Steve heard the sirens as he drove to Oscar’s house. Oscar’s car was in the shop and Steve was going to give him a ride to the office.
‘Wonder what’s going on’? Steve thought as he pulled over to allow the fire engine to race past.
Presuming there might be more Steve stayed put for a few minutes. When it appeared that nothing else was coming he proceeded to Oscar’s
He was shocked at the sight that greeted him. Oscar’s house was in flames. The firemen were trying desperately to put the fire out. He had to stop at a barricade that was in the middle of the road.
”I’m sorry.” The fire chief said to him. “I’m afraid I can’t let you go any farther.”
“I’m a friend of the man who lives in that house.” Steve explained as he showed the fire chief his OSI ID “Is he all right.”
“Steve!” Oscar called walking up the street. “Steve!”
The fire chief looked from Steve who stood beside him to the owner of the house his men were trying to save. He was waving frantically at the man in front of him.
“You can go ahead.” The chief stated.
“Thanks.” Steve stepped around the barricade and joined Oscar. “What happened?”
“I’m not real sure I know.” Oscar sighed. “One minute I was frying bacon, the next my kitchen caught fire. The whole house was in flames when the fire Department got here.”
“I’m just glad you got out.” Steve indicated.
“Yea me to I tell you it was close.” Oscar heaved a sigh.
Steve took his friend by the arm. “Come on. Let’s let them work. We have to get to the office anyway.”
“Yea I suppose your right why sit here and watch?” Oscar muttered
“Exactly” Steve pointed out. “Listen you can stay with me till you either fix this place up or you find something new.”
“Thanks Steve” Oscar slid into the passenger seat. “I could go to a hotel.”
“Don’t be ridiculous Oscar. My house is your house.” Steve offered.
“You don’t know how much I appreciate this Steve. I guess I’ll come back in a while and see how things are going.”
“Yea we can see if anything is worth saving.” Steve said.
“I doubt it; it looked pretty bad to me.” Oscar sighed.
“Yea it looks pretty bad to me too. Is your car ready yet?” Steve asked
“Yea they called this morning. In fact I was on the phone with them when the bacon caught fire.”
“Good then I’ll stop you by the garage, that way you’ll be able to go check on your house…”
Oscar pretended to cry. “What? You don’t want to drive me back?”
“I would love to Oscar. But Rudy has me down for some tests. I think I really need to …”
“I understand. The garage is right up in the next block.”
Steve pulled his car into the parking lot of the garage that was working on Oscar’s car. Oscar got out and the mechanic handed him his keys.
“Thanks.” Oscar replied.
Steve waited to make sure Oscar’s car started they headed for Rudy’s office.
Rudy glanced at his watch when Steve arrived. “You’re late.” He teased.
“Yea I know we had a little problem over at Oscar’s.” Steve started changing into his warm up clothes so he’d be ready for his tests.
“What kind of trouble.” Rudy became serious.
“Oscar had a fire. I don’t know if anything is left or not. I dropped him by the garage so he could get his own car. I think he was going back.”
“I hope it wasn’t too bad….” Rudy began.
“We’re not sure yet, the fire department was still working when we left.” Steve explained.
“I see.” Rudy sounded concerned then turned his attention back to the case at hand. Anyway shall we?”
Steve sighed. “I suppose. Where should I start?
“How about with the barbells let’s see how the arm is doing shall we?”
“I think it’s pretty good. I haven’t had any trouble.”
”I’m thinking of making some improvements. I’ve come up with some new ideas and if my theory holds up, you should be able to lift twice what you do now.”
“Really, Rudy do you think that is necessary?”
“Maybe not but I would like to see if it works. I would also like to work on your legs as well.”
“Oh yea? what do you have planned for them?”
“I don’t think we can get you moving much faster than 60, but what I’ve come up with can get you there faster.”
“That would be great. Let’s get started.” Steve sounded anxious.
“By the way Steve where is Oscar going to stay? I mean if he can’t get back into his house?”
“I offered my place.” Steve grabbed the barbell off the holder.
“Do you think that’s a good idea?” Rudy narrowed his eyes and looked at Steve over his glasses.
“I think it will be fine. Why?” Steve had started lifting the barbell.
“Well it’s just that you and Oscar are so radically different.” He could see Steve was having a little trouble. “How does that feel?”
“To be honest Doc it’s a little heavy.” Steve admitted.
“That’s what I thought. I just had it delivered it took eight men to carry it in.” Rudy informed him.
Steve looked at the barbell he still held over his head. “I’m impressed.”
“Yea well when I finish it shouldn’t feel heavy at all. Why don’t you set it down and have a seat.”
“Yea sure” Steve set the barbell on the floor and walked over to the chair Rudy was standing by.
“Now just relax Steve.” Rudy said. He opened up Steve’s arm and began to make some adjustments. He had just finished when Oscar walked in.
“How’s the house Oscar.” Steve asked.
Oscar took a seat across from him. “It’s gone, there is nothing left. I’m taking the rest of the day off I have to get all new…” He paused a moment “everything.” Oscar sobbed.
“Oscar!” Rudy gasped. “That’s terrible.”
“Yea I know. I’m just glad I didn’t have anything important at home.”
“I think everything in your house is important…” Steve began.
“I mean I sometimes take files home with me to read later. I had taken them all back to the office the day before.”
“Well you caught a break there.” Rudy said as he closed up Steve’s arm. “There you are Steve. Try that out.”
Again Steve lifted the barbell. “Hey Rudy that’s great” Steve smiled. It’s not heavy at all.”
“Ok now the legs…” Rudy started.
“Say what are you two doing anyway?” Oscar wondered.
“Just making some improvements Oscar” Rudy informed him.
“Well let me know how it turns out. Steve I’ll see you tonight.”
“Yea Oscar” Steve sat in the chair again and let Rudy work on his legs.”
“Ok Steve let’s try the treadmill.” Rudy pointed. “Let’s see it usually takes you “…Rudy thumbed through the chart he held in his hand “two minutes to get to sixty. Let’s see if we improved on that as well.”
Steve stepped onto the treadmill Rudy was shocked Steve got up to sixty in less than thirty seconds. “That’s great Steve.” Rudy said when Steve finished. “I mean I surprised my self on that one.”
“Well that’s good. Listen if I’m going to have company I better go get things ready. I just got back from a mission two days ago and the place is a mess. Two weeks worth of mail all over the place and no one has used the guest room in months. I’m sure it could stand a good dusting.”
“Yes especially if Oscar is going to sleep in there. You know how fussy he can be.”
“No I didn’t. I hope I didn’t make a mistake.”
“Steve left Rudy’s office and headed home. He quickly got to work getting things straightened up. He had just put a ham loaf in the oven as Oscar walked through the door.
“Dinner will be ready in about an hour. Here I’ll help you with that stuff.” Steve indicated the boxes Oscar had set on the living room floor.
“Thanks. I don’t think I’ll ‘unpack’ everything. I had to buy all new clothes I mean everything. I still have more shopping to do. I mean when I get my own place again I’m going to need furniture and well you know.”
“Yea I do.” Steve started carrying boxes into the spare bedroom. “Here you go. You can use this bathroom too. I think since I’ve lived here I’ve only used it twice.”
“So that’s what that horrible smell is?” Oscar laughed.
“You better believe it.” Steve joined him laughing. “Why don’t you get settled and by then it should be time for dinner.”
“Thanks Steve.” Oscar again proclaimed his gratitude
Steve and Oscar set across from one another at the kitchen table. “Now Steve” Oscar started. “Tell me about these improvements.’
Steve filled Oscar in on the improvements Rudy had made.
“That sounds great!” Oscar stated as he stood from the table. “Here I’ll help with the dishes.”
“Thanks Oscar.” Steve stood. “Wow now that’s weird.” Steve muttered.
“Did you say something Steve?” Oscar asked as he started piling dishes in the sink
“Just that this is a very strange feeling” Steve stated.
“What’s that?” Oscar wondered.
“I don’t know. I just feel like I can hardly stand.” Steve muttered.
“Want me to call Rudy?”
“No I’ll see him about it tomorrow. I’m sure it’s nothing.”
Later that night Oscar was woke up by Steve screaming. Oscar ran into Steve’s room. “Steve what is it what’s wrong?”
“Oscar. Call Rudy. I can’t move my legs at all…”
“I’m on it pal.” Oscar dialed Rudy’s home number.
“I don’t know what the problem is Rudy. He says he can’t move his legs at all.”
“I’ll be right there.” Rudy started to hang up.
“You know Rudy it started before this. When he got up from dinner his said his legs felt weak.”
“I’m on my way!” And without letting Oscar reply, Rudy hung up.
Oscar walked over to Steve who was still lying on the bed. “Rudy’s on his way. Just hang in there, huh pal?”
“I don’t quite know how to say this. I’m scared to death right now Oscar.” Steve’s voice trembled.
“Rudy doesn’t live far; he should be here in just a moment.” Oscar assured.
“I hope he gets here soon…” Steve drifted off to sleep.
“Steve?” Oscar called. “Steve!!!!!” Oscar shouted.
Steve came awake with a start. “Oscar what the heck is wrong? You scared the…you know what out of me.”
“Well now we’re even. You just scared the living daylights out of me.” Oscar muttered.
They were interrupted when the doorbell rang. “That must be Rudy” Oscar got up and headed for the door.
Steve listened as Oscar walked through the living room to the front door. “Come on in Rudy.” He heard Oscar say.
“Where is he?” Rudy asked
“In the bedroom, this way Rudy” Rudy followed Oscar back to Steve’s room.
“Hey Doc” Steve looked up at him. “I don’t think your little improvements are all that great.”
“Let’s have a look shall we.” Rudy sat on the edge of Steve’s bed.
”Be my guest.” Steve chuckled.
Rudy opened up Steve’s legs and began to undo what he had done before. “Ok Steve. Try that out.”
Steve slowly began to move his legs. “That’s much better. But will I go from zero to sixty in under thirty seconds?”
Rudy shook his head. “I guess not. Not with out replacing both legs. These just aren’t equipped to handle it. Maybe one day if these become seriously damaged we can make it work.”
“Well let’s hope we won’t come to that.” Oscar spoke for the first time.
“I suppose you’re right. Listen, Steve. I want to see you in the lab first thing in the morning. I want to test your legs and make sure there was no damage.”
“Ok. Thanks for coming out so late.” Steve smiled as he continued to move his legs under the blankets to assure himself they were still ok.
“No problem Steve. Anytime” Rudy packed up his bag and headed for the front door.
“Here Rudy I’ll show you out.” Oscar led him to the door. “You’re sure he’s going to be all right?”
“I won’t really know till I run those tests later this morning.” Rudy opened the door. “I’ll see you later Oscar.”
“Yea night Rudy” Oscar locked the door and headed back to Steve’s room. “Feeling better?”
“Yea I sure am. I’m glad you were here tonight.” Steve rolled over and fell back to sleep.
“I am to Steve.” Oscar turned out the light and went back to his own room.
The next morning Oscar offered to give Steve a ride to Rudy’s office. “Maybe you shouldn’t drive just yet.” He observed. “Why not wait till Rudy has had a chance to check things over.”
“Yea I guess you’re right.” Steve sighed. “I mean my legs do feel a little weak.”
“That’s what I’m saying, come on I’ll give you a ride.”
They arrived at Rudy’s office before Rudy was there.
Oscar looked around at the empty room. “I need to get to my office. Will you be ok?” Oscar wanted to know before he left.
“Yea Oscar I’ll be fine.” Steve sat on the couch and waited for Rudy to arrive.
“Hi Steve” Rudy spoke as he came in. “Sorry I’m late, I over slept.”
“That’s ok Doc. I just got here myself.” Steve assured.
“Well, should we get started then” Rudy pointed to the treadmill.”
Steve got on and started running. Rudy watched the speed read out. 15, 20, 21, 22.
“Come on Steve. Let’s get cracking.” Rudy chided.
“I am Rudy.” Steve sighed as he stopped.
“Ok I was afraid that would happen. Come on we have a lot of work to do. I really hate to do it, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to put you completely under and operate.”
“Ok I guess if you don’t have any other way.” Steve sighed.
“I’m afraid not. By the way, how’s the roommate?”
“So far so good” Steve smiled. “I’m sure glad he was there last night.”
“Yea so am I.” Rudy started preparing Steve for surgery.
“Ok Steve just lay back and let the sedative take affect. I’m going to inform Oscar as to what’s going on.”
“Yea sure ok” Steve laid down on the gurney and was asleep before Rudy got out of the room.
“How is he?” Oscar asked when Rudy entered his office.
“I’m getting him ready for surgery. I just wanted to let you know. It won’t take long. I just feel I can work better if Steve is fully asleep.”
“Well ok if that’s all there is to it.” Oscar stood and followed Rudy down to the lab.
“You can just wait here Oscar.” Rudy pointed to the couch. “It shouldn’t take more than an hour or so, maybe even less.”
“Ok Rudy. I’ll be right here.” Oscar sat down and waited for Rudy to come back. Rudy was true to his word the surgery only lasted about 45 minutes Oscar jumped to his feet when Rudy walked in. “How is he?”
“He’s fine. I just needed to repair what I had done earlier.”
“What about what you and Steve were talking about last night. I mean the zero to sixty in less than thirty seconds.”
“That’s not going to happen. I wish it would work but it just won’t. You can see him in a couple of hours.”
“Thanks Rudy. I’ll be back then.”
Rudy was right with Steve when he woke up. “Hey Rudy How did it go?” Steve asked.
“I think you’ll do just fine.” Rudy nodded. “We’ll test everything tomorrow. In the mean time I want you to stay here for the night.”
“But I have Oscar staying at my place.” Steve argued. “I need to be there…”
“Steve. Oscar doesn’t need a babysitter.” Rudy reminded. “He’ll be just fine at your place.”
“Yea, I suppose you’re right.” Steve sighed as he let his head fall back on the pillow.
“Did I hear you two talking about me?” Oscar said as he entered the room.
“Steve was just concerned about your accommodations tonight.” Rudy stated. “I assured him you would do just fine on your own for one night. I want Steve to stay here, then I’ll test his legs in the morning.”
“I’ll be fine Steve.” Oscar assured. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll just order take out, in fact I’ll more than likely eat in my office.”
“I didn’t mean it that way Oscar. I just feel like I’m not a very good host. I mean here I invite you to spend time at my place…”
“It’s not your fault Steve.” Oscar reminded.
“Yea I suppose not. “Well make yourself at home. There is plenty to eat in the refrigerator.”
“Thanks Steve. You stay here and do as Rudy says. I’ll be here first thing in the morning”
“That’s fine Oscar. Just don’t fix any bacon.” Steve laughed.
“I’ll try not too.” Oscar laughed as he went through the door.
The next day Rudy tested Steve’s legs. They were right back where they had been before. “I’m sorry the other didn’t work Steve.” Rudy sighed as Steve was leaving his office
“Yea, me too” Steve called back. “Well I’m going to go home and take it easy the rest of the day.”
“That sounds like a good idea to me.” Oscar agreed as he walked into Rudy’s office. He turned to Rudy. “You’re sure he’s back up to par?”
“One hundred percent” Rudy told him.
“Well that’s good.” He turned back to Steve. “Hey listen Steve. I’ll see you later.”
“Yea Oscar later” Steve muttered.
“Is something wrong?” Rudy asked.
“Huh? No nothing is wrong.” Steve snorted.
Steve drove on back to his house. He was glad to have the place to himself for a little while. He was beginning to wonder why he had agreed to this in the first place. He was beginning to regret his invitation. The more he thought about it the angrier he became.
By the time Oscar got back to the house, Steve was waiting. “Good evening pal” He sneered.
“Steve? What’s the matter?” Oscar wondered.
“Just seeing you for what you really are.” Steve shouted.
“Really and what’s that.” Oscar demanded.
“You’re nothing but a selfless basta…”
“Steve! I don’t think that is called for.” Oscar defended.
“Yea,” Well I do!” Steve stomped off into the bedroom.
‘Now I wonder what that’s all about’. Oscar thought.
Steve appeared moments later with a revolver.
“Uh Steve, what’s that for?” Oscar’s voice trembled.
“Why don’t you know?” Steve mocked.
“No I don’t.” Oscar continued to shake.
“It’s simple Oscar. I’m going to kill you…”
“Ok Steve I’ll play along.”
“Play?” Steve questioned. “You think this is a game? I have news for you, it’s not I am tired of working for you.”
“Look Steve I understand your frustration.” Oscar tried to calm the mad man before him.
“You don’t know the half of it.” Steve yelled.
“I know I have sent you on a lot of assignments lately. I’ll ease off for a bit ok?’
“Too little to late!” Steve screamed shoving the gun into Oscar’s ribs.
“Steve. I don’t want to hurt you but if you don’t put that thing down…”
“You can’t hurt me?” Steve held the gun away from Oscar. “I don’t need this.” He slowly bent the barrel of the gun back then tossed the gun down.
“Well at least you put it down.” Oscar noted.
“I told you I don’t need that.” Steve reached over and lifted Oscar up off the floor with one hand.
‘Well at least that answers my question.’ Oscar thought. ‘He is Steve.’ “Look Steve I don’t know what’s going on with you, but maybe I should give Rudy a call. Huh?”
“You’re not calling anybody!!” Steve let Oscar down with a thud. “Come on. I have the perfect spot for you.” He shoved Oscar into the hall closet. He then tied Oscar’s hands to the coat rod. “There that ought to hold you till I decide how I’m going kill you.”
“Steve! Please! Think about what you are doing.” Oscar pleaded as Steve slammed the door.
Oscar grew more frightened by the minute as he listened to his friend slam through the house cursing and muttering to himself,
“Steve!” Oscar called from his closet prison.
Steve threw the door open. “What is it?” He screamed.
“Would you untie me and let me out of here. I have something I have to do.”
“What!” Steve yelled.
“Oh I understand.” When Oscar had finished Steve walked over to him. “I suppose you’re hungry to?”
“Well, as a matter of fact…”
“Here!” Steve slammed Oscar down on the dinning room table. He started forcing left over ham loaf into Oscar’s mouth. “I hope you choke on it!!”
Oscar managed to pull himself away. “Steve! Come on what has gotten into you. Look I can take a joke as much as the next person, but this has gone far enough!!” Oscar was becoming very angry.
“Who says I’m joking?” Steve seethed.
“All I can say is you better be. Steve if you don’t stop I’m going to have to call security.” Oscar warned.
“I told you!” Steve ranted. “You are not calling anybody!! Now come on you have to go back into the closet.”
“Steve, I won’t do it.” Oscar refused.
“You’ll do what I tell you!” Steve thought a moment. “Now where have I heard that before? Oh yea from you. Well, well looks like the tables have turned.”
Steve was still deep in thought. Oscar thought he would take advantage. He bolted for the phone. ‘I have to call somebody’. He thought. ‘Something is very wrong here’. He reached for the receiver
Steve jerked it out of his hand. “I said you aren’t calling anybody!!” Steve ripped the phone out of the wall. He then grabbed Oscar and once again forced him into the closet and locked it.
Oscar began to pound on the door. “Steve let me out. Come on if you let me out now I’ll forget the whole thing. Ok?
Steve pounded back. “Shut up or I’ll tie you up again.”
Oscar allowed himself to slide to the floor. ‘Just what is going on here’? He asked himself over and over again. ‘This isn’t like Steve at all. I thought for a while it wasn’t Steve but I’m afraid it is. I need to get Rudy over here’.
Oscar sat listening for what seemed like hours. Suddenly around midnight he didn’t hear Steve anymore.
“Now what?” he muttered out loud. For the first time Oscar realized the door hinge was on the inside of the door, he also remembered there was a small tool kit on the top shelf. He fumbled around in the dark searching for the screwdriver he knew was in there somewhere.
Slowly Oscar began to remove the hinges from the door. He pushed the door out of his way and slowly stepped out of the closet. Was Steve waiting for him? What would he do if he caught him?
Oscar walked over to the phone ready to call someone who could help him, but remembered Steve had ripped it out of the wall, he walked around and discovered in his tirade he had ripped the other phones out of the wall as well.
Oscar started searching for Steve. ‘I wonder where he could be’? Oscar thought as he looked around the demolished living room.
“Steve what is going on?” Oscar spoke out loud. “Maybe he’s gone.” Oscar thought as he started picking up the mess
He had just gotten started when he remembered the phone in his car. Oscar slipped out the front door and got in his car.
“Rudy you need to get over to Steve’s right now!” Oscar ordered.
“Yea, what’s the problem?” Rudy yawned into the phone.
“I don’t know. I think Steve has lost his mind or something, just hurry!”
Within minutes Rudy arrived. He stared at the living room.
“What happened in here?” Rudy wondered. “Did a tornado go through?”
“You’re close it was Steve.” Oscar explained.
“Steve did this?” Rudy questioned.
Oscar nodded. “I’ll say.” He began to tell Rudy of the horribly terrifying evening he had spent.
“That doesn’t sound like Steve at all.” Rudy commented when Oscar had finished.
“Well it must be him. He bent the barrel of a gun and lifted me up with one hand…”
“That sounds like something Steve could do…I just don’t think he would. Is he still here?”
“I really don’t know. I never actually heard him leave, it just got real quiet so I let myself out of the closet.”
Rudy nodded. “Have you looked for him?”
Oscar shook his head. “No I haven’t.”
“Maybe we better see if he’s still in the house.” Rudy suggested.
“To be real honest, I don’t know if I really want to see him or not.” Oscar muttered as he followed Rudy from room to room in the house.
“Did you look for him at all after you managed to escape from the closet?” Rudy questioned.
“Only for a moment when he didn’t respond when I called his name I figured he had gone.”
Rudy continued opening doors searching for Steve. He opened the door to Steve’s room
“There he is!” Rudy cried out.
“Where?” Oscar asked He followed Rudy into the room. Rudy rushed to the unconscious Steve on the floor…