I neither flinched nor looked concerned, and I didn’t care that his face was so close to mine, apart from his retched breath. Because I was the perfect distraction while my colleagues got ready to fill his veins with enough sedative to knock down a horse.
“I hate to break it to you, sunshine, but if you knew where I came from then you wouldn’t even bother with this intimidation shit,” I said, making sure I held his attention. To my left, one of the paramedics was able to get a line in and anesthetize him with some serious knock-out juice, and less than ten seconds later, Prince Charming was down for the count and being prepped for surgery.
On my way to wash up, Karen, one of the ER nurses, stopped me. “Dr. Parrish, you have a phone call. Line three.”
“I’m just heading into surgery.”
“They say it’s urgent.”
I nodded at her and thanked her. Thinking I could make it quick, I made my way toward the administration station where my best friend Trinity caught up with me.
“Hey, are we still on for tonight?” she asked, rushing by, one hand full of patient files, while the other held a half-eaten, iced donut.
“Of course. What do you want to do?” I asked as I headed toward the nearest phone. “Quiet drinks somewhere, or is this going to be an all-night thing?”
Trinity pulled a face. “Honey, I gave up the all-night thing back when Bieber didn’t need to shave. Let’s just grab a few quiet drinks and see what happens.”
I laughed. “Sounds like a plan,” and then picking up the phone, said, “Doctor Parrish.”
There was a bit of a pause, and for a moment I wondered if the call had dropped out. But then I heard her—the familiar voice of my mom.
And she was crying.
My body stiffened. “Mom, what’s wrong?”
“It’s your father, Indy,” she sobbed. “He goddamn went and died on us.”
For a moment, I said nothing. I hadn’t been expecting the phone call and I certainly hadn’t been expecting the news. Actually, that wasn’t exactly true. My father was on the wrong side of fifty, overweight, and he smoked and drank like he was a goddamn immortal. It was only a matter of time before his stupid-ass lifestyle took him out.
I nodded silently and fiddled with the phone cord in my hands.
Damn it, Daddy.
“Why do I have to play with her? She’s a stupid girl!”
I smashed the two toy trucks together because I was so mad.
“Because I am your mama, and you do what your mama says,” my mama said, putting her hands on her hips and fixing me with one of her looks.
“No buts, Cade Calley.”
I smashed my toy trucks together again. Angry. I didn’t want to play with our new neighbor’s little girl. But this morning mama told me we were looking after her because her parents had to go to work, or something. Her mama baked cakes for money and her daddy was in the same motorcycle club my daddy was in, The Kings of Mayhem. That meant I didn’t get to go with daddy’s friend, Freebird, to his family farm out near Walton Grove. He helped out there during the week, looking after the animals and stuff. And on Mondays I got to go with him. I got to play with the goats and baby pigs, and sometimes Freebird would let me feed the horses, too, and let me ride with him on the quad bike when he had to fix some of the fences down by the creek. Mondays were my favorite because I loved the farm. But now we had to look after the stupid new girl next door and I couldn’t go.
Mama knelt down next to me. She’s real pretty, but when she gets mad she gets a fire in her eyes and a look on her face that is still pretty, but scary at the same time. Our daddy was a big, powerful man, but our mama, she could stop a train with one look.
“Now, Cade, you need to be nice to little Indigo Blue,” she said. “She is new to town. She doesn’t know anyone. And she’ll be starting school with you next week, so it will be nice for her to have a friend when she does.”
Mama said our neighbors had moved here from Humphrey, which is the next town over. It’s bigger than Destiny.
“You could be her best friend,” she explained. Mama’s eyes were real blue. Like bright blue stones. “Everyone needs a best friend.”
“What’s a best friend?”
My mama thought for a moment.
“It’s that one friend you can always rely on to be there for you. The bestest of all your friends.”
“Like Batman and Robin?”
Batman was a superhero. Robin was his friend who helped him.
Mama pointed to my Batman bedspread and winked. “Just like Batman.”