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Heath Royce had a hangover, a bad one. He and his work buddy, Clark Reid had been to a frat party the night before. They had drunk too much, stayed out too late and smoked marijuana with no concern for what going to work on Saturday morning would be like. Since they worked for Clark’s dad they had no excuse for not being at work on time. Mr. Reid wouldn’t pay until the end of the work day on Saturday. If you called in on Friday or Saturday you better be ready to prove you really were sick on Monday to get your check. Since they both had hot dates tonight they were struggling to get this job over . Mr. Reid owned a use furniture and appliance store. They were on their way to pick up a stove and refrigerator and some other pieces of furniture. The homeowners had decided it made more sense to sell the items than move them. It was a nice house in a well-kept neighborhood. The yards around the houses were mowed and many had flowers and swing sets in the yards.
“Man, your dad could have set up a later time for this…8:30 is way too early on Saturday mornings to be working.” Heath said as he and Clark moved the fridge away from the wall onto the dolly.
“The old man is having a big sale this weekend…He wants this back at the store and cleaned up by 10...They’re in really good condition.”
He lit a cigarette taking a long drag off it. They got the refrigerator into the truck then went back in for the stove. He gave the gas hook up a twist but didn’t bother to put the cap on the pipe. They got the stove and other items into the truck. .Before they left Heath had turned on the kitchen faucet and splashed some cold water on his face, hoping it would clear his head. He did not care he had made a mess with water splashed everywhere or left the faucet dripping. There were several puddles of water on the counter next to the radio he had plugged in to listen to his favorite heavy metal station never noticing the frayed cord nor bothering to turn it off.
“If we’re really lucky maybe they’ll have boys who like to play football and baseball…” Her brother said more to tease than caring. He had enough friends in the neighborhood. The discussion ended when their mother called them in for breakfast.
“Where ever you left them the last time you used them.” She answered as she wheeled into the kitchen. “Don’t remember where you put them?”
“Nope.” He frowned making a silly face. “Think I have ‘old timers’ disease like Stacy said Mindy’s grandpa does?”
“No I think its more of a case of you were in a hurry and didn’t put them away right disease.” She laughed at his expression. “The last time I saw the scissors you were using them to strip the wire on the stereo speaker.”
“Oh, yeah. They are on the bottom of the speaker stand in the bedroom.” He grinned at her. “Needed them because I couldn’t fine the wire stripper from my workshop. Still can’t.” Johnny said with a shake of his shaggy head.
That surprised her since he usually kept everything in its place. The wood working shop had been her Christmas gift to him.
“What were you working on the last time you had them?” She asked hoping to jog his memory.
“I think they are out in the pool house. Thanks Sweet Pea.” He had started calling her that after she asked him to stop calling her Baby girl. Sweet Pea had been Jeff’s name for her when she first came to live with him.
“Apple crisp with walnuts and raisins in it? With vanilla ice cream.”
“That does sound good, thank you darlin’.” He left the room but came back in a few minutes with the missing scissors that he put in the drawer.
“We gonna stop by and see Anna before we go to Roy’s?” Johnny asked.
“Yeah. Didn’t you get her some new tapes?”
“Yep. She seemed to enjoy the other ones.” After giving her a quick kiss, he went to the pool house. Because of the mild winter they had had so far, the crew from WBS had been able to get the pool house competed. The beds were set up but not made as Lee hadn’t settled on a color for the bedding in either of the rooms. The two bath/dressing areas had boxes of towels and other items ready to be put away. The kitchen and living room area was still pretty bare but they had time before the official opening of the pool.
They left in time to go visit Anna but knew it was a hit and miss proposition Some days she was awake and would smile and even squeeze Johnny’s hand when he talked to her. Other time she was lost in the hazy world between conscious and coma. Lee decided to wait in the car while Johnny checked with the nurse. She had the feeling it was not a good day for her to visit. Johnny came out after only a few minutes.
“I left the tapes with Amy. Anna is running a low-grade temperature. They are thinking it’s a UTI.”
“So have they started her on antibiotics?”
‘No they are waiting on the lab work.” He leaned over and gave her a kiss. “It’ll all work out the way it’s supposed to.”
“I know…but …it’s so unfair to her…she …Or you…If…”
“I love you and no matter what happens that isn’t going to change, understand?” He interrupted her hoping she was listening to him with her heart as well as her head.
Jo pulled the pork roast from the oven, setting the pan on the back of the stove. She slipped the pan of scalloped corn into the oven and setting the timer. She went out to the deck where Roy was checking the air in Jenny’s back tire. She smiled watching Jenny giving Roy a hug and telling him he was the best dad ever.
“I think Santa should have brought her a new bike. She has almost out grown that one.” Roy said as they watched her ride down to the corner and back. “Junior got her and Stacy both bikes to keep out at their place when he went to the police auction a few weeks ago. The plans he has in mind for The Grove is something else. The only part that he is having done professionally is the path.”
“Kathy was teasing her and him about putting in a sidewalk to her house from their’s. It would be on their land until it went into Jim and Kathy’s back yard. I am so glad he loves that place as much as she does. I was really worried he would never feel at home there.”
Going back into the house, she began making her pulled pork with her homemade barbecue sauce. Roy followed her in a few minutes later.
“Is that the recipe you are going to use for the fund raiser?” Roy asked as he watched her cook.
“Maybe. Did I tell you we are going to get the meat wholesale priced thru O’Sheas? That will really save us money…some of the other supplies also once we make the final decisions. Johnny Pat is giving us a good discount on the buns. Lee has arranged for a discount on the soda also. She is working just as hard on this as if she was on the committee.”
“Does that really surprise you?” Roy asked. He knew Johnny was glad Lee had turned down the request from the president of the Women’s Auxiliary to co-chair the fund raiser or even be on the planning committee. She needed to relax and not have a lot of extra stress. It seemed even through the holidays she was still not her old self after the near drowning and surgery. She seemed to get tired easily and had little energy some days.
“She has seemed a little far away at times lately. Is there something bothering her?” Jo had wanted to ask this several times lately but it had seemed as if every time she thought about it one of the kids had been in the room.
“I know the doctor told them it might take a couple of months for her body and emotions to get use to changes after the surgery.”
“Anything you need me to do to help?” Roy asked hoping to change the subject.
Dinner was over, the food put away and everyone was ready to play trivia. They drew colored squares to see who was on the teams. Just to be different they were playing four teams instead of two. Johnny grinned when Lee also pulled a red square. Em, Chet and Melissa were yellow. Suzi got the third red. Cap, Marco and Mike made up the blue team while Anita, Jo and Roy were the white team. The game was close but the red team won. They decided it was a good time to take a break and have dessert.
“Who wants ice cream with their apple crisp?” Emily helped dish up the desserts while Suzi and Anita served and poured coffee or re filled sodas. The kids were allowed to eat in the front room as they watched a movie. The quiet was shattered as the house next door exploded into a huge fireball. The windows in the houses nearby shook and some in the DeSoto home actually broke from the force of the vibrations.
Roy called the fire dispatch… He turned to a stunned Jo who was holding a crying Jenny. Chris stood by looking frighten but holding back the tears. “Jo, gather up some clothes and get the box from the top of our closet. MAKE IT FAST and GET OUT.” He followed the other men out.
“Jo, I’ll help.” Em said. The others except Lee told Jo they would gather the family pictures from downstairs. Lee told them to put them in the Rover then she had Chris push her outside with Jenny on her lap.
“Go across the street…down towards the Grimes’ house.” Roy said as he saw her coming down the ramp with Chris and Jenny. Johnny and Chet had grabbed hoses from the garage and were spraying down the lawn and the front of the house trying to keep the flying debris from starting other fires. Mike and Marco were doing this at the house on the other side of the one that had exploded. Hank was moving people back from the fire into the yards across the street. Another fireball formed as the garage exploded.
Johnny turned just in time to see flaming boards and other debris land on Roy’s roof. He knew the garden hose would not help much at that distance. Chet had moved to the house on the other side of Roy trying to keep the flaming debris from starting another fires. Johnny ran and turned off the hose he was using and made his way into the garage. He knew Roy had a new hose in there. He grabbed the new hose and went outside and connected the two coiling them the best he could while moving. He yelled at Chet.
“I need your help.” Chet ran over to Johnny. “Once I get up in the fork of that tree, turn the water on full blast. I gotta get that roof hosed down.”
Johnny had climbed that tree several times to retrieve items from the roof. Never in the early evening darkness and never with a wet coil of hose over his shoulder, It seemed like a long time to him before the water began flowing with enough pressure to do some good. He was not making much progress in putting out the fire but was keeping it from spreading. He was relieved to hear the sirens of the approaching engine and squad.
The engine was soon in position and Hank made his way over to the captain and engineer. The engineer recognized Hank.
“Captain Lloyd, this is Captain Stanley, A shift from Station 51.” The introduction was made as the engineer set up the hoses.
“Our crew was having dinner with the DeSoto’s. We’ve started using garden hoses to put out the small fires and try to keep it from spreading to near by homes.”
“Too bad you didn’t keep that damn fool out of that tree. He’s gonna fall if he keeps inching out like that.”
“Don’t worry about him, he’s part mountain goat,” Hank said with a smile.
Lee was holding onto a very wiggly Jennifer DeSoto. Jen was trying to see where her dad was and if her mom and the others had came out of the house. Lee relaxed a little as she saw the women putting items into the Rover. Jenny began sobbing.
“Stacy Lee! They are going to let her be burned up. I have to go get her…”
“Jennifer Lynne, what is the first rule your daddy taught you about a fire?” Lee said sternly.
The tone shocked Jenny and she fought to stop the sobs. “Get out fast, move far away and don’t go back in. Stay with an adult.”
“Right. Now, when the fire is out and if its safe, I’ll send your Uncle Johnny into get Stacy Lee and one thing from your room, Chris.”
Jo, Emily and the other two made their way over to Lee and the kids.
“We got the box and most of the special photos and a few other things as well as several changes of clothes for each of us.” Jo said in a daze.
The truck from the deli came back and everyone stopped work to eat and rest. The garage and shed were packed up and everything was out of the attic. The trash pile had grown as the waterlogged boxes came out of the attic. Kathy, Emily and Jo had the three bedrooms cleaned out. They were sitting there talking when unfamiliar car pulled up.
“We’re looking for Roy DeSoto.” The car’s driver said as the other man took out a notebook. “We’re here to get an idea of the damage and what we’ll be needing to do to get started.”
“I’m Roy DeSoto and you are?”
“Ed Jarred and Bob Cabot. Ruth Anne called and said we needed to get out here and get this cleaned up and repaired as soon as possible. Look like the clean up is gonna be easy on this one. We’ll have a truck out here tomorrow to take what you want to be cleaned and stored.”
“Who is Ruth Anne and how much is this gonna cost?” Roy said a little dazed at how fast things were happening. “Who called you?”
“Ruth Anne is Ben Oliver’s assistant. I’d say Lee called them to do the work.” Johnny said as he came back into the yard. “I was just talking to Mr. Martin; he is going to have you look over his place also. It doesn’t look as bad as here. Told him whatever his insurance paid would cover the cost.”
Ed Jarred had met Johnny before but Bob Cabot hadn’t. He frowned, who was this person making deals for their company?
“Whatever you say. Ruth Anne said you and your wife were the bosses. Kind of surprised she isn’t here.” Jarred said.
“My wife is always the boss. She’s home pretending to watch the kids but knowing her, she is playing dolls or dress up with the girls. I’ll let the guys know she is expecting them for dinner. She has already talked to Melissa, Anita and Suzi about it.” This was for Roy and Jo’s benefit. “Guess I need to go tell the others that too.” He left laughing at the look on Roy’s face…
After Jo, Roy and Johnny walked away Bob Cabot turned to his friend. “Who does he think he is telling people we’ll accept their insurance as payment in full? Why did Mr. Oliver have Ruth Anne call us out on a Sunday morning? What makes this place so special?”
“That was Johnny Gage and his partner. This is the partner’s house.”
“So who is Johnny Gage?” Bob asked still puzzled. He had only worked at WBS a few weeks.
“Remember when they were talking about Lee Spencer getting rid of Ralph Franklin and Morris Howard? Johnny is married to Lee. She is pretty use to getting what she wants when she wants it.”
“So, is she hard to get along with?”
“Nope one of the nicest people you’d ever hope to meet. Both of them are, work hard at helping others. But don’t cross her or him when it comes to family…The De Soto’s are family.”
Roy, Jo, and Johnny headed to the house. Everything was packed and labeled and ready for the cleaning company to pick up. Jo had wanted to bring some of the clothes to Johnny’s to wash but Roy reminded her that a smoke smell that bad needed professional cleaning. Kathy had left a few minutes earlier. As soon as they got home, all three wanted a bath and just to sit and do nothing. Lee had coffee and fresh baked cookies ready. Roy went into the guest bathroom and quickly showered so Jo could get cleaned up.
“Why don’t you and daddy take a shower together like Uncle Johnny and Aunt Lee do?: Jenny asked as her mother was sitting at the table sipping her coffee. She almost choked on the coffee and sprayed it a little.
“How do you know they take showers together?” Lee was sitting there trying not to laugh at the look on her friend‘s face.
“Aunt Lee and Uncle Johnny explained to us why they take showers together a long time ago.”
“They did?” Jo asked surprised. “What did they tell you?”
“That she needs some extra help sometimes when she is tired or hurting a lot. Uncle Johnny goes in to help her and to make sure she is safe. And since he is gonna get wet it just makes sense he takes his shower then too.”
“Yeah, I guess it does.” Jo said smiling at her daughter and her friend. “That makes a lot of sense.” Jen left the room as Lee started to giggle. Jo raised an eyebrow at her.
“Besides its fun.” Jo shook her head and laughed. It felt good to laugh.
“From what they said today its gonna be awhile before we can move back home.” Roy said. “I don’t know what would have happen if you all hadn’t been there. Johnny getting up in that tree probably saved our home.”
“Just call me the amazing half mountain goat half man firefighter.” Johnny teased.
“No, it may have saved your house, but your home is wherever you four are together.” Lee said, holding tightly onto Johnny’s hand. “You gave Johnny a home when he had none…sure he had an apartment but that wasn’t a home. He has told me what it was like before you all were part of his life. If it wasn’t for you he wouldn’t be part of my life…If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be part of your wonderful family. So please, consider staying here. If you like staying in this house fine. But, I think Jo, you would be happier having your own place even if it was temporary. So if you like tomorrow we can go get curtains and bedding and set up the pool house as your home for as long as you need it.” Lee looked at the two and smiled. “Please, let us do this for you.”
“We accept, just remember, you neither one owe us anything. Everything we did for Johnny and you was love, not by wanting you to owe us in the future.” Roy said remembering how Johnny had been made to feel he owed others for what they did for him, even when it was done cruelly. Even now, once in awhile he would see that look in Johnny’s eyes.
“I promise not to spoil your kids and so does Lee, right?” Johnny said with a grin.
“Why change now?” Jo laughed. “I think this is really the best option for the kids. They already feel at home here.”
“Oh, that reminds me, Jen was worried about her reading book and Chris’ backpack with his homework.” Lee said. “I told her you would take care of it if there was a problem.”
“They’re gone…Wet and smelly beyond saving. I’ll talk with their teachers tomorrow. I’ll have to fill out new information cards for them.”
They talked some more and then went off to their bedrooms.
Lee was lying in bed reading while Johnny was finishing up in the bathroom. She needed to talk with him about Anna. He came out of the bedroom, saw the look on her face, and knew something was bothering her.
“You gonna tell me about it or do I have to play 20 questions?” He asked as he climbed into bed.
“I was just thinking.” She answered. He leaned over and kissed her lightly.
“About?” He asked as he nibbled on her ear. She giggled in spite of herself.
“The Center called today. Anna has an UTI like they thought. They started her on a low dose of antibiotics. They didn’t seem too worried.”
“And you are?” He propped himself up on his elbow. “Sweet pea, don’t do this to yourself. You know they are doing all they can for her. She is getting the best possible care.”
“I know but she deserved so much more…She deserved a long happy life with Mark and a family…Why is it sometimes it seems as if the good guys get all the bad breaks? Roy and Jo didn’t do anything to deserve this…I guess I’m just tired and this is my way with dealing with being so scared yesterday. Then I did not have time to think, just react. Sorry I’m being so negative.”
“Aren’t you one of those who keep telling me never is ashamed of what I’m feeling? You have every right to be sad and worried you just can’t let that rule your life. Most of the time you are the one who brings a smile or a laugh to others. Let us do that for you once in awhile.”
“You always know the right thing to say…to me…to make me feel safe and loved and like nothing can ever hurt me again…” she whispered as he moved closer.
Lee finished getting dressed as Johnny made the bed. “Are you and Roy car pooling?” She asked as she brushed her hair pulling it into a ponytail that she then twisted into a bun.
“Hadn’t thought about it but it makes sense. Something smells good.”
“Jo is probably making the kids breakfast. Does this look ok together?” She had on a pale lavender sweater and a dove gray skirt.
“You look wonderful as always.” He went over, kissed her, and then pushed her out to the front room.
“Breakfast is almost ready, made French toast and sausage. Hope that is ok? Lee there isn’t any more milk, I’ll pick some up when I go to the grocery after I take the kids to school.”
“Ok. If you have time, you can come by the office and we can work on the grant applications. There are only 4 or 5 I think.”
“Sure. When do you want to go look at curtains?”
“We can do that today, after lunch? I can leave the office any time after 11. We can bring the grants home so you can do them when ever you have time.”
“And so can you. I know that’s important for kids.” Sometimes watching the kids with Johnny made her feel more like a failure than she already did. But she was working hard to change that since she knew they were a very important part of his life and she loved them also.
Jo walked Jenny to her classroom. The bell hadn’t rung yet so she wouldn’t be interrupting the class. Mrs. Hansen smiled as they came into the room. “Jen go put your things up while I talk to your teacher, ok? It’s going to be fine I promise.” Jo said giving her a reassuring squeeze on her shoulder.
“OK, see you after school.”
“Jenny was concerned she would be in trouble for not having her reader. You may have heard our house was damaged in a fire over the week end? The reader is gone. I’m going to stop by the office to give them our new address and telephone number. I’ll pay for the book then.”
“I’m so sorry …I hadn’t heard. My family was out of town this weekend. We got home late last night. Is everyone ok?”
“Yes. I’ll be bringing Jen to school until we move back into our home. Here is the new address and phone number. The phone is listed under John Gage so if you call and get a recording it is the right number.” Mrs. Hanson knew all about Uncle Johnny and Aunt Lee.
Jo went up to the office and gave the secretary the new contact information and asked about replacing the ruined textbooks. The principal expressed her concern for the family and said under the circumstances there were no charges.
“Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help the children adjust to the move.”
“I think they will be fine. We are staying with Lee and Johnny so the kids feel completely at home.”
Lee had sent in a basket of rolls and muffins with Johnny and Roy. As usual, she included enough for the departing shift. As Roy made a new pot of coffee, Johnny unpacked the picnic basket. Cap heard them talking and came out of the office.
“The investigators have sent a parliamentary report. An improperly capped gas line was ignited by a spark from an electrical short. Now they just have to figure out who did what.”
“The family that lived there left two days ago for Nebraska. They left some appliances and furniture for a second hand store to pick up. I’ll check with Jo to see if she knows who.”
“You do ok? No problem with your temporary accommodations?”
“Yeah, we are moving into the pool house and it should work out fine. Maybe that way we can keep Junior here from totally spoiling my children.” Roy said laughing. “Uncle Johnny melts every time my daughter bats her eyes at him. I think she has been taking lessons from her Aunt Lee.”
“Don’t think so…That was happening long before he ever met Lee.” Cap said with a grin. “You can’t blame her for that. Now, granted Jen maybe be picking up pointers from watching her Aunt Lee.”
“Thanks for the back up, I think.” Johnny said laughing. They began chores when the engine was called out on its own. Johnny and Roy quickly finished their chores. They had finished cleaning the squad’s windows and chrome.
“John, I was thinking.” Roy said.
“About what? Did I do something wrong?” It worried Johnny when Roy used his given name, not one of his nicknames.
“No, you didn’t do anything wrong….and don’t give me that look.” Johnny gave him a ‘who me?’ look then smiled. “Lee isn’t going to a lot of extra trouble and expense because we’re living in the pool house is she?”
“I doubt it. She has had a vision of what she wanted out there since we first talked about building. Knowing her probably before that. She may be moving a little faster getting it where she wants it.” He sat down on the running board, his long legs stretched straight out. “She needs a project to feel hopeful about…this is good for her. She can see the results now not in months. She’s still scared but each day I think the fear lessens a little. She is getting really excited about going to Hawaii in three weeks. She even asked Dr. Shipper if she could go surfing. He didn’t know what to say to that. Lee explained it to him and he said if she didn’t feel comfortable doing it don’t but go for it.” He heard Roy laughing. “What’s so funny?”
“You. We all know you hate the water, yet you married a mermaid. When you talk about anything to do with water and Lee you seem really excited and happy.”
“Because that is where she feels the freest and that we’re doing something as equals. I don’t mind being in the water when I‘m with her…” There was a quick darkness and sadness in his eyes that Roy almost missed. Maybe one of these days Johnny would tell him why he disliked the water so much.
Before more could be said, the engine returned.
“Johnny finished the dorm while I was out here.” Roy said nodding at Mike.
“Don’t suppose anyone finished the latrine.”
“Sink and shower done, so is the rest…You had most of it done before you left here.” Roy said. “It wasn’t that much…you all had a good start on the chores.”
“Thanks guys, that’s a good example of team work…Now all that has to be done is hanging the hose.”
“Cap, we need to make a run to Rampart. “We need some more sterile water and sheets for burn treatment. We found several of the packages ruined.”
“How?” Cap frowned. It was not like any of the paramedics on any shift to be careless.
“I’d guess some sort of animal….We were parked out in that field the other day and last shift they were out in a field.”
“Tell Lee we said hi.” Chet called over his shoulder as he headed into the kitchen.
“She isn’t working today, she and Jo are shopping.” He looked thoughtful. “Cap you know I never waste time over there when she’s working…I mean I don’t want you to think…Or get Roy in trouble.”
“Pal, don’t let Chet get to you. You might run up and say hi to her or grab something to eat but I never worry about you taking advantage. From what I hear there are others that do…even when she isn’t there.”
“You mean like when a whole case of chips disappear and a case of soda? Not to mention the lunchmeat. Yeah she’s a little ticked about that.”
Lee was working on the daily reports when Jo got there. She was about done, so Jo started looking thru the grant application. The phone rang and Lee answered. Frowning as she, listened Lee made notes on the pad she kept on the desk. Her comments to what was being said were short and very generic. She was still frowning when she hung up.
“Problem?” Jo asked concerned how sad her friend looked.
“Not one that anyone can do anything to make better.” She shrugged. “Let’s go do something about a problem we can solve.” She closed down the file she was working on. “Any ideas on what colors you would like in the bedrooms?”
“It’s your house, shouldn’t you pick?” Jo asked, appreciating Lee’s gesture.
“But you’re going to be the one living there for the next 6 weeks. I know Jen likes pink and blue flowers. Chris will want a deep blue or red…something maybe with Dodger Blue? And you know what you would like to make your room feel like yours. Anything you need for the kitchen we can get. Afraid all the towels are a mix of colors…just bought about 20 sets…Ten for each side…” She looked at her friend. “This is your home and I am not going to be trying to influence you on anything you want. It is nice having family around. While we are shopping we may as well pick out some more furniture for the living room…Get everything set up like a real home.”
Lee and Jo finished shopping just as it was time to go pick the kids up.
“Why don’t we pick up the kids then I can take you back to the office so you can pick up your car. It doesn’t make sense to back track to Rampart then to the school..”
“That makes sense and we can stop and get something easy to fix for dinner.”
“Or eat at O’Sheas’. I could really eat their cheese straws every day. And their rye bread….I threatened to give up cooking and just eat there three times a day.”
“I think Johnny would have a little something to say about that.” Jo said laughing. “He loves your cooking.”
“He just likes to eat.” She said with a sad smile. “But I do try to fix the things he likes. Now he will even eat an occasional Brussels sprout… I guess I wouldn’t give up cooking for him, its one of the things I can do for him.”
“Hey, you do a lot for him.” Jo said.
“Yeah like drive him crazy with my moods…Dr. Westmore said it would take awhile. But sometimes I think I‘ve lost what little sanity I had. I just want to run away and hide from everyone. Knowing how sarcastic I have been lately you all would probably wish I would.”
“No we want you around so we know you’re safe.” Jo said laughing. “Seriously, if you need someone to talk to or listen…call me. We are here for you, all of us.”
“You want me to go in this time?” Roy asked as they were getting the equipment out of the squad.
“Nah. You take care of that guy. Cap, can you guys tie off a line for me?” He gathered up a belt and more rope and started down the steep bank. The water was running fast since it had been raining up in the mountains he could see the rider hung up on some trees growing along the other bank, their roots tangled and sticking up.
Making his way slowly he managed to reach the boy. He looked to be about 16 or 17. His eyes were wide open, looking blankly to the sky. Johnny carefully put the belt on him and untangled him from the exposed roots. As carefully and gently as if he was working on a living person Johnny took the boy to shore. Marco and Chet helped him get him on the bank.
Roy finished giving the vitals to Rampart and began treatment. “51, any information available on the second victim?” Dr. Early asked
“The second victim is Code F…” Roy said the sadness in his voice clear for all to hear. “He has been brought out of the river and is ready for transport. Capt. Stanley has notified the M.E.”
“It is such a waste…That is the third person to get killed on that curve in two months. All near that curve…going too fast or having the bad luck to be in some fool’s way. “Johnny told Roy as they were cleaning the squad.
The rest of the evening was quiet at the station. The crew knew that Johnny always took it hard when there was a fatality. The boy had been 17 and had just gotten that bike as a reward from his parents for getting an academic scholarship to UCLA. After dinner Johnny went into the dorm and read while the other watched a movie. Even after he went to bed he was restless and slept in short spurts.
Johnny came into the kitchen and smiled as he watched her dice fresh fruit. She looked up when she heard him come in, her smile turning into a look of concern. She saw the deep pain lines on his forehead and the way he was rubbing the bridge of his nose.
“Did you take anything for that headache?” She asked as he came over to her. He bent down and kissed her softly cupping her face, his thumb gently stroking her cheek.
“Yeah but it hasn’t kicked in yet. I don’t think I want anything to eat right now.”
“You should have something….I can make you some milk toast. I’ve heard it’s not good to take aspirin on an empty stomach.” She smiled slightly. “Not that I take aspirin anymore.”
“Good answer. Do you ever drive River Ridge?” He went over and got a glass of milk.
“Not if I can avoid it. I take Baylor Park Road…It takes longer but its safer, I think.” She raised her eyebrows. “Usually.”
“Brat.” He drank the milk in one gulp. “You know I really don’t think you’re a brat. I’d never be that mean to ya.”
“Boyo, I don’t think you have mean bone in your body.”
“This body is full of tired bones right now.” He put the glass in the sink. “Think just the milk for now.”
“Then get it into bed. I’m going to work on some reports for WBSF.”
“Ok, then when I get up we’ll go to an early movie then to O’Sheas’.”
“It’s a deal. Now get some good sleep.” He kissed her and went off to bed.
She stopped to check on him before going to the sunroom. He had laid down on top of the covers and was asleep with his arm over his eyes. She covered him with the quilt she kept at the foot of the bed then went to her desk. A half hour later the peacefulness was shattered by Johnny’s cries for help.
Johnny asked Lee to call Roy to come over so they could talk. Roy went in knocking on the door so not to startle his friend. Johnny was laying there curled on his side, his eyes closed.
“Junior, you want to talk?” Roy went in and sat down on the edge of the bed.
“No, but I need to. It was more than a dream…more like a memory.” He turned over onto his back. “I don’t want Lee to hear this...not now, maybe later. Maybe never.”
“That’s your choice. It always is when we do this.” He used the techniques Dr. Hightower had taught him and Jo several years before.
“I was running back to the reservation. I had stayed too long in town at the firehouse. If I didn’t get my chores done it would just give them another excuse to hit me. Not that they needed any excuses…I was an embarrassment to them…a half breed who had strange fits…couldn’t put a simple sentence together without stuttering. If I didn’t get home and chores done there wouldn’t be any supper. Not that it would be very good. Use to think when I was a fireman I’d have a place of my own and there would always be plenty of fresh cold milk and bread. Fresh soft bread, not the old moldy stuff that was so hard you had to soak it in water to eat it. Sometimes it was so bad even the dogs wouldn’t eat it. I kept looking back to make sure I wasn’t being chased by any of the town bullies. The nearer I got to the reservation the more I had to keep on the lookout. My cousin Ben and his friends…they were as bad as the town bullies… Maybe even worse. I couldn’t go to anyone for help…who would I go to? Ben’s parents? My grandfather or grandmother? My grandfather had told me tears were not allowed nor was fear…they both were signs of weakness. How could I go to him and tell him I was scared of my cousins and his friends? Thomas, he was one of my older cousins he wasn’t so bad. Most of the time he just ignored me but every so often if I did his chores he would buy me a candy bar or some milk. I was almost to the river when I heard them.
“Hey, half breed…You really think you could out run us?” Will Tudor yelled as he and his friends, Frank Weston and Yancey Black on motor bikes. They were catching up so I made my way to the river bank. There were some exposed roots the dirt had washed away. They were like little narrow caves. I kept thinking if I could just reach them I would be safe, hiding like the sniveling coward they called me.”
Roy felt the tension increase in Johnny’s shoulders. He increased the pressure as he massaged the knotted muscles. “Well now, Junior, if you ask me it showed good sense. You were a skinny kid all alone against three older, bigger bullies. As for you being a coward…you were what 13 or 14? Ask some of the people you’ve rescued over the years if they think you’re a coward. Hell, you risked your life yesterday to rescue those two racers. Climbing out on those limbs to get life lines to them? That was not the act of a coward. Don’t forget Cisco is always telling you it took a brave man to hook up with a hellcat like Lee.”
“That wasn’t brave, that was the smartest thing I ever did. Well, maybe that and signing up for the paramedic program and being your partner.” Roy heard the glint of laughter in Johnny’s voice and felt his shoulders relax. .
“I ran as fast as I could across the uneven road, took a tumble or two…It hurt to breathe like there was some giant hands squeezing all the air out of me.” He took a long slow deep breath. “I heard Yancey laughing as he cut across the road. He had a rope…I could hear him swinging it…Yelling to the others he could rope me and drag me…
“Hey, Yancey, you ain’t nothing but a drug store cowboy, you couldn’t catch a lame cow let alone Chief Running Scared.” Will Tudor taunt.
“Yeah even if you caught him you wouldn’t know what to do with him.” Frank Watson added his two cents. Frank did not much like Yancey, thought he was white trash. That was almost as bad as being an Indian or a breed. However, he tolerated him since it seemed to amuse Will to have him hanging around. Frank liked hanging around with Will since it made life easier. No one argued with a Tudor so by association he got to be somebody no one disrespected, at least to his face. Frank worked part time at a local gas station. “You ever rope anything except a fence post?”
“Shut up and help me catch this skinny little breed.” Yancey growled.
“Both of you get back to the business.” Will ordered. “I don’t want that little s.o.b. Laughing at us.”
Johnny let out a shudder and then rolled over. “I still remember Will Tudor and the way he’d take digs at my mom…Calling her names, calling my dad squaw man…I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I didn’t care what he called me…But when he started in on my mom…I wanted to beat him up to shut him up. Instead, I ran or pretended not to hear. Sometimes after running I would go away…away from the hurt and hate and afraid of losing memories of my folks.” Johnny sat up and looked around the room. “
“You never lost those memories, they were in your heart. You went to the only safe place you had then.” Roy told him. “You did what you had to do to survive.”
“I almost didn’t survive that night.”
“What? They caught you?” Roy had not expected that revelation.
“No, I got caught in a cross fire between them and my cousin Ben and his friends.” Johnny laid back down and put his arm over his eyes. Roy waited patiently until he was ready to talk.
“Do you need to take a break? Maybe get something to drink?” Roy asked concerned at how pale Johnny was and how his breathing was labored. “You had a rough rescue last night.”
“You mean a rough retrieval.” Roy knew how Johnny hated to lose a patient. “There was no reason for that boy to die except someone else’s stupidity. Think we’ll ever get use to that?”
“If we do that’s the minute we need to quit being paramedics and firefighters.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Johnny was up pacing around. The movie began to play again in his head.
“ I was sure that they would be busy trying to get the motor bike started again and wouldn’t notice me creeping along the edge of the river bank. Then I heard them yelling and laughing. They hadn’t seen me but they had seen Will and Frank and Yancey. Ben and his gang had had several run ins with those three before. It was like they were fighting over who was the biggest bad asses around. Just my luck I was the favorite target of both of them. The boys from the reservation…they were all yelling and doing war cries…I couldn’t see them from where I was hiding… I wanted to run to get home, but I had no idea how to without one or the other bunch seeing me. Besides I knew if I didn’t get home soon the aunts would be in worse tempers than usual. I moved a little farther down the bank and I could see Ben and Eric and Matt and some others moving in closer to where Will and Frank were waiting for Yancey to catch up. I thought I was safe hidden from each of them.” He moved back to the bed and sat down.“I was scared…All of a sudden I realized I could die out there all alone and with no one to care. I used to ask God why he didn’t let me die so I could be with my mom and dad. Guess I know now it was so I could be with my big brother and his family and with Lee…”
Roy watched with some concern as Johnny began to rock back and forth. He suddenly realized it wasn’t because of the AS but feeling the cold from his dream. Roy grabbed up the afghan that Lee kept folded at the foot of the bed and wrapped it around Johnny. Johnny nodded his thanks. Roy waited until Johnny was ready to continue.
“I was almost to the place I thought would be safe to get out…A small group of trees and some brush grew right up to the water’s edge. By this time I was pretty cold…The spring thaw in the mountains had started and there had been some late snow the week before…The water was so cold, I guess it had numbed me until I wasn’t moving as fast or as quietly as I thought. I think Ben and Will saw me about the same time. Never was sure who started it but they began throwing rocks and pieces of wood at me. I remember dodging a limb only to get hit with a rock. I could feel the blood running down my face and the pain in my shoulders and arm…there was blood but it was a real pale color, I guess from all the water splashing up on the cut. Yancey began shouting…Laughing and shouting about my blood being pink……that when you mixed white and red you got pink… Said no wonder I was such a coward and a sissy ….Called me some other names…then I saw this rock coming towards me and I turned too quick…I went under the water. I was caught in tangle of roots…I thought I was gonna die…wanted to die…go be with my mom and dad. I was so scared……But that day I actually thought about giving up. Then I heard my mom’s voice, her telling me how proud dad would be when I graduated from the fire academy and became a fireman…How proud he would be of me saving people’s lives. So I started to fight to get my head above water. They were still throwing rocks at me and then there was nothing.”
He pulled the afghan closer. “The next thing I knew I was waking up in the clinic. Sean Carlton was covering me with warm blankets and I had another cast on my arm. Later Dr. Sean told me my cousin Thomas had brought me in. He and some of his friends had been hunting and they heard the yelling. Everyone scattered when they saw him and his friend drive up. Sam Gray Wolf went into the water and got me…Never did know if I went away or if I passed out from the cold. Guess the accident yesterday brought back some old memories. Seeing that kid staring up at me…Never did like being around the water after that unless it was standing on the bank fishing. Learned to surf because Drew liked it and it was a good way to meet girls. Lee is looking forward to our trip to Hawaii. She wants to go surfing again. But she won’t surf when we go to the beach here…Figure that one out.” He yawned. “Think I could sleep some more now. Pally, thanks for listening.”
“Anytime.” He stood there until Johnny got under the covers and settled down with his arm thrown over his eyes.
Lee was out at the kitchen table talking to Jenny and Stacy.
“Daddy, Lee said it was ok with her if it was ok with you and mommy and aunt Kathy and Uncle Jim that Stacy and I can have a slumber party next Friday. You and Uncle Johnny will be at work and Chris and Jimmy will be at scouts.”
“We’ll see. Why don’t you guys go down to the pool house while I talk to Aunt Lee?”
“Ok. Thanks Aunt Lee.” They left excited about the idea of a slumber party.
“Is he ok?” Lee asked once the girls were gone. “He was so pale and his breathing was so harsh…He was having a hard time waking up.”
“He’s sleeping. You know I can’t tell you about anything we talked about.” He had poured himself a cup of coffee. “But I can tell you I think he’ll be fine after he gets some rest.”
“He was yelling …in Cheyenne before I could get him awake. Sometimes I wish we never had to have any contact with any one in Lame Deer.” Roy didn’t say a word. “I just want him to be happy.”
“You make him happy. I think I’m gonna head home and see if there is anything Jo needs. Maybe take a drive over to the house.”
“You can leave Jen with me if you want. She and Stacy are fun house guests.”
“Just don’t let them interfere with any plans you and Junior have.”
“How is he?” Jo asked after kissing Roy. “Lee doing ok?”
“He was sleeping when I left and she was fine once she knew he was. Said she would watch Jen while we went to check on the house.”
“That would be good. The girls are having such a good time together.”
“You know, the house across the street from us is up for sale. The kids have decided you should sell your old house and buy this one.”
“We couldn’t afford it…but it is a nice place.”
“Don’t be so sure of that…the owner is anxious to sell it to you. Heard they might even take your old house in an even trade…or do some special very low interest financing.”
“And just who would this owner be?”
“A nice young couple. The wife inherited the house from her grandfather…One of several he built for friends. The stipulation in the original sale was when the owners decided to move or died the house would be sold back to the builder. Not to the builder’s company but to him. The present owner is moving to North Carolina to live near his daughter and her family. So the builder’s heirs had first chance at buying it back. The original buyers will be out in two or three weeks.”
“And why did the seller talk to you and not us about this house?” Roy asked.
“They didn’t want to put any undue pressure on you. They think the market value of your old house will make a nice down payment even after you pay off your current loan. Seems the value in that area of town has been on a steady rise.”
“I know that the Harmon’s got a good price for their house. And that people who bought it are going to rebuild.”
“That might be something to look into …but let’s not say anything to the kids or the nice young couple until we have some time to think it over. Does this nice young couple’s Uncle Jeff have any say in the matter?”
“No, he got several other properties.” Kathy laughed. “Our house was one of his. He sold it to us at a very reasonable price then Lee paid off the loan when I got hurt. But we had good well trained paramedics then and I responded well to surgery. Three months in a wheelchair and two of them it was emotional rather than actual physical trauma. But that is history and what is important is the here and now.”
“So you want to ride over to the house with us? Then maybe on the way back we can look at this other house?” Roy said.
“I think that would be a wonderful idea since Lee has already offered to watch the kids.”
Lee and the girls were playing a board game when the 3 adults went up to talk with Lee. Johnny was still asleep so Lee was glad for the company. Roy said they would pick up some pizza on the way back.
The crew was working hard when they got to the house. Roy thought the foreman looked familiar. Jo and Kathy checked out the kitchen trying to decide if Jo wanted to make any changes to how the cabinets would be placed and looking at samples of counter tops. Roy and the foreman went upstairs. After about an hour they left and went over to the house cross the street from Kathy and Jim. It was a 4 bedroom house with 2 baths upstairs. Down stairs was a large living room, dining room. The kitchen was larger than their house and there was a small pantry. Jo liked the fact the laundry room was upstairs and was large enough she could set up her sewing area in it. There was more closet space and the master bedroom was larger. The downstairs bathroom had more storage space including a small closet. The basement was finished. The lot was larger and so was the garage. It would be easy to add a ramp to the deck.
“It’s beautiful. I love the carpets and drapes.”
“They are about a year old. Mr. and Mrs. Gates had them redone when they painted.”
“The colors they used are really nice…Roy, what do you think?”
“Johnny said its a good location as far as travel time to the station. Kathy, how are the schools?”
“Excellent. Most of the buildings are less than 10 years old. The kids catch the bus right at the corner, I can see them from my front window. It is 2.4 miles from our drive way to Johnny and Lee’s driveway. Their backyard boarders mine. The soccer field is close…There is as well kept public park about a quarter of a mile from here that has a baseball field and basketball courts, no problem with gangs or vandals because the neighbors keep a good eye on it. Easy to get to stores. Not sure how far it is from your church but there are several nice ones in the area if you wanted to check them out.” After listening to Kathy, Roy laughed.
“So do you get a sales commission on this house?” He asked.
“Nope, something even better. Good friends for neighbors. Myra Barkin lives three houses down. She is a pain in the neck but we usually just ignore her. She wants to organize a neighborhood association to keep the wrong kind of people from moving in.”
“Bet Lee loves that.”
“Oh yeah. I think Lee and Johnny are going to have a sidewalk put in between our houses. And a privacy fence build along a stretch to keep Myra’s son from going onto their place. But they are the exception---the other neighbors are really nice.” Kathy handed them an envelope. “Here is the facts about the house, estimated taxes…what other houses in the area are selling for and what your price would be…and what WBS Reality would offer you for your house.”
“This can’t be right.” Roy said looking at the figures. “Our house payment is more now than what they estimate the new one will be.”
“Since when does money enter into her or Johnny’s logic when it comes to family? How many times have we heard her say that all that money is good for is what she can do for the ones they care about? I really loved that house.” Jo answered.
“You don’t see any problem living that close to them? “
“No, do you?” Jo was a little surprised at that question. “The kids have done good about not taking advantage of their being here…And they have done really well not spoiling them. The kids have done well respecting Lee and Johnny’s privacy. Oh, there is a note from Lee at the bottom of all the official stuff. Any of the furniture we want from the house is ours…saves time and trouble of moving it out as the owners don’t want it. They are moving into a small apartment and wouldn’t have room for any of it.”
“That is all quality antiques in the dining room…We could put our set in the basement …fix that up as a really nice rec room for the …and you could set up your pottery wheel down there…maybe even get a small kiln like you always wanted.”
“Let’s think about it…” Roy was trying to be practical . He had really liked the house when they checked it out.
Lee and Johnny were getting ready for bed.
“ Did Roy say anything about visiting the house across the street from Kathy’s? While you were outside?” Johnny got into bed.
“No. I thought we had agreed that we weren’t going to ask him about it.”
“We did and I didn’t. Kathy gave him them the information today. It would be really nice having them close by, but I worry they will think we are trying to pressure them.” Lee turned so she was facing him.
“I know they had thought about getting a larger house at one time…if they decide to buy this one it’ll be their decision. I think one thing we need to think about is what the long term effects will be. The kids changing school, moving away from friends. Will it be harder for Jo to get to church on Sundays? There are a lot of things to consider.”
“I can just hear her mom screaming at her we’re trying to buy Jo and the kids’ friendship and destroy their family. …she is already mad at Jo because we all are going to Hawaii...Maybe their moving over here isn’t a good idea…No matter how much we want it to happen.” Lee said looking incredibly sad. “ Good thing our prayers aren’t limited…One from column A and two from column B…”
Johnny leaned over closer and kissed her lightly. “It’ll all work out darlin’.
After dinner Jo and Roy asked the kids to come sit on the couch. They were a little worried since their parents looked very serious.
“Your mom and I need to talk with you both about something serious…” Roy said as he looked down at them.
“Did we do something wrong? “ Chris asked. He knew he had been late to super the night before. He and Jimmy had been kicking around the soccer ball and he had lost track of time. “Am I in trouble?”
“Do you think you did something wrong?” Roy asked .
“Not real bad -- 10 minutes late coming back from Jimmy’s house,” he answered. “Mom was waiting dinner on me.”
“Then me and Chris were fighting over who got to pick the show we watched.” Jenny said looking at the television.
“I think if your mother thought you needed it she would have punished you last night., not waited until I got home.” Roy smiled as the two on the couch looked relieved. “What would you think if we didn’t move back in the old house?”
“It would be kind of sad. I’d miss my friends at school.” Jen said hugging Stacy Lee. “Would we still be able to see them sometime?”
“I think that could be arranged.” Jo said, giving Jen a comforting smile.
“Would it still be close enough I could do scouts and play sports with the same kids? Would we have to change schools before the year ended?”
“I need to check if you can stay at your school to finish out the year. But if the school system says ok we’ll keep on doing it like we are now.” Jo answered Chris’ question.
“What would you think about living across the street from Jim and Kathy? You guys would still be able to be on the teams you’re on now. The same rules about your aunt and uncle will apply. You won’t be allowed to just drop in any time you want and no asking them for special favors…but I am sure once they open the pool you all can go over to swim a lot…as long as you follow the rules.”
“When will we move into the new house? I’ll miss the old one but you told us it was family not a house or a place that made a home.” Jenny said. The new house doesn’tt have a ramp. Will that make Aunt Lee sad?”
“If we get the new house it will have a ramp. No matter where we live there will be a ramp for her if we need it. Now, you have to promise not to tell any one we might move. There are some things we still have to work out. That means everyone, including your aunt and uncle.”
“And your grandparents.” Jo added. She was not looking forward to that conversation. They talked a little longer then the kids went off to finish their homework.
“That went well. So when do we talk with Johnny and Lee?” Jo said with a sigh as Roy came over and set down next to her.
“Lets invite them over for breakfast. We need to make some plans anyway. I think Johnny gets more excited about this trip every day.”
“He isn’t the only one. Can you believe it 6 days of nothing to do but whatever we want. There will be kids there for Jen and Chris to play with. Lee said if we want to go off by ourselves that she and Johnny will be with them or some of the aunties that live there will be glad to watch them. I know she wants us all to go to dinner with her friends where their friend cricket sings.”
“Then we’ll be eating out most of the time?”
“No, it seems as if the aunties have that all under control. The fridge will be well stocked but they are planning on doing all the cooking. Johnny is hoping this trip is what she needs to relax. She still has trouble sleeping.”
The next morning Jo could hear them laughing as they made theirt way over to the pool house. She had breakfast ready. Roy had taken the kids to school. Since he was a little later than usual getting back she figured he had decided to talk with the principal about the kids staying there until the end of the year.
“You two sound like you’re a good mood. Want some coffee or juice until Roy gets here?”
“Do you still have some grapefruit juice left?” Lee asked. “We’re going to the store after breakfast if you need anything. Boyo is out of milk and I’m out of Dr. Pepper. Just the bare necessities of life. Which reminds me, auntie Leah said they have stocked the apartment with our favorite sodas and some beer and wine. They’re planning on a pig roast Saturday…” They heard Jo’s station wagon pull in the drive. A half hour later they had finished eating. Lee noticed that Roy was kind of fidgety. He poured more coffee for him, Jo and Johnny and more juice for her.
“We’ve going to buy the house across from Jim and Kathy. I called the guy at the real estate management office yesterday. We’ll do the paper work when we get back from vacation. He said if we wanted any painting done they’d do it while we’re gone. They are going to go in and clean carpets and do whatever else needs to be done. If we give them a diagram they’ll have all the furniture placed. I talked with the principal at the school and since the school year is almost over the kids can finish out the year there. The kids are excited about the move. They were concerned it didn’t have a ramp when we talked last night. There will be one and they are going to see if they need to make the doorway to the bathroom a little wider.”
“We aren’t going to tell anyone till we get back…I don’t want to tell my parents until we are ready to move in. The kids won’t tell anyone.” Jo shared with them. “They’re really excited.”
Jo could see the tears in Lee’s eyes and hear the fear in her voice. Johnny went to stand behind her, his chin resting on her head, his arms crossed protectively across her.
“No one is going to be mad. If you felt like you needed to keep a secret, you had a good reason.“ Jo said in a reassuring tone.
“We’re having a baby in May.”
She felt Johnny’s arms tighten around her and she relaxed a little.
“A baby? That’s wonderful,” she exclaimed, not sure why Lee hadn’t wanted to share the good news. “How long have you known?”
“Right after we moved into this house Micha Little Bear came and told us about a young couple that had been in a serious auto accident. Mark, the husband died instantly. Anna is at the Trauma Center not far from Rampart. She…they are keeping her and the baby alive by machines. She is just 17...Mark was 19. At first they thought the baby was due in April but now they are saying May…Anna and Mark grew up in Lame Deer. Micha thinks that Anna and Johnny may be distant cousins. Anyway, there has been some… some … problems and the doctors are working hard to keep Anna alive so her…our baby can live.” Jo and Lee both had tears in their eyes. “Johnny told Roy just before I came home from the hospital. Like I said I asked him to promise not to tell anyone.”
“Why? We all would have been so happy for you. We are so happy for you.”
“Because I was scared…Scared to believe it was really gonna happen. I was afraid of seeing the hurt and disappointment and pity if something went wrong. But I can’t do that anymore. It’s not fair to Johnny .I realized that the other morning when I saw him standing out on the deck. It was about six o’clock, He was leaning on a post, a coffee mug in his hand. I watched him standing there motionless for almost 10 minutes, one foot tucked behind the other leg, the toe of his boot resting on the railing. I couldn’t see the expression on his face but his stance had such a sad lonely look. I was worried something was wrong but wanted to respect his privacy. I watched a little while longer then couldn’t stand seeing him look so alone.” Johnny had sat down her beside and had a tight hold on her hand. “That’s when I realized how selfish I had been. When he asked me if I didn’t want Anna’s baby or any baby…I am so sorry for being so selfish and so wrapped up in myself that I didn’t stop to think about your feelings… To even make you feel like I didn’t want …To make you doubt I loved you…”
“Shush, don‘t cry…I never doubted you loving me. When you’re ready we’ll tell everyone…Jo’ll keep our secret till then, right?”
“Of course I will. Then when you’re ready we’ll have a wonderful shower and when Baby Gage comes into this world…They’ll be such a welcoming party.”
Johnny and Roy went out to the deck to give the girls some privacy and to get themselves together. “That took a lot of courage on her part.” Johnny said. “I had made a decision that morning. I had been up since about 4:30. She had asked for a pain pill about midnight…think I had just dozed on and off since then. While I was watching the sun come up I decided if something happen and we didn’t get our baby…We would just stop trying. I couldn’t put her through that again. To be truthful, I don’t think I could stand watching her …seeing her heart break a little more each time the center called telling us Anna had another UTI or her kidneys were showing signs of decreased functioning. I want this baby . I go see Anna more than Lee does…. I tell her how loved her child will be and that I will teach our child the beauty of our history and culture.. Just like my mom did for me. I don’t know if I would ever take her to Lame Deer but I would teach her the language and pride…Lee always dreams of our daughter…”
“And you?” Roy asked.
“Sometimes a girl who looks just like my mom…Sometimes a boy like the ones I remember seeing playing. Most of all I just dream of a happy healthy baby.”
“If it’s not? If there are problems because of Anna’s health issues?”
“We love her.”
“Good answer. The only one I would have expected from you two.”
This story is dedicated to Peggy...She liked to hear me read the Johnny and Lee stories to her and she always had interesting comments and suggestions. Thank you my friend...miss your input and encouragement.
Posted to Site 03/05/2015
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