Part of the Whole

Brian stomped over to the phone. Calling at one o'clock in the morning, it better be important. "Hello?"

"Hi. This is Jeff Sanders. Who have I got?"

Sanders... Sanders... Oh, yeah. Dan'l's friend in the band. Brian shook off a yawn and his irritation. "Brian. What's up, Jeff? Did the truck break down, and you got elected to hike to the nearest phone?"

"Uuhhh, no. I'm calling from County Hospital. Daniel's here."

Brian snapped awake. "What? What happened? Is he all right?"

"Well, I don't know really. They've got him in the back. There were these mean drunks hassling some ladies after the show. It looked like it was gonna get ugly, so we tried to head 'em off. Only, they didn't want to go. Anyhow, Daniel got hit in the throat and maybe a broken hand."

"In the throat?" Could be serious.

"Yeah, he was having some trouble breathing, so they got an ambulance. We followed, and we're all here with the deputy."

"But he was breathing on his own?"

"Yeah. But he couldn't talk." That Dan'l could breathe was reassuring anyway.

"Okay, we'll be right there. Are the rest of you guys okay?

"Sure. Just like any old fight."

"We're on our way. Thanks for calling, Jeff." Brian ran the stairs two at a time. He pounded on Adam and Hannah's door, experience letting him know he shouldn't just walk in. "Adam, get up! Daniel's hurt!"

As Brian turned the hall, the last door opened. Evan and Ford crowded onto the landing, wiping away sleep; unfortunately, Crane was in Fresno after a late meeting with a prospective beef buyer. "Jeff Sanders just called. The band got in a fight defending some damsels in distress, and Daniel got hit in the throat."

Adam's voice was rough with sleep, "The throat? Is he okay?"

"Some trouble breathing and Jeff said he couldn't talk, so they took him to County by ambulance. But he was breathing on his own. And he might have a broken hand."

Evan pushed back into his room as the others shouted questions Brian had no answer for. Adam also went to get dressed. Brian looked over the railing to see Guthrie standing by their bed, looking up to see what was going on. Brian turned back to Hannah and Ford. They didn't all need to go to the hospital in the middle of the night. From prior experience, Brian knew it wasn't a good idea for the whole clan to descend on the emergency room. Plus, the band was there.

Inside of two minutes, Adam and Evan were racing down the stairs. Brian, Hannah, and Ford hurried after them.

Hannah looked helpless. "Call when you know anything."

Adam hurriedly kissed her forehead, "We will. I love you." He followed Evan outside. In seconds, the truck tore off down the ranch road.

"Brian, what happens when you get hit in the throat?"

Guthrie looked concerned, worry for Daniel covering his face. How much to tell him and Ford? "Well, it depends on where he got hit and how hard the punch was. Sometimes, you can have trouble breathing. That's what Jeff said happened to Daniel, so he needed to get checked out at the hospital."

"Enough trouble that he could die?" Guthrie was the most obvious worrier in the family.

Brian worked to hide his wince and glanced at Hannah for help. And God bless her, she caught it.

"He was just having some trouble, but he was still doing okay. We would've all gone if it was more serious than that, right?"

Guthrie took a second and then nodded slightly. Ford didn't seem convinced.

Brian tried to reassure him, "Legally, Adam is his next of kin, Ford; he has to be there."

"And Evan?"

Brian lifted one shoulder in a half shrug, "You know how he and Dan'l are...Pete and Re-Peat."

Ford eyed Brian, shook his head silently, and then plopped down on the sofa beside Guthrie.

Hannah moved to the kitchen, "I'm gonna make some hot cocoa. Anyone besides me?"

Brian called out his request along with his younger brothers. This was going to be a long night.