Dying Declaration

Dying Declaration by Randy Singer Read Free Book Online

Book: Dying Declaration by Randy Singer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Randy Singer
wrestled with these questions in prayer. He still had no answers and no sense of assurance that Josh would be okay. More than anything else, he just wanted to be with Josh and resented the doctors for keeping him away from his own son.
    At least Tiger had finally run out of gas. He was sound asleep on the couch, mouth wide open and clinging to his blankie. Stinky had curled up on Thomas’s lap and also slept soundly. She was getting heavier by the minute, but Thomas was not about to put her down. He found security in the warmth of her touch.
    Theresa was not sleeping. She was up and down, roaming the hallways and pacing the waiting room. She would alternate between unjustified optimism and unwarranted pessimism. Right now, she was just sitting and staring. It had been at least five minutes since she had speculated about why they had not heard anything for so long. It had been fifteen minutes since she had stopped an ICU nurse in the hallway, pressing for information that was not forthcoming.
    What else could they do but wait?
    Though Thomas and Theresa had been glancing at the doorway for most of the night, Armistead somehow entered unnoticed. When Thomas caught Armistead in his peripheral vision, the doctor was already standing a few steps inside the room, in his white lab coat, looking grim. Thomas knew. Even before Armistead spoke, Thomas knew.
    Theresa jumped out of her seat, moving toward the doctor.
    “How’s he doing?” she asked.
    Thomas tensed but did not move. He didn’t want to shake Stinky from his lap.
    “It’s not good,” Armistead said evenly, professionally. “We did everything we could, but he didn’t make it; he just—”
    “No!” Theresa screamed. “No! Not my Joshie . . .” She collapsed on the floor, head in her hands, her words drowned out by her own sobs.
    Thomas stood and placed Stinky softly in the chair. Stinky woke, looked confused, and blinked the sleep out of her eyes. “What’s the matter?” she asked.
    “It’ll be okay,” Thomas mumbled as he tried to absorb the unthinkable. A numbness washed over him. He sat down on the floor next to Theresa and wrapped his arms around her. She buried her head on his shoulder.
    Tiger, who had been startled awake by his mother’s scream, rubbed his eyes and hopped down from the couch. He walked quickly toward his mom and dad and shot a mean glance at Dr. Armistead. He took his special blankie, his comforter, and spread it across his mom’s shoulders. Then he reached out and hugged his mommy’s neck. Thomas embraced them both in a three-person hug. In a flash, Stinky joined them and made it four.
    “Is Joshie okay?” Stinky whispered into her daddy’s ear.
    Thomas couldn’t find the words or the heart to tell her.

8
    STATE LAW REQUIRED that he report suspected child abuse. He had no choice in the matter. And so, after working a double shift, Sean Armistead reached for his cell phone while driving home, called directory assistance, and got the number for the Virginia Beach Department of Child Protective Services. He stayed on the line as the directory-assistance computer dialed the number.
    It did not surprise him to hear the answering machine kick in. He did not really expect anyone to be at the office at 7:00
a.m. on a Saturday. He left a message, then speed-dialed another number. He counted three rings before it was answered.
    “Hello,” said a gruff female voice at the other end. The voice belonged to Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Rebecca Crawford.
    “I thought you’d be at the office by now. You’re slipping.”
    Sean?”
    “Your friendly neighborhood doc with your weekend wake-up call.”
    “Fat chance. I’ve already finished my workout. It’s almost lunchtime for me, Doc.”
    “You’ve got to get a life.”
    “I’ve got one—remember? I put the guys behind bars that you stitch up and throw back out on the streets.”
    As he listened to her on the phone, she crystallized in his mind. Thirty-eight and fighting the

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