FROM THE HEART OF THE FATHOMLESS BLUE
"I have met thee where the night touches the edge of the day; where the
light startles the darkness into dawn, and the waves carry the kiss of
the one shore to the other. From the heart of the fathomless blue comes
one golden call, and across the dusk of tears I try to gaze at thy face
and know not for certain if thou art seen."
By Atonia and Jo
Jo writing Maximus, Caroline, Bud, Marie, Lachlan, Cort, Daisy, Ben, Mae, Rusty, Holli, 'Sid', Canfield
Atonia writing Terry, Dee, Alex, Linda, Jack, Tarwyn, John, Bethany, Max, Sophia, Dino, Anne, Kerry
Once he was released from the hospital, Alex didn’t waste any time. He’d picked up his car, his laptop and other gear he had at K&R and saluted the fellow on duty. He essentially quit his job. Dino had rounded up enough people to take care of the office and he was free, free to do as he pleased and what pleased him was driving up to his house. HIS house. That was important to him.
Inside he went from room to room. No trace of Kerry was left. He stood at the door to her bedroom and let the truth of the matter come to light. Though she’d slept with him, she was never really with him in the sense that a girlfriend would be. That was okay. He hadn’t let himself fall too deeply there.
He took a shower and tossed the pajama pants and hospital gown in the trash. Dressed in jeans and a pullover, he went up to Terry’s house and found a longbed truck and a crane sitting in the drive. He walked over to a deep hole and spoke to the man in the white hard hat.
“What’s this for?”
“Well, sir, it was to be for that tree, yonder. Mr. Thorne ordered up this magnolia tree and we was to place it here but you see the problem we’ve found. Rock. Can’t dig deep enough for it.”
“This is where he wanted it, eh?”
“If you can’t go down, go up.”
“What I’m saying is, build a mountain if you have to 'cause if this is where he wanted that tree planted, that’s where it’s going.”
The man tipped his hard hat back and scratched his head. “If that’s what we have to do then that’s what we have to do.”
“How’s the rest of it going?” Alex thought it looked great around the house.
“Finished except for this tree here.”
“Make it happen. I know you can.” Alex left him and walked around the house. He found someone sweeping off the back deck and bounded up the steps. “Is it open?”
“It’s open. We didn’t know what to do with the keys.”
“I’ll take ‘em with me. He’s my brother and he’s anxious to get out here.”
Alex found the keys on the kitchen counter and walked through the empty house. Terry had designed it and he could see him in it. Back on the deck he locked the back door and looked out at the view. Yes, this is what Terry needed right now. Space and a place to heal.
Ben was feeling better but Canfield wasn’t ready to let him go home just yet. “I was gettin’ hitched today, you know, Doc.”
“Not after yesterday you’re not. Give yourself a couple more days and you can, um, get hitched.”
“Yeah, well, my ‘hitcher’ is in the room next door anyway. How’s Cort doin’ today?”
“He’s better, too. I’m actually letting him go home this afternoon.”
“Damn! Maximus done sprung hisself an’ now you’re lettin’ Cort out?”
“It’s the way it goes, Ben,” Canfield smiled. “Do your time and you’ll be out soon enough.”
Still smiling, he walked down the hall to his office where Maximus and Caroline were waiting. He examined the General’s neck carefully. “You came awfully close to death yesterday…again.”
“It is still somewhat hard to swallow.”
“No meat today, nothing hard or large. Just keep on with the softer things for the next few days.”
“I may go then?”
“Yes, you can go. I’m releasing Cort before long. He’ll need a ride out to his place.”
“Yes, we plan on taking him and Daisy as well as Lachlan and Welland with us in the station wagon.”
“Ben I’m keeping a day or two longer. Maybe tomorrow. I’m not sure yet. He sounds like I’ve got him locked up in a cell.”
“Maybe I should bake him a cake with a file in it,” Caroline chuckled.
“Everything will be new, Tarwyn, right down to the bed linens and towels in the bathroom.”
“How long will it take them to set it up for you?”
“Two days, they said. I’m hoping in two days time we can walk out of here. He’s yet to put his feet on the floor but the catheterization is bothering him so I think it won’t be long before he wants to get up.”
“You don’t have a car here, do you?”
“No and the apartment needs to be packed up. Our clothes and bathroom things. You know, if I never set foot back in the place again it won’t bother me a little bit. But, I need an afternoon to do that.”
“Well, Dee, anytime you’re ready we can stay with Terry. I see how Jack is talking with him like nothing had happened. Maybe just hearing normal conversation will be good for him. Something that doesn’t remind him of…of what he’s been through.”
“He’s beginning to respond in little spurts. I can’t get him to eat and that worries me.”
“He’s had nothing by mouth?”
“He takes little sips of water and a little juice once in awhile but he acts like it hurts. He’s been checked out thoroughly and there’s nothing preventing him from swallowing or eating. It’s all in his head.” And Dee thought Terry’s head must be full of spiders, big horrible hairy spiders. She sighed. “I appreciate you and Jack, Tarwyn.”
“Well, we appreciate you and Terry.” She got up from the visitor chair and came over to the bed. Jack was sitting on Dee’s bed and talking quietly with Terry.
“I saw Alex’s house, you know. It’s modern, very modern. I don’t know if you’ve ever been inside it. Being from a different age, I felt strangely out of place. There you are, Tarwyn. Are we ready to go?”
“When you are.” Tarwyn hugged Terry and kissed his cheek. “We’ll see you tomorrow.”
He looked at her a moment and then back at Jack. As Jack slipped off the bed and intended to place his hand on Terry’s arm, Terry moved his hand and Jack shook it.
“A day at a time, my friend.”
About 15 minutes after Jack and Tarwyn left Terry’s room Lachlan stopped by with Welland. “Thought maybe it might perk Terry up to see his nephew,” Lachlan said. “Hope that’s all right, Dee. He says he misses his aunt, as well.”
“Oh, Lachlan, you’re going to have to give him up to me, you know.” Dee came over and leaned over his shoulder.
Lachlan sat on the edge of Terry’s bed, dandling Welland on his knees and turned so Terry could have a clear view of him. He was trying to keep a light smile on his face for Terry’s sake but it was hard because Terry had always seemed the biggest of his big brothers even though he wasn’t either the oldest or the largest. He took Welland’s arm, making him do a floppy little wave at Terry.
Terry touched the baby’s hand and Welland curled his fingers around Terry’s. Dee’s breath caught in her throat. “Say hello to Uncle Terry.”
Welland let out a little chortle of happiness. He was utterly comfortable around all the men who looked like his daddy. He tried to pull Terry’s finger to his mouth, missed on the first attempt, but then managed to stick it in on the second try and sucked wetly at it, his big green eyes blinking in pure innocence at his uncle.
Terry moved his head from one side to the other and something broke inside of him. Looking only at the baby, tears began to flow down his cheeks. He was still silent. Dee went around to him and put her arm around his shoulders. “It’s all right, it’s all right.”
He turned his head into her breasts and she kept holding him and rubbing his head, his shoulders. “It’s okay, Lachlan. Don’t be alarmed. Terry’s trapped inside himself. He needs this, this contact to help break down the barrier he’s behind.”
The baby had a tight grip on Terry’s finger. He didn’t try to pull it away.
Lachlan sat quietly where he was but no matter how hard he blinked, he couldn’t keep his tears from tracking down his own cheeks. Terry. Ah, Terry.
Holli slept a while, awakening to find Rusty still holding her hand. A nurse came in and changed her oxygen mask for a cannula.
“I love your face,” Rusty said.
It had scrapes and bruises on it and he could see in her eyes she wasn’t sure about what he said. “Yes, even with battle wounds I love your face. It’s my favorite face in the whole world. And do you know why?”
She shook her head no.
“Because it belongs to my wife.”
She had never felt like this before, so weak and helpless, so unable to control her emotions that just seemed right there on the surface. Her eyes filled again. “You…you still…want?”
“I still want. Do you still want me even though I’m an arsehole?”
“Not ar…arsehole. Rusty. Love Rusty always.”
She seemed paler to him than usual and suddenly her eyes rolled up and monitors shrieked. Canfield came dashing in, shouting something to the nurses about Holli bleeding internally. Rusty pressed himself in a corner of the room while Holli was whisked down the hall into surgery. He chased after the gurney but the double doors closed again and he stood there, wide-eyed, gasping for breath.
Maximus had come down to check on things and found Rusty there in the hallway. Putting an arm around his shoulders, he guided him to a seat. “She…she was just talking to me, Maximus, and then…then…everything just seemed to go nuts. I can’t…not now…I can’t lose her. I just found her….just really found her.”
After he’d calmed a little, he told Maximus what he’d learned about Sid’s plunge. “It explains much,” the General nodded. “We never really knew why we found you there on the rocks as we did. You were brand new.”
“She’s brand new, too, Maximus. Now she is. She just told me all her blue is gone, ripped away in the battle. She’s just a woman now.”
“And you are just a man, a man who needs just a woman.”
“I do need her. Oh, God, I’m just realizing how much. If she…if she….I can’t even think about that.”
“You are giving her love, Rusty. She will fight to stay with that.”
“I hope it’s enough. It’s got to be enough. It’s got to!”
After what seemed a long while, Canfield came out. “She’s alive, Rusty. We missed an artery that had been badly weakened and its wall split. There was so much damage we were trying to repair during her first surgery, somehow this one got past us. While we had her open just now, we did a thorough check and there doesn’t seem to be any more of those.”
Rusty sagged in his chair. He’d been so tense, every muscle coiled while she was in the operating room that he almost perceptibly deflated now it was over.
“Rusty,” Canfield said softly, “she’s going to be sleeping for a while. I want you to get some rest, too. You haven’t stretched out since yesterday.”
“I need to see her, Doc.”
“I’ll take you to her but then you’ve got to lie down. I’ll have someone wake you when she rouses.”
Maximus stood as Rusty walked away with Canfield. Despite this last emergency, he felt hopeful for the future of Mr. and Mrs. Crowne.
Beth waited outside the room where John was having another scan. The same technician came out with him and rolled his eyes when he saw Beth.
“I guess you want to know, Mrs. Biebe. Nothing out of the ordinary this time.”
“No bleeding? No swelling?”
“Nope, of course the doc has to look at the scan before a final diagnosis is made.”
Beth let out a breath and looked at her husband in the wheelchair. “I’m so glad.”
“Yeah, me too. Hey, you didn’t see any brain tissue floating around in there did ya? I think I’ve lost part of my mind.”
The technician chuckled, “Didn’t see anything.”
John had to wait until someone showed up to take him back to the 6th floor. He reached for Beth’s hand. “I’m ready to go home.”
“They may not let you yet. Doctor Canfield might want to find the cause of that bleeding.”
“I know what the cause was. I landed head first against the window frame. A few more inches and I’d have been out the window flying. You figure something’s bound to bleed somewhere.”
“I just want you to be well again. I remember what we went through the last time when you fractured your skull.”
“It’s not that bad this time. Probably some little blood vessel popped. At least maybe I can eat something now.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he looked up from his chair.
“I love you.”
John grinned, “I love you too, Mrs. Biebe.”
Maximus went upstairs to collect Caroline and the others who would be going home in the station wagon. During the drive he told them about Rusty’s origin and that Holli no longer had any blue in her.
“I’m glad,” Cort said. “The blue in its various forms, well, it’s time to be done with that. I like Holli as Holli an’ it’s better she’s got no connection to that any more. An’ I’m glad to hear Rusty’s plannin’ on bein’ there for her. I don’t know what she’d do now if he turned away.”
Cort’s face still hurt a lot but what he wanted to do was sit on the porch swing with Daisy and watch the sky and the leaves. “Seems like a long time since we left to go into the city, but it hasn’t really been long at all.”
“I guess when so much happens in a short span of time, it’s hard to realize just how short the time was,” she said, leaning her head on his shoulder. “But here is definitely where I want to be, here with you.”
“Spring’s really comin’ on now. Your gardens get prettier every day.”
“My Victorian home on the green side of Texas. Just like you promised back in the desert.”
“You’ve made it bloom, darlin’. You’ve made me bloom.”
“I didn’t plant peonies, you know. They’re beautiful but I didn’t want any heavy heads hanging down because they couldn’t handle the rain.”
“Good. No peonies. Only daisies.”
“Well, not only daisies. Just you wait till everything gets in bloom.”
“I’m glad we’re home,” he sighed.
“I’m glad you’re glad because I’m very glad.”
Jack and Tarwyn stopped by Max’s on the way home. Max was absolutely filthy.
“Come in but you’re going to have excuse me for a minute. I’ve been crawling through the debris at the winery with yet another inspector.”
“Perhaps we should have called ahead?”
“Jack, if you expected me to pipe you aboard…”
Jack chuckled, “Not at all, Max. We’re family, nothing formal is expected.”
Max chuckled too. “That’s good because we don’t do formal here. Sophie’s out in the kitchen mixing up something good to drink. Pims.”
“Ah, an English drink.”
“Good to see you two. Have you been to the hospital?” Sophie asked.
“Yes, we’ve just come from there. Terry may be making some progress. He shook my hand.”
“Ah, our Terry is…”
“Not our Terry,” Tarwyn finished her sentence.
“What of all the others?”
“Alex has gone home as well as Cort. The only ones left in hospital are Ben, John and, of course, Terry. Holli remains in serious condition.”
Sophie took down glasses and began to pour out her concoction. “I do not know Holli at all.”
“She’s Rusty’s wife and she was Blue. She saved our guys last night.”
“I know this, now, but I did not know her before.”
“This is good Sophie. I can’t say I know her either but I did speak to her. She’s going to be our neighbor so I suppose we’ll see her.”
“That is if she survives,” Jack added.
Max came in with his wet hair combed back. “I should have been off buying a pair of glasses today.”
“No spares, Max?” Tarwyn asked.
“There will be after this. A gross of them will be made for me. Ah, thank you, darling.” He took his drink.
“Here’s to our brothers’ health…may they regain it and keep it.” Max touched glasses.
“Hear him, hear, him.” Jack took a drink. “The last I heard of Rusty he was pretty well strung out.”
“He would be,” Max answered. “He’ll find his feet. The one I’m worried about is Terry.”
“Jack says some progress today.”
Max slipped an arm around Sophie. “He’s got a long way to go.”
“It’s taking her a long time to wake up,” Rusty said as he waited with Holli.
“Her little body’s been through a lot, Rusty.”
“I need to tell you, Doc, what she told me earlier. “The blue is completely gone. She’s just Holli now.”
“How do you feel about that?”
“I, well, I think I like it. I think it’ll make it easier for us to keep on keeping on.”
“You intend to live in your new house then and raise horses?”
“I don’t see why not. It’s all there. May as well use it. With her place added to mine, we’ve got a lot of land now, plenty of room to do what we like.”
“I’m happy for you, Rusty. I’m happy for Holli, too. The blue being all gone, well, I think that paves the way for a good, normal husband and wife relationship for you two.”
“I hope the family will feel that way. I know they have reason for a lot of resentment if they want to hold onto it.”
“I think she tipped the balance in her favor there in the hallway yesterday, Rusty. If they can’t find it in themselves to welcome her into the family, that’s their problem. A lot of them have already made it known how they feel. Maximus, for one, seems quite fond of her. Ben keeps calling her ‘the little gal’ and Jack’s been very gracious.”
“I’m really grateful for that. I love her, Doc, and it’ll mean the world to me if they can at least learn to like her.”
“They’re good men, all of them,” Canfield smiled. “Give them a little time and I bet they’ll all come around.”
“Feel free to explain what I’ve told you, Doc, to any of them who don’t already know. I thought…well…when I thought I was Sid, I figured they’d all hate me.”
“They might…if you were Sid, but you’re not. You’re you and they all love you.” He paused a moment. “So Sid’s really, really gone. I wasn’t sure, you know. I kept thinking he might come back some day and start toying with everybody again. It’s a relief to know he’s not.”
“I never met him.”
“He was different. I’ll give him that. And, you know, he did end up with what he wanted. He cast himself down to find love and even though he lost himself in the process, we have you now and you’ve found love. So it all kind of worked out in the end.”
John asked to be taken into Terry’s room before he was put back to bed. “I want to see him.”
Terry was sitting up when John was wheeled into his room. He looked at him and frowned before turning away, staring at the side of his bed.
“Hey, Terry, don’t let this chair fool ya. I’m not crippled or anything. I got a bump on the head that’s caused a little bleeding problem. It’s stopped now but they won’t let me go yet. I’ve been wanting to come in here and see you but I was confined to the bed. Now I’m confined to a damn wheelchair. Nothing wrong with my legs. How are you doin’? You been up yet?” John glanced over at Dee, who shook her head.
When he looked back at Terry their eyes met. John was troubled by the look in Terry’s eyes. “Terry, you know, you don’t have to do anything. There’s no world you have to hold on your shoulders. The only one you have to hold is Dee. The rest of us, well, we’re mostly walking and talking now. I miss you, Terry.”
Terry fidgeted with his blanket and he looked over at Dee. His hand went to his groin. “What is it, honey?” Dee asked.
“What, have they got him catheterized? Ah, jeez, Terry. Get…get somebody in here to take that thing out. I had that done. It’s the most uncomfortable thing you can think of. Dee?”
“The nurse said he had to be until he could get out of bed.”
“Well, he can’t get out of bed with that thing hanging out of him.”
Dee pushed the button for the nurse. Beth stepped out of the room. John stayed.
With the catheter out Terry would have to get up and frequently if they kept the IV going.
“Thank you, John. I don’t know what to do, what’s right or wrong. I’m just…” She ran a hand through her hair.
“I know, Dee, that’s why he’s got brothers to think of things. He’ll have to get up now and that’s a good thing. Don’t you think?”
“Yes, I think so. Now if we could just get him to eat.”
Marie was sitting having a cup of coffee with Bud. She’d been with Canfield during Holli’s recent surgery.
“It was really bad, Bud. It looked like that blue thing had jammed his hands into her side and ripped her apart.”
“Do you think she’s going to make it?”
“Hard to know for sure. I’m hoping so. Seems like she’s got Rusty in her corner again.”
“He’s had a lot to adjust to, I know, but he’s perking up. Good thing, too. She needs him.”
“This has really been something. That blue monster-thing wasn’t here long but while he was, he sure messed everything up.”
“He didn’t get what he was after, though, did he?”
Canfield joined them with a cup and explained what had happened to Sid and how Holli was now totally blueless.
“Well, Doc, it eases my mind,” Bud said, “to know for sure at last that Sid’s not gonna be coming back and inflicting himself on us anymore. Just seeing his face in that blue thing was bad enough.”
Jack pulled up into the drive, glad to be home. Joaquin had been up and cut the grass around the house. It looked neat and tidy.
“Are you going to get out?” Tarwyn asked with her hand on the door handle.
“I like this place, Tarwyn. I liked it the first time I came out here but it was barren then.”
“It’s not barren anymore. I see old daffodils blooming and tulips coming up. Someone loved this place before us. Look, is that a rose?” Tarwyn got out to have a look along the fence where they’d planted climbing roses. “Jack, they’re budding out.”
“So they are. It’s spring.”
She clasped his hand. “To think a year ago I didn’t know you. I…I can’t imagine it now. All I had was your movie and the books. Now I have you.”
“And I have you and before next spring there will be three of us standing here.”
“You’re really happy about that, aren’t you?”
“Very much so. So much has happened in such a short time I’ve not had time to give it proper thought. Oh.” Jack turned at the sound of Coxun’s barking. “Anne has let him out.”
“He knew you were here.” She leaned on the fence while Jack greeted his pup. “He’s beginning to look like a real dog now.”
“Yes, still some growing to do. My dear,
I should like above all else to have a cup of coffee.”
“Well, then you shall have it.” She got a kiss from him before going inside.
Jack continued petting his dog but his mind wandered. He thought about Rusty and Holli and prayed they would be home soon in their new house. Standing up, he leaned on the fence for a moment. Terry, you must get well. This family needs you.
Rusty spent the evening holding Holli’s hand and when she was awake, he’d sing softly to her. The ICU nurses passing by would stop a moment and listen.
“Look how he loves her,” one whispered to another.
“And did you see the way she looks at him while he’s singing?”
“I understand they’d just gotten married the other day.”
“Ah, newlyweds, eh? I bet all this pain and suffering came right out of the blue, then. Too bad.”
What they didn’t know, however, was that sometimes love comes out of the blue and makes its home in our midst.
TO BE CONTINUED AS: ALL I MAY BE OR HAVE BEEN BEFORE