by R D Larson
part 1 of 2
My brother’s companion, Karl, told me about a job opening. I’d lost my brother in a car wreck a few years before, but because of the accident, Karl and I stayed in touch. So thanks to Karl, I started a new job with great pay, and the retirement was unbelievable.
Nevertheless, I was glad it was Saturday. My husband Tim and I were both doing chores around our house. I was having fun. I set out some new bulbs and washed the deck furniture. Maybe by next year this time we could start a baby. Some of our economic problems would be solved by my new sales position. It wasn’t exactly sales; I delivered contracts for the Legacy Portal Foundation.
Tim worked hard but it was never enough. Middle school pay is pitiful. With my raise in salary we’d be able to do more and even take some of the trips we’d planned for so long.
My husband began painting the trim on our house. I sat back on my heels to look at him. His brown hair was tousled; he was wearing that old blue plaid shirt that I bought for his birthday the year we met. Daisy, our black Lab, was rolling in the new grass.
I think now that I could not have been happier.
I was bending down to plant the rest of the primroses when a sound made me look up. Tim had fallen from the ladder onto the edge of the driveway.
I ran to him. He didn’t look hurt. He was — too still — knocked out?
“Tim? Tim?” I rushed to grab the phone. When the 911 operator answered I was panting with fear. Daisy cowered under the table.
“My husband fell off a ladder. He’s not moving. I think he may have hit his—”
She said something to me. My breath and heart banged so hard I had to ask what she’d said.
“The address? It’s 1339 Lake Dale Road, just past the old grain store, off Highway 6B.”
“Yes, yes. No, no. I’ve got to help him. I won’t stay on. Just get somebody here. Hurry.”
I ran back to Tim. As I knelt down by him, I saw his chest rise and fall. I grabbed his pale hand and held it. “Honey, help is coming. Tim, honey, I love you.”
The phone began to ring. Must be 911 calling back. I knew they do that. I answered briefly; then I put Daisy in the house.
I couldn’t help him and couldn’t cry. I couldn’t do anything but wait.
Finally, after twenty minutes the ambulance arrived. I watched them take him away, then I ran into the house for my car keys and followed it.
* * *
It took a week to find out that Tim had bone cancer. He’d fallen off the ladder because of general weakness. The doctors told me they didn’t expect him to live longer than a few months, because it had metastasized.
Angry and resentful, I couldn’t sleep. It isn’t fair, I kept thinking. Not now when we’re so young. Rage burned me. I tried to think what to do. Finally I decided to call a cancer specialist, one I knew by reputation. He agreed to see me and evaluate Tim for a second opinion.
He called back a week later with the same results. I was worried sick.
I stayed with Tim all day except for going home to let the dog out and to gulp down a can of soup. I decided I would not let Tim die. I’d have none of it. I absolutely refused to let Tim just die. After lunch I got back to talk to Tim. He seemed pretty much out of it. I guessed the doctors had ordered pain medication. He couldn’t wake up enough to talk to me.
When I came back to the house, I could only sit immobilized on the couch with Daisy’s head in my lap. I sat there for hours. Now I knew what the word distraught meant. I felt like I was sinking into a spinning vortex. I couldn’t eat or even go see Tim. I knew I would cry. I didn’t want him to know. Not now. Not yet.
Around eight I fixed a large gin and tonic. After a long time I dropped off to sleep, but I dreamt of Tim. I dreamt of help. I woke up this morning with a headache and a pounding heart.
I made a pot of dark roast coffee. After gulping half a cup, I called my friend, Maria Gonzales, who works at a medical clinic in San Isidro, down near the Mexican Border.
“Hey, Maria, how are you? I need to ask you something.”
“Shoot, Mandy,” she said to me. We don’t talk much when we’re at work. But this was important.
“Tim’s been diagnosed with bone cancer. The doctors here don’t expect him to live.”
“Oh God, honey! You poor things. How awful,” Maria broke in, full of concern and compassion.
“Well, I’m not going to let him die! I’ve gotten a high paying job with Legacy Portal, so I can afford to take him to that alternative cancer clinic in Tijuana. I just can’t remember the name of it.”
“It’s called the Centro para la hermana Beatrice, Center for Sister Beatrice in English. I know that they use photoluminescent oxygenation of the blood there, and I heard it helps save cancer victims’ lives.” Maria sounded positive and that was enough for me.
“Do you have their address or phone number? Please, Maria, help us.”
“Yes, I do. Dr. Salazar is married to my second cousin, Lupe. You’ll like him. I have met them both at family holidays in Tijuana. Let me just call it up in my address book...”
I took down the address, called to make an appointment for Tim in two days with Dr. Salazar. I called my boss, Mr. Harold Woods, at Legacy to ask for Wednesday and Thursday off to take Tim down to Tijuana. Harold is so understanding that he gave me the time off and also offered one of the company’s limousines so I could take Tim to the Centro para la hermana Beatrice in comfort.
I promised him I would be back on Friday and continue to work my clients as the new sales associate. I knew that I had a particular client named Babb that would be a hard sell from what Harold said about him.
I mostly just thought of Tim during the next few days as I made the arrangements to transport him to Tijuana. He seemed weak and groggy every time I saw him. I was so relieved to have him going to the competent hands of Dr. Salazar. I knew right away when I met him that he would do his best for Tim.
After they got Tim settled into his bed in a double room, Dr. Salazar came to talk to me. We went into a private visitor’s room. I sat down, weak with fear. He apprised me of the situation.
“Mrs. Sanson, this will be a long effort for your husband. I can’t promise you success, but I do promise you that we’ll make every effort to get your husband’s condition into remission. He will be weak from the treatments, but he will be in good hands. I know that you must return to your job and I understand that it’s hard for you to leave him. Come at any time that you can to see him. And I will call you every day or so with information.”
“Thank you. I understand that there must be a payment up front and I’m prepared to do that. Our insurance does not cover alternative medical procedures. But you’re right; I must return to Los Angeles to my work. I appreciate any calls to me.”
We shook hands and I went to see Tim before I left. He was resting and quiet in a bed with beautiful blue sheets, his favorite color. A glass of orange juice sat on the bedside table. I kissed his cheek and he gripped my hand for a moment before he drifted off to sleep.
During the trip back I kept thinking of the money and what I would need for Tim. No thought of house or baby now, I decided grimly.
When I got home I greeted and walked Daisy. Then I took a long, hot shower and went directly to bed. For the first time in nearly two weeks I slept soundly through the night.
Dr. Salazar called me on Friday morning to say that Tim had begun to feel a little better and was drinking liquids. I told him I would be down to the Centro para la hermana Beatrice in the morning to see Tim.
Refreshed and hopeful, I could have danced to work.
My first client had been a success; he was happy to sign into to the Legacy Portal. He could see the sense in planning for his future.
My second client was a woman who wouldn’t even see me. I even sent her a telegram. I sent her flowers. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Harold was angry. He told me it should have been a slam-dunk; the woman had lost everything except her chance at living again after she had died. He routed me royally.
But when Harold Wood found out how sick Tim was, he stood behind me. And let me have the time off. Now I had to perform. For Tim, for my dear Tim I would get Mr. Babb on board with Legacy Portal.
At work on Friday morning I called my third client.
“Hello? Mr. Babb?”
“Yes, who’s calling?”
“This is Mandy Sanson.”
“Yes, how may I help you?” His voice was harsh, rude even.
“I’d like to tell you in person.”
“What is this about? I’m busy.” The man’s voice sharpened.
“It’s about your father.”
“He’s been dead for years. What is this about?” I heard his quick draw of breath and knew I had hooked him.
“I’d rather tell you in person.” I tried to put a warmth in my voice.
“I don’t think so. Don’t call me again.”
“Please, wait...” All I heard was the insistent buzz.
I sighed. People are so skeptical. I had to do this. I would owe another $10,000 next week for Tim’s care. Tim’s only chance hung on me.
I tried Babb’s phone number again. No answer.
I went to Harold’s office. I hated to interrupt him. He’s got a vicious disposition when disappointed.
“I called Mr. Babb and he hung up on me.”
“So what? You’re going to have to do better than that or you can’t work here.” His head jerked toward me. His hands idled over the keyboard. ”Does he know you have the contract?”
“No, he wouldn’t meet with me.” Because it was my second offense, I felt desperate.
“People are afraid of new things. Television, journalism, any kind of publicity — people shy from it. He’s lucky to go to Star Gate — most of us just die. Put your ass on the line.”
Copyright © 2008 by R D Larson