
The EMTs were back. Ashe let Drake edge him out of the way. They slid his father's body carefully onto a folding stretcher, then carried him out and down to the gravel driveway and up into the waiting ambulance.
Ashe watched them go. Then he went back inside with his pack to gather a few things. Who knew how long he'd have to stay at the hospital? He grabbed his Dad's old military duffel bag and stuffed in a couple changes of clothing, his toiletries, and some dried jerky, along with one of the sandwiches he'd bought at Circle K. He wolfed down the other one.
Then he went around back and checked his emergency money stash. The spot where he'd buried the can was undisturbed. He dug it up and pried it open--it was full of bronze scales, with a few silver talons and one gold draken. Not a lot, really, but he might need it. He put that into the duffel too.
Then he closed the door. The lock had been forced open, so it wouldn't lock anymore. Nothing to do for it. He'd come back up later or tomorrow and change the lock and clean up the place a bit.
He didn't dare call the police. There was enough attention on the two of them already.
He climbed on the bike and started back into town toward the hospital.
* * * * *
It was about 1:30 in the morning when the doctor finally came in to talk with him. They'd re-set his father's leg, and had wrapped it in a temporary cast.
"Mister… Heyoka?" The doctor said, entering the room. He was a kobold, about half as tall as Ashe, his gnarled hands wrapped around a clipboard.
Ashe's father was unconscious in the bed next to him, the beep beep beeping of the heart monitor the only other sound.
"Ashe." He stood to shake the doctor's hand. "How is he?"
The doctor looked at his notes. "His leg will heal—it was a clean break. But there's also some internal bleeding in his chest. We haven't been able to track the source of that down. I want him to see a specialist at the University."
"Yes. We're sending him up tonight."
His ex, Jaxx, worked up there. "Doctor…"
"Jepson. Did you have a question?"
"Doctor Jepson. We don't have any insurance. My Dad doesn't work, and I have a job up at Silver Hand Ranch. It pays all right, but…"
The man patted him on the hand. "Don't worry about that right now. We'll deal with it later. For now, we need to deal with your father's condition."
He wasn't sure his old bike was up to the trip. "Can I ride along?"
"Sorry, son. The ambulance company doesn't allow it. But Tucson's not that far. Just eighty miles."
Just eighty miles. Might as well have been across the ocean.