“Well, you got another one Clint,” Harold said to the younger man. “You got your work cut out for you. What is this, five?”
“Yeah.” Clint nodded. “Five. Uh, dad?”
“I’ll watch them as I can. You keep the money and food coming in.” Harold smiled at Clint. “It’s what Grandpas do.”
“Thanks,” Clint said, smiling at his father. “Besides, you live across the street.”
Harold chuckled as he left his son in the hospital room. He wondered out to the parking lot and into his car. With a smile on his face and a happy thought in his head, Harold didn’t see the tanker truck in front of him swerve a few times.
What Harold did saw the truck jack-knife and tip over. He watched as the large metal container rolled over in slow motion. The contents sloshing over the road.
Harold’s knuckles turned white as he grit his teeth and yanked the steering wheel to avoid a direct collision. The liquid on the asphalt had other plans for Harold’s truck and sent him careening into he underbelly of the tank. A miracle happened when the two vehicles didn’t explode.
Several motorists pulled both the truck driver and an unconscious Harold to safety.
Several hours later, Harold regained consciousness. He found himself in a metal tube with a loud clicking noise. A strap held his head on the narrow pad. His body felt cold, but he could see a white cloth over him.
“Where..where..where am I?” Harold mumbled his question, but the container he lay in muffled it to nothing.
One loud thunk sounded and blinding white light covered Harold’s eyes. His body stiffened, making his back arch.
Then everything went black.
Harold Kline opened his eyes. He moved his mouth to speak, but something blocked the movement.
“Nurse!” Harold recognized that voice. “Nurse! He’s awake.”
The sound of movement and then the item in his mouth was removed.
“Mr. Kline, you’re in a hospital.” The disconnected voice floated above him. Soon a stern face came in to focus. “You’re going to feel some discomfort for a while, but it will pass.”
“Where am I?” Harold tilted his head to a side. Another figure came into view. “Clint. What happened to me, son?”
“Uh, dad?” Clint looked at the nurse, who nodded. “You were in a coma.”
“What?” Harold moved to sit up, but hands on his chest pushed him back down. “That accident wasn’t that bad.”
“Dad.” Clint stepped closer. “That was nine months ago.”
“What!” Harold stopped all moving and stared wide eyed at his son.
“See?” Clint brought a small child into view. “You met Molly the day she was born. She’s almost a year.” Clint pulled a blanket back exposing a angelic face with a pug nose.
“That..that..that’s not possible.” Harold slumped back to his bed. “What happened?”
Clint took nearly a hour to explain what happened to his father. The accident broke both of his legs. The chemical didn’t do anything they could find. The MRI machine malfunctioned and that is what threw Harold into a coma. Over the past few months, the MRI manufacturer and shipping companies have been dealing with Clint on how to compensate Harold.
“So now, you are wealthy,” Clint said. “You were already retired with a great pension.”
“Dammit, Clint!” Harold slowly worked himself to a sitting position. “It ain’t about the money. What about my house? Or my truck? Am I crippled?”
“Well,” Clint said, stepping back a little. “The house is fine. Viv and I have been looking after it. No we didn’t move in. The truck was replaced fully by the shipping company. Newest model.” When he finished this part, Clint’s jaws clicked shut.
“And?” Clint swung his feet over the edge of the bed. He spied two aluminum canes with metal wrist wraps.
“Uhhh,” Clint muttered and licked his lips. “They said your legs are healed, but you will have trouble walking. So they got you those.”
Harold narrowed his eyes at his son. His chest moved up and down in a heavy motion. Harold’s jaw flexed several times. “Get me my clothes, boy.”
“Yessir.” Clint lowered his child to a carrier and strapped her in. He moved to a dresser and pulled out the clothes he brought last week. Carrying them over to Harold, he said, “You’ve lost some weight, so I got you some new ones. Viv washed them twice, like you like.”
Grumbling, and using the bed as leverage, Harold dressed. He felt is in his legs when he put on his pants. Standing on one leg was never a problem before, but when he shifted he felt a knee flex.
Dr. Robinson stepped in as Harold finished. “Well, it seems you are ready to be discharged. We have to run some tests before, and have you schedule some follow ups-”
“I ain’t doin’ that.” Harold shifted to both his feet. “I’m walking out that door and out this damn hospital.”
“Mr. Kline,” Dr. Robinson said. “If you can walk to the door unaided, I’ll discharge you myself.”
“Humph.” Harold looked at the door.
“Dad, don’t be stupid.” Clint stepped forward extending an arm. “He’s a doctor.”
“And I’m just 67 and barely retired.” Harold shoed Clint back “I’m walking and that’s that.”
Harold took one step, and both knees faltered. Clint lunged forward and grabbed his father, keeping him from falling.
“Dad,” Clint helped him back to the bed. “Use the canes.”
“I still ain’t coming back.” Harold fit the canes on his wrists and gripped the handles. With a slow methodical walk, he cleared the door. Turning down the hall, he poked at the floor with each cane and made for the elevator. He jabbed the lobby button then tottered out the sliding glass doors.
The wind hit him in the face and he sighed.
“Dad!” Clint carried the heavy plastic seat with his child strapped in. “I just signed you out. You need to be careful.”
“Where’s my new truck?” Harold scanned the parking lot. “Keys!”
“Umm, they’re at home with the truck.”
“Fine. I’ll walk.” Harold stepped off the curb.
“Dammit, Dad.” Clint moved to grab his father. “It’s twelve miles.”
“If I can’t walk twelve miles, you might as well shoot me.”
“Dad!” Clint moved and locked eyes with his father. “What is wrong? Why are you being so stubborn?”
Harold turned his head. He coughed, hiding the croak in his voice. “I’ve worked everyday my adult life. Aside from an occasional sickness, I’ve never been laid up. Ever.” Harold turned to face Clint. Tilting his head so that he looked at the pavement, he followed with, “Now I’m I cripple. Useless. Worthless.”
“What?” Clint narrowed his eyes and leaned forward. “That is such bullshit coming out of your mouth, I don’t believe you are my own father.”
“Boy, don’t you talk to me with that language.” Harold lifted his head.
“Shut up, old man. You, of all people, are not not worthless, let alone useless.” Clint put his hands on Harold’s shoulders. “You’ve not only taught me my work ethic, you showed it to me. I got to where I am in my company because of that ethic. My wife loves the income I make and the life I have provided.”
Harold stared back not saying a word.
“Dad,” Clint said. “You are not crippled. You can still move and do things. You’ll just need some help now and then. That is where I come in. You got this. Trust me.” Clint smiled at his father. “My car’s over here. Let me drive you home.”
“Thank you son,” Harold said through a catch in his throat. “I was serious about walking. It’ll give me time to adjust to these and clear my head.”
“I’m not gonna push you,” Clint said. “Call me if you need me. I’ll come get you.” He hugged his father and went to his car.
Harold navigated to the sidewalk. He looked the length of it and sighed. Shifting his grip he started his slow, methodical walk.
Random thoughts floated in Harold’s head. The death of his wife. The accident and what happened. How he would keep his house up. What shape was his finances in. Did Clint mess something up on the paperwork for the settlement?
He turned at the end of the parking lot and headed in the direction of home. After a few minutes he noted the breeze. It felt good on his face and he smiled. The wind blew through his hair and it reminded him of his wife running her fingers over it. The breeze turned into a gust that carried an odd sound. A rapid staccato sound. The beat matching the movement of his arms.
Glancing around to find where the noise came from, Harold noticed the scenery blurred past him. His eyes widened as his mouth fell open. Snapping it shut, a bug collided with his lips. He spit, and looked down. His legs moved faster than when he ran as a child.
“What happened to me?” He didn’t answer, only picked his pace up faster. Pulling the canes up he took several steps. His knees and hips yelped, so he poked the supports back down. “Guess I still need these handles.” Chuckling he tilted his torso forward, swung his legs in a longer stride, and imitated it with his arms. He was running. “WEEEEEE!!!!”
Harold covered the zig-zag route to his house in under five minutes. As he stood on his front porch turning the key to his front door, a car pulled into the driveway across the street. Throwing his eyes over his shoulder he saw Clint get out of the car with the baby carrier.
“You were right, boy.” Harold went inside. “Now, what do I do with this?”
See Speeder in action HERE