Erskine was talking again and Sandy tried to concentrate on what he was saying. "You name it, he's got it. Left side all smashed up, spinal injuries, fractured pelvis, both legs copped it! They may have to amputate the left one."
"Oh, sweet Iesu Greist," Sandy prayed openly. "Don't let that 'appen."
Erskine shook his head sadly. "It might be a blessing if_."
"No!" Trish held Sandy's hand for comfort. "You mustn't say that, you mustn't."
"I have to, darling," Erskine said gently. "If he pulls through he'll be in a wheelchair for a long time, maybe for good! Do you want that? Losing Shana as well, it'll be too much. I've been close to those two for the last two years; short of sleeping in the same room as them; it's been like I was married to them. I'll tell you, Gypsy isn't going to take her death so easy." He gazed at them, his eyes full of sympathy, but Sandy lowered his eyes, not wanting the man's pity even if it was well intended. Erskine went on. "Gypsy told me how close you are; he described you as his other family so I can guess how you must be feeling."
"Has Manuel been contacted?" Sandy asked, knowing it was a stupid question, but having to say something.
"Did it myself," Erskine replied. "I caught him boarding a west bound plane from New York. He should be here in about an hour."
"Are any of 'is family 'ere?"
"They were till an hour ago but Perquita was so upset her grandparents had to take her home again. I said I'd ring them the minute there was any news, if they weren't back before-."
"Mr. Trumble?" A commanding voice made the three of' them turn round, and a white coated figure bore down on them. The grey haired man held out his hand to Erskine. "Mr. Diaz is out of theatre now. We've done all we can for him at the moment and he's on a life support machine. We can only wait and see how things go. There were several cars involved in the accident and the ICU is overflowing with the other casualties so we've put him in a side ward."
"Can we see him?" Trish asked.
The doctor looked her over. "Are you relatives?"
"No, but we -."
"I'm sorry, relatives only."
Erskine said, "They're the closest friends Gypsy ever had, Doctor. I'll vouch for them, so will Percival Rosscroft."
At first the doctor hesitated but at the mention of Rosscroft's name he nodded. "In that case, I'll let you see him for just a couple of minutes, but I must warn you, he isn't a pretty sight. I certainly wouldn't have allowed this if he had been in the main unit."
The room the doctor showed them into looked more like a research laboratory than a side ward, with all the equipment either side of the high narrow bed; it's occupant hardly resembled a human being. Trish gave a moan of grief as she turned her face away and the doctor's face softened. "I did warn you."
Sandy and Trish arrived back at the hospital the following morning, after a restless night in a nearby hotel, to find the police trying to move the hundreds of devoted fans who had camped in the narrow road outside the hospital gates. Sandy knew that as soon as the police had gone away the fans would be back to keep their vigil, waiting for the bulletins on Gypsy's condition. Outside Gypsy's room, they saw Erskine, still there. Looking tired from his all night stint at Gypsy's bedside. Behind him, Gaskin and the boys leaned against the wall staring silently at Sandy as he and Trish approached, their glum faces showing the unashamed misery they were feeling. Down the corridor Ed Thompson was talking to the doctor they had met, and in Gypsy's room Manuel, Perquita and her grandparents were watching over the motionless figure in the bed. Ed spotted Sandy and broke away from the doctor to stride purposely towards them. He looked ready to hit someone. Sandy looked from Erskine to Ed and back. "Somethin's wrong; what is it?"
"It's those Royles," Erskine growled. "If I could get my hand on that smug pig I'd -."
"You'd be too late," Ed cut in angrily. "I'd have already done the job, even though they're my in-laws." He stopped in front of Sandy with his hands braced solidly against his hips. "There's Gypsy hanging on in there and all they can do is make a loada trouble. Makes me damned ashamed to be the same nationality."
"Why?" Sandy wanted to know. "What's goin' on, then?"
"They want to take Erica back to the States with them, that's what."
"But they can't do that, can they?"
"You try telling them that. They've been trying to separate Shana and Gypsy ever since they got married. They hit the roof' when they found out about it."
Sandy frowned. "I didn't know that. News to me, it is."
"It's news to a lotta people," Ed replied. "Jo and I saw it coming the day we got hitched, they never did like Gypsy."
"And now they want to take the baby," Erskine said angrily, "after denying their own grandchild existed, and all!"
Trish's face darkened with anger. "But they don't have the right to take Erica,"
Ed shook his head. "If Gypsy dies they stand a good chance of claiming legal guardianship."
"But Manuel can claim the same."
"I'm sure he can," Ed agreed, "but the deck is stacked against him. He isn't married and he isn't home all the time! The way I see it, the Royles win the trick."
Sandy moved to the observation window and looked into the ward. Gypsy had to live! He has to. "How is 'e?"
"Not good." Erskine came to stand beside him. "He's in a coma and the next few hours are crucial."
"Well then," Sandy said softly, "there's only one thing to do, isn't it? Ed, where's Erica now?"
"Jo's got her in our hotel room. Why?"
"Have you got your car?"
"Right, let's get goin', then." Sandy marched back down the corridor, dragging Ed with him; Trish ran after him but he waved her back. "Stay here, Trish, I won't be long." An idea had formed in his mind, a crazy one but worth trying.
It took them five minutes to reach the hotel where Jo was looking after Erica and the younger Gomez children. Alarm spread across Jo's face as Sandy grabbed her. "Where's Erica?"
"Maria's changing her in the front bedroom, why? What's happened?"
"Nothin' yet." Sandy pushed her towards the bedroom. "Wrap 'er in somethin' warm, we're takin' 'er to the 'ospital."
"But, Sandy, I was just about to feed her."
"All the better isn't it? Just get 'er wrapped up and come with me. Bring a bottle of feed with you. I'll explain on the way."
When they arrived at Gypsy's bedside they found Manuel and Perquita on their knees by the bed and, for one horrible moment, Sandy thought he was too late; then he saw the monitors still recording the faint signals sent out by Gypsy's body, and he realized they were praying for Gypsy. The duty nurse got up out of her chair, her eyes flashing a warning. "I'm sorry, you can't bring that baby in here."
Sandy ignored her. Taking the baby from Jo, he laid her on the chair the nurse had just vacated, and unwrapped the blanket and shawl. Beneath them, Erica wore only her nappy and as Sandy picked her up the sudden chill made her cry out. Hoping his idea would work, he carried her close to the head of the bed while Jo kept the nurse from barring his way. Holding Erica close to Gypsy head, he said, "Come on, Cariad, cry. Tell your dad you need 'im. Tell 'im you're cold and you want a feed. Tell 'im you want 'im to live for you. Come on, baby, cry; you can do it."
Erica obliged, loud and furiously as if her lungs would burst. She squirmed and fought, and Sandy had a job to hold her as her limbs stretched and contracted franticly. Behind him, Trish stood with her hands over her ears while Manuel and Perquita rose in astonishment from their knees. Erskine stood in the doorway, his mouth gaping open. Then an angry voice snapped above the din, "What in hell is going on here?"
Sandy glanced up and saw a young doctor pushing his way past Erskine. "I'm tryin' to wake Gypsy up," Sandy explained angrily. Hadn't the man got eyes?
The doctor glared at him. "Wake him up? You're damned near waking the whole hospital up with that racket; now get that baby out of here before I have you thrown out."
He moved threateningly towards Sandy but suddenly Manuel raised his hand, as he bent over Gypsy. "One moment, please, Doctor" He beckoned the doctor to the bed. "Come and have a look at my son first." He straightened up to let the doctor past him. Sandy could see no obvious change in the monitor readings or in what little of Gypsy's face showed between the dressings, but the way the doctor suddenly planted his stethoscope on Gypsy's chest and began checking things told him something was happening. How had Manuel known? He stared at the man and saw the way his eyes were fastened on his, son's face. How had he known?
As the doctor raised Gypsy's eyelids to check his pupils, Manuel said; "He heard his daughter crying for him, I am sure of it."
With a sigh of relief Sandy turned to return Erica to the warmth of her blankets and shawl but the doctor stopped him. "Just a minute, his daughter, you say?" He drew Sandy back to the bed. "You just might have the answer. I'm sorry, I didn't realize. Can you keep her crying a little longer?"
Sandy did so, willingly, and Erica screamed even louder, and a sea of faces gathered at the window including Ed's. Suddenly Erica broke off to yawn widely. Sandy panicked. "She's tirin', she can't keep this up forever."
"A cassette recorder, "Ed offered, "I've got one in my car."
The doctor nodded. "Go and get it and be as quick as you can."
"Sure thing, I'm gone." Ed disappeared down the corridor at a fast sprint
Once the cassette recorder was switched on, Erica was encouraged to cry her heart out till exhaustion overtook her anger, and her wails subsided to sobs that Jo could no longer ignore. Weeping herself, she took Erica from the nurse who now held her and wrapped her in her shawl, the tiny child falling asleep almost immediately.
Rewinding the cassette, the doctor turned to the nurse, "Take Mrs. Thompson to the baby unit and tell the sister that the baby is to have to everything she needs; I'll phone her the moment I'm free." As the nurse led Jo out of the ward, he leaned over Gypsy again and studied him closely. "Mr. Roberts, I don't know if this will do the trick but you and that baby might just have made an improvement in this young man's condition."
The impact of the situation hit Sandy like a mountainous wave hitting a beach. His legs turned to jelly and he sank down onto the nurse's chair with his head to his hands. "Gypsy, don't die. Please Lord, don't let him die." Trish came to him and he threw his arms round her hips, feeling her arms about his head. Don't die! You mustn't die.
A soft moan brought Sandy awake and he stared around, confused. Then he remembered the tape recorder being plugged in. He remembered Gypsy opening his eyes and everyone losing control of their emotions till the doctor shooed them out into the corridor and shut the door, allowing only Sandy and Perquita to stay with Manuel. Sandy didn't remember sitting down in the armchair the nurse had brought in for Manuel, but now there was a blanket tucked round him and the ward was in darkness except for the night light above the bed. Sandy threw off the blanket and stood up to ease his stiffening muscles and saw Manuel and Trish standing on the left side of the bed. A nurse was on the other side, stroking Gypsy's cheek. The bed had been moved away from the wall and a mirror fixed above Gypsy's head and set at an angle. A pink crib now filled the space between the wall and the bed, and peeping into it Sandy saw Erica sleeping in a cocoon of warm blankets.
Manuel glanced up at Sandy and smiled softly. "The first thing he will see when he wakes up will be Erica."
Sandy stared down at Gypsy. "He's out of the coma, then?"
"Yes, thanks to you, but he's sedated and due for another injection in half an hour."
The nurse smiled at Sandy. "It's this last half hour that's the worst for him, when the effects of the last injection begins wear off. He's not out of danger yet but at least he's fighting for his daughter and that's a good thing. I won't be long; I'm just going to inform the doctor that Mr. Diaz is awake."
As the nurse left the room, Erica roused, hiccupped and started to whimper. Sandy whispered to Manuel, "Drugged? I thought Gypsy couldn't… you know?"
Manuel nodded. "I know what you are getting at, Sandy but the doctors know all about what has passed. They know what they are doing."
"No buts. Would you have Gypsy screaming in agony?" Erica whimpered again and Sandy thought he saw Gypsy's head move slightly? Then the moan came again. Erica began to fret, kicking her blankets loose, and Trish patted Gypsy on the right cheek. "Come on Gypsy, wake up."
"Trish, no!" Sandy tried to stop her.
Trish shook her head. "It's all right, Sandy, this is what the nurse was doing. She showed me how. Gypsy, open your eyes and look at your baby. Can't you hear her?"
Sandy leaned over the bed and stroked a damp curl off Gypsy's brow, willing him to open his eyes, wanting him to know he was there for him. "Come on, Mate, everythin's goin' to be all right."
Gypsy moaned again, and rolled his head then opened his eyes and gazed up at Sandy with eyes that did not focus properly. Manual muttered a prayer of thanks and Gypsy's eyes travelled slowly towards the sound. He recognized his father and tried to speak and only managed a pleading groan.
Manuel blinked back a tear. "Yes, Gypsy, I'm here, and so is Sandy and Trish, and Erica is here, can't you hear you crying for you? Look in the mirror above you."
Beneath the dressings, Gypsy's face wrinkled with pain then relaxed as he looked at Sandy again and, even though he could not talk, Sandy heard his words in his mind as Gypsy stared intently at him. "Sandy, the pain...can't stand it...any more...please...take it...away." The words he had heard on the plane Iesu Grist!
Erica's cries increased in volume as her demand for attention built up, and Gypsy sought the sound focusing at last on the mirror The tightness which had started to show in him lessened as he recognized his daughter and watched her for a moment, then his eyes closed and his face contorted as another wave of pain ripped through him. Sandy felt helpless as he and Trish stood and watched him, unable to hold his hands or put their arms about him. They could only watch him suffer, and wait...
The following morning Sandy and Trish arrived at the hospital and found Ed, Erskine and Manuel waiting outside Gypsy's room. Manuel looked utterly exhausted as he kissed Trish warmly, and Sandy knew the man had gone without sleep for yet another night. Manuel turned to him. "Thank you, Sandy, for what you have done. Gypsy is off the life support system. He is still heavily drugged but each time he wakes up his eyes go straight to the mirror. He knows the baby is his and he is fighting to live for her."
"Thank the Lord for that," Trish breathed, "but what about the Royles? If they take the baby -."
Erskine smiled reassuringly. "They don't stand a chance, now. When they came to fetch her this morning, the doctors stepped in and sent them packing. The baby stays with Gypsy, period."
Ed grinned down at Trish's rapture-filled face. "If Gypsy gets out of the woods all right, there's nothing they can do." His grin widened. "Saw 'em on the plane m'self about an hour ago."
Trish threw her arms about his waist and buried her face against his massive chest. "Oh, Ed, it's all too good to be true. I could kiss you for that." Ed laughed low in his throat and hugged her back.
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