Montana Summer Ch. 14byD_K_Moon©
This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any real person is just a fluke. All characters are eighteen years and older.
Becky lay strapped to the gurney in the back of the ambulance. They had started her on oxygen for the short trip to the hospital. She wished Jessi was in here with her, but she was following directly behind in the car.
"Are you feeling okay?" The young paramedic who was riding in the back with her asked.
Becky nodded. "Yes, just a little scared, I guess."
He smiled at Becky and patted her hand. "Well, you are allowed to be scared." He thought she was cute and tried to re-assure her. "I'll come up and see you after they admit you. You'll be just fine."
"Thanks." Becky smiled. "But, you don't have to do that."
"Hey it's no problem," The paramedic replied with a warm smile. "We like to take care of our customers."
Becky thought it was nice that he might come and see her. It gave her a warm feeling and without realizing it, she had stopped being scared.
The drizzle had let up and Charlie stood outside of the tipis and took a deep breath. He enjoyed the fresh, clean smell right after a rain. He was glad that he had brought some firewood in before going to bed. He had awoken to the sound of the raindrops making little drumming sounds on the canvas of the tipis.
Esther emerged from the tipis and stood beside her husband. "It's a good day for staying in." She looked at the heavy clouds that drifted low over the mountains. "I don't think it's done raining."
Charlie nodded. "I think you are right." He looked to the treetops. "I think the wind is shifting. I will have to adjust the pole for the smoke flap before long if it keeps changing."
It was important to keep the pole that controlled the smoke flap. Otherwise the smoke from the fire inside wouldn't be drawn out and the inside would become extremely smoky, to the point of being unbearable.
"I'm going to get some more dry wood from the cabin. Is there anything that you need from in there?" Charlie asked.
"No," Esther replied. "There's nothing that I can think of right now."
As Charlie walked to the cabin he thought about the dreams he had last night. He wondered if they had meant anything or if they were just a regular dream. It was unlike any other dream that he could remember. He would try to discover if there was any meaning in it and then try to make sense of the answers.
Charlie was glad that Ryan had asked to go to where his ancestor's village had once stood. Since having the talk with Bill about the Wanagi he had felt the urge to go there. He felt like there was something there to discover and that is what his dream had told him.
Bill stared into the bottom of the trunk. "Well, I'll be damned!"
Suzanne felt her knees grow weak for a moment as she looked over her husband's shoulder. She was speechless at what she saw.
Ryan felt that he was looking into a mirror. The photograph in the bottom of the trunk was the face that he saw every morning in the mirror in the bathroom, but it wasn't him. The picture was so much older.
Bill carefully lifted the old picture from the bottom of the trunk. It was a fairly large picture, about eight by ten. In the picture, a man about Ryan's age stood with a Lakota male who looked to be quite a bit older.
The edges of the photograph were flaked and Bill was afraid that it might fall apart in his hands. "Mom," he said to Suzanne. "Take this and see if you see anything on the back."
Suzanne took the picture and carefully turned it over. In fine flowing script there was something, but it was hard to read as the ink was faded. "It says Will and Runs—I can't quite make out the rest, and then ninety-six."
Ryan felt a shiver go through his body. "Runs With Elk, that's what it will say."
"I'm going to set this over here." Suzanne carefully placed the picture on an old dresser.
Bill was taken aback at the direct resemblance between the young Will and Ryan. "Damn, you could be his twin."
Ryan swallowed. "It was like looking into a mirror."
Suzanne knelt back down and pointed. "That must have been her wedding dress. And look, that must be a picture of them the day they were married."
There was a picture in a simple wooden frame of a young woman wearing the dress that was in the trunk sitting on a chair with a young man standing beside her. In her hands, she was holding a bouquet of flowers.
"I never knew any of this existed." Bill was filled with a feeling of astonishment. He let out a soft laugh. "Now I know how those fellows must feel when they find something in Egypt."
Suzanne's voice was full of emotion. "This dress is over a hundred years old." She lifted it from the trunk and was surprised at the condition it was in. "I wonder if..." Suzanne stopped herself from saying what was on her mind. She had wondered if Jessi would like to get married in the dress. The man in the picture bore an uncanny resemblance to Ryan, and she resembled Jessi and for a second she thought it was a picture of the two of them dressed in vintage costumes.
She was struck by the coincidence of what had happened to her husband and then the discovery of this trunk. Suzanne was suddenly overwhelmed by the feeling that none of this had happened by chance.
Her train of thought was broken by Ryan's exclamation: "It's them! What you told me about the other night."
Ryan was holding what appeared to be a series of diaries in his hand. The top one was open.
Bill was rendered speechless by the discoveries. They were all things that he had heard about during his childhood, but had never seen and never expected to see. The past had come alive before his eyes. He stood up and looked at the picture that Suzanne had set down on the dresser. He found the resemblance between the young Will and Ryan uncanny. The eyes, the way they both stood and the smile—it was like Ryan was the very reincarnation of Will.
The weathered dark face of the other man, very prominent cheekbones and a pair of eyes that seemed to show strength reminded Bill of Charlie. He was dressed in buckskins and the top showed evidence of fine beadwork. He wondered what the occasion had been for them to pose for what would have been, back then, a very formal portrait.
As Ryan read the words that were written in a fine flowing script, the past came alive. He was transported to a place that he had only seen in his dreams.
It was late afternoon and Becky felt like a guinea pig. She had been poked and prodded, and had just gotten back to her room after having an MRI.
Her nurse had introduced herself as Lisa. Becky had liked her immediately. Lisa had a trace of a southern accent and had immediately put Becky at ease when she had arrived in her hospital room.
"How's my patient?" Lisa's green eyes flashed warmly as she walked in and looked at Becky.
"I'm good," Becky replied. "Just a little nervous I guess."
"You just relax and let us do the rest." She stopped and smiled at Becky. "The surgeon called and he said he will in to see you about 7:00."
"Are they going to do the surgery tonight?"
"That's all up to him, darlin'. He'll let you know when he sees you," Lisa answered as she wrote on a piece of paper that she had pulled from the pocket of her scrubs. "Oh, your friend said she was running home to get you a few things."
A knock came at the door. It was the paramedic that had been in the ambulance. "Can I come in?"
Becky smiled. Secretly, she had hoped that he would come and at least say hi. "Sure."
Lisa winked at Becky. "I know this guy. If he gives you any trouble, you just call and I'll come in and kick his ass."
The paramedic grinned. "Yeah, she will." He laughed and whispered loudly: "They say she is the meanest nurse in the place."
"Damn right I am." Lisa laughed as she left the room.
He reached around his back and produced a small bear and some flowers. "I brought you these. Hope you don't mind."
Becky thought her face might break if she smiled any wider. "Thank you, but, you didn't have to do that."
"I wanted to. My name is Josh."
"I'm Becky. Sit down if you want."
Becky smiled at him as he pulled up a chair, and she still thought he was cute. He had blue eyes. She hadn't noticed that when she was in the ambulance.
"Hello," Janice answered the phone.
"Hi, Mrs. Evans." Jessi closed her eyes. She hoped she could carry through with the lie.
"Becky is in the hospital." Jessi started. "And she wanted me to call you."
Janice felt her heart race. "Why? What's the matter?"
"She has a cyst." Jessi crossed her fingers for luck. "They are afraid of it bursting and want to take care of it."
Janice was puzzled. She didn't think people were normally hospitalized for cysts. "What is her room number?"
"Two-twenty-six," Jessi replied.
"How long is she going to be in there? Did the doctor tell her?"
"I'm not sure." Jessi felt relieved. This was the truth. She didn't know how long Becky would be hospitalized. "The doctor she saw this morning thought she might be released tonight, or in the morning. He said it all depended on what time they got her in."
This made a little more sense to Janice. Maybe it was a cyst after all? "What about the pregnancy test?"
One more lie and it was over. That was the thought in Jessi's mind as she answered, "It came back negative."
It felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from Janice. She breathed out a sigh of relief. "Okay Jessi, tell Becky that we love her and tell her to call me as soon as she can."
Jessi hung up the phone and sighed deeply. She had packed a few things for Becky and was getting ready to leave when the phone rang.
"Hi, Jessi. Is Becky around?" It was Stan.
"Hi Stan. No she's not. She's in the hospital." Jessi answered.
"What..." Stan sounded shaken at what Jessi said.
"No," Jessi interrupted. "It's nothing serious at all. Just some—uhm—female problems."
"Oh." Stan sounded relieved.
"Stan, she's not pregnant." Jessi suspected that this was the reason why he was calling.
"She's not?" Stan knew what a man who got a last minute reprieve must feel like.
"I'll have her call you back, Stan." Jessi was in a hurry to get back to the hospital.
"Thanks, Jessi. Tell her I called."
Suzanne sat quietly in her chair in the living room. One of the diaries they had found had belonged to Will's wife, Ellen. There were over ten years of entries in it. She had sat there reading a voice from the past. All manner of events were told, births, deaths, marriages. Some of the names were unfamiliar to Suzanne, but many of the families still made the valley their home.
For the past two hours, Suzanne had lived in the late nineteenth century. Life had been hard, there was no doubt about it. Ellen must have been a strong woman. Each of her entries, no matter what the event, showed that she looked for something good in everything.
After she stretched and rubbed her eyes, she looked at the clock and announced to the cat that was stretched out and snoozing on the sofa,: Look at the time! I had better get supper going. I'm going to have two hungry men in here before I know it, and they'll be looking for something to fill their bellies."
It had been hard for Ryan to concentrate during class today. He kept finding his mind wandering back to what they had found in the trunk. The wedding dress had been nice to find. The diaries had been far beyond anything that he could have hoped for, but the picture of Will and Runs With Elk—that was priceless. As he had stared at the picture, he had felt like he could almost reach out and talk with him.
Ryan felt that he knew the man that was standing next to Will. He had met Runs With Elk in his dreams. His memories were of a strong leader full of confident pride. As he had stared at the picture, the realization that Runs With Elk was the last generation of Lakota warriors that had roamed the plains freely had struck him. This was a man who would have been of fighting age at the time of the Little Bighorn. Ryan had wondered if he had ridden with Tatanka Yotanka at some time.
It was dark when he pulled up into the driveway. His mind had wandered so much that he had didn't remember much of the drive home. Mentally, he chastised himself for allowing himself to daydream as he drove. On these country roads, a mistake could prove to be fatal.
The smell of frying chicken greeted him as he walked through the door and into the kitchen. "Something smells good!" Ryan proclaimed as he gave his aunt a warm hug.
Suzanne smiled. In his own way, he always made her feel special and appreciated. "How was school?"
"Good," Ryan answered as he poured a cup of coffee. That was the fuel that kept the ranch going. There was always a pot of the strong, black brew ready for anyone that needed a cup. "How was the rest of your day?"
Suzanne looked around to make sure her husband wasn't in hearing range. "Well, I seemed to have loafed most of the afternoon away reading Ellen's diary."
"Did you find anything interesting?" Ryan inquired.
Suzanne stopped what she was doing at the stove and wiped her hands on a towel. "I found it all quite fascinating. I felt like I was there with her as I read it. She was a well educated woman, especially for that time." Suzanne turned the heat down on the stove and sat down at the kitchen table. "I think we take too much for granted today. Life was so hard for them. She seemed to be a woman of strong faith and convictions and that's what carried her through the bad times."
"I know that she wasn't very old when she died, I think Uncle Bill said about thirty-nine." Ryan commented as he tried to imagine what it would have been like for the first white settlers in the area.
"So many of them died young, and there was no medical care to speak of. Maybe a woman would work as a midwife." Suzanne's thoughts went to the diary and she felt an overwhelming sadness. "So many children died. Each time a child died that Ellen knew, she would write something about them. It was their faith in God that kept them going." Suzanne got back up to check on her cooking. Half to herself, and half to Ryan she quietly said. "Lord knows, they had nothing else to keep them going."
Ryan looked around. "Where's Uncle Bill?"
"He said he was going to take a shower before dinner." Suzanne turned and looked at Ryan. "But, that was over an hour ago, so I suspect that after the effort of climbing the stairs and showering, he may have felt the need to take a nap."
Bills voiced boomed from stairs, "I heard that!"
He looked at his wife. "How can you say such things about me?"
Suzanne raised her eyebrows. "Well, tell us just what you were doing up there."
Bill winked at Ryan and then looked at his wife. "I took my nap first, and then I took my shower. You had it wrong."
"Oh Bill! You didn't. You didn't lay on my nice clean bed with your dirty work clothes on?" Suzanne was aghast.
"Nope." Bill shook his head. "I was nekkid."
"Oh Lord, give me strength." Suzanne shook her head in exasperation.
"And if the boy hadn't have been here, I would have come down here nekkid and chased you around the house."
Suzanne was turning beet red. "Stop that right now, Bill McFayden!"
Bill was on a roll and he knew it. "I used to tell your aunt that once Jessi was grown up and gone away, that I was going to walk around the house nekkid all the time, just like them nudist people."
"Bill!" Suzanne exclaimed. "You are going to ruin Ryan's appetite if you keep this up."
Ryan broke out laughing. While the thought of his uncle roaming about the house naked had little appeal, the aroma of his aunt's frying chicken more than made up for it.
"Well, Ryan? You still got an appetite for some of your aunt's fried chicken?" Bill grinned happily.
"Damn straight I do," Ryan replied enthusiastically.
"See, the boy is relatively unharmed by my shenanigans."
Suzanne couldn't help but laugh. She knew that she should have been used to her husband by now. A warm feeling descended over her that told her that all was right with the world tonight.
Walking back into the hospital brought back memories of when Ryan was in the same hospital. When Jessi got up to the floor where Becky was staying, she saw that the door to her room was closed.
Jessi stopped at the nurse's station. Becky's nurse was sitting there writing in a chart. Her hair reminded Jessi of the sunset, gold with a tinge of red. She stood at the counter and announced her presence: "Excuse me."
Lisa looked up from her work. "Hi."
Jessi pointed at the door to Becky's room. "Can I go in?"
"The surgeon is in there with her right now. I think they are going to take her in tonight," Lisa answered.
Jessi then pointed to the guy standing outside of the door. "Who's that?"
Lisa smiled. "That's Josh. He was one of the paramedics that brought her in. He's been sitting in there with her since just after you left"
"Oh, I thought I recognized him." Jessi was glad that Becky hadn't been alone while she was gone.
"He's a good kid." Lisa sat her pen down and looked at Josh for a second. "He's a fireman and sometimes on his days off he will do a couple of shifts with Med-West. I took care of his mother when she was in here last year. I got to know him then."
Jessi laughed. "Oh, a fireman! Becky will like that."
"Well, I think they like each other. They've been in there laughing and talking a mile a minute."
"I suppose I could go introduce myself." Jessi hesitated.
"What's your name?" Lisa whispered. "I'll introduce you."
Lisa stood up. "Yo! Josh! Front and center!" Lisa chuckled. "I love bossing firemen around."
Josh walked over to the nursing station. "You rang?"
"Josh, I would like you to meet Jessi, Becky's roommate. Jessi this is Josh."
"Hi, it's nice to meet you." Josh offered his hand to Jessi.
"Nice to meet you, too." Jessi smiled warmly. This was definitely the type of guy that Becky would be attracted to.
He looked a bit taller than Ryan, and bit broader in the shoulders. Jessi suspected this came from his training. His light brown hair probably always looked slightly askew. She knew Becky was a sucker for a guy with blue eyes. He looked like the kind of a guy that a girl's mother would fall in love with.
The surgeon soon came out of Becky's room and walked over to the desk. He looked at Lisa. "They will be coming to get her in about an hour."
He scribbled something on a piece of paper. "Give this to her as soon as you can, darlin'."
Lisa called after the doctor as he was walking down the hall, "Oh sure, it's darlin' when you want something."
He laughed and waved his hand in the air as he continued to make his way down the hallway.
"You can go on in and see her now." Lisa turned her attention to Jessi and Josh.
"Did you two meet?" Becky asked as they walked into the room.
Jessi nodded. "Yep, we sure did."
"I just wanted to say bye," said Josh. "I have to be at work by six tomorrow."
"Thanks for coming in and keeping me company." Becky's eyes sparkled as she talked to Josh.
"No problem, I enjoyed it," he replied.
"You'd better call me."
He laughed and patted his pocket. "I've already got your number programmed into my cell." He walked over and gave Becky warm hug.
After Josh had walked out the door, Jessi giggled and grabbed the chair and sat down next to Becky. "Okay, sister. Spill the beans."
"I like him." Becky smiled.
"Well, he's cute!" Jessi was glad for Becky.
"Yeah he is." Becky's mind was preoccupied with wondering what it would like to have him kiss her.