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cherokee morning song

Cherokee Morning Song

Chapter Seventeen

Jeremy was busy doing laundry when the phone interrupted his task. “May I speak to Jeremy Morgan?” the voice asked.

“This is he,” Jeremy said as wondered who would be calling.

“This is Walt Pawlak from the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office,” he said. “I understand you were a patient of Dr. Jennings.”

“I was for about five minutes.”

“Could you tell me what happened?”

“He wanted to cure me of my homosexuality, and said that he would treat me according to God’s law and not by medicine.”

“Then you are defiantly gay?”

“Does it matter?”

“Not to me. You may as well know that I’ve been assigned to interview Dr. Jennings’ patients because I’m also gay. I’m not judging you. My job is to gather information for a prosecution. Can you tell me what else happened?”

“Nothing happened because I walked out him.”

“That was a smart thing to do. Look Jeremy, it is unlikely that you will be called to testify because you were smart enough to walk out when you discovered he is a quack. However, there is a good chance that you will need to give a statement at the deposition hearing.”

“How will I know about that?”

“You will be subpoenaed by the court. I will also contact you beforehand if this occurs.”

“Thank you Mr. Pawlak.”

“Walt, Mr. Pawlak is my dad.”

“Thank you Walt.”

Jeremy wasn’t looking forward to the deposition, but he knew it was necessary. His thoughts now turned back to the task at hand and getting his laundry done.

“How have you been doing?” Dr. Sutton asked Jeremy as she escorted him into her office.

“I’m doing fine,” Jeremy answered in sincerity. “I sometimes find that I go an entire day without Blake on my mind. Then when I think of him I feel guilty.”

“What you’re experiencing is normal. However, you have no reason to feel guilty. Tell me Jeremy, if the situation was reversed would you want Blake to go on with his life?”

“Of course I would. I know I should too, but it is easier said than done.”

“When one suffers the loss of someone they love it isn’t unusual to feel guilty even though they aren’t responsible for the death. You went into deep depression. His death was sudden and cruel, and your mind reacted to that. You seem to be on the road to recovery. There will be times when you are overcome by a deep sense of sadness. I think you’re becoming stronger and will soon be able to handle those times without medication. I believe you’re at a point we can reduce your Zoloft from 50 milligrams to 25 milligrams.”

“Do I still need it at all?”

“It’s possible that you don’t need it, but I would feel better if we reduced your dose for a while. I think after a month you may be able to stop taking it completely. You seem to be recovering and maybe in two to four weeks we can take you off the Zoloft completely. It is important that you keep busy. As a college student that shouldn’t be a problem for you. Are you making friends here?

“Yes a girl in my lit class who also lives in my apartment building has become a friend. She and her boyfriend, Wes, are my workout partners. Nick and Emma are also friends.”

“I’m happy to hear that you have friends. Are you dating yet?”

“No, I’m not ready for that yet. I think it may be a long time before I’m ready to date.”

“When you meet a guy who is attractive to you, you’ll be ready. I have a feeling it won’t be long. I see that our time is over for now. On your way out please make an appointment for about two weeks from today.”

“Thank you Dr. Sutton.”

As Dr. Sutton predicted, within a month Jeremy was well enough to stop taking Zoloft. He still had days of depression but not as often and as deep as in the past. He was maintaining good grades and expanding his group of friends. He even accepted an invitation to a party given by a classmate, but he left early when he discovered that drugs were passed around freely.

Jeremy had developed a pattern of staying in Norman the weekends the Sooners had a home football game and going home the weekends they had an away game. Jeremy was on his way back to Norman following a weekend visit home when he stopped at the rest stop on I-40 just past the Seminole exit. He chuckled to himself when he saw someone had written on the wall, “Need my dick sucked. Come to the red truck in the parking area.”

Jeremy was returning to his car to continue his trip on to Norman when he saw a young man approximately his age climbing into a red truck. The openness of the hookup surprised him. He must have gazed longer than he thought when a man in a business suit who appeared to be about ten year older than Jeremy said, “It’s one of those Oklahoma Baptist University students hooking up with a truck driver.”

“No shit,” Jeremy said in surprise.

“No shit,” the man replied. “You know how those Baptist are. They would fuck a snake if someone would hold it for them. Then they would preach to the snake to save his sole.”

“It sounds as though you know about these OBU students,” Jeremy said after a big belly laugh.

“I know firsthand,” he said. “My parents insisted that I go to a Baptist college. I got a good education and lots of blow jobs while I was a student at OBU.”

Jeremy was somewhat surprised at the openness of this stranger more or less admitting that he enjoyed gay sex while attending OBU. He was opening his car door to leave when he heard a loud scream come from the red truck. The young man he had observed entering the truck was being pushed out of the door. He was half dressed and his face was bloody.

Jeremy and the man he had been talking to simultaneously rushed to help the young man. Jeremy began dialing 911 for help when the young man screamed, “No, don’t call the cops.”

The 911 operator had already answered with, “911, what is your emergency?”

“A young man has been beaten up at the westbound rest stop between Seminole and Shawnee.”

“Does he need an ambulance?” The operator asked.

“He is alert, but pretty bloody,” Jeremy answered.

“We’re sending an ambulance and a patrolman,” the operator said.

“The trucker that beat him up is leaving now,” Jeremy said.

“What is the tag number of the truck and what does it look like?” The operator asked.

Jeremy described the red truck and gave the tag number as it left the parking area.

“Can you stay with the victim until help arrives?” The operator asked.

“Yes, another man is also here helping,” Jeremy said.

After hanging up the phone, Jeremy went to find out if he could help with the victim. “I don’t want the cops involved,” the young man was arguing.

“Too late,” Jeremy said. “They’re on their way.”

“I’m leaving,” the boy said as he pulled away from the man whom Jeremy later learned was Jonathan.

“You’re in no condition to leave,” Jonathan said, who was now had a large amount of the boy’s blood on his business suit. “What’s your name? I’m Jonathan and this young man is…”

“Jeremy,” Jeremy said.

“My name is…,” the boy paused and then said, “My name is Billy.”

“Okay, Billy will do for now,” Jonathan said. “However, the cops will need your real name.”

“Alright, It’s Chad,” Chad said. “Why in the fuck did you call the cops?” Chad yelled at Jeremy.

“He did what any responsible citizen would have done,” Jonathan answered for Jeremy. “Look Chad, I understand what went on. I’m a graduate of OBU, and I’m also gay. I can’t speak for Jeremy, but I assume he is gay too.”

“I’m gay too,” Jeremy admitted.

“You used to come out here to hook up with men?” Chad asked.

“No, I never did,” Jonathan said. “But, I knew about it.”

“I can’t let my parents find out about this,” Chad said as he began to sob.

“Here’s what we’re going to do,” Jonathan said. “We’ll put your keys in your car and lock it and then tell the cops that you locked your keys in your car and the trucker offered you a ride to Shawnee. Tell them that he tried to rape you.”

“I can’t do that,” Chad said. “Then people would know that I’m gay.”

“No, they will just think you resisted and he beat you up,” Jonathan said.

“There is also that note on the wall about a blow job in a red truck,” Jeremy said. “We’ll show it to the cops. If they ask, you didn’t see it and that he must have written it there while you were trying to get into your locked car.”

“That would work, and I do have a spare set of keys in my dorm room,” Chad said. “But, do you think they will believe me?”

“Maybe they will, but even if they don’t it will be your word against the trucker’s,” Jonathan said. “Give Jeremy your keys.”

Jeremy quickly locked Chad’s car with the keys inside. Soon an Oklahoma Highway patrolman arrived and an ambulance arrived just seconds later. The patrolman seemed to buy Chad’s story. He said that they had stopped the trucker west of Shawnee and he said that he had offered Chad a ride and that Chad tried to rob him. Of the two stories, Chad’s seemed more believable since the trucker had bloody hands and he had left the scene and the note in the restroom also added to Chad’s story.

As Chad was put on a gurney, to be loaded into the ambulance he said, “Thank you.”

Both Jeremy and Jonathan knew his thanks were for more than just giving assistance until the ambulance arrived. Jeremy knew he did the right thing. Maybe if someone had done a similar thing in the past Blake would still be alive.

It was a Sunday afternoon following a football game that Jeremy walked to Campus Corner to get something to eat rather than cook. The sun had set and the fall evening had developed a chill. ‘Shit, I should have brought a jacket,’ he thought as he picked up his pace to get home out of the evening chill.

“That’s him,” he heard a female voice that sounded somewhat familiar say.

As he turned to see who was speaking he felt a sharp pain in his ribs from an unexpected blow. He caught the shadow of two guys before a sudden painful strike to his head knocked him unconscious.

Jeremy woke in a strange room that confused him as to where he was. He tried to lift his head to see, but an extreme pain caused him to black out again. “He’s coming around,” he later heard a voice that sounded like Annie’s.

“Honey, you’re in the hospital,” he heard a voice that was definitely his mother’s say.

“I’ll go get the nurse,” he heard his dad say.

“Where am I?” Jeremy managed to ask.

“You’re in Norman Regional Hospital,” Nancy said. “You’ve been unconscious since yesterday evening. Do you remember what happened?”

“Two guys attacked me,” Jeremy said. “That’s all I remember.”

“Jeremy, your nurse is here,” Allen said as he followed a plump smiling woman in hospital scrubs into the room.

“Hi Jeremy, I’m Jean,” the nurse said. “I’ll call Dr. Salazar and let him know that you’re awake. I imagine you have one big headache.”

“Yeah, and my chest hurts like hell to,” Jeremy said.

“You have a couple of fractured ribs,” Jean said. “I’ll go call Dr. Salazar now and he will be in later to see you. Do you need anything?”

“Yeah, you can take this water hose out of my arm,” Jeremy said.

“Maybe after the Dr. sees you,” Jean laughed. “But for now I’m afraid it will have to stay in. We’re giving you a steroid in that IV to keep your brain swelling down. Someone from the Norman Police Department will be in soon to interview you. If you don’t feel up to the interview, you can stop at anytime.”

“I don’t remember much,” Jeremy said.

“They’ll understand that,” Jean said. “I’m giving you some medication to help relieve the pain. It is a mild dose, and if you need anything stronger I can call Dr. Salazar.”

Jeremy soon drifted off to sleep and woke to the voice of his mother saying, “Jeremy, there is someone here to see you.”

Jeremy opened his eyes to see a handsome young Norman police officer. “Hi Jeremy, I’m Sergeant Wagner. Do you feel up to a few questions?”

“Yeah, but I don’t remember much,” Jeremy said.

“We’ll go get something to drink while you two visit,” Allen said as he escorted a reluctant Nancy and Annie out of the room.

“Tell me what you remember,” Sergeant Wagner said.

“Not much really,” Jeremy said. “I was walking home from Campus Corner when I heard someone say, ‘That’s him,’ and then I saw two guys attacking me.”

“Did you recognize anyone?”

“No, it all happened so fast, and it was just the street lights.”

“Do you know Kendra Girard?”

“I know a Kendra, but I don’t know her last name.”

“How do you know Kendra?”

“We met at a football game. After the game she attached herself to my friend and went with us to my friend Julie’s apartment for something to eat. She made an ass of herself and Julie kicked her out.”

“Was this friend your boyfriend?”

“What boyfriend, who said that I was gay?”

“I’m sorry; I was told it was a gay bashing. I guess I assumed that it was true.”

“I am gay, but I wondered how you knew.”

“Six guys from the football team saw the attack and came to your rescue. They detained two males and a female until we arrived. The female is Kendra Girard. Have you had any contact with her other than the one you mentioned?”

“Just one; I saw her the other evening as I was leaving the library.”

“Did you have a conversation with her?”

“Not really a conversation, it was more of an exchange of insults.”

“What were those insults?”

“She said, ‘Hello fag,’ and I said ‘Hello slut.’ That was the extent of it.”

“That correlates with what Emma Fields said. Kendra blabbed to Emma that she was going to get you taken care of. Emma didn’t know what Kendra meant until she heard that you were attacked. She then called us and we arrested Kendra. Kendra admitted that she had friends beat you up. The football players that came to your rescue beat the crap out of the two guys who attacked you.”

“Where are the guys that beat me up?”

“They are here in the hospital. But, don’t worry; we have a guard on them. They will be going to jail when they are discharged. I suspect all three of those involved will be forced to withdraw from the university.”

There was a light tap on the door and Sergeant Wagner opened the door to a middle aged gentleman who was holding a chart. “Hello Jeremy. I’m Dr. Salazar. You look much better than you did when I first saw you.”

“Jeremy, I’ll let you visit with your doctor,” Sergeant Wagner said. “If I have any more questions I’ll contact you.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to interrupt your investigation,” Dr. Salazar said. “I can see another patient if you need more time.”

“Thank you Dr. Salazar, but I’m finished here,” Sergeant Wagner said.

“How are you doing, Jeremy?” Dr. Salazar said as he checked Jeremy’s pupils for dilation.

“I have a hell of a headache.”

“That’s to be expected. You had a pretty hard blow to your head. That in turn caused your brain to swell. I want to keep you on the steroid for a while longer. I’ll order another MRI for tomorrow. Could you sit up for a minute?”

Jeremy attempted to raise himself up in the bed when he had an unexpected sharp pain in his chest. He became dizzy with an onset of a migraine type headache.

“Are you having a severe headache?”

Jeremy whispered, “Yes. My chest hurts too.”

“Those rib fractures can be very painful. There isn’t much we can do about that. Binding your chest could increase the possibility of developing pneumonia. I’ll order a PCA pump for you.”

“What is a PCA pump?”

“A PCA pump will allow you to administer your own dose of pain medication. When you’re having pain you push a button and it dispenses medication with a pump attached to your intravenous line. You can’t over medicate yourself because it is programmed for the dose that I order and it will limit the times you can self medicate.”

“That means I don’t get this IV taken out?”

“Not for a while. I think you’ll like this better than having to call a nurse each time you need pain medication. I think I’ll order the MRI for tonight just to be on the safe side. I’m also ordering a chest x-ray to make sure you’re not developing pneumonia from those rib fractures. When you came in we were unable to ask you if you were on any medications.”

“Dr. Sutton has me on Zoloft.”

“I assume she is treating you for depression.”

“Yes, my boyfriend was murdered. Dr. Carlton in Tahlequah had me on Zoloft and I was doing better. But when I came here for college I guess the change was too much. I went back into depression.”

“So that’s why those hoodlums attached you, because you’re gay?”

“I expect so.”

“That says a lot about their manhood when it takes two guys with a club to beat up on one gay man. I imagine your parents are waiting outside by now. I’ll let them come in and I’ll go write some orders.”

“Look who we found waiting outside your door,” Allen said as he escorted Julie and eight very large guys into the room. “We’ll wait in the lobby while you visit with your friends.”

“You probably don’t recognize us,” the larger one of the group said. “We are the football players who happened to come by when you were being attacked. He extended his hand to Jeremy, a hand that made two of Jeremy’s. “I’m Cory and I’ll let these guys introduce themselves.”

Each guy shook Jeremy’s hand as he introduced himself. Jeremy wondered if they would have rescued him had they known he was gay.

“We wanted to say that we’re putting the word out around campus that we don’t condone that behavior,” Matt, one of the players said. “The majority of the football team agrees with us.”

“Do you know they reason they attacked me?” Jeremy asked.

“We’ve heard rumors, but there is no reason for two guys with a club to attack one guy,” Matt said. “Guys like that have absolutely no balls. Oops, excuse me; I forgot that there is a lady present.”

“I’m Jeremy’s friend and neighbor,” Julie said. “I want to thank you guys for what you did. He could have been beaten to death.”

“Thanks aren’t necessary,” Cory said. “I venture to say that neither of the cowards would have attacked Jeremy without the other’s help or without a club. Jeremy looks like he could handle himself in a one-on-one fight.”

“Guys, maybe we should go so that Jeremy can get some rest,” Matt said. “If you need anything, just let us know.”

“Thanks guys for stopping by,” Jeremy said.

“It looks like you have your own army for protection,” Julie said as David, Nancy, and Annie entered the room along with a male nurse that Jeremy hadn’t seen before.

“I hope I don’t need protection in the future,” Jeremy said.

“That looks like pretty good protection,” the nurse said. “I’m Craig and I’ll be your nurse this evening. I need to get your vitals before they come to get you for your MRI and x-ray.”

“What time do you expect him to go?” Nancy asked.

“Dr. Salazar ordered it STAT,” Craig said. “They should be here any minute.”

“Why don’t we go to dinner now and be back when Dr. Salazar talks to you about the MRI,” Allen said. “Julie, why don’t you join us since you know the area better than we do.”

“Where are you from, Jeremy?” Craig asked.

“I was born in California, but live in Tahlequah now,” Jeremy explained.

“What took you from California to Tahlequah?”

“My dad is from Tahlequah. Both of my parents took teaching positions at Northeastern State there.”

“I love the Tahlequah area. My wife and I go there often to float the Illinois River. It looks like your vitals are good. Are you still having those headaches?”

“Some, but they’re not as bad as they were.”

“That homophobic bitch and goons need to go to jail for what they did.”

“Does everybody in this town know that I’m gay?”

“It’s pretty common knowledge now.”

“It doesn’t bother you that I’m gay?”

“You’re my patient, gay, straight, or whatever. And, no it doesn’t bother me. I’m secure enough in my sexuality that I don’t worry about your sexuality or anybody else. Just because a person is different isn’t reason enough to hate someone. My younger brother is deaf, and he was picked on because of that. He is the kindest and most loving guy I know. I got into more fights than I can count because kids picked on him. Finally, he said, ‘I can’t hear their words and it doesn’t bother me. You shouldn’t let it bother you either until it gets physical.’”

“It sounds as though you’re very proud of your brother.”

“I am. He’s now an architecture engineer. He didn’t chose to be deft, the same as you didn’t chose to be gay. It has been nice chatting with you, but I need to see my other patients. Your food tray should be here soon.”

“Thank you Craig for telling me about your brother.”

Jeremy had drifted into a peaceful nap after eating a surprisingly good dinner when Julie and his family returned. “Did you have a nice nap?” Annie asked as he opened his eyes.

Dr. Salazar entered to find the group laughing and enjoying each other’s company. “It appears as though you’re feeling better,” he said. “I think we can let you go home tonight.”

“Great,” Jeremy said. “Can I attend classes?”

“Yes, but nothing more than that. I don’t want you to be driving for a while. Do you have transportation to campus?”

“I can walk,” Jeremy said. “I’ve just a few blocks from campus. Why don’t you want me to drive?”

“It’s just a precaution in case you have a seizer. I don’t want you living alone until I see you Friday. Will someone be able to stay here in Norman with him?”

“One of us will stay with him,” Allen said.

“No you two have classes to teach,” Annie said. “I can stay with him.”

“That’s asking too much of you,” Nancy said.

“Nonsense,” Annie said. “I’m retired, remember?”

“Well that’s settled,” Dr. Salazar said. “I’ll go write discharge orders and Craig will be in with some discharge papers. Call my office tomorrow and make an appointment for next Friday. I’ll be sending a report to Dr. Sutton. She will need to know of the trauma in case there is any observable change.”

“As soon as we get you home, your mother and I need to be on the road back to Tahlequah,” Allen said. “We both have classes to teach tomorrow.”

“I can drive him and Annie home,” Julie volunteered. “That way you won’t be on the road so late.”

“That’s very nice of you,” Nancy said. “However, we don’t want to trouble you.”

“It’s no trouble, remember we live in the same apartment building,” Julie pointed out.

It seemed like weeks rather than a few days since Jeremy had last been in his apartment. It was good to be home. After enjoying a cup of tea with Annie and visiting for a while, Jeremy realized he was tired and ready for bed. “Let me get a few things out of the bed room and then you can have the bedroom and I’ll sleep here,” he said.

“You’ll do no such thing,” Annie protested. “I slept here on this couch just fine last night.”

“That doesn’t mean you need to sleep here now. After sleeping in a hospital bed this will be a relief.”

After Annie reluctantly agreed to take the bedroom Jeremy inflated the air mattress and made a bed much more comfortable than his hospital bed. He woke the next morning to the aroma of coffee and breakfast cooking. His first thought was that he was home in Tahlequah. He then realized that Annie was in the kitchen cooking breakfast.

“Good morning, Jeremy,” Annie said as she poured him a cup of coffee when she noticed that he was awake. “Breakfast is almost ready.”

“Good morning, Annie. I’ll be ready as soon as I use the bathroom and wash up.”

Jeremy returned from the bathroom to find Julie sitting at the table buttering a biscuit. “Oh these are good,” she said after taking her first bite.

“Jeremy didn’t have buttermilk, and I had to use regular milk,” Annie said.

“They are still good,” Julie said. “Jeremy you had better dig in before they’re all gone.”

“Good morning Julie, what are you doing here so early?” Jeremy asked as he sat down to a plate of biscuits and sausage gravy.

“I’m giving you a ride to class,” Julie said while spooning a generous helping of gravy over a steaming biscuit.

“I can walk to class,” Jeremy argued.

“Have you looked out this morning?” Annie asked.

“No, why?” Jeremy asked.

“It’s snowing,” Annie answered. “While you were in the shower I went over and invited Julie to breakfast and asked her to give you a ride to class. I didn’t think it would be a good idea for you to be walking in this weather. How are you feeling this morning?”

“I feel fine,” Jeremy said as he realized he hadn’t had a headache since leaving the hospital. “My headaches seemed to have gone away.”

“That’s good to hear,” Annie said. “You still need to be very careful for a while.”

“I’ll leave my car keys in case you want to go out today,” Jeremy said.

“Nu-da a-tsu-tsa, I’m not going to drive your car in this snow in a strange town,” Annie laughed.

“What did she call you?” Julie asked.

“Crazy boy,” Jeremy said.

“So you do speak Cherokee?” Julie asked.

“I speak a little,” Jeremy said. “Annie has been trying to teach me.”

“He has learned a lot,” Annie proudly said. “Cherokee isn’t an easy language to learn unless you grow up with it. I didn’t speak English until I started school.”

“I wouldn’t have guessed that,” Julie said. “Your English is perfect.”

“I’ve lived in the white world for many years now, and I had to learn English to survive,” Annie said. When I was young it wasn’t, as you say; cool to speak our native language.”

“We had better go so that we’re not late for your first class,” Julie said. “I’ll leave my cell phone on vibrate in case you get tired and need to come home early.”

Other than being more tired than usual, Jeremy made it through the first day back in class after his assault. For the most part his classmates were angry about the attack and offered words of encouragement.

“Thanks for the ride,” Jeremy said to Julie when they arrived back at the apartments. “I know Annie will insist on cooking dinner. Please come over and join us.”

“Thank you, but Wes is coming by this evening.”

“Bring him with you for dinner and then you two can go back to your apartment and do whatever you straight people do.”

“Ha, ha, very funny; okay we’ll be there for dinner.”

Jeremy found Annie reading his copy of Da Vinci Code when he got home. “This is a good book,” she said when she saw him. “I don’t know why I hadn’t read it before.”

“Yes, I enjoyed it myself,” Jeremy said.

“Would you like a snack before dinner?”

“No, thank you. I’m rather tired and think I’ll take a nap before dinner.”

“Speaking of dinner, I saw that you had lots of chicken breast and I thought about making stuffed chicken breast for dinner.”

“That sounds great. I hope you don’t mind, but I invited Julie and Wes for dinner.”

“There will be plenty. Is Wes Julie’s boyfriend?”

“Yes he is. I think you’ll like him.”

“I’m sure I will. Now you go take a nap while I start dinner.”

Jeremy woke hearing voices coming from the kitchen. He realized he had been asleep for almost two hours. He found Wes and Julie visiting with Annie as she was putting dinner on the table. “Did you have a good nap?” Annie asked when she saw Jeremy.

“I didn’t realize I slept that long,” Jeremy said. “Dinner smells good.”

“It’s ready,” Annie said. “Go wash up and we’ll eat.”

During dinner it was obvious that Wes got the “Annie” approval. She invited Wes and Julie to come visit her in Tahlequah any time they wanted.

Eventually the conversation turned to the upcoming Christmas break. “What are your plans for the Christmas break?” Jeremy asked Julie and Wes.

“I’m going home to Lawton,” Julie said. “Wes will be coming to meet my parents.”

“Oh, he’s meeting the parents,” Jeremy teased. “This sounds serious.”

“I think they’re perfect for each other,” Annie said. “I think I’m a good judge of character, if I do say so myself.”

“What are your plans for Christmas?” Wes asked.

“I’ll spend Christmas day with my parents and Annie, and then Annie, my parents, Casey, and I will be flying to Florida to visit Dorothy.”

“I’ve met Casey, but who is Dorothy?” Julie asked.

“Dorothy is Blake’s grandmother,” Jeremy said. “Actually she was his foster parent, but he thought of her as his grandmother.”

“As it turned out she and I were friends in college, but lost track of each other over time,” Annie said. “Why is it that I’m just now hearing of a Florida trip?”

“I thought I mentioned it to you,” Jeremy said.

“No, I would have remembered that,” Annie said. “Have you mentioned this to your parents?”

“Maybe, I don’t remember,” Jeremy admitted. “I’ve had a lot of things on my mind lately. I’ve already made reservations for all of us.”

“Oh speaking of forgetting,” Annie laughed. “I almost forgot, Dr. Sutton’s office called to remind you of your appointment tomorrow at 4:00. I guess I could drive you if you give me directions.”

“I don’t mind driving him,” Julie said. “Wes will be in the library doing some research.”

After introducing Annie and Julie to Dr. Sutton the next day he followed her into her office for his session. “I understand you’ve had quiet an ordeal,” Dr. Sutton began. “Dr. Salazar informed me of your attack when he learned that you were my patient. How are you doing?”

“I’m better. I seem more fatigued than I should be.”

“I’m no expert on head trauma, but expect that is common. Perhaps you should mention that to Dr. Salazar when you see him.”

After visiting with Jeremy, Dr. Sutton was surprised that Jeremy’s mental state was even better than in the past. When she mentioned this to Jeremy he said, “If any good came of this maybe it is that I can somewhat relate to what Blake went through. I consider myself lucky that I wasn’t killed as he was.”

“I’m glad to hear you say that. It shows that you’re getting better. It seems to me that you’re doing well enough that I won’t need to see you as often,” Dr. Sutton said. “I’ll see you in four weeks.”

“I’ll be home on Christmas break then,” Jeremy said.

“Oh yes, I forgot about that,” Dr. Sutton said. “I think we can wait until you get back from your break. If you need, you can always see Dr. Carlton in Tahlequah. When you come back from your break, call and make an appointment. When is your next appointment with Dr. Salazar?”

“Friday, and if all is well I can drive again. I’m sure Annie is ready to go back home too.”

“Is Annie a relative of yours?”

“No, she is our neighbor, but I think of her as my grandmother. Dr. Salazar insisted that someone stay with me until my next appointment with him. Annie is staying with me until then so my parents don’t have to miss work.”

“Don’t forget that you have an appointment with Dr. Salazar at 1:00 today,” Annie said as she placed plates of pancakes in front of Jeremy and Julie.

“That’s fine,” Jeremy said. “I don’t have any classes in the afternoon today.”

“Well you look better,” Dr. Salazar said when he saw Jeremy that afternoon. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m feeling fine,” Jeremy said.

“Are you having any headaches?”

“None, but I was a little tired after class Monday and Tuesday.”

“Just to be on the safe side I want to do a MRI. If the MRI is negative I think it would be safe for you to resume driving.”

“What about working out?”

“I want you to hold off on that for at least a couple of weeks. When you resume your workouts, I want you to start light.”

As Jeremy hoped, his MRI was negative and Dr. Salazar cleared him to drive. He immediately called Allen to tell him that he and Annie would be driving back home that evening.

“If you get tired, I want you to pull over and let Annie drive,” Allen said.

“Dad, I’m fine Dr. Salazar has cleared me to drive,” Jeremy argued.

“I don’t care what you’ve been cleared for, promise me that you’ll let Annie drive if you get tired,” Allen said.

“Alright Dad,” Jeremy agreed. “We should be there around seven.”

“Your mother and I will have dinner ready.”

“Why don’t you invite Molly and Scott for dinner?”

“That’s sounds like a good idea.”

Jeremy was happy to see Scott again. He hadn’t realized how much he missed him. Molly was even more beautiful than when he last saw her. If he had a sister he would want her to be just like Molly.

“Annie said that you had made plans for us to go visit Dorothy over the Christmas,” Nancy said during dinner.

“Yes, Casey is coming and going too,” Jeremy said as he noticed the disappointed look on Molly’s face. “Molly do you think your parents would let you and Scott go with us?”

“They will if I tell them,” Annie said. “I’m paying their expenses too.”

“I probably should work all I can during the break,” Scott sadly said.

“Nonsense,” Annie said. “Be a kid for a change.”

“I’ll talk to Kay and Mitch tomorrow,” Annie said.

For the first time since Blake’s death Jeremy was energized about something.

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