Chapter 23 – David
Monday, April 1st
David played through several songs before he turned to see what Paul was doing. Paul watched him. “Thank you for not making me go.”
“You don’t like Jay?”
David had never really thought about it before. He didn’t dislike him. He shrugged.
“You play very well. I bet your mom likes to listen to you while she works.”
“She says she does.”
Paul smiled and leaned back in the chair. “David, does your mother keep a file of the newsletters that she’s done before for each company?”
“Yes.” Was he going to help? David jumped from the bench and quickly went to the file cabinet, pulling out the folders for the two newsletters that he knew had to be finished soon. He set the files on the table and opened a desk drawer to grab this month’s information each in its own small file folder. “This is the stuff for this newsletter,” he said, placing one of the smaller files on a folder from the cabinet. “And this goes with this one.”
“Do you know which one has to be done first?”
“No. I wish….” David tried to remember what was done in what order every month, but some weren’t done every month, and he couldn’t remember. “Maybe the calendar.” He pulled it from the books behind the phone.
“Good, David. This is what we need. Do you want to help me try to do this?”
“I don’t know very much. I’ve only worked on your books.”
“I know less than you then, but I’ve played with computers for years. Between the two of us, maybe we can get one of these done for her.”
“Yes.” Oh, thank you, Jesus. You know how hard she works for me and how late she will be staying up because she missed these days. And she’s so tired. “Thank you, Paul.”
Paul turned on the computer. “How does she get these pictures in? Does she have a scanner?” He turned to look at the table of equipment and answered his own question. “Yes. And this must be the color laser. Even a copy machine if we need it.”
They spent several hours scanning and adjusting the pictures to be used. Paul referred frequently to the row of manuals in the bookshelf. Around nine he ordered them pizza, so they didn’t have to take time to make dinner. As they ate they talked about how best to arrange the material they had.
David would have been content to let Paul do as he thought best, but Paul asked his opinion and waited a long time until David finally said what he thought. He was amazed when Paul treated his suggestions seriously. He was like Elizabeth. He didn’t act like David was stupid. Even Rob never asked his opinion. He just told David what to do and how to do it, and then David did it. After that David felt a little freer to speak up. Not like he would with Elizabeth, but more than with anyone else.
Around midnight they were finally able to move from the pictures to the text. They found that Elizabeth kept a style sheet file for each newsletter. It already had the masthead, columns, and text style labels.
“David, it’s almost three thirty. We better get some sleep. We’re almost finished, but it can wait until later.”
David was so tired he could hardly lift himself from the chair next to Paul and stumble into his room. He hadn’t been sleeping much lately, and now he didn’t even bother to change into his pajamas. He fell across the bed and was asleep instantly.
David awoke with a start. Someone was touching his legs. He kicked out, trying to get away.
“Whoa, hold it, David. I’m just taking your shoes off for you.”
“Paul?” David forced himself to be still, trying not to let the terror take over. He felt one shoe come off, and then Paul was untying the other. Paul was good. Paul wouldn’t hurt him, would he? He didn’t want…. “No. Please, Paul. God doesn’t like that.” He started shaking.
Paul took off his other shoe. “He doesn’t like what, David?” He pulled the blankets out from under him and then laid them over him. He sat down on the edge of the bed. “What doesn’t God like, David?”
Paul hadn’t tried to take off David’s clothes. “You’re not going to… hurt me, are you?”
“No, David. I will never try to hurt you. Try to get some sleep.” Paul studied him a moment and then left the room.
He didn’t hurt me. Jesus, my Lord, he didn’t hurt me. He is like Elizabeth. Of course, it is just his job. Elizabeth asked him to be good to me, to protect me. But I don’t care. I’m glad he’s here. I’m glad he didn’t make me go to Jay’s.
Tuesday, April 2nd
David didn’t wake up until almost noon the next day. Paul was at the computer working on some pictures for the second newsletter when he came out.
“Hi, David. Have you eaten yet?” David shook his head. “Why don’t you just get a dish of cereal while I finish this picture? Then we can finish up that first newsletter and get it to the printer. It was supposed to be in last Friday’s batch that we sent in yesterday, according to this calendar.”
David did as Paul asked, reading his Bible lesson as he ate. Then he joined Paul and they finished the first newsletter.
“We did it, David, and I don’t think we did such a bad job. We should probably run it past Beth before we take it in, though, to see if we should change anything.” Paul put the pages they had just printed into the folder with the original articles and pictures from the company and put the folder into a book bag. It looked quite full, and David wondered what was already in it. “Are you ready to see your mom?”
David smiled before he said, “Yes.”
At the hospital Elizabeth sat in a chair with her eyes closed.
David went quietly to her. “Mom?” he asked softly.
She opened her eyes and smiled. “There you are, my son. I’ve been waiting for you.”
“Are you better?”
“I wish, Honey.”
“Did they say when they would let you come home?” Paul asked.
“Tomorrow if my fever doesn’t go up like it did last night. Either that or Thursday. How are things going at home?”
“Paul bought food.”
“That’s always nice to have,” she said, smiling. She looked at Paul, and he smiled back at her. “Sit down, you two, please.”
David sat on the edge of the bed and reached for Elizabeth’s hand. “I missed you, Mom.”
Elizabeth squeezed his hand. “I missed you, too, Beloved.”
Paul set the other chair near hers and sat down. He reached into the bag he carried and pulled out her Bible and a book, Heaven Taken by Storm by Thomas Watson. “I thought you might want your Bible, and I noticed this book on your night stand.”
“Thanks Paul. There are a few moments I think I might be able to read.”
“How are you feeling, really? Are you up to talking about business?”
“Right now I’m not too drugged up, and I’m not real tired.”
“Mom? Why?” Not drugs! Not her! She couldn’t!
“Why what, Honey? What’s wrong?”
“Why are you taking drugs? I don’t want you to change.”
Elizabeth seemed puzzled and then shook her head. “Oh, no, David. I’m not taking those kind of drugs. I was talking about the pain medicine they give me, you know, like aspirin only stronger, and the medicine to fight the infection.”
David studied her to make sure everything was as she said. He relaxed. “Don’t ever change.”
Elizabeth held out her arms to him, and he hugged her. “Don’t worry. I’ll always love you, Sweetheart,” she whispered into his ear. He sat back on the bed, but kept a firm hold on her hand.
Elizabeth turned her attention back to Paul. “What kind of business did you want to talk about?”
Paul pulled the folder from the bag. “David and I did this. And to quote you — Don’t be afraid to tell us you don’t like it.”
Elizabeth looked through the sheets. She glanced up at David and Paul and then back at the paper. Then she went through the original material. Why wasn’t she saying anything? What was wrong with it? David knew he’d done something wrong. Paul should have done it alone. “It’s pretty good. The pictures are the hardest part on these, aren’t they?”
“I agree,” Paul said. “I know I don’t have your eye for this, but I hoped it was good enough to send to the printer.”
Elizabeth glanced up quickly. “Of course it’s good enough.” She looked from Paul to David. “I’m sorry. It’s very good. I’m just a little stunned. Yes, please, take it in. That’s one less thing I have to worry about.”
“You really like it, Mom? On the second page, is that okay?”
“I think it’s great.”
“He suggested that layout, and I thought it was pretty good myself, although I’m definitely no expert.”
“I really do think you have an artist’s eye, David. Your photography and this.” She smiled the gentle smile that meant she loved him.
“I hope you don’t mind, Beth, but I looked through your calendar and pulled some things from your files that need to be finished soon. If you’re up to it, maybe you could go over them with me, and I’ll try to do a few things so you’re not so swamped.”
“Paul, that’s… Why? I mean, you don’t have to.”
“I know I don’t. But David and I seem to work well together. I like to learn new things, and you do need the help.”
“Yes, I guess I do. You don’t know how much I appreciate this.”
“Perhaps you should save your appreciation until you see the finished product. I know I haven’t your eye, but at least David does.” Paul began pulling folders out of the bag.
Elizabeth explained each job and gave suggestions for layout, looking equally to David and Paul.
Paul put the folders back into the bag as they finished with each. “By the way, the small file cabinet under the table is locked. Will I need anything from it?”
“Locked?” Elizabeth glanced at David and then back to Paul. She shrugged. “You won’t need it. It just has tax returns and that kind of stuff. Don’t worry about it. Oh, I forgot to ask, did you proofread that newsletter?”
“Proofread? The text was on disk. I assumed the writers did that.”
“Never assume, Paul. Sometimes grammar and punctuation need to be fixed. Even you didn’t have all your text perfect.”
“I didn’t?” He smiled at her. “You mean I’m not perfect.”
Elizabeth laughed. “Almost.”
“Almost not perfect or almost perfect?”
“Whichever you prefer.”
David listened and watched them. Elizabeth was sounding better, and Paul was helping her. Paul made her happy.
When they were through looking at all the folders Paul had brought, Elizabeth seemed tired. “Maybe you should get back in bed, Beth, and we should get some lunch.”
“Lunch? It’s almost three thirty. Oh, David, it’s Tuesday, isn’t it? Shelly’s going to be over at four. You better get home.”
“David’s piano teacher.”
“We better get home then. We probably won’t be back tonight if we’re working on this.”
“That’s okay. I’m feeling pretty rotten right now. Can you send in a nurse on your way out? They never respond to these buzzers.”
David hugged her. “I love you.”
Paul took them through a drive-thru. “You better eat on the way because we might not make it before your teacher.”
Shelly was concerned when she heard about Elizabeth, but after she was assured that she was doing well she asked, “Do you think you’ll make it Sunday, David? You know you’re scheduled for the piano.”
“I… I don’t know.” He looked at Paul.
“I’ll still be here on Sunday. I planned to go with you anyway.”
“Good,” Shelly said. “Have you selected your prelude and postlude music? No. Well, let’s do that first.”
Afterward Paul and David worked on Elizabeth’s projects until ten when Paul suggested they call it an early night.
Wednesday, April 3rd
The next day, Paul called Elizabeth to find out if and when they were releasing her. Her fever had gone up again the night before so they were keeping her until the next day.
“Was it because we bothered her too much yesterday?” David asked.
“No, David. It’s because it takes a while for the poison from the ruptured appendix to be cleared out of her system. She needs a lot of rest. We can work on this and then go to see her later.”
They finally went up to visit around five. They were only there an hour when she seemed to be feeling tired again. “Let’s go get something to eat, David, and let your mom take a nap. We’ll stop back afterward.” They went to a restaurant across the street.
It was dusk when they finished up. David started back to the hospital ahead of Paul anxious to have a few moments alone with Elizabeth. Paul didn’t protest when David had suggested it while Paul was waiting to pay the check.
David was halfway across the parking lot when he heard someone say, “Hey, isn’t that David?”
He turned and saw Bill and Billy just getting out of the car he was passing.
Suddenly Bill rushed at him, grabbing his arms, and pulling them behind his back. “Now’s your chance to get him back, Billy.”
David tried to get away, but Bill twisted his arm harder, sending pain through his shoulders.
“Knock it off, or I’ll break them.”
“Let him go, or I’ll break more than your arms,” Paul said.
“Who the hell are you? This is none of your business.”
“It is my business.” Paul advanced toward them.
David didn’t know what Paul did, but Bill cursed and he was released. He had to get away before Bill could get him again. He had to get to Elizabeth.
David ran through the parking lot and into the street. Tires screeched. He turned toward the sound, and a car came right at him, stopping only inches from his stomach.
A man got out, cursing.
He had to get away. David ran on toward the hospital, toward Elizabeth.
Go to Chapter 24
© 2013, 1995 by Deborah K. Lauro. You may make one copy for personal use. To share, please direct friends to this website.