Chapter 7

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Going to the hospital ended up involving Kayla's beat up old Audi station wagon and a trip on a ferry across the Puget Sound. I'd assumed we'd have to drive to one of the larger towns near Dorn, but Kayla told me none of the hospitals in our county were equipped to deal with the sort of traumatic injuries Zeke had.

"How are we going to get close enough to ID Zeke?" I asked her. "He's in Intensive Care. Isn't that a family-only situation?"

"Just tell the staff you're his cousin."

The nervous tingling started up again. "What if his family is there? They'll know I'm not his cousin."

"You only have to see him for a second to get your answer. Just apologize to them and tell them you have the wrong room."

"I don't know about this..."

"Do you want answers for Jack or not? I know your special Miss America talent is turning the shade of a radish at the slightest hint of adventure, but sometimes, you just have to slap on the baby oil, pour yourself into a bikini, and strut across the stage."

"I don't think anyone ever has to do that."

The ferry's foghorn blared. I looked up from where we stood leaning against Kayla's Audi on the boat's car deck. Seattle's waterfront wharfs loomed large as we approached the city.

"The hospital isn't far from the ferry terminal." She retrieved her car key from the depths of her purse. "Don't think about what you'll have to do. It will only psych you out. Just trust that everything is going to happen the way it needs to."

"You can't know that."

"That's why it's called trust."

The ferry came to a halt with a lilt that sent my body forward and then back as it steadied itself. Cars streamed off as soon as the ferry workers had put the ramp securely in place. Soon, we were part of that stream. We made our way past first avenue, up a steep hill, and within minutes, were winding our way through a cement parking structure, ready to face the hospital.

The pediatric intensive care unit smelled of bleach and cafeteria food. A brightly lit nurse's station dominated the space just a short corridor down from the elevators. Rooms emanated from the station like petals on a sunflower.

"Okay, here we go." Kayla pushed me forward. "Let's find out what room he's in."

The nurse asked how she could help us with the sort of plastered-on smile that made me imagine when she wasn't at work, she spent her time alone in the dark with a steady flow of alcohol.

I opened my mouth, then closed it again. I was supposed to ask her something simple.

Kayla butted in next to me. "We're here to see her cousin, Zeke Campbell."

"I'm so sorry, ladies, but if you're under eighteen, you must be siblings to see a patient in this unit."

Kayla pressed her palms against the counter in front of the nurse. "Are you serious? We came all the way here and we can't even see him for like, two minutes?"

Her smile never faltered. She was used to dealing with grieving, sleep deprived family members. A couple of teenage girls upset over being denied access wasn't going to phase her. "It's hospital policy, dear. If I could change the rules for you, you bet I would!"

I kind of thought she wouldn't, but I didn't say anything.

"Can you at least point in the general direction?" Kayla asked. "We can stay right here and, um... pray that way."

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