The Red Dirt Circuit

Brad is dragged along to a convention in Texas by his parents. Left alone in the hotel while they attend the convention dinner, and told not to wait up for them, he decides to hit Sixth Avenue, take in the Austin music scene, and then return to the hotel, before his parents get back. The rewards are fraught with "complications."


17. The Party in the ER Waiting Room




Brad’s frantic parents rushed into the emergency room and breathlessly asked for their son’s status. The receptionist looked at the sheet and told them where they could wait. Jenn saw them and got their attention before they disappeared into the ER.

“Mrs. Ellison?”

Brad’s mother turned and recognized her. Jenn gave her a hug and tried to reassure her everything would be okay.

Brad’s father watched closely behind.

“You must be his father,” Skip said extending a hand. “I’m Skip. He’ll be fine.”

“Dave, Dave Ellison.”

“And I’m Darlene,” Brad’s mom.

“What the hell happened?” Dave said, upset that there they knew so little information. “We thought he was safe in his room. How’d he get here?” Dave’s voice rose and his question ended just lower than a shout.

“He’s just a kid and they do stuff,” Skip said. “Right now they’re X-raying his back to make sure it’s just a pinched nerve and not any broken bones.

Brad’s father thought that ironic because Skip didn’t look more than a kid himself. The tie and sports jacket added some years but the baby face gave away his young age.

“I know you’re angry that he stepped put on you but, if he didn’t—”

“I’d have been raped, or worse,” Jenn said.

“He’s a sort of a hero,” Skip said. “He was in the right place at the right time, even though he probably wasn’t supposed to be.”

“Thank God he was, or…” Jenn didn’t finish because her voice broke into a sob and she was gathered up by Brad’s mom. She cried uncontrollably and Brad’s mom rubbed her back.

Eventually she was able to speak.  “It’s really all my fault. I shouldn’t have trusted those guys.”

“Which guys?”

“Some students from the university.” Jill blew her nose and tried to keep from crying again. “I...I...met them at Gillie’s—that’s a bar a few doors down. There were just two and one had a date, or so I thought. He looked safe. When they suggested we go down the street to Wanners, I didn’t think anything of it. Then at the dance floor these guys introduced me to some other friends and the girl disappeared. I thought she was with them but I guess she suspected something and ditched them the first chance she got.

“But how did Brad get hurt?” Dave said. “By the way, how are you involved?” he said to Skip.

“I manage the band who was playing at Wanners.”

“Oh, okay, but what’s that got to do with—”

“There was a fight outside the bar.

“Brad doesn’t get into bar fights; that’s not like him.”

“He didn’t intend to,” Skip said. “He had just left me and left by the side door and then found them holding Jenn down at the back of the alley.”

“One of the guys, threw him over some trash cans and that’s when he hit his head and hurt his back—the back’s the worse part.”

“Did they say—”

“I haven’t seen anyone in the past ten minutes”



“Yeah, Skip, listen…thanks for everything, I—”

“You really have to thank my boys. If Jim and Jeff—they’re the guys in the band— hadn’t heard Jenn’s scream and rushed out there, Brad might be more injured. He bought her time.”

Brad’s mom was listening with her hand over her mouth, a hundred thoughts racing trough her head, still holding Jenn whose crying had stopped. “Are they hurt, too?

Skip laughed. “Those guys can take care of themselves—they’re always itchin’ for a fight.”

Darlene’s eyebrows unwrinkled and her grip on Jenn relaxed. Jenn took out a tissue and tried to stop her gushing nose.

“How does Brad know you?”

“I’ll tell you—your son—is a very personable young man,” Skip said, then seeing the police officer standing at the side of the room, he added in a lower voice, “even if he’s a bit underage.”

“He was supposed to be in the hotel room—watching TV.”

“Yup, that’s what they’d like you to think, but c’mon, this is Austin, the music capital of the South. He’s just doin’ what every kid his age wouldda done, but I’m telling you, he can handle himself.”

Dave put his hand on Skip’s shoulder. “I’m not so sure, we’re here in an emergency room.”

Jim and Sid entered the room.

“How’d they let you in here?” Skip asked.

“They didn’t—how’s Brad?” Sid asked. The look in their faces told him they had no idea.

“Jeff’s parking the car,” Jim said nodding to the door. He’ll be back in here in a couple of minutes.”

“So what happened at the station?” Skip asked.

“Not much. They took some statements. Your lawyer got us released and right now, those guys are ridin’ the rails and being outfitted with orange suits. They didn’t have much to say and that just convinced the judge they agreed with our version of the fight.”

Skip walked over to Sid. “That was quick thinking to grab that cop car in the street. That probably made all the difference.

“When I heard that scream and the trash cans go, I knew something was up. Jim and Jeff just bolted for the door. They’re guitars are probably still  laying on the dance floor.”

“Or the University of Texas just got some new instruments” Jeff said, arriving just in time to hear the end of Sid’s version of the story.

A doctor in scrubs came into the room and asked for the parents. They followed him to a curtained area. The doctor had an X-ray in his hand and asked them to follow him to a light wall. Clipping the X-ray up to the lighted background, the photo revealed a thin crack in one of Brad’s back bones.

“We thought he had a pinched nerve or a slight crack because he didn’t have all of his feeling in his legs.”

Dave gasped and put his arm around Darlene.

“He’ll be fine,” the doctor said. “He’ll have full use of his legs when the swelling goes down—you’ll just have to keep him quiet for a few days. We’ll hold him overnight and he could be able to travel in a couple of days. He’s young. They heal fast.”

“Where’s he now?”

“He was in pain so I gave him a sedative and he’s probably in his room by now. You can go up there but he won’t be awake for a couple of hours. We want him to remain in one position for a few hours to get that bone knitting in the right position.”

Dave thanked him and they went back out to Brad’s waiting friends.

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