“I’m so sorry Steve.” Oscar put his arm around him. “I know how you felt about your mother and Jim both.”
“Thanks Oscar…so you don’t care if I take some time? Cassie and I are going to Ojai to make the arrangements and start the task of sifting through seventy plus years of junk.”
“Take all the time you need…”
“If any real emergency comes up, don’t hesitate to call.” Steve offered.
“I wouldn’t think about it.” Oscar again patted him on the back. “You just take care of what needs to be done. Let us know when the funeral is. Rudy and I will be there.”
“I will. More that likely later on in the week” Steve explained.
“That will work. If you need anything just give a call. We can be in Ojai in a matter of a few hours.”
“I just might do that. We’re leaving the kids with Cassie’s mom. I don’t think it’s the time or place for kids.”
“I don’t either. We’ll bring them out for the funeral if you want…”
“Cassie’s mom said she would, but thanks.” Steve stepped out of Oscar’s office and into the hall.
“How are you Steve?” Rudy asked.
“I’ll be ok I guess. I’m on my way to get Cassie. Then the two of us are on our way to Ojai…”
“If you need…”
“Oscar already told me. Thanks Rudy.” Steve walked over to the elevator and pressed the button.
Rudy stepped into Oscar’s office. “I’m worried about him.” He sat in one of the chairs across from Oscar’s desk.
“So am I.” Oscar agreed. “But he’s got a pretty good head on his shoulders, and besides he’ll be with Cassie, she won’t let anything happen.”
“I’m glad he’ll have her and then there are the kids to consider.” Rudy reminded. “He needs to keep himself ‘above’ water so to speak for the kids.”
“That’s true. I told him to call if he needed any help.”
“Good. I hope he takes you up on it.”
“Cassie!” Steve called as he walked in the back door. “Cassie!”
“Shhh” Cassie’s mother placed her finger over her lip. “I just got the baby to sleep.”
“Oh I’m sorry.” Steve whispered. “Where is Cassie?”
“Up stairs packing I came out here to get dinner started. What time are the two of you leaving?”
“I hope to be gone soon. Our flight is at 5:00” Steve reminded.
Cassie’s mother looked at her watch “You two better get a move on then.” She brushed past him and started taking items out of the cupboards to prepare dinner.
Steve headed upstairs to hurry Cassie along. “We really need to get going sweetie.” Steve pressed.
“I’m just about ready. I just want to make sure the kids are rounded up so mom won’t have to hunt them down.”
“Good idea. I’ll take the bags out to the car.” Steve sighed.
“Are you going to be alright?” Cassie was concerned about her husband. “I know how close you, Helen and Jim were.”
“I’ll be fine. We just need to get through this. Then I think we’ll be just fine.” Steve continued to sigh. He lifted the suitcases and headed for the steps.
Before they left they gave one last peak at the baby girl asleep in her crib, then after hugging and kissing the two older boys, Steve and Cassie got into the car and headed for the airport.
“I’m glad you decided to take a commercial flight.” Cassie observed on their way to Dulles. “I don’t think you’re in any condition to fly.”
“That’s why I booked us on the first flight to Ojai we could get.” Steve’s voice trailed off.
Cassie settled back for their trip. She wished Steve had let her drive, but he seemed to be doing fine. He had been really down since he had gotten the news about his mother and Jim the day before.
They arrived at Dulles a few minutes later Steve pulled his car into the parking lot. You’re not parking in ‘long term’?” Cassie asked.
Steve shook his head. “Oscar said he and Rudy would be out later to pick it up. That way we won’t have to pay the fees for long term.” He grabbed their bags out of the trunk and the two walked across the parking lot to the main terminal.
“You know.” Steve began as he and Cassie settled in for the flight. “I haven’t felt like this since David passed away.”
“David…David.” Cassie thought. “Oh yes your half brother, Helen and Jim’s son. He died when you were?”…
“Eleven.” Steve finished. “I still have regrets after all these years. Sometimes I think mom never really forgave me.”
“Of course she did Steve. In fact we talked about it shortly after our David was born. I had asked her why you were so insistent on the name David. That’s when she told me the whole story. I really wish you would have.”
“I know I should have, it was just too painful. Like I said, I was eleven, he was five. I was right beside him when it happened. I always felt I could have done something.”
“The way your mother tells the story, there was nothing anyone could do.” Cassie assured.
“That’s what they’ve told me over the years.” Steve sighed.
“You have to stop blaming yourself.” Cassie patted his knee.
Steve drifted to sleep and dreamed of that fateful day oh so many years ago….”
“It was a beautiful June afternoon. June 12th to be exact. “Mom?” Steven called. “Mom, can Davie and I go to the lake swimming?”
“I guess so.” Helen replied. “Be home in time for dinner. You know Jim doesn’t like to be kept waiting when he gets home from work.”
“I know. Don’t worry we’ll be back long before dinner” Steven called as he and his five year old brother headed down the path that led to the lake behind their house.
The two boys arrived at the lake and began splashing each other with water.
“I bet you can’t swim to the middle of the lake and back again.” Davie taunted.
“I bet I can.” Steven began paddling his way out to the middle of the lake. “See I told you I could make it to the middle” Steven boasted. “Now let me see you do it.”
Davie shrugged his shoulders. “Ok I bet I do it better than you.” He began to make his way out to the middle where Steven was treading water. “See I told you I could do it.” David smiled.
“Yea, well now we have to make it back.” Steven taunted this time. “Come on I’ll race you.”
They started off when David’s foot got caught on debris in the lake. It grabbed hold of him and wouldn’t let go.”
“Steve!” David called “Steve help I’m stuck.”
“Yea right you just want me to come back then you’ll get ahead…”
“No really.” David pleaded. “I’m really stuck.” David could no longer keep his head above water. He kept going under.
“Davie if you’re pulling my leg…so help me I’ll…” He swam back to where Davie had gone under and hadn’t come back up yet. Steven dove into the water and tried to find his brother after several times he still couldn’t find the five year old.
Steven swam back to shore and ran to get Jim who he knew would be home. Before leaving the house Jim alerted the sheriff’s office who joined them in their efforts to rescue little Davie Elgin.
Steve stood on the shore flanked by Helen on one side and Jim on the other. “Oh Jim, what are we going to do?” Helen cried.
“I don’t know.” Jim cried. “I just don’t know.” Just then the sheriff approached them “We found him Mr. and Mrs. Elgin.” The sheriff’s face bore a grim expression. “I’m sorry. The rescue team did all they could.”
“What do you mean all they could?” Helen cried.
The sheriff shook his head. “I’m sorry” was all he could say.
Jim put his arm around her. “Come on let’s go home…”
“Steve? We’re there.” Cassie was nudging Steve in the ribs. “Come on honey we landed ten minutes ago.”
“Steve opened his eyes to see the captain and the rest of the crew standing around him. I’m sorry I must have fallen asleep.” He gave a weak smile then turned to Cassie. “I suppose we better head for the ranch.”
An hour later they were at the ranch. “I say we start with the basement and work our way up.” Cassie suggested.
“I was thinking the same thing. I asked the Martin’s to leave us a bunch of boxes Steve indicated the boxes piled on the front porch.
“Well let’s get started.” They headed into the house and headed down the steps. “Now.” Steve began. “I suppose we get to work.”
They began sorting through years of junk. They made three piles. One for them to keep. One for charity and the last was garbage.
“Hey what’s this?” Steve held up an old fashioned telephone. “I wonder if it still works. I bet you could get quite a bit of money for it at an auction or something.”
“Yes” Cassie laughed “maybe six million dollars. You could pay Oscar back and…”
“Very funny. I’m going to see if it still works.” Steve carried it upstairs.
“Well” Cassie noted “That’s a man for you. Goes away to play when there is serious work to be done.” She followed him upstairs.
“Well?” She asked. “Does it work?”
“I don’t know I have to plug it in first.” Steve smiled. “If it does I think I’ll take it home and use it in the den.”
“What ever you say I say it’s junk.” Cassie sniffed.
“I say it’s kind of cool.” Steve sneered.
“What ever you say” Cassie sat on the couch next to him. She watched as Steve plugged the phone in then lifted the receiver.
“Hey I have a dial tone.” Steve smiled. “As if by rote Steve’s fingers dialed the four digit number that used to be his. “What do you know?” Steve’s face was puzzled “It’s ringing.”
“Hello” The voice on the other end spoke. “Elgin residence this is Helen…”
< 2 >
E…e…excuse me?” Steve stammered.
“I said this is Helen Elgin, who is this.” Helen asked.
“Th..thi. this is Steve. Steve Austin.” Steve continued as the color drained from his face.
Cassie could only stare at him with concern. “What is it?” She asked.
Steve shook his head. “I don’t know.” He whispered.
“Steve Austin?” Helen questioned “That’s not possible. Steven Austin…my son Steven Austin, is sitting right beside me.”
“Um uh sorry wrong number” Steve slammed the phone down.
“What was that all about?” Cassie asked.
“Without thinking” Steve began. “I dialed my old phone number from when I was a kid. My mom answered on the other end.” Steve replied his face still white.
“Oh Steve, that’s not possible.” Cassie noted.
“I know that, but who ever answered the phone said ‘Elgin residence…this is Helen’ Cassie I swear that’s what she said.”
“Maybe you imagined it. That could be possible…couldn’t it?”
“Yea it’s possible…but I’m sure it happened.” The color was starting to return to Steve’s face. “Cass I swear it happened.”
“Look it’s been a long day, why don’t we get to the hotel and get a good night’s sleep.” Cassie suggested.
“I figured we would stay here.” Steve sounded disappointed.
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea.” Cassie took his hand. “I think a hotel would be much better.”
“I suppose you’re right. We’ll go to dinner; it may be pretty relaxing without the kids.” Steve surmised. “Then we can start fresh in the morning.”
“Good idea.” They headed out the door and got into the car. All the way Steve couldn’t help but think about the phone, the call and his mother’s voice on the other end. He would have to investigate more tomorrow.
The next day Steve and Cassie had breakfast in their hotel room, they called home and talked to their sons David and Campbell then Cassie’s mother. They were relieved to hear things were going good in their absence.
“Well enough stalling. We still have to get that house cleaned out so we can put it on the market.” Cassie broke the silence.
“Yea I suppose.” They headed back to the ranch and began once again sorting through the collection of this and that in the basement.
“You know Cassie.” Steve was going through a box of books his mother had collected over the years. “Maybe we shouldn’t put the house on the market. Maybe we should keep it for us. That way we’d have a place to stay here in Ojai.”
“I doubt we’ll be coming out here much. I mean we really don’t have any friends in this area.” Cassie looked up from what she was doing.
“Yea I suppose your right.” He set the books back in the box. “I think we should just donate these to the local library, they can either use them or sell them to get money to buy newer books.”
“That sounds like a good idea.” Cassie thrust another box at him. “Here see what’s in here.”
“In a minute I’ll be right back.” Steve stood and headed for the steps.
“Where are you going?” Cassie gave him a stern look.
“Just up stairs for a minute” Steve started upstairs “I’ll be right back.”
He sat down on the couch and lifted the receiver. Once again he dialed his home phone number.
“Hello” Helen’s voice came across the line again.
“Yea uh hi could I please speak to Jim.” Steve began. He didn’t want to upset his mother anymore than he already had. He thought it would be better if he spoke to Jim.
“Yes just a moment. Who is calling?”
“Uh Steve…Steve Adams” Steve replied.’
“I’ll get him.” Steve heard Helen walk across the kitchen and call for her husband
“Jim” She called. “You have a phone call.”
“Who is it?” Jim asked.
“A man named Steve Adams.” Helen told him.
“I don’t know anyone by that name.” Jim proclaimed.
“Well I think you better take the call.” Helen advised
“Yea ok” Jim picked up the receiver. “This is Jim who is this?”
“This is Steve Adams.” Steve spoke.
“I’m sorry the name doesn’t ring a bell.” Jim grumbled.
“I realize that.” Steve continued. “But in a way you do know me.”
“I’m afraid I don’t understand…” Jim replied.
“I’m your son…Steve.” Steve tried to explain his voice shaking
“You’re the b s t rd that called here yesterday and scared the h ll out of my wife.” Jim shrieked into the phone.
“I didn’t mean to do that.” Steve was shocked. He quickly hung up the phone.
“Cassie!” He called.
“What is it?” Cassie came charging up the stairs at the distressed sound of Steve’s voice. She was shocked by what awaited her. Steve’s face was whiter than it had been the day before. She ran over to him “Steve are you alright?”
“No I’m not. It just happened again. I called the house mom answered. I didn’t want to bother her again so I asked to speak to dad….”
“Go on. I’m listening.” Cassie laid a reassuring hand on Steve’s trembling shoulder.
“Yesterday you were sitting there when I told mom who I was. She told me the only Steve Austin she knew was her son Steven and he was sitting right beside her.”
Cassie thought for a moment. “You know what I think?” She finally spoke.
Steve shook his head. “Care to share it with me?”
“Not at all Steve I think you are more upset by your mother and father’s passing than you thought.” Cassie caressed his cheek.
“No Cass it’s more than that…” Steve began.
“I know. You didn’t let me finish. “I think you were scarred by the death of David and it’s only now beginning to surface.”
“You think that’s it?” Steve looked her in the eye.
“What else could it be?” Cassie ran her fingers through his thick hair.
“I don’t know, but I’m not sure I like what’s going on.” Steve slumped down on the couch next to her.
“Maybe we shouldn’t tackle this today. We have plenty of time.” Cassie soothed.
“Yea I think you’re right.” Steve stood from the couch. He looked back down at the phone. “I know you think I’m crazy…”
“No, by the way, you said you called back again today.”
Steve nodded. “Yes. That’s what I started to tell you.” He paused for a moment. That’s what has me so upset. I called back like I said. I asked to talk to dad I didn’t want to upset mom anymore.
“You said all that before. Go on.” Cassie urged.
Steve was silent for several minutes then he began. “To get mom to bring him to the phone I told them my last name was Adams. Dad of course said he knew no one by that name.”
“Uh huh” Cassie wanted him to keep going so she really didn’t want to interrupt.
“Anyway he gets on the phone I told him who I really was. He called me a b st rd and to stop bothering his wife.” Steve began to cry. “He called me that Cass I can’t believe it.”
“Oh Steve he didn’t know who you were.” Cassie assured.
“How could he not know I’m his son?” Steve sobbed
“I don’t know. But like I said let’s worry about it in the morning.” Cassie helped Steve to his feet and they headed for the car.
They ate dinner in the hotel room and for the first time Steve told Cassie of that fateful day twenty plus year before.
“Oh Steve that sounds awful” Cassie sobbed. “I wish you would have shared this with me years ago.”
“I know I should have.” Steve put his arm around her. I guess its one memory I’d like to forget about.”
“I guess I can understand that.” Cassie agreed.
The next day Steve was up early. He headed back to the house before Cassie had a chance to wake up. ‘I just have to try it again.’ He thought as he walked over to the ranch. ‘I have to convince dad that I’m his son…’
Cassie was scared when she woke up and Steve was nowhere to be seen. ‘I wonder where he went’. She asked herself. ‘I bet he’s back at the ranch.’
She got in the car and headed in that direction. ‘I just hope he doesn’t do anything foolish.’ She thought.
She made one stop on the way. She decided to make an appointment at the funeral home so she and Steve could talk about making arrangements.
Cassie debated as to call Rudy about what was going on. ‘Steve would probably have my head if I did…If it gets any worse I’m going to have to.’ She passed the pay phone and got in the car and headed back for the ranch.
At the ranch Steve stared at the phone trying to muster up the courage to call the house again. It took him nearly a half an hour but he picked up the phone and dialed.
“Yes, hello” Jim answered.
“Dad…please don’t hang up.” Steve pleaded.
“Oh it’s you again.” Jim huffed.
Steve paused for a moment to see if Jim was going to hang up. When he didn’t Steve continued. “First of all I need to know the date.” He asked.
“It’s June 11th 1953, why?”
“Look I know it sounds incredible to believe but I’m telling you the truth.” Steve began again.
“I’m just about ready to hang up.” Jim continued to shout.
“Please don’t, just hear me out.” Steve pleaded.
“You have one minute to convince me you’re who you say you are.” Jim seethed.
“I can describe your house, what the kids look like…”
“You broke into my house!” Jim accused.
“No I didn’t. I grew up in that house. The boy’s room is at the end of the hall. Even though it should by all rights be the master bedroom you and mom gave it to us kids so we could have the bigger room.”
“You have to do better than that.” Jim reached over and flipped on the T.V. “Steven, Davie the ball game is starting” he called.
“What ball game?” Steve asked.
“The team here in California and the New York” Jim told him.
Steve thought for a moment ‘ I think I remember that game.’ “Ok I can prove it. The California will win the game. 5 to 4 they’ll be behind till the bottom of the ninth inning, but then they’ll rally. I’ll call you back in a few hours.”
“I’ll be here.” Jim was taking the man on the other end of the line a little more seriously now.
“Ok in a couple of hours.” Steve hung up and Jim, Steven and Davie watched the game.
“What are you doing?” Cassie asked standing in the doorway separating the kitchen from the living room.
Shocked to hear her voice Steve quickly turned his head toward her “nothing I was just talking to dad. I’m trying to convince him that I’m his son.”
“Oh Steve, I’m really worried about you. Look maybe I should call Oscar and Rudy huh?”
“I don’t need you to call them.” Steve tried to remain calm. “Cassie I’m telling you it is real. I talked to him the same way I’m talking to you now.” Steve spoke softly.
“Why don’t you go rest?” I’ll fix us something for breakfast. I’ll let you know when it’s ready.”
“I am rather tired, I didn’t sleep very well last night. I tell you Cassie it’s unbelievable I pick up the receiver, I dial our old number and bam I’m connected to the past.”
“Yea well I think you better take a breather. I’ll fix breakfast.”
Steve headed back to the living room and lay down on the couch. The ball game he had just described to his father played out in his head. “Now why do I remember that game so well?” He drifted off to sleep.
Cassie tip toed into the living room seeing Steve was asleep she headed back to the kitchen and called Rudy. “Rudy I think this has been harder on Steve than any of us figured.” She began.
“Why Cassie, what’s the trouble?” Rudy asked.
Cassie began to tell Rudy of Steve’s obsession with the old telephone he had found…
“You mean he really believes he’s talking to his parents?” Concern rose in Rudy’s voice.
“Yes Rudy it frightens me.” Cassie cried.
“I can see where it would.” Rudy spoke.
“I also think its bringing back memories of his brother.” Cassie added.
“Really?” Rudy asked.
“That seems to by the brunt of it.” Cassie whispered so not to wake Steve.
“Ok I’m going to suggest that you humor him for now, but try to keep him away from the phone, no telling what could happen if he picks it up and realizes he’s been talking to dead air the whole time.”
“Ok Rudy oh one other thing I suggested to Steve that we call you he discouraged it. So when you come out don’t mention I called.”
“You got it.” Rudy looked out the window in Oscar’s office. The rain was still coming down in sheets. “Oscar is the airport still closed?” He asked.
“Yea it is. And according to what I just heard it will remain that way for the better part of the day. We couldn’t possibly get out to Ojai before tomorrow morning at the earliest. Why is there trouble?”
“I’m not sure.” He turned his conversation back to Cassie “Did you catch most of that?
“Yea just get out here as soon as you can.” Cassie stated.
We will. We’ll be right out. Just hang in there. We’ll be there first thing in the morning.” Rudy assured.
After talking to Rudy, Cassie hung up and once again checked on Steve. Seeing he was still asleep she went back down to the basement to start working again.
Shortly after, Steve woke up he checked the clock then again dialed the phone. “Hello.” Came Jim’s voice. “Steve is that you?”
“Did you see the game?” Steve asked.
“Man how did you know?” Jim could hardly contain his excitement.
“Cause I watched it. I watched it what…24 years ago. I remember it very well. Sometimes maybe to well let me talk to mom.”
“She’s right here. She believes you too. “Jim handed the phone to Helen.
“Oh Steve this is fantastic.” Helen exclaimed. “How are you, what year is it where you are its June, June 11th 1953.” Helen exclaimed.
“It’s 1975 here.” Steve returned.
Just then the phone clicked off and Steve lost his connection.
“Steve. I didn’t know you were awake.” Steve looked up to see Cassie standing in the doorway again. “I made you something to eat if you’re hungry.”
‘That’s why the phone went dead.’ Steve muttered.
“What did you say?” Cassie asked.
“Aw nothing” Steve shot back.
That night Steve lay awake something is mother had said to him kept troubling him the game, the date? Which was it?
The next morning it hit him he leaped out of bed and ran for the phone. He quickly dialed this parent’s number. “Mom quick where am I and Davie right now?
“You went swimming in the lake.” Helen responded “You’ve been there for quite some time…why?”
“Is dad there?” Steve sounded frantic.
“Yes do you want to talk to him?” Helen was ready to hand the phone to Jim.
“No! You need to tell him to get to the lake NOW!” Steve shouted “I’ll stay on the line with you.” ‘Anyway I hope I’ll stay on the line’ Steve thought.
Steve could here Helen telling Jim to get to the lake as fast as he could.
“Ok son he’s on his way.” Helen sat down preparing herself for the worst.
The two spoke for several minutes when Steve heard Jim and the boys come through the back door. “We almost had a catastrophe on our hands.” Jim began. He held Davie tight in his arms. “This little guy got stuck on some seaweed in the lake.”
“Jim you’re soaking wet.” Helen complained.
“Better wet than without this little guy” Jim smiled. “I had to wade in and get him. lucky the water comes up to about my chest. I just grabbed him and carried him back.”
“How did you know?” Helen asked Steve
“I lived through it once. Now everything should be just fine. I’ll speak to you guys later.” Steve hung up the phone.
“Cassie! Cassie! He called. “Hey Cassie come here I need to tell you something!”
Steve raced through the house searching for his wife. He couldn’t find her anywhere. There was also no evidence that she had even been there.
Steve ran to the phone and called Oscar “Oscar this is Steve. I can’t find Cassie anywhere.” He cried into the phone when Oscar had picked up.
“I’m sorry but who is this, and how did you get this number.” Oscar sounded annoyed.
“Oscar come on it’s me Steve…Steve Austin…” Steve turned around to see a young man standing next to him. “Who are you?” He asked.
“Aw now come on Steve. Is that a way to welcome your brother?” David smi
Steve stared at his brother for several minutes. “David?”
“You were expecting who.” David continued to smile. “Finish your call I can wait.”
Steve stared at the receiver. “Uh Oscar I’ll call you back.” Steve hung up the phone and turned his attention to David.
“Oscar? Who’s Oscar?” David questioned. “I thought you were calling mom and dad’s friends the Merrick’s. We have a lot of work to do. Sorry I’ve been out of town and left all of the planning up to you, but…business is business.”
“Planning?” Steve questioned.
“Yea, planning mom’s birthday party?”
“Mom’s birthday party?” Steve seemed unsure of what his brother was trying to say.
“Mom is turning 80. We’re havening a party for her.” David reminded.
“Yea right” Steve muttered.
David filled his cup of coffee from the pot on the stove. “I thought it would be best to close down the ranch for a couple of days. Just till the party is over that is” David continued.
“The ranch?” Steve was very confused.
“Yea the ranch, the one you and I have run for years. Remember that’s where I’ve been for the past few days. I was at an auction buying more horses.”
Steve continued to stare at him. “I’m not remembering any of this…..” Steve had to get everything into perspective. Say Davie…do me a favor. Tell me that day we went swimming and dad pulled you out of the water…”
“That was weird. Here I was tangled up in all that seaweed. I didn’t think I was going to make it when all of the sudden here comes dad wading out to the middle of the lake.”
“I sort of remember.” Steve nodded.
Anyway the more you and I grew up the more we decided to open up a dude ranch. People come from all over to stay with us.”
Really?” Steve whispered to himself.
“Well I suppose we better get started.” David suggested.
The two began opening bags with party goods in it. “I think I’ll ask Andre to do the cooking.” David looked at Steve who stared at him with a strange expression. “What is the matter with you?”
“Nothing I guess I’m just glad to see you.” Steve started pulling party stuff out of the bags.
It felt good working side by side with his brother Steve felt like he and Davie had actually grown up together.
“So” David began when they had finished unloading the bags “Who is this Oscar guy?”
“He’s just a friend.” Steve smiled as he lifted a large box off the kitchen floor and moved it to the table.
“How did you do that?” David asked. “That’s heavy. I thought the two of us might be able to move it but…”
At that moment two boys came running up the steps. “Dad, Uncle Steve.” They called “Look what we found.” they proclaimed.
“Hey our old phone now what do you suppose mom?...
“Who are these kids?” Steve asked perplexed.
“You’ve go to be kidding big brother. They’re my sons.”
“Your sons?” Steve sounded shocked.
“You know I’ve been married for ten years now. Our only problem is getting you married.”
Steve took the phone. “I wonder if it works?” He wondered. “I’ll take it with me. I’ll leave it in the living room I uh… I need to use the little pilo…” I mean wranglers room.” Steve smiled.
“Take your time.” David gave him a wave.
Steve grabbed the phone and headed for the living room. He set the phone down on the table and plugged it in a hoped it would work. He slipped into the bathroom where he opened up the compartment on his arm. “Ok, that answers that.” He stated. “I wonder why Oscar doesn’t know who I am.”
He closed up the compartment and stepped back out into the living room. After checking to make sure that no one was looking he lifted the receiver and dialed his old phone number again.
“Hello.” A small voice asked.
“Yes. Who am I speaking with?” Steve asked.
“This is David Elgin.” Davie responded.
“I’m a friend of your father’s could you please get him for me?” Steve asked.
Steve waited till Jim got on the phone. “Dad? It’s Steve.” Steve hoped Jim would remember who he was.
“Steve! How are you? I’m glad you called. I wanted to talk to you the other day. I wanted to thank you for the heads up. I got to David just in time. I assume the first time around it didn’t turn out that way.”
“You guessed right.” Steve sighed. “But now I have a new problem.”
“Yea, what’s that?” Jim asked. “I want to help you in anyway I can.”
“That’s good I have to check on a few things here first. I’m not sure what I’m going to need.”
“Look son you just let us know. We’ll help you anyway we can.” Jim stated. “If it hadn’t been for you…”
“Yea I know. It’s funny, I remember both incidents.” Steve explained.
“What do you mean?” Jim wondered.
“I mean. I remember how awful it was to grow up without him but at the same time I remember what it was like to grow up with David….”
“Whew. I thought I was the only one who saw it that way.” Jim sounded relieved.
“Same here, look I have to go. I’ll speak to you soon.”
Steve hung up and headed back for the kitchen. “Is everything ok?” David asked when Steve rejoined him.
“Everything is fine…I think anyway.” Steve sat next to him at the table..
“Say I thought you were going to LA today.” David realized.
“I was?” Steve asked.
David nodded. “You said you wanted to check on with our lawyer regarding that little incident we had with the Miller boy falling off the horse.”
“Yea well” Steve began. “Look you stay here I’m going to see if I can’t get started on some of these balloons and by the way you better call Andre about fixing food for the party.
“Yea, sure fine I will. I’ll you in a little while.
Steve headed for he and David’s old room that looked out over the driveway. If he had indeed gone to LA, he should be getting back very soon.”
Meanwhile back in DC Oscar Goldman sat contemplating the conversation he had just had on the phone when Rudy stepped in. “You look stumped.” Rudy noted.
“I just had the strangest call Rudy.” Oscar wrinkled his brow.
“Want to tell me about it.” Rudy encouraged.
“It was some one named Steve… I believe he said his name was Steve Austin. He acted like he knew me.”
“That’s not so unusual.” Rudy noted. “You’ve had calls like that before. Usually it means blackmail.”
“Yea I know. But he called on my private line.” Oscar noted. “No one but you has that number.”
“That is odd.” Rudy replied. “Anyway I wanted to let you know how we’re doing n the bionic project.”
“Yes Rudy.” Oscar turned toward him.
“We’re ready. All we need is the ‘subject’ so to speak.”
“Well there’s good news.” Oscar noted.
Steve busied himself in the bedroom sorting through things while at the same time keeping an eye out the window.
He stepped in to Helen and Jim’s room to call Oscar once again.
Rudy was just getting ready to leave when Oscar’s private line rang once again. Oscar picked it up. “This is Oscar Goldman.” He spoke then he pressed the intercom “Callahan trace this call.”
“Oscar this is Steve again. Sorry our first conversation was interrupted. I need to talk to you and Rudy.”
Oh really?” Oscar reached over than pressed another button, this time on the box that would allow Rudy to hear the conversation as well. “You said something about Dr. Wells?”
‘Well at least Rudy’s still a doctor’ Steve thought. “Yes I need to speak to both of you.”
“I’m right here Steve.” Rudy played along.
“Good. Look I’m not sure what’s going on here but something is. I work for you, but I guess you don’t remember that.” Steve began. “You see years ago my little brother died in a drowning accident.”
“I’m sorry to hear that but…”
“Just let me finish Oscar. As I said…” Steve proceeded to tell them incidents of the past few days.
“That is very interesting Mr. Austin but I don’t believe I understand what you’re trying to tell us.” Oscar gave Rudy a quizzical look.
“I’m not so sure I understand either.” Steve muttered. “I just want to keep in contact with you.”
“Whatever makes you happy.” Oscar frowned at Rudy.
Steve hung up even though they didn’t know who he was he felt better just talking to them and knowing they were around.
He forgot about looking out for himself to show up. He headed back down stairs to the kitchen where his brother and nephews were busy planning his mother’s birthday. He stopped at the top of the steps. Steve heard voices coming from down below.
He knew his brother and nephews we down there, but hearing adult voices Steve wondered who David was talking to Steve crept down the stairs. He followed the voices to the kitchen where he had left David earlier.
“So you have been in LA?” David asked. Steve.
“Yea I have been.” Steve replied. “I told you that was my plan.”
“So what did you find out?” David wondered not only what Steve had found out, but if he had been in LA all day. Who had he been talking? “Sounds good” David replied after Steve had finished. “Strange thing though “
“Yea what’s that?” Steve wondered.
“Well someone has been here all day with me. And he looks an awful lot like you.” David told of his adventures during the day. “Personally I was shocked when I stepped into the kitchen and saw you talking on the phone.”
Startled Steve stepped closer He peeked into the room the two brothers were sitting in. He saw himself talking to David…
‘I better lay low.’ Steve thought. He crept back into the living room and grabbed the phone. Then he crept out of the house. He thought it best to stay at the hotel. “I have to put things back the way they were.” Steve said as he settled. Into the room, “I’m not real sure how to do it.”
Steve plugged the phone into the phone jack at the hotel. He dialed the number that had become so keen to him then crossed his fingers in hopes it worked.
“Elgin residence this is Jim.” Jim’s strong voice came across the line.
“Dad it’s me again.” Steve ventured. “I need a favor from you.”
“Anything you want. You name it it’s yours.” Jim complied.
“Good. You’re a pilot right?”
“You know I am. Why?” Jim replied.
“I need you to convince Steven to become a pilot.”
“I decided long ago to let the kids make up there own minds….” Jim answered.
“I understand that…wait that’s it. The first time you gave me the controls of the plane was to help me feel better after Davie died. Since he never did…aunyway he’s still alive today in fact.”
“That’s good.” Jim came back.
“Not so good. You see dad I altered history. The life I remember before I was a pilot. You’re the one who got me interested in flying.”
“Really, you are a pilot?” Jim sounded so proud.
“Yes I am…or at least I was. Friends that I had don’t even know me. David says he and I started a dude ranch…not that I mind working with my brother…I love it. But I had more in the life I had first.”
“What do you mean?” Jim asked sounding a bit disappointed
I was married with kids.” Steve continued. “Ever since you pulled Davie out of the water…well they aren’t here anymore and to be real honest…I’m starting to forget about them. Just take Steven flying, Get him interested in flying.” Steve pleaded. “I know you’ve done it several times, but you need to give him the controls. Hopefully that will
change his mind.”
“I’ll try Steve, no grantees though.” Jim offered.
“Just do it. I’m sure it will help him to become a pilot just like you.”
“I’d like that. But I’m not going to force it on him…you.” Jim wasn’t sure which term to use.
“If you have to force me then do it. Dad I love my wife. I have three children.” Steve explained. He thought for a minute “At least I think I have three.” He took his wallet from his pocket to look at the pictures. They too were gone. “Oh Dad please you have to do this for me.”
Hearing the desperation in his son’s voice Jim replied. “I’ll do what I can. You just sit tight.” Jim hung up and headed into the living room. “Hey either of you boys wants to come out to the airport with me?”
“I guess I do.” Steven said.
“I’m not. I’m going to stay here.” Davie stated. “I’m kind a scared to fly.”
“I understand.” Jim smiled. “If flying isn’t for you then it’s not for you. Come on Stevie.”
Steve and Jim arrived at the Ojai airport a few minutes later. “Ok Steve shall we take her up?”
Steve had been up with his dad many times he loved the feeling when they took off.
They were up for several minutes when Jim turned to Steven “You want to fly it?”
“Boy do I ever.” Steven cried.
“Ok then. Here you take over. I’ll let you know what you’re wrong.”
Steve took over the controls of the plane and flew like he’d been doing it all of his life. “Boy this is great dad. How do you land it?”
“Here I’ll show you.” Jim helped Steven bring the plane in and the two got out to find Helen and David waiting.
“Well how did it go?” Helen asked.
“It went great. You know when I grow up I want to be a pilot just like you dad…My real dad was a pilot too.” Steven added
“That’s right he was. He was a very good pilot too.” Jim replied. “Well let say we all head home.”
“Sounds good but can we stop at the library first? I want to take out all the books I can about flying.” Steven wondered.
After speaking to his father Steve had fallen asleep on the bed when he woke up Cassie was standing over him. “You know we better get ready. The party starts a 7:00 and we still have to pick Rudy and Oscar up at the airport.”
“Huh…what party?” Steve asked.
“Your brother’s birthday party silly I have the kids ready to go. That’s typical I do all the work and you take a nap. What’s the matter?” She saw Steve’s blank expression.
“Cass you’re never going to believe it….”
“You’re kidding.” Cassie exclaimed when Steve finished. “Steve your parents are fine. They’re the ones who planed this party.
“You mean they are still alive. Cass we came out here to make arrangements for the funeral and everything else.”
“I don’t know as if I would mention that to your mother. We still have to get to the airport. Oscar and Rudy’s plane lands in about ten minutes.”
Still stunned and remembering both ways Steve followed Cassie and the kids out to the car.
“Maybe you should tell everyone your story tonight at dinner.” Cassie suggested.
They arrived at the airport where Oscar and Rudy were waiting for Steve and his family to pick them up.
“Did you manage to get us a room at the hotel?” Oscar asked as he slid into the front seat next to Cassie. Rudy and the two boys sat in the back while Rudy held Steve and Cassie’s daughter on his lap.
“What room?” Steve asked.
“Yes it will be al ready when we get there.” Cassie poked Steve in the ribs “Wait till tonight.” She whispered.
Steve continued to drive back to the hotel where Oscar and Rudy had a rented car waiting for them.
“Why don’t you check in and then we’ll head for the ranch.” Steve sat back in the driver’s seat he turned to Cassie. “I’m telling you this is such a weird feeling. Tell me have you, the kids, Rudy and Oscar all met my brother before?”
“Of course we have silly. He was best man at our wedding, surely you remember that. His boy James was the ring barer He was two when we were married.”
Steve was silent “I think I do. I have some memory of him being there…the kids…”
“If what you said is true then maybe in a day or two you’ll remember the way things are now.”
“I hope so. Help me out if I get in a pinch huh?”
“You know I will.” She gave his arm a squeeze. They waited till Rudy and Oscar got checked in. Then they all headed out to the ranch. Steve was startled to see David sitting on the couch in his parent’s home. And at the same time it was as if he had always been there.
Steve sat on the couch next to David. While he and Cassie’s kids tore out the back door to play with their cousins.
“Where is Rachel?” Cassie asked, referring to David’s wife.
“She’ll be right down. As a matter of fact…”
They all turned as Rachel stepped into the room “Are the kids all outside?” She asked.
Cassie nodded. “We’ll call them in when it’s time for dinner.”
“Sounds good” she sat across from her husband
They all turned in Steve’s direction as he cleared his throat. “I think I better tell this why I still remember it…” Steve began.
Everyone sat in silence for several moments after Steve told his story.
It was Jim who broke the silence. “You know. I remember that. I remember someone calling here that day. He warned me to go to the lake.”
“Really?” Rudy turned to him.
“Yea that’s when I found this one.” He pointed to David. “With his foot caught in some seaweed.”
“What happened?” Oscar wondered.
“I waded into the lake. The water wasn’t that deep for me any way it came up to about the middle of my chest. I grabbed David and carried him back to shore.”
“Well that was a lucky break.” Cassie stated.
“It sure was.” Helen moved over to where Steve and David sat. “I’m just glad that both my boys are doing well.”
Sensing the question on Steve’s mind Cassie turned toward David. “So how is the ranch business going?”
“It’s going quite well. Most of the people who stay with us tell their friends and so on. We’re booked solid for next season already.”
“Well that’s good. You know anytime you need a hand just holler, Steve and I will be more than happy to come out and assist.”
“That is if Goldman ever gives you any time off.” David laughed.
“What I don’t under stand is this.” Steve began again. “And I don’t want to upset the two of you.” He turned toward his parents.
“What’s that dear?” Helen wondered.
“Well in my memory the two of you were dead. Cassie and I came out to make the arrangements.”
“Ohh. That sounds so errie.” Helen quipped.
“I know.” Steve agreed. “Like I said. No offence but I don’t understand why you’re here.”
“I might be able to answer that Steve.” Rudy spoke up again.
“I wish you would.” Steve turned to him. They all turned to see if Rudy could shed any light on the great mystery.
“Last weekend was Memorial Day weekend right?”
Everyone in the group nodded.
“Ok then. You said they were killed in a car accident right Steve?”
Steve nodded. “Wait I think I got it!” Steve shouted. “Mom and dad were on their way back from the cemetery…And if David never died….”
“Then they would have no reason to be leaving the cemetery.” Oscar finished.
“Right!” Rudy interjected.
“Well that explains that.” Cassie stood and helped Helen bring in David’s cake.
“Another thing I don’t understand is why do I still remember both versions and the rest of you don’t.” Steve wanted to know.
Rudy shrugged “we may never know the answer. And I wouldn’t be a bit surprised that when we wake up in the morning none of us will remember this conversation.”
“I hope not. I sort of like both versions.” Steve sighed.
“But it can’t be both ways Steve.” Rudy explained.
“Well as interesting as this all is.” Rachel turned to Cassie. “I suppose we better get those kids inside get them their cake and then put them to bed. James and Rick want David and Campbell to stay all night if that’s ok.”
“That’s fine if you think you can handle them.”
“Oh we can, no problem.”
When Steve and Cassie got back to the hotel they went straight to bed and Rudy was right. The next day no one mentioned the conversation or the events that had taken place the night before save for the party they had for Steve’s brother David.
A year later Steve Cassie and the kids all went out to help David and Rachel run the ranch Steve never mentioned his brother’s accident. Nor did he have any memory of it at all. Steve’s house and the dude ranch David ran were filled with pictures of the two boys growing up together.