Chapter 6

And so the tests began.
Checkups.
X-rays.
Electrocardiography.
Echocardiography.
Stent-implantation.
And so on. And so on.
People around him.
All the time.
Talking to him.
Touching him.
Moving him.
From A to B.
From B to C.
From C to...
He felt like a puppet.
Not allowed to act for himself.
Not allowed to walk away.
He should have stayed where he was.
Somewhere in the deep dark.
Unconscious.
Not in this world.
It was calmer there.
Nobody cared.
Or he didn't care who cared.
He was alone there.
No one.
Not even all this pain he felt currently.
Just him and the good memories.
Him and her.
He was happier with her by his side.
Life was happier.
Life was valuable.
Life was worth living.
Now it was none of that.
There were too many people.
Around him.
But she wasn't there.
He wished she was here.
With him.

They said he was lucky. Very lucky. He could have been dead. The time between the heart attack and that someone found him was quite long. And cold.
He could have been dead. And his heart could have been more damaged than it actually was. He was lucky and his heart strong.
Yeah, what a lucky man he was...
This heart attack should have never happened.
-

It was already late afternoon when the tests were finished for the day and the nurse moved him from the ICU to a normal room. It was a two-bed room but the other bed wasn't occupied yet which was a great relief for Jack. He just wanted to be alone right now.
The day was awful and stressful. Too many people had their hands everywhere on him. Jack had always felt uncomfortable when people came too close. His private space was pretty big and he appreciated it a lot when people just stayed out of it. Most people. Not all of them, but most.
He also didn't like that he was being watched nearly every minute. Computers and monitors controlled every breath he took and every beat his heart made. At least it was working. There was still a faint pain in his chest and his left arm but the doctor said that it should cease over the days. Yes, over the days. How long were they planning to keep him here? Jack asked that question several times always hoping that at least one of the nurses would tell him that he could go back home now. But no. All they told him was that it could take up to three weeks before they would dismiss him. Jack stopped asking then. It made him angry. Three damn weeks. He really hoped that he was not one of those poor cases that would have to stay for three weeks. There were more tests they needed to run to find out what his heart was still capable of. Well, Jack wished that he was at least strong enough to escape the building, but the dizziness and exhaustion kept him where he was. In that damn hospital, tied to that stupid bed.
Outside the window the sun just disappeared behind the mountains that stood like an uneven wall in the very far distance. The leafless treetops were covered in snow. Jack wished he could go outside and feel the fresh air in his face and to fill his poor lungs with it. The hospital-like smell gave him a bad headache.
Suddenly a knock on the door broke his reverie. Before Jack could say anything the door opened and Lou's face appeared from behind. When she saw him being awake her face lit up.
"Hi Grandpa.", she opened the door all the way now and entered the room, behind her Peter and Katie who sat in his arms.
"Hey Jack.", he greeted him.
Jack put on a smile. He didn't mind them visiting, but he was just very tired and couldn't deal with any more people today.
"How are you feeling today?", Lou asked and put a bouquet of colorful gerbera on his bedside table.
Jack looked at it.
Great, here came all the flowers and get well soon presents. Just get comfy in this damn hospital. We hope you have a wonderful time here.
"Take them back." he said plainly, his eyes still on the bouquet. Lou paused for a moment to look at him. Unsure if he was serious.
"Come on, Grandpa. Katie chose them for you.", she replied and finished to arrange the flowers with a certain accuracy until she was satisfied with her work.
Jack wanted to say something but he knew better. They just cared. He wished they didn't. He wanted to be alone with his misery.
"So, tell us. How was your day?", Lou tried a second time and moved two of the chairs that stood by the window closer to the bed. One for Peter and one for herself.
Oh great, now they make themselves comfortable.
Katie was still in Peters arms who had been looking at Jack with a smile on his lips since he entered the room. It was a fake smile. Jack could see it in his eyes that he was worried and shocked. He was shocked that something so terrible could happen to a Jack Bartlett who was always the strong one in the family. The one everyone could count on. The one everyone relied on. He was always around but not this time. It wouldn't have taken much for him to be dead right now.
He was lucky.
The doctors said.
Maybe he should thank someone for finding him up at the field where it all happened. But who was that someone? Nobody had told him yet. Jack tried to remember if there was someone with him when he took Paint out for a ride. Lou was there. In the barn. She was crying and shouting at him why he and Tim would start fighting rather than pulling together in those hard times. She had a lot to deal with. With Georgie and her brother and Phoenix and she was fighting with Peter, too. Jack remembered all of that. He had enough time during the day to think about it. But he couldn't recall if someone was with him at the field. No, he was alone there. He was sure about that. So, who was that someone then?
"Who found me?", he said as plainly as before and looked straight into Lou's eyes. Her smile faded away and so did Peter's. Their faces went from encouraging to an discomforting expression. Lou's lips moved for a second but she looked at Peter instead. Something made them feel really uncomfortable. Jack still waited for an answer but wondered about her hesitation. They acted as if it was the Prime Minister himself who found him face down and vulnerable at the field.
His brow went up.
Finally Lou turned back to him.
"It was Amy. She found you.", Lou swallowed before carrying on, "We were down by the ranch to light up some fireworks for Georgie, when we noticed that none of us has seen you for quite a while."
Peter kept nodding his head the whole time Lou was speaking. his hand restlessly stroking over Katie's hair.
"Yeah, we were really worried. Your horse was missing, too."
"We were looking for you everywhere and Amy found you up at the field.", Lou finished.
Jack could tell by their acting that there was something they didn't tell him. He wanted to know.
"And...?"
"A-a-and...", Lou had a hard time to keep going and to finish his sentence.
"Come on Lou. I can tell when you are trying to hide something from me.", Jack said with an annoyed tone in his voice. He had no time for those stupid games. Just say it.
Again Lou looked at Peter. This time she was silently calling for help.
"Eeeh- , it's not easy for her.", he said. "You must know Jack, finding you there lifeless in the snow, Amy is somewhat under shock."
"Yes, she is. We all are really worried. Especially Amy and Georgie.", Lou added and her eyes moved down to her fingers that were fumbling with the edge of her coat.
Well, Jack could tell that they were worried and that they were shocked, so was he. He felt sorry about that. But then again, was it his fault that it happened? He wished it wouldn't have come so far. He felt so old right now. Older than he actually was. Knowing that everything could end so suddenly made him feel anxious. Jack knew that he wasn't the youngest guy in the world anymore but he wasn't ready to go yet. There were still a lot of things to do for him. Especially on the ranch and with his family. He wasn't ready to bit the dust. There were the kids that he wanted to see grow up. There was Amy who needed his help at the barn and with the horses. There was Ty who needed his father-like advises. There was Tim who needed a good kick in the butt ever so often. There was the whole property that needed a strong and experienced hand fixing stuff. He couldn't leave yet. Who should do all those things? Nobody could and Jack knew that everyone worried about the exact same things.
Jack had been staring at some point at the wall when Lou put her hand on his shoulder. She knew that he felt sorry.
"Grandpa, we gonna be okay. It's more important that you get back on your feet quickly.", she said encouraging and smiling.
Yeah, good idea. Let's start, if it wasn't for his exhausted body. He couldn't move anywhere today.
"Too tired for that.", he said dryly.
Lou nodded.
"Of course. We should let you sleep. You day must have been exhausting."
With that she got up from her chair. Peter jumped up as well, ready to leave. He felt uncomfortable in this situation.
"Go and get some rest. I will talk with your doctor."
After putting back the chairs and another squeeze on his shoulder the three of them left the room.
The last thing Jack saw through his heavy eyelids was Katie who waved at him goodbye. Then sleep overcame him.

(Thx again for reading. Appraciate any reviews)