Crook Takes Pawn Part 27

Greg trotted through the Hallways of the ICU. Green gave way to Red, then to Blue, as he worked his way up the Intensive Care severity chain. The nurse in the Blue ward informed Greg that Robert was stabilized and moved to the Green ward as a precaution, and gave Greg the room number. She also told Greg that visiting hours were over, he could come back tomorrow. Yeah, right. Gregs heart was pumping him full of energy. He had to see Robert, to let the man know what his actions meant. Julie and Greg both owed their lives to this man, who has been forgotten by the news and everyone else. Except for Greg, that is.
    Greg had hightailed it out of his store after listening to Roberts message. He sped over to the hospital as fast as his rickety Lebaron would allow. Greg hastily paid the fee for parking on the ramp. For once, his cheap self did not rebuke the needless expense of parking at a hospital.
    Then, just like that, Greg was at the door to Roberts room. Greg eased the door open carefully, mindful of the tired state of Robert. The first thing Greg notices, and cheers, is the lack of sophisticated equipment in the room this time around. Less machines, but more to the man than last they met. Roberts color has improved vastly. Although still frail and emaciated, Robert looked stronger. His chest rose and fell in its own rhythym, unaided by machines. The sole heart monitor beeped out its assuring tone. Robert was alive and getting better.
    Greg felt the tears again. Man, Greg was becoming a bitch. Greg hardly cried the first 30 years of his life, and now finds himself sobbing buckets in the past few months. At least these crocodile tears are of joy and not sorrow.
    Greg saw with amusement that the heart monitor wristband he had given was firmly around Roberts wrist. Robert had on his too-big spectacles, making his closed eyelids swim in a weird pseudo space. Greg had remembered seeing those same eyes squinted in fury as he fought Jessie. The magnification of that angry gaze seemed almost surreal, as Robert axe-handled Jessies forearms. Again, Greg remarked to himself that Robert was a tough mother fucker.
    The room was empty. Greg pulled up beside Robert in a padded folding chair. Greg marveled at the sheer normalcy of this room. Drab wallpaper in a lined white and blue pattern. Regular linoleum floors. Greg counted up this unremarkable space. It was a good sign. He wasnt in Intensive care, his treatments were no longer exceptional. Roberts body was sufficient now to fight its own battle, knitting up muscles and wounds.
    Robert opened his eyes narrowly as Greg scooted forward, grating the floor. Greg smiles and pats Robert on the shoulder.    Hey man, Greg says with a smile, Its Greg, remember? At my store?    Roberts face livens up, those coke bottle glasses filling with his giant iris.(iris plural?)    Roberts thin lips begin to curl and writhe against each other as he struggles to speak. Greg notices a pitcher of water on the end table and hoists up the glass to offer a drink. Robert nods and drinks deeply after the cup is filled. Robert catches some water down the wrong pipe and coughs weakly.         Greg sees Robert grimace. There seems to be more discomfort from the shaking of the coughs, rather than the cough itself. Roberts white hospital gown slips down on the collar, and Greg catches sight of the end of a large surgical scar. There are still staples driven into the sides of the wound, but it appears to have almost healed and closed. Greg puts a hand on Roberts shoulder, perhaps to ease the coughing. Robert pats Gregs hand lightly in a show of camaraderie.     How you been, Robert? Greg asks, You look a hundred times better than last time I saw you.    Robert swallows hard, and attempts to  speak, but only a series of clicks and gasps escapes him.        You dont have to say nothing, Greg says, I know you just got off that ventilator and stuff, so your voice aint gonna be around for awhile. I actually came to tell you a few things. Then Ill be outta your hair.    Robert shrugs faintly and offers a slightly bewildered smile. Robert seems modest, at least in Gregs interactions with him. Robert apparently didnt expect to be complimented, or even thanked.     that was some crazy shit that went down. Greg says with a sigh, But you and me got through it. If it werent for you bro, Id be worm food, six feet under. I didnt even know you, and you saved my skin. We were just strangers, but we both stepped up when the time came.    Greg starts laughing as he thinks of his exploits in earnest. Hell, Greg says between guffaws, I dont think either of us had the slightest fucking clue to what we were doing!! But we went ahead and did it anyway!!    Robert joins in on the uproarious laughter, in a slightly incapacitated version. Greg hears little more than the rapid exhales from Roberts nose to detect his chuckle.    Greg wipes yet another tear from his eye as the chortles subside.
    As weird as it may sound, Greg said thoughtfully, Im almost glad that things happened like they did. I dont mean I wanted you to get shot, or anything. I had holes blown apart in my body, too. It took something earth-shattering to get me out of myself, to see the bigger picture, you know what I mean?    Robert closes his large fish eyes, and nods with a cold understanding of facts experienced through life. Greg could feel the weariness in Roberts gesture, and the true depths of suffering this anonymous savior had endured. Gregs pain had drawn out over a period of weeks. To Robert, the event had to be still fresh in his mind. The jump from the shooting to this date mustve seemed instantaneous to Robert. The tribulation of overcoming Roberts obstacles was now just beginning.
    There is silence. Robert must be reeling from his ordeal, and seems really out of it. Its understandable. Greg can sympathize with Roberts plight. Greg only wished he could help provide some means to combat it all. For now, maybe the best thing Greg can do is let Robert rest. Greg watches as Robert effortlessly falls back into sleep. After a peaceful period of unknown time, Greg picked himself up and exited the room. The beeping of the heart monitor faded from his range of hearing as he rounded the hallways. But Greg was still ensured that Robert was now in the clear. 

Uploaded 02/09/2012
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