“Theo, I am not sure how to answer that.”
“What do you mean. He either is or isn’t. Which?”
“Well, he is in the hospital and asleep.  More than that I can’t say.”
“Why not?”
“Because I don’t really know much more than that. I could guess.”
“So, . . . guess.”
“Theo, it isn’t my place to guess.”
“Wake him.”
“I will do no such thing.  I will tell him you called and he can call you back.”
“No, you will wake him now. My call is important. If he isn’t dead, dying or in a coma, I need to talk to him.”
Alma sighed. She put the Danny’s cell phone down on the table and moved closer to his bed.  For the first time, a sense of fear washed over Alma. Dannie had always been an impressive man. Intimidating to some, overly confident others might say. Alma sighed again.
She put her right hand on Danny’s right forearm, her left hand on his shoulder.  She leaned in close to his right ear.
Alma paused and waited to see if her voice stirred him awake.  Nothing noticeable.  She leaned in again and gently squeezed his arm and shoulder as she said his name again.
Waiting, this time she thought she saw his face muscles move a bit.  She tried again, this time barely shaking and squeezing his arm with her hands and leaned in closer.
Danny’s eyes blinked. His face scrunched, slowly he opened his eyes.  At first he seemed disoriented.  It took a few seconds for him to realize who Alma was, she could tell the moment he recognized her. His face lit up.
“I’m not dead.”
Alma smiled and shook her head.
“No, Danny, you are not dead.  You do have an obstinate brother on the phone who is insistent that he talk with you.  Do you feel like sitting up and talking to him?”
Danny started to raise himself up in the bed, but Alma stopped him with hands on his chest.
“No, I will raise the bed, just a minute, let’s get you up and see how you feel, ok?”
Alma raised the head of the bed, and handed the control to Danny, who laid it by his hip.  She reached back to the table and grabbed the mug of ice water and offered him the straw. Danny pushed it away.
“Seriously, try, you will want to stay hydrated, trust me.  I have spent some time with Harlan and hospitals.  Besides, if you are going to talk to Theo, you need to moisten your mouth and throat. You snore, it’s probably dry and once you start talking you will wish you had.”
Danny looked at Alma with a grimace, grabbed the mug from her and sucked on the straw. It was ice cold and she was right it felt good, he realized how dry his mouth and throat were.  Between sips he sighed.
“You and Leighann, you both were good mothers.”
“Thank you, and yes she was.  You aren’t the only one who misses her.”
“I know.  Here. Give me the phone.”
He handed Alma back the mug and waited as she reached over to place the mug on the table and hand back the phone.
“What the hell, Theo, can’t I get some peace and quiet?”


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