Summary: A simple day in town turns into something more than expected, as a looming sense of apprehension strikes the Cartwrights.
Rated: K+ (5,330 words)
Today started out as any other day would. I woke up, ate breakfast, and Adam and I would head to town to get some supplies. But I had this aching feeling that something was going to happen. I couldn’t tell if it was going to be bad or good, but something was going to happen. I could just feel it in my bones.
“Hey Joe, about time you finished that. I want to get a good head start getting to town.”
“Oh alright, Adam,” I joked. I must’ve been really tired that morning. I’m never that much of a slow eater.
With Pa and Hoss away on business in Sacramento, the ranch was amazingly quiet. Truth be told, Adam and I have had our share of fights over things such as North versus South, but we usually get over it quickly, though he nearly left us when that scheming Fredrick Kyle decided to tell Virginia City about what was happening back east. I’m just glad I’m out here in the west, no North versus South, just the West.
I finished my breakfast that morning soon enough. I shrugged off the feeling, just hoping it was wrong.
“Joe, why are you so quiet today? After we get ya out of bed in the morning, you’re usually ready to just start the day and get on with it.”
“Sorry about that Adam, something’s just buggin’ me,” I don’t know why, but I felt that I shouldn’t hide it any longer.
“What is it Joe?”
“Aww nothin’. It’ll pass,” I shrugged.
“Joe, little brother, you can tell me,” he said, the determined look in his dark eyes.
“I don’t know,” I said, “I just got this feeling something’s gonna happen. I can’t tell if it’s good or bad. I’ve just got this feeling.”
“Joe, just be careful today, okay?” He put his hand on my shoulder.
“I will bro.” I gave a small smile, as we both put on our hats and left the room.
I rode Cooch and stared at the scenery on the way, letting my mind drift, hoping to God something bad wasn’t going to happen today.
“Joe, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing Adam, just thinking,”
“Yeah, what of?”
“I don’t know Adam. That feeling’s just gripping me like a piece of rawhide on a summer day.”
“We can go back home if you want, and we can mend some of the fences instead.” He had sensed my strong suspicion that my insight seemed to be telling me.
“But don’t we need the supplies?”
“Yeah, but we could go to town almost any day, Joe,” he paused, in thought. “I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to you.”
I looked at his easy, yet serious face; my intuition would not for the life of me go away. It was like chasing the sun around the earth, you’d never reach it, and you would sure have a hard time touching it!
I must’ve sat there staring for longer than I thought. Either this feeling was right, and something bad was going to happen, or this intuition of mine was playing with me, but us brothers can sure tell when somethin’s botherin’ one another. Definitely Pa can tell when somethin’s not right, he probably knows us better than we know ourselves sometimes.
“Joe? You want to just call it off? We can’t just sit here and look at the scenery all day,” he joked.
“I don’t know Adam,” I said. My heart wanted me to go to Virginia City, but my mind surely didn’t.
“Joe, I don’t want you to get hurt.” He gripped my hand from his saddle.
“I’ll try my best.” I winked as we rode off toward the city.
The ride seemed to go pretty fast, but as we neared the city I couldn’t help but thinking that we were heading into some sort of trouble. Was there something bad happening with Pa and Hoss’ trip to Sacramento, or could it be that that something was going to be happening to one of them?
Sacramento is a fine city, a bit crowded sometimes, but then even Virginia City’s as crowded as a beehive in the springtime. It’d been three days here already, and Pa and I came to do some business with some fellow ranchers out in this here West.
I woke up on the nice, sunny city day, with a bad feelin’ at the pit of my stomach. It was scarin’ me like you wouldn’t believe. I wasn’t even sure my breakfast was gonna stay down I was so worried.
“Pa,” I said over breakfast. “Pa, I got this achin’ feeling somethin’ bad’s gonna happen.”
“I know, I got it too…” he admitted. With our Pa you could tell the stress in his face. His wrinkles shone more prominent than usual, and his face was shrouded with anxiety.
Virginia City was having its normal day, the street spurred with people, the saloons crowded with customers. We rode to the mercantile, the blazing hot sun made the city feel like a ride through the desert.
“Hey, Sam,” I said, as I walked into the mercantile.
“Hey, Joe, come for the usual supplies?”
“Yeah, and older brother’s in charge this time with Pa and Hoss bein’ away.”
“Morning, Sam,” Adam chimed in.
“Morning, Adam. Joe just told me you’re the man in charge this week?”
“Yeah, I got the taller matchstick,” he chuckled.
“I’ve got the grain and stuff ready for you, Adam,” Sam smiled.
“Thanks, Sam,” Adam grinned. “Come on, Joe,” he urged me.
We got the grain and the other things loaded onto the wagon. The feeling seemed to have warded off by the time we were finished, but this time, we couldn’t even tell what was about to come our way.
“This heat just seems to make this job feel like we’re mules in the desert somewhere,” I groaned. The heat was getting to me, even though we were nearly finished.
“Well, Adam, we’re nearly finished, so how about a drink after the last load?”
“Sure thing Joe,” Adam winked.
The last load felt the heaviest; the summer sun wasn’t helping. We were finally up to the last load, as I leaned my head against the box.
“I feel like I just walked thru the desert and back in the half hour it took to load this stuff.” I wiped the sweat from my brow.
“Joe, you don’t look to good. How about some water?” His worried tone caught me, but I felt so tired already. He held my arms, as if I was feeling as bad as I looked, things already weren’t looking up. “Come on Joe.” He took me by one of the troughs nearby. I must’ve been exhausted. Anyway, he held me up and put some of the cool water to my mouth as I eagerly drank it up.
“Do you think you can make it to the saloon?” he asked me.
“I hope so bro,” I said, as I put my arm around his shoulder and tugged on his shoulder for support.
We made our way into the saloon. You could still feel the racking heat of the outside from there. Adam settled us at a table, gently placing me in the chair. I must’ve looked a sight.
“Some water over here please, bartender,” I heard Adam, as I tried to get into a comfortable position, dark spots were clouding my vision. I felt some cold water touch my lips, as a slowly drank it up.
“It’s a real burner out there, Adam,” I heard one of our friends say. I knew something bad would happen. I just denied it; and boy do I wish it were spring again.
“I wish this heat wave would just end,” I heard Adam say, as a cool cloth was placed on my forehead. I slowly drank my water, as I felt more of my strength coming back to me.
“Little buddy, you alright?” he asked. I could see the fright in his eyes from seeing me look so pale in that heat.
“I feel better now,” I said. “Adam, I’m hungry.” I felt almost like I was young again, complaining about how hungry I was, after working out in the pastures my first days, working like one of the adults.
“We’ll get ya some food ok, Joe,” he breathed, probably just happy to see me back.
“Adam, you’re not lookin to good yourself,” I observed. He looked really tired now; the most exhausted I’ve ever seen him next to that bad run in with Kane.
“I’ll be alright, Joe,” he insisted.
“You know you aren’t and you know it,” I took another sip of water.
Adam leaned into the table; the heat had gotten to him too.
“Whoa there, Mr. Cartwright,” a friend of ours had stood next to Adam.
“Relax, Mr. Cartwright, it’s too hot to even think in this hell of heat.” He handed my brother a glass of cool water, and soon some bread and sandwiches came for us.
I guess we relaxed there for a while, because I slowly downed a good five glasses of water, and had about three or four sandwiches. Adam actually ate about the same amount as me.
The aching feeling that something was going to happen today had faded to a mere snippet of information. I guess with this heat I forgot about it, till of course, something worse than the heat of the razing summer day happened.
We were just walking outside of the saloon, the evening air colder in a comforting contrast to the heat of the afternoon. We had both figured on just renting a room for the night, then heading back in the cool morning air. We both must’ve been tired because none of us spoke a word to each other.
Before I even knew what had happened, I found myself on the ground, Adam holding me in his arms, and my strength steadily leaving me.
“Joe!!!” He yelled, as I found myself on the ground, pain coming from my upper abdomen.
“Adam,” I said, as I felt my stamina diminish.
“I’m right here, Joe.” He looked at me. His eyes were shaded with worry, but I felt safe in his arms, no matter what. “I won’t leave you,” he said. His face shadowed with anxiety, yet encouraging me to try and stay with him.
“I know you won’t,” I breathed, “Older brother,” I gave a weak smile. “Adam,” I said.
“I think the bad thing that bothered me this morning just happened,” I quietly laughed.
“Joe,” he smiled. “I love you little bro.”
“Hey, same here Adam,” I managed, as my vision started to become clouded with dark spots. I soon found myself drifting into a sea of oblivion, in Adam’s arms.
“Joe!!!” I yelled in desperation. Suddenly Little Joe lie face down on the wooden boardwalk. I rushed to his side and gently turned him. Warm blood was oozing from where the bullet had hit him.
“Adam,” he called tenderly, the color draining from his blush face.
“I’m right here, Joe.” I held my little brother in my arms, “I won’t leave you,”
“I know you won’t,” he gulped, exhausted. “Older brother…”he breathed, “Adam?”
“Yes Joe?” I looked into his still glowing eyes.
“I think the bad thing that bothered me this morning just happened,” he joked, a wry smile on his face.
“Joe,” I smiled back, “I love you little bro.”
“Hey, same here Adam,” his hand began to reach for my face, as a veil of unconsciousness befell him.
It didn’t take long to get Joe to Doc Martin’s, but those moments seemed more of a blur as he was gently carried to the room.
“What happened, Adam?” Paul asked.
I looked at him, the worry and fear of losing Joe, burning in my eyes like the fires of the streetlamps.
“It happened too quickly, Paul,” I said, not knowing what else to say.
“Joe’ll be alright, I can’t promise you anything Adam, but God-willing he’ll be alright.”
“I hope so, Paul.” I stared passed him to the wall.
“I’ll do my best Adam,” our eyes finally met in a gaze, as he tenderly put a reassuring hand on my shoulder.
“I know you will Paul,” my eyes becoming watery as the beginnings of tears formed. I took a deep breath hoping to hold them back.
“I better get to work.” I looked up, the tears suddenly dripping out like raindrops in a sun shower. He soon pulled me into a gentle embrace; I felt his warm hand rub my back, as I let the few tears I had fall. I breathed deeply, softly pulling out of the embrace.
“You just do your best okay?” I gave a wry smile, “I have to go wire Pa and Hoss,” I nearly gasped out as I walked out the door to the starlit evening.
Around dinner time, oh it must’ve been around seven or so, I just had this wave of worry and sadness come onto me.
“Pa, do ya think Joe and Adam are alright?” I asked.
“I hope so Hoss,” his eyes wandered around the room, he hadn’t said a word all afternoon. This feelin was just buggin him just as much as it was me. I don’t think either of us felt like eating, the feelin was so strong.
It was a long evening. The streetlamps had just been lit, and I was hoping to get word to Pa as soon as I could. The streets were unusually empty. I walked to the telegraph office, still surprised to find it open.
“Hey,” I greeted the worker.
“Hey, Mr. Cartwright,” he said, a semi-solemn look on his face, “I’m sorry about what happened to your brother.”
“I need to get a telegraph to Sacramento and fast,” I said, probably faster than I’d intended.
“Here,” he handed me a piece of paper. I began to write out the message.
Pa and Hoss
Joe hurt, come quick.
“Can you send it out now?” I asked, eager to get word to Pa and get back to Joe.
“Sure thing Adam,” he winked.
“Thanks,” I stuck around to be sure that it went through. “I better get back to Joe.”
“I hope he gets better, Adam,” he said.
“Thanks,” I raced out the door.
We were in a meetin’ when we both found out. Our feelin’s this mornin’ were confirmed when we were called from the meeting to read the telegraph.
“Telegraph for Mr. Cartwright, it’s urgent,” the messenger announced; Pa and I looked each other in the face. I just knew it, this was it.
“Joe’s hurt,” Pa frowned.
“We can head out tonight right?”
“I hope so Hoss.”
“Pa, Joe needs us more than the people here do,” I put my hand on his shoulder.
“We’ll head out tonight and hopefully make it to Virginia City by morning.”
We packed up our bags and left that night. The warm heat of the day was a stark contrast to the coolness of the night. The road seemed dark and long.
We must’ve had the horse’s dang near exhausted, but even they could tell we needed to get somewhere fast.
The nighttime crickets chirped; their song sounded cheerful compared to mine. Joe was hurt, and the only thing I could do for him now was be there for him, whether Pa made it or not.
I walked into the office, the aura of the semi-lit room struck with the sense of anxiety; not knowing whether he’d be alright. I sat down and waited. The minutes passed like hours as the clock ticked them away.
Getting ready to ride out in the dawn of the evening seemed like a heavy task laid upon us by fate. The moon was up in the sky as the evening sun set orange in the horizon. Worrying over Joe seemed to make a shadow on Pa and me, as neither one of us felt like talking.
We mounted our horses, as we rode in the direction the moon was guiding us; like a bright lantern among the desert stars. The rocky hills and sandy brown patches soon evolved into lush forest. My eyes were feelin’ heavy and I knew I’d soon fall asleep on Chubb. Pa must’ve somehow managed to stay awake.
“Paul, how’s Joe?” he asked, the anguish on Paul’s face showing on his face, like the light on a sunny day. He immediately noticed his staid heartbroken face.
“What’s wrong Paul?” he asked, his already uneasy face, turning near expressionless, Adam’s fiery hazel eyes, attempting to hold back the earth-shattering emotions in his heart. Before Paul could even tell him more, he could already feel the shock the news would bring him.
“I got the bullet out,” he paused, as his arms were now shaking like the room had turned freezing cold; his eyes watery as he held back tears, “He’s very weak,” Paul said, in a near whisper.
Adam held back, he felt like grabbing him by his shirt’s collar and demanding that Joe’d be alright, but he knew he couldn’t do a thing. A frown came upon his face, and a tear fell from his eye. He gulped, “Will he…will he get better?”
“Adam, I can only hope.”
He could no longer hold back the tears, he breathed deeply, gently gripping Paul’s forearm, a small glimmer of reassurance shined in his tear-stained eyes.
He ran through the doors, Joe lie there; his face as pale as the moonlight. He knelt down beside his beside, as he looked at Joe’s ashen face. He caressed his lukewarm forehead, “Come on Joe, don’t do this to us,” he begged, as the tears began to flow down his face like a stream, “Joe, please, I don’t want to lose you.”
What he, Pa and Hoss had been trying to prevent since his escapades as a youngster had happened just that evening, he couldn’t stop Joe from the unseen shot of the gunslinger.
As the night wore on, Joe just seemed to get worse. “Come on Joe,” I rubbed his hand, trying to make him warm. His face just seemed to get paler every minute, as if suddenly his face had turned into a beige sheet.
“Joe, no!” I begged him, as if he could hear me; the tears ran down my cheeks like rivers, flowing in scared, cold fear.
Hours passed and there were no signs of Joe getting any better. I sat there, circles under my eyes. I couldn’t sleep, not with Joe in this condition.
“Adam, get some sleep,” Paul urged.
“I can’t, Paul,” I answered, “Not with Joe like this.”
“You couldn’t help that it happened, Adam,” I felt an aching guilt, almost like I had really pulled that trigger that nearly took Joe’s life.
“I know,” I stared out the window into the night, feeling Paul’s warm hand on my shoulder. Emotions were gripping me like the waves hit the shoreline at high tide.
Adam sat on the stoop of the Doctor’s office, the cool night air brushing slowly against his face and the moonlight beaming down on this quiet section of the city.
He slouched forward, his hands holding his head as his face looked longingly at the dirt. In the past few days, his world had turned upside down; a simple day in town to get supplies had turned near tragic. Pa and Hoss had been away on business in Carson City, and they had just gone to town to load up on the supplies. It all seemed like a never-ending nightmare, shaded in the midst of a blurry haze.
The thin night air stood still around him, time, just seemed so slow, yet so important. The stars seemed to sand still, “Come on Joe,” he whispered into the night, as a cold shiver ran down his back, “Oh God keep Joe safe tonight.” He hid his blush, tear-stained face in his arms.
“Adam,” Paul’s voice called, from behind him.
“Yeah Paul?” he turned facing him.
Adam quickly got up and stood beside Doc Martin. “What is it?”
“He’s running a fever,” he said.
His now somewhat calm face looked up at Paul’s face, as a fiery light of hope glowed in his hazel eyes. He held Paul’s arm in a small gesture of optimism.
They made their way into the room. Joe lie there shaking, his face covered by beads of sweat, and his forehead felt of a burning fever.
“Joe,” Adam raced to his side.
“Adam,” Joe murmured faintly.
“Adam,” Paul called, as I got up from my seat out front.
“What is it Paul?”
“It’s Joe, he’s calling for you.”
I eagerly walked through the doors. Joe lay there, as pale as linen. I sat down beside him.
“Adam,” he whispered, nearly inaudible.
“Joe, I’m right here, little buddy,” I held his hand and caressed his tepid forehead. His dark curls contrasting his near colorless skin.
“Come on Joe,” I began to cry. I saw the same paleness when Inger had died in Pa’s arms. It was a look I was scared to see, on anyone. His breathing was the shallowest I’ve ever seen it.
“Adam,” he murmured, as tears began to run across my cheek.
“Joe, please….Joe, I love you, little brother,” I wailed.
Suddenly I felt his hand go limp in mine; “Joe?” tears began bursting from my eyes, like a train whistle, “No, Joe…” I said. I couldn’t believe it, “No, Little Joe.”
I let go of his hand and let my elbow rest on his now eerily still chest. I held my head in my elbows as Paul gently gripped my shoulder, trying to offer some comfort.
I cried myself to sleep on his now cold chest. For all I knew I could’ve been asleep for a few hours, even though one of my worst nightmares had pretty much happened right in front of me. I needed rest, as little or as much as it was. It must’ve been near sunrise, as I heard an all too familiar voice chime in the morning light.
“Pa,” I heard Joe moan, as I slowly awoke.
“Joe?” he moved his head. I felt his forehead, he was running a small fever, but at least he was here. “Joe,” I smiled.
“Pa,” he cried.
“Joe, Pa will be here soon,” I said, happy tears in my eyes. The color had returned to his face, and I could tell he was going to be alright. Joe was back.
“Pa,” Joe called softly, “Pa.”
“Joe,” I tried to comfort him, “Pa will be here soon okay little buddy,” I caressed his forehead.
“Adam,” he moaned.
“I’m right here Joe,” I held his now warm hand; he took a mild breath, and soon fell into a calm sleep.
“Joe,” Adam held his limp form in his arms, “Joe,” tears came streaming from his eyes as he caressed his lurid cheek, “Come on little buddy,” his face tilted as grief filled his eyes.
Ben nearly ran into the office, worry filled his eyes, as the news had hit him like a brick.
“No change from yesterday,” I heard Doc Martin say. I felt so weak, like all of my strength was drained out of me.
“Come on Joe,” I listened to Adam’s encouraging voice as I felt his warm hand holding mine.
“Oh Ben…” I heard Doc as he left the room. I took a deep breath.
“Paul,” I heard Adam call him over. I felt the cold stethoscope against my chest.
“Joe,” Adam’s voice rang happily as I moved my head toward him, “Joe,” I slowly opened my eyes, my surroundings a blur, “Joe.”
“Adam,” I managed a weak whisper.
“I’m right here little buddy,” he smiled as my vision finally cleared. I gleamed; his reassuring face smiled at me, as I gave a weak yawn, and soon found myself drifting to a peaceful sleep.
“No change from yesterday,” Paul frowned; he had done all he could.
“Come on Joe,” He breathed deeply, cold emotion in his voice, longing for him to get better. His eyes were heavy from lack of sleep; his hazel eyes reflected the scene like glass.
They heard Pa and Hoss come into the other room. “Oh Ben,” Paul went out to greet them.
A deep breath was heard as Joe’s chest rose and fell like waves on the sea.
“Paul,” he called.
The sunrise was bright as we finally made it to Virginia City. The vibrant colors brilliantly shone as the city loomed in the valley. We urged the horses on to go a bit faster.
We raced into the Doc’s office, wasting no time to see Joe. I walked in to see Adam knelt beside Joe.
“Joe,” I heard Adam say to him, Joe’s green eyes sparkling with life.
“Adam,” he whispered. It put a smile on my face to see Joe still awake with life.
“I’m right here Joe,” I saw Joe give a wry smile. He yawned and soon drifted back to sleep.
I waited till Adam was sure Joe was fast asleep. He stayed there and caressed his cheek. I waited till he noticed me. He must’ve been though a lot last night. He turned his head.
“Could be better,” he said.
“You look plain exhausted, Adam,” I observed.
“It was a long night,” he said, the tiredness showing in his eyes. “We nearly lost him for a bit,” he yawned.
“Adam, you go get some rest,” I put my hand on his shoulder; “Pa and I will stay with him.”
It must’ve been a challenge just staying awake. It was worse than riding a horse, but the worry and agony he’d gone through that night must’ve been terrifying. Adam seemed to be falling asleep right in front of me. I don’t think he’d be able to keep his tired eyes open much longer. I held Adam’s wobbly figure as he nearly fell asleep on my shoulder.
“Joe,” I heard Hoss say, “Joe you’s got us all worried, going off like that,” he said, a tinge of anguish in his somewhat playful voice. I felt his warm gentle hand holding mine. “You’s scarin’ me Joe, like the worst scared I’ve ever been.
I could feel the warm sun from the window, shining into the room. I heard a ruffle of familiar voices from the other room.
“How did it happen?” Pa asked.
“Joe was …”
I found myself drifting off to another time; another place, as the softness of the sofa encompassed me, leading me to years gone by.
“Joe! Joe!” Adam called, looking for little Joe; he was a rambunctious boy who could always find trouble, either that or trouble found him. Adam climbed up the ladder to the hay loft, finding the youngster crouched atop one of the rafters, “Joe how did you get up there?”
Little Joe shook with fear, tears streamed from his young green eyes.
“Joe,” Adam ascended to where he could reach him.
“I’m scared Adam!” His face was filled with fright.
“There must be a way you got up there little buddy,” Adam thought aloud.
“But Adam, I’m scared!” the young boy moaned.
“Joe, it’s going to be alright.”
“But Adam, I’m scared!” he pouted.
He gently gripped Joe’s leg, almost as if it were magic, he was calm. Joe breathed a sigh of relief.
“Joe, move your other leg by me,” he said to the still scared child.
“I can’t Adam!” Joe held a tight grip to the wood, shaking with fear.
“Yes you can Joe!”
“Adam, I’m scared!”
“Joe, you can do it.”
Joe took a deep breath, trying to control his nervousness.
“Okay Adam,” fear shuddering in his voice, as he slowly moved his leg over the rafter.
“Joe, I got you,” Adam held onto Joe’s abdomen, “Come on,” he smiled, letting Joe fall into his strong arms.
“Adam,” he held him against his chest as Joe breathed and put his arms around his shoulders.
“It’s alright Joe, I got you,” he rubbed his back as Joe slowly calmed down, putting his soft blond hair against Adam’s warm shoulder.
Joe, I thought, suddenly awakened by my dream; the afternoon light in the room shining brightly through the windows. I stretched as I slowly woke up
I walked into the room; Joe lay there asleep, as peaceful and as a calm spring breeze. I couldn’t help but notice how young he looked asleep.
“You’re a tough one little brother,” I tousled his curls gently, not to wake him up.
“Adam,” Pa whispered, half awake himself.
“Pa,” I looked at him, his understanding eyes gazed into mine.
Hoss turned and smiled, “About time you woke up, Adam,” his bright blue eyes gleaming as he walked over to me.
“Been fast asleep the whole afternoon, older brother.”
“Thanks Hoss,” my head tilted, tinged with a hint of uncertainty. I felt his loving hand on my shoulder.
“You stop worrying okay, older brother,” he paused, “Joe’s gonna be alright.”
“Yeah, I know, Hoss, I just feel,” I sighed, my vision blurring in my watery eyes. I soon felt his arms around me as I let the few tears I had fall.
I gently eased out of the hug after a few minutes and took a deep breath.
“Didn’t realize how hungry I was,” I probably hadn’t eaten since yesterday afternoon.
“There’s some food in the other room.”
I walked back into the room, Joe’s green eyes sparkling as he smiled and laughed with Hoss. “Joe,” I grinned
“Hey Adam.” His youthful smile greeted me as I seemingly raced over to his side.
“How’re you doin’, kid?” I had a smile the size of the Comstock.
“Hungry.” His infectious laughter filled the room.
“Well, that’s a good sign,” Paul smiled, “For a while there Joe we really did think we lost you.”
“Lose me?” he joked, “They can’t get rid of me that easily!”
I looked out the window, and said a silent prayer of thanks, as a happy tear rolled down my cheek.
I awoke to a semi-dark room, the light from the street-lamps shined in from the window. Surprisingly, I found Hoss, standing, looking out into the starlit night.
“Hoss?” I asked, audible enough so he could hear me.
“Little bro?” A big grin struck his face.
“He dang near got himself sick worrying about you, little buddy.”
“Oh,” I sighed, then I saw Pa, asleep in the chair near the foot of the bed, “Pa?”
He rubbed the sleep from his eyes, “Joseph,” he smiled, as he cried, “It’s about time you woke up.”
“Joe.” I heard Adam walk in.
“Hey Adam,” I smiled.
“How’re you doin’ kid?”
“Hungry,” I laughed.
“Well, that’s a good sign,” Doc Martin grinned, ““For a while there Joe we really did think we lost you.”
“Lose me?” I was surprised. Were they joking with me or what? “They can’t get rid of me that easily!” I laughed.
“Hey Joe,” Adam said, a solemn look on his face.
“What’s the matter bro?” I asked as he sat down on the bed.
“Joe, it’s…it’s just that…” tears began to roll down his cheeks.
I gently grasped his arm as his head dropped in tears. A smile was hidden within the tears. “Hey, it’s alright Adam,” He turned to face me; I could just see the happiness burning in his eyes. I sat up nearly straight as I let him cry in my arms. “Shh,” I said, rubbing his back. He was just happy to be able to hold me in his arms again
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