As we opened the door of the chapel where Uncle Howard had entered, sitting in a chair in the lobby area was an older scruffy looking man. He was sitting forward, looking down to the floor, holding his face in his hands, his graying beard poking from between his fingers. Uncle Howard told me, ‘I’ll catch up with you at the hospital. I need a few minutes to talk to him,’ pointing to the man in the chair. I walked out the front doors of the church and started up the sidewalk toward the hospital, wondering who the man could have been, that Uncle Howard would need to talk to him right then. I looked ahead of where I was walking up the sidewalk, and there sitting in the shade below a very large oak tree was Angelica. She stood up as I approached her and we hugged. I could feel myself beginning to tremble, the tears again welling up in my eyes. She whispered in my ear, ‘Jack’s okay, I told you I would see that he gets home for you.’ Angelica took my hand in hers, turned and we walked up to the hospital together. We went into the front doors, walked down the long wide hallway and found Pops sitting in the family waiting area with the lady in the dark blue suit. They both stood as we approached, and Pops asked, ‘Are you ready to go see your brother? You did get the chocolate donut for him, right?’ I raised the small white bag showing it to him, and he took my hand and we walked the rest of the hallway to Jack’s room.
Jack was sitting up in the bed as we entered his room, a clear tube running up under his nose and into either nostril. He was looking at the ‘ouwglass’ that he was holding high in the air toward the window. He turned his head, his grin stretched across his face almost ear to ear, ‘You have my donut?’ he asked. Angelica was sitting over in the corner, near the window, in the big, ugly green chair, her sky blue dress draped over her knees, hiding the pale skin of her legs that were tucked up under her. She smiled at me, then turned and looked out the window. Jack again asked, his voice more excited, ‘Did you bring my donut?’ I heard Pops answer, ‘Yes Jack, she brought you your chocolate donut.’ I handed the bag to Pops, he reached into it, handed Jack his chocolate donut, and then handed me one of the others. In front of Jack, on the table slanted across his bed, was a tray with lunch, or at least the little bit left that he hadn’t eaten. The plate had the crusts of his sandwich and some green beans. His glass had about half of his milk left in it. Off to the right side were an empty bowl and an open soda can. Jokingly, I reached for his soda, lifting it only to find it empty. Jack laughed, ‘I drank it… I knew you would try to take it so I drank it all.’ We all laughed as I put the empty can back down on the tray. He was still holding the hourglass up toward the window, looking at it, watching the white sand fall to the lower section, and then periodically he would take a bite of his chocolate donut, until the last bite slipped from his small hand into his mouth.
I heard voices coming from the hallway, Pops turned, saying, ‘I’ll be right back.’ Then Pops was gone from the room, turning down the hallway in the direction of the voices. Angelica slipped down from the chair and walked over to the other side of Jack’s bed near the foot. She climbed up, sitting beyond the bottom of his feet, her pale hand resting on the white sheet covering Jack’s legs. Her sky blue dress draped over the side of the bed between the silver bars of the rail. Jack jerked his head in my direction, looking beyond where I was standing toward the door. He fumbled the ‘ouwglass’ almost dropping it, and then brought his hand that held the hourglass down and placed it under the sheet. His face looked serious now, his body tense as he slid toward the other side closer to the rail. He leaned in that direction looking toward the window. I noticed he winced as his body leaned against the rail.
As Pops entered the room, he said, ‘Jack, look who came to see you, your Uncle Howard is here and he brought someone to see you…’ Jack and I both looked toward the door; following behind Pops was Uncle Howard and the older scruffy looking man from the church. Immediately, I noticed the scar that ran across his forehead and down the side of his face and disappeared into his graying beard. Pops asked, ‘Do you two remember your Uncle Jack? Remember, you met him here in the hospital after the accident. He was in the car with your Mom and Uncle Howard.’ I looked over to Jack; he had turned back toward the window again. Pops was now standing next to his bed, his hand rested on Jack’s back as he leaned against the other rail. Pops asked, ‘Jack… are you okay? Your uncles are here to see you, to make sure you are alright.’ Jack continued to look out the window, not answering Pops. Uncle Howard stepped over closer to the bed, saying, ‘Jack, I heard you found a real special treasure yesterday. Your Pops said that you would not let anyone hold it for you. Must be pretty special, can I see what you found?’ Jack turned back towards all of us, and slowly pulled his hand from under the sheet. A small smile crept across his face as he held up his relic, ‘Uncle Ouwd, I found an ouwglass, see…’ Uncle Howard looked the hourglass over, ‘Boy Jack, I think that is the best either of us has found yet. No wonder you wouldn’t let anyone keep it for you.’ Uncle Jack, leaning forward to see what the two were admiring, said, ‘That looks like a pretty important treasure you got there Little Jack.’ Jack reluctantly looked up from his prized possession, ‘Thank you Olger Jack.’ I moved around Uncle Jack, the strong pungent smell of smoke hitting me as I passed him, and then stepped around to the other side of the bed near where Angelica had climbed up.
We all continued to visit for a while, waiting for the doctor to come in to speak with Pops, to let us know when he could go home. Jack seemed to become more and more anxious as the day progressed, more and more bored, I supposed. He never did like just laying in bed, even when he would stay home from school with the flu or a fever, he always was playing with his toys, climbing out of bed, and needing to be told of the importance of resting to get over whatever ailment he might have. Sometime, mid-afternoon, Uncle Howard suggested that he and I go find some coffee for the adults and something for Jack and I to drink.
As Uncle Howard and I walked up the wide hallway, I heard quick heavy steps coming up the hall behind us. When we reached the cafeteria door, Uncle Jack said, ‘I’m going outside for some air…’ We walked through the sitting area with all the tables into the small area of food coolers and counters, and found the coffee. Uncle Howard began filling three large cups, while I searched and found the sodas for me and Jack. I walked back over to him as he was pouring the dark warm coffee into the third cup. He said, ‘Looks pretty strong today, why don’t you grab some of the creamer for us?’ I grasped the two sodas in one hand, trying to balance them, and then reached into the container picking up a handful of the small creamer cups. We walked over to the cashier and Uncle Howard handed her the money while I went into the sitting room and found a table near the window. Beyond the glass, I could see Uncle Jack pacing under the trees, smoke billowing from his nose, then small rings of the white smoke rising in the air from his mouth. His arms were stiff, his movements jerky as he paced back and forth, and then he would raise the white stick to his mouth, the end turning a deep red. And again the smoke would billow from his nose drifting up through the leaves of the trees.
Uncle Howard walked over to the table carefully balancing the three cups between his hands, careful not to spill the hot coffee. He set two cups on the table and picked up a couple of the creamers, pulled a napkin from the holder and continued outside where Uncle Jack was pacing. He held the cup out toward Jack who was flailing his hand in the air, smoke wafting to the trees. I could see that they were talking, Uncle Jack now pointing somewhere further down the hospital wall. I could then hear a gruff mumbled speech through the window pane, but could not make out the words. Uncle Howard then placed the napkin on the bench near Uncle Jack, placed the cup and creamers on top of it and turned shaking his head as he walked back toward the door and then came over to the table where I was still waiting. ‘Sorry sweetie, your Uncle Jack gets a bit anxious sometimes… He just needs a little time to himself.’ He then asked if I was ready to go back to the room. We collected our drinks and the creamers and walked back to see Jack, to see if the doctor had come in yet.
Jack was resting on the bed, his eyes closed until he heard us come into the room. He again sat up, looking anxious, and asked, ‘Did Pops find the doctor yet? He went to see if I can go home yet. I really want to go home, there is nothing to do here…’ Uncle Howard told him that it shouldn’t be too much longer before we find out something, but you could see the disappointment on Jack’s little face. He was really getting tired of having to stay in bed. Uncle Jack then meandered into the room, his footsteps quieter, more relaxed as he entered the room. ‘Hey Little Man Jack, I found some more treasures for you while I was out getting some air.’ Jack’s face looked inquisitive now, and he sat up more in the bed, pushing the cleared off table out of the way, exposing the white of the sheet covering him, as if to create a display area. Uncle Jack then began to lay out on the bed some wet leaves and a little clear plastic bag of acorns, seeds, and pinecones. As he laid the first larger leaf on the white sheet, Uncle Jack told him, ‘This is a maple leaf, I found it down by the corner by the church. And this is a….’ Jack interrupted him saying, ‘I know what that one is, it’s the guard one.’ ‘What do you mean the guard one?’ inquired Uncle Jack with a very gentle soothing voice. ‘The sentry one, umm… the Princeton Sentry, yeah, the Princeton Sentry,’ answered Jack with a beaming smile across his face. ‘Very good Jack. I see someone has taught you well about plants,’ encouraged Uncle Jack.
|Magpie Tales photo prompt #35|
Just then Pops walked back into the room with a smile on his face, scanning the room with his dark eyes. I think he was probably checking to see that I was there too. ‘Guess what Jack… I just talked to your doctor and he says you are doing really well today, much better than they expected. You still need to get lots of rest so you can finish getting well…’ Pops was talking directly to Jack, as if none of the rest of us were in the room, but I could still see Jack’s color drain from his face when Pops said the part about getting rest to finish getting well. Pops paused, letting Jack feel sad for just a brief moment, then continued, ‘But… you get to do your resting at home.’ Jack’s face lit up like a flash of lightning. Smiling ear to ear, he started to climb off of the bed. ‘Slow down there Little Man,’ said Uncle Jack reaching for the clear plastic tube still taped to Jack’s arm . ‘You still need to wait just a few more minutes while the nurse comes and unhooks you from all your techno gadgets…’ continued Pops. Uncle Howard was already reaching into the small cabinet near the other side of the bed, pulling Jack’s clothing out. He handed Pops the clothes and suggested that Uncle Jack, he and I go take another walk while Pops helped Jack get ready. The three of us left the room, pulling the big brown door closed as we left. I looked up to my right, and then to my left, both Uncle Jack and Uncle Howard had the biggest smiles on their faces, almost as big as Jack’s was.
We walked down to the cafeteria again, this time the three of us sitting down at the table together while we waited for Pops and Jack to be ready. This time we were sitting near the end, by the windows facing the back of the hospital. I looked out the window, and to my surprise, I realized it was dark... and in the short time while Uncle Jack was showing Jack the display of leaves and other finds... a beautiful white fluffy blanket covered the ground, the first snow of the season. There beyond the driveway, were tall reedlike sticks lined up on either side of a small opening, standing tall as the sentries would have for the prince... with a single set of footprints cresting over the small mound , up and between the guardsmen, as if they were leading the way and welcoming us all home.
|Creative Writing Ink photo prompt|
I hope you all have enjoyed part 4 of my tale... I am really enjoying the challenge of bringing it all together through the use of the photo prompts. Until next time and more clues as to Jack's gremlins... Hope everyone has a wonderful week.