Sentinel Mountain

Chapter Thirty-three

The next afternoon, Josh had a voice mail from Dick asking him to call, so he went to the garden to make the call while Alex slept after their walk. Alex could walk the length of the hall, but was very dependent on the walker. When Josh rang Dick's office, he was put on hold for a few minutes then Dick asked how he and Alex were.

"I'm doing fine. Getting a bit stir crazy and sick of hospitals, but that's normal I'm sure. Alex had the genital and anal exam two days ago. Dr. Avery had told Alex he would have the final reports two or three days after the exam except for the cultures, but we haven't gotten them yet. No one seems to know what the holdup is. If all goes well and nothing unexpected shows up, we'll be leaving for Boulder in a week or so. I'll spend some time there with Alex before flying to San Francisco, then North Carolina."

"Have you seen any of the reporting from the news conference? What I have seen seems better that the usual. By the way, your exchange with Suzie Que was video taped and is still being run. It is not as funny on the tape as it was in real life, but it is funny. Seems she is discovering the value of "No comment" these days." He laughed.

"I've seen very little. By the way, who picked New Beginnings as the location?"

"Who do you think?" Dick laughed. "This will be worth several thousand dollars to Neil and Pete in money they won't have to spend on their campaigns. Plus, I think, they got perverse pleasure in having all those expensive suits and fancy haircuts riding the back roads."

"I can understand that," Josh laughed.

"I really called to let you know Ms. Crimshaw was indicted by the Feds. She is charged with kidnapping, falsifying documents and I don't know what else. The state is also after a piece of her hide. I suspect she will be a very old lady before she sees anything except between bars."

The next couple days were uneventful with Alex spending a lot of time walking and resting. Josh and the nurses spelled each other walking with him. It seemed the report from the cultures kept being delayed for one reason or another and that was causing some anxiety.

One afternoon, Josh had been in the garden making phone calls while Alex slept. Back upstairs, Alex was still dozing, but when Josh kissed him on the cheek, his eyes opened and he turned and smiled at him. "I still can't believe you're not a wonderful dream," he said and pulled Josh's lips to his and kissed him, a kiss filled with love, but little lust. They broke the kiss and were looking into each other's eyes when someone cleared his throat.

"Thought I warned you," Jasper said. "Looks like it didn't it take. How're you feeling, hot stuff?"

"How do you think?" Alex grinned.

"No way I'm answering that!" Jasper said. "What's the report?"

"We haven't gotten it yet," Alex responded.

"Well, I'll pop in later. I have to go down to the lab and decided to make a detour. I'll see if I can shake loose that report. No day nurse?"

"Yes, Sister Agnes. She needed to take a break and I told her to go since Josh would be back soon."

"Well, remember," Jasper said, "you are paying for nursing care, so if your private duty nurse needs a break, or help, push the button. See you later."

"How are you feeling?" Josh asked.

"Fine, I just sleep a lot."

"Your body letting you know you need rest," Josh said.

"Right now it needs to have its lizard drained," he grinned and got out of bed and headed to the bathroom. In spite of how well he was doing walking, Josh watched anxiously, but Alex had no problem.

Before he was back, Sister Agnes and Dr. Avery came into the room, Dr. Avery with a clipboard and Sister Agnes had juice, a small jar of peanut butter and a large box of animal crackers.

Josh grinned and said, "Juice, peanut butter and animal crackers. Hmm, Alex Bledsoe wouldn't happen to be around would he?"

Sister Agnes laughed, "The boy kept asking if I could get him some juice, peanut butter and animal crackers. The juice and peanut butter was a snap, but I kept asking about animal crackers. I was thinking he had developed a taste for doggie treats or something. I guess he had been told or maybe from watching TV, that Brits refer to cookies as biscuits, so he said, "You know, Sister, animal biscuits. I was still lost so I called down to the Pink Lady…"

"Pink Lady?" Josh asked.

"Yes, you know, a volunteer. They are called Pink Ladies, they wear pink uniforms." Josh nodded. "I asked her if she knew animal biscuits and she asked if I meant doggie treats and I told her I didn't think so. I think they are for people. Then I remembered Alex had asked for animal crackers. 'Oh,' she said, 'everyone knows animal crackers,' in spite of the fact that I obviously did not. 'Do you think I could find some and some peanut butter?' I asked. She said she'd call when she had some. I had just run down to get them and met Dr. Avery in the elevator on the way back up."

Alex stepped out of the bathroom and exclaimed, "Animal crackers!" He had the bag opened and dipped an animal cracker in peanut butter before acknowledging Dr. Avery. "Sister Agnes you are an angel. You don't know how many times I woke hungry after dreaming of juice, peanut butter and animal crackers."

Dr. Avery said, "Enjoy. You can give up the animal crackers when you are back one hundred percent."

"Never!" Alex exclaimed. "But I guess you are not here to talk about food."

"No, but you can keep on eating."

"And we can go to Colorado tomorrow?"

"Not yet. I will have the final reports tomorrow, maybe. Just keep up the walking." After Dr. Avery left, they did just that.

Two days later, Dr. Avery came in just as Josh arrived from the hotel. "We finally have all the reports from the cultures and blood work and all is well. Now as soon as you reach your walking goal, you can go to Boulder if a treatment team is in place."

Mary Beth called an hour before she was to come on duty and said, "Sister called me with the news that everything was well. I want us to celebrate. What do you want, Alex?"

There was no hesitation. "Pizza, half triple cheese and triple pepperoni and half supreme with everything except little hairy fish."

"And beer?"

"Never had beer, but, yeah, beer. What kind Josh?"

"Mexican. Dos Equis."

"Dos Equis, Josh says."

"You're in luck since I have some, so won't have to look for it."

When Mary Beth arrived carrying a bag and a six-pack cooler, she did 'kissy kissy' with each guy, then she and Josh started setting up the room for dinner. She covered the table with a red and white checked cloth, placed two candles in bottles with wax dripping down the sides. "Tacky, but nice," she said as she placed them and a slender vase with one white rose on the table. Water glasses and three mugs completed the setting. She had just finished when there was a discreet knock on the door and Josh opened it and allowed the pizza delivery boy in. "Three Jacksons this time, Josh," Mary Beth said. Josh gave the young man three twenties.

The three sat down and ate pizza and drank beer. After half a beer, Alex switched to coke saying it wasn't bad, but he preferred coke.

When they finished eating, Josh restored the room while Mary Beth took care of the trash. When she returned, she told Josh he was going to the hotel and sleep there tonight. "You are not getting enough rest, young man."

Josh did as he was told and found himself, an hour later, drifting off to sleep dreaming of him and Alex at Sentinel Mountain. Josh didn't request a wake-up call because he expected he would be awake by six as usual. He wasn't. The stress of the past days, weeks actually, caught up with him and it was ten before he woke. He took a quick shower, got dressed and rushed to the hospital. When he arrived, Alex was walking down the hall with Mary Beth hanging onto a belt about his waist. He gave Josh a huge smile and spread his arms in a 'look at me' stance.

They walked to the room, Mary Beth blazing the trail followed by Alex and Josh behind hanging onto the safety belt. Once they were inside, Josh kicked the door closed, leaned against it and pulled Alex to him and covered his lover's mouth with his. Alex snaked his tongue into Josh's mouth, then quickly broke the kiss. "Hard-on warning," he said.

"Well, that's proof it's working," Josh replied and kissed him on the cheek.

That evening, they once again set up the room for dinner. Alex had asked for real meat loaf, mashed potatoes, fresh green beans and a huge salad. Mary Beth had brought dinner wear which she said was 'country', decorated with roosters and hens. The knock on the door came promptly at seven and the three sat down, ready to eat.

Their spirits were high and Josh was sure Alex would be in Boulder soon.

The next morning Josh again slept a bit late and arrived at the hospital at nine. When he arrived, Mary Beth was on duty. "Where's Sister Agnes?" he asked.

"She seems to have contracted a twenty-four-hour bug, so I'm taking her shift." She had Josh up and ready to walk and Josh took over, walking behind him holding on to the safety belt. They tried the stairs and Alex walked the length of the hall and down the stairs, but finally had to admit he needed to take the elevator back up.

Mary Beth took Josh aside while Alex slept after his walk, and told him he needed to get away from the hospital. "Go for a walk in the park, go shopping, go to a movie. You are ragging yourself out and if you keep it up, you will not be able to care for Alex when he's released."

Josh thought about arguing, but couldn't think of any way to disagree, so he agreed, went to a mall, grabbed a quick lunch and went to a movie. Halfway through the movie he realized he has been asleep for most of it and admitted he really needed to get more rest. He was wound so tight even sleeping late seemed to do no good.

After the movie he went to the park, rented some inline skates and for the first time since he left Boulder, skated for an hour. He was tired, but felt one hundred percent better. He went to the hotel, showered, changed clothes and went to the hospital.

Josh met Mary Beth in the hall and said, "Where is your relief? You've been here all day."

"Mrs. Goforth will be here after we have an early dinner. She will stay until noon tomorrow and I will be back. Sister's bug turns out to be more than a twenty-four-hour one and is pretty nasty. We're having Chinese tonight."

Alex made it downstairs and back, unaided, twice the next day.

Josh again slept until almost nine, showered, shaved, dressed and was at the hospital at nine thirty. When he reached Alex's room, it was empty, the bed made and no sign of Mrs. Goforth, Mary Beth or Sister Agnes. When he checked at the desk, he was told Mr. Bledsoe had left the room with Dr. Avery half an hour ago.

"Where is Mary Beth?"

"I didn't see her this morning."

That was all the information he was getting there and he knew just random running around wouldn't accomplish anything, so he sat down in the room and waited, impatiently. Twenty minutes later—which only seemed like hours, Alex and Dr. Avery walked in the room, Alex with a huge smile on his face. "Good news, Josh, how soon can you have the plane ready?"

"It's ready now. Why, what's up? What's going on? I came in, no Sister Agnes, no Alex and the bed made."

"Dr. Avery can give you the details, but I can go."

Dr. Avery said, "I've had a hard time holding him down. His grandmother called to talk with him and said the head of Alex's treatment team would be calling me. Sister Agnes called to let me know she is still ill and, in fact, is in the hospital in isolation. I decided to wait and see if you thought a private nurse was necessary. Mary Beth will, of course be here this afternoon. She's setting up a celebration dinner in her usual style. Meanwhile, I got the call from Boulder and asked Alex to come to my office where we could go over some things. Don't get me wrong, I think we run a good place here, but we cannot compare with the program set up for Alex there. Additionally, he will be much happier there than here, especially if he can get that horse, right, Alex?" Alex added a nod to his smile, which was threatening to split his face.

"That can be arranged," Josh said. "So, when can I take him away?"

"He's ready but, as I told him, I really need to give him a going over in the morning."

Alex stuck out his lips and said, "He told me that, but I thought I could change his mind."

"I promise, I'll be here at nine tomorrow morning," Dr. Avery said, "and you can be on your way by ten thirty or eleven, no later."

"We'll have late lunch in Boulder, Beautiful Boy," Josh promised.

He explained to Alex he did need to check on the plane and make other arrangements. "I'll go back to the hotel and get my ducks in a row and be back this afternoon."

Since he was flying over mountains, he had to have a co-pilot. Of course, he was supposed to have a co-pilot regardless, but…

Back at the hospital, Alex was sleeping. Mary Beth said he had just about worn himself out proving he was in shape to go to Boulder.

She took a break to go home and get ready for the evening. "Dinner will be served at seven," she said as she left. Josh decided he needed to dress for the occasion as well and went to the hotel and changed into a sport shirt and nice slacks. He called the car rental company to pick up the car so he'd not have that to worry about in the morning, packed, leaving out clothes for himself and Alex—they would be loose on Alex as when the two were at their ideal weight, they were almost exactly the same size. Alex had put on weight, but still had a way to go. What he didn't have was shoes, but that could wait.

Back at the hospital, Josh helped Alex get dressed in his elegant robe and was setting up the room for dinner when Mary Beth walked in. She had truly dressed for a celebration in a beautiful shimmering green gown which showed off her coloring and body well.

"Good thing I'm not into women," Alex said, "or I'd jump your bones."

"And if I were into men, I'd jump yours, so we're both safe."

"I'm sorry Sister couldn't join us. How is she?"

Mary Beth looked sad for a moment and said, "Not well. They have finally determined what is wrong and she's responding to treatment well. She has a long recovery ahead of her, but she will be ok."

"Does she need a private duty nurse or anything?" Josh asked.

"Oh, she'll have that beginning in the morning. When I leave tonight, I'm not taking another case until she is well."

"Oh," Josh said with a raised eyebrow.

"Yeah, I guess our secret is safe. We have been a couple for ten years, but tonight is our night."

Promptly at seven, a chef and assistant arrived, quickly set the table with real china, crystal and silver, placed a single red rose in a silver vase on the table and opened a bottle of great red wine. The chef left, then came back to serve a Caesar salad. When they had finished with the salad, his assistant cleared the table and the chef came back pushing a cart from which he served a butterflied, medium-rare filet topped with butter and blue cheese, grilled asparagus, and a real baked potato.

Finally, the assistant cleared the table and the chef brought a slice of chocolate cake to die for. When they had finished the cake, he again cleared the table and they—actually Mary Beth and Josh—finished the bottle of wine.

"What a delightful evening, Mary Beth. Thank you for everything. When Sister Agnes is well and we are there, please consider a trip to Sentinel Mountain. We would be delighted to have you."

"We may just take you up on that. I'll not see you in the morning. Sister is actually having surgery and I will be in the operating room with her. Please know that we think you are two very fine men and I hope that you will be together a long time. Your love is of a very rare kind. Love each other as your partner loves you and I know all will be well." She kissed Alex, then pulled Josh's face down and kissed him. "Now get a good night's sleep so you will be wide awake and alert to fly tomorrow." She then left the room quickly.

Next morning Josh awoke at quarter of nine, excited. He had remembered Bull's advice and consumed a lot of water with his wine and was surprised that he didn't have a hangover. He quickly showered, shaved and got dressed. He checked himself in the mirror and liked what he saw. He went downstairs and had breakfast in the hotel, went back upstairs, grabbed his bag and went downstairs to check out. As he was checking out, he noticed there were no cabs out front and asked the desk clerk to call one for him. One arrived in minutes and he was on his way to the hospital shortly before ten. The elevator always took forever and he was in a hurry, so he ran up the stairs. As he entered the room, Dr. Avery patted Alex on the butt and said, "You look good, much improved over the way you looked when we got you."

"When can he leave?"

"When you get some clothes on him. "I don't think he wants to leave like that." Alex was still wearing a hospital gown with a terrible hospital robe over it with booties on his feet.

"That is easy to handle. He can wear some of mine." Alex was soon dressed in a pair of Josh's boxer briefs, chinos and a polo shirt. "You'll have to wear the booties to get some sneakers since you have big feet." They all laughed at the idea of walking into a shoe store wearing hospital booties, but it was that or wait and Alex and Josh weren't about to wait a minute longer.

Dr. Avery handed Alex a card and said, "I hope you'll keep me posted on your progress and I certainly hope it is rapid, as I am sure it will be." While Josh called a cab, Dr. Avery went over the contents of a folder to make sure everything he expected was there, then put it all in a large envelope and handed it to Alex. The only thing Alex had to take was the envelope and the beautiful red and gold robe.

Jasper showed up with a wheelchair saying he had asked for the privilege. They took their leave of Dr. Avery, Jasper wheeled Alex downstairs and the lovers caught the cab.


Editors: Jesse and Scott.

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All persons and places are fictional and any similarity to persons or places living or dead is coincidental. Again, it's fiction, folks.

~ Sequoyah