Substitute Dad

© 2006 - 2010 By Scribe1971 (scribe1971@hotmail.com)

Chapter 46

Hey Brutus! Bob's Back!

The first day back into the school routine was a difficult one. I had too many good memories of the Christmas break to reflect on and distract my concentration. However, that all faded when I arrived home and Josh was there to give me my welcome home hug.

January seemed to fly by with our activities at school and Air Cadets. After each of our sessions at the Air Cadets, we got positive feedback from Kevin about his Dad's progress. Also, Susan kept us filled in from her phone calls that she'd had with Ethel from time to time. They did get a dog, a male Golden Retriever that didn't quite have the right disposition to be eligible for the police canine unit. As Kevin said, he was the smartest, lovable flunky he could ever have wished for.

Josh's 14th birthday arrived before we knew it on February the 5th. His actual birthday celebration was a pretty low key affair. Susan and I took him along with Kevin to the Mandarin for dinner that night and we gave him some really nice gifts. I gave him a handheld GPS unit for use when we went hiking and camping and I figured that he could use it when we went to camp that summer. Susan gave him a bomber style jacket that he could wear while he was flying. The jacket was insulated enough to keep him warm but was thin enough to give him the mobility that he needed. Mark and Bryan called to wish him a happy birthday and they sent him a new ruck stack and a set of mess tins that would also be very handy for the coming summer at camp. Kevin gave him copy of the newest version of Microsoft Flight Simulator for his computer. Shelly of course sent him a gift as well. Her gift was a framed blown up copy of a photo that I had taken of the two of them standing by the railing arm-in-arm looking down at Niagara Falls.

The biggest surprise of Josh's 14th birthday arrived that Saturday when it was time for his flight lesson. He didn't think it was that unusual that Susan went with us to the airport that morning. Nor did he think it was strange that I brought along my video camera. I also had my police scanner with me because it allowed me to tune into the radio frequency used by the Brampton Airport and I could listen to Josh talking to other aircraft as he was put through his paces.

When we arrived Josh headed straight out to pre-flight his aircraft while his instructor came out to talk to Susan and I.

"This is it. We're going to do a couple of touch-and-goes and then I'm going to have him land and let me out. He's going to solo today for sure," Ken said with a smile as he headed out to the tarmac to meet Josh.

"Oh boy, I'm shaking like a leaf," Susan laughed nervously.

"Don't worry. He's an amazing pilot and he's been ready for this for quite a while now. He'll be fine," I said.

I was completely confident in Josh's skills as a pilot and I had been to every lesson watching from the ground. I knew he was ready and that he would make us proud.

We watched as Josh's aircraft took to the sky and stayed in a nice tight circuit in order to bring him around to make a couple of touch-and-go landings. Each one was flawless and as we saw the plane come in and taxi off the runway, Susan and I knew what was going to happen next. Everyone knew except for Josh.

Josh taxied the aircraft up near the terminal building and stopped. I smiled when I heard Ken on the raido.

"Traffic, Charlie November Charlie zero three, we have a code red. Repeat code red. Clear the pattern for a code red."

"What's a code red?" Susan asked nervously.

"It's ok. It's just a signal to other pilots that a pilot is about to solo for the first time. It gets everyone to clear away from the airport to allow the student pilot a completely unobstructed takeoff and approach," I said reassuring her.

A second later the passenger side door of Josh's aircraft opened and Ken stepped out. He walked into the terminal building as Josh taxied away and approached the runway. I heard him make the correct radio calls and I felt my heart rate increase as I heard him run up the engine and begin to barrel down the runway. My heart was positively hammering in my chest with both nerves and with pride as my son's aircraft leapt from the ground and soared gracefully into the cold February air.

His first solo flight only lasted a few minutes. He did one circuit of the airfield, lined up with the active runway and then skillfully brought the plane down with a gentle flare. We watched as he taxied to the parking place for his plane and I smiled as he climbed out and ran for the terminal building. It looked as if his feet barely touched the ground.

He must have been intercepted by Ken because it took about two minutes before he came bounding out at full speed. He launched himself at Susan and I pulling us both into a warm hug.

"You did great honey," Susan gushed. "I'm very proud of you!"

"Joshy, that was picture perfect," I said and held out my hand.

Josh took one look at my hand and grabbed my torso in a tight bear hug instead.

"That was amazing Dad," he gushed. "Thank you for everything. Because of you I'm a real pilot now!"

I returned his heartfelt hug and replied. "You did it kiddo. My son is a pilot and I couldn't be happier."

Josh still had more training to do both solo and with his instructor and he had to wait until he was 16 in order to take his check ride and earn his license, but he had achieved a momentous goal that day. Just days after his 14th birthday, he had flown solo and earned the title "Pilot".

Half a continent away Mark had his first solo flight as well and it went as flawlessly as Josh's. Bryan and I exchanged videos of the boys' flights and as I watched the footage of Mark making his first solo flight, I felt that same surge of pride that I had felt watching Josh make his flight.

On the next Air Cadet Parade Night, I as the squadron's flight training officer had the distinct honour of calling Josh up before the whole squadron and pinning his air cadet wings on his chest. He was positively beaming as he fell out, marched up to me, snapped smartly to attention and saluted. It was one of the proudest moments of my life when I returned his salute, reached forward to pin on his wings and then shook his hand. I don't know which of us was smiling more broadly.

Two weeks after Josh's birthday, it was my turn and the Twins' turn. Again, we had a low key celebration. We stayed in and Susan and my mother collaborated on a nice family meal complete with a wonderful birthday cake made completely from scratch. Without Mark and Bryan around it was a lot less boisterous, but it was nonetheless a wonderful family celebration.

At the last Air Cadets meeting in February, we had our first chance to meet Grant, Kevin's dad. He had come to pick him up. He stood there by his car holding 'Freddy' on his lead. As soon as we were close enough, he let Freddy off his lead. Right away the dog ran for Kevin, happily yelping for the attention that Kevin was happy to lavish on him. While Freddy kept Josh and Kevin busy, I carried on to speak with Grant, a very handsome man, lean, yet well built and imposing at 6 foot 2 inches tall.

"Hello," I said looking up at him, then as we shook hands, "I'm Tom Davis, Josh's Dad."

"I know," he replied quietly as he looked off at the boys playing with the dog. Right away I was aware of his reserved attitude. After a longer pause than necessary and a sigh, he finally said, "I have so much to make up for with Ethel and that boy." Instinctively I knew he had a lot on his mind, so I didn't say anything. He still hadn't made eye contact with me. "They've been so supportive since.... Christmas. The best thing I could've done was get that dog. He's so smart. He knows just when to come over to me when I start brooding over.... what happened. It's like he's taught all of us what unconditional love is all about and we only got him a couple of weeks ago. It was love at first sight.... for Kevin and him. Ethel and Kevin.... they told me what you and your family did for them while I was.... you know..... Still have my job... they've got me doing desk duty for another week so I can get used to the routine again.... I'm going to the AA meetings, I think I have a lot to offer them.... gotta do it for.... Kevin and Ethel. They're going to the Al-Anon and Al-Teen meetings. Things are starting to fit together."

He paused again and although what he was saying was a bit disjointed, I realized his anguish.

"Grant, you don't have to think about what happened at Christmas." I began, "Ethel and Kevin have replaced all those unpleasant thoughts with love and a hope for the future. I think that's where your thinking should be too. How about a plan, right now, I know it's one day at a time, but in a while, you'll want to make a shorter plan of what you want to do with your new family for a longer period, such as Spring Break for Kevin or summer vacation.... that sort of thing."

"A new family huh!" Grant smiled and for the first time looked into my eyes. "You're right. There's a lot of hope. They say the first year is the worst. The shrinks really did a good job for me this time. That part's out of the way, so now I have no excuse and that makes it easier too. Addiction isn't just a weak man's disease... it can hit anyone at anytime."

Just then Josh, Kevin and Freddy came running over. Kevin grabbed his dad into a warm hug. Grant lifted him off his feet and returned the embrace with a happy smile. I was impressed with Grant's strength.

"Hey Dad, this is Josh Chambers." Kevin said as his feet touched the ground again.

"Hi Mr. Brown," Josh said with his winning smile as he shook Grant's hand. "Freddy is really one smart dog."

"Yes he is Josh, I think smarter than me some times." Turning to me, he continued, "Thanks Tom.... for everything.... I owe ya." Turning to Kevin, he laughed, "Come on Kevin, we'd better get home quick before your Mom thinks we're up to something dumb."

As we waved at them leaving the parking lot, Josh said, "Another happy ending Dad?"

I laughed as I put my arm around him. "I don't think so Josh.... I think it's just another happy beginning." It's what I felt. It's what I said. It's what I believed.

It was about 3:30 on a chilly March day and I was just leaving my last class of the day. My head was in the clouds because I'd just had a great interview with the professor after class about what I could do to improve my chances of marketing my multimedia program.

More than that though, I was looking forward to Josh and me hopping on the jet tomorrow for our trip to Calgary for ten days during Spring Break. Both of us had our bags packed and were really anxious to get going.

As I reached the entrance to the school, my cell phone vibrated.

"Hello..."

"Tom, it's Darren. I just got word from Vancouver. Some asshole dumb fuck of a judge let Bob McNulty out on bail a week ago with a promise to appear. We're pretty sure he's going to be in town soon. Last time he was spotted, he was in Sudbury."

Suddenly my euphoric high was now gone as I rushed to the Jeep, "When was that Darren?"

"Yesterday." He replied with a sigh.

"Haven't you still got surveillance on the house?" I asked.

"Sorry Tom, but after Callahan died and McNulty was still locked up, we didn't feel a need. Now with the cutbacks, we're short staffed."

"Well fuck Darren... I wish we'd known sooner, not that we could do anything about it." I was exasperated. "OK, I'm headed home right now and I'll make sure we keep the doors locked 24/7."

"Good idea Tom. I'll keep you posted and we'll make it a point of patrolling your neighbourhood 'til we know where he is. I doubt you have anything to worry about.... he's probably going to head for his drug dealing cronies downtown and we're concentrating our efforts in that neighbourhood."

"Sure hope you're right Darren," I said as I started the Jeep. "Bye for now."

The thoughts of Bob harassing Susan's life again bothered me all the way home. It was depressing. Susan, Josh, and I had been having such a high in our lives since the end of the summer trip. Having our Christmas holidays with my extended family including Mark and Bryan had only added to our happiness. Now Josh and I were so looking forward to our trip tomorrow to Calgary.

When I pulled into the driveway, and got out, I gathered my books and laptop under my arm, barely glanced around, before I heard a dog whining, growling, and barking. I listened – it was Brutus in the back yard. Instead of heading for the front door, I headed for the gate to the back yard. As soon as I opened the gate he was at my feet yelping and then ran to the side door.

"Hi there Brutus," I said quietly; a bit suspicious of first, why was he in the back yard alone and second, his behaviour. As I closed and latched the gate, he ran back to me still whining. "OK boy, it's OK," I tried to reassure him as he ran back to the side door again whining all the way.

I was just reaching for the doorknob when my thoughts sobered, remembering the car I'd glanced at on the street when I got out of the Jeep. It was a dark blue Chevy Sprint coupe, but it had a bright orange rental agent sticker on the trunk. The hair on the back of my neck must have stood straight up as a chill ran down my back, wondering seriously now about Brutus' behaviour.

I took a big gulp and understood that caution was the best part of valour at this moment. I knelt down to Brutus. "Quiet Brutus. Very quiet." I held my hand flat to the front of his nose as I slowly turned the doorknob.

As soon as I opened the door to the landing, I heard a male voice yell, "Where's that fuckin' bastard keep the fuckin' money bitch!"

I knew there was an immediate need for action, but I had to assess the situation first before I ran into the enraged intruder. Again, I quietly cautioned Brutus to be quiet as I put my books and laptop down on the stair. We stealthed our way up the four steps to the main level hallway. I heard a fast slap and immediately, Susan screamed. It was coming from down the hall in her bedroom. Where was Josh!

"Brutus! Find Josh," I instructed urgently.

Brutus took off with his nose the ground in an instant.

"TELL ME, YA BITCH!" I'm sure it was Bob yelling as I heard another slap and another scream from Susan.

I was down the hall in an instant. He was standing, his back to me, beside the bed, towering over Susan who was sprawled sideways on the bed, blood coming out of her nose. Instantly, I grabbed his shoulder firmly with my left hand and swung him around. I aimed my right fist for his Adam's apple, but he ducked his chin in that last split second before the blow connected. I hit his chin. Fuck! Not only did it hurt my knuckle, but also, it didn't disable him enough to lose all control as I'd intended.

As he lost his balance, he continued to swing in an arc that brought his left foot off the floor. In its momentum, his foot hit my bad leg and I felt a piercing god-awful pain shoot up my leg to the base of my spine. In an instant, I was on the floor in excruciating pain. I moaned as a sickly sweat rushed through me. I looked up, my eyes bulging as I stared up at the barrel of his hand gun. 'Oh fuck,' I thought as the pain clouded my mind, 'Josh, I love you.' If that was my last thought, I was happy that was what it was.

In a blur, out of the corner of my eye, Brutus was there in the air, silently clamping his jaw on Bob's right wrist. In an instant he had a firm grip and started growling, ears pinned back, teeth bared in anger, tossing his body back and forth, ripping at Bob's wrist. Judging from the blood and Bob's screams, Brutus' teeth were doing a good job. I grabbed Bob's foot and twisted with all my might. Bang! He was on the floor. Brutus maintained his attack on Bob's wrist.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Josh come into the room. "What the..." I exclaimed. Josh had duct tape over his mouth.

He grabbed the gun off the floor and aimed it at Bob as I gingerly got up off the floor, hanging onto the bedpost for support. Josh came over to me and I carefully pulled the tape from his mouth. Then I noticed he still had torn remnants of duct tape around his wrists.

"DON'T YOU FUCKIN' MOVE, YOU SON OF A BITCH!" Josh yelled as he put both hands on the handgun. "I'd just love to use this weapon on you," he seethed through clenched teeth. I'd never seen or heard Josh so angry.

"Brutus," I commanded. "Back off." Teeth bared and still snarling, he hesitantly let go of Bob's wrist and quickly jumped on his chest. With the same ugly attitude, Brutus kept his face at Bob's neck, barking, growling, snarling; his teeth still bared. Josh didn't take his aim from Bob's head.

With Josh and Brutus guarding the screaming, frightened Bob, I turned my attention to Susan. She moaned as I leaned on my elbow beside her. "Susan," I said quietly, wiping some of the blood from her cheek with my sleeve.

"Oooohhh...." she moaned again. She moved her hand to her forehead and blinked her eyes open. Startled for a moment as she listened to Bob screaming and Brutus snarling, she looked down and saw the situation. She gave Josh and I a weak smile, then closed her eyes again.

I smiled through my pain as I pulled out my cell phone and called Darren. I didn't wait for him to say hello. "Darren, I'm home. We've got Bob here and we're going to need a medic or two before you can haul him away."

"I hope that's him I hear screaming in the background." Darren said.

"Yeah, him and Brutus. His wrist is torn and bleeding pretty good. He roughed up Susan pretty bad, she may have head injuries, and I'm afraid my leg's going to need some work done on it."

"How about Josh?" Darren asked.

"You OK Josh?" I asked.

"Yeah Dad, I'm OK. He just caught me off guard and had me tied up before I could struggle free."

"Yeah, Josh is fine." I said smiling. That was a relief.

"I'll be there in about three minutes." Darren said as the line went dead.

Josh looked at his mother and then looked at me. "What did he do to your leg?" he asked tenderly.

"I think he busted it up pretty good," I said through gritted teeth. The pain was intense and I could feel shock settling in.

Josh looked at me carefully for a moment and then turned to Bob. I heard the distinctive click of a pistol's hammer being drawn back. "Open your mouth you useless motherfucker," Josh hissed. I heard a hardness in his voice that I had never heard before.

Josh leaned down and pressed Bob's pistol into his mouth.

"Joshy, don't. It's not worth it," I said. "He's not worth it."

"He hurt you and he hurt mom," Josh said flatly. "If I pull this trigger, he'll never hurt anyone ever again."

"But you'll have to live with it Joshy. I don't want you to have to live with that. You don't need that burden. Leave him for the police," I said.

Josh pulled the pistol back and turned and looked at me. He had tears streaming down his face.

I sat up on the side of the bed and hugged Josh's torso. "I love you son and I don't want you to start life with a mistake like that hanging over you."

"I love you too dad, but.... but...."

"It's OK son, let it go.... we're more important than he is."

Susan opened her eyes and started to ease herself up from the bed. Brutus' demeanor had mellowed slightly, still at Bob's throat, he'd quit barking and was just letting out a low growl, as the four of us stared down at the hapless Bob.

"Mom, are you OK?" Josh asked, just darting his eyes from Bob to Susan.

"I think so Josh. He may have loosened one of my teeth though," Susan replied weakly. "I think he's strung out on drugs. He said something about getting some coke tonight."

Just then, I heard the sirens stop out the front of the house.

"Josh, go make sure the front door's open." I said.

"It's open Dad, he busted the lock when he broke into the house. He was waiting for me behind the door and grabbed me right away." Josh replied as Darren came through the front door and called out.

"In here Darren," I answered.

From the startled look on Darren's face, we must have looked a sight when he walked in the room. Blood smeared on Susan's face, me wincing from the pain in my leg, Brutus growling at Bob's neck, Josh standing there, gun in hand, with a firm angry grimace and tattered duct tape hanging from his wrists and, as I now noticed, around his ankles.

"Well young man," Darren said with a smile, "you seem to have the situation under control. Get the dog to move back and I'll slap some cuffs on him."

"Back down Brutus, back off," I said. Slowly, Brutus eased backwards off Bob's chest until he was standing between his legs. Still snarling he gave Bob's crotch a nudge with his nose and started to bare his teeth again. I had to giggle at his instincts as Darren grabbed Bob by the collar and raised his trunk into the sitting position, then grabbing his arm behind him and slapping a cuff on it, before heaving his bloody wrist behind him and cuff it as well.

"OK Josh, I'll take that gun now," Darren said calmly. As Josh handed Darren the gun, Brutus backed right off and made his way over to Susan, reached up and licked her face gently with a whine.

Just then, two more officers and two medics came in. It was suddenly getting crowded in the bedroom, so Darren and the two officers jerked Bob to his feet and bodily dragged him screaming out of the bedroom. As soon as Brutus saw the medics approach Susan, he backed off and went over to Josh who was sitting on the other side of me. The medic immediately started to gently swab the blood off Susan's face.

Bob was cursing a storm at Darren in the kitchen.

"Dad, I can't believe how smart Brutus is. He didn't forget." Josh began as he continued to pat him. "He found me in the dining room and right away he chewed and chewed through the duct tape without biting me once. I couldn't say a thing. Once he had my hands free, I was able to get my feet freed, but he was gone. I guess he came in here then. I got in here as soon as I could. The way he handled Bob was amazing. You OK Dad?"

"I think one of the pins in my leg was jarred out of place when Bob kicked me." I replied.

"Ma'am, would please stand up. Let me have a look at the back of your head," the medic attending Susan requested.

The other medic took out a pair of scissors. "I'm sorry sir, but I want to have a look at the shape of your leg, so I'll have to cut your jeans."

"Go ahead," I said just as Susan swooned and fell back on the bed.

While the medic ripped up my jeans, the other said, "Ma'am I think we'll have to take you into the hospital and have a brain scan. You may have a concussion."

Just then, the medic attending to me raised my heel, making me wince and then yell out from the excruciating pain. "OH SHIT!" I exclaimed as I fell back on the bed.

"Yup, you're going in too sir. We won't know the damage until we have an x-ray. I'm going to have another unit come in to check on the fella with the bloody wrist."

Once the pain had subsided a bit in my leg, I gingerly raised myself up. "Josh...." I winced from the pain. "Joshy.... call Bryan.... let him know what's happened."

Josh pulled out his cell phone and punched in Bryan's number. "BRYAN! It's Josh..... When I got home from school, I opened the front door and Bob McNulty attacked me.... damn near broke my arm when he twisted it behind my back, but I'm OK. I think he'd already gotten Brutus out into the back yard.... He tied me up with duct tape to the dining room chair and put a bunch over my mouth. Then Mom came in and he grabbed her and dragged her into her bedroom and started beating her and I couldn't do anything...." Josh paused and started to tear up.

"I heard Mom screaming and I struggled to get out of the chair, but I couldn't. Then I heard Brutus at the back door and the next thing I knew, he was at my back ripping away at the duct tape to get me free. Once my hands were free, he took off for the bedroom. I freed my ankles and when I got to the bedroom, I saw Mom laying on the bed all bloody and Dad was on the floor in terrible pain. Brutus was growling and snarling.... chewin' away on Bob's wrist. I saw the gun on the floor and I grabbed it..... Yeah, Dad called the cops.... Darren and the ambulance guys are here right now. Mom might have a concussion and I think Dad's leg is pretty bashed up.... they.... they're gonna take them to the hospital....." Josh had tears running down his face and was nearly sobbing.

"Yeah... he... he's here..." Josh said as he handed me the phone.

"Tom.... Tom, are you going to be OK?" I heard Bryan's voice say quietly.

"Oh God Bryan, I don't know how bad it is until they do some x-rays. They may have to open it up again and reset some of the pins. Right now, it's hurting like hell."

"How about Susan?"

"She has to go in as well.... they think it may be a concussion." I replied.

"Have they got Bob under control?" he asked.

"Yeah, I'm pretty sure they have..... if they don't, Brutus'll have him for dinner. We'll probably have to postpone our trip to Calgary for at least a few days though."

"Tom, don't worry about that.... you just hang tight and remember that we love all of you."

"I love you t...." I replied.

Bryan interrupted me and yelled, "MARK... get the-" The line went dead.

As I closed the phone and handed it back to Josh, another medic came in with a collapsed gurney.

"OK sir, you're closest to the door, so we're going to load you up first, but first we have to immobilize your leg."

Pain! Pain! PAIN! There's no way to describe it – it's just something you endure. All the cursing and yelling doesn't make it go away, so I grimaced when it was at it's worst while they put the leg brace on, and sweated a lot when it subsided. Granted, there was some relief once I was laying on the gurney. Once they had me wheeled into the living room, they stopped. I could still hear Bob screaming and yelling at the two cops in the kitchen that were guarding him.

Darren came over and placed a hand on my shoulder. "Tom, you and Josh and that dog are real heroes. For sure, this fiasco is going to put that asshole behind bars for a long time.... you have my word on that."

"I sure as hell hope so." I replied as another pair of medics went by me with another gurney heading for the bedroom. Just then, Josh came into the living room and stood beside me.

"I'm going to the hospital too!" He exclaimed. "I'm NOT going to leave my Mom and Tom."

Darren smiled. "Tell you what Josh, let's let the medics do their job and get your Mom and Tom to the hospital. That's first and foremost. Then I have to get a patrol car here to take McNulty to the hospital under guard and then I'll take you to the hospital so you can be with them. OK?"

Josh nodded nervously. "Yeah, OK." He was beginning to tear up again. "I'll see you at the hospital Dad."

"I know you will Son." I replied as I squeezed his hand. "Look after Brutus, he's our real hero in this. I love you."

"I love you too," Josh replied as the medics started for the front door with gurney carrying me.

Once the medics had me unloaded from the ambulance, they wheeled me up to the desk at the emergency room. Trying to get into my rear pocket to get my wallet and health care card out was a delicate operation, trying not to put pressure on my bad leg. The medics described what they thought could be wrong with my leg and I filled in the parts about all the hardware that was in it.

The hardest and painful part was when they had to transfer me from the ambulance gurney onto the hospital stretcher. Again, I endured the pain and through a moment or two of relaxing, it finally subsided to a bearable level.

The an ER doctor came into my cubicle. "Hi Mr. Davis, I'm Dr. Trebber, how's the pain level."

I was honest. "Actually it's there all the time. It's OK if you don't move it, but it pierces right through me when it gets jarred."

"OK," he replied, "let me have a look." He raised the blanket away and saw that I still had my jeans on and the cushioned leg brace. "I want you to move your other foot as far back to your backside as possible? Let me know the pain level to your other leg."

With a few grunts, not excruciating pain, but strain against the fabric of my jeans, he got the picture, pulled out a pair of scissors, and ripped up the other leg of my jeans. Then it was possible. As I got my foot closer to my backside than I had before, the pain started again, but I did get the foot up to my backside. I was in a sweat.

"OK! OK!" The doctor exclaimed. "Put it back down. Mr. Davis, I can't see you having to endure the pain of taking off your jeans and putting on a hospital gown for the sake of an x-ray. First, I have to get you a fairly potent pain killer and then we'll cut the legs off your jeans. The hardest part of the whole thing for you will be when we have to manhandle you onto the x-ray table. I'll be right back."

When you're in the ER by yourself with nothing to think about but yourself, you become aware of the moans and groans of the other people around you. Although this had been a traumatic event for Josh, I was thankful that he didn't have this pain to endure, and none of the moans and groans were coming from him.

Just then, the curtain parted and there was a smiling Darren and a somewhat concerned Josh. Right away, he came over to me and started hugging me.

"Where's your Mom Josh?" I asked.

"They're taking her up to a room right now and getting her settled in," he mumbled into my shoulder, "they're going to give her an MRI in the morning."

"That's good Josh," I said as I kissed his hair, "don't worry, they'll find out what's wrong and they'll have a cure for it once they look at the pictures."

"Just like you?" He asked.

"Yes son, just like me." I replied smiling, as I raised his chest off mine and held his shoulders. I looked right into his reddened eyes. "Don't you worry, we'll be fine. Did you lock up the house?"

"Yeah, Darren helped me hammer it back in place. We brought Brutus with us, but they won't let me bring him into emergency. They'll let me take him up to see Mom once she's settled though."

Just then, Dr. Trebber returned with a tray. "OK Mr. Davis, I understand that you're not allergic to codeine. Is that right?"

"Yes," I answered, "I'm not allergic to any pain killers that I know of."

He swabbed my arm joint and said, "Just a little poke," just before he inserted the needle. "X-ray will be ready for you in about twenty minutes and by that time this should have taken effect."

Then he listened to my heart rate and took my blood pressure. A nurse came in with a pair of scissors. Following the doctor's directions, she gingerly cut both legs off my jeans. When she was done, she smiled and winked, "Sexy pair of jeans you have there sir."

I was beginning to feel the numbness of the pain killer and I noticed she didn't have any rings on. I returned her smile. "Sorry ma'am, but I'm taken."

Josh started to giggle – it was good to see his grin again.

"Lucky lady!" the nurse quipped as she left the cubicle. Darren, Josh, and I had to laugh at that comment. Although Darren and I had never spoke of our relationships, I was pretty sure he knew my orientation. Maybe Bryan told him or he'd just guessed.

"Tom, I've had the doctor's take a blood sample from McNulty...." Darren said once we settled down, "it'll take a while to get the results back though. They don't want to give him any pain killers 'til they know what he's got in his system, so he'll be suffering for a while. Brutus did a good number on McNulty's wrist.... it took a couple of stitches. But somehow, someone did a real job on his leg. The bones in his ankle are going to need some rearranging."

That made me giggle – the pain killer was working well. Well it was time to 'fess up, so between Josh and I, we told Darren what happened and the sequence of events. While we told him, he was taking notes, with a never-ending smile.

"OK boys," Darren said when we'd finished, "while you're in x-ray, I'll have a short talk with Susan just to confirm what she saw and experienced. It's one more time that we caught the bad guy. Thank you for all your help.... I'll catch up with you later."

"Josh, here, take my wallet and my jacket. All my keys and ID are there. I'm sure they don't want any of that stuff in the way in the x-ray room."

"OK Dad, I'll guard it with my life."

"I believe you will son," I snickered as two orderlies came in.

"OK Mr. Davis, we've got orders to get you to x-ray. Just lay back and let us do the driving."

Josh stayed with me until we got to the entrance to the x-ray department doors. "I love you Dad." He sounded so forlorn.

"I love you too son." That was the only reassurance I could give him in return as the stretcher passed through the doors.

To say the experience of getting my leg x-rayed was pleasant would be a complete lie. Transferring me to the x-ray table was discomforting enough, but then the pain became extreme again, when they removed the leg brace. It eased off just a bit while they took the x-ray, then I had to change positions so they could take it from another angle. By the time they took the last picture, I was having a problem enduring the pain. The sweat was pouring off me. Small consolation – Bob was going to have to go through it too.

Once I was transferred back onto a gurney with the leg brace on, the pain eased to a much lesser level. They took me back to the hallway where Josh was waiting for me.

"Mr. Davis," the orderly began, "we're going to leave you here until we find you a room and a decision is made after the doctor looks at your x-rays." Then he was gone and again, Josh came right over to me hugging me for all he was worth.

"Dad, you look so tired... are you going to be OK?" He'd been weeping again.

"Joshy.... come on son," I began, "it's going to take more than a kick from a dimwit like Bob to take me down. I'm going to be around for a long time. I'm sure you and I have a lot of years together. I'm just sorry that this ruined our Spring Break plans. Now where's that smile I love so much?"

He raised his head from my shoulder and smiled before he spoke somberly and concerned. "Dad, I came so close.... dammit I almost killed him.... all the time we've known him, I never trusted him..... then when he did this.... for the first time in my life.... I really felt hate. It scared me, but then you made me think of what a waste it would be.... and.... what you would have done..... and I knew I couldn't pull the trigger unless he attacked us again.... I already had control.... all that went through my head in a split second. One hate I have.... is the feeling that that kind of hate can give me. I.... I don't want to feel like that again."

"Josh, I've never heard or seen you get that angry before. I'll admit I was concerned, but I wasn't focusing too well at the time with the pain I was in. You have good instincts son, I'm really proud of you. Hate is a terribly powerful emotion, but under circumstances like those we went through, it's understandable that you'd feel that way. Son, remember that the opposite of hate is love." I started smiling. "What makes me so proud of you is that you thought of me and maybe then how much I love you.... maybe that love.... tempered the hate, you had for Bob.... so you didn't pull the trigger."

Josh sighed deeply, smiled, and nodded his head slowly. "I'm the luckiest guy in the world to have a Dad like you."

Just then, Dr. Trebber came over to the gurney.

I hugged him as tight as I could. "That makes us a great team, because I'm the luckiest Dad in the world to have a son like you."

Dr. Trebber stood there smiling as Josh and I clung to each other. "Mr. Davis, I've booked a room for you up on the second floor."

Josh and I broke apart and Josh exclaimed, "That's the same floor as my Mom's on!"

"Now," the doctor continued, "I haven't seen your x-rays yet, but just in case we have to operate, I've also booked the surgery team and the operating room for tomorrow afternoon. We had to bump some guy in emergency with a busted ankle, but he can wait until the next day." I started to grin. I wondered if it was Bob. "As soon as they're free, an orderly will be here to take you upstairs and get you settled."

I was still smiling. "Thank you doctor. I've been through this before at Sunnybrook."

"OH! I'm going to get them to send a copy of your records to me. They might give us some more insight if we have to operate. By the way, I've been told to stay with your case; they're going to get another ER doctor to fill in for me down here. You just rest and be as comfortable as you can be. How's the pain level?" He asked as he looked at my chart.

"It's starting to creep up again after the bouncing around I took in there changing positions all the time." I replied.

"OK, I'll be right back soon with some more then," he said as he walked away.

From down the hall, I heard the strong voice of Darren. "There you are! I've been everywhere trying to find you. What's the verdict on your leg?"

"The jury's still out on that one," I replied, "but they've got a room booked for me on the second floor."

"They've already booked an operating room too just in case," Josh added. "He may be going in tomorrow afternoon."

Darren looked at Josh and me with a wide grin. He paused, just shaking his head. "That's good justice. Our villain is down in emergency with an ankle the size of a football and he can't get into the OR 'til the day after tomorrow. They haven't even x-rayed it yet."

Josh and I had a good chuckle over that one. "You see Josh; justice has its ways without getting mad about it." I said. Then I realized – Mom. "Josh, I guess you better call Andy and let them know we aren't on our way to Calgary."

"Already done Dad.... I spoke to him while Darren and I were on our way here. He said he'd tell the whole family." Josh replied.

Dr. Trebber reappeared, this time accompanied by a nurse, with a jar of stuff. It turned out to be a pain killer with a drip that would stay poked into my arm.

"Mr. Davis," she announced, "I'm Jenna, the head nurse for the night shift on your ward."

After removing my shirt, and while the two of them were inserting it in my arm and setting up the drip, Darren suggested to Josh, "Josh, we should get out to the car and let Brutus do his thing, and I'll bet you're ready for something to eat. Had your supper yet?"

"Yeah, I think Mom would like to have a visit with Brutus. You gonna be OK Dad?" Josh answered.

"Yeah son, I'll be fine. You've got my wallet, so make sure you have some dinner. You must be starved." I replied.

"You guys haven't had any supper yet?" the nurse asked. "It's almost eight o'clock! Mr. Davis, you hang in there while this pain killer does its job and I'll see what I can get for you from the kitchen."

"Good idea," the doctor commented. "If you're going into the OR tomorrow afternoon, you won't be allowed anything to eat after midnight tonight."

"Tom, once I get this boy's belly filled, I'm going to have to go downtown and fill out my report." Darren interjected.

"Darren, I can't thank you enough for all the help you've given us.... that includes Bryan and Mark too." I said remembering the help he'd given Bryan with the burial of his father.

"Not a big deal Tom...." Darren answered quietly, "it's all part of the job and today you made my job a hell of a lot easier. For me..... it's all part of the payback of a hard debt that I owe your dad."

I grinned a bit with pride and some sadness too. I nodded my head slowly, "We did, didn't we?"

As he and Josh started to leave, Darren replied knowingly, "We always will."

About five minutes later, the orderly was pushing me onto the elevator to take me to my room on the second floor. Before he moved me from the gurney to the bed, he asked about the pain level. Actually, it had moderated a fair bit, so he suggested that this might be a good time to get me into a hospital gown. Because the bed had an adjustable height, it was easier to get it at the right level so I could ease my rump off the edge and stand for a few seconds with my weight on my good leg, while he dropped my shortened jeans to the floor and wrapped me in the backless hospital gown. Fair to admit, I did have a tinge of heavy pain getting my bad leg up onto the bed, but it soon subsided to a gnawing ache.

Just as I got settled, Jenna came in again with a tray and a big smile on her face. "OK Mr. Davis, dinner's late, but here it is." Then she busied herself adjusting the power bed, then the table, before she wheeled it over to me. I didn't realize how hungry I really was now that the pain had become manageable. I was ravenous, but I took the time to ask about Susan. Jenna said she'd check into her condition, then went on to tell me that she had a second tray of the same dinner waiting for me, but she wouldn't give it to me until 11:30 – reminding me before she left the room, that would be my last meal until they decided whether or not I needed an operation.

Although the meal helped to fill the gap in my stomach, I was still hungry. After laying there for a few minutes, getting used to the sounds of the ward, I started hearing a click-click-click coming closer to my door.

"Hey Dad, how are you doing?" Josh asked with a big smile on his face. Next, there was a happy Brutus with his front paws on my bed right by my chest.

"BRUTUS! How are you doing big fella!" I exclaimed as I ruffled the fur on his neck. "You're the hero of the day boy!"

"Dad," Josh said, "he's been getting all sorts of praise from Darren, Mom, and me. He's going to get a swelled head at this rate. I thought you might be hungry, so I had Darren take me to the A and W. How would you like a big Papa burger with cheese and bacon? The nurse said it would be OK."

"WOW! Would I ever!" All of a sudden, I was in second heaven. "The answer to my stomach's prayers. Hospital food is OK I guess, but it sure didn't fill me up."

"Here you go Dad," Josh said as he pulled the burger from the bag. As I was unwrapping that from the foil and taking my first bite, Josh, with a teasing grin, reached into the bag again and pulled out a cup of fries.

Just then, Jenna came to the door. "That smells delicious and you're going to be driving everyone crazy if I don't close this door."

I tried to smile with a mouth full of food. Once I swallowed, I had to ask, "Josh! Where are you going to sleep tonight?"

"Well I'm sure not going to go home... I can't be alone away from you and Mom.... I'll just curl up on the chair over there."

Jenna pointed to her head as she was closing the door. "I'll work on that."

Once I finished the burger and fries, some of which I shared with Brutus – I'll bet he hadn't been fed since the whole episode at home.

"Josh, you're going to have to take him for a walk in about an hour so he can relieve himself. It's going to be hard to get him back on his kibble after this episode."

"Yeah, I know Dad," he answered, "His whole routine has been turned upside-down. It's really nice that they're letting him come up here although we do have to use the freight elevator just in case some of the patients or visitors get upset about having a dog in the hospital."

"Well he is a well behaved dog," I said as he put his front paws on the side of the bed again. Ruffling my hand around his neck again, I added, "I wonder how many other lives you're going to save big boy? You know Josh, a lot of hospitals do allow dog and cat handlers to bring their good tempered animals into the hospitals now.... it calms the patients."

"That's good, but I'm sure there's some patients that don't like dogs or cats." Josh countered.

"True son, and of course, there's some sterile germ free areas where they can't allow animals to enter."

Just then, I felt exhausted - the whole ordeal and of course, a full stomach added to my dreariness as I closed my eyes with a long sigh. Although I'd been through this before, I wasn't looking forward to the ordeal of the operation, recovery, and rehabilitation again. Would I have to use crutches or a cane, or heaven forbid, wake up from the operation with no leg at all for the rest of my life? I wished there was a miracle.

"Dad," I felt Josh touch my shoulder. I guess I'd drifted off to sleep. I opened my eyes. "Dad, it's ten o'clock.... I'm going to take Brutus out for a stroll and let him do his business. You OK?"

"Yes son, I'm fine. This pain killer has given me a bit of a buzz. Away you go, but stop in and see your Mom on the way back and let me know how she's doing, OK?"

"You bet Dad."

Josh had been only gone for a few minutes, before I was disturbed again with another orderly coming into the room – with a folding cot! That was a relief. I couldn't imagine Josh trying to sleep on that lounge chair.

He was no sooner gone when Jenna came in again with a tray full of tubes. "Time to take some blood samples Mr. Davis."

"Please call me Tom, and thank you for the cot. I'm sure Josh will appreciate it." I replied.

"My pleasure.... I've got orders to do what I can to make the two of you as comfortable as possible." She replied. "I would have anyway, but when the hospital administration says jump, I jump."

Before she took the blood samples, she took my blood pressure and my pulse. I'd forgotten all about that human pin cushion routine from the last time I was in the hospital.

"I'll be around in about 45 minutes with your last meal. How's your pain level?" she asked as she straightened out the blanket.

"Pain level is good, I'm almost buzzed." I replied.

"Good.... so long as you don't feel nauseous. Here's the call button if you need anything." Jenna said as she turned to leave.

"If you don't mind.... if you could get someone to help me, I should be able to make it to the bathroom.... or I might have a wet bed AND I hate bedpans."

"Hmmm.... I'll get someone in here right away then," she said with a big smile.

Less than two minutes later, a rather young, husky, well-built man came in. "Hi Mr. Davis.... I'm Albert." He introduced himself with a big friendly smile. "I hear you gotta a bad leg and we gotta get you to the bathroom," he said as he lifted the blanket away. "Which one is.... oh right! The one with brace. OK then, I assume that it's the thigh that hurts?"

"Yeah.... call me Tom.... I think there's some pins out of place."

"OK, let's swing you around and get your legs hanging on the side of the bed... but I gotta know the pain level all the way. OK?"

"Yeah," I replied as he gingerly place his husky arm under my knees, grabbed me around the waist, and turned me to the side of the bed.

Without letting go of my legs, he asked, "How we doin'?"

"Leg's OK," I answered, "so long as I don't put any weight on it."

"Put your one arm around my neck and then the other on the IV pole and DON'T let go of it!" I obeyed and in one instant he was carrying me into the bathroom, kicking the door open with his foot and raising the seat cover - again with his foot. In the second instant, he was lowering me onto the seat. He did it so quick I was startled and didn't have time to realize any thought of pain. He kept his arm under my legs, until he could adjust the bad leg out in front of me, then very, very gently lowered it to rest on the floor. He wasn't even breathing heavily.

"A dull ache," I said, "but nothing severe."

"Good. You gonna have a bowel movement too?" Albert asked.

"Yeah," I replied, "just might. You're really strong."

He smiled flashing his pearly white teeth. "So I've been told. I'm gonna go straighten up your bed. When you're finished there, we'll do the same thing in reverse. OK?"

"You bet Albert. Thanks a million."

Phew! What a relief! That was one trip to the bathroom that really tired me out. Just as Albert was laying me back down on the bed, Josh came in with Brutus.

"Well, well!" Albert exclaimed as he kneeled down on the floor, "what a handsome dog!"

Right away Brutus was over to him lapping up all the praise and man handling that Albert lavished on him.

"This is Brutus," Josh said as a matter of introduction, "and I'm Josh. Tom's my dad."

Bert looked questioningly at Josh, then up at me with his unending smile, then back to Josh. "No," he stated simply as he stared at Josh.

I chuckled, "I'm not Josh's father, but I am his Dad."

Bert looked at me with a questioning smile, then it seemed to dawn on him. Slowly he nodded his head, and then looked at Josh with a big grin. "You're a lucky young fellow Josh. Naughty Josh, right?"

With his infectious grin, Josh said, "I sure am!"

Albert stood up and started to leave the room. "Someday, I'd like to hear your story, but right now I'm needed in Room 144."

"HEY!" Josh exclaimed, "I got a bed!"

"Compliments of the house," I answered with a chuckle. "How's your Mom?

"She says she feels fine except for a headache. They were giving her Tylenol 3s, but she told them that Tylenol never did any good for her. She wants aspirin. That's all she ever takes for a headache. They finally changed it to aspirin with some codeine in it." Josh looked rather sad. "They're going to keep her under close observation and want her to stay in bed. She really wants to get out of bed and come here and see you. Mom really feels bad about this..... she thinks its all her fault for wanting Bob to be her boyfriend."

"Josh, you and I know that's not true," I replied, "you and I had our suspicions about Bob right from the beginning, but you know your Mom.... she always gives everyone the benefit of the doubt.... always seeing the best in people. I'm glad she's like that or she might never have rented the apartment to me. Right?"

Josh grinned, "Dad, I was so happy that day and I've only got happier each day since then.... well except for when you had to go in for your last operation and then I had the appendicitis.... and well.... now."

"Not to worry son, we'll make it through this one too.... your Mom too." I said, which brought another small smile from Josh.

Jenna returned with a tray containing my last meal. It was a repeat of the meal I'd had before, just microwaved to heat it up. It certainly wasn't as delicious as the cheeseburger I'd had earlier, but I knew I'd better eat it, because it might be close to 24 hours before I was able to eat again. Forever considerate, she brought Josh some toast and a glass of milk.

Shortly after midnight, Jenna returned with a blanket and a pillow for Josh's cot and another one for Brutus to lay on. She checked my drip, made sure I wasn't in pain, and removed the tray. She'd also brought a male urinal jug, just in case. Suddenly, I was exhausted.

"Thank you Jenna," I mumbled as my eyes closed.

It was a fitful sleep, different bed, always on edge in case I tried to roll over on my side, and the constant wonder of what the outcome of my injury might be. By 7:00 AM, the hall lights brightened, and Jenna returned at the end of her shift.

"Big day boys!" she announced. "I found some toothbrushes and mouthwash for you and I'll bet Brutus would like a trip outside. I'm just going to bring the day staff up to speed of what's going on in the ward and then I'll be off until seven tonight. Tom, you'll have a lot of nurses and doctors swarming over you most of the day, so don't get too comfortable." She checked the pain killer and decided to renew the bottle.

"Morning Dad, You OK?" Josh asked.

"Well I didn't get much sleep, but I didn't have hardly any pain son." I answered.

"That's good." he said, "I'll bring you a glass of water and a pan you can spit in, but remember no swallowing, you can't have anything to drink or eat until after the operation.... that is if you're going to have an operation."

With the kidney dish to spit in and the brush and toothpaste, my mouth did feel better after the mouthwash, and after Josh rinsed them out in the bathroom, he left and took Brutus with him.

Jenna wasn't kidding. First it was a team of nurses, then a team of interns and finally Dr. Trebber came in with very tall, serious looking man. I had a feeling he seldom smiled.

"Tom," Dr. Trebber began. "This is Dr. Kendal.... he's the surgeon that I'll be assisting when we're in the operating room."

"I'm going to have an operation then?" I asked.

"Yes you are," Dr. Kendal replied. "What we saw in the x-rays wasn't conclusive. There are too many maybe's to take a risk and say everything's fine. We do know that the lower attachment of the rod that supports your tibia has come out of the bone, but there's something else going on in there that we have to look at. I checked your file that came from Sunnybrook and that didn't give us any insight. I'm sorry Mr. Davis, but we can't come to any final conclusion.... it would be just conjecture on the outcome until we open it up and have a look."

I took a deep sigh, thinking quickly about the worst scenario, but afraid to mention it. Then I thought of a different outcome – maybe an artificial leg would be something I could adjust to.

"OK doc, go ahead and do what you have to," I replied, "I'm sure I'll live through it."

"Tom, there's hardly any doubt about that, Dr. Trebber said, "this is NOT a life threatening procedure.... notwithstanding that it will be performed under a general anesthetic.... and we'll have the best anesthetist in the OR with us. Believe me, your going to be in good hands."

Although Dr. Trebber tried to smooth over Dr. Kendal's serious, but vague prognosis, I really wasn't buying it. I was concerned, but I did a better job of assuaging my future that either of them had.

As they were leaving the room, Josh and Brutus came in. For the first time that morning, I had a happy face to look at.

"Dad, you have some visitors." Josh said smiling as the door opened again.

"UNCLE TOMMY!" the twins said together as they ran up to the side of the bed.

"Hey you two monkeys, no jumping on the bed, you might hurt Tom's bad leg," James said as he rushed up to them and grabbed them by the shoulders. "Hi Bro, how's our hero feeling?"

I smiled. "Hungry, but much better with all the pain killers they've got flowing into me. They're going to operate this afternoon."

"For sure?" Josh asked.

"For sure Josh. The couldn't see everything they wanted to from the x-rays."

"Did they give you any idea of what the final outcome would be?" Anne asked after she closed the door.

"No.... all they could say was that it wasn't life threatening." I wanted to give them as much encouraging news as I could, but at the same time let them know how I felt. "Who knows, if it turns out that they have to amputate, I might be better off with an artificial limb. They didn't say that though, but I'm prepared for the worst scenario. But look at you Anne.... you look like you're ready to make me an uncle again at any minute."

Anne smiled, "It's going to be any day now. He a bit overdue, but the doctor isn't concerned. The sooner the better for me. He's getting hard on my back."

"Just hang in there for us. As long as he's happy and healthy, that all we can ask for." I was thrilled at the prospect of another family member to spoil one day. "Hey, where's Andy and Mom?"

"Oh, Andy had to go on an errand," Josh said quickly, "and Grandma's down at the other end having a visit with Mom."

"Uncle Tommy, are you still going to be able to go fishing after they operate?" Richard asked as I invited him up onto to the bed for a hug.

"Of course, just as soon as the weather gets a bit milder, I'll bet we'll be out on the lake catching the big one's again!" I replied. "Now you get down while I give Matthew a hug."

"Did it hurt to have an x-ray Uncle Tommy?" Matthew asked as I hugged him.

I had to lie. "Of course not.... it's just like having your picture taken by a camera only the camera is a bit bigger." I didn't want to scare the boys.

Just as James lifted Matthew off the bed, Jenna and my Mom came in.

"All right! What's going on here?" Jenna exclaimed. "Seven visitors in one room is too much and I have to give our patient a sedative to calm him before I shave his leg. Do I have to get big Albert in here to clear this room?"

"Woo Hoo!" Anne laughed. "I want to see that!"

"Hey Jenna, could you get him here anyway please?" I asked. "I'm going to need another trip to the bathroom soon."

Jenna nodded her answer to me, and then said, "I want this room cleared by the time I get back."

Just then Brutus thought it was his turn as he jumped up and put his paws on the bed so I could ruffle his neck again. "Brutus! You're looking good big fellow... why don't you go for a walk with the boys. Is that a good idea?"

Brutus let out a low, happy howl and jumped down heading for the door with everyone but my Mom tagging along.

"How are you really feeling Tom?" Mom asked as she hugged me.

"Actually a lot better than I did last night Mom.... the pain was pretty intense. Jenna's been really good about making sure the pain stays away. How's Susan?"

"Oh, I think she's a lot better now," Mom said smiling. "The results of her MRI is encouraging. We had a long woman-to-woman talk and I don't think she's blaming herself anymore. We talked about what it was she saw in Bob at the beginning and the hidden hate that he had bottled up inside of him. I explained to her that some men are brought up wrong - who knows - maybe his father said something wrong when he was growing up and as a result of that thought being instilled in him, he just became a woman hater. For sure, it isn't Susan's fault, she never did anything to provoke the attack. It may have been the drugs."

"Your right Mom... you always are." I said smiling. "Those are the reasons why it's so important to me that Josh gets the right balance in his life. He absolutely an amazing boy."

"Yes I know, but so are you." Mom added. "Your dad did a wonderful job teaching you three boys the values of life. He always was so proud of the three of you. I am too."

"Thanks Mom," I said as Albert came into the room. "I just try to do the things that are right for everyone and have some fun along the way. This time things soured out because we can't make our trip to Calgary to be with Bryan and Mark."

"Tom, don't let a little bump in the road disturb your trip through life. I know Bryan will always be there for you and Josh.... he's that kind of a man and I know how much you care for each other. Don't worry son, you're going to come out of this on the better side of life. I better go rescue the boys from Anne and James. I'll see you later."

"Thanks Mom.... I love you." I said as she left the room.

Once again, Albert and I did our dazzlingly display of coordination and again I got to sit on the throne. This time, Albert had an enema bag. I did not appreciate the experience, but Albert was there to keep my spirits up.

Just as he lowered me onto the bed again, Jenna came in with a tray. "A little sedative for your backside," she announced. "It may make you a bit giddy."

She took my pulse and blood pressure again, this was maybe the sixth time today I went through that ritual, and then I got the embarrassing sting in the cheek. She was right though, I was high as a kite by the time Josh came back with the twins and Brutus.

"Hi Dad, how are you feeling?" Josh asked.

"I'm fine Joshy, I giggled, "Jenna just gave me a needle in the bum and I'm fine, I'm fine." I couldn't stop giggling.

"Is Uncle Tom all right?" Matthew asked.

"Yes," Josh answered laughing. "They always give you a happy needle just before you go in for an operation."

Just then two orderlies came in with a gurney and very gingerly transferred me onto it.

"Dad, I love you," Josh said as they started to wheel me out of he room.

"I love you too son," I replied as I sobered up, realizing that the next time I saw him, I may have one leg missing.

I don't think it matters what the circumstances are, or how many times it's happened to a person, going into the strange, antiseptic environment of an operating room with all it's specialized equipment, is somewhat frightening.

Two other orderlies with masks on, lifted me off the gurney onto the operating table. I was looking upside down into the deep brown eyes of another man as my head lay on the thin pillow. I felt them stick a bunch of sensors onto my chest and put a blood pressure cuff on my arm. I watched as they took out the drip from my arm and insert another tube into the connection.

"Mr. Davis, I'm Dr. Brad Henworth, your anesthetist." The man with the deep brown eyes said. I couldn't tell if he was smiling because of the mask he was wearing.

I said, "Hi." Yeah, I was scared, but couldn't do a thing about it. All the beeping and clatter of metal things in the room was distracting.

"Are we ready ladies and gentlemen?" the voice of Dr. Kendall asked.

"Ready at this end," Dr. Henworth said.

"OK Mr. Davis," the voice of Dr. Trebber said, "Relax, we're going to do a good job."

Then Dr. Henworth said, "Mr. Davis, I want a count."

"One,two,three,four,five," I answered very quickly with a smile. The edge of giddiness had returned.

Dr. Henworth laughed. "How about... slowly, backwards from 25?"

"Josh 25, Bryan, 24, Maarrk, twen...."

I don't remember the blackness.


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