Andy pointed a finger at one of the guys. “Zeke, come with us. I want the rest of you guys to come up with some ideas for a game plan for tonight.”
Zeke stood up and all of the guys nodded.
I really wished they would stop doing that.
Andy lumbered to the door to the stairs. He glanced back. “You coming, Core?”
I got in line behind Zeke and followed them up the stairs and into Andy’s apartment on the second floor. What I saw inside surprised me.
His front room looked like a sports museum. Jerseys and photos covered most of the wall space. Signed helmets, baseballs, basketballs and other autographed gear was crammed into three large bookcases. The room itself was carefully lit and immaculate.
It was so unlike Andy that I almost couldn’t believe my eyes.
I didn’t have time to look at anything as Andy just plodded down the hall to his bedroom.
I could smell the bedroom before I could see into it. It definitely reeked of Andy’s signature B.O. What a slob.
As we entered, it felt much truer to what I knew about Andy. The room reflected him almost perfectly: smelly and messy. In fact, it was messier than my room even after the ransacking.
Clothes and garbage were piled everywhere. The bed had no sheets, just a blanket piled up in a corner and a caseless feather pillow. A small desk with a computer sat next to one of the two windows.
Andy waded through the filth to one of the windows. He hesitated, took a deep breath, and then looked back at Zeke and me.
“His window is right across from here.” He pointed a thumb out the window.
Turning back to the window, he shouted, “Hey, Frankie.”
With that, he suddenly became a little too nervous. He made for the door. As he left, he called back to me, “Corbin, go talk to Frankie, and if you need anything, just send Zeke here.”
I wish I could say that he left and took his stink with him, but I can’t. The room was soaked in it.
Andy’s bizarre behavior was throwing me for a continual curve. I tried to put it from my mind, as there were more serious matters at hand.
As I reached the window where Andy had shouted, a man appeared in the window directly across the narrow alley.
He was thin and looked tired.
He called out, “So, Any, you finally…” He stopped short when he saw that it was me.
“Sorry, I thought you were Andy.”
“Thank goodness, no. What’s going on?”
“Andy didn’t say?” I could see distaste on his face every time he said Andy’s name.
“He didn’t say much, and I don’t trust what that idiot has to say anyway.”
“My, uh, roommate got bitten by one of the crazies outside the hospital today.”
The shock of knowing the virus was already far spread has worn off and I was getting into my regular ER mindset.
“How is he doing now?”
Frankie’s voice wavered. “Is Carlton going to die?”
Visions of the infected crowd I had seen outside filled my head.
“I don’t know. Let’s do what we can to save him. I just need you to help me out, OK?”
Frankie nodded. “OK.”
“How is he doing now?”
“He’s lying in bed. He’s burning up, and he must be in pain because he keeps moaning and grinding his teeth.”
“Has he taken anything for the pain or fever?”
“I gave him four ibuprofen when he got in.”
“Did that help break the fever?”
I turned back to Zeke and sent him to go up to the hall closet in my apartment and bring down the big first aid kit and every bottle of medicine he could find.
Zeke looked very relieved to have a job that took him out of the room.
“I’m going to get him something a little stronger to see if we can’t make him comfortable. How long has he been this way?”
“He got in about twenty minutes after the power went out. Within the hour he had a huge headache and a fever. He came up here to lie down and has been getting worse ever since.”
“Have you been able to take his temperature?”
“Anything else you think I should know?”
Frankie looked down and shook his head.
I wondered how long it would take Zeke to bring my supplies. Frankie wasn’t looking too stable, and I knew that if he freaked out, there’d be absolutely no helping Carlton.
“So, why doesn’t Andy want to talk to you? He left in an awful hurry.”
Frankie clenched his jaw for just a moment, then sighed. “Carlton is Andy’s twin brother. They haven’t spoken since Andy found out, well, since Carlton came out. Now Andy hates Carlton and blames me.”