It’s two o’clock in the morning and the house is quiet. Everything is silent except inside Blake’s mind. He is about to be overwhelmed by a dream that is just about to launch itself. The dream will not have any sound to it, but the colors will be quite vivid. It opens as Trace takes off after a speeding car that comes to a stop within a few minutes of the patrol car following it. Trace stops his car and opens the door. He approaches the car and knocks on the window. A man in his early twenties rolls down the window; he passes out his information to the police officer. Trace goes about the business of calling in the information to the station and then hands it back to the driver. Trace gives the man a warning and then turns to return to his squad car. The dream flashes back to the stopped car. The driver reaches under his seat and pulls out a gun. Blake wants to wake up, but the dream won’t stop. It feels like he’s trapped inside the dream. The driver opens the door and fires two shoots. Blake hears the bang of the gun and the whistling sound of the bullets as they move with incredible speed toward their target. Blake watches as the first bullet hits Trace in the torso, and then the second hits Trace in the right shoulder. He watches as his dad falls to the ground in slow motion. Before he wakes up, blood is already pouring out of Trace. Blake wakes up in complete shock. Tears are running down his face, and the sobs are uncontrollable.
The sound of his weeping wakes up his dads, and they rush into Blake’s room, not knowing the reason for their son’s crying. Blake is in the fetal position underneath his covers. Their son does not acknowledge the presence of his dads in the room. Trace and Ian sit on the bed and still there is no response. Trace reaches out and removes the covers from Blake’s body. Ian reaches over and tries to get Blake to sit up.
“Da… Dad, it… it… was horrid.”
Blake was talking to Ian completely, not wanting to look at Trace.
“My dream, I… I… saw him… get… shot! I… I… saw him… die…! I… I… saw him die!”
Trace and Ian had no idea who Blake was talking about, but whoever died really upset the young man. They wanted to calm him down, if possible, and maybe get back to sleep.
“Son, who did you see get shot?”
“Trace!” He manages to say between sobs. No kid should have to see a parent die, not even in a dream. Trace pulls his son into a hug.
“I’m fine Son. Ian and I are right here. Don’t you remember me telling you that I am not going anywhere?”
“But… But… I saw it.”
“Hey, it’s okay because we’re strong, right?”
Since Trace was not listening to him, maybe he would stand a better chance convincing Ian.
“Ian, I’m telling you that I saw Dad die. I… I… can even take you… to the spot where it happened.”
“Blake, relax; nothing bad is going to happen. Trace will be fine.”
Trace gave Ian the look. ‘Why did you tell him that?’ Every officer knows that there is always a possibility of any call turning deadly. Ian could see the fear melt away that had clutched Blake’s heart.
“I’m going back to bed.”
Ian gets up and walks to the door, expecting Trace to follow.
“Are you coming to bed?”
“Not yet, I want to talk to Blake for a minute.”
Ian knows that Trace is upset with him, but he also knows that he’ll forgive him and all will be well.
Trace doesn’t know what triggered the nightmare, but Blake needs to be reminded of the truth about Trace being a police officer. The job of any law enforcement agent can be a dangerous one. Cops are sometimes shot and killed on the job. Blake needs to know that this is a possibility.
“Blake, look at me for a moment. What Ian told you is true, the majority of the calls that I respond to are perfectly safe, but to be honest, I never know when a call might become risky.”
“Dad, what are you saying?”
Blake was scared and Trace could see it. He didn’t want to make things worse.
“Son, there is something that Ian knows and you need to always remember; the two of you mean everything to me, and I never want to hurt you, but as a police officer I face the bad guys a lot and there is always a chance that I could get hurt on the job.”
“You mean you could shot.”
“Yes, I could, Son.”
Blake’s heart broke and the tears came back. Seeing Blake upset made Trace feel horrid. He wanted to take it all back, but it was important that Blake knows that things are not always perfect, that police officers do sometimes die in the line of duty.
“Blake, I don’t want you to worry about me.”
Trace knew saying that to Blake was an invite for him to worry even more about him. Usually, Trace’s job didn’t cause him any worry and he’s asking Blake to not worry.
“You must think that I’m a baby.”
“No, I don’t. I think you are a very amazing kid. Do me a favor? If anything does happen to me, I do not want Ian alone. I want him to move on and let himself fall in love again. Most importantly, young man, I want you to promise me that you’ll help Ian out because he’ll need you.”
“Okay.” Blake didn’t want to have this discussion. Trace needs to be around for both Ian and him. Trace looks down at his watch and realizes that it’s time for him to shower and get dressed for work.
“Speaking about work, it’s time that I get off to the shower.”
“Dad, please be safe!”
Blake knew that Trace loved his job and that he loved Ian and him even more.
Trace went to the bedroom stripped and then walked into the master bathroom, showered, shaved, and dressed, and then left for work. His trip to the station was a rough one this morning. It was beautiful morning and it reminded him of the morning that he and Ian sat on the roof and watched the sun climb into the sky. Moments like this made his days even more amazing. He loves being able to have romantic moments like this, because it reminds him of his love for his Ian. Still, he can’t stop himself from replaying the dream that Blake had this morning. He would be lying to himself if he said that the dream wasn’t bugging him. The problem is, the dream shouldn’t be annoying him, and yet it is. Any distraction is unwelcome at this point. He wonders if anyone else can see his worry. A little reassurance would go a long way today.
Blake couldn’t fall back to sleep after Trace left his room. Like his dad, he was worrying about the dream. At this point, the only one in the family not replaying the dream was Ian. Blake gets up off his bed and exits his bedroom. He walks past his dads’ bedroom, shocked to see Ian fast asleep. All the young man wants right now is some food to quiet the nagging in his stomach. Wanting to stay busy, he went to work on making French toast and pancakes. Now that the aroma of food was circulating through the house, Ian woke up, showered, dressed, and came downstairs.
“Wow, I thought you went back to sleep.”
“I… I… couldn’t fall back to sleep.”
“It was just a dream, Blake.”
‘It was just a silly dream.’
Ian was not going to let this dream of Blake’s affect his day.
‘Why won’t this dream just leave me alone?’
Why can’t he just dismiss it, the way that Ian has? His mind wants to, but his heart cannot let it go. The young man opens the fridge and pulls out the orange juice and the milk, and then closes the refrigerator. He also grabs the bottle of maple syrup and heads to the table. He goes back into the kitchen and grabs two plates, two cups, two spoons, two forks, and two knives. He sets the stuff down on the table and turns his back for a second while he makes sure that he hasn’t forgotten anything. While his back is turned, Ian sets the table. Blake sits down at his spot, and Ian sits down at his.
‘Here’s to hoping that some food will do me good.’
Blake sits and begins to devour the meal.
“A little hungry?”
“Yeah, I guess so, Dad.”
Blake did not want to talk about anything this morning, and then out of the blue, Blake’s phone rang. Blake’s heart about died.
“Hey angel, what’s up?”
“Nothing really, what’s going on?”
“I was wondering if I could come over.”
Maybe having Ben over will help Blake take his mind off Trace and the dream.
“Dad, can Ben come over?”
“Sure.” Ian had a similar thought run through his mind. It couldn’t hurt Blake to have someone to help take his mind off the dream.
As Ben’s parents’ car pulled up to the house, the dream and the worries associated with the dream began to vanish. But there is enough worry left on Blake’s face that Ben instantly noticed it.
Blake seemed surprised that his boyfriend noticed the stress he was under now. The boys headed up to Blake’s bedroom. Once they got up into Blake’s room, Blake retold the dream. The look on Ben’s face said it all. He just could not get over the idea of Blake seeing Trace getting shot and dying.
“Is Trace working today?”
“Yeah.” Blake did not want to answer that question. Again, his face gave away what he was thinking. Blake could see the concern on his boyfriend’s face. He’s glad that someone else shares his concern, which was nice, since neither Trace nor Ian seemed to be troubled. After a hug, the two teens started to relax with some music and video games. They talked and goofed off which helped to take Blake’s mind off the dream.
Ian is in the office grading some tests that his students took during the week. It’s not uncommon for Ian to have the police scanner on while Trace is at work. Today, it’s on just to provide some background noise as he worked. As he’s grading papers, he pauses because Trace’s voice comes over the scanner.
“Car 16 to Tylerville, Car 16 to Tylerville.”
“Go ahead 16.”
“I’m on a traffic stop on Pillar Drive, just south of Highway 80/94. I’m getting out of my car.”
“Traffic stop Pillar Drive, south of I-80/94, 10-4.”
Ian grabs his glass and walks out of the office to grab a drink. When he walks back into the room, Blake’s dream pops into his head.
Trace is about to write his first ticket of the day. He is always a little nervous when out of his squad car, and today he’s even more nervous. As he steps out of the vehicle and approaches the car, he stops to read the license plate.
“Tylerville I have the license plate number when you’re ready.”
“6-8-P as in Pig-S as in Sam-G as in Girl-7-7-2.”
He carefully makes his way to the front of the car. The driver already has his window down and his information ready.
“Keep your hands where I can see them!”
Trace approaches the window of the car and tells the driver that he caught him speeding. The 20-something acknowledges his speeding and hands over the proof of insurance and his license. Trace goes back to his car to call in the information and wait for a response.
“Car 16 to Tylerville, Car 16 to Tylerville.”
“Can you run wants and warrants on Erik that is Erik with a K, Henson – H-E-N-S-O-N, born 7, 12, 1986, License number 133-228.”
There is silence as Trace begins writing out the speeding ticket. Just as he finishes, Tylerville calls back on the radio.
“Car 16, both the car and driver are clean.”
Traces open his car and heads back to the driver. When he gets there, he hands him his information.
“Here is your ticket for driving 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. If you wish to contest the ticket, you can attend court by calling the number on the ticket. Otherwise, all information in regards to payment is on the ticket. Be safe and enjoy the rest of your day.”
He hands the young 26-year-old male his ticket. As he turns his back and starts to walk towards his car, the driver leans out of his car. Trace detects the motion of the driver in his peripheral vision, turns around and hears the sound of a gun going off, but it is too late. The bullet enters his abdomen. He feels like he has a fire burning his gut. The gun fires again; this time it hits him in the right shoulder. If Trace is to die from this attack, it will be out on the streets. The car speeds off as Trace falls to the ground.
As the shooter’s car speeds away, a state trooper pulls up to the scene. Trooper Simmons calls for an ambulance.
“This is Trooper Ricky Simmons. I am parked on Pillar Drive just south of I-80/94. Tylverville has an officer down; I repeat Tylerville has an officer down. I’m requesting an ambulance. Contact their dispatch. Officer Trace Andrews is down with two gunshot wounds.”
“I’m staying here till they arrive. I’m going to try to stop the bleeding.”
Ricky grabs his first aid kit as he rushes to Trace’s side; he also grabs the plastic bag covering his spare uniform and puts it over the abdominal wound. Holding it in place with both hands, he waits with Trace.
“Officer Andrews, if you can hear me, stay with me. Help is coming!”
Trace was already on the edge between life and death. Ricky can see it in his eyes. Ricky is trying to hold back tears as he watches the tears on Trace’s face. Trace is somehow fighting the blood lose, the shock, and the pain.
Back at the house, Ian is just now getting back to the office and his papers. He’s not ready for what he hears coming across the scanner.
Tylerville dispatch is getting ready to tone out an ambulance.
“Attention Ambulance Station 2, Attention Ambulance Station 2, we have an officer down at Pillar Drive, just south of I-80/94. I repeat, officer is down on Pillar Drive just south 80/94. Officer has been shot twice and is bleeding.”
“Any officers in the vicinity of Pillar Drive and 80/94, please meet state trooper on the scene.”
“10-4. Ambulance 3 is enroute to Pillar Drive.”
“10-4.” The dispatch echoed.
“Car 1 to Tylerville, enroute to see the state trooper.”
“10-4, Car 1.”
The dispatcher knows Trace and he knows that Ian sometimes listens to the scanner, so he kept Trace’s identity from being mentioned to try to keep Ian calm. Ian had already heard too much come over the scanner already. He knows where his husband was last located and he’s already feeling very afraid.
The ambulance arrives in less than three minutes. Trace’s life has already passed before his eyes. An EMT quickly replaces the trooper.
“Help’s here, buddy!” Simmons told Trace. “Take good care of him!” he told the EMTs. The EMTs started him breathing and did their best to check Trace over before going to grab the gurney. With the help of the state trooper, the EMTs managed to get Trace loaded up into the ambulance.
“Community, this Tylerville Ambulance #3, we have a police officer, with a gunshot to the abdomen and another to the right shoulder. Bleeding has stopped on the abdominal wound and the shoulder wound. We couldn’t find an exit wound for either injury.”
“Ambulance 3, is patient conscious?”
“Negative,” the EMT in back said as he started Trace’s IVs. Trace not only had lost a lot of blood, but he was not breathing upon their arrival, so they had to get him breathing again before they left the scene. They also knew they had to get Trace up to Community Hospital as fast as possible. Back at the shooting site, Simmons was meeting with the man in Car # 1, Tylervillle’s police chief.
Simmons and the Chief exchanged information on what the trooper saw when he arrived. The Chief was not looking forward to the visit he would have to have with Ian. It was never easy to tell a loved one that their son, daughter, wife, or husband was hurt, missing, or dead. The report on the incident could wait, his family, Trace’s family, could not. Family was vitally important to the Chief, and it did not matter if it was his own family or the families of his officers.
With the door shut, Ian hoped that Blake wouldn’t hear him crying. At first, he tried holding it inside, but it did not work. He never heard Trace’s name mentioned, but he knew that the officer down was his husband. He laid his head on the desk and cried. For ten minutes, he cried while he waited for a sign that Trace might be okay. Nothing new came across the scanner. Ian wants to throw the device out the window. He hates not knowing anything. As the chief comes closer to the house, Ian was contemplating a life without Trace. He realized that Trace was the stronger of the two. Trace handles stress much better than his partner does. Ian also realizes that Blake responds better to Trace, and yet they’ll have to make things work. ‘Oh… no, how do I tell Blake that Trace has been shot that his dream has come true?’
Ian hears a faint knock and heads downstairs to answer the door. He forgoes the usual safety measures of peeping through the window or looking through the peephole. His gut already tells him that it’s someone from the police station. Opening the door, he sees the Chief standing there. He looks like he’s trying to be brave. The Chief looks at Ian and knows that Trace’s husband already knows why the senior officer is here.
“Were you listening to the scanner?”
“Yeah… I was. Is… is he dead?”
The Chief could see the pain in Ian’s eyes. The thought of Ian suffering because of anything that that he might say was killing him.
“Ian, Trace took two bullets, one to the abdomen and the other in the shoulder. He has lost a lot of blood. But when our paramedics arrived, the bleeding had already stopped. He had a pulse, which was good, but he wasn’t breathing when the state trooper found him. The EMTs arrived just in time to get him breathing again.”
Ian was ready to collapse.
“We have meals lined up so you don’t have to worry about cooking. Is there anything else that you might need?”
“No… no… I’m good, we’re good.”
‘I know there might come a time when Ian will need a hand, and the entire police force and I will be there for him. Today though, I am concerned for one of my men and his family. I’m worried about Blake because I know that Trace would do anything for him. As such, I stand ready to honor this officer.’
“If you need anything, or if Blake needs anything, you can call me, and your needs will be met.”
“Trace was taken to Community Hospital here in Tylerville. Ian, I have to get going now. Remember, we’re here.”
Ian’s heart has never been so ready to break before, and this really sucks. If Trace survives this, no one will be able to keep him from getting into that squad car again. Ian knows that he has to tell Blake. Talk about scared, he isn’t sure how Blake will react, but he’s anticipating that it will be bad.
Ian moved slowly up the stairs to see his son. As he knocked on the door, he hoped his tears wouldn’t start falling when he saw his son’s face.
Blake gets up and opens the door.
“Ben, I need to talk to Blake alone.”
“Okay, I’ll just grab a snack from the kitchen.”
Ben had a bad feeling about this talk. He did not want a sandwich, and Blake was going to need him, no doubt about it. When Ben left the room, Ian stepped inside. Ian walks to the bed, sits down and pats the mattress.
“Come sit next to me.”
Blake suddenly felt uneasy.
“Dad, what’s… what’s wrong?”
He could plainly see that Ian was upset. Ian just sat there not saying a thing. The silence from his dad was scaring him.
“Dad, come on, tell me. What’s wrong?”
His dad dropped his head to his knees. Blake was frightened. His left arm came to rest on his dad’s back, and then it hit Blake that Ian’s silence and his sadness can only mean one thing.
“Trace… has… been shot. He’s in… in bad shape. I’m scared Blake.”
Blake lost it. He just couldn’t imagine his life, Ian’s life, and Trace’s life all coming to an end.
“What will happen if Trace dies, will Ian get rid of me?”
“I… don’t want… to go… back to the streets.”
Ian lifted his head after hearing his son talk through his tears. Blake couldn’t be left thinking that Ian would abandon him and then walk away. Blake needs to know that if Trace dies Ian will continue to be his dad. The adult has to step up and be brave when all he wants to do is cry. For Trace and Blake, he has to stand strong. He has to speak up.
“Blake, look at me.”
Blake turned and looked at his dad. What Ian sees breaks his heart even more. His son’s eyes are red, puffy, and his cheeks are wet. Ian wants to cry too, but he needs to hold his tears for now. As Blake looks into his dad’s face, he doesn’t see any emotions. Blake sees right through it.
“Ian… it’s okay to cry.”
“Blake, I’m not going to put you out on the streets. I know Trace means a lot to you and he means a lot to me too. But you’re my son, too. I love you, Blake.”
“I love you too, Dad.” Blake broke down again, and his dad cried a little too.
“Blake, we need to go to the hospital.”
“Can Ben come with us?”
“No, I think, we need to go as a family for this trip. Go grab whatever materials you want to take with you, so we can head up to the hospital.”
Blake wants to take Ben with him so they could spend time together at the hospital. Blake understands Ian’s reasons for not wanting Ben at the hospital. Ian heads to the office, grabs some materials, and then heads downstairs to grab his keys. He gave his son a few minutes to gather materials to take with him.
“Blake, are you ready yet?”
“Yeah, Dad, I’m ready.”
He was physically ready, but emotionally he could burst into tears at any time. Blake leaves his room and heads downstairs to Ian. Ben was still in the dark about what was going on around the house today. He was very aware that something was not right. Maybe Blake will tell him what’s up later. Blake finds Ben sitting at the dining room table. Sitting next to him, Blake isn’t sure that he can gather the strength to tell his boyfriend about Trace. He wishes that he’d wake up from this nightmare.
“Hey,” Blake says, trying to avoid Ben’s eyes.
“What’s going on, Blake?”
Blake’s face was filled pain and Ben’s eyes could see it as plainly as the red t-shirt that he was wearing.
“Trace… was shot… two times.”
“Holy crap!” Ben couldn’t believe his ears.
“My thoughts exactly. It was just like my dream. I’m afraid, Ben; I’m afraid that I’m going to lose Trace.”
Ben hugs Blake and can feel his boyfriend’s tears on him. Blake feels stronger with Ben nearby.
“It’s time to go, guys.”
The guys get up and head for the car. They get into the back seat so they could spend time together before they arrive at the hospital.
Ian drives Ben home, but his mind is on Trace. He comes close to missing the turn for Ben’s house. Blake looks over at Ian and asks if Ben can go to the hospital again. Again, Ian tells him no. Blake knows that he’ll be stronger with Ben by his side. Pulling up to the house, Blake and Ben unbuckle and walk up to the door together. They kiss and say their goodbyes. Ben inserts his key and walks into the house. Blake no longer has the distraction of being around his boyfriend. He wishes that Ian would miraculously change his mind. He slowly walks to the car with his fingers crossed. Opening the car door, Blake gets into the car, but his heart and mind are a thousand miles away. As soon as Blake is safe and secure inside the car, Ian speeds off towards the hospital.
They drive to the hospital in complete silence. They want to talk, but neither one says anything. They are worried sick about Trace, so maybe that has something to do with their silence. Blake occasionally looks up at his dad to see if he is upset at all. Ian wants to be by his husband’s side. They arrived at the hospital, parked, and rushed into the building. They paused at the front desk long enough to ask what floor Trace is located on and to get their badges. The lady at the front desk sent them up to the third floor. The elevator ride up to their destination was the longest that Ian has ever had. They approached the nurse’s station and asked about Trace. The lady behind the nurse’s station smiled at the guys.
“You’ll have to wait in the waiting room and a rep from the doctor will be out when they have something to tell you.”
“Thanks.” Ian wanted to hear something about his husband, not find out where they needed to wait. Ian and Blake went to the waiting room and sat down. For two hours, they sat waiting for someone to come and tell them something… anything.
Finally, someone came into the waiting room dressed in scrubs and walked up to the front desk.
“I need the family of Trace Andrews-Richards to approach the front desk.”
Ian and Blake came forward.
“I’m Trace’s husband; Ian Andrews-Richards and this is our son Blake.”
“Please come with me.”
The doctor led them to a room where they could talk in private. Once inside the room, the doctor closed the door.
“Your partner is still in the trauma center. We have extracted the bullets from his abdominal cavity and his right shoulder blade; however, we need to close up the entry wounds. Trace also lost a lot of blood; he’ll be receiving a transfusion. We are also worried about his stomach, more precisely, his small intestine. We are concerned that the bullet might have grazed it and caused damage. We are scheduling him for an exploratory surgery to check for any issues with the small intestine. There is also a fracture to his right shoulder blade; we’ve ordered a specialist to check it out. I will see you once the exploratory surgery is done. Do you have any questions?”
“Is he stable?”
“No, there is still a possibility that where the bullet grazed the intestine, it might have torn the intestine. If there is any tearing, it will need to be closed up. The doctors are worried about the possible tear because it increases the risk of some very dangerous infections developing. Right now, he is listed as critical.”
“Is… is my dad going to die?”
“We’re doing everything we can to keep him alive.”
Blake could see the doubt on the man’s face, and that uncertainty scared him”
Ian was worried, but his nerves have calmed down a lot since hearing from the rep.
Blake and Ian stand there staring at the rep.
“Do you have any more questions?”
“No,” Ian said as his heart slowly returned to normal.
“When can we see him?” Blake asked. He was feeling very apprehensive. He wants to see Trace and he wants him to be okay.
“It’s going to be another three or four hours at least.”
Waiting is going to be rough for both Ian and Blake. Blake is glad that Ian suggested bringing something to do. Even keeping busy did not dull the anxiety that the two guys were feeling. Slowly, the room filled up with people who were waiting for news about their loved ones as well. Blake did not understand how Ian could look so calm when he was feeling terrified. Ian remembers that he needs to call his parents and his in-laws.
He grabbed his phone and started dialing. Trace’s parents deserved to know first. He dialed the number and in a few seconds, someone answered.
“Hello Ian, what’s going on Son?”
“I’m afraid that this call isn’t going to be a good one. Is Dad there with you?
“Yes, I’m here Ian.”
“I don’t know how to say this gently… Trace… has been shot.”
Ian heard his mother-in-law gasp in horror. He wants to start crying, but he had to stay strong too.
“Ian, Mom couldn’t stay on the phone. How is he?”
Ian told Trace’s dad everything he knew, as well as what hospital Trace was in now.
“We’ll be up there in an hour or so. How are you doing?”
“I’m a mess and so is Blake, but we‘ll manage.”
“We are heading out as soon as we hang up.”
“Okay, Dad, we’ll see you when you get here. Drive safely.”
Ian ended the call with Trace’s parents and dialed his parents’ number.
“Hey Ian, what’s up?”
“Tony, put, Mom or Dad on the phone.”
“Is everything okay?”
“No! Now please put Mom or Dad on the phone.”
“I’m Sorry, they’re not home. Do you want me to leave a message?”
He thought about it for a second or two before answering.
“Is this really the type of message, that I want relayed by someone else?”
“You know what, Tony, just have them call my cell.”
“Okay.” His older sibling hated hearing this tone coming from his brother. He wants to know what’s going on in his brother’s life.
“Don’t forget; this is very important!” Ian felt sorry for their parents; both sets of parents treated Ian and Trace as if they were both their sons. He needs them here to buoy him up.
“I won’t forget. Now are you going to tell me what’s wrong?”
“I don’t know if I can… I suppose, you’ll find out anyway, so I might as well tell you. Trace was shot this morning, once in the abdomen, and once in the right shoulder. Luckily, the bullet didn’t penetrate his stomach. He might have sustained a bullet to the small intestines, and the doctors are worried about some form of bacterial infection. He… he’s in pretty bad shape.”
“I’m… hey; Mom and Dad just came into the house.”
There were a few seconds of quiet while the phone was passed to Ian’s Mom.
“Honey, Tony said something is wrong with Trace, what’s wrong?”
“Trace… he’s be… been shot.”
His mom wanted to hug him, but she can’t through the phone.
“Is he okay?”
“No… no… Mom, he isn’t okay. He’s lost a lot of blood, sustained two bullet wounds; one to his torso, and one to his right shoulder. He’s got a possible tear in his small intestine and a fracture in his right shoulder blade. I’m scared Mom! I don’t know what to do. I’m afraid we’ll lose him.”
“Don’t you dare think like that; we aren’t losing him!”
She isn’t going to let him off for what he said about her son-in-law.
“You have to be positive and brave.”
“Are you at the hospital now?”
“Yeah, we’re at Community.”
“Okay, I’m going to let you go so we can drive to the hospital.”
“Bye.” As Ian ends the call, he looks at Blake and can tell that he’s beside himself.
Blake blames himself for his dad’s injuries. If he didn’t have that nightmare, then maybe everything would be different right now. If he had been more insistent with Trace about staying home, he might have listened. Tear drops were forming and soon would be falling, so he tried to cover his face. He didn’t want anyone to see him. Ian noticed the tears on his son’s face and stepped up to give him a hug. As he tries to break off the hug, Ian realizes that Blake has him in a bear hug. This time, Blake did not speak through the tears.
“Trace is going to be okay. We’re going to be okay.”
‘Please, let my husband be okay!’
Ian could feel his son relaxing a bit. Ian sits and allows Blake to vent his emotions. Blake felt safe in his dad’s embrace, and he just was not ready to let go of him yet.
Time will hopefully be on their side. Blake has been taught to pray during moments like these, so as he was hugging Ian, he said a silent prayer. He wasn’t sure that his prayers would be answered, but it couldn’t hurt to offer one up to Heaven. Blake wants Trace to be safe. After fifteen minutes, Blake released his hold on Ian. It was just in time too, because people were beginning to worry about the young man. For an hour, time ticked by before a doctor showed up to update families on their loved ones’ conditions. As they sat there waiting for their turn, Blake looked up from his sketchpad and saw his grandparents; Trace’s parents, enter the waiting room.
Blake gets up and rushes towards his grandparents.
“Hi Blake, how are you doing?”
“I’m not Grandma. I’m worried about Dad.”
“We’re all worried about him. Why don’t we go sit down?”
“K, Grandpa.” Blake escorted Grandma and Grandpa to where Ian was sitting. They were grateful to finally be here. They needed to be here; here with their son-in-law, grandson, and their son. Ian is glad to have them here as well because he and Blake need their support and Trace needs their love.
“Mom, he’s going to be okay.”
Ian knows that Trace will be okay. His loved ones have to keep him in their hearts and in their prayers.
“Ian, I’m so glad that you’re here.”
Trace’s mom is silently praying for her son to pull through.
“Ian, have you and Blake had lunch?”
“No Dad, we haven’t.”
“Then go eat; get out here. I’ll call you when the doctor comes out to give us an update.”
“Let’s go, son.” Ian looks at Blake, who’s busy sketching a picture of Trace taken at Christmas last year. Blake looks up at Ian, and Ian was ready to just tell him that he could stay.
“I’m not hungry.”
Grandpa looks over at his Grandson and tells him to stand up and go with his dad. Blake tried pleading with his dad, but it did no good. He’ll have to leave the waiting room and not be here when the doctor comes with news. Ian put his right hand up on Blake’s left shoulder and they walked away together. As Ian calls for the elevator, Ian’s parents arrive on the third floor. Ian sees them and smiles. His Mom and Dad step off the elevator and get wrapped in hugs. Ian’s dad holds a large Hawaiian pizza, with Canadian bacon, ham, pineapple, and green bell peppers.
“Dad, what’s up with the pizza?”
“Well, we figured that you and Blake would need some food to keep your energy up. Have you had anything?”
“No, we were just getting ready to go down to the cafeteria. Want to join us?”
“Sure.” Blake pushed the elevator call button. The elevator arrived and opened. Everyone got inside and they rode it down to the first floor.
When they arrived at the first floor, the group walked straight to the cafeteria. They grabbed a large table and sat down.
“How is Trace?”
Ian reviews with them what he knew. In the process of talking with his parents, he didn’t see Blake falling apart. Tears started to fall down his face again. Ian’s mom turned to her grandson and kissed him.
“He’s going to be fine.”
She pulled out a clean tissue and wiped his tears away.
“Are you going to eat, buddy?”
Ian handed him a slice of pizza. Blake barely took three bites of pizza before he pushed it away. He was feeling a little sick to his stomach. Luckily, it is just his sadness speaking up and not a virus. As much as Blake knew, his dad would be okay, he couldn’t get the dream out of his head. It has been haunting him all day long. The tears stopped as Grandma stood up to throw the pizza away. The group walked back to the elevators. Blake was trying desperately to hold back his tears as he called for the elevator.
When the elevator arrived and they stepped inside, Blake got into the one of the corners where he could hide. He doesn’t want to be seen, because his tears are starting to fall again. His attempt at hiding his emotions isn’t working too well. Ian looks back at him and can see the tears streaming down his face. Trace would instantly know what to do, but for Ian it always seems to take a second or two so he can think things through. Ian waits until they reach the third floor before he takes Blake to the side. They walk to one of the empty rooms and Ian closes the door. Immediately, he embraces Blake in his arms. His own tears start flowing again as he holds his son. Calming himself down, Ian sits down next to his son.
“Blake, I know this is hard for you, but I want you to tell me what’s wrong.”
Blake just shook his head “No!” Now Ian will just have to try guessing what the problem might be. Ian spent a second thinking to himself about what’s been upsetting his son throughout the day, and then it hit him.
“Are you upset about the dream again? Hey, I know it’s got to be tearing you up inside, but you can’t’ let it get to you. Maybe it was a warning that Trace should have stayed home, but that wasn’t going to happen. All we can do now is pray that he comes through this okay. Now, I’m not saying that we can’t cry, because we can, and that is okay, but I want you to promise me, that you’ll let this dream die.”
The young man thought his dad wouldn’t understand about the dream, and how it’s making him feel. Ian wipes the tears from his son’s eyes and then smiles at him.
“Are you ready to go back out and face our family?”
“Yeah, Dad, let’s do it.”
Together they left the room, and joined their family, just as the doctor came out with an update.
He walks up to Ian and Blake with a smile on his face. Opening the file, he reviews the notes inside of it to himself. Ian waves to his in-laws and his parents so they can hear. The doctor looked around as the group gathered around him.
“I assume these are your parents, and Trace’s parents?”
“Yes sir.” Ian is anxious to hear what the doctor has to say.
“Well, I am glad to report that Trace is now in the recovery room. We are going to place in him in ICU only because of the infection possibility. There was, in fact, a tear to the small intestine. We were able to sew it up. The exploratory team double-checked the stomach and it was not injured. His shoulder has been x-rayed and shoulder blade should heal just fine. Give us an hour and we’ll have him in a room and you can see him, one at a time.”
“So what are his odds for survival at this point?” Trace’s dad wanted to know. He didn’t want anything to be hidden from them. No reason on this green earth why they cannot prepare themselves for the worst.
“Everything is very much in his favor. We want to observe him for a few days just to make sure that he’s okay. Then we’ll move him into a regular room for the rest of his stay.”
Blake was absolutely on cloud nine now. Trace’s condition was music to his ears. The adults still looked a bit concerned, but Blake was not going to let them ruin his mood. Ian saw a slight smile on his son’s face.
‘I’m glad to see him smiling. Heck, I sort of feel like smiling myself, but I’m still a little worried about this possible infection. Please Lord, let my husband walk out of this hospital or at least roll out of the hospital.’
“If there are no further questions, I need to get back to my duties.”
Everyone had their chance to shake his hands and to thank the doctor for taking care of Trace. Now, they had to wait the hour to see him. This hour may be the longest hour that they’ve had to wait so far.
When the hour was up, Ian checked at the nurse’s station for Trace’s room number in the ICU. He was told that he would need to go down the hallway to the right and keep following the hallway until they came to the ICU. Trace will be in room 310. Ian and family slowly made their way towards Trace’s room. When they arrived, they discussed who should be the first to see him. It was agreed that it should be Ian. Upon entering his room, Ian looked at his husband’s still body. He’s grateful to the doctors for their care of him, but he’s still very worried about him. As he stepped into the room, he could see that he appeared to be in pain, then without warning, alarms started sounding in the room. Ian went ghost white as nurses and a doctor came pouring into the room.
“I’m sorry, but you’ll have to leave the room.”
“Well, can… you tell me what’s wrong?”
“As soon as we can get him stabilized again, we’ll let you know.”
An hour earlier Ian thought that the worst they might have to deal with was an infection. Ian and family watched in horror as Trace was once again carted off to the operating room.
Stay tuned for Chapter 9.
by Chuck B.