Character: Demescus “Dreu” Wolf Jr
Sounds of angry whispers, whirring machines, and steady beeping monitors were the first things to penetrate through Dreu’s grogginess. Dry mouth was the next. Absently he licked his chapped lips and noticed the stream of cool air puffing against his face.
He opened his eyes, combating the blurriness and failing, but through the haze he was able to make out the faint outlines of the room. The air came from what he could only guess was a mask. His eyes followed the path of the long tube from the oxygen mask to the machine standing at his bedside. Next to it were screens and poles and chairs.
Sitting up, he winced. The mask was there for more than one reason. He had a busted rib that definitely did something to his lung. Glancing up at the screens, he figured that was why he was so hooked up.
The bandages itched but he had other things to figure out starting with his own condition. With clear vision, he was able to see the IV attached to his arm as well as the horribly designed hospital gown. Whoever thought basic fabric could keep anybody comfortable was a joke. It was thin, backless for the most part, and cumbersome. The last time he had to wear one he got more tangled in it than the sheets or wires.
Memories of Cayai’s death flooded back thanks to the stark whiteness of the room. He tried to push them down but he couldn’t help it. He wouldn’t get to tell her about the stupid gown or how much he hated the ugly black and green monitors or see her squinty worried look.
He lay back and thought about the justice of it all. Maybe it was right that Senior’s enemies wanted to kill him after botching the first hit. If it wasn’t for him, Cayai never would have been over that day to suggest heading to the park. He wouldn’t have badgered, pleaded, and then guilted one of the staff into letting them out. A few hours, that was all he wanted, and within the span of one, the single drop of selfish happiness he had for himself was murdered.
He opened his eyes and panned them over to the door. His mother stood there, using the doorframe to hold herself up, with a puffy face and a very messy up-do. It didn’t stop her from yelling that he was awake and, with only the grace of a mother, frantically hurrying over to his bedside to pet his hair. She managed to miss every wire in her way too.
“Oh my Demmy, I was so worried.” She shook her head when he opened his mouth. “Not now. Let me call you all the embarrassing names I want.”
A soft knock was all that preceded the arrival of Bol. Something Dreu was stuck being silently grateful for. It got his mother to stop cooing at him like he was a baby bird. Bol took up the spot next to his mother, blocking Dreu’s view of the door, and gave his own idea of happiness that consisted of a firm pat on the arm and telling him how it was a good thing he was a born Wolf. His mother didn’t appreciate the joke but Dreu did. Least he did till he chuckled and had to wince again. His body was on board with his mother. It wasn’t funny at all, just painful.
“Is everything done?” His mothered whispered.
Bol nodded and Dreu kept looking between them. Neither would make direct eye contact. They also went eerily quiet. On a normal, non-hospital day, the quiet would be welcomed. He’d be out trying to get a taste of sweet thirteen year old freedom or as close to a normal life as he could get.
The beeping monitors and itchy bandages reminded him just how wrong he was. He wasn’t normal. None of it was normal. Senior was a major runner in the underground crime scene as well as a big wig on the legal side. People died violently, went missing, and randomly appeared on doorsteps badly beaten as messages. None of that was normal. Not his multiple hospital visits, his mother’s, or Cayai’s death.
“Dreu, you’re coming home.” Her motherly whisper barely made it through his muddled thoughts of justice but he caught the last word loud and clear. As if she knew what his furrowed brows were asking, she shook her head. “With me, you’re coming home with me. You’ll get to meet your cousin and get a fresh start.”
It all sounded nice but he knew Senior and he knew the life. Moving wasn’t suddenly going to take him off the radars.
“I will be going with you,” Bol added, settling his nerves. “It will be…refreshing.”
He nodded. Refreshing was one way to think about it. Glancing at his mother who had yet to stop petting his hair, he figured at least she’d get to be happy for once. Maybe.