Sunday, February 27, 2005
"Physical Therapy, Eva; may I help you?” The soft friendly voice sparkled into the phone. Dr. Chatterly listened for a moment, smiled inside himself; then made arrangements for a schedule, tailored especially for Sinclair.
“I have a patient coming down in about half an hour. He will need to have someone with him at all times for the first two or three days. Will that cause much of a problem?” He knew that their staffing was already stretched to the limit. The new hospital budget had sliced away most of the service oriented personnel. They had laid off half of the house keeping staff, records, and were looking for others “pink slip”.
“How are you doing Doctor Chatterly?”, Eva recognized him and continued, “ ‘haven't heard from you in a while. You need to take me out for lunch. You know; a sizzling steak with all the trimmings sure would taste good.” She laughed to let him know that it was all in fun; that there was no obligation. “Now who is it that rates getting this special favor?” Her voice tapered off; she quietly worried that she might be slated for the unemployment line. The secretary who had been helping out in the Emergency Room by writing the log entries and making the plastic patient ID cards was told that she was no longer needed; the nurses could do that job in their spare time. It was only a matter of time that Eva would be looking for a new job. Maybe she could be a receptionist in a doctor’s office. She was an exceptional employee. He wished his practice was large enough to justify adding on a clerk.
“I have a policeman who’s hankering to get back on his feet. Check with the therapist and see how he can fit another one in. This guy wants to get back to work.” He turned to Sinclair; placing his hand over the phone as he redirected his attention.
“That’s a good one.” Sinclair shook his head and chuckled back. The idea had not occurred to him that one day soon he would be back at work. His goal up until now had been simply to survive.
“A cop, huh? Well I guess we can make room for him. Is he . . .”, she thought hopefully for a moment, “ . . . by chance, single?”
“Sorry my dear; this one’s out of reach.”
“Can’t hurt to ask.” She breathed out the missing portion of her life into the receiver.
“A pretty girl like you? . . . There must plenty of young men lined up outside your door.”
“Yea; but they’re, . . well you know. . .”, a hint of disappointment crept into her voice as if to infer the quality of her pursuers.
“Hey; one of these days the right man will. . .”
“I know; I just hope its soon and that he has some money. ‘ just got another card from the bank. The car note is two months late. I dropped my insurance last week so I could pay the rent.” Stopping to collect herself and feeling ashamed at having scattered her problems to the wind, “Didn’t mean to bend your ear so much. Wheel him up here and he can start today.”
Dr. Chatterly wasn't sure if he should say anything. He had a pretty good idea of how hard life was on Eva. It wasn’t easy being a single parent and he knew that her income was below the poverty level. Many times he wondered how he could make room for her on his own staff. He had several friends; one of them surely must need a good worker.
“I’ll have him there in a few minutes”, hanging up the phone. He stood quietly as he thought to himself; a sort of inventory of blessings. How was it that his life was so well off while those around him, those he cared for, were on the edge of disaster? Was there a ledger book containing a list of those who would be successful, another for those who would struggle? Considering the thought; he tossed it aside. He had sweated out many hard years of schooling; it had been no picnic. He hoped that things would work out for Eva; concerned in brotherly way.
“So how long will I be assigned to the torture chamber?” Sinclair had a firm recollection of the misery involved when he had torn his knee ligaments. The intense exercise program he had undergone three times daily had been painful; painful to the point that he had begun to limit his softball involvement. He grimaced at the thought of having to put himself through it again.
“Just relax and enjoy it. The first week is in the pool. You only have to float around and look like your walking.” Dr. Chatterly wanted to take most of the weight off Sinclair’s legs and get him accustomed to natural movement. The buoyancy would make the adjustment tolerable.
“Sounds good to me. I suppose it was no accident that Bev left these swim trunks?” Sinclair slipped into the pale blue shorts and noticed the extra fabric. Months of avoiding donuts and midnight hamburgers had left him several pounds shy of his former self.
“Stay away from the diving board.”, not that there ever was one; but it was clear that such activity would strain the limits of decency as Sinclair gathered the draw string tighter.
“All this time I thought it was sugar water in those IV's. Now I come to find out I was on the liquid grapefruit diet.” In his own way Sinclair was providing the best medicine, laughter.
“Is this how Tommy Lasorda lost all his weight?”
“Who ?” Dr. Chatterly casually ignored the name.
“You gotta be kidding. . .”, a blank expression along with a shrug of the shoulders seemed to give him away. “You really don’t know who Tommy Lasorda is, do you?”
“Sorry, the name sounds familiar; but I don’t know that many police officers.” Dr. Chatterly continued to dead pan, then slipped on a smile; unable to keep a straight face.
Turning his head slightly to watch the subtle changes, the patient/doctor relationship fell aside. The serious facade dropped away, momentarily exposing the human side of Chatterly. It was a curious, almost angelic transformation that permitted the youthful smile to grace the rigid lines of age. The strain of responsibility and position removed itself and the exuberance of life escaped. It hung in the air between them for only a few seconds; shared moments that they had long ago relished in their separate yet similar experiences.
“Yes, I know who he is.”, still laughing as he helped move Sinclair into the wheel chair. “Will you be wanting to take the computer with you? I can put it here.”, pulling a
pouch like fold of heavy Naugahyde on the back panel.
“Please, it has become so much a part of me.” Sinclair was more than accurate as he described his dependence on the small portable electronic box. Carefully packing the
several odd units into the pouch as the patch of wires continued to activate the speech
synthesizer, Dr. Chatterly checked to make sure that all was in order. He was himself
amazed at how much technology was crammed into such a small space. It had not been
that many years ago when the first practical computers took up the entire floor where his
father had worked. They were heavy, bulky, slow and had a very limited use in those
days. His father had helped to usher in the new age of computers. Were he still alive, it
would have blown him away to see the impact that computers had on the world?
“Could you cover it with some plastic wrap? Being near the water . . .”
“I’m way ahead of you.” Dr. Chatterly eyed a dress that Bev had brought back from the cleaners. Peeling the thin plastic cover from the hanger and at the same time admiring the tailoring of the dress, he carefully stretched the protective layer over the computer.
Sinclair reached down and lifted his legs onto the metal foot plates. The effort of lifting them as individual units continued to be far beyond his ability. As the two made their way down the hall to the elevator, Sinclair felt the adrenaline rush at the thought of once again being free. He looked at everything, the fluorescent fixtures, gauges recessed in the enamel gray tile walls, and all that had been out of his reach for the past few months. He peered into each room in passing, catching a glimpse here, a glimpse there. Like the little boy on his train ride, the vignettes of other people’s lives paraded in front of him. His momentary presence made no difference; each continued to exist within his own sphere. In one room a nurse was changing sheets on a bed, oblivious to his attentions. She had half the bed made while managing to move the patient at just the right moment to allow completion of the chore. Moving down the hall, Sinclair watched as the janitor collected a mountain of soiled linens. The charge nurse stopped from her paper work to wave at him, acknowledging the general feeling of accomplishment that she was witnessing. He nodded back, not speaking; not needing to.
Dr. Chatterly pushed the “up” button as they waited for the elevator. A couple of doctors walked by; involved in their thoughts, greeted Dr. Chatterly professionally, and then walked into one of the several rooms down the corridor directly opposite the elevators. Sinclair looked over his shoulder and noticed that Dr. Chatterly had lapsed back into his professional mold; the iron face of dignity once again cloaked the man. The doors opened and they made their way to the back of the elevator. Sinclair again felt the excitement from within as they waited for it to reach the eighth floor. Sinclair was glad to have a robe on; quite sure he was the only one wearing a bathing suit.
“Remember what I told you; just relax and enjoy yourself. There will be plenty of time in the weeks ahead for you to work those muscles; today is just a freebie.” Dr. Chatterly kept it very low key as he wheeled Sinclair down the hall and parked him at the main doors of the Physical Therapy Department. As the double wide doors opened, exposing the glassed in atrium style room, Sinclair was surprised to see so many tropical plants and hanging baskets. Dr. Chatterly walked in, letting the door close behind him. Sinclair felt a little slighted by having to wait in the cold hallway.
Eva was sitting at the front work station talking on the phone as Dr. Chatterly walked in. She looked up, motioned with her hand and smiled at him; continuing to write down a few short notes on the top corner of the desk pad. It was a most pleasant way of being told to wait.
“ ‘ Be right with you; gotta finish up with this first.” There was a freshness, something delightsome in her attitude that most people had lost in the way they handled their everyday chores. Watching her as she sat, one leg crossed under the other; he wished that he had more time to spend in that area of the hospital. There began to be some confusion in his mind regarding his association, his feelings toward Eva.
“Okay, so where’s this cop; or is he invisible?” Her whole face was fun to watch as she tugged at his professionalism. He found that when he was listening that her eyes accentuated each word. He was afraid to look into her dark brown eyes, as if by doing so he might find her soul looking back. His feelings, though honorable from the start, had drifted past a mere casual interest. He had to admit to himself that she was an
attractive person; it wasn’t just her striking appearance. Had he been seeking a meaningful relationship, which he wasn’t, then Eva would certainly qualify. He quickly considered how important his lovely wife and his marriage meant to him as he fought to keep his thoughts pure.
“Dr. Chatterly. . .”
“I’m sorry . . . “, for a split second he found himself lost for a valid reason to be at her desk, like a school boy who had a crush on the teacher; “. . . he’s just outside. I wanted to go over this schedule with Eugene. Is he available?”
“Eugene’s in the back working with that patient that has the burns. You remember that car wreck from the freeway last month? The one where the tanker loaded with gasoline blew up?”
“So he made it; that’s great.” , relieved to change the subject to a professional topic.
“Yea, he don’t look so pretty, but he made it.” Eva’s countenance diminished as she absorbed some of the pain into her own life. She had such a simple way of expressing her thoughts; it was disarming.
“About the only thing that might cause any problems. . .”, thinking of a way to explain Sinclair’s use of the portable computer, “. . . will be keeping his electronic stuff from getting wet. Other than that. . .”
“What kind of electronics are we talking about? Is there a way we can wrap them?”
“He has this computer pack . . . uhhh, why don’t you take a look. He doesn’t have to be hooked up to it, only near it.”
“Near it ?” Eva could not visualize how it would help. Hearing the words as they bounced off her forehead and trying to imagine how it must sound, “Does that make any sense?”
“Not really, why does he have to have it if he’s not hooked up to it? What’s it do?” She had seen many patients come in with all manner of gadgets; but in every instance the device had some physical connection to the patient.
“It’s his voice synthesizer; but on a much grander scale than I can explain in just a few minutes.” Actually it was a miracle and couldn’t be explained at all.
“We could put it on a table while he’s in the pool. Would that be okay? How close to it does he need to be?”
“Anywhere in the room is fine; as long as you can hear the speakers.” He was having trouble explaining Sinclair’s ability.
“I gotta meet this guy.” Eva got up and walked out from behind the desk. Dr. Chatterly opened the door and held it as Eva encouraged the courtesy. “Thank you, Sir.”
“ A pleasure.”, thinking to himself how dangerous it was to be so close to her.
“Mr. Dosilmeyer I’m Eva. Dr. Chatterly tells me that you are here to use our facilities.”, extending her hand gracefully to show off the comfortable surroundings.
“Nice to meet you.” The voice throwing routine was one of his best; the words sprang from the back panel of the chair.
“Oh, I like that.” Eva held her smile, trying to figure out how Sinclair had enunciated his words so well, never having moved his mouth at all.
“I can do it while drinking a soda too.” Sinclair winked at Eva. He opened his mouth, exposing the fact that his tongue was clinched between his teeth the whole time he was talking.
“Pretty neat trick, huh?”
“I thought you were a co . . . policeman?”, changing words in mid sentence as she reminded herself to choose the proper title out of respect for his profession.
“He is; but once in a while one slips past the psychiatrist and makes it on the force anyway.”
“Thanks a lot Doc. I’ll remember that when it comes time to pay the bill.”, Sinclair ribbed back.
“Wheel him over there.”, pointing to the edge of the pool where there was a sling suspended from a stainless steel support beam. “Why don’t you just leave your
electronics package in there?”
Sinclair thought for a moment, “Sure; why not. No reason why that shouldn’t work.”
Eva had worked with the patients almost as often as Eugene; about the only difference was the pay scale. She reached over and had the harness in place, snug and secure, quicker than an eight year old can tie his shoes.
“If he gives you too much trouble, dunk him.”
“He looks pretty tame, but I’ll keep that in mind.” The sling lifted Sinclair out of the wheel chair effortlessly and lowered him gently into the luke warm water.
“Ahhhhh! That feels so good.” Sinclair closed his eyes as the water swirled and lapped at his withered body.
“Let your legs move about as if they were supporting you. That’s it. The harness will keep you from bearing any weight on them.” Sinclair looked into the pool at his legs; the image being dispersed by the moving water.
“You want to see something strange?, pointing to his legs as the ripples bent and broke their natural symmetry. The sun danced in the water as it spilled past edge of the bent glass solarium.
There was no reply at first and as Sinclair glanced up he noticed Dr. Chatterly standing off to the side, studying her every move. When Eva spun around, catching him off guard, there was no place to turn. He found it hard to breathe as he was swallowed by the deep brown pools of her eyes.
“She is kind of nice to look at, isn’t she Doc?”
“Is it that obvious?”, thinking to himself; yet not fully understanding. He had not intended to fall in love; fighting off the unwanted feelings that battled within his heart.
“I thought you were supposed to be relaxing; so, relax in there!” Dr. Chatterly tried to avoid the spot light of attention as he heckled Sinclair.
“My legs are messed up; not my eyes Doc.” Needling him for a change.
“I didn’t mean to stare, honest.” Dr. Chatterly was beside himself on what to say next. Tossing her head back as she removed a kink from her neck and letting her dark wavy hair softly settle onto her sweater; he looked once more into her eyes. It was time to leave quickly, to escape before it was too late.
Eva sensed that something was wrong as Dr. Chatterly backed away from her; his eyes looking only at the mosaic tile floor. He stumbled into a large ceramic potted philodendron plant and almost lost his balance at the edge of the pool. He managed to right himself; trying desperatley to avoid falling. He got to the doors, pushed them open and slipped out. Dr. Chatterly leaned thankfully against the cool grey wall; his legs trembling.
“Thank you Sir; it won’t happen again.” He looked up, past the suspended ceiling tiles, past the steel supports of the roof and into the eternities.
Bev rounded up the children for the ride into town. They had planned to spend the day at the park for an old fashioned Fourth of July celebration. Bev had loaded the back of the truck with an ice chest full of soda and fresh fruit. She didn’t want to have to pay exorbitant prices to the vendors while at the park. The night before she had fried some chicken and made a huge bowl of potato salad. Bev waited for the light to change as she entered the outer drive. At the entrance to the park there were several antique automobiles on display. A group of policemen were directing traffic and answering questions as she drove past; half way hoping to recognize a friendly face among them, she had the children wave.
“Just follow the markers to the main parking area. Follow the markers . . . “, the officer barked out in cadence as each car made its way to him. The heat of the day coupled with the heavy moisture laden air of summer wore quickly on the officers; their light blue shirts rapidly soaked through with perspiration.
Bev looked for a place under one of the ancient oaks, all the good spots were taken. Had she gotten to the park several hours earlier it may have been possible; the only places left were in the middle of an over flow lot. She rolled the windows down, but only an inch, to let the air flow through the cab; speculating that a late afternoon thunder shower was probable.
“William, you take the potato salad. Jenny, you get the bag that has the chicken. Bonnie, grab the other handle and we’ll take the ice chest.” Bev organized the crew before they could wander off.
“Aw Mom, . . .” William kicked some loose gravel with his sneakers. A cloud of dust settled as the pebbles scattered.
“ . . . And stop that before you kick those rocks into some car!” Bev handed William the yellow Tupperware bowl as she closed the door and locked it.
“When is the concert?” Bonnie’s interest in music was much greater since she had started playing the clarinet. She had spent several hours practicing the scales and learning some simple arrangements for the Beginner Band Concert. Sinclair had not been able to attend that one. Bonnie hadn’t said much about it; but there was a look on her face. When all the other parents were there, taking pictures and dotting on and on, Bonnie just sort of slinked back within herself, not wishing to draw attention.
“According to the schedule. . .”, flipping through the pages of newspaper, “’. . . there are to be several small concerts all day long. Tonight, after the sun goes down, there will be a final concert followed by the fireworks display.” Bev was just as excited as the children. She had played the trombone in her school band. She enjoyed the uniforms, bright splashes of glitter as the sun reflected off polished instruments and the sounds that came from a group of hard working young musicians. Sour notes were just as much a part of the band as the overall sound. When a squeak or blurt escaped it only meant that there was a human being learning to play.
“I want to go home; its too hot.” Jenny whined as she walked along dragging the paper sack that had the chicken, paper plates and napkins.
“Be grateful that you didn’t have to cross the plains with the Mormon Pioneers. Most of the time they had to walk along side the wagons in the hot sun.” Bev could always find a suitable topic to emphasize a point.
“How come they don’t let us pop fire crackets?”
"That’s, fire C R A C K E R S , William; and they don’t want anyone to get hurt.” Bev led them along the edge of the road, following the hundreds of families that headed for the center of the park. A large stage had been built in the shape of a gazebo which acted as a focal point. Banners of red, white and blue bunting hung at its base.
The Heritage Society was hosting the event and the ushers sported “turn of the century”
clothing. The men wore pin striped suits topped off with brimmed straw hats. A few even had handle bar mustaches, waxed on the tips to hold them to a point. The women had long dresses with lots of extra material covered with beads and lace; very Victorian.
One vendor had a stand where people could rent bicycles built for two, complete with an old fashioned thumb lever bell ringer. He stood at the corner of his booth, the sleeves of his shirt gathered by a blue silk garter, hawking his wares. The distortion of his voice as it came out of the tiny megaphone, held tightly to his mouth, made it irresistible; a long line formed waiting for a chance to rent bicycles.
The closer they got, Bev heard singing. It was a group of Barber Shop Singers pouring out their music as they strolled among the crowd.
“Lida Rose . . .oh”, a beautiful tenor broke followed by a stunning base that bellowed the harmony.
“Lida Rose, I’m home again Rose.”, the blending and contrasting of voices was wonderful.
“Mom. . .”, William tugged a few times on Bev’s long dress. She had made it from some material that was on sale; a small print reminiscent of the kind that the pioneers would have worn.
“What is it? Can’t you see that I’m listening to the song?” Bev wanted to hear one song, one piece of music without an interruption at least once before she died.
“Mom, that’s my primary teacher singing.” William eyes were lighted upas he pointed and waved. “Hi Brother Evans!” Bryce Evans continued to sing, pausing momentarily as he winked over to acknowledge William.
“Ding Dong Ding I can hear the chapel bells chime. Ding Dong Ding . . .”
About the only thing missing was Professor Harold Hill trying to sell band uniforms. The quartet shuffled and bobbed in unison as they made their way down the hill.
“ . . . How everyone knows that I am hoping your the same . . .”, the exquisite tenor topped off the trailing lines of verse. Bev found herself humming the other half of the musical’s duet; remembering how the camera work had panned from the quartet to Miss Marion as she sang a companion song. Sinclair had promised to buy the movie on Laser Disk and add it to their collection.
“Dream of love, dream of love . . .”, Bev filled in with some of the words that she could bring to mind. Humming as she inserted herself into the momentary fantasy.
“. . . So hear is my love song . . .”, the barber shop tones rested evenly between each line.
“. . . Dream of a love song that might have been. . .”
“. . . Not fancy or fine . . .”, Brother Evan’s voice came through clear and crisp as the song began to come to its close.
“. . . Do I love you; oh yes I love you . . .”, Bev pictured the young librarian rocking on the porch, singing the desires of her heart; now she had become Miss Marion.
“ . . Lida Rose. . oh. . won’t . . you. . be. . .”, the deep base held his notes as the rest of the group ran ahead to the next line.
“My Lida Rose oh Lida Rose.” The crowd gave them a resounding hand of applause for a fine performance. Bev waved once more to Brother Evans as they tipped their hats and bowed. Bev had the children take sections of newspaper so that they could sit on the
grassy slope of the amphitheater hill. The paper kept them from direct contact with the
ground and could be easily disposed of. The band was already warming up as they seated themselves. A piccolo went through his practice scales piercing the air.
“I know that scale. That's the “Concert B flat” scale. We do that one everyday.” Bonnie was feeling very pleased with herself at having recognized what he was doing.
“That’s right Bonnie. We used to warm up like that before half time when I was in the band.”
“What are they going to play? Does it say in the program?”
“Let me look.” The band director made his presence known and the crowd hushed as he turned to face the musicians. He raised his arms, a slight bend in the elbows, holding the baton high in the air. His white summer suit stood out against the cool green background of the park, reminiscent of Sousa. With no time wasted, he tucked his right arm down and the concert began. The audience quickly recognized the National Anthem and rose to its feet. The band director looked over his shoulder and smiled as the spirit of the music blessed the air.
“Take your ball cap and place it over your heart William.” Bev quietly suggested as she bent over and positioned the cap for him. After the National Anthem the band played some marches from Sousa, “Summer Time” from Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess”, and closed with a powerful “Stars and Stripes Forever”. As the last note triumphantly swirled past the edge of the stage, the crowd let loose with whistles and cheers; worthy of a at least a few extra bars. The band struck up the last sixteen bars; the roar of clapping of hands kept pace to the end.
“That was great! I can’t wait ‘till we get to play that.”
“I know what you mean.”, wiping the tears away as soon as she finished clapping. Bev’s knowledge of the human struggle to gain freedoms and keep them was close the surface as she wept. It was important to pass along the resolve, the sacred worth of our country’s freedoms to the children.
“Momma’s crying again. It must have been a good concert.” Jenny knew how to gage Bev’s spiritual and emotional status.
“Time to eat! Right William?” Bev knew that William would respond favorably. Opening the lid of the ice chest and at the same time motioning for Bonnie to start passing out the paper plates. Bev reached in, “Who wants a Delaware Punch?”
“I do!” William instantly grabbed it.
“I wanted that.” Jenny began to protest.
“There’s another one here for you; now stop that.”
“ ‘ Better be!” Jenny tightened her lips as she scowled at William.
“Jenny’s bein’ mean to me.”
“Stop it; both of you! I want no more of that. Do you hear me?” Bev slapped a glob of potato salad onto a plate and shoved it toward Jennifer.
“Can I have a thigh since Dad’s not here?” Bonnie knew that she had better make her bid before one of the others beat her to it.
“Okay.” Bev nodded without looking up. She closed her eyes for a few seconds; thinking of the simple changes that had influenced the family habits. While the meal progressed, the chairs that the band had used were rearranged on the gazebo. A podium was centered and a short row of chairs was lined for the V.I.P’s.
“There’s the Mayor, and the Police Chief. I think that the guy next to the Mayor is the Park's Director.” Bev pointed out each of the dignitaries on the stage to the children.
“Boring.” Bonnie injected her standard rejection of social grace.
“Yea, boring.” Jenny jumped in trying to emulate her older sister.
“Let’s have no more of that. Let’s show a little respect.” Bev silently echoed the children’s sentiments to herself. She did not want to hear another “up beat” political
message from the Mayor on how well “This” administration was running the city. There was a technical problem with the microphone and the Mayor stood by, smiling and waving while the electrician checked for the bad connection.
“I can’t hear anything.” William pointed out the obvious.
“Yea, boring.” The pop of speakers signified a successful repair as the Mayor stepped back to the podium. A few ominously dark clouds had closed in over the park; rumbles in the distance signaled the approaching weather. The wind picked up blowing bits of paper and dust as the air temperature cooled measurably.
“Time to head for the truck!” Bev didn’t have to tell the children twice. They had already started to toss their plates into the sack.
“At least we don’t have to listen to a bunch of boring old people talk.” Bonnie signaled Jennifer with a smirk.
“Are we gonna’ stay for the fireworks?” William became alarmed at the prospect of missing the most important part of the whole trip.
“We’ll see, we’ll see.” Bev hurriedly guided them towards the truck; hoping to beat the deluge. A flash of pink lightning raced across the charcoal sky followed quickly by a thunderous rumble and crash.
“That was close; only a couple of miles at best.” Bev was counting to herself, “One one thousand, two one thousand. . .” As the crew got within fifty yards of the truck the heavens poured out upon them. The four all got soaked to the bone as Bev opened the back of the truck.
“Let’s just sit here and see if it passes.” Bev looked at William who was next to tears, thinking of how much he had looked forward to the fireworks display. Another flash of lightning and an even louder clap of thunder disrupted the moment. The rain beat harder than ever as the storm centered itself over the park.
“Glad we only left the windows down a little.” Bev tried to think of something positive to say. Bonnie parted the small row of curtains that covered the window separating the camper shell from the cab of the truck. The window fogged from her breath but she was able to see the rain pouring in as the wind was blowing it sideways.
“How’s it look?”, Bev asked; not really wanting to hear the truth.
“Looks like Noah better finish the boat pretty quick.”
“Are the seats getting wet?”
“Yea, I mean, Yes Ma’am, they’re soaked.”
“Well, not much we can do about it. Who wants a piece of chicken?” Bev was determined to make the best of it. The storm had cooled things off nicely and there was no real damage done. The seats would dry and the holes in the floor boards wouldn’t let the water stand.
“William ! Get back in here !” William had opened the door and was looking up, letting the large rain drops splash onto his face.
“When the rain stops will they still do the fireworks?” William had a singular purpose for attending the park and nothing could discourage him.
“When your father and I were dating . . .”, a distant look came over Bev as she pleasantly was reminded of her youth.
“Was that before or after Noah built the boat?” Bonnie saw an opportunity to have some fun. Bev glanced unflinchingly in Bonnie’s direction, never stopping to correct the minor flaw of Bonnie’s chronological record.
“ . . . he took me to a concert in this very same park. It had rained on the Fourth, very much like it is doing right now.”
“Did they shoot off the fireworks?”
“No William; the weather was so bad it forced them to cancel so we went to the concert on the following week.” Bev continued, having set the ground work just in case the fireworks got canceled. “Where was I? Anyway, we sat on the hill in the evening waiting for the music to begin. Nothing else in the world mattered. We were young and enjoying each others company, oblivious to the clouds of mosquitoes buzzing all around us.”
“Here comes the mushy stuff.” Jenny giggled as she jumped ahead of the story.
Bev smiled; acknowledging the warm feelings that had been held in her heart.
“They played the 1812 overture and at the end, when the cannon fire is played, they had timed the fireworks to all go off at once. It looked like the stage was on fire with rockets and smoke. It was so exciting, so unexpected. We had forgotten about the rain out from the week before.”
“Did you . . .”, Jenny still waiting to hear the mushy stuff, “kiss and hug?”
“A little.”, blushing, not for guilt; but for having been reminded of how much she loved Sinclair and how the children should know how important that feeling was and continued to be.
“Kissy kissy !” Bonnie blushed too, looking at Jennifer; implying that even the old people did that kind of thing. The rain began to let up; the storm having passed. There were leaves scattered over the truck on the side that was to the wind. Small branches had been snapped off and lay in the fresh puddles of the crushed oyster shell lot. The air was fresh and clean smelling. People were getting out of their cars; looking around at one another. They all had the same question on their minds as William bellowed out in raw excitement.
“Great day for a fireworks display !”
“Right as rain William, right as rain.”
In the back office area, out of the public view, officers worked on their investigations in their respective cubicles. The open space above the partitions let conversations bleed over as different voices conducted business. Sgt. Perry and two other detectives were going over final plans for a fishing trip that was to begin when they got off at the end of shift. The phone rang; Perry pushed a button converting it over to the speaker function, resting back in his arm chair.
“Sgt. Perry, what can I do for you?” He rested his chin on his chest. The extra fold of skin flattened out and spread across the monogrammed dress shirt.
“What’s the status on that project you were working?”, the raspy voice penetrated the room.
“Hold on a sec’. . . “, switching the phone off of speaker to maintain the privacy of the conversation and at the same time turning to the other officers in the room.
“Could I get you to step outside?” He cupped the receiver; his countenance changing to reflect a more serious attitude.
“Sure, no problem. We have some reports to review.” The two detectives backed out of the office; closing the door while Perry kept his hand on the phone.
“Okay, I can talk. Now what’s the deal with calling me at the station? You lost your mind or what?” Perry was more than a little upset as he unbuttoned the top button of his shirt. He inserted his fingers at the base of the tie, pulling it away from his neck.
“As long as your on my payroll, I’ll call you anytime and anywhere I damn well feel like it”
“What if someone had recognized your voice and started to put things together? Did you think of that?” The veins in his neck had already begun to swell.
“I’m not the one who was in that apartment; you were. Why should I worry about being on the phone with one of my people?” There was a sarcastic tone in his voice.
“Very funny Lou. I still have a couple of years to go here. Did you think of that?” Perry was closing in on twenty years with the Department. The thought of losing it all didn’t set well with him.
“That’s your problem. I pay you very well to keep things operating smoothly. So, what have you been doing to justify your supplemental salary?”
“It’s all under control. By the end of the week my report will be on the Chief’s desk and there will be enough confusion generated . . .”
“Under control! You call a Five Million Dollar Civil Suit Under Control?” Perry had to move the phone away from his ear as the decibel range went past tolerable.
“What are you talking about? I was in to see him just the other day and he was still border line vegetable.”
“Well your vegetable’s lawyer has been nosing around pretty good then. Maybe you aughta’ go back and talk with that officer and see how he’s doing.”
“I was headed there this afternoon; as a matter of fact.” Perry shot back into the phone as he thumbed through his daily planning schedule. Actually he had planned to take off a few hours early to go fishing.
“Glad to know you’ve got a handle on all this. I would hate to think that you were . . “
“Have I ever let you down?”
“That’s not the point. I want this taken care of before it gets to court; you got that?”
“Don’t worry. They’ve got nothing solid. The officer is a blank and there were no other credible witnesses.” Donaldson and Perry had been helping to supply illegal aliens with fraudulent documents for quite some time. He knew where most of the run down apartment projects were and how to recruit. His knowledge of how things worked made it easy for him to get them. He had also gotten used to the cash payments that went unreported on his income tax return each year.
“Then I will leave it with you. Sorry to have bothered you.”, as the phone went dead. Perry sat for a few moments and stared at his shoes. Collecting his thoughts, as if the answers were hidden under the dull shine on the tips of his Florshimes, he reached into the top file drawer of his desk and removed the “Dosilmeyer” file. He rubbed his hand over his beard, noticing the mild stubble that had grown since he had been at work.
“Damnation . . .”, turning the pages of the file, “. . . what does he think I can do?” He wasn’t really reading, having read the file many times already; it was more of a support for his hands as he thought of how to work past the pending issue.
“ We still on for this weekend?”, Donaldson ducked his head around the corner and asked.
“It doesn’t look good. Maybe you guys better go on without me this time.” Perry closed the folder as he levered his way out the chair’s grip.
“You sure. That deposit for the boat isn’t refundable.” Donaldson had put up eighty dollars to hold a place for him on the boat. All the fishing gear, sandwiches and beer would be included.
“You go ahead; catch one for me. I have some interviews that won’t wait; maybe next time.” Perry scrunched up the edge of his mouth as he threw the words out. He had been looking forward to a trip into the Gulf on a large boat. He had once been out on his brother’s sixty footer. A storm had roughed up the water, making the trip a nightmare. The weather had been mild this week and the water would be more friendly.
The panoramic view of the city spread out from the edge of the executive suite. Fifty seven floors above the traffic was as peaceful as riding in a hot air balloon. Thick deep forest green pile carpet was bordered by dark oak wood flooring in the main entrance to the office. The receptionist greeted a slender built man wearing a three piece businessman’s special. There was a slight bulge under jacket that was hardly noticeable.
“Please go in Mr. Savat; Mr. Gotlieb is expecting you.”
“Thank you.”, as he placed his hand on the massive brass door handle. The solid cypress wood doors were as impressive as the rest of the office; ten feet high and four inches thick. He passed through into the inner office. An alarm, not very loud; just a mild humming, went off as he passed the metal detectors that guarded the entrance. From the corner of the room another man got out of his chair and drew a pistol from under his coat.
“It’s all right George; Mr. Savat is here at my request.” Quietly and without hesitation George holstered his weapon and took his seat.
“The standard fee?”, in a casual business like manner.
“Here’s your folder Mr. Savat. You’ll find it all in order.”, handing the plain manila folder across the desk. Savat paged through the folder while standing.
“A cop? That’s another twenty thousand.”
“Check the envelope; you’ll see that I’ve already included the bonus.”
“That’s what I like about working with you Lou; you always have the paper work in order.” Savat took the envelope, placing it inside his jacket. He shook hands and turned without another word walking away from the enormous desk.
“I want this by Monday.”
“No problem; I can handle it.”
Bev picked up the pile of mail that lay on the floor at the base of the door. It as Wednesday, food coupon day. She always waited for the specials before shopping. Thumbing through the stack, her eyes quickly focused on one of the envelopes. It was addressed to Sinclair. The return address was from the law firm of Downey, Chilton and Howser. Thinking of the morning DJ's on her favorite radio station, she could hear them as they made fun of law firms in general. “From the law firm of Dewey, Cheatem and Howe . . . “, their voices would chortle as they prepared another salvo of fun in the morning.
“I better open this now; Sinclair would want me to.”, Bev thought out loud to herself as she felt the woven texture of the envelope. Hesitating as she held the letter opener, Bev thrust the clear plastic blade into the crease along the back seam. The neatly folded letter was menacing in a cold impersonal way. Bev studied the form, not sure how to take it. It was clear that she should show it to Sinclair’s attorney. The phone number was easy to remember; it was almost the same as Sinclairs badge number, 222-0908. Dialing the number slowly, she tried to calm her nerves. It wasn’t everyday that Sinclair was named in a million dollar law suit.
“Good morning, Leonard and Associates; hold please.” Bev didn’t want to hold please; but she had no choice. A couple of minutes past and the receptionist got back to her. “How may I help you?”
“I would like to talk with James Leonard please; he is my husband’s attorney.”
“Who may I say is calling?”
“I’m sorry, tell him its Mrs. Dosilmeyer.”
“One moment while I ring his office; hold please.” Bev had only met Mr. Leonard once. He was a young man, possibly in his early thirties. He and Sinclair seemed to get along all right.
“Leonard here, what can I do for you Mrs. Dosilmeyer?”
“Sinclair is still in the hospital and today, in the mail, I got a notification that he was being sued for a million dollars from the lawyers that are representing the family of the guy that died.”
“Slow down a little. Start at the top and tell me what it says.”
“Well, it says that they . . .”
“Who is they?”
“The law firm of Downey, Chilton and Howser.”
“Okay, so they sent you a notice that they were filing a suit against you husband. That’s to be expected. I, myself, have already drafted a suit against the owners of the apartment project for failing to properly maintain the premises. I even took the liberty of including the family of the deceased in the wording of the suit to share equally in any actual or punitive damages that may be rewarded.” Bev listened and felt a little better just hearing James rattle his saber.
“Will you need a copy of this letter?”
“Not necessary, I’ll get Bill Downey to send me a copy; he and I were both Assistant District Attorneys together. You just take care of Sinclair and let me do all the worrying.”
“Thank you Mr. Leonard; I was just so upset when I saw it that I . . .”
“Its all right; nothing to worry about. I’ll take care of it. By the way, I have those tapes
along with a complete copy of all the computer messages that were sent by any of units the night of the accident. I’ll have one of our couriers drop them by for you later on today.”
“Sinclair has been waiting for them. He’ll be wanting to have them as soon as possible; thank you.”
“I think it will help us in our suit against the City also, so make sure that he understands that he is not to talk about the contents of them to anyone; especially the news media.”
“What about those people from Internal Affairs? Should he talk to them?”
“They already have a copy of everything so it really doesn’t matter as long as he keeps it short and simple. He’s had a few go rounds with Internal Affairs; I’m sure he will handle himself well.” James thought for a moment, “On second thought. . .”, remembering how Sinclair had articulated his thoughts regarding insubordination to his supervisors, “Have him call me after he writes his rough draft letter to the Chief; just to go over a few things.”
“Thanks again, bye.”
“Your welcome Mrs. Dosilmeyer, goodbye.”
Thursday, February 17, 2005
(It never occured to me that some of you might want to know "how much longer is this going to last?", or something like that. I wish it could all be put down in one lump; but I don't think that would transfer very well, but then the page numbers would work; oh well.)
Chapter 1 The Sounds of Silence 4 - 10
Chapter 2 Love at Home 11 - 16
Chapter 3 Night Shift 20 - 29
Chapter 4 Falling 30 - 34
Chapter 5 Dreamsville 35 - 42
Chapter 6 Grand Central Station 43 - 50
Chapter 7 The Cavern 51 - 55
Chapter 8 Inchworm 56 - 61
Chapter 9 Crosstalk 62 - 63
Chapter 10 Stat 64 - 66
Chapter 11 Cluster 641 67 - 71
Chapter 12 Time Out 72 - 74
Chapter 13 If At First . . . 75 - 81
Chapter 14 " A " is for Apple 82 - 87
Chapter 15 Sgt. Who? 88 - 90
Chapter 16 Itching to Tell You 91 - 94
Chapter 17 Positively the Greatest 95 - 100
Chapter 18 Mr. " C " 101 - 106
Chapter 19 Internal Affairs 107 - 113
Chapter 20 What Nerve? 114 - 118
Chapter 21 Piece of Cake 119 - 126
Chapter 22 Adopted, Again 127 - 133
Chapter 23 Suits 134 - 136
Chapter 24 Handle It 137 - 141
Chapter 25 Right as Rain 142 - 151
Chapter 26 Pools 152 - 162
Chapter 27 Borrowed Genius 163 - 173
Chapter 28 Funnies 174 - 179
Chapter 29 The Path 180 - 188
Chapter 30 Saved 189 - 200
Chapter 31 Short and Sweet 201 - 213
Chapter 32 Great Legs 214 - 220
Chapter 33 Empty 221 - 227
Chapter 34 Astros 228 - 247
Chapter 35 Fill It Again, Please 248 - 254
Chapter 36 Frazetta 255 - 260
Chapter 37 Logged On 263 - 272
Chapter 38 Convert 273 - 380
Chapter 39 Norbert's 281 - 283
Chapter 40 Rusty 284 - 289
Chapter 41 Loose Ends 290 - 297
Chapter 42 Lemons or Lemonade 301 - 304
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
The afternoon drifted into evening as another day marked the seemingly endless calendar of slow progress. Sinclair grew more frustrated with himself. He was accustomed to having things go his way; this was not in his plans. It had been two weeks since they let him start breathing on his own. He had weaned himself away from the respirator for only an hour and fifteen minutes. His body was reminded of the first time he had tried chopping wood in the mountains of Colorado. His arms were limp at his side and just looking up was exhausting him. He felt worthless and out of shape.
How long was it going to take him to relearn walking? Pat, the evening shift nurse, made small talk while she checked his blood pressure. She had gone through some rough times herself and could, even if it was only for a few moments, make him forget about his own rotten batch of apples.
“Pretty neat the way you can talk with that computer gizmo. Have you talked to the two girls on night’s yet? You know that they have damn near adopted you?” She talked on while squeezing out the excess water from a wash cloth. Sinclair was not yet able to stand in the shower. Most of the required daily duties to maintain his outward cleanliness were done by Bev; Sinclair being very conservative in his personal habits. Pat was so used to taking care of people that she continued to unbutton and wash, dry and rebutton the entire time.
“I don’t think I’ve ever met them.” Sinclair found that he was enjoying the fresh tingling sensation on his chest. There was just a hint of peppermint in the soap. His nose picked up the scent as the warm water evaporated and carried the fragrance throughout the room. He hardly noticed being bathed at first, then became more and more self conscious with each pass of the cloth. He seemed intimidated by the situation. Before his accident, the only women in the entire world that had seen his nakedness were Bev and his mother, and that was when he was very young. He blocked out the lack of privacy. Such formalities, he reasoned, had to be overlooked. He fixed his attention on a small spider’s web directly above him where the ceiling met the curtain track unit.
“What do you mean, adopted?”
“Well, there's this one, Launa. She worries for all the cops on the street. When ever one comes in all broken up like you, she gets all her maternal instincts into high gear. That oil painting on the wall; that’s her work. She put it up there just for you.” She talks and carries on like she was your mother hen. Sinclair eyed the picture. The use of colors was good, dark ominous clouds mingling with the ocean at sunset; but the picture was lacking a focal point. It wasn’t finished.
“Did she paint that? It looks very nice.” Sinclair did not want to criticize the work. He had tried painting and knew how frustrating it was to get his own thoughts to melt into the canvass.
“When Launa comes in she. . . well, she just wants the best for you. Working night shift is hard for the average “normal” person to understand. Launa uses those long quiet hours to make all of her patients feel special.” He had worked on all the different shifts as a police officer. Day shift had all the administrative type people; Captains, Lieutenants and twice as many Sergeants. They had little room for anything but statistics and protocol. Evening shift was too busy to let personalities mingle for any amount of time. By the time one “fire” had been put out, there was always another waiting around the corner. Pat was right, night shift let people cut through all the red tape and get their feeling out much quicker.
“Thanks; I’ll make it a point to stay up and visit some with her. Who is the other one that you mentioned?” It was nice to know that he was thought of, even if he didn’t know them.
“You mean Jody , she’s a perfectionist of sorts. While you were just on the border; you know, living or dying, she stayed hours on end to make sure that all your vitals were right on the money. She would sit here in this chair doing her cross stitch work. You know, flowers and things like that; they’re beautiful. I’ll bet she finished at least three of them while you were off in “Lala Land”. She told me that she couldn’t afford frames for them; she puts them in her cedar chest. Some day she’ll marry a rich doctor and they can have “instant nostalgia” on the walls of their home.
“I think she was in the other night. Is she kind of thin with dark hair; and real quiet?
“That’s her. She just got back from two weeks away at Army Summer Camp. It sure will be a surprise when she hears your voice coming from that speaker; sure threw me the first time. She’ll be so glad to see the progress you’ve made.”
“I suppose it is kind of a strange set up. I always wanted to be a ventriloquist.” Sinclair was still nervous as he started off, “I was in the Army for a while too. It wasn’t for me though; I was just eighteen or so and Vietnam was still in full swing. I joined the Reserve Unit. It was about the only way to go to college and not worry about the draft. It was okay, I guess. When I got out I joined the Department.”
“Yea, when I was just. . . what was it? Eighteen or was it seventeen? Anyway I was downtown with my kid.” Pat was very vocal with her gestures as her hands made large exaggerated swirls in the air. “He was only about a year old and had just started to have a mind of his own. Well he was pulling me this way and that while we were waiting for the bus. He kept wandering off.” Pat rolled her eyes back, pushed her hip out and slapped it all at the same time. “I was at my wits end. Some guy who was waiting there next to me; he was up to here with my kid too.” She was good at telling stories. With each thought a matching gesture accompanied her words. “Anyway, he suggested that I just pick him up and hold him. I still had my “permanent hip.” She animated the way mothers hold kids all day while doing their chores by shoving her hip out in front of Sinclair.
She had it perfect, the image was without flaw. “I was wearing one of those tube tops, you know the kind, from back in my hippie days. Well I had my huge purse on the one side and him on the other. Next thing I knew; well, there I was standing in front of a Foley’s Department Store in downtown with my boobs hanging out for God and everyone else to see. I was so embarrassed. I turned around to hide myself from the people at the bus stop, only to find there were at least eight or nine more watching me from inside the store.” Pat continued to recount the entire story. Her face was full with the delight of having entertained Sinclair. “I didn’t know what to do; drop the bag, the kid or both. It was terrible. The guy who had first suggested that I hold the kid pops off, “I guess that wasn’t such a good idea after all.”
Sinclair could feel the awkwardness of the moment as the air moved across his wet skin and quietly evaporated his self confidence. He dared not look away from the web. Her boldness was only a shield, but he did not know it at the moment.
“When’s the last time you got any?”
“A big guy like you, come on man. . . “
A blush came over Sinclair; it was like a blast furnace had hit him in the face. “Its. . . ahhhh . . . been a while.” Not wishing to say anymore, he tried to change the subject; but couldn’t think of anything at all.
“Its okay, I wasn’t trying to get personal, Hun.” Pat had a course raspy voice from years of smoking. Her sarcasm made it sound more like one of the guys at the station. Then after a short pause, it softened and momentarily she let her true self emerge; vulnerable and very much afraid of life. “I just start talking and I never know what’s gonna come out. I’m sorry if I bothered you with that last remark.”
“No harm done, it just caught me off guard, that’s all.” Sinclair wasn’t accustomed to discussing such an intimate topic with a total stranger, much less a female. He studied her for a few more minutes and began to relax, just a little, but enough to know that his “being” wasn’t threatened. If anything she was helping him talk about something that was bothering him. He had not mentioned his concerns to Bev. His body was as good as useless and he didn’t know when “normal” function would return. He wanted and needed a complete relationship with Bev. At night he remembered all the romantic moments of his life. A look of despair took over his countenance.
“Hey, don’t worry about it” Her voice brushing his fears aside like a seasoned bar tender, “Bev won’t let you off for too much longer. Just remember that you love her and she loves you. The rest will take care of itself sooner or later.” The basics had never sounded so unattainable before.
Pat glanced at herself in the mirror as she propped his head and fluffed his pillow. The image of her youth was no longer there, “Thirty three isn’t as much fun as twenty Three”, as she reflected on her own short comings. It had not been an easy life. She had raised her family of three without the benefit of a husband. She had picked herself up by the boot straps at a very young age. Not wishing to ring up hamburger orders the rest of her life, she made it a goal to finish high school. She then went into nursing and made it a point not to stay in one area too long. She didn’t want any part of her life to become boring. Whenever she started to feel too comfortable with any one aspect of the job she would immediately transfer to some new field. She hated regular shift hours, they made her feel trapped. She worked as a floater, one or two nights in the Emergency room, a week in SICU or whatever else became available.
The idea of being “stuck for good” made her feel claustrophobic. Pat never wanted to be that closely associated with normality. She was doing it her way and damn proud of the results. The world may not be perfect; but what the hell, she took what ever it gave and made it work
“Looks like I could use a little make up to hide some of this shine.”, talking out loud to herself and not really asking for any comment in return. Reaching into her lab coat pocket, she took out a small plastic compact, placed it on the edge of the desk and brushed some of the soft pastel powder onto her cheeks. The irregular shape of the dark brown tortoise shell container did not balance well and slipped off. She tried in vain to grab it. Sinclair watched, unable to offer any help as the micro-fine powder separated itself from its container upon impact. His reaction was not to be expected from such a simple accident. Beads of cold sweat formed immediately on his forehead and he began to tremble. He slipped away from reality as the small clump of tan facial dust disintegrated, forming a cloud of tiny free hanging particles.
He closed his eyes to block out the thought, but found that he was watching still more of the same explosion. No; not the same cloud of dust, it was different. This was the edge of the railing that had broken loose just before he fell. He could see the rusty piece of steel as it tore away the fragments of cement. The precise moment was frozen, locked away in his memory as if on “still stepped” motion picture film.
“ ‘ you ok? Hey, its okay, just some dime store make up.” Pat knew that the make up case was only part of a much greater whole; pressing the “alert” button at the same moment. She thought to herself, hoping that nothing had sprung loose, at least nothing physical. She suspected some kind of severe mental disturbance, brought about by the falling make up case; but dared not be so foolish. The nature of his injury, the blunt trauma head wound, made such a simplistic diagnosis tantamount to a group of witches stirring toad skins in large black cauldrons to cure warts.
For a moment his speaker was silent as Sinclair was lost in the past. Then as the fear in his soul found a clear channel, a direct line to the computer, it screamed out the terror that had laid claim to him for so long. Pat covered her ears, trying to shut out the pain. Not that the hundred plus decibel range that was pounding her drums wasn’t fierce; it was the primitive howl of an injured animal. Her heart grieved as the panic from within him escaped.
The room filled with SICU staff, all busily engaged in checking Sinclair. Pat had half a moment to remove herself from the professional situation. “Its all right; you’re safe now.”, wringing her hands as she rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet. Pat joined the list of those who had adopted Sinclair.
It was hard to believe that the man in the bed next to him had not made any attempt to start up a conversation. About the only thing Sinclair knew about him was that the guy had been in a terrible car wreck and lost his leg. Twice while he and Vern were working the bugs out of the speech program they had tried to include him in their chatter.
Sinclair had assumed that it was a language barrier. He had Bev call down to the nurse’s
station and ask that an interpreter who spoke Spanish be sent down so that they might be
“I’m sorry; but I don't think it would do much good. You see, Mr. Alejandro is a deaf mute. I wish we could do more for him; he has no family as far as we know.”
“Oh, I see. Thanks anyway.” Sinclair pulled the nylon mesh curtain back so that he could see his roommate. The movement caught his attention and Mr. Alejandro turned to see what was going on. The two were able meet face to face. Sinclair started it off by talking very slowly.
“My name is Sinclair. Can you read lips?”
From across the gap that separated them, Sinclair watched the man’s shoulders come
together as Mr. Alejandro indicated that he was wasting his time. Not only did he not hear, he did not understand English. The distance between them seemed almost beyond measure. Sinclair only knew enough Spanish to fill out a traffic ticket or an arrest blotter.
He knew a little sign language; even then he wasn’t that good at it. He had taken the signing course at the Houston Community College a long time ago. The first day of class Sinclair had walked in, not sure if he was in the right room. He approached a couple seated towards the front of the class from the rear and asked, “Is this the Sign Language Class?” There was no response from them until he tapped one of them on the arm. Sinclair chuckled to himself as he took a chair, “Must be.”
Hoping that the man knew the basic alphabet and that some of the “signing” patterns would be universal; Sinclair put his open hand to his chest and then slowly finger spelled his name, “S. . . I . . . n . . . c . . . l . . .a . . . I . . . r”. He then made the sign for “Cop” by forming the letter “C” and touching the left side of his chest, as if to pin an imaginary badge on his pajamas. Mr. Alejandro’s eyes sparkled with excitement as he closely watched Sinclair’s feeble attempts. At last there was someone to talk with.
Alejandro quickly flashed some letters from his hand back at Sinclair. The blur of letters did not register. It had been a long time since he had talked with a deaf person. He motioned for him to repeat as he rolled his hand in a circular motion; slowly and then even more slowly, hoping that the exaggerated motion would encourage the desired response.
Once Sinclair had taken Bev with him to a club that catered to the deaf community. They had a chance to see a short play. All the actors were deaf, along with most of the audience; the exception being a few students from the signing course. What impressed him the most was their ability to express feelings through facial changes.
They had the ability to capture each human concept; like, hate, warmth, love and all the rest of the complex emotional traits that hearing people so imperfectly try to grasp with words alone. Sinclair tried to follow the play as the actors would also finger spell the dialogue. It might have been easier, had it not been that all the characters had Russian names. Sinclair had trouble keeping up with words like “that” and “blue”; he didn’t have a chance when they started spelling names like “Rostokovich” at full speed.
Mr. Alejandro watched Sinclair as each letter was carefully formed; waiting for a nod or a wink before continuing to the next. “F . . . E . . . R . . . N . . . A . . .N . . D . . . O.”
“Fernando? You’re Fernando?”
“Fernando; yes!” His smooth fist bending at the wrist several times. “Yes.” The smile on his face as he patted his chest let Sinclair know that he had found a friend. Then there were many signs flashed to him that Sinclair did not understand. Sinclair put both his hands up and started shaking his head at the same moment. It was no use; Sinclair just did not have the necessary skills to continue. Pointing to his wrist as if there were a watch on it; Sinclair made his fingers look like watch hands and motioned that he would get back to him later. Fernando looked back, saddened by the short visit and acknowledged with a nod of his head. Sinclair waved and closed the curtain as he realized how hard it must be to live in such isolation.
It did not take long for Sinclair, looking at the computer, to draw upon his imagination. “What if we got a language disk and then programmed it to print both Spanish and English on every other line. That way he could read. . . No I still wouldn’t be able to read his signs.” Sinclair slumped back momentarily. His idea would not work unless the computer could read Fernando’s hand signs. That was going to be the hill to climb.
Picking up the phone was an ordeal in itself as he managed to punch up the operator, “Could you get me the extension for Vern Rylan?” Sinclair had a thought in his head that was almost possible; maybe Vern could make it happen.
“That number is four seven six six.”
“Got it, thanks.” Punching the numbers in before he could forget them and talking to himself, “Four, seven, six and six.” The ringing on the other end was a pleasing sound. On the third ring Jack picked it up.
“Maintenance, Go ahead it’s your quarter.”
“Is Vern Rylan there? This is Sinclair Dosilmeyer up in room four sixteen.”
“Dosilmeyer?. . . Oh yea, your the guy. . .yea . . just a minute. He’s across the hall. I’ll go get him, hold on.” Sinclair listened to the muffled voices come through the line. He could hear, “Hey Vern, its that guy from upstairs. You know, the cop you’ve been helping. He’s on the phone.” Then in a few moments the phone was picked up again, “Just a sec’ while I transfer to him, okay?”
The internal switching was made and Sinclair waited for his friend to come on the line. “Hey, how’s my buddy today? Is everything all right?”
“Everything’s fine. It works even better now that I’ve had a chance to practice with it.” Sinclair hedged as he tried to come up with a way to ask for another favor. The list of favors was already beyond measure. It would be impossible to pay back a tenth of them; but this wasn’t for himself.
“Well, what’s on your mind. I was planning to come see you a little later on.”
“I have a new challenge for you; that is if you think your up to it?” Sinclair never gave him a chance. He threw out the lure knowing that Vern would never pass on it, regardless of the risk.
“Okay, so what are we going to do now? I’m only good for one miracle per month you know.” Vern laughed as he silently patted himself on the back.
“That’s a shame. I was hoping you would make a career out of coming by my room to solve the impossible.”
“Must be good, can you give me a clue?”
“Yea, tell you when you get up here.” Sinclair hung up on him, just for effect. He figured that it would take somewhere in the neighborhood of four, maybe five minutes for Vern to run the course. It was sort of fun to put out the bait and reel in the fish. He had a Lieutenant once who had a dry sense of humor. Back then he and his partner did their very best to avoid being around the office. As rookie cops it was smart to stay away from the “brass”. Once in a while the Lieutenant would “jack” with the troops. Most of the time it was a harmless prank meant to embarrass or amuse the office crew. Sometimes they pushed the limits of good taste. There had been one officer; he had a kid type face with a smile that wouldn’t quit. Apparently there was a bet on of some kind, a wicked bet to see what it would take to change the enormous smile into a frown. The desk officer called him on the radio and told him, “Report to the office.”
The sound of those words was enough for most rookies to get worked up over just about any of the many things they might have done wrong. They had one of the Sergeants play the bad guy roll, handing him a fake pink slip, as if he had been fired. The Lieutenant waited in his office for the young officer to turn in his badge. The officer walked in, tears running down his face with his head hung low. His life was dragging the bottoms of despair and yet through it all that smile, that wonderful boyish smile never left his face. The Sergeant reached into his bill fold and pulled out a dollar. As he handed it over to the Lieutenant, “Guess you were right, here ya’ are.” It was a terrible joke to play on anyone. Word got around so fast that the officer had a hard time for weeks.
Aware of the power a Lieutenant had to make or ruin young officers; Sinclair still thought of a way to take the bull by the horns. One day that same Lieutenant sent Sinclair on an errand. It seemed that he had been planning a trip to Florida for his family vacation. All Sinclair had to do was pick up one of those maps, the kind with the main route marked out and all the points of interest highlighted. Sinclair got the maps as requested. He also picked up a complete travel guide for a trip to Oklahoma. He stashed the Florida maps in his pocket and casually laid the Oklahoma brochures on the Lieutenant’s desk. Walking slowly down the hall, giving him time to figure out that something was afoot, Sinclair cautiously smiled. His partner, Bob Linden, knew what was going down and was not very enthusiastic about the potential for disaster.
“Dosilmeyer! Just a minute. Get in here!”
Smiling like a Cheshire cat, “What’s the matter sir?”
“You know damn good and well. Okay, you’ve had your fun. Now tell me how come you put all that stuff on my desk about Oklahoma? There has to be a good reason, right?” There was the slightest twinkle in the Lieutenant’s light blue eyes that gave Sinclair an even chance of pulling it off.
“Oh, I must have gotten those by mistake. I’ll run down there and get the ones on Florida like you wanted.” The bait was out there. All the line was run out as Sinclair continued walking down the hall.
“There must be something to this fishing”, Sinclair thought to himself as the blood in his veins flowed with the surge of adrenaline.
“I’m not buying that. Why did you get me the travel guide for Oklahoma Dosilmeyer?” The Lieutenant had swallowed it hook line and sinker. Bob could feel himself flinching as Sinclair opened his mouth.
“Oh, I just figured that with your dry sense of humor, well, I thought you might enjoy Oklahoma.” Sinclair waited the appropriate amount of time and let a hopeful grin grace his lips. It must have worked; he didn’t get fired. From that point on they kind of respected each other. Sinclair didn’t mess with the Lieutenant for a long while after that.
“What took you so long?” Sinclair had timed it to within thirty seconds as Vern came bolting into the room. “Four minutes and twenty nine seconds. What’s the matter? You sound winded.” A friendly smile echoed the words that came from the speaker.
“Very funny, you try walking to the bathroom and I’ll sit back and laugh at you for a while.” Vern took a few cool down breaths in the chair. “So, what’s the deal?”
“Like I said, I don’t even know if it can be done.”
“Give me a break, I’m already here. You know I’m a sucker for that kind of challenge. What is it this time; a trip to the moon or just a casual romp on Venus?”
“Can you get a program that will translate from English to Spanish and back again?” Sinclair knew that such a program was already on the market. All Vern had to do was go by the local shopping mall to pick one out.
“You’re not going to tell me that I ran up here for that, are you?” Vern saw the mile wide grin on Sinclair’s face and knew that there was a plot back behind those off white teeth.
"Well, we need that to get started. Actually . . .” Sinclair had learned a long time ago that the word “Actually” was a trigger word for computer type people. It was the one word that caused them to come to full focus on what ever words followed.
“Well? . . .” Vern was growing impatient with the cat and mouse game.
“I was wondering what we could do to integrate the your speech synthesizer program and the foreign language stuff so that I could talk with the guy in the next bed.”
Vern ducked his head around the curtain. Fernando nodded and smiled as Vern did like wise. “Piece of cake, piece of cake.”
“Yea, but he’s deaf too.” Sinclair waited for some kind of reaction.
Vern looked over his shoulder at Sinclair, “He’s what?”
“You know, deaf; as in, can’t hear.” Sarcasm was part of Sinclair’s personality. It had gotten him into trouble, it had gotten him out of it.
Vern looked at the floor, his head would change position as he thought, then bob occasionally as he thought some more.
“I suppose that I could hook up a cam-corder and . . . the basic signs and write a simple recognition program to identify them by grid squares. Kind of like a fax machine. . . yea ,. . . I could tie it directly into the . . . uh huh. . . yea” Vern smiled and looked back at Sinclair. “It won’t be easy; but I can do it. Let me work on it for a few days. Will Friday be all right?” Vern was consumed with being cocky as he got up from the chair.
“I was hoping to have it this evening; but I guess that was too much to ask. Yea, Friday; if that’s the best you can do.”
The morning light found Bev still crowded halfway into bed with Sinclair’s arms wrapped around her when Maime walked in. Not wishing to intrude she eased her way back out the door and said nothing. There was a smile that lighted up Maime’s whole face as she strutted down the hall. “There’s hope for us all yet. Yes indeed, there’s hope for us all.” Maime chortled to herself as she went to notify the Charge Nurse of the change in Sinclair’s progress.
The closing of the door was just enough to bring Bev out of her fairy tale sleep. Rubbing her eyes as she stretched the cramp out of her side from sleeping in such an awkward position, Bev wondered if she had dreamed it. Sinclair was slowly working his fingers across the curve of her side. The touch felt so natural it was hard to believe that it had taken three months, nearly to the day, for him to accomplish such a simple task.
Bev slipped out from under the weight of Sinclair’s arms as easily as a child sneaks out at nap time. A few minutes in the bathroom to freshen up and change her dress. The months of visits had taught her long ago to keep a change of clothes and a few simple toiletry items there in the room with Sinclair. There was nothing much worse than having to go all morning without having first brushed her teeth, taken a shower and changed into some fresh garments. She sat down at the desk and reluctantly read the questions that had been left by the I.A.D. officers the night before. The list was very specific and would require careful thought prior to answering any of the questions.
“Did you at any time refer to the suspect as a “Son of a Bitch” or any derogatory racial slur? Did you punch or kick the suspect at any time prior to or during the arrest? Did you consider the increased danger level applied to the situation based on established Departmental guide lines. While making your arrest, which of the “take down” techniques that you were taught did you apply? Support your arrest procedure in accordance with the Officer’s Standard Field Operations Manual. After noticing that the suspect was injured, did you make any attempt to use the techniques as taught in the Department’s First Aid In Service Training? Why did you not call for an ambulance when you noticed that the suspect needed medical attention immediately? Prior to this incident, did you ever have any other confrontations or dealings with the suspect either on duty or off duty?”
Bev could hardly believe the questions that had been asked. Was this what Sinclair had to put up with on a regular basis or was this reserved especially for when an officer was involved in a homicide investigation? The questions were so, so negative in their design. Her thoughts about the Department were not very favorable at the moment.
“Good morning, what cha’ reading?” Bev was momentarily startled by the voice that came from the speaker. When they had fallen asleep the computer had been left on inadvertently. The moment that Sinclair formed his thoughts, his words instantly became audible. The hours spent working the bugs out of the speech synthesizer had paid off with some remarkable dividends. The voice that came out was so much like his own that Bev found herself looking to see if his lips had made the sound.
“Just looking at this horrible list of questions that they left for you. I was tempted to throw them away. The implied guilt that each question hides is preposterous. It really galls me to think that you have to put up with these innuendoes and out right accusations.”
“Well, there’s not much to say to their questions. I don’t have any recollection of the incident. I suppose it will come back eventually; but as far right now goes, well let’s just leave it alone. I’ve found that they can’t hang you unless you give them the rope; and I don’t know what this rope even looks like.” Sinclair was almost glad that he had a blank spot in his brain. Bev read him the list and he thought about each question.
“They wouldn’t ask me to comment on this unless they had some information which would lead them to believe that some, if not all of these allegations were true.” Sinclair reasoned that one of the complaints must be from either a relative or a friend of the dead man; that would make him a biased witness. Sinclair wanted to see the letter of complaint and to hear the radio transmissions that were kept in the communications tape room. Maybe if he could jog his memory just a little; at least he would have an idea of what had happened to him.
“What’s bothering you, dear?” Bev wanted to help; but was not sure if she could.
“Get a hold of that lawyer; you know, the one who helped me with that insubordination deal. I want him to get me a copy of the dispatcher’s tapes for that night. You’ll have to go by the Association offices first; to get permission to retain him. Tell him I want everything from the time the call was received on the phone ‘till at least four hours later; and I want everything that was on the back channel and on the MDT units as well. They keep all that stuff, it’s just not common knowledge. That’s why its not too smart to be blabbin’ your personal business, even on the computers. They can hang you with any of it if they want to.”
“Wait, what was that about back channel and MDT ?”
“Back channel is like a private line for officers to use when they are in close proximatie to each other. It’s supposed to keep the news media from picking up stuff; but if they’re in the area. . .”
“Oh, I see; then there may be information that hasn’t been put out in the news papers. What was that about the MDT ?”
“That’s what we call the little computers that are in the police cars. Its all sent via radio waves; so it can easily be recorded onto a tape, just as a voice can be recorded. Each unit has its own identifying code built into each transmission. At the beginning of each shift we have to “log on”. That’s when the system codes all the rest of the messages for that shift.
“So he’s to get a transcript of all the MDT activity along with the tapes?”
“Now your cookin’ with gas.”
“I’ll do that this morning; right after I go by the bank, since the Association offices are just across the street anyway.”
“Now let me see the manual on this new toy.” Sinclair was refering to the speech synthesizer. “I want to have some fun.”
“Okay, . . .”, a reluctance to help him based on his past history of juvenile delinquency when given the opportunity. The dental assistants used to duck whenever they passed the room that Sinclair was in. He would get bored waiting for the novocaine to fully do its work. Sinclair had consumed more than his fair share of soda and candy while growing up. The consequences for such activity was a mouth full of silver. As the years had gone past, the original work had to be replaced from time to time. The art of dentistry had improved considerably; but Sinclair was still scared of the dentist. The first time he had a filling put in as a boy was by some guy resembling Boris Karloff. That guy thought that pain was a lesson to keep kids from getting more cavities. Sinclair never forgot; some day that guy was going to have to answer for all he had done.
“The nerve of that guy!” The built in squirt gun, designed to wash out the patients mouth, would be transformed into the mega-galactic alien zapper. Any and all aliens, which included nurses, clerks and especially dentists; would have to pass the portals of doom. “ . . . but please don’t get carried away and get into trouble this time.”
“Who?, me?” Sinclair knew that Bev was onto his antics. “Why I can’t believe that . . .”
“Don’t give me that innocent look.” Bev handed him the software manual. It was good to see his hands working again; even if they were not yet at full ability.
“You promise me that you’ll behave before I leave or I’ll turn off that fool computer and then what would you do?” It was an empty threat and Sinclair knew it.
“Yes Ma’am.” Sinclair had one of those eight year old faces that gave away his conniving ways. The harder he tried to hide his devilish way, the broader the smile on his face became.
“Don’t you , “Yes Ma’am” me and think you have me fooled, Mathew Sinclair Dosilmeyer.” Bev was scolding him just like he was one of the kids.
“Oh, all right then; I won’t get into too much trouble.”
“Please, just behave for a while, okay?” Bev knew that he was going be hard to manage now that he was starting to feel better. She could hardly wait for Dr. Gwynn to wean him off of the respirator.
Sunday, February 13, 2005
“Two men are here from the Police Department and want to visit with Mr. Dosilmeyer. They said they’re from Internal Affairs and only want to ask him a few questions now that he is alert and awake.”, the nurse at the front desk spoke to Bev on the telephone just as Vern was leaving. “I told them to wait here at the desk and that you would come out in a few minutes. I had them show me their identification since they were in business suits; they're both Sergeants.” She paused and looked back at the two officers as she held her hand over the receiver. “Please, go ahead and have a seat over there.”, pointing to a small reception area.
There was a small table with two modern design wooden chairs. On the table were some magazines that some of the nurses had brought from home to help pass the time for whoever was forced to wait. They both thumbed through the small stack. Not finding anything that was interesting to them, they sat impatiently looking back at the nurse’s desk every couple of minutes; as if to imply that they were in a hurry.
“Well, what do you want me to tell them, Hun?” Bev wanted to protect Sinclair as much as possible. He still did not recall the details of the accident; that the suspect had died the night that Sinclair fell off the balcony.
“I have nothing to hide from them; but I would prefer that they didn’t know about my ability to use the computer, if you get my meaning? Tell them that I am not prepared to talk with them; that I still have this damned thing in my throat and that it should be out by next week and that I will talk with them at that time. Let’s turn this off.”, his eyes targeting the computer as he blinked. “Go ahead and usher them in so that I can at least be polite; that way they won’t think that we are being evasive.”
Bev winked back and simultaneously flipped the power switch off and put the computer on the small desk by Sinclair’s bed. As she got up, she leaned over and kissed him on the lips. It was a wife’s kiss that, combined with her open eyes that were fixed on his, meant that she was not comfortable. She wanted them to leave him alone; but knew that because Sinclair was a policeman, that he was always accountable to the Department. She closed her eyes for a few moments and quickly offered a prayer.
“Father, who knows my thoughts before I speak them, thank you for sparing the life of my husband. Thank you for giving him this marvelous ability to conquer the silence that has taken his voice. Protect him from the cold world that waits down the hall. Provide them with sufficient answers, through my own mouth, that they will not inquire too strongly about those things which might be harmful to Sinclair at this time. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.” Bev opened her eyes and felt confident that she would handle it alright. After all, just the other day she had run off a very persistent aluminum siding salesman. She had even thanked him for his attempted presentation.
Walking down the hall, she glanced up at the nurse behind the desk. Then as she cleared the edge of the short hall and made her way to the desk, the two officers got up and their movement caught her attention. She watched as they smoothed out the imaginary wrinkles in their clothing, flexed and squared their shoulders in unison.
“Mrs. Dosilmeyer? I’m Sergeant Nichols and this is my partner Sergeant Perry. We’re from the Internal Affairs Division and would like to talk with your husband; if its all right with you. We heard that he was conscious now and there are some details that we need to get from him regarding his accident. We won’t stay long.” He reached for some papers that he had inside the right pocket of his suit as he talked.
Bev smiled but reserved her true thoughts. “Sinclair asked me to come visit with you. He still cannot talk with you; he has a respirator hooked up to help him breath. I’m sure that he would like for you to come in and at least make your presence felt. He doesn’t get very many visitors. The doctor said that they would be taking him off the respirator a little at a time, starting next week. He should be able to hold a short interview at that time.” Bev could hardly believe how well she was doing. She led them down the hall and knocked quietly, then entered the room. She had turned the lights down, leaving only the desk lamp to set the proper mood.
Sinclair looked up and slowly winked to let them know that he was awake as the pair followed Bev to a spot at the end of his bed. He raised his eyebrows as if to say, “Hey guys, no sense in asking me any questions yet; I can’t talk.” If he could have pulled his shoulders together and raised his hands, palms up; he could have done no better.
“Good to see your healing up. We just wanted to let you know that the Department takes care of it’s own. We know that you can’t give us a statement. All we want to do at this time is leave these questions for you to think about so that when you are able . . .”
“You can give them to me, he still has no feeling in his hands.” Bev reached out, not waiting for him to agree with her stipulation. He hesitated; but only for a moment as he handed them to her. Bev eyed them, then put them out of view behind her dress.
Clearing his throat and not quite sure what to do next, Sgt. Perry looked over at Sinclair. “Hey, aren’t you the officer that used to dance while you directed traffic? Yea, I know you. You really had some moves out there.” He had driven by many times while Sinclair was working and waved. They did not know each other; but it was natural for Sinclair to wave when he recognized a city ride go by.
Sinclair looked hard to remember. The blank response showed, even on Sinclair’s face.
“Well, ah, we need to be getting along. Nice to meet you, Mrs. Dosilmeyer. You won’t forget to show those papers to . . .”
“Nice to meet you too.”, as she nodded to both of them and at the same time opened the door. “ . . and no; I’ll make sure he gets to look them over. Good night and y’all be careful out there.”
“Good night Ma’am.”
Bev watched them as they walked away. The tall one pulled out a cigar and began to light it, remembered that he was still in a no smoking area, and jammed it back into his pocket. The two waited for the elevator and occasionally looked back to where Bev was standing as they talked. They both waved weakly, not meaning to wave; but wanting to have some reason to be looking back that way.
Bev smiled and waved back, thinking to herself how hard it must be to work for a place where the jackals were so well dressed. It was hard to tell the good guys from the bad.
When Bev closed the door behind her, glad that she had done her job, she could feel herself relax just a little. She sat in the chair next to Sinclair; took hold of his hand and began to lightly stroke it. For a few minutes there was a calm in her life. She glanced over at Sinclair and realized that she needed to turn the computer back on. He had an unsettling look on his face. He was not happy about something. She typed the commands and waited for the voice synthesizer mode to engage.
“What’s this about some guy dying the night I fell? Why didn’t anyone, why didn’t you, tell me?” Sinclair’s new voice was able to elicit the emotional blur that was occurring in his mind.
“I didn’t want to burden you with that. You’re just now able to handle the simplest of human functions. I thought it best that since you didn’t remember. . . well, I saw no need to impede your recovery.” Bev knew that Sinclair was disappointed with her. His eyes looked clear on through to the middle of her soul. He exposed the little girl in her.
Only once, since they had been married, had she ever lied to him. She had wanted him to quit smoking cigarettes. He was in the hospital after having a collapsed lung and she saw the opportunity to do a number on him. She told him that he was under doctor’s orders to quit the habit. The doctors had not told her this; she had made it up to fit the desires of her heart. Sinclair had to quit and he knew it. Several weeks had past; with each day Bev felt the guilt of her deed. Finally it was too much for her to bear. She poured out the plot to him and asked for his forgiveness. Sinclair, after having listened to the woman who loved him enough to lie such a wonderful lie, laughed out loud. He explained that the doctor had told him that very same thing; that it was funny that she had lied when she didn’t have to. It made for a stronger bond in their marriage.
“So that makes it all right? Some guy I don’t even know died while I’m supposed to be arresting him and I can’t even remember it. I wish you would have told me, that’s all. I just wish you would have told me.” Sinclair closed his eyes and tried to recall the incident and find a way to feel some remorse for the man who had died.
“How did you find out? They never said a word about it, and I was holding their damned question sheet the whole time.” Bev waited a moment as Sinclair continued in his search for an answer.
“The tall one, what was his name? Sgt. Nichols had the whole file on a floppy disk in that pocket he kept fidgeting with. They all have their own personal computers in I.A.D. It keeps their information out of the main system. I suppose that its a form of security; keeps the masses from getting into their files. I only got to scan part of it; he kept moving so much once I realized what it was, time had run out.”
“I’m sorry I kept it from you. I just . . .”
“I’m not angry, well . . , just a bit maybe. Give me a hug and try to fill in the gaps for me.” Sinclair wished he could turn on his tactile sensory units as easily as he could manipulate the computer. Bev cuddled up carefully to the his side, making sure not to
disturb the breathing hose. Several minutes past as she tried to organize the details of that horrible scene.
“You went on a call and heard gun shots. You could tell where they came from; but before anyone could come to help you, the guy came out and the two of you struggled for his gun. The railing broke away and both of you fell backwards to the ground. He landed head first and was dead before the ambulance arrived. You, well, you know the rest." Bev was sobbing uncontrollably into Sinclair’s side as she blurted out the last few words.
“Its all right, its all right. I’m here with you and its going to be all right.” Somehow the message was important enough and his arm escaped the months of neglect as it moved to hold and caress Bev. “See there, next thing you know I’ll be asking for a private room.”
Bev stopped crying long enough to notice that Sinclair had made a significant move towards recovery. She took his hand once again, like she did the day they were sealed at the Salt Lake Temple so many years before. “It’ll be okay, just hold me.”