He felt hands shaking him. He tried to shrug them away, but they were persistent. He opened his eyes and found he was extremely disoriented. For a moment, Lein had forgotten where he was. Then it was all coming back. He was in Cyprus, Arkansas, in the city’s only hospital. His neck ached painfully; he’d been sleeping in a straight-backed chair. He glanced around and saw his brother standing beside him.
Lein sighed and scrubbed the sleep out of his eyes. He glanced down at his watch. It was close to three-thirty in the morning. “When did you get here,” Lein asked, his voice thick with sleep.
“A few minutes ago. Debi told me you were wasting away to nothing in here, man. And I can plainly see she wasn’t shitting,” Ronnie said seriously.
“Ron, I can’t leave her. She needs me here,” he said quietly.
“You won’t do her any good if you get sick from neglecting yourself. Debi told me she was sedated; she’ll be out for hours. Come on bro, let me take you out somewhere in town and get you a coffee, bath, and breakfast. What do you say about that? I’ve convinced Debi and Marilinn to come.”
Lein shook his head. “No, you go ahead. I’ll stay here.”
“Lee, come on, you’ve got to take care of yourself, too. You know she’d want you to go.”
“Come on, Lein, we’ll be back in an hour. Come on, man, you need it.”
Lein sighed and glanced at his wife’s sleeping form. Yes, she’d want him to go, whether he wanted to or not. Slowly, he stood up and followed his brother out of the room. Before they left the hospital, Lein told the nurse on duty to keep an eye on Perion. She said she would, and the group left.