I do NOT own "The Big Valley" nor any of the original Barkley Characters.
I am doing this story on request by a friend-after a conversation we had. I will say up front the story is inspired by a real life event that happened years ago-when I was still in my teens (though not to me and the person was actually thrown from a jeep not a horse); along with a few other events that have affected people I've seen though out my life.
Roses and Thorns
The wind danced through the air sending anything of little weight flying through the air. The young woman named Lilly Brackett rode along side her father while he drove the wagon back towards their home in the hills. Actually, she figured she might as well just consider it another stop along the way. Ever since her mother died they never had stayed in one place long.
Her father pulled up on the reigns when they saw a gentleman lying along side the road. As soon as her father stopped the wagon she hurried over to where the stranger lay. There was a ugly looking gash on his forehead. Had he been thrown from his horse or what?
"Looks like he needs help, pa." Lilly looked up at her father. He looked so solemn. He always did.
"Hope we don't hurt the feller any worse than he already is by movin' him." the man known as Isaiah Brackett Jr. said as he slid his arms around the stranger's chest while Lily picked up his legs.
Heath moaned as he struggled to open his eyes. Water. He felt water on his forehead and jerked slightly. "It's okay, sir. I ain't out to hurt ya. I'm tryin' to help ya." the young woman put her hand on his shoulder as he came to.
"Who are you? What happened?" Heath struggled to remember but all he could see was himself falling to the ground. He started to try and sit up. He was horrified to realize he couldn't! His back hurt like the dickens and his legs might as well be made of wood.
"Name's Lilly Brackett. Please sir, yer hurt bad," she gently pushed on his shoulders, "I donno rightly know what happened. Ya was lyin' on the ground unconscious when my pa and I found ya. Doc says yer pretty bad off. He's says to keep ya still as ya nerves have been damaged. What's yer name?"
He closed his eyes as pain shot through his back then opened them up as he answered her question , "Heath. Heath Barkley. Where am I?" He looked around the room. It was a good sized room; not as big as his but still decent sized. There was a dresser next to the bed he lay in and a chair set in the corner. The door leading out of the room was directly in front of him.
"Pine Woods," the young woman picked up a glass that set on the dresser with her left hand then slid her right one under his head as she gave him a drink. It tasted like chicken broth.
He drank it down grateful for the help he was being given only he was confused. The last thing he remembered was leaving Rock Springs and heading for Rockville-or was he going to Rock Springs from Rockville? He realized he couldn't remember. "Did you say I'm in Pine Woods?"" The confusion he felt shown in his furrowed brows and could be heard in the questioning tone he spoke with.
"Ya but we found ya just outside Rock Springs. Why?" She set the empty glass on the dresser.
Heath gave her a small lopsided grin, "I was gonna say I don't remembered coming to Pine Woods," then his eyebrows turned down again, "Since when did Pine Woods have a doctor?" Lilly started to explain just who 'doc' was but the gentleman had fallen back to sleep.
Isaiah sat at the table moving his fingers up and down. The tapping was about to drive Lilly up the wall. Finally she turned away from the cook stove and looked at her father, "What on the earth is the matter?"
He looked at her, "What are we gonna do? His family needs to know where he's at but, even when he wakes up and tells us more? Whose gonna get word to them? Pine Woods don't have any of those singin' wires, I cin't go ridin' off to Rock Springs and leave ya with him alone even if I could I have the crops to worry 'bout. Besides, we don't have the money to send any message."
Hadn't he been listening to 'doc' when he was in their home? And, gee, they might not have any money but there was a sheriff in Rock Springs. Surely he could help out if needs be. The crops were another story though. She couldn't take care of them and an injured man."Mr. Barkley is no threat to anybody, pa. As fer anythin' else? We'll just have to take one day at a time won't we?" Lilly turned back to the stove as she tried to figure out just how they were going to handle the problem of getting the man's family notified-once he came to long enough to tell them who they were and where he came from that is.
Heath had once again awakened and, with the bedroom door slightly opened, could hear every word that was being said. He knew if he didn't show up in Rockville and meet Nick like he was supposed to that his brother would send word home then start hunting for him. He again tried to sit up only to find his back screaming louder than any thunder ever thought of doing. He involuntarily let out another groan; almost instantly the young woman was by his side with her hands on his shoulders,
"I told ya, sir. Doc says yer hurt bad. Please, jist rest." Her smile was warm and gentle; he didn't fight her.
Turning his head slightly he looked out the window. From where Heath lay he could see the tops of the trees that set near the house and the sky dotted with white and gray clouds. Looked like a storm was thinking about starting up-maybe that's why he didn't hear any birds singing. Maybe they were getting ready for the storm to hit.
He ran his hands across the top of his legs; that is the part of them he could reach. Nothing. He couldn't feel one blasted thing. He pushed on them slightly...again nothing. He pushed harder...nothing.
Her heart went out to the stranger as she watched his hands move and then push on his legs. She wondered just how much the good 'doc' actually knew. After all the man was in his sixties and openly admitted he hadn't practiced medicine for a good fifteen years...due to some 'personal problems'; another way of saying the man drank too much.
"'Doc' agreed to come back this afternoon to check on ya. If'n I step outside this room ya think ya can behave?" Lilly smiled and tried to joke around a bit; she figured if she was going to be of any help she couldn't go around acting like a little black rain cloud.
Heath turned his head away from the window and again gave her a small lopsided grin, "I'll see what I can do."
He watched her leave then did his best to relax despite the pain that continued to shoot through his back.