Morning light flooded through the window of Connor’s hospital room. The sunshine combined with sterile, white walls made the room unbearably bright to Connor’s unfocused eyes. He blinked several times then tried to move. “Ow….God….” sore and sluggish all over, he quickly abandoned the idea of sitting up.
At the foot of his bed, he noticed his Dad squished uncomfortably in an arm-chair. He resembled a discarded scarecrow, with his long limbs spread out in all directions. Coach Peggy was cuddled up next to him, in what appeared to be a camping chair from home. Connor cracked a smile. He was glad they had stayed the night despite the awkward sleeping arrangements.
His smile increased when he felt Daisy tucked up under his arm. He rolled his head slowly, to see a jumble of brunette hair strewn across him in a messy fashion. He gave a weak chuckle at how stuck to his side she was. A sudden pain shot through his chest, reminding him of yesterday’s battle……chuckling stopped. “Ow…crap….” Once the pain subsided and he could breathe again, he gave her a little pat. His movement caused her to stir and looked up…..
“Hey, you found me.” He whispered hoarsely.
“Yea” She smiled. “How do you feel?”
He gave her another little pat. “Come up here and find out.”
She scooted up close to his face. “How’s this?”
“Perfect” he managed a simple kiss before the ache in his chest resumed. “Ow…God…”
“Oh no, you ok?”
“Yea… I just can’t move too much. Do you have my get-away car?”
Daisy dug in her pocket and held the keys out for him to see. “Right here”
Davis cleared his throat loudly to indicate that he was awake and present.
“Good morning everybody” Coach Peggy cheerfully declared over Davis’s parental throat clearing.
Connor glanced across the room at them again. “Did you get any sleep over there?”
“A bit” Peggy stretched and elbowed Davis so he would quit the throat clearing and make a verbal response.
“Not a lick, I barely fit in this dang chair to begin with….” Davis’ limbs creaked as he straightened out his crooked body. “Then there were nurses come’in and go’in all night long…..” He shook his head in sleepless misery. “Every time they came in here, they had to asked me how you were do’in. What a question. Do you think I’d be squished in this tiny chair trying to sleep, if I thought you were have’in a problem?”
“Sounds like coffee time to me” Peggy sang, hoping to detour Davis’ morning grumbles.
“Oh….sorry about that Dad”
“Don’t be sorry, it ain’t your fault these chairs are child sized, nurses constantly repeat the same question over and over again….and God alone knows why anyone would break into a machine shop office and destroy the filing cabinets….why…. what in the world could he be looking for? It’s the third time!” Davis threw his hands up in the air, baffled by it all. “We live in a crazy world. I don’t blame you for any of this mess, none of it. But I ain’t happy about it either.” He combed his fingers through his hair and leaned back. “Why God…..why…..”
“Coffee time” Peggy repeated in a sing-song voice for Davis’ benefit.
Daisy laid her head carefully on Connor’s shoulder. “Does it hurt if I put my head here?”
“No, it doesn’t hurt as long as I stay still.” Connor turned his head back to Davis. “Dad, when can I go home?”
“I don’t really know. When the Doctor comes around to see you, we can ask him. He’ll be around after breakfast, I think.” Davis stood up and stretched his creaking legs.
“I want to go home as soon as possible. Ask the Doctor when is the soonest I can go home. Daisy can help me around the house. I don’t need to stay here.”
Davis was glad that Connor was feeling better. Well…. everything was better, but the things that were broken. “You are anxious to get home with your private nurse, are you? You just hold on to your britches son and let’s just see what the Doctor says first. Some parts of you are more ready to go home than other parts of you.”
A Candy Stripper walked in with a breakfast tray and set it on the rolling table. She pushed it up to the bed and adjusted the table size to the correct height. Then she looked at Davis and asked, “How is he doing this morning?”
Davis crossed his arms, looked up to the ceiling and mumbled something that nobody but heaven could hear.
Coach Peggy smiled sympathetically and started to say, “Cof….” But Davis stuck his hand up like a stop sign. “Peg….you know coffee is not gonna fix this so please……just….don’t say it…”
“I’m feeling better, thanks” Connor quickly returned, hoping his Dad could hold his thoughts until the Candy Stripper left the room.
“Oh that’s good. The Doctor will be around after breakfast.”
Everyone nodded, the candy stripper left and Davis relaxed.
Daisy got up from the bed very slowly, trying not to jiggle it too much. She took a look at Connor’s breakfast and pushed it closer to him. “My first nursing thing to do for you today is to feed you. Are you hungry?”
Connor grinned ear to ear. “I am starving Babe.”
Daisy sat on the side of the bed and brought the toast to his mouth.
Connor winked at her as he took the first bite.“I’m gonna really enjoy my recovery.”
“Me too” She giggled.
“O….K…. I don’t think I can sit here and watch this. I’m going to the shop downstairs and get something to eat.” Davis headed for the door as quick as his sleepless legs would take him, in the hopes of avoiding anymore mushy type behavior from the kids.
Peggy laughed. “I’m with you, I don’t think I can stomach these two either.”
Davis and Peggy strolled out in search of breakfast.
After breakfast, Davis and Peggy bump into Doctor Chimes as he made his patient rounds. “Good morning! How’s our favorite Doctor do’in?” Davis boomed, happy to see his friend.
“Good….good…..I’m always doing good when Jeremiah manages to stay out of trouble. I understand that our man Connor, is having enough trouble for all of us though. What happened down at Palmer?”
“Someone broke in again. Connor was there and got into a huge scrap with the guy. He’s got some busted ribs. Another Doctor saw him yesterday but we’re hoping you’d be his Doctor instead. Being in the hospital and seeing lots of Doctors disturbs Connor quit a bit…..well you know…… because of his mother and all. He just doesn’t like hospitals….Daisy doesn’t either for that matter. Them two….they just stick to each other like glue whenever a hospital is involved.”
“Bad experiences are hard to shake sometimes. But that Connor, he’s a real fighter! He’ll shake it off and come out of this thing a champ!” Doctor Chimes smiled victoriously with the hopes of encouraging Davis. “He’s on my floor, which means, I’ll be the one seeing him from now on, so you needn’t worry about it any longer. Oh…. and congratulations on your engagement! I hear you and Coach Peggy are getting married this summer. That’s wonderful.” Doctor Chimes grabbed Davis’ hand and gave it a good strong shaking.
Davis threw his free arm around Peggy proudly. “Thanks, your whole family is definitely invited. We’re work’in on the invitations but haven’t sent them out yet. The wedding is June 30th.”
“Yes, come help us celebrate, Doctor Chimes.” Peggy added in.
“Of course, thanks for the invite. Now let’s get over to Connor’s room and take a look at our champion, shall we?” Doctor Chimes crossed the hall and pushed open his door. Peggy and Davis walk through first, then came Doctor Chimes. “So Connor Bailey…….. I hear you’ve been beating up bad guys.” The Doctor chuckled lightly as he began his assessment of Connor’s condition.
“Yes sir. I feel much be…..tt….er… ow, ow, ow…” Connor howled.
“You feel better but your ribs are still broken. You see that? When I touch you here, it hurts. You need to stay completely flat on your back as much as you can. I would recommend you stay another two days in the hospital.”
“Two days! I can’t stay two days! I’ll go crazy in here for two days!” Connor turned his pleaded eyes to his Dad for help. “I can stay flat on my back at home, in my own bed, really I can.” He moaned.
Davis started chuckling “You see Doc….. I told you he hates hospitals. Plus he has a private nurse. He is anxious to receive her care at home.”
Doctor Chimes glanced at Daisy and she smiled shyly. “I see. Well Daisy, do you think you can keep him flat on his back with no moving around?”
“Yes sir, I’m sure I can.”
“I believe you probably could.” The Doctor looked at Davis and then back at Daisy’s confident face. “Connor can’t play patty cake either, ya know that, right?”
Davis and Peggy both choked back laughter.
“Patty cake sir?” Daisy repeated his words not understanding what he meant. (or pretending to not understand what he meant.)
Connor’s eyes sparkled with laughter because he knew what the Doctor meant.
“Ow, Ow,Ow, …can’t laugh…. Day…. stop making that face! It’s..ow, ow,.. too funny!” Connor cried out with a healthy mix of pain and laughter.
“What face?” She asked innocently.
“The ‘I don’t know what patty cake is’ face….Ow…Ow….Ow” He squeezed his eyes shut trying to hold still, stifling his laughter as best he could.
Daisy turned her ‘innocent face’ back to the Doctor.“If you tell me how to take care of him, I’m sure I can do it. Please let him come home with us.” She smiled her sweetest smile.
Doctor Chimes looked at Connor and then at Davis. “Well, he probably would be happier to stay at home. But if he doesn’t stay lying down….. he’ll regret it. It will take him twice as long to heal, if he doesn’t do as I say.”
“I will, I will, I will stay so still, everyone will think I’m a rock” Connor threw in hopefully.
Doctor Chimes chuckled a bit. “Ok rock man, I will make a prescription for you. Take it after each meal. I can give you an extra roll of this tape to wrap around your chest too. When you’re bandage needs changing, you can just cut it off with scissors and put on a new bandage. Make sure it’s nice and tight.”
Daisy smiled radiantly “Thank you Doctor Chimes.”
“Yea, thanks Doc.” Connor added.
“You can pick up his prescription at the nurse’s station. Any drug store will fill it for you. Call me if there’s any trouble.”
“Thank you again Doctor Chimes. We’ll stop at the drug store on the way home. ” Davis gave the Doctor’s hand another good shaking. “Daisy Ray, do ya think you can get Connor home?”
“Well then….Connor patrol starts right now. Peg and I will be home right after the drug store.”
Daisy put the passenger seat down in the Firebird. Connor lay back in the bucket seat as quietly as he was able, “Ow…crap….ow..” he mumbled softly as he made himself ready for the drive home.
Once they reached the apartment parking lot, Daisy helped Connor out. “Ow…ow…ow” He took hold of a large handful of her hair at the nap of her neck. He used it for balance as they went up in the elevator and down the hallway to his apartment. “I’m still in my work clothes.” He scratched at his bandages. “I feel sorta itchy…”
Daisy glanced at his dirty jeans. “Yea ok, let’s make a pit stop in the bathroom and clean you up a little.”
“Kay” Still holding onto her hair, he followed her to the bathroom and sat on the toilet seat as straight as he could.
Daisy got a washcloth and wet his head. She gently soaped up his hair. Connor watched her quietly as she massaged his head with the shampoo. She then rinsed the washcloth out in the sink and wiped the soap off his head. She repeated this several times until all the soap was gone. His hair being short, wasn’t nearly the chore to wash and blow dry that her own hair was. She had it done in minutes. He stood and brushed his teeth. “Ow…God….Day…I don’t wanna do anything else.” He spit and dried his mouth off. “Just get me out of these dirty clothes, I need to lie down.”
She flicked off the bathroom lights. “Kay, let’s go”
He grabbed a chunk of her hair for balance again and she led him back to his room. She found his navy blue sweat suit in the drawer and helped him change.
“You know, I bet your friends will come by to visit you. Maybe you want to lie down on the couch instead of your bed. What do ya think?”
“I want to lie on the floor. The couch is too lumpy. Let me lay in your lap.” He answered so quietly she almost couldn’t hear him.
“Kay” she grabbed a blanket and pillow from his bed and they returned to the front room. She searched for the TV remote and put in a favorite Mission Impossible DVD. Connor picked the spot he wanted to lay and Daisy helped him to the floor “Ow…oh God…ow..” She sat with her back to the couch. He laid his head in her lap and she covered him with his blanket. Then she exhaled….. “Ahhh…there now…. are you comfortable?” She looked down at him with a smile.
He wrapped his arms around her legs and hugged them close to his sides. “I am very comfortable.” They watched Mission Impossible until Davis and Peggy arrived home from the drug store.
“Hey, look what the cat dragged in!” Davis boomed as he and Peggy came in the front door.
Vanessa Langley popped her head in the door. “H~e~ll~o~~~” She sang in her church-choir voice. Matt Langley was right behind her with his own melodious greeting. “How’s our famous hero do’in?”
Next came Mark and Susan. “We got ya somethin’…. ” Mark dropped a handful of running magazines at Connor’s feet.”We grabbed every type the Family Mart had.” Susan interjected then Mark finished his thought. “Yea, we figured you’d need a little inspiration to get moving again.”
“Thanks man, that’ll do the trick, I’m sure.” Connor smiled at them, then looked back to the door to see who else was coming in.
Cindy Victor and George Palmer came with Andy and Maria. “Well, don’t you look, snug as a bug in a rug” Cindy chuckled at Connor’s resting spot. “Best place for mending, I’d say” George chuckled right along with Cindy.
“Geez Connor……get out of Daisy’s lap, you got company, man.” Andy lightly kicked Connor’s leg as he crossed the room to the recliner and plopped down.
“No way, it’s easier to lay flat if I’m on the floor and Daisy is the perfect size for a pillow.” He gave Daisy’s legs a few pats, just for emphasis.
“What a lazy butt, I hope you don’t plan to lay around for forever, man.” Andy teased.
Misunderstanding Andy’s jesting, Daisy growled back, “He just got home, leave him alone!”
“Chill out Nurse Velcro! I’m not gonna kick him out of the house today.” He grinned. “Maybe tomorrow…….”
“Ow, ow, ow, ow…..” Connor started laughing. “I can’t…ow, crap, ow….don’t make me…laugh…”
“Sh, sh, sh, sh…..” Daisy cooed.
“Alright, alright, I’ll leave ya alone, don’t hurt yourself….” Andy slumped down in the recliner, disturbed that he had to give his buddy a break.
Willie and Grace popped in with flowers and a cake. “Where should we put these?”
“The kitchen is fine.” Davis pointed them in the right direction.
Joe and Rose entered carrying trays of food that smelled delicious. “This is hot, watch out! Hot! This is hot!” Joe barked at top volume as he and Rose carefully moved through the crowd to the kitchen.
“Well, that looks like everybody!” Davis shouted joyfully as he closed the door.
“Joe is making an awful lot of noise in the kitchen.” Peggy murmured at Davis’ side.
“Yea, I can hear him. Let’s go see what we can do.” Davis and Peggy wandered off to the kitchen to see if they were needed.
Once everyone managed to get settled, they took turns kneeling over Connor, telling him how happy they were that he was home safe and sound. Daisy told and retold her version of what happened at Palmer all afternoon long. Of course, she had not seen the whole fight, only the ending. This left a lot of room for Connor to add to the story later on. He silently made mental notes of what she was missing as he listened to her report. In the weeks to come, when he could speak without pain and laugh again…he would tell his version. But not today.
He saw this moment as Daisy’s moment to be heard. Even though the others thought he’d single-handedly chased off the vandal and Daisy had had no part in it, he knew different. He knew, that had she not been there, the vandal would have stayed, the fight would have continued and he would have been more seriously injured than he now was. In a sense, Daisy’s presence brought the whole terrible episode to a quicker, more successful end. He came out smelling like a rose because of her. A rose with broken ribs….but still a rose, like he’d really kicked a criminals butt and chased him off. But in reality, it had been Daisy coming out of her hiding place and standing in the doorway with the phone, that made the vandal run. He wasn’t going to forget that part. It seemed only fair to him, that she be given first bragging rights.
He smiled up at his partner as she energetically shared details that he didn’t remember happening and skipping over details he was very sure happened. He listened with out making a sound. Her version was so different from his, it caused him to recall a little phrase that Grandpa Joe sometimes spouted off whenever Rose shared an old family story that he could not remember. “Such is life, when you have a wife. Let her be right and you’ll have a good night.”
Matt Langely, Davis and Joe opened their Christmas boxes full of yummy goodies and shared them with everyone. Rose dished out Connor’s favorite foods, that she had prepared especially for his homecoming. Everyone ate and rejoiced that Connor and Daisy were home.
Daisy of course, taking her nursing duties very seriously, hand fed Connor whatever he picked from the assortment of food offered him. Her tender care continued to ruffle the feathers of the other teen boys in the house. They felt obligated to tease Connor without mercy for being so lavishly spoiled at Daisy’s hand.
Connor didn’t care about their poking remarks, not that he could have done anything about it anyway. He couldn’t even laugh at the comments without searing pains running through his torso. He was thus forced to take the jesting lightly.
The teens wanted to play Halo 3 on the TV set so Andy stopped the Mission Impossible DVD right in the middle.
“Hey…that’s the best part” Connor weakly objected without moving a muscle.
“You’ve had more than enough spoil’in for a day, man. You’re gonna ferment right here in front of us, if we don’t take some action” Andy continued to hook up the play station.
“Shut up Andy square pants! He’s not spoiled!” Daisy threw a pillow at him.
“Smells like Kimchi, in here!” Mark hollered.
Daisy glared at Mark. She wasn’t sure what he meant but she was quit sure it was a jab about Connor being spoiled so she didn’t like it.
“Cool it Dumbo, your hero doesn’t need all this fuss…..really, he doesn’t. He just likes it, that’s why he lets you do it.” Andy tossed the pillow back, hitting Connor in the face.
Daisy snatched the pillow and threw it back with a little more force this time.
“Come on Daisy, if you want him to get well, you have to make him do everything for himself.” Maria caught the pillow and sat on it.
“He’s supposed to lay flat, no moving at all. That’s what Doctor Chimes said so I’m doing everything else. If you don’t like it, you can hang out somewhere else.” She returned defensively.
Connor tried very hard not to laugh but once the bickering resumed, it was tough. “Ow, Ow, Ow, Don’t… make…. me laugh!” He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to hold still and breathe evenly.
Daisy looked down at him with her soft brown eyes, “Sh… sh… sh…”
Andy couldn’t take it any more. “Oh brother…..let’s go running Maria… I’m close to barf’in up my dinner.”
“Let me finish the game….” Maria made a move on the game which caused Andy to be shot down. “YES! I win!”
“You killed me……” Andy stated in bewilderment. “Maria…how come you did that?”
“Because I’d rather run, that’s why. Now let’s go.” She got up and tossed Daisy’s pillow back to her.
“I wanna run too but……dang….. that’s cold”
“It’s just a game Andy, nothing personal.” She took his hand and gave it a friendly tug. “See you guys later.” Together, they stepped over their friends and moved towards the door. “We’re going to the Boardwalk, Mom” Maria hollered over the crowd, to her mother at the dining table.
“Yea, the Boardwalk, Mom” Andy repeated the words for his mother’s benefit as well.
Cindy Victor and Vanessa Langley waved goodbye.
Andy and Maria were the first to leave. But as the afternoon wore on, more people trickled out until only the immediate family was left.
Joe and Rose helped clean up the kitchen, then they retired to their own apartment.
Davis and Daisy managed to get Connor comfortably into his bed.
“Daisy Ray, why don’t you come back in the morning and sit with him while I’m at work.” Davis suggested.
“I sure will, goodnight.”