Rumbling cattle wagons pulled by a steam train gathered speed again as it completed the turn through the town. It continued to descend further eastward in the Urals, through dark shadowy forests.
A young solitary figure leapt from the accelerating train as it passed, but did not slow, at the empty starkly light platform.
An elderly man withdrew from a grimy window in an opposite alley, which surveyed the scene. He rose with difficulty and threw another log on the fire, poured himself another drink, contemplating the glass, before glimpsing back out to watch the former stow-away intently.
The young stranger made his way to the old man’s house and knocked on the door.
“Are you Jim Elgin?”
“I’m Troy Austin. I’m looking for my father, Steve Austin.”
At that moment, Steve jolted out of sleep, panting and sweating. He looked to his right at his sleeping wife and lay back. He wiped the sweat off his brow and tried to recover his composure. He has had this recurring dream for five straight weeks, starting on the night his wife Peggy, Oscar’s former secretary to whom he’d finally proposed marriage, told him she could never have children. He was devastated by the news, but masked his emotions in front of Peggy for fear to hurt her even more. If he could only find the meaning behind this dream, perhaps they would stop haunting him.
The next morning, Steve and Peggy took the plane to Ojai to spend a week at the Elgins’ farm. Peggy was looking forward to that trip she thought would take her mind of the fact that she was barren. She knew how much Steve wanted children and that despite his brave front, she felt the hurt consuming him. By the same occasion, she wanted to discuss with Steve’s mom the possibility of adopting, whether or not her son would agree.
During the night, Steve experienced the same dream. He tried to let it go on further past the mention of his name, to provide him with a clue as to who the boy’s mother was, but no such luck.
He went down to the kitchen to make himself some cocoa.
Helen heard him and followed him. “Steve can’t you sleep?”
“Not really. I guess it’s the excitement of being back at the farm,” he said with a smile, trying to convince his mother that everything was fine.
She stroked his cheek and stared into his eyes. Although he tried not to make direct eye contact with his mother for fear to betray his emotions, Helen forced him to look at her. Her mother’s intuition told her that Steve was deeply troubled.
“Steve, something is wrong. You want to talk about it?”
Steve looked away and pondered whether or not to tell his mother about his dream. “I keep having this recurring dream about a young boy looking for his father.”
“Do you know who he is?”
“No, that’s just it. I wake up just as he asks for me.”
“Yeah. Apparently I’m his father.” He took a deep breath and clasped his mother’s hand. “Five weeks ago we learned that Peggy could never have children, and ever since I’m been haunted by this recurring dream. Every night it’s the same thing. I can’t see the boy’s face but I can clearly hear his voice. He sounds so real, mom. You know how I’m a great believer in chastity before marriage, so the only child I could have is with Peggy but she’s barren. What does it mean?”
“You’re upset at the fact that you can’t have children and subconsciously you created a son.”
“But he’s looking for me and I’m not there.”
“Perhaps he is looking for you. Have you ever thought of adopting?”
“Peggy and I haven’t exactly tackled that subject yet.”
“Perhaps you should. When you do, maybe the dreams will cease.”
Steve sighed and kissed his mother on the cheek. “Maybe you’re right. I’ll talk to Peggy in the morning.” He poured his hot chocolate into a cup and went back upstairs. As he slowly drifted off, the dream came back, slight difference being that he did not startle out of sleep at the mention of his name.
“I’m looking for my father, Steve Austin.”
“You must be mistaken. My son Steve doesn’t have any children.”
“But he does. There are two of us. Only he doesn’t know yet and I’ve come to tell him that we’re on our way.”
Steve jolted out of sleep. He looked to his right and realized Peggy was gone. He saw light coming from under the bathroom door and could heard his wife retching and coughing. He knocked on the door. “Peggy? You all right?”
She wiped her mouth clean with a towel and opened the door. “I’m okay now. Probably something I ate that didn’t agree with me, but don’t tell your mom or she’ll think I’m sick because of her cooking.”
“You look pale. Come and sit down.” Steve assisted his wife to the bed where they both sat. He felt her forehead. “You don’t feel warm.”
“I told you, it’s just an indigestion. Don’t worry.” She gazed into his eyes and stroked his hair.
He clasped her into a tight embrace. “I love you Peggy Austin.”
“And I love you, Steve Austin. I’m sorry.”
He pulled back and stared at her quizzically. “What are you talking about?”
“About not being able to give you children.”
“Stop that! I married you because I loved you, not for some promise of bearing my children.”
She could no longer retain her tears and melted into Steve arms. “I want to be a mother so much,” she sobbed as she buried her face in his chest.
He held her tight and shed a few tears. “How do you feel about adopting a child?”
She raised her head and smiled. “ I’d like that.”
He smiled back. “Ok. First thing when we get back to Washington I’ll ask Rudy to give me the names of adoption agencies.”
She nodded with a beaming smile and craned her neck to reach his lips. For Steve, the dreams stopped altogether. However, Peggy started experiencing serious dizzy spells, ones she would conceal from her husband and his family, blaming it on the excitement.
Back in Washington, worried about her increasing fainting spells, Peggy stopped by Rudy’s lab to have a check-up in order to be on the safe side. Hours later, the results came back positive. Because of the fertility pills she’d been taking for the last six months, Peggy was now pregnant and expecting twins. Her own physician had misdiagnosed her condition. She was not barren but simply too nervous to conceive. The relaxing two-week vacation she took with Steve last mouth did the trick.
Peggy rushed home and prepared a gourmet dinner. When Steve arrived, she jumped into his arms and kissed him hard on the lips. Her ebullient welcome caught him by surprise and thought it was because he was returning with encouraging news from the adoption agency.
“I made roast beef with all the trimmings.”
“What are we celebrating?”
She paused to take a few deep breaths. “I’m pregnant.”
“I’ve been having dizzy spells lately, so I went to Rudy for a check-up. He said I was expecting twins.”
Peggy giggled unrestrainably. “Steve hold me.”
He held her into a tight clench and suddenly recalled his last dream, when the young man told Jim that they were two of them wanting to meet their father. “Boys.”
She pulled back and stared at him in puzzlement. “What?”
“We’re having boys.”
“How do you know?”
He smiled in reminiscence. “I just know.”