“Can I go to bed now?” Danny asked, stifling a yawn.
“First you have to talk to the detectives,” I said, taking his hand in mine. “Then you can go to bed. Ok?”
“Can I have a snack before I sleep?” I hesitated because I knew it wasn’t good to eat before sleeping. However, who knew how long it’d been since he’d been fed?
“Sure, baby.” I took Danny out to the living room, but neither Martinez nor Daily were there. I had a hunch they were looking around for clues to Kayla’s kidnapping. “Detective Martinez?” I called out. “Detective Daily? We’re ready for you.” A minute later, the two of them came hurrying into the living room.
“Danny, we’re going to have to ask you some hard questions about what happened,” Martinez said, motioning for Danny to sit on the couch. Danny pulled me down with him, which didn’t please Daily.
“So you can help find my mommy?” Danny asked, clutching my hand. Daily shot me an annoyed look, but I met her eyes defiantly. I wasn’t going to sugarcoat the truth to a boy who’d gone through so much. Sure, I hadn’t told him everything, but he had a right to know the basics.
“Perhaps Ms. Hsu can wait in the kitchen,” Daily said through gritted teeth. So much for our budding friendship.
“I want Auntie with me!” Danny said, his voice shrill.
“I’ll tell you what,” I said, trying to calm the rising storm. “Why don’t I go into the kitchen and make tea and find some food? You can have ten minutes alone with Danny, but then I come back. What do you say?” The question was ostensibly directed at Daily, but it was more for Danny than the cops.
“Can I have some cookies?” Danny asked in a small voice, squeezing my hand hard.
“Sure. Milk and cookies,” I said, hoping there was unspoiled milk in the fridge.
“I’ll take coffee,” Martinez said, pulling out his notebook.
“Herbal tea,” Daily said grudgingly. I must have looked surprise because she added, “Doctor’s order. I have to lay off the caffeine.” It figured. I nodded and trotted into the kitchen to see what I could dig up. I found the coffee machine and the coffee, so I started it perking. Kayla did, indeed, have herbal tea, so I started a pot of water boiling because I couldn’t find a kettle. I rummaged through the cupboards and found a package of Oreos which seemed to be ok. I silently thanked God when I found a carton of 2% milk which seemed drinkable. I washed out a sippy cup I found by the sink and poured the milk into that. Then, I loaded a plate with Oreos. Oh, I knew I shouldn’t give the boy too much sugar, but I didn’t care right now. He needed something sweet in his life, and it might as well be the chocolaty goodness of Oreos.
Once the coffee was done brewing, I poured a cup for Martinez. I made Daily a cup of peppermint tea to give her energy, but I didn’t put sugar in it. For me, I added sugar and milk to my cup of black tea. I liked milk tea best of any hot beverage, especially the packets from Taiwan. However, my parents didn’t go back often, so I made do with milk and black tea. I was surprised Kayla had tea at all, but it’s pretty popular these days.
I was suddenly hungry, but there was nothing in Kayla’s kitchen that I would dare eat except for the cookies. I resigned myself to gorging on Oreos while feeling my ass grow exponentially bigger. I dismissed the worry by reminding myself that it was just once and that I was going to hop back on that exercise train as soon as this thing was all over. I gathered the goodies together and placed them on a tray. Feeling like a Latina maid except I wasn’t a Latina, I walked out into the living room where Danny was talking in a very small voice. I waited for him to finish so I wouldn’t interrupt his flow. Once he was through with what he was saying, I went around and handed people their beverages. I had remembered that Martinez took his coffee black which earned a smile from him. Daily grimaced as she drank her tea, but she didn’t add any of the sugar I’d brought out with me. My guess was that she was trying to lose a few pounds as well, a guess which was substantiated by the longing glances she threw at the Oreos.
“Ok, Danny. Is there anything else you can tell us?” Martinez asked, reaching for a cookie.
“Another man came visiting once,” Danny offered, munching on an Oreo himself. “Uncle Jimmy had left the closet door open, so I could see what was going on. He did that sometimes when it was just us two.” He fell silent as he drank his milk. When he saw that all three of us were looking at him, he continued. “Uncle Jimmy called the man Alex, and they were yelling at each other.”
“When was this, Danny?” Daily asked, leaning forward. Apparently, she’d been too aggressive because Danny retreated into his sippy cup again. We waited impatiently for him to answer.
“Yesterday, I think. Not sure. They mentioned my mommy.” That was all Danny had to say on the subject, no matter how many questions the detectives asked him. Finally, Martinez stood up, motioning for Daily to follow suit.
“Scarlett, we may have more questions for him later,” Martinez said in a low voice. Danny was falling asleep in his sippy cup. “Are you going to take care of him for now?” I nodded. What else could I say?
Martinez and Daily had to go, but I made them wait for me to gather some of Danny’s belongings. I needed someone to take me to the hospital, and they were it. I could have called for a cab, but I was saving that for the ride home. Or to the club to get Matt’s car. No, that would have to wait until later. I spotted Danny’s car seat and grabbed it as well. When I had everything I thought I needed, I woke Danny. Needless to say, it took a few minutes to calm him down and to reassure him that he was safe. He didn’t want to leave his house, but he obeyed like a trooper. I got him fastened into his car seat in the back of Martinez’s car, and we were off to the hospital. Danny wanted to go straight to my place so he could sleep, but he also wanted to see Matt. There really wasn’t any question of what we were going to do, however, as I had to see Matt tonight. Or rather, this morning. It was the wee hours of the morning, and I was dead-tired.
“I’ll see you tonight?” Martinez asked, crooking his eyebrow at me as he dropped me and Danny off at the hospital. “Don’t worry if you have to cancel. Believe me, I’ll understand.”
“I’ll be there,” I said fiercely, gathering Danny’s stuff in my arms. “Even if I have to bring Danny with me.”
I watched as Martinez drove away, feeling oddly bereft. I stood there like a stone, until Danny tugged on my sleeve to get me going. I managed to grab his hand by giving him his bag to carry. We went up to the ER where Matt was still in surgery. By this time, I was carrying Danny as he was almost falling asleep. I was at odds as to what to do because Danny needed to sleep, but I needed to be with Matt. He was so dear to me, and it was indirectly my fault that he was in this condition. Oh, I knew it wasn’t really, but I felt as if it were. I tried to flag down a passing doctor, but none would tell me a thing. I wondered if they were generally that cantankerous or if it was the time or the fact that I wasn’t related to Matt. Whatever it was, it was pissing me off.
“Excuse me,” I said in a loud voice at the Information desk. “I need to know what’s the prognosis with Mr. Reynolds. I’m tired; I have a frightened child with me, and I’m about to cause a scene if somebody doesn’t tell me something.” The nurse behind the desk—a pretty little thing who didn’t look as if she was old enough to drive, let alone deal with irate people—looked sharply at me but didn’t hand me my hat. She could probably see that I was near the breaking point because she kindly called a doctor down to talk to me.
Dr. Wu wasn’t much better because he was reluctant to tell anything to somebody who wasn’t family. In addition, he didn’t think he should prognosticate when Matt was still in surgery, but I managed to pry it out of him that no vital organs had been hit. There were a few really deep cuts, but the rest were mostly flesh wounds. Yes, he did have a concussion, but that was the least of his worries. Dr. Wu thought Matt would be in the surgery for at least another hour, and he would be out of it when it was over, anyway, so I might as well go home. When I verified that there was no chance Matt would be conscious in the next eight hours or so, Danny and I left the hospital. I called the cab and made him take us to the club. I decided to get the car now.
On the way back to my apartment from the club, Danny snoozed in his seat in the back. My eyelids were drooping from exhaustion, and I had to open a window to try to stay awake. It was a good thing there were very few cars on the streets this time of night because I kept veering into the lane next to me. It would be just my luck to be stopped by the cops with me in this mood. There was no telling what I’d do or say if I got pulled over. Most likely, I’d make an ass out of myself and toss Martinez’s name like that was my get-out-of-jail free card. I didn’t think he’d be pleased with me using his name to get out of a ticket, so it was a good thing I made it home without incident.
“Come on, baby,” I said to Danny, gently shaking him awake. He didn’t want to get up, but he finally opened his eyes. There was a look of alarm in them until he realized that he was safe, and then he didn’t want to let go of me which made it difficult for me to gather his gear and lock up my car.
“Can I sleep with you?” Danny asked, clinging to my neck. I didn’t have the heart to turn him down even though that would mean a night of no-sleep for me. I never slept well when there was someone next to me—unless I’d been sleeping with that person for a long time. By that time, I usually broke up with the person which meant that I had to start over again with the next.
I put Danny in his jammies and took him to the bathroom to get ready to go to bed. He was so tired, he didn’t protest about having to brush his teeth or wash his face. I tucked him in and promised that I would stay with him until he fell asleep. He wanted me to sing him a song. I couldn’t think of a lullaby, so I sang him, ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ which had the cadence of a lullaby. I didn’t even make it through one verse before his eyelids dropped. I snuck out of the room and got ready for bed myself. Even though it was almost five in the morning, I had to go through my bedtime ritual if I was to have any hope of falling asleep.
As I was brushing my teeth, I had a flash of Kayla on her knees, her mouth open. As there was an erect penis in front of her, it was clear what she was doing. By the look on her face, however, it didn’t appear to be against her will. In fact, she had a big smile on her face, which caused me to stop brushing my teeth. The last time I ‘saw’ her, she was in severe distress. Now, she was happy and not so healthy, and not incredibly wise. Had her dealer made a deal with her? Was she drugged? I couldn’t figure out why she’d be so happy, especially as she didn’t know Danny was safe. What if my mother was right and Kayla never really gave a damn about her son? It still didn’t explain what the hell was going on with her right now.
The scene panned upwards, showing a man with huge hands holding Kayla’s head. I didn’t recognize him, but I recognized the man sitting in a chair behind the man being fellated. It was the man who’d killed the other woman—Alexander, I presumed. He had a gun in his hand which he was idly playing with. He was watching the scene with a blank face, but I had the feeling that he was excited by what he was witnessing. He didn’t blink or move except to play with his gun, but I could tell he was tensing his muscles as the other guy came close to coming. I blinked myself, and the picture disappeared. I was holding onto the sink fixture, my toothbrush hanging loosely from my mouth. I finished brushing my teeth before going to bed. I was careful to avoid waking Danny as I crawled into bed. Unconsciousness hit me immediately, and I gratefully surrendered to it.