“What?” Samson blurted, as if wondering whether his coach’s thesaurus had gotten stuck open to the pages spanning abhorrent through abrupt.
“Well, all we’ve proven since day one is that you guys don’t know how to get along and that I can’t keep control of you,” Coach said, looking grim and sad. “Now one of my players has landed in the hospital. This is not a propitious situation. There’s a school board meeting next Wednesday, and my guess is once they hear about this, the team will be on their agenda.”
Please don’t be here to give anyone last rights, he thought.
The door behind the desk opened, and Mrs. Szonyi walked out, holding Jason’s little brother Eric by the hand. Her blond hair was back in a ponytail, and her usually made-up face was wan, having been wiped clean by tears and tissues. She deposited Eric in a chair near the wall with a book and walked over to Coach. Every player in the room either stood up or at least sat up straight. Drew was on his feet in a second.
“Is he okay?” Drew blurted before Jason’s mom could even get a word out.
She smiled weakly. “He’s going to be fine.”
“Yes!” Drew cheered, feeling his entire body lighten. All the other guys cheered and hollered as well, hugging and celebrating in their ebullient way until one of the nurses told them to cut the crap. Then they instantly fell silent, blushing like mad.
“That’s great news, Jenny,” Coach Davidson said, squeezing Mrs. Szonyi’s arm.
“They were circumspect at first,” Jason’s mother explained, taking the chair Drew had vacated. “They didn’t want to say anything, basically, until he woke up. But he finally did about fifteen minutes ago, and he answered all their questions correctly, so . . . as long as they keep him awake for a while, they think he’ll be fine. The only problem is that since he needs to stay awake, they can’t give him anything for the pain in his leg yet.”
“His leg?” Drew asked.
“It’s broken,” she replied, reaching into her purse for a tissue, which she pressed to her nose. “Other than a concussion, that’s his worst injury.”
Drew felt sick to his stomach. Someone had broken Jason’s leg? Who the hell could do such a thing?
“It probably happened in the pile-on,” Samson said, as if reading Drew’s thoughts. “I’m sure no one meant for anything like this to happen, Mrs. Szonyi.”
“I know. It seems like a lot of you boys are worse for the wear,” she said, glancing around at all the cuts and bruises around her. She closed her eyes and held her breath for a moment. “I’m sorry. I just have such an aversion to hospitals.”
“Is there anything I can get you?” Drew asked automatically.
“I’m on it,” Drew said, happy to have some kind of task to perform.
“Can I come?” Eric asked, jumping out of his chair.
“Sure, little man,” Drew said, ruffling the kid’s curly hair. Eric was always following him and Jason around, and sometimes his precociousness annoyed Drew, but tonight he welcomed the kid’s company. It made him feel closer to Jason somehow.