A Second Chance
Editor: Radio Rancher
Re-write Editor: Gerry Young
Scared out of my wits, I moved Charlie away from the table for better access and started CPR on him. "Come on, Charlie, wake up," I kept saying, and kept working on him with no signs of him coming back to me.
Clyde was the first one back, "How's he doing, JC?"
"I can't get a pulse yet, and I'm scared!" I answered, still working frantically with the CPR. "Clyde, see if you can feel a pulse." I just kept working; "Where's the fucking doctor when you need him?" I blurted out. "Charlie, come on, love; come back to me, please."
Mike came charging in with Ben right on his heels, "How is he, JC?" they both asked simultaneously.
"Nothing yet, and I'm scared."
Ben said, "Let me take over, JC; I've had training in CPR." He got down next to me so he could slide in and take over. I let him, for I was so nervous and scared that I was doing it wrong.
"Clyde, call and see where they ARE! Please." Clyde ran to the office while I stood there feeling helpless, and then all sorts of thoughts started running around in my head. 'God, have I lost him? Please, God, don't take him from me, not now, please.'
Mike could see how upset and scared I was; coming over to me, he placed his arm around my shoulders. "JC, he'll be ok. The doctor's on the way; just keep telling yourself that he'll be ok!" It felt strange having Mike's arm around me, but yet again, it was comforting in some way.
"I just have to see him open those beautiful blue eyes again; Charlie, come back, love; come back... please." I just kept saying over and over again.
There came a knock on the door and Clyde ran to answer it.
Dr. Lomer came in with his bag. Opening it, he took out his stethoscope, got down next to Charlie and listened to his heart. Then he pulled out a syringe with a very long needle on it and filled it with something, then pulled Charlie's shirt open ripping off the buttons. Ben stopped the CPR long enough for the doctor to sink the needle into my love's chest. As soon as he had pulled it out, Ben continued with the CPR. Dr. Lomer didn't say a word... just ran out of the house and quickly was back with a box with those paddles in it. He turned it on and we could hear a whining sound as it came to life. I had seen them in use before and knew what they were.
"God, Chuck, bring him back to me, please," is all I could say; my emotions were starting to take over and I began to cry as I watched in horror, not seeing my love move.
"Clear!" Chuck called out, as he applied the paddles to Charlie's chest and then we saw Charlie jerk with an abrupt movement. Then Chuck listened to his chest again. "I hear a faint heart beat."
"Thank God!" I shouted.
"We're not out of the woods, yet, JC; it's very weak," Chuck told me as he took out another syringe and filled it with another medication. Then he gave that shot to Charlie, in the arm.
We heard the ambulance coming in the distance. Soon, it was in front of the house. The paramedics came in with all their gear. When they saw Dr. Lomer working on Charlie, one of them said, "How's he doing, Doc Lomer? What do you need us to do?"
Chuck replied, "I've got a very weak pulse; start an IV drip, then let's get him to the hospital. I'll go with you. Will one of you guys come get me and bring me back to get my car?" That was unusual for any doctor to ask, but with knowing Chuck and what he thought of Charlie, it really wasn't a strange request to any of us at all. The paramedics both looked at each other, shaking their heads.
"I'm going with you in the ambulance, and I'm not taking no for an answer!" I said to no one particular. I didn't get a 'no' either. Once they had my love on the stretcher and in the ambulance, I looked at Mike; "Would you get the van and bring me some clothes and my over-night stuff? I'm not leaving him alone."
"Sure, JC; I'll be happy to; now, you just relax and everything'll be fine. Doc Lomer, you might want to give JC something to calm him down, or you're gonna have a second patient, soon."
Chuck looked at Mike with a very serious expression, "You're right, and I'll take care of that on the way to the hospital."
Clyde, Ben, and I just stood there, watching them drive off, "God, I sure hope he pulls through!" I said to no one particular.
Together, both Clyde and Ben said, "God, yes!"
"Did you know that Charlie paid for Doc Lomer's college and medical school?" Clyde wanted Mike and Ben to know about the relationship of Charlie and Chuck. "He thought of adopting him as a young boy, but didn't because of the gay issue. That's why Chuck was quite upset today, more so, than just being the family doctor, you see?"
"No! I didn't," Mike answered, glancing over at Clyde with a strange look of understanding; then I ran to the barn, got the van out, and pulled up to the front of the house.
"I could believe that of Charlie; he's always been so nice to me," Ben said with a sad heart as was so plainly visible to anyone that looked.
I jumped out of the van, then went in, and got the gear JC had asked me to. Upon returning, both Ben and Clyde were in the van and told me that they weren't staying at the ranch to hear the news.
They went with me as we drove rather fast, hoping that we didn't pass any cops along the way. Everyone in the van was quiet; it seemed as though everyone was praying or just too damned worried to speak. As I pulled into the hospital, we saw the ambulance that brought Charlie in, parked at the Emergency Room entrance.
As we entered the hospital and the Emergency Room waiting area, we spotted JC with Chuck and he was just sobbing uncontrollably, while Chuck held him.
JC looked up; "We lost him!" he wailed, and then started sobbing into Chuck's shoulder.
I went to him, sat on his other side, reached over, and took his hand in mine. "I'm so sorry, JC; I loved him, too!" That was all I could say, for I was beginning to weep openly with JC.
Both Clyde and Ben began to get teary eyed and just moved away for a while, letting me have some time with JC, for they both knew I loved him so. Now, in this moment of grief and loss, I would have to show him. However, right now it would have to wait, for I, too, was suffering the loss of Charlie.
Chuck got up once he saw that I'd taken JC's hand. "I'm so sorry, and you have my deepest sympathy, JC, and the rest of you as well. Charlie's heart just gave out; there wasn't much anyone could have done for him. Believe me, I'll miss him as much as anyone, after all he did for me when I was growing up. Now, I'll never be able to repay him. I'll miss him so damned much!" He, too, had tears in his eyes as he turned away and started off toward the Emergency Room office, only to turn back once again, "I'll take a cab out and get my car."
"No you won't!" JC shouted at him, "We'll take you out as soon as you're ready, Chuck; believe me my friend, I know!"
I was shocked at seeing him jump at Chuck like that, but knowing JC, he meant it.
JC looked at me then he looked over and saw Clyde and Ben standing on the other side of the waiting room, "Come over here, you two." They came over not saying anything, for they were in tears, too. "I lost him, guys; God, we lost him!" He kept saying over and over again.
"JC, let's go home; what needs to be done can be done from there. I just don't want you hurting. I know I can't stop the hurt, but I can try to help you understand, my friend." I got up and pulled JC up.
"Ok, let's go home!" JC said, breaking into more sobs as I half carried him.
"Ben, can you drive? Clyde, would you tell Chuck that if he's ready, we'll be in the van." I lead JC out to the van and we got into the middle seat as Clyde got into the rear seat. I just held JC and let him cry. It wasn't long before Ben and Chuck came out of the hospital and got in. We left and headed home -- back to the ranch that will seem so lonely now that Charlie was gone.
"We will honor his wishes!" JC stated out of the clear blue sky; no one knew what he was talking about.
"Of course we will!" I said, not knowing what we were talking about, yet. "What are you talking about JC?" I had to ask.
"He wanted to be cremated, and he wanted his ashes scattered with James on top of Casper Mountain, and, by God, we'll do it!" JC stated in a very matter of fact tone.
The rest of the trip back to the ranch was pretty quiet and no one was much in the mood for chatting. As we got home and everyone left the van, I thanked Doc Lomer for all his help, and so did JC, after he heard me say it.
"Mike, you take care of him for the next few days; he's not going to be himself for a while; I've given him a sedative... and here..." (he handed me two bottles of pills) "... are some more. Just follow the directions on the bottles. If you need me for anything, just call me, please. JC, you need to take it easy for the next few days, this has been hard on you, and I don't think the brunt of it has set in yet..." Then he shook everyone's hands. "Oh... and don't forget to let me know what your plans are for ..." he stopped, looked at me and mouthed the word, 'funeral' so JC couldn't see him. I just nodded 'yes' to him as he got into his car and drove off, giving us a wave.
I helped JC into the house, and I knew this was gonna be hard on him... this coming home to an empty house. All the way home from the hospital, I thought about how I could help him, and I made up my mind; I had to convince JC that I really loved him and always have. 'I'll never give up on him,' I thought to myself. 'I just know he loves me. But, God, how I loved Charlie, too, and now poor JC is alone and in a very lonely house. But not for long, if I have anything to do with it.' Once we entered the house, JC began to look around, as Clyde headed for the kitchen to fix something for lunch for it was now almost 2 PM.
"JC, I'm moving back into the guest room; you're not staying in this house alone, my friend." I stated, very matter of factly, and meant every word.
"You don't have to do that, Mike, but thank you, anyway." He stated almost like a robot without the least expression on his beautiful face.
"Nonsense, JC; you're my best friend, and I'm not letting you stay in here alone. In fact, why don't you spend the night with me in my apartment? Please, for my sake, PLEASE!" I begged him; he looked at me funny for a little while as we sat down on the couch. I was still holding him close, and I sure didn't want to let go. He felt so wonderful in my arms, I knew I was in love, and I had to prove it to him.
"We'll see!" he said, and I grinned, knowing he wasn't mad at me. God, I didn't need that right then, and he had a lot on his mind. I was emotionally drained as well, and all I could do was try and make it better for the man I loved.
I spent the next few nights with Mike in his apartment at his insistence, and it did help tremendously, for I couldn't have stayed in the ranch house alone. I would've lost it for sure. In fact, when I did go back to the house, Mike moved back into the guestroom because he wouldn't allow me to be alone. To be honest, I even slept with Mike for the first couple of nights; I couldn't stand being in the bedroom without Charlie. I knew Mike loved me, for it was written all over his handsome face every time he looked at me. However, I just couldn't bare the thought of letting go of my sweetheart. God, how I missed him so; every time I thought of him, tears started to flow and my heart broke into a million pieces.
The day came too soon for us to take Charlie to the mountain, and bless Mike's heart, he was by my side all the time, holding me and comforting me. Everyone was already there when Mike and I showed up. There were Clyde, Richard, Carl, Greg, Carrie, and all the others from the office, even Chuck and his wife, along with about twenty to thirty other folks, including all the ranch hands. Sorry to say, I really didn't care who was there; my heart wasn't concerned about appearances; it was about letting go of my sweetheart. We had already had a funeral for him at the ranch, and there were hundreds of mourners there.
Once we got to the tree with Uncle James' initials carved in its bark, I remembered it as the place where I first kissed Charlie. I broke down and couldn't speak for a few minutes, so Mike took over for me.
"Thank you all for coming; as you can see, JC is still having a pretty rough time of it. So let me just tell you, this was Charlie's last wish, and JC is going to honor that wish now. Charlie wanted to be with his first love, James, and here is where James' ashes are scattered, and here, we will scatter Charlie's." Mike was wonderful, and he took hold of me and helped steady my hands as we walked hand in hand scattering what was left of the physical remains of my love.
I just bowed my head. "Dear God, please grant Charlie his last wish, and let him and James be together for eternity. I will join you one day, my love; please wait for me!" I was sobbing so bad I couldn't see very well. Mike helped me back to a seat and we sat there until everyone came by and passed on their sympathy and condolences, leaving Mike and me there, alone; he was the rock I needed right then and I am fond of him.
"JC, I'm going to tell you now, here in front of God and Charlie and Uncle James... for I know that they're here with us right now, that I'm willing to wait forever, if I have to. Nevertheless, I love you heart and soul. But I do understand how you feel, and I will always be here for you." Mike pulled me into a tighter hug and even kissed me. Did that ever bring back loving memories of a time long past.
"I know, Mike, and believe me when I say that I'm starting to think the same way, but I just can't say those words, yet. I also want to thank you for all you do for me. I don't think I could've made it through these past days without you." We both just sat there looking out at the tree with those initials carved on it, when the wind started picking up. As the sun was setting, we could see Charlie's ashes being swept up into the air and I know I heard him say 'I will always love you, JC, and, yes, I'm with James again." Yet again, it could have been my imagination, until Mike spoke.
"Did you hear that, I thought I heard Charlie's voice?" He was thinking 'It was Charlie telling us he would always love JC and he was with James again.' "I know it was his voice, I couldn't be mistaken!" He smiled at me and I returned the smile, knowing it was real and not my imagination after all.
Month after month, Mike hardly ever left my side, and Clyde was almost as bad. They treated me as if I were a china doll, afraid I would break or something. I had to have Greg and Carrie come out, and with Mike's help, go through the master bedroom and remove all Charlie's clothes. "I'm sorry, I just can't do it," I told them. I would break down and bawl my eyes out every time I saw them. I know Mike stored some items for me knowing I wouldn't want to lose them. For that, I was grateful, and he knew it. I thought he stored them in his apartment but I wasn't sure. Oh, yes, his apartment... now that was funny, because from the day Charlie left us, he hadn't spent a single night there without me being there as well. That also brings up something else; we did spend many nights together in his apartment. Only on those nights when I couldn't stand being in the house, even with Mike's presence, it was too hard on me. I wouldn't allow anyone into Charlie's office; in fact, I locked the door the day Charlie died, and it remained locked for quite some time afterwards. That too was strange because as long as I could remember, that door had never been locked. I knew that eventually, I'd have to go in there and take care of all the legal things, but during those days, I just couldn't; it hurt too much.
I knew that the following week I'd have to go on a business trip to the Pacific, and I also knew that Mike wanted to go with me. Now that was strange; he had never wanted to go anywhere but the ranch. However, I could see he was falling... or I should say, HAD fallen in love with me. Truth be known, I could honestly say that I was falling in love with him, too, but it was just too hard to forget Charlie. I knew I was being a fool, but that's something I had to deal with, the best I could. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to take Mike to Chef Mayoki's; it held such wonderful memories for me, and if Mike and I were going to be together... well... I wanted it to start there. Call me a fool if you want, but this fool will get what he wants, one way, or the other.
Soon, we would leave for Hawaii, and Greg had made all the arrangements for Mike and me at Chef Mayoki's.
Both Mike and I walked into the kitchen to find Clyde preparing breakfast, as he does so well. "Good morning, Clyde!"
"Good morning," he said, then looked to see both Mike and me holding hands. Lifting his cup of coffee as if making a toast, he grinned and said, "TO YOU BOTH! It's so nice to see you two making up!" He then chuckled as he poured some juice for us.
"Well, I think he's gonna make me say I love him sooner or later!" I chuckled, squeezing Mike's hand. It was then that I looked into his beautiful green eyes, and smiled.
Mike grinned, then pulled me into a hug, almost pulling me off balance. Then he kissed me passionately, right there in front of Clyde, and then he broke the kiss and said, "Well, if you won't say it, I will; I LOVE YOU, Justyn Case Andersen!" Then he kissed me again and again and again. I had to push him back, smiling at him.
Clyde just started clapping his hands and smiling, "Come on, JC, it's your turn now!"
I just couldn't hold out any longer, so I returned the kiss and our tongues danced together right there in the kitchen of the Lazy L. I, too, broke the kiss; "I LOVE YOU, Mike Hendricks! And those beautiful green eyes of yours!"
"Congratulations, you two!" Clyde smiled, "and I'm sure someone is smiling down on you both right now." Then he headed over to the stove to dish up the scrambled eggs, ham, and bacon.
As we all were eating, Clyde said, "JC, are you gonna open that office? I'm afraid the dust in there is gonna be a foot deep if you don't!" He then started laughing, getting up to clear the table.
"I'll help you if you want me to?" Mike offered, with a loving smile that I found so nice but yet different from the way he used to look at me. It was hard to put my finger on it -- the exact moment that I gave in and started letting him into my life.
"Of course you can help me if you want to." He didn't say a word; just gripped my hand, letting me know he was ready anytime I was. I grinned back at him. We just sat there for some time, drinking our coffee and chatting about the upcoming trip.
Not really wanting to go into Charlie's office, it had been months since I locked it, I knew I had to, sooner or later, so I just sighed, "God, I hate this, but let's go take care of Charlie's office, love."
Mike squeezed my hand so tight it hurt; "You said it! My God, you said it!" He jumped up, dragged me to my feet, hugged me, and kissed me again, "You do love me! Don't you? You said it!"
"I will say it again for you, I LOVE YOU, okay! Now let's go take care of an office." I just had to smile at him.
I went to the door and unlocked it. I hesitated for a moment, and took a deep breath, getting a firm grip on my emotions. As I exhaled, I opened the door and discovered that Clyde had been right -- there was a lot of dust on things, but not as bad as he had tried to insinuate. Thinking of that, I started chuckling.
"What are you laughing at?" Mike was concerned; I could tell. It wasn't going to be pleasant, but it had to be done.
I first went to Charlie's desk and started going through the papers on top of it. Page by page, I checked all the paper work, making two piles – one, important, and the other, not so important, and then there was the 'file thirteen' for other junk I found. After I had the top of the desk pretty well cleared of junk, I noticed some pictures, and then the tears started, but I fought them back.
Mike saw my struggle, and said, "JC, I know it's hard for you, but it has to be done, love." He was so understanding and comforting for me. God, he had been my rock, for sure.
I pulled open the top drawer of the desk, and, my God, there was the folder that Charlie was working in, that last time I saw him behind the desk. I'd noticed then that he was trying to hide it from me, but never gave it a second thought at the time.
I pulled it out and placed it on top of the desk. Slowly I opened it; I just had a strange feeling about that folder. I saw a hand written note right on top of a few other papers. I picked it up and began to read it, but had to stop for the tears came flooding. I just handed it to Mike and said, "I can't read this, love; will you read it to me?"
Mike took the note and started reading it aloud:
To my Li'l Cowboy,
JC, I assume I have gone to meet James if you're reading this note. I'm sorry I had to leave you, and I do love you so. I will always love you and don't you forget it! All I can hope for is that I find my James; in my heart, there is a place for both of you. It's so hard for me trying to compare either of you, so I don't, for I love you both and will, for all eternity.
I also know that I have left the ranch and the company in loving hands. I can vouch for that; those ... oh, so soft and loving hands; I feel them every time I think of them. Take care of it, but I know you will.
Tell Clyde and the rest of the family I'll be watching over them always.
Right now, I know you're hurting and sad, but please, love, don't be. As I write this note, I'm weak and I know I'm not long for this world, and I need a rest. My only regret is that I couldn't have spent many more years with you. But the last years were wonderful and fulfilling for me.
Lastly, I want to tell you something that I tried to tell you in the hospital, that day not so long ago. I know Mike loves you deep in his heart. Please don't shut him out; I'm afraid he'll start looking somewhere else if you do. I released you from our commitment that day in the hospital, and you got mad at me. Well, you can't do that now. <evil grin> I want you to give Mike a chance; I loved him as a father does his child, and I know that you'll be happy together. I also know, deep down, that you love him, too, but you were faithful to me and I love you for that. Be good to him and I know he'll be good to you!
Goodbye, my love, until we meet again.
I will forever love you,
<> Note ends<>
"My God, JC, I didn't know that! What a beautiful note," Mike said as he was also crying; we both were trying so hard to hold back the tears.
"Thank you for reading that for me, and yes it's a beautiful note. See, Mike, even Charlie knew you loved me, and so did I. I'm so glad you were here to see Charlie's note; it just makes what we're about to do, better; now, doesn't it?" I stood up, walked around the desk, and wiped the tears from Mike's eyes, and he returned the gesture by brushing the tears from my face. We again embraced each other, hugging tightly as we both looked at the note Mike still held in his hand.
Clyde heard us crying, came to the door of the office, and knocked. As he looked in, he asked, "What's wrong, guys?" He really looked concerned and worried. I just waved him in, took the note from Mike, and handed it to Clyde. He took it and began to read it for himself.
Both Mike and I saw the tears forming in Clyde's eyes as he finished the note and reverently handed it back to me. "That's beautiful, guys, just beautiful! He was quite the man, and I'll miss the hell out of him!" He turned and walked out of the office, back toward the kitchen I assumed.
Mike and I sat on the love seat there in Charlie's office for a while; I didn't have the will to continue just then. However, I really didn't know we sat there for most of the morning, until again Clyde came back asking if we wanted something to eat as it was lunch-time already. "My God, have we been sitting hear all morning?" I stated to no one.
"Yes, love we have; I didn't want to push you, and you were so cute, daydreaming, and I loved every second of the time we sat here." Mike grinned with a very warm and sexy grin.
Well, after lunch, we headed back into the office and finished cleaning, and sorting all the important papers, Mike packed up some of the little things I wanted to save but didn't want them out in the open. There were too many memories at the moment, so he carried them into the barn and stored them for me. That pretty well shot the rest of the day, until I got a call.
"Hello, JC speaking." I covered the mouthpiece, and whispered, "Richard" To Mike.
"Hi, JC; well, Buckaroo is all ready for tomorrow's flight; what time did you want to leave?"
"Let's leave early; how about 7 AM? I'd like to get to Hawaii in plenty of time so I can go shopping at a special store before the meeting." I was grinning at Mike; he was listing carefully to every word. He was so excited, and I knew why, and so was I.
"Ok, that would put us in Hawaii in plenty of time for you to shop and attend the meeting, too. You're also going to Chef Mayoki's for dinner. Is that correct?"
"We sure are, and I'm excited about it; I have special plans for tomorrow night." Mike was now looking puzzled, at that last statement, but I knew he wasn't so un-informed as not to know what the dinner was all about. Of course, I was still trying to keep it somewhat of a secret.
"Ok, Buckaroo will be ready; can I talk to Clyde, please? I have a few questions for him."
"Sure, he'll be right with ya." I looked at Mike and asked him, "Can you go get Clyde? Richard needs to chat with him." Mike nodded and left, and when they returned, I just handed him the phone. "We're going outside for a bit, Clyde." I got up and Mike followed as we left the office.
The rest of the day passed rather quickly. Mike and I again slept together in the guestroom; for some reason, I still couldn't have Mike in the master bedroom in the same bed Charlie and I had slept in. The trip was going to solve that problem, I was hoping. Greg was told to have the master bedroom completely refurnished by the time we got back from Hawaii. He was in complete agreement with me; both he and Carrie were great; the last official part of their duties was going to be that little job for me. As soon as this trip was over I was to meet with some new people who Greg and Carrie had kind of picked as their replacements.
Mike and I still had not consummated our love for each other; our emotions were high; the hugging and kissing were great, but still, sex was not in the mix even though he was a gorgeous hunk of man, and I was in love with him. In the back of my mind, I was planning something very special.
All evening, Mike was trying to get sexy with me, and I was playing hard to get. I knew it was frustrating for him, but as much as I wanted the first time to be so special for us, I almost pissed him off. Thank God, he was so in love with me, he would do anything I asked of him. It took all the will power I had to keep from taking him right then, that night before the trip, but I didn't.
"Why can't we make love tonight?" Mike pleaded with me, "God, I love you and want to so badly. PLEASE."
I had to bite my tongue to keep from letting it happen, but that would have ruined everything I had planned, and I wanted it to be so special, "I'm sorry, love, I just can't tonight, Please don't push it, PLEASE! And besides... I've got a headache," I teased.
"That's a bunch of bull, and you know it!" he shot back. "Ok, JC, not that I like it, but I want you so bad," Mike said with a whipped puppy dog frown.
I just leaned over and kissed him, "Good night, my love; tomorrow is a new day for both of us."
Mike kissed me back and smiled, "I sure hope so, I can't take much more of this." He pinched my left nipple.
"Ow, that hurt!" I pulled him in tight and we drifted into dreamland, arm in arm...
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