Deanna sucked in the breath she had prematurely released moments earlier. She never heard of this pet or any pet, let alone a pig. An ambulance had taken her brother. Lanelle had found him. Questions, one after another, bubbled up and compelled an immediate callback. A quick stab of the phone icon set things in motion. Her ear and shoulder sandwiched the smart phone while Deanna fidgeted with the machine in front of her. Hook-ups and wires returned to order.
What happened to her brother?
Lanelle didn’t pick-up. Deanna pulled open the supply drawer on the anesthesia cart. The plastic rolled back in place with a satisfying thwack. Deanna wiped everything down threefold. The drawer yawned open and snapped closed in between each task. Lanelle’s number rang and rang, unanswered.
Deanna left Cleveland. She headed to Travis, who lived in her hometown in Kentucky, a place she hadn’t been in years. She sped southwest, down interstate seventy-one, calling every nearby hospital en route. Deanna’s last conversation with Travis churned in her mind. He had contacted her half a year ago needing money.
“Storm came in, blew the roof to bits, Dee,” Travis had told her.
Inclement weather loomed ever present in her sibling’s life. She white-knuckled her tried and true answer, some version of, “Hell no, for God’s sake, man up and get your life in order.” She had ended the call with, “You’re supposed to be my older brother,” her last words to him.
Deanna needed no directions. She located the Sheriff’s office by memory. The squat red brick building stood as it always had on the corner of Main street.
She knew Sheriff Ward since they were kids. Then, he’d been called Jared and only Jerry on the field, the high school baseball team’s catcher. Travis had pitched, basking in the limelight. Jerry had given all the signs that allowed Travis to shine.
“Misadventure,” Jerry said.
Her brother was five days gone when discovered. Calling the death such allowed the file to close. Remorse shadowed Jerry’s face. He had lost an old friend.
The official designation left much to be desired. Her brother had choked on his own vomit. Jerry suggested the asphyxiation was likely unintentional. The officer on the scene had found no signs of foul play. The strange condition they had discovered Travis in, however, caused one to wonder. Deanna would decide for herself.