tagIncest/TabooMandy and Me Ch. 14

Mandy and Me Ch. 14

bySSW_1050©

Writer's Note: If you are new to this series, I strongly suggest you begin at Chapter 1, since each chapter builds on the previous. This chapter picks up immediately following the end of Chapter 13 and covers two days as the families undergo more changes. As always, hat's off to you loyal readers for following along on this journey, and a salute to Ciguardian for the insightful comments and suggestions. Thank you so very much. Enjoy and please vote.

An Additional Note: I received a comment about introducing a fantasy element into this story. To address this, let me say that, in my honest opinion, almost all the written work posted on this website contains elements of fantasy, irregardless of the section it is posted in, and none of it should be taken too seriously. The same is found in mainstream literature, as well, a prime example being the Outlander series, a historical fiction romance involving time travel. It is eight volumes of fantastic read, if you like long, well detailed stories.

Literary critics are advised – I am a retired cabinetmaker, trying to learn the craft of weaving a good story. I do write using the East Texas dialect, and the speech mannerisms common in the area where this story is set.

Legal – All persons engaging in described sexual activity are 18 or older.

Standard Advisory – This is NOT a one-page stroke story. If that's what you want, look elsewhere.

Standard Caution – There is tobacco use (smoking) in this story. The setting is 1967, and I am writing to reflect those times. If this bothers you, go elsewhere.

***

Chapter 14 – Renewed Hope, a Disclosure, and Possibilities

26 Feb

A Note From Mike:

Mandy and I learned what occurred, while Junior, Mom, and Grandma were gone, second hand. We were not there, to hear the actual conversations, so I have to use a bit of literary license, for some of them, particularly those that occurred when Mom and Junior were alone together. Mandy was able to gather some of the details, in conversation with Mom, and passed the information to me, for inclusion at the proper places.

Mom, Junior, and Grandma arrived in Houston late that Saturday afternoon, and Junior got them all checked into a pair of motel rooms for the night. After checking in, it was time to go and get dinner somewhere. Grandma wanted it to be a good restaurant, with a wide variety of menu options.

"I'm gonna be stuck, eatin' hospital food for the next month, y'all," she told her son and her daughter-in-law. "This counts as my last meal, apart from breakfast, tomorrow, 'fore I check into the hospital for these treatments!"

He picked up the motel room phone and called the front desk to get a few recommendations. One he explained the situation, the clerk was more than happy to point out a couple really excellent local eateries. He repeated the clerk's descriptions to Grandma, who eventually opted for a local buffet restaurant. The choice turned out to be a good one, and the buffet served custom cooked steaks, chops, and chicken, plus a carving station serving slices of beef cut from a Steamship Round.

Following the meal, they returned to the motel and took a few minutes to get Grandma settled in her room, for the night. Mom and Junior adjourned, then, to their next-door room, where they spent an hour or so engaging in quiet, reserved lovemaking (motel walls being notoriously thin) before drifting off to sleep in each other's arms. The next morning, they all ate a hearty breakfast at the motel's own restaurant, and then packed Grandma's things and headed for the hospital.

You may have heard it said that everything's big, in Texas. Well, we do tend to do some things in a big way, and the Texas Medical Center – as it exists today – is the largest single-site facility for medical care in the world. Even back in 1967, it was an immense place, covering several city blocks, and it took Junior just a bit to get himself oriented.

The M. D. Anderson cancer study clinic actually turned out to be housed in a separate set of buildings, across a busy 4-lane street from one of the main hospital wings. He finally found the entrance to the building's underground parking garage, and drove down one level. There, they were pleasantly surprised to find an actual patient reception area where names were checked and a wheelchair issued.

The ladies went to get the paper processing started while he found a spot to park the car and located a luggage cart for her suitcases, and then walked back to the drop-off point. Going inside the room, he looked around but couldn't find them, so he asked one of the clerks.

"Oh – they went on upstairs to get the processin' started," she told him. "Just take the elevator up one floor, and look for the main desk. Tell the person at the desk who you're here with, and they'll help you find 'em. If you'll just leave the luggage here, I'll have it taken to the room that's been assigned to her, for her stay with us."

He followed the directions, and quickly found Mom at a clerical station with a young lady furiously tapping keys on a typewriter as she processed admission forms. Grandma was nowhere in sight.

"Where's Mama?" he asked.

"They took her for a set o' x-rays an' some more blood-work," she told him. "She'll be back, shortly."

Thanks to the detail level in the packet of paperwork that Dr. Johnson, and Mom's familiarity with Grandma's condition, the bulk of the admission papers were processed fairly quickly, and after a brief time, they were waiting across the big, airy waiting room when an elevator finally opened and disgorged a candy striper pushing Grandma in a wheelchair. She caught sight of them, and directed the young teenage volunteer where to push her.

"Take me outside, Patsy," she demanded with a wan smile as the young girl brought the wheelchair to a halt. "I want a cigarette an' a last bit o' sunshine an' fresh air, 'fore they confine me to this rabbit warren for the next month!"

"I'll take care o' that, Miss Elizabeth," the candy striper –whose nametag read 'Jackie' – smiled. "I'm kind o' responsible for you, 'til your doctor arrives to claim you."

They wheeled Grandma past the check in booth, where Jackie stopped to say something to the woman behind the desk, and then they went on outside. They moved over into a patch of shade under a tree near the doors, and Grandma fished her cigarettes out of her purse and lit up. Mom and Junior both followed suit and were surprised to see Jackie do the same.

"You really won't be locked away in a buildin', Miss Elizabeth, at least not all the time," the young lady told her, taking a seat on a low stone wall bordering a planting bed. "You're here for the new cancer treatment program that Doctors MacIntyre and James are headin' up. Part o' their treatment philosophy is that maintainin' a positive mental attitude is crucial in dealin' with most cancers, so their patients all get a few 'privileges' that others may not."

The cute nurse's aide took a long drag from her cigarette, exhaling a thick plume of smoke into the warm mid-day air.

"You won't get to go outside an' have a smoke whenever you want, but most of us 'stripers' smoke, an' our job is mostly to keep you folks comfortable an' keep your spirits up, plus getting' the usual temperature, blood pressure, an' heart rate readin's that any hospital wants. I'll be on your floor, most days, an' I'll be happy to take you out for a smoke when you need one. Since we can't leave you unattended, outdoors, it's a chance for me to grab one, too. Oh – here comes Doctor MacIntyre, now."

"Good morning, Elizabeth," a tall, lanky, slightly balding man called out, as he approached them. "Welcome to Texas Medical Center, and our cancer clinic. I'm Doctor MacIntyre and, along with Doctor James – who's off, today – I'll be in charge of your treatment for the next month or two."

"Nice to meet you, Doctor," Grandma smiled, extending her hand to shake his.

"It's nice to meet you, too," the doctor replied. "I'm glad to have you with us, for this round of treatments."

"I reckon I'm glad to be here, too,' Grandma answered, "but that don't mean I ain't a mite nervous 'bout what's gonna happen, while I'm here."

"Well, then let me fill you in," he said. "We'll be using some chemical compounds, fed intravenously into your bloodstream, to kill off some of the cancer cells. We'll also be using some pinpoint-focused beams of radiation to target those cells, too. You had some blood-work done, when you arrived here, and that's going to help us 'fine-tune' your treatment protocols. Based on what I've seen of your medical records, I think we can expect to see some good results.

"I'm not going to tell you that it'll be pleasant, all the time," he told her. "You're going to have some bad days coming, too. The medicines that we'll be using, to treat you, can have some unpleasant side effects. You're going to have days when you will feel very weak and nauseated. When you do feel nauseous, let your nurse know, because we have medications to deal with the nausea. We need you to be able to eat well, because good nutrition is important in maintaining your health during the treatments. All things considered, though, we should be seeing some very good results over the next month.

"We'll let you go home for a few days, around the end of March, and then bring you back for the second course of treatment."

He stayed with them, then, chatting amiably until they'd all finished their smokes, and then he took the handles of the wheelchair and pushed it back inside the building to an elevator. They got in, went down one floor, and then along a long, brightly lit corridor to yet another elevator, which they boarded and went back up again, coming out to find themselves in yet another building. This one was more open, at least on the ground floor, than the other buildings, with clusters of chairs and tables in various locations. Their first stop was a bright, sunny conference room where several individuals waited. Doctor MacIntyre introduced the rest of the team, and offered to answer any further questions about the treatments.

"Elizabeth, I must say that you seem to be a very determined woman, with a strong will to live. Your positive attitude will be a big part of how successful your treatment will be," he said, when the questions were finished. "You will do well, and will be able to spend many more years with your family."

"Doctor, I've always been a determined woman," she told him. "Now, however, I have an even more important reason to live. My grandson and his wife just told me that they have a baby on the way, that should be here around the first o' September. I fully intend to see my first great grandchildren, and welcome them into the family."

"Great grandchildren?" MacIntyre asked, stressing the final syllable.

"I have a real strong feelin' they're gonna have twins, an' my hunches like that have always been right."

"Elizabeth, we all want you to see that. Following our protocols, you'll be able to welcome those great grandbabies into the world. We'll all be here to start everything, bright and early tomorrow morning. Now, I have to go and welcome a couple more patients, but Jackie will see to helping you get settled in."

MacIntyre shook hands with Junior and Patsy, and then headed off on his rounds. Jackie took charge of the wheelchair and led them across the spacious lobby to another elevator.

"This is the 'residential' buildin'," the candy striper explained. "The other buildin' – the one we just left – is where all o' the labs an' the treatment facilities are located. The patients live in this buildin', though. The two are connected by a corridor that runs underground, so patients can be moved back an' forth for treatments, even in bad weather, without havin' to go outside."

"Why the separate buildings?" Patsy asked. "Wouldn't it be simpler, not to mention more convenient, to have the patient rooms an' treatment rooms all in the same building?"

"It might," Jackie nodded, "an' that's how it originally was set up, or so they tell me. But the number of patients wantin' to come here kept growin', an' so did the need for more treatment rooms. They had this vacant patch of ground, just next door, an' figured it'd be easier to build a building that's nothin' but bedrooms an' bathrooms, with the kitchen an' dining room on the ground floor, than to spread both patient an' treatment rooms out over two different buildin's."

They took Grandma up two floors and down a short hall to a suite that looked a lot more like a bedroom in a house, than a hospital room. Only the design of the wheelchair-capable shower in the bathroom, and a few warning signs about oxygen valves, coupled with the motorized adjustable patient bed, gave the room's true function away.

"This is where you'll be stayin', while you're with us, Miss Elizabeth," Jackie explained. "There's a closet an' a dresser, for your clothing, when you're ready to unpack your luggage. It's already been delivered here."

Junior looked where the candy striper pointed, and saw the three suitcases standing in a corner.

"How do I take care o' laundry, while I'm here?" Grandma asked.

"You'll get a couple o' laundry bags dropped off, one day each week," Jackie answered. "I think your laundry day is Tuesday, but I'll have to check. Put your dirty laundry in the bags – whites in one, darks an' colors in the other, an' then it'll be picked up an' taken care of for you, in the patient laundry, down in one o' the underground levels."

"That sounds easy enough," Grandma grinned.

"How do you keep patients' clothin' separated?" Patsy asked.

"The bags are color coded, white for whites, an' navy blue for colors," Jackie explained, "an' they're tagged with the patient's name. The laundry room, downstairs, has several sets of washers an' dryers, an' a staff whose sole job is processing the laundry. The person who picks up the dirty laundry each week also takes the empty hangers from the closet, an' everything comes back properly folded or hung."

"Well, I need to go see what else is on my sheet, for the afternoon," Jackie said. "Sunday visitin' hours are over at eight, an' I'm on 'til ten. Dinner's at six. When are your guests leavin'?"

"Shortly," Junior told her. "We'll stay long enough to help get her clothes unpacked an' put away, an' then head out."

Jackie glanced at her watch.

"Well, I'll be back in about an hour, Miss Elizabeth, after you're unpacked an' all your clothes are stowed away, an' take you out for a smoke, if you want. I'll come back for you at about five-thirty, an' we can go outside, again, before goin' to dinner. How's that sound?"

"That sounds fine, dear," Grandma nodded, smiling. "What about a smoke after dinner?"

"Now, who'd miss out on that, Miss Elizabeth?" Jackie giggled merrily. "You'll eventually meet folks an' make some friends among the other patients but, for the first few days, I'll take my meal breaks when you go to eat, so you won't have to eat alone. We'll go out for a smoke after dinner, an' then I'll bring you back up to your room."

"What about rainy days?" Grandma asked. "This close to the coast, I'd imagine you get a few."

"There's a big covered deck, with slidin' windows an' doors, up on the roof, just off the elevator, that we use on inclement days, Miss Elizabeth."

After Jackie left the room, Grandma talked with Junior and Patsy as they emptied her three suitcases into the dresser and closet. As was Grandma's way, before they left, she had some sage advice for them.

"You two be careful down here," she advised them. "Junior, I don't want you causin' any trouble with Kathy. You an' Patsy are together, now, an' you need to stay that way. I want to see y'all's weddin' sooner, rather than later."

"I do, too, Mama," he told her, grinning. "The only 'trouble' I plan on givin' Kathy is the legal kind, by what I have my attorney do, in the way of pushin' the divorce forward."

"What are you plannin' to do, son?" she asked.

"Paula said she had some things to go over, when I see her, tomorrow. I wanna see what she says, and I'm gonna lay the cards out on the table, for her, Mama," he smiled wryly. "I'm gonna have her tell Kathy that we found her diaries, an' took charge of 'em. She likely already knows that, but I ain't certain. Seems to me, I'd have heard a complaint from her, about 'em bein' gone."

"She may have noticed, an' figured you have 'em, an' there ain't nothin she can do, about it, so why say anythin'," Grandma ventured an alternate theory.

"Regardless," he shrugged, "I'll have Paula remind her o' some of the things she wrote in those books, like her carryin' on with Paul Conrad for the last ten years or so, an' how she chose – purposely – to have two kids by him, while still bein' married to me.

"That's immoral conduct on her part, an' her teachin' contract with the school system has a clause that says she can be fired for actin' in any sort of immoral way. All I'd have to do is show the books to the folks on the school board, an' she and her boyfriend'll both be out lookin' for new jobs.

"I'm gonna have my attorney tell her that she can either accept my terms for the divorce – meanin' she don't get any o' my pension, or the money I got from sellin' Mike my share o' the farm – or else she can find out just how far she gets on unemployment checks. I don't think she'll take too long to cave in.

" 'Course, I wanna hear what Paula has to say too, since she was talkin' like she may have found a way to get Kathy arrested. I'm all for that happenin', an' I believe it's what she deserves, for the things she's done. Far as I'm concerned, they need to lock her up an' throw away the key."

"Sound like you've got that all in hand, then, Baby," Grandma nodded. "So, what are the two of you gonna do, tonight – as if I didn't know?"

She grinned, as she put the last of her question to them, and had the pleasure of seeing both Patsy and Junior grin foolishly as they blushed.

"We'll probably do just what you're thinkin' an' grinnin' about," he gave her a wry smile, "But, first, we're goin' over to Harv Becker's place, for dinner. He's my old boss, from the plant, an' his wife – Madge – is one of Lizzie's teachers, at school. She wants to talk to me about some things that have been goin' on, with Liz, these last few weeks. Tomorrow, we'll meet with my attorney, an' talk about pushin' the divorce forward, as well as what can be done about gettin' Liz an' Jenny away from her. That may take most o' the day, so we planned on stayin' overnight Monday an' drivin' back to Gilmer, Tuesday mornin'. Don't worry, though. We won't be goin' anywhere near any place Kathy's liable to be, unless she happens to pick our motel for shenanigans with her boyfriend. Based on what the detective I hired told me, they've used the same motel – 'way over on the other side o' town – for the last ten years."

"That's good to know, son," Grandma smiled. Then, she reached out and took Mom by the hand.

"Patsy, you take care o' him, an' keep him outa trouble. It sounds like I'm gonna be busy here, startin' tomorrow, so I don't know when I'll see you again. If I can, I'll call home next Saturday, to see how things are goin'."

"We'll be lookin' forward to hearin' from you, Mama," she nodded.

"Oh - when you get back, ask Mike if there's anything he can have Karen doin', since I ain't gonna be there to be looked after. I sure like that young lady, an' I'd like to keep her around. We really had a lot of fun, together. I know she an' Larry could use the extra money she was earnin', 'cause they're tryin' to save up to get into a place o' their own."

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