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THE NIGHTMARE

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Jake picked up the phone, “Hello?”

He listened as the person talked, his face going pale. “I’m heading to my dad’s right now. Thank you for letting me know.”

He grabbed his leather jacket and raced out of his house. He jumped in his car and roared away from the curb. All he could think about was getting to his dad’s before… he just had to get there!

He skidded to a stop and was out and running up the sidewalk before his car stopped rocking from the sudden stop. He had his key out and quickly flung open the door.

“Dad!! Dad, where are you?!”

“Jake? I’m here.” Paul stepped into the front room, to find his son standing there, breathing hard and looking pale. “Jake, you okay? Are you sick”

Jake stepped forward and took his father’s arm. He led him over to the leather couch. “I’m okay. Sit down. I… I have to tell you something.”

He watched as Paul sat down. He sat down beside him. He put his arm around Paul’s shoulders. “Dad… it’s Uncle Davey. He, uh, he had a heart attack on the flight over here. They were 15 minutes from landing.

“There was a doctor and some nurses working on him while the plane landed. They had an ambulance crew ready at the gate and they took him to the hospital.” He watched his dad’s face pale and saw him suck his bottom lip in and bite it. “Dad?”

Paul didn’t answer, just sat there and stared a million miles away.

“Dad?” Jake pulled Paul into a hug. “What should we do?”

Paul stood up and pulled Jake up with him. He tugged him into a tight hug. “Call Zoe, she’s back east but she should hear this from us, not the TV or radio. Tell her to stay put and we’ll call her as soon as we know something. I’m going to get my coat and we’re heading to the hospital.” Paul grabbed his coat and listened as Jake called his sister and told her the awful news.

Paul put his coat on and stood still for a few seconds. He hadn’t done this for years, but he let his heart reach out. At first there was nothing, but suddenly he felt the beat of another heart in his chest. It wasn’t a steady beat, but it was a beat. He nodded and ran for the front door, where Jake was exiting.

*****

“Careful, Jake!” Paul said as Jake took a corner quickly.

“Easy, dad. You taught me how to drive, remember?”

“I know. Just… be careful.”

Jake took his right hand off the steering wheel long enough to squeeze his dad’s arm. “I will be.”

When they got to the hospital, Jake gave the car keys to the valet and followed his dad into the emergency room. Paul was standing in front of the check in counter and a nurse was talking to him. Jake walked up and stood by his dad.

“If you’ll give me just a few minutes, I’ll see what I can do for you, Mr. Glaser.” The nurse disappeared behind the desk.

“Dad?”

“She’s going back to talk to the doctor working on Davey.”

Jake stood by his dad and waited for the nurse to come back. “Did you reach Zoe, Jake?

“Yes. She’s… I told her we’d call her.”

“Good. Try to reach China and Kris and the others. Find out where they are, and if they need help getting here.”

“Will do, dad.”

“Mr Glaser?” A man in a white coat stepped up to them. At Paul’s nod he continued, “I’m Dr. Campbell, one of the doctors working on your friend. I have to admit I’m a fan of ‘Starsky and Hutch’, but more than that I have seen the connection you two still have. This is unusual, but I am going to take you back to his ER room, so you can speak to him. Sometimes, hearing a loved one’s voice… well I’ll just say, I’ve seen it work miracles.”

Paul stared at the doctor, then shook himself and said, “Thank you. I would like to speak to him."

“I’ll wait here, dad, but tell Uncle Dave I love him.” Jake pulled out his phone and walked over to sit in one of the nearby chairs. He started trying to call David’s children.

As they walked back into the warren of ER rooms, the doctor told Paul, “Of all the senses, hearing is the last to leave the body. That’s why I feel strongly about having family or friends talk to my critical patients.”

“I appreciate you telling me this.”

“In here.” Doctor Campbell ushered Paul into a room that was very busy, but quiet for all the people in there. Orders were given in a brisk, but quiet voice. Dr. Campbell led Paul to David’s right shoulder. “Lean down here and tell him whatever you want him to know. You don’t need to shout, just speak normally.”

Paul nodded at the doctor and took a moment to look at everything going on with and to his friend. David looked pale, almost a gray color. He eyes were closed and he didn’t react to anything being done to him.

Paul closed his eyes to stem the flood of tears he could feel building up. He took a deep breath and bent down by David’s ear. He put his hand on David’s shoulder. “Davey, Davey? It’s Pauly. I’m here. Jake is outside and he and Zoe send their love. Jake’s callin’ your kids. I told him to let them know I would send planes for them.

*Davey, buddy. Fight. You have to fight this. I know you can do it.” Paul paused to get his emotions back under control.

“I… I’m not ready to lose you, Davey. I love you. And I need you.” A tear rolled down his cheek and he wiped it away. I need you, buddy. Who’s gonna keep me on an even keel when I go off the tracks? Who am I gonna call for help?”

Another tear fell, then another. He brushed at them, but there were too many to stop. A tear fell on David’s face and Paul reached out to wipe it away. As his fingers touched David’s face, David’s eyes opened! And they looked right into Paul’s!

“Davey?”

Doctor Campbell and another doctor moved to the head of the bed. The beeps of the heart monitor could now be heard, steady and strong.

“Don’t try to talk, Mr. Soul. You’re on a ventilator. We needed to intubate you to keep pumping oxygen to your body. As you stabilize, we’ll remove that. For now, can you blink once for ‘yes’ and twice for ‘no’?”

There were smiles and soft comments from the medical staff as they all watched David blink once.

“Davey? You know me?” Paul bent over so he could see Paul’s face.

Again, one blink.

“Mr. Soul. I’m going to have Mr. Glaser step back out while we get some of this equipment out of here. Okay?”

One blink.

As Paul squeezed David’s shoulder and stepped to the side, David was able to raise his right hand just enough to catch Paul’s. His eyes looked a question at Paul.

“I’m not going far, buddy boy. Promise. Believe me?”

One blink.

Paul squeezed David’s hand and smiled at him as he walked back out to the waiting room.

“DAD!! UNCLE PAUL!!”

He was squished between his daughter Zoe and David’s daughter, China.

“Girls? How did you… Zoe, I thought you were…”

“Later, dad. How’s Uncle David?” “How’s my dad?”

Questions came at him from all three kids. They were drawing attention in the waiting room. Not wanting to feed any stringers for news groups, he spied an empty family room with a door on it. He herded all three kids into it and shut the door.

“Davey woke up while I was talking to him.” He told them what the doctor had said and what had happened in the ER. “Doctor Campbell said he was cautiously optimistic for Davey’s chances.

The door flew open and Jon and Kris flew into the room. Paul told the story again and everyone sat, to wait for word from the doctor.

An hour later, Dr. Campbell came into the room. Paul made the introductions.

“I’m happy to say Mr. Soul is much improved. We are trying to wean him off the vent all ready as his lungs are doing most of the work. His lab is stabilizing as is his heart. We will probably move him up to a CCU room for a day or two, then a couple days in a regular room.”

Paul, Jake, Chris, and Jon all stood and shook the doctor’s hand. Zoe and China hugged him.

“Mr. Soul would like to see you, Mr. Glaser. A quick visit, only.”

Paul walked with the doctor back into the ER. He walked into David’s room, to see David sitting up with a small pad and a pencil in his hand. David looked up when Paul entered and smiled as much as he could around the vent tubing.

Paul walked over to the bed, and David scooted over.

“Oh no, Davey. This is a real hospital, not a set.”

David glared at him.

“Okay. Just for a second.”

Paul watched as David wrote slowly on the pad. He took it when David handed it to him and turned it so he could read it.

“I love/need u 2. Thank u 4 saving life.”