Good old George. Remember? Nice guy. He was sitting on the end of my hospital bed. “You look like shit” He smiled gently. I almost regret not getting serious with him. Still he was one of the rare few who actually seemed to get where I was with my own baggage and seemed to just go with the flow.
“Thanks, you should see the other guy!” I attempted a smile back and was acutely reminded that my nose does not want to move. Through all the swelling on the front of my face there was still some serious damage underneath and OUCH. I blinked back tears from the pain. Oh man, breath, good. It’s a quirk with me, I hate crying in front of guys. Broken nose pain crying at least I feel like I earned, never mind if the tears served to release from more than one issue. I sniffled. A lot.
He endured round 2 with patient grace, he really got it. Letting me get through the worst and just handing over tissues and a cup of water alternating as needed until I got things under control again. “You know, it’ll tarnish your image as the resident grouch in training if this gets out”
“It’s a good thing I know where you sleep and will kick your ass then” I managed a smaller but still appreciative smile. “I really need to get back and see what’s left, make calls, figure out what to do”
He smiled “Way ahead of you.” He had put all my belongings together in my backpack that I had almost forgotten. It was a go bag that I kept as an overnight bag or in case of zombie apocalypse. Pops laughed at me, but it felt like such a security blanket right now that I was glad for my weird and geeky ways. “I noticed your Cliff stash was empty so I picked up a couple. Seriously no one needs to talk to you until you’ve eaten. I remember that much”
His thoughtfulness was too much to handle, but I stood up, taking my time, and gave him a big hug. Then stepped back and halfheartedly punched his shoulder for good measure. “Probably a good idea as the Jello this morning had surprise applesauce at the bottom… and I’m just not sure I can take that kind of torture again” I rifled through my backpack and found an old pair of work jeans and my Rainbow Dash t-shirt. I made a shooing motion for him to leave.
“Look, I know you are not big into that letting people help you thing. Seriously though, you have friends here, and I’m here. Just, let me know if you need anything, even if it’s just a coffee or a distraction.” I glanced over at him. I couldn’t really articulate, but was grateful for the thought.
“George, I, just, thank you. For everything you’ve already done” suck it up, you’re tough but at least acknowledge the lifeline. “and if there is anyone in town I’d call for help, you are that person for me” His arms were around me before I knew it and I got the Hug. Georges hugs were almost a form of communication of their own and maybe that’s my favorite thing about him. Somehow he said “I’ve got your back” “I miss you” and “I get baggage, do your thing, I’m here” all at once.
“Ms MacCowan?” “Effie MacCowan?” I glanced at the doorway and saw Sammamishs finest.
“Uh, yes officer? I’m sorry I’ve been tied up, I have a list of people to call and I need to report the break in and the fire and.. ”
“Ms MacCowan, When you get checked out at the nurse’s desk please come see me, I have a couple questions for you, I will wait in the hall” with that he turned and stood just outside my door, which I thought was a bit much but given the break in I was relieved to be honest. I still hadn’t processed the whole event but my world was significantly less secure than it was yesterday.
George smiled at me again and waved his way out then did the “call me” thing with his hand next to his ear and closed the door.
I got dressed and came out to the desk where all my discharge papers were waiting to be signed. Then I got the stinkeye from the nurse as I was apparently not supposed to be up and dressed and ready to go looking like an overgrown raccoon and still smelling faintly of smoke. She glanced at the officer though and let me sign my way out. She did insist on that weird wheelchair protocol thing hospitals do, so I sat in the chair provided by the worlds most bored orderly and motioned that I was supposed to check with the officer on my way out.