Jerry hesitated outside of Josh’s hospital room, not wanting to be the bearer of bad news, but there was no way out of it. He heard a female voice. “I can’t get anything on here. I think your cable’s out. I’ll go check.”
Josh replied, slurring from the heavy medication, “Damn, I wanted to watch The Young and the Restless. I missed a whole week.”
“I didn’t like how Neuman was treating his daughter, so I stopped watching.”
“They made up weeks ago. You can watch again.”
Jerry walked in as a pretty nurse somewhere in her twenties was gathering up her equipment. She gave him a smile. “Don’t stay too long. Don’t want to wear him out.” Then to Josh, “I’ll bring my DVD in tomorrow before I start my shift. You really think your friend Ken will listen?”
After she flounced out, Jerry asked curiously, “Was that about what I thought it was about?”
“She’s a singer. She asked me to help her.”
“I don’t believe it. Even your nurse. Is anybody in this town not in show business?”
“Yeah, well, I’ve been meaning to get your opinion of my John Wayne impression.”
Josh looked at him blankly, his eyes half closed, too sleepy to appreciate his feeble joke. Jerry knew he better tell Josh what he had come to say before he fell asleep.
Josh spoke first. “I’m checking out of here tomorrow.”
Jerry pulled a chair up to Josh’s bed and sat down. He leaned forward concerned. “You can’t do that. You have to stay in here at least a week.”
“No can do, Jer. I’ve got to get back to work, so I can pay for these deluxe accommodations.”
“You’ve got insurance.”
“It won’t pay my other bills.”
“You can’t go back to work for a while. You’ll have to live off your residuals.”
“Not enough. I’m supposed to start working with Joell in the studio in a week. I’ll get some money up front for that. I’ll do some easy work around the compounds till then. How’s Noor?”
There was no way to avoid it. “Noor’s worse.”
Josh strained to lift his head off the pillow and shook it as if to clear his brain of the drugs that were threatening to put him to sleep again.
“Do you know what it is?”
“We think it’s Feline Enteritis.”
“Diarrhea and vomiting?”
“Her white cell count is below 5,000. We’ve got her on IV fluids, antibiotics, and antiserum. All we can do now is wait.”
Josh clawed feebly at his bed covers. “I’ve got to get to her.”
Jerry pushed him back on his pillow easily. “You couldn’t even make it to the door, pal.”
“She’ll think I’ve deserted her.”
Jerry figured it was as good a time as any to give him the bad news. “Look, Josh, besides bringing charges against you, the kid with the broken nose is suing the city. You’ve been suspended.”
“That’s not fair! They broke into the zoo and were harassing Katy and the baby!”
“I agree, but the lawyers will have to sort that out. Meanwhile, you’re not allowed on the grounds.”
“Tomorrow, take me there.”
“They’ll haul you off if you try.”
Josh reached up and grabbed the edge of Jerry’s jacket and pulled him forward with surprising strength. “You’ve got to help me on this, Jer. Please!”
Jerry reassured him, sounding more confident than he felt. “All right, all right. I’ll do what I can.”
Josh loosened his grip and fell back on the pillow. He was starting to fade. “Gilbert…Susie?
“They’re taken care of. They’re fine.”
Josh made a noise that sounded vaguely like thanks.
Jerry stood up and walked to the foot of the bed and saw that Josh was sound asleep. He didn’t envy Josh the mess that faced him as soon as he checked out of here. And he didn’t even get a chance to tell him the worst of it.
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