The first visit to the hospital next state over for treatment, went uneventful for Harlan.  In fact the first three months were the same as the first.  The fourth month was the kicker.
He had decided in the heat of the summer diagnosis despite the better odds they gave him of not losing his hair to start shaving his head.  It turned out to be a good idea, as he did begin losing hair.  It was less noticeable. At first people though he had lost weight, the change in his features were attributed to his changing his hair and his new ‘workout’.
That fourth month was not only the beginning of difficulties of hiding his condition, but also the start of an entirely different relationship of one of the most feared men around.  Danny.
Not that it mattered that the two were of the same age, and nearly the same background.  They had in their youth gone down far different paths. Harlan would not have disclosed how close he came to running in Danny’s circles.  Danny knew.
Now their secrets would be held within the two.  Danny’s first appearances at the treatment center was as hushed as Harlan’s.  Were it not for Danny’s immediate reaction to the medicine, and the emergency team showing up to stabilize his condition, and rush him to the nearest emergency at the same time that Alma had returned from a trip to the ladies room, neither would know the other was there.
For Danny, no one but his doctor knew he was there. He had driven himself.  Alone.  Not a smart move, Harlan would remind him.
Alma was at first stunned. When the nurse called out to find if anyone was with Danny, no one answered, another nurse said she thought he was alone.  That was all it took to move Alma into motion.  She grabbed the first nurse and informed her she had brought both men, her husband and Danny to for treatment.  They grew up together.  It wasn’t a lie, she reminded herself.
She asked if she could get word to her husband, and she would follow to see about Danny. They nurse said she would get her directions and call ahead to the ER to let them know she was arriving.
The minute her head came around the curtain, Harlan knew.  He had heard the conversation. He wanted to let Alma know he was in on the plan.
“Danny’s not doing well, did you hear?”
“I heard, go see about him Alma,  I will call when they are done with me. We will go from there.  I think I may call and get us a room nearby so we can wait and see what happens.  They may release him in a day or so. What do you think?”
Alma’s eyes widened.  Neither she nor Harlan had heard any rumors of Danny’s ill health.  For a fact no one knew about Harlan’s.  The thought occurred to her a moment later than it did Harlan, that the two men of different powers, were both between a rock and a hard place.  Likely Danny was treating himself without letting on to anyone.  Only Danny’s Leighann was long gone.
‘I should have kept my mouth shut. So much for being a preachers wife for nearly sixty years. By now, I should know better.’


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