Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly sat at his desk, staring blankly ahead. His offensive coordinator, Chuck Martin, too, was distracted in thought. They each understood that the other was fixated on the same thing: Tommy Rees’s neck.
In his bed, Tommy Rees wore the broken expression of an athlete dying young, his body wracked with pain and Vicodin. Next to him, in the easy chair, Andrew Hendrix sat silently, his eyes closed.
“Hendy.” Tommy said.
“Yeah?” Hendrix didn’t open his eyes and his face was devoid of expression.
“You gonna stop killing yourself about last night?”
Hendrix opened his eyes and took a drink from his water bottle. “No.”
“Everything’s gonna be alright, you know that.”
Kelly eyes locked into Martin’s. “When do the docs get here?”
“Dunno. They’re doctors. They move at their own pace.”
“Ratigan’s a player, dammit. He knows I gotta know right now.”
Martin picked up the telephone receiver on the desk and pushed one of the preset buttons. The wall clock ticked audibly. He placed his hand over the mouthpiece and whispered “message machine” to Kelly. “Dr. Balint? It’s Chuck. BK needs to know something soon. Call us right away.”
Doctors Chris Baliant and Brian Ratigan huddled together in the radiology suite, looking at the flat screens and clicking through MRI images. The enlarged certain ones, focusing on the whispery shadows and gradations of gray.
Baliant’s iPhone buzzed and vibrated, skittering across the meeting table behind them. He looked behind him and then back to the screen. ”It’s them.”
Ratigan never looked away from the images. “They’ll have to wait.”
Malik Zaire looked at his phone and the text message from Coach Kelly.
“My office. Now.”