April 29th 1975
I apologize for not making an entry for the past several weeks but I saw no reason to write since nothing much has happened, until two days ago.
Thanks to my good friend Carol who put in the good word for me I landed a secreterial position at the OSI, thatís the Office of Scientific Intelligence at the Pentagon. Iím aware that this is a short-term contract for as a matter of national security, the department hires a new secretery every three to four months. Nevertheless that job will look good on my resume for future references.
I spoke briefly with my new boss Oscar Goldman before he flew to Switzerland to attend an important summit on nuclear armaments. He seems like a nice man, perhaps a tad impulsive. I imagine that being at the helm of such a demanding organization must not be all work and no play. He exudes a strong presence that is quite intimidating. However Iíve learned over the years not to be fooled by a hard-edged exterior for it generally was a bulwark against the insecurities of life, a fear of the unknown. One thing I do know is that he desperately needs a secretary to organize his agenda and his files. Dear me, what a mess!
After lunch, I was on the phone with mom when this handsome man walked into the outer office. He politely told me that he would wait until I finished my call to state his business. I felt a bit awkward with him standing there while I talked to mom about trivialities so I curtailed the conversation and I hung up. I thought I was going to die of embarrassment when he told me his name. I felt two feet tall as I cringed behind my desk. Iím sure he saw my face turn red. I could hardly believe that THE famous astronaut Steve Austin was standing before me. My heart was beating out of my chest and my throat felt dry as the desert. I nearly choked on my reply to his question about Mr. Goldmanís whereabouts. Then he received what appeared a distress call and off he went.
Dear Diary, I found myself thinking about him all afternoon, worried that I might never see him again. He made such an impression on me that it was hard to put him out of my mind.
Later that day, he came back to the office. He smiled and winked at me before he entered my bossís office. Minutes later he buzzed me in and handed me the phone. On the other end, Mr. Goldman asked me to assist Colonel Austin while he was away, which I was too eager to please until he asked me for my address and phone number. I was shocked that he would consider me as a plaything made available on demand for his pure enjoyment. He quickly dissipated my fears and eased my mind when he explained that he needed that information for emergencies only. Shortly after some men came in, handcuffed him and took him away. What had he done? Who were these men? I tell you Dear Diary it was an eventful first day on the job but thatís not all.
After work, when I returned home after doing some grocery shopping, I found Colonel Austin sitting in my living room. He made me jump ten feet in the air. My first thought was how did he get in? I was beginning to think that heíd broken into my apartment toÖwell you know what I mean? Once again my fears were unfounded. He was running from the police who wanted him for a crime he didnít commit and needed to hide somewhere safe while he attempted to find the real murderer.
Just when I thought I had seen and heard it all, he showed me his injured leg. Instead of blood and cut flesh I saw plastic and wires. My Heavens! Spurs of adrenalin coursed through my veins as I stood gaping with goggled eyes. I felt faint and nauseous. This was not happening. He asked me to go fetch some items at the hardware store so that he could mend his leg. Mend his leg? I canít believe Iím writing this! Maybe I should delete it since he told me it was a matter of national security. But itíll just between you and me.
That morning he was a stranger, an unattainable famous figure that you can only dream of meeting but that night, he had become Steve Austin, a friend who entrusted me with his own life. I felt closer to him than any other men Iíve met before. I guess my enthusiasm got the better of me because instead of helping him, I endangered his life and mine for that matter.
Dear Diary, I wonít go into details with the next part for my hand is still trembling at the thought of coming close to being killed. The man Colonel Austin was after, his name was Hopper, kidnapped me and took me to his hideout. He used me to get Steve out in the open. He told him to meet him in a park where he would hand me over to him. I never thought heíd agree to do it, after all he barely knew me and who am I? A simple secretary? To my surprise Colonel Austin agreed to meet him. I knew Hopper had no intention to make due on his promise but I was powerless to do anything. I was bound hands and feet to a chair. So many thoughts passed through my mind. I almost came to regret accepting this job to begin with. What was happening in the park? Did Hopper plan to kill the colonel?
Hopper came back a little later and told me that the police had shot Steve as he was trying to escape. I just couldnít believe it. Colonel Austin dead? No, it couldnít be. Time froze. My mind dulled by the pain of knowing that my knight had been gunned down in cold blood before he had a chance to expose his findings. I felt so guilty that my nosing about brought this on him. I was responsible for this tragic ending. My heart shattered into pieces and my eyes welled up with tears. Hopper turned to me with a knife. The look in his eyes was unmistakable. He was going to kill me. Sorry Dear Diary but I just canít go on anymore. It was too frightening. All I can say is that Colonel Austin came to my rescue in the nick of time. He was alive!
God, I canít believe Iím still here, writing to you Dear Diary. My brush with death taught me to mind my own business, particularly when it comes to government dealings. From now on Iíll stick to what I do best, typing and filing. No more playing Dick Tracy for me!
April 30th 1975
Today, Colonel Austin took me out to lunch. I was under the strong impression that he was going to talk about the ordeal we both went through but surprisingly enough, he chose a completely different topic of conversation. He asked me questions about my family, my background and myself. I could sense that he was genuinely interested and I felt comfortable confiding my innermost thoughts. He chuckled at my arachnophobia as he admitted to sharing my fear of spiders. I felt safe in his company, but a doubt subsisted in the back of mind of the possibility of a steady relationship. The man could have his choice among dozens of highly educated and sophisticated women, why would he settled for a mere secretary? Still you canít stop a girl for dreaming?
May 17th 1975
I have no idea how to write this entry for my mind is in complete turmoil, whirling with hundreds of thoughts, images and emotions. I guess I should start by saying that the OSI almost lost one of its greatest agents today and me, a friend and confidant.
This morning Steve Austin came by the office to discuss his next mission with Mr. Goldman. He greeted me with his usual smile and wink and I blushed when he insisted I call him by his first name. It was hard at first but after a few failed attempts I managed to get the hang of it. Dear Diary, explain to me why is it that his presence makes me weak to the knees and turn my legs into jello? Could it be that Iím falling in love with him? No Iím sure itís just a crush, an innocent infatuation with a famous personality. But am I smitten with the image or with the man?
I called mom during my lunch break to discuss my feelings for Steve, careful not to reveal his true identity. Poor mom, she does try bless her heart but her advice made it worse for me. Oh mom, if you only knew what I know? Steve is unlike any other man Iíve met in the past. Perhaps that is the reason why I could never stay in a steady relationship. They were all losers? Or maybe IíM the loser? Why am I doing this to myself????? Stop it Peggy!!!!!! I know youíre upset because you canít be with Steve at the hospital but chase those worries out of your head, girl. Steve is in good hands. His personal physician Dr. Wells is attending to his every need and if one can save his life, itís Dr. Wells. Heís being given the best medical care. He survived the surgery and he will make it through the night just fine. So relax. Tomorrow youíll go by the hospital on your way to work and Iím sure youíll find him awake and talking. Heís not one to let a silly bullet in the chest cut him down in the prime of his life. Heís been through worse before. But I canít help worrying nonetheless. I find myself thinking about him day and night. I will say a prayer and hold good thoughts in my heart. Now I should really get some shut eyes or Iíll look like a bassethound at the office tomorrow. I know Mr. Goldman will be in a foul mood. Iíve learned thatís how he gets when heís worried about Steve. Maybe itís just my imagination but he seems to be acting more like a father than a boss with Steve. A worried father, now thatís hard to bear. Iíll have to look past his temper or weíll both end up at each otherís throat. Wish me luck!
May 18th 1975
This morning, I set up my alarm an hour earlier so that I could drop by the hospital before going to work. I entered Steveís dimlit room and found Dr. Wells checking his vital signs. I tiptoed in and queried him about Steveís condition. My jaw dropped to the floor and my heart stopped when I learned that he had lapsed into a coma after experiencing a heart attack during the night. Right then, my whole world crumbled around me.
The constant beeping of the heart monitor kept resounding in my adled mind as I sat in a chair by his bed. Strangely enough, the rhythmical sound provided comfort in the fact that it was a sure sign that his heart was still beating, but mine wasnít. He looked deathly lethargic. I hesitated in cradling his hand in mine, thinking it might be too forward but when Dr. Wells encouraged me to talk to him in order to will him out of his coma. I didnít think twice about it. My skin crawled when I took his icy cold hand in mine. It felt so frail. I was afraid to squeeze it, fearing it might shatter. I leaned closer to him and began stroking his cheek.
Dear Diary I care so deeply for this man, it hurts. I tried squashing my feelings by repeating to myself that there was no point in pursuing my interest in a man who could never have romantic designs for me but Iím failing at that miserably. Instead I find myself drawn to him and the thought of losing him makes me queasy. When Dr. Wells left me alone with Steve, I started babbling about Oscarís mood around the office since heíd been shot for he shoulders the blame for sending him into a trap. He is insufferable and makes my life a living hell but I grin and bear it. Itís barely been 24 hours since the shooting but Mr. Goldman has already set a record for the most irritating man I know. I begged Steve to get well soon in order to release me from the bossís temper tantrums. Am I being selfish? Maybe a little.
During my lunch break, I dropped by the hospital and a third time before returning home. There was no change in Steveís condition and I can sense that Dr. Wells is ready to give up on him, but not me. I feel confident that Steve will pull through his. I am rooting for him with every fiber of my being. I love him so much. There, Iíve said it!
May 22nd 1975
Good news, good news!!!! Steve opened his eyes today. Heís out of his coma. His doctor wonít issue a definite prognostic on his condition, whether or not heís clearly out of the woods, but I know Steve wonít give up until heís fully recovered and back on his feet. I payed him a visit in the afternoon and wasnít prepared to what he confided in me. While he was in the coma he apparently heard every single conversation that took place in his room, including mine about Oscar making my life a living hell, He remembered laughing about it. I sighed with relief knowing that Iíd refrained myself from expressing my true feelings for him. That would have been embarrassing. I wonder if he suspects anything?
May 30th 1975
Steve was discharged from the hospital today. His heart may be on the mend but mine is shattering piece by piece. He came by the office in the afternoon with Dr. Nicole Simmons, a scientist working on a cell regeneration serum. It was obvious that he was interested in more than her project. I didnít know it but they had been going together for several days. He sure hid it well. Well, she is more his style anyway. They were going to meet for dinner tonight. When she gave him a kiss on the lips I could have died. There were apparently an item andÖwellÖit hurt. Guess I have my answer.
July 21st 1975
This is it. My last day at the OSI. I was surprised when I got a call from Steve inviting me out to dinner. I wasnít really in the mood for friendly conversation but I nevertheless accepted his invitation. I wasnít very talkative during dinner, mostly playing with my food while I was lost in my thoughts. I knew it was going to be the last time I see him and feared the old proverb Ďout of sight out of mindí would prove true. While we waited for dessert, he handed me a rectangular black box and told me to open it. My eyes widened in ecstasy when I saw the tiny gold bracelet, which was a token of a friendship he hoped would never dwindle. He took the bracelet, clasped it around my wrist and kissed the back of my hand. He stared into my eyes with a look that Iíd never seen before. It sent chills up and down my spine. Could it be? No Iím just imagining this. He was just being friendly. He and Nicole Simmons had been going together for three months and it was just a matter of days before they announced their engagement. Itís better for me to just vanish.
Dear Diary Iím writing these lines with a heavy heart. I should be excited to have landed a job as an office manager in a highly recognized loan establishment but Iím not. God, I have to put him out of my mind! Heíll have forgotten about me in a few days anyway. After all I was just another passing secretary?
November 13th 1975
You wouldnít believe the day Iíve had. This morning I received a call from the head office at the OSI. Apparently Mr. Goldman has specifically asked for me to fill in for his secretary who is on sick leave for a month. Do I really want to go back there and stir up old memories that I managed to deaden? Itís true that I am bored and dissatisfied with my present job at the Loan Office and that I miss the thrilling experience Iíve had working for Mr. Goldman, despite the fact that heís a real pain in the neck sometimes, but thereís Steve. Seeing him again might bring back painful memories, not that it should since I am happy with Gene, the wonderful and caring man I met a month ago. Still a girl never really forgets her first love, or better put, her first crush. I was bound to run into him again. Wonder if he and Nicole Simmons are planning to get married soon? Anyway I have until tomorrow. If I accept they promised me another secretarial position at the Pentagon afterwards. Should I accept? Iím not sure.
I exposed my dilemma to Gene over dinner tonight. He encouraged me to accept and seemed more eager than I was about the prospect of my working there once more. I found that a bit strange and when I asked him the reason for his sudden enthusiasm, he answered that he was happy at the opportunity it provided me to quit my present job, which I constantly griped about. I hadnít realized just how much I had been annoying him with my complaints but heís right. I have been miserable ever since the companyís president named his spoiled daughter as his vice-president. Sheís a nitpicker, always looking over my shoulder and giving me advices on how to organize her precious daddyís agenda. I came so close to tell her off last week but I guess maybe now I can. Yes! But I wonít. In fact I pity her for she canít get a job by herself on her own merits. Does she have any? I doubt it.
I guess my decision is made. Iíll call the OSI in the morning and accept the job. I feel better already.
November 15th 1975
Today Saturday, Gene and I spent the afternoon together. He took me horseback riding and it was obvious it was his first time on a horse, but he wouldnít say anything probably because he knew how much I loved to ride. Heís so sweet. Weíve been together for nearly a month now and I feel heís the one.
Over dinner he presented me with the most beautiful pendant and told me he had another surprise waiting for me back at his house. My heart started pounding. What did it mean? Couldnít have been an engagement ring for I expect he would have made his proposal over our candlelit supper at the restaurant, which was much more romantic. I was truly anxious to see what he got me. Anticipation grew as we drove to his house. When he opened the door, I heard a bark and the cuttest little dog came running up to us with his tail wagging. He was so adorable and Gene said he was mine. He confessed that he hated the thought of me living in a somewhat rowdy neighborhood and would feel better if I had a guard dog to warn me against intruders. If I had any doubt about his love before I didnít anymore.
We spent the rest of the evening huddled together on the sofa in front of the crackling fire. I was in heaven! I remembered closing my eyes and let my mind wander off into the future as Mrs. Gene Finney.
Dear Diary, I guess I havenít yet come down to earth for I am writing these lines at 2 :00AM while sitting in my bed with my dog Peter sleeping by my side. Gene is definitely the one. I feel it. Not a minute goes by that I donít think about him. Tomorrow Sunday, I have a dental appointment with my favourite dentist. Gene is opening his cabinet just for me and the best part, well second best part, is that itís free!
November 17th 1975
First day back at the OSI. I expected to see Steve this morning but he was busy in the lab with Dr. Wells. It got me worried so I enquired about his health. Mr. Goldman told me he was there for a routine checkup and that I should see him in the afternoon. I was actually looking forward to seeing Steve again. With my love life floating on cloud nine I didnít feel drawn to him as much as I used to. He had his life and I had mine.
Just before lunch, I called mom to tell her about my date with Gene this weekend and all the gifts he gave me. She was happy to hear that Iíd finally found true love and she started teasing me about how I sounded just like in high school when I had a crush on Billy Halloway. I canít believe she remembered Billy. He was kind of cute, I admit, but I became disgusted with him when he told me that he liked eating bugs. Urg! Gene has passed that awkyard stage. Heís a professional with his own successful business. He will be a great provider for his family. Listen to me! Iím actually serious about him. I stopped my conversation when I saw Steve entering the office. God, it felt so good to see him again and believe it or not, the tingling sensation was back, complete with the racing pulse and the pounding heart. He sure hadnít changed, still as handsome as ever. He complimented my on my new hairdo among other things. I was about to tell him all about Gene when Mr. Goldman chose that moment to interrupt. Great timing boss! Perhaps it was for the best. Why would Steve be interested in my love life anyway?
I went inside Mr.Goldmanís office with him and served them cups of coffee. The boss started rambling about a new project that the OSI is developping and Steve cracked a joke about it that made us both laugh. I had never seen Mr. Goldman at a lost for words before. Steve sure knows how to stick to him and burst his bubble. Handy weapon to have around. Wonder if he could teach me a trick or two? Nah! Perhaps not. I might overuse them against my charming boss. He asked Steve to meet with the scientist on the project at a secret location and bring him back to Washington to work in the labs. Sounded simple enough. I left them to go back to my occupations.
The meeting over, Steve came up to my desk and pointed to the beautiful pendant around my neck. I jumped at the chance to tell him all about Gene without talking his ears off. He congratulated me on my newfound happiness and expressed his wish to meet him. How about right now? I said impromptu, without thinking twice about it. He agreed and we left in his car.
During the drive to Geneís dental office, I asked him about Nicole Simmons. I could tell I hit a nerve when I saw his face cringe a bit. He told me that they werenít seeing each other anymore on account that sheíd left for Germany to work on her project with another scientist and heís found that long-distance relationships were always doomed to fail. So they parrted as good friends. They still keep in touch from time to time.
Dear Diary, I swear when he said that he and Nicole had broken up the old romantic feelings I had for him all came flooding back. No! I canít go through that again! I wonít go through that again! I have Gene and I love him dearly. Iím sorry for Steve but Iím not worried about his love life. Heíll find someone else very soon.
You hear me Peggy, stop that! Youíre not in love with Steve, youíre in love with Gene? Why is it so difficult to convince myself of that? Tell me, why?
When we arrived at Geneís dental office, his secretary informed us that he was busy with an emergency. Instead, Steve invited me to join him for lunch. He chose a small bistro where he asked for a secluded booth. It wasnít like him to want to retreat in a corner unless perhaps he wanted to be intimate with someone. He put his hand on the small of my back and led me to our table. After we ordered drinks, he broached the subject of my return to the OSI. He confessed to having suggested Oscar to call me back when he had to find a replacement for his present secretary and he hoped it wouldnít be for just one month. He explained that Oscar had been highly satisfied with my work and he admitted to missing the smile with which I greeted him each time he walked in. Oh boy, his confession went right through me. I tried to conceal my blushing cheeks but it was obvious he caught glimpse of them since he smiled amusingly. I looked up at him and saw that look in his eyes, the same he gave me at the farewell dinner a few months back. Does he know heís toying with my emotions? I have to assume itís not intentional, that itís just his nature to be courteous and friendly. My stomach was all churned up. Those mesmerizing eyes simply took my breath away. When our desserts were served I had completely lost my appetite.
Dear Diary, what Iím about to tell you has to remain a secret between the two of us. When Steve stared at me with his heavenly blue eyes, I swear for a fleeting moment Gene no longer existed. It was like suffering from total amnesia. It was weird and yet it felt so good. God, whatís happening to me?
November 18th 1975
Please give me to strength to write this down. I need to get rid of that anger and hurt. I just canít believe it! Why? Why did he have to be a traitor? Why? He hurt me more than if he had literally plunged a dagger into my heart. I canít stop crying. God, it hurts so much! We could have been so good together, why did he have to ruin it? I have to vent my hate through you, dear diary. Iíll try not to rip the pages.
At lunchtime, I came back to my apartment to find Steve hiding behind the curtains. Actually it was Peter who exposed him. He said heíd gotten in through the window to search for a micro-transmitter. The suspicious Mr. Goldman thought my apartment might have been bugged for there was a serious breach of confidentiality at the OSI. Someone was leaking out important information. I was appalled, no, disgusted that he would suspect me, especially after Steve told me he had been greatly satisfied with my work. I insisted to pass a lie detector test to prove to the O Mighty Oscar Goldman that I was not a snitch.
Steve took me to a lab at the OSI where I was hooked to a polygraph. He asked me simple enough questions that I answered with a tinge of cynicism. I passed the test with success. Steve was satisfied with my answers and didnít force the issue. I could tell he genuinely believed me and assured me that Oscar may be suspicious but not obstinate. Anyway if he should persist in his conviction that Iím guilty, Steve would be sure to put him right back in his place. My anger receded with Steveís confidence. Then we both left for Geneís office. God thereís that name again. I have to get this off my chest once and for all!
Steve finally metÖyou know whoÖand I invited them both for supper at my place on Friday. Dear me I asked them on the spur of the moment and realized afterwards that it might not have been a good idea. Steve admitted that Gene seemed like the perfect man for me and how lucky I was to have found him. I agreed wholeheartedly, THEN but definitely not now. Now I know that Friday is off. Gene wonít be coming for heís in jail at this very moment. Good riddance! I still canít believe what he did. I discovered that heíd put a tiny microtransmitter in one of my teeth. The dental appointment I had on a Sunday during which he told me I had a cavity? Turns out I didnít. I learned that heíd been paid a hefty sum of money to insert that thing in my mouth so that whenever someone spoke in my presence, the double agents listening on the other end would hear everything. That explained why there was a leak at the office. I was inadvertently passing secret information to the enemy. I canít believe he used me like that. I guess Iím partially to blame. Should have kept my BIG mouth shut when the OSI asked me back to work. I wondered why he was so anxious to see me accept the offer. I trusted him. God how could I have been so blind? Am I doomed to remain alone for the rest of my life? When I meet a nice man heís either attached, married or a con artist. Oh did I mention that his little scheme almost got us both killed? But as usual Steve came to my rescue, my knight in shining armour.
Later that night, Steve invited me out to dinner to try to cheer me up. I didnít know it at first but he had arranged for a friend of his to meet him at the restaurant. A nice man by the name of Ted Harter who works down at security. Steve left us alone to get acquainted but Iím afraid I wasnít good company. I did my best to keep a straight face but I failed miserably. I guess he sensed I wasnít much interested since he didnít call me tonight to ask me out on a date.
The good news is that Steve is keeping our dinner date on Friday. Well it isnít exactly a date but we will be alone sinceÖyou know whoÖisnít coming. I just canít grasp at how fast my whole world crumbled. Itíll take some time to heal and for me to learn to trust another man. What about Steve? Is he trustworthy or will I find out that heís a traitor? I canít begin to fathom that he could be betraying his country but then again, I didnít think Gene was either.
November 21st 1975
You wonít believe this but at this moment, Steve is sleeping soundly on my couch. The poor man is exhausted, but itís not what you think.
I was so excited about this dinner that I asked Mr. Goldman about Steveís favorite dish which was lasagna. He was kind enough to let me off work an hour earlier so that I could drop by the grocery store to buy the missing ingredients. Always at the last minute Peggy! Yes I know but with everything thatís happened this week, you have to understand my forgetfulness and cut me some slack. I wanted the evening to be a resounding success and it was, maybe more than I expected.
Steve showed up clad in a casual light-blue jacket and a turtle neck sweater. Boy did he look dashing. Over a drink, we sat together on the couch and talked mostly about the Dr. Lauzier incident and that he was safely back at the OSI to work on his project and also about his next mission, which sounded dangerous. I was curious to know what would he have liked to be had he not become an astronaut? He smiled and shook his head and made me promise not to laugh. I was stunned when he said that he comtemplated playing professional football. In college he was part of the football team and was even offered a scholarship to continue in the big league until a back injury that left him paralysed for two weeks ended that dream. Flying was another passion of his. He studied long and hard to become the best in his field and enrolled in the space program. The rest is history. I listened to him with such absorbed interest that I completely forgot about the lasagna. When we smelled the smoke, I rushed to the kitchen. Thankfully the lasagna wasnít burnt. The cheese was slightly cripsy but Steve assured me thatís how he liked it.
Dinner was great. Again we were never at a lost for words. I learned so much about the man behind the famous American icon, but now you may ask how come he ended up sleeping on my couch. Did I bore him to death? I donít think I did. Itís funny how it happened. After dinner, we moved to the couch with our glasses of brandy. During a break in the conversation, I got up and went to the kitchen to make some coffee. When I came back to the living room, Steve was fast asleep, his head resting on his fist and his other hand still holding the glass. He looked so adorable. I tried to nudge him awake but he was out like a light. I took his glass and put it on the table. Then I raised his legs and stretched them on the sofa. Slowly, I cupped his head and rested it against the pillow. He moaned and stirred a little but didnít rouse. I went to my bedroom to pick up a blanket and gently spread it on him. He looked so peaceful and I felt the urge to kiss him on the cheek, which I did.
Itís almost midnight and Iím still sitting in the armchair across from this wonderful man. Just looking at him dulls the hate and hurt Iíve felt consuming me all the week. Tomorrow heíll be on his way and weíll go back to the way it was but tonight, Iím holding on to a dream.
November 22nd 1975
Today Steve is no longer sleeping on my couch; heís sleeping in my bed. Donít jump to any conclusions; itís definitely not what your mind is imagining.
This Saturday morning I hadnít set up my alarm but for some unknown reason, my inner clock startled me awake earlier than usual. I hauled myself out of bed with a stretch and a yawn Ė nothing peculiar there Ė donned my night robe and went to the living room. I expected Steve to be gone by then, but I was surprised that he was still lying on the couch, sleeping. I gathered he was a late sleeper like me during weekends, another thing we have in common. I quietly made my way to the kitchen to whip up a quick breakfast. I suspect the smell of bacon tickled his nose for I heard a moan as I was cooking it. His glazed eyes flickered and I greeted him with a broad smile. He was surprised to see me at first, probably thinking that he was back at his apartment. I laughed at the thought that his adled mind was probably seeking an explanation as to what had happened the night before. He was staring at me with a guilty look, thinking he had committed the ultimate sin. That wasnít nice of me to lead him on so I disburdened his mind by recounting last-nightís events leading up to his falling asleep on the sofa. You should have seen his face! It was obvious he was relieved to hear that nothing had happened between us. Any other woman would have construed his facial expression as an insult but not me. It was cute. This may probably sound silly but I think his twinge of conscience may be due to the fact that subconsciously the man has feelings for me, and was afraid that he might have acted upon them in a moment of weakness? Possible? Peggy youíre delirious.
When Steve tried to get up, he grabbed his head in pain. He lay back onto the pillow and told me that the room started spinning. I felt his forehead and sure enough it felt warm. He tried to rise again and felt sick to his stomach. I called Rudy right away who came to examine Steve. He diagnosed the onset of flu. Although Steve was devastated at the news, he nonetheless joked about having walked on the moon and being fitted with a 6-million-dollar machinery and not being able to conteract a silly flu. I couldnít help but chuckle at his comment and he laughed right along with me. He felt so weak but he insisted on returning to his apartment. I offered to put him up here while he weathers the storm and Rudy agreed with me that heíd be best for him to have someone nearby to attend to his needs, especially in the next twenty-four hours. I could tell he was uneasy about the arrangement for he didnít want to inconvenience me. Are you kidding? I wanted him to stay. With a bit of reluctance he agreed and resigned to his fate.
Rudy and I helped him into the bedroom where we laid him down on the bed. Rudy asked me to go fetch some cold water while he stripped Steve of his clothes. Uhn uhn, I got the message, no woman allowed in the room to preserve the patientís dignity. I came back with the pitcher of water and a couple of wash towels. Rudy dipped one into the pitcher and placed it on Steveís forehead. He asked me for a container to use in case Steve felt sick. I translated that he wanted the vomit bowl, the one I keep handy in cases of emergencies like these. Steveís temperature was already 101. I brought another pitcher to use as drinking water. Steve took a few sips out of the glass Rudy handed him and vomitted seconds later. I knew right then that it was going to be a long weekend at home. Nurse Callahan was going to be on duty twenty-four hours and was facing quite a challenge, but although I felt terrible for the man, having been there myself a number of times, I actually looked forward to act as his private nurse.
Rudy gave me last-minute instructions before he left for the pharmacy to fill out the prescription for anti-biotics. I remained by Steveís side, refreshing the cold towels every ten minutes or so. He stared at me with his glazed blue eyes and his eyelids hanging heavily, reached for my hand and squeezed it lightly. He smiled and thanked me for being there before he drifted off. My pleasure Steve. Anything for you.
Sorry I had to interrupt my stream of thoughts for a moment but I heard Steve moan and went to see if he needed anything. False alarm. Iím afraid the feverís worse but Rudy assured me that in all probability, his temperature was going to rise in the next 12 hours or so before the anti-biotics kicked in. I refreshed the towels with cold water, which seemed to calm him down. Iím back in the bedroomís armchair where I planned to stay for the remainder of the night.
Uh-ho heís stirring again. Excuse me.
November 23rd 1975
Itís 5 :35AM so I guess you could say itís Sunday. Iíve been trying to soothe Steve for the past three hours. He was burning up with fever and hallucinating. He was rambling something about his mother and relived his near-fatal accident. When he began to thrash about and weep like a helpless child thatís when I thought I was going to lose it completely. My heart ached so much. I desperately wanted to reach out to him, stop the pain. He opened his eyes briefly and raked the room. It was obvious he was confused, scared and weak. He looked at me with a vitrous distant stare that chilled me to the bone before he closed back his eyes and uttered in a whisper Ď I love youí. God! Did I hear right? I know I did. No mistake about it, but Iím sure he had mistaken me for someone else. Iím tired and overwrought and probably imagining things.
Steve is sleeping soundly now. Rudy promised to drop by this morning to check on his progress. Is it safe to catch some shuteyes? Iíll try to rest with one eye open in case Steve should wake up. Sweat is still pouring out of him and his respiration is a bit wheezy. He coughed his lungs out half the night and vomitted twice. It was heartwrenching to see him so helpless but Iím nonetheless grateful for the opportunity to be a comforting presence, at least I hope I am. When youíre sick, you hate having to fetch for yourself when an effort as tiny as lifting a finger drains you of all your energy. I may be overreacting but Iím scared.
Dear diary, you didnít see him a few hours ago. I thought he might have a heart attack. Okay, I know Iím tired and an emotional wreck. God I love him so much. Make it stop!
Well itís 8 :30PM and Iím back in the armchair, writing to you. Steveís fever is down to a 100 and his breathing is less ragged. His lungs are still badly congested but heís no longer choking on the phlegm and the vomitting has stopped.
I had dozed off when Rudy arrived this morning. I heard a knock and jumped to my feet, thinking it was Steve. A second knock made me realize it was someone at the door. I was so tired I could hardly keep my eyes open. Steveís fever dwindled after I had given him his medication at around 5 :00AM. I told Rudy about the rough night he had and hoped the worse was behind him. I was curious to know if Steveís bionic limbs were affected. Rudy explained in plain English, thank you very much!, that they couldnít be damaged like regular human tissue but that since they are controlled by Steveís central nervous system, if the illness depletes his strength, the limbs donít respond.
ę Heís right. I canít move them. Ľ That was Steve muttering those words as he tried to open his eyes. Oh Heavens above thank you. He was no longer hallucinating. He began to cough out some phlegm caught in his throat to clear his airway. His right eye was red and puffy, not to mention his cute buttoned nose, but he was coherent. He stretched out his arm to reach for my hand. He had that look in his eyes again. Careful Peggy, donít go down that path again! He apologized for having been a pain in the neck. I tried reassuring him that he was no trouble, but my haggard expression and strained eyes told a different story. Rudy gave Steve a glass of water and beckoned me into the living room. I felt queasy. I knew it was bad news. I mean why wouldnít he talk in front of Steve?
He assured me that Steve was making great progress and that most probably would be out of bed by Wednesday. He gave me strict instructions to keep him in bed for next 2 to 3 days. He wished me luck with the task for he knew I was to meet with obstinate resistance on Steveís part. He tends to overestimate his energy and as a result ends up getting sicker. He reiterated the crucial importance to keep him confined in bed. He was going to talk to Oscar about getting me a few days off with pay. After all, I was now retained at Steveís nurse. A mighty big job that deserved compensation.
In the afternoon while Steve slept in a dimlit room, I took the opportunity to catch some Zs myself. I woke up around 5 :30PM and went to the kitchen to fix myself a light dinner. God! He scared me to death! I must have jumped 20 feet in the air when he placed his hand on my shoulder. I swung around and there he was, standing in my night robe. He was leaning against the frig for support. I ordered him to get back into bed this instant but it was like talking to brick. He felt lousy lying in bed and wanted to stretch out his legs. Yeah, right! When he tried to impress me of how strong he was, he nearly fell. Ohhhhh Steve Austin you are a stubborn man! Iím beginning to see that other side of you. He was so weak that it was easy for me to steer him back into the bedroom. I promised to bring him some broth if he behaved. For a minute there, I sounded just like my mother. He gave me a ĎYes, Maíamí and we both burst out laughing.
All through the eveving as we both ate and chatted, I kept wondering how much he remembered of what heíd babbled about during his delirium. That ĎI love youí, did he mean it wholeheartedly or was it just something he blurted out in a state of stupor? One that bore no meaning whatsoever? Should I ask him? No, I canít do that!
November 26th 1975
Tonight Iím sleeping in my bed once again. Steve left early this afternoon. He woke up at around 9 :00AM feeling better and stronger. His fever was still hovering at 99 and his cough was awefully phlegmy, but he insisted on taking his leave, stating that he had inconvenienced me enough and felt he had overstayed his welcome. I thought it was a bit premature for him to leave for he looked a trifle drawn and ashen, but he was able to stand steady and walk straight without wobbling. His appetite had also returned, though he was allowed to eat only hot cereals and jello. He admitted he was in the mood for one of my lasagnas, so I promised him to bake him one once heís fully recovered. He gave me one of his cute growls and customary winks before he went to the bedroom to gather his things and do a bit of tiddying up. I couldnít believe my eyes! I commanded him to stop this nonsense at once, that he was a guest in the apartment. He was running on low energy and his coughing bouts often sapped the speck of strength his body had managed to build. I wanted to offer him to stay a while longer but I was afraid he might have construed the invitation as some sort of a come-on since he was perfectly capable to fetch for himself. I ached so much when he stepped out the door. I knew I was going to see him again at work tomorrow but stillÖit was nice to have a man around the house, even if he was confined in bed half the time. I felt protected.
Well it was nice while it lasted. Tomorrow itís back to work!
November 27th 1975
When I arrived at my desk this morning I was welcomed by a huge bouquet of multicolored roses. I hadnít seen such a glorious array of colors in one vase. I read the card and it said : ĎThank you for putting up with me these last few days. Canít wait for the lasagna you promised. Your humble servant, Steve.í I fashioned a blissful smile and clenched the card close to my heart to absorb the words. As usual Mr. Goldman chose that moment to buzz my desk. Couldnít he have waited just a few more seconds to let my daydream linger a bit? I took my pad and pen and went in. He confessed to me that he was happy to have me back on the job. My replacement had apparently not made the grade. Poor Mindy. I do hope the boss was lenient on her. Iíll have to buy her lunch sometimes to smooth out the rough edge of her tongue for I know she must have cursed him beneath her breath.
As I was taking dictation, the phone rang. It was Rudy Wells asking Mr. Goldman about Steve. He was to report to his lab early this morning but never showed up. He tried reaching him at his house and there was no answer. I began to worry but retained my composure in front of my boss. I tried to figure out where Steve might have gone. Is it that possibly he was at his house in a deep sleep and hadnít heard the phone? When I suggested to drive over there and check, Mr. Goldman gave me such a dubious look that I wilted under his stare. He must have considered presumptious of his secretary to make such an offer, or is it that he suspected that there might be something going on between Steve and me? He was aware of the last five days he spent at my apartment. Rest assured boss, Steve and I areÖwell wereÖ merely good friends. It all changed so fast! No I canít skip ahead. Wait a little longer and Iíll tell you.
To my astonishment, he permitted me to leave my desk and go look for Steve. When I drove to his house, I noticed that his car wasnít in the driveway. I parked alongside the sidewalk and peeked inside the garage. Again, no car. Okay so he wasnít at his house, so where was he? My heart started pounding and I swallowed dryly when it suddenly dawned on me that he might have been involved in a car crash. Why must I be so dramatic???? I chased those worries out of my mind and raked my brain. Then it came to me. Steve once confided that he enjoyed taking long walks in the park, his favorite place of medidation. It was worth the shot.
Okay, this is it. Are you ready? I am. My heart is starting to throb out of my chest.
As luck would have it, there he was, sitting on the grass underneath a huge tree with a twig in his mouth. He appeared to have left earthÖno pun intendedÖ, lost in his thoughts, staring blankly in front of him. I dithered over whether I should disturb him but I had to remind him of his meeting with Rudy. When I did, he looked at me with an empty stare, as though he couldnít remember who I was. He just asked me to sit down beside him. He coughed a bit and sniffed before he reached for my hand. He paused as he laced his fingers with mine. Dear Diary, when he ran his fingers through mine I felt all tingly inside. I knew he was about to confess something to me but I feared it was an apology rather than what I was waiting to hear since the first day we met.
Dear Diary. Iím shaking all over. He said it! He said it! After taking my hand he looked deeply into my eyes and confessed that he had meant wholeheartedly the words he uttered in his delirium. He was lucid when he said them and wouldnít take them back for anything in the world. I swear I stopped breathing. Was I imagining it? Was it a dream? I was in such elation that I felt like I could float on air. I tried to blink away my tears but it was useless. There were too many gushing to my eyes. He cupped my head and smiled. Here I was going nuts, trying to interpret the true meaning behind his heavenly gaze since the farewell dinner and now I had my answer. I closed my eyes as he leaned forward and was surprised when he kissed me on the cheek. He promised to make it a real kiss once heís less contagious. I burst out in a nervous laugh and stroked his hair. I told him I was going to hold him to his words.
My God! I canít sleep. Iím in love!!!!!!! I keep seeing his face when he professed his love for me. Iím shivering all over. Tomorrow is Friday, last day at work. Does he have any plans for the weekend? I donít know if Iíll be able to close my eyes tonight. I need to fix myself a cup of hot chocolate. See you tomorrow!
November 29th 1975
What a Saturday! My very first as Steve Austinís girlfriend. The poor man was still fighting his lingering flu, which had dwindled into a mere cold, but it precluded many fun activities, such as swimming and playing tennis. We nonetheless had a heavenly day. Between you and me I would have rest satisfied just walking in the park all day or sit under a tree, talking, but Steve had the entire day planned.
He took me horseback riding and unlike Gene, he was quite an experienced rider. He tried to impress me by making the horse rear up on its hind legs. Then we stopped for lunch where we ordered, guess what? Lasagnas. He admitted they werenít as good as mine. Heís sweet but I thought the dish could have easily come in close second. Not enough cheese, though.
In the afternoon, we went to a fair where Steve won me one of the biggest stuffed dog I had ever seen. I thought of Peter back home. Wouldnít he be jealous? Late until the evening we ambled through wonderlands of multicolored withered leaves, just holding hands and letting our minds wander. I had never been so in love in my life. He kept kissing me on the hands, cheeks and even on the tip of my nose. Gosh, I canít wait for him to be fully recovered. I long for a real kiss so much that I wouldnít even care if I ended up with the virus myself.
After Steve dropped me off at my apartment to change for the evening, he took me out to dinner to a posh restaurant where we gazed into each otherís eyes and mused about how life works in mysterious ways. Heís such a romantic. Time stood still. Emotions took a fierce hold on me and I surrendered to a burning passion. I canít believe Iím writing this. Iím usually pretty level-headed but with Steve I canít help floating on air. I know Iíll have to put everything into perspective. I canít let my emotions run wild and control my life or I wonít ever eat, sleep or think straight. My mom always told me that emotions were good to have but that it was bad to nurture them. In the short run, they become noxious and they render you weak and sick. I need to suppress those emotions and keep only the genuine feelings, the ones that are heartfelt. Itís hard to explain the difference between the two but thanks to momís coaching, Iím able to differientiate them. Passion is an emotion whereas love is a feeling. Right now I feel both because itís all so new to me. I donít ever want to lose him, but as they say : love is selfless, not possessive When you love someone youíre willing to let that person go for his own good. Hey, I canít believe what Iím saying! Who says Steve wants out? Weíve only just begun. Oh, thatís my favorite song. I think Iíll go put it on. Excuse me.
Yeah, that song sends my senses reeling. Poor Peter, he was sleeping soundly at my feet when I got up to put the tape on. Heís out like a log now. When I look at him I canít help experiencing flashbacks of that bastÖGene. That cute innocent animal is my fateful companion and I hate that he keeps bringing up painful memories for me. I donít want to get rid of Peter. My life is back on the right track now. Itís going so smoothly but I canít help anticipating an imminent disaster.
Iím being overly dramatic as usual. Iím talking drivel. Okay I guess itís time for me to go beddy-bye before I write any more idiocies. Tomorrowís Sunday and Steve has another day planned for us. At night, Iím baking the lasagna I promised him.