Riley opened his eyes, but wasn’t sure where he was. He really felt out of it. What had happened? Had he really been dumb enough to go down Deadman’s?
He turned to roll out of bed and the instant soreness that screamed across every muscle in his body told him, “Yep, he really was that dumb.”
“Hey, don’t get up” Came a soothing voice he quickly recognized. Suzy was there. He looked around the two bed hospital room and saw her sitting next to him. Her face was dirty, but he could see the streaks from where she had been crying. Had she really been crying over him? Wow, and yes, he was now officially a jerk for making his best friend cry.
Suzy had been a friend of his for the last three years since his dad had moved them to the small town in the middle of nowhere. He didn’t have too many friends, most of them having all grown up together in a town that didn’t get many newcomers. Suzy, being another outside had quickly greeted him and welcomed him into the fold, though, sometimes he thought she did it more because she felt sorry for him.
Riley was just turning thirteen, and she was a year older than him. She should have been a grade ahead of him, but because her family moved around so much, had gotten held back a year, something she was not happy about. Her being older and in the same grade made her really tall for the class. Well that and her curly red hair and freckles always stood her out in pictures.
“How bad?” He said with a groan, lying back and wondering just how a person could bruise their butt as bad as his felt.
“Well, you broke your leg and knocked yourself out pretty good.”
Then she looked around before easing in close to him. He could smell her sweat, and knew it had to be the same day, though with how his head hurt, everything seemed fuzzy.
“They had to call your dad, get his permission to set the leg.”
“Yeah, he’s not here yet, but I over heard the doctor talking to him. He didn’t sound happy.”
“I bet, I was supposed to be home grounded.”
“You never told me that.”
“Yeah, if I had, would you have come out with me to take down the curve?”
“No, I would have knocked some sense into you.”
“Well, now you know why I never told ya.”
“Never-mind.” Riley said as he tried to reposition himself. He felt the weight of the cast now as he was becoming more awake, and also felt the twinge of pain the moment he tried to move his foot. He just couldn’t get himself comfortable, no matter how he moved, he could still feel everything aching. He finally noticed that much of the other leg and both his arms were heavily bandaged.
“What’s this?” He held up both his arms and nodded his head to them.
“You were skinned up pretty bad.”
“Great, so what did my dad say?”
“Well, he was pretty loud talking to the doctor, and pretty upset. Don’t think you have to worry about playing on your X-box anytime soon.”
“Well, he’ll be here after work sometime later tonight.”
“Okay, how long was I out?”
“About seven hours. You were knocked out pretty good, and then you started to come through during setting the leg, so they had to put one of those things on you that put back to sleep.” She pointed to the pouch that was hanging over Riley’s bed. He saw where there was a bandage on the back of his hand and he grimaced at the idea that they had used a needle on him. He really did not like needles. They were so small and pointy, and they pinched going in.
“Wow, really? And my dad’s still not here?”
“I figured he should be. My mom’s supposed to get here soon to pick me up. She wasn’t too happy that I rode with the ambulance guys.”
“So you left my board and your bike out there?”
“I put them off to the side of the road. I doubt anyone will take them.”
“Yeah, but if Chaz finds them, you know he’ll bust up the board. He’s been giving me grief over making it all summer.”
“Don’t worry about what he thinks.”
“About what who thinks?” His dad asked as he came into the room. His smartphone was pulled away from his ear, and the screen lit up that Riley could see his dad was still on the call. His dad nodded to him as he put his finger over the mic on the phone. “Hey, you okay?”
Riley nodded and his dad kissed him briefly on the forehead.
“I’ll be right back, I just have to finish this phone call.” His dad said and then stepped back into the hallway.
“Well, that set a record.” Riley said as he looked over at Suzy.
“Yeah, well, at least he said hello.”
“I think he just wanted to make sure I was awake so he could start in once he got off the phone.”
“Yeah, well, maybe I should go?”
“If you want. He probably won’t yell as much with you here.”
She shrugged, and he smiled at her.
“Okay, well, now that that’s out of the way.” Mr. Herman said as he walked back into the room, and Riley had to look up as his dad stood tall over him. His dad had to be imposing at work, as he was the district manager for the fast food place outside of town. He was always driving around the county, and was often getting phone calls. He must have had a bad enough day before arriving at the hospital as there were stains of sweat under his arms.
Mr. Herman scanned over his son, looking him up and down, that expression of disappointment obvious in his creased brow.
“You were supposed to be home, grounded.”
“If you know, then why weren’t you home? You’re thirteen, do I need to get you a baby sitter. I thought you’d be old enough to be left home alone.”
“That’s not an answer.”
Riley got where his dad was going. It wasn’t going to do him any good to answer, this was just going to keep going on. He was in trouble, he had no idea how bad this was going to get.
“Well, I talked to the doctors. You really did a bang up job. Looks like you’ll be home six weeks all on your own, no worry about you sneaking out.”
“What!?” Suzy and Riley were both surprised. Six weeks, that was after school started and he would miss the open try outs for basketball. Not that there weren’t enough open places on the team that anyone trying out would get accepted, but if you didn’t try out, you weren’t allowed on the team.
“Yep, and you can think twice about getting your X-box back any time soon. I might just sell it to pay for the hospital cost.”
“That’s not fair.”
“Really? How fair is it for me to pay for you breaking your leg and have to stay overnight in the hospital?”
“But-“ Riley started to protest, but then he realized what his dad had just said. That can’t be right. “Wait, stay overnight? Just for breaking my leg? Why not give me some crutches and get me out of here.”
“Well, that’s normally the case, but you broke your leg just right and they had to use anethsethia. They’ re also worried about a possible concussion. Oh you definitely took a nasty fall.”
This couldn’t be happening. Hospitals were creepy. They smelt funny. People died in hospitals, he was where people died. Someone could have died in this very bed. He squirmed some more in the bed, and his leg reminded him why he should’t be moving around with another stab of pain.
“Oh wow.” Riley said, easing back. He was starting to feel really really tired, and none of this was cool. He was kinda wishing his dad wasn’t there.
“I’ll hang out until my mom gets here, and she might let us stay a little longer.” Suzy said.
“Thank you,” Mr. Hermon said, his smile genuine as he nodded over his shoulder at her. “Your Aunt Nancy will be here in the morning to pick you up and get you home. I have to leave early as I have a store far out that I just fired the store manager, so I’ll be away for a few days.”
“Great.” Riley said, already imaging the large plump woman his father called Aunt Nancy lecturing him on his room not being clean. She never liked how his dirty clothes were in piles rather than making it into the hamper. Come on, who keeps their room spotless? It’s not like he kept half eaten food all over the place and spilled soda worked into the floor. Sure, that was last year, but he didn’t do that anymore. He’d learned. He had to battle a whole army battalion of ants after he’d done that, and so he’d learned his lesson.
Though there might still be that spot in the corner behind his bookcase, but come on, who ever looked back there. It was a great place to stash candy wrappers.
His dad must have picked up on his eagerness to be left alone with Aunt Nancy.
“Hey, she’d have to of come over anyways as I’ll probably be out of town for a few days. She’ll be able to help you get around.” His dad was already checking his phone, looking at the time and if Riley was right, he was planning his escape. “You know, she broke her leg when she was a kid. She’ll probably be able to show you how to use those.” Riley’s dad nodded to the crutches already leaning against the bed’s nightstand.
Yeah, like he really needed to be shown how to use one of those by her. He’d figure it out on his own, it didn’t look too difficult.
“Okay, well, I gotta run.” His dad was already half way to the door when another woman Riley recognized and quickly smiled to greet her. Suzy’s mom was great, and he often wished he had her rather than the always gone dad he was stuck with. Just seeing her there in her loose blouse top and jeans made him think of freshly cooked chocolate chip cookies. She was always making them, or so it seemed and just seeing her made him imagine the smell. Maybe that was why he smiled so much around her.
“Hey,” his dad said, moving to hurry around her, “gotta run.” Then he was gone, leaving a surprised mother and daughter standing by the door.
“Boy, he was sure in a hurry.”
“Yep, always is.”