All but the Coopers left, chattering happily. Dr. Cooper examined Dr. Connors’ handiwork.
“Admirable job! You shouldn’t have a bad scar, once this heals. I venture to say very little. He missed his calling as a plastic surgeon.” He grinned. They bid farewell to Deacon and Kacy, leaving more quietly than the others.
Just before the end of visiting hours, the construction crew came in. Their manner was subdued, as if they were visiting a death bed. Mac and Dexter led the crew, carrying a large basket of drawing paper, pencils, paints and other art supplies artistically arranged to resemble a turkey.
“Miss Kacy told us you were bored, when we called. We raided the local art supply store right as they were about to close. I don’t think they were too happy, till they saw how much we spent,” Dexter told him cheerfully.
“Deacon, the boys and me took care of the doors and loosened up the windows and took those bars off. No reason for them, I think they were mostly just decorative. We had Dexter and his team wire in an alarm system that Mr. Sawyer bought. I feel bad about this whole thing, like I’m responsible.”
Mac looked so forlorn, Deacon held out his hand to the him.
“Mac did you have any idea anything like this would happen?”
“No, Deacon, how could I?”
“Exactly, no one could. So why are you taking blame for something that’s not your fault?”
“Well, when you put it that way, I guess it’s kind of silly isn’t it?” He chuckled. “When are you coming back to work?”
“I’m not really sure, depends on when the doctor cuts me loose. He told me I have to behave myself for a week, then by damn I’m back there. I’m bored out of my mind!”
“I brought you something else, Deacon.” Dexter shouldered his way through the crowd. “I borrowed this from my kid. He’s outgrown his Game Boy, and he said you could use it till you feel better. I know it’s old, but it still works great. I think he’s got about fifty games, so there ought to be something you like in there.” He set a black gym bag down on Deacon’s lap.
Speechless for a moment, unused to such an outpouring of friendship, Deacon stared at the bag and basket. “I don’t know what to say. Thank you all. It feels like Christmas, only I never had a Christmas this good in my life!”
Never one to show his emotions, Deacon honestly wanted to cry. He was overwhelmed by the show of caring and support given him by these people who hardly knew him.
“Thank you, thank you so very much.”
Kacy, noting his discomfort, scooted them all out the door. Their voices dropped to near silence when they got to the hallway, fading rapidly away.
Deacon still didn’t want to show his feelings in front of Kacy, but was simply too tired and sore to cover it any longer. Tears welled up and dribbled down as he hung his head, trying to conceal his face. She walked to the sink to refill his water pitcher. With a massive sniff, he got himself under control and was ready to face her when she turned around.
“I’m acting like a big baby, I’m sorry.”
Kacy sat on the edge of the bed, taking him gently in her arms.
“I never had a lot of friends when I was growing up. Now, I have so many, I can’t even count them all.”
“It’s not childish to have feelings, you know.”
“This is going to sound crazy and, given my history, strangely appropriate,” he was babbling a little with overwhelming emotions. “But I feel like I’m finally alive, like the last twenty-seven years were just practice. The best thing that ever happened to me was having that breakdown. I guess I really did get in touch with myself.”
An announcement came over the intercom that visiting hours were over. Kacy looked at him in alarm, their private time together gone in a flash. A nurse came in to give him another shot, assuring Kacy that spouses were allowed to stay longer.
“Just not too late, or the night supervisor will crawl my butt.”
“Only a little longer, I promise. I’ll be gone by ten thirty, so you don’t get in trouble.” She crawled up beside him again, her head on his shoulder. “It’s amazing how empty that big bed feels without you. I cleared out your things and put them in my old room, it’s a bit easier to get in and out of, I’ve moved down the hall and Mom and Dad will be in the master bedroom. I hope that’s all right.”
“However you want to do it, Kacy. It’s as much your home as mine.” He kissed her gently on the cheek. “I’m gonna go stir crazy in this place, I hate hospitals. I had my tonsils out when I was twelve, and had to stay in a couple days. I was driving the nurses crazy by the end of the first day.”
“I’ll be back tomorrow, and I’ll bring Pete’s parents by. Dino is going to pick them up and take them to dinner, but they will be at the house any minute. I suppose I ought really to be there to meet them.”
“They will understand your being here, won’t they?”
“I suppose so. Oh, Deacon, I just wish they hadn’t come at all. They are lovely people, but a bit odd, in some respects.”
“Do you think they’ll understand about us?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think I’ll tell them about that right away. It’s chicken hearted of me I know.”
“What happened to the old stiff upper lip, Ms. Du Champs?” he teased gently.
“It got thrown out with last night’s supper,” she grinned. “I’d best be going, I promised to be out of here by ten thirty and it’s twenty-five past. I love you and I’ll miss you, Deacon.”
©2021 Dellani Oakes