I received the call from Mandy this morning. Monica called to say that Chris was in the hospital. From my new work desk in San Francisco I called my brother’s cell phone and Monica answered. She asked, “How are you doing?”
I asked to speak to Chris. I asked him, “Where are you?” He thought for a moment and said, “Minnesota.” I asked him, “Where in Minnesota?” He responded with a string of syllables.
“Don’t… not good,” he eventually told me.
Monica told me not to visit. She also told me to manage my parents. “He’s really doing fine,” she said. “Tell your mom not to worry about him, or make a scene.” The nurse told her that it’s most likely encephalitis, a swelling of the brain tissue caused by a viral infection. Many people recover from it, but the damage is permanent to some.
I called Mom. I called Dad. They decided to fly out to see him.
I decided to fly out. Why I decided to fly to Minnesota I’m not sure. I have the vague idea that my purpose is to protect him from my parents.
I told my new employer. The trade show this week is the most important one of the year. He was gentle. “You make time with your brother as required,” he wrote, in perfect clipped Japlish.
I sit in terminal B in Las Vegas at midnight. Slot machines and cool air and tired old women in NASCAR jackets. Too much noise to rest. My next flight leaves in an hour. I don’t know Minneapolis.