“Blood. Katie’s blood!” Nick awoke from another blood-drenched nightmare to two nurses struggling to pin down his arms. A plump young nurse stared, her eyes wide. The older woman had smooth mahogany skin and spoke in a crisp, firm voice. “Calm yourself, Mr. Teravelli. There’s no blood. You’re fine.”
He wrenched his arm free from the plump nurse’s grasp and rubbed his hand across his chest. His gown was soaked.
“It’s water,” the older nurse said. “You spilled a cup of ice chips on yourself in your sleep.” She gripped his arm and slowly guided it downward onto the bed. “It’s all right.”
He peered down at his blue and white printed gown. Wet, but not blood.
“We’re going to change your bandage and get you into a dry gown. Are you calm now?”
Nick nodded and leaned back against the pillows. The round-faced young nurse stood back from the bed watching him while the tall black nurse left the room. She returned a few moments later with a short, dark-haired man in a white coat.
“Good morning, I’m Doctor Patel. Let’s take a peek at your wound.” The doctor leaned and inspected Nick’s side as the nurse removed the bandage. “It’s healing well.” He moved to the head of the bed and made notes on the clipboard while the nurse cleaned and re-bandaged the wound.
“Do you have pain?” the doctor asked.
“Doesn’t matter,” Nick mumbled.
“Keep him on the pain meds. Get him up in a chair when you’re done, Nurse. Later on, try a short walk down the hall. The sooner you’re up and moving, the sooner you’ll heal.” With a curt nod, the doctor left the room.
The two nurses helped Nick into a padded, vinyl chair and changed his gown. The young nurse took the wet gown and hurried out the door.
The tall nurse smiled at him. “The doctor has cleared you to start on soft foods. They’ll bring you a tray in a few minutes.” She opened the blinds, flooding the room with sunlight. “It’s a beautiful spring day outside.”
Nick squinted at the window in silence.
“Do you want to watch TV?” She gestured to the mounted set on the wall.
He shook his head.
“How about I get some magazines from the waiting room? You like Sports?”
“Well, I’m sure your father will be here soon. He’ll be relieved to see you awake.”
“Yes, he’s been here every day since you arrived. Sits in the chair you’re in now. He’s probably at the funer—. Um, I’m sure he’ll be in soon.”
Nick waved the nurse away. She checked his IV bags and then left the room.
He rubbed tears from his eyes. Outside the window, the uniformed officer was gone. A younger, huskier man dressed in a dark suit sat with his head turned, staring intently through the glass.
Nick met his curious gaze and then turned away. He looked out the window at the bright blue, cloudless sky. A beautiful day . . . Katie’s funeral. The sun shone on the budding leaves of a tree. Droplets of morning dew glistened on the delicate green shoots. The same color as Katie’s eyes. Eyes he would never see again.
The man in the suit watched as a nurse and an orderly assisted him on a shaky walk up and down the hall. Afterward, they helped him back into his bed. His father entered as the two were leaving.
“You’re awake. Thank, God. How ya feeling, son?” He gripped the side rail of the bed.
Nick shook his head.
“It’s good to see you up—”
“You went to K-Katie’s funeral?” Nick asked.
His father’s gaze dropped to the floor. He cleared his throat. “Who told you that?”
Dom cursed softly under his breath. He glanced over his shoulder at the man in the suit outside the window. “They told me I can’t talk to you about Katie or the funeral.”
Nick swallowed hard. The ashen color of his father’s face spoke volumes. “You don’t have to come here, Pop. I don’t expect anyone to come after what I did. I’m surprised the nurses come in here.”
His father’s eyes watered and he stared out the window as he answered. “You’re my son.”
“When they release me,” Nick pointed to the man in the hallway, “They’ll put me in prison, where I belong.”
“Concentrate on getting better. Don’t think about—”
“It’s all I can think about! I k-killed . . . Why am I here? Why didn’t the cops fucking shoot me? If I had a gun now, I’d shoot myself. I don’t deserve to live. Katie. . ..” Nick broke into low, wrenching sobs.
Dom squeezed Nick’s shoulder and then paced the room. He finally stopped, lowered himself into the chair and wiped his eyes. “Sal wants to see ya. And Nonna, she’s been praying for you every day, Nick. She doesn’t like to come to hospitals, ya know that.”
“Please, don’t let them come. Tell Nonna not to waste her prayers on me.” He closed his eyes. Tears streamed down his face.