At his car, Brandon tossed his gym bag in the backseat, then climbed in on the driver’s side, started the engine and drove off. His stomach growled, letting him know it was far past the time for him to eat. As he merged onto the freeway, his cell rang and he engaged the Bluetooth device. “Hello.”
“Brandon, can you stop by Thad’s and pick up a folder for the meeting tomorrow morning?”
“Hey, Dad. I thought he was going to be there.”
“He planned to, but the orthopedic clinic had a cancellation and can see him sooner than his original appointment two months from now.”
Brandon knew how difficult it was to get an appointment with a specialist and understood the necessity of taking anything that came along earlier.
“I’d go, but your mother and I are on our way out and won’t be back until late.”
“I’ll take care of it.”
“Thanks. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Groaning, Brandon reversed his course and headed in the opposite direction. Twenty minutes later, he parked behind Uncle Thad’s black Buick, got out and started up the walkway. Unlike the other houses on the block, this one had no steps leading to the door, which made it easier for him to maneuver his crutches or wheelchair. He rang the bell and, while waiting, scanned the meticulously groomed yard. Brandon remembered mowing it on many weekends growing up. The grass had turned brown in spots, but that was to be expected with the drought.
“Brandon, come on in.”
He turned at the sound of his uncle’s voice and stepped inside. “Hey, Unc. I see you still keep the yard looking good.”
Uncle Thad smiled. “You know I wouldn’t have it any other way.” He adjusted his crutches and led the way farther into the house. “Sorry you had to go out of your way. I know you probably have things to do so I won’t keep you.” The inside of the house was just as neat, with not a speck of dust to be found anywhere, despite his bachelorhood. He picked up a manila folder from the dining room table and handed it over.
“Thanks. Dad or I will fill you in when you get back.” Brandon retraced his steps to the front door.
“All right. See you Friday.”
He loped down the walk to his car, got in and backed out of the driveway. His stomach growled again. He had a steak marinating that he planned to grill and pair it with some potatoes and an ear of corn, but he was so hungry he didn’t think he’d last the time it took to prepare the meal. But he didn’t want to stop for fast food, either. The good thing was that Unc’s house wasn’t far from the freeway. He shifted his gaze from the road briefly to check the dash clock. Seven thirty. Hopefully, at this hour, he would have missed a good portion of the traffic. Brandon eased onto the highway and immediately saw that it was still a little heavy, but not too bad. His cell rang again. He sighed and connected.
“You were supposed to stop by my office and tell me what Dad wanted,” Siobhan said as soon Brandon answered. “I went to your office and your assistant said that you left before five. You never leave before five. What happened?”
He sighed, not really wanting to talk about it. “I just thought I’d leave a little early today, Vonnie, that’s all.”
“Mm-hmm, and you didn’t answer my question.”
Rather than risk his sister coming to his house tonight—and she definitely would to get answers—Brandon gave in. “He’s postponing his retirement.” He repeated what he’d told Khalil.
“That’s strange. Well, at least you’ll still get the position.”
Luckily, the shoulder was wide enough for the crashed car to be out of oncoming traffic. He jumped out, cell phone in hand and, being careful to stay closer to the shoulder, sprinted back to the passenger side of the car while dialing 911. He peered through the window and saw a woman inside. He gave the dispatcher the location and told him that the woman was conscious, but that a pipe of some sort was imbedded in her right shoulder. Brandon couldn’t tell whether it had gone in deep or if it was just the deployed airbag holding it in place. “Miss, are you okay?” he called through the slightly open window.