Tuesday Night, August 4, 2015
Jason opened his right eye. He tried to open his left. He thought it was open, but he was seeing nothing—just blackness.
“Well hello, cowboy.
Jason turned his head toward the voice. It was Tina. He focused his right eye on her smiling face. He tried to smile back, but the pain stopped him.
Tina brushed back his hair from his face. “I’m glad you’re back among the living. Don’t try to talk. Cruse dislocated your jaw.”
Jason nodded his head that he understood. His right hand found Tina’s leg and slid up her leg. Tina stopped his hand. “We’re not alone, cowboy.”
Jason turned his head to his left too fast. Pain forced him to close his eyes for a moment. As the pain subsided, he focused his gaze on Sean standing next to his parents. “What’s wrong with my left eye? I can’t see out of it.”
Sean answered, “The doctors said that you have a detached retina in the left eye. It can be repaired in a few days, but for now, you can’t see out of that eye. They put a patch on it.”
Jason reached up and touched the patch. “Oh … What else?”
Sean smiled. “Don't try to talk just yet. It would be better if the doctors told you, but the bottom line is that you will be okay. You had a compound fracture of your left leg. The left side of your face was severely injured. That includes a broken cheek bone, a broken nose and the eye. The leg has been set along with the cheek bone. The nose they can do later, along with the eye.”
Jason looked down at his legs. Tina raised the head of his bed so he could see well. His left leg was in traction.
“Oh, bull shit,” said Jason’s mom. “I have to kiss him now.” She held Jason’s hand and stared at his face. It was the first time she had a good look at her son since the he was attacked. “Jesus, where am I going to kiss you?” She brushed back his hair and found a small spot on the right side of his forehead that wasn’t bandaged.
“Where am I?”
Tina answered this time. “You were medevac’d to Denver.”
“Mom. Dad. You guys drive down?”
Mrs. Franco wiped away a tear. “No. Sean was nice enough to buys us plane tickets. We flew down. We’ll stay for a few days.” She took a tissue out of the box on the over the bed tray. Her tears were flowing freely now.
Mr. Franco put his arm around her shoulder and hugged. “It’s going to be okay, mother. He’s in good hands.”
Mrs. Franco wiped her tears. "I know, I know, but I can't help but wonder what he'll look like when he's healed."
Mr. Franco chuckled. "Well, anything would be an improvement."
Mrs. Franco gently punched her husband in the chest. Tina was not so gentle. She threw a carton of latex gloves at Mr. Franco, causing him to duck.
"mmm. Mmm." Jason tried to keep from laughing. He was holding his face together with his hands.
Tina shouted, "See what you did? It hurts him to laugh. Shame on you."
Jason started to shake his head no. He composed himself. With some pain he said, "Don't stop him. I can use a good laugh. I'm glad it's over. What happened?"
Sean said, "Well, thanks to Zac and his drone, we've a very nice recording of what took place. I'll show it to you after everyone leaves. They've all seen it. It's all over the news too. I doubt they want to see it again."
Mrs. Franco started to sob again. "I can't bear to see it."
Jason held his jaw as he spoke. "Sean, shouldn't you be putting the paper to bed?"
Sean smiled. "Thanks to my grandson and modern technology, I am. He turned his laptop around.
Jason hadn't noticed it on the over the bed table. On the screen was a close up of Zac with Mary standing behind him. In the corner was a small live feed of Jason's head. "He calls it Skip or Scrape or something."
Jason saw Zac and Mary do exaggerated eye rolls.
"We have the whole story up to date," continued Sean. "When you're ready, I'm going to interview you. Zac and Mary will write it up for the paper and we'll publish it tomorrow. We may be late, but we'll have the exclusive interview with America's latest hero."
Jason drew a big question mark in the air.
Zac answered, "You're famous, dude. We recorded the attack on you. It went viral on the internet. The Cheyenne News had in time for the six o'clock and CNN had it at eleven. The telephone has been ringing off the hook requesting interviews with you."
While Zac was talking, Tina was trying to keep Jason's hand from going up her leg. Jason's mother noticed. "Hell, you might as well let him grab your butt. It's the morphine. You know he'd never do that otherwise. He won't remember it later."
Tina laughed. she wasn't sure it was the morphine. "I'll just move over by you so he can see me better."
Sean cut in, "The hospital is having a news conference at ten tomorrow. If you're up to it, you can attend. Afterwards, the press can ask questions. I'll field the questions for you, if you like."
Jason pointed at Tina.
Tina shook her head. "No can do, cowboy. I'm with the State Police lab, remember? They won't let me do it."
Everyone stayed for another hour and left when Mrs. Franco suggested it was enough. Tina stayed just long enough to kiss Jason goodbye. Sean adjusted the laptop closer to Jason and turned up the volume. After everyone left, Sean played the recording for Jason. The first thing on the video was Zac sitting at his desk at the Star-Gazette. After introducing himself, he said, "The following is a video of an attempt by Chief Jeri Cruse from the Torrington, Wyoming Police Department to murder Jason Franco, a journalist from the Torrington Star-Gazette. some scenes are violent and disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.
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