“Where have you been?” Leo asked as Willa walked in.
“I went shopping,” she said, holding up a grocery bag as proof. “We needed milk and eggs and I needed some feminine products…”
Leo held up a hand to stop her. “Okay.”
“Would you like to check the bag?” Willa asked, holding the bag open for him.
“No, I’m good.”
He gave her a pointed look. “Yes.”
Willa grinned. “I also picked up some more Lucky Charms for Walter.”
“That was very thoughtful of you.”
“Where is Walter? Still working on the case of the missing prize Yorkie?”
“Still working on it, but he’s lying down right now. He has a headache.”
“Another one? What’s that make… three this week?”
Leo nodded. “Yeah. I’m starting to get a little worried about him.”
“Why? It’s just a headache.”
“For anyone else, it might just be a headache, but for a man who has suffered brain damage, it could be the sign of something worse.”
Willa frowned. “I didn’t even think of that. Maybe we should take him to a doctor?”
“You think I haven’t tried to get him to go? When it comes to doctors and hospitals, he’s even more stubborn than you are.”
Walter pulled his covers up around his shoulders tightly as the throbbing in his head increased slightly. He didn’t need this, not right now. He needed to find Princess M, the Yorkie, that’s what he needed. But when he began to think, to try to put the pieces of the puzzle that he already had together, the pain and throbbing increased to the point that it felt as though a knife was being plunged into his brain. And twisted.
He rolled over and looked at the clock; it read three thirty-four pm. He’d spent most of the day in bed. His hand hit the bedside table and began searching blindly for the bottle of aspirin he’d left there earlier. Watch… glasses… wallet… His hand hit something cool and the sound of glass shattering sliced through his head in the next instant. He clapped his hands over his ears and curled into himself more, regretting his decision to search for the aspirin. In that moment, he was regretting waking up… hell, he was regretting even existing, the pain was so intense.
“Walter?!” Leo yelled, his footsteps thundering in.
“Shh!” Walter scolded as loudly as he dared.
“It was just a glass,” Willa whispered, pointing to the glass shattered on the wet wood floor.
“Aspirin,” Walter begged.
“No, I think it’s time you go to the hospital,” Leo said softly.
“Can’t, have to find Princess M.”
“Walter, you can’t even find the bottle of aspirin, you’re in no state to find a dog.”
Walter gave Leo a harsh glance. “Rub it in.”
Leo laid a comforting hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Come on Walter, let’s go to the hospital and get you to feeling better.”
Walter’s expression hardened. His heartbeat quickened and the air suddenly felt thin. “No.”
“I know you don’t like hospitals, but…”
“But nothing. Dead or dying, that’s the only way you’ll get me to a hospital.”
“Walter, don’t be…”
“Give me my aspirin.”
Leo gave him a challenging look, one that he remembered giving his daughter once upon a time when she refused to do something.
“Willa, my aspirin.”
Willa looked between Walter and Leo, unsure of what she should do. It felt like one of those situations where no matter what she did, she would lose with someone. She watched as Walter pulled his knees impossibly closer to his chest. He was pale and his eyes looked watery; he had to be in a lot of pain. But what scared her more was what Leo was always saying; that if Walter ever failed to find something, he would die. Or go into a coma. Something bad would happen to him anyways. Leo always added that it was just a theory, but the way it seemed to scare everyone when Walter would hit a dead end… it had to be more than just a theory.
Willa sighed. “The aspirin isn’t doing any good.”
“Not going to the hospital…”
“I know. Just hang on… I’ve still got those pain pills from when I broke my arm. They should work better.” Willa ran off to retrieve the prescription bottle from her trailer.
“You were supposed to take those,” Leo scolded her when she returned with the pills and a glass of water.
Willa rolled her eyes. “I took a few. Besides, it’s a good thing that I didn’t… Walter needs them more than I did.”
Walter gave Willa a thankful look as she shook a couple of the pills out into his hand. He popped the pills into his mouth and angled his head so that he could get a sip of water to wash them down with. “You’re an angel.”
Willa smiled. She sat the pills and water down and pulled his blankets up as he closed his eyes.
When Walter woke, he found himself in the dark. He looked at the clock again; it was eleven twenty-seven pm. He’d slept the rest of the day away. As he rolled over, he took stock of how he felt… weak, still tired, and his head still ached. It wasn’t as bad as before, just a dull ache that hung in his skull like a fog. He still couldn’t think though. He sat on the side of his bed, rubbing his hands over his face, clearing the sleep from his eyes and massaging his forehead. When he’d first woken, it occurred to him that he needed to do something. What was it?
‘Think Walter, think!’ he mentally prodded himself. He rested his elbows on his knees and his face in his hands. His mind was a blank. It was as though he was yelling into nothingness. He’d never felt so… so… damnit! He couldn’t even think of the word he was looking for to describe how he felt! He wanted to scream and cry and hit something and several other things that his brain refused to identify, but he thought better of it. The last thing he needed to do was cause the dull ache to escalate.
Walter took a calming breath before he stood. As he looked around his room, it occurred to him that he really needed to use the bathroom. That was what he needed to do! He smiled as he mentally celebrated the small victory of remembering.
He took one step towards the bathroom before falling to the floor. The smile faded away as his body began to jerk erratically.