Brig awoke in a hospital bed, right arm in a cast, head wrapped in gauze, and the familiar sound of Buddha snoring somewhere to his right. He looked up at a clock that hung on the wall in front of him. The clock read 2:53 a.m. He was sore and groggy as he tried to remember what had happened. He attempted to look over towards the Buddha, but realized he was wearing a neck brace and it hurt too much to move.
“Buddha,” he croaked. His throat was dry, and he wondered how long he had been out. “Buddha!” he tried again, but to no avail. He knew from experience how hard it was to wake the Buddha, even when he could shake him. Fortunately, a nurse walked in to check on him.
“Oh. Good. You’re awake,” the nurse said with a perfect British accent. “How are you feeling?” she asked.
“I’m thirsty. Can I have some water please?”
“Of course you can.” She moved to the side of the bed to a cup of water with a straw sticking out. “Here you go,” she said as she positioned the straw so that Brig could take it. He felt like a child.
“I can do it. Thanks.”
“Not easily, I should think…at least not for a while. You and your friend took quite a beating last night.”
Brig accepted her help and took a sip with the straw. The cold water felt good as it washed down his throat. He sucked until it was gone.
“Would you like more?”
Brig shook his head, “Nah. I’m good. Thanks. How’s my friend?”
“He will be O.K. but believe it or not, he’s worse off than you.” The nurse looked at some charts and wrote something down on her clipboard. “I’m sure you have a lot of questions, but let me have the doctor come in and answer them. In the meantime, should I wake sleepy head?” she cocked her head towards the snoring Buddha.
“Yes. That would be great. Thank you.”
The nurse moved over to Danny’s side and shook him gently. “Good morning.” Brig heard the Buddha give a final snort as he awoke. “Your friend is awake.” Brig heard the nurse tell the Buddha. He saw the crown of the Buddha’s head out of his peripheral vision, and then his face came entirely into his view.
“Ahhhhhh!” Brig screamed, acting as though the sight of the Buddha’s face was frightening.
The Buddha smiled, “Always the comic, eh, Elder?”
“I’ll be here all week.” They smiled, and the Buddha touched Brig’s shoulder. Brig winced and wondered if there was anywhere on his body that didn’t hurt.
“You big pussy,” the Buddha said and withdrew his hand when he noticed that it caused pain.
“Get me up and let’s get out of here,” Brig chuckled and winced again as the pain intensified. “How’s Samson?” Brig inquired.
“Bad. Worse than you. He has a punctured lung and a collapsed eye socket…but he’ll live.”
“Why does this shit keep happening to me?”
“I don’t know. You’re just lucky I guess. What can you tell me about the guys that attacked you? the Buddha probed, trying to determine if Brig had any suspicions about Samson, and what he was really doing out there.
“I remember it was starting to get dark. We were walking to an appointment that Samson had scheduled, when that bunch of thugs stopped us.”
“What did they look like?”
“Black hair, about your height.” Brig answered sarcastically’ “You know you guys all look the same to me.”
“Did they say what they wanted?”
“They were speaking Mandarin. I couldn’t understand them, but Samson did. You know that guy is an even bigger badass, than we thought. He’s like Bruce Lee and Arnold Schwarzenegger rolled up into one person. I’ve never seen anything like it, except in the movies.”
You took a serious beating. If I hadn’t found you, you and Samson might have died out there. I don’t like to use the word ‘Hero,’ but…”
Brig smiled, and asked, “How did you find us? How did you know where we were?”
“Elder Chow had mentioned your Tin Heng appointment to me earlier. I came by your apartment for a nightcap, and when you weren’t there I waited. Around 11, when you hadn’t returned, I knew something must have happened and went looking for you. I found both of you lying on the path where the they must have jumped you.”
“Who knows about this? Have you spoken to President Woodley yet?”
“I suggest you have the hospital call him, and don’t tell him anything about my involvement. If he finds out I found you, he’s going to start asking questions that we don’t want him asking. We don’t want him looking into our non-missionary relationship, if you know what I mean.”
Brig did, and he agreed not to say anything, but he suspected that Buddha wasn’t telling him everything. He just didn’t know what.