sitting here for a long time now, watching the rise and fall of your chest
while listening to you breathe. I’ve
also been staring at this blank piece of paper for a long time, too, trying to
decide what to write on it. I guess
nothing much has changed since I was in school, has it? I mean, about the blank piece of paper and
me struggling to decide what to put on it.
At least that’s the type of smart remark you’d give me right now if you
you’d be surprised to find out I keep a journal of sorts. Kind of like the one Dad kept that we read
from a few years back. For me, it
started out as a therapy exercise, I guess you’d call it, from when I was in
the V.A. hospital and having so much trouble opening up at the group sessions. Oh hell.
Who am I kidding? I wasn’t opening
up at all.
when I couldn’t talk about anything pertaining to ‘Nam, Barry – you remember
him? My counselor? Well, he suggested I write down my thoughts
and feelings as journal entries. It’ll
probably come as no surprise to you that at first I balked at the idea. I’ve never been one to take the time to
write much of anything, and certainly not anything I don’t have to. Well, with the exception of those couple
tries at novels, but I’ll be the first to admit those attempts came from pure
lust for money, not because I enjoyed writing or anything like that. But when I started to think about Dad having
kept a journal at a time when things were obviously so rough for him, I decided
to take Barry’s advice and give it a try.
I don’t think I was too
good at it at first. Pretty much all I
wrote was short phrases like, ‘It’s warm out today,’ or ‘Mom and A.J. came by
to see me this afternoon.’ Real
in-depth stuff, wasn’t it? But once I
stopped resisting it, and just let my pen do the talking, I started making
progress in the group sessions, and then with my own personal healing. I was really surprised at how much that
journal helped. Barry told me to keep
in mind that my journal was something I never had to share with anyone else,
and was a place where I could say whatever I wanted to, express whatever
feelings I couldn’t express out loud, and the most important thing to me, that
I didn’t have to use grammatically correct sentences, or spell every word
right. It was just a place for me to be
me, that no one else would ever see. No
teacher was ever going to grade it, or make me read it out loud in class. Gee, I might have done a lot better in
school if I’d had more assignments like that, huh?
technique Barry mentioned when I was having so much trouble getting started,
was that it might help me if I wrote my journal entries in the form of a letter
to someone I completely trust, and could be myself with. I hope it doesn’t come as a surprise to you,
little brother, that you were the one all my entries were addressed to. Funny thing is, I’d never tell you about any
of the experiences I wrote of – still won’t – but you were the one I could
address them to in my journal. Kind of strange, I guess. But then again, I suppose not, considering
there’s no one I trust more in this world than you.
the other thing that would surprise you, is to find out that long after my
treatment at the V.A. ended, I still keep a journal. I don’t write in it every day anymore, and sometimes when I do
write in it all I put down are a few sentences regarding a case we’re working
on, or something special I’ve done or seen, or maybe something funny that’s
happened to us on some stake-out or another.
Like that time last year when you fell out of that tree we were hiding
in while we were tailing Roger Jonas.
Remember, you fell over the fence and into that swimming pool in his
neighbor’s backyard, where the lady of the house was floating around topless on
an air raft? As long as I live I’ll
never forget the expression on your face when you broke the surface of the
water and tried to give the woman a coherent explanation as to how you ended up
in her pool. I really thought, ‘Arthur
Crumset, Pool Inspector for the F.B.I., was a pretty far stretch, A.J., but
considering the circumstances I can understand you were hardly at your finest.
The best part was that the broad didn’t mind in the slightest. She invited you to take your clothes off and
join her. After that little incident
neither of us was worth a damn. I
remember we packed it in early and headed for home. When I wrote about it in my journal later that night I was able
to recall a lot of what we said to one another on the drive to your house, and
recorded all that word for word. So
someday, if I ever get around to writing, Rick Simon’s Memoirs Of Life As A
Private Detective, watch out of that chapter. You’ll hate it, but the American public will eat it up.
aside, at times I do still write about my feelings regarding some issue or
another. It does help a guy like
me. A guy who doesn’t reveal his inner
most thoughts too often. I guess in
that way I’m a lot like Dad was. Maybe
that’s why he kept a journal, too, when there was no other outlet for his pain
here with you for going on three days now, and I finally came to a point where
my own fear and worry needs a place to go.
I asked one of the nurses if she had some paper lying around here I could
use. She gave me a funny look when she brought me a handful of typing paper,
but didn’t question me as to why I wanted it.
I suppose she thinks I’m some kind of neurotic workaholic who can’t
leave the office behind, even when his only brother is injured and in serious
condition. She doesn’t know me very
well, does she?
It took me
damn near two days to stop shaking over what happened, which might be why I can
finally write. I don’t think my hand
could have held a pen steady before this morning. Maybe I wouldn’t have been in such bad shape if I hadn’t seen it
happen, I don’t know. I do know I never
want to witness anything like that again.
It’s bad enough when one of us ends up in the hospital because some case
we’re working on backfires, but this is just so senseless. You probably don’t even remember what
happened, do you? Well, I can assure
you, kid, I do. I sure as hell do.
three days ago was Tuesday, I think.
Yeah definitely, it was Tuesday.
I’m not stupid. I’ve just lost
track of time since you’ve been here.
Anyway, it was noon on Tuesday and we were working in the office. Both
of us were really wrapped up in that bank fraud case we’d taken on. We had papers spread all over the place, and
charts and maps stuck to the walls, so rather than break from the job, we
agreed to a take-out lunch and you offered to head down to the Chicken
Noodle to get us sandwiches and soup.
What made me walk over to the windows after you left the office I’ll
never know. Maybe just because it was a
nice day, and I was enjoying the weather vicariously through the glass. Or maybe the Powers That Be knew you were
going to need me.
you walk to the corner, then saw you waiting at the crosswalk with a woman and
her little girl. The kid was about four
years old. A cute little thing with blond pigtails wearing a red dress and
shiny black shoes. I could see her
talking to you, and saw you smile and bend down to answer her. Then the Walk signal flashed and they
started across ahead of you, the little girl skipping so that her mother had to
run and catch up with her in order to hold her hand. They were about halfway across, and you were several feet behind
them, when a car flew around the corner, running the red light. You must have heard it, or seen it coming,
because the next thing I saw was you pushing the woman and child out of the
car’s path. You didn’t quite make it
out of harms way. The front left bumper
slammed into your right leg and you were thrown about ten feet in the air
before landing hard on your back on the ground. Thank God that car didn’t run you over, or drag you along with it
as it continued down the street.
Fortunately, as well, several quick thinking pedestrians prevented any
other cars from going through the intersection as the light changed to green.
happened so fast, and was probably over in twenty seconds. I saw you lying in
the street, and vaguely remember seeing the car that hit you speed by below me.
It came to a halt on the sidewalk, knocking down a couple of street signs in
the process. By then I was headed out the door. I almost ran over Vickie - the woman from the insurance office
down the hall. I shouted at her to call
an ambulance, but I didn’t wait for her reply as I dashed for the stairs. I wondered later if she was the one who
called 911, or if someone on the street did.
I realized she had no idea what the hell I was talking about. She stopped by yesterday to see how you were
doing, and I found out she was the person who made the call. Vickie admitted she didn’t know what
I was talking about when I’d yelled for her to call for an ambulance, but she
said my face was white as a sheet, so she knew whatever was wrong was
serious. And it was.
When I got
to the street a lot of people were crowded around you, but I bowled my way
through. I think I was yelling
something like, “Get outta my way! That’s my brother!” I suppose I must have been yelling those
words now that I think of it, because I heard some of the people say to one
another in hushed tones, “That’s his brother, the poor guy,” and, “I bet he saw
it happen,” and, “What a rough thing to go through.” I’ll tell you, A.J., rough doesn’t even begin to cover it.
through the crowd and saw several men crouched beside you. One of them had covered you with his suit
jacket. I shoved some guy aside and
dropped to my knees while giving the terse explanation of, “He’s my brother.”
weren’t breathing, and I couldn’t find a pulse either, so I started CPR. God,
A.J., I don’t ever want to have to do that again. I had to completely block out the fact it was you I was trying to
revive, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do it. As it was I went blank for a few seconds. I couldn’t remember how many breaths I was supposed
to give, or how many chest compressions, but I gave myself a mental shake while
chastising, Come on, Rick. Get your
shit together. A.J.’s life depends on
what you do until help arrives.
didn’t have to do one-man CPR too long, maybe a minute, before a young woman
showed up who knew it as well. She took
over the chest compressions while I have you mouth-to-mouth. If you’d seen her, I’m sure you’d tell me
you would have much rather had her do mouth-to-mouth on you. She was about twenty and a total
knockout. Foxy. Definitely your type,
though a little on the young side now days, kid. For both of us, I’m sorry to say.
like forever, but actually it didn’t take us long to get your heart going
again, and to get you breathing. I swear
I said a big prayer of thanks then. The
ambulance came right after that, and from there until we arrived at the
hospital is a blur to me. I rode up
front with the driver while a paramedic was in back with you, so I was in the
dark concerning what was going on at that point.
in surgery three hours. That’s how long
it took them to set your leg and stop the internal bleeding. It’s a miracle you
have no major internal injuries to speak of, though the doctor said you’re
pretty bruised up inside. After I found
out that’s not as serious as it sounds, I didn’t ask any more questions. I’ve seen how bruised up you are on the outside,
and it’s not a pretty sight. Not to
mention the road rash you’ve got on your arms, hands, back, and butt. Good thing you’re reclining right now and
not sitting. It would hurt, little
brother, believe me. Remember how bad
we got scraped up that time about twenty-five years ago when we barreled down
Mansfield hill on our bikes, and wiped out in that big gravel pile? Well, you look about thirty times worse than
that. I don’t even want to think
about Mom’s reaction when she sees you.
Which is why I’m glad it’ll be two more days before she gets here. I’m hoping you look a little better by then. With Mom being on that senior citizens’ tour
of Europe it was hell tracking her down.
But, Mom finally surfaced after having called your house, my house, and
the office several times in the last two days.
When she couldn’t reach either of us by this morning she called Abby.
Abby gave Mom the news as
gently as possible, then Mom called here.
I talked to her for quite a while and managed to calm her down. She called back about a half an hour ago to
say she’d be arriving at the airport at seven o’clock on Sunday morning. She’s still pretty worried, but it helped
that you were able to talk to her for a minute. Bet you don’t remember that, do
you? You’ve been drifting in and out of
consciousness the last day and a half, and have yet to be real coherent. But your eyes were half open when I was
talking to Mom, so I asked if you wanted to talk to her. You nodded your head yes, but when I held
the phone to your ear and mouth you slurred, “Hi, Marlowe,” then promptly fell
back to sleep.
Mom couldn’t understand
you, but when I told her what you’d said she laughed and said to tell you that
you’re in big trouble with your mother. She was only teasing, of course. Actually, I think your little mistake helped
ease some of the tension and worry for her.
She seemed to relax a little bit after that. Still, I’m sure this plane ride will seem like the longest one in
history for our mom.
Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning
to call Marlowe and see if you say, “Hi, Mom,” to him. Carlos is keeping old
Marlowe at his house for me, which has helped a lot. Carlos has been a good friend for too many years to count. He’s almost as worried about “Ricky’s
hermanito,” as Ricky is. Hermanito
meaning ‘little brother,’ if you didn’t know that, considering you took French,
Let’s see, getting back to
what’s going on here. You haven’t been
too with it yet, which really had me worried until a nurse told me that’s not
unusual considering the sedative you’re being given for pain. One time when you were awake you asked me if
the Camaro was all right, so I assumed you thought you’d been in a car
wreck. You’ve asked me three times if I
was all right, so at those times I knew you thought you were hurt while working
on a case. Yesterday morning you really
threw me for a loop when you asked me, “Rick, am I going to die?” But you were in so much pain, and pretty out
of it, so I’m not sure you even knew what you were saying. At any rate, I grabbed your hand and
squeezed it as I answered you firmly with, “No, A.J., you’re not going to
die. You’re gonna be fine. I promise.”
I guess you believed me,
because you gave me a half smile and then asked, “Do you think Mom will let me
go to the movies on Saturday night with Becky Ritman?”
Now that question
was pretty off the wall, let me tell you.
I’d forgotten all about Becky Ritman.
Was she your girlfriend in seventh grade, or was it eighth? Anyway, I told you, yeah, that I thought Mom
would let you take Becky to the movies. You gave me a doped-up smile and
slurred, “All right!” then fell asleep.
Abby’s been by every day
to see you, as well as, believe it or not, make sure I’m eating. It’s real strange being mothered by
Abby. Kick me for saying this, but I
think I like the old Abby better. You
know, the hard-ass lady cop. You’ll be
happy to know I haven’t let her see the brush burns on your butt yet, but don’t
tempt me. If you don’t do everything
your doctor orders, Abby will see your behind so fast your head will spin.
When Abby was here this
morning she told me the preliminary autopsy report on the man who hit you
indicates he had some kind of seizure, probably a diabetic one. He was seventy-five years old, and was
killed instantly when the car hit a light pole. So while I hate what’s happened
to you because of him, I feel bad for his family. I know the accident wasn’t his fault. Abby said the man’s son asked if she thought we’d have any
objections to some family members stopping by to visit you when you’re feeling
better. I told her that would probably
be fine. The son told Abby his mother
was beside herself with grief over this whole thing. Any anger I might have still felt toward the guy evaporated when
I thought of that widow in relationship to our own mother, and how devastated
she’d be over situation like this.
You’ve got some flowers here with a card that says, Get Well Soon, and
is signed, The Higgins Family, which is the last name of the man who hit you.
Oh yeah, and you’ve also
got flowers here from the woman and little girl you pushed out of the way. The woman and her husband – Dave and Linda
Kemper are their names - came up here and talked to me last night. They wanted
to know how you were doing. They’re
real grateful for what you did, little brother.
Well, I’ve been at this
for three hours now, and I’m starting to get writer’s cramp, so I think I’ll
quit. I’m going to get some coffee and
take a walk while you’re still asleep.
I’m heading home later today for the first time since you were brought
in. I’ll wait until after you wake up though.
They’re going to get you out of bed for a few minutes, which isn’t going
to feel very good for you, then make you eat something. This will be the first meal you’ve had since
breakfast on Tuesday morning, so I can just imagine what your reaction to
Jello, applesauce, and pudding will be.
Don’t worry, soon enough you’ll be back to steak, lobster, and all that
French shit you like that I can’t pronounce.
There’s a lot I’ve written
here I’ll never tell you, but the one thing I am going to tell you when you’re
feeling better is that I’m real proud of you, A.J. Knowing you the way I do, I’m sure you didn’t give your own
safety a thought when you saw that car coming toward Mrs. Kemper and her
daughter. Although I hate like hell to
see you in pain, and you’ve scared the shit out of me in the process, and I’ve
probably lost a few more hairs worrying about you these past couple of days, I
sure am proud to call you brother.
You’re one of the good guys, A.J.
One of the few good guys left.
Don’t ever change. But for your
big brother’s sake, just learn to move out of the way a little faster, will
A.J. Simon was surprised
to find tears spring to his eyes, and a tight feeling inhabit his throat, as he
finished reading Rick’s journal entry.
The blond man read the papers through a second time, and then a third,
before finally refolding them and putting them back where he had found them –
in the pocket of Rick’s jacket.
A.J. was home from the
hospital and recuperating from his injuries.
He had been picking up around the house as best he could, considering
the large cast on his right leg. As the detective hobbled around the main floor
on crutches, he gathered up three discarded beer cans, a stack of newspapers
and magazines that had been peeking out from beneath the sofa, and two bowls
that had held popcorn, and had been been left on the coffee table. While in the process of cleaning, A.J. had
also picked up Rick’s khaki jacket that had been tossed across the arm of a
chair. Because A.J. had snared the
jacket between three fingers, and because that act had tipped the jacket upside
down, a tightly folded stack of papers had fallen out of one of the deep, side
A.J. wouldn’t have
unfolded the papers and looked at them, had it not been that the previous
evening Rick had torn the house apart searching for some notes he’d taken
regarding a case he was working on.
When the papers had fallen out of the jacket pocket, A.J. was certain
he’d located the needed items his brother had misplaced. The blond man soon discovered otherwise,
though, as he began to read the words those sheets of paper contained.
A.J. had read through the
journal entry a second time before it really dawned on him that he was
violating Rick’s privacy. His guilty
conscience caused A.J. to justify that act by saying out loud to Marlowe, who
was slumbering on the floor in front of the French doors, “Well, he shouldn’t leave his jacket laying
around. I’ve asked him not to at least a hundred times this week.”
Those words didn’t quite
relieve A.J. of the guilt he was feeling, but they helped. . .as he struggled
to sit in the chair, and then read the papers through a third time.
Rick had been correct when
saying to A.J. in his journal entry; I suppose you’d be surprised to find
out that I keep a journal of sorts. A.J.
was surprised. Very surprised. This was a side of his brother the blond man never would
have guessed existed.
Yes, over the past two
weeks Rick had told A.J. many of the facts regarding the accident, and the
early days of his hospitalization that A.J. could barely recall. Yet, not too surprising, Rick had left out
most of his personal thoughts and feelings surrounding that time. Those thoughts and feelings came through
clearly in the journal entry though, and for that, A.J. was grateful. Based on what Rick had written, it sounded
as if A.J.’s older brother had badly needed an outlet for his worry. A.J. was glad Rick had found that outlet
somewhere, even if it was only on a few pieces of plain, white typing paper.
A.J. was lost in thought
as he absentmindedly refolded the papers in the same way he’d found them, then
returned them to the pocket of Rick’s jacket.
An hour later, when she
arrived to prepare lunch, Cecilia Simon found her youngest son lost in thought
while sitting in his favorite easy chair.
His broken leg was popped up on the coffee table, and Rick’s safari jacket
was draped across his knees.
five-thirty that evening when the kitchen door slammed, heralding Rick’s
arrival from work.
are you doin’?”
head surfaced from the inside of the refrigerator. As he shut the door and sat several bottles on the countertop, he
replied, “Making dinner.”
scowled. “You’re not supposed to be
doing that. I told you I’d cook when I
got home tonight. You promised me that if I started putting in regular hours at
the office again, you’d take it easy around here. Geez, A.J., I can’t even be gone for one day without you thinkin’
you have to—“
up a hand.
“Whoa. Slow down, Rick. First of all, this is my house, and I’ll do whatever I think is
necessary to keep it in the state I like it.”
A.J. paused, then rushed on when he saw Rick was about to make a
comment. “And Mom was here most of the
afternoon cleaning, so I really didn’t do much except pick up a few beer cans
and some newspapers. She also helped me
get supper started, so don’t get so upset over it.”
okay. You win,” Rick conceded, as he
bent to pet Marlowe, then let the dog outside to romp over A.J’s yard. “I’ll
stop bossing you around.”
better, or I’ll send you packing back to the marina,” A.J smiled. “Speaking of which, you don’t have to stay
here any longer if you don’t want to. I
was able to get around okay today.”
not getting around that well,” Rick point out, as he studied his brother.
A.J. was leaning heavily
on his crutches, as though he was tired and sore. The large cast the blond wore was awkward and heavy, and made
moving around the small kitchen difficult.
Not to mention that without the crutches, A.J. had little mobility. Rick couldn’t begin to guess how his brother
had even set the table, let alone prepared supper.
All those thoughts were
running through Rick’s mind as he shot his brother a skeptical look.
“If you really think
you’ll be okay alone, I’ll move back to the boat after supper. I can understand that you’re probably ready
to get rid of me, so if you want me to—“
“No, no. That’s not what I meant,” A.J. quickly
amended. “I just assumed you were anxious
to return to your own place. I don’t
want you to feel as though you have to stay here. You’ve given up enough of your time in order to be with me these
past three weeks.”
“Don’t worry about it,
little brother,” Rick shrugged, as he leaned against the sink. “I didn’t give up anything I didn’t want
to. You’ve had done the same for
me. And I do think I should stay here
until that cast comes off. How are you
going to get up the stairs at night if I’m not around to help you?”
“That’s a good question,”
A.J. commented with a smile. “I guess I
hadn’t thought of that. Looks like I do
need your around for a while yet.”
“Yep, I think you do,” Rick agreed. As his stomach growled, the older man changed the subject. “Whatever’s in the oven sure smells good.”
“Spare ribs and baked
“Ribs? Barbecued beef ribs? Made with your own
secret recipe barbecue sauce?”
“Sounds great. I haven’t had your barbecued ribs in I don’t
know how long. I gotta tell ya,’ A.J., I don’t think much of that fancy French
crap you make, but your barbecued ribs are the best. Better than any restaurant could ever dream of making.”
A.J. smiled at the
flattery, glad to hear Rick’s raving.
The blond man had wanted to do something special for his brother as a
way of saying thank you for all Rick’s help recently. A.J. knew the easiest way to do that was to feed Rick a good,
solid home-cooked meal.
Rick moved over to the stove now, lifting lids on various pots
and pans, while exclaiming over all the good food A.J. was cooking.
“You shouldn’t have gone to all this trouble. You go over to the
table and sit down. I’ll finish this
“I’m already in bad enough shape,” A.J. teased in reference to
Rick insisting on finishing the meal preparations. “Don’t cause me to have a heart attack, too.”
“Aw, shut up, wise-guy, or I’ll break your other leg,” Rick
teased in return. He collected A.J.’s
crutches and set them against the kitchen wall once the blond man was settled
in a chair.
The brothers discussed the case Rick was working on as the older
Simon moved around the kitchen getting dinner ready. He let Marlowe back in the house when the dog barked at the door,
then set the steaming food on the table.
Lively conversation continued throughout the meal. Finally, after the last morsel was eaten,
Rick rose from the table and began collecting dirty dishes. A.J. rose as well, grabbed his crutches,
then carried what dishes he could to the sink despite Rick’s protests of, “I’ll
do that! Sit your butt back down in
A.J. grinned. “Gee,
having this broken leg is almost worth it.
It’s not very often that I have the luxury of you waiting on me hand and
“Yeah, well don’t get too used to it. My days as your maid are gonna come to a quick end as soon as
that cast comes off.”
“That I can believe,” A.J. quipped.
“Therefore, ya’ better enjoy it while you can. Now sit back down in that chair.”
“Yes, sir,” A.J. replied crisply to the order as he and Rick
made their way to the table once again.
This time Rick collected the remainder of the dishes, while A.J. pulled
out a chair.
Before he took his seat, however, A.J. impulsively threw an arm
around Rick’s neck and pulled the man into a bear hug.
Still within the confines of A.J.’s grasp, the startled Rick
replied, “A.J., it’s no big deal. It’s
just a few dirty dishes.”
Rick heard A.J.’s chuckle by his right ear.
“I mean, thanks for all your help these past three weeks. I couldn’t have gotten through all of this
without you. Thanks for being my
Now it was Rick’s turn to chuckle as he reciprocated the hug.
“I didn’t have much choice in that matter, but I gotta admit, I
usually think I got a good deal when it comes to kid brothers.”
A.J. pulled away and arched an eyebrow. “Usually?”
Rick chuckled once again as he drew A.J. back into a hug.
“All right. Most of the
time I think I got a good deal.”
“Most of the time?”
Rick heard muffled near his right shoulder.
“That’s all you’re gonna get out of me, so don’t keep tryin,’”
Rick teased. “Seriously. . .you don’t
have to thank me, A.J. Like I already
told you, you’d do the same for me. . .you have done the same for me on more
than one occasion. But, you’re welcome
A.J. moved out of Rick’s embrace and sat down. With an exaggerated wave of his hand, he
ordered, “Well, Richard, don’t just stand there doing nothing. Get those dishes done.”
Rick gave A.J.’s cast a gentle nudge with the toe of his
boot. “I think you’re beginning to
enjoy my help a little too much.”
“That’s true. You and
the word ‘help,’ so rarely go together in the same sentence, that this is a
“Hey, now,” Rick growled, for lack of any way to defend himself.
The brothers continued to banter back and forth while Rick
washed the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen.
Later that evening, as they sat together watching television,
A.J. decided he’d never tell Rick that he read the journal entry. Therefore, a favorite meal, a hug, and a
thank you, would have to suffice.
Somehow, even though A.J. would have liked to do more for his brother in
way of showing his gratitude, he knew the simple things he offered were
And, as always, the simple things were enough for both A.J.
Simon, and his beloved big brother.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~