“Lyle, honey, we’re here.” I tap him gently on the shoulder, not wanting to disturb him. He looks up, his eyes blank.
“Hi,” Lyle says bleakly, not even attempting to smile. He struggles to stand up, finally hauling himself off his ass. “Mrs. Jenson.” He holds out his hand to Mrs. Jenson, who steadfastly ignores it. Lyle lets his hand drop back to his side, then sits down again.
“How’s our boy?” Even though I know Lyle would call me if anything changes, I can’t stop myself from asking.
“No change. He’s resting,” Lyle shrugs. “No one is allowed to see him.”
“We’ll see about that.” Mrs. Jenson purses her lips as she strides towards the nurses’ station. We watch as she gestures broadly to the attending nurse, a large, black woman with a shorn head and a weary look on her face. Mrs. Jenson’s face is etched with distaste as she gestures; the nurse is equally terse in her response.
“Ten to one she gets in to see Paris,” I whisper out of the side of my mouth, eliciting a wan smile from Lyle.
“That’s a sucker bet if I ever heard one,” he shoots back, his smile wobbling. “I’d never bet against Mrs. Jenson getting whatever she wanted.” Except her daughter alive. Except her son not being in love with a man. Perhaps Mrs. Jenson is not so lucky after all. Mrs. Jenson is still arguing with the nurse when a tired-looking doctor strides over towards them. He is tall and cadaverous thin, with round spectacles and a brisk manner. After listening to Mrs. Jenson for a few minutes, he says a sentence or two that seems to satisfy her. Within minutes, she returns to where Lyle and I are watching her.
“That takes care of that,” she says in satisfaction. “Watch my purse. I’ll be right back.” She hands her oversized purse to me, then follows the waiting doctor.
I try to convince Lyle to go home for a few minutes so he can eat, shower, and nap. He digs in his heels, not wanting to leave Paris. He points out that he is the only one with a vehicle as well, and what would I and Mrs. Jenson do without his services? I can call Vashti or my mother or hail a cab. He needs to take care of himself, I say firmly. He is adamant, however, about not leaving Paris to the mercies of a killer. He scowls at me before plunking back into his seat. He’s sobbing again, and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. I sit next to him and pull him to me. He is stiff in my arms, but at least he allows me to pat him on the back.