It wasn’t long before Sammy was fast asleep but every now and then he would struggle in his slumber and cry out. Brian, true to his word, stayed by his side and did his best to calm him when he was restless.
“How is he?” Kevin asked, coming over to him.
“Restless. I think he’s having nightmares, poor baby,” Brian replied.
“Can’t say I blame him. What are we gonna do with him?”
“I’m not sure. I say that we take him to the hospital as soon as we can and then call the police. I guess they’ll know how to deal with it all. They can probably find his parents.”
Kevin hesitated a moment before speaking again. “This is not the kind of area where you’d find campers. Where do you think he came from? Do you think his parents were in an accident or something?”
“I don’t know, surely he would have told us if his parents were nearby. When I asked him about them he just started crying on me.”
“Poor little guy,” Kevin said, patting the sleeping form.
“How long till the town?”
“Another hour at least. When we get there, you can take him to the hospital and the rest of us will go to the police to make enquiries. He’s probably been reported lost and his parents will be there waiting to pick him up.”
“I hope so, I really hope so.”
Two hours later, Henry drove the bus into the town. AJ peered at the map in his hands. “Left here,” he instructed Henry as they approached a crossroad.
“What’s that red glow over there?” Howie said, pointing out of the window.
“There’s smoke. Looks like a fire of some kind,” Henry replied.
Three fire engines and a couple of ambulances zoomed by, the klaxons blaring out into the night.
“Fire,” AJ said.
“We’re here now,” Henry said, as he stopped the bus.
Brian wrapped Sammy up in a blanket and picked him up carefully so as not to wake him.
“Do you want me to come?” Kevin asked.
“I’ll be all right,” Brian replied. “I’ll attract less attention if it’s just me who goes in there. You guys go to the cops and see what you can find out.”
“Okay,” Kevin said, opening the door for his cousin to jump out. “We’ll be back as soon as possible.
Brian nodded and rearranged Sammy in his arms. Kevin gave him an encouraging smile before shutting the door. The bus slowly began to move away. Brian carried Sammy through the hospital doors and into a packed waiting room. A number of people looked up at him curiously. Brian kept his head down and wished that he had bought his hat, it would have been some kind of disguise at least.
“Can I help you?” the woman on the desk asked.
“We need to see a doctor. My friends and I found this kid in the road,” Brian stammered, aware of eyes burrowing into his back.
“Found him? Has he been hit by a car?”
“No, but he’s had a bit of a shock, we only just missed him. I want to get him checked out. He hasn’t woken up since he fell asleep a few hours ago.”
“Where are his parents?”
“I – I don’t know.”
“What’s his name?” she asked, pulling a pen and form towards her.
“Surname?” she asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Okay, what’s your name?” she asked, and Brian was disgusted at the slight amusement in her voice.
She thinks it’s funny, he thought. The Backstreet Boys almost killed a little boy and she thinks it’s amusing. Why are some people so sick?
“Brian Littrell,” he murmured. “Double t, double l.”
“Right, Mr.Littrell, please take a seat and we’ll be with you as soon as we can.”
“But - ”
“There has been a fire, Mr.Littrell and we’re expecting a lot of patients to arrive soon. We will deal with the boy as soon as we can. At the moment the doctors are all on standby for the fire patients.”
Brian looked about the waiting room, nervously. “Can we at least have a separate room to wait in?” he begged.
“You want us to make special arrangements because of your celebrity status?”
Brian gritted his teeth. “For the kid’s sake,” he said. “Please?”
The receptionist turned to a dark skinned man behind her. “Nelson, will you escort Mr. Littrell here to one of the family rooms? Then will you call the police and tell them that we have a lost child?”
“My friends have already gone to the police,” Brian said, quickly. “They’ll probably be here soon.”
The receptionist glared at him. “I wonder what they’ll think of this incident?” she said, icily. She clearly was not a fan.
Brian fought the urge to snap at her. Did she really think they’d intentionally hurt a little boy? He hoped that the police would have a higher opinion of them.
Brian followed Nelson into a smaller waiting room. It was much quieter in here. “Thank you,” Brian said. “I really appreciate this.”
“I’ll have a doctor see you as soon as possible but you must understand that we have a lot of people with more serious problems to deal with as well.”
“I understand. I’m just worried about him, that’s all.”
“I’m sure he’ll be fine. If you need anything, let me know,” Nelson said, quietly shutting the door as he left.
Sammy stirred in Brian’s arms and opened his eyes, blearily. “Mommy?” he asked, vaguely.
“No, it’s Brian,” he said. “Do you remember me?”
“Yes,” Sammy replied. He opened his bright blue eyes and blinked back the tears. One of his hands clasped Brian’s. “Where are we?”
“At the hospital. They said they’ll get a doctor to you as soon as they can.”
“I think I okay,” Sammy said, but Brian could feel him trembling in his arms.
“Sammy, what happened to your mother?” he asked, quietly. “Are you lost?”
Another tear fell from Sammy’s eyes. Brian felt his heart bleed for the poor, hopeless child in his arms. He hated seeing him so distressed. Sammy leaned his head against Brian’s chest, saying nothing. He squeezed his own teddy close.
“Who’s this?” Brian asked, changing the subject, he patted the small stuffed dog.
“Rocky,” Sammy replied.
“He’s cute. You like dogs?”
“Yes,” he replied shyly.
“I’ve got a dog.”
“What’s his name?”
“Tyke. He’s really sweet.”
Brian held him silently for a few seconds.
“She left me,” Sammy said, suddenly.
Brian felt himself turn numb. “Who did?” he asked, knowing and dreading the answer.
“My mommy.” Sammy stopped as he tried to choke back sobs.
Brian stared at him in amazement. He felt tears in his own eyes. He was only a baby. How could someone have just left him?