A Time For Miracles
Sam drove a nail into the wooden stud, ignoring the pain, releasing some of the pent-up emotion from the past several days. He and Samuel had been making good progress on the addition to his house with the help of Mike, Fiona, and Jesse, as well as his neighbor Tom. But now his father lay unconscious, his life in the balance, in the ICU. Sam was supposed to be resting, taking it easy on the arm where he sustained a nasty stab wound, but sitting around doing nothing, helpless, would have driven him insane.
I never should have suggested giving him a ride to the bank.
"I'll go with you, Dad. I've got a check to cash." To Michael, he said, "We'll be back in five, ten minutes. If it takes any longer, send in the Westen cavalry." He winked and turned from the car. Samuel entered the bank and he hurried to catch up.
Sam hammered another nail despite the sharp sting. He glanced at his bicep and noted a small stain forming on the bandages. He knew he'd ripped out a few stitches, but he didn't care. He didn't have the right to care, because his actions nearly cost his father his life.
As they stood in line, they saw two men dressed in jackets, when everyone else wore short sleeves, glancing around nervously, their eyes shaded by dark sunglasses. Another man came from a side entrance wearing a long coat.
"Uh, oh. This wasn't how I planned on spending my afternoon," Samuel muttered.
"Me neither, Dad. Me neither."
"Everybody listen up! Drop to the floor now, and toss your cell phones into the center of the floor. Right there!" The man in the coat pointed to an area not far from the patrons in line. One by one, cell phones slid across the terrazzo floor, clicking against each other as they came to a stop.
"Anybody got bluetooth, I want to see your devices in that pile, right now!" A few earpieces flew through the air and landed atop the phones. "Good, nice to work with such a compliant bunch of people. You're going to make this a whole lot easier on yourselves. Trust me. Now, everyone just get on the floor and no talking, and we'll get our money and be on our way." He stuck the shotgun into the side of the guard and pushed him toward the center of the bank. "I want you to collect the money from these good people in line. Meanwhile, my associates will be asking you ladies to empty out your tills."
"Son, we should do something," Samuel whispered.
"No. Just let them do what they're going to do."
"But you're armed, aren't you?"
"What makes you think I always carry?"
"Hey! No talking in line!" The butt of the leader's shotgun came down and cracked against Sam's skull, knocking him to his knees. He was helpless to stop what happened next. Samuel launched himself at the leader, got him into a chokehold, and took him down to the floor.
Taking a break to grab some water, Sam tried to tune out the memory, but day and night it came back at the worst times, reminding him of his ineptitude.
Voices shouted all around as the robber's accomplices came to their leader's defense. Sam recovered and sprung to his feet. His hands curled around the shotgun and he brought it up, just as the sound of gunfire rang through the bank. Sam aimed the gun in the direction from where the shot came.
The smoke rose and he was face to face with the two accomplices. "Well, looks like things didn't exactly go as planned for you guys. Drop the weapons, now."
"No, I think you better drop it, mister."
Sam felt the barrel of a revolver sticking into his side, and he turned to find the pudgy guard standing beside him. He uncocked the shotgun and bent over to place it on the floor, and as he did, he saw his father lying on the floor in a pool of blood. From where he stood, Sam couldn't see where he'd been shot, but judging by the volume, it wasn't good. In a moment, he thought of everything he was about to lose, and anger rose up in him. The end of the gun touched the floor. He glanced at the accomplices who went back to collecting from the tellers as if nothing had happened. Now was his chance, if there ever was one. He swung the back end of the gun up and straight into the fake security guard's ample belly, and a heavy whoosh of air came out of him as he staggered back a step. The guard fired at Sam, but his shot went wild and shattered the bank window.
"Enough! Drop those guns now, kick them over here, and get down on the floor with your boss. You too, porky!" Sam grabbed his arm and pushed him over to where the leader lay on the floor.
The robbers, seeing the police support outside, decided it was best to give up. They dropped their guns, kicked them over to Sam, and made their move toward the floor.
"Good job, guys. On your knees, cross your ankles, and put your hands on your heads, lacing your fingers."
He shook his head, wondering if there was anything he could have done to prevent what happened. If he'd just restrained his father, maybe he wouldn't have had to hear those damning words.
"It doesn't look good."
For nearly a week those words were banging around in his head. Even after the doctors said Samuel was making progress, they still didn't believe he would make it. But there were others who had faith. Tom and Pam. Every day they let him know they were praying, and they came by to help in whatever way they could. Some of the ladies from church prepared meals so that Yvette could share vigil time at the hospital. They provided babysitting services for free. And some of the men from the church with a talent for construction came to the house and helped with the addition.
Sam gasped as the hammer was taken out of his hand before he could take another whack and he whirled around to find Michael standing before him. "Mike, what are you doing here?"
"Looks like I'm saving you from yourself." He pointed to Sam's arm with the hammer head. "You're bleeding. I bet you ripped out some of those stitches."
"What's a little scar? This is more important." He wrenched the hammer from Mike's hand. Getting stabbed by one of the robbers was too small a penance for what I did, or failed to do.
Michael reclaimed the hammer and tucked it behind his back as he held up his other hand. "Let me take care of this. You go inside, check on that wound, and then go to the hospital." Michael smiled. "Your dad woke up just before I got here. Fi called me."
"Why didn't she call me?"
He cocked his head. "Where's your cell phone?"
He suddenly remembered where he left it. "Oh crap, I forgot. I lost it in the bank robbery."
"And you've been too caught up to replace it. No problem. Just go on, I'll work with Jack and Sasha."
"Hey, what's up? You goldbrickin', Axeman?" Jack hung out the open window and Sasha looked down from where she was shingling the roof.
"My dad woke up, Jack." Sam's voice cracked with emotion. "I'm going to the hospital."
"Good deal. We'll just keep on working. I'm almost done with the wiring, just in time for inspection, so tomorrow we can hang the rock."
"Sounds good. I appreciate all your help, Jack." He was grateful to his old SEAL buddy for creating the plans to build this addition. When he arrived with his wife in tow to help build it, at a time he felt he deserved it the least, his friends were there to support him, and it helped him realize that no one condemned him but himself.
"It's the least I can do. I owe you, Axeman. You saved my life once...or twice." Jack grinned and retreated from the window.
"I'll be back soon, Mike."
Michael grinned. "No you won't, but that's okay. We've got things covered here."
The car couldn't get Sam to the hospital fast enough. When he stormed into the lobby he got a few odd looks, and it was then that he realized he never redressed his wound. But that wasn't important. He approached the reception desk and the woman who looked up at him gaped. "Sir, Emergency is that way."
"Never mind that. I'm looking for my dad, Samuel Axe."
She glanced at her computer and tapped a few keys. "Yes, he's on the third floor, room 320."
"You should really get that arm looked at, sir."
"I will. Later." He found the elevator and rode it to the third floor. In the reflection of the polished stainless steel wall, he saw the red stain wrecking another one of his shirts. His father's welfare was a lot more important and far less replaceable than a piece of clothing.
He entered the hospital room enough to see that Samuel was conscious. Maddie held onto him tightly and he caressed her cheek and spoke softly to her. Before he could reach his bedside, however, Yvette came forward and held Sam back.
"He's going to be okay, Sam." Her face beamed as she whispered, "I believed, Sam. I believed in a miracle, and it happened."
He took her into his arms and held her close, the tension in his body releasing with each breath. "Thank God. I didn't know what to expect when Michael said Fi called and said he was awake."
"He's got a long way to go, but he's still with us. We might have to push the wedding back a little, unless..."
"As long as it's a wedding and not a funeral." Sam chuckled and kissed her cheek. Then he released her and entered the room. "Dad?"
Maddie stepped back so father and son could see each other better. She wore a grin that was brighter than the Miami sun. "Look who's here, honey. It's Sam!"
"Hey Dad, how are you?"
"I'm fine." Samuel replied in a weak but forceful voice as he reached out and took his son's hand. "Son, that's the last time I go with you to the bank!"
Sam laughed nervously. "Hey, Mike drove us. He attracts bad guys like bacon attracts flies."
"You're right about that." When he saw the guilty look in his son's eyes, Samuel knew that he blamed himself for what happened. "Seriously, though, it wasn't anybody's fault. It just happened." Silence fell in the room, so to defuse the situation, he brightened up and asked, "When are they gonna let me out of here?"
"Patience, Dad. You just woke up, for crying out loud!" He blinked. "And we're glad of that. Let's just take this one step at a time, and you'll be home before you know it."
"That's right. Home." He squeezed Sam's hand and closed his eyes. "We've got to talk about that, Sammy. Later. I'm beat."
"That's okay, Dad. You just rest."
When Maddie was certain he was out, she stepped away from the bed, and her hand curled around Sam's good bicep as she pulled him toward the door. "Sam, I need to talk to you about something."
"What? What is it, Maddie?"
"Oh, nothing serious," she replied with a grin. She stopped in the hall, patted his arm and stood back a step. "It's just that, when Samuel is ready to go home, I, I mean we, want him to come home with me."
Sam's eyebrow rose. "Maddie..."
"Don't worry, Michael is okay with it. I've already talked to him. We're ditching the whole pomp and ceremony, and we're just going to get married. Here if necessary."
"Are you sure about this?" Sam glanced at Yvette, and he noted the look on her face. She already knew, and she didn't tell him. "You're all in this together, huh?"
"Well, Michael didn't know about it until just before he left the hospital. Yvette, Fiona and I talked about it, and then I ran it by Samuel shortly after he woke up, and..."
"Maddie, he was just waking up and you took advantage of him?"
She scowled at Sam. "No, I did not! He was completely in his right mind, and when I brought it up, he was quite pleased with the idea. If you don't believe me, you can ask him yourself!"
Sam sighed and looked up at the ceiling. When his eyes came down and met Maddie's, he said, "I shouldn't have said that. I know you love him and that you'd never...I'm sorry."
Maddie nodded as her anger dissipated. "It's okay, Sam. You've been under a lot of pressure lately. I understand you've been driving yourself nearly to exhaustion between visiting your dad and working on the house." She smiled. "But do you see how much sense this makes? If your dad and I get married, then he can come home with me and you don't have to rush on finishing the addition."
"You're a smart lady, Maddie. Excuse me if I'm a little selfish. I'm going to miss having my dad around the house."
"We'll be sure to come around often enough. I promise."
"I'll hold you to that, Maddie."
"That's Mom to you. Or Ma." She smirked.
Sam gave her an apologetic smile. "Sorry, but you'll always be Maddie to me."
She sighed heavily as she hugged Sam. "I guess that'll have to do. At least little Samuel will call me 'Grandma'."