I left Gary with Anne, Hannah and Rebecca. Andrew was still there
too having a good time. Elena and I went to the infirmary to get my
bag. I kept two bags supplied at all times – one at home and another
in my truck. Since I was at the fairgrounds rather than home, the hospital
or the clinic for the next few weeks I’d brought my bag from home to keep
in the infirmary so as to keep my other bag in the truck for emergencies.
When we arrived at the location where the accident was supposed to have
happened there was no one there. I didn’t think anything of it at first
because the accident could have been very minor in nature and the parties
involved could have just brushed themselves off and gone back to whatever
they were doing previously. But I got a sinking feeling in my stomach
when the next thing I heard was that there was a fight going on.
Elena and I rushed to the scene to find Gary lying face down in a heap
on the ground unconscious. Chris, Rob and Alex were close on my heels
having heard about the fight themselves and believing it was Andrew that
was in trouble. It wouldn’t have been a first if it were Andrew.
Andrew was already there sporting a black eye. When I sized up the
situation and came to the conclusion that someone, and I strongly suspected
who, was out to get us – or me, I started issuing orders to my cousins.
The dance was over as far as I was concerned so I had Chris shut things down.
Chris was the next oldest of the family after me and also a Texas Ranger.
Nobody in their right mind tangles with him if they know what’s good for
them because he’s one tough cookie when he’s mad. Rob and Alex were
to find their sisters and cousin and send them to my hotel for the night.
Then when I was through with Gary and Andrew my youngest cousin was to stick
close to the other three and they to each other. Security needed to
be notified to keep a close watch on things the rest of the night.
As they jumped to obey my orders I turned my attention to Gary. He
was still unconscious, was breathing hard and bleeding from a split lip
and a gash on his left temple. The broken glass liquor bottle I saw
nearby was probably responsible for it. The two men deliberately standing
back in the shadows some from the group were Washo and Jimmy. They’d
come upon the scene just as Gary was passing out and Washo had easily broken
up the one-sided fight I’m sure. However, I was more concerned about
Gary than then men who had attacked him so I left them go. Washo knew
what they looked like and he wouldn’t be apt to forget very soon.
The light filtering into that grove of trees wasn’t sufficient for me to
see well enough to really examine Gary so I recruited Washo and Jimmy to
carry him to the infirmary for me and told Andrew to come along because I
wanted a look at him when I was through with Gary. Elena got an ice
pack for Andrew’s to put on his eye as he sat in a chair out of the way after
getting me a pan with some hot water to clean Gary’s cuts with.
Gary came around as I was cleaning him up and checking for other injuries.
I’d found a goose egg sized lump under his dark hair and was thankful that
he had such thick hair. Outside of the lump and a few minor cuts his
head injuries weren’t serious. His face was badly bruised and he had
a cut and swollen lip but there were no loose teeth or broken bones in his
jaw. He moaned when his eyes started to open. I was pulling
his tee shirt out of the waistband of his jeans when he came around completely.
I hated to cause him any more pain but I needed to check his stomach and
ribs for bruising and breaks. His abdomen was fine. Apparently
they’d “only” worked on his ribcage.
I should have sent him to the hospital but Gary protested and I caved in.
As I was checking his ribs he’d gasped and I’d apologized saying that short
of sending him to the hospital that was the only way to find out if anything
was broken. Gary looked at me with such misery and fear of hospitals
(and needles and such) and pretty much begged me not to send him to the
hospital. Ever since we met I’ve had a difficult time resisting his
“puppy dog” looks. That night was no exception. When he promised
to go straight to be and stay there I gave in.
So Elena and I cleaned him up and bandaged him and then I had a quick look
at Andrew before sending him to join the others with orders to see me the
next day. Washo volunteered to drive my truck while Jimmy followed
in their vehicle so I could ride in back with my patient who was dozing and
already slightly flushed with what I call pain fever. I sent Elena
home with an escort from a Security Guard that had arrived to see that she
got to her car safely.
When we got to McGinty’s I had Washo park the truck in the alley.
There I roused Gary and when he got to the end of the tailgate, Washo and
Jimmy put his arms around their shoulders and followed me as I led the way
through the kitchen to the office and the stairs. The help that was
in the kitchen was stunned. They’re not used to seeing Gary in that
condition that’s for sure. About the time we got to the door that leads
to the stairs Chuck walked into the office and saw us. He was shocked
and concerned when he saw Gary. Trying to keep the uproar to a minimum
I told him to show my friends the way to the loft and they’d help him put
Gary to bed for me. I wanted to break the news to Marissa. Chuck
wasn’t going to be handed that duty. He’d be like the proverbial bull
in the china shop. I wanted to break the news to her gently.
I left Chuck and Marissa, whom I brought upstairs with me, with Gary while
I shoed Washo and Jimmy out. Actually I wanted them to meet Crumb.
He’d be a big help in establishing the connections and resources they’d
need for their investigation. After more than twenty years on the department
I knew he’d be able to help. He wasn’t surprised to see me but he
was mildly surprised at my refusal of a coke and my half-hearted and distracted
response to the greetings I got from the regulars in attendance that knew
me. He didn’t ask a lot of questions as I filled him in on what had
happened to Gary. I took him to the office and introduced him to Washo
and Jimmy and told him what I wanted. He was real quick to respond
favorably to my request. They made arrangements to meet at his old
precinct the next morning and then Crumb went back to work while I went out
to my truck for blankets and stuff. My Texas friends hugged me and
told me to rest easy because they’d find out what was going on. When
they left I went back upstairs to be with my patient.
I didn’t let Chuck and Marissa stay long because I didn’t want to arouse
the curiosity of their customers as to why all three of them were missing
and I tried to reassure Marissa that Gary would be just fine. I’m
not saying that I fooled her because I really wasn’t sure but I’d promised
Gary he wouldn’t have to go to the hospital so I gave it my best shot.
After Chuck and Marissa left I settled in for the first of two long nights
of sitting up with Gary as he tossed and turned and cried and talked in
his sleep. I tried reading at first but he became very restless in
a very short period of time so I went and got a basin of cool water and
a facecloth and tried to bring his fever down. He kept mumbling about
someone named Dobbs or Marley and Emma. And he was asking Marissa
where someone was and what he should do. Then he started calling my
name and telling me to watch out because Bradley had sent them. It
was in the midst of this nightmare that Gary woke up to find himself held
in my arms while I stroked his hair and crooned to him as though he were
a sick child again.
He had difficulty recalling what had happened to him so I told him
about the guys who’d beat him up and the two guys who’d saved him – not
everything of course – just that two guys had stopped the beating.
Gary told me that the three men who had beaten him had told him that I was
Bradley’s girl and he was to stay away from me. That really ticked
me off because I hadn’t been “Bradley’s girl” (either Bradley’s) since before
my marriage. It just helped to confirm my suspicions of what was going
on. I got up and reheated the peppermint tea Marissa had brewed for
me before she and Chuck left and gave Gary a steaming mug full to drink.
Peppermint tea is good for headaches and nausea. I was sure Gary had
the former and wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d had the latter.
He slowly drank it all down and then I took the mug and put it in the sink
with some water in it. Making sure there was some fresh air coming
in I went back to his beside and straightened the covers that had become
twisted during Gary’s restless thrashing earlier. He looked up at
me groggily and apologized for being so much trouble.
With a fond look I squeezed his hand and kissed his forehead telling him
that he wasn’t any trouble. I loved him with all my heart and had
since the day I found him, lost and frightened and separated from his parents,
in the mountains of Kentucky. He fell into a fitful sleep right after
that and I spent a little time singing the old ballads I’d learned growing
up and during my travels in Kentucky and Scotland. Unwilling to break
the physical or psychological connection that Gary seemed to need right then
I eased myself to the floor and leaned on the bed. Once I did that
I couldn’t have lasted another five minutes I was so exhausted. I was
soon sound asleep and didn’t hear a thing for quite some time.
I didn’t hear Chuck come in to check on us, I didn’t feel him put a blanket
around my shoulders when he found the loft to be cool and saw me shivering,
I didn’t hear him pour Cat’s bowl of milk or anything else until I woke
up on Gary’s couch several hours later when Jamie woke me up to take me
to my hotel room for a real rest in my bed instead of on Gary’s couch.
I was too groggy to even argue with him when he insisted.
It was between four and five in the afternoon when I woke up on the bed
in my hotel room. I didn’t even remember how I got there let alone taking
my shoes off or anything. Jamie told me later that he’d had to half
carry me I was so groggy. When he got me there he’d taken my jacket
and shoes and thrown a blanket over me. He said I was never really
awake the whole time he drove me or guided me to the elevator and to my room.
I was sort of in a state of panic when I realized how late it was and where
I was. When I wandered out into the living room of my suite I found
Jamie and Grandpa Mac sitting there. Grandpa Mac looked at me with
concern. I must have looked a fright with my rumpled clothes and tangled
hair. I hugged him and told him I was fine when he asked me.
I just wanted to get back to my patient.
First though Grandpa Mac wanted to know what I could tell him about the
events of the previous night and how badly Gary was hurt. If I knew
Grandpa Mac as well as I thought I did he was blaming himself for Gary being
hurt because the “fight” with Andrew never would have gotten started.
But Grandpa Mac didn’t know Mark like I did. If he were that determined
to get me back he’d do almost anything – as long as he didn’t have to dirty
his own hands.
I told Grandpa Mac what I could and Jamie helped me over the rough spots
like who broke up the fight. (Grandpa Mac didn’t know Washo and Jimmy
partly because he’s on the road so much.) Jamie told him about the
“cowboys” that broke up the fight and how Gary had needed immediate medical
attention and it was his call on whether or not to press charges.
I asked Jamie how Gary was when he brought me back to the hotel and in
spite of his assurances that Sam, who was staying with Gary, would have
called if anything changed I was anxious to get back to my patient.
But James Robert Fairfax, my darling brother, is every bit as stubborn as
those Missouri Mules he’s always comparing me to. He wouldn’t bring
me back until I’d showered, changed and eaten. And I wasn’t permitted
to wolf it down or pick at it. I had to eat the whole steak and potatoes
So while Jamie ordered for the three of us from room service I took a shower
and changed into jeans, baseball jersey and sneakers. After we ate
we said good-bye to Grandpa Mac and Jamie drove me back to McGinty’s before
going back to the fairgrounds to relive Elena who was on duty at the time.
Sam had never heard how Gary and I had met so I told him. I’m sure
he wanted to stay with me while I kept my bedside vigil but I wouldn’t let
him. (Ok so I am as stubborn as a Missouri Mule! What do you
expect from a Scotsman?)
After a quick briefing on Gary’s condition Sam left and I started an evaluation
of Gary’s injuries. He looked so miserable – just like when he’d had
the measles when he was six. He’d been out of commission for about
a week that time. As I sat there wondering who these people were that
he had dreamed about the night before he started to mumble in his sleep
again as his temperature went up again.
All night long I talked and sang and mopped his face and put cool water
on his wrists to try and bring his fever down. I listened to him moan
and cry and talk to people I didn’t know. He told someone named Bat
or Mike not to shoot someone because they weren’t worth it. He asked
his ex-wife Marcia “why” and mumbled something about a suitcase and his
ex-boss Phil Pritchard (a lousy excuse for a human being from what I’ve
heard). He cried for his mom and Crumb to help him. He thought
he was lost and couldn’t stop a fire. Two fires in fact because one
of them was in a room he was in the way he talked. He warned me to
watch out for something or someone and said he had to save me. He was
afraid of falling from some high up place.
Just before daybreak his fever finally broke for good and he fell into
a deep restful sleep. He woke briefly and surprised or confused to
see me there asked if he had been that sick. We talked for a minute
and I got out of him about his ex-wife, whom he’d loved dearly, and how
she was supposed to marry his ex-boss but left him standing at the altar.
It was then and there I vowed to myself that if I ever got the chance I
would tell Ms. Roberts exactly what I thought of her. Trading Gary
for that pitiful specimen of the male species by the name of Phil Pritchard.
Gary fell asleep again and I busied myself with cleaning up. I had
just finished when Marissa, Chuck and even Crumb came up to check on Gary.
From the looks on the faces of the two guys I must have been a sight.
Marissa knew something was wrong but none of them said anything at first.
Not until I was escorting them to the door and was hit with a sudden attack
of vertigo. I never would have thought that a man the age and size
of Crumb (I love him dearly but he is definitely too heavy for his own good)
could move as fast as he did. But he caught me by the elbows and steered
me over to the couch telling Chuck to make himself useful and get the pillows
and blankets squared away. They took my shoes off as he eased me back
on the pillows and Chuck put my feet up. Crumb chided me for trying
to make like nothing was wrong. I was only dimly aware of Marissa
settling herself in the chair and Cat jumping up in her lap before I was
sound asleep. There I would be for several hours before Jamie once
again took me to my hotel room to sleep and eat. In a couple of days
Gary and I would be back to normal – whatever that is for us.
The first day that I allowed Gary to leave the loft on his own I went to
McGinty’s for lunch. I was right when I guessed he wouldn’t be there.
I don’t know what he does all day but he’s seldom there when I drop in unannounced.
Anyway, I was very curious about these nightmares Gary had had when he was
delirious those two nights but I didn’t want to spook him by asking so I
did the next best thing – I “cornered” Marissa and Chuck.
We must have sat I the office for two hours while I quizzed them on Dobbs,
Marley and the rest. The answers about assassins, lost love and drug
czars were enough to curl my hair and curdle my blood. When we were
through I had a stronger love and admiration for Gary than before.
I’ve told only three other people what I learned that day. Two of them
are still here in Chicago and care about him as much as I do. The third
one has moved out of state. All of them have vowed, along with me,
never to speak a word of this to Gary or anyone else outside our inner circle.
His secret is very safe with us. When I got up to leave I thanked
Chuck and Marissa for their openness and told them to expect the gang in
for supper around six that night. After supper we planned on sorting
through pictures and starting to letter signs for our displays and other
little jobs we had to do before the party.
Promptly at six that night the nine of us trooped in and got seats in an
isolated corner where we could eat and work without being in the way.
I swear Chuck had dollar signs in his eyes when he saw the amount of food
we ate. Jamie and I both shared a secret laugh when we saw Chuck’s
face. Now I’ve always had a healthy appetite but the amount of food that
I eat compared to my cowboy cousins and firefighter brother put away that
night would stagger someone with a “normal” appetite. And I’m talking
steak, chicken, salads plus side dishes, drinks and dessert. And the
MacGregors and Fairfaxes may be Scottish and all that goes with it but they
are always generous tippers. At least two of the wait staff made about
twenty dollars apiece when they served us that night. After the dishes
were cleared away and the tables wiped down some of us went out to our vehicles
and started bringing in the boxes of photos, awards, report cards and such
as well as the poster boards and other art supplies.
Marissa got a good laugh out of our grade school report cards and I don’t
blame her. Who would have figured that one who did so poorly in math
and science when she started school would end up being a doctor? Or
that our “silver tongued orator” who practices law these days would have
gotten bad marks in Oral English? And as for Jamie – he’d actually
flunked Science twice when he was in the fourth grade. She was curious
as to how we ever got to where we are today with grades like that.
I told her it was because of good tutoring from Aunts and Uncles. And,
of course, the obligatory parental lectures.
When the conversation turned to extra curricular activities my dear, dear
cousin Alex was “cruisin’ for a bruisin’” when he bragged that I’m a champion
softball player and sing like an angel. I hate when he does that but
he always sticks by his story. I did manage to divert their attention
back to the matter at hand though – currently the music for the party.
When we settled for the time being, that part of the celebration, we went
over the guest list. Besides our relatives, Gary’s parents, Gary,
chuck and Marissa we had old neighbors coming. But one name nearly
sent Chuck through the roof and set off a prolonged period of giggling from
Marissa and me. Phil Kazakian - Chuck’s uncle. Uncle Phil
is kind of eccentric and you might call him an overgrown Dennis The Menace
because he causes problems and accidents without meaning to. He’s only
trying to be helpful.
About this time Gary wandered in. He seemed to be limping a wee bit
and he was still pale but I couldn’t see that there was anything especially
wrong. I guessed he was probably just tired. It would be a few
more days before I would consider him more or less 100% again. As
he came over to join us I had Chris do some quick calculations for Chuck
and Marissa as to how much food we would need to feed everyone who was expected.
Jamie and Sam were handling the transportation issues and I was in charge
of the accommodations at area hotels. Our friends were told to order the
food and hire any extra staff they might need and give me the bill.
If there was anything extra they needed they were to order or hire as necessary
and we’d foot the bill.
Now the nonsense would start as we sorted through pictures and papers.
Rob found my term paper on Will Rogers and told everyone present that I
was twenty-one in 1968 when I wrote it. Those boxes we’d brought in
were full of class pictures (Jamie, Alan and I especially usually managed
to be in the middle or back row of all our pictures). The wedding
pictures we found brought back happy and sad memories. It was just
a little painful when we got to my pictures. Gary, who was sitting
next to me, squeezed my hand by way of encouragement. Both of us had
had marriages that ended abruptly, thought under far different circumstances
and that just cemented our bond even more strongly than it already was.
We were in the middle of sorting pictures when the phone rang and Crumb
called Gary away from the table. I didn’t pay much attention to his
departure until he called me over to the bar. Now I’ve seen the panic
stricken look he had on his face before and it usually has something to do
with his mother. I was right. A hurried explanation from Gary
confirmed my suspicions – it was Lois talking about coming to Chicago ahead
of the party date to look after her baby. Somehow or other the story
of Gary’s beating and my fainting spell had gotten all twisted around so as
to sound a lot worse than it really was. I took the phone from Gary
and talked to her while Gary hovered nervously nearby. After a few minutes
I had her calmed down and convinced that she need not come to Chicago until
the day of the party. While Gary talked to his mom one more time prior to
hanging up I waited at the end of the bar near my Texas friends who’d come
in and explained to Washo and Jimmy about Lois’ serious “mother hen complex”.
They grinned in appreciation. When Gary was finally able to hang up
he came over and hugged me as tightly as his still sore ribs could stand.
I told him never to complain about me smothering him again because I’ve got
nothing on his mother.
Together we walked back to where my family and our friends were sitting.
Baby pictures, vacation pictures and school activity pictures were now among
those that had come out to be examined and sorted. Both of my brothers
had played Little League and coached as well so there were team pictures
and individual pictures as well. When they got to my school pictures
Andrew let out a whoop. When I was a senior in High School the Drama
Club put on Annie Get Your Gun and I won the part of Annie. What Andrew
had found and Chris and Jamie confirmed was that it was the “good” pictures
– the ones when Annie still wore buckskins and had messy hair. (Incidentally
the real Annie Oakley never, ever looked like that. She never even
wore pants. She was a lady in every sense of the word but show business
has to have its way you know.) Now this got Chuck’s attention.
For some reason he equated “Annie” with “Calamity Jane” which Chris pointed
out was one of my favorite movies (he’s got a big mouth at the wrong time
sometimes I’m tellin’ ya). Chuck knows my full name is Schuyler Jane
Fairfax and he’s always looking for something to tease me about. Chris
handed him some ammunition (Thanks cousin!) and the next thing I knew I was
being tagged with a new nickname – “Calamity Jane”. Well let me tell
you I wasn’t going to stand for that! Chuck is at his most annoying
when he’s calling me by some stupid nickname. You’ve never seen Chuck
move so fast as when I got up from my seat that night. He knew he as
in trouble. Hiding behind Gary wasn’t going to save him and Gary got
himself into trouble when he decided that “Calamity Jane” was a good nickname
for me – he thought it was funny. Just before thins got completely
out of hand though Crumb came over and threatened to break a few heads and/or
throw us out on our ear if we didn’t settle down. From that point
on we were all a bit more subdued.
Late the next morning Gary arrived at the fairgrounds burdened with several
packages including a bouquet of flowers. Washo and Jimmy were there
in the infirmary, talking to me, Jamie and Sam, when he arrived.
Without giving anything away as to their identity, or the real reason for
their being in Chicago, I introduced Gary to my Texas friends. Washo
commented on how much better Gary looked and Gary thanked him for his help
the night he was beaten. Then my friends left and went back to poking
around looking for information.
Once they were gone Sam and Jamie started in on Gary. They’d seen
the packages and knew something was up. I figured Jamie had told Sam
about what had transpired the night before. Jamie had put his foot down
when the nonsense that caused Crumb to threaten to throw us out on our ear
started to erupt again. That may have ended some of it but Jamie’s not
above teasing Gary like he would me. Poor Gary! Hanging around
my family can be very embarrassing for him and that day was no exception.
Sam wanted to know if Gary would really do anything that required an apology
with flowers to which my darling older brother responded “Of course not!
My sister will tell you that Gary’s a sweet innocent kid who’d never do
anything wrong. She’s been telling me that for years.” Enough’s
enough. At that point I made them leave. Not that my own suspicions
weren’t aroused but my first thought was that he wasn’t feeling well (Gary
admit to that?) or that he had questions about the party scheduled for Friday
I watched his face, half in amusement and half in concern, as he tried
to come up with the words for whatever it was he was trying to say.
He made me think of a schoolboy called on the carpet in the principal’s
office. Suddenly I wasn’t concerned – I was suspicious as he shifted
his weight from one foot to the other and then suddenly handed me one of
the packages he was carrying. It was full of carnations – red, pink
and white with greenery. Gary knows that carnations are one of my favorite
flowers. I also adore roses, lilies of the valley, mums and violets.
Gary’s got a good memory not to bring me lilies or lilacs. I love them
but I’m extremely allergic to them. My eyes get all puffy and watery
and I have difficulty breathing when I’m around them.
Then I opened the bag from the gift shop and found at least five dollars
worth of Lindor chocolates in my three favorite flavors – milk chocolate,
dark chocolate and mint. Now I was really suspicious. Gary wanted
something but I didn’t know what it was just yet. If I gave him enough
rope he’d soon hang himself so to speak. He wouldn’t be able to hide
what he was up to for very long. When I asked him what he was up to
he just played it innocent and asked if a guy couldn’t guy flowers and candy
for a friend once in a while to which I responded with a question about
whether or not he bought Marissa flowers and candy. He tried to steer
me away from questioning him by asking me if I was going to open the box
that was left.
I was thrilled when I opened the box from the toy store (slowly so as to
torture Gary). He’d bought me the most adorable stuffed pony!
It was jet-black in color except or a white star on its forehead and fitted
out with artificial leather western tack (saddle and bridle to the uninformed).
Gary was just a little too eager to please me when he agreed that “Starlight”
was a good name for it. (I’ve always named my stuffed animals so why should
this time have been any different?)
Well let me tell you I was really suspicious now! Gary had spent
an awful lot of money just to apologize for that nonsense of the night before
or to pay a bill I never gave him and never would. And while I may
have overreacted a little bit to that nonsense I never would have really
punched Gary but I did want to scare him a little bit. No, this was
going overboard so I knew he wanted something pretty bad.
Turning my attention back to him I told him to come out with it.
What was it he wanted? My warped sense of humor went to work when
he told me that he was curious about my nurse. I resolved to torture
my “little brother” and started telling him all about Sam when I knew it
was Elena he really wanted to know about. I didn’t get very far before
Gary glared at me indignantly. So then I told him what I knew about
Elena and her background. Her likes and dislikes and all that.
When Gary asked me if she’d date a guy who was divorced I had to tell him
I didn’t know because I’d never discussed that particular subject with her.
Then I looked at him with a gleam in my eye (so he says) and accused him
of buying me all that stuff so I’d set him up with her. He turned beet
red and denied it and then said that this wasn’t a blind date exactly.
(His mom was always trying to set him up with somebody when he was in his
teens and twenties – something I’d sworn I’d never do without his consent).
His reasoning was that he’d already met Elena – they just didn’t know each
other and he wanted to check it out with me before he asked her out.
Ecstatic that I’d given him the information he wanted he grabbed me in
a bear hug and kissed me. Laughingly I told him that he was smothering
me. It was at this point that Mark walked in with a sneer in his voice
and on his face. I wasn’t happy to see him at all. I’d told
him two weeks ago to stay away unless he had legitimate business with me.
Gary tried to protect me but he wasn’t really a match for Mark. It’s
not that he’s a weakling or anything like that but Mark is a tough cowboy
who grew up working with cattle and horses. Yeah, he’d studied medicine
for a while but his family had owned a small working ranch. When Jon
died I inherited his share and when his parents died I inherited half of
their share making me the majority owner of the ranch which I still own to
this day. I long suspected that part of the reason he wanted me back
was to try and get his hands on my share. Anyway when Gary tried to
force Mark to leave after I gave him a tongue lashing Mark pulled loose and
shoved Gary who stumbled backward and knocked me off balance. When
I fell I hit my head on one of the desks hard enough to make me cry out in
pain. I remember Mark making some comment to Gary about his not having
learned his lesson the other night just before I fell. I was kind of
dazed for a minute but when my head cleared I saw Sam and Jamie. Jamie
and Gary helped me to a chair and he and Elena, who’d come in right behind
them, checked me out. All I had was a small bump on the head – nothing
serious. Mark was lying on the ground breathing heavily.
Jamie was in a tearing rage when Gary told him what had transpired.
Only my restraint and the ex-boxer turned nurse that stood between him and
Mark kept him from attacking Mark himself. Sam, on the other hand,
told Mark point blank that if he caught him harassing or harming Gary or
me he’d take him out and leave the pieces for Chicago’s finest to pick up.
Mark slunk off after giving all of us dirty looks.
After Sam ascertained that we were both ok I asked how they’d known we
were in trouble. Turns out that Elena was on her way to the infirmary
and recognized him because Jamie had pointed him out the other day.
Knowing he was liable to be trouble she’d gone looking for Jamie or Sam
and found both of them together. I thanked Elena verbally and gave
Gary a hug and a kiss that made him blush again. Then he took Elena
outside and asked her out. When I heard about this I was determined
to see that he had a good time. Jamie and I put our heads together
and decided to loan him Jamie’s Grand Am. One could hardly expect him
to impress a date by taking her on the el as a means of getting to their
After he was gone I had a short talk with Elena about Gary. I don’t
usually tell near strangers about his past loves but after hearing about
Marcia and others I didn’t want to see him hurt again. I told Elena
a little bit about the women in Gary’s life. Then, even though I knew
Gary would strangle me if he found out what I said, I told her that if she
broke his heart I’d break her neck. She told me not to worry – if it
didn’t work out she’d let him down real easy or let it be his idea.
I also warned her about his being somewhat absent minded but told her all
his good points too.
A short while later Jimmy arrived at the infirmary on Jamie’s heels.
Jamie had gone looking for him at Sam’s insistence (to get him out of the
infirmary before he lost control and attacked Mark). Washo arrived
a few minutes later. After a brief discussion about what had happened
Washo decided that I should be careful about going anywhere alone until
this whole situation with Mark was resolved. And he’d have a chat
with Crumb about trying to keep an eye on Gary.
Early the next evening as he got ready to go out I sat on the couch watching
Gary finish dressing and comb his hair. And I had to tell him about
Hercules. Hercules was Elena’s dog – a brown and white St. Bernard.
He wasn’t mean or dangerous or anything but to the uninitiated he could
be a little intimidating. In fact I knew of at least a half a dozen
guys that had never made it past the first date because of him. But
Gary had a secret weapon – the Fairfax siblings! We all knew the dog
and Hercules adored us. In fact with Kim, the girls, and me he was
as gentle as could be. And he loved to roughhouse with Jamie and Alan
and Sam too when they were around.
So Jamie was going to lend Gary his car and I made sure he had everything
he needed including some juicy soup bones (the thought of needing bones
to distract the dog made Gary somewhat nervous – he wasn’t sure what to
expect). Gary was pleasantly surprised to find out that he as being
given the loan of a car for the night. For my part I was happy for
him and I was determined to get the details of where they went and what
they did from one or both of them in the morning. Before I even talked
to them I suspected he’d had a good time because Marissa told me his footsteps
were very light and he sounded a million miles away when she asked him how
things had gone.
Two days before the party Gary arrived at the fairgrounds around lunchtime
and promptly landed in the middle of a fight. (I don’t know what I’m
going to do with him.) Gray Wolf, an elderly Cherokee man who sold
handmade jewelry, had accidentally bumped into a teenager and spilled the
kid’s soda on his pants and jacket. This kid happened to be the leader
of a bunch of punks, not really an officially recognized gang, but a bunch
of punks all the same. They wanted to make sure the old man paid for
his “crime” so they apparently set their sights on his pendant and bracelet
that were silver and turquoise. Gary tried to intervene and almost
got stabbed or slashed for his trouble. Fortunately for both him and
Gray Wolf Chris, Alex and I were on the way to the refreshment stand ourselves.
Chris and Alex jumped into the fray immediately while I hesitated long enough
to summon Security on my Walkie Talkie. Then I joined in.
Chris got a grip on the leader’s wrist and exerted enough pressure to break
it. When the kid screamed in pain and protest Chris told him that
he’d break his head next time. Alex took out the African American
kid (who went after Chris for hurting their leader). Though the kid
outweighed him by thirty pounds it made no difference. Alex is wiry
and tough. Having spent his teen years through the present wrestling calves,
steers and broncs has helped that. I personally took out the last kid
myself using a couple of the moves that Washo had taught me.
When the Security Guards arrived to take charge of the kids until the police
arrived Chris was the first one to ask Gary it he were ok. I knew Gray Wolf
sometimes struggled with English (we’d become good friends over the last
couple of weeks but I hadn’t told him about my time on the reservation) so
I took him aside and spoke to him in Cherokee. His face lit up when
he heard the language of his people come out of my mouth. Not many
non-Cherokee people can speak their language. My time in Texas had
been well spent – language lessons, self-defense lessons and founding a clinic
on the reservation in Oklahoma.
Gray Wolf was shaken but unharmed. I was concerned that his son may
have heard what had happened so I asked Chris and Alex to escort him back
to his trailer. Then I turned my attention to Gary who’d kept Gray
Wolf out of the fracas. He wasn’t hurt in the fight but he did have
a tear in his jacket. As I looked him over I noticed some scratches
on his hand. He told me a cat had scratched him and I’m thinking his
cat – my furry buddy which didn’t seem likely to me. But, no, he’d
climbed a tree and got a little girl’s cat down for her. Knowing his
fear of heights I was kind of surprised to hear this but then again Gary
is such a sucker when it comes to kids. (I always wish he’d had kids
of his own – he’d make a great dad but it wasn’t to be I guess.) The
scratches didn’t look too bad but I wanted to clean them up and put a bandage
over them to be on the safe side so I took him to the infirmary.
While he was sitting there waiting for me to finish cleaning up he started
asking questions. Where did I learn that move I’d used on the kid?
What was that language I was speaking to the old man? Where’d I learn
to speak Cherokee? The clincher was when he asked me who “Washo” was.
All I told him was that he was a friend – a very special friend. I
told him a little bit about Washo’s heritage and that he was the one who
had trained Jonathan.
Now the one thing, besides Gary’s curiosity, that I hadn’t counted on was
his memory. He remembered my mentioning Washo to Mark when I was giving
him that tongue lashing a few days before. So now he suspected that
Washo was here. True enough, but not even to Gary would I betray Washo’s
cover story. Instead I nervously changed the subject by looking at
his watch and declaring that I’d better get the food my cousins, Jamie, Sam
and Elena were waiting for. I teased him that I knew that the real
reason he was there anyway was to see Elena.
Gary walked with me to the refreshment stand. Mr. Morgan, the proprietor,
was an old friend of Andrew’s dad – my Uncle Rob. He wasn’t the least
bit taken aback by the amount of food I ordered but Gary sure was.
He thought I was kidding him when I told him that two of the dinners were
for Elena and me and the rest for the others. I ordered a dozen chicken
dinners on top of ten hot dogs, and two dozen each cheeseburgers and plain
hamburgers. Then I added chips, soda, and, once I got Gary’s attention
again, a cheeseburger, chips and a coke for him.
I carried the cold stuff back to where the gang was gathered along with
the condiments, plastic ware and napkins. Gary carried the hot stuff.
He wanted to carry everything but I pointed out that that would heat up
the cold stuff and cool the hot stuff off. The gang was real happy
to see us finally arrive. I think Rob and Andrew thought they were
going to starve. I’m sure Chris had explained what happened but when
those two are hungry that’s all they can think about.
They would have fallen on the food like a pack of half starved wolves if
Jamie hadn’t stopped them. And it wasn’t just fear of their elder
cousin that stopped them – it was the thought of what their mothers would
say if they caught them helping themselves before the ladies and their guest,
Gary, had been served. Oh how they stopped up short! But only
for a minute – once their sisters, Elena Gary and I had gotten what we wanted
the others dug in in a hurry. After lunch we played some country music
and some oldies and then our cousins talked us into some informal competition
in calf roping, barrel racing etc. Gary was stay around and watch
for a while. I was glad he did and so were the others. One of
the girls, Hannah I think, repaired his jacket while he was there.
In retrospect it was the calm before the storm – both literally and figuratively.
Thursday dawned cloudy, cool and windy. It was so windy that Grandpa
Mac decided to postpone the competition. Grandma Phoebe decided to
drag the “old goat” off to do some clothes shopping. There were some
things she absolutely refused to buy him unless he went with her. My
cousins decided to do some sightseeing and souvenir shopping. Plus
we’d discovered that we were missing a few items for the party, like extra
film for our cameras, so they were going to pick that up as well. Knowing
them they stopped at McGinty’s to have lunch. They liked the food and
the atmosphere very much. Jamie and Sam, the Transportation Crew, as
we’d taken to calling them were headed for O’Hare to pick up some of the
relatives who were arriving that day. I’d given Elena a call not to
come in since there would be no competition that morning and we wouldn’t
know about afternoon until we saw how the weather went.
I stayed behind at the fairgrounds to work on the music I was planning
on playing at the party. I played a few popular country songs on my
violin and guitar. I had started re-reading the Reno Westerns by Gilbert
Morris the day before so I was reading and taken somewhat off guard when
Mark showed his face at my door so to speak. One would think that
he’d have learned his lesson when Sam let fly a few days earlier but no,
he was not that smart.
It may have been the liquor he’d consumed or maybe he was just stupid and
jealous. I don’t know which but that was how he acted. Probably
a little of both. Anyway he came up to me and told me he wanted me
to hear him out. I told him I wasn’t interested in anything he had
to say unless it was to apologize for his behavior over the last couple of
weeks or to tell me how sorry he was about Jon (something I’d been waiting
for for sixteen years). When he didn’t and then forced a kiss on me
I saw red! I slapped him good and hard across his face. That
only served to make him angry. He told me I thought I was too good
for him and said he was going to show me what he meant. He grabbed
my right wrist in a painful grip causing me to cry out in pain. He
never got the chance to lay another kiss on me, or whatever else he had in
mind, because just when I needed him most Washo showed up and sent Mark flying
to land in the dirt a few feet away. Did I tell you that Mark is a
moron? He stupidly got up and charged Washo with the same result as
before. Security arrived on the scene as Mark collapsed in the dirty
for the third and last time. He would be taken into protective custody
and in the morning escorted to the office to get his entry fees returned,
pack up his gear and leave Illinois. Provided I never ever had to see
him again I wouldn’t press charges. Washo hung around long enough to
make sure I was ok and left word for Jimmy to look him up. Then he
went back to do some more “snooping”.
I tried to sit down and relax but I couldn’t. I was too hyped up
after my encounter with Mark. What I needed was to burn off the nervous
energy so I went and saddled Midnight, the black gelding I’d ridden in the
parade, set up the standard barrel-racing course and gave Middy a good workout.
I was still there when Gary showed up. I was a little slow to hear
him and at first slow to figure out how he knew what had happened.
But when I thought about it for a minute I knew how. Crumb must have
heard from one of his cronies at the department and then he told Gary whom
he knew to be worried about me. Gary and I walked and talked while
I cooled Midnight out ten groomed him and cleaned his tack. When I
was through I sat down on a bale of hay next to Gary and sighed with disappointment.
I so hated to part with my former brother-in-law under such nasty circumstances.
I’d so wanted to be friends with the last living link to my late husband
other than cousins and the Rangers. Gary tried to cheer me up reminding
me how I’d always treated everyone the same and it wasn’t my fault Mark was
such an idiot. It was while we were walking back to the refreshment
stand to get lunch that disaster struck.
As we neared Gray Wolf’s trailer I noticed that the door was ajar.
This was not normal and I was concerned that someone might walk in and help
themselves to his stock and whatever cash he had on hand. I was just
about to take a quick look inside when I heard Gary calling for me to walk
away. I halfway laughed at him because he sounded like such a worrywart.
He practically ran up to me as I reached for the door to close it.
As I did a man’s voice coming from the interior told us not to move.
What I had feared was coming to pass. Three armed men exited the trailer.
When one of them grabbed my arm Gary tried to stop I but one of the other
men punched him in the face and he staggered into the side of the trailer
and then fell – striking his head on the trailer hitch. He blacked
out almost immediately and lay still. The man, Milt Anderson, who had
hold of me was reluctant to let me loose but finally did with a warning not
to try anything. Now I ask you, if that young man lying on the ground
meant as much to you as he does to me would you try something funny?
I ran to Gary’s side and half listened to the men behind me. My worst
fears were coming true – these were the men who had killed my husband and
they weren’t going to leave any witnesses behind that could identify them
for committing this robbery. It had started raining and Gary’s windbreaker
was getting wet. He had a split lip, a bump on his left temple and
his skin was cold and clammy. I wasn’t sure if it was from the cold
wind blowing against his wet skin or from shock. But his pulse was
steady and he was breathing ok. I took my denim jacket off (it was
big because it as an old one of Jamie’s) and put it over Gary. Then
I just had time to kiss his cheek and whisper, “I love you Gary Matthew”
before I was taken as a semi-willing hostage. Having heard some of
what the men said I was determined to save Gary so I told them that if they
left Gary where he was and hurt no worse than he already was I’d go with
The next couple of hours were agony to my spirits. We moved from
one hiding place to another before we settled in a storage tent full of
bales of hay and feeds sacks. I could have cried I was so happy when
Cat showed up. One of my captors told me to get rid of him. I
guess he doesn’t like cats. I sent Cat away all right but not before
taking my ring – a silver and turquoise ring that Alex and Washo gave me
for my last birthday before I left Texas – and the necklace that the Hobsons
had given me and tied them with one of my shoelaces (I’d worn sneakers that
day) around Cat’s neck before I did. I know it sounds corny, like something
out of Lassie or Rin Tin Tin, but I just knew that Cat understood me when
I told him to go find Gary.
Not too much later I heard Washo’s voice outside the tent. Apparently
Cat had showed up and Gary’d found help. When I talked to Washo I
was relieved to hear that Gary was cold, wet and worried about me but otherwise
he was ok. Anderson, using me for a shield, told Washo that he wanted
four horses so that we could cross the arena quickly and safely and a car
on the other side. And of course, no cops in sight or else.
Washo told him he’d see what he could do.
It was a tense half hour before the horses were delivered. My hands
were tied in front of me and Anderson took the reins of my mount himself
keeping my horse close to his. With invisible leg signals I kept my
horse jittery – moving nervously this way and that in confusion. This
and the wind that had picked up again made all four horses nervous.
The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was when the PA system suddenly
came to life with the sound of Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever. The
already nervous horses came completely undone when that happened.
Washo appeared out of nowhere it seemed and tackled Anderson, knocking
him off his horse. One of the other men gave up almost immediately
when confronted by Jamie and Sam but he’d been ready to give up since he
heard Washo was in town.
The third man tried to take me hostage again but Jimmy took all the fight
out of him. I saw Gary head for the announcer’s booth but he was too
late. No sooner did Stars and Stripes Forever stop than it was the
1812 Overture complete with cannon sounds. The horses spooked all over
again. Barely had he gotten it turned off when there was a single gunshot.
I tried to stay in the saddle as my already nervous mount bolted and headed
for the gate. When he stopped abruptly, thwarted by the closed gate,
I flew over his head and landed against the gate. I remained conscious
long enough to try and get up but the blow to my head and the pain in my
right shoulder and my side caused me to black out almost immediately.
I vaguely remember going to the Emergency Room for x-rays and such but
they gave me a fairly strong sedative for the cracked ribs and broken shoulder.
Some time during the night I heard a disturbance in my room but I was so
out of it that when Jamie told me to go back to sleep I did.
When I woke up the next morning I was surprised and concerned to find Gary
asleep in a chair next to my bed. His head was down on his arms and
he leaned on the mattress. He looked so much like a little boy to
me – very young and very vulnerable. It took me a couple of tries
before I could rouse him. He cried on my shoulder when I chided him
for blaming himself for what had happened to me. After all, he’d tried to
warn me but I didn’t listen. I had just calmed him down when Cat arrived.
How he got past “Damon the Demon” as I called Nurse Damon I don’t know but
I didn’t care because Cat and I are buddies and I was happy to see him again.
Jamie arrived shortly afterward with breakfast. He knew something
I didn’t about Gary and the events of the previous day but he caves in as
fast as I do when Gary gives him that look I can never resist. Because Gary
gave him that look they kept their little secret in spite of my attempt to
get it out of them. Chuck and Marissa arrived shortly afterward with
flowers and a balloon. My grandparents, cousins, Washo, Jimmy and Crumb,
followed them. I was presented with more flowers and another balloon
and we all visited for a while before everyone went their separate ways.
The doctor would release me later with orders to go home and rest. Rest
maybe – home never! I had a rodeo to go to.
The competition closed the next day. Prize money was awarded and
my grandparents were whisked away from the fairgrounds by my parents.
The rush was on to get things set up. Washo and Jimmy pitched in and
helped the family and staff get things ready. They had to leave right
after the ceremony in order to pick up their prisoners and head back to Texas.
Before they did though Washo gave me his prize money to donate to charity
and then told Gary and me to take care of each other. I told them I’d
be down that summer for a visit.
There were a few rough moments for Gary. He hates ties and he kept
acting like his was choking him so I got him a bola tie from Gray Wolf.
With a bola tie he could look dressed up but keep the tie away from his
throat. That settled that particular problem. However the other
rough moments involved his mother, food and women. Lois didn’t think
he had enough to eat so she got him a second plateful. Comparing his
eating habits to my cousins is hardly fair to Gary but Lois will be Lois.
She’s determined to take care of her baby and see that he eats right.
The final problem was when she inadvertently heard about Gary dating again.
See, he’d been hovering over me all day and I was just a little tired of
it so I told him if he didn’t stop it and go have some fun I was going to
tell his mother about Elena. Unfortunately for Gary Lois happened
to be coming up behind us just when I made that statement and the inquisition
was on. The last question she asked, before Sam came along and took
her away, was whether or not Elena was THE one – the girl who would become
her new daughter-in-law and the mother of her grandchildren. (Did
I tell you that Lois wants grandchildren really bad?)
Still and all it was a good time. Lots of music (we took turns, singly
and in groups, serenading my grandparents) and food. Photo memories.
Dancing. My cousins and Elena kept Gary and Chuck busy. Grandpa
Mac, Daddy, my brothers and Sam kept Marissa and Lois busy. We all
made sure that Marissa didn’t just sit on the sidelines. And good old
Sam really kept Lois off her son’s case. He’s great at diversionary
My grandparents were thrilled to see every one of their kids and grandkids
and the great-grandkids. The music we’d chosen really made their day
and there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience when Alan finished singing Kenny
Rogers’ hit “Through The Years”.
I was kind of sad to see my family and friends pack up and leave when the
rodeo closed and the party was over. I didn’t see much of them what
with the show being on the road so much. Soon enough Andrew would
be back to school to finish the year and Chris would go back on duty with
the Rangers. At least my parents were relatively close by. It
only takes about an hour or so to drive to Hickory and I did sometimes drive
up for a weekend. There were a lot of hugs and kisses and bad jokes
and the same old warnings and invitations when they left. You know
“Take care”, “Call once in a while”, “Come and visit”, “Chris make sure
someone puts flowers on Jon’s grave for me”. The usual plus Grandma
Phoebe and Grandpa Mac held me a little longer than usual and told Gary that
they were eternally grateful to him and adopted him as one of the family.
Gary never knew his own grandparents but now he had mine who would never
think of their grandchildren, Jamie and me in particular, without thinking
of Gary and all he’d done for their family in just three short weeks.
Of course, now I tell him that really makes him my “baby brother” with all
that entails (like doing whatever I tell him to do – fat chance! But
I can dream can’t I?)
Off to Indianapolis they went and from there New York Cincinnati, Hartford,
Boston and then down through Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri. Before
the show finished its yearly trek Chris would be back at work and Andrew
back to school to finish his second year of college. Unless he changes
his mind he’s planning on a career in speech pathology. No, I didn’t
influence him to a career in medicine or its related fields – he made that
decision himself. He wants to work with kids especially and he’ll be
Things in Chicago settled down to kind of a dull roar and a quiet murmur
for a while. Sam and I dealt with a short-lived flu epidemic at the
clinic and the usual group of youngsters coming in to see Dr. Sky or Mr.
Sam with their minor cuts, scrapes and bruises, the little ones knew that
if they didn’t fuss when we treated them then they would be entitled to a
lollipop or a balloon or whatever treat we happened to have on hand.
Rumors of fights between two rival gangs reached our ears and Sam made certain
that neither Elena nor myself left the clinic alone. With my right
arm still in a sling I couldn’t drive myself anyway so Sam and Jamie were
taking turns getting me to the clinic. It would be a bit hairy trying
to work in the ER at County so I gave it up in favor of the clinic until
my shoulder healed. And at that I was at the mercy of my brother and
Sam. They’d take whatever file was in my hand away from me, gather
my things and hustle me out the door before I could protest.
Four weeks after the rodeo left town Gary stumbled, literally, from what
Sam says, into the clinic with a small boy in his arms. Sam said he
would have fallen too if he hadn’t been right there. I was in the
back room having just finished, with Elena’s help, cleaning up after a patient,
when Sam called me to come out front. I got there just in time to
see Gary’s eyes roll back into his head as Elena took the child from his
arms. Sam, alert as ever, caught him as he started to fall and carried
him again to the back room where we would examine him. I put him on
oxygen as a precaution and covered him with a sheet to ward off shock.
He didn’t seem to be hurt and that had me confused. Gary’s pretty
healthy for the most part so I couldn’t understand why carrying a child
would cause him to faint. Turns out he hadn’t eaten anything much
for the last few days and that, plus the strain of carrying the child several
blocks was too much for him.
For about the next hour or so I popped in and out of the room. Gary
wasn’t real thrilled when I made him call McGinty’s and tell Marissa and
Chuck what had happened. It was after Sam went to get our lunches,
including one for Gary, that trouble came into the clinic.
Now everyone in the neighborhood knows that my clinic is open to anybody
who needs medical attention so I wasn’t too surprised when a member of one
of the gangs came in to be treated for a knife wound in his arm. He
and his buddies wouldn’t have been any trouble if a bunch from the gang
that was their biggest rival hadn’t shown up seeking treatment for one of
their own. The trouble they caused, each claiming the clinic to be
in their territory, never would have gotten started if Sam had been there,
but they happened to arrive while he was gone after the lunches. Before
you could say “Jack Robinson” the kids were going at it. Poor little
Raul was terrified and cowered in Elena’s arms as she tried to protect him.
I got in between a couple of them that were trying to get at each other
with knives. They were screaming at each other in English and Spanish
and I was matching them shout for shout when Gary came charging out of the
back room to keep one of the others from attacking me with a club I would
find out later. I saw Gary hit the wall – hard- with his head and right
shoulder taking the brunt of it. I wanted to go to him but I had my
hands full with the two teens.
No more than fifteen seconds later, Sam, several police offices and the
father and uncle of my young patient came charging through the door and quickly
subdued all of the kids including my knife wielders and the club wielding
punk that was swinging on Gary who lay stunned on the floor when they arrived.
It turned out that one or more of our neighbors had seen the first group
arrive and decided to keep a close eye on things. When they saw the
second group arrive they knew that there’d be trouble and notified the police.
Word reached Sam at Mrs. Inatelli’s of the trouble and he came back on the
double, meeting up with Raul’s dad, Jose Cardoza and his brother.
Together the three pitched in and order was soon restored. I sent
Elena home as soon as every else was gone except for Sam, Gary and me.
There’d be no danger for her now – the whole neighborhood was watching over
us. Then Sam drove Gary and me to McGinty’s. He knew I wanted
to be sure Gary got home ok and I knew that Gary had to have a monster headache
from slamming into that wall.
When we got there we stopped long enough to reassure Chuck and Marissa
that he would be just fine. Sam did mention that Gary probably had
a “whale of a headache” though he’d never admit it. I made “baby brother”
go upstairs and lie down. Before I left he told me that he’d been
thinking about us – how we’d met and how I told him when he was five and
the class bully teased him about whether or not I was for real – that we’d
be “forever friends”. I’d been remembering the same thing myself and
just as he was about to drift off to sleep Gary told me he was glad we were
friends. “Forever friends Gary” I told him as I kissed his forehead
and left the room.
Things seemed to settle down for a while. The spring seemed to fly
by in a hurry. A couple of friends from county General went with me
to a flower show. I brought a few of the kids from the neighborhood
around the clinic with me while they brought their own kids or grandkids
or whatever. Sometimes I really miss not having children of my own
but being a single parent is tough and confining and hard on families.
With no kids of my own I befriended kids from Hickory, Oakdale and Chicago
and tried to show them a good time and give their tired and overworked parents
a break once in a while.
The circus came to town in June. Sam and I gathered a bunch of kids
from the neighborhood and together with my twin nephews Ethan and Tim, went
three times. We all had a blast although I could have strangled Tim
for getting cotton candy in my hair. Sometimes he’s worse than the
little kids. And Ethan’s no better. And pranksters the two of
them! The stunts they’ve pulled (for instance shaving cream on the
telephone receiver) would fill volumes. And they pick up the corniest
jokes from television, radio, movies and old books by people like Bennett
Cerf and Steve Alan. Letting them read about Burns and Allen was a
big mistake. But it’s hard to stay mad at them. Their saucy grins
will get to me or their Uncle Jamie or their grandparents every time.
In July, after a glorious Independence Day celebration, I went to Texas
for a couple of weeks. Thankfully Mark was nowhere to be seen.
I managed to get to Ft. Worth to visit C.D.’s for at least a couple of meals
and Ranger Headquarters and had dinner with Alex. Before I came home
I stopped over at the reservation to visit with White Eagle and some of
the others. White Eagle showed me where I could replenish my supplies
of medicinal plants and I stopped by the clinic to see how things were going
Tired, but happy, I flew back to Chicago. I had come to the conclusion
that I needed to find a small house or an apartment in the city because
of the long hours and the commute. I found a house near Lake Michigan
– small enough to maintain with my crazy schedule but big enough to entertain
family and friends. The kitchen was well stocked at all times due
to unexpected visits from my nieces and nephews. The boys, like their
second cousins in Texas, have phenomenal appetites. I could feed them
an hour before dinner and they’d still go home and eat a full dinner and
ask for more. Mama says it’s a family trait. Her brothers were
always hungry too no matter how much Grandma Phoebe fed them or how often.
Gary, Chuck, Sam and Jamie help me move. Alan, Kim and the kids were
sorry to see me move out but Kim, Mary and Gwen helped me scour the yard
sales, flea markets, estate sales and the like for furnishings for my new
house. Marissa helped out by washing the dishes and putting them away.
In that respect she was much more organized than I ever would be. My
practice may be well organized but at home I’m not always that way.
With her disability that we paid as little attention to as possible so as
not to make her feel uncomfortable she has to have things organized and picked
up so she was the perfect one to organize the dishes for me. She even
managed to organize my spice rack for me. She continues to amaze me
and I know when she gets her degree she’ll be a fantastic psychologist!
She’s got a way of drawing people out. My nieces and nephews were somewhat
uncomfortable around her at first but it didn’t take her long to draw them
As for the rest of the gang – while Gary, Sam, Jamie, Chuck and Alan put
the furniture in place Ethan and Tim made sure the kitchen was well stocked
so I could have plenty of treats available for them and Bruce. Bruce
is a senior in college about to get a degree in architecture. Poor
Alan – not a lawyer in the bunch. Mary’s studying to be a nurse and
Gwen is a kindergarten teacher.
I got settled in my new house at the beginning of September. In October
I went to Vermont for a week’s vacation. Driving through Quechee,
Killington and up Route 100 to Stowe was a boost to my spirits. I’d
fallen in love with the area when I was going to Harvard and loved to go
back any time of the year to visit the Coolidge Homestead in Plymouth Notch
(stocking up on nice, sharp cheddar cheese from the Plymouth Cheese Factory
while I was there). Lunch in the Austrian Tea Room at the Trapp Family
Lodge was always nice too. And if it was warm enough it was a real
treat to sit at a table on the deck and look out at Mt. Mansfield.
The youngest von Trapp, their son Johannes, laid out a lot of cross country
ski trails when they converted the farm into a lodge and if you’re up for
a climb you can visit the little chapel that sits halfway up the hill.
Make that mountain. If you’ve ever been there or go there you’ll know
what I mean.
When I came back the director of the VA Hospital asked me if I’d take charge
of planning a Christmas party for the patients and their families.
To have complete charge of such a thing was, by turns, daunting and exhilarating.
I love to plan parties – not the kind where you eat and then just sit around
talking though. My Christmas parties include dinner, music and games.
One year I hid a tape recorder and started two of my friends laughing –
it turned into a laughing contest. That tape got played over and over
again. Then there’s the hysteria and pandemonium that stems from the
Holiday Trivia Contest that we play. There’s always someone who, when
asked to name an actor or an actress, wants to be considered correct when
they name the character they’re best known for. And the dispute and
comments about semantics when asked how many candles there are on an advent
wreath. Things can get really crazy.
It was the beginning of November when they asked me so I got started right
away. I had to find a DJ, select the songs for the sing along, find
prizes, line up food donations and such and still manage to keep the clinic
open. Sam, my ever loyal and helpful pal, pitched right in starting
by volunteering to be the DJ and recommending some people to talk to about
donating party platters or baked goods. When I told my family about
it Mama volunteered to find some donors in Hickory. She and Lois knew
enough ladies from the different clubs and societies to be able to get quite
a large donation of goodies. And those whose husbands were in business
would be asked to donate money or prizes. One donation that would
be made to the clinic itself that Christmas, in the midst of all this confusion,
would be most welcome and give me an opportunity to do something I’d been
wanting to do for six months.
A week after Thanksgiving I was wandering around Chicago doing some Christmas
shopping. It got to be around 11:30 or so and I was in the vicinity
of McGinty’s so I decided to drop in and have my lunch. Marissa was
there so I sat with her while I thawed out and refueled so to speak.
I needed her advice on what to get Gary for Christmas anyway. I knew
that Marissa has a nice singing voice so I asked her if she’d mind helping
me out with the music for the party. We chatted while I ate and then
I got ready to leave telling Marissa that I’d get the music delivered to
her sometime in the next few days. She would arrange a meeting with
her pastor to see if maybe their choir could find time to sing the wonderful
old classics “O Holy Night’ and “Ave Maria” and help with the sing along.
I gathered up my packages with some difficulty and headed for the door.
Just as I got there the door opened. As I jumped back in surprise
the heel of my loafer caught in a crack on the floor and I stumbled backward,
lost my balance and fell striking my head on the far from what I’m told.
My packages flew every which way as I fell. The next thing I knew
I was hearing Gary and Marissa’s voices as she chided him for bursting through
the door without looking. I opened my eyes at that point and saw their
worried faces looking down at me. More than that Gary had a guilty
look on his – he knew he’d screwed up and probably figured he was in big
Marissa handed me a makeshift ice pack and Gary, at my request, helped
me sit up. I did give him a little bit of a tongue-lashing but, doggone
it, he looked so woebegone and contrite I just couldn’t put my whole heart
and soul into it. I think we were all started when Zeke Crumb answered
my questions as to where my packages were. I guess he came in right
behind Gary and heard what had happened. The look he gave Gary would
have melted a glacier. Calling him a klutz or whatever it was didn’t
help Gary’s feelings any.
Now I’d been trying to find someone to play Santa Claus at the party.
I wanted a Santa and two elves to help entertain the kids. I was going
to play Mrs. Claus and I was looking forward to it but I needed a Santa.
As I sat there holding the ice pack on my head and looked at my two heroes
it struck me – Crumb would make a perfect Santa! He had the build
and I just knew that he kids would love him. My Uncle Doug sounds
just like him and the kids all adore him.
Crumb was eager to help but he had no idea that his willingness was going
to put him on the spot or in the spotlight if you prefer. He thought
I wanted someone to direct traffic or handle crowd control. Hardened
cop though he is he nearly panicked when I told him what I had in mind.
It didn’t help matters when Gary started laughing and telling him how good
that sounded. Well if “baby brother” thought that was funny wait ‘til
he heard what I had in mind for him!
Gary’s grin faded and his laughter stopped when I told him I wanted him
to be an elf. Now it was his turn to panic and Crumb’s turn to laugh
when I broke the news to him about him being an elf. Not only did his
face get a panic stricken look on it but his voice went up at least an octave
as he squawked my name in protest. I told him that he’d be an adorable
elf. The kids would love him and they wouldn’t care that he was too
tall. Furthermore I wanted him to help he talk Chuck into being an
elf too. Chuck claims he’s Jewish and he may be by birth but everyone
who really knows him knows that he’s not exactly an orthodox member of the
race or the Jewish faith. If I couldn’t count on my friends to help
me who could I count on?
Crumb thought it was hysterical and laughed liked crazy at the thought
of Gary and Chuck as elves. Gary started to panic all over again at
the thought of wearing a costume. Marissa threw her two cents worth
in at that point when she said to Gary that I needed the help and how it
would be fun. Besides which, she pointed out, he owed me for what he’d
done and she volunteered to help him talk Chuck into it.
I got up to leave after telling them the date and time of the party and
what time they should arrive there to get into their costumes. I guess
I was kind of pale and looked unsteady on my feet because before I could protest
Crumb had hustled me into his car and Gary had taken my keys and gone off
to retrieve my truck. He’d park it in the alley behind the restaurant
for the night. Crumb took me to see Sam who was at the clinic.
He said I was ok but going home rather than finishing my shopping would
be a good idea.
When Crumb brought me home my darling brothers insisted I go straight to
bed. I figured that arguing with these three would be a waste of time
so I told Alan and Jamie that I’d found my Santa and elves and then went
to my room. I think Crumb was barely out the door before they started
laughing about his being my Santa.
Later that night as I sat up in bed reading Jamie came over to check on
me. He laughed and halfway scolded me when I told him how I’d taken
advantage of Gary’s “guilt trip” to get him to be one of my elves. Then
I let loose on Marcia Roberts Hobson to him. Gary loves kids so much
that what his low-life ex had done made me all the angrier that his dream
didn’t seem to be coming true. Jamie told me not to jump to conclusions
and I really did try not to but the thought of her just makes me so angry
As the days passed Sam and I finished decorating the clinic. We went
to a local farm for our tree. No artificial trees for me no siree!
I don’t like the green ones but I’ll tolerate them where necessary.
But those ugly white ones take me back to when I was taking piano lessons.
My teacher had one of them and one of the red, green, blue and yellow disks
that revolve around a regular light bulb and make the tree appear to change
colors as it does. I hated it and swore that I’d never have one like
it in my home of my office. Yuck!
Right in the front lobby we had a box in which we were collecting new toys
for Toys for Tots. I’ve always been a big supporter of this program
and so has Sam. We both go overboard with dolls and trucks and stuff.
And on top of that we were both heavily involved in Operation Christmas
Operations Christmas Child is an offshoot of the Samaritan’s Purse Ministry
founded by Franklin Graham. Franklin is the son of renowned evangelist
Billy Graham. Operation Christmas Child is a ministry that people,
individually or in groups, can sponsor. The idea is to take empty shoeboxes,
wrap the box and the lid separately in Christmas paper and fill it with things
like school supplies, socks, balls, tops and toiletries. The boxes
are sent to a regional collection point and from there to headquarters in
Boone, NC where they are processed and shipped to wherever they’re needed.
Many a child has had a happy day, Christmas or otherwise, because they received
one of those boxes. Sam teases me that I fill a box with enough stuff
for two or three. But I can’t help myself. It bothers me to
think of children not getting gifts so I guy socks, ball caps, hard candy,
pens, pencils and whatever else I can think of. There are three age
groups up to about age 16 that you can fill a box for. I do a box
for a boy and a girl in all three categories.
While we were decorating the tree Maria and Jose Reyes came in. Maria
was in the last month of her pregnancy. She’d lost two other babies
before this one partly due to overworking herself and partly due to an uncaring
doctor. I don’t know for certain if racial prejudice came into play
there but the last OB/GYN she had didn’t like charity cases. Why he
was putting time in at the clinic I don’t know. When Sam and I heard about
how she was treated from some of their friends I set out to find her a doctor
who would take her history into account and more importantly treat her right.
We were happy to see them. I ushered Maria into one of the exam rooms
so I could check her out. We made sure that Jose was doing the heavy
work and that Maria was resting well. Still, in spite of our precautions
there would be trouble later.
After they left, having had a treat and some cocoa before they did, the
mailman came. He was happy to stop at the clinic because he was able
to half empty his truck in one stop. My family and some mutual friends
(Washo and company) had sent Christmas gifts to the clinic to make sure that
we got them. I was touched, as was Sam, by the jackets and fur lined
moccasins we got from our friends on the Cherokee Reservation – especially
when we read the note that Sam had enclosed. C.D.’s gift made us laugh
‘til we cried and our sides hurt. See, if there’s anything that C.D.
Parker prides himself on other than being a good Ranger it’s his cooking.
He sent us a huge batch of his famous chili. There were other things
as well, plane tickets to Dallas/Fort Worth so we’d be sure to visit and
a picture of Alex, Washo and Jimmy. Washo, like Gary, is not fond of
ties so naturally he looked like he was choking. I laughed, shaking
my head, when I saw the look on his face. It was so typical of him.
I’ll bet Alex talked him into it.
On one of those cold days, about a week before the party, Gary wandered
into the clinic. He’d kept an elderly lady from being run over but then,
unfortunately for him, she thought he was trying to steal her purse.
She didn’t speak much English you see, being a member of the Polish speaking
community within the city, and unfortunately the stutter that Gary has when
he’s excited or nervous didn’t make it any easier for her to understand
him. But fortunately a Polish-speaking priest came along and explained
the whole situation to her. She then apologized profusely for whacking
him on the wrist with her cane.
He was explaining to Sam how his wrist came to be injured when I came into
the room. I couldn’t believe my ears. To me, you have only to
look at Gary, especially into his muddy green eyes and you just have to
believe him and trust him. Anyway, Sam and I both took a look at it
and determined that nothing was broken in spite of the swelling. I
got a cold pack from one of the cabinets and gave it to Sam who grinned
impudently at me as he popped the inner core, shook the contents up and gave
it to Gary to hold on his wrist. The one thing I’ve always had trouble
with is popping those stupid things and Sam knows it. He loves to
give me a hard time about it.
After about an hour we checked Gary’s wrist and found that the swelling
had gone down considerably but there was a nasty bruise. I got him good
as he started to leave. He’s never been able to avoid my displays of
affection, public or private, and this was no exception. He walked
under the mistletoe Sam and I had hung in one of the doorways and I caught
him, so to speak, before he could leave. Pointing to the mistletoe
I walked up and kissed him on the cheek. He kind of blushed, mumbled
something before he kissed me back and “made good his escape”.
A week before the party I got sick. It wasn’t anything too bad –
just a cold- but I got an ear infection on top of it and ran a slight fever.
Sam has been around me long enough to know the signs of when I get one.
He took a look at it himself and then took me to County General to have
Dr. Holmes take a look at it. Sam was right – it was that dratted
otitis media that I’ve been plagued with since I was in my twenties.
Sam took me home when I was released and then he called McGinty’s to see
if Chuck or Gary could retrieve my truck and park it behind the restaurant
until someone else could come and get it.
Because of my hearing and balance problems Sam brought me to the house
in Oakdale to recuperate. My fever didn’t go higher than 101°
but my family and friends don’t trust me to take care of myself. Sam,
Jamie and Alan just took over. Kim hustled me off to bed and gave
me some herb tea, everyone fielded phone calls, Alan arranged with a neighbor
to pick up my mail and newspapers and hired one of the teens in the neighborhood
to keep my walkway shoveled. Just before I got sick we’d had a major
snowstorm. Honestly I could just strangle them sometimes. They
think I can’t take care of myself – that they have to look after their baby
sister. I’m not so sure it was a coincidence that Jamie wanted to spend
the night the day of my accident at McGinty’s. I think he conveniently
was “too tired” to drive back to Oakdale.
Anyway, after a couple of days of bed rest, medication, herb tea and being
waited on hand and foot by my sister-in-law and the kids I was back at work.
Fortunately, before I got sick I had finished the Santa and elf costumes
as well as Santa’s beard and moustache. I heard that when Gary found
out I was sick he and Marissa called Sam to see what still needed to be done
for the party. By the time I got back to work everything was pretty
well under control.
Two days before the party I went to the deli to confirm the order for the
party platters. The committee was supplying the condiments and the
extras such as pickles, onion, chips etc. A local bakery was donating
the rolls. Sam kept a watchful eye on me the whole time. He’s
as bad as my brothers – always finding an excuse to manage things for me
when I’ve been the slightest bit ill.
The day before the party a young woman about ten years younger than myself
came into the clinic. It seems that my work with the so-called underprivileged
has caught the attention of some prominent people in this city and she’d
been tasked with the job of delivering a check for $15,000 for me to use
in any manner I saw fit to keep the clinic running.
I accepted the check gratefully. We always needed supplies and I
try to upgrade the equipment whenever I feel it’s necessary. Now I’m
not going to name names because it could be potentially embarrassing for
someone I care about very much so let’s just say that the woman works for
a prominent business in the city. Telling what kind of business could
get back to the person I’m trying to protect here so I’ll just say that when
I heard her name I let loose with both barrels just as I’ve been wanting
to do for some time. Her name and what I said are known to only four
people including myself and if I have my way it will remain an “unsolved
mystery” to everyone else. Needless to say this person will likely
avoid me from now on.
Anyway, the day of the party, last December 20th, arrived. Sam and
I and the other committee members arrived at the hospital early to set up.
I was fussy and nervous because Gary hadn’t arrived yet. For some
reason when Sam chided me for being a worrywart the word “early” triggered
a panic attack of sorts. Mama had sent a few boxes of goodies down
the day before with a friend who brought them to the clinic. But with
everything else that was on my mind I’d forgotten them. So I left Sam
in charge and, grabbing my jacket and purse, ran out to my truck to go back
and get them.
The sight that greeted me fair took my breath away I was so surprised.
Gary was helping Jose Reyes carry Maria down the street. She’d gone
into labor and there was something wrong. Hastily exiting my truck
I unlocked the clinic and had the two men carry Maria into one of my examination
rooms. Then I shooed them out while I did a quick examination.
Maria’s own doctor was not available and the person who was supposed to
be covering for him was not answering the page so they’d headed for the
clinic only to have their car break down several blocks away. Gary
had seen them and hastened to see if he could help.
My exam found the baby to be in a breech position. I was going to
have to turn it or do an emergency c-section – something I’d only done maybe
twice before. I was going to need help from both men. I needed
Maria to stay calm – it would be Jose’s job to keep her as calm as possible
and I would need Gary to fill in as my nurse – there was no time to send for
or wait for Sam. Gary looked a little unsure at first but he rallied
gamely to the cause. He knew it was an emergency. (Now I hear
that Chuck once delivered twins but I have my own theory about that.)
While we were working on saving a seriously weakened Maria and the baby
(and Maria and Jose were made well aware that I hadn’t done a caesarian very
many times) the phone in the outer room started ringing but there was no time
to waste in answering it.
About two hours later, though it seemed an eternity to me, Maria was safely
delivered, via a c-section, of a seven pound eleven ounce baby boy.
The proud parents named him Jose Schuyler Gary Reyes in honor of his father
and the two people who had helped bring him into the world and saved his
mama’s life. Gary was honored and so was I. In fact Gary was
floating on Cloud Nine for a while. As he went to call the ambulance,
Gary looked back at me, smiled and said “good job”.
Fifteen minutes later Maria had been loaded into the ambulance with little
Jose. Jose, the new father, got a ride from a neighbor. Gary
was just telling me how proud he was of me when it dawned on me that we were
late for the party. It was remembering what had brought me back to
the clinic in the first place, Mom’s pastries, which triggered my memory.
I raced back into the clinic with Gary on my heels to get the pastries and
load them in the truck. Less than five minutes later we were on our
way to the VA. Six blocks from the hospital I hit a patch of black
ice and the truck spun out of control into a snow bank. The engine
died and refused to start again. Gary and I were slightly shaken up
Looking at my watch and my dead truck I made a hasty decision to continue
on foot – not even waiting for the police to arrive. Gary and I grabbed
the boxes of pastries and started walking, then running, the rest of the
way. It took us fifteen minutes but we finally got there. We
were somewhat breathless and sweaty when Sam spotted us. He sent us
off to get into our costumes while he let Crumb and the others know we had
arrived and were ok.
It took about ten minutes for Gary and me to change into our costumes.
Then I did a last minute adjustment on Crumb’s Santa suit and his beard
and moustache. That settled we made our entrance into the gym where
the party was taking place and the children went wild at the sight of Santa.
All of my elves were hard pressed to keep the kids from trampling Santa
when he entered the room with a (somewhat) hearty “Ho-ho-ho”. Gary
and Chuck, along with the other elves, got the kids to form a line in front
of Santa’s chair. Then the children were brought to Santa, one by
one, by the elves. Gary got a big hug and kiss from one little girl
as his reward. Chuck, unfortunately, did not fare so well – one kid
who didn’t want to leave Santa’s lap kicked him in the shins. (Guess
I better not ask Chuck for any favors for a while.)
When the party was over, and we had a chance to catch our breath, Gary
and I told our friends about what had transpired at the clinic that had
delayed us so long. We also had to tell them about our slight accident
in which the truck landed in a snow bank and wouldn’t start again leaving
us to run to get to the hospital before too much more time passed.
They, in turn, exempted us from any of the clean up. Chuck went home
or to McGinty’s – I’m not sure which. Sam sent Marissa home in a cab
then helped finish picking up. Leftovers would be given to one of
the homeless shelters or soup kitchens or a food pantry in the city.
Gary and I were banished to a couple of chairs after we changed our clothes.
The events of the past few days plus my brief illness had left me worn out.
Gary sensed it – or maybe he saw something in my face that told him how
tired I was. Either way he put his left arm around me and before I
knew it I had fallen asleep with my head on his shoulder. Sam found
us about fifteen minutes later. He says Gary must have been worn out
as well for when he came back inside to see what was keeping us he found
Gary, his arm still around me, sound asleep with his cheek resting on the
top of my head. He was still smiling, or trying not to smile, when
he woke us up to drive us home.
I don’t think I lasted more than five minutes after I got home.
No sooner had I put on my nice warm pajamas and crawled into bed when I
was sound asleep. Jamie was staying with me that week. I never
heard him come in after his shift was over. I never heard the engine
of my truck when it was delivered (its only problem was a disconnected wire
to the distributor cap) or anything else until I roused the next morning
to the smell of sausage, eggs and biscuits. Hearing what had transpired
the day before Jamie had taken it upon himself to fix breakfast, which he
served to me in bed with orders to rest all day. Sam had put a sign
on the door of the clinic saying that we were closed with a notice to seek
help at County General for non-emergencies or, in case of an emergency, to
On the 22nd our families, Chuck, Marissa and Sam gathered at McGinty’s
for a Christmas party. This time the five nieces and nephew were there
as well and Marissa, as always, amazed me with her ability to keep everyone
straight. Gary was a little late in arriving and soaked to the skin
as well when he did arrive. But he didn’t complain he just went upstairs
to the loft and changed into dry clothes before joining us.
Instead of individual gifts (except mine to Gary, Chuck and Marissa which
I gave to them privately) we had drawn names for a Secret Santa though from
what the gifts turned out to be we knew who gave what. (I never admitted
to anything but Chuck strongly, and rightly, suspected that I was the one
who gave him the lump of coal.)
On Christmas Eve I went to an early candlelight service at a pretty little
Methodist church near my house before driving to Hickory to Mama and Daddy’s.
Jamie wouldn’t be off duty until Christmas morning but I wanted to help
Mama with dinner. Christmas morning all the Fairfaxes gathered to
exchange gifts and sat down together at one in the afternoon to a ham dinner
which included butter baked potatoes, panned carrots and Cole slaw.
The next few weeks flew by. I got over my cold and ear infection
and settled back into the routine of the clinic and the Emergency room.
I dropped into McGinty’s for lunch or supper occasionally. In February
I joined a bowling league that ran for two months. Now that April
is here my thoughts are turning to baseball. I’m thinking I want to
go to Boston for Opening Day at Fenway Park. I haven’t been to Fenway
since I got out of Medical School. It’s just a hope, skip and a jump
by subway from the Harvard Campus. And I’ve just received a letter
from a Medical Missionary group that’s looking for doctors to join them for
short-term trips to Latin American and South America. I must say I’m
tempted because I speak Spanish fluently and that would be a bonus for them
– they wouldn’t have to send me to language classes. Working with the
so-called underprivileged has almost always been my life’s work. It’s
been a good way to indulge my wanderlust when it attacks. We’ll see
what happens. If I decide to go I will make sure of one thing – that
whoever takes charge of the clinic will look out for our people with no thoughts
as to making a lot of money or refusing treatment to someone on the basis
of race or lack of ability to pay the bill in a timely manner. That’s
not what my clinic is about. But if I do leave I’m sure my brothers
will look out for things as best they can. If I know Sam he’ll follow
me wherever I go with the same old excuse of not wanting to break in another
Sky put down the pen with a tired sigh and massaged her cramped fingers.
She couldn’t believe she’d written so much. Nor could she believe
how time had flown.
“Sky? Are you all right?” Marissa entered the office from the dining
room of McGinty’s. A few hours earlier she had suggested, upon hearing
that Sky was to write a newspaper article for the Sun-Times, that she sit
at Gary’s desk to do it.
“Yeah, I’m fine Marissa,” Sky said trying to suppress a yawn.
“Well you sound tired.” Sky’s yawn had not escaped the blind woman’s
notice. “Why don’t you stretch out on the couch for a while before
you drive home?”
“Thanks Marissa, I think I will.”
Marissa left the room as Sky gathered up her papers and put them in a neat
pile in the center of the desk. Then she took Marissa’s advice and
crashed on the couch in the office. For some reason Gary had left a
blanket at the foot of the couch so Sky drew it up over her shoulders and
fell asleep in moments – oblivious to any noise in the dining room or kitchen.
Several hours later Gary came back from one of his saves. He smiled
at the sight of his “sister” sleeping on the couch in his office.
He often marveled that she could look so young for her age considering her
hectic lifestyle and the tragic loss of her husband at an early age.
The stack of papers with her handwriting on them that sat in the middle
of his desk caught his attention. He picked them up and started to
read chuckling over her childhood experiences of watching the trains and
playing hide and seek and such.
About this time Sky stirred roused by the sound of rustling paper and Gary’s
all too infrequent laugh. Rising from the couch walked the few steps
to the desk and “confronted” Gary.
“What are you doing?” she asked him.
“These papers I found on my desk.”
“You’re reading my article? How could you?” Sky was indignant.
She hadn’t planned on anyone else reading it until it was published.
“Give me those!” she said reaching for the papers he held.
“Why? What’s so important about them?” Gary wanted to know.
“None of your business,” Sky said. “Just give them to me.”
Holding the papers out of her reach Gary started to back away from her.
“Not until you tell me why they’re so important to you,” he teased her.
“Gary give me my papers.”
“Gary Matthew give me my papers.”
“No.” Gary was intrigued by her response to reading her “article”
as she’d just called it.
“Gary Matthew Hobson give me back my article!”
Email the author: Janet.E.Brayden@nae02.usace.army.mil
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