It was a week before Helen’s 75th birthday. Oscar, Steve and Rudy were talking in Rudy’s office. “Steve we just can’t” Oscar protested. “This should just be for family.”
“Oscar, mom and dad accept you and Rudy both as family.” Steve countered. “They want you to join us for mom’s birthday party. Cass the kids and I are flying out today.”
“Ok pal.” Oscar chuckled. “You convinced me. I have some things to catch up on here. Rudy and I will be there a day or two before.”
“Super! I’ll tell mom to expect you then.” Steve flashed them a smile. “Now I have to go and get my family ready.”
“We’ll see you on Tuesday then.” Rudy waved as Steve left.
Steve got in his car and headed home. He walked through the front door. “Hey Cassie I’m home. Are you guys ready?”
“Just about Blue Eyes.” Cassie greeted him at the door. They were startled by a loud crashing sound coming down the stairs fearing one of the children had fallen. Steve and Cassie ran for the living room.
“I’m sorry daddy.” Steve and Cassie’s four-year-old son Calvin cried. “I was trying to get mommy’s boot case down the stairs.”
“That’s ok son.” Steve bent over and picked up the brown haired blue-eyed boy. “Daddy is just glad you didn’t fall down the stairs.” Then he turned to Cassie. “Where are the twins?”
“Taking a nap.” Cassie sighed. “I was hoping they would sleep on the plane but they had other plans.”
“Well we better go get them up. I have clearance to take off at 4:00, so we better get a move on.”
“Did you speak to Rudy and Oscar? They are planning on joining us aren’t they?”
Steve nodded “I finally convinced them they are part of our family too.”
“Well your parents will be glad to hear that.” Cassie smiled at him “Now let’s go get the little ones and head out of here, huh?”
“Listen I’ll get the car packed. You get Brian and Brandon ready.”
“I’ll do that. You’ll be ready by the time they are?”
Steve nodded. “Just get them ready to go.”
She headed upstairs to where the two-year-old twins boys lay sleeping in their cribs
Cassie gently woke both boys up. “Come on sweeties. Daddy is going to take us on a plane ride.”
By the time Steve finished packing Cassie had the kids ready to go.
“So when are you going to spring the news on the folks?” Steve asked as he drove to the airport.
“I’ve been debating that. I don’t know if I should tell them before her birthday or on her birthday itself.”
“Well why not tell them when we get there. I know mom will be pleased. I know I’m a little nervous.”
“Nervous about what?” Cassie demanded.
“Well Steve laughed. “Our first baby we had one, the second time we had two. Now this is the third…”
“Oh Steve, don’t be ridiculous “ Cassie warned. “I better not have three.”
Steve started laughing.
“Daddy?” Calvin called from the back seat.
“Yes son?” Steve eyed him in the review mirror.
“Where’s buster?” The boy asked, referring to the family dog.
“We took him to the vet son. They’ll take good care of him while we’re gone to grandma and grandpa’s.” He turned to Cassie. “By the way the vet said he’d take care of that other matter. We won’t have anymore baskets of unwanted puppies left on our door step thanks to Buster.”
“Well If I have three babies this time I’ll tell Rudy to do the same to you ‘Buster’.” Cassie smiled at him.
“Oh ouch. Now I do feel sorry for poor old Buster.”
“Mommy? Why did you call daddy Buster?” Calvin wondered.
Steve and Cassie turned to one another the broke up laughing.
“Jim.” Helen called after she hung up the phone. “That was Steve. He and Cassie are at the airport.”
“Do they need a ride?” Jim jumped to his feet.
“No they rented a car there. I just can’t wait to see them. We haven’t seen them since Brian and Brandon’s birthday.”
“Yea I know. I’m rather anxious myself.” Jim admitted.
“Well I better get started.” Helen headed for the kitchen to whip a batch of her grandchildren’s favorite cookies.
She had just popped the pan into the oven when she heard car doors slamming. “Jim they’re here.” She cried.
The two of them ran for the front door. Steve and Cassie were just getting the twins out of the back seat. Calvin tumbled out after them.
“Oh!” Cried Helen. “They have all grown so much. Let’s get inside.” She took Calvin’s hand “Grandma has cookies all ready for you.”
“Mom” Steve interrupted “After dinner huh?”
“Oh it won’t hurt if they have one.” Helen scolded.
“Weren’t you the one who never allowed me to eat anything an hour before meal time cause it would spoil my appetite?” Steve scolded laughing at the same time.
“Well. This is different.” Helen shot at him.
“Ok have your fun. After you ruin the kids’ dinner join us in the living room. We have something to tell you.”
“I knew it! I just knew it!” Helen threw her arms around Cassie. “I’m so happy!” She exclaimed.
“Yea well the father to be has his doubts.” Cassie teased.
“Doubts? Why?” Helen sat eyeing her son.
They all laughed at Steve’s silly reasoning. “Son,” Jim spoke up, “it just doesn’t work that way.” Jim wiped tears from his eyes as he continued to laugh.
“Yea.” Steve laughed. “Well I’m beginning to wonder. By the way mom Oscar and Rudy are joining us for dinner on Thursday.”
“That is great. I bought enough food to feed an army so we should be all set.”
“Grandma?” Calvin asked coming into the living room. “I didn’t know an army was joining us for dinner.”
“Helen smiled at her grandson. “We aren’t darling. Why do you ask?”
“You said you bought enough food to feed an army.”
After everyone recovered from laughing Steve explained to his young son that it was only an expression that meant she had bought a lot of food..
The next day while Steve played in the yard with Calvin, Helen sat in the kitchen getting things ready for the big birthday bash. “Do you think you could give me a granddaughter this time?” Helen asked hopefully.
“I’ll try mom. I want a girl so bad. The men of the house just about run me over half the time.”
“Not these darling little ones?” Helen cooed indicating the twins.
“They aren’t so bad, yet.” She added.
“Well if they are anything like their father I do feel sorry for you?” Helen chuckled. “Let see. How many will there be on Thursday?”
“Well.” Cassie began. There are the two of you, the five of us and Oscar and Rudy. I would say nine.
“Oh dear. My table only holds eight.”
“We only need seven places mom. The twins will sit in high chairs.”
“Oh that’s right. I guess I’m going to need a bigger table though. I mean with one more on the way, and then Rudy and Oscar. I’ll have to hit the mall one of these days and get a bigger table. We’re going to need it.”
“Hey!” Steve called as he carried Calvin into the house. “Got anything for two weary fishermen?”
“Yes dear.” Cassie teased. “How bout today’s catch.”
“The only thing I caught was Calvin before he fell into the lake.” Steve laughed.
“Does he need dry clothes?” Helen was ready to dash and get some for him.
“No Mom. I caught him just in time.”
“Well that’s good.” Helen and Cassie both breathed a sigh of relief. Then Helen fixed lunch for everyone.
The weekend flew by and before everyone knew it. It was Tuesday.
“What time do Rudy and Oscar arrive at the airport?” Cassie asked, as she and Steve got dressed.
“They said they would be here around three our time. I’ll go pick them up.”
“Do you mind taking Calvin with you? Your mom and I have some last-minute things to pick up. We’re going to the store.”
“You sure you don’t want me to take the twins too?” Steve offered.
“No we can handle the twins. They just sit in the cart. Calvin is the one who is all over the place. Sometimes I swear that boy inherited your bionic strength.”
“You know Rudy said that wasn’t possible.” Steve gave her a serous look. “And you know that is something that has always bothered me.”
“I’m sorry honey. It’s just that he’s such a go getter. I love to compare him to you.”
“Well if that’s the case then.” Steve smiled at her.
“That is the case.” She gave him a kiss. “We won’t be long.”
“Hey Calvin.” Steve called want to come with me to the airport to get Rudy and Oscar?”
“Sure daddy.” They got into the car and headed for the airport.
As they drove to the airport Calvin was asking all kinds of questions and Steve was trying hard to keep up with answering him. He took his eyes off the road to look back at the boy when he turned around he was in the wrong lane and another car was coming straight at them. Steve swerved to avoid hitting them. He lost control of the car it went spinning off the road. It rolled several time then landed right side up in a shallow ravine trapping Steve and Calvin inside…
“Just set the bags down anywhere Cassie.” Helen said as they walked in the back door. “I’ll unpack everything is just a moment.”
“That’s funny.” Cassie noted as she set the bag on the counter. “I thought Steve would be back by now.”
“Maybe Oscar and Rudy’s plane was late.” Helen offered. “Those things happen.”
“That’s probably it.” Cassie exhaled deeply trying to lie to rest her fear that something was very wrong. She could feel it.
Their question was answered a moment later when they heard car doors slam outside.
“See.” Helen smiled “I told you their plane was just…”
“Why only two?” Cassie was trembling all over.
“What do you mean dear? Only two?” Helen was now becoming worried.
“If Steve took the car we rented at the airport there should have been four doors closing!” Cassie practically screamed.
“I don’t understand honey.” Helen soothed.
“Mom the car we rented has four doors. If Steve went to pick up Rudy and Oscar at least three doors…”
Rudy and Oscar stepped into the kitchen. “Hello ladies.” Oscar started “Happy birthday Helen.”
“Oscar my birthday is not for two more days.” Helen laughed.
Cassie was craning her neck frantically to see if she could see her husband. “Where’s Steve?” She asked almost frantic.
“I don’t know.” Rudy replied. “Why?”
“He left here over three hours ago. He was going to pick you up.”
“See Rudy. I told you he was supposed to be there.” Oscar turned to Helen and Cassie “When Steve didn’t show up we rented a car.” He explained.
“Something is wrong. I know it.” Cassie cried.
“Now Cassie.” Rudy put a reassuring hand on he back. “I’m sure he’s fine. Maybe he thought of something at the last minute…”
“Rudy that’s not like Steve and you know it!” Cassie shouted.
“She’s got a point Rudy.” Oscar interrupted.
“Where could he be?” Helen asked she now felt the same as Cassie. She knew in her heart that something had happened to her son and grandson.
“We’ll go look. Maybe he had car trouble or something.” Oscar offered.
“I bet that’s it.” Rudy agreed. “Come on Oscar let’s go see.”
The two of them headed out to search for Steve. “You don’t really believe that story?” Rudy began when they got into the car.
Oscar shook his head. “No Rudy I don’t. If Steve had had car trouble and was at a gas station, he would have called.”
The two of them drove up the road. “Keep your eye out Rudy. If Steve had an accident his car could have gone off the road.”
“That’s exactly what I was going to do.” The minute they hit the main road Rudy kept any eye on the road on his side while Oscar tried to not only keep his eyes on the road, but search his side as well.
They drove right past the spot where Steve’s car had left the road. “I don’t know Rudy.” Oscar began. “I think were chasing moon beams.”
“Let’s go all the way to the airport then back again maybe one of missed something the other will find.” Rudy suggested.
“Ok. But I would bet Steve is back at the house sampling Helen’s world famous apple pie, while we’re out here searching for nothing.”
“Steve wouldn’t do that. He is a man of his word if he said he was coming to pick us up then those were his intentions.” Rudy reminded.
“Yea you’re right Rudy. It’s just that the prospects of what could be…”
“I know exactly what you mean Oscar.” Rudy interrupted.
They had arrived at the airport after double checking to make sure Steve was not waiting for them there Rudy and Oscar began the trip back.
“Take it slow this time Oscar.” Rudy advised. “I just know we missed something.”
“Ok Rudy. You could be right. I was trying to keep my eye on the road as well as off the road. Maybe you’ll see something I missed.’
In the car Calvin started to stir. “Daddy?” He called out. “Daddy!”
Steve didn’t answer. He remained unconscious. Small droplets of blood trickled out of his mouth.
Calvin wiggled out of his seatbelt and made his way to the front seat. He laid his little hand on Steve’s cheek “Daddy. Wake up.” He cried. “Please wake up.”
Steve didn’t move.
Calvin continued to try and wake his father up but the unconscious man would not respond to his young son’s gentle touch.
Even though he was only four Calvin knew that he needed to get help. He searched for a way out of the car but was unable to find it. His head started hurting and Calvin fell unconscious again.
At the ranch Helen, Jim and Cassie tried to remain calm. They had heard nothing in the past hour from Steve or Oscar or Rudy.
“Oh Helen!” Cassie began to sob. “What if they had an accident?”
“I’m sure that’s not the case dear.” Helen patted her gently on the knee “I’m sure we would have heard something by now if that were the case.”
“Well something is wrong.” Cassie stated as she laid Brian down on the floor to change him. She glanced at the clock “I might as well put their pajamas on” She put her head in her hands and sobbed.
“Take it easy Cassie.” Helen lifted Brandon off the floor. “Listen, why don’t you go and dry your eyes. I’ll get these precious things ready for bed.”
“Thanks mom. Let me know if the phone rings.” Cassie headed up to the bathroom to wash her face and dry her eyes. “Just calm down’ She told herself. “If Blue Eyes comes in and finds you like this he’ll have a fit.”
Cassie glanced at the dresser where Steve had laid his things out. She began to weep so hard her whole body shook. “I just know that something is wrong.” She convinced her self as she sobbed.
Back on the road Oscar and Rudy were inching their up the road. “Do you see anything yet Rudy?” Oscar asked.
“Not yet Oscar.” Rudy said.
Cars were building up behind Rudy and Oscar, and cars kept coming from the other direction. The cars building up began to get restless. They began honking their horns.
“I don’t think they like us very well.” Rudy noted.
“Well they are just going to have to live with it Rudy. I just know that Steve had an accident”
As they continued up the road the Sheriff pulled up along side them. “Going a little slow aren’t we?” He chided.
“I’m sorry officer.” Oscar showed him his OSI ID. “We are looking for a friend of ours. He is long over due. We’re afraid he may have had an accident.”
The officer gave them a serious look “Are you sure?”
“No officer not one hundred percent, but it is the most logical conclusion.” Oscar stated.
“Ok you keep looking. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. I’ll keep traffic moving.”
“Thanks officer. I appreciate it.” Oscar put his ID card away. He and Rudy continued their search.
In the car Calvin came around once again. He moved closer to his father. “Daddy?” He called “Are you still sweeping?”
Steve remained motionless. The blood continued to trickle from his mouth.
Calvin crawled into the back and began to cry.
“Oscar stop!!” Rudy called out. “I think I saw something.”
Oscar pulled over to the side of the road. Rudy and Oscar leapt out of the car.
They ran down the embankment toward Steve wreaked car.
Quietly Helen approached the bedroom door. “Cassie, dear, I made some coffee. Why don’t you join me in the living room. I’m sure everything will be just fine.”
“Oh Helen I just don’t know. If everything is alright why hasn’t someone called?”
Helen entered the room. Cassie could see right away she too had been crying. “I don’t know. But I do know that in your condition you should not get so upset.” Helen put her arm around Cassie’s shoulders. “We’ll hear something soon. I know we will. Come on downstairs.”
“Ok mom. Give me a minute. I don’t want the children to see I’ve been …well you know It might upset them.”
“Ok dear.” Helen left her daughter-in-law to freshen up. ‘Come on Cass, get yourself together” Cassie chided herself. ‘She’s right you know. They probably just had car trouble and are on their way back right now.’
Helen and Jim were sitting in the living room when Cassie entered. “Where are Brandon and Brian?” She wondered when she didn’t see the twins.
“We went ahead and fed them they were hungry.” Helen explained. “They are playing in the other room.”
“Thanks for helping out Mom.” Cassie sat next to her on the couch.
“Oscar!” Rudy shouted. “Get that sheriff back here. Tell him we’re going to need an ambulance!”
Oscar ran up to where Rudy stood. “Are they both in there Rudy?” Oscar was hoping they weren’t.
Rudy nodded as he approached the mangled mess that encased their friend and his young son. “Yea they’re both in there.”
“I’ll go get the sheriff.” Oscar headed back up the embankment.
Rudy stayed behind and surveyed the damage. He moved closer to the car and was able to see in the window.
He could see the blood dried out on Steve’s mouth and was concerned as to how motionless he was. He was just checking the backseat for Calvin when Oscar came up beside him.
“The sheriff is on his way” Oscar informed him. He then looked at the mangled piece of twisted metal in front of them. “My God, Rudy! How are we ever going to get them out?” Oscar asked.
Oscar and Rudy waited anxiously for the ambulance and fire truck to arrive. After an excruciating five minutes that seemed like five hours they heard the wailing sirens of the approaching rescue units.
“Rudy how are we going to get them out of there?” Oscar asked again.
“I don’t know.” Rudy had refused to take his eyes off of Steve who still remained unmoving.
“Is he alright?” Oscar asked fear rising in his voice.
“I don’t know Oscar. I can see both of them, they are both unconscious, but at least Calvin is moving a bit.”
“What about Steve?” Oscar’s voice was shrill indicating how frightened he really was.
“He hasn’t moved a fraction.” Rudy continued staring into the window.
“I take it that is not a good sign.” There were tears in Oscar’s eyes.
“No Oscar, it’s not a good sign at all.” They stepped out of the way as the rescue team approached. As they began the task of freeing Steve and Calvin from the wreckage Rudy identified himself as not only being a doctor, but he was also Steve’s Doctor.
“Ok Doc. As soon as we get them out you can take over.” The fire chief exclaimed.
At the ranch Helen, Jim and Cassie moaned when the heard the wail of the sirens “I knew it!” Cassie groaned. “I just knew it.”
Helen jumped to her feet. “Let’s not wait for them to call. I’ll drive you to the base hospital right now.”
“Are you coming?” Helen called to Jim as she grabbed the car keys.
“No you two go ahead, I’ll stay here with the little ones.” Jim told them.
“Thanks Jim.” Cassie called as they slipped out the front door.
Cassie and Helen jumped into Helen’s car and they sped to the air base hospital. “I hope it’s not as bad as I’m building up.” Cassie proclaimed as they raced for the hospital.
“I’m sure it will be just fine.” Helen assured as she continued driving.
At the crash sight the rescue crew finally freed Steve and Calvin from the wreckage. Rudy ran to Steve before anyone had a chance to move either one of them
Shaking Rudy reached for Steve’s pulse “It’s there.” He breathed to Oscar. “Barely but it is there.”
“Let’s get him to the hospital!” Oscar ordered.
“In a minute. I want so see what I’m up against here.” He began a very careful examination of Steve.
“How is he Rudy?” Oscar was hovering over Rudy like a vulture ready for the worst.
“I don’t know. I need to get him to the lab. I know right now he has internal injuries. How bad they are I just can’t determine at the moment.”
“From the back seat they heard a low moan. “Was that Steve?” Oscar hoped.
“No I don’t know what…Oh my god I forgot about Calvin.” Rudy reached into the back seat and carefully lifted Calvin out of the car. He quickly accessed the child. “I can’t believe it.” Rudy proclaimed. “He has a couple of bumps and bruises on him but other than that he’s going to be just fine.”
Rudy helped the rescue team load Steve and Calvin into the waiting ambulance. “I’m riding with them. Meet us at the base hospital.”
“I’ll do that Rudy” Oscar raced for his own car and headed in the direction of the base hospital. He pulled over to the side as the ambulance passed him.
Oscar followed as close as he could. “Come on Steve.” he tried to encourage from where he was. “You just have to be all right. I know you can beat this.”
In the ambulance Rudy started Steve on IV and watched his condition closely. He kept his finger on Steve’s pulse, which was grower weaker every moment.
On the other gurney Calvin again began to stir. Rudy turned to him “Take it easy son.” He spoke softly not wanting to frighten the boy.
“Where’s daddy?” Calvin wanted to know.
“He right here. You just lay back I don’t want you moving around to much until I’ve had a chance to examine you better.”
“Ok.” Calvin whispered and drifted back.
Helen and Cassie were waiting when the ambulance approached the emergency entrance. They both jumped to their feet when Rudy rolled Steve into the hospital. “We’re going straight up to the lab.” He called as the passed the two anxious women.
After turning Calvin over to the head of pediatrics Rudy got down to business with Steve.
“I don’t know mom. I want to be with Steve, but I’m sure Calvin is scared to death. I just don’t know which direction to go.”
“Why don’t you so see how your son is doing? I’ll stay here and if Steve wakes up I’ll let him know where you are. I know he would want you to be with Calvin.”
“I guess you’re right.” Cassie left the OSI section and headed for the pediatric ward. She quickly found the doctor in charge of her son’s case.
“How is he Doctor?” Cassie was almost afraid to ask.
“He’s a petty tough kid. He came through pretty well he has a mild concussion and a few scrapes here and there but other than that he should be able to go home in the morning.”
“Thank you. Can I see him?”
“Of course. Dr. Wells requested a private room but we feel Calvin would be better off in the ward with the other kids. They help each other out sometimes.”
“I would prefer he remain in the private room if you don’t mind.” Cassie gave him a stern look.
“Ok. They are having a puppet show. Do you mind if Calvin joins them.”
“No not at all. Look my husband was also in the accident. I need to be with him as well.”
“We’ll take good care of your son. After your visit, a nurse will take him to the ward for the show. We’ll let you know if anything comes up.” The doctor assured.
“That will be fine.” Cassie turned and entered Calvin’s room. The boy was sitting in his bed coloring in a color book.
“Hey mommy!” He called when he saw her. “Where’s daddy?”
“He’s with Rudy. How are you feeling?”
“I’m fine can I go to the puppet show?” Cassie brushed his hair back and gave him a gentle kiss on the cheek.
“Of course you can sweetie. You enjoy the show. Mommy will be back as soon as she can.”
“Maybe grandma will come and watch the puppet show with you. Would you like that?”
“Sure mommy.” Calvin continued to color.
Feeling he was in capable hands Cassie left her young son and headed back to the OSI section of the hospital.
“Any word?” She asked as she sat next to Helen.
“No Rudy hasn’t come out yet. How’s Calvin?”
“He’s fine. They are having a puppet show for the kids. I told Calvin you might come watch it with him. I hope you don’t mind. I want to be here to hear any word on Steve.”
“I don’t mind at all. “ Helen stood to leave just as the door to Rudy’s office opened. Helen waited to hear the news.
Cassie jumped to her feet. “Just tell me Rudy.”
“He’s still unconscious “ Rudy announced. “He has a ruptured spleen. I’m going to have to go in and remove it.”
“How long will that take?” Helen was anxious.
“A couple of hours.”
“Why is he still unconscious?” Cassie demanded.
“I really can’t tell you right now ‘cause I don’t know. I do know that I need to get him into surgery.”
“Can I see him before you take him Rudy?” Cassie’s voice was filled with hope and longing.
“Ok but only for a minute. He’s still not conscious and I need to get him into surgery.
“I’ll only be a minute.” Cassie stepped into the room Rudy had Steve in. She slowly walked over to where he lay on the gurney waiting to go down to surgery.
“Oh Steve!” She cried. “You’re going to be just fine. You hear me. You have to be all right.” She took his hand in hers and with her other hand gently caressed his cheek.
“Ok Cass.” She heard Rudy’s voice behind her. “Times up. I can’t wait any longer.”
“Ok Rudy. She gently kissed his hand then laid it hack down. She turned to Rudy “You take good care of him.” She ordered.
“I always do Cassie.” Rudy took her by the elbow and escorted her out of the lab. “He’ll be fine Cassie. Steve’s been through much worse you know that.”
Cassie nodded. “I suppose you’re right.” She stated.
“Why don’t you stay with Calvin? Like I said surgery should take up to 2 hours. I think your son needs you too.”
Again Cassie nodded. “I just don’t want to leave him.”
“Cassie!” Rudy chided. “You know Steve better than I do. You know dam well if he were awake he would order you to be with your son.”
“I know that.” Cassie sighed.
“I’ll come down there if anything changes.” Rudy promised.
“Ok Rudy. I’ll be with Calvin.” Cassie again headed for the pediatric ward. And Rudy rushed Steve into surgery.
Rudy had just gotten started with Steve. He looked at his anesthesiologist “I want vitals every two minutes!” Rudy barked out the order
“Yes Dr. Wells,” the young anesthesiologist replied.
Rudy began the intricate procedure.
Rudy looked over at the anesthesiologist. “Vitals!” He barked.
“Respiration is shallow. BP is…is 30 over 10. Droctor the pressure is dropping. I can’t find a pulse at all. Dr. Well we’re losing him!”