Neil turned to me. "Marshall," he said, "may we talk for a moment? In private?"
I nodded, and he followed me down the short hall to the pantry. I noticed that his glance went right to the coffee pot, so I asked, "Would you like a cup?"
He smiled. "Desperately, thank you. I didn't get much sleep last night." I moved to pour (for once, the pot wasn't nearly empty) and he said, "Black, please."
When we had our coffee, he said, "I hope you're the person to talk to. None of us have been here before, in the hospital, and we don't know how it works."
"I'm sure I can help, if anybody can,"
He nodded, leaning back against the sink and sipping the coffee.
"I am concerned for Felix's life. Not," he added quickly, "because of your care of him, but because we've been having some territorial disagreements with a gang called the Scorpions. You may have heard something about it. Felix has been handling a lot of the negotiations, and they have not been going well. It is possible that, especially when it becomes known that he is here and incapacitated . . ."
I nodded. "I understand. What are you looking for?"
"Two things. A room which is isolated, as much as possible, from the general patient population. And your acceptance of the fact that we will post a guard, around the clock, and that we are going to exercise reasonable control over access to Felix's room."