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The next morning mimicked the one before—a taxi ride to my job, a phone call to Mike during my lunch hour, now that he had a bedside phone, and a ride to the hospital after work. I was thankful that some semblance of a daily routine was taking shape.

When I arrived at his room that evening I was startled to see him in a body cast, waist to chest, with his left shoulder and arm completely encased in plaster and stretched upward. His right shoulder and arm remained uncovered.

"Think you're the Statue of Liberty?" I smiled, then walked over to his bed. My humor was not appreciated.

"No," he said, his voice heavy with irritation. "They think this will allow the crushed end of my arm bone to form some kind of a ball again."

"How long do you have to wear it?"

"Don't know. They didn't tell me." His face tightened, lips pursed. "It better come off soon. Oh," he added, relaxing his expression, "I've got a surprise for you!"

"What?"

"Your Dad and Norm got here today, so no more taxi rides home. They're all down in the cafeteria now."

"Oh goody! I get to ride home in the Impala tonight." I grinned, thinking of how my Dad prized his red on red 1964 Chevy Impala.

"No, you don't. They brought your Mom's Biscayne."

"You're kidding! She let them do that?"

"She didn't know about it until they got here. She seemed a little perturbed, but accepted it."

"Well, good for her. So, anyway, how was your day? How are you feeling?"

"I hurt. Bad. My whole back. Sharp, stabbing pains. All day long. This damn body armor isn't making it feel any better."

"I'm sure it's not. Must mean the bruising is starting to leave. I saw your back one day when the nurses were changing your sheets. The entire thing was purple from contusions and internal bleeding. One of the nurses told me it would be painful when it started to withdraw. "

"Well, they damn well better give me pain medicine!"

"Haven't they been doing that today?"

"Yeah. I guess. But it's worn off. I need more. Now!" The decibel level rose considerably on the last word.

"Well, press the nurses' button and ask …"

"No! You go ask her for me." No please included. This was an order.

"Okay, okay." I walked out of the room to the nurses' station and did as I was told.

A nurse looked at his chart and said, "It's not been four hours yet. Is he getting cranky?"

"Yes."

"Let me tell him for you."

"Thank you." God bless her. I expected getting yelled at if I didn't come back with what he wanted. She must have anticipated that.

We returned to his room and she explained the pain medication schedule to him. He insisted that the time was up.

I hurt for the poor guy—stuck in bed, his arm up in the air, his cast-encased back filled with pain. He must've been miserable.

"I'll be back in a hour with it," the nurse said to him, and headed for the door.

"Thank you," he replied, sweetly, then turned to me, scowled and added, "She damn well better be!"

"I'm sure she will," I said.

"Where's my watch? Do you have it?"

"It's at home. Pieces of it anyway. Smashed and embedded with asphalt. They gave me a big brown envelope the day you were brought in that had your wallet and what was left of your watch in it."

"Okay. How much longer until . . ." His words were cut short by the entrance of my Mom, Dad, brother and sister to his room.

I greeted my Dad and brother with hugs, and accepted a cup of soup from my sister. When visiting hours were over, we left for home—Sis, Norm and I to my apartment, and Mom and Dad to a local motel.

One phone call came that evening, from our friend John Mayhill, in Seattle. "The sports car club is organizing a blood drive," he told me. "It'll be credited to your bill there at the hospital."

I offered effusive thanks to him and the club. "I'll be sure to tell Mike tomorrow when I see him." We said our good-byes and I headed for bed, tired enough for some serious sleep.

The following morning I rode to the savings and loan with my family, on their way to visit Mike. The day passed quickly, my thoughts focused mainly on my work, and soon I stepped out of Sheila's car at the hospital.

"Give our love to Mike," she said as I closed the car door. "And remember, tomorrow is payday! And income tax day too, do you have yours done?"

"Oh, my gosh!" I slapped a hand to my cheek. "I forgot all about it! Thank you. I'll have to get that done tonight for sure!"

"Don't stay up too late." She grinned as her husband edged their car away from the curb. "See you in the morning."

"Yes, see you in the morning. Thanks for everything."

I made my way to Room 309. After greeting my family and Mike, still wrapped in plaster, arm in the air, I listened to his complaints about the torturous back pain inside the confines of the body cast. "I'm sorry," was all I could utter. It didn't help. If irritability indicated a return to health, Mike was well on his way.

"John called last night." I opted for changing the subject. "The sports car club is having a blood drive in your name. It'll be credited to our bill here at the hospital."

"That's nice, honey. John's been a good friend."

"Yes, he has."

The chit chat of family took over and continued until we made our nightly exit after visiting hours.

I sorted through boxes of papers that night in search of our financial records and income tax forms. Thankfully I found them, and three hours later had our return ready to mail with one exception—Mike's signature. How could I get that and mail the forms before the deadline? I couldn't, so I took a chance and simply wrote in place of his signature, "Mike is unable to sign. He is currently in Palo Alto Stanford Hospital recovering from injuries suffered in an automobile accident."

I figured the IRS could easily verify that.


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