, , , , , , ,

Bill and Duvan watched first the ambulance that held Gabrielle’s husband Adriel, lights flashing and sirens wailing, hurry away toward the interstate, then Officer Looney’s squad car left silently and sedately and finally Chuck Davies started the patrol car that contained him and Gabrielle and roared after the ambulance. Bill’s face acquired an ironic smirk as he unlocked his car doors and handed Duvan the keys to his Lincoln. “Well, you heard what the man said, I’m not allowed to drive. You sure you’re okay? You gotta be dead on your feet.”

“I am tired,” Duvan replied as he got into the car and started the engine, “but we promised Gabrielle that we would stand beside her. She has gone through so much tonight.”

“You can say that again,” Bill answered out loud, silently adding, ‘and you don’t know the half of it, my friend.’ “There’s switches down below if you need to move the seat. The mirror control is on the arm rest just forward of the window buttons.”

“Ah, yes. Got it,” he replied as he moved first the seat and then the mirrors before putting the car in reverse, doing a two point turn and driving up Mistic View toward Interstate 270. “I have not known the Gibeons long but they seem like very good people with very bad fortune, you know?”

“I think that just about nails it, Duvan. I’ve known Gabrielle for a couple of years but hadn’t met Adriel before tonight. Jesus, I can’t believe he had a heart attack right there while you were talking to Davies. ‘Very bad fortune’ indeed!”

“You think that is what happened?” Duvan asked as he merged southbound onto the interstate. “A heart attack? Why?”

“Gabrielle told me he has congestive heart failure. Probably stress and anxiety triggered it. They don’t think it’s very likely he’ll be around that much longer.”

“That is terrible. They are such good people. What do you think will happen to her?”

“Great question, amigo. I don’t know. Bad timing, too, not that there’s ever good timing for this sort of thing. Gabrielle told me earlier that they were heading up to Philadelphia this week so she could be examined by a doctor with ties to a drug firm up there. They’re starting tests to see if they found an effective treatment for Stargardt’s disease; that’s the name of the condition that caused her to lose her sight.”

“Very bad luck that she should go blind and her husband should first waste away and then die so young; very tragic. Do you think she will travel if Adriel is de-, uh, in the hospital?”

Realizing that Duvan had self-edited and changed the word “dead” to “in the hospital” Bill stifled a small smile. “God almighty, that’s a tough question, isn’t it? I mean, she needs to but how’s she going to get through that? I mean, if he passes between now and her trip? Just more misfortune and tragedy.

“Exit here,” Bill added, “hospitals about a mile up after the cloverleaf.”

“Is there anything we can do to help?”

“There just might be. First thing is what we’re doing, being supportive, but we need to assure her that whatever condition Adriel’s in he’d want her to go. She won’t like hearing it but she’ll know it’s true. We need to make sure she gets to Philadelphia on Friday.”

“And how will she get there? I expect they will take the train but Adriel acts as her eyes, how will she manage alone?”

“She does pretty good all by herself. That’s one tough tigress, as you found out. But maybe I can arrange it so she doesn’t have to go alone.”