Fourth and Goal
For Disclaimers: See Part 1
Mike paced around his living room, trying to figure out where his wife and children could be. It was late afternoon and he had not heard anything from Miriam all day.
Where the hell are you, woman? He hit the coffee table with his fist, and then winced because it was still sore from the night before. She knows I didnt mean it. I didnt mean to lose my temper, but she pushed me. Flaunting that bitch in my face. He stood and walked over to the window. "Ill find you woman, and when I do you will be sorry," he said aloud to no one.
"Mother, please," Miriam said, "I really dont want to get into this with you."
Miriams mother Rachel sighed heavily. "Sweetie you need to tell me whats going on. He has called twice already. What do you want me to tell him?"
"Tell him the truth, you have no idea where the boys and I are." She paused. "I know this puts you in a tough spot Mom, but you have to trust me on this one."
"Alright darling. Will you at least keep in contact with me daily so Ill know that you and the boys are alright?"
Miriam smiled. "I knew I could count on you. Thanks Mom, and Ill call you everyday."
"Do you need anything dear?"
"No Mom, I have money." Miriam had a good head on her shoulders. She had gone to the bank before leaving Jacksonville to get a cash advance on her credit card so she wouldnt leave a paper trail for Mike to follow. The cashier looked at her funny because of the large amount she requested, but Miriam didnt care. " I love you, Mom."
"I love you too, Miriam," her mother said. "Dont forget to call me tomorrow, and be sure to give the boys a hug for me."
Miriam smiled. "I will Mom. Bye"
Rock lay in the recovery room unaware of anything that was going on around her. She was in a deep, drug induced sleep. The nurse walked over to check Rocks vital signs and noticed that she was in REM sleep.
The sun was shining brightly as Rock lay on her back in a meadow filled with wildflowers of every color. She smiled as she breathed the warm summer air and the fragrance the flowers gave. Her feet, crossed at the ankles, rocked lazily back and forth as she looked up at the fluffy clouds that passed overhead.
The peace that Rock enjoyed was broken by the faint sounds of a woman screaming. She sat up and looked around finally seeing a woman with long, flowing blonde hair running as quickly as she could from some unknown darkness; a darkness that seemed to be encompassing Rocks peaceful meadow. Rock stood up and started running toward the woman and the darkness that chased her. Her heart thundered in her chest as she gained speed and neared the young woman. Before she could see her face, the darkness overtook the young woman and soon Rock as well.
The nurse continued to take Rocks vitals and quickly finished when she noticed Rocks breathing had become erratic and she had started sweating. She placed her hand gently on Rocks shoulder and leaned in close to her ear. "Ms. Rockwell, its time to wake up," she whispered. When she got no response, she called her again. She stumbled back when Rock made a war cry.
Another nurse heard the cry and ran in to the recovery room. "Delores, what in the world is going on in here?"
Delores got her bearings and looked up at her co-worker. "Im not sure, but from the looks of things shes having a bad dream." She walked over to Rocks bedside and gently grasped her shoulder. "Ms. Rockwell?"
Rocks eyes slowly opened and she groggily looked around. "Where am I?" she asked hoarsely.
"Youre in the recovery room," the nurse told her.
Rock waited while her head cleared from its drugged state. "May I have some water, please?"
The nurse smiled and gave her a few sips of cool water to ease Rocks throat.
"Thank you," Rock rasped. "I want to see my grandmother."
The nurse placed her hand on Rocks shoulder. "Youll be able to see her as soon as we get you settled in your room."
Rock tried to move her arms but she realized that they were strapped closely to her body. "What the fuck is going on?" She made a weak attempt to get free.
"Ms. Rockwell, you have to be still," the nurse said softly. "Youre in a Stryker frame. Its used to keep you completely immobile while you recover from your surgery."
"Are you telling me that Im going to have to remain on my back and look at the ceiling while I heal?" Rock groggily asked.
The nurse chuckled. "No, in about two hours youll be looking at the floor." She saw the puzzled look on Rocks face and thought she should explain. "This frame rotates so that you wont have pressure on your back the entire time you are being immobilized." Delores wiped the sweat from Rocks forehead. "Its a good thing you were in this frame because the dream you were having must have been a doozy."
"Yeah, it was. I just dont understand it, though." Rock shook her head slightly, still trying to get rid of the grogginess. "Ill have to ask Gram about it."
"Well, youll be moved to your room in about an hour," the nurse revealed. "We just want to make sure that you wont have any post operative problems."
"Ok," Rock sighed. I have to talk to Gram about that weird dream. I wonder what that was all about?
Johnnie, Nadina and Michael were waiting outside Rocks room while the nurses got her settled. "How did she look to you, Mama?" Nadina asked.
"She looked pretty good considering she just had major surgery," Johnnie replied. "I just hope that it was successful."
"So do I," Michael added. "I dont know how she will react if she isnt able to walk."
Nadina hugged herself. "I dont even want to think about it. She wont be the same woman if she cant walk let alone play football."
Johnnie walked over to her daughter and wrapped her arm around her. "Squirts gonna be just fine."
"I certainly hope so, Mama," Nadina said as she hugged Johnnie.
"She comes from a strong stock, Little One," Johnnie said as she kissed Nadinas forehead.
Nadina looked up at her mother and smiled. "Indeed she does, Mama."
"I hope youre right, Johnnie," Michael said. "Vali is going to need all the support she can get, and I am determined to see that she gets it."
Before their conversation could go any further, the nurses came out of Rocks room. "You can go in now," the last nurse to leave Rocks room told them.
They looked expectantly at each other, afraid of the state that Rock would be in. Nadina squared her shoulders and went in, followed by Johnnie and Michael. Her knees buckled and Michael was behind her in a flash to hold her up. She was not prepared for all the post-operative equipment that she saw surrounding her daughters bed.
Johnnie remembered how she must have looked to Alma when she was in the hospital after her shooting. Its still not the same when its someone you love laying in a hospital bed. She shook off the feeling of sadness that washed over her and took Nadinas hand and walked over to Rocks bedside. "Squirt? Can you hear me?"
"Gram," Rock said softly as she opened her eyes to see her family together in her room. "Mom, are you ok? You dont look so good."
Tears spilled from Nadinas eyes as she smiled at her only child. "Im just fine, darling. Dont worry about me." She grasped Rocks hand and kissed it."
Michael stood next to his wife. "How are you feeling, honey?"
Rock lazily turned her attention to her father. She could see the worried expression his face held. "Im ok. Just feeling out of sorts right now."
Michael smiled. "I understand. The drugs hospitals give now are amazing."
"They sure are, Dad. Im feeling no pain," a high Rock whispered.
"Maybe we should let you get some rest, honey," Nadina suggested.
"Ok," Rock replied sleepily. "Gram, I had a weird dream earlier."
"Really?" Johnnie asked.
"I need to talk to you about it."
Although Michael didnt really like the fact that Rock turned to Johnnie for help, he understood Johnnies ability to interpret dreams. "Why dont we give you two some privacy." He took Nadina by the hand. "Well wait for you outside, Johnnie."
"Ill be out in a few minutes," Johnnie said; still unable to get over the 180 that her son-in-law has made. After Nadina and Michael left the room, she turned her attention back to her granddaughter. "Whats going on, Squirt?"
As Rock recounted the dream, Johnnies eyebrows furrowed. She knew the dream meant there was danger in Rocks future.
Rock noticed the look on her grandmothers face. "Gram?"
Johnnie shook herself and grasped Rocks hand. "Squirt, it sounds like youll be facing some sort of danger." She paused. "Though you are not of my heritage, Ive taught you the old ways. You must hold fast to them in order to get through the trials that you must face."
"But Gram, what about the woman?"
"My spirit is telling me that you will help each other. When she is revealed to you hold on to her, never let her go. She is the key."
"I dont understand, Gram. What trials am I going to face? What does this woman have to do with this?"
Johnnie sighed. "I dont know, Squirt. You need to remember what Ive told you."
"Gram, I need to know "
Johnnie cut her off, her tone serious. "Just remember what I told you, Valeria."
Rock knew that the situation was indeed grave because Johnnie never called her by her given name. "Yes, Grandmother."
"Good. Now you get some sleep and well be back shortly," Johnnie said.
Johnnie leaned over and kissed Rocks cheek. "I love you, Squirt."
Rock smiled. "I love you too, Gram."
Caitlin paced back and forth in her apartment, knowing that it would be a few hours before she would be able to slip into the hospital and Rocks room unnoticed. She tried to prepare her notes of the days treatments for her files, but to no avail. She jumped when the phone rang and startled her out of her reverie. "Hello?" she answered a little harshly.
"Well dont bite my head off," Milli responded.
"Sorry," Caitlin sheepishly replied.
"So tell me, hows the patient?"
"Why would you think that I would know?"
"Because I know you," Milli told her.
Caitlin blushed, thankful that Milli was on the phone and not in her presence. "Well, from what I heard her surgery went ok."
"Care to elaborate on how you could possibly know that?" Milli teased.
"Oh hush up, woman," Caitlin ordered.
Milli couldnt contain her laughter. "I knew you couldnt resist calling the hospital to find out how she was."
"Well I was just concerned, is all," Caitlin responded.
"Uh huh, and Im the president."
"Why are you calling me?"
"I was wondering how Rock was and I knew that you would know," Milli smugly said.
"All I know is that she made it thorough the surgery," Caitlin informed her.
"So, are you planning on going to the hospital?"
"And why would I do that?" Caitlin asked, knowing full well that she was indeed going to the hospital.
Millis mind was churning to come up with a smart remark. "Because youre a concerned citizen?"
Glad shes not thinking anything else. "Of course Im concerned, I am a physical therapist for Petes sake."
Uh huh. "Youll keep me informed on how shes doing, yes?"
Caitlin sighed. "If I must "
"Yes you must," Milli told her. "Do you want to go out to lunch tomorrow?" she asked changing the subject.
"You just want to pick my brain and find out information about Rock."
"No, not at all," Milli lied. "We havent had lunch in a while."
"Yeah, right," Caitlin said.
"Ok, Milli. Whatever you say." Caitlin smiled.
"Its a date. See you tomorrow."
"Tomorrow." Caitlin hung up the phone and looked at the clock. "Jeez, will you hurry up already?"
Johnnie sat across the table from her son-in-law and studied him. What has brought about this change in you, Michael? What are you up to?
"If you ladies will excuse me, I think I need to take a little trip," Michael said as he stood to leave. "Ill be right back."
Johnnie watched him as he made his way through the restaurant, and then turned her attention to her daughter. "What the hell is wrong with him?"
Nadina took a sip of wine and placed the glass back on the table. "What are you talking about, Mama?"
She arched a disbelieving eyebrow and leaned on the table with both elbows. "Dont even try it, Little One. You know exactly what I mean." She paused. "Why is he being so nice to me?"
"Well, Mama," Nadina said, "I had a talk with Michael, and I told him that this ongoing feud between the both of you has to stop and hes agreed to try and get along with you."
Johnnie sat back in her chair. "Nadina, maybe you shouldnt "
"No, Mama," Nadina interrupted. "This has gone on too long. Im tired of you pushing me away to keep peace between Michael and me."
"But I did "
"There you go again, interrupting me." Nadinas eyes filled with unshed tears, her voice cracking under the strain. "Do you know how it makes me feel when you spend your holidays with Uncle Pizos kids instead of me?"
Johnnie opened her mouth to speak, but thought better of it when she saw the glare her daughter gave her.
"Do you realize that for a long time I thought you didnt love me?" Nadina lowered her head as she used her napkin to blot away her tears.
"I never stopped loving you, Little One," Johnnie said softly as she reached out and grasped her daughters hand, her heart breaking at the confession. "I just didnt want to impose myself on you and Michael. I know he doesnt care for me, and I was doing what I thought would be in your best interest."
Nadina looked into her mothers eyes. "Mama, when Mami died I needed you. It hurt me when you pushed me away."
Johnnie wiped an errant tear from her own cheek. "You look so much like your Mami. It hurt me to look at you because I missed her so much. Before I knew it, years had gone by. When I saw you and Michael together, I didnt want anything to come between the two of you and the love you shared."
"Well, all thats going to end now, Mama. I told Michael that I wasnt going to miss any more time with you. I love you and I missed having you in my life."
Johnnie took her daughters chin in her hand. "Ive missed you too, and Im glad that Michael has decided to put our differences aside for you." She smiled. "I know within my heart of hearts that he loves you, and that makes him alright with me."
Nadina returned her smile. "Thank you, Mama."
"Now all we have to do is get that wildcat to settle down with a nice young woman and find the love that the both of us have experienced."
"Its my guess that you already have someone in mind. That woman you said came into her room last night, yes?"
"Yes. Well stay in Squirts room tonight and you can see for yourself."
"How can you be so sure, Mama?"
"Because Squirt feels it. When Caitlin touched her while Squirt slept she called her mi amor."
"So you already know her name?" Nadina asked.
Johnnie smiled conspiratorially. "Yep. I guess I still got it as a private investigator."
"Indeed you do, Mama. Indeed you do."
"This is bullshit," Rock said as she looked at the floor. She had only been in that position for 45 minutes, but to her it seemed an eternity. Im gonna have to get JB to bring me some girly magazines. A nice centerfold will look better than this fucking tile.
"How are we feeling, Ms. Rockwell?" the night nurse asked.
"We are feeling like shit," Rock snapped back. "I hope that youre here to turn this contraption over."
"No such luck, sorry. You still have another hour and fifteen minutes to go."
"Well I need something to look at besides the floor. Maybe you can slide under here and make the view a little better."
"Youd have more luck trying to convince me to turn you over."
"You mean my charm isnt gonna work?"
"Nope. Im very straight and very married," she told her as she waved her wedding band so Rock could see it.
"Are you very happy?" Rock continued to flirt.
"Very happy." The nurse chuckled. "Is there anything I can get for you?"
Rock sighed. "Yeah, get me a very lesbian, very single nurse."
The nurse burst into laughter. "Ill see what I can do."
"Valeria!" Nadina yelled as she walked into the room. "I see that youre feeling better."
Rock looked and saw her mothers shoes tapping on the floor.
Shit. "I was just kidding around with the nurse, Mom."
"I just bet you were," Nadina said.
"How was dinner?" Rock asked hoping to change the subject.
"Dont try to switch gears on me, young lady," Nadina chastised. "Just wait until your grandmother finds out what youve been up to."
Oh shit! Wait, what am I afraid of. She wont whup me right after I had surgery, and by the time Im healed shell have forgotten all about it. Rock smirked because she knew her grandmother would give her anything she wanted at this point.
"What is it that I need to find out?" Johnnie asked as she came into the room. Nadina pulled a chair over to Rocks bedside and Johnnie took a seat.
"Your granddaughter has been up to her old tricks again," Nadina informed Johnnie. "I heard her asking the night nurse for a single lesbian nurse to come in and keep her company."
Johnnie leaned over to look Rock in the eyes. "Is that so?"
"Gram, I was only joking with her. I was bored."
"Uh huh. Just like Im gonna be bored when I whup your ass for being fresh."
"But Gram, I just had surgery."
"Oh baby, Im not gonna whup you now," Johnnie said in a sweet grandmotherly tone. "Im gonna wait until youre all nice and healed before I make you lay down across the bed." Johnnie noticed the smirk that formed on Rocks face. "Dont think Im gonna forget it, either. You should know better than that."
The smirk on Rocks face immediately fell. Johnnie sat back in the chair grinning like a Cheshire cat. Nadina laughed at the both of them as she sat in one of the other chairs next to Rocks bed.
"Mom, did Gram whup you all the time?"
"Uhm, that would be no. All I had to do was look like I was about to cry and she would take me in her arms and kiss me." Nadina smiled at the memory. "Now Mami, that was a different story all together. When she made me go get a switch, I knew that I was in for it."
Johnnie and Rock joined in on the laughter.
"Is this a private party, or can anybody join?" Michael asked from the doorway.
"Cmon in and pull up a chair," Johnnie said.
Rock questioned her mother with her eyes. Nadina just smiled and shrugged.
Mike paced back and forth in his living room waiting for his guest to arrive. He had called Rachel all day asking her if she had heard from Miriam. Lying bitch. She knows where my wife is. Miriam is too smart to go to her moms, but I bet shes close by. He was startled when the doorbell rang. Its about fucking time. He walked to the door and invited his guest in.
"I came over as soon as I got your message," Charlie said. He was a longtime friend of Mikes who was a private investigator.
"You want a beer or something?" Mike asked.
"No thanks. So tell me whats going on. You sounded desperate on the answering service."
Mike sat down and ran his hand through his hair. "I need you to find someone."
"No problem. Who are you looking for?"
"Miriam? Why on earth are you looking for her?"
"Well, she and I had a little argument last night. When I woke up this morning, she and the boys were gone."
"Did she leave a note or something? Maybe she went to her mothers house."
"Ive already tried there," Mike yelled. "Ive been calling all fucking day. I know that bitch knows where she is, but she isnt talking."
Charlie took out his palm pilot and added a few notes.
Mike looked apologetically at his friend. "You still using that thing? Dont you make enough money to catch up with the times?"
"Fuck you, Mike. This thing has served me well. Why fix it if it aint broke?"
Mike chuckled. "So I guess youll be needing the usual; credit card and digital phone numbers so you can pick up her trail?"
Mike handed a folder over to Charlie. "When you find out where she is, I dont want you to approach her. Just give me a call and tell me her location. I want my arrival to be a surprise."
"I told you that fucking around on her would come back to bite you in the ass," Charlie chastised. "If she sues you for divorce, she can take everything you have."
Mike leaned back in his chair. "I know. I have to try and fix this."
"Good luck. Women have more rights than they did back in the good old days. You could be left with nothing more than the shirt on your back"
"By the time we find her, she will have cooled off. Ill just sweet talk her and win her back," Mike said. "All I have to do is convince her that Im a changed man."
Johnnie and Nadina sat back in a darkened corner of Rocks room. They watched Rock as she slept, dozing only a few moments themselves while they waited for Caitlin to make her appearance.
Nadina looked at the clock that was over Rocks bed. She leaned close to Johnnie. "Mama, its almost 2 am. Do you think shes coming?"
Before Johnnie could respond, she heard the door creak open. She placed her finger over her daughters lips and pointed to the door.
Caitlin eased the door open slightly and slipped in. She walked over to the bed and looked at Rock. The soft lighting over the bed gave Caitlin an even better view of the patient. She saw the waves in Rocks black, thick hair; her tanned skin giving away a Hispanic background. "By the goddess, you are so beautiful," she whispered. "What are you like? Whats it like to be with you?" She placed her hand softly on her cheek, and didnt flinch when she felt Rock turn her face into it.
"Ahh, Querida. Te amo, bebe," Rock whispered in her sleep. "Mi amor."
Caitlin gently removed her hand, praying that she wouldnt wake up the sleeping woman. "I could easily fall in love with you." She pressed her fingers to her lips and blew Rock a kiss. "Sleep well." Just as quietly as she came in, she went out.
"See, I told you," Johnnie said. "She feels it."
Nadina looked from the door, to her daughter and then to her mother. "This is unbelievable. There must really be something there. Ive never known her to tell a woman that she loved them."
A tear ran down Johnnies cheek. "She called Caitlin what your Mami called me. Did you hear her?"
Nadina grasped her mothers hand and smiled. "I know. Shes the one, Mama." She paused. "So whats next?"
"Squirts gonna need to go to a rehab facility when shes released from the hospital, so I was thinking that we go to the Charlotte Institute of Rehabilitation tomorrow and request that Ms. OHara be Squirts therapist."
"And just how long has that idea been floating around in your deviously wicked mind?"
Johnnie smiled. "Since I saw the connection last night."
"Well then, well just have to set your plan in motion."
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