Something Better than Nothing

Debra Fran Baker

dfbaker@panix.com


The phone's ring startled Casey out of a restless sleep. All night, he'd had dreams of Dan, some of them featuring his partner in ways he'd rather not think about that he thought about, and he'd woken up shaking after each one.

"Yeah?" He blinked blurrily at his clock radio. 3AM. Someone would pay.

"Casey, it's Isaac." His voice was tense.

"Isaac? What's wrong?"

"How soon can you get to Roosevelt?"

"How soon can I get to Roosevelt?"

"Yes. How soon?"

"Roosevelt the hospital? St. Luke's-Roosevelt? That Roosevelt?"

"That Roosevelt. At 59 th St. The Emergency ward."

"This time of night? Fifteen minutes." Casey struggled out of bed and began pulling on clothing. "Why am I rushing to Roosevelt this time of night?"

"Just...hurry. I have to call Dana and the others. I'll see you here." The phone clicked.

Casey jammed his feet into his sneakers, grabbed his keys and his wallet and ran out the door. Twelve minutes later, the taxi deposited him in front of the old, imposing brick building.

Isaac, leaning on his cane and looking older than Casey could remember seeing him, met him just inside. "Thank God. You made it."

"What is it? Is it Danny?"

"Yes. It's Danny. We have to go in now."

"It *is* Danny?"

"It's Danny, and we have to go in now."

"Go where? Isaac, what the hell is going on here? And..."

"Casey, about two hours ago, Danny called me."

"That would be about...1:30. Danny called you at 1:30AM."

"Yes. Casey..."

"Does he do that a lot? Call you at 1 in the morning?"

"This was the first time. Casey, listen to me. Danny called, scared out of his mind."

Casey felt his stomach freeze up. "Isaac, why was Danny scared out of his mind? Danny doesn't get scared out his mind safe in his apartment at 1 AM."

"He does if he's just swallowed a dozen or so sleeping pills on top of a bottle of whisky."

"Danny doesn't take sleeping pills. He also doesn't drink whole bottles of whisky."

"Danny doesn't. But he did. And he got scared and he called me. And I called the police on my other line and tried to keep him talking but he stopped before they got there. They had to break in. They called an ambulance and told me where he was going."

"Danny...this is a joke, right? Danny is hiding behind that door, and he's just fine."

"He will be fine, but he's not fine now. And he is behind those doors over there."

"This is not possible. He...why would Dan do that? And...why would he call *you*?"

"I don't know. At the time, I was too scared myself to worry about why, and to just be grateful he called *someone*."

"Does he want to see me? Because if he doesn't want to see me, and he's...I don't know if it's a good idea if I should see him." Casey looked at Isaac, not knowing what he wanted to hear. Could he bear to see Dan lying in a emergency ward bed after doing that to himself? Could he bear not to? One thing he knew. He would *not* think about what would have happened if Dan had not called Isaac. No way would he think about that, because thinking about that led to thoughts of no Dan at all, and that was the worst thing Casey could think about, so he wouldn't think about it at all.

"Go and see him, Casey. Unless you want to talk to Dana and Jeremy and Natalie, all o