Chapter 60

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                                                                         ~Tj~

I don't know what the hell I'm doing here. I mean I hate fucking hospitals. It's my day off and I overheard all kinds of shit about Jordan while hanging around camp this morning. Since I still had his car keys, I took off right before dinner to get the scoop myself.

He's not in the ICU anymore so I'm able to just walk right into his room. He's propped upright, eating a container of orange Jello and watching TV.

"Hey, what are you doing here?" he says when he sees me in the doorway.

I shrug. "I'm off today."

"Not that I'm complaining. Karen, my dad, and Tony left only thirty minutes ago and already I'm bored out of my mind." He points to an empty chair not far from the foot of the bed.

I hand him the bag of goods I bought. Jordan dumps the contents onto his lap and looks it over, confused. There is a copy of Hustler, a pack of cigarettes, and pork rinds. I shrug again. "It's what my uncle always asked for when I visited him."

"What was he in for?" Jordan asks.

"Breaking and entering, usually." I sit down in the chair and avoid looking at the IV in his hand. "Once, Grand Theft Auto. But that was a miscommunication."

After I've said this, it occurs to me that he probably thought I was talking about a hospital stay. There were a few of those but mostly it was the prison visits.

Jordan starts to laugh then his face twists with pain and his arm wraps over his stomach. "I keep forgetting not to do that. Jesus Christ that hurt."

"I hear you're not sticking around the whole summer?" I'm trying not to sound disappointed by this but I kind of am. I don't know, maybe it doesn't even fucking matter.

"I wish." He takes a few breaths, seems to return to normal, and picks up the Jello cup again. "I'll be lucky if I can get recovered in time to leave for college."

"Huh." I snap my fingers together not sure what else to do. "If you're flying home, what are you gonna do about your car?"

"You wanna drive it to St. Louis after camp?" he says, like he's joking, like he doesn't think I'll do it.

"Seriously?" I lift an eyebrow. "What about during camp? I could drive it?" Not that I asked him about driving here to the hospital. "I could use it to get to Philly in a couple weeks."

"You mean Nationals?" he says, sounding surprised. "You qualified and you don't have a way to get there?"

"I'll get there," I snap. "Just haven't decided how yet."

"It's a piece of junk but it'll make it to Philly so yeah, go for it."

He offers me his second unopened Jello cup but I shake my head. I'm not eating anything in this place. "Is that all they're feeding you here? It's worse than the Nina Jones diet."

"Clear liquid only for forty eight hours," he recites. "Very low sodium for a couple weeks. My kidneys apparently suck right now and can't handle salt."

"You're like a fucking old man," I say and then realize that might be insulting.

"No kidding," Jordan says. "I don't really feel like eating much anyway. My stomach is all messed up."

I'm still reeling over the fact that he fixed my transportation problem in two seconds. "You're serious about the car?"

"I can't drive it back," he says with a shrug. "Doctor's orders. They didn't even want me to have a connecting flight."

We sit in silence for a minute and I reach for the Hustler copy, just to have something to do with my hands. "I'll get it back to you in one piece."

"No hurry. I'm not taking a car to Stanford. Freshman can't have cars on campus." He scoops another bite of Jello but seems to change his mind and sets it down. "How does the tumbling thing work anyway? Nationals, I mean."

"What do you mean?" I flip to the centerfold and turn it so Jordan can see. He barely looks at it. "I run, I flip, land--hopefully on my feet--then do it again but with different skills. That's pretty much it."

"Yeah, I know, but are you with a club? Who coaches you?"

Yeah, I'm going coachless this year. "The place I trained at home registered me for the meet." They can't afford to make the trip to Philly with only me qualifying this year.

"So you'll go back and train there again after Nationals?" Jordan asks.

"Probably not. They're not doing too well right now. The owner is sick and they've got too many bills or something." I shake off the nerves that infect me. I don't need that shit. "Hopefully I'll get some sponsorship at Nationals."

"So that's it," he says, sounding shocked. "Your whole future in the sport is riding on those two tumbling passes? And you didn't even have a way to get there?"

I toss the magazine at him. "Thanks for fucking pointing it out."

"Sorry." He suppresses a laugh again. "But your dedication. I'm impressed. I never did get serious about any of it. Drove my dad insane with all my goofing off in the gym."

"Well, you don't suck, so it's not like it hurt you."

He doesn't seem to want to comment on that. "I was planning on going to Nationals. To watch Karen. But I'm definitely not gonna be able to. Maybe you can keep an eye on her?"

I snort back a laugh. "Why? Think she'll find a new boyfriend while you're stuck in bed? I'd rather not commit any murder, but I can knock a few teeth out without getting my hands too dirty."

"Uh, yeah, no." He shakes his head. "I was thinking more like her gymnastics stuff. The dismount on bars."

I wave a hand, dismissing his concerns. "She's got that down. Nailed all her routines this morning."

"I thought you were off today," Jordan says.

"Still worked out this morning. I got Nationals coming up." I did work out but I also helped Nina with spotting the girls, as usual. I don't know why I did that on my day off but I guess it's just habit.

Before I can make any promises to Jordan about keeping an eye on Campbell--I've got my own shit to worry about in Philly--a nurse comes in, gives him some medication and he nods off within minutes. I don't have anywhere else to be so I snatch the laptop someone must have brought him earlier today and use the table on wheels to study my competition.

There was a qualifier competition last weekend and I haven't seen any of those guys tumble yet. Four new guys earned a ticket to Nationals in the senior division, my division this year. I watch each of their tumbling passes several times. Eventually I move on to watching videos of Stevie and Karen from the Pan American championships. It's amazing how good Campbell has gotten even since then. She's way more badass.

I'm about to close down her bar routine when I catch the top comment on the video.

GymnloverHD: I hate her hair. Why does she always fix it in that stupid messy bun? If I see her in real life, I hope I have some scissors on me.

GeminiGymnFan45: What the hell is wrong with you? Karen is so beautiful. You don't even know...if I ever saw her in real life, it would be--I can't even. I have cut outs of her all over my bedroom walls. I fall asleep to her face every night.

Jesus Christ. What a fucking weirdo.

But the name seems familiar to me. I flip back to a video of her beam routine and sure enough GeminiGymn whatever commented there as well.

GeminiGymnFan45: I love her so much. I know exactly how many miles are between my town and hers. Are people allowed to visit gymnasts at their gyms?

I look through at least a dozen videos of Karen and that GeminiGymn weirdo is all over her shit, didn't leave a single video without a creepy comment. I stare at Jordan, still asleep, trying to decide if I should tell him anything. I mean why would I? It's probably some nine year old with a fancy computer. Right?

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